So, the Giants are good now, right?!
Jokes aside it was a good week: 4-3, and they finally won a division series over a team not named the Dodgers.
This week does raise a couple of tensions for Giants fans as we close out the final third of the season.
No one wants to watch loss after loss, and ending the season on a high note is a good thing, but the better this team plays, the higher their draft spot becomes. In baseball this is not such a huge deal, but still a mild concern.
More to the point (at least in my view), the better certain guys play, the more likely the front office is to fall in love them.
For example: Jarrett Parker just had a great return to the lineup. A friend and I joked that the answer to the riddle of 2017 must have always been Parker.
I like the guy. I call him Captain Jack for his resemblance to Johnny Depp’s Pirate’s character. He’s played the last 4 games with more panache, energy, and effectiveness than just about anyone not named Buster this season.
But that said, he’s 28 and he strikes me as the classic AAAA player. Too good for the minors, not good enough for the Majors. Perhaps he can settle into a nice 4th or 5th outfielder role, but my fear is that he has a great two months, and the Giants become convinced he’s the guy, and here’s our new starting OF.
While I would love to regret writing that last paragraph, there are a few of these kinds of guys who concern me because their success in August and September could undercut shrewder moves.
I would include Pablo Sandoval in this list.
Giants fans should root hard for Samardzija and Moore and Bumgarner and Crawford and Melancon, and probably for Pence and Cueto to finish strong. Root for Ryder Jones to establish himself. For Ty Blach to keep the good times coming and for Kelby Tomlinson to prove he belongs.
I’m not so sure with Parker.
Another interesting case is Chris Stratton. Stratton took Matt Cain’s place in the rotation (although I expect Cain to get a final, highly publicized start, to end the season. Probably in the closing series against the Padres).
This means Stratton essentially has a 2 month tryout.
Here’s where my lack of confidence in the Giants front office is betrayed: I kind of like Stratton, and certainly enjoy watching him pitch more than Matt Cain (sorry Matty). But he’s about to turn 27 and still hasn’t figured it out yet.
I like his stuff. I like the idea of more options and greater depth (the Giants desperately need this, especially if Cueto opts out). But I get concerned that two good months might allow the team to make a lazy decision.
And that’s basically my issue with this front office. There’s a tendency to take the easy way out.
Contrast this with the Dodgers. Granted, any comparison of the Giants and Dodgers right now is tough. I do not think these teams are as far apart as the standings show. But, one team is having maybe the greatest regular season in the last 100 years, and the other is having one of the worst seasons in franchise history. Less than a year ago, both teams battled the eventual Champion Cubs (and lost, but it was a battle).
The biggest difference between the teams is youth and depth, with the Dodgers coming out ahead on both counts.
I would add to that ruthlessness with which the Dodgers have been making decisions. Andrew Friedman is finally showing us what a “moneyball” guy would do with a big budget and it’s more than a bit awe-inspiring.
That being said, the Dodgers, to this point, have been able to operate the last couple years with essentially zero sentimentality.
Even the extension offered to Clayton Kershaw was more a baseball decision than a fan base decision (although it was certainly both).
If the Dodgers win it all this year (and until proven otherwise, I’m sticking with my Nationals prediction), they will finally be faced with some sentimental decisions. Do they, for example, give a big contract to Yu Darvish just because he helped them finally win?
The Giants have erred to the side of keeping their own guys and sentimental favorites around, even if longer than needed, as a reward for winning, as a way to protect the culture, and as a way to keep the fans engaged. It’s not necessarily a bad idea.
But the Giants have rarely been ruthless. They tend to go just a bit too far with their guys. Aubrey Huff, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, for example (though it’s actually a long list).
I’m interested to see how the Dodgers handle this going forward, and I’m even more interested to see if the Giants can get a bit more ruthless, because I think they need it.