The people have spoke and boy are they unhappy!
Here are comments from Andrew Baggarly’s piece today:
“The Giants are a deeply flawed team. You knew that before they got swept away in a four-game series at Dodger Stadium for the first time since the Clinton administration. You’re acutely aware of it now”
This series was arguably a much needed wake up call for Giants fans and the writers that cover the team. The talent gap between SF and LA is Massive. And that matters. Talent matters. A lot. And it’s not just Mookie or Freddie. It’s young talented players like Gavin Lux and Will Smith or young pitchers like Mitch White.
The bottom line is if you want to compete at a high level in MLB and subsequently play deep into October you gotta develop the infrastructure that produces young talented players and spend the money on Elite talent.
Zaidi knows all of this. The aggregate approach to roster construction that he’s taken with the Giants was seemingly an approach based on the bad contracts he inherited, older past their prime players. Some of which came with messy nostalgia baggage and limited internal options he has available in his farm system. He’s starting from scratch w/ player development. And that takes years to cultivate. So, in the meantime he’s trying to field these sort of platoon split rosters and avoid any big financial commitments until he has sort of a factory in place to develop young talent.
The problem with that from a fans perspective is the product on the field at the Major League level during a period of transition like this is usually pretty bad. However, Zaidi’s smart and he’s done an outstanding job of putting product on the field that’s a little bit better than that. But make no mistake what happened last year, 107 win team. That was NEVER part of the plan. They were as surprised as we were.
Therein lies the rub
Winning 107 games and a Division title last year, while a great achievement, created terribly inconvenient fan expectations for Zaidi and the organization going into 2022. This sort of expectation doesn’t line up with Zaidi’s rebuild timeline. This is why you saw little activity in the off-season with high dollar FA’s and the mid level market budget. It’s just not time yet. And personally, contrary to what most Giants fans think , I respect Zaidi for sticking to his plan.
So, No the Giants aren’t as good as the Dodgers. And Yes it’s going to be like that for several years. And No this is not a team built to compete in October.
And Yes it’s all part of Farhan Zaidi’s long term plan.
This team is over managed. If the best position players were allowed to play and the best hitters allowed to hit this wouldn’t be a problem. Instead, they lift possibly the best clutch hitter in the team for a minor leaguer because the computer told them. They play a RF at 1B because, well, who the F knows. The bullpen decisions were puzzling all week.
Sometimes you just have to chuck the computers out the window and let the players play.
I mean, if you put Yermin Mercedes in LF and Wilmer Flores at 2nd, you get what you deserve. Feels like this giants roster, especially the defense, is made up of mostly wishful thinking.
The Giants should sell. They are the oldest team in the league (and they look it). Their farm system, once touted as on the rise, has slipped to 15th, according to Fangraphs. They’ll lose Rondon after this season. Even if they make the playoffs, I can’t see how they can make it past some combination of the Brewers, Mets, Dodgers, Yankees, and Astros. But the Giants won’t sell. They never do. It’s an organizational blind spot. They’ve never properly rebuilt since the window closed following game 4 of the 2016 NLDS. Platoons and castoffs and old timers isn’t a path to a consistent winner. Sell. Tank. Get young. Clear salary. Take a couple of years and rebuild properly.
What we’ve learned about the 2020 Giants:
1. Bullpens can go from good to horrid in a year.
2. Building a defense that is an homage to Joel Youngblood is not a good idea.
3. Rosters populated with AARP members leads to many IL visits.
4. You can’t make Chicken Salad out of Seattle Mariners 4A players.
Love my team, but damn this is hard to watch.
Baggarly pointed out that having Yermin Mercedes in LF is a failure on a few levels, but didn’t call Zaidi out for it. The Giants are not a small-market team. There is no excuse for having a backup catcher in LF against the best team in the league. You can’t give the Dodgers extra outs in the best of times, and by golly, these aren’t the best of times for the Giants. If you’re gonna have a liability out there he better hit like Yordan Alvarez.
And why is Mercedes even on the roster? I get it, Farhan. It’s fun picking up the 41st best player on MLB rosters. I mean, they’re still the top one percent of all the baseball players in the world, right? There’s a reason why these guys weren’t protected by their teams. It’s hard to admit if you’re Farhan Zaidi, but it’s true: there are bright people in other front offices, too, and maybe, just maybe, they know something about Donovan Walton, Yermin Mercedes, Kevin Padlo, et al. that we have all now figured out as well — they’re not good.
