This year I played softball in a co-ed and male league in intramurals. The thing about intramurals is things can get taken seriously to the point where you have to question why guys are playing softball. Look, I have nothing wrong with being competitive, but when you're complaining to the umpire about calls and getting overly mad at girls who have (and openly acknowledge) no athletic skills and looking to take pitches because you're just looking to get on "base", well...you really need to re-examine why you're playing softball in the first place. This is slow pitch softball for chrissakes! Nobody is Evan Longoria or Jennie Finch here. Nobody needs to show how good they used to be in high school or play as if its Red Sox-Yankees 2009. Have fun and just enjoy the game because if you think about it, the whole aspect of slow pitch softball is pretty comical. People hitting a slow, looping, big ball. Doesn't sound competitive, does it? So why should we make it more competitive than it needs to be. Grab a chew, do some chatter, have a few beers after the game and just swing as hard as you can at anything close to the strike zone.
Most of what I feel about softball echoes what Jim Rome said with this rant on that subject from his radio show. Basically, he calls out all those uber-competitive softball guys who think they're Derek Jeter but in softball. Great, funny rant that is worth hearing a couple times over, especially if you have played softball.
Overall, I'm not the hugest fan of Jim Rome, especially his show "Rome is Burning." I think the show's structure is lame and it being contained in a thirty minute time frame and with guests prevents Rome from doing what he does best: ripping guys to shreads. Really, that's the only reason you watch or listen to Rome, to see who he royally takes it out on and how bad it gets. Yet the shows structure does it in a way that it doesn't at all seem too genuine on a consistent basis and he's just being Rome because he has to be, not because he wants to be.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Despite an opening day win, it's been a rough start for the Giants during Opening Week
After a promising opening day where we actually scored 10 runs despite a lousy pitching performance from Tim Lincecum, the Giants look like they're going to finish like everyone expects: at best, in the middle of the pack, at worst, near the cellar.
The problems this season appear to be the same problems from a year ago:
A.) no run support.
B.) inconsistent pitching.
The problem for the staff last year and so far this season is they have really rough "bad" innings. Randy Johnson looked great for four innings, and then he gives up a three-run bomb to the pitcher Gallardo. Same thing with Jonathan Sanchez. Strikes out the side in the second, and then gives up two homers to journeyman catcher Henry Blanco. I think the inconsistency on the staff can be credited to the offense somewhat, especially since it seems as if the staff is throwing a lot of pitches because they're not confident that their team can cover them, so they're trying to strike everyone out. The Giants are pretty solid defensively, so I don't know why the staff doesn't trust their defense more (even tough it isn't as good as last year). Yeah, runs is going to be a problem, but if you're throwing 100 pitches by the fifth inning, you're not doing your team very good. Lincecum, Johnson need to cut their pitches, quit trying to get the big K's and just trust the defense. It'll make for quicker innings and thus get the offense in and out more often which might help them out. Batters can get more into a rhythm and the staff won't feel the weight of the world on their shoulders.
Nonetheless, bad rhythm or not, this Giants offense needs a lot of help. Bengie Molina is going to have that big day every now and then, but he is no way consistent enough be the cleanup hitter. Fred Lewis is doing pretty well to start off the year, but he would best be served at the bottom of the lineup in the seven or eight hole. You can tell he just doesn't like being the target of a pitcher in the three hole, as he looks very uncomfortable up there. I don't think he should be leadoff, because he doesn't get on base well enough, but in a seven hole position, I think he could see more pitches to hit, which would benefit his free swinging style.
