Fontenot, Burriss, and Whiteside! Oh My!

And Rowand. And Vogelsong. And Rowand some more.

Again, after the Giants won the World Series, who would have thought that they would turn to the following lineup to break out of a slump?

They were 0-17 with RISP in the first two games of the series. Against Pittsburgh. Against a pitcher on Wednesday whose ERA was over 10.00 at the beginning of the day.

Freddy Sanchez, arguably the second-best hitter right now behind Pablo Sandoval, and Miguel Tejada, arguably the second-worst hitter right now behind Dan Runzler both sat out today. As did Buster Posey, arguably the second-best (fill in the blank with first-best) in the universe.

With the injuries to the Opening Day roster, Andres Torres and Barry Zito were also out. So we've got the lineup that is posted above. Aaron Rowand for Torres, Manny Burriss for Sanchez, Mike Fontenot for Tejada, Eli Whiteside for Posey, Ryan Vogelsong for Zito.

Any picture of Mike Fontenot is just funny to me.
And that lineup pounds out five runs on ten hits. And Vogelsong dominated, striking out eight. And the Giants looked like they could actually win some games this year.

Aaron Rowand has just been earning the dickens out of his spot. Another 2-5 today, another three RBIs, and Rowand is still right there at the top of pretty much every offensive category. He also seems to be getting clutch hits (although his RISP doesn't show it). I still don't understand why he has success batting leadoff, but I feel like every time the Giants score, it starts out with "Rowand walks" or "Rowand doubles to left."

Burriss made an error that led to a run, but then made a fantastic play to make up for it on a ball in short right field. Fontenot had two hits, as did Nate Schierholtz, who came in off the bench. Even Miguel Tejada decided to get a hit today. How nice of him!

If the Giants keep winning series, they'll be golden. I'm totally fine with crappy, drawn-out games like Tuesday's once in a while if it means that they're going to finish the games with 70 of those losses and 92 wins.


Depth Charge: Giants Roster Being Tested Early

Guess who wasn't in the preseason predictions for early season heroes?
The San Francisco Giants have shown flashes of brilliance this year. Two walk-off wins against the St. Louis Cardinals. Some superb Cy Young award-caliber pitching by Tim Lincecum. A return to 2009 form by Pablo Sandoval.

But those flashes are about it. The Giants won the World Series in 2010, and were supposed to be better (on paper at least) here in 2011.

One of the most important things they boasted going into 2011 was depth. Someone high up in ESPN or Sports Illustrated or whatever even called them the deepest team in the league. And that has saved them from face-planting so far this year.

For most of Spring Training, the big questions were "What to do with the outfield logjam?" and "What happens if one of the pitchers gets hurt?" These are questions that weren't really a problem last season at all.

In 2010, every starter made almost every start, with only the fifth spot being platooned between Todd Wellemeyer and Madison Bumgarner. In 2010, everyone pretty much knew what the outfield was for most of the year, and when they added Pat Burrell, Andres Torres, and Cody Ross, there was nothing to worry about there.

In 2011, people are hurt. That just didn't happen last year, and the Giants and their fans definitely took it for granted. Mark DeRosa hurt himself early, but then Andres Torres came out of the dugout and people kind of forgot about all that.

First, Cody Ross hurt his calf, which lessened the overcrowding in the outfield for a month. It gave Aaron Rowand and Nate Schierholtz an extended look to see which one was more expendable.

And then Torres went down. The Giants went from having too many outfielders to having to play the Water Buffaloes plus Aaron Rowand EVERY DAY because there weren't any outfielders on the bench. At least Aaron Rowand has been hitting, but to put that in perspective, Madison Bumgarner pinch-hit against the Dodgers. Luckily Mike Fontenot homered before he got up there.

And then Barry Zito grew a mustache. And got in a car accident. And fell awkwardly off the mound and got an injury that can only be remedied by not doing anything (AKA pitching) for a long time. So that pitching depth that was one of the only concerns going into the Cactus League was finally going to be tested, due to a guy who was missing the first time due to injury in 12 years in the majors.