There’s a lot of goodwill for the team that won 107 games, so I don’t imagine the seat will be hot until next year for Kapler and Zaidi. But given the shocking lack of talent on this roster and the apparent over-hyping of the farm system, once that heater is turned on, it’s gonna melt awfully quickly.
The TWG Family Speaks
Here are some comments from the TWG gang on Dr. Lefty’s absolutely brilliant post from Saturday:
The Kapler quote, “That’s our process, and it’s worked well for us,” reminded me of Matt Williams’ quote after he removed a dealin’ Jordan Zimmerman in the 9th inning of 2014 NLDS Game 2 for Drew Storen… Williams said, “That’s the way we did it all season,” not realizing that managers have to manage differently in the post-season. Will Kapler change when “the process” doesn’t work out sometimes?
A team that doesn’t care about defense but I think you already know that.
It legitimately doesn’t seem to be a priority. They were above average last season, but clearly that was happenstance and not at all by design.
What they are missing the most, in my opinion is Buster Posey.
The player. The mentor. The quiet leadership. The clubhouse supreme leader. The influencer of the manager and administration.
Of course, they are missing way more than that. The older players aged faster than Kathleen Turner after a bottle of Jack. The wonderkind closer has had hiccups, and the domino effect and panic reshuffling if roles has failed badly.
Worst problem of all is the defense. Crawford, when playing, isn’t near his usual level. Belt isn’t either. Longo is hot and cold. (Thairo gets grief but he’s an upgrade over LaStella and on par with Solano) . Wade is a disaster at first. Wilmer is slower than ever. The outfield is spotty at best.
Zaidi rolled the dice hoping for squeezing another year out of the core..but the bananas went brown overnight. Gabe is managing differently.
So, if Craw and Belt heal a bit, if Webb and Rodón get more help from Wood, Cobb, Junis, and maybe Boyd…if some pen dudes step up…if Villar and Gonzo seize the day…they will sneak in.
No trade deadline magic pill will move the needle much. The answer has to be in that clubhouse. Even though this weekend didn’t look like it’s in there…it might be
The Black Monday Take
Ok, so it was a very bad weekend. We all know the Giants got swept in a four game series by the Los Angelinos in Southern California for the first time since Bill Clinton was President.
But, as Baggarly said, here are the cold hard facts about that series: The Giants were in every game:
It’s wild when you think about it: The Giants led in the eighth inning Thursday, they were tied in the eighth inning Friday, they trailed all game but managed to bring the winning run to the plate in the ninth inning Saturday and they were tied again in the seventh inning Sunday. Yet when the series concluded, you had the feeling that the Giants never really played well enough to give themselves a chance. They made four errors in the series and there were countless other physical mistakes the Dodgers were able to leverage into an extra base or an extended inning.
So it’s either a glass half-full or half empty question. Mine is that the glass is fully empty, in fact its cracked and on the verge of breaking.
Pinch-Hitting David Villar for Brandon Belt Is Inexcusable
It’s horrible managing. It’s managing by orthodoxy and formulae and demonstrates an egomania of epic proportions, the kind that can bring down an entire team. In no world is this move defensible. The aftereffects, particularly on the veterans, will lead to more damage to the team and to the reputations of both Farhan Zaidi and Kapler. Consider this scenario: You are a veteran or in the prime player and the Giants are considering trading for you or signing you as a free agent. Just how excited will you be about the possibility of playing for an organization that makes such horrible platoon moves and pinch-hitting decisions? Nope!
The Giants Bullpen Is Done
Stick a fork in them.
Between the lefty disasters of Sam Long and Jarlin Garcia or Tyler Rogers’ miserable outing yesterday and miserable season this part of the team has gone from a strength in 2021 to a glaring weakness. It’s time for drastic changes and demonstrates how fickle and how unpredictable bullpens can be from year to year or month to month. Is the opposition scouting better? Are the Giants pitching staff and catchers not counter-adjusting? Whatever the case, between pitch calls, pitch execution and the horrid defense, the Giants bullpen is an utter and complete disaster.
