I like to talk about systems all the time. Systems, philosophies, what you can loosely call how you approach the projects or obstacles in your life. I think of this as a sort of “way of being” or the how you do what you do. A little woo woo, sure, but for me, thinking this way has really simplified my own life, and anytime you can reduce something, simplify it, you are in a better position to control it, and ultimately, be successful.
I’ve written many, many times about how the Giants have gotten to where they are, as opposed to the what, the why, the occurence. I’ve tried to remain focused on the approach to the playing of the game, the building of the team, the management of the organization. And what I’ve seen watching this team over the long haul is not encouraging.
I see a team management group, (Sabean, Colletti, Tidrow and Magowan) who value age over youth, experience over upside, hustle over production, attitude over winning. The Giants players are all the same. Slow, sure-handed, old, reliable, steady, good-guys, mediocre players. Only one player on the team has any attitude or swagger at all, and he’s at the end of the line.
I see a team whose pitching philosophy seems grounded in fear, whose pitchers are coached to avoid the strikezone like the plague. I see a team whose hitters seem to have no rhyme or reason to their approaches, one swings at everything, while another is the most patient hitter in the history of the game. And on defense, a team that values catching the ball over getting to the ball.
Read this Jayson Stark column about the Minnesota Twins, and tell me if you can think of one thing the Giants do as a team that is as well-thought out as anything the Twins seem to be focused on. Reading about the Twins reminded me of the way the Oakland A’s have their entire baseball organized into a single, cohesive unit, from the bottom to the top.
How are the Giants organized, bottom to top? What philosophy does this organization have for offense? Defense? Pitching? What plan do they have? What do they look for in a pitching prospect? A hitting prospect? First baseman gets injured, is there a player, well-coached and already in tune with the big club’s approach, ready to step in?
Is Righetti doing anything at all the least bit modern, or forward-thinking (like the Braves)? Lefevbre? One could hardly expect the 70-something Alou to be doing much in the way of using computer analysis (like the Dodgers), or to be tracking different kinds of defensive statistics (like the Red Sox).
The Twins are doing like twenty different things to ensure that the teams’ approach to each game is based on solid, knowable theories and philosophies. This ensures that every player has something to fall back on in the heat of the moment, because it’s transparent; it’s not what they do, it’s the way they are. From that perspective, the team’s basic tenets seem grounded in winning, defensibly grounded in winning, not just a lot of talk about how their players are good guys or hustle or “now how to play the game.”
Think about that for a few minutes while watching our Giants.