Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Quiet offseason for Giants

This offseason has been a pretty quiet one for the Sna Francisco Giants. But that has pretty much been Brian Sabean's M.O. since he traded Matt Williams for Jeff Kent way back in the 90's.  A case could be made that his biggest move was the re-signing of Aubrey Huff to a 2 year $22 million deal.  The signing of Miguel Tejada, the leaving of Juan Uribe, and the drama with Edgar Renteria can all be lumped together as the second biggest storylines of the offseason.

The talking heads are all predicting Colorado to win the division and the Dodgers to finish in second.  I'm not sure how they arrived at these predictions since neither team is really all that much better and, aside from a hot streak in August by the Rockies, neither was all that competitive last season.

But that suits the Giants just fine.  For some reason, they are always picked to finish at or near the bottom of the division.  Even in the early 2000's when they were competing for the division crown on a regular basis, they were always being picked to finish in third or fourth place.

But do the Giants have what it takes to compete?

As long as Barry Zito is the team's fifth starter and the rest of the rotation is filled out with Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, and Sanchez, they will compete with anyone.  Sure the Phillies added Cliff Lee, but he lost his postseason magic against the Giants and I don't see him regaining it any time soon.

As for the offense, it has a chance to be greatly improved from last season.  Obviously, having Buster Posey for  a full season helps.  But the reports on Pablo Sandoval are that he has dropped 22 lbs (!) so far this offseason and that could translate into a huge threat at the plate.

A note on Pablo:  I don't think his weight is necessarily the reason he struggled so much last season.  nor do I think his many personal problems are entirely to blame either.  (although I'm sure they didn't help much.)  I think Pablo's problems at Home Plate are the same as his problems at the  Dinner Plate.  His lack of discipline.  If Pablo can lay off that pitch just off the lower half of the plate that Barry Bonds would have spit on I think he will remind us all of the Panda that we all fell in love with in 2009.

As for the rest of the offense,  Bochy should know by now that Aaron Rowand's days as an everyday player are behind him.  He has a solid platoon of Cody Ross and Nate Schierholtz in right and Pat Burrell is the only guy I can see starting in left field every day as the roster stands now.  Although Left could very well be manned by either Aubrey Huff or Brandon Belt if the latter continues to impress in either spring training or in Fresno.

The only real open spot on the Giants' roster is the backup shortstop role.  With the talk of Emmanuel Burris and Brandon Crawford competing for that opening I think the Giants may make a move for someone right around the beginning of spring training to fill that hole.

There is no reason that can't duplicate what they did last season.  Their rotation and bullpen is the deepest in baseball.  Their offense should continue to "Torture" us just enough to make it into the playoffs and then after that, they have to be considered the favorites


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