It's time to face it. Get your forks out. The Giants are damn near done. They could sweep LA, sweep CO, and still be down by as much as 1.5 games in the wild card and 3.5 in the division. [UPDATE: Well, there goes the sweeping idea....LA 10 - 3 SF in game 1] With September moving bye very quickly, they need a lot of help. Colorado is nominally closer, but they don't show any signs of losing soon, and LA is probably a little too far away to catch realistically.
None of these account for the biggest difficulty the Giants face, though. The toughest hurdle in San Francisco this year can be expressed in three letters: OPS. As a team, the Giants are hitting a 'robust' .257/.308/.390, an OPS of .698, second-wosrt in either league (Cincinnati .695). That's not just bad, it's worse than the Padres (.703), the Pirates (.713), and the Royals (.717). No matter how good the Giants pitching is (and it is the sole reason they are in the race, particularly Lincecum, Cain, Affeldt, and -- in the second half anyway-- Barry Zito), you can't win if you can't score. Particularly bad have been Edgar Renteria (.649 OPS and oh yeah, another year on that 2yr $18M contract. WTG Sabes), Randy Winn (.677 OPS, and apparently missing his right-handed swing), and Bengie Molina (.712OPS). The most frustrating part of this is that they have young, in-house alternatives to some of these players already on the roster. Instead of Winn, they could be playing Fred Lewis (.762) or Andres Torres (.816) every day. Most galling to me is the fact that top prospect Buster Posey (.959 career minor-league OPS) was called up a week ago and has yet to step on the field. While Molina is killing the Giants one hack at a time (12 walks in 473 plate appearances this year and an OBP of .279), Posey could walk up there blindfolded and get on base more often (62 BB and .416 OBP in 497 minor league plate appearances this year). My back-of-the-napkin calculations say that if you replaced Molina's 473 at bats with 473 of Posey's minor league at bats (at his .947 OPS this year), the Giants OPS for the year would be .719*. Their OBP (with Posey's .416) would be .320. Still not league average, but much better than what we've got, and maybe enough to make the postseason.
*I know it my be unrealistic to expect Posey to continue his minor league numbers in the bigs, but I'm trying to make a point: Bengie Molina is KILLING the Giant's offense!
[All stats from Baseball-Reference.com, one of the greatest sites on the tubes. Any mistakes or miscalculations are mine, not theirs.]