Friday, October 23, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Despite my past criticism, I will try to look at each year as unbiased as I can, looking solely at the numbers and acquisitions of each individual year.
In my opinion, it wouldn't be crazy for a Giants fan to say Sabean's most successful year as general manager might have been his first (I don't believe it was, but like I said, you can make the argument). He took over a team that was dead last the year before in the NL West at 68-94, and not only made them into a winning ballclub, but a playoff team.
The turnaround from 68-94 to 90-72 was absolutely stunning, a feat that is up there with the turnarounds of such recent teams like the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays.
And it would be fair to give Sabean a lot of the credit for the turnaround. For going into 1997, his first season as Giants general manager, Sabean made a controversial move that was widely lambasted throughout the Bay Area media circles:
Trading fan favorite Matt Williams for Jeff Kent, Jose Vizcaino, Joe Roa and Julian Tavarez.
The deal ended up being a great success. The Giants won 90 games, Kent became a mainstay for the Giants at second base until 2003, and Vizcaino and Tavarez all made key contributions during the 1997 season (the only guy that didn't pan out was Roa, but three guys panning out wasn't a bad price to pay for Williams, who was starting to decline as a player anyways).
However, if the Oakland A's teams of the early 2000's are classic examples of why "Sabermetrics" and "Statistical Analysis" work, the 1997 Giants are the exception. Despite winning 90 games, the Giants had a run differential of minus-nine and a Pythagorean W-L of 80-82.
Were the Giants just lucky in 1997? Were they just the best of an incredibly weak NL West division (as evidenced by them getting swept by the Florida Marlins in the NLDS). Was Sabean just blessed with a team that had all the right breaks going for it?
Or was Sabean really onto something? Was he perhaps building a franchise that went beyond the numbers?
The "Good" of Brian Sabean: J.T. Snow
In terms of the players Sabean acquired, he is widely lauded for nabbing Jeff Kent. Yet while Kent ended up being a mainstay and MVP for the Giants, his 1997 wasn't as great as some people might remember.
Case in point: despite 29 home runs and 121 RBIs, Kent had a measly .250 batting average, a .316 OBP and a team-high 133 strikeouts.
So while Kent eventually turned into a great hitter over the years, 1997 wasn't exactly his magnus opus of seasons. That being said, Sabean widely does not get credit for a deal that had far more impact than the Williams-Kent swap.
Signing J.T. Snow.
Snow had an incredible year in 1997 for the Giants. Known for his defense, Snow was an offensive machine. He had 28 home runs, 104 RBI, 96 walks (second behind Barry Bonds, who had 145) and an OPS of .898 (109 points better than Kent's).
If anything, Snow and Bonds were the machine that churned the Giants offensive engine in 1997, not the Kent-Bonds combo that did in the years following 1997.
The "Bad" of Brian Sabean: Poor production from their catchers.
For all the good things in his first few years in San Francisco, Sabean could not find a productive catcher over a long period of time and 1997 proved to be no exception. Rick Wilkins, Damon Berryhill, Brian Johnson, Marcus Jensen, and Doug Mirabelli all shared duties behind the backstop and neither did much to keep the job for very long.
Wilkins, the more regular-playing catcher was a mess. He batted .195 with a .257 OBP in 210 plate appearances. Even for a catcher, those numbers are pathetic, and make Bengie Molina's 2009 season look MVP-ish by comparison.
Is Sabean completely responsible for the catcher being so awful? Maybe, maybe not. However, it was one hole that wasn't filled in 1997 and struggled to get filled throughout the early years of Sabean's tenure.
The "Good" of Brian Sabean: Signing Kirk Rueter
"Woody" wasn't going to win any CY Young awards. He wasn't going to lead the league in strikeouts. Yet Rueter proved to be a strong, dependable arm that lasted with the Giants for years, and Sabean can be thanked for acquiring him.
After all, when the Giants had heard of him, little was known about the lefty who was just recently with the Montreal Expos.
However, Rueter immediately contributed, combining with Shawn Estes to be a pretty good one-two lefty punch. Estes went 19-5 with a 3.18 ERA, and Rueter went 13-6 with a 3.45 ERA.
Sure, Sabean could have gone with a bigger name, or a more proven commodity for more money. Instead though, Sabean went with a much cheaper, and under-the-radar option that proved the be beneficial to the Giants pitching staff not only in 1997, but for years to come.
