Larry Baer’s grand play to make Giancarlo Stanton his own Barry Bonds seems to have failed by all reports, and the San Francisco Giants will have to seek another path back to relevance.
Stanton mulled over the Giants’ Warrior-esque sales job has ended with him wanting those other notoriously west coast cities Chicago and Houston in addition to Los Angeles.
We have our answer – the predictable one.
Whether it was the ballpark, the city, the seemingly bleak future or a willingness to hold Miami’s feet to the pizza oven awhile longer to get what he wants, Stanton decided the Giants’ rebuild was no more appealing to him than the Marlins’ rebuild, and that his future would involve only two trips to San Francisco every year.
The result of his decision to take Option AE – Anything Else – is a chilling one for the Giants, because it means that their days of selling those three World Series rings are over, and that they are being judged not by their first five years of the decade, when they were the best postseason bet in the game, but by their last 18 months, in which they were the worst team in baseball.
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It also serves as a stark reminder that perhaps the only contemporary player who could make AT&T Park bow to his whims didn’t want to engage in that battle. After all, even in the Bonds Era, this has been a viciously anti-homer ballpark, ranking since its opening 20th, 29th, 30th, 25th, 21st, 26th, 30th, 29th, 29th, 26th, 17th (GLOBAL WARMING ALERT!), 30th, 30th, 27th, 27th, 30th, 30th and 30th.
That’s out of 30, in case you forgot.
It is also a statement that with distance comes clarity. The rest of baseball sees the Giants in decline, which means that they either have to make a new lights-out rotation and bullpen like that which sustained them in the first half of this decade, learn how to find and develop outfielders the way they have infielders, or turn the ballpark into a bandbox, a notion that has always horrified Baer’s sense of architectural purity.
And without Giancarlo Stanton, the man most capable of transforming the park, the Giants will have to do this the hard way. The closest thing to Barry Bonds said no, so the Giants need to find the closest thing to Madison Bumgarner . . . and Buster Posey . . . and Brandon Crawford . . . and keep doing it until they have filled every roster spot.
See, I told you it would be the hard way. True, they save a minimum of $77 million in salary, but as the fans are more than willing to remind them, you can’t throw a wheelbarrow of money into the batter’s box and expect it to drive in runs.
And baseball, after all, is still the most important thing the Giants have to sell.