Cody Ross is already the greatest idea in the history of everything. He could hit .002/.001/.002 over 600 at-bats this season, make 50 errors, throw through the cut-off man every chance he gets, stab three drifters, and cuckold you -- yes, you -- and he’d still be the single greatest acquisition in San Francisco Giants history to this point. And, hey, we all knew it from the second he was picked up:
Cody Ross is basically Aaron Rowand, three years younger. Similar power numbers, similar K/BB ratios, similar defensive numbers, s…wait, don’t go!
Effusive praise, that. Actually, that’s kind of a fun post:
With the emergence of Andres Torres and Buster Posey, suddenly things aren’t as daunting. Those are two lineup spots you don’t have to worry about in the offseason. Maybe we re-sign Aubrey Huff, maybe Pat Burrell comes back on the cheap, maybe you shuffle this guy in, maybe you shuffle that guy out. It’s feasible. It doesn’t take a Charlie Kaufman script to create a world with a decent Giants lineup.
Before we knew about Ross busting out of his useful-player chrysalis and emerging as a Halladay-munching butterfly, this was why the Ross move was still a good idea. He’s usually good for a .270/.320/.460 season with good defense at a corner, or average defense in center. Basically, that’s what us rabid, delusional John Bowker partisans were hoping for, with an extra twenty points of OBP traded in for the plus defense. It’s still surprising that the Nationals, Mets, or, gulp, Dodgers weren’t interested in Ross’s final arbitration year.
But the original seal of approval that most folks gave Ross had to do with this: he was okay. Okay! Marching bands play Souza songs as neighborhood dogs happily bark and trail behind them. Confetti falls, and throngs of people cheer. Okay! An okay hitter! After 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009, that was parade-worthy. Well, until the real parade, it seemed like something special. Even before the playoffs, it seemed like Ross was 1/8th of a lineup that was good enough to win behind the Giants’ pitching staff. The Giants did a great job of collecting those players last year.
The wire-to-wire 2003 Giants were obviously a Bonds production, but there was something neat about a lineup without a complete sinkhole. The worst hitter in the regular lineup was Edgardo Alfonzo (.259/.334/.391, 90 OPS+). He wasn’t good, but he wasn’t bang-your-head-against-the-wall bad, either. Heck, he could have hit cleanup for the Giants in 2009. After years of barrel-scraping, the Giants figured out a way to assemble a similar, void-free offense. Well, without the greatest hitter ever, of course, but don't count out Buster Posey going for a .341/.529/.749 season.
The six-step process that started around the trading deadline in 2009:
1. Freddy Sanchez replaced the flotsam that had started at second base for the previous few seasons
2. Aubrey Huff signed to a small deal and remembered that he was good
3. Andres Torres morphed into more of an All-Star hitter than a fringe candidate for the 25th man on a roster
4. Buster Posey was granted a visa by the Valhalla consulate
5. Pat Burrell found at the bottom of a box of Corn Pops.
6. Cody Ross left on the doorstep in a bonnet, grinning
That’s how the Giants went from Molina, Rowand, Ishikawa, Burriss, Winn, and Lewis to an offense that was good enough to win a World Series. It took a top prospect, some luck, and a willingness to take a sledgehammer to the lineup. And Ross was the final piece. He’s more of a symbol, a tipping point, than a good hitter. But he’s still pretty okay. What a fantastic pickup by a GM who knew that the worst-case scenario was a good fifth outfielder for a manageable prorated salary, and who could be cut in the offseason. The best-case scenario? We’re rolling around in it like a beagle in stink. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.
HR against Halladay: 24
Ssory Doc?: Not really