A team that doesn’t care about defense but I think you already know that.

It legitimately doesn’t seem to be a priority. They were above average last season, but clearly that was happenstance and not at all by design.

What they are missing the most, in my opinion is Buster Posey.

The player. The mentor. The quiet leadership. The clubhouse supreme leader. The influencer of the manager and administration.

Of course, they are missing way more than that. The older players aged faster than Kathleen Turner after a bottle of Jack. The wonderkind closer has had hiccups, and the domino effect and panic reshuffling if roles has failed badly.

Worst problem of all is the defense. Crawford, when playing, isn’t near his usual level. Belt isn’t either. Longo is hot and cold. (Thairo gets grief but he’s an upgrade over LaStella and on par with Solano) . Wade is a disaster at first. Wilmer is slower than ever. The outfield is spotty at best.

Zaidi rolled the dice hoping for squeezing another year out of the core..but the bananas went brown overnight. Gabe is managing differently.

So, if Craw and Belt heal a bit, if Webb and Rodón get more help from Wood, Cobb, Junis, and maybe Boyd…if some pen dudes step up…if Villar and Gonzo seize the day…they will sneak in.

No trade deadline magic pill will move the needle much. The answer has to be in that clubhouse. Even though this weekend didn’t look like it’s in there…it might be

The Black Monday Take

Ok, so it was a very bad weekend. We all know the Giants got swept in a four game series by the Los Angelinos in Southern California for the first time since Bill Clinton was President.

But, as Baggarly said, here are the cold hard facts about that series: The Giants were in every game:

It’s wild when you think about it: The Giants led in the eighth inning Thursday, they were tied in the eighth inning Friday, they trailed all game but managed to bring the winning run to the plate in the ninth inning Saturday and they were tied again in the seventh inning Sunday. Yet when the series concluded, you had the feeling that the Giants never really played well enough to give themselves a chance. They made four errors in the series and there were countless other physical mistakes the Dodgers were able to leverage into an extra base or an extended inning.

So it’s either a glass half-full or half empty question. Mine is that the glass is fully empty, in fact its cracked and on the verge of breaking.

Pinch-Hitting David Villar for Brandon Belt Is Inexcusable

It’s horrible managing. It’s managing by orthodoxy and formulae and demonstrates an egomania of epic proportions, the kind that can bring down an entire team. In no world is this move defensible. The aftereffects, particularly on the veterans, will lead to more damage to the team and to the reputations of both Farhan Zaidi and Kapler. Consider this scenario: You are a veteran or in the prime player and the Giants are considering trading for you or signing you as a free agent. Just how excited will you be about the possibility of playing for an organization that makes such horrible platoon moves and pinch-hitting decisions? Nope!

The Giants Bullpen Is Done

Stick a fork in them.

Between the lefty disasters of Sam Long and Jarlin Garcia or Tyler Rogers’ miserable outing yesterday and miserable season this part of the team has gone from a strength in 2021 to a glaring weakness. It’s time for drastic changes and demonstrates how fickle and how unpredictable bullpens can be from year to year or month to month. Is the opposition scouting better? Are the Giants pitching staff and catchers not counter-adjusting? Whatever the case, between pitch calls, pitch execution and the horrid defense, the Giants bullpen is an utter and complete disaster.

The Giants Miss Buster

This is a narrative that nobody can deny. Even Gabe Kapler and Farhan Zaidi have admitted it:

“There’s nobody who has the experience that Buster does or has the feel for the game that Buster does,” Kapler said. “Joey is very much a young, developing catcher who just doesn’t have a huge file yet. He hasn’t seen things play out over and over and over. At some point, I think Joey will make a visit and he’ll say, ‘Look, it’s a great time to bounce a curveball’ or to have enough of a feel for Cody Bellinger’s swing to go, ‘I can go fastball up and out of the zone and maybe get a chase here.’ But that’s not Joey’s fault that he doesn’t have the experience and the feel that Buster did.”