Overall though, the whole lineup is a mess. I could go on forever about who doesn't fit where (Randy Winn at leadoff, Emmanuel Burriss in the lineup period). There really is just not a lot to like about this lineup, which makes me angry on why we didn't look into Manny Ramirez more. Sure he would have been a cancer, but god...Lewis at three hole followed by Molina? They really thought they could contend with that combo? Ramirez would have made this lineup jettison because really, all you need is that one great hitter followed by that good complimentary hitter. The Giants have plenty of candidates for that. Pablo Sandoval is a bit hit or miss kind of guy, but he could be that good hitter to follow Manny and even Aaron Rowand, with the way he's swinging, could have been a solid five guy to follow Ramirez as well. Rowand is hitting great lower in the order, which he has always done in his career. His best years in Philly and Chicago were when he was batting in the six and seven hole, not the three like he did last year. I really hope Bochy doesn't move him, even though I'm sure he'll be tempted because he's hitting the best out of anyone in the lineup. Rowand will revert to last year's form I think if he is moved up. Then again though, if I had to choose between Rowand or Lewis, I probably would go with Rowand just because he seems more consistent than Lewis and he has that veteran savvy that Lewis doesn't quite have.
Here are some quick awards for the first week:
Best offensive player:
Honorable mention: Lewis, Rowand.
--Winn has looked good. He has shown good pop and good patience at the plate so far. He looks a lot like how he did a few years ago when he first arrived with the Giants, which I think is a good sign. Lewis really has had a good start as well and is statistically better than Lewis, but I like Winn a lot more because he has 3 SB in comparison to Lewis' zero and he has one of the team's 3 home runs. Rowand is another close pick because he has come up with some clutch hits. However, Winn so far has just looked better overall in my mind at the plate out of the three.
Honorable mention: Bobby Howry
--Cain looked awesome against the Brewers. He was on target, looked confident and didn't seem to let the "let's not score runs for Matt Cain" factor that has haunted him the past two years affect him. Great performance and I think he could be the guy the Giants will be leaning on until Lincecum gets his stuff and mojo back. Sanchez looked great at times, but he also looked awful on others. He really needs to get his control harnessed. His stuff is awesome, but he just gives up that mistake pitch way too often. The honorable mention goes to Howry because he looks like a fantastic set up guy. I wasn't to keen on him, but I think he could give the Giants a good 8-9 inning combo along with Brian Wilson.
--This was tough, mostly because there's a lot to be disappointed with in the Giants so far. Guys I didn't list on my honorable mention include Sandoval (who's batting .217 with a sub .300 OBP) and Travis Ishikawa (who's batting average and OBP is .211). The reason I didn't put those guys on though was because I expected Sandoval to get off to a slow start because he had so much hype going in. He's actually doing better than I thought considering the pressure put on him by the media and the fans. As for Ishikawa, I didn't expect much from him period. I think he's the second-coming of Lance Niekro: a high profile farm system guy that is not as good as advertised.
Lincecum takes the award naturally because he's coming off a CY Young season and he's off to an awful start. One bad start is one thing. Sabathia had a bad first start this season. But two is never a good sign, especially considering last year Lincecum did all of his damage in the beginning of the season. I don't think he's going to completely implode, but anybody thinking that he's going to match his CY Young numbers from last year is crazy. Renteria is an honorable mention because he was the Giants big signing, is my starting shortstop on my fantasy baseball team "Bring Back Barry" and he's batting .190. I'm not even going to be patient with this guy. I'm dropping him tomorrow. As for Burriss, I was never really bought on the idea of him being the starter this year.While Eugenio Velez has turned into a total bust and Rich Aurilia is way too old, Burriss in my mind just doesn't cut it as the starter. I don't think any amount of ability on defense is good enough to merit playing time with a .111 average. The worst part of this situation is out of the entire possible second base candidates, Juan Uribe is looking like the best option. That's right, Juan "I can't take a walk to save my life but I was still able to win a title" Uribe. I don't know how we couldn't have gotten a Craig Counsell-like second baseman. Anything at this point is an upgrade.
Granted it's just a week and maybe next week Burriss might make me eat my words with a seven hit week. But I'm not that much of an optimist and I'm not that hopeful the Giants are going to do better than third in this division. And considering how weak this division is, it makes the state of the Giants even more depressing.
Now if you don't mind, I'm going out to the bar while wearing my Eliezer Alfonso jersey-shirt.
(A question though for the road. I'm going to incorporate this now more often in the blog)
Giants 2009 Season QuestionHow Will the Giants Do This Year?
