It's weird to think back to 2010, how the Phillies and Giants went separate ways after Brian Wilson's perfect pitch to Ryan Howard. Everyone just sort of wandered off, taking their own direction in life, you know? We got John Hughes updates on all of them during the credits.
Buster Posey won the Rookie of the Year, three championships, and the 2012 MVP.
Ryan Howard was eaten by a sand worm and was never the same again.
Brian Wilson lives alone in a cabin near Lake Michigan, telling Chuck Norris jokes to squirrels.
Right, well, we saw that one coming.
What was the difference between the Phillies and Giants back then? Roy Halladay was in his mid-30s, sure. The infield core of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Jimmy Rollins weren't exactly young, not compared to the Giants' core of Cain/Lincecum/Posey, so that makes a difference.
Still, it's not like the Giants have kept the roster together since then. Other than Posey, the only starter from the 2010 postseason who is still playing is Juan Uribe. Six of the eight starters are gone. And the super-rotation of 2010 is all screwy, too. Lincecum is probably a reliever now, Cain might be back, or he might be in the middle of a Phase Two that is scary and awkward, and Jonathan Sanchez is out of the game. You can't look at the 2010 rosters as some sort of cautionary tale, at least not without context. The Giants had a bunch of guys who wouldn't be around in five years; the Phillies had a bunch of guys who wouldn't be around in five years.
Look at this game, then. Look at how the Giants won. Chris Heston started and pitched brilliantly. Andrew Susac hit a three-run dinger, the first since the Giants moved to San Francisco. Brandon Belt beat out the back end of a double play, keeping the inning alive, and Brandon Crawford knocked an RBI single to put the Giants ahead. Josh Osich calmed things down. Joe Panik and Matt Duffy were a combined 0-for-8, but look at them, sitting there, all pleasant.
The Giants drafted players and developed them. They're contending. The Phillies are trying to get there, and players like Maikel Franco and Cesar Hernandez should absolutely give them hope, but the Giants have already done it. I don't know how, either. The Fred Lewis/Lance Niekro years kind of screwed me up. The Giants are winning more games than they lose, and they're doing it almost entirely with players they've developed on their own. How did that happen?
The Giants won in 2010 because of players they drafted, too. Except those players were rewards for sucking so hard in previous seasons. The Giants got Posey because they were horrible. The Giants got Lincecum because they were horrible. They got Bumgarner because they weren't very good. They picked right, and the 2010 Giants team was what the first round of the draft would put in the glossy brochure. That's the best-case scenario, more or less.
Now we're in the future, and the Giants are doing okay with fourth and fifth and 18th-round picks. Heck, I have no idea what round Heston was drafted in. More than half of the 25-man roster is homegrown, depending on if you give them credit for Ryan Vogelsong. They've figured out a way to build a homegrown roster without relying on top-15 picks. Almost everything good about Sunday's game happened because of players who could have been drafted by any of the 30 teams.
Is it luck? I can be loquacious when I set my mind down to it, but I'm not sure how much credit I should give the Giants for players like Duffy and Heston and Crawford. My instinct is to give them a helluva lot of credit, and that's probably the right answer. Still, when you think of stories like Heston learning his sinker from Steve Kline, who was traded for Jeff Juden, before he was traded with Dustin Hermanson, before the Giants traded LaTroy Hawkins for him, and you start wondering just how fortuitous this all can be.
If the Giants don't trade Jerome Williams for Hawkins, maybe Heston never makes it out of Double-A, because that means Kline never gets sucked into the organization.
Like, totally. I mean, whoa.
The Phillies didn't get a Duffy or a Heston. Their Posey players weren't exactly young when they started winning a lot of games, but that's not the point. The Giants got supporting help from other places other than free agency, and the Phillies didn't. Is that an organizational thing? Probably, except I remember the Giants of the late-2000s when they were trying to build through free agency in the post-Bonds era, and it was a mess.
I'm not suggesting the Giants are entirely the beneficiaries of good luck, and the Phillies have just been hosed, but it's important to look at the shiny things the Giants have with a critical eye and wonder, say, how did you get here? With the first core from 2010, it was an easy answer. With the team that's hanging in right now, it's not so simple.
THE GIANTS HIT A THREE-RUN HOMER. I can't put the video on here because can you imagine what would happen if I had that power? But I can put a picture up.
ARE YOU THERE, GOD? IT'S ME, MARGARET. I MEAN, CHAD.
Every team is going to ask the Giants about Susac in the next month.
Say, you have two starting catchers, and we want one, so ... can we have one?
It might make sense to deal. The odds are that it won't, though, and Susac will maintain his role as a part-time catcher, some-time pinch-hitter through the end of the year.
I'm okay with that. He's an overqualified caddy, but that sure beats an underqualified starter. Put it like this: When the Giants put out a wacky lineup with Belt in left, Posey at first, and Susac behind the plate, it's not a wacky lineup. It's not like they're doing it to get Yuniesky Betancourt some at-bats. It's not like Joaquin Arias is in left, just because someone felt he should be there. All of those guys can ... kind of hit. Belt in left, at first, whatever. Posey in left, at catcher, in right field, whatever. Susac at short, at third, whatever. They all make sense in a major league lineup in some capacity.
The Giants might be a better team with Cole Hamels in the rotation and Susac on the Phillies, but who do they replace Susac with? It's not the most important consideration, but don't ignore what a luxury it is to have Susac in situations like this.
Way to hustle, Pagan https://t.co/a9z1OmHaE2— Bay Area Sports Guy (@BASportsGuy) July 12, 2015
I mean ... c'mon.
At the same time, Pagan had a weekend full of clutch hits and solid swings.
And yet ... c'mon.
Gregor Blanco wasn't exactly running in full-Puig, either, but if the centerfielder is the field general out there, he should be the one streaking in for a pop fly that was hit 600 feet into the air.
Pagan's not a great centerfielder, and he might not even be an average one. But he's mostly competent and not a liability when he's hitting. But when you see a play like that ... c'mon.
That cost Chris Heston a run he didn't deserve to allow, and he was a little salty about it.
Heston's reaction to the bloop that fell between Duffy and Pagan https://t.co/rkuw5g3IME— Bay Area Sports Guy (@BASportsGuy) July 12, 2015
Maybe it's a learning lesson for Pagan. Who is 34 and probably done learning new things. It didn't cost the Giants the game, and Pagan is hitting more than he has been.
But I can't stop watching that GIF and shaking my head. I mean, it's like, come on.
It doesn't matter. The Giants end the first half with a sweep. They're over .500. They're making you feel happy-time-fun-thoughts about baseball right now. Chris Heston is a sinker-chucking delight, and the Giants can hit bad pitching. The second half should be fun, unless it isn't.