The Plan For Center

Baseball Prospectus has their list of the top 11 prospects in the Giants' system up, which is basically a euphemism for Gary Brown pornography. Also, my Google search traffic just got way more interesting. But when a team has one top prospect -- and Kevin Goldstein didn't put anyone in the four-star tier directly below Brown -- it's pretty easy to go overboard on said prospect. Brown is the prospect right now.

It's easier if you pretend that the Giants traded Zack Wheeler in a 2010 three-way deal for Cody Ross and Pat Burrell, trust me.

If you're allergic to bullet points, you should know that this post was made using machines that also process products that contain bullet points. Also, there are a crapload of bullet points to follow.The Giants' plan for center field is obvious and simple:

  • Play Angel Pagan in 2012
  • Call Gary Brown up in September for a look-see
  • Start Gary Brown in 2013

Nice, linear, easy to comprehend. The problem is that it's never that easy. It's never that clean. Okay, it was like that twice, with Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum. Those two pretty much developed as if according to a Tidrow-penned screenplay, with Lincecum's August, 2010 being a second-act plot point straight out of a Syd Field book. But it's far more common for things like this:

  • Draft Buster Posey
  • Make sure he gets at least 300 games behind the plate as a catcher in the minors
  • Realize that he can outhit just about everyone on the current major-league roster even if he went up to the plate with nothing but a roll of paper towels affixed to his arm with half-chewed Juicy Fruit, and adjust your plans
  • Call him up to not play in September
  • Let everyone assume that he'll be the starter going into 2010
  • Surprise the world by re-signing Bengie Molina
  • Play Posey at first to make sure that Molina stays in the lineup
  • Trade Molina when it becomes obvious that's the only way Posey will ever catch
  • Win a World Series!

Nice, neat, and linear. There are others.

  • Sign Aaron Rowand to a five-year deal
  • Oh, no. Oh, god, no
  • What have we done?
  • Oh, no. No, no, no, no, no.
  • This can't be happening.
  • Win a World Series!

You can do this for everyone. There are always plans. They're always screwed up. It doesn't have to be a bad thing.

  • Sign Jose Castillo because he's legitimately the closest thing this organization to a third baseman who might pan out eventually
  • Call up the random prospect who had a hot streak in A-ball
  • Sell panda hat after panda hat after panda hat

So now I'm wondering just how this CF plan will get screwed up. Again, it doesn't have to be bad. "Gary Brown goes ape on the minor leagues, forcing the Giants to call him up, and he hits .368/.410/.539 with 42 steals in the last two months of the season to lead the Giants to the playoffs" is a way this could get all screwed up. And, lo, that would be beautiful.

Another, more terrifying, way would be for Melky Cabrera to start his season with two hot months, get an extension, and take over center field after the Giants sign Ryan Ludwick in the offseason.

The most common way for something like this to get screwed up: Brown never develops at all. He becomes a cautionary tale, like Alex Escobar.

But the point isn't to get cynical and weird. It's to honestly wonder just what's going to go wrong between the plan and the results. This isn't so much about the Giants as it is about baseball -- okay, the nonsense about Posey and Molina was totally about the Giants. But baseball is what happens while the rest of us are making plans.

Right now, I can't wait for Brown to come up this year for a cup o' joe, and I'm looking forward to him starting next season. Let's all pull up a chair and see how that gets screwed up.

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