Well, the official start to the 2011 MLB season has begun and it marks the first day of the San Francisco Giants championship title defense. It sure feels nice to finally say that. After a miraculous, almost surreal 2010 season that sparked riots in the streets of San Francisco, the Giants have to go back to work. Everyone in the nation has penciled in the Phillies and Red Sox to meet in the 2011 World Series after they made a few high-profile off-season acquisitions. So yet again the Giants remain largely overlooked coming into another baseball season. We will let the Northeasterners believe that the Giants run last year was a one-time deal and that they can buy another championship with their big name signees. However, here at 756, we will not over look this squad. The pitching staff is only behind the Phillies because the Giants still have Zito in the rotation, but that problem can be remedied come playoff time by leaving him and his millions off the roster. Madison Bumgarner is barely of drinking age, but his performance in the playoffs was extraordinary. This hard nosed, straight laced southern boy has nothing but tremendous upside. Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum continue to be consistently phenomenal each year and show no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Unfortunately, Jonathan Sanchez is the antithesis of consistency. One day we will get a no-hitter and the next day we will get a third inning meltdown after he walked everyone in America. His starts are more schizsophrenic than Natalie Portman in Black Swan. Righetti and Bochy will have to keep a close eye on him to ensure that we get more of the lights-out Sanchez or it will be lights out on Sanchez’s stay in SF.
The hitting has been the Giants’ biggest Achilles heel in recent years but thanks to the rise of Buster Posey, things may change. Buster Posey’s rookie year brought on comparisons to arguable the best ever professional baseball player, Willie Mays. His approach at the plate, opposite field power and his maturity give him the ability to be a special player for a long time in this league. Nevertheless, who will be there to give him some support? The Giants hope Brandon Belt can be Posey 2.0 and Aubrey Huff seeks another productive season now that he has finally played on a winning team. The other major project is Pablo Sandoval who spent all offseason in fat camp. We will soon see if the leaner and meaner Panda prevails and returns to his 2009 form or if the Giants send him back down to the minors because his problems are way beyond obesity. Finally, the Giants brought in Tejada to fill the void left by Senor Benedict Arnold Uribe and Edgar Renteria. Although I do not like the move, Miggy came up in the Bay Area with the A’s and seems to feel comfortable in NorCal. Plus, Renteria is only helpful in the World Series and Uribe hit a pedestrian .248 last year, so Tejada is technically an upgrade.
Most importantly, Brian Wilson and his beard are back to the delight of all Giants fans, especially the female ones. Unfortunately, opposing hitters do not feel the same joy to see him standing 60 feet 6 inches away from them. BWeezy’s incredible pitching prowess is only matched by his tantalizingly eccentric personality. He is the only man ever to make the George Lopez show watchable. That is more impressive than how automatic he is in save situations. Sure, he makes the 9th much more nerve-wracking than it has to be, but he always gets the job done. His ostentatious character and his rocket of a right arm is the perfect combination to lead the 2011 Giants to another remarkable season.
The Giants have never been much of a farm league team. Rosters comprised mostly of free agents have been the key to the Giants success or downfall over the years. I believe that we are finally starting to turn that stereotype around by developing strong prospects like Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathon Sanchez, Buster Posey, and the aging Andres Torres. Lately, the Giants have found a healthy balance between free agents and prospects by combining “safety acquisitions” and high profile free agents with prospects. Without further adieu I give you my impact prospects for the 2011 season.
1.Brandon Belt 1B:
a. Athletic- 22 SB
b. Great eye- OBP .455, 93 BB
c. Will Clark claims he has a better swing than he did BA .352
d. RBI 112
1. Zach Wheeler RHP:
a. 3.99 ERA
b. 70 SO
c. 1.449 WHIP
2.Francisco Peguero OF:
a. Athletic 40 SB
b .329 BA
c. Great gap to gap hitter-2B: 19, 3B: 16
Giants have also prospered greatly from “safety acquisitions” that turn to gold. The most recent examples would be Juan Uribe and Pat Burrell. These are my favorite “safety acquisitions” of 2011:
• Notable New “Safety Acquisitons”
1. Edgar Gonzalez
• Brother of the talented Adrian Gonzalez. Much like the relationship between George W. and his brother Jeb. George was the president and Jeb was a governor. Hopefully, we can bring Edgar back to governor status, as he is capable of becoming a good player, but not a great one.
2. Elmer Dessens
• Reliable veteran pitcher, who has thrown for nine different teams, can add depth to our bullpen. His recent numbers with the Mets suggest that he has regained a great deal of control adding an ERA of 2.71 in two years of service to boot.
3. Justin Christian
• 30 year old prospect, stolen from the Yankees. In 7 years of minor league service Christian has hit .293 with 52 HR and 337 RBI. He played on the Yankees in 2008 when he hit .250 with 3 doubles, 6 RBIs, and 7 steals. Reminds me of a white Andres Torres. Great speed and athleticism, but a little raw in the batter’s box.
4. Jeff Suppan
1. 16 year Veteran. Has great numbers against the NL West. Suppan will provide a great deal of depth for our starting rotation. Giants don’t really have anyone capable of pitching more than 2 innings of relief. Suppan will give us that depth.
5. Lou Pinella
• 23 years of managerial experience will help Bochy and the front office move more efficiently. He will also add a new perspective to our club
2011 San Francisco Giants Keys To The Season
1. Stay Healthy – The average age of the roster is getting a bit too old for my liking. If we have to battle injures all year long, we will have an even more tortorious season than last year.
2. Carry Momentum of Post Season Hitting Success into the 2011 Regaular Season- Our pitching will always be there, knock on wood, but I say that confidently. Timely bats and above average offense will get us into the playoffs again, and with our roatation, that’s exactly what we want
3. Pablo Sandoval – If the Kung Fu Panda comes back in 2009 form, look out folks. He is now a slimmer version of his old self (droping 15-20 pounds), been batting for the past 3 months straight, and is commited to changing his “lazy, fat, slow” league perception. I have confidence in the panda, hope he hits like .285 with 20 Hrs 70 RBI and can see him doing that easily.
4. Bumgardner / Sanchez – It’s a safe bet to count on Timmy and Matt to hold down the top two spots and pitch excellent all season. Questions have been brought up about the wear and tear on the staff from the postseason affecting this season. I disagree with that view, and think our young arms, such as Sanchez and Bumgardner, will hold up all season long and pitch effectively.
– thedon, dz, tk