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Padres sign James Shields

Giants sign Ryan Vogelsong. But it's not a competition. Except for the parts that feature direct competition.

Maybe the Giants didn't like how he looked at first base when he pitched. It kind of drives me nuts.
Maybe the Giants didn't like how he looked at first base when he pitched. It kind of drives me nuts.
Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

This year's Giants team is basically last year's Giants team, but with Pablo Sandoval and Michael Morse traded for Casey McGehee and Norichika Aoki. Is that a trade you would have argued for at any point last year? Probably not. As such, there's a strong argument the Giants got worse over the offseason.

The Padres haven't. There's a strong argument they've gotten better. Much better. Much much much much better. On Sunday night, when most baseball writers were watching Better Call Saul with their phones off, possibly in pajama pants and a rad "Fly By Night" t-shirt with an owl on it, the Padres did it again, signing James Shields to a reasonable four-year deal. The Padres are getting better, and they aren't mortgaging the future to do it.

Although the Padres did give up a draft pick. The Giants moved up to the #18 pick in the 2015 draft. Check and mate.

If this sounds bitter, it's because it is. What a boring, underwhelming offseason for the Giants. What a mesmerizing, frenetic offseason for the Padres. The good news is that there aren't ribbons or trophies handed out for offseason moves. The bad news is that offseason moves tend to affect in-season wins and losses. Crazy, I know. And considering the Giants and Padres play 143 times every year, those games just got a lot more interesting.

Actually, interesting Padres games seem like something we should be rooting for. Better to get beat by James Shields than by Danner Danielson, just up from El Paso with an 88-mph heater and impeccable control. Though, if "not getting beat by the stupid Padres at all" is an option, that's the one I'd prefer.

Once Jon Lester signed with the Cubs, no player made more sense for the Giants than Shields. The Giants weren't too interested, even at a salary a defending champion should be able to afford. I think my family spent $74 million on World Series-related crap for Christmas. If one of you kicked in an extra million, we're all the way to a Shields. But the Giants were never interested in top-o'-the-rotation help if it wasn't Lester. That seems weird, but they have their reasons. Super-scouty reasons. Smart baseball people with smart baseball opinions. It's not for us to understand.

It's for us to complain, though! And at four years, $75 million, I really wanted Shields at AT&T Park. I don't get this unimaginative, dull offseason, especially when it looks like two division rivals got much better. When the Giants win the World Series in 2018 with the guy they draft #18 in June, let's all meet back here and laugh at this post. Until then, the Giants are probably worse than they were when they needed the second wild card to make the postseason. Other teams are better. That seems to be the opposite of what they should be doing?

The Padres were counting on a bushel of injury-riddled maybes in the fifth spot of their rotation. That's what smart teams on a budget should do. Then they signed one of the three best pitchers on the market this year, waiting until his price dropped. That's what smart teams with extra money should do.

Those were the days. Remember, remember the 11th of December. Remember when the Giants were still cooking things on the hot stove. Smelled up the whole house, it did.

Also remember October, when the Giants hit James Shields twice and won the World Series. If the Padres were going to sign someone good, at least they got a guy marinated in positive Giants memories. Still, the short review of this deal, if not the offseason, is "The Padres got better. The Giants did not." That's more than a little disappointing.