With less than 60 games left in the baseball season, the Giants are in a position that many Bay Area sports teams and fans have grown unfamiliar to—postseason contention.
After averaging 88 losses per season over the past four years, the Giants’ stellar pitching has led an impressive comeback surge. Local fans and writers have a rekindled feeling of optimism and zeal for the potential playoff contenders, and a special air of buoyancy has begun to drift over the foggy McCovey Cove.
World Series-bound, perhaps not, but special enough to compel management to shake up their roster, and bolster their offense. While trades can be assessed, analyzed, and argued meticulously (and sometimes fruitlessly), the acquisitions of Freddy Sanchez and Ryan Garko provide fans with a reason to either scratch their heads or flock to the ballpark.
The Giants currently boast the league’s best earned run average, and two legitimate Cy Young award candidates in Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, so the departures of Tim Alderson—who was considered their second best pitching prospect—and Scott Barnes may seem inconsequential.
Additionally, the Giants are among the major league’s bottom five in total runs scored, home runs, and on-base percentage, so adding a few bats to the lineup should only fortify their recent success.
However, if General Manager Brian Sabean had held onto the team’s pitching prospects and traded away expiring veteran contracts such as Randy Winn, Bengie Molina, or Jonathan Sanchez to strengthen their already formidable farm system, the Giants could be in a position to make a serious push for future pennants.
While future success should take a backseat to winning now, the two should be weighed upon the same scale.
After the 2004 season when the Giants won 91 games, they began to rebuild from the ground-up—drafting young pitching, and restoring their farm system. Five seasons later they are contending for the playoffs...but is their success too sudden?
Entering the season, the Giants were figured to be shipping veterans out by July 31 and bringing in minor-league talent, but, with 56 wins going into August, Sabean turned his eye to the available players on the market and sacrificed some of the team’s young prospects.
The Giants will most likely pick up Freddy Sanchez’s club option for 2010, so he is not merely a half-year rental, but if Sabean had shipped out a veteran like Molina, acquired more young talent, and held onto their prospects, the Giants could be in a position to contend for the National League pennant for years to come.
However, the operative word in that situation is “could." The Giants are making a push at the wild card right now, and could make the playoffs THIS year. And with the LinceCain one-two punch, a revived fan-base, and rising young stars like Pablo Sandoval, why not risk some future pieces to win now?
Only time will tell if Sabean’s moves will ultimately contribute to the team’s immediate success or leave fans wondering what management was thinking (a la A.J. Pierzynski), but the bottom line is this: it’s August, and Giants fans are contemplating playoff baseball, a blossoming future, and the team’s up-and-comers.
Sounds like a good enough reason to indulge on some garlic fries at the park, right?