Explanation of ratings system and other team previews here
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Overall – 73 points (20th MLB, 12th NL)
Starting Rotation – 33 points (9th MLB, 4th NL)
Line-Up – 27 points (29th MLB, 16th NL)
Bench/Bullpen/Defense – 13 points (23rd MLB, 14th NL)
Offseason Additions – Aaron Rowand
Offseason Subtractions – Barry Lamar Bonds, Pedro Feliz
Biggest Strength– Starting Rotation
For a team that is the unanimous pre-season favorite for last place in the NL West, the Giants have a really good rotation. Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum are arguably the best pair of young pitchers in the Majors. Cain, 23, had a break-out season with a 3.65 ERA and 160 K in 200 IP. Lincecum, also 23, but looks like he’s 12, and throws like he’s having a full-body seizure, is something to see. He throws his pitches kind of like Roy Oswalt in that he’s short and uses a lot of torque to fire out his 97 mph heater. Last year, his first in the majors, he struck out 9.22 hitters per 9 innings, 2nd in the NL to unanimous Cy Young winner Jake Peavy. After these two, they actually have some depth at the bottom with the wildy-overpaid, but serviceable Barry Zito, solid (but injured) lefty Noah Lowry (3.92 ERA in 2007) and Kevin Correia (3.45 ERA).
Biggest Weakness– Line-up
The Giants would have killed for that kind of rotation during Barry Bonds’ prime, but instead, they have it while sporting one of the worst line-ups in baseball. To put their line-up in perspective, their clean-up hitter is Bengie Molina. Bengie, freakin’, Molina. Essentially, they have a line-up composed of once good (but not great) players on the downside of their career – Ray Durham, Omar Vizquel, Randy Winn, Rich Aurilla, etc… The Giants will be in a lot of 3-2, 2-0 games this year.
Key Player in ’08– Barry Zito
The Giants have 2 potentially dominating pitchers. If they were to have 3, they might be able to overcome their horrendous line-up. It just so happens that a former Cy Young winner who they thought was worth $126 million, is also in their rotation. Zito was predictably disappointing in 2007 but did have a 3.33 ERA in his last 12 starts of the year. Perhaps he has settled in to San Francisco and can give them a really, really dangerous 1-2-3 punch.
Player to Keep an Eye On– Aaron Rowand
This is a Philly blog, and really, for our purposes, the only Giant that anyone will be looking at is Aaron Rowand. You won’t find a Phillies fan that would not have wanted Rowand back on the team this year, however you could definitely argue how many years and how many millions he was worth. As I said in an earlier post, I personally think the Giants grossly overpaid for his services and that his 2007 year with the Phillies will end up as the best of his career. But, regardless of your opinion on Rowand, many Philadelphians will be keeping an eye on him to see if the Phils made the right choice or not.
Outlook/Prediction– 5th Place, NL West. With their rotation, the Giants will be competitive this year. Unfortunately, they are in a division with 4 playoff contenders, and there is really nowhere to put them but in last place. This will mark the first year since 1992 that the Giants are going into the season without Barry Bonds in their line-up. It’s looking like it might take awhile to have an offense anywhere close to what they had for those 15 years.
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