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Springtime Storylines: Can the Giants repeat?

Mar 14, 2011, 11:00 AM EDT

Tim Lincecum

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.  First up: it’s only appropriate that we start with the reigning World Champs, the San Francisco Giants.

The Big Question: Can the Giants repeat?

Yeah, that’s a hacky question to ask — reeks of search engine optimization bait — but it probably is the question everyone wants answered anyway. At least Giants fans do. Indeed, when I was walking the mean streets of Scottsdale a couple of weeks ago (note: there are no streets less mean than those in Scottsdale in the entire United States), it was what most Giants fans wanted to talk about.

The answer: no.  And that’s not to hate on the Giants. Indeed, that’s the stock answer I give every single year when someone asks me “can they repeat.”  The odds always favor “the field” over a repeat. It’s been over a decade since the last repeat winner. Only two clubs — the threepeating Torre Yankees and the Cito Gaston Blue Jays — have repeated in over thirty years.  It just doesn’t happen much, so even before looking at anyone’s roster, the smart money always favors saying, no, there will not be a repeat this year.

But what of these Giants on their own terms?  Personally, I like them. Teams with strong starting pitching have a leg up in my mind because the season is long damn haul and whoever can match up best day-in, day-out do better than teams that can beat you into submission.  People have fretted about Tim Lincecum‘s durability for a while now, but until I see him break down I’m not going to be similarly concerned. Matt Cain is a horse. Madison Bumgarner seems to have improved his velocity this spring and should be better prepared to go full-bore this year. And for as bad as Zito’s contract is, he’s durable and reliable and is better than what a lot of teams throw out there on Day 5. Jonathan Sanchez is the only guy who gives me the willies, and I’m probably basing that on a couple of bad postseason starts rather than his true value.

But the rotation doesn’t make them a slam dunk.  I think they’re a playoff caliber team and, if they make the playoffs, Katie bar the door, because they showed last year that they are not to be trifled with in a short series. But it must be remembered that they didn’t even clinch the playoffs until the last day of the season, so anyone presuming them to be the favorite to win it all is drinking some orange Kool-Aid.  There are flaws here.

So what else is going on?

  • I really don’t see both Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell each posting an OPS of .850+ this year. There will be some dropoff in those corner positions, and I’m not sure that there is enough room for improvement elsewhere in the linuep. And to be honest, given the presence of stud 1B prospect Brandon Belt at AAA, it may be better for the Giants if, rather than a middling falloff, either Huff or Burrell completely craters, opening up a slot for the youngin’.
  • One area where I do see improvement, however, is with Pablo Sandoval. The reports of his weight loss are not exaggerated. And it’s not just cosmetic: he has seemed downright frisky so far this spring, both on defense and at the plate.  If he returns to 2009 form or even comes close, that will help the Giants weather inevitable Burrell/Huff backslide much better.
  • The defense scares me. While Sandoval is friskier, it doesn’t mean he’s better. He may get to more balls, but a lot of them will clang off his glove. Likewise, if I were a Giants pitcher I’d be very wary of Miguel Tejada‘s glove at short. No, Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria were not gold glovers last year, but Tejada is downright calcified at this point. A lot of balls will get through the left side.
  • Brian Wilson anchors the bullpen and Sergio Romo is pretty studly himself. Santiago Casila was fantastic last year too, but it was also a year unlike anything else he had shown before. Is he a late bloomer or was last year fluky?  A good bullpen, but one, it must be remembered, which had an awful lot to do with that whole “torture” meme last year.  They bent but didn’t break. If they bend any further this year, it could be trouble.

So how are they gonna do?

The World Series win made a lot of people forget just how much this team struggled until mid-season. They were seven games behind in July and required a pretty spectacular swoon on the part of the Padres to catapult them back into the race.  I don’t think they’re as bad a team as we saw early in 2010, but I don’t think they’re as good as they seemed when hoisting that trophy. I mean, who is?  And while the Padres won’t be a factor this year, I think both Colorado and L.A. will be improved.

But not quite enough.  In some radio interviews and podcasts I have been flippantly saying that the Rockies are my favorites this year. But it was just this past weekend that I really sat down and studied the matter.  It’s a close call for me, and I think the race will be close all year long as well, but I think the Giants have to be picked to win the NL West.

