On July 13th Tim Lincecum threw this season’s second no-hitter against the San Diego Padres. This occurred just days before the All-Star break and gave the San Francisco Giants hope for the first time in weeks. The defending World Series Champions looked poised to bring that momentum into a second half push for the playoffs. This fairytale like notion has come to an abrupt end after losing 3 of 4 at home against the Cincinnati Reds. To make matters worse, Lincecum was shelled during his start, giving up eight runs in just 3.2 innings pitched. Nothing has changed and the Giants look just as lost as ever.
General Manager Brian Sabean is still faced with the difficult decision of whether to become a buyer or a seller. On one hand, even with all of the team’s struggles, the Giants are still only seven games out of first in the NL West. They are playing the lowly Chicago Cubs at home this weekend and follow that up with a series against the mediocre Philadelphia Phillies. This may sound like unrealistic optimism, but with two good showings the Giants could very well be right back in the race. Even with the Los Angeles Dodgers streaking, no team in the NL West has proved to be above the rest. There is hope for the Giants, but it is fading fast.
The clubhouse must take advantage of this part of the schedule because the coming weeks are about to be brutal. Interleague play starts up again and the Giants are in line to play three teams in the AL East: the Tampa Bay Rays, the Boston Red Sox, and the Baltimore Orioles. This is an absolute nightmare scenario considering that all three clubs are legitimate playoff contenders in the AL. To put it in perspective: the Giants have a dismal -59 run differential, whereas the Orioles have a solid +39 run differential. Generally, run differential is an accurate indicator of how good a team really is. The Giants and Orioles have a massive 98-point difference; furthermore, Baltimore has the lowest run differential out of the three AL East teams. The Giants are about to walk into the gauntlet and it isn’t about to be pretty.
The July 31st trade deadline is approaching and knowing Sabean, the Giants are going to make moves. This weekend series could play a part in his difficult decision because as of now, it is completely up in the air. Hunter Pence is the biggest name circulating the trade rumors and has been linked with the likes of the Pittsburgh Pirates and especially the Texas Rangers. The Giants should lock Pence up to an extension or trade him now when his value is at its highest. It’s unlikely, however, that the Rangers and Giants will strike a deal due to contractual reasons. The other corner outfielder on the Rangers’ radar is Alex Rios, who is signed through 2014 with a club option for 2015. Pence, on the other hand, is a free agent at the end of the season. With David Murphy and Nelson Cruz slated to be free agents as well, acquiring a long-term investment in Rios makes much more sense.
Considering the Giants’ continued struggles, it is unclear whether Sabean is willing to trade for another bat or arm. Rumors surrounding the Houston Astros Bud Norris as well as Rios have surfaced in recent weeks. However, these reports have diminished since the All-Star break. There are only several days before the trade deadline, which gives Sabean very little time to decide what to do. Giants’ fans have been in limbo for far too long and are clamoring for some sort of resolution. While it may seem unthinkable that the season is over, there is a very decent chance that Sabean sells in order to protect his team’s future.