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Little else beats the beauty of baseball's opening day
Yeah, I know, Opening Night was Sunday and Opening Day was technically yesterday. I know how time works. But since the Giants did not play on Monday and opened up Tuesday, I wanted to wait until today to recap my favorite moments from Opening Night until tonight. Either way, whether it is too late or not late enough, what a great couple of days of baseball. Furthermore, the addition of playing fantasy baseball for the first time has made this baseball season even more intriguing for me.
So here it is, a semi-recap of my baseball experience from Opening night until the end of Opening Day.
I really was mad about this game in retrospect for a variety of reasons. First of all, my sister, who goes to college in Philadelphia and plays softball for Villanova, has suddenly adapted herself as a newly-born Philadelphia Phillies fan. She loves Chase Utley because she thinks he is hot, went downtown for the clinching game (which eventually got postponed so she missed out) and for Christmas, she bought me a World Series champion T-shirt. I wear the shirt, but it's kind of weird because I have no like for the Phillies (even though I love that Dick's Sporting Goods commercial with Jimmy Rollins taking balls in the chest "Happy Gilmore" style) or no connection to the team whatsoever. I just wear it because a.) it's a good looking shirt and b.) nobody in the state of Washington has a Philadelphia anything shirt.
Yet while my sister's relation to the Phillies does make me steam a little bit, nothing made more angry when I found out two of my main players in Fantasy (Ryan Howard and Chipper Jones) were ineligible for scoring because games for Fantasy started the 6th, and didn't included the 5th game. Granted, it wasn't all that bad for Howard because he went 0-4 with a strikeout. But I had Chipper Jones who went 2-4 and those points would have helped my matchup on Monday when I had absolutely no offense from anybody and a couple of rainouts to boot.
So...basically, I watched the game for fantasy reasons mainly and they contributed absolutely nothing fantasy-wise because they were ineligible due to the asinine move of ESPN scheduling games before "Official" Opening Day. And to make matters the worse, it wasn't all that great of a game. The thing about watching a Derek Lowe start is that while it is fast, it is boring. You don't see any big hits because all he throws are sinkers and when its on, all you get is ground balls. That's all the Phillies did. Ground ball to second, ground ball to third, ground ball to second again. Thankfully, the Braves provided some fireworks with some big home runs from Brian McCann and the immortal Jeff Franceour, but unfortunately, I started the game late and it was already a 4-0 game the time I turned on the TV. The only real exciting part in my time watching the game was the bottom of the ninth where Mike Gonzalez nearly choked away the game, only to redeem himself by getting Howard out looking and Ibanez out to end the game. I have never been a big Gonzalez guy, for even in his days in Pittsbrugh I thought he was fringe-major league player at best. Nonetheless, he got the job done and my friend who has him on his fantasy team was lucky enough to get the save.
The Red Sox-Rays game has been postponed so I get a chance to watch this one in between classes. Not much offense in this game. Johan Santana is mowing them down, and even Aaron Harang doesn't seem to be having an imploding day like he usually has. While I don't like the Mets very much (even though I do like them more than the Phillies), I'm paying attention to this game because of Carlos Beltran, who is on my fantasy team. I know it's not a great pick, especially since his reputation has somewhat deteriorated since coming to New York. He's known for putting up stats but he doesn't seem to do anything more than get his nice little stat line each and every night. From a Mets fan's perspective, that sucks, but from a fantasy owner's perspective, I have no problem with that. As long as Beltran gets 30 and 100, I don't care if he causes the New York locker room to mutiny against him.
