A Fan’s Perspective on the World Champion SF Giants Off Season

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A few weeks ago, one of my dear friends e-mailed me to ask what had happened to my enthusiasm for the Baseball Winter Meetings. I think that my feelings for the Winter Meetings changed when it went from being an opportunity for teams to trade players to try to shore up their weaknesses to being an economic “cattle call,” where it’s about where high priced free agents are going to sign, for how many years and for how much money. I have always been more excited with trades than with free agent signings. I have never liked the economic side of baseball, much preferring what I actually see on the grassy fields of AT & T Park, along with the World Series trophy, which now resides in San Francisco. I know that it’s been two months since the Giants won the World Series, but I am still trying to adjust to this reality.
So, what did the Giants do in the off season? The Giants pitching, their strength was largely left untouched with perhaps one minor player signing elsewhere. The Giants did reward Aubrey Huff with a three year contract after another team had aggressively pursued him. This is a good signing. Huff is a good player, a chemistry guy who put up good numbers. The Giants also re-signed Pat Burrell, a veteran spark, who definitely helped the Giants into the post season for a bargain price; it is also indicative of how much Burrell wanted to remain in the Bay Area with his hometown team. Would another team have paid him more? Possibly, but he really wanted to stay with the Giants.
As with all teams you are always going to get players moving from one team to another from one year to another. The Giants lost Juan Uribe to the hated L.A. Dodgers, because they offered more money for more years more quickly than the Giants. I do appreciate Uribe for his clutch play– hitting and defense, his NLCS-winning home run versus the Phillies, and the fact that his second cousin, the late Jose Uribe, one of my favorite Giants of the 1980’s, who I know is smiling down from Heaven on the Giants’ World Championship. Generally, I do boo former Giants players who go to the Dodgers, but I feel that Uribe’s contributions to the Giants will over shadow this feeling. While I won’t boo him, I will not cheer for him either– heck, he’s a Dodger.
To replace Juan Uribe, the Giants signed Miguel Tejada, who started his career with the Oakland A’s a few years ago, and spent last year with the Houston Astros and the San Diego Padres. Tejada is projected as the starting shortstop with the end of World Series’ MVP Edgar Renteria’s expensive contract. The Giants are negotiating to bring back Renteria, but they are currently having a problem with the amount of money, and the gap is fairly wide. I also think that the Giants are viewing Renteria as a utility player, and I don’t think that Renteria views himself in that role. I think that Renteria should have retired with a pretty good career, book-ended as a World Series MVP in 1997 and in 2010.
What do I see for the 2011 San Francisco Giants? I am tired of the Phillies, who signed ace Cliff Lee, already projecting themselves as the 2011 World Champs. The season hasn’t even started yet, and who knows what will happen during the course of the long baseball season. I think that the Giants’ pitching will keep them highly competitive in the NL West, and in the National League, altogether. I am thrilled to see what Madison Bumgarner and Jonathan Sanchez will do over the course of next season, along with Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, and Barry Zito. I do think that all of these pitchers are capable of winning twenty games this year. Yes, even Barry Zito, who has done it before.
And what about the hitters? Freddy Sanchez should be healthy and with the Giants all season, along with Pat Burrell and Cody Ross, so I am hoping that there will be less of the Giants’ offensive “torture” that was indicative of 2010. I am also hoping and praying that the Giants will get a better offensive year from Aaron Rowand, a true professional, who never publicly complained about being relegated to bench duty. Which Pablo Sandoval will show up? The offensive Sandoval, from 2009 with a .330 batting average and 25 home runs, or the one who struggled in 2010 and was benched for parts of the year? Will Andres Torres continue to be the offensive and defensive force that he was 2010? This speculation is part of what makes baseball so much fun, not knowing what will happen in the future. Of course, it is a markedly different feeling coming off a World Series Championship. Surreal, unbelievable and different. I do not have to think “Wait until next year” or that next year could be the Giants’ year because 2010 was The Year!!
I have also seen the World Series Trophy, which is something of a Holy Grail. It is bright, gleaming and beautiful and was surrounded by security. I was able to see it at San Francisco City Hall. I will get the pictures posted later on. I may have the opportunity to see it again, and I will every time. While it is a reminder of the 2010 World Championship Giants, it is, to me, the mark of perseverance of being a San Francisco Giants fan. I knew that one day my faith and devotion to this team and this City would pay off. I am already looking forward to Opening Day 2011.
I do wish all my readers out there a wonderful Holiday season, and the hope for an even better year in 2011.  And hopefully, maybe the Giants will repeat…

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