After a successful stop in Milwaukee, the Mets head west for the second leg of their mileage-logging pre-Break road trip. This week they pay a visit to the defending champion San Francisco Giants, who are struggling to tread the water of McCovey Cove in a not-so-hotly-contested NL West. Here today to talk about the series against the New York Expatriates is Melissa Felkins, co-editor of FanSided Giants blog Around the Foghorn.
Will DeBoer, Rising Apple: The Giants are fading fast in the NL West, losing 13 of their last 16. What’s been the reason behind the defending champs’ recent downfall?
Melissa Felkins, Around the Foghorn: I think there are two things affecting them: The frequency of injuries, even the minor ones, is probably discouraging to them because you never quite know who will be in the lineup, and at times, it seems half of your team is young and from Triple-A Fresno. The other reason I think is they have been a team that could always fall back on their pitching when times were tough, and this year, pitching is one of their biggest struggles, and perhaps the reason they’ve lost as many games as they have. I think they are trying to figure out how to win with poor pitching; something they haven’t had to do in a very long time.
WD: Speaking of poor starters, Tim Lincecum clearly isn’t the same pitcher who won back-to-back Cy Youngs four years ago. How much hope do the Giants have that Timmy-Jim will be Big-Time once again, and how much longer will they give him to turn it around?
MF: I think Lincecum’s future is in the bullpen. I think he knows his future is in the bullpen. The Giants currently need him in the starting rotation, and may possibly need him there next year unless they make some trades. However, I see him starting next year simply because you don’t know how Ryan Vogelsong will be after surgery, and it’s an option year for Barry Zito. The prospects aren’t quite ready. Even if you make a trade, you’re probably not geting more than one starting pitching arm, so I foresee Lincecum in the starting rotation, albeit, not as the ace he used to be for at least another year. After that, I think he’s a reliever, and probably a darn good one, judging by this role as a reliever in the playoffs last year and how well he handled it.
WD: Buster Posey recently signed a quite lucrative contract extension that will keep him by the Bay until at least 2022. Will we soon see Posey transition from catcher to first base in order for San Francisco to protect an investment that has already had one serious injury behind the plate?
MF: I don’t think it will be soon simply because Posey wants to catch, and I think Bochy and Sabean, and the rest of the team and Giants organization respect him a great deal. Ultimately, I think he will end up at first base, but I don’t think we’ll see that for several seasons as long as he’s healthy.
WD: After a tough year with us, Andres Torres has returned to the Giants and seems to be doing very well for himself. What’s the general feeling of your fanbase about Torres?
MF: We love Torres. He was part of that 2010 Championship team and just won everyone’s hearts. It was tough to see him go actually and was exciting see to him back. That said, he’s not quite the same Torres he was before, however, he’s doing well enough with the platoon in Left Field, and playing more regularly with Angel Pagan being out. I’m not sure the same level of love is there from 2010, but we’ll always love that guy. He’s always smiling.
WD: San Francisco is seven games under .500 but very much in a division where all but one of the teams are in the same boat. What will it take for the Giants to rise above the wreckage, win the NL West, and get a chance to go for a third World Series in four years?
MF: Everyone needs to get back healthy, and we probably need to pick up a pitcher, either starting or relief. With Chad Gaudin pitching so well, a long relief pitcher may be what is best. Pablo Sandoval needs to start hitting, and perhaps Reverend Hunter Pence needs to give one of those speechs he did in Cincinnati last year. I think we can get there, but things will have to align.
WD: And now a bonus question based on the idea that things have to align: Is this the year we see a team with a losing record (the NL West champ) make the playoffs?
MF: I doubt it. I think the NL West champ will end up with a winning record in the end, whoever that may be.
The Mets and Giants begin their dance at beautiful AT&T Park tonight at 10:15 eastern time, as Matt Harvey will go up against the aforementioned Lincecum. Giants fans will get their first look at Zack Wheeler, who they traded to New York for Carlos Beltran two years ago, on Wednesday afternoon as he takes on Matt Cain. For my perspective of the series, visit Melissa Felkins’s preview at Around the Foghorn. You can read more of Felkins’s analysis here.