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The ‘help, everything is awful the Dodgers have ruined everything we love but hey I guess it’s the holidays maybe that will make us feel better probably not though’ mailbag

Or something along those lines.

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Farhan Zaidi speaking at a podium. Photo by Andy Kuno/San Francisco Giants/Getty Images

The headline seems pretty self explanatory. Let’s dive into it, San Francisco Giants fans.

Like so many of the responses to this mailbag call, this isn’t a question. But I want to start with it because of “Disco and Striptease.” There’s a chance this was written purposely, in which case, kindly [redacted] off. But I like to think that David’s iPhone read “Disco and Stripling” and thought, “Huh? What is a Stripling? Dude’s talking about discos, he must have meant stripteases.”

Thanks, Autocorrect.

It’s not the answer anyone wants to hear, but this can easily still be a good offseason. Will it be as good of an offseason as the Dodgers had? Of course not. But it can still be good.

Jung Hoo Lee was a great start, and the Giants need to add at least two more impact players, either in free agency or through trades. Preferably three. I’d consent to four, if you’re begging.

As for what players? I think now that the team’s three biggest targets (Shohei Ohtani, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, and Lee) are off the board (and hey, they got one of them!), it will come down more to price than anything. It’s clear the Giants would meet whatever fiscal demands those three players came with. I don’t think anyone else comes with that badge.

They’re for sure in on Blake Snell, Shōta Imanaga, and Matt Chapman. I’m guessing they’re interested in Cody Bellinger and Jordan Montgomery. Role players like Rhys Hoskins, Tim Anderson, and Sean Manaea are probably in the mix, too. They’ll check in on rentals like Corbin Burnes and Pete Alonso, established players like Randy Arozarena and Tommy Edman, and bloated contracts like Christian Yelich and Mike Trout. And I think they’ll piece together the puzzle based on the costs.

In Fangraphs’ free agent tracker, only six of the top 16 free agents in projected 2024 WAR have signed. The Giants signed No. 3, while Nos. 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16 are unsigned still (one of those, however, is Julio Urías, so we can remove him).

A good offseason is well within reach and sight. It’s just going to be permanently plastered with the “still not as good as the team you hate” label.

They’ve already been doing it for a while now, haven’t they?

Until the Giants return to their days of constant sellouts, the Dodgers will fill up Oracle Park when LA is in town.

If I had a nickel for every time someone has asked me about trading for Luis Robert Jr. this offseason, I could have become the third west coast team to be in the Yamamoto sweepstakes.

So let’s just make something unequivocally clear: the Giants are not trading for Luis Robert Jr. Not this year, at least.

Would the Giants love to have Robert? Abso-freaking-lutely. Would every other team in the Majors? Yes. Robert is one of the best players on the planet, and under contract for four years at laughably low rates. Imagine what you would need the Giants to get from a team to be comfortable trading Logan Webb. Then imagine the Giants equivalent of that; that’s what it would take to land Robert.

So it ain’t happening.

Arozarena, on the other hand, could absolutely happen. He’s not as good of a player as Robert, and is under team control for one fewer year. Plus, it’s a lot easier to see Tampa Bay being willing to trade Arozarena than the White Sox being willing to part with Robert. I expect the Giants to check in there, and also check in with the young position players in St. Louis and Cincinnati, as both of those teams could use pitching ... which is what the Giants have to offer.

And don’t rule out a trade for a bigger name on a bloated contract.

It sure sounds like the race for Snell is coming down to the Giants and Angels. On the one hand, you have a pitcher’s park and the manager he just played for. On the other hand, you have a dysfunctional organization that is great at making poor financial decisions.

Either way, I’d be surprised if the Giants don’t land one of Snell or Imanaga.

Well, at the risk of being pedantic, Farhan Zaidi is the front office. If you meant ownership then no, I don’t think any of that is true, honestly. I don’t think they love Zaidi, per se, and I don’t think he’s providing them cover seeing as how many criticisms are being levied in their direction.

