Postgame Wrap: Dodgers Finally Score, Giants Call For Backup

Photo by Bill Zarchy

Coming into tonight’s game, there were only two ways for this series to end: either the Dodgers win it all and end up tied for first place, or the Giants win it and take a nice, comfortable six-game lead in the standings. There was no middle ground, or so went the narrative. Of course, that’s the natural inclination, but most likely the result would be somewhere in the middle.

The other narrative comes from the blockbuster trade the Dodgers pulled off, trading for superstar shortstop mediocre third baseman Hanley Ramirez and LOOGY Randy Choate. This trade was seen as an aggressive sign of the “win now” approach of the new ownership group in their bid to win the NL West, as they took on $30-plus million in commitments to risky players. The Giants responded, in their own way, trading minor league second baseman Charlie Culberson to the Colorado Rockies for veteran shortstop Marco Scutaro and cash.

The Scutaro move is classic Brian Sabean – trading stagnant prospects for a veteran at the deadline to fill a need. I actually really like Scutaro, both from watching him as an A early in his career, his stint in the excellent documentary A Player to Be Named Later, and since then as a surprisingly decent player for the Blue Jays and Red Sox. It’s going to be interesting to see where Scutaro is going to play; second, short or third, and who ends up being the odd man out in the Giants lineup.

Scutaro doesn’t fit into any obvious platoons, given that his career splits are pretty equal against lefties and righties, but he will surely have a role. We’ll see just how much his .271/.324/.359 line suffers going from Colorado to San Francisco, but he’ll probably still be a better offensive player than either Brandon Crawford or Ryan Theriot. In his career Scutaro has primarily been a shortstop, with a good amount of time at second base too. He has put in time at third, but not since 2008. Bruce Bochy clearly values Crawford’s defense, but Theriot has been the better hitter and a threat on the basepaths. In the post-game press conference today, Sabean said that they would discuss with Scutaro the possibility of playing third, but seemed to acknowledge that it was a possibility.

My prediction: Scutaro’s numbers suffer away from Coors, but he’s not a power guy anyway. Given the news that Pablo Sandoval may go on the DL, I’m guessing that Scutaro starts at third more often than not. Joaquin Arias has been generally terrible this year, and Scutaro is likely to be an improvement. Crawford is too valuable with his glove and decent hitting, and Theriot has been legitimately good since coming off the DL. Scutaro’s career numbers, and numbers in AT&T Park:

Career Totals 1197 1050 4654 4141 585 1120 229 17 72 434 51 21 415 519 .270 .337 .386 .723
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 7/28/2012.
SFG-AT&T Pk 59 51 6 12 2 0 2 6 0 2 7 9 .235 .322 .392 .714
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 7/28/2012.

With Scutaro joining the team, and Aubrey Huff potentially making his return to the team, the Giants will have to make a roster move or two. Best guess is that Emmanuel Burriss finally gets the cut, considering how little he’s playing and contributing. For updates, check out the Burriss Watch page set up by podcast guest Wendy Thurm.

Also, I already don’t like Hanley Ramirez.

Hit a home run – put your head down, drop the bat, run around the bases, because the name on the front is more – a lot more important than the name on the back. – Ryne Sandberg

But oh well. Tonight’s game didn’t work out, but it wasn’t the most depressing loss. Tonight’s game was more encouraging than anything else: Melky Cabrera, Buster Posey, Angel Pagan and Brandon Belt all got hits, and Crawford walked twice. Even Santiago Casilla looked good. Matt Cain gave up three runs, but horsed his way into a good outing; he does that sometimes, but not enough for us to worry. Sergio Romo gave up a two-run bomb; he does that sometimes, but not this season, and it doesn’t change how fantastic this season has been. The encouraging aspects of tonight’s game were very encouraging, and the discouraging elements were easily brushed off.

Brandon Watch 2012

Crawford: Two walks and good defense. I really hope that Scutaro’s arrival doesn’t take too much playing time away from Crawford. He’s had a good July, and if he truly is on his way up with his hitting, I wouldn’t want to stunt that development.

Belt: When Tim Lincecum pitched his seven shutout innings against the Dodgers on June 27, it was the perfect confluence of events. Timmy was back, and against the Dodgers. Grant explained it well. Well, I felt the same way tonight about Belt’s hits. If anyone could have come through with key base hits, especially his game-tying single to knock in Melky and Pagan, I wanted it to be Belt. I so, so wanted it to be Belt. Belt is going to have to continuously fight for a job, particularly with Huff’s return and Sandoval’s potential long-term move to first base. Please keep hitting, Brandon. Please.

Stats of the Day

2: Number of runs given up by Sergio Romo this year before tonight

2: Number of runs given up by Sergio Romo tonight

2: Games ahead of the Dodgers in the NL West

Bonus Stat of the Day

“Frankly, none of these kids look sick to me.” – Meredith Vieira, during the London Olympics Opening Ceremony