COMMENTARY | Things look bleak for the San Francisco Giants right about now. They're in fourth place in their division, they likely just lost Angel Pagan for the season, and they can't seem to get themselves on any kind of winning streak. It feels like the wheels are falling off for the defending world champions.
Is there any reason to still cling to hope in this sea of (orange and) blackness? Yes...yes there is. In fact, I came up with ten reasons for Giants fans to remain optimistic about their team's chances in 2013. You'd be justified in feeling like the season is lost after the way the Giants have played recently, but it isn't. There's still hope for them to turn it around.
So cue up that terrible Journey song the Giants insist on playing almost every game, because it's time to start believing. Let's delve into ten reasons why you shouldn't write off the season just yet:
The division is within reach: As of June 26, the Giants are a game under .500. They're also only 3.5 games out of first place in the NL West. No one is running away with the division, and luckily for the Giants that affords them the opportunity to fix their issues without falling completely out of the race. Just getting into the playoffs is the goal, and the NL West is still very winnable.
The schedule lightens up: The Giants played only nine home games in the month of June. Let me repeat that: the Giants played only nine home games in the month of June. This scheduling anomaly proved brutal for the injury-plagued team, and it can be seen as something of a victory that they're going to make it through the month and still be in contention. The Giants will have more home games in the second half of the season, which will only help as the team gets healthier.
They're not a bad team: Their record might say otherwise, but this isn't a bad team. There are good players all over the diamond and the pitchers are better than they've shown themselves to be. Injuries have taken a toll, but the Giants still have the pieces in place to be a winning team. Whether or not all those pieces can come together again like they did in 2010 and 2012 is the question.
Pablo Sandoval is healthy: The middle of the Giants' lineup was a mess without Sandoval, with everyone from Joaquin Arias to Hector Sanchez hitting fifth. With Sandoval finally over the foot injury that hobbled him for weeks, the middle of the order will be some combination of him, Buster Posey, and Hunter Pence. That's three formidable hitters, and once they get going it'll only strengthen the rest of the lineup.
Santiago Casilla will return: The back of the bullpen is a mess, so Casilla's return can't come soon enough. He's still recovering from surgery to remove a cyst from his knee and is on track to return in the middle of July. He'll help bring stability back to the bullpen and solidify the bridge to closer Sergio Romo.
Ryan Vogelsong will return: His return will come later than Casilla's, but Vogelsong should return sometime in August and be available to the Giants down the stretch. He seemed to have fixed his issues before he broke his finger and should be able to help add consistency to a rotation that sorely needs it.
Help could be coming: Brian Sabean has never shied away from making a move to strengthen his team at the deadline, and this year should be no exception. The Giants need help in the bullpen, the rotation, and the lineup: expect Sabean to address at least two of those areas through trades or waiver claims.
Pitchers want to come to San Francisco: Two pitchers known to be on the trade market - Ricky Nolasco and Bud Norris - have stated they'd like to pitch in San Francisco if given the chance. While they have no say in where they go, those statements could make Sabean more likely to deal prospects for either starter. Nolasco is an impending free agent and Norris is arbitration eligible; if he's on the fence about trading for one of them, Sabean may consider their desire to be Giants and think his chances of re-signing Nolasco or getting Norris to avoid arbitration would increase.
Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain: The Giants two best starting pitchers have been great recently, with Cain fixing whatever issues plagued him early in the season and Bumgarner looking like a dominant force. It would be nice if the rest of the rotation could step up their games and match what Cain and Bumgarner are doing, but the Giants at least have two dominant starters to lead them the rest of the way.
They've been here before: The Giants know what it takes to win. They've won two World Series championships in the past three years with many of the players currently on the roster. The players aren't going to panic, nor will they get down on themselves. They have a solid clubhouse, a steady leader in Bruce Bochy, and the knowledge that they still have time to turn their season around. They're used to dealing with adversity in a season and won't let losing streaks or injuries beat them mentally.
Dave Tobener is a San Francisco Bay Area-based writer who's written about the Giants for the better part of a decade. His work has appeared on numerous sports websites, including Yahoo! Sports' Big League Stew. Follow him on Twitter @gggiants.
- Sports & Recreation
- San Francisco Giants