I do think the plan was that Zaidi could give them a competitive team without spending exorbitantly. Zaidi hasn’t executed that plan as well as they hoped, but then again, it was a stupid plan.

Absolutely the heck not.

For all the hand-wringing about the Giants, let’s remember three things. First, they won 107 games in very recent memory. Second, they were 13 games over .500 at one point last year, and in the summer were not only firmly in playoff position, but competing with the Dodgers for the division.

That doesn’t negate the catastrophic fall to earth, but let’s not pretend this team is very far away from being a 90-win squad. Maybe the youngsters take a jump. Maybe they sign Snell and Imanaga and Bellinger. Maybe Bob Melvin doesn’t let them do what Gabe Kapler did in August and September. But there’s a playoff team in the vicinity, even if there’s not a 120-win team, which is what they might need to beat LA during the regular season.

Which brings us to the third point.

The Diamondbacks swept the Dodgers in the playoffs last year.

I, too, want the Giants to be better than the Dodgers from March until October. But knowing they can’t field as good of a team on paper shouldn’t cause them to fold. They can still build a playoff team. They can still advance in those playoffs, while the Dodgers fall. The D-Backs just won 84 games, eliminated the Dodgers, and won the pennant. That might not be the dream of all dreams for the Giants, but it’s a pretty solid move to try and steal.

I can’t tell you that they won’t, but I can tell you that I very much don’t think they will. Aaron Nola got $172 million, and it doesn’t seem like the New York teams are pivoting to try and sign Snell. I don’t think he’ll get $200 million, though he very well might end up on the Giants.

Don’t think like Noel, kids.

A few things here.

First, I strongly disagree with the sentiment that the FAs are mostly out the window. The two biggest names are, sure. But as I mentioned previously, 10 of the top 16 free agents (in terms of Fangraphs projected WAR for 2024) are still available. 15 of the top 25 are. And while there’s a large drop-off in name value between the As and the Bs, there isn’t such a large drop-off in production. Fangraphs projects Yamamoto to be worth 3.4 WAR next year. Lee? Also 3.4 WAR. Snell? 3.3 WAR. Yamamoto and Ohtani are long-term plays and star-power plays, no doubt. But the Giants could actually come away from the offseason adding more projected WAR than LA!

Second, while Zaidi’s clock is, at some level ticking, it’s important to remember just how slow of a burn it is to develop players. Right now the Giants lack of homegrown excellence is more an indictment of the past regime than the current one. Like all Giants fans, I’m forever indebted to the old front office, but here are the first-round picks the Giants had in the eight drafts pre-Zaidi: Joey Bart, Heliot Ramos, Chris Shaw, Phil Bickford, Tyler Beede, Christian Arroyo, Chris Stratton, and Kyle Crick. The Dodgers, in that same time period, used first-round picks on Corey Seager, Will Smith, Walker Buehler, and Gavin Lux.

You’re right about the Dodgers. It’s just not quite the indictment of the current FO that it gets painted to be. In fact, let’s look at the Dodgers 10-best players in 2023, by WAR:

  1. Mookie Betts. The Dodgers traded for Betts, sending out Alex Verdugo (2014 draft), Connor Wong (2017 draft), and Jeter Downs (2017 draft, acquired in a different trade).
  2. Freddie Freeman. The Dodgers signed Freeman as a free agent.
  3. Will Smith. The Dodgers drafted Smith in 2016.
  4. James Outman. The Dodgers drafted Outman in 2018.
  5. Max Muncy. The Dodgers signed Muncy as a Minor League free agent in 2017.
  6. Bobby Miller. The Dodgers drafted Miller in 2020.
  7. Clayton Kershaw. The Dodgers drafted Kershaw in 2006.
  8. Jason Heyward. The Dodgers signed Heyward as a free agent.
  9. J.D. Martinez. The Dodgers signed Martinez as a free agent.
  10. Chris Taylor. The Dodgers traded for Taylor, sending out Zach Lee (2010 draft).

