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The Giants’ entire offseason revolved around a new closer, and it’s time to second-guess that

Was the one-player offseason really the best strategy for the Giants?

San Francisco Giants v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Two outs, nobody on, Jeff Mathis and Daniel Descalso coming up. Two outs, nobody on, Jeff Mathis and Daniel Descalso coming up. Two outs, nobody on, Jeff Mathis and Daniel Descalso coming up. Two outs, nobody on, Jeff Mathis and Daniel Descalso coming up.

I’m doing fine today, how are you?

YOU: Two outs, nobody on, Jeff Mathis and Daniel Descalso coming up.

Ah, yes, well, I’m doing about the same over here. Anyway, it’s worth thinking about the Giants’ offseason right now because they addressed exactly one need. We’ll see if this description applies in July, when Jae-gyun Hwang is close to 20 homers, but for now, it’s pretty easy to describe the offseason strategy as “extraordinarily single-minded.”

If the Giants had a good closer last year, they might have won the World Series again. So they got a good closer. It made a lot of sense at the time.

As the offseason months piled up, though, and it became clear that the only other moves were going to involve 35-year-old backup infielders, it got a little easier to second-guess the Mark Melancon deal. Dropping a tenth of the budget on 80 innings a year is never a good idea, is it? Even after the collapse last year, it seemed like a questionable way for a contending team to allocate its entire offseason resources.

And now we’re a game into the season, and the Giants bullpen leads baseball in blown saves again.

The caveats are obvious. The Giants have 161 games left. Melancon still might save 54 games in 55 chances. He might perspire that sweet Zach Britton musk soon, and Sunday was just an anomaly. There’s no better way to look silly than by paying too much attention to Opening Day. Melancon is fine. He’ll be fine. The bullpen will be fine.

And yet ...

The Melancon contract was $62 million for four seasons. In front of you is a lever. It’s the unmelancon lever. You can unmelancon the team if you want and get that $62 million back and redo the offseason. Do you do it?

“Of course not,” is the appropriate kneejerk response. One blown save doesn’t mean the Giants didn’t need to invest in their bullpen. Melancon won’t run into that same Mathis/Descalso buzzsaw every day, and the Giants would still need a top-tier closer. If Melancon didn’t exist, the Giants would have to dump prospects to get someone comparable.

Here’s a list of free agents from last offseason, though: You can mix and match to your heart’s content, and I’ll even let you spend an extra $10 million. Do you want just Ian Desmond? Edwin Encarnacion pushing Brandon Belt to left field? Rich Hill in the rotation and Michael Saunders in the outfield? Josh Reddick and Brad Ziegler?

It’s all yours if you want. Just have to pull that lever.

This is a perfect time to consider this, after all. The Giants needed help at a position where money isn’t an easy fix. They also needed help in the outfield and rotation, where it can be easier to paper over some of the problems.

Mark Trumbo’s mystery glove and Michael Dunn’s unlocked (and much cheaper) ninth-inning potential? Boone Logan, Jerry Blevins, Daniel Hudson, and Koji Uehara, with the rest of the money going toward a really, really nice party?

I’m not trying to convince you. I’m just trying to get you to vote in the poll. I don’t have an answer, either.

If you assume that the Giants weren’t getting Yoenis Cespedes for several reasons, I think I’m leaving the lever alone. They’ll still need a top-tier closer, even if there are never guarantees that they still one blow saves at the worst possible time, and I can’t build a sexy enough offseason with the money saved. Brad Ziegler and Mark Trumbo comes close, even with Trumbo’s defense in left, but it’s not like Ziegler should fill you with more confidence than Casilla did last year. He’s not better than what the Giants had last year, necessarily — just different.

And probably better. But not that much better!

I’m guessing that most of you would stay put, but it’s worth noting a game into the season that one blown save can sure change your perception a whole bunch. After Game 4, I was ready for the Giants to sign Kenley Jansen and Melancon, maybe after trading Buster Posey for Wade Davis. As the offseason progressed, I was fine with just Melancon.

The real answer might have been the Giants getting creative through the trade market, at least in part. I’m not sure what was available, and I’m not sure if they had the prospect currency to get in the Wade Davis game, but you know that 15 to 20 teams would have figured something out that didn’t involve a $62 million closer. Maybe those teams are right.

After exactly one 2016 flashback, I’m wondering if putting all these offseason eggs in one ninth-inning basket was really the best strategy. Ask me again in a month. Until then, I’m at least furrowing my brow and more skeptical about the offseason than I was a month ago.


If you had the 2016-2017 offseason to do over again ...

This poll is closed

  • 68%
    I’m sticking with Melancon
    (1887 votes)
  • 31%
    I’d want the Giants to address multiple positions with that money
    (852 votes)
2739 votes total Vote Now