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.