SAN FRANCISCO -- It's not often that Farhan Zaidi sits in the dugout at Oracle Park to give his take on the state of the Giants, but when he has in recent years, it has generally been to discuss something positive. He did it last August when the Giants gave Brandon Crawford a contract extension, and six weeks later he was back in the dugout, soaked in champagne and beer, to discuss a shocking NL West title.
On Tuesday, Zaidi sat down with reporters to discuss a team that has lost 15 of their last 21 games, including five straight at home. Things have changed quickly for everyone in orange and black.
"Obviously it's been disappointing," he said. "The kind of odd thing about this stretch is that when we were in Pittsburgh and Atlanta, kind of hovering nine, 10 games above .500, I think our attitude was, 'We're in a decent spot and we haven't played our best baseball yet.' Even at that point, which now basically looking back is our high-water mark of the season so far, we felt like we had another gear in us. Obviously it's gone the other way.
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"It's a lot of games like last night, where we feel like we're losing winnable games. We're one play or one pitch away from a win, and I think that adds to the frustration."
For nearly 30 minutes, Zaidi discussed different aspects of the first half, and he noted several times that the Giants are just two games out of the final Wild Card spot even with the recent slump. Zaidi said he's hopeful that Monday's loss at Oracle Park ends up looking like "a blip" after a strong weekend in San Diego, and he did not have a hard time pinpointing the element of this Giants team that gives him hope going forward.
The Giants have been one of the worst, if not the worst, defensive teams in baseball, but they are optimistic that cleaner play with the gloves can help the starting staff live up to strong advanced metrics and expected statistics, and also take pressure off a lineup that often is having to dig out of holes caused by defensive mistakes.
"It's just there, it's defensively," Zaidi said. "That's been our biggest weakness so far, and it's really the lowest-hanging fruit. It's something that's kind of most under your control."
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The improvements will have to come mostly from within, but the trade deadline is just about three weeks away. Zaidi will head to Arizona this week to help lead the effort during the MLB draft, which starts Sunday, but after that, it's time for teams to figure out who they are.
Zaidi said last year's market was one of the best for buyers that he has ever seen, but the Giants are currently in a position where they can go either way. They are hopeful that they're in a spot to add to the roster, and it's clear that they're not thinking yet about what another couple weeks of losing could mean.
Asked if he had thought about selling, Zaidi said the Giants "haven't had those conversations yet." They know they are a good week away from being back in a playoff spot, no matter how dire things might look right now.
"I think we all feel like we're capable of better baseball," Zaidi said.