Thursday, November 10, 2011

Youth, the final frontier

John Shea recently made the point that the Giants are getting younger. Jonathan Sanchez (Nov '82) was the oldest member of the vaunted Youth Starting Corps that led the club to the title in 2010. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and the barely-legal Madison Bumgarner are all younger than JS. The rest of the ro' is filled out with old guys Ryan Vogelsong and Barry Zito, but Eric Surkamp, all of 23, is knocking on the door. It is a different story in the 'pen, filled with the likes of Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez, Ramon Ramirez, Guillermo Mota, and Santiago Casilla, but no one is complaining about gray hair in that bunch, and we may have seen the last of WillyMo, The Great Old One. Sergio Romo, Dan Runzler, Steve Edlefsen, and Waldis Joaquin are all younger than JS, with Brian Wilson (Mar '82) just ahead. Like I said, no one is complaining about the bullpen, and we all know how much Boch-n-Rags value experience. What's interesting to me is what the lineup will look like next season. Other than oldsters Freddy Sanchez and Aubrey Huff on the right side of the infield, the rest of the club is 28 years old or younger. Not-quite-a-rookie-anymore Brandon Crawford looks like he'll get the nod at short. Pablo Sandoval is still absurdly young, as is Buster Posey. Nate Schierholtz (Feb '84) is the senior member of the outfield, edging newcomer Melky Cabrera (Aug '84) and lapping Baby Giraffe Brandon Belt (Apr '88). WHEN'S THE LAST TIME THE GIANTS FIELDED A TEAM LIKE THIS ONE?

I'm ready to take my chances with this bunch of kids. We know the pitching is there. We know the offense is a question mark. But all I see is upside. LOTS of upside. Who is ready to embrace The Youth Movement with me?



Zo said...

Youth is great if the alternative is grandpas whose batting falls off a cliff and who can barely hobble their way around the bases. It is great to see the Giants have a group of players with at least an expectation that they will not decline with age in the next few years. The real question, though, is whether the hitting potential from these youngsters is actually enough to make a difference (and push us back decisively into the playoffs). I would say that, compared to last year, there is only upside. Some commenter on Lefty Malo pointed out how much better a lineup including Melky and Beltran looked compared to a linep including Melky but not Beltran, and I have to agree (even though I do not think we'll see such a lineup). I do want to see Belt play. He is a guy that was supposed to be the next big Posey-like thing, and when he wasn't right away, he was benched. He had his struggles last year, including being asked to play different positions, but he is a rookie - lots of guys go through that.

Ron said...

Pssshaw! It's November, the Holidays are coming up, the Hot Stove has just barely been lit, & I'm not ready to just say 'let's just go with these Kids!"

The proposed lineup has the following fundamental premises involving young players: Brandon Belt is a can't-miss star; Nate Schierholtz can hit consistently against both RHP's & LHP's; Brandon Crawford is ready to be an everyday major leaguer. Unfortunately, I am not a solid believer in any of these premises.

We are a HUGELY RICH team, despite the BS being propagated about our limited resources. That doesn't mean that we should spend like the Yankees. It does mean that, in November, we should still be thinking about doing something to, like Zo says, 'push us back decisively into the playoffs'.

We can roll the dice on the proposed lineup (& no injuries) & squeak into the playoffs & that would be much nicer than 2011. Or, we can take advantage of our core of talent & our relative wealth & do something decisive.

The best option out there in our price range is 'sign Lincecum, sign Cain, sign Beltran'.

We are going have to sweat it out awhile - Beltran will probably have to wait until Pujols & Fielder sign to find out exactly what the next tier of Free Agents is worth. That may take awhile. Or, we can slightly overpay Beltran & sign him sooner.

On the 5th starter side, I'd like to see us try to get Oswalt or Buehrle. Also, our RH Relief Pitching needs a little more in the way of flamethrowers. I'd like to see us go after Nathan or Aardsma (gives us a nice 'returns home' angle, too), but they'd have to be content with a 7th inning role.

Anonymous said...


I don't know about them, but when I was in gym class, I always seemed to play better with my friends who were in my same grade.

Still, I hope we keep Andres. If we keep him, I'll be happy.