The "Bad" of Brian Sabean: Trading away Keith Foulke
Sabean has had a reputation for being very active during the Trade Deadline and 1997 first showcased that. At the July 31 Trade Deadline, Sabean traded a plethora of players to solidify their pitching in preparation for a playoff run. Who did the Giants acquire? Wilson Alvarez and Roberto Hernandez...who lasted for only half a season.
The key cog from the Giants that went to the White Sox? Keith Foulke, who later became a proven closer on the Oakland A's and Boston Red Sox.
Now, while Foulke would have struggled to be the closer during the late 90's and early 2000's (Rod Beck and Robb Nen held the position firmly until 2004), Foulke could have been effectively used as a prime set-up man, something the Giants didn't really have in 1997 as evidenced by Jim Poole and Doug Henry (e.g. awful).
The only problem? It seemed like Sabean and manager Dusty Baker viewed Foulke as a starter rather than a reliever, and thus viewed him as expendable because their rotation was already in pretty good shape (Sabean made the same mistake with Joe Nathan years later).
Is it nit picky? Sure, but Foulke could have been a great closer that could have carried the torch from Nen after he got hurt. Instead, the Giants were forced to drudge through years of Matt Herges, Armando Benitez and Tyler Walker blowing saves in the ninth.
Overall Evaluation of Sabean in 1997
You can't really find much wrongdoing with Sabean in 1997. He turned around a franchise that had turned crummy under previous General Manager Bob Quinn, and did so quickly. To turn around a team from last-to-first in one season is quite an impressive feat, and Sabean deserves recognition for that.
So the overall judging of 1997 for Sabean? Good. He did a really good job in fact. However, I can't say it was his best work. Did he lay down a good foundation for the following years? Yes. But was it his best season? No. The NL West was terrible and the Giants were darn lucky. Teams that finish with minus run differential usually don't have winning records, let alone make the playoffs and win the division.
Yet what can I say. Sabean got the Giants to be winners again and assembled a team that made the playoffs for the first time since 1989.
You can't ask for more as a Giants fan than that in a season really.
So, starting sometime today, I am going to make a series of posts where I examine every year of Sabean's tenure as GM, starting in 1997. I will look at the good, the bad and the overall picture of whether or not that was a successful season or not for Sabean. I am dubbing this the "Sabean Report," and by the end of the series, I will come up with a conclusion whether or not Bill Neukom did the right thing in extending Sabean's contract for another two seasons.
Maybe I'll learn something new, maybe I won't. I've already done the research, now it's just onto the writing...
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
1. Merkin Valdez: Glorified Mop-Up Man
Let's face it. Valdez simply doesn't have a future on this Giants pitching staff. Sure, he can throws heat, but that's about it. He doesn't have very good second or third pitches (as evidenced by him throwing his fastball 80.3 percent of the time), he doesn't know how to locate (especially on 0-2 counts) and he can't be depended on in tight games (I think his 5.66 ERA and 1.72 WHIP say enough).
And the worst part? He's old. He's 28, and he pitches like he's only been in professional baseball for less than a year, when in fact, he's bounced in and out of the majors and minors since 2004 (granted, he was out for the year in 2005 and 2007 because of injury, but that doesn't change his old age factor). I mean, Waldis Joaquin, has better command and he's only 22. Furthermore, he has only been in the Majors for 10 games total in his career, all coming this season.
Is that a sign of how good Joaquin is or how bad Valdez has pitched for the Giants? Both I guess. Joaquin is great, and he could be a deadly stopper behind Sergio Romo, but for the most part, that is an indicator of how far Valdez has fallen.
Remember, in 2004, this guy was the next big reliever not just in the Giants farm system, but perhaps in the Major Leagues. He was being compared to a better Armando Benitez (who ironically, pitched, badly of course, with the Giants).
Now though, Benitez looks like a Hall of Famer in comparison to Valdez. At least Benitez had that good 2004 season with Florida.
2. Sanchez and Garko: The Typical Brian Sabean Trade Deadline Acquistions
Giants fans knew it was going to happen. It had happened before countless times. Ricky Ledee. Sidney Ponson. Shea Hillenbrand.
Yes, the Giants needed to do something to get better offensively. Yes, they needed a power threat and had to solidify their middle infield (especially with Edgar Renteria having the season he was mired in).
Yet two home runs from Cleveland's Ryan Garko and 25 games from a "broken" Freddy Sanchez was far from what the Giants needed. And to make matters worse, those two "acquisitions" came at the expense of two very good pitching prospects in left-handed Scott Barnes and No. 2 pitching prospect (behind Madison Bumgarner) Tim Alderson.
