Larry Baer on Chronicle Live: “Keep the Pitching Intact”

Giants president Larry Baer just appeared on Chronicle Live (on CSN Bay Area), discussing the offseason to come. A lot of it was old stuff — stuff we’ve been hearing again and again. The organization has made it quite clear that their philosophy is “pitching, pitching, pitching.” That’s their priority this offseason, and it seems that pursuing a top free agent hitter (someone like Jose Reyes) is not a reality.

The organization will try to sign Tim Lincecum to a long-term deal, and if it doesn’t happen, they’ll try again next offseason. If again he doesn’t sign a long-term deal, the Giants will make a third attempt (as Lincecum becomes a free agent) to sign him to a long-term deal. As Baer puts it, the Giants have three tries with him.

Similarly, signing Cain long-term is a priority for the organization, but a more pressing need — as he hits free agency sooner. Baer said something to the effect of — “it’s equally important to sign Cain and Lincecum” long-term.

When asked if the Giants could afford to sign them both, Baer said they could. What he doesn’t know is if they can afford to sign a top free agent hitter (a $20-30MM per year guy, as he puts it) in addition to Cain/Lincecum.

Lastly, he said that successful teams, of late, have been winning by virtue of deep bullpens, strong pitching, and “the ability to adjust as you go along.” My takeaway from this is that Baer is emphasizing a pitching and only pitching philosophy with the team. It sounds almost as though he doesn’t care at all about the offense, and is completely oblivious to the fact that their issues extend far beyond the injuries to Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez. Additionally, the “adjustment” line implies that the Giants will continue to be active before the trade deadline.

Anyway, please do note that this is all paraphrased, and simply what I’ve inferred from it. I’m sure the video of the interview will be posted eventually, at which point you can go check it out. In any event, I’m a bit concerned about the organizational view on the importance of offense.

Update: here’s the video of Baer’s interview.

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4 thoughts on “Larry Baer on Chronicle Live: “Keep the Pitching Intact”

  1. So the thing is, Baer is right: signing the pitching to a long term deal is important to contending. But you’re also correct that the offense needs help. Big time. So what he really needs to do is get ownership to make some concessions on payroll. There is some middle ground between existing payroll and Boston/NYY payroll.

    Sigh. But probably nothing changes…

    • Nice read Sarah – if Baer and the Giants do make that commitment to our home grown talent, pitching first, that’s a good move. The Vlad/RainyDay/MadduxMoney makes for a long pause for sure. Sabean has been quoted that special money for a specific player (Beltran) might happen. Definitely need a bridge to the farm system that is actually developing. Totally reasonable to open up payroll as Zito/Rowand come off, but also reasonable not to chase 7-10 year contracts, which is what Reyes-Fielder-Pujols are. Just please don’t piss away money on middle market crap like the entire Oakland A’s OF.

      • God, the Coco Crisp signing to be is making me cringe.

        I don’t know what the solution to CF is, because Gary Brown is at least a year away, maybe more. Grady Sizemore can’t stay healthy, Cody Ross can’t play CF very well, etc. Schierholtz? He’s played center in the past, and especially if the Giants sign Beltran, and continue the farce that is Huff at 1B.

  2. The problem isn’t the level of payroll the Giants have overall, it’s the amount of money they are paying to players who, if not for that salary, would probably not make the team (Rowand, Huff, Zito). I understand why the ownership doesn’t want to spend dramatically more money but the thing is, we’re here now. That money is gone, the pitching is great, and the window in which the Giants have it could be closing. In my view it’s better to spend money now, when it has a chance to make the Giants a World Series contender, than it will be in 5 years when the team might be struggling to win the division. In other words I disagree with the philosophy that it’s better to keep the payroll at a consistent level rather than maintaining flexibility to go up and down based on how good the team may be (why were they spending $100ish million in 06-08 when they knew they’d be terrible?).

    I’m not a huge advocate for any of the big name players for different reasons (Pujols’ age, Fielder’s body type, Reyes’ legs), and I have a general discomfort with contracts longer than 4-5 years. However I also don’t think relying on trades exclusively to upgrade the offense is the right approach because as the pitching gets more expensive in the next 2-3 years the team is going to need a steady stream of inexpensive position players and bullpen arms and trading them all away for aging, overpaid, rental types does little to help the team compete year after year after year.

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