There will be time for rosterbation. Oh, you'd better believe it. Do you know how long it's been since the Giants have had an opening in the rotation? They say that rosterbation is 90 percent pitching, you know. And the Giants have two slots open in the rotation. There are 58 starters listed on the MLB Trade Rumors free agent tracker. One of them is Randy Messenger, who is kind of a badass now.
Yeah, I'll probably do a post on Randy Messenger being the new Ryan Vogelsong. Because he clearly is. Already have the nickname picked out: Flat-Brimmed Vogey.
But there's an offseason for that. Let's talk about 2013 one last time. The Red Sox won the World Series. This is good because they're not the Dodgers or Cardinals. This is bad because they're the Red Sox. But when you strip the name of the team from the accomplishment and just look at what they did, it's pretty impressive. They were awful, and 12 months later, they're World Series champeens.
Which means you're going to read 100 articles about how the Giants can use the Red Sox as a best-case scenario. Say, look at that, you're reading one now. It's an obvious comparison, but that doesn't mean it's inaccurate. At the risk of oversimplifying, here's what the Red Sox did:
Turned crappy Jon Lester into good Jon Lester
Turned hurt center fielder in to healthy center fielder
Fixed their biggest lineup hole through free agency
Pitched a lot better
Switch Lester out with Matt Cain, and you have yourself a shoehorned comparison worth posting under a YouTube video.
I prefer to focus on the last one. The Red Sox had a 3.79 ERA and 108 ERA+ this year. They had a 4.70 ERA and 91 ERA+ last year. The main acquisition to shore up the rotation was Ryan Dempster, who didn't pitch particularly well. Really, other than the revamping of the bullpen, Boston's strategy was to pitch better, dammit. Hey, Lackey, pitch better, dammit. Lester, pitch better, dammit. And Buchholz, if you're going to pitch 100 innings every year, at least make them good innings, dammit.
It wasn't an elegant strategy. But it worked.
So Cain, pitch better, dammit. I mean, you did in the second half. Keep it up. Hey, Lincecum? Pitch better, dammit. And Madison … yeah, you're cool.
A lot more has to go right than that. Eight of the nine Red Sox starters had above-average offensive seasons. They cobbled together a magic bullpen, even after losing both closers to injury. If you assume that everything right for the 2013 Giants is going to go right again in 2014, yeah, it's a simple skip and a jump to another playoff team. But it's not going to be that clean. It never is.
As a philosophy, though, "pitch better, dammit" fits. It doesn't always work. But it did for the 2013 Red Sox. And, Bonds willing, hopefully it can work for the 2014 Giants. Because I'm hoping they'll pitch better, dammit.
I'm also hoping they'll get Masahiro Tanaka.
If they can get Tanaka ...
... man, I wouldn't just feel cautiously optimistic about the rotation, I'd be giddy. So let's all follow those Tanaka
There you have it. Pitch better, Giants. Pitch better, and see where that gets you.
(Also, more dingers, please.)