Following Buster Posey’s gruesome (not to mention depressing) season-ending injury, Bleacher Report has been flooded with opinions on what the Giants should do to re-tool their roster.
They should trade for a veteran catcher.
They should give up one of their pitchers for some offensive help.
They should gamble on a young player like Tommy Joseph, and hope that he can succeed.
But in reality the smartest move for the Giants, the one that resulted in a world title last year, is to keep the roster more or less the way it is.
Posey’s injury leaves a gaping hole in the San Francisco lineup, no one is questioning that. But rushing minor-leaguers and trading away young pitching isn’t the San Francisco way. In fact, it is the opposite strategy of the one that led to last year’s World Series Championship.
Although things may look bleak now, the Giants need to keep their eyes on the future, realize that their talented core is still very young, and keep plugging along with the pieces they have.
Look, if the Giants had a chance to replace Posey’s bat with a Prince Fielder or a Josh Hamilton by giving up some young pitching, I would be all for it.
But Prince Fielder isn’t walking through that door, and neither is another marquee-type superstar.
The best the Giants could hope for is maybe Jose Reyes or Ryan Doumit. And neither of these players are difference-makers of the caliber that would be necessary to turn this team around.
Buster Posey is gone for the season and he isn’t coming back. The Giants will not replace his bat or his role on the team because those things cannot realistically be replaced. Panicking and giving up Jonathan Sanchez, Madison Bumgarner, or one of the precious few promising prospects in the organization only to overpay for a veteran with an above-average-but-not-great bat will only set the team back further than it will bring them forward.
This isn’t to say it will be pretty to watch. No one will enjoy seeing Brandon Crawford, Mike Fontenot and Emmanuel Burriss lead the defending World Champions game after game. But injuries to Posey and Pablo Sandoval have set this team back. It is better for them to slowly recover with homegrown talent than it is to trade young pieces for moderate positional upgrades.
Right now, the Giants are not a good team. But frankly, they weren’t that good during the first half of 2010 either. But they stuck together, developed chemistry as a unit, and ended up surprising the baseball world by dominating the postseason.
And although some major pieces from their unlikely run may be injured, they are still led by many of the same players who helped make last season so special. Tim Lincecum. Matt Cain. Madison Bumgarner. Aubrey Huff. Freddy Sanchez. These guys may not be finding much success at the moment but they are still champions, as well as living proof that a less-talented group can find success.
Although it may be painful (and not particularly entertaining) to watch the Giants' current roster struggle their way out of first place, there is still light at the end of the tunnel—even without Buster Posey.
Pablo Sandoval will soon begin rehabbing his way back from injury, and if he can once again return to the form he showed earlier in the year, will be the middle-of-the-order bat the Giants have so sorely lacked.
Aubrey Huff has been terrible so far this season, but seems a likely candidate to turn his game around and at least end the season as an above-average player, as he has done for much of his career.
Brandon Belt is one of baseball's most promising young players, and will now get a chance to prove his mettle.
And no matter how great the team’s offensive woes, the Giants still possess some one of the game’s best pitching staffs. Let’s not forget that it was this staff that was largely responsible for last year’s success.
The Giants have been down this road before, only it wasn’t paved by an injury. In 2008-2009 there was talk of trading Matt Cain or Jonathan Sanchez for a big bat to buoy the anemic San Francisco lineup. But the Giants held their ground. They weren’t willing to give up a core piece of their team for anything, no matter how great. And if they hadn’t been so committed to this philosophy, they likely wouldn’t be the defending champions right now.
I’m not saying that the Giants shouldn’t acquire any more players this year, period. If the opportunity comes to acquire a quality piece without giving anything up, then by all means they should do it. God knows they could use some talent. But mortgaging the franchise’s future, even a little bit, to bring in this talent in would be a mistake.
In this era of the 24-hour news cycle and nonstop Internet coverage, it is the natural inclination of reporters and fans to look for quick fixes to situations like one the Giants are currently experiencing.
But there is no quick fix for this particular situation. It is what it is, and reacting to it instead of continuing on a path that has proven to be successful will make things worse in the long-term, not better.
Brian Sabean has a long history of building successful teams, and in recent years he has found that this is most efficiently done through young players and holding on to prospects. To throw this philosophy out the window now would be foolish and shortsighted. And for the Giants, whose roster is so young and so talented, it could cripple the team for years to come.
It may not be pretty. It may not be fun to watch. It probably won’t result in a lot of wins this season. But for the long-term benefit of the team, the best move the Giants can make is no move.