They almost got away with it. The 2005 San Francisco Giants were the worst team in the history of baseball to challenge so late for the playoffs. Oh, there isn't "evidence" to back up that statement, your honor, but just a hunch and gut feeling. Maybe the team that finished the season wasn't so bad, with Bonds, Accardo, Winn, Cain, Lowry 2.1, et cetera. But the collective group thrown out for the whole season was no playoff team. The erstwhile ace lost his ability to locate his pitches. The only two bright spots of the offense were brittle, and, while very productive, weren't exactly the Albert Pujols-types that could carry a whole offense when healthy. Few are.
There was Kruegergate, where a radio personality idiotically took a stereotype that didn't apply to the Giants, and completely obscured a larger, correct point. The Giants were loaded with hackers. Pedro Feliz, Lance Niekro, Mike Matheny, Marquis Grissom; hackers, all. Those who didn't hack, were punchless to a fault. Edgardo Alfonzo and J.T. Snow manned the corners, limiting their contributions to a single every third or fourth time up. The pitching ran hot and cold. Mostly cold.
Through nothing more than a little divine providence and dumb luck, this collection had the chance to win a division. Every team outside the division, except the Pittsburgh Pirates, had a winning record against the NL West. The Giants have the 10th worst record in baseball, which is more impressive than it seems when the unbalanced schedule is taken into consideration. Stop reading that newspaper, roll it up, and just whack the nose of the Giants. Bad! Bad team! Bad!
Still optimistic about 2006? Yeah, I'm that kind of idiot too. Here are five reasons to be:
- Bonds for a full season. J.T. Snow can probably beat him in a foot race now, but, yeah, it'll be nice to have Bonds for a full season if it happens.
- Matt Cain. He doesn't have to be much better than Brett Tomko next year to be an initial success. He's going to have to walk fewer people, but he's fun to watch.
- Bullpen Jr., which surprised us all. Jeremy Accardo, Jack Taschner, and, if healthy, Scott Munter, are cheap and effective bullpen help. Throw in the "good, but" crowd of LaTroy Hawkins and Armando Benitez, and the bullpen will look much better than the cast of retreads that started off this season.
- Jerome Williams seems to have rebounded from his early struggles, if he can...oh. Right. Damn.
- The good young hitters in the low minors will be that much closer to the high minors. Once a player is in AA, it isn't out of the question for that player to go Jeff Francoeur and help the big club soon after. That's certainly nothing to count on or plan for, but it's been a while since the Giants farm system has been in a position like this.
- Anything can happen in the offseason. This isn't the team that'll start Opening Day 2006, so there's a chance for anything. Alfonzo gone? Why not. Thome on the Giants, with the Phillies picking up some of the tab? A fella can dream.
Comment starter: Are you optimistic about 2006? Why or why not? Remember, #2 pencils only.