P.S. Surkamp and Crawford are big question marks, though, it looks like Zeets will have to crap the sheets or an injury would need to occur before Surkamp gets to start. I will say that I don't believe that what we saw of him last season was the real Surkamp. He may not be as amazing as he looked in the minors, but I feel like he'll be a fine 4th starter in time. Crawford, though he may never hit well, can take a pitch and play good defense. If his hitting just improved a little, he'd be a league average shortstop which would be very valuable these days.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Crawford may be a risk, but the Giants don't have a choice. He's what they've got. You'd rather Willie Bloomquist or Clint Barmes or Yuniesky Betancourt? Because that is what you will get if you hold out dollars and say "bring me a shortstop." Of course there is always Orlando Cabrera . . .

Brother Bob said...

I'm waiting to hear from JC on the trade of JSanchez for Melky. When we traded a minor league pitcher for a potential HOF outfielder he went berserk. Now we traded a ML veteran with a no-hitter on his resume for a merely decent outfielder. My bro must be too apoplectic to write.
About the young players- I think it's very pleasant to think of the team in this way. So much of our talent is in the "wait-and-see" mode and of course we all hope that some of them live up to and perhaps exceed their expectations.
In general the superstars are obviously destined for greatness right from the get-go and don't require years of waiting a la Manny Burriss, Nate Scheirholz and many others.

Zo said...

If you look at what has been going on during the off season in the minor leagues, right now it looks like Crawford is much more the sure thing than Belt. Defense from a shortstop is of overwhelming importance, and if you don't believe that, please review the 2011 season.

In the Chron today, Jonathan Sanchez was quoted as saying he expected to be traded, that the Giants had been trying to trade him for years. WTF planet is this guy on? I think, if anything, the Giants found every excuse NOT to trade the guy. Persistent in his inconsistency and his famous ability to go from pinpoint control to no clue between two pitches (and, sometimes, back again), he had to have driven his coaches crazy. We held on to him through all of his two inning outings because of his superlative "stuff" which was even better than Lincecum's. Although he always had the stuff, he never seemed to take significant steps forward. I wish him luck, but given his remarks, I have to wonder about his attitude.

Although I do not think we will sign Beltran, I would be thrilled to see us do so and have Belt platoon at OF and 1st, and Schierholtz platoon. I think Torres is a wonderful story, and he deserves to wear his 2010 World Series ring every day for the rest of his life, but he could hardly buy an rbi in 2011. In Baggarly's column posted at Extra Baggs on September 29, he listed the Giants players batting averages with 2 outs and RISP. It was mostly terrible (except for Orlando Cabrera's), but Torres was among the worst, at 0.086 in 35 at bats. If we need to add and trim outfielders, he is the guy to go (also, Ross). Also worth reading, Baggs' take on the Melky/Sanchez trade posted November 7.

It's Veterans Day. Take a moment out from your holiday to think about everything that means.

M.C. O'Connor said...

We had a gathering at our local pub this morning for 11/11 and toasted to "Remembrance Day" at 11:11. (That's what they call it in Canada.) My dad was a vet, so is my father-in-law, and I've many friends and former students who've worn or are still wearing a uniform. Lost a good friend this week, too, so there was a lot to think about!

I'm looking forward to more pointless arguing about baseball and less serious contemplating about life and death.

I'm cooking up a batch of beer tomorrow and I'll post something on my other blog () about it.

M.C. O'Connor said...

French Street Brewery

Ron said...

Today is also my Dad's 84th Birthday!

On the radio last night, Ron Wotus pretty much flat out said that Brandon Crawford will be in Fresno in 2012. Factor that into your planning, everyone. Clint Barmes? Not super-exciting. Jeff Keppinger? Even less exciting. Yuniesky Betancourt? No way. If we can't sign Beltran, then we should use some of the $ on Rollins.

Zo said...

If we do sign Beltran, there is no excuse not to play Crawford, regardless of how well or poorly he hits. There is no way that the Giants will chase more than one free agent, nor is there any rational reason for them to do so. I am not willing to abide a team that puts a shitty defense at shortstop behind our pitchers again this year.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Clint Barmes is a Giants-FA kind of guy. No way on Rollins. Crawford is the future, Rollins would require too many years.