Friday, July 24, 2009

With Holliday a Cardinal, the Giants need to improve without outside help

With St. Louis saying adieu to the Chris Duncan era and acquiring Matt Holliday today, the Giants will be forced to enter the playoff run without that marquee offensive upgrade.

With Matt Holliday going from Oakland to St. Louis for a high-value trio of Cardinals prospects (including Bret Wallace, the main prize of the deal), the chance of the Giants getting a player of real impact at the Trade Deadline suddenly vanished.

Don't get me wrong. I was against the Holliday deal for a variety of reasons. I knew we would have to give up too much to acquire him because A's GM Billy Beane always holds such leverage in these kinds of deals. In addition, I didn't want to deal with Holliday's agent, Scott Boras, in the off-season either because if Holliday helped us get into the playoffs, he would command Manny Ramirez-esque money because Boras could point to Holliday having the kind of impact Manny had on the Dodgers when he arrived from Boston last August.

Thus, we would only have had him for two months, because we would've been unable to afford him, and he would be in a Mets, Red Sox or Yankees uniform next season while we missed the prospects we lost to acquire him in the first place.

So, when it comes to what happened with Holliday: yeah Brian Sabean! (Believe me, that is one of last times I will say that for the rest of the year).

That being said, with the Holliday sweepstakes officially over, it means only one thing: the Giants are going to have earn the Wild Card team with the squad they currently have, blemishes and all.

Granted, who knows what can happen with this squad. Things can change. The Giants could acquire Freddy Sanchez (whom I've advocated for a very long time), or they can do the "Gammons" route and trade for Nick Johnson (whom I've not been a fan of ever since the notion was made).

However, let's be honest with ourselves as Giants fans: are those guys going to make any real impact if acquired?

Sanchez could make some impact if his acquired from Pittsburgh, but he won't be a "Holy crap did you see just who they got at the deadline? They're the real deal now" kind of a player. He's a nice complement in the infield. He solidifies the lineup at the top of the order. He gets Matt Downs demoted.

I admit it. Those are a lot of great pluses with Sanchez in the Giants lineup.

Yet despite the positives Sanchez brings, the probable cheap price in attaining him, and my overwhelming desire to keep Downs off the team for the rest of the season, he's just not going to make us a "favorite" to win anything anytime soon, unlike Manny with the Dodgers or C.C. with Brewers last season.

The same thing goes with Johnson or anybody else the Giants acquire before or by the July 31 deadline. Holliday was the only kind of player on the market with that kind of "I'll carry you on my back" potential, and he's now in St. Louis in place of "Mr. April" Chris Duncan.

So what does that mean for the Giants come August and September?

The Giants are only going to make the playoffs with the current team fans are seeing right now, much to our chagrin. If this team wants to do something special, and have a chance for a World Series ring, they are going to have to do it themselves, without the big-name acquisition.

It's a tough pill to swallow because most of the time, this Giants offense makes me fume in disgust. The way fly balls fall short of the fence off Bengie Molina's bat. The way Travis Ishikawa follows up three hit performances with 0-for-4 fiascos that literally takes years off your life if you watch every at-bat. The way every hitter on the Giants can't lay off a curve ball in the dirt.

Believe me, nobody wanted that "offensive savior" at the deadline more than me. Unfortunately, just looking at the current market, that isn't going to happen. That "savior" just isn't available.

Granted, it may be a good thing in the end. ESPN writer Jayson Stark wrote an article about how the last ten World Series champions didn't win by acquiring big-name talent at the deadline, but rather with complimentary players, and lesser-known veterans who were hungry for to prove themselves in the postseason.

The problem for the Giants, however, is those teams that did win the World Series had very good foundations as far as talent-wise. The same can't be said of the Giants. The holes on the offensive end are so glaring that to consider this team a World Series contender is absolutely ludicrous.

Yet despite how meager their offense is, the fact remains the same: chances are, the Giants are going to need improvement from their own players, not improvement from a new player, to make a jump into the postseason. That may be a tall order to ask from this squad, and it is likely they will fall short of accomplishing that given task.

Unfortunately though for the Giants players, management and fans, this cadre of players have no other choice.

I imagine that leaves Giants fans not feeling too good about the future. It probably makes Giants fans feel kind of like the whole world in the scene in the movie Armageddon when the one spaceship with Ben Affleck crashes, and the NASA thinks they lost that one spaceship and everyone and everything in it for good.

(Of course, ten minutes after that gut-wrenching scene, we find out Affleck, Michael Clark Duncan and Dino Velvet from 9 MM, did survive the crash. They end up driving the drill, locating Bruce Willis and Co. in less than four hours according to the movie despite having no idea where they are, and do indeed split the asteroid and save the world, with the drill that never was supposed to be available in the first place after the ship crashed. Unless something that crazy, unrealistic and utterly insane happens on a baseball level with the Giants, we as fans are at the scene in the movie where Liv Tyler is crying with her head down and putting her hand on a television of static.)

(Sorry...I have a love-hate relationship with Michael Bay's Armageddon and couldn't resist the urge to make a reference to Bay's Magnum Opus of crap.)

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