May 26, 2011, was a dark day in Giants history, when Buster Posey suffered an injury that ended his season and the Giants’ chances for the postseason. Wednesday will be remembered as an almost equally bad day as the Giants hit the terrible trifecta: Melky Cabrera was suspended for 50 days for taking a banned substance, Tim Lincecum’s struggles continued and the Giants lost their fifth game of the six played against the Washington Nationals, who have the best record in Major League Baseball.
Cabrera had been an indispensable part of the Giants, leading them in batting average, hits, runs, doubles and triples, while playing a superb defensive left field. He cannot be replaced. Gregor Blanco is an excellent outfielder, but he proved earlier he is not an everyday player. The chances of general manager Brian Sabean picking up somebody to replace Cabrera are nil. Only two weeks remain for waiver deals and there’s nobody out there, anyway. And there’s nobody in the farm system who’s ready to help. That’s why Sabean traded for Cabrera in the offseason.
Cabrera’s suspension was the biggest story Wednesday, but Lincecum’s bad outing was almost equally significant. It had seemed that Lincecum’s troubles might be behind him as he had a 2.72 ERA in six starts since the All-Star break, but he once again looked like the bewildered pitcher who had struggled through the first half of the season. He looks lost on the mound, no longer in control of his destiny.
Which means that the Giants are basically down to three reliable starters: Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong. That might be enough in the postseason, but it won’t be enough to get them there, especially with the loss of an integral part of their offense.
And manager Bruce Bochy has had to go to a closer-by-committee because of the meltdown by Santiago Casilla. That’s a much more dicey situation than when he had Brian Wilson ready and willing. But Wilson has been out all year after a second Tommy John surgery, and it’s possible his career may be over. He kept pitching in 2010 when he probably should have gone on the disabled list, just as Robb Nen did when the Giants nearly won the World Series in 2002. Nen never pitched again.</p>
For some time, it’s been clear that the Giants would probably have to win the NL West to make the playoffs because the competition for the two wild-card slots will be fierce, with the Atlanta Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates and
St. Louis Cardinals all having good years.
When the Los Angeles Dodgers suffered injuries to Matt Kemp, who was being compared to Willie Mays, Andre Ethier and Mark Ellis, they fell off and the Giants surged into the lead. But the Dodgers have their stars back and they’ve added a big bat in Hanley Ramirez. In their last trip to AT&T Park, they swept the Giants.
Knowing he had to do something, Sabean pulled off a trade for Hunter Pence, which gave the Giants a strong middle-of-the-order punch — for one game. But gaining Pence isn’t enough to balance the loss of Cabrera.
Can anybody say, wait until next year?
Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. Email him at email@example.com.