The ever more upsetting and frustrating Bay Area sports landscape has managed to finally disgruntle most of Giants Nation...
...or at least that's what it seems like to me.
Most of us are just disgusted with all the losing associated with being a fan in this area. Lord knows fans in other cities like Cleveland have suffered much more than us-- but at least they have LeBron (for the time being).
Who do we have here? We've got Patrick Willis, Monta Ellis, Lincecum, and I guess Nnamdi Asomughua (if you want to count the Raiders as a professional team). Of course we have an all-star hockey roster toiling in relative anonymity in San Jose, but even the Sharks continually rip my heart out every postseason.
It's just a tough place to be a fan right now. Even with the surprising season from our Gyros in '09, it ended in a bitter fashion. With this distaste on our palettes (I'm thinking gross-ass Indian food the day after not brushing your teeth), we shifted our focus to the NFL season at hand. For those of us upstanding Giants/49ers fans, it was hope and elation, leading up to a fateful afternoon in Minneapolis when Brett Favre threw a spiraling pigskin ball that burst our exuberant bubble on its way into Greg Lewis's hands.
The bright spots have been few and far between. Other than the steady Willis and Gore, a few bright spots like Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, and Dashon Goldson come to mind; glowing embers amongst a darkened abyss of abject failure and missed opportunities.
Living amongst the tall grasses surrounding Bay Area wetlands lives an extremely rare creature. This creature is confused, unhappy, and lives a solitary nocturnal life. This bizarre species is known as the Giants/Raiders fan. There are less than 2,000 of these oddball hybrids left, as 50 have died from self-inflicted injuries brought on by the sight of JaMarcus Russell attempting to play football and the thought of Darrius Heyward-Bey being picked ahead of Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin.
And don't even get me started on the Warriors. I don't have words for it anymore. I really don't. It's indescribable.
Not that you didn't know any of these things already. We've been in collective pain for years. Other than Lincecum and the time the Warriors made the playoffs that one time, there's been nothing to cheer about. Everything North of HP Pavilion is a wasteland-- something like Central Nevada or Afghanistan.
With the Giants, the frustration is possibly at its highest levels since Armando Benitez had a job. It's frustration with ownership, frustration with Sabean, frustration with the system.
It's a helpless feeling most of us have. We look at our improbable attempt at a Wild Card berth last year in what was, without a doubt, the most atrocious offense the Giants have ever had. Basic problem solving: identify the problem. Step two is solving the problem in the best possible way.
Problem: No hitting, no power
Ideal Solution: Matt Holliday or Jason Bay
The realistic solution is what has driven 70% of Giants fans into a state of anger and delirium. It's not so much Mark DeRosa that is upsetting these people. What's really upsetting them is the seemingly never-ending cycle of replacing inadequate or used-up parts with slightly used or slightly more adequate ones.
This process is something akin to trading in a 1990 Plymouth Voyager for a 1995 Dodge Grand Caravan. What's next? A 2000 Chrysler Town & Country?
More succinctly, management has continued to add, as Raising Matt Cain would say, "One-Aaron-Rowand-at-a-time". Meaning, a vicious cycle of adding average, complementary veterans every year-- veterans that would be absolutely killer in a lineup where they are the 4th or 5th best hitter.
We all understand this. I know. I know.
In spite of the apparent mediocrity, the DeRosa signing is a step in the right direction. No, he isn't Bay or Holliday. But God dammit you guys, how many times do Brian Sabean and I need to tell you this... WE CANNOT SIGN THOSE GUYS/WE ARE NOT INTERESTED!
Sorry, I'm not rubbing it in, and its basis may be on a scale somewhere between "It sucks to be us" and "That's BS!", but it's the way it is.
Just like we were spoiled by the 49ers' dominance through the '80s and '90s, we were spoiled by Barry Bonds. Sabean made a brilliant buy low trade that turned into Jeff Kent (so don't say Sabes never takes you anywhere!). From there, a carousel of complementary veterans and mid-priced guys drove us to the brink of a World Series victory.
As we all know, Barry was a once in a lifetime player, and anchored this team for years. In addition to that note is that Jeff Kent was a once in a lifetime trade acquisition. Not very often do GM's pull off things like that. Perhaps not since the great Bartolo Colon for Grady Sizemore/Cliff Lee/Brandon Phillips heist of '99 has such a thing happened.
