On Those FanGraphs Rankings ...

There's been a lot of rigamarole about the Giants' organizational ranking on FanGraphs, which you can read here. There was beat-writer-on-blogger violence, brodcaster-on-fan violence … it was an awful scene. There's a good rebuttal to the rebuttals here, but it's still chaos. People, people, people. Settle down. I think that we can all agree that it was awesome when Edgar Renteria hit that home run that one time.

Short version: The Giants' baseball-operations team was ranked 27th out of 30 front offices in baseball. Let's see, without looking: White Sox, Pirates, Royals, Orioles … oh, come on.

I don't want to rehash the argument that much, nor do I want to do a point-by-point rebuttal. The article is a couple days old, and all of the relevant back-and-forths have already been written. But when it comes to the Giants taking guff from the analytic community, I think it's worth typing out the de facto position of McCovey Chronicles, which is ….

Point #1: I do not trust the Giants to find, evaluate, and sign or trade for major-league hitters
Not talking about Posey, Belt, or Sandoval. The baseball-operations team gets credit for them. But when it comes to looking at the pool of active major-leaguers and identifying hitters that they feel the Giants should have in a lineup, I do not trust them at all. This is a feeling that comes from the Juan Pierre and Carlos Lee rumors, and it comes from the Dave Roberts and Aaron Rowand signings. It comes from trades for Jose Guillen, Shea Hillenbrand, Ryan Garko, and Orlando Cabrera.

I didn't hate all of those moves. I even tepidly argued for the Miguel Tejada and Edgar Renteria signings. That's swell. I'm okay with not being that smart. Rank me 28th. When it comes to the San Francisco Giants, though, I do not have confidence in them to acquire productive hitters on the trade or free-agent markets. The burden of proof is on the people who claim otherwise. I don't care if they have statistical analysts in the front office or if they use tarot cards. Whatever method the Giants have been using since Bonds left isn't working.

This also goes for the non-prospects who get at-bats, the Ortmeiers, Niekros, Velezes, and Burri. The Giants get credit for acquiring and developing Posey and Sandoval, but it's not like they should get double credit for figuring out that they should be in a major-league lineup. If Pat Riley and Don Shula ran the team, they'd have Posey and Sandoval in the lineup. Filling in the hitters around them is the problem.

Point #2: The Giants would be an elite team if it weren't for how they find, evaluate, and sign or trade for major-league hitters, so their failures in that regard are incredibly magnified
Blown out of proportion, even. And I'm absolutely guilty of this. The Giants with an average offense are the Braves of the '90s, making the playoffs every year and annoying the rest of the league. The Giants are often unable to build an average offense. So that flaw seems at times like the most devastating organizational flaw in the history of professional baseball. A 27th ranking? Were three teams contracted? Harrumph! Harrumph!

But that ignores everything else about the team. I trust the Giants to find pitching -- to develop pitchers both in the rotation and in relief. I trust them to troll the waiver wire with aplomb, picking only the finest pieces of major-league refuse out of the pile. I trust the hidden folks in the front office to make smart draft choices, and not just in the first round, though the legacy of first-round picks over the last decade has been otherworldly. I trust the Giants to make gobs and gobs of money, some of which can be invested in the team.

There is a lot that is going right with the Giants. It's been going right for a few years now, building up to the 2010 team and the team we'll watch this season.

If it all falls apart, we'll raaaaage about some variation of Point #1 again. And that's understandable. It's such an easy flaw to pick on. It's so obvious, even to the people who barely pay attention to baseball. The Giants can't hit. The Giants, if they were able to hit, would be awesome. They can't, though, so they're just good. That's as frustrating as a good team can get.

I don't like the front office when they get all multi-yeary for relievers, but other than that, I'm willing to admit they've done a lot of good things. Other than the hitters. Always the hitters. The hitting, boy, the hitting.

The Giants continually futz up their lineup, which is sort of important. But their failures in that regard can't be the only way to rank their baseball operations. It's because the rest of the baseball-operations team is working so well that we notice and pay attention at all.

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