[This is a response to discussions going on in several places, so it might seem a bit incoherent. It's also cut-and-pasted from long comments I made on alt.sports.baseball.sf-giants, and while I tried to update and reformat my comments, I don't know if I entirely succeeded.]
The Giants are currently 45-59. Those who still act like the Giants have a chance, just because their division stinks, need to keep that record in mind. The Giants have a better record than only two other teams in the entire National League. If they somehow managed to win the division anyway, they will have to face actual good teams in the post-season ... the Cardinals will surely be there, probably the Braves, along with whoever wins the AL. Yeah yeah, anything can happen in a short series, but the reality is, the 2005 San Francisco Giants are not going to win the World Series. The last time the Giants had a team this bad was 1996 ... you remember that team, with Tom Lampkin and Steve Scarsone and Mark Carreon and William Vanlandingham and Allen Watson and Osvaldo Fernandez ... anyone would laugh to think of that team as anything other than crummy, yet some folks still think 2005 is salvagable.
Brian Sabean should be thinking about 2006 and beyond. That he is playing for now is disturbing. Even if he gets that one guy that will help the team improve enough to win the West, the team won't be good enough to advance.
In the past, one could argue that Sabean was doing his job because the team was successful on the field. For a variety of reasons, that is not true this year. What he does now will be very important for the Giants' future. Trying to win the division this year is a very bad move.
Some people say, but look at 1951! OK, I will. On July 31, 1951, the Giants were 9 1/2 games back. On July 31, 2005, the Giants are 5 1/2 games back. If that's all you're looking at, you will think the Giants have a chance, and you'll trot out memories of 1951. But the two seasons and teams are entirely different. First, in 1951, all you had to do to get to the World Series was win the NL; in 2005, you'd have to make the post-season and then defeat two other teams that are likely better than you. The 1951 team was much better than the 2005 team, as well. On July 31, they were 56-44, compared to today's team at 45-59. This year's team is much less likely to have the kind of terrific run the '51 team pulled off. The 1951 Giants had Willie Mays and Monte Irvin, a great pitching staff headed by two pitchers with 23 wins, a catcher with a .400 OBP and 20 HR, a secondbaseman with a .401 OBP, Bobby Thomson at .293/.385/.562, and an All-Star shortstop who hit .303 with 41 doubles and 14 homers. The 2005 Giants are no match for that team, and there is no point in saying "hey, it happened in 1951" when making decisions about the 2005 Giants.
Some people say, but any team can get hot in the playoffs. For the Giants to win the World Series, they will first have to win their division despite a W-L Pct. that is currently the 4th-worst in San Francisco history. Then they'd have to do a lot more than sweep one team over a weekend ... they'd have to win THREE extended series against THREE top-notch teams. Can they do that? Well, I guess anything is possible. But name me one bad team that won the World Series since the extra round of playoffs was added. The team to win the Series with the worst record in that time is the 2000 Yankees. They had a catcher with 28 HR and 107 walks, a shortstop who hit .339, a Gold Glove centerfielder who hit 30 HR, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte winning 19 games, and an absolutely awesome bullpen. That's the worst team to win it all since the extra round of playoffs was added. The 2005 Giants are nowhere near that good. Their chances of winning it all in 2005 are miniscule. It ain't gonna happen. They need to plan for the future.
Remember the last year of the Roger Craig era, just before Barry joined the team? What an awful club ... Kirt Manwaring, Royce Clayton, Matt Williams having one of his bad years, Darren Lewis, guys like Bud Black and Trevor Wilson in the rotation, and a bullpen that included a washed-up Dave Righetti. They lost 90 games, finished in 5th place, and ended up 26 games out of first place. That team's winning percentage was .444 ... this year's is .433.
How about 1980 ... can we call it the Dave Bristol Era? Another horrible, horrible team. The pitching wasn't too bad, actually, although Bob Knepper went 9-16. But the offense? Jack Clark, Darrell Evans, and crap. Rennie Stennett joined the club ... need I say more? Willie McCovey retired ... his replacements, Mike Ivie and Rich Murray, had sub-.300 OBPs and sub-.350 SLG. Johnnie LeMaster hit .215 in 135 games. They lost 86 games and finished in 5th place, 17 games out of first. Their winning percentage was .466 ... this year's is .433.
1972? First year the team finished under .500 in San Francisco. They traded Gaylord Perry for Sam McDowell in the off-season, Willie Mays to the Mets during the season. Juan Marichal went 6-16, Willie McCovey hit .213. Dave Kingman played 59 games at third base. They finished 5th, 26 1/2 games out of first. Their winning percentage was .445 ... this year's is .433.
And yet some people think the 2005 Giants still have a chance at the World Series, because a good team won the National League in 1951?
Of course they have a chance to win the division. It's not even all that slim. The point isn't to win the division, it's to win the World Series. At some point. In my lifetime. And I'm 52, so I'm running out of time.