It worked faster than any of us thought it would, so there’s no reason to veer off course now. At least that’s what the Giants are thinking after keeping the same general manager while changing course at the same time.
Bill Neukom risked being mocked after so confidently trumping the Giants’ new philsophy (“The Giants Way,” which is also available in pamphlet form) before achieving any success. Sure, it sounded good: build from within, spend more on scouting, avoid long-term deals that become high-priced anchors soon after their signed. But after a stretch of years where Barry Bonds made over $15M well into his early 40’s while surrounded by a mishmash of overpaid veterans and pseudo-prospects, it seemed hard to believe that the Giants would think in terms further than out on the horizon than the current year.
You can blame Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand if it makes you feel better, but the Giants are no longer in the business of handing out deals that run 5+ years. So my silly requests for Carl Crawford are coming to an end (except in the poll to the right). The Giants are a 2-year-max front office now. Will that be OK with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and/or Brian Wilson when they become free agents in 2013 or 2014?
Juan Uribe isn’t a fan of the Giants’ new way of doing things, but it was OK with Pat Burrell, who agreed to come back for just one season. Clearly there wasn’t a lot of long-term interest in a guy in his 30’s who can’t field very well but is an even worse DH, and jumped at the chance to make sure he wasn’t left clamoring for a Minor League deal with a National League team. Plus, he’s from the area, he’s a lady killer in the Marina, and he’s “The Machine.” And he’s probably smart enough to know that while his contract is incentive-laden and he wasn’t guaranteed a starting job, next year’s Giants will need power just as badly as last year’s Giants did when they took a flier on him, and he’ll end up starting in LF more often than not.
Seeing as the Giants will probably be on the hook for raises to Cody Ross, Jonathan Sanchez, Andres Torres, Javier Lopez, Ramon Ramirez and Santiago Casilla (and even Chris Ray and/or Mike Fontenot if they decide to bring them back), this is probably it. We can probably pretty well predict the Giants’ roster for next season. As for starting lineups, it will probably depend on the whims of Bruce Bochy, who earned himself plenty of whim-room for the next couple seasons.
Infielders/Catchers: Posey, Huff, F. Sanchez, Tejada, DeRosa, Sandoval (he’s going to have to eat a lot of pizza to start the year in Fresno), Whiteside
Outfielders: Torres, Ross, Burrell, Rowand, Schierholtz
Starting Pitchers: Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Bumgarner, Zito
Relievers: Wilson, Lopez, Romo, Affeldt, Casilla, Ramirez, Runzler
The final spot is up in the air, with candidates including Travis Ishikawa, Fontenot, Ray, Eugenio Velez and Emmanuel Burriss, with a slight chance one of the Brandons (Belt or Crawford) could get the call. It’s probably the only thing that will be decided in Spring Training, barring injury. One thing we do know: with “The Giants Way” firmly in place, that spot will not be taken up by a free agent signed to a long-term deal.