Giants' frequent roster moves signify new approach for team
PHOENIX — Unlike some executives around the sport, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi does not believe it is advantageous to lose 100 games to lay the foundation for a rebuild.
The Astros have done it three times this decade, the Cubs did it once and the Phillies and Red Sox have combined to lose more than 90 games five times since 2010. The Giants, by Zaidi’s estimation, have already done enough losing, and they’re not likely to finish with a winning record this season, either.
There will come a time in Zaidi’s tenure — perhaps as soon as 2020, but more likely 2021 — when winning and contending will be the defining measures of the Giants’ success. That is not the case this season, but it doesn’t mean Zaidi has a desire to watch the team combust on a nightly basis.
Flames don’t signify progress.
In his first year on the job, Zaidi is already catching heat from the Giants’ fan base for his desire to experiment. A certain segment of fans wonders if the “opener” is necessary, another is uncertain about the revolving door in left field and more are unclear about the constant roster churn.
Fans didn’t rush out to buy Connor Joe jerseys and they won’t be looking for an Aaron Altherr t-shirt in the local dugout store, either. By the end of the season, however, Zaidi hopes the Giants’ willingness to experiment will give the front office a much clearer picture of the supplies they have in-house and the holes they’ll need to patch with help from a trip to the hardware store.
If winning isn’t the ultimate way to measure the Giants’ success in 2019, how should fans evaluate Zaidi’s first year? What defines progress?
The answer is complex, and not everyone will agree on the criteria. Suspended Giants CEO Larry Baer believes the organization should strive to contend every year, but it’s this mentality that compelled Brian Sabean and Bobby Evans to further delay a rebuild after a 98-loss season in 2017. Many fans, including some season ticket holders who pay top dollar to attend games, agree there’s no excuse for a major market team to hold back. If the Giants have deep pockets, why not reach for the bottom and go all-in?
Without a world-class scouting department that hits annually on draft picks and spends wisely in the international market for top talent, contending annually without suffering any hiccups is remarkably difficult. Only the Yankees and Cardinals have had a winning record each year this decade, as even the Dodgers fell below .500 in 2010.
For some franchises like the Astros and Cubs, a culture of winning took shape thanks to years of losing. The accumulation of draft picks, shifts in organizational philosophies and changes in leadership were all byproducts of repeated last-place finishes. Under Zaidi’s watch, the Giants are attempting to reestablish a winning culture through experimentation rather than tanking.
Joe and Michael Reed combined to go 1-for-23 as corner outfielders and after two weeks of play, both had been designated for assignment. Gerardo Parra offered plus-defense and a veteran bat, but he failed to produce at the plate, leaving the Giants with a chance to check on younger players who will have more of a chance to factor into the future.