Luckily, the Giants had a second-chance-special starter waiting in the wings. Todd Wellemeyer Brian Lawrence Jeff Suppan Ryan Vogelsong has filled in very well given the Giants recent off-day filled schedule, and will make his first start in a Giants uniform tomorrow after being traded away from them 10 years ago.

But the team is still not as deep as I would like it to be. There still isn't a clear backup shortstop. Mark DeRosa hasn't stepped in to being a regular anywhere, and while he can still play 30 positions, he's not doing any with consistency, for some reason. Miguel Tejada is hitting .195; DeRosa is hitting .333 in limited at-bats.

Darren Ford is providing intangible depth in the outfield. For a guy who still doesn't have a major league hit, it seems that every run he scores is important. Yesterday it showed how speed can tie a game, with Ford going first to third on a hit-and-run and then scoring on a sac fly, and also win a game, going first to third on an errant pickoff and then scoring on a ground ball with the infield in. Amazing. Batting average: .000. Usefulness average: 10 bajillion.

It was a bummer having to send Brandon Belt to the minors, but if there was one position that I had no worries about in the slightest, it was first base. The depth chart at first was as follows: Belt, Huff, DeRosa, Sandoval. That's deep. Even with Belt gone, the Giants have lots of insurance. They also have depth on the 40-man and at Fresno, with Travis Ishikawa and Brett Pill down there.

THEN SANDOVAL GOT HURT. But he was OK so I stopped thinking that I did something personally to anger the baseball gods.

While it's clear now that the Giants still have more than 80 percent of their season left to go, they're already dealing with the unforeseen more than they had to in 2010.

Rotation uncertainty is not something that they can afford. Lineup changes are a little more manageable, but not if everyone on your bench plays first base and left field. Imagine a bench full of J.T. Snows and Moises Alous. Sure, they'd hit the snot out of the ball and be really good at their respective positions, but if there was any sort of roster crunch, they wouldn't help you out very much.

The Giants are being tested early on. Take out three of the catalysts (Ross, Torres, Uribe) and your World Series MVP (Renteria) and you've got an entirely different chemical reaction going on. So far it has only been sporadically impressive. Professor Bochy has to experiment some more before I feel more comfortable.


The Early Bird Giants Getting Theirs

Wear high socks -> hit bombs. It's logic.
In the early going, the San Francisco Giants are 9-7, and in second place in the NL West. This is good. After a choppy start in Los Angeles and San Diego, the Giants are starting to look like, well, the Giants. 

One of the reasons they're winning is because they've been scoring a lot. And early. There's something about playing with an early lead that makes the game a lot easier. 

As a pitcher, you're not afraid of being aggressive because you've got a little bit of wiggle room. Ask Matt Cain or Barry Zito what it's like pitching with no run support and I guarantee you that they'll say something along the lines of "I was constantly sh*tting bricks." 

As an offense and a defense, you know that even if you just score one run, that team on the other side of the diamond has to score not just once, but twice in order to beat you. And stopping two runs from happening is a lot easier than keeping one runner from crossing the plate.

Playing from behind, offenses and defenses start to press, and pitchers start to nibble to limit whatever damage has already been done. Neither is helpful.

In summary, playing with the lead is good, and the Giants have done so in many of their wins. 

April 2, W 10-0: OK, so this is the first win of the season, so the Giants don't know what scoring early means. But big innings in the fifth and sixth led to this win.
April 6, W 8-4: Giants score three in the first on a Buster Posey 3-run homerun.
April 13, W 4-3: Huff sacs in Rowand in the first, Fontenot doubles in Belt in the second.
April 15, W 5-2: Pablo Sandoval with a three-run shot in the first inning.
April 16, W 5-3: Buster Posey hits another first-inning homerun, Giants roll.
April 18, W 8-1: Burrell and Schierholtz go back-to-upper deck, Rockies bat a relief pitcher three times. 
Early and often, early and often, early and often. Especially with a team like the Giants, who seem like offense is either there or it's in the next county, scoring early usually precipitates scoring often. 

With their pitching staff not known for blowing leads, and their bullpen even less known for such, if the Giants can score first, good things can happen. That's what they've been doing this season so far, and in games where they score first, they're 7-2.

