The Pirates are terrible.
But it’s a special kind of terrible this year. They’ve scored the fewest runs in the National League while allowing the most runs in both leagues. That takes work. What’s depressing about the 43,438th-consecutive losing season for the Pirates is that they’ve generally picked pretty high in the draft. They’re the best example of the unpredictability of the draft. Sometimes you eat the Bryan Bullington, sometimes the Bryan Bullington eats you.
So let’s take a moment to reflect on how ridiculous this string of first-round picks was:
2006: Tim Lincecum
2007: Madison Bumgarner
2008: Buster Posey
The Giants are one game back in the division because the Orioles thought Billy Rowell had the highest ceiling of anyone left in the draft, because the Rockies wanted a reliver who could move quickly, and because the Rays thought that Tim Beckham was a better long-term investment. You can use any permutation you want. The Mariners and Brandon Morrow, the Pirates and Daniel Moskos, the Royals and Eric Hosmer -- if any of those teams like their guy just a little bit less, the Giants would probably be further back from the Padres right now. Obviously Bumgarner isn’t quite Posey or Lincecum yet, but he’s contributed quite nicely to the team so far.
It took a lot of luck, but it also took a lot of good decision making. I have no idea who has the most influence on draft day, but someone had to say something like, "The gaggle of power-hitting first basemen are nice, but this Posey kid could be an All-Star catcher for a decade." A popular legend is that Dick Tidrow begged Brian Sabean not to watch Tim Lincecum in person, lest he tip the Giants’ hand. With all sorts of offensive holes and Beau Mills -- surely, he’ll move right through the system! -- still on the board, someone had the confidence to take a high-school pitcher. Maybe it was the same person every time. Maybe they were three different people who had the final say. Maybe Brian Sabean gets the ultimate veto over every first pick, and he pushed for the Lincecum/Bumgarner/Posey troika.
If you really want to have your mind blown, note that if Armando Benitez doesn’t balk in a run with two outs, maybe the Marlins draft Posey and the Giants draft Kyle Skipworth.
Armando Benitez: the reason Buster Posey is on the Giants right now.
That’s a little too far down the rabbit hole for a Friday afternoon, sorry. Let’s reel it in. The overall point is that the Giants hit on three consecutive first-round picks, and they’re enjoying the benefits this season. Lincecum, Bumgarner, and Posey could all quit to form a zydeco band next season, so it’s not like the Giants should be applauded for picking three future Hall-of-Famers just yet. But for this season -- which could be remembered exclusively for magic or for torture -- it’s a pretty good thing that the Giants picked as well as they did.
This isn’t a revelation. This isn’t an especially poignant post. It’s just something worth remembering every now and then. Also, the first person who mentions that the Giants should have picked Jason Heyward over Bumgarner will be slapped with a pickled herring.