Even if they don’t always look pretty doing it.

  1. obsessivegiantscompulsive - Mar 14, 2011 at 11:29 AM

    Nice rundown of the Giants. Totally agree about not picking them, but disagree with your assessment of their 2010.

    What people miss is that the lineup is totally revamped now and at the end of 2010 versus the start of 2010. And the team won all those games even though the only really plus hitter during that playoff run was Burrell. And as you note Sandoval look ready to that on that mantle once again.

    And speaking of Sandoval, I think people are just biased by seeing his size. People say his defense sucks and yet most of the publicly available advanced baseball stats said that his defense actually improved in 2010 vs. 2009, even though he was much fatter (Fangraphs and BB-Ref). People forget that he didn’t play much 3B in the minors, that he was still learning the position in 2009 and probably into 2010. He’s actually athletic for his size, I’ve twice seen him score on plays at homeplate where he executed perfect slides that avoided the tag that skinny guys don’t do, one where he slide perfectly to the 3B side and tapped his hand to score, the other where he leapt over the catcher’s swipe to score.

    People have been saying that the Giants were lucky to win in 2010, but I believe that they were unlucky to have to win on that last day. First, if the umpire didn’t call Ishikawa out because the catcher “made a good effort”, against the Mets in May, the Giants win that game and would have won the division before the ending Padres series. There would have been no torture in that series, no failing (Zito) or hero making (Sanchez).

    Second, the Giants RS and RA was good enough that their Pythagorean calculated to 94 wins, or two more wins than they actually had and they would have been 4 games ahead at the end and again would have won the division before that ending series.

    Third, in fact, probably the reason they were negative was that while SF and SD were about even in record, the Padres won the series 12-6. If the series had ended 9-9 instead, the way it should have, based on their overall records, the Giants would have won running away, ahead by 8 games. If the Giants had just won one of those Padres win, and we are talking one of the 6 wins above .500, the Giants would have again won the division before that season ending series.

    Lastly, the Giants were not lucky that the Padres lost 10 games in a row at the end of the season, the Padres were lucky that their pitchers pitched way above their talent level in the first half of the season before regression to the mean took them back to us in the second half of the season. Both Wade LeBlanc and Clayton Richard pitched way above their talent level in the first half – 3.30 and 3.33 ERA respectively – before falling back in the second half – 5.91 and 4.30 ERA respectively. They are good pitchers, just not as good as they were in the first half, particularly if you would have looked at their prior performances in the minors as well as the scouting reports as they rose to the majors.

    In addition, they benefitted (i.e. was lucky) from Jon Garland being better than he normally is for the 2010 season. Career 4.42 ERA previous to joining the Padres, his career best as a full-time starter was 3.50 ERA in 2005 but his next best was his 4.01 ERA in 2009 and 4.23 ERA in 2007. He had a 3.47 ERA in 2010. Part of that was his new home, 3.00 ERA there, but he still pitched well on the road, 4.01 ERA. The Padres were lucky to be where they were at the end of the season, not the Giants.

    Now about their competition, I agree that the Rockies are their competition. SD made a lot of nice moves over the off-season, but that only partially filled the hole that trading A-Gon left. Plus, Garland left and basically they are hoping Harang can repeat Garland’s magical 2010.

    I’m still not sure why everyone loves LA as a competitor in 2011. I totally agree that they greatly improved their starting rotation, but that was not their main problem in 2010, their main problem competing was after they traded away Manny, they didn’t have enough offense to win with the pitching that they had. I like Uribe, but he’s no Manny, so how is their offense good enough for 2011 if it wasn’t good enough in 2010? They are basically hoping that Kemp is more like 2008 than 2009-2010, which is becoming a deja vu story for them, as they were basically doing the same for Russell Martin and James Loney.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Mar 14, 2011 at 11:37 AM

      Craig, I think the Giants could easily repeat if they were to win the NL West. With their pitching, they will be a tough out.

      p.s. Isn’t this post from “obsessivegiantscompulsive” enough to make you write the “Giants fans are insecure” post? I mean…complaining about a game against the Mutts in MAY that should have been a win? Seriously?? Ugh.

