It’s an Even Year
With the obvious caveat that it is too early in the season to know one way or the other, the San Francisco Giants are certainly off to a terrific start and look very much like a team that will contend all season for the NL West title and then maybe make yet another run in the post-season.
Yesterday’s game, which Brandon Crawford won with a walk-off, opposite field tenth inning home run, contained plenty of smart and promising baseball from a team with a nice mix of veteran and young talent. Also, from what little I have seen so far, it looks like the new guys the Giants brought in this off-season are already fully blended into the team’s very successful clubhouse vibe.
Of course, it’s easy for everyone to get along when you’re winning. We’ll see if the clubhouse chemistry holds during the season’s inevitable losing streaks. However, the Giants have had proven success with their focus on clubhouse chemistry, and it’s hard to imagine that management didn’t take that into account when signing the free agents they did this off-season. Certainly, the players seem to think that the team’s blend of camaraderie and professionalism help them win, and Bruce Boche definitely has a reputation as a players’ manager.
Meanwhile, it is being reported that the Giants and Brandon Belt have reached an agreement on a five-year extension starting next season, most likely in the range of $75 million to $80 million total new money. If the amount is correct, it’s a team-friendly amount and, like Brandon Crawford’s extension, probably contains a no-trade clause and thus provides Belt with security and the piece of mind that he’ll be staying in San Francisco for the next six seasons including 2016.
It’s also a very positive sign that Belt and the team were able to finalize a deal after the season started, showing that both sides were committed to getting the deal done. I also think deals like these are good for the entire organization, as they show a commitment by both team and player to one another, with the player rewarded for past performance and the team rewarded for treating the player fairly and with respect. The Giants don’t nickel and dime their young players, and I think it makes it much easier for the team to save more money on the back end of the players’ careers when they sign for less than they would likely get as free agents on the open market.
These kinds of deals don’t always work out, of course, just as free agent deals often don’t work out. However, the Giants have benefited more than they’ve been burned by these kinds of deals, at least since they began to build the current team about ten years ago.