Is this Matt Cain's final season in San Francisco?
The San Francisco Giants have got to be very concerned with the recent sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers for $2.15 billion. The Guggenheim Baseball Management Group, which includes managing partner Mark Walter, Magic Johnson and Golden State Warriors co-owner Peter Guber, have crashed the party in a big way.
The Dodgers have suddenly jumped back into the spotlight and this ownership team means business. Gone are the tabloid stories of Frank McCourt, his ex-wife Jamie and their bitter squabbles. The Dodgers were an organization in complete disarray, because of the laughing stock that was the McCourt soap opera.
Walter will be the main money man and the Dodgers are expected to bring in well-respected baseball man Stan Kasten to run the team as the CEO.
If current GM Ned Colletti retains his job, he will suddenly have all the resource available to him that he needs to build a winner. That was not the case with the McCourts and when the Dodgers were teetering on the brink of insolvency.
Magic Johnson will be front and center with the media and his role will be on the marketing side, creating media excitement and fan enthusiasm. His mere presence brings a new level of enthusiasm to the Dodgers, not seen since the days of Steve Garvey, Fernando Valenzuela and Ron Cey.
The San Francisco Giants and their executive management have not made any public comments to indicate they're worried about the Dodgers. Privately, however, my guess is that they are extremely concerned. Let's take a look at how the Dodgers' sale impacts the Giants.
Expect to see a lot of Magic Johnson in the media.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are relevant again. They have taken the media spotlight away from the San Francisco Giants on the West Coast and are suddenly a national story.
With Magic Johnson acting as the front man for the Dodgers, the media will eat this up. Magic has charisma that will transcend the game. Even ESPN, with its painfully obvious East Coast bias, will be spending a lot of time covering the Dodgers.
The Dodgers will now be the in vogue and exciting thing to cover. As annoying as it may be, the spotlight will once again beam down on Los Angeles.
Matt Cain will be a Giant through 2017.
The Giants have completed a deal with Matt Cain that gives him a five-year extension and ensures he will be a Giant through the 2017 season.
Was it a mere coincidence that this deal happened shortly after the Dodgers' sale?
Whether it was a conscious or subconscious move, or perhaps just a mere coincidence, the fact is the Giants stepped up and came to an agreement with Matt Cain shortly after the Dodgers' sale was announced.
I believe that the Giants realized the Dodgers would be well-positioned to offer Cain a boatload of money if the Giants' star hit the open market. This pushed them to act more decisively to lock up Cain, which they did.
The Dodgers' sale makes them a potentially big player in the free-agent market. It was wise for GM Brian Sabean and the Giants to get this deal done. I think we can all agree that we did not want to see Cain in Dodger blue.
Clayton Kershaw is one of the top pitchers in baseball.
The impact of the Dodgers' sale means good times for Los Angeles. They now have the financial backing to stock up on quality talent and also build their farm system.
The Dodgers already have two of the top players in the league in MVP candidate Matt Kemp and Cy Young candidate Clayton Kershaw. They also have several young players, including Dee Gordon and Kenley Jansen, who are budding stars.
The difference now is that the Dodgers have the money to go out and acquire players to fill their holes, and I expect them to be very aggressive in doing so.
Realistically, I believe LA is one offseason away from being really good, but if veterans like Andre Ethier, James Loney and Chad Billingsley rebound with solid seasons, they could even challenge in 2012.
The Giants will now need to contend with the Dodgers at every turn. Gone are the days when they could look at the team from down south as an afterthought. The Giants will need to work that much harder to stay ahead of the Dodgers. If not, they will lose ground to them and have trouble keeping up.
The Giants have Tim Lincecum signed for two more years.
The Giants signed Matt Cain to a deal that ensures that he will be in San Francisco at least through the 2017 season. They also tried to sign Tim Lincecum to a long-term deal, but he balked, opting to go with a two-year deal that secures his services with the Giants through 2013.
The Giants will need to be very aggressive following the 2012 season to sign Lincecum to a long-term extension. He has historically preferred shorter-term contracts and seems to have a desire to test the free-agent market.
If the Giants are unable to sign Lincecum to an extension and he hits free agency, the numbers of his next contract could become astronomical. The good news for the Giants is that Barry Zito's contract will be off the books, save for a $7.5 million buyout that will be exercised in 2014.
The Zito money can be allocated to Lincecum and that's a good start. However, the Dodgers will become prime suitors for Timmy. In addition, you can bet that the Yankees, Angels and Red Sox will also join the fray.
Lincecum's contract stands to be, perhaps, the richest in all of baseball, and the Dodgers would like nothing more than to snare him away from the Giants. Los Angeles has shown a propensity for signing former Giant free agents, and Lincecum will be their No. 1 target.
As I think back, I remember that Brett Butler, Jeff Kent, Jason Schmidt and Juan Uribe all went from the Giants to the Dodgers via free agency. Granted the last two signings, Schmidt and Uribe, have not worked out, but that will not stop LA from going hard after Lincecum.
Like the Cain contract, the Giants will need to put their best foot forward a year before Lincecum hits free agency. That is their best chance to keep him. Failure to do this will either cost the Giants a lot more, or risk Lincecum leaving the team.
You can be sure that the Dodgers are salivating over the thought of having Lincecum. They arguably spent over $500 million more than they had to in securing the team and will undoubtedly spend whatever it takes to land Lincecum.
Lincecum does not have the same family ties to the Bay Area that Cain does. He likes it in San Francisco, but he may not have the same allegiance to the Giants, as Cain did.
My gut feel on this is if the Giants do not come up with a huge offer, more than what they gave Cain, Lincecum will indeed test the market. I would hate to see him in Dodger blue.
The Giants are counting on Buster Posey to stay healthy.
The one thing the Dodgers' sale does bring about is a renewal of the fierce Giants-Dodgers rivalry. This dates way back to the days when both teams were in New York and continued when both clubs moved to California in 1958.
The fans are always into it, but in the least couple of years, because the Dodgers were in such disarray, the rivalry had lost a little luster. That excitement and intensity will be back in full force.
I believe these two teams will be competing, along with Arizona for the division title, over the next several seasons. Nothing intensifies a rivalry more than competition and that's great for the fans and good for baseball, in general.
Will Giants' closer Brian Wilson's arm stay healthy?
The time is finally here after a long winter and spring training that seemed to go on forever. The Giants and Dodgers are poised to open their seasons and play games that actually count.
On a side note, one of the outcomes of the recent Dodgers' sale is that Golden State Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob may not be the most lustily booed owner in the Bay Area.
For those of you who saw the Warriors' jersey retirement ceremony for Chris Mullin, Lacob was booed into silence by fans upset over the Monta Ellis trade.
However, now that co-owner Peter Guber is a part owner of the Dodgers, when he shows up to a Warriors game, he will probably be booed also. Fans of San Francisco view anyone who shows an affinity to Los Angeles as a traitor, and that's what Guber will face at his next public appearance at a Warriors game.
Getting back to baseball, we should see the Giants, Diamondbacks and Dodgers battle it out for the NL West this year. My prediction is that the Dodgers will fall back, as their depth is not as strong as the others, but if they're in the hunt at the trade deadline, they will be able to make aggressive moves.
It is a long season, which is one of the joys of baseball. 2012 promises to be an exciting year in the NL West.