      • mojogumbo99 - Mar 16, 2011 at 2:53 AM

        The Giants offense , subject of much derision throughout this Hotstove have been sadly misrepresented. For any naysayer of the mediocre full season 2010 showing misses the point. The only 2 full season difference makers for the Orange & Black were Huff & Uribe. Since Uribe was lost to FA Dodger defection right after the sweeping out of The Ballpark at Arlington, That leaves only the Sandoval reclamation project to accompany Huff as the full year point of reference. All of the commotion of paltry offense for 2011 fail to factor the outstanding contributions of late season additions to the everyday equation, Burrell , Posey, Torrez, and Ross. This inequity needs to be re-evaluated based on a full season context.On that basis with the possible inclusion of Freddy Sanchez , an injury minimal everyday player as well , and everything will appear as if what has been the previous references are now in 3D. With only the Rockies as real competition for for the NL west crown , The best pitching staff in MLB wins that 162 game battle. Expect to see the SF Giants cast of characters again this 2011 post season

      • obsessivegiantscompulsive - Mar 23, 2011 at 8:41 PM

        I wasn’t complaining. The replays were very clear that he was safe, and the umpire admitted in an interview that he didn’t see the tag but that the catcher “made a good effort” so he gave it to him. You can read it in the newspapers the day after.

        I was only noting that those who saw the Giants as being “lucky”, positively, don’t know all the things that was “lucky”, negatively, for them, and I was aiding the discussion by listing them.

        Insecurity is not a problem on my part, I’ve been telling Giants fans for the better part of 4 seasons that the pitching will lead the way to better times and been saying for the prior two seasons that when the 2010’s are done, it will be known as the Decade of the Giants. I am not insecure at all, I think they can do it again in 2011, but baseball is such a crapshoot in the playoffs that I know that the greater likelihood is that they will fail at some point.

        I just thought that people might want to gain another perspective to the droning “Giants are lucky” bandwagon that a lot of people seem to have climbed on and perhaps see that the Giants were really unlucky to have been in the position to have to win a game in the last weekend to clinch the title. Who calls an out because the catcher makes a good effort? I’ve listened to ballgames for 40 years now and that was a new one for me.

    • eunewsu - Mar 14, 2011 at 12:27 PM

      @obsessivegiantscompulsive

      Yes but even that “revamped” lineup was shut down at times throughout the 2nd half.

      Sep. 5th – shutout vs. Dodgers
      Sep. 11th – shutout vs. Padres
      Sep. 13th – shutout vs Dodgers
      Sep. 17th – shutout vs. Brewers
      Sep. 22nd – shutout vs Cubs

      That’s 5 shutouts in a 17 day span by that same “revamped lineup. Not to mention they batted .230 in the month of Septmeber which ranked 27th in MLB.

      • seeingwhatsticks - Mar 14, 2011 at 2:52 PM

        Everyone slumps, but they were able to keep winning during Sept because their pitching was good enough to carry them. Here’s something Jayson Stark wrote about the Phillies a little over a week ago:

        STRIKE THREE — NUMBER-CRUNCHING DEPT.
        The Phillies keep pointing out they finished second in the league in runs scored last year, and that’s true. But that total doesn’t tell the whole story of their year.

        Through the magic of baseball-reference.com, we were able to break down the number of times they scored three, two, one or zero runs last year. And it’s very revealing:

        Three runs or fewer: 75 times, most since 1997
        Two runs or fewer: 51 times, most since 1998
        One run or none: 34 times, most since 1991
        Zero runs: 11 times, most since 1998

        So sometimes, it’s not how many you score. It’s when you score them. Or, in the case of the 2010 Phillies, it was often when they DIDN’T score them.

        (me again) That was with Werth and 100+ games of Chase Utley. Werth is gone and it’s looking more and more like Utley is going to have to either play injured or miss a significant amount of time. The point is every offense slumps, which is part of the reason that “pitching and defense wins championships.” The Giants are prone to slumps, and their offense isn’t elite, but it should be slightly improved from last season which is all they really need with the way they pitch.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Mar 14, 2011 at 3:39 PM

        I read the same article from Jayson, and while I love his work, he left out two very important statistics.

        First, the Phillies won 97 freaking games last year. I repeat…the Phillies won 97 freaking games last year. Soooooo, while they were struggling to score runs all those games, they somehow managed to squeak out the MOST FREAKING WINS IN THE MAJOR FREAKING LEAGUES.

