I mean, it helps. Don't get me wrong. But it's not required.
If I had the footage, the talent, and the inclination, I'd love to splice together some of the video from last night's talk between Brian Sabean and the Giants beat guys, and the press conference from Jerry DiPoto.
Sabean: Well, we can't afford both Mike Fontenot and Jeff Keppinger. I mean, we aren't the Yankees.
DiPoto: Whew. Thanks for meeting me here, guys. My hands will stop shaking any second now.
Sabean: Frankly, as long as Manny Burriss drastically outperforms every expectation that should be placed on him by scouts and stat dorks, we'll be fine. And you should see Burriss's abs. Looks like a Marine was making a bed with Burriss's skin -- steel-drum tight, I'm talking.
DiPoto: So we just signed Albert Pujols. Oh, man, does that feel weird coming out of my mouth. Wow.
Sabean: We did call Carlos Beltran's agent, but then we hung up because we thought it was too soon. Larry said we needed to wait two months, or else we would seem totally overanxious and scare him away. I said next month was fine, but then Bobby was like, no, four months is standard. Then we exercised Affeldt's option.
DiPoto: /breathes into paper bag
I think it's amazing that within 24 hours of the second-largest contract in baseball history, the San Francisco Giants openly admitted that they can't afford both Fontenot and Keppinger. One or the other, people. Don't get greedy. Buy a panda hat on your way out.
This isn't to suggest that the Giants should have signed Pujols, or that they should be in on Prince Fielder -- far from it. I would never have felt comfortable with a ten-year deal to Pujols, even if he heals all freaky-fast like Wolverine. And while Fielder would have been swell -- maybe the Giants could have figured out a way to turn Brandon Belt and others into Jurickson Profar -- it wasn't realistic. Heck, there's a good chance Fielder wouldn't have even returned the Giants calls. Left-handed power hitters looking to reach career milestones should probably avoid Mays Field.
Well, except for that one guy.
But what I wanted was for the Giants to build something, to recognize that their pitching is good now, now, now, and that they needed a lot of offensive help to build something really special. Beltran was high on my list. He's a short-term guy with big-time production -- exactly what the Giants should be looking for. I wanted the Giants to realize that as good as Brandon Crawford's defense is, he's a pretty good bet to hit like Miguel Tejada next year, and that isn't hyperbole. The Zito, Huff, and Rowand contracts are all disasters, sure, but by not allowing them to futz up the search for offense, the Giants could build a whopper of a team.
The Angels made a calculated business decision. All day long, the Dodgers' writers were tweeting news from a bankruptcy court. The Angels announced they acquired one of the best hitters ever. The juxtaposition is stunning, and it was mostly intentional. The Angels are trying to become a thing, a presence. They're trying to own Southern California. They'll never have the same baseball gravitas that the Dodgers' franchise does, but they don't have a problem trying.
The Giants made a calculated business decision, too. They saw a wave pop up after the World Series victory, and they're going to ride that baby for as long as possible. Tickets will still be in short supply. Season-ticket prices will still go up. Money will still come in. What's the problem? There's no need to fritter it away for an extra couple of wins here and there.
It's the difference between the vision of one guy and the vision of a board of directors. Arte Moreno is thinking ten, twenty years down the road. The Giants are thinking next quarter. And then the next quarter will come, and they'll think about the quarter after that. This is modern American business, dumbed down and put in baseball terms. Gotta get to the next quarter with some fancy numbers, lest the board freak out.
Would Beltran have solved all of the Giants' problems? Nope, of course not. But he sure as hell would have helped, and more than that, the perception would have been of a team that's bending a budget to get the team exactly what they need. It would look like a team recognizing the problems they had last year and trying to avoid a repeat. It's a perception thing. It's the kind of thing that affects more than just on-field performance.
The Giants have a chance to build something like what the Niners had in the '80s and '90s, which was a team that appealed to kids in Portland, Tulsa, and Bismarck who didn't have a local team to root for. The Giants have a chance to win, and win a lot. They have some sweet pieces in place. And they still might win. Don't forget that. The 2012 season isn't over. Lincecumcainbumgarnersandovalposeybelt is an enviable start for a lot of teams.
But they had a chance to get better, and they flatly refused to because of money. They've taken a bit of a public-relations pantsing. But that's okay. Next quarter will still look pretty sweet. And the quarter after that will look pretty sweet as well. Things are looking up! You just have to have the right perspective.