s
s
Sections
Search
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, nearly 1.5 million people used their mobile devices to visit our sites.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Wow! You read a lot!
Reading enhances confidence, empathy, decision-making, and overall life satisfaction. Keep it up! Subscribe.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Oops, you're out of free articles.
Until next month, you can always look over someone's shoulder at the coffee shop.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, we posted 390 stories about the fire. And they were shared nearly 137,000 times.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Supporting the community that supports us.
Obviously you value quality local journalism. Thank you.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Oops, you're out of free articles.
We miss you already! (Subscriptions start at just 99 cents.)
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
X

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Login

X

Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

LoginSubscribe

Oh no you don’t.

We fell for this last year. Not again.

Last season, when the Giants roared out of the gate and promptly fell flat on their faces, seasoned, professional observers (raises hand sheepishly) told everyone to calm down. These things go in cycles. It’s a long season.

It wasn’t. In fact, it was one of the shortest seasons ever. They lost the opener, won the next and then dropped four in a row. And that was it. They weren’t above .500 the rest of the way, finishing two losses short of 100.

So, as the team bobs along the break-even line this year, don’t tell us it is early. If last year taught us anything, it is that the way the team starts a season can be an excellent predictor of how it ends a season.

Now, could the fellows catch fire, tear through the standings and put themselves in playoff contention? Certainly. Baseball lore is full of such turnabouts. What a story that would be.

Meanwhile, stepping to the plate, Gorkys Hernandez.

That’s kind of it in a nutshell, isn’t it? Hernandez has become a fan lightning rod because he represents the stand-pat team that believes it is only a couple of hits away from being a contender.

Hernandez, to the surprise of everyone, hit a home run this year. He ended last year with 348 at-bats without one, the longest stretch in the big leagues. So on a team that needed power, Hernandez was never going to be the answer.

But as baseball people say, “Bruce Bochy likes veterans.”

Ergo, instead of flashy spring training crush Steven Duggar or Austin Slater (who was hitting better than .350 at Sacramento before his call-up Friday) we get Gregor Blanco and Pablo Sandoval. Both wonderful guys, but what’s the long-range plan in the sunset of their careers?

We know the Giants’ standard — postseason. The big-picture view when putting this team together is simple — to win.

They haven’t. Not so far.

And now, as even his admirers talk about 35-year-old outfielder Hunter Pence in the past tense, they have to decide if they are going to ride these horses or bring in fresh ponies.

Granted, they’ve found room for upstarts Mac Williamson and Chris Stratton, but only when injuries and poor results forced their hand.

Building through the farm system is not the Giants’ way. At a recent A’s game a team official said, “We trade players for prospects. The Giants do it the other way around.”

And frankly, I am not that confident that the Giants, including Bochy, are successful at mentoring the young guns they bring up.

I keep thinking of young first-round draft choice Christian Arroyo. After tearing up the minor leagues and hitting nearly .400 in Sacramento, he was brought up last April to great fanfare. He was given Will Clark’s old number, 22, not a typical rookie choice in the high digits, which implied big expectations.

He was in the starting lineup the day he arrived and got his first hit, off of Clayton Kershaw. The next day he hit his first home run. In the next month were two clutch, run-scoring doubles, one a walkoff.

But, as Bochy said last week, “This game is all about confidence.” Arroyo slumped, and in June, after just a 40-day tryout, he was shipped back to Sacramento.

And that was it for the third baseman of the future. Arroyo had bad luck back in the minors, twice getting by a pitch and breaking a bone in his hand. He didn’t play much and didn’t put up great numbers.

In December, he was traded to Tampa for Evan Longoria and his five-year, $80 million-plus contract. There were other considerations, but the Giants essentially traded a 21-year-old third baseman for a 32-year-old one.

After a slow start, Longoria has been fine. And Arroyo is still getting notice as a top prospect. He’s at triple-A now, and working through a calf injury, but is a likely call-up to Tampa Bay, where he might end up playing with another young and lamented departure, Matt Duffy.

The Giants? Well, they think the vets have another couple of good years in them.

Everything about the team seems creaky. And that includes old-school manager Bochy. Obviously, Bochy is a Hall of Famer who will never have to buy a glass of wine in San Francisco for the rest of his life. Three World Series rings will do that.

But 98 losses is a lot. And if this year goes south, or fails to show enough northern progress, it would be possible that there would be talk of a change at manager. Bochy’s got two years on his contract, including this one.

He’s become a bit of an anomaly in local sports. When you listen to sound-bite virtuosos like Steve Kerr, Kyle Shanahan and Jon Gruden, Bochy’s terse, gravel growl sounds like something from another era.

I once asked Bochy what the team did to mentor young players. He basically said he left that up to the veterans. In this day and age, with personal physical trainers, analytics and sports psychologists, that may not cut it any more.

Neither will losing. Or the status quo.

Contact C.W. Nevius at cw.nevius@pressdemocrat.com. Twitter: @cwnevius.

Show Comment