I'll admit to coming around to Johnny Cueto's enormous contract. It's just as expensive as Barry Zito's deal and for almost as long, but then I think about just how good Cueto has been. What if he's as good as he was when he finished second in the Cy Young voting? What if he's that good for three years? In a void without baseball, that seems almost plausible.
I'll admit to coming around to Jeff Samardzija's enormous contract. Sure, he was actively bad last year, but think about the White Sox defense! Think about that awful park! He was futzing around with a cutter all year, too. Note that the one time in his career he got to pitch in a cavernous ballpark, he made the All-Star team.
That doesn't mean I would have chosen the exact same path the Giants did, though. Under the hot lamp of a free agent negotiation, I might have cracked and given Zack Greinke that sixth year. I might have ignored Kenta Maeda's medicals and given him a much more substantial deal than the Dodgers did. I might have signed Jason Heyward and put a lot more faith in Clayton Blackburn and Chris Heston than is warranted.
Wei-Yin Chen just signed for less than Jeff Samardzija received. There are still those among us who would have preferred Mike Leake and a draft pick. There are plenty who would prefer David Price and Heston to the pair of pitchers the Giants actually signed, or a Yoenis Cespedes/Scott Kazmir combo instead of just one Cueto.
My word, there were a lot of different permutations to fix what ailed the Giants last year, and that's before we even get into the business of trades.
Your job today, then, is to give the Giants a letter grade. From A to F, assuming their offseason is over, they need to be graded. This could screw up their application to Fourin Seven University, so you have to be careful.
If you choose "A," you were on board with Denard Span as a two- or three-year solution in center field all along, and you just hoped Scott Boras saw it the same way. You were always more about getting two mid-tier pitchers rather than one Greinke, except you never dreamed Cueto would fall so far. And you believe Samardzija was framed by bad timing last year, framed you say.
This is your dream offseason. Congratulations. That has to be a good feeling.
If you choose "B," you might have done things differently. You think Rockford Files is cool, but there are some things that you would change if it were up to you. Instead of Samardzija, you would have gone after Chen. Instead of Span, you would have pursued someone who could mash dingers.
But, overall, the Giants needed help at the top of the rotation, and they got it. They needed an outfielder, and they got one. Solid, if expensive.
If you choose "C," you probably would have just picked up Norichika Aoki's option and spent the rest off the money very, very differently. Or you would have declined it and used the savings to pursue Heyward, figuring he was the only truly unique talent on the market. The Giants can find a Jake Peavy in July and tread water until then with the actual Peavy and company.
They didn't need to spend $220 million on dodgy pitchers. They didn't need to spend half that, not when they could have improved the lineup. But, whatever, it could have been worse.
Or if you're here, you were really, really into the idea of a co-ace for Bumgarner with Price and Greinke on the market. You'll take the consolation prize of two starters, but you'll always wonder what could have been.
If you choose "D," you probably think Cueto's elbow is filled with marmalade and Samardzija has always been overrated because his stuff-to-results ratio is always out of whack. You probably think Span is redundant because of Gregor Blanco, and that it won't matter a lick if Angel Pagan isn't out of the lineup, so whatever. You aren't a lot of fun at parties. People stopped inviting you to parties, actually, so you just yell at your neighbors when they make too much noise.
If you choose "F," you're probably a fan of another team trying to jimmy with the results of the poll, why I oughta. Unless you're really, really, really down about the Giants' offseason. Maybe Samardzija ran over your toes with a bike. If you're an F-voter, you probably don't remember the Giants won the World Series three times after signing Barry Zito to a laughable contract. You probably don't remember that the Giants' most expensive free-agent signing before 2010 was Mark DeRosa. You probably don't remember what it's like to live, dammit, to live.
Or maybe you just lack perspective.
At the risk of tainting the vote oh you don't value my opinion anyway okay, I'm a solid B. Not my choices. I was down on the lot of them. But it wasn't just Samardzija and done. It wasn't just Cueto and sleep, or a left fielder and a bunch of second-place finishes for pitchers. They addressed their needs authoritatively and at great expense. Quibbling about the particular players acquired is easy, but also easy to overdo.
Quibbling is what I do best, though, so maybe it was an A offseason after all.