Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants. With the no-longer-satanic Rays transforming their outfielder glut into pitching goodness and the other clodhopper franchises (Rangers, Orioles, Pirates) simply refraining from shooting themselves in the foot, the Giants have seized the dumbest-team conch.
This is almost as much of an achievement as the team's mid-1990s run and took a lot more work. The good years were predicated on a single spectacular acquisition and a handful of savvy supporting ones; the down era that commenced in 2005 required superhuman neglect, complacency and incompetence.
|Noah Lowry wonders what kind of numbers he could have with an offense. (Getty Images)|
Short-term outlook: The 2008 Giants can look over the horizon to see the perfect storm of suck heading in their direction. The position players are old and, in accordance with nature's wishes, not getting younger. The pitching staff, while talented, will be sent to the mound knowing that they'll lose if they allow more than three runs. That's no way to live.
The real problem isn't what's going on within the organization, though. No, it's that the Giants find themselves residing in a division that's on the cusp of becoming monstrously competitive.
One could argue that the Diamondbacks, Dodgers and Rockies have three of the five most fertile collections of prospects and young players in the bigs; the Dodgers can supplement that youth base by spending boatloads of cash in free agency.
The Padres might not be as well off prospect-wise, but they are run as well as any team in the game. That leaves the prospect- and smarts-deficient Giants as a doormat, not just for 2008 but for three or four seasons to come.
Assets: As far as starting rotations go, you can do a whole lot worse than Matt Cain/Barry Zito/Tim Lincecum/Noah Lowry/Kevin Correia or Jonathan Sanchez. Similarly, while nobody's going to confuse guys like Brian Wilson, Tyler Walker and Brad Hennessey with Joel Zumaya (before he dropped a piano on his shoulder, that is), all three are more than capable of getting out good hitters in innings seven through nine.
Meanwhile, we're always so quick to say "hey, the skipper of so-and-so team is a mouth-breather" that we oughta toss a few kind words Bruce Bochy's way: He knows what he's doing. It's Bochy's poor fortune that his arrival in San Francisco happened to coincide with the swan song of the game's most potent offensive force.
Liabilities: Put on your gas masks and rubber gloves. The Giants' opening day starting nine could look something like this:
C Bengie Molina ("When I was your age, catchers squatted even when their team was hitting! And we didn't wear cups or fancy throat-protector thingamadoohickeys!")
1B Dan Ortmeier (who?)