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NL West Offseason Review: San Francisco Giants

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Relevant Transactions:
Signed OF Aaron Rowand to a five-year contract
Selected Jose Capellan in the Rule V Draft

The Giants entered the offseason looking at 2008, and likely 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 as completely dead seasons. The team lacked any young assets aside from Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum, they let go of one of the best players in baseball, and the best veteran the team has could be Omar Vizquel, who hit .246/.305/.316 last year, but is at least useful defensively. As we've seen from the rebuilding projects of the Athletics and the Orioles this season, you can get a heck of a lot more bang for your buck if you decide to rebuild while you still have some useful assets instead of waiting for them to age for a few years and lose value. While the Giants should have started rebuilding in 2005, they could have at least started a rebuilding process in 2008, tried to improve the farm system by trading anyone they had of any value, invested heavily in the rule five draft and looked for any high upside players that had been non tendered, as well as leaving roster slots open for any out of option players that get waived following spring training. Instead, the Giants did the worst possible thing they could do: nothing.

To be a competitive baseball team you need good players, several of them help, and even more if your roster is filled with dead weight. You can either get these from your farm system, either by developing them or using your prospects as trading chips, or you can try to outbid the Yankees and Red Sox for the seemingly more and more uncommon elite free agents. The Giants organization right now really lacks good players. They have three or four on the active roster, a couple of nice prospects in Angel Villona and Henry Sosa, and that's pretty much it. The team's goal this offseason should have been to accumulate enough young players where they actually can begin a rebuilding process. What the Giants are doing right now by sticking Kevin Fransden at a corner infield position doesn't count.  

How could they actually start rebuilding? By dealing whatever assets they have. Noah Lowry and Jonathan Sanchez are nice young pitchers that would be desired but wouldn't really be missed in the long run. That wouldn't get the Giants nearly far enough though, maybe get them a couple of B prospects and some long shots. Though I usually balk at dealing elite young talent for anything, the Giants really needed to deal Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum this Winter for a farm system. The team is so bad right now that I doubt either of them would still be under the Giants control when the team becomes a contender again, and the package that the Giants could have received for four years of Cain or six years of Lincecum would have blown away any of the other big pitching deals this Winter. Unless either of those guys do something truly amazing this season, I doubt their value will ever be higher than it is right now, and waiting just prolongs the Giants badness. Again, I usually wouldn't advocate something like this, but the Giants are in a desperate situation and need to do something drastic.

It also doesn't help that they committed sixty million to a guy whose performance fluctuates between super stud and fourth outfielder (real fourth outfielder, not Eric Byrnes or Andre Ethier) with no middle ground. In the end though, it doesn't matter, the team is going to be absolutely horrible until they can actually start the rebuilding process in three years. Until the Giants actually bother to build a farm system, the team will be bad, even though they arguably have the best staff in a very pitching rich division. Just because they didn't sign Luis Gonzalez and Livan Hernandez doesn't mean the team is actually learning anything.

Overall Grade: F