The Giants’ offseason lasted 41 hours. The 2017 regular season ended, mercifully, on Pablo Sandoval’s walk-off home run at almost exactly 6 p.m. on Sunday evening. And by 11 a.m. Tuesday morning, the team brass assembled in the guts of AT&T Park to talk about the future.
Sure, the past was mentioned, too. But after a 98-loss season that was endured more than enjoyed, it makes sense that most of the questions looked forward rather than backward.
Executive vice president Brian Sabean, president and CEO Larry Baer, general manager Bobby Evans and manager Bruce Bochy sat elbow to elbow at a podium in the Nick Peters Interview Room. Each wore a black coat in a way that reflected his persona. Bochy had a leather jacket over a dress shirt, as if he might need to toss the jacket in a corner, roll up his sleeves and hit some fungo at any moment. Sabean donned a sports coat over a shirt with open collar, accentuating the eccentric-millionaire look. Baer and Evans were more corporate in coat and tie, though Evans’ tie had a baseball print.
Here are some of the things they did not say at this 2017 postmortem:
“You’d better buy a program next opening day, because you’re not going to recognize our starting lineup.”
“Matt Moore? Gone. Brandon Belt? Gone. Hunter Pence? GONE.”
“Giancarlo Stanton Giants jerseys go on sale at all Dugout stores next Wednesday.”
The Giants mostly stood pat a year ago, counting on the resources they already owned to get them back to the playoffs. The strategy failed badly. Holes at third base and left field were never adequately plugged and the starting pitchers weren’t good enough, and yes, the team had some bad luck, too. San Francisco was eliminated from NL West contention on Aug. 20.
All of which has led for calls from many quarters to rip the current roster to shreds and start over. Scorch the earth at China Basin. Other teams have done it. Hell, the A’s do it as habit. Submit to a couple years of Triple-A-level baseball and emerge with a young and talented team, ready to make some noise.
The Giants understand your impatience. But they’re willing to meet you only halfway.
“We’re coming off three consecutive winning seasons, including the World Series back in ’14, (and) ’16 being a playoff season. So we believe we have the core to build around,” Evans said. “But we also feel that there’s needs to be addressed. So you can’t come back next season with the same roster and expect different results.”
Sabean was even less compromising.
“We had a last-place season. That can happen in sports, just like you have a lost year in life,” he said. “But we’re not last-place people. We’re not a last-place organization. We’re the furthest thing from that. … This isn’t a blow-it-up. This isn’t a rebuild. We hope it’s a reset.”
Hmmm. Sabean was the architect of teams that won three World Series between 2010 and 2014, so you have to place some trust in him. But a reset seems optimistic for a team that finished 30th out of 30 MLB teams in home runs and slugging percentage, 29th in runs and on-base percentage, 28th in defensive efficiency ratio, and 27th in home runs allowed and opponents’ batting average.