Friday, April 6, 2007

Thoughts on the first series.

Well, the Giants have now played, and lost, their first series in the 2007 season. A weak offense and poor relief pitching led to said result. The Giants as a team are batting .224 with just one home run, that being off the bat of Barry Bonds. Hopefully this doesn't speak volumes about our entire season, but it's not a good sign.

Perhaps the Giants biggest weakness is something that's cursed them for more than a decade. That is, their inability to draft position players that make it as major league regulars. Their last batter they drafted that made a noticeable impact in the major leagues is Bill Mueller, their 15th round pick in the 1993 draft.

The Giants have not made wise picks since then. Some say that it's because the Giants concentrated more on pitchers in the draft during the Sabean era, but while that is part of it, that hasn't always been the case every year.

Let's look at some of the position players the Giants have drafted between 1994-2006 in the first round:

Dante Powell (1994- 1st round, 22nd pick)
Jacob Cruz (1994 - 1st round, 32nd pick)
Dan McKinley (1997 - 1st round, 49th pick)
Tony Torcato (1998 -1st round - 19th pick)
Arturo McDowell (1998 - 1st round - 29th pick)
Todd Linden (2001 - 1st round, 41st pick)
Emmaunel Burris (2006 - 1st round, 33rd pick)

With the exception of Burris, all of these guys are old enough that they could have established themselves as major league regulars. Powell, Cruz, and Torcato were all given a variety of sniffs at the majors but never stuck, McKinley and McDowell never made it, and the jury is still out on Linden, who finally had a decent showing at the major league level last season.

There's also Lance Niekro, drafted in the second round in 2001, thus not making the "first rounder" list. He's had some major league experience, but with the exception of 2005 has shown no promise.

This really holds the Giants back, more than using pitchers like Vinnie Chulk and Jack Taschner.

The Giants, due to their inability (or refusal?) to draft a solid hitter, are forced to pay all their starters big money, while other teams have a couple guys making the major league minimum or just a bit above and providing their team with good service.

When the Giants are paying $5,100,000 for Pedro Feliz to do his awful job at third, they are taking money away that could be spent elsewhere did they have a rookie making the minimum. The Padres are using the inexperienced Kevin Kouzmanoff whom they acquired from the Indians. He's their starting third baseman, and making the minimum. And by the end of the season, it won't be Feliz with the better numbers.

The Giants really need to start rebuilding and stop thinking in the present, because the time really isn't now. We're an old team that has some hope for the future. We have the makings of a great pitching staff for years to come with Zito, Cain, Lowry, and Lincenum. Our offense, however, is in dire need of repair. We need to draft young hitters, since our pitching is not as much of a concern currently. We need young hitters that will craft a new Giants legacy for this century, and on our current team, I can't name anyone that can be that star.

Sure, some of our players could stick around for the new team. Linden, hopefully. Frandsen. Alfonzo, maybe, if he develops patience and keeps up his power numbers from 2006 over a full season would make a good starting catcher.

Getting past Barry is our first priority, and it will be a difficult journey. Since 1993, the Giants have relied on Bonds to provide them with the offense they need to win games. That's not to say the Giants were always awful without him. In 1993, the Giants were an amazing team that fell just short of the playoffs, and not having Barry Bonds would not have made them the 2005 San Francisco Giants.

Another example is 1999. The Giants were a solid team with strong hitters. We had both Jeff Kent and Ellis Burks, and Marvin Benard managed to hit 16 home runs with the alleged aid of steroids. Bonds was out for half the season, and the Giants still were above .500 without him. That goes to show that the Giants have not always been centered 100% around Barry. It's only been after we lost Kent that we've been unable to protect him. We have to remember that we are more than Barry Bonds.

And yes, I know it would be great if he got his World Series Ring. So tell you what, if we have a shot 2 years down the line, we should keep Barry as a pinch-hitter/backup, and let him get his ring. Just give him a very small salary as well, and that will be fine.

Anyway, that is all for today. Tonight... we'll win 16-2. I wish.