Monday, November 10, 2008

It's Rare, But the Patience of San Francisco Giants' Fans Is Wearing Thin

This can't go on all the time - all this franticness and jumping around. We've got to go someplace, find something. - Jack Kerouac, On the Road

For the San Francisco Giants, that place is the World Series. That thing is the championship trophy.

After five long years of frantic futility and jumping around the peripheral of the National League West races, the time for excuses has long since passed.

Consider the following:
  1. The Giants haven't finished above .500 since 2004; they haven't really been close.
  2. They haven't managed better than a third place finish in Major League Baseball's weakest division since that same year.
  3. Their 2007 payroll of over $90 million was good for 12th in MLB.
  4. Barry Bonds' 2007 salary was $15.8 million.
  5. SF's 2008 payroll of just under $77 million was good for 17th in MLB and they actually spent less per player than the Cincinnati Reds (who finished 18th in total payroll).
  6. Barry Lamar Bonds no longer patrols leftfield.
  7. We loyal fans were assured that the money freed by Bonds' departure wouldn't just be pocketed by the owners, that a substantial amount would be put back into spikes.
These seven indisputable facts mean the ownership's time is up. Giants' fans deserve the return of our perennial contender. We have earned that much with our patience. Name another fanbase of a team with a winning history that is more sympathetic during dry spells than that of the Orange and Black.

Some hold it against us, say that it means we aren't real fans. We can't be the geniune article because we don't care enough to boo at the drop of a ball or walk of a batter.

I say it's that we care just as much, but maintain a healthy perspective of sports vis-a-vis life. That point can be debated.

What cannot be debated is that five long years of utter futility for a franchise that fielded a championship contender almost every year from 1993 through 2003 is long enough. Especially when there is over $10 million sitting in reserve that must be spent on talent to keep a promise to customers.

Especially when the team already has a one-two punch of Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain.

Especially when they can follow that up with Jonathan Sanchez, Barry Zito, and Brian Wilson.

Especially when they already have a nice little offensive nucleus of Aaron Rowand, Bengie Molina, Randy Winn, Emanuel Burriss, Freddie Lewis, and Pablo Sandoval.

The Giants' 2009 roster will not overwhelm anyone offensively, but it features a pitching staff that should do quite well with just an average offense. If everything breaks right, the 2009 Giants' offense, as-is (or will be), might be average. But it could easily be above average if management adds the right piece to the mix.

That piece is NOT Manny Ramirez.

We just washed off the stink of Bonds'. I loved Barry as much as any die-hard fan would love a player who carried his/her favorite team to the postseason almost every year. But I was well aware that it was an adoration with a price: you couldn't feel totally clean about yourself (and I'm not talking steroids, I'm talking the guy is human garbage by all accounts).

But at least Barry was the best chemically-enhanced player this game has ever seen. Ramirez isn't even the best hitter it's seen and his act is already tired. That was before he caught the Dodger Blue bug.

Ugh. Keep that train wreck away.

Nor is that piece C.C. Sabathia.

I'm as big a fan of Sabathia as the next guy. But I already listed the virtues of the as-assembled 2009 San Francisco Giants. Points one and two were pitching. Really, points three and four are pitching as well, but I'm being optimistic. The Gents simply do not need more pitching.

It sounds odd to say that in the modern era, but it's true. The organization even has a couple more young arms down on the farm. Our cup runneth over (if form holds true, admittedly a large if).

Of course, signing Sabathia would make sense if you moved some of that young pitching, but why take that very expensive risk on the heels of Zito? SF would have to move Noah Lowry, Cain, Sanchez, or one of the guys on the farm; it would probably be Cain. Those young arms are MUCH cheaper than C.C.

Granted, they are not the same quality. But who knows what quality Sabathia's next team will get? I can promise you I'm not the only person concerned by all those innings under so much stress with so little rest in between. He's young and he's an absolute monster, but he's still human.

Regardless, signing him would require huge money and the trade of a promising young arm (or two). That's a big risk for anyone to take and the Giants just failed pretty spectacularly on another large risk with Zito's contract.

Thankfully, neither Ramirez nor Sabathia (nor the trade of Cain for that matter) looks likely. Yet, all have been mentioned by people inside baseball so none is ridiculous.

What would be ridiculous would be a repeat, in 2009, of the impotence that has befouled our recent seasons.

Management owes us more than that.

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