The point of bringing up history is that there is no quick fix out there. There is no Barry Bonds or Alex Rodriguez on the market; no one that would drive ownership to the brink of financial peril at the thought of adding such a talent.
We all know that Bay and Holliday would help. But these are not the types of players that lead you to the promised land. These are not the guys that you say, "This is it. This is our one guy. He will be the solution to all our problems for the next 5 or 6 years."
Trust me, in two or three years when Bay's defense is so bad that the Mets are forced to try him at 1st base, or in two years when the Cardinals cannot afford to match the Red Sox's offer to Albert Pujols because they signed Matt Holliday to a $90MM deal, you will understand. Then St. Louis will see what a mistake they made by stretching their payroll beyond its abilities and boundaries.
Such behavior with the Giants could cause us to lose our own future hall of famer in Timmy Lincecum. That's not something anyone could live with. The thought of it makes me sick.
As for DeRosa, look, baseball-wise, he's a perfect fit on any team. He may not do anything at an elite level, but the man is the essence of a baseball player and human glue. And yes, I know you jaded fans will remind me that "essence of baseball player" is the same cologne we slapped on when we signed Aaron Rowand. Trust me, I know.
And yes, we all scoff at the idea of M.D. (Can we call him "The Doctor" or "Dr. DeRosa"?) playing 3B when left is occupied by an unholy platoon of A.U. and Torres. Unfortunately, Bruce Bochy is a stubborn son of a bitch and is extremely deliberate. His lineups can be maddening; at times unconscionable. With that in mind, it may take a month of two for DeRosa to fully usurp the left field position-- but rest assured that it WILL happen at some point.
My last two points begin with this: The offseason is not over yet, and we don't know what is yet to come. It most certainly will not include Matt Holliday, so just please, knock it off for your own mental health. It is possible that a player like Adam LaRoche could come in to play first and a guy like Miguel Olivo could come in to play catcher.
It is also highly conceivable that the Gyros acquire Pat Burrell from Tampa Bay in a prospect-light salary dump. Burrell is due $9MM this year (FA in '11), and a mid-level prospect would go Tampa's way, while Burrell and $4MM would come this way. Say what you want about Pat the Bat, but he's a Bay Area Native, and in 2008, he slugged his way to a .250/.367/.507 line. Granted he was sandwiched into an absurd lineup, but the man could always hit at a decent clip. Certainly a better clip than anyone not named Panda, Kung Fu.
His season in Tampa last year was a relative disaster, but he was playing DH in the American League, so I believe he was never fully comfortable.
This isn't just something out of left field (although Burrell plays left ironically). The Rays need to dump his salary to keep in line with their own budget constraints in their quest to re-sign Carl Crawford. He was linked to the Cubs' effort to rid themselves of Malignant Bradley before Chicago agreed to take the corpse of Carlos Silva instead.
This scenario is something that crossed my mind earlier this offseason, but the Uggla rumors took over. This discussion on MLBTR jogged my interest in a Burrell deal.
Look, Burrell is not a great fielder, and I will not post his UZR ratings, because they are fugly. Let's say that he's got a great arm, and made only 2 errors in 2008. Okay? What the hell is UZR anyway?
Point two is as simple as this-- are we currently better or worse than last year? With Uribe inevitably coming back, and the addition of DeRosa, you honestly cannot say we're worse.
Maybe Uribe hits a few less dongs. But, maybe a healthy Renteria his a few more. Maybe Aaron Rowand gets on HGH or Ishikawa learns how to hit on the road. Maybe Nate Schierholtz or John Bowker figure it out. Maybe Buster Posey is ready to play.
Yes, it's a lot of ifs, but dude, how could Renteria/Rowand/Schierholtz/Bowker/Ishikawa be that much worse than last year? It's just unlikely.
And just think about how friggin close we were to the playoffs last year. Maybe DeRosa's 15-20 dingers could be the difference. Think of all the goddamn 1 and 2 run losses we had.
The bottom line is yes, we are all frustrated, and not just because of the Giants. These are indeed frustrating times across the board. What we need to do is look at the positives in this situation.
The '10 Giants are already better than the '09 version. My advice? Stop complaining and start looking forward to April.