What To Make of Giants Turnover

From Izzy in the comments section:

Check the ’10 Giants lineup. Incredible turnover. Only starter from ’10 is Posey. Also, notice how the Giants, instead of whining about their dimensions and bringing the fences in, they build a team to take full of advantage of their field. Good defense, good pitchers and hustling ballplayers. Too bad the Mets and the old worn outdated GM and his cronies can’t show a vision. Getting one big prospect every two or three years ain’t getting the team from Queens to the WS. Go Giants, I still remember you in the Polo Grounds, you are just the NEW YORK BASEBALL GIANTS WEST!

Izzy makes a good point: the current, 2012 NL Champion Giants are quite unlike the 2010 NL Champion Giants.

Look first at the Giants’ postseason lineups from then and now:

Andres Torres – CF
Freddy Sanchez – 2B
Buster Posey – C
Pat Burrell – LF
Cody Ross – RF
Aubrey Huff – 1B
Juan Uribe – 3B
Edgar Renteria – SS
Angel Pagan – CF
Marco Scutaro – 2B
Pablo Sandoval – 3B
Buster Posey – C
Hunter Pence – RF
Brandon Belt – 1B
Gregor Blanco – LF
Brandon Crawford – SS

Let’s also take a look at the key bench players from each year:

You can argue that Pablo Sandoval was a starter for most of the 2010 regular season, but that’s still a massive turnover.

But the pitching staff has remained the same — hasn’t it? Let’s take a look:

2012 Starting Rotation:
Matt Cain
Madison Bumgarner
Ryan Vogelsong
Barry Zito
Tim Lincecum

Santiago Casilla
Jeremy Affeldt
Sergio Romo
Javier Lopez
Jose Mijares
Guillermo Mota
George Kontos

It should be noted that Lopez was on the Giants in ’10, but he appeared in only 27 games. Chris Ray and Ramon Ramirez were two other frequent contributors to that ’10 ‘pen, combining for 53 appearances between them.

Obviously, the pitching staff did not experience as drastic a turnover as the lineup, but still, there were changes in names and certainly in roles. Lincecum and Zito are the most extreme examples of role changes, and the bullpen went to a closer-by-committee after Brian Wilson went down for the season.

So what does all this mean? What can we learn from this “reload”?

What the Giants accomplished in two years reminds me of a marketing book called Do It Wrong Quickly. The premise is this: most companies spend a tremendous amount of time planning to get something right the first time, because it is too expensive to change. However, the author suggests that in the long run, it’s more efficient to “do it wrong quickly,” then fix it just as quickly. Essentially, the book explains that it makes sense to transition from a “plan then execute” strategy to a non-stop cycle of refinement.

Granted, the book is focused on website marketing, but I believe the principle can be applied to many other businesses — such as baseball. A constant “reloading” strategy is not unique to the Giants; Billy Beane has been doing it across the Bay for over a decade, and the Marlins (among other teams) have applied it en route to success.

What about the Mets? Couldn’t they use a similar plan to move toward the postseason?

Certainly, the Mets have had turnover since 2010, though it seems they may either be “doing it wrong not quickly enough” or “not fixing it quickly.” Take a look at the Mets’ 2010 vs. 2012 lineups.

Jose Reyes – SS
Luis Castillo / Ruben Tejada – 2B
Carlos Beltran – CF
David Wright – 3B
Jason Bay – LF
Ike Davis – 1B
Lucas Duda – RF
Josh Thole – C
Ruben Tejada – SS
Daniel Murphy – 2B
David Wright – 3B
Ike Davis – 1B
Scott Hairston / Jason Bay – LF
Lucas Duda – RF
Andres Torres – CF
Josh Thole – C

You could plug in Mike Baxter, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and Jordany Valdespin into any of the outfield spots for the 2012 lineup. And, you could argue that Kelly Shoppach and/or Mike Nickeas should be mixed in with Thole. Shoppach, actually, is an example of “do it wrong quickly,” in that the Mets gave him a 28-game audition to, presumably, determine whether he would be part of the starting catching mix next year. (If it were me, I’d have auditioned several catchers in 2012; it was pretty clear after 200 games of experience that Thole hit his ceiling.) Other examples of doing it wrong quickly — which don’t show up here — were the Brad Emaus and Mike Jacobs experiments. So there is evidence that the Mets were willing to trash concepts that don’t work out right away, but I’m not sure they’re as committed to the process overall.

How about the pitching?

2012 Starting Rotation
Johan Santana
R.A. Dickey
Jonathon Niese
Dillon Gee
Chris Young

Frank Francisco
Bobby Parnell
Ramon Ramirez
Jon Rauch
Tim Byrdak
Manny Acosta
Josh Edgin

Major turnover in the bullpen, not so much in the starting rotation. Of course, the argument is that there isn’t any sense in fixing what ain’t broke — the Mets figured out they had the makings of a fairly decent set of starters two years ago. On the other hand, there is the argument that maybe it could have become even better, had there been a commitment to change.

I’m not necessarily suggesting that the Mets would have been better off had they committed to turning over 90% of their roster in two years. However, I do believe we have the makings of a discussion here. After all, in 2010, the Mets finished in fourth place with a 79-83 record; in 2012, with a similar cast of characters, they finished in fourth place with a 74-88 record. Was it realistic to expect the same group of men improve drastically?

Later this week we’ll look at San Francisco’s turnover process, and compare it to the changes made by the Mets during the same time — as you may remember, there was a bit of overlap.

12-13 Offseason

About the Author

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.

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