And before you know it, Zack Greinke becomes Jeff Samardzija. Next up, turning Mike Leake into Mike Leake. Or maybe Gregor Blanco into Alex Gordon.
So it goes with the Giants, who seemingly got Samardzija to sign a five-year, $90M Pence-level deal within nanoseconds of losing Greinke to the suddenly flush Arizona Diamondbacks. Somehow, we suspect they must have known Greinke was more of a longshot than portrayed in the lying, thieving, conniving bastard Internet press.
But it is what they do next that will tell us what we really need to know about their chase for the off-season pennant they haven’t won since 1992.
The $90M raises their payroll of living humans for 2016 to about $156 million, and still with much to do to fill out the rest of the roster. Leake’s pre-tax price will go very up from the $9.775M he made with Cincinnati ($3.578M paid by the Giants), and Gordon is looking for five and $100M according to some wise guys.
Both together seem beyond the Giants’ comfort level (they paid about $1.3M in luxury tax costs last year), but either would seem perfectly reasonable to put Bobby Evans in position to be included in the Off-Season Executive of the Year award won in a rout last year by San Diego’s A.J. Preller.
The Preller acquisitions powered the Pads to 74 wins.
Therein lies your cautionary tale about December triumphs. Deals make our adrenaline run frothy, and they do the same for owners. We don’t bitch about the money or length until later, when we are smarter five years from now than general managers are today.
So yes, we suck.
But given all we know right now, which is less than we think, Samardzija fills in one of the two starting rotation holes (No. 2 or 3, take your pick). Leake would fill the other. And Gordon would give the Giants a defensive outfield with enough pop to rival any group in the game.
That might get Evans that coveted pre-Christmas mantel filler, and would show that while the Giants may not want to be part of the cash-splashing elite of the sport, their annual profit statements say they pretty much have to be.
After all, those foam fingers shaped like faucets with “Leake” painted on the side aren’t going to buy themselves, and neither will the souvenir Boggle games with only D, I, J, M, R, S, Z and multiple A’s.
So winning the off-season title isn’t as significant here as the notion of having a starting rotation that (and let’s peg Leake’s new deal, if it happens, at $16M/year) will cost Charlie Johnson and his pals a healthy $80M a year, with the cheapest of the five being Madison Bumgarner.
Wrap your skull around that a bit. And then pencil Bumgarner in for $40M/per when his deal comes due after 2017. You like the smell of burning money? Well, consider this the Arthur Bryant’s of cash-fired barbecue stands.”
And let’s be frank here. The Giants can’t be seriously done shopping. They must pursue (as in acquire) at least one more established name to not only give Bruce Bochy the upper hand going into the equally competitive Cactus League season but to also add a year onto his life that managing last year’s team subtracted from it. Because remember, it isn’t a given that Matt Duffy and Brandon Crawford will be as they were a year ago, and Lord only knows how much longer Jake Peavy can dance on the business end of a cleaver.
Roster construction at this level of revenue means reducing as many imponderables as possible while knowing that in any given year, everything is an imponderable. That’s why winning the off-season World Series is so vital while being so utterly meaningless.
Maybe that’s why Brian Sabean decided to go back to Panama-hatting and stopwatching for his daily bread. Winning in October is something anyone can do. Winning in January in the fantasy sports world we continue to choose to live in is an entirely different thing.
In the meantime, light me up another $10,000 cigar, Larry, and hand me a stein full of that Fattoria La Magia Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. Watching you guys spend like Connecticut insurance salesmen in a Monaco brothel has left me feeling a bit parched.