The National League West is absurdly stacked with expensive talent on two teams that play in southern California. The Dodgers have outspent every team in baseball the last three seasons. The Padres have climbed to fifth in payroll – $60 million more than San Francisco this season. The Giants are chasing these guys with low-rent ball.
The San Francisco Giants don’t have enough talent to threaten the best, and are supposed to have just enough talent to beat the rest. We are playing for a wild card. Losing two of three to the last place team in the NL Central, the Reds, and two of three to the last place team in the West, the Rockies, at home, is damaging to our chances.
The logic is that if we can get to the playoffs, we can compete with anyone. In the 2022 season there will be a twelve team playoff, which means six teams from the NL. It’s early, but I’d say the Giants are competing in the national league with the Dodgers, Mets, Brewers, Cardinals, Padres, Brewers, Braves and Phillies. At this point, the Giants are on the outside looking in. Our goal now has to be a better record than the Phillies, Braves and Cardinals.
In my opinion the goal of Gabe Kapler’s staff in early June is to get into the playoffs as a wildcard. There doesn’t feel like there is an urgency to create a team that can win it all, yet. Just like last year, the first three months of the season feel like an extension of Spring training, with dozens of guys being called up and sent down, and traded for and away.
But unlike last season, we’re winning less of the close ones. Unlike last year, our defense is not crisp. Unlike last year, our bullpen is wildly inconsistent. We miss Buster Posey a lot. The absence of his calming influence is one of the biggest differences in winning or losing the close ones. We miss Brandon Belt. The Captain’s absence is significant defensively as well as at the plate. But the point is we don’t have a big bat to back up our 34-year-old first baseman.
It just reveals how slim the margins for errors and injury are on a team playing with the 13th highest payroll going up against the highest.
Is it pointless to be a fan who wants to win it all most of all? Every season, I want to win it all. That is my goal. This year, I assume we are going to try to keep it close and then buy mercenaries – expensive talent – at the trade deadline, the way the Braves did last year. That makes sense. We have more money and room under salary tax to make bigger, splashier deals mid-season. I hope that’s the plan.
Because lately it feels pointless to be a fan of the San Francisco Giants. Nothing is consistent. We don’t have a starting rotation or lineup. We’re playing poor defense. It’s like watching Spring training. We are competitive every game and will be until the end of the season. And if by some chance we make the playoffs, we will be competitive for a series or two, but the odds don’t favor our math against their expensive talent over two or three playoff series. We’ve become the A’s.
Or the Rays – teams that did so much with so little, but never won it all with those teams.
It is easy to question whether we want to be managing this way or not. However the team that Farhan Zaidi built in Los Angeles, that won the division so many times, only won once, and in the shortened season at that. They have outspent everyone for three seasons now, and are legitimately threatened for the first time by the Padres.
Some of the youth of today or soccer moms or casual fans might say I’m too focused on winning it all. I know I’m more focused on winning it all than the homers at NBCSBayArea, who ruin watching baseball for me with their blindly patriotic support of everything Kapler and Zaidi do. The convivial, maudlin, love-of-the-game, feel-good coverage they produce is a travesty that demeans decades of baseball journalism.
The media monopoly run by Comcast/Xfinity (a Philadelphia-based company) and its subsidiary NBC Sports Bay Area have changed coverage of this team. They have withered professional journalism with homerism and cheerleading. They prioritize romanticizing our ballpark and city, and cheerleading the team, or showing fans in goofy-get-ups, to critiquing decisions made by Zaidi or Kapler or performances by a failing reliever.
It is a shame, in many ways representative of the situation in our society itself: image over substance.
What Farhan Zaidi and Gabe Kapler and the right-wing, conservative, Comcast Xfinity/NBCSBayArea producers want me to do, want all of us to do, is to be happy with the outcome, no matter what. Be blindly patriotic and watch each game as it happens with a simplicity and presence, like a child.
They don’t want us questioning why we are paying $70 – 250 for a decent seat to watch a product on the field they cannot explain, understand or justify.
To critique it would be doing way too much work, and in any case, it isn’t cheerleading the guys or selling tickets.
This is the world we live in.
It isn’t much fun for me to listen to a monopolistic, conservative media company deliver coverage like Big Brother about my favorite team.
Giants Baseball Corner has always hoped to provide an alternative. But it’s getting difficult. Most fans are as superficial as the coverage now. I’m the crank.
The Giants are (30 – 26) and one-third of the way through the season do not look like a championship-calibre or even a playoff-calibre team. They hardly look like a team of 26 guys at all. The 26 haven’t been the same enough to feel like a unit. Next up it’s The Nemesis. The Bums.
I am worried about this.
Let’s Go Giants!