Surrounded by food and family yesterday—Easter Sunday and the day before Opening Day for the Giants—my brother suggested politely that my next column take more of a stand.
Sure enough, this is the time of year for baseball prognosticators to do just that.
In this hope-springs-eternal time, the analytical tend to break things down like this:
- The five keys to success ...
- The three players to watch ...
- Seven reasons why _____ will win it all
Okay. Fine. I'll go one better.
I'll pin it down to the one factor most important for Giants success.
Is it one player? No. I have read the columns that talk about the importance of Aubrey Huff (will he rediscover his power?), Freddy Sanchez (what will he bring when he comes off the Disabled List?), and Aaron Rowand (will the combination of batting leadoff and new hitting coach Hensley Meulens make the difference?).
But no, it's not one player.
Is it the need for a fast start? With all due respect to Brian Sabean, quoted in Chris Haft's article, no, it's not that. Of course, fast starts make a difference. Just ask Felipe Alou whose team stormed out to a 13-1 start in 2003. But most important factor? No.
Is it attitude? Clubhouse camaraderie? No. Once again, a good thing, but not the most important.
Most important is the team's versatility, or, what many are describing as the "moveable parts."
True, this is not a strong defensive team, but it is a versatile team. Mark DeRosa can play several positions, infield and outfield. Eugenio Velez can step into second base or various outfield positions. John Bowker, the success story of the spring, could push his way into right field, left field, or even first base. They can go to the minors, if needed, to bring up Buster Posey, who could play more than one position.
Which means that, for the most part, the team's success does not come down to one offensive player. As long as Sandoval is healthy, then the team can be ready for any surprise or disappointment.
Like poor play.
Like defense that is just too awful.
The point is this: If the Giants really are as versatile as they boast, then that versatility is a protection against offensive disappointment.
So, Doug, how did I do?