A Championship Offseason

Dave · October 29, 2012 at 10:32 am · Filed Under Mariners 

This post is brief, because I know that Jeff Sullivan is currently writing a version of this same idea over at Lookout Landing. His post is going to be way better than mine, because he’s a better writer than I am, so rather than try to compete with his thoughts, I’m just going to win through brevity. He sucks at brevity. But you should still read his post when it goes up, because I’m sure it’s going to be really good.

In 2011, the Giants scored 570 runs. They finished with a wRC+ of 87, the fourth worst mark in baseball. Put simply, the Giants couldn’t hit, and their best hitter — Carlos Beltran — was a free agent.

The Giants didn’t re-sign him, despite surrendering top prospect Zach Wheeler to get him at the deadline. In fact, they didn’t sign anyone of note last winter. They signed one free agent position player from another organization to a Major League contract – Ryan Theriot, who got $1.25 million to serve as their utility infielder. A team that couldn’t win because they couldn’t hit let their best hitter leave and spent no money in free agency to try and replace him.

Instead, they traded for Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera and signed Gregor Blanco to a minor league contract, essentially building an entirely new outfield from scratch with players that weren’t wanted by their previous organization. Then, they handed shortstop and first base over to rookies Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt. That was their offensive makeover. That was the plan to fix an offense that couldn’t score.

The Giants just won the World Series, beating the crap out of the team who spent $214 million to sign Prince Fielder last winter. The Giants finished 30th in the Majors in home runs this year. Their starting left fielder slugged .344. Their starting first baseman hit seven home runs. Their shortstop is essentially the NL’s version of Brendan Ryan. One of their two deadline acquistions was bringing in a 36-year-old slap-hitting contact guy who was posting his worst offensive season in years after getting traded to Colorado.

Repeat after me: There is no right way to build a baseball team. You don’t need a power hitting first baseman or a true slugger in left field. You don’t have to hit home runs. You don’t have to be the slave to any kind of traditional idea of what a team is supposed to look like.

The traditional model of ace pitchers and big time sluggers can work too. Detroit got to the World Series, after all. Hitting home runs is good. Having great pitchers is good. The Tigers defense was atrocious, and they still won the American League. You don’t have to play good defense to win either. There is no magic formula.

To win baseball games, you need to outscore your opponents. You can do that with pitching and defense. You can do that with sluggers and a great bullpen. You can do that with sluggers and defense. Runs are runs and wins are wins. It matters not how you get them. The consistently perpetuated idea that the Mariners have lost because they’re chasing some kind of mythological roster construction that doesn’t work was just destroyed by the San Francisco Giants winning the World Series. The Giants are exactly the kind of team that the Mariners have been trying to build for the last few years. It hasn’t worked, obviously, but the failure to create a winner here with this model doesn’t invalidate the model. You can win a World Series with Angel Pagan as your best hitting outfielder and Gregor Blanco starting in left field. The Giants just did.

The Giants didn’t do anything last winter to prove they wanted to win. They didn’t make any significant free agent signings to improve a dreadful offense. They took a team that couldn’t hit and they improved their defense. A year later, they’re World Champs.

Runs are runs and wins are wins. And it really doesn’t matter how you get them.


52 Responses to “A Championship Offseason”

  1. MrZDevotee on October 31st, 2012 5:54 pm

    re: Reynolds

    It could be argued that was a down year– he struggled initially during the first half of 2012… Before getting back on track after the All-Star Break (hitting 15 of his HR’s in August and September)… Which makes him an ideal “Z-type” player. Buy low. From 2008 thru 2011 he averaged 35 HR’s a year, and I thought he had 27 last year, but I could be wrong.

  2. SonOfZavaras on October 31st, 2012 10:31 pm

    You’re implying Ervin Santana is anything remarkable.

    His stuff is closer to remarkable than what his results are. I’m aware of what he is, up to this point.

    But, no…not what I’m implying.

    I *am* saying that a large chunk of the value our young arms have is: how close they are to the major leagues. It’s THAT quality- plus how quality of an arm they project to have as a big leaguer- that determines what and how much we get back.

    To pry a bat away, we’re going to have to give up something. No one really disputes this. But how desperate a team like the Royals could be could have inflated the value of the arm(s) we’d be sending them- decreasing how much we’d have to part with and potentially increasing the return.

    And for every deal like this made, it reduces our chance to totally maximize those returns.

    I would therefore hope he would be still be interested in the kind of upgrade / investment represented by the M’s peeling off one of Cerberus to go after one of the Royals’ bats.

    I hope so, too. I can honestly live with the loss of a James Paxton if we can just finally see a creditable offense again at Safeco. But I just think that KC ownership and higher-ups are a little suspect in their overall ability to run a team. They could actually decide they’re set (by my reckoning, they’re not) and break off talks with us- opportunity lost.

    Not catastrophic if it happens that way…but the Royals are one of maybe 6 teams I can think of that are genuinely hurting for pitching- and the one most flush with young, market-friendly bats.

    It’s a long winter, and I plan to watch with great interest no matter what. I DO figure something roughly constituting a progressive move or two will be made.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.