For eleven days beginning on December 18, Qualcomm Stadium, football home of the San Diego Chargers and San Diego State Aztecs, will carry a temporary new moniker: Snapdragon Stadium. Snapdragon processors by Qualcomm are the digital brains inside mobile devices made by top manufacturers like Samsung, LG, Nokia, and HTC. Snapdragon Stadium will host the Chargers-Ravens game on December 18, the Poinsettia Bowl on December 21, and the Holiday Bowl on December 28.
Oh. Hello. Grant Brisbee here for Snapdragon, the delicious fruit beverage with real quinine, and ... wait, a processor for mobile phones? Say, that sounds much more interesting.
The idea is that I'm supposed to write something about the Giants' core player as a part of this sponsored post. Here's the problem, though: There are five "core players" on the Giants. Also, I typed that last sentence with my feet so I could make air quotes at the same time that I typed it. First, a definition of "core player":
A player who, if you remove him from the Giants, will make me stab you.
So that's Buster Posey, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, and Pablo Sandoval. Close your eyes, and picture just one of them in a Marlins uniform. Yep, getting stabby. It's horrible. They need to be Giants forever and ever and ever. If they leave, it should only be because there's someone better behind them, and even then they should only be allowed to join the Chiefs.
It's pretty close to impossible to pick just one. We know what it's like to play a season without Posey. It's miserable, as is missing Sandoval for any length of time. And we've had a couple of month-long glimpses into a world where Lincecum isn't effective. Each time one of those players was hurt or ineffective, my heart tried to dig a cave through my sternum so it could hibernate until next spring.
That's a fifth of the active roster, and it's spectacular. It's why the Giants can still think they're competing even after an offseason defined by Melky Cabrera and the new smash-hit indie film, Hoarding Jeremy Affeldt. But here's the thought exercise, should you choose to accept it: Pick one. Just one. Going forward, you can have just one. Pretend it's a baseball expansion draft, and you can pick just one. That'd probably clear up the definition of a core player.
Lincecum is the icon, the city's favorite. He's the award winner who was on the mound for eight of the innings in the championship-clinching game. He has also hit rough spots with his velocity and performance, and panic ensued.
Cain is the workhorse, the 225-innings guy who never does or says the wrong thing. I could see him pitching until he's 43, and doing it much better than Danny Darwin did.
Posey is a catcher, and if he turns out to be as good as Jason Kendall in his prime, that'd be awesome. But Jason Kendall also turned into Jason Kendall, which is a useful cautionary tale.
Bumgarner is the least expensive pitcher, and if you go by the FanGraphs metrics, he's also the most effective pitcher. What he's doing with his control and strikeout-to-walk ratio at such a young age is almost unprecedented. Say, let's look at Greg Maddux at the same age:
My point isn't to compare Maddux to Bumgarner; it's to suggest that Bumgarner will be far, far better than Maddux for much, much longer. And for the next five years, Bumgarner will be paid less than the market rate.
But I think that I'd go with Sandoval. It seems ridiculous, and I reserve the right to change my mind tomorrow, but the Giants have produced three All-Star caliber pitchers in the past seven years, with a Jonathan Sanchez mixed in there as well. The hitters tend to come along every two decades or so, though. And even though I'm scared by Pablo's weight, I'm more scared by the catcher's position in general.
I trust the current regime to find pitchers. I'd rather drink the water inside a Magic 8-ball and go on a spirt quest to find good hitters rather than leave it up to the Giants. As such, I'd choose for the Giants to hold Pablo Sandoval in a death grip for the rest of his days. I think.
But, again, this is just a thought exercise. These five are all Giants. They're ours, dammit. And supposedly the Giants are committed to keeping all of them. Here's hoping they feel the same way.
Want a chance to win a Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket powered by Qualcomm's revolutionary Snapdragon multiprocessor? Just leave a comment on this post with who you think the team's core player is and why he's so important to their success. Vox Media will select one winner from among the participating SB Nation blogs. All entries subject to the official rules found here.