Tag: Nate Schierholtz

MLB Postseason Talk: San Francisco Giants 25-Man Playoff Roster

The Giants have a magic number of one.

The only way the Giants do not win the division is for the struggling Padres to win four in a row against San Francisco.

What I am trying to say is that it’s over.

For those who have commented on my articles, I will say it: I was wrong. But I did say the Giants would win the division at the beginning of the season.

Since that’s out of the way, we can move on to what we all want to know. Who should be on the Giants 2010 postseason roster?

Any player added to the roster by September 1 is eligible for the postseason, and it is only a 25-man roster. Teams can also change rosters between series. This roster is only for the National League Division Series.

The easy choices are the following:

SP: Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, Madison Bumgarner, Barry Zito

RP: Brian Wilson, Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affedlt, Javier Lopez, Santiago Casilla

INF: Buster Posey, Aubrey Huff, Freddy Sanchez, Pablo Sandoval, Juan Uribe, Mike Fontenot

OF: Pat Burrell, Andres Torres, Jose Guillen

That is 19 guys. With six spots remaining, we have to take a closer look at who they have and who should be in.

There are 10 pitchers on that roster. Who else should be added to that staff?

Ramon Ramirez? Dan Runzler? Chris Ray? Maybe Guillermo Mota?

This is a team that has struggled more to score runs and may not carry as many pitchers to let more hitters on board.

San Francisco will probably go to a four-man rotation, meaning one of the lefties in the rotation will go to the bullpen. That would give the Giants three lefties in the pen.

Probably enough.

Ramirez maybe the only addition to the roster from the staff.

Now the hitters/defenders. The candidates are Cody Ross, Nate Schierholtz, Travis Ishikawa, Aaron Rowand, Edgar Renteria, and Eli Whiteside.

Whiteside is in because they need a backup catcher.

Ross and Schierholtz have come up huge in clutch situations and are the defensive replacements in the outfield. Ishikawa has been the Giants’ best pinch hitter all season and could provide some very good defense at first base.

One spot remaining. Pitcher or hitter?

For my last roster spot, I go back to the 2004 Boston Red Sox.

In game four of the ALCS, Dave Roberts stole second base late in that game and went on to comeback and win the game and the series.

Speed kills.

With that statement, I give my last roster spot goes to Darren Ford. He never has to pick up a bat. He doesn’t ever have to play defense.

All he would have to do is run the bases and wreak havoc on opposing pitchers and catchers.

As I am writing this, FP Santangelo named his 25-man roster and the only difference is Ford for Eugenio Velez.

I’m glad to hear I am not the only one to think this is the roster that should play in the NLDS.

One step at a time and the final step is to win Friday night. But after Friday night, this is what matters.

The best 25 men for the job.

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San Francisco Giants: Losing Torres Gives Them Reason To Test Drive Ford

Andres Torres, the center fielder and lead-off hitter, is the most irreplaceable member of the San Francisco Giants‘ lineup.

The Giants have to replace him, though, because he’s out for the remainder of the regular season following surgery on his appendix.

Naturally, manager Bruce Bochy responded to Torres being sidelined Sunday by inserting Aaron Rowand in the lead-off spot, playing center field. Rowand went hitless in five at-bats, showing how he wound up buried on the bench as the fifth, perhaps sixth outfielder (Cody Ross has played ahead of Rowand since arriving from Florida, and Nate Schierholtz is clearly more important to the Giants than Rowand, too).

The Giants can’t play the final 18 games of the season with Rowand playing center field, let alone batting lead-off. No way.

The obvious alternative to Rowand would be Ross. He’s a proven big league hitter who can play center field. Being the obvious alternative doesn’t make Ross a viable, let alone a productive alternative to the ailing Torres or Rowand.

Schierholtz? No. The club has tried dozens of combinations in an effort to come up with a consistent outfield rotation, and Schierholtz in center has never been considered an option.

Darren Ford, the 24-year-old rookie who hit a paltry .258 at Double-A Richmond, is an interesting alternative. He’s shown he can change games with his speed on the bases. The speed enables him to cover more ground in center than either Ross or Rowand. It’s possible, however, that Ford simply can’t handle big league pitching.

The Giants don’t really have time to think about what Ford, Ross, and Rowand can or can’t do. They know what Rowand provides. They likely figure that Ross would provide a little more, but not a great deal more, than Rowand.

