Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

The Giants: Building for the Future by Ed Stern

Marty: The Giants, going into this off season, had readily identified needs. They were missing a closer, a shortstop, a catcher, since it was clear they were going to bid goodby to Pierzynski, and an outfielder, preferably a center fielder, who could hit behind Bonds and constitute enough of a threat that pitchers would think twice about walking Barry.

By signing Alou, after having come to terms with Vizquel, Matheny and Benitez, they have probably filled each of their needs, although questions still remain. It is true that the Giants are building for the future but the future they have identified is circumscribed by the 2005 World Series.

Click below for Ed’s well thought out take on the 2005 Giants.

It is intriguing to contemplate the lineup which opens the season in April. Well informed followers of the game have already predicted that the Giants are the overwhelming favorites to win the division. This is not an unreasonable assessment. What has proven so interesting however is that this team, while not necessarily the oldest team ever to grace a major league roster, although it is difficult to think of an older one, is undoubtedly the oldest team ever to be considered a threat to not only make it to the playoffs but to be a legitimate threat to go all the way.

The Chronicle today, in outlining the ages of the prospective starters, captioned the item “Oldies but goodies”. This is a team which is lead by a 41 year oldster who is the outstanding hitter in the game and who is followed by four players in their late thirties who are easing their way into the forties. The remaining three players range in age from 31 to 34.

The most obvious question to ask is whether one can count on this team to remain healthy. When one goes down the list, however, one notes that these are players, starting with Bonds ,who have demonstrated considerable durability. Alou, for instance, played in 155 games last year with over 600 at bats. Bonds tired at the end of the year, a result in part, at least, due to the number of times he was put on base. The addition of Alou, hitting behind him. it is hoped, will lessen this.

Up and down this lineup, one sees only players who have demonstrated that they are capable of playing on teams which are competitive at the highest levels. It will be fascinating to watch a veteran team such as this compete with teams staffed with players much younger. Age may not, in all it’s aspects, be a handicap. These are very talented people. They have been through the mill. In a tough race they may not be as prone to fall apart as youngsters who have not been to the wars. One thinks of J.T.Snow and his performance the last half of 2004. This was easily the finest year he has had and it took place when he was 36 years old.

Having said all this, one still must have a concern with respect to Alou’s ability to cover right field in that devilishly difficult area he has inherited. He was not the Giants first choice. They wanted a center fielder who would relieve Grissom in center, leaving Grissom to move to right. This they were unable to accomplish. Rather than strengthening two positions, there remain the questions respecting not only Alou but Grissom’s ability to play center adaquately. One of the objectives going into this offseason was to improve the defense. A major positive move in that respect was the acquisition of Vizquel and Matheny. An outfielder who is strong defensively is still needed. There is no reason to believe that Sabean is not aware of this. Mohr may have filled the bill. He may still be available.

The success of the team is still dependent on the pitching. There is good reason to be optimistic in this regard. They have a starting rotation which may be the equal of any and better than most. It is ironic, in light of the above, that much depends upon the success of two young pitchers with limited major league experience, Williams and Lowry. Each, however, has, in their brief experience, shown an ability to pitch well into the late innings. If they live up to their best recent performances this is going to be a tough team to beat.

Sabean has done as well as one could have anticipated. He has successfully remade a team. He has done this without having available to him the unlimited financial assets other teams have. The team he has cobbled together is more attractive, in many ways, than teams which will be loading their roster with high salaried free agents, many of whom will not begin to satisfy the expectations which provoked their signings. The likelihood of the players on the Giants performing far below expectations is far more remote than the possibility of some of these overpaid free agents failing dismally.

As is the case with you, I can’t wait for the season to begin. I’m ready.

Ed Stern


1 Anonymous { 12.24.04 at 11:06 am }

just stay healthy. Injuries take longer to heal for players over 35

Jerry F

2 Anonymous { 12.26.04 at 4:48 pm }

If the Giants were builing for the ‘future’ they would sign players in their mid 30’s nor would they forfeit their first round pick every season.

3 Anonymous { 12.26.04 at 8:08 pm }

building for the future?

how about putting it all down for the next year or two

after that, these giants are in for a major rebuilding

snow, grissom, tucker, alfonso and durham will be gone within 2 years

bonds only wants to play so long

feliz is 30 and aside from the homeruns, offers very little

and what you are left with is omar, matheny, benitez , the first two close to 40 and benitez at 35,

plus, the giants, aside from valdez and cain, have nobody on the horizon to fill these holes

its gonna come crashing down, and fast

4 Anonymous { 12.27.04 at 12:49 pm }

The Giants very seldom have anything but holes in their lineup after one or two years in the future. This is the way they operate. They have have been filling these holes fairly successfully on a regular basis. It would be nice to have a lineup which one can look forward to for more than two years. Few teams do, even those rich ones who look for fancy free agents every year. The game has changed. Fans must become accustomed to it. It is the unusual player who hangs aroiund the same club for an entire career or anything close to it.

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