        OK, trying to remain calm.

        Second, 50 of those starts were made by Kyle FREAKING Kendrick and Jamie Moyer, both of whom won’t SNIFF the mound this year in any meaningful spots for the Phillies. I repeat 50 STARTS…KYLE KENDRICK AND JAMIE MOYER.

        What does this all mean? I don’t know. BUT I LIKE TO YELL!!! AND I KNOW THAT 50 STARTS FROM CLIFF LEE and ROY OSWALT will be a lot better than 50 STARTS FROM KYLE FREAKING KENDRICK AND JAMIE MOYER!!!!

        Did somebody mention something about the 97-65(BEST RECORD IN ALL OF THE MAJOR LEAGUES)Phillies slumping and not scoring runs last year?

      • seeingwhatsticks - Mar 14, 2011 at 3:58 PM

        Yes the Phillies won 97 FREAKING GAMES, but the Giants won 92 FREAKING GAMES, and over the course of 162 games that’s a 3% difference. 3% more wins. 3% more with 115 games of Chase Utley and 156 of Jayson Werth. Those 156 are now replaced by Dom Brown, who was struggling, is now out, and remains a huge question mark. As I said before, Utley is no sure thing to even play 115 games, and the entire lineup is another year older. Rollins has been in a steady decline for 2+ years. Carlos Ruiz was 50 pts above his career averages in avg/obp/slg in 2010. In 2010, per baseball reference, Cliff Lee was a 5.3 WAR pitcher and Jayson Werth was a 5.2 WAR player. Trading Werth for Lee is not the huge upgrade everyone thinks it is.

        Lee will be 33 before the season ends, and Oswalt and Halladay will both turn 34. Tom Verducci noted last week that in the last 17 years only 1 starting rotation had 3 pitchers over age 32 make 32 or more starts each. The Phillies could be a juggernaut this year, but it’s just as likely, if not more so, that they fight serious injury issues all season long and never become the team they look like on paper. For all the talk that the Giants have to catch breaks to compete for a championship again the Phillies need to catch just as many breaks.

        Here’s what Verduccie wrote:

        Oh, and about that great starting rotation? Do you expect them to make all of their starts? Lee is 32, Roy Oswalt is 33 and Roy Halladay is 33. It is unusual for three guys on the same team age 32 and older to make at least 32 starts.

        It’s happened only seven times since 1901, only four times without a knuckleball pitcher among the trio, and only once in the past 17 years — back in 2001 when John Burkett, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux of the Braves made the 32/32 club without the strain of needing plus-velocity.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Mar 14, 2011 at 7:07 PM

        Dude, why do you insist on turning everything around to a debate on the Giants? Who said anything about how many games the Giants won? I don’t even give a rat’s ass about the Giants. I look forward to a rematch with them and hopefully, the Phillies will fare better this year. I was commenting on the Stark article and specifically the fact that you and he pointed out how the Phillies struggled to score runs last year in so many games. While that may have been true, they still won 97 games. With Kyle Kendrick and Jamie Moyer starting 50 games that are planned to go to Roy Oswalt and Cliff Lee. If somebody gets hurt, then sure things could change. But right now, on paper, they are getting 50 starts from 2 studs that were wasted on two scrubs last year and that is undeniable.

      • seeingwhatsticks - Mar 14, 2011 at 7:21 PM

        I wasn’t debating the Giants, the only thing I said about the Giants was that you were talking about a 3% difference in wins as if it’s somehow indicative of anything. Everything else that I wrote was about the Phillies and specifically refuting your notion that adding Lee changes everything. It’s also why I included what Verducci wrote last week in SI, because 3 starters over age 32 generally do not make 32+ starts for in the same season. Your claims are based on all of those guys staying healthy for the entire season and that’s something that historically does not happen.

        Adding Lee over Kendrick or Moyer is an improvement, but you have to admit that replacing Werth with Francisco and Brown hurts too. Based on baseball reference trading Lee for Werth is something of a wash while Fangraphs has Werth at 5 WAR last year, and Lee at 7.1 WAR, so maybe it will make a slight improvement. However with all the other questions surrounding the lineup and the bullpen it’s really not as simple as saying 97 wins + Cliff Lee = 100+ wins.

