Time to start figuring out how the San Francisco Giants can actually make the 2008 season worthwhile.
Most baseball fans will find something worth watching in any baseball season, even an extremely bad one. But assuming San Francisco’s goal is to win a world title and break a championship drought that has lasted 53 years (and definitely counting), anything that doesn’t directly work to that end is wasted energy, time and money, for the team and its fans.
Unless the Giants were shooting for an all-time home run record and 74 wins per year over the past three seasons, there’s been a lot of wasted everything lately. Most of this organization’s moves have been designed to keep the team’s attendance at adequate levels, not to work towards a berth in the playoffs.
Nobody should be receiving playing time in 2008 if there’s no chance they’ll be around in 2010, with the possible exception of Omar Vizquel (and that is more due to his cover of the Goo Goo Dolls song “Broadway” than his fielding or leadership. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and check that out – it’s almost as bad as Brandon Lloyd’s unfortunate freestyle on Mac and Murph a couple years ago).
That means no Ray Durham, Dave Roberts, Steve Kline, Rich Aurilia or Randy Winn. And if we re-sign Pedro Feliz, Brian Sabean should be fired immediately.
This isn’t because Pete Happy is the worst third baseman in the world. In a 30-team league Feliz should be a starting third baseman somewhere (Kansas City or Tampa Bay, perhaps) but there are many signs that this team needs to look elsewhere.
Feliz not only won’t improve, his production will probably start declining soon. He’s supposedly 32, but of course that could be a “Dominican” 32. But even if P-Hap is 32, unless he goes on a Clemens-esque lidocain/B12 regimen, he isn’t going to magically learn a new interpretation of the strike zone (like the actual strike zone, for instance).
He’s a great fielder, but will never walk more than 40 times in a season, and the bulk of his home runs come in two or three hot streaks during the season to pad his stats. Yeah, the homer total will be over 20 at year’s end, but that doesn’t show how aggressively unproductive he is offensively in the other 140 games. And especially with Barry Bonds gone, this team needs players who can hit good pitching. Feliz is outstanding against crappy middle relievers during blowouts one way or the other, but I’d almost rather have Dennis Kucinich at the plate more than Feliz in a tight situation. At least Kucinich might take a pitch.
The most important reason for the Giants to avoid Feliz is that they desperately need some new blood. Not many teams would allow three straight losing seasons to go by without massive turnover both in terms of player personnel and/or the front office.
The Giants seem to think that because they surprised experts with teams that performed above expectations in the past decade, they are just a few tweaks away from shocking the world again.
Isn’t it possible that the Giants’ run during that time period as one of (if not the biggest) steroid-abusing teams in baseball could have had something to do with all those career years and win-loss records that were above expectations? One of the reasons the Giants were counted out before some of those successful seasons was that three of their outfielders were Armando Rios, Marvin Benard and F.P. Santangelo. All three of the Fighting Hydrants have since been directly linked to steroids and/or HGH.
The fact that nearly every single Giants memory since the Will Clark-era could be linked in some way to performance enhancing drugs shows how much this team is dying for a fresh start. I for one am okay with a 100-loss season, as long as they are giving younger players a chance to get better, not giving the same old veterans chances to turn their declining careers around.