Some of the backtalkers are wondering if I am in the midst of a bad week, as a way of explaining my less than rosy outlook on the boys in orange and black. In a word, no. I’m doing fine. The Giants are crumbling, and listening to Sabean talk about the rest of this season makes me queasy:
…. We’re trying to tread water. We’ve shown signs of getting better, but we’re going to have to definitively be that much worse before we throw in the towel or definitively be that much better before we take off and go hog wild on the trade market.
We’re trying to do what we can control. You can’t control the outside world, so you try to clean up your own mess internally. So far, it’s been good, but we’ll see.
Being back in our division, we’ll find out a lot about ourselves in a hurry, and we can be more definitive around the All-Star break. But we have to take care of business and get closer to .500.
Ummmm…. Yeah, whatever. .500? His team is 14 games under .500. Getting to .500 is impossible for this team. Seriously. For the Giants to get to just a 60-60 record would require that they go on a 30-16 run, which means that they would have to outscore their opponents by something like 250 to 140 over that 46 game stretch. Not to mention the fact that they have just won 30 of their first 74 games. Add it all up, and you come to the educated conclusion that winning 30 of their next 46 games will not happen.
You will notice that Sabean recognizes that this mess is his mess. As I’ve stated in countless previous posts, the dismantling of a championship team was begun by Sabean and company almost immediately after the World Series. Livan Hernandez was the first to go, and soon after was followed by Jeff Kent and Russ Ortiz. Robb Nen never pitched again, Tim Worrell left, and so did David Bell. In fact, there are only a few Giants left from the team that was on the brink of a championship; Rueter, Bonds, Snow and Schmidt are the only regulars remaining. Scott Eyre and Jason Christiansen were with the team for about ten seconds in ’02, and that’s it.
Other than Bonds, it’s an entirely new group of outfielders. Snow is the only infielder remaining, and the entire rest of the offense is new. Think about that for a moment….
The Giants built a team that was literally on the doorstep of a title, and just three years later, 95% of that team is playing elsewhere. David Pinto writes about another team that flirted with history in 2002 in this post:
…. On May 27th of 2004, the Cardinals started a 3-game winning streak that would propel them to an easy victory in the NL Central. From that date, they are outplaying the majors by a wide margin. Through Sunday’s games, the Cardinals are 129-63, fourteen ahead of the next closest team in that time period, the Atlanta Braves (115-77). When the streak started, they were just 23-21, three games behind the Reds. The Reds are 49 1/2 games behind the Cardinals since that date.
How have they managed this stellar .672 winning percentage over more than a full season’s worth of games? They have the lowest ERA in the majors by nearly .2 of a run (3.58 to the Twins 3.75). The starters pitched well, third in the majors in ERA, but the bullpen’s been unbelievable, posting a 2.76 ERA in that time.
He notes that the Cards are first in runs scored in the NL during that time as well. The Giants beat the Cards in the NL Championship Series in 2002, and it’s not hard to notice that the Cards have gotten better and better since that defeat, while the Giants have gone straight downhill.
The 2002 Cardinals offense was built around a core of Edmonds, Pujols, and Rolen (all of whom were among the best at their positions in the league) and while those stars are still around, the rest of the team has been upgraded, in some cases by a wide margin. Mark Mulder is a better pitcher than anyone the Cards had in ’02, in fact, their starters are light years better than in 2002. Their offense is stronger and deeper, their defense is excellent and their relievers are the best in baseball.
They made decisions to go after top-level players like Mulder and Larry Walker and Jason Marquis, they didn’t just replace players with cheaper, waiver-wire cast-offs. They grabbed Reggie Sanders and let him be the fifth-best hitter on the team…. I mean, the differences between the two teams are astonishing.
The Giants offense ’02 was built around a core of Bonds, Kent, and Aurilia, (all of whom were among the best at their positions in the league) and only Bonds is still around. Not one player the Giants have signed since ’02 could be considered a top player at his position. Not one pitcher, not one hitter, not one. Not one replacement, at any position, could be considered an upgrade over who was manning the spot in 2002.
The Cards got younger, faster, and better. The Giants got older, slower and worse. None of this happened in a vaccum.
And I haven’t even talked about the team that beat the Giants in the World Series. The Angels followed the Cardinals path, in that they too got younger, and better. Bartolo Colon, Vladimir Guerrero, two young All Stars, were added to the team that was already good enough to win it all.
Meanwhile, the Giants added Michael Tucker and Brett Tomko and Damian Moss and Jim Brower and Matt Herges and Mike Matheny and Edgardo Alfonzo and Ray Durham and one old, decrepit stiff after another. Every single player the Giants signed was flawed in some way; too old, bad hands, no stick, inconsistent, injured, too young. On and on and on.
Millions and millions of dollars thrown away, and now we’re told that the 2005 season is still in play. It’s not. And we all know why.