Last year the Giants predictably fell back to earth after their rather improbable run to the 2010 National League Pennant. They doubled down on some flukey years from Cody Ross and Aubrey Huff and brought in the Methuselah-like Miguel Tejeda and pretended that everything would be okay. It was not okay, particularly after Scott Cousins killed poor Buster Posey in a collision at the plate on May 26th. Posey missed the rest of the season and is only now doing important baseball activities like running. In addition manager Bruce Bochy, no doubt with the blessing of GM Brian Sabean, jerked around rookie 1B Brandon Belt all year, never giving him a real shot despite Aubrey Huff showing up to camp in poor shape and, for the most part, playing like dogshit in 2011. Eventually they did give up on Tejeda and the corpse of Aaron Rowand but they didn’t really have the players to replace them, and even a midseason trade for Carlos Beltran that I liked wasn’t enough to make them anything like respectable swinging the bats.
Sabean looked at this failure, and, like all great men, he learned from it. He wasn’t going into 2012 with another strong pitching staff doomed to fail because of an anemic offense. He was going to go out and get some help. With the mission clear Sabean fired up the ol’ cell phone and he worked those phones. Was this a difficult process for him because other GM’s don’t appreciate how hard he is to get a hold of? Who can say? What can be said is that the Giants will head into 2012 fortified… by Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera. That sound you just heard was Lincecum inhaling. Pagan had a breakout 2010 (5.5 fWAR) before regressing last year. Melky Cabrera did his own breaking out with the Royals in 2011, so his regression is scheduled for right about now. Both have the potential to do good things (and both figure to be better than Andres Torres, Cody Ross, Rowand, Huff, and the other dregs they sent out to center and left last season) but this isn’t what Giants fans were hoping for. Optimists (re: homers) will point out that the Giants will of course get Buster Posey back (to the chagrin of Eli Whiteside enthusiasts) and that’s “like signing a free agent” (it is not at all like that, ever). In addition Freddy Sanchez is hoping to actually play baseball this year, though news out of Giants camp isn’t encouraging. Sanchez is now 34, coming off two injury plagued years, and was never all that great to begin with, but hey. Finally Brandon Belt might get his opportunity this time. Right now he is ticketed to Fresno or the bench, but people can still say things. There just isn’t a lot of reason to believe this year won’t be a rehash of the 2011, and one has to wonder just why that is.
The answer appears to be that Sabean was saving his pennies for the pricey contract extensions it will presumably take to keep staff aces Tim Lincecum (can walk in 2013) and Matt Cain (this could be his last season by the bay). To make matters more sad emoticon face-like talks between Sabean and Cain’s agent are reportedly not going anywhere meaning that Cain is likely to at least test a market that will likely want to pay him oodles of money for his services. Lincecum has already made vague sounds about his own foray into free agency after signing a contract that bought out his last two arbitration years this offseason, meaning this may have been the last year those two share a rotation. If so Sabean’s decision not to bring in real help will be questioned a lot by the type of people who call talk radio stations. For this year at least the Giants rotation will be beastly, as Madison Bumgarner went and quieted the doubters with a fantastic 2011. He was actually more valuable than either Cain or Lincecum according to fangraphs last year. Ryan Vogelsong’s 2011 was a much bigger surprise, one we shouldn’t expect to continue in 2012. Still at least he wasn’t Barry Zito. Yes, Barry Zito is still here.
Maybe if you squint real hard you can see 3B Pablo Sandoval continue to silence the doubters, you can see SS Brandon Crawford become something other than an offensive black hole, you can see Brian Wilson return to form, in short you can see the Giants sneak into the playoffs and get by on some small sample size fluke offensive performances and dominant pitching to make the World Series. It has happened before. That’s not the kind of thing you want to bet on though, unless you’re Brian Sabean.
Final 2012 Record: 85-77