The San Francisco Giants season has gone more or less as planned so far, and that’s precisely the problem. This isn’t a team in a slump, or a team off to a slow start, it’s just not a good team to begin with. And the most disconcerting thing of all is that management seems perfectly content the run a mediocre team out there and essentially punt on this entire season. The lack of interest in trying to defend the title is strange to me, and while it’s unfair to expect another championship run, I at least wanted a fun, entertaining season in which the Giants were in the playoff race, and now, only two weeks into the season, it already feels like it’s over.
The Giants starting rotation is a smoldering train wreck that was on its way to a retirement community, and the Giants were horribly naive in letting things get to this point. Instead of going out and signing a durable, quality starter (James Shields, who instead signed with the rival Padres), they resigned 38 year old Jake Peavy, sliding him into the rotation next to 38 year old Tim Hudson, Matt Cain and his surgically repaired elbow, and the artist formerly known as Tim Lincecum. After Bumgarner, the Giants basically had four question marks in every other rotation spot, which is absurd for a team that says it has championship aspirations. Hudson and Peavy were already breaking down at the end of last season, to lean on two nearly forty year old starters to this extent is crazy.
Things have gone about as poorly as possible since then, with Peavy and Cain hitting the DL again, but that shouldn’t have been unexpected. It says everything you need to know about the Giants lack of pitching depth that they called up a rookie to start the second game of the season. And this is when players are supposed to be the healthiest, before picking up all the bumps and bruises that come with the long MLB season. The Giants are now desperate for pitching at a time when there is none available, and thus may have to make a less than favorable deal if they want to have any hope of competing, and that was one of the factors they should have considered in the offseason. The Giants have one of the worst farm systems in baseball, they don’t have prospects to trade to get help now. What they do have is an absolutely obscene amount of money, and the promise of even more in the future as teams’ television contracts skyrocket in value. People in the Giants front office like to cite the fact that they have the sixth highest payroll in baseball, but if you dig a little deeper you find that number is misleading. First, the Giants are paying Lincecum 17.5 million dollars this year in what was essentially a merchandizing investment. They signed him because they knew they’d make a significant chunk of that money back on t-shirts and memorabilia of the beloved “freak.” (And by the way, don’t try to tell me they signed him with baseball reasons in mind, if you start with the question “which pitcher should I sign to improve my chances of winning baseball games” you can’t get to the answer “Tim Lincecum.” It’s impossible.)
What makes this past offseason even more disappointing is the fact that they Giants are actually perfectly situated to make a big free agent splash. They have their most important players locked up on very favorable contracts; Bumgarner’s might be the best in baseball, and they have a massive hole on their team. Instead they choose to sign borderline fringe players in Nori Aoki and Casey McGehee. I actually liked both of those acquisitions, and think we got them for below market value, but those are the kind of moves you make to supplement your big offseason acquisition, they shouldn’t be the “big” acquisition themselves.
There is one in house move the Gigantes can make to steady the ship: move Yusmeiro Petit into the rotation. Petit is probably the second best starter they have, and although Bochy loves Petit’s versatility out of the bullpen, his ability to both go multiple innings and come in during high leverage situations because of his outstanding control, that may be a luxury the Giants can’t afford now. This is the domino effect of having such a gaping hole in your roster, you have to take everyone else out their roles in an effort to cover it up. It’s just not a recipe for winning baseball. All you can hope for as a baseball fan is to be in the race, and this year the Giants didn’t even make it to the starting block.