I follow two baseball teams, one in the AL which at the end of the ’06 season was a few key pieces short of being able to contend deep into the playoffs and the other in the NL which I believe was a few players shy of contending in the regular season.
That NL team, the Giants, is willing to spend on free agents. Much as they ought to be rebuilding their farm system, they’ve gone out and spent on a solid infielder who hit .300 last year and has hit well (if sporadically) in the past: Rich Aurilia. They’ve acquired a much needed speedy outfielder with a good OBP in Dave Roberts, added some slugging with Ryan Klesko, and a recently much undervalued pitcher in Barry Zito.
The Zito bashing, by the Giants’ fan base since the trade, surprises me. A lot of people are falling all over themselves to portray him as little better than average. (Check out the guys’ earned run average–he’s the real deal.)
Yes, he struggles in the spring, yes he is capable of a few bad games–but most pitchers are. (E.g., see the start Twins’ stars Johann Santana had last April and the innings all-world phenom Francisco Liriano threw in Detroit that month–they each got shellacked.) Zito’s ERA remains excellent and as young as he is he’s capable of anchoring the team for years.
Meanwhile, the Twins signed Jeff Cirillo, Rondell White (groan) and Sidney Ponson (gasp).
It’s so sad. If Terry Ryan could just have added some of the parts Brian Sabean did, the Twins could be favored to go the whole way–especially with a guy like Barry Zito behind Santana.
Meanwhile, the Giants should be good enough to contend in the West next year, but both teams could easily bow out in late September or early October.
I suppose what I really want is for the teams to switch owners, or for Ryan to have access to the deep pockets Sabean gets. And if the Giants only had Ryan’s skills at stocking a farm system!
It’s so exasperating and both teams are such a tease–but neither of these teams right now should be favored to advance deep in the MLB playoffs.