Looking back on the 2008 season the Giants have much to look forward too and also a new look. We have moved on from the Barry Bonds era. In fact the team has a new icon in a scrawny white kid, quite the difference from the huge Bonds. Tim Lincecum was a sensation last year. The kid blew away the competition and won 18 games for a team that only won 72 last year. The team did try to get younger is most ways, there any many new younger faces and they are joined by a few veterans too. Giants are going into the 2009 season with a lot of question makes on offense, lots of unproven talent that hopefully will make some big steps and help the team get better. The pitching staff is stacked. Especially the starting 5. I think this is the best starting 5 in the NL, heck maybe even in the league. The bullpen has been bolstered by the additions of some vets as well. I still think the team should have gone after some bats in the off-season. I read that they will have money to after players IF they are still in the race when the trading deadline starts. I think this is bullshit, why wait to see if teams will give up players then? They are making excuses for why they didn’t address issues of need when they had the chance. Sure we might be able to nap some huge star but who? And for how long? I think the lack of proven hitting will lead to some losses; I think the team can be competitive but I just don’t see a big winning record. I think they will win around 80 games this year and hopefully develop some talent and sign someone who can hit the long ball. If all thing fall into place they could somehow make a good run at the division, but that’s a long a shot in my eyes. Here is a run down by position and how I think the players will do.
C – Bengie Molina – Last year Molina was clutch. He should have been an all-star. The guy plays gold glove like D, ends up with 95 RBI’s, and commands a pitching staff that produces a Cy Young winner. Big man gets no respect! I think Molina is a great guy to have on the team. He will be a great mentor to current up and comers Pablo Sandoval and maybe even Buster Posey. I look for Molina to hit around .280/ 15 HR/ 80 RBI.
1B - Travis Ishikawa – I am glad he won the starting nod at first. The guy is built and why is getting a great shot to prove himself. Of course this could be his last shot, he has had a few tries before this one. I think he will be a good player, he was tied for most HR’s in spring training but he is a not a long ball guy. I think he could earn a spot for good with a nice showing, of if nothing else he could become a good back up player. I look for these type numbers. .270/ 14 HR / 67RBI
2B – Emmanuel Burris – Burris had a good rookie year and an even better spring training to wing the starting spot straight out. Now he will have to prove he has the slick glove and can steal some bases. He is no long ball threat, but he is young and could prove to be a valuable source of speed and good D. I think he will have a pretty good year and could get some steals and much needed runs for the team. .290/ 3HR/ 35 RBI/ 27 SB
SS – Edgar Renteria – A proven hitter is a nice thing to have at short. Last year the Giants had almost no offense contribution from the SS position. Just signing the guy means we will have something better then we did last year. He had an off year in Detroit but he is coming back to the NL, where he hits much better. He may have lost a step but it’s nice to have a former All-Star on the team. Look for these type numbers. .275/12/65
3B – Pablo Sandoval – Ah yes, the Giant who everyone is looking forward to seeing for a whole year (me included). He looks like Tony Gwynn in his later years and also hit like him after his call up last year. In 41 games he hit .345 and had 24 RBI’s. The guy looks like he can hit for good average and get some RBI’s. Not so sure he has power but he did win a home run contest for the Dominican Republic. I can’t wait to see what he will do. I predict: .325/ 12 HR/ 84 RBI
OF – Aaron Rowand, Fred Lewis, and Randy Winn –
Rowand was the big signing last year but had a regular numbers season. He did go through some injury problems but I think having been around for a year and knowing more of the team and park will help rebound. He may never put up the numbers he did with the Phillies but he is a solid ball player. Looking for: .288/15HR/74 RBI.
Fred Lewis is a great hustle player who runs well and has a great arm. He is fan favorite because he hustles and goes full blast on every play. He is still somewhat young and still could grow. He put up solid numbers last year and I think he can better some if not most of his numbers from last year: .292/ 15 HR/ 57 RBI/ 22 SB
Randy Winn is another great player, he isn’t flashy but he is a good player and good teammate. He plays with a lot of heart and can get on hot streaks very quickly. He is getting up there in years, but this is a contact year for him. I would look for another good season from Winn. It is pretty easy to see what you will get from him: .288/ 10 HR/ 63 RBI/ 20 SB
Tim Lincecum – What else can the kid do? We all know he was a monster last year. He did it all, and won the Cy Young. The sky’s the limit for this kid. I don’t think he will let anyone down this year, but also he might not be able to do what he did last year. I still look for a solid year from the kid, and I cannot wait to see him baffle guys with his stuff: Record of 16-8/ ERA 2.76/ 240 K’s.
Randy Johnson – I was surprised the Giants were able to nab the big unit. He has a decent year last year for the b-backs. He will strike out a bunch of guys and if keeps healthy and starts 30 or so games he will easily get his 300 wins and have a good season. He does tend to give up more runs then he used to but I would look for these type numbers: 12-10/ 3.73/ 170K’s
Matt Cain – Ah Matt, you had another no luck year. Is this now a trend? I sure hope not because Cain had another great year but continues to be the least supported starter in the game. His bullpen also happens to blow it when he has a lead. I really feel for the guy, I have been following him since he was playing A ball in San Jose. I think if all goes well he will nod more wins, but either way he is a great pitcher: 14-12/ 3.64 / 180 Ks
Barry Zito – Barry has been here a few years and pretty much has been a disappointment. At least he is a cool guy. He always seems to get his shit together towards the end of the season, like he did last year. Too bad he starting out like 0-9. shit! I think he will do better, what else am I going to think?: 12-13/ 4.54/ 120K’s
Jonathan Sanchez – Sanchez was having a strong start to last season but towards the end it all just fell apart for him. He went from being 8-5 to 9-12 to finish the year. He is still very young and unproven, now is the season he can show how good he is. To be honest I don’t think he would be a fifth starter on a lot of teams. He usually strikes out 8 every time he pitches. He just needs to keep it together and have a break out season: 11-13/ 4.33/175K’s
The Giants Bullpen added some much needed veteran players. Jeremy Affeldt was good singing, they also got Bob Howry. Also getting back Merkin Valdez, who missed almost all of lat year will be nice. He was tearing it up before he went down due to injury. Also we have the All-Star closer in Brian Wilson. He was pretty good in his first year of closing duties. He still needs to work on throwing fewer pitches and to give up fewer runners. He did convert 41 of 47 saves last year. If the Giants get improved bullpen help look for more wins, they will no doubt have a lot of close games and the pen needs to get the ball in the hands of Wilson who can usually close the deal.
Giants have some good bench players. Rich Aurilia is a good player to have. He can man the corners and hits well in clutch situations. Eugenio Velez has nice speed and also had some nice hits off the bench last year, he can also play 2B/SS/OF. Juan Uribe is a veteran who can hit the ball if needed and plays 3B and SS; he also brings World Series experience. These players will counted on for much needed hitting and fielding to win games.