I know you have to give something to get something, but this trade deadline was far too characteristic of Sabean's past deals where the Giants seemed to give up more than they received. While the Brad Penny signing in late August did ease things a bit (mainly because he performed well so cheaply), this Trade Deadline was another classic case of where less (e.g. not making so many drastic trades) probably would have ended up in more.
3. Burriss, Frandsen, Lewis, Bowker: Not living up to potential
A lot has been expected from these four guys who have come within the Giants farm system. That being said, they have not lived up to the hype in 2009 despite many fans and experts thinking big things out of them.
Despite a solid 2008 campaign, Emmanuel Burriss struggled in his transition to second base in 2009, especially defensively. He registered a UZR/150 (Ultimate Zone Rating in runs above average per 150 defensive innings played) of - 8.7 (Juan Uribe playing second base this year in comparison had a UZR/150 of 10.5). And to make matters worse, Burriss was a mess at the plate as well. While his inability to hit for any kind of power was well-known prior to this year (his slugging percentage has never hit the .400 range at any level of professional ball), Burriss struggled to get on base (.292 OBP and .560 OPS) despite his excellent speed (he had 11 stolen bases in 61 games).
Basically, Burriss, a ray of hope for the Giants after posting good numbers in 2008, suddenly became a huge question mark, especially when it comes to his future in San Francisco which looks shaky with Renteria and Freddy Sanchez likely holding down the middle of the infield next season due to financial reasons.
Though if you think the future is cloudy for Burriss, his year was nothing in comparison to what Kevin Frandsen experienced. After missing all of 2008 due to an Achilles injury, Frandsen simply couldn't catch a break. Frandsen lost the second baseman job in Spring Training to Burriss, and he couldn't buy a hit during the regular season, as evidenced by his .140 average, .204 OBP, and .384 OPS.
Sure, you could complain Frandsen hasn't got his shot at the Major League level, but other than a great last couple months of the season, Frandsen hasn't really shown the Giants brass enough to merit regular playing time. In order to play, he has needed to show more in his rare playing stints, and constantly, when Frandsen needs to show something to prove he belongs, he has often fallen flat.
As for Fred Lewis and John Bowker, here are two guys who came off great starts in 2008, only to have mediocre years in 2009. Lewis eventually lost out to Randy Winn, and eventually Eugenio Velez after struggling mightily in June, and John Bowker, despite putting up excellent minor league stats (.342 average, 21 home runs in Fresno), never really found a groove in his Major League tenure this season (.194 average, two home runs in 73 PA).
It's likely that Giants brass will stay patient with Bowker, mainly because his stock is so low and he still is relatively young (he's only 26). As for Lewis, who is 28 and has played two full seasons with the Giants, the future doesn't look so bright and most likely will be gone next season to make room for Velez, Torres and even Bowker in the outfield.
4. Aaron Rowand: Continuing the "Freefall"
Giants fans have seen bad in their tenure in San Francisco. Rick Wilkins at catcher in 1997. A.J. Pierzynski in 2004. Armando Benitez's whole career as a Giant.
Yet Rowand's 2009 season may have secretly ranked down there with the worst of them.
Sure his stats don't scare you "Tony Pena, Jr."-style, but if you look deeper, you can see how detrimental Rowand was to the Giants. While he hit more home runs (15 in comparison to 13 in 2008) and scored more runs (61 in comparison to 57 in 2008) in eight less games played, Rowand had alarming stats in many other areas.
He led the team in strikeouts with 125 and ranked fifth on the team in walks with 30 (and so you know, this is a team that was in the basement of the league in terms of walks. The leader for the Giants was Pablo "I swing at anything and everything, but still hit it" Sandoval who had 52).
Couple that with a .319 OBP and a .738 OPS (his lowest numbers in each category since 2006), and Rowand has been a flat out bust that has been a classic example of Sabean's overpriced, under-performing acquisitions.
Can Rowand turn it around? Maybe, but unless he gets a serious grasp of the strike zone, the chances of that happening seem very slim.
5. Bruce Bochy: Managing the "Right Way" (And "Right Way" meaning the opposite of common sense)
Giants fans knew Bochy played favorites. In fact, that's partially why Sabean hired him in the first place: he was one of the only managers in the league that would please the egomaniac known as Barry Bonds.
Yet that was in 2007, and in 2009 the best players available on the roster were not veterans like in the Bonds-Days.
Unfortunately, Bochy seemed to miss the memo.
