Okay, here's the deal. My first post specifically about the San Francisco Giants will be an overview of some of my fundamental thoughts and opinions. I didn't start this blog before the season, so I'll recap a bit right now.
First, WE DON'T NEED A BIG BAT. WE DON'T WANT A BIG BAT.
There, I've said it. Everybody seems to want one. But I think this is the lamest argument if you truly want our Giants to succeed. First, my biggest question during the off-season was would the front office spend the money? I think they were 7th in payroll LAST SEASON. And that included something like 14 players making league minimum (about $400k) and something like 17 players making about $600k or less.
I mean, Lincecum, Wilson, Romo, Schierholtz, Torres, Velez, Sandoval, Downs, Ishikawa, and other notables. Yeah, seriously. Sure, we knew we could prolly cut some weight without re-signing Winn. But still, we had to pay The Man (Lincecum). I think he could've argued for Super Two if it got to arbitration.
Look, we're not in the largest sports markets like NY or Boston. But we had a pretty high payroll, and justificably so- excellent game attendence records and merchandise sales helped. We still had baggage in the form of some big 2010 contracts (mostly Zito $18.5M, Rowand $13.6M, and Renteria $10M). Add in paying the required aforementioned (Lincecum, Wilson, Romo, etc.), and what do we get? Suddenly the 2009 payroll of about $82.6 million would easily at $90 million already.
Add Freddy Sanchez, Mota, re-signing Bengie, Uribe, Jonathan Sanchez (to avoid arbitration)... And there we are. Hovering right around $90 million for the 2010 payroll.
Sure, I wanted to see a trade at the 2009 deadline for Ryan Braun. We need a left fielder and a bat. But he's more than just power. He's a professional bat for average and power and a very good fielder defensively. Sure, he's practically franchise in Milwaukee; but did you notice they re-signed him a day AFTER the trade deadline expired? Hmmm, maybe the right deal would've dealt him.
Or there is Jason Bey, who I wanted to see land at SFO as a Giant during the offseason. My 'best case scenario' would've seen Bey and Marco Scutaro come to be SF Giants (and the Giants footing a payroll of about $105 million). But again, same thing. Very few players "fit" the role of what I think the Giants need. And sure, they would've needed to trade AND pay for him. At the end of the day, it just doesn't work. Actually, it just CAN'T work.
Where do we get leverage? Give up Posey and Bumgardener? Or Wheeler, Pucetas, and Sergio's little brother Andrew Romo (that we just recently signed)? And pay a $14-18 million per year contract? I'm quite certain that us going up to a $115-125 million payroll could all but lock-up a pennant. But I don't see Neukom and the Burns and Sabean and all leaning towards that direction. Seriously, ticket prices and merchandise pricing is insane enough as is... What is it now for the Garlic Fries at the Park? huh. yeah. Go figure.
Okay, so we can't get a big bat. We need bats for average.
IF THERE IS ONLY ONE STAT TO LOOK AT THIS YEAR, LOOK AT THIS ONE:
Last year (2009):
the SF Giants had 10 games where they were shut out.
26 games where they scored only one run.
And 25 games where the Giants only scored 2 runs.
Yup, that was the anemic run support for our great pitching staff. 36 games of one run or less. A total of 61 games of two runs or less. And I feel we were lucky to have sqeaked 12 wins in that unremarkable cluster of 61 games played. With professional bats like Huff and DeRosa and Renteria, we should be able to greatly improve. And especially with doubles hitters like Schierholtz and Sandoval and Freddy Sanchez and Velez.
Face it, we aren't set up for a big bat. Look at the lack of production from Matt Holiday while with the A's. Without respect for the rest of the line-up, he can't be at his best. We all know this formula, you need another big bat to protect the best bat. And honestly, Sandoval isn't quite that guy yet. Plus, we play not only in AT&T Park, but in San Diego and Arizona- which can usually be described as more "pitcher-friendly" parks, right? And then we also have Houston in the NL Central with a cavernous center field. Anyways, I'm sure you get the idea.
Getting Huff and DeRosa were excellent moves in the offeseason IMHO. For the price, I don't know if we could've done any better. And I can't believe I am actually happy to see Bengie Molina back as a Giant. During any time last season, I would've been glad if he got traded. But during the off-season, I think the move to keep him became essential. I'm happy as long as he doesn't bat above 6th in the lineup. He should be a 6th or 7th every game IMHO.
So, at the end of the season, check how many 1 run games we have, how many 2 run games we have, and how many times we're shut out. I think it will be appreciably less. Like around 21-25 games of 1 run or less and 16-19 games of 2 runs scored. That's why I think this is the single most telling stat of the SF Giants for the entire season. I am optimistic that it will yield a very different stat with our current roster.
That would be between 37-44 games instead of the severe 61 games of last season. And, more importantly, those 12 wins (in 61 games) will easily be 24-28 wins, I'd suppose.
Next up, my SF Giants season prediction.