Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Giants Biggest Problem


San Francisco Giants shorts stop Miguel  Tejada (L) tags out St. Louis Cardinals baserunner Jon  Jay (R) after Jay attempted to steal second base during the top of the eighth inning of their MLB National League baseball game in San Francisco, California, April 9, 2011.   REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach

David Schoenfield, in the sweet spot this morning, lists the five biggest problems for contending teams and to no one's surprise, the Giants are on the list for their crummy defense.
Make what you want of defensive metrics, but logic tells you the Giants have issues on defense: old man Tejada at shortstop, pondering Pat Burrell in left, Andres Torres on the DL, not-exactly-Brooks Robinson Pablo Sandoval at third, and Aubrey Huff, who was moved back to first base after his adventures in right field. Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) has the Giants as the third-worst defensive team so far (although it grades Sandoval well at third). Considering Tejada isn't hitting either, how long will the Giants stick with him?
I think this is pretty spot on and partially describes why the Giants are not doing as well this year in the run prevention department as the have the last two years. It's still only part of the problem; the other being the free passes that always seem to bite them.

I stated early in the season that I don't expect this to be a major issue and, for the most part, I still stand by that. I think Pablo is much improved and looks to be above average now at third base now that he has settled down and not trying to do too much. That should help some with the defense on the left side of the infield.

The right side of the infield should be okay as well, with another average or maybe a little better guy at second in Sanchez matched with a decent to maybe slightly below average (but still better than he is in Right Field) Aubrey Huff. Putting those together will give you an average-ish infield defense on a team that doesn't depend on ground balls being turned into outs, which is perfect.

The outfield is another story. Burrell isn't going to win any awards for defense and I'm not buying his UZR from last season. He is below average and that's something that must be accepted. Rowand does a good enough job in center but he is no Torres, who is one of the best, and Ross is acceptable but not a gold glover.

Summing up the outfield doesn't look great with below average, average, and average playing in a large outfield. It will be better when Torres comes back and the pitchers will breath easier when they get a lead and Burrell can hit the showers early.

To me, the defense looks like it should be average and not horrible as the season progresses. The bigger problem for me is the anemic offense that they have showed so far, which I am less optimistic about turning around.

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