So of the Dodgers top 10 players in 2023, only one was a player drafted and developed (or acquired in a trade by a player drafted and developed) since Zaidi took over in San Francisco. And that player, Miller, was in the same draft as Patrick Bailey ... who put up an identical WAR figure.

This is not meant to be a blind defense of Zaidi. Mistakes have been made, including in the draft and develop department. But when it comes to developing a farm that produces year in and year out, he simply needs more time to see the fruits of his labor, especially since ownership didn’t let him do a full tear down and rebuild.

I’m not sure I agree with that assessment. Based on the reports of the Ohtani negotiations, it seems like teams were eventually told to not make offers, and were given the deal Ohtani wanted. The price Ohtani got had nothing to do with the Giants.

I think the same is true with Yamamoto. And even if the Giants are being used that way, perhaps they’re cutting it off. Here’s what Andrew Baggarly wrote:

Sources briefed on the situation confirmed what NBC Sports Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic first reported: the Giants saw where the Yamamoto bidding was headed and didn’t see the point of continuing to match or escalate. It was clear to them that Yamamoto had other priorities.

I think you could make an easy case that Aaron Judge used them to push up the price, and that will happen from time to time. No way around it. How do you keep it from happening? You build a team that makes those players want to sign with you.

There’s no denying that it’s easier to recruit pitchers than hitters to Oracle Park. And I think the team should load up on pitchers right now simply because it’s already the organizational strength, and I believe in doubling down on a strength so you can trade from it if needed.

That said, Carlos Correa agreed to play for the Giants. Bryce Harper almost did. Money usually talks the most, and the quality of a team usually talks second most.

I’ll try to do that, but let me start with an admission: Snell was very low on my list of Giants free agency targets entering the offseason. As far as pitchers go, I would have preferred Nola, Yamamoto, or Sonny Gray, and I’d still prefer Imanaga.

That said, there’s a massive difference between Snell and Barry Zito (that’s franchise legend Barry Zito, I might add). When the Giants signed Zito, he was four years removed from winning the Cy Young Award (which, I should note, is the only time in his career he received any Cy Young votes). Snell, of course, is the reigning Cy Young winner, with two such trophies in his cabinet.

Zito was coming off a season that made his decline highly evident: he had a 3.83 ERA, a 4.89 FIP, and struck out just 151 batters in 221 innings. Snell had a scintillating 2.25 ERA a year ago, which led the Majors, plus a 3.44 FIP and 234 strikeouts in just 180 innings.

In the three years prior to his free agency, Zito had a 4.05 ERA, 4.57 FIP, and was worth 8.3 fWAR. Among 97 pitchers to throw at least 400 innings during those three years, Zito’s ERA was 33rd, his FIP was 65th, and his WAR was 44th.

For Snell, the number of pitchers with at least 400 innings during his three years approaching free agency is just 57, a sign of how much harder it is to find honest-to-goodness starting pitchers. Of those 57, his ERA (3.15) is 14th, his FIP (3.36) is 13th, and his WAR (9.8) is 17th.

I don’t think it’s hindsight analysis to say that when the Giants signed Zito, he was a barely above average pitcher whose strengths were eating innings and having name value. Snell, for all his issues — he walks people like it’s going out of style, takes himself out of games with his high pitch counts, and is maddeningly inconsistent — is simply a different brand of pitcher.

Is he the right man for the job, on his own? No. But he’s a damn good pitcher who can be part of a really good offseason.

Well you’re a Giants fan, so yes, you are a masochist.

But I don’t think you’re delaying the inevitable. I don’t think the Giants will ever do a teardown — not with this ownership group, at least. The team was ripe for one when Zaidi took over prior to the 2019 season, and it’s clear that he was given the direction to try and rebuild the engine while keeping up with traffic in the middle lane. I can’t imagine the directive will change unless ownership does, and, for all my complaints about this ownership group, this is not one of them.