Ford, however, provides the defense and speed that the Giants need—and, really, how much would he have to hit to hit more than Rowand?

Before falling back to the obvious fallback positions (Ross or Rowand) with Torres out, Bochy should try Ford in center and bat him in the eighth spot in the order. Bump Freddy Sanchez up to the lead-off spot. Maybe, shoot Buster Posey to the No. 2 hole—sure, he’s a middle-of-the-order RBI guy, but batting second means he’ll bat in the first inning in every game and maybe get an extra at-bat every day.

Opposing pitchers will at least give Ford a fighting chance if he’s hitting eighth ahead of the pitcher.

He doesn’t have to get on base three times a game. Ford just needs to get on base once or twice, any way he can, and then Bochy needs to sit back and see if he can steal a run in a season where one run could be the difference between a playoff spot and heading home the first Monday in October.

Bochy has surprised Giants fans lately with his willingness to acknowledge that runners in motion are more likely to produce runs than waiting for the three-run home run. Perhaps, he’ll surprise fans again and give the mercurial Ford a chance.


Ted Sillanpaa is a Northern California sports writer and columnist. Reach Ted at tsillanpaa1956@gmail.com

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San Francisco Giants Take Fascinating, Gut-Wrenching Path To Tie for First Place

Where were we?

Oh, right, nothing about yesterday’s game matters once today’s game starts.

The Giants belted the Padres 7-3 to win the opener of the important four-game NL West series Thursday in San Diego. Giants fans were roaring that everything had fallen into place.

Then on Friday night, the Giants squeaked out a gut-wrenching and fascinating 1-0 win over the Padres to move into a tie for the NL West lead.

San Francisco SP Jonathan Sanchez pieced together the five most maddening shutout innings that one could imagine. Five scoreless innings despite seven walks prove that even big league hitters aren’t crazy comfortable hitting against a guy with nasty stuff but no idea where the ball’s going.

San Diego’s Clayton Richard, an All-American sort who looks like he fell off the front of a Wheaties box, was breezing through the same Giants who crushed four home runs Thursday night. If he did not make quick work of the Giants, Sanchez and his search for the strike zone might have resulted in the top of the utterly intriguing seventh inning starting somewhere around midnight.

Truly, the top of the seventh might have been the most intriguing half inning a Giants fan has witnessed all year.

Richard hit Huff with a pitch to start the sixth. The lefty was cruising, but his first pitch was a ball to right-hand hitting Pat Burrell. It was Richard’s 85th pitch of the game. It was also his last. Manager Bud Black replaced Richard with righty Luke Gregerson. Richard was wavering and Black, understandably, didn’t want the next misplaced pitch to float out over the middle of the plate to Burrell.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy, in contrast, let Sanchez work through his walk on the wild side, figuring the lefty had pitched two wonderful games and that the Padres hadn’t solved him through five.

Still, once Sanchez escaped a jam in the fifth with a double play ground ball, Bochy pulled Sanchez with his shutout still in tact. There have been times in his tenure with the Giants where Bochy might have stuck with Sanchez as long as the game was scoreless. Credit him for calling the pitcher down from the tight rope and giving the game to the bullpen in an important game on Friday. (Also, remember the move when the pitcher bats for himself to start the sixth inning of a scoreless tie in April. All games are not created equal.)

Bochy deserves credit for sending Huff as Burrell struck out. The knock on the manager has been that he’s unwilling to put baserunners in motion or try to create runs. When he put Huff in motion, the first baseman stole his sixth base of the season.

Jose Guillen hit the ball hard into the hole at shortstop. Baseball rules dictate that a ball hit in front of a runner, like Huff, at second base requires the runner to stay put. Huff, however, broke at the crack of the bat because he thought the ball was going to scoot past Miguel Tejada into left field. (Don’t believe the talk of aggressive baserunning. Huff’s a veteran and breaking for third there means he misread the ball off the bat.)

Two things happened that didn’t have to happen and both benefited the Giants.

Tejada could’ve thrown out Guillen easily at first base, leaving Gregersen to deal with slumping Juan Uribe with Huff at third and two out. Instead, Tejada threw to third base where Huff should’ve been out.

However, third baseman Chase Headley was oddly positioned on the outfield side of the bag and had to take the throw with only Huff’s bent right trail leg to tag. Huff’s left foot reached the bag first. Headley was guilty of anticipating, rather than simply covering third base, straddling it so that a simple tag would’ve nailed Huff.