Beltran has a decent game. Goes 1-4 with a walk, not bad but not great. Daniel Murphy hits a big home run in the 5th inning off of Harang which is the main highlight of the game. Who is Daniel Murphy? Isn't he a Nascar driver? Yeah, I know, I was asking those questions too, which just goes to show you how much I care about this game. Will say this though, Mets bullpen looks good, much better than it ever did last season. Sean Green, JJ Putz and Francisco Rodriguez combine for 3.1 innings of hitless ball. I don't think their bullpen could go .1 innings last year without giving up a hit. While this is nice to Mets fans, I'm not so sure if their bullpen will be worth as much as they paid in the off-season. I think K-Rod is great, but closers like him who come off big season usually have a down season the following year, especially if they've just gotten big money. I don't like Putz either. I think Putz is a one-year wonder, and I was never impressed with him any time in his career before he had that big season two years ago. On an optimistic note, an overrated Putz and a K-Rod on the decline is heck of a lot better than an DL-prone Billy Wagner and Scott Schoenweis coming into the ninth.
Side note: Does anyone enjoy K-Rod's post-save celebrations anymore? I hate them. It's like he won the World Series each and every save. Hey K-Rod, we know you're thankful, but god, don't act like you single-handedly won the biggest game in your career each and every time. This and Roger Federer's on his knees celebration after winning each tournament are probably the most overexposed and overexcited celebrations in sports.
I have no liking for either team, but after listening to Bill Simmons American League preview podcast, I am intrigued by the Rangers this year, especially since I don't think much of the Angels or A's in the AL West. I love the Rangers batters. Ian Kinsler is a beast, Josh Hamilton is a pure masher and I think Michael Young has been one of the most under-appreciated middle infielders in the past five years. Furthermore, I have been intrigued by their young guys like Nelson Cruz and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (trying spelling that one blindfolded) who have good pop in their bats. The only problem with the Rangers and has been the case ever since they acquired A-Rod is that they have no pitching. Kevin Millwood was good maybe four years ago, and even then he was fringe-good at the best. Vicente Padilla is about as dependable as a cheap cab ride to the airport, and that's pretty much it. Who else can pitch on the Rangers? Adam Eaton? I don't know why the Rangers don't dish guys like Hank Blalock while they can. They have so much depth in their offensive farm system that they don't really need guys like him. The worst part too is that even when they do get some good young arms, they trade them away. The Rangers could have Edison Volquez, but they traded him for Josh Hamilton. Hamilton is a very good bat, but the Rangers have plenty of bats. They need at least one above-average pitcher.
Cliff Lee really has a bad game, much to the dismay of my Cleveland Indians friend. Young gets two hits, Kinsler gets three hits, and Blalock and Saltalamacchia both hit home runs. I had a feeling this would happen. Granted, it's only one game, but Lee has always been an up and down pitcher. One year he's great, the next he's awful. I don't think he's going to have as awful year this year as he did two years ago, but anybody who has him on their fantasy team would best be served if they dish him while his value is hot.
Wow...9-1 Rangers and Millwood actually looks all right. Maybe this could be a dark horse year for the Rangers.
C.C. Sabathia is making his Yankees debut and I like C.C. because I have this weird connection to him like everyone has that connection to Kevin Bacon. One of my cousins went to high school with him and actually knows him a little bit from a class. Furthermore, my high school baseball coach and Global Studies teacher my freshman year, was a scout for the Rays that actually coached him on a competitive team during the summers. So because of all those weird connections, I have this strange gravitation toward Sabathia.
Only he gets absolutely shelled this game. I mean, shelled. 4.1 innings, 8 hits, 6 earned runs, 5 walks and no strikeouts. Anybody who picked him as their top pitcher pick is pulling out their hair and the city of New York has just declared a state of emergency after Sabathia's dud and Mark Teixeira's 0-4 performance that included him leaving 5 men left on base. Granted, I think Yankees fans are being a little too rash, but then again, when you do pay over 300 million for two players combined and they have terrible first outings, well...let's just say you don't exactly have a good night's sleep that night.
I hate the term "second-favorite team." It compromises fans everywhere because it makes people question how genuine fans of teams really are. However, in order to describe my relationship to the Mariners, I probably would have to say that they are my "second-favorite" team. I used to live in Spokane for six years and my family used to go to Mariners games quite a bit. In fact, we lived during the 1995 "Refuse to Lose" season which was probably the most entertaining baseball season of my life, just as if not even more entertaining than the 2002 Giants run to the World Series. So I have a soft spot for the Mariners and as their organization and city sport-wise are on their last legs, I feel even more inclination to support them.
