I recently caught up with Grant Brisbee of the McCovey Chronicles, the Giants' SBNation blog, to talk about San Francisco's season so far. Below are nine questions that I asked him along with his nine answers.
DAVID: One could say the Giants aren't the typical "Giants" we've seen the past couple years because their starting pitchers haven't been as good. Matt Cain has a 4.55 ERA, Barry Zito is at 4.67, Tim Lincecum is at 4.52, and Madison Bumgarner is at 3.25. Do you think there is a reason behind this and do you think it could have a major impact on the team going forward? Pitching did play a major role in 2010 and 2012 for them.
GRANT: I'd say Matt Cain is pretty much the same pitcher, just with more balls going over the fence. He's also been much worse with runners on base, which could be a mechanical problem out of the stretch, or it could be a fluke. Bumgarner's the same for the most part, too. He's still just 23 -- he's allowed some inconsistency. Barry Zito has been the same new pitcher for the last seven years for better or worse, often worse, and I'm pretty convinced this is the new Tim Lincecum, too. He's not the worst pitcher in the land like he was last year, but he's certainly a shell of himself. The transformation of Lincecum combined with the quirkiness of Cain's season is all it takes to turn the Giants from a powerhouse pitching team into what they've been. Replace any team's two best pitchers with Jon Garland, and they'll suffer the same fate.
DAVID: Marco Scutaro has been playing well above average since San Francisco traded for him last year. How important is he to the team? Both defensively and offensively.
GRANT: Defensively he's not so hot, actually. His range is limited, and he rarely makes tough plays on the balls he can get to. He can turn a mean double play, though. Offensively? He's been amazing -- one of the biggest reasons the Giants are atop a lot of the offensive leaderboards early this season, despite playing an extreme pitcher's park. He's also important in the annoy-Cardinals-fans category, which the Giants haven't done well in since Kenny Lofton.
DAVID: Buster Posey is the reigning NL MVP and has been playing almost as good this year as he did last year. Do you think he is the key to the team's offense? As in if he goes down, the team goes down with him?
GRANT: It's always a bad idea to suggest that one player is absolutely essential to a team's playoff chances. The Giants won the division by eight games last season (over the Dodgers), and Posey was worth approximately seven wins. Even assuming the Giants would have replaced him with a replacement-level guy, there's still a chance they would have won the division. That written, someone will go down with him if he goes down. I've got a corkscrew, a favorite baseball player, and a loose grip on what's important around here. Someone will go down.
DAVID: Who do you think the team's MVP and Cy Young are as of right now?
DAVID: Brian Wilson is still a free agent and looking for a team, are there any rumors flying around that he could end up back with the Giants? Would you like to see him back with the team?
GRANT: Last I heard, he was surfing with Dallas Braden somewhere. I think he's continuing rehab, but with an eye toward next season. I have a soft spot for him, so I'd like to see him back. I'd put money on Boof Bonser helping the Giants' roster this year before I would on Wilson, though.
DAVID: Throughout his career, Clayton Kershaw has dominated the Giants like Lincecum used to dominate the Dodgers. Is it frustrating when Kershaw steps on the mound against San Francisco and beats them even if the Giants' starting pitcher does well? When Lincecum would come to LA and dominate and beat one of the Dodgers' starters who pitched well it was very frustrating.
GRANT: I don't like it when Kershaw dominates the Giants. But it's easier to take than when, say, Charlie Haeger does it. Kershaw's one of the best. There's no shame in losing to the best. Over and over and over and over again. On the home and on the road. In day games and night games. Because he pitches brilliantly and/or hits home runs. No shame in that at all.
DAVID: The rivalry between Oakland and San Francisco obviously isn't as big as the rivalry between LA and SF. But what was it like to nearly get swept by the Athletics last month?
GRANT: Poopy. It was poopy. It means a little more just because I'm likelier to hear it from a neighbor, but it's not something that sent me into a rage.
DAVID: Bruce Bochey is the National League All-Star Game manager and said at this point he wouldn't bring Yasiel Puig to the All-Star Game. Do you agree with him, or do you think Puig should be able to go?
GRANT: We're still talking about, what, 75 at-bats? I get that Puig is the most exciting thing since Mario 64, but man, is that a small sample. We laughed at David Samson for suggesting that Justin Ruggiano should have been an All-Star last year, and Ruggiano was hitting .410/.478/.795 in 78 at-bats when Samson said that. Puig has the spring hype and the signing bonus, but I don't think that should put him over the top.
DAVID: Series prediction?
GRANT: Clayton Kershaw throws a shutout.