The Giants are remarkably in a virtual tie with the San Diego Padres – they are just a few miniscule percentage points out of first, technically – with just 18 games to play. Sure, the ten straight losses by San Diego were serendipitous, but every team has it’s woes in a 162-game schedule and the Padres finally had theirs. Of those teams still vying for a spot in extra baseball, the Giants have one of the best schedules a team could hope for. Not only are they playing 12 of 18 in front of the Orange and Black home crowd, but their average opponent has a run differential of - 21. Unfortunately, the bizarre has struck.
Their speedy centerfielder, Andres Torres, is likely lost for the remainder of the regular season after having his appendix removed. That’s an enormous problem for two reasons. For one, Torres is a ridiculously gifted centerfielder that’s been covering the Giants’ corners – and butts – all season long. The combination of Pat Burrell and Jose Guillen in left and right is out-of-this-world bad. Aaron Rowand is no slouch in center, but he’s no Torres – who was close to leading all major league outfielders in UZR. The second problem is that the Giants have zero, zip, zilch, nada, nunca, no legitimate candidates to replace Torres at leadoff. But to be fair, it’s important to recall that Torres had been slumping horribly before going down. He basically had begun striking out 40% of the time and walking 0% for a relatively extended period of time. This is not an exaggeration. I was hopeful he would return to his double hitting and count working, but it’s safe to say this will impact the Giants most defensively, all things being held constant.
The Giants’ most likely candidate to replace Torres is Aaron Rowand, but please don’t kill the messenger. I’d love to disparage Bochy for likely heading in this direction. Unfortunately, I am unable to come up with much of a better alternative. Cody Ross has flat out stunk since coming over from Florida. The other option, Darren Ford, wasn’t hitting very much at all even in Double-A, Richmond. I think he’d do a nice job covering the outfield but I’m not sure he’d be able to get on base often enough for his best tool, speed, to make up for what he lacks with the stick. Maybe this is an option if only because without Torres, the Giants’ speed is whittled down to literally none. The best cast scenario might be that the Giants simply bat Rowand lower in the order – as in 8th – and try someone else at leadoff. Then simply cross your fingers and toes. Rowand has been known to catch fire from time to time He brings new meaning to the phrase outhouse (90% of the time) to castle (10%). I wouldn’t be opposed to putting Sanchez at leadoff and moving Posey to the two-hole, Huff third, Burrell cleanup and building from there.
Another fact is this: if the Padres lose tonight, the Giants will be in sole possession of first place. But therein lays another problem. If the Padres lose, then the Rockies will have won 11 straight and put themselves within 1 game of first place. That’s flat out absurd. The Padres could conceivably find themselves in third place after less than two weeks time with about a seven (7) game lead. It’s very difficult to come up with a preference for the winner of this series. The best case scenario would honestly be that each games goes extra innings and they both completely wipe out their pitching staff. If only they could somehow both lose. I can literally feel the three game matchup between the Giants and Rockies at Coors Field approaching.
Opponents Average Run Differential (OARD) – Update
Reds = - 62, 9 Home and 9 Away, Next: 3 vs. AZ
Phillies = +11, 9 Home and 8 Away Next: 2 at FLA
Braves = +23, 8 Home and 9 Away, Next: 2 vs. WAS
Giants = - 21, 12 Home and 6 Away, Next: 3 vs. LAD
Padres = +32, 7 Home and 12 Away, Next: 2 at COL
Rockies = +27, 8 Home and 10 Away, Next: 2 vs. SD
Cardinals = - 72, 13 Home and 7 Away, Next: 2 vs. CHC