While Nate Schierholtz wasn't having as great a season as many people thought, he certainly deserved some more playing time in 2009. Yet Bochy continued to rely not only on Randy Winn, but on Rowand as well, despite it being obviously clear Rowand was having an atrocious season. Bochy was more concerned about where Rowand should bat in the order at times than finding the best lineup possible, and that proved to infuriate Giants fans on more than one occasion.
Furthermore, Bochy continued to rely on Edgar Renteria even though Juan Uribe was clearly a better option. He buried Ryan Garko in September even though Garko should have gotten at least some at-bats when the Giants were facing left-handed pitching. He constantly forgot he had Brian Wilson as the closer and not Trevor Hoffman as he continued to stroll out Wilson to get four and five out saves (which usually ended disastrously).
There was so much to gripe about in terms of what Bochy did as a manager in 2009.
Thankfully, Giants fans will get to do plenty more in 2010.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Looking back, it's very interesting how the writing style, some of my opinions about players and even what should be done by the front office changed over the course of the season. I guess when your write as much as I did this summer on one certain team, things are eventually going to become different whether you intend it or not.
Anyways, here is my first San Francisco Giants article for Bleacher Report. I had wrote a couple 49ers pieces and a Warriors piece, but this was the first major piece that sparked my writing obsession with the Giants and eventually, this blog.
I'll be doing this every once in a while, so stay tuned for more Retro B/R articles.
From Bleacher Report
At 39-32 after a 6-3 win over the Oakland A's on June 24, the series finale of the 2009 Bay Bridge Series, the Giants are in decent position to compete for a playoff run.
While they are still 7.5 games behind the hot and loaded Dodgers, they do lead the Milwaukee Brewers by one game in the wild card race with a crucial series between the two starting on June 26. This is a prime opportunity for the Giants to build upon their wild card lead and perhaps even gain some ground on the rival Dodgers.
While it is still early to talk about the playoffs since we aren't even at mid-season, Giants fans have to be happy with what we've seen so far this year.
Despite getting no offensive upgrades in the offseason (and believe me, Edgar Renteria is barely an upgrade since Omar Vizquel was so inept a year ago), the Giants have mustered enough offense to win games, and have rode solid pitching from franchise player Tim Lincecum, and suddenly-successful Matt Cain.
At 9-1 with a 2.28 era, Cain has been the Giants MVP this year. He has dominated his starts and has garnered the run support and confidence that has evaded him ever since his solid rookie campaign in 2006.
While Lincecum is the bigger star of the staff (and he still is star-worthy with a 7-2 record, 2.57 era and a NL leading 124 strikeouts), Cain is worthy of a spot in the NL All-Star rotation. He has been that critical to the Giants success and has been the key cog in one of the most underrated pitching staffs in the national league.
Offensively, the Giants aren't as horrible as they were a season ago, but they aren't much better. The Giants still have struggled to produce runs as evidenced by their low team OBP (16th in the NL) and run production (15th in the NL).
Bengie Molina, while a solid player, continues to show the Giants that he is not a trustworthy power threat, and Aaron Rowand is more suited to be a run scorer than a run producer as evidenced by his move to the lead off spot.
The Giants have gotten solid production from Pablo Sandoval, who has shown that his rookie stretch at the end of the year last season was no fluke. He is batting .335 with eight home runs and 35 RBI and his power is starting to come on over the last month.
However, other than "Big Panda," nobody on this team really has been a consistent offensive threat. Fred Lewis has played himself out of the lineup, and Renteria has been an offensive disappointment.
So what do the Giants need to do to compete for a playoff berth?
They need more offense, but in reality, all they need is a power hitter. They have the tools offensively. They have guys with speed (Andres Torres, Juan Uribe), have good contact guys (Rowand, Sandoval) and guys with fringe pop (Nate Schierholtz, Molina), but they don't have the one guy that can bring in constant run support.
They don't have the legitimate cleanup hitter that brings good teams over the top. And unfortunately, no matter how good their pitching is, the lack of this power hitter will prevent this Giants team from being anything else other than an overachieving pretender.
However, once the Giants get that cleanup hitter, there is no doubt the wheels will truly start churning for this squad.
The foundation is there.
They have a great 1-3 rotation and they are getting solid, if not spectacular performances from their "100 million dollar man" Barry Zito for the first time in his career in San Francisco.
They have great young players in Sandoval and Schierholtz.
They have solid role guys who can get hot in Rowand, Renteria and Molina.
