Thursday, March 1, 2007

Runner Up To The Worst In The West

Day number 2 and the NL West team that will finish fourth this year is…

The San Francisco Giants


4. San Francisco Giants
5. Arizona Diamondbacks
Now this division has gotten a little tougher on paper. And that is the thing it is all on paper, the product on the field will be completely different but the result should be the same. I want to really say the Giants will finish 5th but they will probably edge out the D-Backs by 1 or 1.5 games. After finishing 76-85 in 2006 what have the Giants done in the off-season?

OF Dave Roberts
1B Rich Aurilia
C Bengie Molina
1B Ryan Klesko
LHP Barry Zito


OF Moises Alou
LHP Mike Stanton
RHP Jason Schmidt
1B Shea Hillenbrand

The Giants make a major rotation move and send off Jason Schmidt into the fading Golden Gate Sunset and welcome in, all the way from Oakland, Barry Zito. There is a difference between these two pitchers, not many but here they are. The ace of the Giants staff switched size, as Zito is a lefty while Schmidt is a righty. Zito is 6 years older and will leave San Fran at the age of 35 providing he is not moved. Oh yea there is one more glaring difference; Zito has a CY Young award. Other than that these two pitchers are exactly the same, 200+ inning guys, double-digit winners who are expected to win every time they take the rubber. But I guess the advantage also goes to Zito because he has not missed a start in 6 years of MLB service. The only impressive thing about Zito in the bay is that he is making a boatload that he can sail away off into the sunset. Matt Cain is the staff ace of the future and I would not be surprised if he matches Zito pitch for pitch and win for win this year. It is like looking at Roy Halladay 5 years ago when Halladay has no one else around him. Cain is just a powerful pitcher relying on more breaks and higher velocity for all of his pitchers. But the man turns 23 this year and has a lot of learning to do. Cain will be impressive. Matt Morris looks to rebound after going 10-15 in his first campaign in San Fran. It really looks like Morris was hurting because he did not have the bats around him like he had in St. Louis. His stuff is still desirable but he has to be smarter as there is not much defence outside the infield. Noah Lowry is another young stud for the Giants that should impress for years to come. Lowry went to camp 10lbs more muscle, dropped fat, and deems himself to be 100% better than before. If he can stay of the DL he will eat up innings and make a good showing for his future.

The Bullpen for the Giants has a glaring hole. It is called the bullpen. There are some pitchers who are suited for roles on the team. The club still does not have a closer. Armando Benetiz is still called the closer but his 17 SV and 8 blown SV in 2006 is not enough to keep his position. When they Giants snagged him for the 2005 season they expected to get the guy who can give them 35+ or close to the 41 he gave in Florida in 2004. In two years with the Giants Benitez has made 36 SV and blown 14. Not good enough. Brian Wilson could take over the closer position with his overpowering slider and 4-seam fastball. The 25-year-old right-hander was knocked around in his 30 appearances but still put up
23K in 30INN of work. Another year another lesson learned. No matter who closes for the Giants, Kevin Corriea has positioned himself into the setup role and should be solid this year.

So long analysis short. The rotation and bullpen will get better with age with the likes of Matt Cain, Noah Lowry, Kevin Correia and Brad Hennessey. But nothing new that stands out other than the pay check Zito receives. The big reason why the Giants will be 4th is the line-up that will take the field.

Leading off will be Dave Roberts who had a good year in San Diego .293AVG 13 triples and 49 Stolen bags. This will be good for the Giants as running was never a strong suit for the team. In RF Randy Winn has been moved to make room for Roberts and Winn is nothing special because I do not see him bouncing back. In LF the one and only, Barry Bonds returns to suck in the outfield. He is old. He is slow. Has no arm. But he is still a threat with the bat. However in 2006 Bonds was intentionally walked 12 times in April and only once in September. But Barry Bonds needs only 22 more homeruns until he retires; I mean pass Hank Aaron as all time homer run leader. So best of luck to Barry Bonds hitting the homerun that gets him the record and to Bud Selig doing nothing when the shot is hit out of the park. The infield is stable and above average when referring to the defence. Omar Vizquel has 11 Gold Gloves and will most likely receive his 12th at the age of 40 this season. Durham had a career year with 26 HR and 93 RBI but do not look for a repeat from this 35 year old. Pedro Feliz will stand at third base when he isn’t in a Giant slump at the plate. He did have a club high 98 RBI but his .281 OBP has to improve for this club to do anything in the West Division. This leaves Rich Aurilia and Ryan Klesko switching at first base. Aurilia did hit .300 with 23HR and 70 RBI in 122 games last season. Both Klesko and Aurilia are 35 and declining with age, so whoever starts at 1B is no threat to any team. This leaves Bengie Molina behind the plate, and after the defensive year he had in Toronto in 2006 he better keep up his bat otherwise he will be replaced byt Eliezer Alfonso who took over the duty last year while hitting 12 Home Runs and driving in 39 after his promotions from AA Connecticut.

The Giants will get lucky and win some games that they should not win. Barry bonds will likely hit the 22 HR he needs and he will retire. Zito will probably flop and be a .500 pitcher first time out in the NL and the rookie Matt Cain will look like the Ace of the staff. It will be a tossup between D-Backs and Giants for the basement but the Giants will edge them out for 4th in the West.

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