The Losing Locals

Best thing that could’ve happened to the Giants occured this weekend when they were swept by the Dodgers. The worst thing that could’ve happened to this franchise was to win all three games in this series, and give themselves the false hope that they could make a run in the NL West. By losing three and falling more than a dozen games back, no need to worry that newly extended general manager Brian Sabean and his bosses, Peter Magowan and Larry Baer, will have any illusion that their product needs to be blown up.

The general consensus around the Bay Area media has been that signing Sabean was the right move, and that the Giants deserve to be praised for finally admitting their plan has not worked. It also seems to be assumed that Barry Bonds will definitely be gone after the season.

But I’d like to see what they do at the trade deadline, and then I’d like to see what they do to tweak the eyes and ears around Sabean. I remain skeptical that Bonds won’t be back (I’ll finally believe it when I don’t see it), and my opinion is that a philosophy of “win and develop” is doomed to failure, because the farm system is so barren of everyday prospects (thus, the reason the trade deadline will be so telling), and because the front office as currently constructed has not shown the ability to develop great everyday players. If Magowan and Sabean had deemed it a philosophy of “develop and win,” I’d feel better, because developing leads to winning (just look at the Brewers). If the Giants win and develop, they may sacrifice development (and the future) at the first glimpse of light in this dark tunnel.

Meantime, Bonds was self-critical in a way that I can’t remember after finishing his hitless series against the Dodgers. I’ve heard him say he stinks before but never that he’s an “embrassment” to the uniform. Normally, I’d expect him to respond with a huge series in Wrigley Field, but now I’m not so sure.

The A’s, meantime, should view themselves in the same boat. In my opinion, they’re too far behind too many teams to view themselves as a contender. I’d like to see them try to restock their farm system with some good hitters, as well. Players of value they could move include outfielder Shannon Stewart, left-handed reliever Joe Kennedy (although he’s rapidly losing his value), first baseman Dan Johnson (that would open a spot for Daric Barton) and even center fielder Mark Kotsay. A’s GM Billy Beane always tries to add value even as he trades it, so this will be as interesting a trade deadline as he’s faced in a long time.

By the way, the A’s are below .500 after the break for the first time since they went 74-88 in 1998. And after their combined 0-7 weekend, the A’s and Giants are a combined 24 games out of their respective division leads and 23 out of a playoff spot.