I agree with your plan. The Giants need to be aggressive. If this offseason has taught them anything, it should be this: if they want better free agents, they need a better baseball team. That — more than changing the dimensions of the park or the perceptions of the city — will lure in free agents. They can’t wait for a Roki Sasaki or a Juan Soto to save them, because they won’t get a Roki Sasaki or a Juan Soto without first becoming a more desirable team to play for.

Their goal this offseason should be to build an 88-win team, so they can emulate the Diamondbacks 2023 success, and then enter next offseason without having to present a 109-point presentation to free agents explaining why they could one day be good.

Next year’s free agent class has some big names, likely including Soto, Burnes, Alonso, Ha-seong Kim, and Alex Bregman (and potentially Sasaki, though that’s unclear). Build a good team, then go after those guys.

I do think the Giants need to land some sparkling free agents here at some point, but I also think that Zaidi gets mischaracterized as promising things that he really hasn’t ever promised.

I don’t think we need to overthink this one. On Thursday at 4:10 p.m. PT, Alex Pavlovic reported that the Giants were out of the running for Yamamoto. On Thursday at 8:10 p.m. PT, Jon Heyman reported that the Dodgers were signing Yamamoto. Had there been a few days or weeks between those reports, your question would be very fair. But there were only a few hours, which simply suggests to me that on Thursday afternoon Yamamoto informed teams that he wasn’t signing with them, and spent a few hours banging out details with the Dodgers, while the Giants were the only team to let it leak to the media that they were out.

Depends on how you define success. I’d take Zito’s Giants career for Snell if it included the postseason heroics and theatrics and the championships. But if we’re just talking individual performance, I think Snell would be a bit better than Johnny Cueto, and comfortably better than Zito and Jeff Samardzija.

Well that’s a fairly pessimistic assumption! And not one I would make!

But if we are making that assumption, I’ll start by saying that I would rather have Imanaga than any of the four names you mentioned. If the Giants offseason is Lee, Imanaga, Tom Murphy, an additional bat (Hoskins or Anderson?), and either a back-end starter (Manaea or Frankie Montas?) or mid-rotation starter (Marcus Stroman or Lucas Giolito?) then that would be a massively improved team that still leaves you making a distinctly blank face when thinking about the offseason that was (or was not).

I actually don’t think attendance will drop this year. Or if it does, it will be negligible. Giants attendance actually rose a tiny bit last year, and I suspect that a good season from Lee, Kyle Harrison, or Marco Luciano will help out the numbers as the season goes on. As will more games where Ohtani is visiting, for better or for worse.

At the risk of putting the cart ahead of the horse, I think the Giants should be overwhelming favorites to employ Kim at the start of the 2025 season. But I think fans calling for the Giants to acquire him in a trade this offseason are going to be disappointed.

The Padres trading Kim to the Giants seems wildly unlikely. For starters, despite trading away Soto, the Padres still have an ultra-talented roster and intend to try and compete in 2024. It’s an understandable goal, since they finished behind only the Braves and Dodgers in National League run differential last year. Kim is one of their best players and their cheapest star. Add in the hopes of extending him, and I don’t see any reason to think San Diego will trade him this offseason, let alone to a division rival.

But Kim has a mutual option in 2025 for $7 million which means, unless he suffers a serious injury (or signs an extension), he’ll almost surely enter free agency this time next year. And given that he and Lee are very close friends, and that he openly had a tremendous relationship with Melvin, you have to think the Giants are early favorites there.

The Giants are also likely to have a need for Kim, who can provide All-Star value at second, third, or shortstop. Unless the Giants sign Chapman (or experience a shocking breakout year from Casey Schmitt or David Villar), they’ll enter next offseason without a third baseman. It is entirely unclear whether Luciano will cement himself as a quality Major Leaguer in the next year (or ever), and even if he does, it might come by moving him off of shortstop. And even Thairo Estrada, who had a marvelous 2023, hit at almost exactly league average ... a little defensive regression is all it would take for second base to be a position the Giants are trying to improve.

The only way that the Giants aren’t interested in Kim next year is if a whole lot has gone magnificently for them this season. I’ll take either of those outcomes.

