This site was a Giant sweep of the Dodgers away from having this post replaced with a PayPal plea for money. Money to keep my apartment for a couple of months, and money to keep my ocean view hotel for the same time. Money to pay for food and drink. Money to keep me in Hawaii.
You superstitious fools would have done it, too. I would have posted pictures of what your were sponsoring; a veritable Christian Children's Fund for lazy wretches, with pictures and progress reports of the Mai Tai you had sponsored with your $50. These updates would have taken you from the initial mixing to its final incarnation as projectile vomit hastily covered with sand. There would have been 8x10s, as well as wallet-sized photos, included as part of your sponsorship. And the Giants would have kept on winning. For just a dollar a day....
Alas, the Giants couldn't maintain the winning streak. The problem before I left wasn't that I was following the games, it was that they were a deeply flawed team. That problem allowed me to come back without begging for donations. Yesterday's game was almost the perfect representation of the flawed team; starting pitching that was good not great, a bullpen peerless in the art of giving up runs at exactly the wrong time (even though it didn't yesterday), and a lineup adept at getting one run after loading the bases with no one out. Heck, one run in that situation has become something of a small victory.
With each passing day, it's getting harder and harder to write that "crazier things have happened". The Giants are five games away from the wild card leaders, and seven back from the Dodgers. Crazier things have happened, with 1998 being a prime example just in franchise history. The list of crazier things is shrinking with each losing effort, though.
So if it's optimism I want -- and there's no sense coming back from a perfect honeymoon looking for nits to pick -- there's plenty to be found with the signing of Angel Villalona. Every Giants forum was buzzing about the news. Dick Tidrow was a guest on the television broadcast yesterday, sharing his excitement with the partisan audience. For a team that flushed a first round pick down the commode to defray the cost of Michael Tucker's contract, it sure seems to be a sign of an extreme organizational shift. Oh, how welcome that shift would be.
Yes, every article about the signing also mentions Osvaldo Fernandez as the last big international splash for the organization. That's a bit of a buzzkill, but obviously apples and ineffective, injury-prone oranges. Villalona is barely a zygote. Osvaldo already had 150,000 miles on him when the Giants drove him off the lot. The only reason to worry about something like that right now is if you believe the Giants are cursed.
Yes, the last international player to receive a bigger bonus was the Dodgers' Joel Guzman, who was just traded for a rental player. That's a bit of a buzzkill, but obviously apples and Stantons. Even though the Giants philosophy in recent years has been to trade prospects for veterans, they've almost always been able to hold on to top prospects as long as they remained top prospects. Some might see that as a negative, because the team ended up selling low on players like Jesse Foppert and Jerome Williams. However, the only prospects traded the same season as appearing in Baseball America's top-100 list were Kurt Ainsworth and Jason Grilli. The only reason to worry about something like that right now is if you believe the Giants are cursed.
Yes, it's way too early to start writing Villalona's name into future lineups. The kid's 16 years old. Sixteen! For every Miguel Cabrera, there are four Jackson Melians. Equating the size of a signing bonus with some sort of investment return certitude is silly. Prospects fail, prospects stall, and prospects disappoint. The main point, however, stands. You can't nab a Miguel Cabrera if you don't try, and the Giants hadn't been trying. The only reason to worry about something like that right now is if you believe the Giants are cursed.
The team is stinking this season. And that's hard to swallow. Building up the farm and the future, though, is something that's been long overdue. The Giants didn't go cheap with their high draft pick this year, which was a nice surprise. Now they've made a huge leap of faith in the international market. The only reason to worry about anything related to this signing at all is if you believe the Giants are cursed. Which I kind of do. But I drink to forget that sort of stuff, so that leaves me unequivocally excited about the news about Villalona. We'll find a position player to outperform Bill Mueller yet.
More of a note than a comment starter: Josh did a fantastic job, and I want to thank him profusely for keeping the site active in my absence. I'm also kinda sorta glad to read that he grew a little tired of the workload after a week, as I'm kind of a validation junkie. Also, this morning I received my first hit off a Google search for "the little man in the boat", so there can be no doubt that the man knows how to build traffic. Creepy, creepy traffic. Thanks for everything, Josh.