The residue of design

Every good team is lucky. The 2009 Yankees were good, and they threw wads of cash at three agents, but they were also lucky. Half of their lineup was 35 or older, and they all a) stayed healthy, and b) performed like All-Stars. The people who assumed they were guaranteed a championship at the start of the season were nuts. Ultimately correct, but nuts. 

Please don’t take this as a slam on Brian Sabean, as if I were saying "Look how lucky this buffoon has been!" Every team is lucky in some way to have the good players they have. The Yankees were smart. The Yankees were rich. But if the Reds liked Derek Jeter more than Chad Mottola, the Yankees were screwed. Of course, then they would have drafted Calvin Murray and turned him into a Hall-of-Famer. But hang with me. This is a nod to the what-ifs that you don’t think about when you watch a good team, nothing more.

Andres Torres

If any team in baseball offered him a major league contract, he would have giggled as he signed the deal. Any team wiling to guarantee him a spot on the 25-man-roster could have had him.

But that’s just one of 100 different reasons why the Giants are lucky to have watched Torres play as well as he has. If John Bowker hit half as well as the vocal minority thought he could, Torres would still be a fifth outfielder. If Aaron Rowand didn’t completely fall in the toilet, Torres would still be a bench player. If Mark DeRosa didn’t have a gummy coke bottle where his tendon should be, Torres would be a defensive replacement. The Giants had the good luck to have their outfield plans sabotaged by injury and poor performances.

Aubrey Huff

Adam LaRoche: Oh, ants who collectively manage my finances, my agent says I should take the multi-year deal offered by the Giants, but I’m not sure. What you think?

Ants who collectively manage Adam LaRoche’s finances: ...

LaRoche: I never thought of it like that! Yeah, screw those guys. Thanks, ants who collectively manage my finances! I’ll wait for a better offer.

Ants who collectively manage Adam LaRoche’s finances: (...please to be leaving a sugar cube in the ant farm...)

Nick Johnson: I got a sugar cube for you, fellas. Wait, no, that’s a piece of bone. Now where did that one come from?

Buster Posey

If one coach at Florida State didn’t have a Buster-related epiphany, Posey would be playing third base in the Yankees system right now. Instead, Posey was moved to catcher, which raised his draft stock up high enough for him to be a possibility for a team picking in the first ten picks of the amateur draft, which will eventually lead to world peace, Wyld Stallyns-style.

Tim Lincecum

All of us have spent a few years laughing at the Orioles and Royals for picking non-Lincecums in the draft, so it’s time for a different approach. In the first eight games of 2005, the Dodgers beat the Giants four times. Odalis Perez was the winning pitcher twice. If the Dodgers don’t win those four games, the Diamondbacks or Rangers would have picked before the Giants, and surely one of them would have drafted Tim Lincecum. If Armando Benitez didn’t blow a ninth-inning lead against the Dodgers in this game, maybe Tim Lincecum wouldn’t be on the Giants.

Armando Benitez: responsible for Buster Posey and Tim Lincecum. That Armando guy is a regional hero.

Matt Cain

Sure, 24 teams passed on Matt Cain in the first round of the 2002 draft, but I like to think that the real luck came when Cain’s mother put that second "T" down on the birth certificate. Experts in onomastics claim this is why the Giants have a tough, workmanlike pitcher instead of a syphilitic, complaining jackass.

Jonathan Sanchez and Brian Wilson

The Giants were fortunate that Dick Tidrow saw the projectability of Sanchez before anyone else, and they were lucky that Wilson blew his arm out at LSU. And instead of going back to the old "look at all the teams that passed in the draft!" gimmick again. Let’s just make a list of player with awesome names who were drafted in the 20+ rounds before both of these players:

Kevin Ool
Vito Chiaravalloti
Elvys Quezada
Casey Spanish
Lagatila Reynolds
Von David Stertzbach
Thaddous McBurrows
Atlee Johnson
Travis Denker

I wouldn’t have been able to resist those names, either. So don’t feel bad, other teams.

I really, really like the players on this team -- not just because they’re winning and the team is good, but because they’re such a disparate bunch of goofballs. I’m more than a little fascinated with how the Giants came to have all of these guys. They have most of them through sound evaluation and smart decision-making. Here’s to the good fortune, though, that nudged things in the right direction.

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