The Giants Miss Buster
This is a narrative that nobody can deny. Even Gabe Kapler and Farhan Zaidi have admitted it:
“There’s nobody who has the experience that Buster does or has the feel for the game that Buster does,” Kapler said. “Joey is very much a young, developing catcher who just doesn’t have a huge file yet. He hasn’t seen things play out over and over and over. At some point, I think Joey will make a visit and he’ll say, ‘Look, it’s a great time to bounce a curveball’ or to have enough of a feel for Cody Bellinger’s swing to go, ‘I can go fastball up and out of the zone and maybe get a chase here.’ But that’s not Joey’s fault that he doesn’t have the experience and the feel that Buster did.”
Look, no there’s no replacing the greatest catcher in franchise history but the dropoff, compounded by the Casali injury, has simply been too great to prevent disaster. The Giants defense and pitching staff have suffered tremendously from the inexperience of Bart and Wynns. The catching position is so nuanced and so integral to run prevention that it’s hard to over-estimate it. Calling the right pitches (no more curveballs to Bellinger!), knowing how to coax strikes from struggle pitchers in key situations, knowing how to position players, knowing hot to get in batters’ heads, all of these things and more were part of Posey’s greatness. Don’t even get me started with his contributions as a batter. They are too many to list.
Farhan Zaidi and the Giants Are In No-Man’s Land
Right now, because of their mediocrity and crazy expectations coming off a 2021 season, the Giants are in a kind of organizational purgatory. Their farm system has regressed this year. Most of their top prospects have regressed. The big league club is stuck in mediocrity with really only Logan Webb and Carlos Rodon as legitimate stars upon which to build a championship caliber team. They have too many aging veterans hurt or underperforming or both. They have too many fringe players who do not belong on a baseball diamond from a defensive standpoint in a close game. They have publicly claimed they will not sell when in fact it’s time to rebuild the team entirely. In short, the Giants appear to be short of real and honest leadership at the ownership level. Things do not look good and anyone who thought 2021 was a harbinger of things to come was delusional or drunk on NL West Championship Cold Duck.
The Zaidi Free Agent Signings Record is a Mixed Bag
Yes on Kevin Gausman. Yes on Carlos the Magnificent. But the Tommy LaStella and Anthony Desclafani deals are unqualified disasters. The Giants as a team would be better off DFAing LaStella. He cannot play defense anymore and he is not a good enough run-producer to DH.
Was letting Kevin Gausman go off to Toronto a good move? Well… yes and know. It’s hard to say if the deal Gausman signed would end up being sunken costs later in his contract but keeping him sure would have made the Giants a much better team. I will give Zaidi a pass on this decision because even if Gausman, Rodon and Webb are all on the starting rotation, the defense and roster construction of everyday players is still a holy mess.
The Giants Must Be Smart Sellers at the Trade Deadline
Here is what I mean by that: This team is going nowhere in October, even if it qualifies for the postseason. With that obvious reality Giants ownership and management needs to make smart moves to bolster the outfield and bullpen by moving assets who do not have a long-term future with the Giants, notably Joc Pederson, Wilmer Flores and possibly, for the right return, Carlos Rodon. If the Giants cannot get Rodon at the right price (I am thinking at least two top prospects from the right organization and one solid bullpen arm) they should re-sign him at the end of the year.
The Giants Need to Re-Think Their Baseball-by-Computer Philosophy
It’s not working. See above. It’s alienating good players. See above. It’s a disgrace to simple common sense and basic baseball intuition. Enough. Just stop it. Be more flexible. Make more nuanced in-game and pre-game moves that go against the analytics orthodoxy for heaven’s sake! The madness needs to stop. Analytics has had its moment, particularly for cheap and poor teams in small markets but the insanity of Mercedes playing in left field over Joc Pederson or lifting Brandon Belt for a pinch hitter with 14 career games in the Majors just must end now. It’s time for ownership to step in and do something.
What Are the Giants Goals?
Are the Giants content to get into the postseason? Is this what makes fans and ownership happy? Is it enough to win a division? For me the answer to these questions is obviously “No”. If you do not have the World Series Championship as your goal every year it means you are doing something wrong as an organization. The Giants are being run like a team content with squeaking into the playoffs. There is no outcry at this horrible stretch from ownership. The fans are staying home in droves (thanks in part to inflation, covid and other issues) because this team is boring, old, and does not have one legitimately exciting player who takes the field every day. It’s time to rethink the process and rethink the entire philosophy of player development and drafting because there is nothing on the horizon that gives me cause for excitement or optimism. When the Giants were at the end of the Bonds Era and the pre-Lincecum and Posey eras they were losing but the fans had a reason for optimism knowing they had serious talent down on the farm. I miss those days.