Grant, the blog-king of McCovey Chronicles, was kind enough to answer a few questions from me during the week. The Giants were never my favorite team in the post season and I'm not sure they had the best roster for a 162 game season, but, much like the 2006 Cardinals, they were the best team in the post season and that's something that can never be taken away from them. Congrats to the San Francisco Giants on winning the World Series and thanks to Grant for taking the time to answer my questions.
1) I find that I recall each of the Cardinals recent post-season appearances as being encapsulated by a single event. 2004 had the baserunning blunder of Jeff Suppan. 2006 had Adam Wainwright striking out Carlos Beltran and 2009 had the misplay by Matt Holliday in LF. Was there a moment during the three series that encapsulated the Giants post-season?
Jonathan Sanchez getting yanked in the third inning of Game Six of the NLCS is the one that sticks out to me. Sanchez was melting into a puddle of goo in front of a national audience, and Bruce Bochy made the decision to pull him. With two runners on and no outs, Jeremy Affeldt got three straight outs without allowing a runner to score. The Giants didn't give up a run for the rest of the game.
It was one of only two iffy starts in the entire postseason run, and the bullpen came in and completely shut the door for the remaining seven innings. The Giants asked for a Band-Aid, and they received some sort of advanced stem cell treatment. Or if that's not a good enough analogy, you can put that Jeremy Affeldt rubbed his hands together in a Miyagi-like fashion and healed the Giants enough to where they could kick more Cobra Kai in the face.
Wait, let me start over.
2) For years, the criticism of Brian Sabean has been similar to the criticism Cardinals fans have leveled at our GM and manager: a disproportionate preference for veteran players. Is this characterization accurate and how did the 2010 roster construction play out in this regard?
Sabean prefers veterans to an uncomfortable degree. Bruce Bochy prefers them to an irrational degree. I sincerely doubt that Bochy was the one clamoring for Bengie Molina to be traded.
But, heck, it led to a World Series. There was a piece in The Hardball Times years ago explaining that veterans might be an undervalued commodity, and when the Giants made the playoffs on the strength of Pat Burrell and won three rounds of playoffs with the contributions of Cody Ross -- both of whom were just given away -- it's easy to agree.
When you give Bochy an unambiguous lineup, he's a fantastic manager. When you allow him to create a lineup based on who he thinks are good hitters, he'll do things like play Jose Guillen over Cody Ross. Once Guillen was left off the postseason roster, Bochy didn't have a lot of ways to futz up the lineup -- the veterans he had deserved to play over their younger counterparts. Hopefully Sabean recognizes this and removes the temptations of Randy Winn-type players in the future.
3) The Giants graduated Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner to the majors this year and both were a rousing success and an important part of the postseason. Who is the next big prospect that the Giants have in their system?
Brandon Belt is a first baseman who just pummeled the California and Eastern Leagues. He was a fifth-round pick, the Giants tweaked his swing, and now he's Rod Carew, but, like, a billion times better. The poet in me likes to think a coach walked up and said something like, "Say, Brandon, did you ever think about not closing your eyes when you swing?"
Belt might be ready next year, or he might not, but his presence makes this offseason a little weird. Should the Giants commit to Aubrey Huff with Belt around? If so, for how long? One year? Two? It's an interesting predicament.
4) Edgar Renteria won the World Series MVP this year. In 2006, David Eckstein won for the Cardinals to the consternation of some parts of the fanbase. Without taking away anything from Renteria, would he have been your MVP for the series?
It's tough to choose between him and Lincecum, but I think Edgar was the right call. He untied two of the four Series wins with completely unexpected home runs, and his defense was sound.
5) What's the single biggest decision facing the Giants this offseason?
How best to roll around in a puddle of our own self-satisfaction. Mmmmmm.
Also, they need to figure out what's going on with Pablo Sandoval. He was the great organizational hope last offseason, and this offseason the Giants almost have to pretend that they aren't going to get anything from him next year. There has to be a way to monitor his diet and workout regiment over the winter. They've already told him he could be riding buses in Fresno next year -- if that doesn't motivate a guy, who knows what will?