Now, Nate Schierholtz won’t go down as one of the Giants’ all-time playoff stretch heroes, but his takeout slide that kept Padres second baseman David Eckstein from doubling up Uribe on a bouncer to third allowed Huff to score.

Inside baseball note: Eckstein didn’t position himself with his left foot on the outside of the base to protect himself from Schierholtz, who has shown a few times his best position might be fullback. If Eckstein had been more on the left field side of the bag, Schierholtz would’ve needed to slide after he reached the base, but Eckstein would have still been able to get Uribe. Instead, Schierholtz had time to reach and take Eckstein’s legs out from under him.

Fans will long remember the home run barrage on Thursday night, but that seventh inning sequence that plated the lone run will go down as a wonderful example of why true baseball fans simply love the game. Headley was just slightly out of position. Huff read base hit to left. Tejada made the right play, but it turned out to be the wrong play.

Then, the Giants bullpen kept the door closed for four innings on what has been a resourceful San Diego offense.

Simply magnificent.

Bochy, again, showed that fans who groan that he isn’t suited to manage this Giants team are wrong. His willingness to let Sanchez work in and out of jams proved that sometimes the best thing a manager can do is be patient and do nothing. Then, when he does something, do it quickly and don’t look back.

Everything starts new with the first pitch on Saturday.

Ted Sillanpaa is a Northern California sports writer and columnist. Reach Ted at tsillanpaa1956@gmail.com.

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San Francisco Giants Defeat Arizona Diamondbacks in 11 Innings

On Monday, the Giants did what their team was built to do: win behind dominant pitching, and just enough run support.

Madison Bumgarner had pitched a gem (7.1 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 7 K), but the Giants failed to score any runs in the first 10 innings of the game. In the 11th inning, Nate Schierholtz stepped up to the plate with runners on first and second and crushed a triple to make the score 2-0. Brian Wilson came in and recorded his 41st save of the season, as the Giants cruised to their fifth victory of September; they are now 5-1 in the month.

The Giants are starting to get the drift of things: that their pitching and defense is what’s going to win ballgames for them.

The outfield was at one point manned by a trio of Cody Ross, Andres Torres, and Schierholtz, almost the defensive equivalent of Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton, and Ben Zobrist. And to be honest, Pat Burrell and Jose Guillen are not much of an offensive upgrade over Ross and Schierholtz—at least not enough to outweigh their poor defense and lack of speed.

Schierholtz really deserves more playing time: he can hit with pop; his K rate is lower than that of Burrell, Guillen, Ross, and Torres; he has speed, plays excellent defense, and has a cannon in right field. Hopefully, when Burrell and Guillen are nothing but faded memories next year, Nate will finally be given a chance to live up to his potential.


  • Aubrey Huff was 2 for 5, and did not strike out once. He’s starting to find his groove again…hopefully. He’s the team’s MVP, and the Giants can’t afford to have him struggle. Torres has been struggling, too, though his 1 for 5 with two strikeouts is not as promising of a performance as Huff’s day at the plate. These have been their most valuable player for the year, and are key to the Giants’ success. 
  • Freddy Sanchez took a hat trick: three strikeouts. Maybe that day off was not a good idea?
  • Brian Wilson is making a strong run at the Rolaids Relief Man Award. According to RolaidsReliefMan.com, “The [award] is based objectively on statistical performance, rather than subjective opinion. A reliever is given 2 points for a win, 3 points for a save and -2 points for a loss.” Wilson is currently first in the NL standings, so he would win the award if the season were to end today. It’s hard not to question the legitimacy of the award, though, when Luke Gregerson ranks 253rd in the NL standings for the award.


  • Six of the Giants’ last eight starts have been quality starts, which is good to see after a dismal overall pitching performance in August. Once Huff and Torres get their bats going, the Giants will truly be a potent team. 
  • Bumgarner’s ERA ranks fifth in the majors among the 18 rookies who have started at least 10 games.
Tim Lincecum will face Barry Enright. The last time these two faced each other (August 27), Lincecum allowed 4 ER in 6 IP while Enright pitched seven scoreless innings. This is a new Lincecum, though, so it should be a good matchup. He’s had success against almost all of the Diamondbacks, with the exception of Justin Upton, who owns a .321 average against Lincecum (9 for 28). Andres Torres is 0 for 6 with four strikeouts against Enright. 
With Zito’s struggles, what do you think the Giants’ rotation should be in the playoffs? Comment with your suggestions. 
I’d like to see Lincecum-Sanchez-Cain-Bumgarner. That way, the Giants alternate LHP with RHP and can have Lincecum go in Game 5 if necessary. The way Sanchez has been pitching of late, I’d trust him in the playoff rotation despite his fits of wildness. 

