Organizational Rankings: #19

Today, we keep looking at some teams that have legitimate hope, so it gets harder from here on out. And, for those of you who haven’t seen the previous parts (which are linked below), keep in mind that this is a forward looking exercise – we are evaluating clubs on their overall ability to contend for a World Series title in the future. We are not evaluating how they have performed historically. This is about the health of each organization going forward.

Rankings So Far

#30: Washington Nationals
#29: Florida Marlins
#28: Houston Astros
#27: Kansas City Royals
#26: Pittsburgh Pirates
#25: San Diego Padres
#24: Cincinnati Reds
#23: Colorado Rockies
#22: Detroit Tigers
#21: St. Louis Cardinals
#20: Toronto Blue Jays

#19: San Francisco Giants

Ownership: B

Other MLB owners might not be very happy with Peter Magowan, as he stands as the blueprint of how a privately financed stadium can work just fine. The Giants built a beautiful stadium without significant government subsidies, and the revenues generated by the park have allowed the team to sustain a championship level payroll over the last decade. Magowan stepped down as the managing partner in October, but the ownership group remains stable and the Giants should be well capitalized going forward.

Front Office: D

Brian Sabean’s history of transactions while running the Giants is a series of astounding moves. On one hand, he made one of the worst trades in recent history (Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Boof Bonser for A.J. Pierzynski), gave out the worst free agent contract ever (Barry Zito), has consistently overpaid for declining veterans (Matt Morris, Dave Roberts, and Aaron Rowand), and has overseen a roster that that hasn’t finished at .500 in four years. However, he’s also done a very good job of identifying veteran players who had some life left in the tank, and has gotten good value from signings that looked like mistakes (Bengie Molina, Randy Winn, Omar Vizquel) and has done a good job of developing and retaining some terrific young pitchers. Given his resources, though, he’s squandered too many good opportunities, and the Giants missed opportunities to win due his unwillingness to rebuild.

Major League Talent: C+

The Giants look to be gearing up to be this year’s Blue Jays, with a terrific pitching staff, a very good defense, and an extreme lack of major league hitters. Randy Winn and Fred Lewis are nice pieces, but when they are your best hitters, you better plan on winning a lot of 3-2 games. The Lincecum/Cain/Johnson/Sanchez/Zito rotation could easily be the best in baseball, however, and Sabean capitalized on the buyers market to rebuild a shaky bullpen and add a few stopgap veterans to make a run at a weak NL West. There are some good young talents here, but unfortunately, they’re almost all on the pitching staff, and building around young arms is a high risk strategy. If Lincecum, Cain, and Sanchez all stay healthy, they could have a good run in store the next few years, but the odds of all three staying healthy and effective are not very good.

Minor League Talent: B+

If every team could only retain four minor leaguers every year, the Giants might have the best in the game. Their system is remarkably top heavy, with three of the best prospects in the game in Madison Bumgarner, Angel Villalona, and Buster Posey, and a nifty sidekick in Tim Alderson. These are premium talents, and could easily make up the core of the Giants future. But after those four, there’s quite the valley, and the rest of the system is rather pedestrian. The major league team is in need of good young hitters, so Posey and Villalona can’t get there fast enough – if they can find out a way to develop a few more quality position players, than this system could compete with the very best in baseball.

Overall: C+

The Giants have strong ownership, a fantastic ballpark in a high earning market, a major league team with legitimate playoff hopes, and a farm system that has several premium talents on the way to the Bay Area. With a less manic front office, they’d probably be one of the premier organizations in the game. The unpredictability of Sabean’s moves, along with the organizational plan of acquiring only 30+ players in free agency, has left them as an underachiever. But things are looking up in San Francisco, and as long as they can keep Lincecum’s arm attached to his body, they’ll have some hope.

Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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13 years ago

Sounds about right. The pitching and defense formula figures to be a lot more competitive in the NL West than the AL East. With that said, Sandoval and Renteria on the left side of the infield looks to be below average, to say the least.

Kevin S.
13 years ago
Reply to  Scott

Aren’t the Giants playing Gillaspie at third and Sandoval at first? Or am getting a year ahead of myself?

13 years ago
Reply to  Kevin S.

Yeah, maybe even two years. Sandoval is the starting 3B and Gillaspie is starting out at A+.