Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

The Giants: Winners in 2004? by Ed Stern

Marty; There is an article in today’s Chronicle which describes “an abiding sense among fans, fueled by the press and talk radio, that the Giants have not done enough this winter to improve the team and place themselves in position to contend for a championship.” Sabean disagrees, while acknowledging that his optimism is in large part dependent on the return to productive, good health of Nen and Schmidt.

Click “Read More” for Ed’s expert analysis. Look forward to a reading your excellent commentary again this season Ed…thanks,
MartySabean, not unexpectedly, has a realistic approach to the team’s prospects. The Giants do not have the type of financial ownership which today, or in the foreseeable future, will be able to compete on the open market for players commanding Guerrero type salaries. Teams such as the Angels, owned by individuals who have unlimited funds with which to attract and pay for such star talent, will continue to play the free agency game which the Giants do not have the resources to enter.

This does not mean, however, that all is lost and that the Giants are to be relegated to the status of teams such as the Brewers. The Giants will continue to be a mid-level team with respect to payroll. It should be remembered that this is the only club which hasn’t looked to the taxpayers to finance their existence. Credit should be given to them for this. The owership has to come up with some twenty million dollars every year to pay Pac Bell Park construction costs.

Despite this, the team has been more than simply competitive these past three or four years. They use the financial resources at their disposal wisely. Sabean didn’t receive the award as general manager of the year without reason. He has crafted, once again, a club which, in all likelihood, will win the division.

The Chronicle story notes the “additions” and “subtractions” from the roster this past off season. There have been five noteworthy subtractions. Of these five only two are significant losses, Nathan and Worrell. Nathan went in trade for Pierzynski. Nathan was a strong part of the bullpen and might have played the closure role in the event Nen doesn’t return successfully. However, Pierzynski is a strong acquisition and overall more valuable than Nathan.

The “loss” of Santiago, Cruz and Aurillia is a positive aspect of the offseason’s activity. These are three players who played poorly last year. There is little reason to believe that any of them would have been of value this coming season.

They have added outfielders, none of whom can rightfully be described as a “big ticket free agent.” They are, however, decent midlevel talent. The outfield is far stronger with them than the outfield they ran on to the field most of last year. Remember Bernard and Rivera!

The team will be stronger defensively. Perez will provide far better defense than Aurillia. He isn’t a great hitter but neither was Aurillia, who had his career year in 2001 and hasn’t hit well since then. Santiago’s defense suffered as well as his hitting, The team is much stronger today with Pierzynski.

This is a better team than last year’s—if Nen and Schmidt are healthy. If Schmidt is healthy the team can probably find a closer on the staff. Schmidt is the indispensible one. With a healthy Schmidt, even if they struggle with Nen, thay have enough to win. They have enough talent to make it to the post-season. Once there, it’s a new ball game. The teams with the big ticket players don’t necessarily make it all the way to a successful conclusion. Witness the last two Series winners.

The key to the club’s prospects has to be the pitching. Tomko provides them with pitching that eats up innings; unfortunately, many of those innings have, in the past, been innings in which he was hit hard. It remains to be seen whether he will turn into the winning pitcher Sabean has in mind. They still are looking for a fifth starter. Somehow they have managed to come up with pitching strong enough to win 100 games the past few years. It’s in Sabean’s hands now to repeat this.

If he can accomplish this, we have October to look forward to. Ed


1 glenpark { 01.19.04 at 11:59 pm }

The Giants are the class franchise of the NL, period, end of story, a business model we should all be proud of –

My biggest concern with the Giants is the weakness of their minor league network, and their practice of trading what prospects they have for temporary help. They just never seem to generate much in house talent.

Sabean and Colletti are major talents, the ballpark is incredible, KNBR does a superb job promoting the team.

Anyone who loves baseball and lives in the Bay Area is incredibly lucky to be able to watch the Giants and A’s regularly.

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