The Giants are in the middle of a wild offseason. For the most part, prices are high, and teams are paying top dollar for non-elite talent. We’ve seen Mark Ellis, Jamey Carroll, Bruce Chen, and Rod Barajas all get deals that, at least in my opinion, are a little shocking. At the moment, baseball seems flush with cash and in good health. Combine that with the rising free agent prices and things are looking a tad bit dicey for buyers.
I’m of the opinion that the team is doing well financially and fans like to win, I like to win, and I think winning sells tickets. So spending a little more for talent seems prudent. However, it’s entirely possible that, as Larry Baer has stated, the team will peruse a utility infielder before calling it quits. And no matter how hard Giants’ brass will try and sell you, I don’t think any of us will buy the “getting Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez back is just like getting two new free agents!*” line of thought. That statement from Larry might be the most damning thing said this offseason. Well, that and the attempted Willie Bloomquist deal. Both are depressing in their unique, terrible, way.
* Seriously. This video has a good chance of making your brain angry.
But cheaping out is appealing in a I-just-child-proofed-my-chainsaw-collection sort of way. The reason that I won’t be crying in my sleep if the Giants don’t go big in free agent market is simple: Brian Sabean scares me when he’s paying for talent.
The Huff deal, which I originally called “fair”, wasn’t a terrible deal at the time, but looking back, you wonder if the Giants were too tied to the ‘must keep the group together’ mindset after the World Series. Mark DeRosa was injured for the bulk of his time with the team. Maybe not squarely Sabean’s fault, but it’s amazing our medical squad ever cleared the deal. Pre-Huff and DeRosa you get Aaron Rowand and Dave Roberts (and that’s after failing on Juan Pierre, Gary Matthews Jr., and maybe Carlos Lee). Consider this: the Giants will be paying their last big FA signing $12M to not play for the team in 2012. The days of Ray Durham and
Ellis Burks (correctly pointed out to me in the comments that Burks originally came to the Giants in a trade. But, he was granted FA and returned on a two year deal) seem further away each passing day.
That’s not to say that Sabean doesn’t have positives; I like his ability to build a bullpen and fix team issues on the fly, as we saw in 2010. But his recent track record in the department of paying for positional talent on the market is a bad one. One can only hope that he can regain his mojo. But, as it stands right now, the Giants are probably a 80-82 win team. If Huff shows something, Belt gets better, and if Posey can play in 120-130 games, the team could eclipse that 80-82 win mark. Oh, and of course, if the pitching stays healthy and dominant.
So, the Giants are close as-is. The team needs a shortstop and more depth in the outfield would be nice, but the Giants are close right now to being a good team. I’d love to see the team get pushed firmly from “chance to be good” to “chance to be really good” but if the price is another Aaron Rowand contract of doom, then no thanks. The Giants ought not spend just to spend and I can tell you that I’ll probably sleep better at night if Brian Sabean can’t wheel it big all over the free agent market.