The only thing the Giants did to improve was get Pierzinski (and he's not much of an upgrade from Santiago). Starting pitcher problems include: Schmidt is a question mark with his sholder, Reuter as their #2 will be WAY overmatched, Williams is unproven and Tomko had one decent year in his whole career plus Nen might not even pitch (again) this year. As far as hitting: they've got bums in the STARTING lineup (Nefi Perez, JT Snow, Michael Tucker), Bonds will be 40 this year, Alfonzo has been a disappointment and Durham was slowed by a leg problem all of last year (and will be 33 this year). I conservatively think it's safe to say the Giants are no lock for the division this year.
Bums? Durham is healthy
this year and he provides them a legit threat at the top of the order. Snow excelled
in the 2 spot last season. Bonds is still Bonds, the best player in the game. Alfonzo was a disappointment in the 1st half, yes. However, in the 2nd half, he really went on fire. He should carry that over to this year and mark this down, he will drive in over a 100 runs!
Tucker/Hammonds/Mohr is an upgrade over Cruz in RF. They also make the Giants' bench a little deeper. I'd also take Perez's superb defense over Aurilia's limited range. Pierzinski is a big upgrade from Santiago. Santiago’s defense was really, really slipping. A.J. is great defensively and he is a left handed hitter, an All Star catcher entering his prime. Baseball is not all about offense.
Schmidt says he's feeling great and Rueter is constantly underrated. He may not be the hardest thrower in the majors, but he goes out every year and wins about 15 games. Williams was talked about being a ROY candidate, and the Giants expect big things from him. Nen started throwing off the mound and both Alou and Stan Conte came away impressed. In fact, it was reported that he will be healthy enough to pitch this year.
I happen to think that Tomko was a terrible move. Let's take a look at him.
Career: 1042.2 innings with a 4.62 era and a 1.36 whip. That's pretty terrible. Maybe he's gotten better the last couple of years? Nope.
'03---202.2 innings, 5.28 era, 1.52 whip.
'02---204.1 innings, 4.49 era, 1.33 whip.
He had an era of 3.43 in 126 innings as a rookie in '97. Other than that year, his lowest era ever in his career was 4.44 in 210.2 innings in '98.
Not sure at all why people seem to think that signing him was a good move.
After the All Star break, Tomko went 8-3 and lowered his ERA a point after a horrendous first half. Righetti is one of the most underrated pitching coaches in the majors, I believe. Tomko has always showed potential to be a solid pitcher; he just needs to learn how to pitch inside. With Righetti as his coach, hopefully he’ll teach him to throw inside more. If he does, he will be a pleasant surprise this year. Pitching in Pac Bell doesn’t hurt either.
the giants fouled by trading Russ Ortiz and getting nothing in return (Ponson gone). I have to say that as long as Sabean is GM of that team, they will never win San Francisco their first World Series. As far as winning the NL West, they are the reigning champ and have the best home-run hitter in the game. But they will choke as they usually do in the playoffs, IMHO. And I don’t want to hear anything about Oakland short
The Ortiz deal was a salary dump, on Magowan's orders. If they had kept Ortiz, there would have been no need to trade for Ponson. But again, another person who wants to see the Giants get rid of one of the best GM's in baseball. How ridiculous.
As for the Padres, I think they will have a great season. And yes, they will probably challenge for the division crown. However, their pitching staff doesn’t scare me, yet. Until I see them prove themselves, there is no way I’m going to hand over the division to them. They don’t exactly strike fear in me yet. Also, I do believe the Padres had Giles and Nevin towards the end of last year, but they still couldn’t beat the Giants