Sunday, January 29, 2012
Attention Brian Sabean - The Championship Window is Closing
It's nearly February, and that can mean only one thing - there's a little under three weeks until pitchers and catchers report. Baseball fans have enjoyed a blockbuster offseason that has seen some incredible deals get signed. First, Albert Pujols signed a monster 240 million dollar contract in Anaheim. CJ Wilson left the back to back AL Champion Texas Rangers to follow him. Last week Prince Fielder finally got his money, signing a nine year 214 million dollar deal with the Detroit Tigers.
So how did the Giants fare in free agency following a fruitful season in which the team sold out every home game? Don't even bother googling it - they barely picked up the phone.
Enough time has passed now that most Giants fans can admit it - 2010 was lightening in a bottle. That doesn't take away from what they accomplished in their World Championship year. They scrapped their way into the postseason and once they got there, they caught fire. But is this team built to become a major league dynasty? Only half of it is, and it won't be for too much longer.
Everyone knows about the Giants pitching rotation - it's home grown and it's nails. Brian Sabean has one of the best eyes in the business when it comes to finding and developing pitching talent. But when it comes to offense, Sabean is a flunky. His two best homegrown hitters are Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval. One of has a short shelf-life at catcher, the other spends too much time in the candy isle.
When your general manager can't develop hitters on the farm, your only hope is that he can pick 'em in free agency, but Sabean's been incapable there as well.
Following the World Series Championship, the Giants grossly overpaid Aubrey Huff and Cody Ross, hoping that by keeping the team mostly intact, they would somehow keep the fire alive for another year. With the pitching staff that the Giants have, they won't need too many runs to win games. Down goes Posey, down goes Freddy, down goes the Giants 2011 season.
Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum are under contract until 2013, which is fine and dandy, but the Giants only hope for a hometown discount when those contracts expire is a showing of good will. Matt Cain is the best losing record (69-73) pitcher that the league has ever seen with an ERA of 2.88. Tim Lincecum has watched his 7 inning shut outs turn into 1-0 losses more often than any of us would like to admit.
Last year's San Francisco Giants were historically bad on offense. To expect a pitcher to throw seven innings of one or no run ball every five days is simply expecting too much from them. Madison Bumgarner is too young to complain, but Lincecum and Cain have been with this team long enough - they've suffered through the offensive anorexia for years. Most self-respecting individuals would've gone to the podium and ripped this organization by now. These pitchers have redefined the term "bell cow," and they've never complained.
And yet here we go again. The Giants want to sell us Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan, and a healed up Buster and Freddy as an offensive power house: I'm not buying it. As a fan, I spent hundreds of dollars support this team. One new hat: $40. One World Series T-Shirt: $35. One Custom Jersey: $330. Over a dozen games attended, including food and drinks: I don't even want to calculate it. The return on my investment?
A crappy product. Fans should be as pissed about the Giants' off season moves as the pitching staff should be. The championship window is right here, right now. Once Lincecum and Cain's contracts expire, one of them will have to go. Bumgarner will be expensive when it's time to restructure his contract as well. As it stands right now, the Giants have one of the top three pitching staffs in the league and yet they have no desire to bolster their bottom of the league line-up.
Whether it's the 35 people that comprise the Giants brass, or Brian Sabean himself being gun shy about big free agent deals, something has got to give. The Giants have two years to either win another championship or find a way to make San Francisco a desirable place to stay for their stars pitchers - one or the other. Because once that championship window closes, it's gonna be damn hard to pry open again, and in sports, lightening NEVER strikes the same place twice.