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Giants Might Have More Moves in Mind

The Giants have recalled Buster Posey and signed Pat Burrell to a minor league deal, leaving some to question where all the pieces will fit if things go as the club would like.

Posey started with a bang on Saturday night, playing first base. Let’s imagine that he is in the big leagues to stay. And, let’s pretend that the veteran outfielder Burrell uses his time in the minor leagues to prove he belongs in the big leagues.

What would happen to Aubrey Huff? He’s a first baseman and wouldn’t take Posey’s job. He’s a left fielder, but couldn’t handle AT&T’s expansive right field if Burrell were to return to his 2008 form.

Nate Schierholtz is the best defensive right fielder on the club, but the Giants would have to decide if they wanted a Burrell, who proves himself productive in a pinch-hitting role given that he hit 33 homers in his last full year in the National League. What about Schierholtz?

Andres Torres is proving he belongs in the big leagues. He gives the Giants their best defense in center field and can play right field well. Plus, he’s got the skills a true leadoff hitter needs, so the club needs him in the order when he’s hitting. Does Torres become a right fielder if Burrell becomes the left fielder?

This is putting the cart way ahead of the horse. Burrell has a lot to prove. There haven’t been this many folks insisting that a guy who switched leagues was a career-ending tailspin, since Giants fans were insisting that Barry Zito should be released after his first two abysmal seasons.

But what if Burrell does pull a Zito and returns to somewhere near the form that made him a 30 homer-90 RBI guy two years ago?

It could be that the Giants have a bigger move in mind if Posey pans out and Burrell returns to slug like he once did.

The club might be considering trading catcher Bengie Molina to a contender looking for a veteran backstop. He can call a game, sure, but he’s called the games lately where Tim Lincecum got rocked. The pitchers still make the pitches.

Molina has driven in just two runs since April 18. Fans love him and consider him the heart of the team. But, he clogs up the bases and if the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox are interested in Molina to hit seventh or eighth and provide stability behind the plate—the Giants would be in position to move him if Posey and Burrell perform.

Another possibility could be that the Giants could ship center fielder Aaron Rowand to a contender where he could return to the supporting role he handled so well for the Phillies and White Sox. That opens center field for Torres and, perhaps, even Schierholtz. (It also clears payroll off the books.)

If the Giants were willing to package Molina in a trade, they could solve the lineup riddle by trying to deal him to Boston for right fielder J.D. Drew.

The Giants open a spot for Posey behind the plate. Drew becomes the everyday rightfielder, a proven performer who has fallen out of favor with the Red Sox. He’s a left-hand power hitter with some speed. Huff returns to first base full-time. Left field opens up for Burrell and Torres.

See? If everything falls together, the Giants could take their talented farm system and hook up with the Red Sox (also with a nice group of prospects) to completely change the lineup.

It’s odd that folks assume the Giants would just keep adding ill-equipped defensive outfielders who can hit some, without an idea in mind to clear some playing time if they all slam their way into the lineup.

If Posey hits, Posey stays in the big leagues. And, it’s generally accepted that Molina isn’t comfortable with sharing his job. So perhaps, trading the popular veteran catcher would be doing him a favor?

Rowand would seem to be without value to the Giants, but he has proven he can help a championship-type team. Send him where his big contract isn’t an issue and where he isn’t pressured to be a big-time run producer and—he could have value indeed.

The Yankees gave former Giants right fielder Randy Winn his outright release on Thursday. That opens a spot for a veteran outfielder in the Yankees lineup and, obviously, Rowand’s contract wouldn’t scare them off if they felt he could help them.

In fact, Molina would fill a hole in New York bigger than the one he could fill in Boston. He can catch until injured Jorge Posada returns, the fill in as a designated hitter for the team that lost DH Nick Johnson to injury earlier.

These are the thoughts fans of a playoff contender should have, rather than those involving who to blame for the most recent 3-1 loss.

