The 5 Ton Elephant at SBC Park

Come on, everyone knows what the problem is with this team. Anyone who's seen a non-starter pitch knows what the problem is. The easy question is to ask why nothing's being done about it. The harder one is, why do the Giants have 3 shortstops and only 6 men in the ‘Pen?

I was going to write about how the final two months of the season will be a tale of two teams, exemplified by the back to back weekend series with the Cardinals, and the shellacking first handed out by then handed to Matt Morris. How this is a team that can beat anyone in the majors, and yet at the same time can doom itself to defeat with unimaginable mistakes and lapses of focus. But ultimately, it falls down to one ultimate truth that it seems few people are officially saying.

This bullpen sucks.

No, I mean it really sucks.

But you don't need me to tell you that. Obviously, if you're reading this column, you're a Giants fan of some level, and you've seen this team's late inning shenanigans. You don't need the stats to tell you that the Giants' bullpen 4.92 ERA is the 4th worst in the majors, and one of the teams behind them is the Coors enhanced staff of the Rockies. Or that their 1.61 WHIP is dead last in the league, as well as opponent's on base percentage and slugging percentage.

This bullpen stinks.

It's not like the pieces are supposed to be terrible. I thought this bullpen would be solid at the start of the year. It was missing a pure closer, sure, but there was no reason to expect that Matt Herges, a successful set-up man, wouldn't be able to pull a Tim Worrell. Felix Rodriguez, while maligned in the most high-profile ways, was certainly effective in the low-profile ways.

And yet, this bullpen can not seem to pull it together. Herges in particular has been terrible as of late (that is a 10.61 ERA in July). No one else is exactly performing, either. There's a lot of high ERA's in our bullpen. In fact, there are only 2 pitchers that have pitched for relief with the Giants with ERA's under 4. One is lefty specialist Scott Eyre, and the other is Felix Rodriguez.

Right, the recently departed Felix Rodriguez. Everyone else is 4+.

But that isn't what's bothering me. It's that no one of the official capacity, either on the team or in the media, is talking about it. This is not a bad team. The offense has it's slumps at time, but it is the 3rd highest scoring team in the league. The staff's ERA of 4.50 may land at 12th of 16 teams in the league, but the 4.30 ERA for starters is a closer to respectable 9th (which is ahead of those division leading Dodgers). And though the defense is often lacking, at other times, it is spectacular. But it's the bullpen that has shown little life in the past few months, and absolutely none lately.

Come on, this problem is obvious, even to us. Management is not this clueless. And being the head of a baseball team means you lie more often than we're going to get from the upcoming presidential campaign. So of course they aren't going to say anything about it.

So why isn't anything happening?

And I'm not exactly talking about the now departed trade deadline. I get that Sabean doesn't want to trade away the future for a decent at best short term guy (which is pretty much the extent of the trade market of pitchers). And I understand the Felix Rodriguez trade, when I look at it by itself. Seriously, that Alfredo Simon kid is regarded by many as we regard Merkin Valdez. To get him, and a solid backup outfielder in Ledee (another need), and to drop $2 million in salary for this year and next is an outright steal.

But it still dropped one of the best relievers from our bullpen. And beyond that, no one was brought in to replace him. And I don't just mean by trade. The Giants bullpen, the worst in the league, was dropped to 6 men, even if only until Jerome Williams went on the DL and AA Merkin Valdez was brought up to fill that hole.

The question remains as to who will be the 5th starter when Jerome's turn comes up, but that's beside the point. The Giants have a need. A desperate need. A serious, disgustingly bad need.

And yet, the Giants have kept a roster spot for Cody Ransom. Cody Ransom, who is batting .162. That alone wouldn't be bad if the Giants needed a backup shortstop. But therein lies the joke. He is the THIRD shortstop on the Giants roster. And that doesn't include Pedro Feliz's ability to fill in at that position.

So would someone please tell me why this guy is on the Giants roster when Dave Aardsma is pitching a sub 2.00 ERA with 8 saves at Fresno? Sure, Aardsma is only in his first full year of pro ball, and hasn't succeeded in his few previous stints in the majors (all but one of which was back in May or earlier). He has obviously hit a ceiling at AAA, and though he has a disturbingly high walk rate (21 in 39.2 innings), what could the Giants lose by bringing him up to help in their area of need, both now and in the future? The worst he could do is learn on the job, rather than others who are doing no progressing whatsoever.

In the circles I associate with, I'm known as an optimist. I've even been (wrongfully) accused as a Sabean and Magowan apologist. But I do try to see the methods to their madness, if not actually agreeing with it. This, I don't get. The Giants have 3 shortstops, an excess to the ridiculous when other areas are in such need. I don't get it. I just don't. And it's about time we, including the media that sit in much cushier press box seats than me, demanded an explanation.


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