What? Are you kidding me? Are you actually asking San Francisco Giant fans to cheer for the Los Angeles Dodgers throughout the 2013 MLB playoffs? Tell us your medication has run out or maybe you're overdoing it with a great new Mezcal. And that none of this is true.
Cheering for the Dodgers goes against the genetic code of any righteous San Francisco Giants fan. We'd rather spend our summer vacation on the Santa Monica pier eating Dodger Dogs, writing birthday cards to Tommy Lasorda.
But wait just a minute. This is all about money and forcing the Giants ownership to spend some of it.
Let's everyone grab a bottle of Trumer Pils, take a good long swig and sit down on the couch with some cornnuts. Then take another minute to think about the bigger picture.
For years the San Francisco Giants front office and ownership group have tried to sell the same bullcrap story at the start of every season to Giants fans and the media: "Hey, we're just a small market baseball team that can't afford to spend as much money as the rich teams on player salaries. We, you know, have a budget".
The Giants are hoping everyone will understand when they don't sign the players they need because there's a "budget limit " each year. Because, like, that's all the money they have to spare. Right?
The San Francisco Giants are 6th out of 30 MLB teams in yearly revenue, with $262 million coming in in 2012. They're one of only four teams that own their own baseball park and all the revenue that goes with that. And the $30 million yearly mortgage on AT&T Park will be paid off in several years. The Giants are also developing land use deals on property they own next to AT&T Park that will result in enormous future residential and commercial revenue for the team.
In addition, like every other franchise in baseball the Giants get $60 million dollars each year in national media and revenue sharing from Major League Baseball simply for owning a team. Then there's the local radio and TV revenue, plus a potential boatload of post season money, and you have a lot of extra frosting on a very large cake.
So when the Giants announce their player payroll "budget" each year, what they're really doing is letting the ownership group know exactly how much profit they'll all be getting at the end of the season. Which is fine. I get that people are in business to make money, not donate it.
But understand, that payroll "budget" is something they pull out of the dark recesses of their hindquarters each and every season. It has nothing to do with how much money the franchise is able to spend signing players each season.
So here's my point.
What the Giants, and probably a lot of other MLB owners, want more than anything else in the 2013 playoffs is for low payroll teams like Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, or Oakland to do well. What the San Francisco Giants don't want is for big payroll teams like Los Angeles or Boston to do well.
That way Giants' ownership can say, "Well it just goes to show you, spending a lot of money on players doesn't work. It's all about having a great minor league system and bringing young players up."
Which justifies the Giants keeping their payroll down and signing cheap marginal players in the hope they accidently do well.
Owners looking to spend less love it when fans look down on big spending ball clubs and talk nasty about those teams trying to "buy" a World Series. But as we've seen over the years, that tired idea of rich teams "buying" a World Series is a myth. Otherwise either the Yankees, the Angels, Philadelphia, or the Texas Rangers would win the Series every year. And, as it turns out, they don't.
Here's something else that's not true: the San Francisco Giants don't have a "great" minor league organization developing great young players as an alternative to spending money. San Francisco's minor league system is rated at the bottom third of all 30 MLB teams.
To recap: the Giants don't want to spend money on getting the players they need to win, and they have been terrible at developing and bringing up young position players through their minor league system. A double threat.
So back to my traitorous lead: Go Dodgers, and make it harder for the Giants front office not to spend some of that money they're printing every year.
Pardon me, I'm a relatively new Giants fan and clearly don't know anything. I was surprised by the line: "they have been terrible at developing and bringing up young position players through their minor league system". I'm sure I'll be roundly corrected, but I would have thought that Sandoval, Crawford, Belt, and what's that other guy's name, Pussy? might count as not terrible, since they were important components in winning two world series and all. Hector Sanchez and Brett Pill don't seem completely awful, and a couple of rookies looked pretty good in admittedly brief appearances this fall. Aren't all these products of the Giants' minor league system? You can only get so many guys on the field at once, so maybe quality is as important as quantity.
