On a rainy winter day, any baseball fan worth their salt can't help but perk up upon noticing that spring training is just around the corner. For me, it was reading this upbeat post by Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle about the 22 non-roster invitees coming to Scottsdale.
Schulman has a pretty decent analysis of why these guys are so important. Here's the key verbiage -- Yes, the Giants have Mark DeRosa and Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria and Aubrey Huff and Bengie Molina, but they are placeholders.
In this era, no team can buy its way into perennial dominance through free agency unless it has unlimited resources, such as the Yanks and Red Sox. Teams rarely let their best hitters get to free agency, so you MUST develop your own. Teams have to be smart with the money they do spend -- and there the Giants have made some mistakes -- but I don't see the Giants returning to the playoffs year in and year out until they develop three or four Pablo Sandovals and stick them on the field at the same time.
The Giants have taken the first step with some good position-playing drafts. For that, they have gained praise from publications like Baseball America (which the Giants' front office believed was ill-informed when it criticized their system before). Now, they have to take the next step.