Keep scoring early, Gents. I like winning.

Love, Evan. 

P.S. Last night it was announced that Tim Lincecum has tied Christy Mathewson with 28 games with 10+ strikeouts. Lincecum is currently in his fourth year with the Giants. Mathewson played 17 seasons in New York. I have a sneaking suspicion that Lincecum will be at the top of that list before long.


Results of the Most Obscure Giant Thread

I recently had my first FanPost on McCovey Chronicles. In the past three days, it's had almost 250 comments from people remembering those Giants that distinguished their fandom from any possible impostors out there.

The blogosphere has its fair share of interesting fans. I'm relatively young, and my Giants memories don't go back as far as some people there, so I don't recognize some of the names that come up unless I had their baseball card from way back.

Anyways, I'll highlight some of the more interesting posts that came up (starting with my own of course).

My number one pick was J.R. Philips.

So obscure they can't even get a picture of him facing the camera.
My subsequent ones are from the late-90s bullpens: Doug Creek, Jim Poole, John Johnstone, and Rich Rodriguez. 

Here's some of the posts from the thread:

Brian Dallimore played 27 major league games, and got 50 major league ABs. One homerun (a grand slam, as mentioned), 7 RBIs. Retired in 2006 after signing with the Brewers in 2005.

Felipe Crespo, as stated, has multiple splash hits. Two years with the Giants, .259/.329/.426, 8 HR, 39 RBIs. Traded in 2001 to the Phillies for Wayne Gomes (also a good one). 

Stan Javier got a lot of love. Stan the Man spent four years with the Giants, posting a very solid .282/.360/.378 line, 17 HR, 151 RBIs. 

Bobby Estallela. No one thought Bonds was on steroids while Bobby Estallela was around. With the Giants: .227/.343/.446 over two seasons. Traded to the Yankees for Brian Boehringer. Now that's a name.

Damon Minor was another first-baseman just filling the void when J.T. Snow couldn't play. We knew he wasn't the future, but the guy's nickname was Tiny. And he was 6'7. Goofy is an understatement. 285 at-bats over four seasons with the Giants, .232/.338/.400.

One of my personal favorites, Tony Torcato. Winner. Hey, in 2004, he hit .556. What happened?

Let me know if we missed any players that stand out to you. Like I said, everyone's got theirs, who's yours?


Chicks Dig The Long Ball (And So Do I!)

Last night was my first night at the yard in 2011. I failed at going to the park in 2010, only attending five Giants games in one of the most exciting seasons in recent memory, three of which were in Washington, DC, against the Nationals.

But last night I was at the yard, and I saw something (two things, actually) that reminded me of something that the Giants didn't have until last year: power.

Mike Fontenot. Power-fiend. (Getty Images)
Let's look at the last few years: (NL rank) [MLB rank]
2007: 131 HRs (14) [25] -- the last year with Barry Bonds
2008: 94 HRs (16) [30] -- the only team with under 100 homers
2009: 122 HRs (15) [29] -- the number one team had twice as many (NYY, 244)
2010: 162 (6) [11] -- the same amount as Texas, who was "the best offensive team" in '10
You lose Barry Bonds, and you lose a lot of power. But even before then, Giants fans were always clamoring for someone to hit homeruns around Barry Bonds. There was no more Moises Alou or Jeff Kent that backed him up. And then he left.

The Giants sure fell in love with the long ball last year though, and they really stressed that they couldn't rely on it this year to win games. The first few wins of this homestand didn't need the homeruns, but instead were all about "keeping the line moving" and getting runs home. None of them were walk-off homeruns, but walk-off hits.

Last night the Giants fans were treated to two homeruns that got them back in the game, and then ahead. I'll admit, I was already taking a lot of flak from all the Dodger fans that I was with when Barajas hit his homer, and was not expecting jacks from Pablo Sandoval and Mike Fontenot (sandwiched around a Brandon Belt groundout) in the slightest.

