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Restoring the rosters: No. 15 – San Francisco

Aug 25, 2009, 4:41 PM EDT

This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
No. 26 – Baltimore
No. 25 – Chicago (AL)
No. 24 – Chicago (NL)
No. 23 – Pittsburgh
No. 22 – Detroit
No. 21 – Tampa Bay
No. 20 – New York (NL)
No. 19 – Houston
No. 18 – Oakland
No. 17 – St. Louis
No. 16 – Florida
The Giants’ legendary inability to develop hitters under GM Brian Sabean doesn’t keep the team from cracking the top half of the rankings, if only barely.
Rotation
Tim Lincecum
Matt Cain
Francisco Liriano
Jonathan Sanchez
Noah Lowry
Bullpen
Joe Nathan
Brian Wilson
David Aardsma
Scott Linebrink
Carlos Villanueva
Bobby Howry
Jeremy Accardo
It’s hard to beat that one-two punch, and I still have high hopes for Liriano going forward. I’m not sure Lowry is the right choice to round out the rotation, as he may never make it back after two lost seasons. He can be replaced by Shairon Martis, but it’s nearly moot, as Madison Bumgarner, arguably the top pitching prospect in the minors, will claim the spot soon enough.
The bullpen possesses perhaps baseball’s best closer, two more ninth-inning guys and plenty of other setup options. Jason Grilli was next in line for a spot, but the rotation is good enough that the team should be able to go without a long reliever. Sergio Romo was also considered. It’s a couple of years too late for Keith Foulke.
Lineup
CF Fred Lewis
C Buster Posey
RF Nate Schierholtz
1B Pablo Sandoval
LF John Bowker
3B Pedro Feliz
2B Kevin Frandsen
SS Emmanuel Burriss
Bench
OF Todd Linden
C Yorvit Torrealba
INF Brian Buscher
INF Cody Ransom
1B Travis Ishikawa
The scary thing is that this qualifies as huge progress. Three years ago, this would have been an absolutely horrible list populated by Feliz, Torrealba and a bunch of fringe bench players, like Jason Ellison, Lance Niekro and Dan Ortmeier. Feliz and Rich Aurilia were the only legitimate regulars produced during the late 90s and the first half of the aughts, and Aurilia actually spent three years in the Texas farm system before joining the Giants. Even worse, it sure appears as though what did develop did so more as a result of steroid use than from any actual instruction in the San Francisco system.
The lineup above isn’t embarrassing any longer. Sandoval has played like an All-Star this year, and I think Schierholtz and Bowker are both capable of some 800 OPS seasons in the majors. Producing offense at the bottom of the order will be a major problem, but at least the infield defense should be strong.
As for Posey, well, that might be something of a reach at this point. I considered sticking Sandoval back behind the plate and going with Ishikawa at first base, but the Giants are going to need Sandoval’s bat in the lineup at all times. If Posey isn’t quite ready to cut it yet, then Torrealba could start, with Steve Holm as the backup.
Summary
The Giants have improved by leaps and bounds over the last few years, and they might be even higher in the rankings if they didn’t blow their 2004 and ’05 first-rounders to sign free agents. With injuries taking a toll on some quality arms, the Giants went the entire 1990s without getting a quality return on a first-rounder. However, they’ve been scoring big since with Lincecum, Cain and now Bumgarner and Posey. They should move up further when these lists are revisited in a couple of years.

  1. JL - Aug 25, 2009 at 9:26 PM

    That lineup is pretty damn awful. I’ll admit that I’m pretty biased against Sandoval. I’ve never been a fan, and I don’t think his average is sustainable. I really think that his luck will run out at some point, even if it’s not this year. Schierholtz and Bowker have too many plate discipline issues and are too old to be anything more than marginal major league players. In my opinion, Posey might be the best hitter in that lineup right now, let alone in the future.

  2. Bhaakon - Aug 26, 2009 at 2:27 AM

    Perhaps he can’t sustain his current average, but he could drop 40 points and still be an excellent hitter on the balance.

  3. Thomas Wolff - Aug 26, 2009 at 4:05 AM

    Todd Linden on the bench? Please don’t remind us Giants fans of the disastrous experiment named Todd Linden!!
    The bullpen looks absolutely insane! I would put Romo in instead of Howry though, he’s losing his touch.

  4. Alejandro - Aug 26, 2009 at 7:41 AM

    Surely we can find a spot for Jesse Foppert on here somewhere!!! I’m looking forward to seeing this list in a few years time when Posey has established himself and guys like Villalona, Crawford, Noonan are options for the line up and Bumgarner and Alderson are established big leaguers.

