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Simply put, it's time for some new faces on the corner of 3rd and King

Did this team really win the 2010 World Series with Cody Ross, Aubrey Huff and Andres Torres playing starring roles?

The answer is yes, they did, and while the magical run of 2010 will never completely fade, the cold, hard reality of 2011 pulled the team to the bottom of the ocean like an anvil: the Giants relied too heavily on too many players who overachieved the previous October.

Last year, the emotion and sentiment provided a one year window, a year to bask in the afterglow of a title.

That year is over, has been for a while now. And before the calendar officially flips to 2012, it’s imperative management realizes just how anemic and pathetic the offense was last summer.

Here’s some numbers, in case they accidentally deleted them:

29th/30th: runs scored

29th/30th: OBP%

27th/30th: OPS

22nd/30th: HR’s

Not a single player with more than 335 AB’s batted above .250. Is that even possible?

Yes, they were dealt some bad cards, none worse than the gruesome injury suffered by Buster Posey in late May during a nasty home plate collision. While Posey’s absence pointed to a glaring lack of offense, let’s not confuse the young catcher with Albert Pujols. Still ascending as player, Posey was on pace for 15 HR’s and 80-something RBI’s. Nice numbers, but hardly enough to mask the other deficiencies.

Winning with role players playing pivotal roles is intoxicating, to the point where it alters reality. Yes, they won the World Series, but they did so because average players had career years, or more specifically, career moments. The pitching did the rest.

Brian Sabean has some tough calls to make from the GM’s chair, and they need to be aggressive plays, innovative plays.

The first call he needs to make is to Philadelphia to gauge Ruben Amaro’s interest in Aubrey Huff. With Ryan Howard down with a ruptured Achilles, Huff could serve as a perfect band-aid at first base. He’s a good clubhouse guy, and a grinder, and with an expiring contract, should be financially appealing. Still, if the Phils won’t bite on the $11 million price tag, offer to eat a few. That should seal the deal.

By shipping Huff east, you also open up first base for Brandon Belt, who at this point, quite frankly, needs to play every day. Belt is legit, and has hit at every level, as his .343 minor league average attests. It’s his time.

The next move is to focus on attainable free-agents, players looking for 3-4 years. Forget about Pujols and Fielder and Reyes, not happening. Think, the next-tier.

Letting Carlos Beltran walk should also be part of the plan. His decaying knees are a terrible fit for Triple’s Alley, and he is no longer a reliable, day-to-day thumper. Resist the temptation, and instead focus on the bigger bat across the bay: Josh Willingham.

Imagine this line-up behind Lincecum, Cain and Bumgarner:

1. Jimmy Rollins, SS (FA, 3 year + option with attainable clauses for 4th)

2.  Grady Sizemore, CF (FA, 2 years, 14.5 million)

3. Pablo Sandoval, 3B

4. Buster Posey, C

5. Josh Willigham, LF (3 years, 27.5 million)

6. Brandon Belt, 1B

7. Freddy Sanchez/Keppinger 2B

8. Nate Shierholtz, RF

This offers a nice balance of speed and power, veteran IQ and youthful exuberance, lefty and righty sticks.

Is this the perfect team? Hardly. Were the Cardinals? Rolling the dice on the injury-prone Sizemore is risky, but think about the upside. Same with Rollins. This creates a window of competitive play, with a high level of interest at the box office, which equates to consistent revenue.

More importantly, it buys time for the organization before dealing with the excruciating decision of parting ways with one of their aces.

CC Sabathia’s extension with the Yankees redefined the market for pitchers, and with Lincecum and Cain in their physical prime and their contracts expiring sooner than Giants fans want to admit, the question must be asked: is it financially plausible to pay both upwards of 20 million per season?

For me, the answer is no.

May as well win a few games now, reinvest that World Series money, get back to the playoffs in ’12 and then address that shadow slowly swallowing up the pitcher’s mound on the corner of 3rd and King.

It’s lurking. Lincecum or Cain. Tough call.

But for now, here’s the blue print, Mr. Sabean.

Plenty of arms, but a dearth of sticks...

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2 Comments

  1. makes me wince to see Willingham’s name associated with the Giants…

    but then again, he was only an Athletic for a year.

  2. Aaron

     /  11/04/2011

    Change out Sizemore for Crisp. Crisp has got to be the chalk for C.

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