Honestly, I don’t think this offseason will impact future CBAs at all. For all the talk of Ohtani’s absurd deferred payments, it’s worth noting that it was the players, not the owners, who argued for this type of flexibility.

I’m a salary cap abolitionist, I’ll admit. I want the maximum amount of money going from the billionaire owners to the players doing the work and providing the entertainment value. And as much as I hate the Dodgers, I want teams (Dodgers excluded, obviously) to be rewarded for spending money instead of sitting on it and whining (looking at you, John Fisher). I think a salary floor would be a wonderful thing for the sport, though I have a hard time seeing the owners signing off on it, given how many of them are cheapos.

The only player that I would not blink at all over if the Giants gave big money to is Imanaga. I’m a big fan of Eno Sarris and his Stuff+ calculations, and he noted that Imanaga was the leader in Stuff+ at the World Baseball Classic ... with Yamamoto No. 2, Urías No. 4, Sandy Alcántara No. 5, Ohtani No. 9, and Sasaki No. 11.

Imanaga’s lone concern is his absurd (in the bad way) home run rate, but I’ve got to think that a good pitching staff and a ball park in the Northern California air can help him get that under control.

As for the other players, to me it really comes down to this: what are the corresponding moves? The Giants aren’t good enough as presently constructed to take on the risk/reward of Snell or Bellinger given their likely paydays. If the upside is hit, it doesn’t put the Giants over the edge; if the worst case scenario arrives, the team is not built to withstand it.

But if they make a few other moves? Suddenly they’re built to jump into that risk/reward pool. In other words, if the Giants give seven years and $180 million to Snell or Bellinger and call it a day, I think it would be an awful contract. If the Giants sign Imanaga and Chapman, trade for Arozarena, and then sign Snell or Bellinger to that contract, I’ll think it’s a swell deal with keen negotiating.

I’d be shocked if they didn’t.

This is definitely a huge part of the Giants struggles. They really need to build a strong homegrown base that they can add talent to in free agency, instead of building through free agency. That’s how the best teams do it.

That said, it’s probably mischaracterizing the Braves a little bit to paint it that way. Matt Olson and Sean Murphy weren’t technically free agents, but the Braves traded for each when they were rentals and then immediately signed them to large extensions. Marcell Ozuna was a free agent, as was Charlie Morton.

You need both. And so much of the team’s success — this year, and in future years — depends on how Harrison, Luciano, Patrick Bailey, Luis Matos, and others play this season.

On the one hand, I hope so. On the other hand, heal up for January, Arik.

Yes! Mauricio Dubón may have left, but his famous “no pricks” mantra has remained. The Giants have cool and (from the outside, at least) nice people on their team. Less cool with the loss of the Brandons, though...

I understand the sentiment, but I also don’t think it’s at play right now — and I do think the Giants are starting to understand that.

Let’s look at the last five big contracts the Giants have offered:

  1. Jung Hoo Lee — Gave him probably more than anyone else, got him to sign.
  2. Carlos Correa — Gave him way more than anyone else, got him to sign (pending physical).
  3. Aaron Judge — Got to a price point where Judge stopped listening to new offers.
  4. Shohei Ohtani — Got to a price point where Ohtani stopped the bidding.
  5. Yoshinobu Yamamoto — Were told he wanted to sign elsewhere.

Money isn’t the issue with any of those players. The Giants offered $360 million to Judge, and he never gave them a chance to offer more. Judge’s own agent is on record saying the Padres offered in excess of $400 million; they didn’t even take that offer back to New York for a counter. Ohtani controlled his own negotiating process ... if he wanted more than $700 million, he could have easily gotten it, and likely from the Giants. By all accounts, San Francisco was ready to offer more money than anyone for Yamamoto, with even Logan Webb saying, “He wanted to be a Dodger from the beginning. It’s all good!”

Side note: someone responded to that Webb tweet with “And so do you!” which Webb responded to with a gif of Dwight Schrute shaking his head “no.” If you do not adore Webb, there is something wrong with you.

