As if Bruce Bochy didn't have enough to worry about, now he's gotta think about who's playing center field? Jeff Fletcher:
- Andres Torres came out of nowhere to be a revelation at the top of the order, but lately he's gone right back from where he came.
Torres was not the only goat in the Giants' 6-1 loss to the Phillies in Game 2 of the NLCS. There was also a wobbly outing by Jonathan Sanchez, team-wide defensive lapses and a bad pitch by reliever Santiago Casilla that turned into a three-run double by Jimmy Rollins, but those things were more isolated incidents that can be shrugged off. Torres' performance has been a nagging problem for weeks, and he hit rock bottom on Sunday.
Torres struck out all four times he came to the plate. He whiffed at fastballs and whiffed at breaking balls. For the postseason, Torres is now 3-for-25 with 12 strikeouts. Even worse, two of the three times he got on base, he subsequently got caught stealing.
A little six-game blip might be excusable, especially because it has come against playoff-caliber pitching, but this slump started long before the playoffs. Torres hit .197 in the final 33 games of the regular season, with a two-week break in between to have his appendix removed.
That was no doubt one of the questions he would ponder on the six-hour flight back to San Francisco, and on the off day on Monday. When the Giants return for Game 3 on Tuesday, against left-hander Cole Hamels, don't be surprised if Aaron Rowand is in center field. The switch-hitting Torres is even worse from the right side (.226 this season), so it's a logical move.
Today's Burning Question: What are you gonna believe?
Are you gonna believe Torres' 2010 splits or his career splits? His career platoon splits are negligible, and it's unlikely that his ADD medication has changed that.
Are you gonna believe Torres' last 39 games -- those 33 regular-season games, but six since -- or Rowand's entire season?
Rowand's entire season isn't enough? How's about two entire seasons? In 2009 and '10, Rowand batted .212/.278/.378 against left-handed pitchers.
No, I don't think Rowand is really that bad. No 33-year-old right-handed hitter should be that bad. But if Bochy's going to base a decision on Torres' last 39 games, he might also consider Rowand's last 237 plate appearances against southpaws.
All these numbers are just numbers, set against all the things Bochy knows about his players that we (or at least I) don't.
But for every player who gets benched in October because he hasn't been hitting, there's another guy who doesn't get benched and breaks out of his slump in a big way. In fact, it happened Sunday night with the other team's shortstop. If anything good came of the Giants' Game 2 loss, maybe it was that Bochy saw what can happen when you let your best players play.