I've also been saying that (about the miserly Giants), Richard, but without the research to back me up. And, in fact, thank you for the research! As to the Giants spending money to create a first-class team, I doubt if they will, doubt if they have to. Why? Because all those crazy San Francisco fans make stadium sellouts inevitable. No matter how mediocre, the team will make a lot of money, a great deal of money, so what's the compelling reason for management to shell out funds which they can keep as profit for themselves? Will a first-class LA team make any difference to them or to SF fans? I don't think so!
But the Giants have the 8th highest payroll - not exactly 6th highest, as in line with revenue, but it's not like they're cheapskates who never sign a free agent (hello, Hunter Pence). In fact, compared to the big money teams you mention, the Giants payroll for 2013 was higher than the Rangers by a good chunk and only a couple percent behind the Angels.
I want to see the Giants sign great players too, but it's not like the Giants don't spend any money. 8th in 2013, 6th in 2012, 8th in 2011. Payroll also depends on team needs and whether or not that player is interested in playing for that team (many hitters, especially lefties, are a bit wary of playing at AT&T because it'll hurt their power numbers and thus their value in their next contract).
I agree with your basic point - the Giants have more money than they're spending. Prettymuch every team does right now, which is why free agent prices have been going up so quickly. It's a more complicated situation than you make it out to be.
If SF fans root for the Dodgers, there would be no affect on the Dodgers-Braves series outcome. Thus, it makes no sense to root, as a Giants fan, for the Dodgers.
You are assuming 1) that Giants fans are able to alter game outcomes through lending their support and 2) that the SFG front office will increase payroll if the Dodgers do win. There is no basis for either assumption.
Let me close by saying that I enjoy your blog and read regularly. Thank you for providing it.
On this topic, however, I think we are of two different minds. I hope we can agree to disagree or, better yet, that I have made you rethink your position and you have decided there is no reason why Giants fans should ever root for the
Dodgers to win.
Hey Siwasher, thanks so much for taking the time to respond to the piece.
Relatively new Giants fans are always welcome at The Cove. I get turned off by fans who can't stop talking about how many years they've been fans, how dedicated they are, how they are the best [team name] fan, and on and on.
Don't get me wrong-- they're great people, but there are a lot of "greatest fans in the world" out there with passion and dedication to their favorite team. Including many new fans.
However, I do have one tiny suggestion. You might want to get to know the correct spelling of your favorite team's players, especially the really good players. Just a thought.
There are a number of great sites that evaluate the minor league systems and player talent of MLB teams. They frequently publish lists that rate the the best and the worst farm system talent for each franchise.
BaseballAmerica.com is among the best.
In Baseball America's 2013 preseason MLB organization talent ratings, the San Francisco Giants were rated 28th out of 30 MLB teams. For the past ten+ years the Giants have been in the bottom third or fourth of most minor league rankings.
You mentioned six Giants players drafted since 2008 to suggest the Giants have produced some talent. You are certainly right about Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval. But Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford, despite being on the 2012 Championship team, are not yet above average MLB players. I do agree that Crawford, and especially Belt, still have the potential to be great players.
Hector Sanchez is a back-up catcher with a three year MLB OPS of .670.
And, sorry, Brett Pill is "completely awful". Brett Pill represents the reason why the Giants minor league system talent is so poor. Marginal players brought up from the minors and given way too much big league playing time. Why? Because the talent pool is so thin there's no one else who can be brought up.
Think about the numbers here. In the nine First Year Player drafts between 2004 and 2012 (with about 45-50 players drafted each year) the Giants drafted about 420 players. You can count on two hands the number of exceptional players those drafts produced.
Sure, not every player drafted is good, and damn few make the big league team. But, what, 5 or 6 exceptional pitchers and 4 or 5 position players out of 420 drafted in 9 years? That's 2% of those drafted, which makes it the definition of terrible.
There are winning MLB franchises that rarely get top 10 draft picks who still have built outstanding minor league systems, like St. Louis, Texas, Boston, Cincinnati, and the Yankees.
And remember, exceptional minor league talent can also be used to make trades to get the Major League players you need right now to win.
I have to agree with you. There is a good chance the Giants front office/ownership will just ignore the realities of what is needed to win to make the post season, and simply play to the media/market and spin whatever they do.
