No quick fixes on the horizon – price too steep

Published: Friday, Jun. 28, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 6C
Last Modified: Friday, Jun. 28, 2013 - 6:18 am

DENVER – Giants general manager Brian Sabean and his staff have burned up the phone lines in recent weeks while coming up with lists of potentially available starting pitchers, relievers and position players.

The harder part may be determining where exactly the patches need to go on a club that has suffered a string of crushing injuries, was just swept by the rival Los Angeles Dodgers and has dropped to fourth place in the lackluster National League West.

"There have been a lot of leaks, so to speak, on the roster," Sabean said as his team approached the halfway mark of the season. "The sands are always shifting. That's what makes a difference."

The shifts have come so abruptly that it's difficult from week to week to determine where the Giants need the most help. In the grand scheme, just about everything has gone wrong at one time or another for a group that has a 38-40 record.

In April, the starting pitchers gave up 24 homers, with Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong slogging through uncharacteristic struggles. The staff was worse in May, and the rough starts were exacerbated when a normally sure-handed team committed a major-league-leading 25 errors.

As the starters have turned the page – allowing three earned runs or fewer in 11 of the past 14 games – the bullpen has imploded. And the lineup, so steady early on, is second-to-last in the N.L. in runs per game (3.52) in June. The Giants have scored just 33 runs while dropping nine of the last 12 games.

The wild inconsistency adds up to an MLB-worst 15-25 record over the past 40 games.

"We're not very good right now, but that's now," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We are good. We're better than this."

As the trade deadline approaches, both Sabean and Bochy said the pieces for a turnaround are already in house. Sabean is confident scuffling left-hander Jeremy Affeldt will return to form and join injured right-hander Santiago Casilla (expected back in the next homestand) in solidifying the bullpen. Bochy insists his lineup is all but set, and when asked about the starting rotation, Sabean said, "At the present time, we have no plans to do anything but exercise patience. That's what we're trying to do."

The Giants might have little choice in the matter. Sabean has financial flexibility, but the farm system isn't brimming with high-upside prospects and all the injuries have left opposing front offices asking for everything short of the Coit Tower when Sabean picks up the phone.

The Giants now line up behind a healthy Buster Posey, and it's unlikely that he'll have many new teammates in the coming weeks.

"There's no way you're going to solve what you think all your problems are from the outside world. It's just not going to happen," Sabean said. "There are not enough players to go around."

On the first night of this latest trip, Bochy held a brief meeting to remind his quiet team that the situation was not as calamitous as it looked. Despite all the negatives in the season's first half, the Giants are just four games out of first place.

"It's just about digging deep and looking at the guy next to you and knowing that you're here for the same reason you were last year," right-hander Tim Lincecum said. "Once guys get back to that mindset and get back to having fun, that'll springboard us to bigger innings (as hitters) and more zeroes as pitchers."

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