As the full-blown major league baseball season starts today, the Giants seem headed for consistent success while the A’s are still on the path to nowhere.
It’s been a week of good news for the Giants. The Mission Rock development is a positive, not just for them, but for San Francisco. But the signing of Matt Cain to a long-term contract was the really good news for fans.
Before the 2008 season, the Giants had a media lunch celebrating their 50 years in San Francisco. Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda were both there. So were Cain and Tim Lincecum. Cain praised the stars of the past and said he hoped that he and Lincecum could be part of a group of young players who stayed with the Giants.
That’s much harder to do now than in earlier times, when clubs controlled players, but the Giants are trying to do that.
And, the good news is that they’ve revived the farm system. When they take the field in Phoenix tonight, they will have at least four players from their farm system in the infield and perhaps even a fifth if Emmanuel Burriss gets the start he deserves at second.
There is only one homegrown outfielder in the mix, Nate Schierholtz, and he probably won’t start because he’s had a terrible spring. But he could fight his way back into the lineup, and by midseason, it’s possible that center fielder Gary Brown will be promoted from Triple-A Fresno.
The A’s once had a great farm system but since 2006, the ownership of managing general partner Lew Wolff and John Fisher have starved it, so general manager Billy Beane had to trade his two top starters and his closer to get prospects.
Jemile Weeks came up last year and was very good, at the plate and in the field, but the A’s still have not been able to develop the power hitters they need. Chris Carter is out of options; his swing has huge holes. Michael Taylor has seemingly been a “prospect” forever without developing.
That’s what happens when you lose good scouts and minor league coaches and don’t replace them. Beane got some good prospects with his trades in the offseason but that’s no way to run a baseball operation.
The Giants ownership has consistently put money into the operation, even during the last years at Candlestick when they took losses to bring a good team into their new park which they built without public financing.
Their decisions haven’t always been the best — hello, Barry Zito! — but they’ve tried.
Wolff and Fisher haven’t even tried. Wolff has concentrated on his quixotic effort to get to San Jose, while driving down attendance in Oakland. But because of the way major league baseball is set up, it pays to lose. The A’s ownership has made money every season because of revenue-sharing payments, a whopping $32 million last year.
Giants fans can expect their team to be a strong contender for the NL West title, and it’s almost certain they’ll be in the postseason.
The A’s, meanwhile, will be in a second-tier race with the Seattle Mariners for third place in the AL West.
Ownership does matter.
Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.