San Francisco Giants' Winter Modesty Taking a Beating, But It's the Right Call
The fallout in La La Land from the McCourt divorce was predictable, to a degree.
With each side wrangling over its interest in the team and the various financial considerations of California's community property laws, it isn't too surprising the focus has been on dollars and cents rather than improvement for 2010.
Nevertheless, the magnitude of neglect has been a little jarring.
It's still tough to believe the way the front office handled Orlando Hudson's (apparently) imminent departure—if rumors regarding O-Dawg's discontent with Joe Torre are true, the brass just left some free draft picks on the table.
Lastly, Vicente Padilla seems destined for the gate without any real flirtation. Odd since he made a lot of people look like donkeys (myself included) by working out nicely down the stretch. Until, of course, los Doyers asked him to staunch a bleeding femoral artery in the National League Championship Series against the rampaging Philadelphia Phillies.
That's hardly a reason to kick the guy to the curb.
One unforeseen consequence of all the carnage down South has been a shift in the tenor of tolerance up North.
In the Bay Area, voices are beginning to demand more of los Gigantes and impatiently call for more headline-grabbing maneuvers.
The San Francisco Chronicle 's Bruce Jenkins has been read musing how even the Oakland Athletics have added more power over the winter than the Gents. Over at FOX Sports, Jon Paul Morosi has maligned the front office for its lack of a "big deal." I'm sure ESPN has gotten its jabs in, but I'm not an Insider so, thankfully, I wouldn't know.
In theory, all these observers have a point—the best team in the National League West from 2009 is taking on water like a Polish submarine, the Colorado Rockies (the second best side) haven't done much of anything other than cut some fat, and so the division is ripe for the picking.
Meanwhile, the Giants came oh-so-close in '09 because of all that pitching; with the division coming back to the fellas, an ounce of offensive prevention could equal a pound of postseason cure.
Yep, grabbing a big name, big production bat makes all the sense in the world.
But consider the top options (or the ones masquerading as top options):
1. Matt Holliday —he went back to the St. Louis Cardinals for seven years and $120 million. You'd be hard-pressed to find a Giant fan who's upset the club didn't shell out that kind of cash for another long-term helping of Scott Boras. Furthermore, it's not as if the left fielder comes without worry—his spell in Oakland could have very well repeated itself across the Bay.
It's not like AT&T Park is that much smaller than the Oakland Coliseum (or whatever the hell it's called now) and the Gents' offense is probably weaker.
2. Jason Bay —apparently, he never wanted to play in San Francisco's big, scary ballpark anyway. Plus, it's so cold here. In Northern California.
Forget the deficiencies in his game not matching well with an expansive outfield and a frail supporting cast, tell me how you lure a guy who has no interest in the location. I'll save you the trouble: You pay a premium that other clubs don't; i.e. you give him an arm and a leg.
Again, I think San Francisco dodged an expensive bullet rather than missed a golden opportunity.
3. ?????? —really, who else would be such a magic elixir? Chone Figgins is a highly valuable piece in every respect except the one Brian Sabean and company need (power). Orlando Hudson isn't exactly a thumper and he doesn't mesh well positionally with the squad as situated. Ditto Felipe Lopez.
Mike Cameron is 37 and got two years, $15.5 million from the Boston Red Sox. Anyone jealous?
Nick Johnson (who I made a plea for) got snapped up by the New York Yankees. Oh well.
Placido Polanco? Marco Scutaro? Miguel Tejada (he's still available)? Hideki Matsui? Adrian Beltre? Johnny Damon (another Boras guy in his late 30s)?
The point is there weren't any reasonable options available via free agency to fix the splinters. It was a weak year so doing nothing at the top tier probably makes the most sense.
Sure, a trade for the San Diego Padres' Adrian Gonzalez would be just what the doctor ordered. So would winning the lottery.
Explain how a team pries the best player—a 40 home run guy, a stellar defender, a rock in the clubhouse, a pillar of the community, and a relative bargain—away from a division rival and I'll give you the secret code for playing the numbers.
Ain't gonna happen.
If it did, I promise Giant fans wouldn't like the price.
Instead of joining the desperate teams, thrashing haphazardly around in the open market, the front office made some low-key, low-risk investments.
They brought back Freddy Sanchez, inked Mark DeRosa, re-signed Juan Uribe, brought in Aubrey Huff, re-signed Bengie Molina , avoided arbitration by signing Jonathan Sanchez to a one-year deal, and are braced to eat high arbitration numbers from both Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson.
The new (and a couple old) bats won't turn the San Francisco Giants into the Philadelphia Phillies, but no realistic acquisition would have.
Forcing the issue may have scuttled the beginnings of a good thing by leveraging long-term resources for short-term paper tigers.
All-in-all, I'd say it's been a pretty successful winter.
And it's not over yet.
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