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The #1 Fear of the Offseason

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I'll forget about this post when the Giants sign Yuniesky Betancourt to a two-year, $12 million contract. When that happens, I'll act like the fabric of time has split open and the universe is dissolving. There will be no bigger crime against humanity. Just like the world ended after Neifi Perez, so it will after Yuniesky Betancourt.

But he's not really my #1 fear of the offseason. He's the easy answer, the perfect combination of position, non-talent, and Sabean's unusual evaluation of position players. But the difference between Yuni and the fallback option, Brandon Crawford, is about a win? Probably less. Yuni might even be better. I'm pretty sure he's the better hitter, so it's just a matter of how much value Crawford's defense makes up.

As a #1 fear of the offseason, Yuni does fine, but there's a bigger danger lurking. The Giants aren't spending money, ostensibly because they want to lock up their pitching. As far as a stated reason goes, that's a pretty good one. They aren't saving it for a Corvette or a retractable roof over Mays Field -- they're saving it for the players in whom we're incredibly attached and emotionally invested. That's a swell reason to cap the payroll at $130 million for a season, as far as reasons go.

The #1 fear, though, has to do with the Giants' definition of "young pitching" when it comes to locking up their young pitching. I'm terrified of an extension to Brian Wilson at something just a little less than Papelbon money. Terrified.

i like Brian Wilson. Even if he goes to the Dodgers and saves 300 games for them over the next ten seasons, there will always be a chunk of my heart that's calcified with love for Wilson. He saved each of the clinching games in 2010. He's earned some eternal gratitude. Note: I would prefer that he did not go to the Dodgers and save 300 games for them.

And I'm as tired of his omnipresence as any Giants fan can be. As someone who watched all 38 playoff games this year, I heard "THESE MONSTERS ARE STACKED" more than the director of that commercial did. And that director will pay. Soon.


Still, I would rather have a guy like Wilson around than another 110%er who lists hunting and fishing as his favorite offseason activities in the media guide. Wilson's interesting, even if he knows it. He makes the team less dull. He's a goofball, and he's the Giants' goofball. And personality aside, he was exceptionally effective in the 2010 season. He's had his ups and downs as a closer, but considering that he followed Armando Benitez, he was already halfway to capturing the hearts of the fans.

On a team with payroll constrictions, though, he can't possibly be a part of the future. If the Giants want to be quasi-frugal, if they want to hit a certain number when it comes to year-to-year profits, they've forfeited their right to a luxury closer. Committing to Wilson for almost $10 million a season for several seasons would be a miserable allocation of money. Even if you assume that Wilson will be effective despite his declining velocity and horrific walk rate last year -- a huge assumption -- the Giants still can't afford a luxury closer. Luxury closers are for teams that can afford luxuries. The Giants can't afford a real shortstop.

Part of me thinks that the Giants are of a similar mind, and that they'll be looking really closely at how Heath Hembree's season goes. Committing a baleful of cash to a closer, even one who is as marketable as Wilson, is never a great idea, and the Giants have been burned by Benitez and Robb Nen in the recent past.

Another part of me thinks about Jeremy Affeldt, $5 million reliever. There's a decent chance that the Giants will have a $30 million bullpen this season. The front office obviously thinks that it's important to spend chunks and chunks of money to keep the bullpen together. And they're talking about keeping the young pitching together. Say, Wilson's almost young pitching. It's a recipe for waking up and reading that Wilson is signed through 2016 for a lot of clams.

Don't want to read that. Scared that I'm going to read that, even more than Yuni news. Love Wilson, but he doesn't have a place on a team that can't bid for free-agent hitters because of fiduciary concerns. They might not have won the World Series without him, but I'd be willing to gamble that they could win their next one without him, especially for the money he's going to get eventually.