But then the Panda hit one high and deep to left-center, and (from our seats, at least) it barely cleared the wall, giving a Kinsler-esque bounce that went the right way. And then Mike Fontenot digs in. Mike Fontenot of the one-homerun variety in 2010. Mike Fontenot who looked like a bat boy when getting his high-fives, AFTER he took Ted Lilly way over the Willie Mays Wall in right.

Which one is the 6-year veteran? (Getty Images)

That was not a cheapie. And it put the Giants ahead. And late in the game, that back end looked very strong, once again. Ramirez, Lopez, Romo, Affeldt, Wilson. Game over.

Homers get it done. If the Giants can sprinkle in a few game-winning hits to go with their bevy of homers like last year, they'll win more games. I don't think they'll live and die by the homerun as much, which also leads to less pressing to hit homeruns, and a higher overall average and OBP.

I love when the Giants win. Especially when they beat the Bums. Homers by unexpected people just make it more fun.


Injuries Keep Roster Moves in Limbo

The Rowand Question came up at the end of Spring Training. How do we keep all the outfielders on the roster? Wouldn't it be nice if something magically happened that made it so the Giants would have to keep all of them?
Right. That.
And then the season started, and Cody Ross shed the walking boot, and is itching to get back on the field. This again is creating a roster crunch. But Aaron Rowand has been hot! And Nate Schierholtz and Pat Burrell have been playing real well too. And Andres Torres is 

So the roster limbo that Aaron Rowand and Nate Schierholtz are in continues. Technically, I guess you could add Burrell to that bubble, but he's hitting bombs and only bombs. Here's how they're stacking up so far:

Rowand: .389/.389/.611, 1 HR/2 RBI
Schierholtz: .267/.267/.400, 0 HR/0 RBI
Burrell: .160/.267/.520, 3 HR, 3 RBI

So no one really stands out as being easy to send down. Ross is due to be activated on April 24. Torres is out until at least after the next series with the Dodgers, and probably longer. 

That means the Giants will have to be content with what they've got right now. They'll manage with Rowand/Schierholtz/Burrell, and Hugg will still be in the outfield, but probably sticking more to left field with Schierholtz getting more playing time. Mark DeRosa is also capable of playing out there, so they're not exactly in jeopardy of having less outfielders than they need. 

But with Torres and Ross out, the Giants are without two of their most important offensive catalysts of last year. Freddy Sanchez is still that top of the lineup presence, and Buster Posey is still Buster Posey, and Pablo Sandoval is still looking pretty damn nice. 

However, with Huff playing a lot of outfield, he's honestly going to be more tired, which will end up translating to his performance at the plate (in my opinion). And depending on Panda's streakiness, and the fact the Brandon Belt is only a rookie, Belt and Sandoval cannot carry this team.

The Giants need to be at full strength. Everyone was talking about how this team is improved on paper, but until that lineup gets from "on paper" to "on the field," wins won't just fall into their lap. I believe the hype, but the Huff/Rowand/Schierholtz lineup is a lot different from the Huff/Torres/Ross lineup that I expect to see later in the year. That lineup will be hard to get out.

Until then, I'm happy that Rowand and Schierholtz get to play. This decision is hard as it is already, so being able to put it off gives us more time to think about it. 

It's like that homework that you know you have to do but you have no free time to do so you stay on Facebook and make sure that your grandma can't see pictures of you drinking Captain Morgan out of a shoe. Or like that girlfriend you mean to break up with but you're both to busy to meet up at that coffee shop where she can't make a scene because there are lots of witnesses so you put it off. 

Yeah, pretty much the same. Hurry up and wait. 


We Made Them Wait. They Made Us Wait. We Were Better At It.

Not the same as Buster Posey's against SD, but STILL GREAT.
The San Francisco Giants won the 2010 World Series. It was the first time in 56 years. It was the first championship in San Francisco. It was the first World Series title that I could remember.

So it follows that San Francisco should live up this title like it hasn't been lived up before. And they did. The city after Game 7 was in uproar (in a good way). There were crowds outside AT&T until the wee hours of the morning to welcome the team bus home. The parade was still being cleaned up on Thanksgiving.