  5. obsessivegiantscompulsive - Aug 26, 2009 at 11:48 AM

    Luck?
    First off, it should be noted that his strikeout rate all through the minors was very good, no more than the 15% of ABs that the good hitters achieve or lower. That’s even though he was regularly much younger than the league (for example, in 2007, he was 20 YO and the average age in the league was 22.8 for hitters, 23.0 for pitchers, but still had a higher OPS than the league). He has basically continued that in the majors at age 22, and he should only get better as he develops.
    In addition, a hitter’s BABIP is individual to his talents, and his BABIP in his breakout year in 2008 was .387 in San Jose, .355 in Connecticut: it has been .354 in the majors, and pretty steadily so, .356 last season in 145 AB, .353 in 450 AB this season.
    Here are his splits by month since joining the majors:
    Aug08: .393/.397/.554/.950, .420 BABIP, 1W/6K in 56 AB, 56 AB/HR
    Sep08: .315/.333/.449/.783, .317 BABIP, 3W/8K in 89 AB, 45 AB/HR
    Apr09: .307/.350/.440/.790, .355 BABIP, 5W/12K in 75 AB, 75 AB/HR
    May09: .309/.350/.489/.839, .338 BABIP, 5W/12K in 94 AB, 47 AB/HR
    Jun09: .394/.459/.745/1.203, .403 BABIP, 13W/16K in 94 AB, 12 AB/HR
    Jul09: .298/.327/.529/.856, .313 BABIP, 5W/17K in 104 AB, 21 AB/HR
    Aug09: .349/.409/.542/.951, .366 BABIP, 8W/10K in 83 AB, 28 AB/HR
    His months have been pretty consistent. So if you are saying that he’s been lucky each and every month, I find that hard to take.
    Take for example, someone who was lucky, Joe Charboneau:
    Apr80: .354/.439/.563/1.001, .359 BABIP, 8W/7K in 48 AB, 16 AB/HR
    May80: .244/.289/.456/.744, .266 BABIP, 5W/22K in 90 AB, 18 AB/HR
    Jun80: .326/.417/.483/.901, .333 BABIP, 12W/8K in 89 AB, 30 AB/HR
    Jul80: .299/.351/.478/.829, .327 BABIP, 6W/13K in 67 AB, 22 AB/HR
    Aug80: .268/.341/.518/.859, .240 BABIP, 13W/10K in 112 AB, 16 AB/HR
    Sep80: .277/.333/.426/.759, .297 BABIP, 5W/10K in 47 AB, 24 AB/HR
    We know his career ended badly, hence why he was lucky. His BABIP fell below the .300 mean for the average hitter that we use today (not sure if that held back then) 2 times very badly, was average one month, above in the other 3, but 2 of those were not full months. In the 3 months he played most of the month, 2 of them were the below months, and significantly below.
    Sandoval each and every month has been above the .300 mean talent in the majors. I would find it hard to believe if you are saying that a hitter can be lucky in 7 months stretched over 2 seasons while he was a good hitter (by his contact rate).

  6. bostongiantsfan - Aug 26, 2009 at 2:06 PM

    Nate Schierholtz was born 2/15/84, making him 25. It’s absurd to suggest that he is “too old to be anything more than marginal major leaguers,” especially given such a limited sample size of playing time. He has one of the strongest RF arms in baseball, has shown the ability to hit for average (>.300 off the bench this year) and, with increased playing time, I believe his power #s will also increase. He’ll be .300/20 hr/80 rbi guy playing everyday next year. If that’s marginal, you’re obviously a yankee fan.

  7. Thomas Wolff - Aug 26, 2009 at 2:32 PM

    lol Jesse Foppert?? You know he is currently pitching for the Giants double-A affiliate? Foppert was such a disappointment!

  8. DrAddAHip - Aug 26, 2009 at 7:33 PM

    Foppert wasn’t a joke when he arrived on the scene. He isn’t a joke today, either. A torn rotator cuff and the subsequent surgery were the stumbling block of his career. He is no longer pitching for the Giants AA affliate; he was released at mid-summer. He was given a lot of time to return to form, but in the end it just did not happen. He has nothing to be ashamed of, he was good and made it to the Show. Thomas, you & I didn’t.
    He and Torrealba were traded to the Mariners for Winn.

  9. Alireza - Sep 14, 2009 at 1:43 PM

    JL must have never seen pre-2008 (and even 2008) Vladimir Guerrero. Sandoval can be a free swinger because he is able to make hard contact. Also, since he doesn’t have as much power as Vlad, his BABIP will be higher, as home runs reduce BABIP.

  10. affiliate networks comparison - Dec 23, 2009 at 11:05 AM

    I am am excited too with this question.

  11. Mattie D. Franco - Feb 4, 2010 at 9:28 AM

    It was fascinating. You seem very knowledgeable in your field.

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