      • mojogumbo99 - Mar 16, 2011 at 2:57 AM

        Those are indeed facts, and the Giants are still the last team standing against all of the other ” Super Teams” , so then what is relevant ?

      • obsessivegiantscompulsive - Mar 23, 2011 at 9:28 PM

        First, as a number of hitters acknowledged, the players were getting dog tired that month. If you’ll recall the Giants set a record for the live-ball era of having 23 straight games without giving up more than 4 runs, but people don’t also realize that they kept the opponents to 2 runs or less in 17 of those games.

        Second, if you plug in any of the projections for the expected lineup for the Giants in 2011 into the lineup calculation application at Baseball Musing, you would find that the Giants regular lineup is projected to score above what the average NL team scored last season. And if they can do that and keep the pitching and fielding defense going at the same rate as last season, they’ll win 90-95 games easily, which should be enough to win the NL West, as the other teams have big holes or need someone to step up for them to contend.

        Lastly, the more pertinent stat is that their OPS (batting average is so 20th century) was 8th in the NL. If you take their pitching and give them the NL average RS/game over the past few seasons, the Giants would be winning 90+ games every season. The pitching is THAT good. It is not just good, but second best in the majors the past two seasons and I don’t see why they can’t do that again in 2011. People forget that Lincecum actually had a pretty down season in 2011, found a new pitch that allowed him to dominate in September/October, and acknowledge issues with his conditioning that he vows to fix for 2011. That should cover for any regression to mean that Sanchez and/or Bumgarner has (and remember, 2010 includes Wellemeyer stats).

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Mar 14, 2011 at 12:47 PM

      I’ll like this comment simply for the epicness of it.

      • sailcat2011 - Mar 23, 2011 at 12:49 AM

        The Phillies’ 97 wins in regular season of 2010 is irrelevant considering their poor pitching and terrible batting in the NLCS against the Giants.

  2. apbaguy - Mar 14, 2011 at 11:33 AM

    And yet, the Giants are now the model for mid-market teams. Even the sainted Beane is copying their formula of strong starting pitching, several high upside mid-tier free agents, and lots of prayer to induce everyone to have near-career years at the same time. Much as I like the Giants rotation and the back-end of their bullpen, and I’d love to hop on the Caltrain again this year, full of hope and expectation, you have to take the field. The Giants free agents are a year older now. How old is Miggy, really? They can’t all perform at that 2010 level two years in a row.

    • natedawg321 - Mar 14, 2011 at 12:58 PM

      It’s seems kind of dubious to call the Giants a “mid-market” team. The Bay Area is the number 6 media market in the US and the #20 market (Sacramento-Stockton) is all included as far as baseball is concerned. (Giants fan range is all of northern CA, draw a line somewhere between Fresno and Bakersfield and everything north is theirs, excepting the little scraps of A’s fans in the East Bay).

      This is a good article by Craig, in that the correct response is always to bet against a repeat by any team, but the Giants still have the best team in the West, even after accounting for some regression.

      If Huff, Burrell, Torres, and the bullpen repeat 2010 with Sandoval hitting 2009, the Giants win 100 games easily, add some regression and you still have a 90+ win team. Sure if the Dodgers hitters decide to imitate 2007 instead of 2009, that might not guarantee a division title, but both they and the Rockies need more things to “go right” than the Giants do to hit that 92-95 win range.

      • sayheykidwschamp - Mar 14, 2011 at 1:36 PM

        I would give a couple reasons why they used to be a mid-market team compared to LA, NY, BOS, etc.

        1) Candlestick years – hard to keep fan support at that ballpark. Never could generate the amount of revenue they now can at PacBell, AT&T or whatever phone company it is now called.

        2) New ballpark paid for by owners. That limited the amount of money they could reinvest into the team for a just over a decade, even while breaking attendance records year over year.

        But today, they are definitely still growing and most of the ballpark mortgage has been paid, if not all. So now we see the team increasing payroll from $95 to $120+. And now all the new fans with the WS win. So yes, maybe the Giants are no longer Mid-market, but they have been for most of their history when it comes to annual revenue. I do agree however that SF is definitely in a larger media market overall compared to the majority if not all mid-market teams.

