At the way I love baseball all the time….
Seriously, our friend Ernie thinks I’m drinking the Kool-Aid. Maybe I am:
…. Aubrey Huff was cut loose by Detroit (his 7th team in 9 years) after posting a 43 OPS+. To say his mind wasn’t in the game at the time is an understatement. Andres Torres had been released/free-agented 6 times in his 6 year career before being picked up for the league minimum by the Giants before the 2009 season. He spent most of it enjoying bus rides and economy class flights across the country touring the Pacific Coast League. Pat Burrell and his $9 Million were sent packing unconditionally by Tampa just 7 weeks into the 2010 season. He and his paycheck bopped out an embarrassing .629 / 69 OPS+ during that time, so Tampa decided it had seen enough.
So desperate were the Giants that all three were picked up for nothing, and all three had moved right into starting positions by this June. The heart of the batting order. So much for “Central Planning”. Huff replaced the injured DeRosa. Burrell has replaced the departed 28 year old career minor leaguer John Bowker and Posey has replaced Molina in the lineup but they are still not enough to offset the continuing presence of Aaron Rowand, Freddy Sanchez, and Edgar Renteria. Sandoval is under-performing about as well as Uribe is over-performing and each is still more valuable than the trio of Travis Ishikawa, Eli Whitesides, and Nate Scheirholtz who play merry-go-round in and out of the the line-up. There is just not a lot to work with.
…. Good teams cut their losses. I don’t eat 5 month old room temperature fillet mignon, just because it was $11.99 a pound. If I want fine dining, I’m going to throw out the mold-infested mess, break out the bank, go back to the meat market, and chalk it up as a cost of eating well. The problem with the Giants over the last few seasons is that they have not been replacing the old spoiled food with quality choice product. They merely add garnishment with players like Ryan Klesko, Mark Sweeney, Todd Greene, Steve Finley, Omar Vizquel, Randy Winn, and lots of other older guys.
This time, they got lucky with Huff, Burrell and Torres, who except for Torres, are eligible for free-agency after this season. There is no long-term solution in play. Posey is the first position player to come out of the system with a bang since Matt Williams. That was over twenty seasons ago, and if there were anything in the system that was even marginally better than some of the fellas on the Giants roster now, they would have already have been here.
So, OK, the Giants are less than established. They are less than solid. They are, in fact, a bunch of re-treads, has-beens and never-was’s. That’s true. But I still want to see them win. And therein lies the rub.
If they were to win, even one playoff series, Sabean would be here for another five years. If they make the playoffs, he’s gonna get another two years at least. If they contend right to the wire, he’ll get a chance to try again next season. And, Ernie’s right. Sabean caught lightning in a bottle, not once, or even twice, but three times. The players the Giants are paying top dollar for are either on the bench, or should be. Renteria, Sanchez, Rowand, DeRosa. That’s like $36 million dollars right there. $36 million dollars!
Where would this team be without Huff, Torres and Burrell right now? Ten games back? Fifteen?
There is nothing in the system. No more hitters, no more position players. No young, fast, healthy players. There is no plan to go out and get young, fast, healthy players. We never go after premiere free agents. We hear bullshit stories about how they don’t want to come here, but that all a lie. Sabean doesn’t want them. He’d rather pay $18 million dollars for a 36-year old centerfielder who made one single play in his entire career.
The reason the team has been wasting money on old, expensive players for the last decade had nothing to do with surrounding Bonds with talent, or keeping him happy. It has absolutely nothing to do with maintaining the team’s chances to make the postseason. It never did. The team has wasted millions upon millions of dollars the last ten seasons on old, constantly injured, replacement level production because of Sabean. He signed these players to these contracts because he thinks it is the right thing to do. He believes in this approach. This is his strategy.
So, baseball fans, San Francisco Giants fans; we are stuck. If we win, this inept front office will be rewarded with new contract extensions, and we will almost certainly see more of the same. We’ll see Sabean give soon to be 34-years old Pat Burrell a four-year, $25 million dollar contract for three months of hot baseball. Career journeyman Andres Torres will celebrate his 33rd birthday with a three year deal worth something like $15 million. And Aubrey Huff will get a Christmas/34th birthday combo deal of something like 4 years, $30 million.
Jose Guillen might hit ten home runs before the season ends. If he does, you can bet the Giants will sign him to a deal that makes the $55 million wasted on Aaron Rowand look like chicken feed.
Of course, the team could collapse. They could go on a ten game losing streak at any time. Burrell could pull a hamstring. He is, you know, old. So is pretty much every player on the field, save Posey and Sandoval.
Which would you rather see? Giants winning, and staying with Sabean for another three or four years? Or the kind of total collapse that gets heads rolling?