The 2012 Giants and 725 days of chaos

Christian Petersen

The Giants have won the World Series in two of the last three seasons, but they've done it with two radically different teams.

The New York Yankees annoyed the baseball world by winning multiple championships with the same cast of homegrown Hall-of-Famers and Hall-of-Very-Gooders. Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte were an easily identifiable core, and they were behind a lot of the Yankees' success.

The San Francisco Giants have the "annoying the baseball world" part down, but they're doing it in a different way. Here's the Giants' lineup on Opening Day, 2010:

  1. Aaron Rowand - CF
  2. Edgar Renteria - SS
  3. Pablo Sandoval - 3B
  4. Aubrey Huff - 1B
  5. Mark DeRosa - LF
  6. Bengie Molina - C
  7. John Bowker - RF
  8. Juan Uribe - 2B
  9. Tim Lincecum - P

That's six free agents and three farm products. Here's their lineup in the first game of the 2010 World Series:

  1. Andres Torres - CF
  2. Freddy Sanchez - 2B
  3. Buster Posey - C
  4. Pat Burrell - LF
  5. Cody Ross - RF
  6. Aubrey Huff - 1B
  7. Juan Uribe - 3B
  8. Edgar Renteria - SS
  9. Tim Lincecum - P

That group is one trade, two farm products, six free agents/waiver claims. And now the lineup in the first game of the 2012 World Series:

  1. Angel Pagan - CF
  2. Marco Scutaro - 2B
  3. Pablo Sandoval - 3B
  4. Buster Posey - C
  5. Hunter Pence - RF
  6. Brandon Belt - 1B
  7. Gregor Blanco - LF
  8. Brandon Crawford - SS
  9. Barry Zito - P

That collection is made up of three trades, two free agents, and five farm products. It would have been four trades and one free agent if Melky Cabrera didn't have to do his charity work, or whatever it is that happened to him.

Between the two World Series rosters, you can make the argument that only three of the main cogs were performing the same role for both teams: Buster Posey was a catcher hitting in the middle of the order, Matt Cain was a top-of-the-rotation pitcher, and Madison Bumgarner was a mid-rotation starter. Everyone else was different. Barry Zito went from off the roster to a postseason hero. Pablo Sandoval went from a bench bat to the No. 3 hitter; Aubrey Huff went from the No. 3 hitter to a bench bat. Tim Lincecum went from staff ace to middle relief.

It's been two years.

Every World Series championship is amazing for different reasons, a cocktail of talent and circumstance. If you want to play the "What if (pitcher x) threw a different pitch?" game, you can. If you want to play the "What if the Reds drafted Derek Jeter or Rays drafted Buster Posey?" game, you can. Any time a team wins multiple pennants or championships, there are a lot of reasons why.

Usually, though, those reasons tend to include a lot of the same players in the same role.

Between the 2010 World Series and the 2012 World Series, GM Brian Sabean had to acquire a new outfield. He sifted through several shortstops, acquired a new outfield through trades, brought up homegrown infielders, and traded for another second baseman to replace the injury-riddled second baseman he traded for in the first place.

To put it in perspective, imagine the Cardinals winning the 2013 World Series with Yadier Molina, Chris Carpenter, and Jaime Garcia occupying the roles they had in 2011, but no one else. No David Freese or Matt Holliday. No Jon Jay, Allen Craig, or even Jason Motte. You can keep the middle relievers, too, if you want, but that's about it. Think about what it would take to make that happen, and for it to be a positive roster turnover.

That's the story of the 2012 Giants. And now, by law, every time you make fun of the Miguel Tejada contract or Barry Zito deal, you have to step back and appreciate whatever in the heck it is that Sabean did with the Giants. Because I'm not even sure I know yet, even as I was busy being impressed with it for the second season out of the last three.

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