But when the Giants finally returned home to AT&T for their first regular season series as world champions, they took it too far. Whoever organized the festivities should be commended for the fanfare, but should then be repeatedly punched in the kidneys for making the entire Giants fanbase seem like smarmy jerks.

Train playing a song about San Francisco. The entire team entering through the center-field fence. Willie Mays handing off the championship banner. Brian Wilson and his beard climbing up a wall and raising up the flag with "We Are The Champions" in the background.

Great. It took forty minutes, and it was a little cheesy, but great.

Who were those guys on the first base line, though? Oh right, the SAINT LOUIS CARDINALS.

Again, the person who organized the event did a fine job, but having the Cardinals introduced before the festivities even began was a Total Frat Move. I mean, remember when the Giants actually had to play a game on Friday? Tony La Russa looked pretty mad after about 45 seconds of the Train performance. And when La Russa is mad, the opposing team knows. Just ask Dusty Baker.

The Redbirds returned the favor, however, and for every minute that the Giants made them wait, the Cardinals repaid it double in extra innings. And for every moment of awkwardness there was one of torture at the end of the game.

Brian Wilson was mad at the lack of strikes. Mark DeRosa was mad about the abundance of strikes. Ryan Franklin was mad about the resurgent Panda. Panda was mad that people started trimming fat off the sides of their panda masks.

Tony LaRussa was mad at everyone for laughing at his glasses, so he came up with one of the most unique managerial decisions that I have ever seen and put his left-fielder at third base. And Aaron Rowand smashed one down the line, right at LF/3B Allen Craig. (By the way, La Russa should ALWAYS be in the running for Manager of the Year.)

Luckily for us, there are some things that can't be defeated by managerial expertise. Like a bomb off the left-field wall.

Alex Pavlovic tweeted the following:

@AlexPavlovic: Today, we spell redemption R-O-W-A-N-D. #SFGiants

And you know what? If Aaron Rowand is going to be as productive a bench player as he has been, I can't just write him off. He's fighting for a roster spot, and Great Scott! is he fighting for it. He's hitting .600 with 3 runs and a .900 slugging percentage. And for the second straight year, he capped off the home opener with a walkoff hit.

Thank the baseball gods that the Giants won. WIth that pregame display of hubris, the Giants are lucky no one got struck by lightning.

Don't get me wrong, they deserved to celebrate. We just have to remember that 2010 is over and 2011 is here.

We can enjoy this weekend, but hopefully the Giants remember that there's still baseball to play.


Programming Alert: Let the Festivities Continue!

What do you mean it's not 2010 anymore?

The Giants opened up the 2011 season in Los Angeles this year, and the World Series Champions brought in 56,000 people to Chavez Ravine. The next day, attendance dropped over 11,000 to 44,834.

Then they traveled to San Diego, where they were the guests to the Padres and 43,146 of their fans at the home opener at Petco Park. On Thursday, attendance at Petco was cut almost in half, to 24,368, a healthy portion of which were Giants fans.

With the Giants opening up their park for the first meaningful games since the World Series today against the St. Louis Cardinals, that party that started in November will just keep on going. There will be no letdown at the gates of AT&T Park from Friday to Saturday, or even to Sunday, because every seat at AT&T Park is sold out.

That's right, every seat. So if you don't have tickets, you'd better be watching it somewhere.

And if you're watching the pageantry of this weekend somewhere, then you're probably watching Comcast SportsNet, who will be covering all of the pregame festivities that most of us fans just aren't able to get out to the yard to see in person.

The Flag Raising Ceremony? That's happening today, with coverage starting at 12pm with Giants Pregame Live (gametime at 12:45). You can even chat about it with Ray Ratto and Mychael Urban during the game.

The World Series Championship Ring Ceremony? That's on Saturday at 5:30, following a special edition of Inside the Clubhouse: Defending the Title (gametime at 6:00).

The presentation of Buster Posey's Rookie of the Year award? You guessed it, Sunday. That presentation will also be featured during Giants Pregame Live at 12:30 (gametime at 1:00).

Oh yeah, and the Cardinals are in town playing baseball, too. This is a big series for the Giants. My hope is that they got all this nervousness out of their system playing in front of hostile crowds. AT&T Park has always provided a haven of sorts. The Giants had a .605 winning percentage at home last year, and your home park is always a good one for getting back on track.

