Nevius: Giants' July surge justifies having faith in Farhan Zaidi
How to explain the mind-boggling surge of the Giants?
Since the All-Star break, they’ve gone from a sad little squad, making up “for sale, best offer” posters, to unlikely juggernaut — winning 17 of 20 before the current road trip.
Trade Madison Bumgarner now? Not likely. The fan base would break out the pitchforks and torches.
What happened? Perhaps it is the peculiar voodoo of baseball, where a team will unaccountably catch fire. Maybe the guys are caught up in “win one for good old Bruce Bochy.”
But up in the glass offices at Oracle Park, there have to be moments when a bookish, bespectacled deep thinker leans back in his chair, puts his hands behind his head and smiles.
This is the vindication of Farhan Zaidi.
It wasn’t always so. The director of baseball operations’ whirl-a-gig roster swapping has been frantic. We’d have criticized some of the moves, but by the time we’d processed one, there were three more.
In another world, we’d still be slamming him for the surpassingly weird choice to start unknowns Conner Joe and Michael Reed at the outfield corners on opening day.
But there just hasn’t been time. Joe and Reed disappeared so abruptly they may have been abducted by space aliens. Sudden changes? Ask Aaron Altherr, signed in May and dropped after one at-bat.
It isn’t your imagination. NBC Sports Bay Area calculated that the team used 44 players in the first half of the season. In all of last year they used 48.
And yet … July.
You’ll remember at the start of the season, we media types were wondering which way the Fighting Farhans were going to go. Were they going to get a last gasp out of the old guard: Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and the Brandons, Crawford and Belt?
Or, were they going to go all “You Gotta Like These Kids,” with some lively, fresh young faces?
And the answer is … both.
They’re still playing their greatest hits package, with all the familiar names you’ve come to love from World Series glory. But it is impossible not to notice that the engine of this revival is the new acquisitions.
Zaidi’s fingerprints are on them all.
We have to begin with Alex Dickerson, who has become the Giants’ wait-a-minute-I-want-to-see this-at-bat guy. (And the source of chants of “Dick! Dick! Dick!” in the dugout.) Zaidi picked him up from San Diego for pitcher Franklin Van Gurp. (You heard me.)
The kicker is, Dickerson missed all of 2017 and 2018 with a cranky back. What did Zaidi see?
Dickerson certainly knows how to make an entrance. Called up on June 21 from Sacramento, he went yard with a grand slam in his first game and kept going, driving in nine of 18 runs in a turning-point series win over Arizona. He’s hitting just under .400.
And let’s pause for a moment to consider the dynamics of dugout chanting.
A mere six weeks ago, the Giants were not just below .500 — a funeral pall had settled over the team. Good luck if you wanted to chat with a player before or after a game. The clubhouse was empty and silent.