Alright. We're -- somehow -- just about one-quarter of the way through the 2011 MLB season. And, actually, if you happen to read this four-and-a-half innings into Tuesday's game against the Rockies, it will be exactly one-fourth done. So, woah.
So let's take a look at the Giants and cast some early-season grades. Shall we? We shall.
The plus is really only because I'm optimistic. But that optimism can only stretch so far -- what, you wanted a "C" grade for an offense that somehow managed to scrap together the first six-game winning streak with four-or-less runs in every single game in MLB history?
Yeah, re-read that. It's pretty ridiculous to win six games and never score more than four runs in a single one of them. Of course, the Giants immediately went out and scored four runs against the Rockies to kill that streak off. It's just how it works around here.
Lowlight: Miguel Tejada.You know you're doing yoeman's work when you're making the public forget about the production of Pat Burrell and Aaron Rowand. And yes, I meant to include "not" and "lack of" there.
Highlight: Tie -- Andres Torres returning and Pablo Sandoval resurging. Torres' return might not have cranked up the scoring, but it at least sparked the team to a series of wins that put them in first place in the NL West. And Sandoval would have rolled on this one, except for his injury.
Amazingly, the defense has been worse than the offense, if that's possible. Things have straightened up some over the past few weeks, though, thanks to Miggy being moved out of shortstop (though he was moved for a bad reason, so ...), Aubrey Huff being put back at first base, and Torres taking over center field again.
Hence why they get a low "C" grade. Because, while it might seem like a long time ago, those first couple of weeks were BRUTAL defensively. The Giants were making all kinds of errors and they were dumb, weird errors and they cost the team games.
Highlight: The outline of "Huff's Defense" in right field.
Lowlight: See: highlight
Starting Pitching: A-
It's easy to get caught up in Tim Lincecum's latest start -- possibly his worst start ever -- and think that the Apocaplyse is coming on May 21, as someone who may or may not be crazy predicted, like, last week or something.
But the reality is, the pitching has, per usual, carried the Giants into first place. Lincecum was absolutely dominant before Monday's start, Matt Cain has continued to be criminally underrated (thanks to Lincecum) as well as dominant, Jonathan Sanchez has rebounded well after "losing his focus," Madison Bumgarner isn't as bad as his 0-6 record and Ryan Vogelsong has been a revelation.
Highlight: Pretty sure it has to be Vogelsong, who's 3-0 with a 2.36 ERA, a "shutout," and 24 strikeouts in 26.2 innings. If you saw this coming, you're either a) lying or b) Miss Cleo.
Lowlight: Barry Zito's preseason not carrying over. It looked like Zito might be primed to earn at least a tenth of his contract's value this season, but then he got in a wreck and then he got injured. On the bright side, his injury did lead to Vogelsong taking over.
We'll also accept an "A" here, but they haven't just been dominant (for the most part), they've also been lucky: Consider that the Giants bullpen is, collectively, 11-3. The starters? 12-15!
Lowlight: The usage of Sergio Romo. While Wilson was missing in the early season, Romo didn't get any save chances. That's just luck. But what the heck, Bruce Bochy?
Managing/Front Office: B+
It probably should be higher, because the Giants are in first place a quarter of the season in. But clearly the $6 million spent on Miggy was misplaced
Highlight: The pitching staff continues to justify Brian Sabean's method of building a ball club. Outside of Romo, sometimes letting Tejada lead off (?!?) and leaving Lincecum in a little too long on Monday, Bochy's done a pretty darn good job of managing a banged up roster.
Lowlight: The handling of Brandon Belt. If he was going to be sent down as soon as he struggled so he could crush the ball in Triple-A, the Giants should have sat on him in the minors to begin with. It's not like anyone expected Aubrey Huff to be really good in the outfield, right?
There's no mathematical average for that B+, it's just a gut feeling. You have to wonder if they couldn't be more than a half game (again, depending on when you read this) up on the Rockies, given the way they struggled out of the gate.
No one's expected to win every game, and this isn't a team built to steamroll opponents, particularly with a lack of offense. If there was some expectation of a strong offense, this would be much lower.
But first place is first place, and you can argue that anything less than an "A" is an insult. I just won't agree with you.