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No easy fix for the Giants

  • San Francisco Giants starter Madison Bumgarner throws against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Saturday, April 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

The Giants don't have one certified veteran superstar, although Buster Posey is climbing toward that status.

There are 100 factors behind the reasons the Giants will not repeat as World Series champions, or even make the 2013 playoffs, and nearly all of them can be traced back to the fundamental truth of being moderately talented — despite two championships in three seasons submitting a strong counter argument.

The counter to that counter is the Giants have overachieved by parlaying a solid roster, fine pitching, a masterful manager and select clutch moments into one of the unlikeliest micro-dynasties in sport.

All the while, though, San Francisco has operated with a very thin margin for error, often winning by method of "torture."

The Giants are far outside that margin now, most notably the starting rotation with an earned run average perilously close to 5. Matt Cain, now holding the richest contract ever given to a right-hander, is having his worst season. Barry Zito, after a nice postseason, has regressed to the ghastly numbers of 2008. Tim Lincecum may have two Cy Young awards in his trophy case, but his starts are like 4 a.m. burritos. Swallow and hope.

Meanwhile, the bullpen has devolved mostly into a procession of arms in the big leagues because, well, they're on the payroll and available.

If the Giants can't pitch themselves to victory, and only left-hander Madison Bumgarner has been cooperating, victory will remain elusive.

Then, too, there is the rise of the Dodgers. The gifted pieces in Los Angeles are forming an impressive whole, the best team in baseball over the past month. Results are catching up to the talent — which, man-to-man, dwarfs the rest of the NL West.

The Giants don't have enough talent to offset mistakes, injuries and subpar seasons. They have been capable, but capable is not to be confused with great. And consistent greatness is necessary to contend consistently.

Remember Atlanta in the mid- and late-1990s, when the Braves utilized revolving and rarely imposing offenses to support starters Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz — each of whom is worthy of the Hall of Fame?


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