The San Francisco Giants are slipping. In five days, their two-game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers has disappeared; they now trail Los Angeles by two games.
San Francisco’s two newest acquisitions didn’t help as the Dodgers dominated in a three-game sweep of the Giants.
Dan Uggla — who owns the major’s worst batting average over the past few seasons — went hitless in eight at-bats, struck out four times, and made three critical errors in the series. Although he pitched well, newcomer Jake Peavy received the loss in the final game of the series.
It’s no excuse for the Giants’ recent struggles, but San Francisco has been bitten by the injury bug, especially of late.
Marco Scutaro has played in a few games all season and is currently on the disabled list because of a cranky back. It’s unclear whether he will play again this season. The same goes for Matt Cain, who is also on the disabled list because of discomfort in his right elbow. Originally, no ligament damage occurred and surgery was out of the picture, but general manager Brian Sabean hinted at a DL stint longer than expected.
Sabean said Cain "going to be out a while." That's why he pushed for Peavy yesterday.
— Alex Pavlovic (@AlexPavlovic) July 26, 2014
The Giants also have two players on the seven-day concussion DL: Brandon Belt and backup catcher Hector Sanchez. Belt’s seems to be lingering longer than expected, but he should begin a rehab assignment soon, according to reports.
Perhaps the most important injury is Angel Pagan. He has been out since mid-June. His absence has coincided with San Francisco’s historic fall from atop the NL West. He also is expected to begin a rehab assignment soon, assuming everything goes as planned during his workout.
I am part of the minority party that believes Pagan and Belt will be back soon (I also believe Cain will be gone for the season) and many of the Giants’ current problems will be fixed. However, even if that does happen — and it will — there is still a gaping hole at second base.
Scutaro cannot play everyday, Uggla can’t play defense or make contact, and both Ehire Adrianza and Joe Panik don’t seem to be major-league ready (Adrianza is out of options, so he’ll probably stay in the big leagues regardless).
Assuming Pagan and Belt do return soon, is second base as much of an issue anymore? It’d be the only soft-spot in the lineup. Couldn’t San Francisco deal with an automatic out if they knew they were getting great defense? Sure, the way things stand now it wouldn’t be that big of an issue.
If the Giants have the opportunity to get better, they must. They have a chance to shore up not only their second base issues, but also their bench deficiencies with the addition of current Tampa Bay Ray Ben Zobrist.
The Giants are rumored to have inquired Tampa Bay about Zobrist, and the talks seem to be intensifying.
Zobrist is the epitome of a utility man and would have no problem playing second base everyday. He could also spell Brandon Crawford at shortstop when needed and can play a solid right field.
Giants remain interested in Zobrist despite giving up 2 prospects in Peavy deal. Giants had 2 scouts watching Rays this weekend.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 28, 2014
Unfortunately for San Francisco, the Rays have gotten hot of late. A few weeks ago, it seemed as if Tampa Bay was dead in the water. However, their recent hot streak — which has put them back into contention for an AL East title — may persuade the Rays to hold on to valuable pieces such as Zobrist and Price.
This may force the Giants to give up more to acquire Zobrist, but if the past is an indicator, it doesn’t really matter.
Just last week the Giants gave up two of their most promising pitching prospects in Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree to attain the aging Peavy, who was 1-9 with the Boston Red Sox.
The Giants’ farm system is thinning, but with the recent failures at second base, I’m sure Sabean and company would be willing to give up prospects.
I’d certainly be on board.