I don’t say this to make excuses for the Giants. There are things in the free agency process that they desperately need to fix, and I’m hoping that Lee’s contract is a step towards them realizing that sometimes they need to spend more money in the middle ground (despite interest/contract offers for Ohtani, Yamamoto, Correa, Judge, and Bryce Harper, I can’t remember the Zaidi-era Giants having any serious interest or offers to a player in between $50 and $300 million until Lee). But the Giants could have offered $450 million to Judge, $850 million to Ohtani, and $450 million to Yamamoto, and I feel very confident asserting that those three players would still be on the Yankees, Dodgers, and Dodgers.

Well ... we’ve got a month or two to find out, I suppose! I expect the Giants to have at least two more big moves, with me classifying “big” as a nine-figure contract or a trade that costs top-10 prospects. Is that because Zaidi has learned something? Is that because ownership is desperate and changing the directives? Is that because the Giants are simply in a very different position now than they were in previous offseasons?

You be the judge.

Here are my 15 favorite things about future forever Giant TJ Hopkins.

  1. His first name is neither TJ nor anything that starts with a T. It’s Mark.
  2. He made his MLB debut as a position player for the Reds in 2023 and my goodness, they had some intriguing position players make their MLB debuts, didn’t they?
  3. The Giants gave up essentially nothing to get him.
  4. He has the word “Hop” in his last name.
  5. He had a .925 OPS in AAA last year.
  6. He was teammates in AAA last year with Henry Ramos, brother of Heliot.
  7. He was DFA’d to make room for fellow forever Giant Austin Wynns.
  8. He was born in Summerville. Cool sounding place.
  9. He’s played for three Minor League teams: the Billings Mustangs, the Chatanooga Lookouts, and the Louisville Bats. I love the Minors.
  10. In 2021 in AA he had 69 hits.
  11. After starting slow early in his career, he’s had a power surge the last two seasons.
  12. He has two options.
  13. He was drafted two spots ahead of Simon Whiteman, who is no longer in the Giants system, so now they thankfully have backfilled the gigantic ninth-round selection in the 2019 draft hole in their organization.
  14. He follows Steven Duggar on Instagram.
  15. He is the reason I am writing this silly and stupid list.

And my 15 least favorite things about future forever Giant TJ Hopkins:

  1. His first name is neither TJ nor anything that starts with a T. It’s Mark. What’s that about?
  2. He is a young position player prospect from the Reds, but he is not Elly De La Cruz or Matt McLain or Christian Encarnacion-Strand. What’s that about?
  3. The Giants gave up A Player To Be Named Later for him, and Mr. To Be Named Later was in my top 20 of Giants prospects.
  4. He’s an outfielder. The Giants now have 12 outfielders on their 40-man roster, if you include Tyler Fitzgerald, Brett Wisely, and Blake Sabol. How many of these guys do they need?
  5. More specifically, he’s an unproven right-handed hitting outfielder on the 40-man roster. I repeat: how many of these guys do they need?
  6. He did not hit as well in AAA last year as his teammate Henry Ramos, brother of Heliot, member of the aforementioned unproven right-handed hitting outfielders on the 40-man roster brigade.
  7. He’ll probably never play for the Giants.
  8. He might never even play for the Giants Minor League teams.
  9. For his career, he has hit into more double plays than he has stolen bases. The Giants don’t really need more of the former or less of the latter.
  10. Last year was the first year of his career that he hit well above average in the Minors, and he was 26.
  11. Fangraphs lists him as a designated hitter, as well as an outfielder.
  12. He’ll be 27 before Spring Training.
  13. He doesn’t follow Logan Webb on Instagram.
  14. I do not recommend looking to see who he does follow on Instagram.
  15. Seriously, why am I doing this??

I’m of two minds here. The first is that I’m very optimistic about Reggie Crawford, and have a ton of faith in him. The second is that most prospects fail (if we’re defining “success” as, in your words, “becoming a solid MLB player,” which I think is a good definition).

