Over the last decade or so, the NL struck me as much more balanced than the AL. There always seems to be six teams competing for the wild card down the stretch in NL, for example. Parity and balance ruled the senior circuit. The Phillies, however, decided to build an AL style offense through excellent development and shrewd signings and trades. Teams can no longer put together a decent set of players and hope that with a little luck they’ll win the pennant. A trip to the World Series now goes through Philadelphia, so if a NL team wants a title, they have to set their sites on the Phillies, not on their division leader. (emphasis mine)Pitching-wise, the Giants can match up with anyone. Hitting-wise, I think we embody the "decent set of players and hope" that Mr. Pinto is talking about. This is exactly my beef with our F.O. We bank too much on the flips coming up heads. The Yankees and Red Sox and Phillies have shown everyone what it takes, and that is to be absolutely stacked with good ballplayers. You protect yourself against injuries, flukes, down years, and bad breaks by having depth of talent. We all know, of course, that you could have the best, the richest, and the deepest team and still lose. Cold streaks, rotten luck, and random chance can ruin anyone in the playoffs or in the stretch run. Even assuming we get some production from Buster Posey in the dog days of this season, I still believe we will have to add another hitter after the Break. Sure, we could slip into the playoffs on pluck, grit, and guile, winning agonizing 4-3 nail-biters with sac flys and SBs, but those odds look kind of long to me. We are still going to need some OBP and some SLG if we want to knock off the big boys.
The Giants have added $14 M to the payroll from 2009 and now sit at $96 M, and $77 M is already committed to 2011. Does this signal a willingess by the ownership to "go for it?" To spend the really big bucks to keep up with the likes of Philadelphia? If so, rock on! There's always the danger of turning into the Mets, who spent $149 M last year to go 70-92, but I'd rather think big than small. This season will tell us if we are "all in" or not.
(payroll info from the invaluable Cot's Contracts)
update: So long, Freddie Lew. While FLew was never going to be a star, he was a decent ballplayer with some useful skills. I hope he finds his niche in Toronto.