The Texas Rangers are coming into SF for a “2010 WS Rematch”. The only problem, the Texas pitchers will face a whole new lineup. Sure, the pitching staff is nearly the same. Swap out Vogelsong for Sanchez and you have the same starting rotation (if we had to choose right now, would Timmy be the starter left off the WS roster? That’s a weird thought). Ramirez, Mota, and Wilson are missing from the bullpen. But Affeldt, Casilla, Romo, and Javier are still anchoring the late innings for us. Yes, the Giants are built on pitching. But who from the WS lineup remains? Buster Posey. Sandoval and Freddy Sanchez are the only other members of that lineup that have a shot at starting this year, but they are both on the DL. Schierholtz and Huff are the only other two left over from that team; neither are starting now.
But when the Rangers come to bat, it’s going to look very familiar. Elvis Andrus, Nelsen Cruz, Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Mitch Moreland, and Michael Young all remain in the Rangers starting lineup. They are only missing Bengie Molina and Vladimir Guerrero from the 2010 team. Is it any wonder they were back in the WS last year? Or that they are first in their division this year? It’s the same team!
I want to make it clear that I loved the 2010 Giants, I don’t know who couldn’t have loved them. They put SF on the map as a legitimate baseball town and filled out of town ball parks with orange and black. That was the team where Timmy was Timmy and real men wore red thongs. Huff and Burrell reigned supreme, rewarding homeruns with solid punches to the chest and holding court in the Marina after home games. But that was a team of stop gaps. Everything went right, everyone performed as advertised, or better. Everyone was healthy. But most of the players weren’t chosen based on their long term potential; based on their ability to form a baseball dynasty.
Let’s look at some of the 2010 Giants hitters:
- Aaron Rowand – I don’t need to talk about him that much. He was meant to be a key component to the team when he was signed in 2008, but by 2010 he was a bench player and clearly declining at a player
- Andres Torres – I love this guy and he was a significant part of the World Series team. His value was even greater given that he filled two very glaring holes; CF and leadoff. But looking at the rest of his career, the Giants clearly got lucky with him. Even if he had been able to do a repeat performance in 2011, he was already entering his mid-30s, so his long term value in terms of building a dynasty was limited
- Juan Uribe – Signed to be a utility infielder, Uribe definitely supported a rather shaky infield in 2009. He split his starts evenly between 2B, SS, and 3B (35,34,35). He established himself as a SS in 2010, starting there in about half of the games. Given what he has done with the Dodgers, the Giants were wise not to bet on him for the long term. In 2010, he was only 30 (if you believe his birth certificate), but was never intended to be a long term part of the team
- Edgar Rentaria – I always thought this was a bad signing. Again, they Giants were buying high. Yes, he was still relatively young, but you can’t sign a 32 year old middle infielder and expect him to be an impact on the team for years to come (unless, of course, his name is Omar Vizquel). Best case scenario, he over performs for his 2 year contract…which would have meant being an average player
- Huff – The Giants had a back log of promising first-basemen in the system, they had all but given up on Ishikawa as a starter, so they bought low after a bad year from Huff. They were hoping to get the 2008 Huff (.304, 34 HR) rather than the 2009 Huff (.241, 15 HR). Turns out, they got a satisfying compromise, .290, 26 HR, plus a good clubhouse presence. But despite that, it’s clear that he was never intended to be stationed on the right corner of the diamond for the next 5-8 years
- Jose Guillen – no comment
- Burrell – He is one of my favorites from that team. I will never begrudge Sabean from signing a player past his prime to a minor league contract, just like Brad Penny this year, in the hopes that a fresh town and start will revive a storied career. If Burrell couldn’t cut it, he wouldn’t have made the team. But he could and did and was a huge part of that team. That said, even he didn’t see himself as a long term member of the orange and black
- Cody Ross – the NLCS MVP was a great pickup. But let’s face it, he was a mistake. Sabean claimed him off waivers to keep the Padres from getting him. He was sure surprised with the Marlins just let him go. He was great for us and had the potential to be a longer term player at just 29 in 2010, but we all know that didn’t pan out (currently hitting .271 with 8 HR in Boston)
Now you look at 2012 Giants lineup:
- Posey – We know he is going to be on the team for a long time, and a key contributor on the field, at the plate, and in the clubhouse
- Brandons – While these guys are still a little shaky, I don’t see the Giants giving up on them as long term prospects. They have both proven they can do it in the field, they are both young and under team control for quite some time, they just need a little confidence with the bat to be key contributors to this team for years to come
- Pagan/Cabrera/Blanco – Not only does he anchor the trio in CF, Pagan is also the elder statesmen in the OF at only 30. Blanco is 28 and Cabrera is 27. A lot has to happen for this trio to be long term contributors, including repeat performances, but they have the tools and age on their side
- Pablo – His ability to contribute to the team is directly related to his ability to grow up. Once he realizes that he can’t do (or eat) whatever he wants, that he can’t be at bars at 1am when he should be rehabbing (even innocently), that goofiness is fine and good in the clubhouse but he has to be serious at times, then he can be considered a long term solution. If he grows up, I can see him anchoring the IF for the next 3-5 years. And by then, Selig will have likely forced the NL to adopt the DH rule, so Pablo can do that
- That only leaves 2B unanswered, and possibly RF. But it is potentially 5-7 players who can produce for this team for the long term
I, and the rest of Giants Fandom, will forever remember the winning, unique, thong-wearing, beard-growing team of 2010 very very fondly. There is nothing like seeing a rag-tag bunch of outcasts get a second chance, pull together, win the World Series, and make a whole city go crazy with Giants mania. I will forever dedicate a substantial portion of my limited memory to that year. But it was hard to feel the promise of that team. Even as the streamers stopped falling and the dried champagne was cleaned off the floor at Texas Stadium, I couldn’t help but wonder how many of those guys we would see again. Two years down the road, I know the answer, and I couldn’t be more excited about the Giants I’ll see for the next five years. Lock ’em up, Sabes!