Ted Sillanpaa is a Northern California sports writer and columnist. Reach Ted at: tsillanpaa1956@gmail.com

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Aaron Rowand Should Be Benched By San Francisco Giants

During my time here at Bleacher Report, I’ve been given plenty of praise and plenty of hate in the comments section of my articles.

Now notice I did not say “fair share” of both, because honestly the majority of criticism is unwarranted.

Am I saying this simply to toot my own horn?

No. I am saying this to point out how sad it is that some baseball fans are no longer going to read my articles because they think it is wrong of me to suggest that the Giants should have their younger and more talented players get more at-bats in place of their under-performing veteran players.

These so called “fans” are the ones who truly disappoint me when they comment and suggest that I “have no baseball knowledge.”


Please, I have played the game competitively from as early as age five all the way up until I was 15. Since then I have continued to play recreational as often as I can despite not having the god given talent to play at the elite high school and college levels.

But combine my youth playing days while watching over 200 professional and collegiate games a year since as long as I can remember, and you have my baseball background.

You can shrug it off and tell yourself it isn’t much. But I know the game just as well as anyone who gets paid to be a part of a baseball organization.

And because of that, I am writing in an attempt to convince all of you optimists that Giants’ center fielder Aaron Rowand is not worthy of a starting position in Major League Baseball with the following line thus far this season:

.231/.265/.408/.673, 5 HR, 19 RBI, 29 K, 5 BB, 18 R, 0 SB

Rowand ranks as the 105th most productive outfielder in baseball in regards to his OPS mark of .673.

Look at it this way, there are 30 teams in baseball, and each team starts three outfielders.

Therefore, in the majors there are 90 starters in the outfield. And Rowand ranks number 105?

Is this a joke?

He is currently in the middle of a five-year 60 million dollar contract and he can’t even muster up an OPS amongst the top 90 best outfielders?

That is not just pathetic, that is ridiculously awful.

And while I did not have the privilege of watching Rowand during his best seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago White Sox, his current batting stance with the Giants is one of many reasons for his ineptitude at the plate.

All you have to do is watch a Giants game and focus on Rowand’s batting stance. Pre-pitch he holds his bat incredibly low—too low to adequately be able to hit a baseball from that position—and while he raises his hands as the pitch is delivered, it creates unnecessary movement that doesn’t allow him to adjust to certain pitches.

Combine the movement of his hands with the fact Rowand leans back heavily before the pitch comes and has too much forward momentum as the pitch arrives, and you can see why he continually fails time and time again to hit fastballs on the inner half of the plate.

Not only that, but this stance is what prevented him from being able to turn away from a Vicente Padilla fastball that broke a bone in his cheek earlier this season.

Rowand couldn’t move in that situation because his stance doesn’t allow him the ability to turn and duck out of the way.

You can bet that the Giants’ coaching staff sees these same mechanical flaws in Rowand’s approach, but for whatever reason, the “gamer” that the Giants claim Rowand to be, is stubbornly not going to change.

Therefore, when the Giants are looking to add offense anyway they can, why they continue to start Rowand in center field every single night is absolutely puzzling.

Now, in tonight’s ball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, it looks like 26-year-old right-fielder Nate Schierholtz will be the one without a lineup spot instead of Rowand.

Due to the new look configuration of the Giants lineup with top minor league prospect Buster Posey being called up, there will have to be a current everyday starter summoned to the bench. And knowing how the Giants operate, it will be Schierholtz riding the pine.

Unfortunately, if that is the case, it will be yet another idiotic move by a franchise that doesn’t understand how to build a winner.

Schierholtz has proven to be an absolute stud defender in right field (already has four assists on the season in only 29 starts) and an above average hitter for a team staved for offense.

On the season, Schierholtz has the following offensive line:

.291/.366/.409/.775, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 13 K, 10 BB, 18 R, 4 SB.

As the numbers show, Schierholtz is clearly producing at a better clip than Rowand is and yet Schierholtz, not Rowand will be the one sitting?

Talk about a slap in the face to your fan base.

By benching Schierholtz and not Rowand, the Giants organization is continuing to make the statement that they will start the athlete with the bigger contract instead of the athlete who does more to help the team win.

And that notion is why it is so difficult to be a follower of the Giants.

They continually do not put their best possible team on the field.

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San Francisco Giants: Playing Money Over Talent Is Hindering Their Chances

When a team musters just a single run in a three game series, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the offense is struggling.

Essentially, changes to the San Francisco Giants’ lineup are a guarantee.