Look, no there’s no replacing the greatest catcher in franchise history but the dropoff, compounded by the Casali injury, has simply been too great to prevent disaster. The Giants defense and pitching staff have suffered tremendously from the inexperience of Bart and Wynns. The catching position is so nuanced and so integral to run prevention that it’s hard to over-estimate it. Calling the right pitches (no more curveballs to Bellinger!), knowing how to coax strikes from struggle pitchers in key situations, knowing how to position players, knowing hot to get in batters’ heads, all of these things and more were part of Posey’s greatness. Don’t even get me started with his contributions as a batter. They are too many to list.

Farhan Zaidi and the Giants Are In No-Man’s Land

Right now, because of their mediocrity and crazy expectations coming off a 2021 season, the Giants are in a kind of organizational purgatory. Their farm system has regressed this year. Most of their top prospects have regressed. The big league club is stuck in mediocrity with really only Logan Webb and Carlos Rodon as legitimate stars upon which to build a championship caliber team. They have too many aging veterans hurt or underperforming or both. They have too many fringe players who do not belong on a baseball diamond from a defensive standpoint in a close game. They have publicly claimed they will not sell when in fact it’s time to rebuild the team entirely. In short, the Giants appear to be short of real and honest leadership at the ownership level. Things do not look good and anyone who thought 2021 was a harbinger of things to come was delusional or drunk on NL West Championship Cold Duck.

The Zaidi Free Agent Signings Record is a Mixed Bag

Yes on Kevin Gausman. Yes on Carlos the Magnificent. But the Tommy LaStella and Anthony Desclafani deals are unqualified disasters. The Giants as a team would be better off DFAing LaStella. He cannot play defense anymore and he is not a good enough run-producer to DH.

Was letting Kevin Gausman go off to Toronto a good move? Well… yes and know. It’s hard to say if the deal Gausman signed would end up being sunken costs later in his contract but keeping him sure would have made the Giants a much better team. I will give Zaidi a pass on this decision because even if Gausman, Rodon and Webb are all on the starting rotation, the defense and roster construction of everyday players is still a holy mess.

The Giants Must Be Smart Sellers at the Trade Deadline

Here is what I mean by that: This team is going nowhere in October, even if it qualifies for the postseason. With that obvious reality Giants ownership and management needs to make smart moves to bolster the outfield and bullpen by moving assets who do not have a long-term future with the Giants, notably Joc Pederson, Wilmer Flores and possibly, for the right return, Carlos Rodon. If the Giants cannot get Rodon at the right price (I am thinking at least two top prospects from the right organization and one solid bullpen arm) they should re-sign him at the end of the year.

The Giants Need to Re-Think Their Baseball-by-Computer Philosophy

It’s not working. See above. It’s alienating good players. See above. It’s a disgrace to simple common sense and basic baseball intuition. Enough. Just stop it. Be more flexible. Make more nuanced in-game and pre-game moves that go against the analytics orthodoxy for heaven’s sake! The madness needs to stop. Analytics has had its moment, particularly for cheap and poor teams in small markets but the insanity of Mercedes playing in left field over Joc Pederson or lifting Brandon Belt for a pinch hitter with 14 career games in the Majors just must end now. It’s time for ownership to step in and do something.

What Are the Giants Goals?

Are the Giants content to get into the postseason? Is this what makes fans and ownership happy? Is it enough to win a division? For me the answer to these questions is obviously “No”. If you do not have the World Series Championship as your goal every year it means you are doing something wrong as an organization. The Giants are being run like a team content with squeaking into the playoffs. There is no outcry at this horrible stretch from ownership. The fans are staying home in droves (thanks in part to inflation, covid and other issues) because this team is boring, old, and does not have one legitimately exciting player who takes the field every day. It’s time to rethink the process and rethink the entire philosophy of player development and drafting because there is nothing on the horizon that gives me cause for excitement or optimism. When the Giants were at the end of the Bonds Era and the pre-Lincecum and Posey eras they were losing but the fans had a reason for optimism knowing they had serious talent down on the farm. I miss those days.