Thursday, April 12, 2007

Jayson Stark: Trouble Brewing for Giants

From "Ugly start usually means ugly finish" by Jayson Stark at

Geriatric Giants can't find the plate

Problem No. 1: Age
By the end of this month, there won't be one every-day player in this lineup under 32, and their two best players (Barry Bonds and Omar Vizquel) will be in their 40s. "Just an aging, station-to-station ball club," said one scout.

Problem No. 2: Offense
Not once in the 50 seasons since the Giants moved to San Francisco have they scored fewer runs than the 20 they've managed in their first nine games. How about these numbers, through Wednesday: Team batting average .232. Team on-base percentage .289. Team slugging percentage .307. Versus left-handed pitchers: .130/.259/.174. Runners in scoring position: .214 average, with no extra-base hits. Late and close: .179 average, with one RBI.

Problem No. 3: The ace
Granted, it's a little early to pronounce judgment on Barry Zito's mind-warping seven-year, $126 million jackpot. But in Zito's first start, he got just six swings and misses in 86 pitches. In his second start, it was only seven swings and misses in 100 pitches. Which might explain why one scout said this week: "Barry Zito was the single worst signing of the winter. He's just not a top-of-the-rotation guy anymore."

There ought to be enough starting pitching here to prevent this season from gurgling totally down the plumbing system. But we're so used to this team finding a way to contend, it was startling to hear one AL executive say this week: "Outside of a couple of pitchers, there's not much I like about the Giants."