All games will be followed immediately by Giants Postgame Live, and at some point during the night by SportsNet Central.

If you're one of those poor souls who just can't afford to sell enough organs to buy tickets today, don't be discouraged. Through the wonders of technology, all your wildest dreams will come true.*

*Only valid if your wildest dreams include watching Brandon Belt and Miguel Tejada awkwardly stand by while the REAL Giants  get their rings.


It's All Just a Little Bit of History Repeating

Remember, remember, the fifth of November. Errr...April.

That doesn't really make any sense, because April 5th was Opening Day in 2010, and the Giants beat the Astros 5-2. Tim Lincecum dominated Roy Oswalt, Edgar Renteria had 13 hits, and Brian Wilson got the save and the first idea of a World Series beard popped into his head. A standard 2010 Giants game.

And then they went to southern California and this happened.

That was 2010.

In 2009, there weren't even regular season games on April 5th, but after that things looked very similar. The Giants scored 19 runs in three days, and then got on a plane for San Diego and Los Angeles.

Here in 2011, the reigning World Champions have started off like so, with April 5 looking like the Giants just got Padre'd.

So what am I trying to say here? That everything is fine?

No, I'm not. The defense is still not clicking, or catching anything. The magic that was inside is suddenly not there. The bullpen that was stellar all last season is missing its anchor. And seriously. These errors.

Basically, the Giants are not playing well right now. At all. The fact that there was no opening series against the Astros/Brewers to make us feel better didn't really help, because now the Giants are 1-4 and there's only 157 games left.

But Brian Wilson is coming back today, which is good. Some fire is good. That's one thing that I can say about Buster Posey and Brandon Belt (so far): they're great, great, great players. But exciting? Freddy Sanchez is exciting. Pablo Sandoval is exciting. They yell, and have nicknames, and have facial expressions.

Brian Wilson will bring some life back to this team. Aubrey Huff (0-4 on Tuesday) is too tired to do so right now. Pat Burrell has nothing to get excited about (3-18 so far). They need it from somewhere. And fast.

There are still six full months until the end of this season. Plenty of time to work things out. Look what's happened the last two years. Now, that's not exactly indicative that the team will turn it around the rest of the year and all of a sudden repeat as World Champs just because they looked terrible on their first trip inside the division.

All they DO need to do is to win. That 10-0 win felt great, and it made it seem like the Giants were right back where they were. But that's the only time this year that I felt comfortable watching the team. These games against the Dodgers and Padres will never be easy, and they will always expose some flaw in the Giants that wasn't there before.

It just stinks that us fans had to watch these two teams out of the gate. I can't wait for this southern swing to end. I mean, since when have any of you been relieved to have Albert Pujols and the Cardinals roll into town?

P.S. Aaron Rowand is hitting .571/.571/1.000, and the Giants are undefeated when he starts. Start your revolution, friends.


Get Well Soon, Cody Ross!

As our friend Grant over at McCovey Chronicles details so succinctly, Aubrey Huff had a miserable day yesterday. Saturday was fun, mostly because the Giants won. Sunday was not, mostly because the non-plays that Huff non-made created rallies for the Dodgers that ended up being the difference in the game.

Grant also brings up a really good point about the 2011 Giants and the decisions to (1) re-sign Aubrey Huff and (2) keep Brandon Belt up in the majors.
"What if that guy who was given $22M on the assumption that he can play the outfield...can’t actually play the outfield at all?
Now, yesterday was just a bad game for Huff. I guarantee Jose Guillen would have made maybe one of the 37 balls hit to Huff yesterday look easier than it did, but its certainly not like the Giants are experimenting with Doug Mirabelli out in right field.

However, the Giants were supposed to be a better team with Belt at first base. Again, that's Belt, at first base. Not with Huff in the outfield. I'm not saying that Huff's contract is now expendable, because it's not. His leadership in the clubhouse last year was a huge part of the Giants push to the World Series.

