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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

2010 San Francisco Giants team preview

2009 Record: 88-74   .543

Run Differential: +46

Going into 2009 San Francisco knew if they were going to make the playoffs they would have to be led by their pitching staff.  The staff didn't disappoint as Tim Lincecum won his second Cy Young Award and Matt Cain had his best season to date.  Jonathan Sanchez, plagued by inconsistency during his young career, even threw a no-hitter.  The most pleasant surprise was provided in the form of Barry Zito who reverted to his form in Oakland in the second half of the season. As the pitching staff paved the way the offense flopped.  Only Pablo Sandoval played well enough to give the team hope for the future as his .330/.387/.556 line was enough to make him an All Star in his first full season.  Edgar Renteria was brought in to stabilize the infield but hit only .250 with no power raising concerns that he might be done.  Fred Lewis failed to repeat his surprising 2008 and everyone else that got serious playing time stunk, too.  If it wasn't for their NL leading defense the Giants would have finished a distant fourth in the division as opposed to a couple of games out of the Wild Card.

Unfortunately 2010 looks more like a repeat of 2009 than a new chapter.
GM Brian Sabean knows he needs to act fast to get this team into the playoffs because it's unlikely Lincecum, Cain, and Zito will be healthy or under contract for much longer.  Hopefully he also realizes last season was extremely flukey and is unlikely to be replicated without an infusion of new offensive weapons.  Enter Aubrey Huff, Mark DeRosa, and Freddy Sanchez.  Ouch.  DeRosa has his virtues in that he can play five positions ably but should not be counted on to be an offensive centerpiece.  The other two signings simply defy logic.  Overpaying for mediocre aging stars who are unlikely to be mediocre even in two years handicaps the team.  True, there isn't a lot of positional talent ready to contribute in the minor leagues but there are better, cheaper players to sign out there.  Only Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey appear to be players that this team should build around.  Finding other players will continue to be challenging but by falling into the same trap year after year the team will be faced with the same problems year after year.  Overpaying for veterans has been a trademark of Giant teams for as long as Sabean has been the GM (since 1996).  The drafting has improved but without smart, savvy decisions the team will continue to finish just short of the playoffs.  If that keeps happening why wouldn't Lincecum and Cain leave for greener dollars in New York and Boston?  And why would Sabean be allowed to keep his job?

There's never been anyone like Timmy before and, 
frankly, that scares people.  With his unorthodoxed 
delivery, his arm could be a ticking time-bomb. 
But man is he good!

Likely Opening Day Roster:
My Two Cents
Benji Molina
Why he was re-signed blows my mind.  Would be a great backup but sucks as a starter
Eli Whiteside
I'll be honest: I have no idea who this is. Won't be on the team long with Posey ready now
Aubrey Huff
Hit .189 in Detroit last year. His agent deserves huge props for getting him another starting job
Freddy Sanchez
Hits for decent average but has no power, no speed, and career high in walks is 32.
Pablo Sandoval
Kung Fu Panda could be the new Vlad.  Won't develop the power but he can hit anything
Edgar Renteria
Was it really only three years ago he hit .332? This is likely his last year as a starter
Fred Lewis
I like this guy but he's clearly not starting material. DeRosa starts here on Opening Day
Aaron Rowand
Glory days on defense are behind him. Will need to post an OBP over .330 to keep starting job
Nate Schierholz
Am I alone in thinking this guy could be pretty good?  His minor league numbers suggest so
Juan Uribe
BP reports he cut his infield flies in half from '08 to '09. If he can do it again he'll remain valuable
Mark DeRosa
Will play everyday.  His flexibility alone makes the Giants a couple of games better
Eugenio Velez
Plays all three OF spots and 2b but has no power. If he's not hitting he'll be in AAA.
Travis Ishikawa
Likely will form a platoon with Huff. You'd like more power from your first baseman.
Tim  Lincecum
Two Cy Young Awards in his first two full seasons. If he remains healthy he's the best
Matt Cain
Slowly making improvements despite declining K's.  An excellent #2 starter.
Barry Zito
Best season since he left for Oakland. Improved K rate and decrease in BB rate are why
Jonathan Sanchez
Threw a no-hitter last season but still struggled overall. Could be traded if team is in the hunt
Todd Wellemeyer
Probably ends up as a swing man once Bumgarner is called up
Brian Wilson
The number of blown saves overshadowed what a good year  he had; one of the best closers
Jeremy Affeldt
Since he became a groundball pitcher has become an outstanding relief pitcher
Sergio Romo
In 45 games pitched only 34 innings. It worked for him as he finished with a 1.21 WHIP
Henry Sosa
Could start the year starting in the AA. SF might choose to call him up to help the pen though
Alex Hinshaw
Drives management crazy with control woes but had 30:4 K:BB ratio in 17 IP in AAA last year
Brandon Medders
Will be very effective as long as he avoids lefties
Joe Martinez
In second career game had line drive fracture his skull. Sinkerballer should be effective RP

Say Hello To: Todd Wellemeyer, Mark DeRosa, Aubrey Huff, Pat Misch

Wave Goodbye: Bob Howry, Randy Johnson, Justin Miller, Brad Penny, Randy Winn, Ryan Garko, Merkin Valdez

Rookies: Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Henry Sosa - All of these guys will be up before July.  The sooner they're incorporated into the lineup the quicker the team will improve.

Potential Breakout: Buster Posey - Once he's up he'll be a top five catcher in the NL and could bat second in the lineup.

Welcome to Earth: Jeremy Affeldt - Will still be an effective reliever but a repeat of a 1.73 ERA is extremely unlikely. 

Likely to Rebound: Edgar Renteria - I don't think he'll be as bad as he was last year.  Had elbow surgery to fix a bad wing. Hopefully that helps his shoulders too...

Top 3 players: Tim Lincecum, Pablo Sandoval, Matt Cain

Top Prospect: Buster Posey - He can already hit well enough to start but the Giants seem concerned about his defense.  I think they're overreacting. He threw out 38% of base stealers in AAA last year.

Prediction: 77-85  4th place N.L. West
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