Melky Cabrera is already a fading mist in San Francisco, a gift that became a rental, a building block made of Styrofoam, enduring to ethereal.
And the Giants are left not to clean up his mess, but to fill his locker. The likelihood of that happening -- less than more likely.
Unlike two years ago, when the Giants made their run right about this time, the Giants have three starters rather than four, a committee rather than a closer, and no more margin for error.
And of all the things we know about the Giants, they need all the margin they can get grab.
That is, unless you believe that:
Tim Lincecum can be Tim Lincecum from this moment out.
Brandon Belt can remove the inconsistencies from his game for good.
Pablo Sandoval remains healthy.
Hunter Pence becomes the Hunter Pence of Houston days.
Santiago Casilla relocates what made him a closer.
Buster Posey can become more than the best player he already is and more of a leader by more than example.
That last one seems curious, but this team needs not only all the other elements but someone to become the center of the clubhouse and the field, and Posey must be that center, whether it suits his personality or not. He is in charge of the pitching staff, he is the best hitter, and has all the voice he wants to use, if he wants to use it.
And in the current production void, nobody else can do that job.
Yes, all hands are on deck starting today, but some hands matter more than others. Matt Cain has a leaders personality but is unavailable four games out of five. Posey, on the other hand, is about to be used as he was two years ago -- as in, every single day -- and there is no third alternative to the leadership issue.
Cabreras absence hurts, and his link to the Giants unsettling PED history will be exhaustively referenced between now and seasons end. You as a consumer may chose to be as offended as you wish by this news.
NEWS: Cabrera suspended
But as a purely cynical matter, he kept the Giants in the divisional race for 117 games. His deeds and the results those deeds provided remain.
Thus, the Giants and their customer base can be as wounded as they wish about Cabreras detection as a hormone-head, but this is the new paradigm. They benefited from his presence, and they must deal with his absence in one of two ways.
By embracing the challenge, or shrinking from it. And well know soon enough which one they choose.