It was a pretty good week for San Francisco baseball fans. If your two favorite teams are the Giants and whoever is playing the Dodgers, then the Houston Astros’ World Series victory was a sliver of pie after a season that amounted to a giant bowl of cold gruel.
Giants fans were predictably cheeky in their reaction. After Houston shortstop Carlos Correa publicly proposed to his girlfriend in the aftermath of Game 7 on Wednesday, they pointed out that the future Mrs. Correa got a ring before Clayton Kershaw. Some even suggested that when the Giants open the 2018 season next March 29, they will walk into Dodger Stadium with a little extra swagger.
Let’s hope they don’t. Because when the glee of an LA failure recedes, the truth will be apparent: The Giants’ roster is miles behind the Dodgers’. And the Astros’.
Watching that brilliant championship series, it was clear that the gap between the Giants and the World Series participants was as striking as the 40 games that separated Los Angeles and San Francisco in the National League West standings this year.
Some of the factors behind the Giants’ no-parachute skydive were unforeseeable: Mark Melancon’s ineffectiveness as closer, Johnny Cueto’s blisters, Madison Bumgarner doing his own stunts. Others have been right in front of our noses all along.
A lot of people framed this year’s World Series as the team purchased with a credit card (the Dodgers) vs. the team grown with seeds, fertilizer, a watering can and gumption (the Astros). The truth is that both of these organizations have done a much better job of developing young talent than the Giants.
Just look at the draft selections made by the three teams starting in 2010.
Since that year, which launched the Giants’ championship run, Houston added, among others, center fielder and World Series MVP George Springer (drafted in 2011), shortstop Carlos Correa (2012), starting pitcher Lance McCullers (2012) and third baseman Alex Bregman (2015). The Dodgers’ draft haul has included outfielder Joc Pederson (2010), shortstop Corey Seager (2012), reliever Ross Stripling (2012) and first baseman Cody Bellinger (2013).
The Giants’ 2017 roster was full of guys drafted since 2010. In fact, by sheer number they outweighed either the Dodgers or Astros. Heading the list were Jarrett Parker (2010); Joe Panik, Josh Osich, Kelby Tomlinson, Derek Law and Kyle Crick (all 2011); Ty Blach, Steven Okert and Chris Stratton (2012); Ryder Jones and Christian Arroyo (2013); and Austin Slater (2014).
Lots of names. Just not many guys you’d care to build a baseball team around. Carlos Correa and Corey Seager are MVP candidates. No offense to Joe Panik, a very nice player, but he’ll never be at that level.
Of course, you don’t have to draft a player to develop him. The Dodgers got Austin Barnes in a 2014 trade, when he was a minor leaguer, and turned him into a World Series catcher. The Astros did something similar with outfielder Marwin Gonzalez, reliever Chris Devenski and pitcher Joe Musgrove.
The only guy the Giants could make that claim about is Hunter Strickland, whom they claimed when the Pirates waived him in 2013.
None of this is breaking news. Talk of the Giants’ declining farm system has grown from a whisper to an angry shout since the team won its third World Series in five years in 2014, and has put general manager Bobby Evans on blast. The organization that brought you Tim Lincecum, Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner — home-grown talents, all of them — has increasingly relied on signing (and trading for) established major leaguers.