I remember going to Disneyland in 1997 and desperately trying to find the score of a Sunday game against the Pirates. This was at the absolute peak of my Giants' obsession, and I was frantic when I couldn't find the score. I asked strangers with Dodger hats. I called friends. I called my friends' parents. Nope. Couldn't find the score until I got back to the hotel room, where I found the Pirates had swept the Giants. Obviously, the 1997 season was over at that point. At the time, I thought it might have been worse to not know the score than to know that they had lost.
Flash-forward ten years, and now I can check the score from the bowels of a Big Sur campground. I flip open my space-phone, punch some space-buttons, and the information is digitally space-encoded before my eyes. The future! Ta-daaaa!
The age-old debate has been answered. It's better to think your team sucks than to open your phone and remove all doubt. There's nothing like flipping open a phone, seeing the Giants are down 6-3, and thinking, "Six to three? They can't come back from that deficit. What are they, the '27 Yankees?"
This team is horrible. And it's the way that they're horrible that gets me. Everyone here knows that older players are more likely to decline than younger players. All jokes aside, even Brian Sabean knows it. It's part of the risk of building a team around veterans. But fer criminy's sake, did everyone have to fall off the cliff at the same time?
Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA is the choice because it's right here in book form, but you could use any projection system you'd like. The results will probably be the same. There's one player exceeding expectations, and that's Bonds, who is a nightmare to predict using comparable players throughout baseball history because there has never been anyone close to being comparable to a 42-year-old Bonds. There are three players meeting PECOTA expectations, though two err on the side of disappointing, and the rest are a mix of slightly disappointing to kerflooey. There's a whole lot of kerflooey.
Is it just me, or is that hard to do? It can't just be that everyone over 35 is automatically poison. Scott Hatteberg, Mark Loretta, So Taguchi, Brian Giles, Luis Gonzalez, Jeff Kent, Kevin Millar, Matt Stairs, Jorge Posada, Jason Varitek, Mark Grudzielanek, Jim Thome, Gary Sheffield, Kenny Lofton, and Raul Ibanez, didn't go kerflooey. Sure, that's just an exercise in cherry-picking, as there are players over 35 - say, Garrett Anderson and Carlos Delgado - who did fall in the toilet. But the point is that being 35 or over shouldn't be an automatic death knell.
An answer of "they were teh old and guaranteed to breakdown!" just doesn't satisfy me anymore. The 2007 Giants weren't supposed to have a good lineup, and we all had an idea of such heading into the season. The Durham-as-cleanup-hitter gag never sounded good. There was little-to-no power from the positions that should have power. But the offense shouldn't be this bad. There should have been an unexpectedly good season or two to partially negate the horrible seasons, right? How can every non-Bonds player be right at expectations or worse?