COMMENTARY | Over the weekend, San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence had a historic series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chavez Ravine. He joined elite company by going 8 of 17 with five home runs and 12 RBIs against the Dodgers.
Pence and Willie Mays are the only Giants to homer in every game of a four-game series against the Dodgers. He also became the first Giant to have a home run in four straight games since Barry Bonds (2005), and he tied Mike Schmidt (1979) and Frank Thomas (1958) for the most home runs in a single series against the Dodgers.
Largely due to his recent surge of production, the Giants have been a successful team in September. As of Tuesday morning, the Giants are 69-81, 17 games behind the Dodgers. Winners of six of their last eight games, the Giants are now sandwiched between the San Diego Padres and the Colorado Rockies in the NL West standings. They currently posses the 11th-worst record in the majors.
While wins by the Giants are always a nice sight to see, particularly given their struggles at various points of the season, could the team's somewhat meaningless success be detrimental to the team's future?
As pointed out in an article by Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com, the Giants could help themselves more if they continued their struggles from earlier in the season. When it comes to the offseason and pursuing free agents, it is better to be bad than good in the standings.
The top 10 picks in the draft are protected. If the Giants were to extend a qualifying offer to a pending free agent like Pence or Tim Lincecum, the player could either accept the one-year guaranteed contract or turn down the offer. If the player turns down the offer and another team signs said player, the club signing the free agent would forfeit its first-round draft pick. Teams who have one of the 10 worst records in the league would protect their first-round pick and instead part with a second-round selection, a much less valuable commodity.
Looking at how paltry the Giants' minor league system has looked lately, the last thing the team needs is to lose an important commodity in the form of lost draft picks. Mathematically out of contention, the Giants would be achieving two needs at once by giving more playing time to some of the youngsters they just called up such as Ehire Adrianza, Johnny Monell and Heath Hembree. While the product placed on the field for the last few weeks may not be the best the team has to offer, the Giants will get to try out and see how their youngsters perform and give rest to tired veterans such as Buster Posey and Matt Cain.
While I'm not a believer in seeing the Giants lose purposely, it is important to note that there are some negatives associated with the team's recent success. In the big scheme of rebuilding the farm system, being major players in free agency at the end of this season and looking forward to a more promising 2014 season, the Giants might just be better off resting their veterans more often, getting less record-setting performances from their key contributors, and reverting back to their struggling selves in order to improve their long-term plans.
Austin Chang is a San Francisco Bay Area-based sportswriter covering the San Francisco Giants on the Yahoo Contributor Network. He is the Associate Editor of Sports Out West and works for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Follow this contributor on Twitter @_austinchang.
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