Pitching wins championships, or so the saying goes, and no baseball team in recent memory strengthens that argument more than the San Francisco Giants. Of course, you'll forgive New York if they seemed a bit jealous of their opponent. Simply stated, the Giants have perfected the pitching-rich blueprint that the Mets aspire to replicate, and the time to implement that plan is quickly approaching.
GM Sandy Alderson has made no secret of what his vision of success looks like. The image is as clear as day and includes names like Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob DeGrom, Jeurys Familia, Jenrry Mejia, and Noah Syndergaard. The road to a consistent winner in Queens begins and ends on the pitcher's mound, and nowhere has that plan been better executed than in San Francisco by GM Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy.
The Giants have ridden the arms of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Madison Bumgarner to World Series titles in 2010 and 2012. Granted, San Francisco is blessed with a star player in 2012 National League MVP Buster Posey, but many of the other hitters during those championship seasons hardly struck fear into opposing pitchers. Andrew Owens of MLB.com ran a story in June 2013 that summed up the Giants' plan.
As the Giants' blueprint has proven, it pays to develop your own pitching. As the 2010 and '12 runs displayed, it's much easier to find affordable position players in the offseason and the July non-waiver Trade Deadline than it is to acquire quality pitching. Think of the names. Sure, there are some stars like Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval who rose through the farm system, but the rest is mostly a hodgepodge of acquisitions and castaways. In short, the Giants' shrewd strategy of making arms the backbone of the organization was the foundation of the success, and all it took was some tinkering with the offense to put together championship-caliber clubs. It's an outline that continues to hold true in San Francisco.
Alderson, who took over the general manager's role from Omar Minaya following the 2010 campaign, was obviously paying attention. While the Mets' pitching pipeline is the envy of other clubs, the team continues to search for the right offensive mix to supplement what is already a stout pitching staff. The Mets have their own star player in David Wright. Daniel Murphy has a 120 OPS+ and is leading the National League with 134 hits. Lucas Duda and Travis d'Arnaud have begun to produce, while Curtis Granderson is a solid veteran presence. Remember, the Giants won two titles with names like Andres Torres, Gregor Blanco, Marco Scutaro, Ryan Theriot, and Cody Ross dotting the lineup card.
To be sure, the Mets need more consistency from their offense if they plan on being a playoff team, much less a World Series contender. Unlike the free-agent bonanza of the late 1990s and early 2000s when sluggers were available left and right, today's general manager needs to be a little more careful and creative when building a team.
The blueprint has been mapped out and printed, and the path New York is taking is clear. All that's left is to see if the Mets can build something as strong and sturdy as the Giants have.