But with Belt at first, and looking very good there, Huff is relegated to the outfield. And over the first couple days of the season, it looks like the Water Buffalo Defense is sickly and old, about to get pounced on by a cheetah or some other big predator that preys on position players playing out of position.

In any event, something has to be done. Which is where Andrew Baggarly comes in.

Move Huff to left field. Start Nate Schierholtz in right. And use Burrell off the bench.
Ta-da! Problem solved!

Burrell has two hits this year. Granted, they've both been homeruns that have brought the Giants within striking distance, but that's two hits in 18 at-bats. Two hits, one walk, and five strikeouts. Those are 2010 playoff numbers.

It looks like that whole thing that I wrote, about how Burrell's success depends on him being able to drive the ball the other way like he did in Spring Training, isn't panning out so far. He's been pulling his head off the ball again, and those pitches he was driving to the right-center gap in March are just being popped up or rolled over.

Give the guy a day off. And with Nate Schierholtz in right, Andres Torres can even shade over to help out Huff in left a little bit. Because Aubrey Huff is not an above-average outfielder in any of the outfielder aspects except for in the batters box.

With Burrell's bat being as quiet as it has been, Huff still needs to play somewhere. Since Cody Ross will be coming back to play right field soon, the Giants should put Huff in left and have Schierholtz in right.

Bruce Bochy has been able to make things work on the offensive side of the ball so far, but you can tell that he's really frustrated with the defense. And if the Giants can score 10 runs with the Rowand/Tejada lineup, I'm pretty sure Bochy will do his thing and put his best (or at least better) defense on the field.


Giants Title Defense Begins With No Defense

I recently started coaching for my high school baseball team again, and that means rehashing all of the old coaching philosophies of my high school coach. In the broad sense, he stressed that if you executed, you won. If you made a mistake, you lost.

Basically: don't walk anyone, don't make any errors, manufacture runs, and you'll be successful.

All of our teams had two real hitters, a couple top-rate pitchers, and solid defenders at every position.  We would score around three runs a game, and that always seemed to be enough. If you walked anyone, or made a sloppy play in the field or failed to execute, you got pulled.

When it came down to it, the Giants just made too many mistakes to win last night. Walks and errors will bury you. The Giants had zero games last year where they made three errors. They only had four games with two errors. You could have a lineup full of homerun hitting Pat Burrells, but if they all make fielding errors, that crazy team will lose.

Running the numbers, Tim Lincecum is on pace to have an ERA of 0.00 but still have an 0-32 season, the Giants won't win a game, and Pat Burrell will have 162 homeruns. And the Giants will make 468 errors (they had 44 last year).

Pretty sure there's an excuse for that throw in the glove somewhere...

Buster Posey made a mistake today. Not even a rookie mistake. It was worse than a rookie mistake. As in, possibly a Little League mistake. The runner was clearly on the bag, and Sandoval was not exactly hollering for the ball. But Posey threw it anyway, and the ball squirted down the left-field line. Ugly.

Miguel Tejada had zero plate discipline and was certainly pressing in the field on the Opening Day stage. Santiago Casilla walked James Loney, who came around to score. There's no defense for walks.

On the other hand, Pat Burrell sure knows how to keep the Giants in the game. That's been his MO since he came to the Giants, and right when they needed some late-inning heroics, he sure tried his best. He just didn't wait until there were people on base in front of him.

Tim Lincecum and Brandon Belt certainly impressed too. A lot was made out of Buster Posey's ability to work a count when he came up last year, and Belt is showing that he can do the exact same thing. He saw more pitches than anyone, and he's really got an eye for the strike zone, which was especially impressive against Clayton Kershaw (who is severely underappreciated as an elite pitcher).

But the Giants didn't execute. And it cost them.

Yes, it's only one game. And yes, it can be fully attributed to the fact that, after winning the World Series, the Giants plan was to lose the first game, and look badly doing it, just to make everyone feel like they have a fighting chance. Let's face it. After winning the World Series AND the Cactus League championship, the Giants have pretty much established themselves as unstoppable.

We all knew they'd have to lose sometime. Better to get it out of their system early though, and save up for September. One down, 161 to go.

Execute, Giants, and you will win.