All that is missing is that one guy, that one big bop threat. If Sabean can pull something off by the trade deadline and nab that missing link, and they are still competing and in the thick of it, the Giants could surprise a lot of fans in the NL West and make an unexpected run.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Matt Holliday and Jason Bay look like the prizes in this group, but they will be courted by a lot of teams, and their cost as Type-A free agents (compensatory draft picks) may not be in the Giants best interest. Drafting seems to be what we do well. Please, please don't let Brian Sabean trade away our prospects for mediocre players anymore, mmm-kay? Both of these guys, sadly, would be good fits and provide some real hitting, but shiny baubles are not as important as a long-term deal for Tim Lincecum. Neukom & The Suits are in a cost-control mode, so don't expect much.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Manager Bruce Bochy did not play Nate Schierholtz enough.
It is true Bochy played Randy Winn way too much in right field. It is true that he had the best arm out of any of the outfielders. It is true he is a very likable player because he wears his socks high and wears no batting gloves (e.g. old-school).
Yet to argue that the right field position next season should be handed to Schierholtz is a stretch though. Sure, he had a decent year, and yes, I would rather have him patrolling right field than the aging, lame-duck armed Winn.
That being said, did Schierholtz really have a better season than fellow outfielder Fred Lewis, whose 2009 season was much maligned by far too many Giants fans?
If you look at the stats, then I don't think you can decisively say Schierholtz was better than Lewis without some argument. To say his 2009 year was head and shoulders above Lewis' is like saying Micheal Jackson was that much better a performer than Prince. (e.g. you can make the argument, and you probably in the end would be right, but it's not that black and white).
For instance, I think he gets the benefit of the doubt in two categories over Lewis:
1.) The team turned around their fortunes when he went on a hot streak of his own in mid-late June, early July.
2.) He strikes out a heck of a lot less than Lewis.
Here is the problem with the first argument: like my senior year Biology teacher told me in college, "Correlation does not necessarily mean causation."
Thus, just because Schierholtz went on a hot streak of his own doesn't mean he single-handily carried the Giants into the "winning zone." Do I think his contribution at that time had an effect on the team? Of course. Was it that big though? No, because somebody else had a hot streak that in my mind had more impact on the Giants.
Pablo Sandoval's season.
The Giants got off to a cold start out of the gate (which included a dreadful sweep at the hands of the Padres...yikes) because Sandoval didn't know the difference in the first month of the season between a bad, un-hittable pitch, and a good one that he could make contact with.
Case in point: on April 18th, Sandoval had a .195 batting average with a .250 OBP, zero home runs and only one RBI. The Giants record on April 18th after a loss to the Diamondbacks that day was 3-8.
Once Sandoval became a better hitter, the team became better. Sans a stretch where they went 2-11 in May, once Sandoval got over the hump of that bad opening point of the season, Sandoval pretty much carried the Giants to their 88-74 record (at least on the offensive end) with his bat, as evidenced by him leading the Giants in every offensive category of note.
If you want to say though that with Schierholtz in the lineup the Giants wouldn't have had that 2-11 swoon, here's another argument I would put up: Lewis had nine hits in that thirteen game stretch, and was still hitting .277 with a .377 OBP after the loss to Seattle on May 24.
The Giants had a lot of problems during that bad stretch of the year, but Lewis wasn't one of them.
My problem with the second argument mostly has to do with the fact with how overrated the strikeout is to measure how bad a player is. Mark Reynolds is the prime example of the faulty thinking of "experts" who think strikeouts are extremely detrimental to a player's development.
This season, Reynolds hit 44 home runs, drove in 102 RBI and had a .349 OBP (which would be second best on the Giants) despite setting the single-season strikeout mark (again) with 223 strikeouts.
What does this show? This shows that Reynolds is the prototype patient hitter. He may strike out a lot, but he also works the count to the point where he is able to get pitches that he can hit for power.
Strikeouts are only bad when you're Aaron Rowand, and strike out a lot while not drawing a lot of walks. While Reynolds shows that working the count can produce big hits despite strikeouts, Rowand simply shows with his high strikeout-low walk numbers he doesn't have the slightest clue what a strike zone is.
Back to Lewis though, he is more of an example of Reynolds than Rowand, at least in terms of strike zone recognition. While he doesn't have the power (as evidenced by his slugging numbers, which are poor) or the ability to drive in runs like Lewis, he certainly knows the strike zone. Lewis .348 OBP is only one point below Reynolds' and is 46 points higher than Schierholtz's.
