Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Where are we?

As the San Francisco Giants are transitioning from the Barry Bonds era to the next era, wholesale changes are obviously in order. No longer can the team be built around aging veterans, signed via free agency at the cost of mortgaging the teams future through the loss of draft picks. Gerneral Manager Brian Sabean and former managing general partner Peter Magowan were put on notice last off season by us, the fans, and now it's time to collect.

Brian Sabean has said all the right things over the last year, but his heart just doesn't appear in it. The Giants are in major need of an organizational overhaul. Brian Sabean thinks he might be done. i think otherwise. Lets take a look.

Lets travel back to 2006. 2 years ago. Barry Bonds was getting ready play one more year to take the homerun crown, the team had no succession plan in place, and only a handful of minor league talent worth anything...all pitchers. The team had been spurred in free agency by Alfonso Soriano the previous year and would have the same thing happen again the next off season by Carlos Lee with no offensive weapons to look forward to for the future. A bright spot or two were the emergence of Matt Cain, Noah Lowry, Kevin Correia, and Brad Henessey, all to varying degrees. Also, the rumored talented pitchers buried in the minors with names like Brian Wilson, Brian Anderso-n, and Jonathan Sanchez. A glimmer of hope indeed. So what to do next?

The Giants hadn't produced a star from within their own system for over 2 decades, let alone a position player worth remembering. (Pedro Feliz was the closest and we ran him out of town becasue he couldn't hit...hindsight is 20/20 but...well...looks like we showed him this year. I'm certain he regrets that world series title right about now, and is wondering how he is not better than Jose Castillo or Ryan Rohlinger.) Then they draft this kidout of Washington no one else wanted to take a chance on. A star was born and the Giants had found the face of the franchise. A fan base so desperate to love again, even with the immortal Barry Bonds still around. They didn't know quite yet what they had, even if they thought they did. Proof that the scouts could locate pitching talent poured in and as they further evaluated talent over the next 2 years, they realized they may just have the deepest pitching talent organization in the minors...Or did they realize it yet?

The offseason produced maybe the next closest thing to a defining moment in Brian Sabeans tenure...Barry Zito...loved by the A's nation accross the bay...A desperate measure to create a face of the franchise after BB exit. But the Giants didn't know about Lincecum yet. Or did they?
a roster still full of aging veterans and the inability to move any ina trade, Sabean was forced to wait another year to rebuld. Or was he? The Giants finally ventured into the foreign market and found themselves a 16 year old future star, and a couple of nationally recognized draft picks as potential offensive players. Had they found their way? Not yet, but on the right track. After suffering through BB's last year and clearing the Matt Morris contract, the Giants made one of their best desicions yet. Hiring Ron Schueler. For the first time in a very long time, the Giants focused real time into offensive prospects and it started to pay off. Nick Noonan. Wendel Fairley. Buster Posey. Conor Gillespie. Rafeal Rodriguez. Angel Villalona. Emmanuel Burriss. Pablo Sandoval. Matt Downs. Not to Mention the other pitchers not yet named. Kevin Pucetas. Madison Bumgarner. Tim Alderson. Henry Sosa. Dan Otero. Jessie english. Clayton Tanner. Joseph Martinez. The Giants farm system is well on its way. As a matter of fact, it's past respectability andknocking on the door of top 10 in baseball. They are on the right track. Or are they???

You see, it has to start at the top, and the top for all intensive purposes is Brian Sabean. Now William Neukom is the real top, but he's not a baseball guy. Thats what GM's are for. And that GM is mr. Sabean. Now, is Brian sabean really on board with this youth movement. I think the answer is NO! I hope it is yes, but I don't believe so. You see, he would have to have an entiree change in the way he does buisness. He's been doing this for 11 years now, as GM, and with some early success. That is a recipe for knowing how to do it, or at least think you know how to do it. Why would he want to change. It looks to me like he has already bought out on this new path. Orlando Hudson? Rafeal Furcal? Orlando Cabrera? Edgar Renteria? They sound an awful lot like Ray Durham! Shawon Dunston! David Bell! Jose Vizciano! Edgardo Alfonso! Neffi Perez! Omar Vizquel! Now, I'm not saying these are all bad, just the obvious. They had no choice because the Giants invested virtually nothing into the farm, then lost draft picks by signing players like this, making it more difficult to invest anything into the farm. But 11 years is enough to figure out how to get out of the cycle. I'm also not saying we shouldn't sign one of these 4 players, of even Juan Uribe, or trade for someone else. I've looked at the lack of depth in next years free agent market and realize the potential pitfalls to giving Manny Burriss the nod at the most important infield position. But the focus needs to be on an all around organization, not just a throw money at em and trade away our talent.

What the Giants need to do is allow the off spring to develop while keeping an eye on the future at all times, invest heavily in scouting, minor league instruction, all while filling out a competitive major league roster. It sounds easy enough right. We have the pitching depth now to compete with anyone. Next year we will have the pitching depth to trade for a hitter. Not this year. But thats for another post.

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