The problem: One of the worst teams in baseball.
The solution: Like, get a less worse team. De-worst it, if you will.
The template: The 2006 Detroit Tigers
The 2003 Tigers were in much, much worse shape than the 2007 Giants. Think about that one for a while. The 2003 Tigers lost 119 games. Their offense was as about as bad as the Giants' non-Bonds offense, but a pitching staff full of 12 Russ Ortizes wouldn't have made the team worse. And I'm talking Russ Ortiz right now -- post-Tommy John surgery.
There were a lot of articles on the turnaround of the 2006 Tigers, with the best one from Baseball Prospectus here and here. Long story short:
- The Tigers picked up a bunch of free talent. (Marcus Thames, Chris Shelton, Craig Monroe)
- They developed a good outfielder (Curtis Granderson) and an average third baseman (Brandon Inge).
- They scored an undervalued position player for cheap. (Placido Polanco)
- They had a pitching staff built with two homegrown flamethrowers, a homegrown league-average lefty, a free-agent lefty, and assorted fifth-starters.
- They spent big money on two free agents when it seemed like there was no reason for a non-contending team to do so. (Magglio Ordonez and Pudge Rodriguez)
...exactly what we're hoping the Giants won't do.
And, yes, I'm well aware of the fact that, if we're talking SAT analogies, "Dave Dombrowski" is to "Brian Sabean" as "watching Casablanca with a loved one" is to "your pants full of bees." I'm just riffing here. But is there something to the idea of signing good players without worrying too much about the current state of the team?
Of course, "good players" is the key point. I'd include Andruw Jones, current wretched season notwithstanding, and Alex Rodriguez from this free-agent class, but there are some interesting folks for 2008.