The Mariners look great against the Twins. Felix Rodriguez looks great like he usually does in the beginning of the season and the M's get great performances from Franklin Gutierrez, whom I think really could be a sleeper this year for the M's (I like him the most out of all their young guys including Matt Clement and Wladimir Balentin). But the best part of the game? Seeing Junior again in a Mariners uniform. God, it's great. I thought I was 10 years old and watching the movie "Little Big League" again after he hit that home run. I really think that this will be a good year for Junior now that he's back in Seattle. You can just tell he really like being back as a Mariner. There's a pep in his step that you didn't see last year in Cincinnati or his disastrous short-run in Chicago with the White Sox. His stats still may not be awesome, but I think they'll be better than most people think.
I loathe both these teams. I hate the A's because A's fans are a condescending bunch that they think they know everything because they have Billy Beane as GM and have read Moneyball. They don't take into consideration that they have one of the worst ballparks in the league, that their owner is a jerk and that the young guys that apparently Beane is all about have actually been worse than advertised. I mean, really, what has Bobby Crosby, Eric Chavez or Mark Ellis done lately?
I also dislike the Angels strongly as well. I'm still bitter about losing that World Series loss to them and that stupid monkey. Heck, one of the reasons I think me and my girlfriend broke up this semester was because she was an Angels fan and I think that was bad karma from the start. But every year, I always hear how good the Angels are going to be and how they're going to win it all. Yet every year they don't. They lose to the Red Sox every year be it in the first round or ALCS. The thing is, while the Angels have mashers, they're clutch-less. How many times has Vlad or Juan Rivera came through when it really counted?
The game is an absolute Angels-fest. Dallas Braden shows how flawed the A's really are. He would barely be a three starter on a good team, but he's the No. 1 guy for the A's. That's how overrated the A's staff is. Granted, he wouldn't be the opening day starter had Justin Duscherer been healthy, but nonetheless, I just don't see much talent at all in these pitchers that Beane keeps ballyhooeing and I don't see the A's winning the division despite all the hoopla about them getting Matt Holliday, Jason Giambi, Nomar Garciaparra and Orlando Cabrera (even though I LOVE Cabrera. He's a free-swinging care-free shortsop. The game needs more guys like him). Those guys' numbers will shrink in the A's football stadium and the pitching isn't nearly good enough to make up for the decrease in offense.
That's it for now...look out for my next post, which will be solely dedicate to the Giants opening day game against the Brewers.
Friday, April 3, 2009
I love the season previews. I buy them. I read them. I can't get enough of them. Even as a newspaper editor for the school paper, I take a certain joy in making previews, even if it may not be for a sport that's worth it. (e.g. college soccer).
I was tempted with the thought of doing a full-length division by division AL and NL preview, and I still may do it, but I decided to center on the Giants because in all reality, all I really care about is the Giants. I've been following the Giants since January, when there was the slight possibility that they might have gotten Manny Ramirez. Unfortunately, because of Brian Sabean's tendency to make bonehead signings, we lost out to the rival Dodgers who basically did everything in the world to basically lose their guy but because of the economy and because Manny burned bridges in Boston so badly, they were able to get him back. I absolutely hate Manny now, and I hate Sabean even more because we could have automatically went from fringe contender in the weak NL West to bonafide favorite if we had Manny. But since he's a Dodger now, I have nothing but scorn for the guy.
All right, enough of the anti-Manny, Dodger, Sabean talk. They'll be plenty room for that. Let's get onto the preview.
