CINCINNATI – One day after the Giants were no-hit for the first time in a decade, who do you think happened to show up in the visiting clubhouse?
The pee test guys. It’s all random, and the players know that. But they still had to shake their heads at the timing.
It’s the same song for the Giants but with a deeper and lower register. The no-hitter by Homer Bailey wasn’t just a momentary chest pain. This was another symptom of a serious condition. And yet, even though they’ve scored 24 runs in their last 12 games, and even though they are 1-7 on another disastrous road trip, they remain three games back in the NL West.
They were three out when the trip began. They’re three out now. (They’re also in last place – the first time that’s happened after May 1 since 2007, that warped season when winning the game was the second goal and watching Barry Bonds hit a home run was the first.)
Ultimately, the biggest potential regret for the Giants – and the Diamondbacks, Rockies and Padres, too – is that they let the Dodgers back in it. They have momentum and money down in L.A., and that is a powerful combination.
The Dodgers are sure to be active in the weeks leading up to (and following) the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. They have baseball’s biggest payroll. You don’t splurge on the Maserati and then skimp on a couple extra bucks to keep it detailed. They will look to add, and in many cases, they will target the same players the Giants have.
In a karmic sense, the Giants could end up paying for blocking Cody Ross from going to the Padres in 2010.
The fans back home are upset, and have every right to be. When your team is in free-fall, it’s your right to vent. But do not look for the Giants to sell. Not when there’s a lot of baseball to be played and three games separate five teams – and when you’ve still got a chance, however absurd it might seem at the moment, to be the first NL team to win back-to-back World Series titles since the iconic Big Red Machine.
To use a tortured football analogy, it’s 4th and 19 for the Giants. Not a good down. But they’ve still got the ball at their opponent’s 20. And you don’t punt in the red zone.
I do think, however, that the Giants’ miserable performance (they own the majors’ worst record, 16-29, since May 14) absolutely will influence the way GM Brian Sabean and the front office decides to act at the trade deadline.
The Giants will be less likely to trade even their B-level prospects. You certainly won’t see them sacrifice their top guy, Kyle Crick, the way they did with Zack Wheeler two years ago. You just can’t make that kind of trade twice in three seasons. And does it really look like one bat, one arm, would put this current team over the top?
No, I think you’ll see the Giants continue to roll with what they have, for better or worse. If they can swallow a bit of money or give up a player whose development has stalled, like they did with Charlie Culberson to get Marco Scutaro last year, then I think you’d see them take on a rental player.
Otherwise, I’ll tell you exactly what this trade season will be for the Giants. It will be 2005 all over again.
The Giants were not a good team in 2005. Bonds’ knee got infected, he had three surgeries and didn’t play until September. That worked out just dandy after the Giants signed Moises Alou to be Bonds’ protection in the lineup. It was a flawed team with a 45-57 record after July 29.
They weren’t buried in the division, though. They were only 5 ½ games out. The Bochy-led Padres were in first place with a 51-52 record (and 82-80 ended up being good enough to win the NL West).
The Giants made a trade. They dealt Yorvit Torrealba and Jesse Foppert to the Mariners for Randy Winn. He was a professional, everyday player who had one more full season before free agency. He filled a need and ended up being a part of the picture for three additional years, after he destroyed everything thrown to him that September to earn a contract extension.
I think the Giants are going to enter this trade market looking for Randy Winn. Or at least someone who could plug in as an everyday player or rotation stalwart beyond this season. Alex Rios and Jake Peavy both fall into that category; they’re owed almost $27 million between the two of them next year. So of all the names on the trade market, I can see the Giants trying to make a match there.
But don’t expect to snap your fingers right now and wake up to find a new player at Great American Ball Park. When you’re having chest pains, that’s no time to order the bone-in ribeye.
Marco Scutaro is out of Wednesday’s lineup against Reds lefty Tony Cingrani because his back is acting up again. It’s obviously affecting him at the plate.
“It’s shown its effects,” Bochy said. “He’s trying to be a warrior and play through it. it’s to the point he needed a break.”
Bochy would love to sit down Pablo Sandoval (1 for 22) and Brandon Crawford (0 for 18) as well. But Joaquin Arias’ hamstring isn’t quite ready. He’s available to double-switch and play defense, said Bochy, and he could start Thursday.
You might wonder why Gregor Blanco, also towing an 0 for 19, is leading off against a lefty. Bochy said he didn’t want to put Andres Torres in the top spot because he needs to break up the lefties in the lower part of the order.
That’s another domino that’s out of line because Arias can’t start.
Santiago Casilla threw two scoreless innings Tuesday for Single-A San Jose and he’ll make one more appearance on Thursday. He’ll be activated after that if all goes well, although the Giants might wait to do it until Saturday.
The Giants claim they still haven’t heard anything about George Kontos’ appeal. He’s still got a three-game suspension pending from hitting Andrew McCutchen in Pittsburgh.
Bochy had one way to distract himself from his club getting no-hit for the third time in his 18 years as a manager. He spent some more time going over his NL All-Star reserves.
I asked Bochy if he’s gotten a lot of calls from managers looking to stump for their guys. He was surprised and said no, he hadn’t heard from a lot of people. But he wanted to make his own calls and find out who’s pitching on the Sunday before the break, etc.
Bochy said he sees nothing wrong with naming a pitcher to the All-Star team knowing full well that they are starting on that Sunday, and therefore ineligible to appear at Citi Field. It’s a way to get a 2-for-1, since Bochy can name a replacement and reward another pitcher who deserves to go.
And there are a lot of deserving pitchers, both starters and relievers.
“Leaving guys off, that’s by far the hardest thing,” Bochy said. “More gets written about the snubs than the guys who make it. You know you’ll leave off guys who deserve it.”
I checked: Homer Bailey won’t pitch on that last Sunday. He’d go two days earlier if the Reds stay on turn.