StrategyFebruary 23, 2011

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30 Teams in 30 Days: San Francisco Giants

By Michael Marinakis

For the first time since their move to San Francisco, the Giants will open the season as the defending champions. Despite having one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, the Giants were never given much of a chance in the playoffs and were labeled by many as “lucky”. What many people fail to realize is that the Giants had the fourth best run differential in the majors last year which is an expected record of 95-67, only one game behind the Phillies expected record. While, luck will almost always play a factor in the short five and seven game playoff series, it’s pretty clear to any objective observer that the Giants were a very good team.

Going into 2011, the Giants field a very similar looking team and will likely continue their torturous ways of 2010. As long as the rotation stays healthy, the Giants should see themselves right back in the playoff hunt come September, and that’s torture that I don’t mind sitting through.
In “30 Teams in 30 Days,” the Fantasy Baseball Cafe will preview each team in Major League Baseball on a daily basis. In addition to projecting starting lineups, rotations and closing situations, the Cafe will identify potential targets for 2011 fantasy baseball drafts.
Offensive Starters

C Buster Posey.305.357.5055818670406 
1B Aubrey Huff.290.385.50610026867569 
2B Freddy Sanchez.292.342.397557473431 
SS Miguel Tejada.269.312.3817115712468w/SD
3B Pablo Sandoval.268.323.4096113633563 
LF Pat Burrell.266.364.50941185129289 
CF Andres Torres.268.343.47984166326507 
RF Cody Ross.269.3322.4137114659525w/2T

Unsettled: Center field/Left field. Bruce Bochy has mentioned that he will give Aaron Rowand a chance win the center field job. Whether that’s just out of respect for the veteran or not, there are some questions as to how the outfield situation will shake out. If Rowand plays his way into the starting line up with a strong spring, he would play center field with Andres Torres moving into left. Otherwise, Torres will remain in center with Pat Burrell spending some time in left and Nate Schierholtz getting playing time in all outfield positions. A big spring from Brandon Belt could mean that he or Aubrey Huff move into left field with the other taking over first base. Barring something drastic I think it’s most likely that Belt will follow the path of Buster Posey and start the season in AAA. If he continues hitting like he did last year and in the Arizona Fall League, it won’t be long until he’s up and becomes an important part of the Giants offense. Until that happens Torres will most likely be in center with Burrell getting most of the playing time in left.
Target: Pablo Sandoval. I’m not usually one to get drawn in by the “best shape of his life” stories, but as a huge fan of the Giants and of the panda, it’s hard not to get excited about the early reports from spring training. After his breakout 2009, it seemed like the sky was the limit for the Giants’ rotund third basemen, but what was most likely a mixture of weight problem and poor plate discipline caused quite the sophomore slump as Pablo’s OPS dropped 209 points in 2010. He ended the season weighing 278 pounds (on a 5′ 11″ frame) and lost his job as a starter in the playoffs to the eventual World Series MVP, Edgar Renteria. It’s hard to imagine anyone being successful in the majors with a body like that and with the very real possibility of being sent back to the minors in 2011, Pablo went to work and dropped 45 pounds of fat while gaining seven pounds of muscle over the course of the offseason. The added flexibility, strength, and stamina bodes well for Pablo’s 2011 season, but it remains to be seen if he has the willpower to keep the weight off. A return to his 2009 form could mean huge dividends for fantasy owners who are willing to take that risk.
The Rotation
Tim Lincecum (R)16-103.431.2723176212.1 
Matt Cain (R)13-113.141.0817761223.1 
Jonathan Sanchez (L)13-93.071.2320596193.1 
Madison Bumgarner (L)7-63.001.318626111 
Barry Zito (L)9-144.151.3415084199.1 

Unsettled: None. The Giants have one of the best rotations in baseball and barring injury have a starting five set in stone. They could be in some trouble if there is an injury as the sixth starter would be one of Jeff Suppan or Brian Lawrence.
Target: Madison Bumgarner. Entering the 2010 season, Bumgarner had some major velocity concerns which left both the team and fans wondering if he’d ever bounce back. He started the season in AAA and put up pretty decent numbers before being called up to the majors in June. As a 20-year-old in the majors, Bumgarner exceeded expectations posting a 3.00 ERA with very good control and a solid strikeout rate. He pitched even better in the playoffs and had a significant role in the World Series run. Putting together such a strong rookie campaign at such a young age bodes will for continued success going into 2011 and those willing to spend an 11th-12th round pick on him could end up well-rewarded.
The 8th and 9th Innings
Brian Wilson (R)481.811.18932674.2 
Sergio Romo (R)02.080.97701462 

Chasing Saves: Brian Wilson has quickly become of the majors best closers and most interesting personalities. His has incredible work ethic and ability make him one of the most effective and safe closers available for fantasy owners. The Giants play in a lot of close games so Wilson will continue to get plenty of opportunities for saves, and the amount of innings he throws should help to provide a decent amount of value through his solid ratios and strikeout numbers.
Final Thoughts
The Giants are heading into 2011 with almost the exact same team that brought San Francisco its first World Series championship. A healthy and effective rotation is the key to another run at the title, but the Giants offense isn’t nearly as terrible as it has been in years past. Full seasons and continued growth from Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner, along with a mid-season boost from Brandon Belt could put the Giants into position to repeat come October.
Check back tomorrow for our look at the Baltimore Orioles.

Michael Marinakis is a 25-year-old Giants fan still riding the high of the World Series victory. You can find him on the cafe where he posts as GiantsFan14.
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