Ratto: Giants running out of options

August 26, 2011, 6:25 am
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Aug. 25, 2011


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So on a day in which the Yankees batted around four times in four innings, the Giants batted around . . . well, three and a half times in a game.

What the Yankees did was unprecedented. What the Giants did was be Giants. Six-hit by the crushing combination of Henry Sosa, Wilton Lopez and Mark Melancon, slapped about by the death bats of Jordan Schafer and J.D. Martinez, smothered again by the Houston-For-Gods-Sake Astros.

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Except for the fact that these Astros are younger, hungrier and have nothing to lose between now and seasons end but their places in line come spring training, this would be a wounding result for the Giants.

The facts, though, are these: One hitter, Pablo Sandoval, is having a better season than he did a year ago. The fans newest darling is Brandon Belt, who is hitting .239 with a .341 on-base percentage and a .422 slugging average. Hes the one people want to bat leadoff, or cleanup, depending on who you ask and how many drinks into the evening you ask. The cries for minor leaguers like Brett Pill grow louder on the always-admirable theory that Well, they cant be worse than this.

And while we dont tend to enjoy arguing with fans who have We dont know what were asking for but we know what were tired of looking at on their sides, we do know this: When youre asking to see the minor leaguers before the September call-ups and the guys with 109 career at-bats in the four-hole, youre in the mood to throw the season away, and panic seems like a controlled response by comparison.

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The Giants have been playing putrid baseball since the day they left Philadelphia on the wings of Tim Lincecums crushing of the Phillies. And when we say putrid, we mean this:

For an entire month, they are averaging, get this, 2.69 runs per game. For an entire month, they are hitting .214. They have the same record since July 28 as the . . . oh, you knew this was the answer, you salty complainers . . . Houston Astros.

You can stretch these statistics and hundreds more out to sabermetric infinity, and youll still come to the same conclusion:

Its a wonder these guys won the eight games they did.

Now moving Belt to a more important part of the order presumes he is ready for that responsibility, and calling up the Fresno Hussars for active duty is a grand notion, but they all smack of the same thing being out of other ideas because nothing seems to work with the people youre paying the real money to.

And when youve reached that point, youve probably reached the point of no return. Every disparaging thing you may say about Arizona might very well be true, but theyre not the ones winning twice a week, or losing the opener of every series they play, or averaging 2.69 runs per game.

The point? When youre this bad for this long, what you have is system-wide failure, and to expect Brandon Belt, or Brett Pill, or Eric Surkamp, or anyone else not currently dressing in the big boys room to save them from themselves is folly. A new lineup card cannot redeem them. Bunting around the bases is not the ticket to salvation.

They either save themselves as they did a year ago, or they cant be saved at all. Its not really more complicated than that. Today, the Giants have just walked a month in the Houston Astros shoes. Its up to them to decide how much longer they think thats a good way to kill a summer.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

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