Editor’s note: Yahoo! Sports will examine the offseason of every MLB team before spring training begins in mid-February. Our series continues with the San Francisco Giants.
2012 record: 94-68
Finish: First place, NL West
2012 final payroll: $138.1 million
Estimated 2013 opening day payroll: $137 million
Yahoo! Sports offseason rank: 8th
Hashtags: #signbuster #whatthehell #lettimmysmoke #westcoastbeantown #gmjr #trustsabes #thesixmilliondollarreliever #potatoflakes #wysiwyg #morepitching
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There is comfort in the familiar and comfort in the successful, and the gap between the two is significant. If San Francisco Giants general manager Brian Sabean went out and signed Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro and Jeremy Affeldt to free-agent contracts totaling 10 years and $78 million because he knew them, it would register high on the offseason game of "What the Hell?" Because he signed the three to such contracts following a championship, the Giants' second in three seasons, Sabean gets a pass because he has two rings.
Sabean could sign anyone, peg him as an ace-in-waiting and the acolytes who have grown to love the sort of team he constructs would start applauding in excitement. For Sabean to have done this as the industry diverges from his worldview – he is a scout's scout – really is a testament to how well he has done his job. GMs can back into a World Series. They generally don't luck into it twice.
So even though keeping together the 2012 team that ran roughshod through the back end of the postseason meant giving Pagan a $40 million deal less than two years after he couldn't beat Gary Matthews Jr. for a job. And handing $20 million to Scutaro for three seasons, going that extra year other teams wouldn't for the 37-year-old. And spending the final $18 million on Affeldt, a good left-handed reliever, sure, but not $6 million-a-year's worth, and certainly – as is the case for any reliever – not three years' worth.
On the backburner for the time being is the truly important deal Sabean must prioritize: a long-term contract for catcher Buster Posey. This season, his first arbitration year, he will make $8 million. Seeing as he has three more arbitration seasons left, and the process is so out of whack it rewards players the caliber of Hunter Pence with $13.8 million salaries, well, two things are evident:
1) It will not be cheap. Posey will command nine figures and deserves every last cent of it. He is this team's heart, its thunder, its ideal.
2) It does not pay for a club to go to arbitration, especially when the goodwill of the championships remains fresh in Posey's mind and the security could influence him away from the sirens of free agency.
Fret not, San Francisco, over what happened Sunday. At least you've got the Giants.
At least you've got Matt Cain, the pillar of consistency for pitchers throughout the game. At least you've got Ryan Vogelsong, whose performance in October matched the wondrousness of his story. At least you've got Madison Bumgarner for these wedding photos. Oh, and his left arm, too.
[Related: Melky Cabrera reportedly backs out of WBC]
At least you've got that ballpark, graded flawless by even the most discerning gemologists, a testament to the idea that a privately financed stadium can be the best in baseball.
Look, what happened to the 49ers hurt, but San Francisco must understand: It cannot become the West Coast version of Boston, filled with so much winning that a backlash against the city develops. Too much winning for one city does not allow fans to truly savor what they've got.
And on baseball offense, it ain't that much – sort of like eating surf-and-turf with mashed potato flakes and mushy broccoli. Pablo Sandoval is the sizzle and Posey picks up the rest. Melky Cabrera has taken his steroid show across the northern border. From Pence to Pagan to Scutaro to Brandon Belt to Gregor Blanco, the lineup has its moments. More good than bad.
There isn't much help coming from the farm system, so the Giants' offense is WYSIWYG. Pitching-wise, Kyle Crick, Chris Stratton and Clayton Blackburn are moving at different speeds, and even though the chances of all three graduating are minute, the Giants should take solace in knowing their developing pitching prospects, like their winning, are no fluke.
In the meantime, the Giants get to sit and stare at their rings. They're going to be big, fat, gold baubles, as all championship rings are, celebrating a team that looked down more than crown until something happened: Brian Sabean put together a team that worked hard and well. This was Sabean's team – his team, his legacy, his best effort yet – and it's time to do it all over again with as close to a facsimile as he could produce.
Since nobody can say with confidence or certainty that Tim Lincecum is back – just as no one similarly can say he's gone – he enters this season mounted atop steed, waiting to become, once again, the conquering hero or the dolt who falls off. Worth remembering: Lincecum is just 28. Worth remembering: He still struck out more than a batter an inning last year. So despite the travails – a league-high 107 earned runs – battering him about, Lincecum paid penance in the postseason and wants to recapture that today. Last thing worth remembering: Until last season, his career ERA was 2.98 and we talked about him as a Hall of Famer. One bad year does not a candidacy ruin.
In Washington they
Stole a hometown boy's heart. Let
Timmy smoke? Of course!
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