With success comes a change in expectations, and all of a sudden for the San Francisco Giants, the expectations for them are to compete for a playoff spot in the season’s second half.
The Giants weren’t expected to be where they are in the standings. Many people thought that it would most likely be another year of struggling to put runs on the board, and another sub-.500 year would then ensue.
Well, some of that has been true.
April was a struggle to squeak out any kind of offense, while May was more treading water but with some glimpses of hope. Then came June, where things got rolling along, and the .630 winning percentage certainly reflects that.
So as we enter the final days of July, the Giants are now behind the Colorado Rockies for the National League Wild Card and are certainly reverting to their early-season struggles when it comes to scoring runs.
Yet is the desire to make the playoffs in 2009 enough to mortgage the future and risk the product the Giants will trot out over the next couple of years?
We knew they would score runs, so why is it a huge shock that they go a few games not putting a few runs across the plate?
This is what happens with a young team, and the Giants, while they do have veterans in the everyday lineup, are also incorporating players with a low number of big league games under their belt.
That is why you see them continuously swinging at breaking balls in the dirt and changeups close to the opposite batter's box.
They’re learning on the job, and for some, it’s hard to understand.
Any team is going to struggle when their leadoff hitter is in a funk and not getting on base. The times that Pablo Sandoval drives in the most runs is when Aaron Rowand is occupying one of the bases and is waiting for the Panda to knock him in.
You hear people say that this is a “once in a lifetime” kind of pitching staff that the Giants have assembled, and that if they don’t go out and get a bat, it will be a catastrophe.
I mean, I know they’re damn good, but is it really the kind of staff that we will never see in San Francisco ever again?
That Tim Lincecum guy we’ve heard of a couple times is due a hefty raise but isn’t going anywhere. Matt Cain isn’t going to be a free agent for two more seasons, and we all know that Barry Zito is under contract.
We don’t really know when Randy Johnson is going to come off of the disabled list, let alone what he is going to bring to the table once he is activated.
Because of Johnson’s uncertain return date (the Giants training staff isn’t allowed to talk about it either), Jonathan Sanchez’s role on the team is now a little more important than it was before the Big Unit went on the disabled list.
Now the Giants need to have Sanchez in the rotation, and the one legitimate trade option in the majors with at least some kind of trade value is now unlikely to be traded.
Even with his no-hitter, Sanchez’s stock hasn’t gone up so much that the Giants would be able to deal him for a masher in the middle of the lineup.
The rumored deal for Pittsburgh’s Freddy Sanchez is probably going to take more than just the Giants’ Sanchez to get him.
As a result of Sanchez now being a bigger part of the Giants’ plans this year, a deal would have to be spun with minor league talent being the centerpiece of it.
With the Giants' system so incredibly stocked with talent these days, other general managers are going to be asking for a whole lot more from the Giants in previous years.
That means parting with top-tier prospects like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Alderson, and Angel Villalona—names that Brian Sabean and Co. have said time and time again are part of the team’s plan.
Why scrap the plans they have lain out on the table on more than one occasion just to have a shot to win this season?
The fact is that this team is still in the middle of a rebuilding phase. They weren’t expected to be serious contenders this year, with 2010 or 2011 being the year they took the next step to being one of the big boys in the National League.
Giants GM Brian Sabean and his scouting staff have not built up this minor league system to just trade it away for veteran players like they did in past years.
They didn’t spend millions of dollars in the international market just to see the positions filled by some rent-a-player who will be gone in a few short months.
The faithful Giants fans said they would be patient if the organization built the team the right way by putting a huge emphasis on developing homegrown talent.
The talent is there, and now they’re just a year or so away from getting their first chance to show what they can do in the majors.
Patience doesn’t mean screaming on talk shows for another bat when the price for one that would come right in and be the cleanup hitter behind Sandoval is going to be through the roof at the trade deadline.
So now that the team is struggling to start the second half, where’s the patience everybody said they were willing to have?
Think it through—the desire might be burning deep inside to win in 2009, but the desire to maintain the success should be just as present.
For now, standing pat might be the smartest thing of all.
As the saying goes, “Patience, young grasshopper.”