Wednesday, November 3, 2010

... the 2010 San Francisco Giants

Is this the new blueprint for building a World Series champion? The San Francisco Giants compiled a bunch of position players from other teams and brought the first World Series championship to San Francisco.

Now don't confuse this with not having to spend money. Plenty of teams spend money and you have to in order to be competitive in baseball. Every once in a while a small market team - like the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays - will put together a good season, but their run is usually short lived.

And other small market teams, mainly Minnesota, have been able to put an above average team on the field, but how many championships have they won?

If you want to WIN, you have to spend money and put together a team.

The Yankees typically spend a lot of money on every position every year, so we are leaving them out of this discussion. Other teams like the Pirates, Royals, Indians, Diamondbacks, Padres and Marlins don't have the kind of money - or at least don't want to spend it - you need to put together several quality pieces. They can add a piece or two or maybe even three, but not six or seven that are needed.

San Francisco's payroll was $97.8 million in 2010, which was the tenth highest (out of 30 teams).

The blueprint that I think may have been laid out is simple. Grow your own pitchers and a few position players. But assemble the majority of your lineup with second tier free agents over several seasons.

All four pitchers that started a game in the postseason were drafted by San Francisco - Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner - as was their closer, Brian Wilson. And out of the 14 position players on their postseason roster, only Buster Posey, Travis Ishikawa, Pablo Sandoval and Nate Schierholtz are home grown talent - with only Posey being a regular starter.

The other players that comprised their roster were infielders Aubrey Huff, Freddy Sanchez, Edgar Renteria, Juan Uribe and Mike Fontenot. None of those five players played for the Giants in 2008.

Outfielder Aaron Rowan signed with San Francisco before the 2008 season. Center fielder Andres Torres signed before the 2009 season. Outfielders Pat Burrell and Cody Ross were brought in during the course of the 2010 season.

The tenth player is backup catcher Eli Whiteside, who played with the Giants in the 2009 season.

Among those ten players are some pretty solid veterans. Freddy Sanchez won a batting title. Pat Burrell, Juan Uribe, Aaron Rowan and Edgar Renteria have won World Series championships with other teams. But none of these players were the high prized free agents. No C.C. Sabathia or Mark Texieria among this group.

There are several ways for teams to win a championship. I wonder if the Giants' run will change the mind of any teams out there. Instead of throwing $100 million at one player, why not split it up among several. These 10 Giants combine to make just over $51 million of the Giants' payroll. But in today's game, I'd rather spend the money on 10 above average players than on three or four starts.

Winning takes money. But you still must be smart. Ask the Mets and the Cubs.

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