Monday, October 03, 2011

The high point of 2011

That would be on July 28, when the Giants beat the Phils in Philly 4-1 to go 61-44 -- 17 games over .500 with a little over a third of the season left. Things were looking OK, what with the pitching staff performing at world class levels while the offense was adequate -- Sandoval homered, Nate drove in a run and the Giants scored two on a throwing error. Then the Giants went 25-32 the rest of the way to gift wrap the NL West title to the extremely annoying Dbacks.

I was compelled to look up that game after reading a Sept. 23 post by "The Ranter" at Ranting On. He doesn't post very often but when he does, it's always worth a read. Here are the key points --

-- This has been a extremely disappointing year, largely because the Giants' failure was both forseeable and preventable. And the blame for this disaster should lie firmly at the feet of management.

-- The first failure came in the off-season, when the Giants made no significant upgrade to a team that was offensively challenged despite seeing a number of players having career years. Did they really believe a full season of Cody Ross was going to make a difference? Instead of help we got Miguel Tejada.

-- Failure number two came on the day Buster Posey went down. This was the centerpiece of a still challenged line-up. The Giants' response this loss? Crickets. They whistled in the dark and claimed their catching situation was okay. Hmmn. The number-four hitter goes down, replaced by two guys who couldn't hit an old lady in a crosswalk, and the team doesn't need to make a move? When the guys replacing your big stick bat eighth only because traditon puts the pitcher ninth, you're losing offense. Nice non-move Sabean.

-- And still this team had a shot. It was smoke and mirrors, but at one point there were 16 games over .500. Even then Sabean publicly admitted that the team wasn't as good as its record. The wall had to come, and it did. The Giants gambled that one bat, the overhyped Carlos Beltran, would be enough. Had he been added to a healthy Posey in April, and had the Giants actually obtained a real shortstop instead of an aging malcontent whose range consisted of a step and a dive, they might have had a chance. In this case it was too little and much too late.

-- What really killed me was the Houston series on the homestand, when the Giants were twice done in by Henry Sosa and Matt Downs, two "failed" Giants prospects. The Giants dealt them for vets, and when it game time for the showdown, the kids won. That's a theme for the current front office. Young talent is just a baraining chip. Yeah, the kid may hit .300 but he's not proven. Better to take a known quantity, even if he hits .230. No gambles here. If your name is Brandon Belt, Brett Pill, Brandon Crawford, Hector Sancez, etc., get your suitcase ready. There is no place for you in San Francisco, not when there's a 36-year-old, .220-hitting middle infielder on the market.

-- Looking back at the full season, the perfect mascot for this team would be Randy Winn. The Giants failed to learn from that awful experience and paid a record payroll in 2011 to players like Aubrey Huff, Cody Ross, Andres Torres and Mike Fontenot; men who got paid like on an average day they'd perform like they did last September. But that's not who they are. The Giants paid off on career years, and, predictably, got a lousy return on the investment.

-- The 2010 Giants got hot at the right time, and a tremendous pitching staff made it stand up. But you cannot build a team like that. The Giants seem to beleive that "good enough" on the offensive side is sufficient. They stubbornly rely on arms. Hey, Philly can pitch too. So can the Brewers and Tigers and Rays and Red Sox. You know what else they can do? Hit. The Giants can't.

-- The first move is gonna be painful. The Giants ate Rowand's idiotic deal, now they need to be willing to do the same for Zito and Huff. In fact, there are a number of Giants that need not return. Also say goodbye to the following: Whiteside, Keppinger, Cabrerra, DeRosa, Ross, Torres, J. Sanchez, Edlefsen, Ramirez and Mota. Bury Stewart and Pill in Fresno as insurance.

-- The offseason search has to be for a leadoff man and a clean-up hitter, and the Giants have to be willing to break the bank to do so. Fans came out and supported the Giants all season, selling out every home game to date. They did so and received bad baseball. Last year was torture? This year was death by slow poison. In 2012, they owe us. There are three big prizes on the free agent market: Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Jose Reyes. Two of them need to end up in San Francisco.

-- The Giants have good pitching, better than most. With an average offense they'd be a dominant team. But competitive guys want to win, and if the front office doesn't give them the tools to do so, it'll be far too easy to jump ship when teams like the Yankees and Red Sox start circling Lincecum and Cain waiving big checks combined with bushels of run support. Giants, the future is now. You're at a turning point. You can can bite the bullet, trim the fat, rebuild the offense and save your pitchers from a mental breakdown, or you can slide into oblivion: a one-hit wonder the likes of Ah-Ha and Dexy's Midnight Runners.


Blogger Robert LeRoy Parker said...

I see no chance of us signing any of those "prize" free agents. We haven't signed a prize free agent bat since bonds; why would we now after winning it all without a superstar to hold down the middle of the lineup?

And after the zito debacle, Sabean won't want to get burned again. More torture is in store imo, but hopefully it will be easier to watch youthful players struggle as opposed to washed up clunkers.

My guess is Sabean will let everything ride on Posey. Hopefully he is up to the task.

10:30 PM  

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