Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog

Friday, February 15, 2008

San Francisco Giants 2008 Preview: They Might Be Midgets

2007...the year that sucked/was groovy (pick one)
It wasn't pretty. The 2007 Giants spent their last year with Barry Bonds under contract falling further and further away from contention, finishing with a 71-91 record that included a 9-18 September. They posted a losing record against every team in their own division. The middle infield of Ray Durham and Omar Vizquel hit about as well as any other antiques, and showed about as much range afield. No Giant scored more than 75 runs or drove in more than 81. The Giants did showcase a pair of brilliant young starting pitchers, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, but high priced free agent Barry Zito was a huge disappointment. Bonds was allowed to walk away during the winter as were third baseman Pedro Feliz and first baseman Ryan Klesko. The only addition of note was that of centerfielder Aaron Rowand, a good player but hardly a franchise centerpiece. If Giants fan thinks that 2007 was a year that sucked, wait until they see 2008.

They can put it on the board, yes! no! maybe!

No, no, no, and no again. The Giants scored 683 runs in 2007, 15th of 16 teams in the NL. Bonds was pretty much their only effective hitter, and he's gone. For 2008, the Giants plan to have Benji Molina, a seventh place hitter in a good lineup, hitting cleanup. I honestly don't believe that this team will score 600 runs in 2008.

LF Dave Roberts
2B Kevin Frandsen
RF Randy Winn
C Benji Molina
CF Aaron Rowand
1B Dan Ortmeier
3B Rich Aurilia
SS Omar Vizquel

Caution: The above is not intended for use as a major league lineup. Using the above as a major league lineup will lead to insufficient run scoring and 100 losses. Do not use the above lineup at night, or during the day, either. If symptoms persist, replace your general manager.

Pitchers, or belly itchers?

Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum are as exciting a pair of young pitchers as any in the major leagues. Apart from Barry Bond's passing of the career home run record, Cain and Lincecum were the only players worth watching on the 2007 Giants. Barry Zito came across the Bay with a huge contract to be the staff ace and was dreadful. Noah Lowry went 14-8, but guys with 87/87 K/BB ratios aren't usually reliable for repeat performances. The bullpen melted down with Armando Benitez; when Brad Hennessey looks like a godsend to you, you have some real problems.

SP Matt Cain
SP Barry Zito
SP Tim Lincecum
SP Noah Lowry
SP Kevin Correia

CL Brian Wilson (not this guy)
RP Vinny Chulk
RP Steve Kline

So the Giants will be worth watching two days out of five. Cain got a taste of what 2008 will be like last season, going 7-16 despite a 3.65 ERA. Lincecum is one of my favorite players already, a short, scrawny looking kid with an odd delivery who just blows hitters away. Zito will probably pitch better this year than last, but so what? The Giants won't be winning anything during the length of his contract. The bullpen will be a source of anxiety pretty much every day.

Witnesses for the defense

The Giants defense was about average last year; they didn't make a lot of errors and were in the middle of the pack in defensive efficiency. Rowand is a terrific defensive centerfielder; having three guys who can run a bit in the outfield is about the only thing the Giants really have going for them defensively. Molina is a pretty good catcher, I guess you can count that, too. Vizquel is living off of his reputation. No one else stands out.

Farm aid

Forget it. Giants management pursued a scorched earth policy in the farm system for the past decade, trading prospects for veterans trying to win a World Series championship while Barry Bonds was the greatest player on earth. That's a defensible strategy. What is not defensible is the way ownership and GM Brian Sabean treated the draft: allowing free agents to walk away without gaining compensatory draft picks, and not signing many of their top picks, all in the interest of saving a buck. The only real prospect in the system, third baseman Angel Villalona, is at least four years from making an impact in the major leagues. Outfielder Nate Schierholtz could break into the lineup this year; he's nothing special.

Watch out for that tree!

Omar Vizquel is 41 and slugged .316 last year. I'm not sure what more I can add to that. Ray Durham is one of my favorite all-time White Sox, but when Kevin Frandsen is pushing you aside, it's time to start thinking about which hobbies you want to pursue in your retirement. Dave Roberts is a 36 year old outfielder whose entire game is based on speed. Which tool do you think is the first to go when a player ages?

I can make a hat, or a broach...

Giants management had better start thinking about how to sign those first round draft picks, because the Giants may very well have pick number one next year. Slogans and rah-rah fighting spirit are all well and good, but when your team has bad hitters at almost every position, all the pep rallies in the world won't put runs on the board. Tune in for Cain and Lincecum and tune out the rest of this mess.

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