Jeff Chiu/APGiants left-hander Madison Bumgarner is a big reason the Giants have the best record in baseball.

Jeff Chiu/APGiants left-hander Madison Bumgarner is a big reason the Giants have the best record in baseball.

Giants in need of a major overhaul

The Giants should petition to not play out of their division. It's becoming increasingly obvious that the NL West will be a hotly contested race between teams which are barely over .500. Even the San Diego Padres are in the race, though nobody north of Oceanside can name more than two of their players.

Playing within the division, the Giants are nine games over .500. They won their first series on this road trip on Sunday by beating the Diamondbacks in Phoenix. The D'backs' pitcher Sunday was Tyler Skaggs, who had an excellent curve ball but nothing else. He's back in the minors, which is where seems to belong.

The rest of the trip features another team with a better record than the Giants, the Atlanta Braves. Not hard to find those teams. There are six teams in the National League with better records, and another seven in the American League. One of those is the A's, who beat the Giants 3-1 in their interleague series. Overall, the Giants are well under .500 when they venture out of their division, which spells mediocrity.

Perhaps the baseball gods are just evening things up, as they did after the Giants' first World Series triumph, when everything suddenly clicked in the postseason. The next season, Buster Posey suffered a horrific, season-ending injury early, and the Giants were also-rans.

Last year, too, the Giants had a remarkable postseason run, almost miraculously staving off elimination time after time to win their second world championship.

And this year, the wheels are coming off again. It's not one major injury this time but lesser ones. Pablo Sandoval is on the disabled list with a foot injury and the Giants are trying to get him to diet while he's on the DL. Good luck with that. The lottery is a better bet. Marco Scutaro, a real gamer, is trying to play through an injury to a finger on his left hand.

But the main problem remains the pitching staff, though its key members are healthy. Tim Lincecum's inconsistency remains. Barry Zito got lit up for 12 hits and eight runs in less than five innings against the Pirates on Wednesday night. Zito has been horrific on the road, but he also had a bad outing in his last home game, giving up four runs to the woeful Toronto Blue Jays.

The setup men in the bullpen have ranged from mediocre to awful. At least George (pour some gasoline on that fire) Kontos has been optioned to Fresno, but the bullpen still needs help.

It seems the emphasis in the second half of the season should be preparing for next year, not thinking so much about this year.

Significant changes have to be made in the pitching staff. Michael Kickham, who needs only experience to be a winning pitcher, should be brought up to shore up the starting rotation. So should reliever Heath Hembree, who has both the same type of fastball and same attitude that Brian Wilson had in 2010 for the Giants. Both are at Fresno now. And Linceum should be sent to the bullpen.

The Giants had a remarkable run last season, but nothing lasts forever in baseball these days.

Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on Email him at


Giants vs. Braves

WHEN: Today, 4:30 p.m.

WHERE: Turner Field, Atlanta

TV: Comcast SportsNet Bay Area


STARTING PITCHERS: Madison Bumgarner (5-4, 3.58 ERA) vs. Kris Medlen (3-6, 2.87 ERA)

GiantsGlenn DickeySan Francisco GiantsTim Lincecum

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