(MLB predictions at the bottom)
What defines a successful season? A winning record? Making the playoffs? Success is defined by expectations. If the Pirates produce a winning record in 2009, it will be a huge success because their expectations have been lowered after so many consecutive losing seasons. If the Yankees make the playoffs, it still won’t be a success because the team expects to compete for a World Series title.
This brings us to the Giants.
What are the expectations this season? A better question might be “What should the Giants expectations be this season?” Giants’ fans expectations should be that the club finishes at or around .500. The club’s play this season should be compared to the play of last season with a focus on building to next season. 2008 was, essentially, season one of rebuilding, or retooling or whatever you want to call it. The organization took its lumps, the ball club took its lumps and the fans took their lumps, but we’ve made it through the worst part. This season will all be about progression and evaluation. Success won’t be found in the W-L record of 2009, but how the front office evaluates its assets and builds for 2010. The good news is the 2009 Giants will be many times better than the 2008 version.
(I love the argument but why did they waste money on Johnson and Renteria when they could have had Manny. Ok, I will drop it.)
+ The pitching staff. Lincecum should compete for the Cy Young, again, and they could have a rotation with four starters reaching 180 strikeouts, each. Is it foolish, moronic and idiotic to pay your fourth starter $18.5 million? Of course, but you can survive if you’re paying your Cy Young winner $650,000.
+ Pablo Sandoval. He’s the young, unknown, energetic talent who will be the everyday “face” of the new Giants lineup.
+ The NL West is The weakest division in baseball. Anybody has a chance to win it.
- No power to be seen at this point.
- Barry Zito’s contract has five (5!!!) more seasons left on his contract. FIVE!
- If the young players struggle, it’s going to be a long season for everyone.
(My) Projected Batting Order
1. Randy Winn – RF
Meat and potatoes player. He’ll put up decent numbers, but nothing overly special. He’s in the last year of his contract and could be an attractive piece at the trading deadline.
2. Edgar Renteria – SS
The most panned deal of the off season. He’s definitely a question mark, but should rebound at the plate in the feeble National League.
3. Fred Lewis – LF
This is a big year for Lewis. He had foot surgery in the offseason and needs to prove he can start stealing bases. In addition, it is time he starts progressing at the plate or he’ll be relegated to being merely a place holder until the next prospect arrives.
4. Pablo Sandoval – 3B
He swings at EVERYTHING. He has a lot of potential and he’s only 22, but he’s going to be the backup catcher, at least initially, and he’s, ahem, a little hefty, which makes me anticipate a tough second half of the season.
5. Aaron Rowand – CF
Rowand was playing well, or well enough, until he injured his rubs or oblique diving for a ball in the outfield and then had a miserable second half. Maybe he felt like he had to earn his money and carry the team last year? The defensive lapse was actually more detrimental than his offensive flop. The staff depends of Rowand to patrol the large outfield and cut off the gaps. Rowand is supposedly a good “clubhouse guy” as well, which this young team will need. The Giants plan for success is pitching and defense, they need Rowand to provide the defense to help the pitching.
6. Bengie Molina – C
It’s easy to project Bengie Molina. About 40 runs scored, 80-90 RBI, 15-19 HRs, batting avg. between .280-.290 and won’t walk. A consistant performer I the lsat year of his contract, he’d probably be a good deadline trade candidate, but the Giants don’t have a solid backup catcher unless Posey is ready by the end of July, so I guess the Giants will be satisfied with the draft pick.
7. Travis Ishikawa – 1B
What happened to John Bowker? He was awesome for , like, five games. Remember? In reality, Ishikawa is the new Lance Niekro. The best 1B prospect available in the minors who is going to get a chance to prove if he can play 1B in the majors everyday. He is a huge question mark. He has struggled against lefties, so back away from the ledge Rich Aurillia fans, he’ll see plenty of action, too. Besides the trouble with lefties, Ishikawa hasn’t shown the power that is expected of corner infielders. This spring he has seven HRs, third most in all spring training. Bonus: Will Clark is with the club as a special consultant and the more Nuschler Ishikawa can get the better.
8. Emannuel Burriss – 2B
Burriss is what I would call and “Old School” second baseman. No power, good defense, bats eighth. If Tony LaRussa were the manager, he’d probably bat ninth. Burriss is another player, who is getting a chance to prove himself, whether he’s ready or not.
Projected Starting Rotation
1. Tim Lincecum
What else can you say about the guy? It’s been five losing season for the Giants and more importantly, Giants fans. The Barry Bonds HR record’s glitz and glam has been soured The Cream and The Clear. Lincecum is a new reason to bask in greatness. So let the basking commence (NL Rank):
W-L% .783 (2)
Hits Allowed/9IP 7.22 (1)
Strikeouts 265 (1)
ERA 2.62 (2)
Wins 18 (2)
Innings 227 (3)
Adjusted ERA+ 167 (1)
2. Randy Johnson
He’s not really a “#2” starter, but the R-L-R-L-L rotation beats the R-R-L-L-L and a month into the season it won’t really matter anymore.
3. Matt Cain
Make or break year for Matt Cain as a San Francisco Giant? I think so.
4. Barry Zito
Can he be league average? Only time will tell.
5. Jonathan Sanchez
His appearance in the WBC worries me because I want him to be healthy all season and learn as much as he possibly can from The Big Unit.
Brian Wilson– Closer
Not so much of a lights out closer, but has good velocity and is still young with room for improvement. He spent the offseason training/living with Barry Zito … Yikes!
Jeremy Affedlt/Bobby Howry – Setup
The Giants have had issues over the last couple of seasons bridging the gap from the starting pitcher to the closer and these two were brought in solely to fix that problem. Brian Wilson has had an infected finger for the last week or so and Affedlt might have to close some games early in the season., so we’ll find out what kind of pitcher he is very soon.
The Giants are much improved over last season, but that’s not saying a lot. The Dodgers and D-backs have holes that make them vulnerable, but the Giants don’t have enough pieces to make up the difference. I’ll go with the bottom threshold of what the Front Office probably would deem as a success, 82-80.
Overall Predication for MLB
(Teams in Bold are playoff teams)
1. NY Mets
4. White Sox
1. Red Sox
4. Blue Jays
Cubs beat the Dodgers
Cardinals beat the Mets
Cubs beat the Cardinals
Angels beat the Red Sox
Rays beat the Twins
Rays beat the Angels
Rays beat the Cubs
(Bold Prediction: RT says the 2009 Rays are the 2006 White Sox, a team that won 90 games while finishing third and missing the playoffs after winning the World Series. I think the 2009 Rays will be the 2006 Cardinals. The Cardinals lost the WS in 2004 and the NLCS in 2005 before getting over the hump in 2006. A healthy Upton, Crawford, Longoria and Burrell with Kazmir-Shileds-Garza and Price, the only question is the closer, which can easily be solved July 31st.