Results tagged ‘ St. Louis Cardinals ’

Giants hanging in there with 10 games to go; Sabean, Bochy should both return in 2010

PHOENIX — No matter what happens to the Giants in the National League’s Wild Card race, they’ve had a wildly successful season.

Coming off 90 losses in 2008, the Giants at least secured a .500 record with their 5-2 victory over the D-backs at Chase Field on Wednesday night. At 82 wins with 10 games to play, that’s already 10 victories better than ’08. Coupled with a Rockies loss to the Padres in Denver, the Giants are four games behind in the Wild Card race, tied with the suddenly surging Braves.

“We’re still breathing, we got help,” manager Bruce Bochy said after the game. “We’re running out of games. We know that, but there’s still hope.”

The Giants head home to play the Cubs this weekend, while the Rox get the NL Central-leading Cardinals at Coors Field. The Cards need a win or a Cubs loss to capture another division title. The Braves, meanwhile, get three vs. the 99-loss Nationals in Washington.

What the Giants have done should be enough to secure the jobs of Bochy and long-time general manager Brian Sabean, whose contracts both expire at the end of the season. Bill Neukom, the team’s new managing general partner, has told both men they’ll be evaluated with everyone else in the organization this offseason. Here’s hoping that the process doesn’t take long and neither of them are left dangling. They are both consummate professionals. Thus far, Neukom has kept his word and there has been silence on the subject internally and externally.

The Giants haven’t made the playoffs since 2003, but that’s not for lack of effort. In the post-Barry Bonds era, Sabean deserves credit for resisting the trade of his young pitchers — Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Brian Wilson — for more grizzled veterans. With his future and job on the line, it would’ve been easy to take the “win it at all costs now” route. But Sabean didn’t. He stayed the course and the Giants should reward Sabean by staying with him.

Bochy has done one of his best managerial jobs this year, keeping a team with a thread-bare offense — the Giants’ 112 homers are next to last in the 16-team NL  — in contention for a playoff spot. But that’s not surprising. In his 12 years managing the Padres and now three with the Giants, Boch has always gotten the most out of every club. He won four division titles and the 1998 NL pennant in San Diego and was on a two-year playoff streak when he up and left the Padres for the Giants with one year left on his contract. The Giants owe him a debt of gratitude for coming and an extension for a job well done.

It’s tempting in this era of  instant Twitters and instant success to look elsewhere. But is anyone better out there? Ask Astros owner Drayton McLane, who fired GM Tim Pupura and manager Phil Garner only two years after a World Series loss to the White Sox. McLane brought in Ed Wade and Cecil Cooper. Since then the Astros have continued to falter and Cooper has been dismissed. Sometimes it’s better to stay the course.

The Giants still have an outside chance of making the postseason. If they tie the Rockies after 162 games, they’ll host a one-game Wild Card playoff at AT&T Park by virtue of a 10-8 head-to-head record with Colorado. If they don’t, there’s nothing to hang their heads about.

“Our goal this year was to go to the postseason,” Bochy said. “We all thought we had the team here to do it. But no question, as an organization we wanted to make an improvement. That’s something we wanted to accomplish. We wanted to play winning baseball and now we’ve done that.”

And so, the architect and the manager should be rewarded accordingly.

 

Carpenter feel good story of season

The recovery of Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter from two seasons worth of arm injuries for me is the feel good story of a season, during which I’ve also dealt with a myriad of heath issues and tried to remain working.

At this writing, he’s 16-4 with a 2.45 ERA, having spent a stint on the DL, dealing with an oblique injury. He looks as good as he did back in his 2005 National League Cy Young Award season and 2006 when he helped pitch the Cardinals to the World Series title.

“With everything I’ve been through in my career I love going out there,” Carpenter said when I talked to him last month after another brilliant start in San Diego. “I don’t take anything for granted. I treat every start like it’s the last time I’m ever going to pitch.”

That is rare, as Mike Hampton would agree. Hampton had surgery again this week on his left shoulder, which revealed a completely torn rotator cuff. He wants to pitch again, but he’s out for 2010 and still has surgeries on both knees to come. That will make it nine surgeries for Hampton since he signed a mega contract with the Rockies in 2001.

I applaud Hampton for keeping up the good fight. What Carpenter is doing is a real inspiration to me because I know how much work it took to make it back. I’ve had to make it back from four surgeries since Feb. 4, 2008, and I’m just a writer. I don’t have to whip my body into the condition to compete at baseball’s highest level. I just need to stay in some sort of modicum of shape. Carpenter has not only done that, but he’s returned to elite status. When he’s on, he has a drop-dead curveball, the best I’ve seen since Sandy Koufax used to drop them over the plate when I saw him pitch as a kid.

With apologies to his teammate Adam Wainwright (18-7) and Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum (14-5), Carpenter is my Cy Young Award winner this season. Also add Comeback Player of the Year honors in the Senior Circuit.

Keep it up, Chris, and here’s hoping you can ward off any more injuries. It’s great to see a good guy overcome and continue to excel.

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