It seems to me that most here have already written off 2009 and want Giants Management to do the same. But is this the correct view of what it would take to compete in 2009 or is it just an emotional reaction to how bad the Giants have been since the last time we truely competed in 2004?
Let's look at the different elements of our beloved Giants and see whch ones are ready to compete now and which ones need upgrades. To me this really isn't very hard. The Starting Pitching Is clearly ready to compete now. The Outfield could compete now if none of the bats had to hit 4 or 5. The Catching could compete now if the bat was used hitting 6th, 7th, or 8th instead of cleanup. It is only the Infield and the Bullpen that are currently not ready to compete.
How far away are the Bullpen and the Infield?
To me the bullpen is close. Sabean has talked about adding an experienced arm or two in the offseason to close the gap. I think this would be a misuse of our trading chips and/or free agent dollars. We need to give our young arms the opportunity to fill these roles. Out of Sadler, Hinshaw, Romo, and Matoes I think we should be able to find an 8th inning guy to pair with Wilson to close out the games. I am fine with keeping Walker and Taschner in reduced roles as a righty/lefty pair in middle relief before the 8th. I think our current bullpen just needs more experience and will become a competative bullpen during the 2009 season.
Clearly the Inflied is where we come up short and today we are not even close. We need to find two bats that can legitimately hit 4th and 5th and man the corner infield spots with at least league average defense. We need to find two gloves that can man the middle infield spots with defense that is as much above average as their offense is below average. When we solve this infield puzzle is when we are ready to compete.
So is it possible and reasonable to try and sovle this infield puzzle this offseason so that we can compete in 2009? In my judgement it is. We have pitchers and outfielders to trade. If the salary budget for 2009 returns to $90M we have $30M in free agent dollars to spend. Why can't we fill these 4 holes with players that allow us to compete in 2009 with these resources to aquire them?