There is a bit of "arrogance" (probably too strong a word) born from last year that the Giants are so much smarter than the rest and that will carry them. The FO earned that from last year. But the notion that you can consistently compete with a team that is very smart AND has an unlimited payroll is folly.
Look at the 2022 payrolls. Giants, the 5th richest organization in Baseball at over 4 billion, are 13th at around 140,000,000. The Dodgers are at 277,000,000.
Every argument/excuse I read for the Giants failure in the ‘22 market ( on the hitting side) falls short. In no way would signing ANY of the big name FA bats have hurt the Giants by financially tying their hands in ‘25. Long term contracts come with the probability that you max out production on front end and will lose some on back end. So, what. Did the Dodgers make a mistake giving Betts that deal? Or Freeman? The Giants best offensive players last year - Posey, Crawford, Belt and before the collision Longoria all were on the back end (indeed their last year, save Longo) of long term contracts. And if the Giants are terrific now at squeezing more out of older players, why won’t that also be true in 5 years. The park is no longer a hitters graveyard. But if you have to pay a little premium to hitters, so be it.
I’m also bothered by what I see is an unwillingness of those covering the Giants to question ownerships financial commitment.
Then my favorite is that Giants are playing moneyball (or words to that effect ). Teams like the A’s and Tampa do that because they have to. They are low value low revenue teams. You don’t think Billy Beane would like $200,000,000 to play with?
The Giants are not going to win because they are smarter than everyone. Players matter. I think Zaidi has done a tremendous job adding pieces and depth at the major and minor league level. He has yet to show, however, that he can close a big FA deal. I believe that’s due to a lack of financial flexibility.
Semien, Seager, Story, Marte, Suzuki all would have looked pretty damn good in a Giants uniform. Big range in years and overall cost in that group. All, however, sought more than 3 years. And as of yet, Zaidi has not signed any FA for more than three. Thus, while we read that Giants were "in the mix" on at least a couple of these, it was obvious they weren’t going to sign them.
So, we are left with a roster that will need a whole lot to go right with it’s everyday players to be even average offensively.
Pitching wise, they look good. Zaidi did an excellent job of rebuilding the SP. Course, he could do that all on short term contracts. (I do think it’s different with pitchers. The risk of injury is so much greater that there is much more sense in avoiding, for the most part, the long term big money deals).
I’m looking at 2011. Parallels are there. Buster suddenly gone. Leaving a major hole in the lineup. An excellent pitching staff. And abysmal hitting. They won 86 that year. Maybe enough to squeeze in now with the extra playoff team. But their hitting was awful. (Only Seattle scored less runs in all of baseball)And it led to the Wheeler-Beltran trade. Completely justifiable move at the time. Giants were in the thick of it and Beltran was a proven run producer. But he got hurt, they failed to make playoffs, couldn’t resign him and ended up with a couple months of Beltran for Wheeler. Who developed into one of the better starting pitchers in the baseball.
I’m still optimistic this team can win say 88 games or so. Because I think the pitching is that good. And if they are in the thick of it, there is always the deadline deal. Unfortunately that often involves a rental for prospects. If I felt they had a chance to resign the rental that makes those deals more palatable. But I don’t believe that they do.
Excited for the season. Just wish they’d shown more willingness to make the financial commitment that the players and FO deserve.