      • apbaguy - Mar 14, 2011 at 3:21 PM

        I think it’s arguable about market size for SF, given that there are two MLB teams in the area. Although I agree their payroll is drifting into the lower end of large market expenditures. And the stadium is nowhere near paid for. The attendance for the A’s is certainly anemic, while the Giants is robust, but the TV numbers for the A’s are very good, indicating a relatively larger fan base for the AL team than you might be giving them credit for.

        Anyway, none of that changes the essential point that the Giants could repeat..if…a lot of things go right, like they did last year, and that is unlikely, though still possible.

      • natedawg321 - Mar 15, 2011 at 10:36 AM

        @apbaguy

        A’s have the lowest tv ratings in baseball.

    • clydeserra - Mar 14, 2011 at 3:03 PM

      beane is not copying Sabeans formula. He is not setting $50million dollars on fire with contracts like Rowand/Zito/renteria/derosa.

      Its not like the A’s went out this winter and picked up new starting pitching.

      • obsessivegiantscompulsive - Mar 23, 2011 at 8:32 PM

        Fortunately not, otherwise, he might start winning again, or worse, start winning playoff series. Baseball sabers examined what wins in the playoffs and BP said that you need a pitching staff like the Giants, high K/9, to go deep, plus a great closer. They wrote a whole chapter on that with Billy Beane’s name in the title a number of years back and he still doesn’t get it (despite them using him as a old quote on their annual every year).

        Sabean has his faults but trading away great talent is not one of them, other than one bad trade. Beane has traded away Hudson for nothing in return, and I would think that the 2011 team would look really great right now if they had Ethier and CarGon in their lineup, what was he thinking with those trades? And at least Sabean got two great players in trades in Jeff Kent and Jason Schmidt, plus other very good players like JT Snow, Robb Nen, Livan Hernandez, Ellis Burks. I can’t think of many very good players Beane has gotten and kept, except Haren.

        And if you want to talk contracts, on a relative to budget basis, his $10M contract for Sheets was even worse than the DeRosa contract, and there was the bad contract for Esteban Loaiza and team killing contract for Eric Chavez, which I think was a big reason they weren’t so good during his contract, are worse because he really doesn’t have that margin of error to play with.

        And most Giants fan know that Sabean didn’t sign Zito, that was strictly a Magowan affair. And as bad as Renteria was, he earned his entire contract with what he did in the playoffs.

  3. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Mar 14, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    I’d rephrase this story, Craig; can they repeat? Absolutely. Are the odds against them? Heavily.

    • tomemos - Mar 14, 2011 at 1:18 PM

      More or less what I was going to say.

      • dexterismyhero - Mar 14, 2011 at 2:04 PM

        I was just going to say “No”!

  4. aronmantoo - Mar 14, 2011 at 6:12 PM

    No one picked the Giants last year so they won’t sneak up on anyone. It will just come down to the health of the pitchers

    • natedawg321 - Mar 15, 2011 at 10:37 AM

      Agreed, that factor dwarfs all others by an order of magnitude.

    • obsessivegiantscompulsive - Mar 24, 2011 at 1:05 AM

      Sneak up on anyone?

      Their pitching shut down hitters to an extent that hadn’t been done in almost 100 years in September, 24 games with 4 runs or less given up, including 18 straight games with 3 runs or less given up, how is that sneaking up on the Braves, Phillies, and especially the Rangers, who had Bengie Molina there to give them all they wanted to know about each player’s weaknesses and strengths?

      If they were snuck up on, then their scouts didn’t do their work.

      But I agree, the Giants need the health of their pitchers. However, with the emergence of Posey and it appears the Panda is re-emerging, and Belt could be ready soon as well, the Giants should probably survive the loss of one of their starting five and survive with someone’s #5 starter (or maybe even Ryan Vogelsong, he hasn’t been half bad this spring, and that’s all the Giants need to be competitive) to get into the playoffs. They basically did this in 2009, winning 88 games even though their 5th starter sucked (Johnson, Sadowski, Martinez) for the most part (Penny did well).

      Losing Wilson, however, would be pretty rough, though, because no one has been prepared enough to take over. I think one of Affeldt and Romo would emerge after tag-teaming the role, should Wilson be out for any reason, and take the role until Wilson returns. I like Affeldt if he is back to 2008-9 form, most commentary I saw when he signed with the Giants was that he had closer-quality stuff and would be a good possible fantasy baseball pick in case he gets the call.

  5. feartherallythong - Mar 15, 2011 at 3:52 PM

    On my “Giants Wishlist for 2011″ – Brandon Belt comes up in May, pushes Burrell off the roster, Belt hits .290, Huff moves to LF, hits .290.

    I don’t see Burrell being able to get us more than about .250-.260, frankly. Would like to see what Fontenot can do – his career numbers are better and more consistent than Burrell’s.

    The most amazing thing about this franchise right now is the contrast to 3-4 years ago, where we Giants fans were whining about how Bonds had caused us to sell out our farm system – and now we are finally getting out from under that, and we are getting some studs coming up through the Giants farm system. About time…

    On the other hand, I am also a Warriors fan – so my overall level of denial may be clouding my objectivity…

    • natedawg321 - Mar 15, 2011 at 5:58 PM

      Whenever Belt comes up, it will be Ishikawa who is gone. (Barring someone being injured.)

      • feartherallythong - Mar 15, 2011 at 6:16 PM

        Yeah, that is quite possible…
        To tweak the old Abbott and Costello line – “Who’s on First – everybody!”
        Pity Ishi can only hit the ball during spring training…

      • obsessivegiantscompulsive - Mar 24, 2011 at 1:29 AM

        Ishikawa did great for the Giants pinch-hitting in 2010, they would not have won without his great hitting during the season and the playoffs.

        Unfortunately, there is no space and he realizes it, based on his recent statements.

        The problem is that there is already not enough space for him NOW. Unless the Giants go with 11 pitchers (possible but recent statements suggest they are looking at 12), they need to get down to 13 position players, which means five bench spots. Three are taken: Whiteside, DeRosa, Fontenot. Rowand probably will be on the bench to start the season, leaving one spot between Schierholtz and Ishikawa. Between those two, got to go with Schierholtz, as we don’t know what OF we will have in 2012, meaning Ishikawa could be gone by opening day.

        If they do go with 11 pitchers, then they can keep both around for the first couple of weeks of the season, maybe up to a month, before they need that long-reliever. They can delay the decision making until then.

        But when Belt comes up, then it becomes Rowand or Schierholtz, and I think at that point, I would have to go with Schierholtz. If the Giants don’t luck out and get some desperate team willing to take him and pay, say, $2-3M of his salary, just cut him at that point and move on.

        Why is pushing out a .872 OPS 2010 hitter, .837 OPS career hitter a wish? As much as I like Ross, he isn’t the hitter Burrell has been in his career. Burrell might only hit .250-.260 (what, is this site, like in a time warp to the year 2001?) but his OPS has been great for most years of his career, only when he wasn’t starting for Tampa Bay, but DHing.

        The fans were crying because they don’t understand how the draft works or how player development works. Rebuilding takes time and a fair amount of losing to do it right. The Giants got really lucky with their picks of Lincecum, Posey, and Bumgarner (or really good) and that gave the team a huge boost as well. In particular, they focused on their pitching and, more importantly, DID NOT TRADE THEM AWAY, as many of the Giants whined about (if I see another “trade Matt Cain because he doesn’t know how to win” it would set me off!). They also added Sandoval and hopefully Belt soon, and I think Gary Brown will be a surprise as well, the Belt of 2011.

        The main problem is that many of the Giants fans wouldn’t know a good team if it came up and bit them. If you took all the Sabean Naysayers, had them stand, and then had them sit down if they said – 1) the Giants should trade Lincecum (or Cain) for Rios; 2) the Giants should trade Cain for a bat (various rumors over the years plus general “he’s a loser” type); 3) the Giants should trade a pitcher to get a bat; 4) the Giants should have drafted a bat instead of Lincecum; 5) the Giants should have drafted Smoak over Posey; 6) the Giants should have drafted Jason Heyward instead of Bumgarner; 7) the Giants would not win unless they acquired a big bat in their lineup (and Burrell would not have counted for these people) – almost all of them would be sitting down (and the ones standing are probably forgetting something they said before). Do any of that and 2010 wouldn’t have happened.

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