The Giants are near and dear to our hearts because a player who went to our high school toiled in their minor league system for a few years, we still support Barry Bonds, and think that they are a eye-cathing team - especially with the high black socks. Good look. ANYWAY the Giants were offensive dwarves last year, scoring 3.95 runs per game (29th), and allowing a below-average 4.69 runs per game (17th). This is a team that really could've used Manny Ramirez's bat, not only to bolster an offense that badly needs any help it can get, but also to help their pitchers, who will now have to face Manny 19 times a year. Alas, GM Brian Sabean has never been one for smart free agent signings (Barry Zito, recently released Dave Roberts, Edgar Renteria, Aaron Rowand, Edgardo Alfonzo, Armando Benitez, Moises Alou, Matt Morris, Reggie Sanders, Omar Vizquel...we'll stop piling on).
So without the Manny boost, what are we looking at for the offensive side of affairs? A year of development from Pablo Sanchez will help him take a step forward, Edgar Renteria will be an offensive upgrade over Omar Vizquel (though it's possible that we would be, too), Fred Lewis could break out, and Eugenio Velez's legs will be a nice boost. Unfortunately, there is little-to-no pop in the lineup; Bengie Molina (!) led the team with 16 (!) home runs. Velez, Lewis, and Randy Winn each stole 20+ bases, however, and Emmanuel Burriss is certainly capable of posting that many as well. Maybe with their speed they could get something accomplished; they don't stand much of a chance of being anything resembling an average offensive team otherwise.
As for the pitching, it's something that could be a strength. Tiny Tim Lincecum (probably our favorite pitcher) headlines the group, but RHP Matt Cain and LHPs Randy Johnson and Jonathan Sanchez are no slouches themselves (but Barry Zito is). LHP Noah Lowry provides some insurance as a long man who can take the occasional start, which he'll probably have to do with the injury prone Sanchez and Johnson in the rotation. The bullpen has some fairly capable arms as well, though none that will do great things. Closer Brian Wilson was solid last year, and the additions of RHP Bob Howry and LHP Jeremy Affeldt should help bolster the back end as well, particularly if Howry proves that his terrible '08 was a fluke.
PECOTA projected record: 75-87, 4th in NL West.
KCSD projected record: 77-85, 3rd in NL West.
If their offense can manage to be even marginal, and the pitching staff performs up to expectations, they should at least be better than the Rockies and Padres.
Around the Horn
C Bengie Molina: .280/.310/.425, 15 HR. One of the famous Molina troika, Bengie carries a fairly potent stick for a catcher. He has zero patience, but his well above-average defense (which the whole family is famous for) makes up for any offensive shortcomings. For the record, we rank our Molinas thusly: Bengie, Yadier, Jose.
1B Travis Ishikawa: .265/.330/.430, 13 HR. This is just not a powerful enough bat for first base. Ishikawa plays good defense, but he's going to have to take some steps forward with the bat - a leap he is capable of, as he's flashed power in the minors, and has a large (6'3'') frame to grow into.
2B Kevin Frandsen: .275/.340/.390, 5 HR. Frandsen is a decent enough player, but at 27, he doesn't have much growing left to do, so this is probably about as good as you can hope for. His defense isn't great, but if you have to punt a position, you could do worse than second base. Also, Eugenio Velez will be logging some time here, so it's worth mentioning that while Velez also possesses a below average bat, his legs are very good.
3B Pablo Sandoval: .290/.330/.450, 15 HR. Sandoval was very good last year in his rookie campaign, though he demonstrated very little in the way of patience. He has a bad body which could hurt him as the season wears on, but in terms of pure talent, the 22-year old has some to spare.
SS Edgar Renteria: .285/.340/.415, 10 HR. Renteria was great for the Braves after coming from the Red Sox; the general consensus seems to be that if he can catch the cross-league magic again, he could do good things. However, his defense is atrocious, so he'd better pick it up with the stick to justify his contract.
LF Fred Lewis: .280/.360/.440, 10 HR, 20 SB. Lewis has a nice combination of batting ability and speed, making him a pretty useful player. You'd like to perhaps have better out of your left fielder, but such is life with the post-Bonds Giants.
CF Aaron Rowand: .270/.330/.415, 12 HR. Excellent signing! We don't understand why GMs continue to fall for the career year phenomenon.
RF Randy Winn: .295/.355/.420, 9 HR, 15 SB. Winn was their top offensive producer last year in terms of VORP, and he's been surprisingly productive during his time in a Giants uniform. However, he's had problems staying healthy which are only likely to exacerbate themselves in his age-35 season.
From the Bump: Starters
RHP Tim Lincecum: 230 IP, 3.10 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 275 K, 80 BB. Lincecum is a beast. He could strike out 300 and we wouldn't be surprised. If we had access to Giants games somehow, we'd absolutely watch him every fifth day.
RHP Matt Cain: 210 IP, 3.60 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 200 K, 90 BB. Cain is Lincecum-light. Hopefully his large workload by the tender age of 24 doesn't come back to bite him.
LHP Randy Johnson: 160 IP, 4.00 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 140 K, 40 BB. Johnson could probably pitch until he's 50 and still be effective. As with any pitcher his age...actually, never mind. Pitchers don't reach 45 often enough for us to make statements like that. Yeah, his body could betray him, but we wouldn't be surprised to see him make 30 starts, either.
LHP Jonathan Sanchez: 170 IP, 4.45 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 175 K, 80 BB. Sanchez is an overpowering lefty who we think will strike out a batter an inning. He just has to get his control under...control, and stop getting unlucky with a high BABIP.
LHP Barry Zito: 185 IP, 5.35 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 110 K, 100 BB. Excellent signing! And he wasn't even coming off of a particularly great season!
From the Bump: Relievers
Closer Brian Wilson: 60 IP, 3.75 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 65 K, 22 BB, 29 SV. Wilson has a strikeout arm that doesn't always know how to find the strike zone. If he's going to be a great closer, he'll need to address that issue - and at 27, we think this might be the year for him to do just that.
Setup man Jeremy Affeldt: 60 IP, 3.25 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 70 K, 19 BB. We think Affeldt is very underrated. He may well be the best reliever on this staff.