November 3, 2010 in Sports

Giants proved pitching wins

Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Bumgarner all home-grown
Tom Haudricourt Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Associated Press photo

Pitchers Tim Lincecum, left, Matt Cain, center, and Jonathan Sanchez were all drafted by the Giants.
(Full-size photo)

There are different ways to build a championship team. But somehow, some way, you must have the pitching.

The San Francisco Giants drove that point home emphatically with their stunning five-game triumph over the favored Texas Rangers in the World Series. The Giants’ pitching staff dissected the best offense in the major leagues and left it in tatters.

Some teams put together their offense first then add the pitching, as the New York Yankees did in winning the title in 2009. Without a $220 million payroll, however, the Yankees would not have been able to reel in the likes of CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett.

The Giants used the most efficient and economical method of building a starting rotation, developing it from within the organization. All four starters used in dispatching the Rangers – Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner – were drafted by San Francisco and moved up to the major leagues when ready.

“Their pitching shut us down,” said Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler. “We pride ourselves in beating anyone offensively but we couldn’t do it in this Series.”

Cain was the first of the foursome drafted by the Giants, taken with the 25th pick in the first round in 2002.

Two years later, San Francisco found a late steal by taking Sanchez in the 27th round out of tiny Ohio Dominican University.

In 2006, the Giants picked up the gem of their staff, Lincecum, with the 10th overall pick out of the University of Washington.

The final piece was put in place when the lefty Bumgarner, out of high school in North Carolina, was taken with the 10th overall pick in the 2007 draft.

The Giants did make a colossal financial mistake along the way in trying to take a shortcut with their pitching, signing free-agent lefty Barry Zito to a seven-year, $126 million deal in December 2006. As a lesson learned, Zito was not on the playoff roster in any of the three rounds.

To put together the rest of their roster, the Giants cast a wide net. Their four infielders – first baseman Aubrey Huff (free agent), second baseman Freddy Sanchez (trade), shortstop Edgar Renteria (free agent) and third baseman Juan Uribe (minor league deal) – were acquired from outside of the organization, and all played key roles in the championship run.

Outfielder Cody Ross, a postseason hero, was claimed off waivers from Florida late in the season. Another outfielder, Pat Burrell, signed a minor league deal after being released by Tampa Bay less than two months into the season. Leadoff hitter Andres Torres was signed out of the Chicago Cubs’ minor league system as a free agent.

Catcher Buster Posey, a rookie of the year candidate, was the one home-grown regular. The Giants made way for his arrival in the majors in late May by dealing veteran Bengie Molina to the Rangers.

So, the Giants’ formula for success was to build its pitching staff from within, including closer Brian Wilson (24th round of 2003 draft), and look to the outside to fill their everyday lineup. Manager Bruce Bochy often called them a “bunch of outcasts and misfits,” but in reality they were savvy veterans, many with postseason experience, who played key roles behind the best pitching staff in the majors.

“The key was we got contributions from everybody,” Bochy said. “They stayed ready and they had one thing on their mind, and that was to do this.”

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