Last season recap:
The Giants last season, in all honesty, overachieved, despite how crappy a 72-90 record looks on paper. I thought the team was going to be terrible, everybody thought the team was going to be terrible. Heck, people thought last season the Giants were going to compete with the 1962 Mets for the worst record in baseball and I wasn't exactly ruling that out. For years we had put everything behind Barry Bonds and then in an asinine move we decided not to go that route anymore even though the Giants had in no way shape or form prepared for such a maneuver. However, the Giants got big performance from their pitching staff, specifically Tim Lincecum who won 18 games and led the league in strikeouts en route to the Cy Young award (which I am glad he won because I would've been furious if C.C. Sabathia won it despite playing only half a season in the NL). Furthermore, the Giants finally found their closer in Brian Wilson after a six year odyssey of mediocrity that spanned from Matt Herges to Armando Benitez. Wilson saved 41 games and was named to the All-Star team.
Offensively, the Giants were not great, but they got good years from Bengie Molina, whose position in the cleanup spot produced career years in RBIs, Fred Lewis, who showed he was not just a month-long phenom, and even Emmanuel Burriss, who made Giants scratch their heads why they were going with Brian Bocock for so long.
- Edgar Renteria was the big offensive signing for the Giants, which is either a good or bad thing depending on how optimistically you want to look at it. Renteria had a real down year last year in Detroit, but he has struggled in his stints in the American League. He had a real down year in Boston the year after his stint with the Cardinals. However, in St. Louis and Atlanta, he had real good years, and now that he's back to being under the radar, there is the possibility that the NL-familiarity along with less pressure will result in a better season for Renteria. In all honesty, I don't care if he does have a down season like last season. A .270, 10 HR, 55 RBI down season is a heck of a lot better than anything we got at shortstop last season.
- Molina returns behind the plate and possibly back in the four hole which is risky because I wonder if he can handle being the main run producer for a second consecutive season. I think last year was kind of a good season for him because it was the first time in his career he wasn't batting in the eight or nine hole. Either he struggles this year because he just can't handle it on a consistent basis or he continues on his pace because he's embrace the role. Hopefully it's the latter.
- The big guy though everyone is talking about from local to national media is Pablo Sandoval. The guy, known for his pudgy stature and tendency to swing at everything and hit a majority of what he swings at, is being labeled as a big-time breakout player. Like I said in an earlier post about my fantasy draft, I'm a bit skeptical. I do think he's capable of breaking out. He's got uncanny contact abiliy and he's a gap to gap hitter, which is what works in a spacious ballpark like AT&T Park. However, I'm not sure if he can do what he did through 43 games over a 162 game span. I'm hoping he can because if he does the Giants could be a sleeper, especially if Manny struggles due to his late report to camp. However, thinking Sandoval is going to lead us to the promise land right off the bat I think is unrealistic. I'll be happy if he produces, but if he doesn't, I won't exactly be sorely disappointed.
- Other guys to watch on offense are Fred Lewis, who is coming off a great season and is capable of doing more, Burriss, who will be the starting second baseman, and Travis Ishikawa, who is slated as the starting first baseman. I'm not totally huge on Ishikawa. I would rather start Sandoval at 1st, make Ishikawa a platoon player and have somebody like Juan Uribe and Eugenio Velez split time at third and second with Burriss. It's not that I don't think Ishikawa can't be good, it's just that we went down this road with Lance Niekro before and look where that led us.
Hopefully Matt Cain will get the kind of run support that can result in a decent record this season.
- Lincecum once again is the main man in the rotation for the Giants, which is going to be interesting especially as he will face more number one starters to start off the season in comparison to last year, where initially he was going against the two and three guys of other teams. Lincecum though is a legitimate pitcher. If he gets more run support he could win over 20 games this year because he's so dominant. He strikes guys out and he has a lot of arm strength because of his youth. Rarely did Lincecum have a bad start and even when he did, his team usually rallied behind him to help cover him. I think Lincecum is due for another good year, and with the addition of guys like Renteria and Sandoval, mashers who could provide the run support he didn't have at time last year, he could repeat as the NL Cy Young winner.
- A guy that is due for a breakout season is Matt Cain, the no. 2 starter. The guy has had a sub-par record the past two seasons, but that has been not because of his pitching but rather the utterly pathetic run support he gets in the games he pitches. Cain though could benefit much like Lincecum if the run support improves. He's a hard thrower, gets a lot of K's and has improved control wise ever since his first year as a full time starter where he had a lot of problems with walks. With Lincecum getting a lot of the focus and a lot of attention now on the newly acquired Randy Johnson, Cain could be that sleeper that might finally get those wins that have evdaded him despite solid numbers that last couple of years.
