We all jumped for joy when Brian Sabean started talking about a youth movement. Ray Durham tried to jump for joy but exploded both hamstrings in the process and is now crippled for life. Get well soon, Ray. The Giants have consistently been a team filled to the brim with veteran-savvy goodness (see: geriatric, old). In 2006 the Giants started the oldest outfield ever in a game of baseball (Bonds, Finely, and Alou). So when Sabes started to talk about a new direction centered around youth, most fans sighed with relief, even if it was a skeptical one. The jokes already started to roll in “Getting younger huh? I hear Willie Mays can still shag fly balls pretty well” the jokes practically write themselves. In the mentioned article here Sabean was quoted as saying
“We know that older and experienced hasn’t worked,” Sabean said on Monday.
Peter Magowan also threw in his two cents as well
“The players [we are going to pursue] are going to be — on the whole — younger and healthier, and they’re not [going to be here] for a year or two filling a role to backup a star player but [rather] to be key parts of the team for a number of years.”
Lets examine the idea of “younger and healthier” with what the Giants have picked up so far in the offseason.
(C) Bengie Molina – At 32 Molina isn’t exactly young and there are serious concerns about his weight. Molina weighs in at 230 on a 5’11″ frame. The third year of his deal is going to be ugly. Imagine Jabba The Hut with a catchers mask and you’re half way there.
- (IF) Rich Aurilia – Aurilia will be 35 next season. Rich has managed to stay healthy the last couple of years but at some point age is going to catch up to him but of the three listed here I feel most comfortable with Rich playing a full season.
- (OF) Dave Roberts – Roberts will turn 35 in May of 2007 and the Giants are going to ask him to be the starting center fielder. Roberts is known as a guy with a injury history and moving him to center is going to be hard on his already injury prone legs. He has never played more than 130 games in a season.
I don’t dislike any of these guys (well, except Molina) but they don’t fit the mold of getting “healthier and younger”. Stadium debt and a All-Star game on the horizon seems to have warped the Giants mindset of getting younger. Forcing them to play the overpriced free agent market. I fully understand stop-gap players eating time until younger players are ready to start but Sabean’s MO has been veteran talent for years and I don’t see that changing until he leaves.
No doubt that Sabean’s tenure as GM has seen some of the most successful Giants baseball in the teams history and for that I thank him. But, a look around the NL West reveals that rival teams are building competitive youth based teams. And fast too. The Diamondbacks and Dodgers have used their respective farm systems to produce quality talent. The advantage of playing in a weak NL West could leave as quickly as a well hit baseball into the bay. The division will be more competitive in coming years, if not 2007. The Giants drastically have to get younger and fans are going to have to expect a rough period of transition. I can’t speak for the casual fan, but I would much rather watch a young team struggle than a collective of old, overpriced, and past their prime veterans hack away at .500.
As rumors swirl about the acquisition of Manny Ramirez the ideas of youth are once again pushed to the back. Ramirez is the perfect example of what the Giants don’t need at this point in time. Old, moody, and terrible on defense. Rumors speculate that in such a deal to land Manny the Giants would move Noah Lowry, Jonathan Sanchez, and Brain Wilson in the deal. Old habits are tough to kick and the reliance on veteran talent seems to be a especially tough one to kick.
Whats the point of this rambling post? During the dark days of December and the offseason its easy to get bleak. We all miss baseball and wait impatiently until the game returns to us, so maybe its easier to be more critical about things when you can’t see the small good things but the Giants are in a mode of transition and I accept that. I just wish it was a transition of youth, instead of the old familiarity of veterans.