Last offseason, in a fit of petulant, verucan rage, this site's tagline was "Won't you buy a panda hat or three to help our struggling franchise?" The idea was the Giants were mad not to go over-budget for Carlos Beltran. Mad, I tell you! There was a rainy-day fund, and the offense was paddling down the street in a makeshift canoe.
It turned out that the Giants didn't need Carlos Beltran. The organization now has two championships, whereas I have only one (I'm counting the Yomiuri Giants' title as my own because of John Bowker). They were right, I was wrong. They're the best, I'm the worst. They're very good-looking, I'm not attractive.
Even before the team splurged for Hunter Pence's salary at the deadline, though, it probably wasn't fair to bleat about the rainy-day fund too much. The Giants finished eighth in payroll in 2012, and that's if you don't count Aaron Rowand. Which you never should, just in case there's a Candyman thing that happens when you count him three times. Do you realize the Pirates' biggest free-agent signing in club history was Russell Martin? That was two weeks ago. Before that, it was Clint Barmes. And we were grumbling about a top-third payroll.
Seems weird now, especially after the events back there, some of which involved Mat Latos getting humiliated and sad. How were we mad about anything? It was all like a dream … like a dream … like a dream ….
The Giants still need a left-fielder, or at least half of one. But the rumblings are they won't get anyone who might cost money:
No more room for any costly free agents for #SFGiants in their $140M-ish payroll, up from low 130s.— John Shea (@JohnSheaHey) December 5, 2012
#SFGiants want RH OF bat and had 2-year deal set up with Ryan Ludwick before Scutaro tapped them out. Now even Hairston too pricy for them.— Andrew Baggarly (@CSNBaggs) December 5, 2012
Nick Swisher wants to be a Giant, but the Giants don't want to be a Nick Swisher. This is it. This is probably the roster. There are other players who could help them, but the Giants are sticking with what they have.
And I've seen a few -- not many, but a few -- mutterings about the rainy-day fund and the Giants' unwillingness to use their playoff windfall to spend on a guy like Swisher.
That's kind of silly now, right? Last year's outrage was a fist-in-the-air cause that looked silly almost right away, kind of like your Mondale tattoo. To do it again after a championship is … maybe it's silly rather than weird. Could be both. There's obviously a way to argue that they Giants aren't spending their money wisely. But there's not a great way to argue they aren't spending. A franchise run by true misers would have Jonny Gomes in left, Gregor Blanco in center, and Joaquin Arias at second, and you'd be lucky if they shelled out for Gomes.
In the past 25 seasons, the Giants have finished in the lower half of MLB Payroll five times -- and four of those were #16 or #17 spots. They'll be in the top ten this year, and if you go by Baseball Reference's estimates, they'll be top five. This isn't a team deciding between Will Clark and Robbie Thompson. It hasn't been for a couple of decades. On the contrary, the Giants are keeping everyone around, even if it's not coming at much of a hometown discount. Arguing that they are being cheap if they don't go after Swisher -- or even Josh Hamilton -- makes you sound like a Yankees fan.
Wait, the Yankees just got outbid for both Jeff Keppinger and Eric Chavez. No, arguing that the Giants should spend more -- that they owe it to the fans to spend more -- is what Yankees fans used to sound like. It's probably what Dodgers fans will do in five years once they're used to the largess.
Now is the winter of our content. There were holes. The Giants committed $78 million to fill them. You can argue about how they filled them. You can make a persuasive argument that a little extra payroll right now would help the team in a dramatic fashion. But I think we can retire the basic rainy-day complaints for a while.
(I'd still kind of hoping for Jason Grilli just because. Other than that, though, I wouldn't mind if the offseason had just a platoon outfielder left in it ...)
(Seriously, buy a panda hat.)