Bringin' Da Heat: Fringe Days

The Dodgers swept the Giants at SBC Park, and that means it's an ugly day on the internet, on talk radio, the water cooler, or wherever you talk Giants baseball. The Lunatic Fringe is out in force, and they've got a right to be. In that spirit, I shall do my best to refrain from optimism.

Frankly put, this weekend's series against the Dodgers was the ugliest series I've seen the Giants play in a long time, possibly since the Park formerly known as Pac Bell opened. It was incredibly bad. And incredibly difficult to watch, when it wasn't Bonds at bat.

And thus, the Lunatic Fringe is out in full force. And while anyone who knows me knows I fight tooth and nail with the extremist gloom and doomers, the bottom line is that they have some things right.

This team truly needs someone else to step up, offensively. Ray Durham's return helped (and will continue to help), and Grissom is performing, though leaving Bonds on deck twice at the end of games hurts. But A.J., Edgardo Alfonzo, and the RF du jour definitely need to step it up.

The question really is, what can the Giants do to fix this problem?

The answer is: Not much.

There won't be many trades available until at least June, and more likely not until late July and the trading deadline. Therefore, any help will have to come from within.

Some of it's easy to look at. There's the impending return of Scott Eyre, who had his second good rehab start in Fresno this weekend. Nen is still supposedly due for late April, though at this point I don't know when/if he'll ever come back. The return of either of those two, if not both, will make a big difference in our bullpen.

Some things are harder to suggest. Usually when veterans aren't playing well, it helps to sit them for a day or two and replace them with an eager youngster from the bench. The problem is, our bench doesn't have many players who would be effective. The book is out on Feliz, and that'll limit his effectiveness. Cody Ransom is simply not a major league hitter. Maybe Dustan Mohr is the answer in right field for now, but he hasn't shown enough to even hope for that, yet.

Perhaps an answer is in Fresno. Brian Dallimore, the 1B-2B-3B-OF utility guy in Fresno did good leading off for a while (he's since been moved to third after a hot start), and is batting .302. He shows the ability to adjust to pitchers and is definitely eager. Tony Torcato looked very good to start the season, and has continued it in Fresno so far. He could play in either RF, 3B or 1B, just not very well at any of those places. And then there's Todd Linden, who's batting .313 in Fresno and really shown an ability to improve his plate discipline, his big knock so far. He's a switch hitter with some power and more than some speed.

Ultimately, though, none of those guys are going to make a difference. The three people who might are named Felipe Alou, Dave Righetti, and Jim Lefebvre. This may be a veteran team, but even veterans need some hands on help. They need to remember what turned around Alfonzo's season last year, and help bring it about. They need to find what's bothering A.J., and help him be more patient at the plate. And they desperately need to find a reason why no one on this team can zero in on a changeup.

Unfortunately, there's no sense of urgency right now amongst the coaching staff. "It's not my second start in life, it's my 50th start. They're all different. It's hard to anticipate or control how you [start],"Alou said after Sunday's game.

Well, it's not reassuring to hear that, no matter Alou's experience. I'm the most optimistic of fans, and it takes a lot to get me down.

But being swept by the Dodgers at home does it. And it's done it to all the fans. And it's not a good thing for a team to keep all it's fans feeling that, and waiting for the players and coaches to follow suit.

Other notes from the week that's been boxed:

  • Barry Bonds is simply the greatest hitter of all time. He just seems to be doing it at will now.

  • Schmidt's solid return gives this team hope, and takes a lot of pressure off of the rotation. I do feel that Williams and Tomko (who is now the owner of the doghouse in the hearts of Giants fans) will bounce back, and Hermanson right now is the best 5th starter in baseball.

  • Speaking of the rotation and the Lunatic Fringe, I really, honestly don't care that we don't have a #2 pitcher that is ‘scaring' anyone. If anything, I like having starters that make other teams so overconfident that they make themselves look like fools against us. Rueter is the master of that.

  • You won't here me say this often, but Neifi Perez's play on Sunday impressed me. Finally. For once, he looked like he was showing some effort out there.

  • On the subject of the changeup, the Giants couldn't hit it all weekend, but it was at it's worst against Odalis Perez on Friday night. I haven't seen a group of people thrown so off-balance from a change up since I saw ‘The Crying Game' in a theater.

  • J.T. Snow going 3 for 9 with 2 doubles is encouraging. I'm not sold that he's out of his slump, yet, but there is hope. Oops, so much for staying away from optimism.

  • BEEEP! BEEEEEEP! This is a message from the Obvious Broadcast System, for Pedro Feliz:

    Everyone knows you can't hit anything other than a Fastball. The guy with the best Fastball in the majors right now refused to throw you one, and made you look ugly with a changeup. You are not getting anymore fastballs this year.

    Please proceed to your nearest batting cage and stay there until you can hit pitches with movement.

    This is not a test.

  • Bonds hasn't hit a home run in an entire at bat.

    He's due. See you Monday Night at The Cove.



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