Prospects break our hearts; that’s just the simple math of baseball. We’re currently doing our 2024 Community Prospect List, and it made me take a look back at the list we made of the top Giants prospects prior to 2019, Zaidi’s first season. Here’s the top 10:

  1. Joey Bart
  2. Heliot Ramos
  3. Marco Luciano
  4. Shaun Anderson
  5. Logan Webb
  6. Alexander Canario
  7. Chris Shaw
  8. Ray Black
  9. Melvin Adón
  10. Sean Hjelle

Yikes. The rest of the top 44 ain’t exactly pretty, though Camilo Doval came in at No. 17 and Keaton Winn snuck in at No. 43. Prospects come from all over. Just don’t mortgage your house betting on any of them.

That said, there are a ton of reasons to bet on Crawford. He’s a lefty with a high-90s fastball; that’s exciting for a reliever, let alone a starter. I’d argue that he’s one of the most impressive athletes in baseball, at any level. Baseball America’s year-end rankings have Crawford possessing both the best fastball and the best slider in the team’s farm system. We’ve seen the Giants excel with pitchers who have a strong fastball/slider combo, be it relievers like Doval or starters like Kevin Gausman. People in the organization can’t say enough about Crawford’s makeup and work ethic.

It’s pretty easy to want to bet on him, and I happily will. He just has so much in his favor. Given his potential dominance, and how the Giants have slow-played him as he returns from injuries, I think the most likely role for him is as a reliever in the beginning, and then he could get stretched out to more traditional starter innings at the big league level.

And here’s my hot take: I think he makes his MLB debut this year.

The 49ers are very, very good. The Warriors still have Steph Curry.

But uhh .... I’m also gonna watch baseball. Lots of it.

I’m always in favor of this, but I also want to take a step back from the doom and gloom of the Dodgers to point out that I still think the Braves have a better roster.

Well, technically it’s been five years. And I think we’re well into the time where we can criticize the development plan of Zaidi and Co.

Criticism is almost always allowed, and if I come across as overly-defensive of Zaidi it’s not because of him being criticized, it’s because of how he’s criticized. I think criticism is fair, but in order to stay fair it needs to be fair. How much tautology can I fit in one sentence?

So here are two things I think we should all keep in mind with criticism of Zaidi.

  1. As mentioned previously in this article, internal development and building a core is a slow, slow burn. Bobby Miller is really the only part of the Dodgers core that was drafted during Zaidi’s Giants tenure — including prospects traded for their star players. The Giants are still in the process of figuring out if just-turned-24-year-old-Heliot-Ramos is a good player, and he was drafted two years before Zaidi took over. Luciano and Matos are two of the most critical parts of the organization this year and two of the youngest players in the Majors ... and they both preceded Zaidi. It’s a very, very long game, and Zaidi wasn’t left the best tools.
  2. The Giants were in bad shape when Zaidi took over, and ownership tasked him with building a competitive team immediately, and a great team eventually. Those are kind of mutually exclusive goals. There was no room for Zaidi to do what the Orioles — or heck, even the Rangers — did. And that slowed things down.

So criticize away, just make sure the criticism is accurate and informed. As for whether this is the year where there are consequences if he doesn’t show improvement ... no, I don’t think so. Melvin is on a three-year deal and Zaidi has three years remaining. They are essentially tied at the hip at the moment, and ownership will give the pairing at least two years.

I have a good friend named Sam. Once, we were having a discussion in a larger group, and the topic of ear worms came up. We were discussing what you were supposed to do if you have a song stuck in your head and can’t get it out.

His advice was to listen to “Mean” by Taylor Swift. When asked if that song was supposed to declutter ear worms, Sam looked confused and said, “No, but then you’ll have ‘Mean’ stuck in your head, and that song’s a bop.”

So I don’t know how to stop feeling emotions, Bill. Maybe my readers can help us both out there. But when in doubt, just put on some Taylor Swift.