- Speaking of starters, if there is one guy I want out of the rotation, my vote goes to Barry Zito. I don't care how much we're paying him. If Noah Lowry is healthy, I want him in the five spot over Zito. While Lowry may not be healthy and hasn't pitched in over a year, Lowry a couple of years ago was showing signs of being a solid middle of the rotation guy. He still can be a solid back of the rotation guy, for he has had solid experience as a No. 2 and No. 3 starter and could hold his own against 4 or 5 guys. However, Zito I have absolutely no confidence in, even against a spot starter. He has no stuff, his breaking ball sucks, he can't go more than six innings and the fact that he's being paid 126 million and was the sole reason why we couldn't get Manny drives me to the point where I want to cut my wrists. Do I hope Zito puts up solid numbers and finally earns at least 1/8 of his salary this season? Yeah I do. But I like the upside of Lowry a heck of a lot more, especially if he is healthy. If Zito struggles, Bochy better dump Zito from the rotation which I hope leads to Sabean dumping Zito in general. The guy is a sunk cost. Every Giant knows that, so why not get rid of him while we can?
- While Wilson is solid, the Giants bullpen needs more help. Bob Howry and Jeremy Affeldt are supposed to help, but still I'm not all that confident in this bullpen. Too many times we stretched the starters far longer than they needed to because we were relying on middle relief guys like a 40 year old Keichi Yabu. Hopefully Howry and Affeldt can live up to their billing, and if they do, we might minimize a lot of those blown leads we had way too often this year.
Bruce Bochy has done a solid job of adjusting his managing style with changing team demographics the last two seasons
- Let it be known I hate Brian Sabean. I think the guy has been GM for two years too long. While some of the minor league level talent we have has developed (Lincecum, Cain, maybe Sandoval), a lot hasn't. For every Lincecum there's a Tony Torcato and Jesse Foppert. Furthermore, Sabean basically mortgaged the entire future on Bonds for so long and did so so badly that he literally gave away guys who could have solved the Giants problems about four years ago. The biggest example? Giving away Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano for A.J. Pierzynski, whom we had for one, high-turmoil, underachieving year. Sabean also dropped the ball big with the Zito signing, a move fans have been complaining about since day one. In order for Sabean to make his continued stay in San Francisco somewhat justified, he needs this team to produce, especially the younger players, a move that he has never really embraced before when he was constantly shopping younger guys for aging veterans.
- I have really grown to like Bruce Bochy. I thought he was a bad hire initially, an overrated manager in San Diego, but he has really played to the team's strengths last season. He has let the Giants run a heck of a lot more, which is what is needed in this era of post-steroid baseball. Every speed guy increased their SB numbers last season and I think Bochy will steal even more this season. A lot of managers wouldn't be as open to change styles, but Bochy has embraced this team and tried to play to its strengths rather than shape it to his own image like some managers would do.
This season hinges on two players: Lincecum and Sandoval. If both those guys produce, the Giants not only could be in good shape this season, but for seasons to come. A lot of the Giants veterans are good, but they are no way prepared to take a team on their back. Renteria has thrived in supporting roles, Molina is a quiet leader that shies from spotlight and Aaron Rowand showed that he just doesn't have the statistical fortitude to be the "man". Sandoval though can be a solid offensive guy that could have an impact on a team like Prince Fielder. Then again though, he could also be the next Randall Simon. As for Lincecum, he's obviously a proven commodity, but can he do it again? Is he the next Josh Beckett or next Mark Fidrych? The season hinges on how those two guys do and it could be a rough year if they don't live up to the hype. However, in a weak NL West where it is the Dodgers and everyone else, an LA slip and surprising performances from the Giants supporting cast could produce a competitive season that could result in the Giants slipping by LA for the NL West crown.
Projected opening day lineup and batting order: