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Springtime Storylines: Is there a snowball's chance that the Giants' offense will improve?

Apr 2, 2010, 1:15 PM EDT

Between now and Opening Day, HBT will take a look at each of
the 30
teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally
breaking down their chances for the 2010 season.  Next up: Los Gigantes


The
big question: Is there a snowball’s chance that the Giants’ offense will improve?

The Giants had the worst offense in the National League last year, yet they won 88 games on the power of some excellent pitching.  You’d think that based on that performance, and on the Dodgers’ curious decision to stand pat, Brian Sabean would have gone out and done something about the offense. And I suppose in his own special way he did. Unfortunately, Sabean’s own special way is to ignore anyone on the good side of 30.

The big additions: Aubrey Huff and Mark DeRosa, neither of whom figure to have the bats to carry the positions for which they were hired (1B and LF). Oh, and Bengie Molina was re-signed too, which has now officially occasioned Buster Posey’s demotion to Fresno despite the fact that there is every reason to believe that, if given the chance, Posey would rank higher than Molina on every list short of “years left before social security eligibility.”  Service time games are fun and everything, but when you have Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain firing bullets every time out you’d think that you’d want to give them a little damn support.

The Giants are going to give off the appearance of being competitive as long as Lincecum and friends continue to do what they’ve been doing the past couple of years. But without upgrading the offense in any appreciable way, they’re not going to be competitive. Not in a division with the Dodgers and Rockies.

So
what
else is
going on?

  • The one place where the Giants do appear poised to go with the younger player is the wrong place to do it, and that’s in picking Nate Schierholtz to start in right over Fred Lewis. Neither are superstars, but at least Lewis is capable of taking a walk once in a while.  But hey, the local press likes the move so it’s not like Sabean is alone in his ignorance of what helps teams score runs.
  • No offense? Fine, it’s pitching and defense. Except the defense really isn’t there. Freddy Sanchez won’t be back for a while, but once he returns he and Edgar Renteria should help form one of the lease effective double play combinations in the game. Renteria because he’s just bad anymore, Sanchez because you have to figure that his range and arm and everything has been impacted by his multiple offseason surgeries.  Aaron Rowand is famous for crashing into walls but his defense is not what it used to be. Pablo Sandoval, well, he hits real good.

  • But of course, at the end of the day, this team is all about the pitching. And it is good. Lincecum and Cain need no introduction. Neither does Barry Zito who, contract aside, is a dependable guy who will give the Giants a lot of league average innings and maybe a bit better. Jonathan Sanchez has flashed brilliantly on occasion but has yet to put it together. If he does, look out.  The fifth starter’s slot will begin with Todd Wellemeyer, but top prospect Madison Bumgarner will no doubt get starts at some point this year.  
  • The
    pen is pretty decent too. The Giants had one of the better bullpens in baseball last year.  Brian Wilson anchors things. Jeremy Affeldt and Brandon Medders are excellent as well. Lincecum’s offense and defense will let him down a lot this year, but his pen won’t.

So
how
are they gonna do?

The Giants’ offseason moves didn’t do much to improve the team. Betting on DeRosa and Huff to cure the team’s offensive ills was foolish, as is giving money to Bengie Molina when Buster Posey is more than ready to take over.  It will be very tough to score runs on the Giants this year, but it will be no tick whatsoever to keep them off the board. I see no way for them to make up the ground that separated them from the Dodgers and Rockies last year.

Prediction: Third place in the NL West. Less than 700 runs scored.

  1. Kirk - Apr 2, 2010 at 2:27 PM

    If you are going to rip the moves that were made please offer suggestions of what they should have done instead. Throwing huge money at Bay of Holliday would have been a big mistake, and as far as I know there weren’t any sure things out there.
    DeRosa is not what you hope to get from a LF, but he does offer a lot of flexibility. Huff was a reasonable gamble. If he comes anywhere near his season of a couple years ago it will be a steal. If he bombs, then they can cut him loose and it won’t cost much. Fred Lewis will never amount to much, especially defensively. If you watched him look lost in LF last year you would not speak highly of him. RF would be a total disaster.
    Nate is an excellent defender and has a great arm, and in SF that is important to have. And Pablo is a much better defender than people give him credit for. He’s big, but he’s very nimble and can get to his feet very quickly after making a diving stop. I am more excited about this Giants team than I have been for a long time.

  2. Preston - Apr 2, 2010 at 2:50 PM

    Well, Craig already suggested the obvious, which is to give Buster Posey the starting job and avoid another season of offensive black hole Bengie Molina. Beyond that? How about Nick Johnson instead of Huff, or possibly Polanco or Beltre at 3B and Sandoval to 1st, or even Russell Branyan, who’s probably a better upside pick than Huff. In the OF, Cameron or even Damon could have provided a reasonably priced, short-term upgrade. Of course, their best move would have just been to fire Brian Sabean. Sorry Kirk, I think 85 wins would be a very good year for the Giants, and that’s not going to do it in the NL West.

  3. APBA Guy - Apr 2, 2010 at 6:56 PM

    I think this is the Rockies year in the West, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be exciting for 2nd :)
    The Gigantes problems are well established: lack of offense, and more lack of offense. Could they have done more about it? Sure, but their first priorities were extension deals for Lincecum and Cain, and an overpay for Brian Wilson’s extension.
    Still, you’d think that a couple of million for Branyan would have been a good idea, but beyond that, the other guys were getting into the $ 6M+ range, and I’m not sure the Gigantes had that laying around with having to meet their first priorities, and oh yeah, paying Barry Zito $ 17M to be mediocre.
    And that Posey guy. Why have him if you don’t use him, especially since your team suffers from lack of offense. Is that Sabean, or is that Bochy?
    Lot’s of “ifs” in the NL West this year. What if the Dodgers get old or have two key injuries. What if Brandon Webb doesn’t come back and Stephen Drew never improves?
    That kind of thing. The Giants could finish second.

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