While I know most people hate the OBP stat, here is another reason why Lewis' OBP is an indicator that Schierholtz isn't that much better than Lewis: Lewis scored 16 more runs in only 10 more at-bats than Schierholtz. Basically, with Lewis in the lineup, the Giants had a better chance of scoring runs than with Schierholtz in right field, as shocking as that may seem.
Yes, Schierholtz struck out less (36 times less to be specific) but no other stat of his is considerably better than Lewis' stat line. His batting average is only nine points better (.267 to .258), he only hit one more home run (five to four), his slugging percentage was only 10 points better (.400 to .390), and he only drove in nine more RBI (29 to 20, and even then that stat is flawed because Lewis was counted on more to score runs than drive them in like Schierholtz).
To make matters worse for "Nate the Great" fans, he did not hit extra base hits as well as Lewis. Lewis had more doubles (21 to 19) and triples (three to two) than Schierholtz.
Now, I'm not saying Lewis is better than Schierholtz and should be starting on Opening Day in 2010. Schierholtz does hold advantages in terms of age (he is three years younger) and defense (Schierholtz is good defensively, Lewis is well...mediocre is putting it nicely).
However, I think Giants fans should really come to grips with how good Schierholtz is as a player. The McCovey Chronicles brought up this point back in June, yet as you can see with the comments on the post, people were so quick to put Schierholtz on a pedestal over Lewis and other Giants outfielders just because he was on a hot streak.
Does Schierholtz have potential? Yes, this season was good as long as he is able to improve in certain categories. Yet to say he is without a doubt the right fielder of the future might be a stretch.
Because if he isn't that much statistically better than Lewis, an outfielder a lot of Giants fans seem to want no part of in 2010, than I think we, as Giants fans, are getting a little ahead of ourselves.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
They are done, finished, the door shut for good this year.
Yet (while I know I may sound pessimistic in the headline), all in all, this really was a very good Giants season. There was so much to remember:
Pablo Sandoval's breakout, Tim Lincecum's second-straight great season, Jonathan Sanchez's no-hitter, Matt Cain's emergence. All those were examples of good stories Giants fans were reminded of on a consistent basis.
And don't forget the best story of all: the Giants going 88-74.
Yes, they didn't make the playoffs. Yes, they tanked in September when they needed to step it up. Yes, Bruce Bochy didn't know how to make a lineup. Yes, Brian Sabean screwed the pooch on the Freddy Sanchez and Ryan Garko trades. Yes, nobody on this team knew how to take a walk except Sandoval and Fred Lewis.
But you know what? It was still a great season, warts and all.
This was a Giants organization that was coming off four straight losing seasons. This was a Giants organization that was a mess less than a year ago after Barry Bonds left. This was a Giants organization that looked in the dumps after getting swept by the freaking San Diego Padres during the first week of the season.
Did they make the playoffs? No, but Giants fans shouldn't hang their heads completely. We sold ourselves on .500 being a very successful season and we surpassed that and more. At the very least, we should be encouraged by the results of the 2009 season. 2009 showed us that there is some hope for this Giants team, and we're not going through the same old "Kansas City Royals Syndrome" (e.g. always looking forward to the future as an excuse to look past the present).
That being said, the Giants management needs to make some moves. After this year, anything less than the playoffs is a failure. You can't have a season where you win 88 games, and not expect to make the playoffs next year. If the Giants miss the playoffs next year, not only will I be calling for the heads of Brian Sabean and Bochy, but I will think those pessimistic thoughts about this organization that I held back in 2007 and 2008.
But 2010 is still a year away, and if you look at the present, you have to be happy at least somewhat if you're a San Francisco fan. The future is bright...hell...it is more than bright. The Giants are a year ahead of schedule, and that should be causing Giants fans to jump for joy. Seriously, the Royals have been in rebuilding mode for almost a decade. Would you rather be in their shoes?
Then again...this could be a fluke. We've seen it before. The 2002 Royals. The 2007 Mariners. The 2004 Nationals. The 2009 Rays. All were teams that were on the verge of breakout, only to tank the following year.
But you get the feeling this is a different team from those other ones, and with the right moves, this team could be on the verge of being great. Those teams listed above were one-season wonders, and if we looked deeper at the time, we would have realized it at the time as well.
This Giants team, however, has the capability to not be a fluke. If they stay pat, yes, they probably will be a flash in the pan (simply because you can't win consistently with a team that ranks near the bottom in runs, walks and OBP), but not if they make the right trades or signings.
An adjustment here, a big signing there, and well...the Giants could certainly be a team worth watching next year.
Just you watch Giants fans.
2010 can certainly be something special.