Even if their manager was napping in the clubhouse during the past three games, changes would be made after looking at the final box scores.

Once the manager wakes up after such a dreadful offensive series, he will see 20 straight zeros in the boxscore and will naturally be inclined to shake things up.

However, the issue with the Giants is their organization plays who they pay most rather than who produces most.

And because of this mindset, Bochy will play Edgar Renteria instead of Nate Schierholtz.

Wait, what?

How does a lineup decision come down to either a shortstop or right fielder getting in the lineup?

Well, it is actually pretty simple.

With the Opening Day left fielder Mark DeRosa out with injury, the Giants plan on moving their everyday first baseman Aubrey Huff to the outfield to take over the vacant spot. (backup Andres Torres then slides over to right field).

Subsequently, third baseman Pablo Sandoval shifts over to Huff’s old spot at first which allows Juan Uribe and Freddy Sanchez to man the third and second base spots. And that leaves shortstop open for the recently called up Edgar Renteria.

Only problem is that these moves put the 26-year-old Schierholtz on the bench.

Now if you ask Giants fans whether they would rather have Schierholtz in the lineup or Renteria, the overwhelming majority would prefer Schierholtz, and for good reason.

Despite losing his starting right field spot in Spring Training, Schierholtz has since earned back that role before recently taking a few games off to rest an aggravated shoulder injury.

Thus far during the season, Schierholtz has proved both offensively and defensively that he is a major asset.

At the plate, he has started off with a .298 average, .365 on-base percentage and a .423 slugging percentage. Not to mention, his four stolen bases are second on the team next to Torres.

Defensively, he already has three assists in 35 games in the outfield and in terms of shutting down opponents from taking extra bases, Schierholtz is one of the best in all of baseball.

Combine that total package against Renteria, and it is absolutley no question who brings more to the table.

You can disregard Renteria’s .313 average thus far because his on-base percentage of .363 isn’t even higher than that of Schierholtz, despite having the higher average.

Plus out of the shortstop’s 26 hits on the season, only four have gone for extra bases which drops his slugging percentage to an abysmal .386.

Furthermore, the soon to be 35-year-old does not have the range nor the arm to match that of Uribe’s.

So not only does Schierholtz have a superior OPS of .788 compared to Renteria’s .744, but the younger legs bring much more value defensively.

Having Torres and Schierholtz man the outfield corners will be much more beneficial to the pitching staff (and strength of the Giants team) than it would be to have Torres (in a new outfield spot, trying to learn right field at AT&T Park) and Huff at the corners.

Especially when you consider Huff has played just eight of his 1,324 career games in left field and just 208 total in the outfield, organizing the defense in this fashion is asking for trouble.

But the Giants are probably going to do this anyway. Why? Because Renteria is making nine million dollars compared to Schierholtz who is making “around the league minimum”. (after some google searching, that is the only reference I could find about his contract status).

Whether it is a combination of front office people or just GM Brian Sabean forcing Bochy’s hand, the players with large contracts play the field no matter their production level.

Now currently Schierhotlz isn’t fully healthy and it is difficult for us outsiders to know when he will be healthy enough to start.

But when he is healthy, there is no reason for Schierholtz to be on the bench other than money. Renteria clearly should be the one riding the pine based on the value assigned by the statistics and by the naked eye.

Just watch Renteria swing the bat, and you know father time is catching up to the former All-Star shortstop.

Yet you can bet on Renteria being in the starting lineup everyday when healthy.

Which is subsequently the biggets complaint of the fan base: “Why does our team continually fail to put their best team on the field?”

If the best lineup the Giants can trot out there is simply not good enough to make the playoffs, the fans will understand.

After all, in order to significantly upgrade the team during the season, a trade will have to be made. And in making a trade, it is difficult to make a move that clearly upgrades the team.

For example, Giants fans wish they could have Adrian Gonzalez at first base. But depending on the asking price of San Diego, adding Gonzalez may do more harm than good.

Trading for key players in any sport without giving up too many key players in return is quick a difficult task. Most fans understand this notion.

But what fans don’t understand is leaving young talent on the bench and starting the less talented old guys just because of their contracts.

That is why Giants fans complain.

And rightfully so.

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Time for the San Francisco Giants To Adjust Expectations?

Before the 2010 Major League Baseball season began, I really wanted to put the San Francisco Giants atop the division when previewing the National League West .

