Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

The Giants and Some Hardheaded Realism by Ed Stern

Marty–It is time to stop putting the best face possible on the Giants prospects this year and address realities. These realities include not only looking at this immediate year’s problems but the future for the franchise. In a fashion typical for a longstanding fan, there has been an attempt in the past few weeks to downplay obvious difficulties, to say that it is too early to give up, that the season has just begun and things will get better. Unfortunately, it is true that the season has just started but it is wrong to say that things will get better.

Click below for E’ds hard look at the 2004 Giants!A cold, hard look at this club should not give any reasonable observer hope that this is a team that one can anticipate will ultimately come up with a winning record. The failings are too obvious to overlook. They have two starting pitchers who could pitch in any team’s rotation but they have no idea who the other three starters should be. They will continue to send Rueter to the mound despite the clear indication in his past efforts that he is no longer a winning pitcher. This still leaves two spots to fill, with no confidence that they will come up with a satisfactory answer.

At first and third they are playing two players, Snow and Alfonzo, who shouldn’t be playing regularly on any team with competitive pretensions. They have a shortstop who doesn’t hit well enough to play regularly for a team with playoff hopes, although, parenthetically, he is outhitting Aurilia’s present .212 average, but not by much.( For those who thought it was a mistake not to sign Aurilia)

Their right field combination includes three ordinary players where one good hitter was required. One could go on and on but it is pointless to emphasize the obvious. Twenty nine games have been played and Alou has not been able to come up with a fifth place hitter in back of Bonds. This is not for lack of trying. Every conceivable choice has been examined and every conceivable choice has been found wanting. It isn’t going to get better. It might get worse because Bonds may become more and more frustrated.

It is no secret that all the other clubs regard the Giants as a dismal team. They don’t believe, and rightfully so, that there is any player on that team who can hurt them, other than Bonds. As a result, Barry gets walked two hundred times when the season ends.

This is a bad ball club. There is no gainsaying it. However, when that is said, one must then address what the future holds for this franchise. Baseball isn’t the same game it was before the advent of free agency and astronomical player salaries. The Giants concede that they can’t compete for impact players. They weren’t in the market for Guerrero or Sexton. Sabean has been successful in keeping them in the chase these past few years by adroitly cobbling together a team with passable abilities, good pitching for the most part, and Barry Bonds. They even came very close to winning a world series with this effort.

It has, however, caught up with them. They no longer have good pitching and the farm system hasn’t come through. with the Williams exception. As pointed out here recently, there are no position players in their farm system who give any reasonable hope of playing at a winning major league level. Much as they would like to deny this, Bonds isn’t going to continue to play productively forever. They have no immediately discernable way to replace him when the inevitable occurs. The disastrous Alfonzo contract will have to be lived with and will constitute a roadblock for three years.

The team’s excuse for the non-productivity of their farm system has been that San Francisco fans won’t buy a team that is rebuilding but insists on a competitor right now. As said here before, that attitude underestimated the San Francisco baseball public. A young team, with interesting players who give hope for the future, will bring out the fans who enjoy watching good baseball.

The Giants should begin, right now, thinking in terms of the future. This season is a lost cause. Make the best of it one can. Be realistic. Stop stockpiling only pitchers down at Fresno and San Jose in the hope they can be used as trade bait for position players. How long has it been since a McCovey or Jack Clark came through the system? This is now the name of the game if one doesn’t have the financial means of the Yankees or some others. Remember the twenty million dollar nut you have as result of foregoing taxpayer money and building that great ball park by yourself. Get smart. Take the time to develop some young players and the fans will come.

In today’s paper Magowan says that the team is committed to Bonds. That is well and good but it isn’t the only commitment which has to be made. It isn’t enough. Bonds can’t do it by himself, great as he has been. He isn’t going to be around forever, moreover. Think about the future. As presently constituted this team doesn’t have a favorable one. It needs a commitment to rebuild.



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