I briefly considered doing the whole bit. Writing 500 unfunny words expanding on the unfunny headline that you all know is an unfunny joke.
You know, a paragraph about how the San Francisco Giants looked listless in their 5-0 loss to the New York Yankees, but who cares, it’s Spring Training. How it’s odd that the Giants used Logan Webb in a tune-up game instead of saving him for Opening Day. How maybe Thursday’s lineup will offer us some insight into how the Giants will field their real lineup on Saturday.
But reality, while cruel, is perversely funnier than a B-level writer masquerading as a D-level comedian who’s already out of ideas with 161 games remaining.
The story of the Giants offseason was Aaron Judge, or Arson Judge depending on your phone’s ability to recognize common names. Yes, after losing Judge they masterfully pivoted to Carlos Correa, which was a big story. Yes, the Giants and Correa’s ankle decided to see other people, which was a big story. And yes, the Giants made a series of quality moves in the aftermath, which were ... well, maybe not big stories, but certainly stories.
But the story was Judge. The player they privately coveted all season and publicly coveted all offseason. The player who met with them for two days straight, who went house shopping, who gave them — and by proxy, you — just enough to let you dream. The player who was on the Giants for seven minutes even though he never agreed to be on the Giants.
The best home run hitter in baseball, who allowed you to think about what the Giants would look life if, for the first time in two decades, they had a stop-everything-and-watch hitter.
That Judge stayed in the Bronx to face the Giants in the opening series. And on the sixth pitch of Logan Webb’s day, a slider caught a tiny bit too much plate and Judge swiftly reminded you why you were fully on board with your favorite team giving this guy $360 million.
Somebody call @FDNY pic.twitter.com/5uPqKhFAQc— New York Yankees (@Yankees) March 30, 2023
The Yankees would score four more times, but it would be poetic if they didn’t. The lone run off the bat of the guy who gave the Giants a silver medal was all that New York needed to nab an Opening Day victory. It’s fitting, even if I hate it.
That was the story, and if you rotate the camera lens to get the widest possible angle, the story was still similar.
The Yankees gave $40 million annually over nearly a decade to Judge, and he rewarded them with the go-ahead home run and an RBI single. The Giants largest contract (on a per-year basis) was one year and $19.65 million to Joc Pederson, who struck out in his first three at-bats.
The Yankees gave $324 million to Gerrit Cole, and he mowed down the Giants for six scoreless innings. The Giants counted on developing Logan Webb, a player who was never projected to be an ace.
The Yankees gave all kinds of money (as well as some prospects) to get Giancarlo Stanton, who only singled, but looked menacing doing it. The Giants started an unheralded prospect making his Major League debut and later replaced him with an unheralded prospect making his Major League debut. Neither reached base.
The Yankees swung a big trade many years ago for Gleyber Torres, whose two-run home run gave New York some insurance. The Giants biggest trade piece was J.D. Davis, who they didn’t even let start.
This is me blatantly painting a narrative that fits into the box I’m looking for based on 0.6% of the season. Judge’s contract will likely look bad in a few years, Cole’s (and Carlos Rodón’s) arguably looks bad already, and Stanton’s definitely looks bad. Pederson’s one-year deal will never look bad, and even the worst-case scenario for Michael Conforto is the equivalent of a shoulder shrug after a dollar bill falls out of your pocket and blows away in the wind.
Webb is quite arguably already better than Cole, and developing homegrown talent is a good thing, not a point against them. Davis is a better hitter than Torres and will get plenty of opportunities this year. Blake Sabol and Brett Wisely just may be thangs, and one game doesn’t change that.
But damn if the narrative isn’t easy to buy into, and it’s only made easier by Larry Baer’s bizarre public attempts to excite the fanbase.
The Yankees only have $208.5 million committed this year compared to the Giants $151.6 million, but the Yanks have $177.6 million committed to 2025 compared to the Giants $40 million. That may prove to by why the Giants are better than the Yankees in a few years, but it’s already proven to be why the Yankees are better than the Giants right now.
Now let’s shift to the optimistic viewpoint. Webb, who was brilliant last year but saw a noticeable dip in his strikeouts, looked exquisite. His ERA got tagged thanks to Judge and Torres being extremely opportunistic (and John Brebbia allowing an inherited runner to score), but he gave up just six baserunners in as many innings, got a massive 17 swing-and-misses, and set a franchise record for Opening Day strikeouts (it’s at this point that I remind you of how many Opening Day games Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum pitched: nine).
Career-high 1⃣2⃣ Ks for @LoganWebb1053 ⛽️ pic.twitter.com/qcnJqAeAZq— SFGiants (@SFGiants) March 30, 2023
Webb combined with Cole to fan 23 batters, tying for second place for the most strikeouts by starters in an Opening Day game. If this is who Webb is this year, the Giants will be in an excellent position to win every fifth game.
But they’ll need to hit. LaMonte Wade Jr. kicked off the game by drawing a four-pitch walk, and the Giants only had six baserunners the rest of the game. They didn’t have an extra-base hit. They struck out 16 times. They had just three at-bats with runners in scoring position.
In truth, I’m very optimistic about this team. They have one of the best rotations in baseball. I think they’ll be sneaky good offensively. The last time they actually had an offseason where they were allowed to consult with their players resulted in the most positively surprising season in franchise history.
And I think they did well this offseason. Judge would have been amazing, and they did everything they could. Correa would have been amazing, and they did everything they could. The pivot is a helluva lot less shiny, but it’s still impressive.
But the Giants are planting citrus trees, picking fruit, and hand-squeezing lemonade out of lemons, while the Yankees bought the entire Minute Maid factory (and the Calypso one, too), just so they could have hassle-free lemonade on demand.
I reckon that more times than not this year, the Giants lemonade will taste pretty damned good. But this ain’t one of them.