Instead, I stuck them in second and gave them the NL Wild Card because I figured the more grandiose vision was the product of the fan in me.

Furthermore, I thought granting them a postseason berth was still setting the bar pretty high. Possibly a little too high.

Well, a month into the season, I’m beginning to wonder whether I might’ve undersold the Gents. I bet I’m not alone.

With their win on Saturday over the Colorado Rockies, los Gigantes have ensured themselves at least a 6-3 jaunt through a nine-game gauntlet consisting of the St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies, and Rox.

If the fellas can win behind Jonathan Sanchez on Sunday, they’d register a sweep of the team many (including myself) picked to win the division, and would emerge from a trio of series against 2009 playoff teams with seven wins.

Now, it’s true the G-Men missed Chris Carpenter when the Redbirds came through and Phils were short Jimmy Rollins. Meanwhile, the Blake Street Bombers are down starters Jorge De La Rosa and Jason Hammel, along with closer Huston Street.

However, San Francisco isn’t exactly at full strength—Aaron Rowand should make his first appearance on Sunday, closer Brian Wilson is shelved with a mild groin strain as is Edgar Renteria, and Juan Uribe is playing through a hot elbow.

There’s also the matter of Freddy Sanchez, who’s still rehabbing from offseason surgeries, and Buster Posey, who is caught in the Super 2 chains of baseball economics.

So the Giants might not have faced the most formidable clubs in the Senior Circuit at full strength, but they didn’t have all hands on deck either.

Furthermore, they touched up two elite right-handed aces in Adam Wainwright and Roy Halladay while battering a very good lefty in Cole Hamels well enough to win (I’ll leave it at that).

In the finale against Colorado, San Francisco gets yet another tough assignment in Ubaldo Jimenez, but no tougher than what they’ve already seen.

Regardless of the outcome, the Orange and Black will depart for Florida having completed a highly successful home stand against the best the NL has to offer. That’s reason enough to get at least a bit starry-eyed.

Granted, the 2010 season is all of 23 games old for the Giants—that’s not exactly a conclusive sampling, but it is a meaningful chunk.

It’s not crazy to think the general form might hold for the remainder of the slate.

You can etch it in stone that the San Francisco offense won’t hit a collective .280, which is good for third in all of the Show . C’mon, that’s higher than the Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees, and Philadelphia Phillies—no way it holds up.

Nor will the .768 team OPS, good for fourth in the National League.

A more accurate barometer of the splinters’ prowess is probably the combo of runs scored and batted in—the Gents check in at 12th and tied for 12th in those categories, respectively.

Nevertheless, there are signs that indicate the offense might be better than most observers thought, which would put it somewhere in the mediocre range.

Pablo Sandoval is the real deal so his performance should stay right around its current brilliance—.352 BA, .965 OPS, 12 R, 10 RBI, 3 HR, and 2 SB. Bengie Molina won’t rake all year at his current .343 clip, but the OPS of .871 is sustainable for Big Money.

Likewise, Renteria, Rowand, Uribe, and Aubrey Huff will certainly cool off as the weather gets warmer, but they’ll stay productive so long as they don’t go into the tank and that unpleasant specter would require a precipitous decline from their April output.

The x-factor in the batting order is Nate Schierholtz.

Obviously, nobody is fool enough to believe a 26-year-old getting his first extended taste of regular playing time will hit .373 over 162 games. Additionally the 1.01 OPS will fall.

Yet the kid has every one of his five tools plated in gold —he can fly, the ball jumps off his bat (though AT&T Park will keep his big fly totals down), you see the average, his defense is nice in a difficult right field, and just ask Ryan Howard or Chase Utley about the cannon hanging from his right shoulder.

The relevant question, then, is how far will those gaudy stats drop?

And a reasonable answer is, not that far.

If Nate the Great can keep himself in Big Money/Little Money territory, that would give San Francisco a third genuinely dangerous weapon holding maple or ash.

Given the April just turned in by the pitching staff, a trio of thumpers to go with a host of complementary pieces would be more than sufficient to turn this preseason playoff hopeful into a legitimate World Series contender.

That sounds utterly insane given the comparably weak lumber, but few teams can match the potential suffocation of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, and Barry Zito. Especially if the aces can finish as blindingly as they started.

Again, the first week of May is still much too soon to draw any firm conclusions about a season that endures until October. But it’s not too early to start dreaming.

And the San Francisco Giants have just given us the beginnings of a very sweet one.


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