30 teams in 30 days continues with the San Francisco Giants. The Giants surprised many last year posting a 88-74 record and vying for a playoff spot late into the season. They were carried by one of the best pitching staffs in the game which combined for a whopping 18 shutouts over the course of the season. Of course the Giants did need every single bit of that pitching to make up for one of baseball’s worst offenses. The Giants are going to have to hope for a repeat from the pitching and that a few of their sketchy off-season additions can put together a good season and improve on the .699 team OPS last year (worst in all of baseball).
|C Bengie Molina||.265||.285||.442||52||20||80||0||491|
|1B Aubrey Huff||.241||.310||.384||59||15||85||0||536||w/2T|
|2B Freddy Sanchez||.293||.326||.416||56||7||41||5||457||w/2T|
|SS Edgar Renteria||.250||.307||.328||50||5||48||7||460|
|3B Pablo Sandoval||.330||.387||.556||79||25||90||5||572|
|LF Mark DeRosa||.250||.319||.433||78||23||78||3||515||w/2T|
|CF Aaron Rowand||.261||.319||.419||61||15||64||4||499|
|RF Nate Schierholtz||.267||.302||.400||33||5||29||3||285|
Unsettled: Right field. The Giants are going into spring training with a three-way battle for the right field position. While Nate Schierholtz has the upper hand at this point, John Bowker and Eugenio Velez will look to make a splash this spring in an attempt to steal the job away. While I’ve always hoped that Schierholtz would turn into a serviceable major leaguer, he has never been much for plate discipline (I believe he swung at two pitches last year that ended up hitting him) which limits his upside. This in combination with the fact that Velez is just bad at baseball leaves me hoping that Bowker puts together a big spring and takes the job. In Triple-A last year, Bowker drastically changed his approach at the plate and was greatly benefited by increased patience. He posted a career high walk rate (16.4%) and career low strikeout rate (17.5%) and combined that with a .254 ISO for an overall 1.047 OPS. While expectations are obviously tempered as he’s entering the season as a 26-year-old who seems to have just figured Triple-A out, he still looks to be the best option for a team starved for offense. It would be nice to see him get some consistent at-bats to see if he can carry over his success into the majors this season.
Target: Pablo Sandoval. The one shining star in a sea of suck. Sandoval is the guy that Giants fans have waited years for, a home-grown position player who just flat out rakes. He started off the 2008 season crushing the ball in Single-A+ and hasn’t stopped since. He combines excellent hand-eye coordination with good power and at only 23 years old, he hasn’t even approached his peak. One of the most pleasant surprises of last season was not his .330 average or his 25 home runs, but the 8.2% walk rate, up from 2.6% in 2008. He entered the season as a hacker who never saw a pitch he didn’t like and turned himself into a legitimate all-around threat. Right now Sandoval is going in the mid-3rd round around the same time as Ryan Zimmerman. It’s a steep price to pay for someone with such a weak supporting cast, but Pablo has the potential to be one of the more feared hitters in the league and is showing no signs of slowing down.
|Tim Lincecum (R)||15-7||2.48||1.05||261||68||225.1|
|Matt Cain (R)||14-8||2.89||1.18||171||73||217.2|
|Jonathan Sanchez (L)||8-12||4.24||1.37||177||88||163.1|
|Barry Zito (L)||10-13||4.03||1.35||154||81||192|
|Madison Bumgarner (R)||0-0||1.80||1.10||10||3||10|
Unsettled: Madison Bumgarner. For much of the off-season it seemed like the Giants might end up handing the 20-year-old super prospect the job to start the season. However, they recently signed Todd Wellemeyer to a minor league deal and may want to give Bumgarner some seasoning in Triple-A (which they should). With the worrisome velocity drop last season, it would be nice to see Bumgarner revert to his 2008 self before throwing him up against major league hitting, but the Giants may not have the luxury to do that unless Wellemeyer steps up and does a decent job of filling the hole. My homer-ism leads me to believe that Bumgarner’s velocity drop last year was due to fatigue coming off his first season as a pro where he threw 141.2 innings. With another season under his belt and increased stamina, we could see a return in the velocity which allowed him to absolutely dominate Single-A ball as a 19-year-old in 2008. His potential along with the possibility that he could open up the year with the big club leave him as an intriguing sleeper in the late rounds of deeper leagues. In leagues where he isn’t drafted keep a sharp eye on him during spring training and be ready to snatch him off the waiver wire should he impress.
Target: Jonathan Sanchez. Of course I’d love to tell you to target Lincecum but his draft position is so static that there’s not much point, he’s going to get drafted around the 12-14 picks in pretty much every draft which makes him difficult to target unless you get one of those picks. Jonathan Sanchez, on the other hand, can be had much later and still holds quite a bit of potential. His swing-through pitches have intrigued both fantasy managers and Giants fans alike, but control problems throughout his career have held him back. His first and second-half splits in 2009 show the two completely different pitchers he can be (1H: 4.69 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 1.72 K/BB | 2H: 3.83 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 2.33 K/BB), which can be quite frustrating for fantasy owners. Still, anyone who watched his no-hitter (with no walks) last year saw how nasty his stuff is when his control is there. As long as he keeps his ratios respectable, he’s a late-round pick that provides a very cheap boost in a fantasy teams strikeout totals. If he can build on how he finished last year he could be a very valuable piece on a lot of winning fantasy teams this year.
The 8th and 9th Innings
|Brian Wilson (R)||38||2.74||1.20||83||27||72.1|
|Jeremy Affeldt (L)||0||1.73||1.17||55||31||62.1|
Chasing Saves: Brian Wilson is the guy here and for where he’s being drafted has some of the best stuff and best job security out there. Many people were unsure of Wilson after his 4.72 ERA in 2008, however his underlying stats showed a much better pitcher last year. His luck evened out, his strikeout rate increased, and his walk rate decreased which resulted in him becoming one of the better closers in the game. Should something drastic happen which causes Wilson to be removed from the role due to ineffectiveness or injury (both highly unlikely), Sergio Romo or even Dan Runzler are probably favorites to take over the job seeing as how Affedlt is a lefty. Both guys have great stuff and could prove to be quality in season pick ups if they take over the closer role for some reason
Much Like last year, it looks like the Giants are going to depend on the pitching to get them anywhere close to the postseason. The excellent rotation and bullpen give fantasy managers five legitimate starting pitching options throughout the draft (yes, even Zito is draftable in some leagues). On the offensive side, Sandoval is the star and while he could be joined by stud prospect Buster Posey at some point in the season, it’s unlikely that the Giants fully hand the job over to Posey this year. Mark DeRosa, Bengie Molina, and maybe Freddy Sanchez are the only other offensive players that deserve any sort of a look when you’re drafting. Needless to say, it’s going to be another rough year for Giants’ fans as we watch one of the worst offenses in the league try to scrape together enough runs to get into the postseason.
Michael Marinakis is a 24-year-old baseball addict. You can find him roaming the Cafe where he posts as GiantsFan14 and looks forward to another season of failures by the Giants' offense and front office.
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