There's nothing wrong with New Year's resolutions. As an idea for a post on a sports blog, it is perhaps far too cliche, but in the grand scheme of things, starting out the year with an intention or group of intentions -- goals, if you will -- is a perfectly cromulent use of your time and a nice way to refocus your brain after all the presents, eggs nog, and stormy weather. So, as an exercise, let's think about what the Giants' resolutions should be on the field for 2017.
We know the players are going to come into the season with their own performance goals in mind, but after watching this particular group for a while, maybe this is the year they address some of their other foibles.
You know what we mean, Boch. Stop with the pitching changes. It's May. You're not going to win the division anyway, so save it all for the last month and a half. But really, how can your deft skill at managing personalities in a clubhouse survive another year of bullpen hijinks? Congratulations, you've heeded the front office's notes about matchups. You've successfully merged old school righty vs. righty splits with new school pitch types vs. swing types and for that you've been rewarded with decent bullpen performance.
But we saw it in the final month of last season and the playoffs - if guys can't figure out how to work through a mistake, then they will be so terrified of making a mistake that they will make even more mistakes. I don't need to lecture you about bullpens, but you know they're inherently bad, right? Hopefully, a more stable back of the rotation (40% of it was a nuclear holocaust) and a more reliable closer who remembers how to play baseball will make it easier to maybe keep just one hand on the wheel from the sixth inning on, but your over-managing style last year was not a good look.
Oh, and since we know you're going to hobble Mac Williamson by platooning him with Jarrett Parker, please at least consider the possibility of undermanaging him by letting him face the occasional righty (against which he's fared better in his career anyway) late in games he's started.
Hit More Home Runs.
Somebody on the team has to, and you're the only one who will probably stay healthy enough to do it or consistent enough to do it. Yes, the Giants have relied on you as their best hitter, the absolute engine of the offense, and perhaps you have been a bit miscast in that role. You might not even be on your Hall of Fame track any longer, but you have the ability to yank a ball over that left field wall and a right-handed power hitter is good in AT&T Park. It's not that I think you've been trying not to hit home runs over the years, it's that I think you're so good of a hitter that you've been taking what the pitchers give you and been a complete baseball player. And you are a credit to your profession by approaching the game this way; but now I'm suggesting you just turn and burn on those fastballs. Let's see the .250 version of Buster Posey with 30 home runs.
Carry the team.
Last year's team seemed tired and overextended almost from the very first game of the season. It's likely a product of age - these guys have all played together for a long time and over a very large number of games and innings - and while you're not exactly the youngest of the bunch, you are perhaps the most dynamic and healthy player in the starting lineup. You're supposed to have speed - use it. Your smile is wide and impressive - force it. The Giants don't have time for organic joy. They will probably enter 2017 in the same foggy aging curve-induced malaise as they did in 2016 and it's going to take a concerted effort to spread some joy from teammate to teammate. You have the chance to be the Allspark.
Never accept blame.
If something catastrophic happens and you become a huge bust, don't accept the likely culprits of age or injury as the reason: understand that it's because the closer's role on the Giants is cursed.
Once you can accept that you have no control over anything you do or anything that happens - not pitch sequencing, pitch execution, the defense behind you, the stars in the sky, Hunter Strickland, etc. - then you can begin to understand what it means to be the closer for the Giants. You've had 15 blown saves over the past 4 seasons and you will probably have 5-8 this season. Can you... can you just do us a favor and not clump them all together? 2 a month? You can do that by never accepting the blame - but not in the Armando Benitez way. Just... you know, chuckle and say the position's cursed and you're working on some mystical countermeasures. Yeah... yeah that'll play nicely within sports media.
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These seem to be the key resolutions. We know Hunter Pence will miss 40-60 games, Brandon Belt is a doubles hitter who will disappear for a month, and the bullpen - look, I'm trying to bury the bullpen as much as I can, because who wants to think of it?
What do you think the Giants should resolve to do in 2017?