The Plan, Part 2 

Yesterday I asked: "Do the Giants have a plan, is it good, and are they sticking to it?"

I forgot to answer the middle part. Remember, my working theory is that the team has made younger, healthier pitching the most immediate priority, and until the farm system starts producing hitters, most of the offense will come from without.

By the way, I've fashioned a 27-man roster of those most likely to travel north on opening day. Average age of pitchers: 28.1 years. Average age of position players: 33.2 years. Obviously those numbers will change a bit depending on which two players don't make the squad. (I'll discuss those pending roster decisions in a later post.)

Asking the middle question -- is the plan good? -- begs a further question: Compared to what? (Sock it to me!)

If you've got good scouts, no one except George Steinbrenner would argue that homegrown talent is much preferable. To paraphrase Crash Davis, spending tons of money on mercenary free agents without developing a farm system isn't just boring, it's fascist.

So good on the Giants at least for trying to home-school half the population. As a foil to the Giants' approach, take Arizona. (Please.) The Diamondbacks decided to farm-raise hitters first and foremost, and with excellent scouting, they're poised to have a homegrown murderer's row into the next decade. With luck and health, we'll be watching Noah Lowry, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Tim Lincecum versus Carlos Quentin, Steven Drew, Conor Jackson, and Chris Young for years to come.

If you believe that 90% of the game is pitching and defense -- and I hope you don't, because it isn't -- the Giants have the advantage because they emphasize pitching.

Health-wise, however, pitchers are far more fragile. If you've never heard of TINSTAAPP, please familiarize yourself. In that regard, prioritizing pitchers is fraught with more peril.

Ah, but if it works, the cash benefits are greater. I may be wrong because I don't have numbers in front of me, but my spidey-sense tells me good pitching is far more valuable (read: expensive) than good hitting. Ted Lilly, Gil Meche, Jason frickin' Marquis. And that's not even good pitching. Sure, pitching, hitting, fielding: if it's part of professional baseball these days, it's expensive. But rolling your own pitching and using the cost savings to buy hitters might be, might be, the better way to go if you can keep the pitchers healthy and -- oh yeah -- they're also good. I'm willing to consider counterpoints, though.

Fer crissakes, enough dithering: Is the Giants' plan good or what?

I beg you, a fine deliberation with one's estimable malo-self cannot be rushed. If you believe pitching is the most valuable part of the game, yes. If you think it's better to invest scouting and development resources in position players more likely to have elbow ligaments at the age of 30, then no.

As a Lefty Malo, I love nothing more than young pitchers figuring out their craft. I also love low-scoring games. Aesthetically, the Giants plan is good. Yes. If those low-scoring games tend to finish 3 to 1 or 2 to zero in favor of the non-Giants, maybe not so much.

Of course, the best plan is to do whatever it takes to get into the playoffs as much as possible and win a ring. Which is why from 1997 until 2003, no one questioned the Giants much.


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