The San Francisco Giants roll into Philadelphia for the exact kind of series1 Bud Selig imagined when he dreamed up the Wild Card. What would ordinarily be a snoozy trip east for the Giants is instead a Very Meaning Series! The Phils and Giants will battle for the chance to make an early playoff exit at either the hands of the unstoppable Padres killing machine or Dusty's Old-Timey Street-Fighting Funky Bunch.
The Phillies come in as one of the hottest teams in the National League, winners of 15 of their last 20. Things can only improve with best player and all-world cyborg Chase Utley returning to the lineup this week after an extended stay on the deel. Though Ryan Howard is still a ways from returning, the reintroduction of Utley can only help a surging team.
The Giants made their own lineup addition this week, picking up misanthropic outfielder Jose Guillen and quickly installing him as the everyday right fielder. Somehow I don't think they'll have the same impact. The Giants built on last season's surprise success with a strange cast of misfits and scrap heap finds; each one more bizarre than the last.
Which is why the Phillies must send a clear message to the Giants during this pivotal series: this doesn't work. Build your core, don't attempt to mirror the outcast archetype of the city you play in. Defense matters, not playing two of Pat Burrell, Aubrey Huff, and Jose Guillen in the same outfield at the same time while Past a Diving Sandoval mans the hot corner. (To his credit, Huff provides decent defense in left and at first base.)
Convivial bath-bros as they might be, the Giants fear of youth is troubling. Even their young guys are old! Upstart career minor leaguer Andres Torres is leading the Giants charge with a career season at the ripe old age of 32, with nearly 75% of his career at bats coming in the last two years.
The Giants need to do better by their strong pitching staff by building a sustainable future around them. The Phillies must slap the retread-loving wrist of Brian Sabean lest his team of weirdos lurch into the playoffs. The non-stop parade of faded stars by the bay will never end! The Kung Fu Panda will be unceremoniously shipped out of town in exchange for the corpse of Edwin Encarnacion.
The Giants will sign Edgar Renteria, Mark DeRosa, and Aaron Rowand to long-term contractUh, whoops. Nevermind.
1 - This is not in any way what Bud had in mind. They don't charge double for the teevee rights in August, do they?