Giants in wait-and-see mode

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Giants in wait-and-see mode

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Jaymee Sire and senior coordinating producer Dave Bernstein are in Texas to cover the MLB Winter Meetings. Look for updates throughout the day on the Web and comprehensive coverage on SportsNet Central this week.

DALLAS -- Hurry up and wait.

Its a popular phrase used by the media to cover sports. The concept is pretty simple. Hurry up to get to a place to cover an event. Wait to get anything done due to circumstances.

It can also be used to describe coverage of baseballs annual Winter Meetings. This year they are being held in Dallas, metroplex home of the two-time defending American League champion Rangers. For the Giants, there could be a whole lot of waiting.

There are many in Bay Area who are hoping for a splash. Everyone knows the names -- Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, and Jimmy Rollins -- that will get the most buzz this week. Giants fans should forget about those names. Think more of the Alex Gonzalez and Rafael Furcal ilk.

General manager Brian Sabean has been here before. He knows the circus of the Meetings better than most. Hot Stove geeks -- myself included -- wait for this nearly as much as the start of spring training. Its always interesting to see how team-building takes its course.

There will plenty of free agent signings in Texas this week. There will probably be some significant trades as well. But San Franciscos priority starts from within. Figuring out how to lock down Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain must be the first order of business. Pitching is the fabric of Giants baseball at AT&T Park, so the front office knows it must keep its top two horses in the stable.

You could see the Giants deal from the bullpen -- a strength for them, a weakness for plenty of other teams. Likely, any of those arms would not net a major offensive return.

There is some intrigue on deck offensively though. Will Carlos Beltran be back? Possible. But dont expect any major contributors to be wearing Orange and Black after the Giants' contingent comes back from Dallas. They are counting on the continued growth of Pablo Sandoval, the injury rebound of Buster Posey and maturation of Brandon Belt. They're all young and inexpensive right now, and the Giants need major output from those bats.

With the bloated contracts of Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand still on the books, Larry Baers ownership group has its collective hands tied in many ways. While agents Scott Boras and Dan Lozano are floating their clients out to many teams, Sabean may listen.

There are plenty of Giants fans who are excited about a potential big deal this week, and cant stay off of csnbayarea.com, Twitter and Rotoworld to get all the latest news. I have two thoughts for you. Hurry up. And wait.

What they're saying: 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame class

What they're saying: 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame class

The National Baseball Hall of Fame inducted Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez Wednesday. Here's what they and their peers are saying.

https://twitter.com/baseballhall/status/821855144681897988


Still on outside, Bonds, Clemens have become invaluable to Hall

Still on outside, Bonds, Clemens have become invaluable to Hall

The Baseball Hall of Fame becomes yesterday’s news Friday, as it always does. Three months of buildup, one day to announce the names, one day to castigate the voters for their willfully negligent slights, and then nine months of hibernation.

So much for the concept of “joining the immortals.”

But at least Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez never have to go through this annual pageant of nonsense again.

Barry Bonds does, though, and so does Roger Clemens, and to a lesser extent, so does Curt Schilling. They are the new litmus strips for the Hall, and they will more than replace Raines (voter ignorance division) and Bagwell (presumption of guilt with evidence division) for self-involved debate.

And in that adjusted role from doomed outsiders to serious candidates, Bonds and Clemens – and to a lesser extent again, Schilling – have become invaluable to the Hall, and their eventual election and induction will reduce the Hall’s ability to inflame passions outside the seamhead community.

On a day when Bagwell and Raines finally cleared the 75 percent threshold and Bonds and Clemens moved from 45 percent to 53.8 and 54.1 percent, respectively, the Hall of Fame Debating And Chowder Society saw the end times for its power as a multi-month debate-churner.

The blatherers are dead, long live the blatherers.

An entire mini-industry of Hall watchers has been spawned, in part by the now-feted Ryan Thibodaux and his exit polling but also by the debates about what the Hall should be and who should get to decide it. It has made days like Wednesday event viewing when it hadn’t been for years. For that, the Hall owes Bonds and Clemens a debt that the powers inside Major League Baseball wishes it didn’t have to pay. But the day they are inducted is the day that PEDs die as a debating point. The answer will have been provided, and there will be no more need for discussion.

Worse yet, the BBWAA’S new voter transparency rules may unfortunately impact our pal Thibodaux, whose seminal work in this understudied area of social science undermined ballot secrecy. In short, if everyone has to fess up, the desperate need to know early returns may dry up.

Oh, there will always be the day of post mortem-ization, as those who didn’t clear the threshold are subject to a few rounds of the popular parlor game, “Who Got Snubbed, And The Tedious And Half-Informed Reasons Why.”

For instance, the big debating point from today’s results will not be about Raines and Guerrero getting in, but what happened to the Bonds and Clemens votes. People have already postulated that a lot of the jump in their respective votes can be directly linked to Bud Selig’s election from the Veterans Committee. Voters who had previously ridden the Hall-as-temple argument suddenly lost their raison d’etre and realized that the PED problem was an industry matter rather than a greedy players’ matter.

In short, they saw Selig getting in as tacit approval that the PED issue was no longer a moral one in baseball but a cynical one, a way to blame labor for management’s culpability. That is an irony whose existence Selig will almost surely deny, but it’s there anyway, and it represents one more non-glacial change in a system that has been nearly immovable for most of its existence.

The next change, of course, may be removing the vote from the BBWAA and turning it over to a more malleable panel of “experts” who may not skew as young and values-neutral as the BBWAA of the future seems to be heading. That course may be hastened if/when Bonds and Clemens are elected, because halls of fame in their more traditional role have been more about rewarding friends and punishing enemies, and a large and shifting electorate makes that harder to accomplish.

The argument against such a course, though, is that the current system of three months of fevered public debate about the same old stuff works for the Hall’s sense of its importance. I mean, MLB Network and its fetish for shrill argument only has so much reach.

By Friday, though, all of this will revert to its typically inert state. Bonds, Clemens (ATALE Schilling), PEDs, morality, practicality, secrecy, old voter/young voter – all of it will fade back into insignificance.

And in a year or two or maybe three, Bonds and Clemens will wipe it all out by being included in the one club that we once knew would never tolerate their presence, and the Hall Of Fame’s Golden Age Of Shrieking Argument will end.

In a weird and largely unpleasant way, it will be missed.