Bruce Bochy said all the right things about continuing to fight after the Arizona Diamondbacks crushed the Giants’ hopes over the weekend. But Bochy has to face the reality, even after Monday’s rare blowout win against the Padres: The Giants are done, and he has to look at what kind of team he’ll have next season.
That team should have more young players, instead of veterans who can no longer do the job.
For the rest of the month, Bochy should take a look at his younger players. Give Brett Pill a chance to show what he can do. Pill, 27 on Friday, is old to be making his major league debut, but he’s put up big power numbers at Triple-A Fresno for the past two seasons. If he can hit anything close to that at the big-league level, there should be a place for him in the Giants’ lineup.
Play Brandon Belt regularly and give him a shot on the field. Belt has been in and out of the lineup since he came back the last time.
He knows that if he goes hitless in a game, he’ll be back on the bench for the next game. That’s ruinous to a rookie’s confidence. He’s shown flashes of power, and he has the plate discipline other Giants hitters lack — a 16-pitch at-bat in Sunday’s game is one example. The Giants could use both attributes.
And give rookie pitcher Eric Surkamp an extended look. Surkamp is scheduled to start against the Padres tonight, and the Giants can certainly use him. They’ve got a solid four-man rotation with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Ryan Vogelsong and Madison Bumgarner, but the No. 5 slot has been problematical. Barry Zito flamed out early. Jonathan Sanchez has had injury problems, to go with his inconsistency. There is an opening for Surkamp.
In the field, Bochy needs to face reality with veterans such as Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff. Burrell was a big part of the Giants last season, but he’s missed almost all of this season with a foot injury. There’s no point in using him for anything but pinch-hitting this month. Then, say goodbye and thanks for your efforts last year.
Huff was an even bigger part of last year’s success, but that more and more is looking like a late-career fluke — except to Bochy, who keeps trotting him out there every game with an average that has been below .250 for weeks.
Remember the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over while thinking you’ll get a different result.
The Giants will face a big payroll problem next year because Zito will be on the books for another two seasons, even if they cut him. Any team that picks up Aaron Rowand will certainly expect the Giants to pay most of his bloated contract. Huff has another year at $11 million on his contract.
But that’s a problem for Giants ownership and general manager Brian Sabean, who has a propensity for signing players to contracts that far exceed their value.
Bochy’s job is to put the best team on the field. He needs to start with an infusion of youth. Playing veterans whose best years are behind them isn’t doing the job.
Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.