Giants

The D-word tempts gods to laugh

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The D-word tempts gods to laugh

I hear the D-word being bandied about again, so it is incumbent upon me to remind you of what happened the last time we heard it.Scott Cousins happened. Jonathan Sanchez happened. Cody Ross and Aaron Rowand and Andres Torres and Aubrey Huff happened. Showtime happened. And then nothing else happened.In other words, the D-word Dynasty is the best way to get the gods who handle baseball to laugh.Oh, the talk is louder this time, because Giants are the proud owners of two World Series in three years, and everyone connected with the operation today is being called a genius at worst, a galactic overlord at best.And as delightful as the sensation felt for Giant fans, it now seems closer to being prophetic. And trust us, it isnt.Not that the Giants cant be a dynasty, mind you. Anything is possible. But dynasties are rare, so the odds run against them. Plus, the last time they defended their title, they lost their way, their best players, their bat rack and their sense of joie de sport.In short, championships are fragile. Anything can turn them, especially the notion that one guarantees more.So heres your assignment until the parade forms: Look at 2011 in all its mutant horror (yes, 86 wins is horror now aint that a steel-capped boot in the temple?), and realize that the parade commemorates not only the deeds of October but the struggles of May and July as well.Note that youre a catchers injury away from not defending your title, and a center fielders contractual desires away from losing your exterior defense, and a third basemans attention span from losing the heart of your teams order.Look, lets just generalize. Things happen after a championship, and not all of them are good. Some players fall in love with the good life. Some players fall in love with the free market. Some players fall, period.RELATED: 2012 Giants World Series page
All three of those things happened in the winter of 2010 and the spring of 2011. The Giants of 2012 had none of those issues. Their biggest injury was to Brian Wilsons arm, and they managed to more than merely cope. Their second biggest injury was to Melky Cabreras brain, and they survived that.And that was it. Buster Posey played in 148 games, or 30 more than anyone including him figured. Their starting rotation made 160 of their scheduled 162 assignments, and the others were an emergency start in April for Eric Hacker a few days after a doubleheader and a post-clinching one-off for Yusmeiro Petit. Pablo Sandoval broke a hand and pulled a hamstring. Ryan Vogelsong strained his back in March. Jeremy Affeldt and Ryan Theriot did 15s. But this was largely a very healthy team.And the budget rose to 130 million cover the important contractual matters (Lincecum, Matt Cain), thus keeping what had been built intact.But there is no guarantee that the Giants will remain healthy in 2012. And the savings from expiring contracts and whatever Cabrera isnt going to get if he returns will be eaten by Buster Posey, Marco Scutaro and Angel Pagan, assuming the latter two want to return. And in honesty, good fortune is not forever, and no team that wins a World Series for the foreseeable future wont have at least some of that. In a million simulations of the Giants postseason, Johnny Cueto doesnt get hurt in most of them, and Lance Lynn doesnt hit second base on the fly in most of them, and Justin Verlander doesnt lose his game in most of them. The Giants did very well to capitalize on all these events, but sometimes luck swings back the other way, with a bullet.The point here is, what has been built can be taken out with a stroke of the pen, a snap of a femur, a distracted mind, or just plain old baseball. You can talk the D-word all you want, but in this new world when MLB plays out a lot like NHL, the variables often have more power than the plan.So say it all you want if you must. Maybe silly and grandiose things will be said tomorrow on a dais in front of city hall, and shouted from convertibles. But some of it will be whistling in graveyard, or just be wishful thinking and fate-tempting. The Giants are good . . . very very good indeed. But the last time they were this good, their turn ended abruptly.What can be said is this: They are built to survive as much as building can cover. But building and maintenance are two very different things.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

Giants hire David Bell to fill key front office role

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AP

Giants hire David Bell to fill key front office role

SAN FRANCISCO -- A familiar face is returning to the Giants organization to serve a key front office role.

The Giants announced Friday that David Bell, their former third baseman, has been hired as Vice President of Player Development. General manager Bobby Evans said Bell will oversee all aspects of player development, including hitting, pitching, strength and conditioning and the operations of the minor league affiliates. 

"He was the perfect fit," Evans said. "His experience is so strong and encompasses so many aspects of the game. He’s got a really strong base of experience and background and understanding of the game, and he has a passion for the game and working with young players. He really showed a desire to pursue this opportunity." 

Bell, 45, played 12 major league seasons and spent 2002 with the Giants. He hit 20 homers that year as the starting third baseman and scored the winning run in the final game of the NLCS. Since retiring, Bell has served as a minor league manager for the Reds and a big league coach for the Cubs and Cardinals. He spent last season as the bench coach in St. Louis. 

Shane Turner had previously served as farm director, but at the end of the minor league season he was asked to take a role as a special assistant in baseball operations. While Evans did not announce any other changes Friday, there are expected to be other moves within the organization's depth chart. At least one member of the coaching staff is still in the running for a managerial opening. 

Dusty Baker won't be remembered the way he should be remembered

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AP

Dusty Baker won't be remembered the way he should be remembered

Firing a manager is easy, and there are lots of ways to do it.

Dusty Baker, for example. He worked this year on the last year of a contract, which usually means there won’t be another one, and he relied on his players to deliver the goods.

Which, as we remember from our reading, they didn’t do. Again.

But Baker was marked for the chop unless those players did deliver, and when they didn’t, general manager Mike Rizzo did the expedient thing.

He fired one person rather than several. And changed exactly nothing.

Baker’s managerial career is probably over now, as most teams don’t look at 68-year-olds to fix their teams. He will never manage a  World Series champion, something he ached for, and he was always be caricatured in part as the guy who didn’t speak metric, and who believed in players as men whenever in doubt.

And the Nats didn’t betray him, either. They were always not as good in the big moments because someone else was, and they became part of Washington’s new fetish – Why Can’t We Win One? It’s as if having a cringeworthy President isn’t good enough for them.

So the time came, and he will be replaced by someone who will either win and get credit for work that was largely his, or he won’t win and the town can continue to wallow in its tedious We’re-The-New-Cubs pity. It is the circle of life.

At least it is for groups of people. For individuals, the circle of life is actually nothing more than a straight line that ends abruptly. For Dusty Baker, as it did for Tony La Russa in Phoenix two days earlier, that day came today. He deserves to be remembered as a very good manager who won a lot more than he lost, made more friends than enemies, and was honest from Day One until the end.

Which, as we also know, doesn’t matter a whole lot on days like this.