A Look Back at '11: What Went Wrong
First off, as you can probably guess, this one doesn't take a rocket scientist, because even those not close to this organization, knew exactly what the 2011 Giants problem was and you can sum it up in 2 words: No offense! However, it goes a little deeper than just that. This team was last in the league in offense because of a few reasons. No, you can't blame it all on Aubrey Huff or Andres Torres, and although it's an easy scapegoat, you can't blame it all on the injuries to Buster Posey or Freddy Sanchez either. They lost Sanchez, but Jeff Keppinger came in and did a fine job in his place. Maybe not quite up to Sanchez's standards defensively, but a strong contact hitter who certainly didn't hurt the team. The one injury that did really hurt though, was losing Buster in late May. The moment, the second that happened and I saw Buster on the ground in agony, I had a bad gut feeling about this 2011 Giants team. Still though, they managed to hold onto first place well after they lost Posey, and even kept afloat with Pablo Sandoval down for 6 weeks. What happened with this team is they hit a wall after the All-Star break. Everything was looking up heading into that break, they had a decent lead in the West, they were pursuing a big bat (Carlos Beltran), and it looked as if they all but had the NL West sealed up.
Then the second half came, and contrary to what they did in 2010, this team descended badly in the later months of the season. They looked old and tired, and one even content (that ones for you Aubrey) with losing. I saw no fire in this team in the second half, and I don't want to blame it on the Beltran trade, but that's when things really hit the wall. Not only did Carlos start extremely slowly then get hurt 2 weeks into his Giants tenure, he didn't start paying off until the last 2 weeks of the year, in which the team was basically eliminated. But I still don't blame Sabes for that deal, because a healthy and productive Beltran would have made all the difference in the world (as we saw in late September). Plus, at the time, the Giants were just one solid bat away from becoming favorites to repeat, it just didn't work out. I do blame Sabean for the Orlando Cabrera deal though, and not because I think Thomas Neal will become a stud someday, but only because I knew Cabrera was no improvement over the Tejada/Crawford/Fontenot mix they already had going, and it seemed like Cabrera never really fit in with this team. At the end of 2010, the Giants were a mix of younger, hungrier group featuring an effective Cody Ross, a healthy Buster Posey, a determined Aubrey Huff, and an above league average leadoff hitter who looked like he was coming into his own. They got none of that in 2011, not a single one of those players came close to what they did in 2010 and that's where this team lost it.
Even after teams like the Yankees and Red Sox win, they go out the next winter and look re-tool and get stronger. The Giants didn't do that, they stood pat, added Miguel Tejada and hoped for an exact repeat of what they got in 2010. That was wishful thinking. Even World Champs need to reload and assess their clubs before the following season, and the Giants failed in that department. When Buster Posey went down, they failed again to sure up the one position that was absolutely killing them, and rode it out with Whiteside and Stewart at catcher. Again, don't know why they choose Orlando Cabrera over even a marginal upgrade a catcher... Bad decisions, out of shape players, and injuries are what happened to the 2011 San Francisco Giants. But fortunately, with this pitching staff, a healthy Buster Posey and an all-star Pablo Sandoval set to return, it shouldn't be too hard to fix.