Look at the terrible, aging veterans the Giants have signed over the past six or seven years to try and address critical needs-- paying too much for so little: Andres Torres, Dave Roberts, Miguel Tejada, Aaron Rowand, Edgardo Alfonso, Armando Benitez, Edgar Renteria, and on and on.
The Giants franchise is guaranteed to make money no matter what happens... ... so why bother?
You make some very good points, Matt. The average team payroll is changing every year.
But one thing sticks in my craw (wherever that may be, anatomically speaking): the realities of MLB free agency.
Free agent hitters do not look to sign with teams that have a "hitters" ballpark. And free agent pitchers do not look to sign with teams that have a "pitchers" ballpark.
That is one of the great myths about free agency.
If that myth was remotely true, then no free agent pitchers would ever sign with the Red Sox, the Cubs, or Philadelphia, etc. And yet they do all the time.
And no free agent hitters would ever sign with the LA Angels, the Dodgers, the Mets, or the Texas Rangers, etc. And yet they do all the time.
For (I truly hope) the very last time: free agent MLB players sign with the team that pays them the most money for the most years! Virtually 98% of the time!
And it doesn't matter a damn about the ballpark being "hitter friendly" or "pitcher friendly".
Hunter Pence, like every other free agent player in history, stated he "wanted to stay" in San Francisco because he "loves it there" [or St. Louis, or Oakland, or Baltimore, or Cleveland, or Seattle, etc.]. It's what their agents tell them to say, because it's good PR.
And the Giants overpaid for Pence by two years and at least $1 million per year. That's how they got him-- not because "he loves San Francisco".
And that doesn't make Pence a bad guy (or mean that he doesn't actually "like" San Francisco)-- it's just a reality check about money.
By "root" I mean more seeing the potential value for Giants fans in the Dodgers doing well in the playoffs and (as Giants fans) not going crazy over it.
I agree that, in the abstract, personal "rooting" and "supporting" of any team (even the Giants) has no effect on winning or losing (other than 42,000 fans yelling at the ballpark, which can rattle the other team). But we still root, either to affirm our loyalty or to increase the excitement. Or both.
And I certainly agree that a Dodger trip to the 2013 World Series will not automatically make Giants' ownership spend more money. But it just might.
I really enjoy getting opposing viewpoints. They expand the discussion and make me think-- two very worthwhile things. And thanks for reading!
But Roger... any circumstances?
What about-- if the Dodgers lose a game (any game) then baby pandas would die somewhere?
What if it was the Dodgers versus the Taliban, best of seven, to see who holds the Olympic torch in the opening ceremonies next year in Russia?
OK. Then what if the Dodgers do well in the 2013 playoffs and that makes Giants ownership finally start to spend serious money on free agents, international player signings, and their hapless minor league system?
Are you with me compadre?
Fair enough, but you're kind of picking on the smallest piece of my argument - I'll grant you that, but I'd still argue that your premise is somewhat invalid, as the Giants have had a payroll in the top 25% for the last 3 years.
Are there some free agents I wish the Giants had signed? Sure, of course. Every team could say the same. But they're certainly spending money and boosting payroll every year.
The Giants may rank 6th overall in MLB payroll but the drop-off from the top four teams to where San Francisco sits is steep.
Detroit is 5th with 6.5% more payroll money than SF, but Boston is 4th with 7.4% more (that's over $10 million).
That $10m plus the $3m the team absolutely wasted on signing Andres Torres before the 2013 season could have gotten a real live run producing left fielder (like Nick Swisher).
The payroll gap widens from there. The Phillies with the 3rd highest MLB payroll, is a whopping 18% higher than the Giants (+$25 million), and the Dodgers at $216.5 million are 54% higher than SF (over $76 million).
The Yankees top out at #1 with $228.8 million.
Bottom line: the Giants front office is still trying to pretend to be a "small market" team to the fans and the media to keep their payroll in check. When you look at the revenue the Giants take in every year it's obvious they are perfectly able to write paychecks with Boston or Philadelphia (and beyond).
We both agree on this caveat: it doesn't matter how much you spend on players if you don't spend smart.