Lords of the Diamond: The Return of the Kings

Posted on March 30, 2011 by


Baseball season is back and so are the defending champs, your San Francisco Giants.  After an impressive spring training, where the Giants led the MLB in wins with a 22-12 record, Giants fans have a lot to look forward to. Granted spring training games don’t really matter, the numbers from Scottsdale are very encouraging.

Best of Spring: Position Players

It appears that Pablo Sandoval has his hack back. After dropping 38 lbs, and working with Bonds (pre-trial) to improve his swing and his discipline in the batter’s box, Pablo looks rejuvenated. Sure the Panda has improved his swing, but how is his defense? For his size, Pablo has incredible lateral quickness, and an innate ability to grab sharp line drives and charge bunts. His range looks great. If he can get back to where he was in 2009, the Giants’ offense will be more than tough.  At only 24 years old, Pablo has to think about staying healthy throughout the season. If he does he will be very productive.

The Giants’ number one prospect, Brandon Belt impressed both the clubhouse and the fans this spring, batting .282 with 3 HR and 13 RBI’s. His defense, for his size (6’5’’, 220), is stellar. As of now, it is unclear whether he will be starting at first, but with Cody Ross and Brian Wilson on the DL to start the season, it is almost certain that he will make the 25 man roster. One thing is for sure, this 22 year old rookie to be, has an impressive swing, and an even more remarkable approach in the batter’s box.

Last year’s Rookie of the Year, Buster Posey had an incredible spring, batting .396 with 3 HR and a .517 OBP. Buster struck out only one time this spring and drew 11 walks. At only 23 years old, the sky is the limit for Posey, who has yet to falter or slump (scouts say his swing is “slump proof”).

This year also marks the first season in a LONG time, that the Giants have a young core of hitters supported by veterans, and not the other way around.  If Sandoval, Belt, and Posey can hit consistently this year, I don’t see why we can’t win another World Series this October.

Another bright spot this spring was Aubrey Huff, who clearly came ready to play. Hey may not have brought his rally thong to the Scottsdale, but he did bring his bat. With his patented, lumberjack style swing, Huff hit .369 with 6 HR and 16 RBIs. If Brandon Belt ends up starting at 1B, Huff will probably end up in left field, where he is average defensively.

Best of Spring: Pitchers

The Giants pitching staff looked impressive this spring, led by an unlikely starter, Barry Zito. Zito led the Giants’ starting staff with 27.1 IP and a 2.30 ERA. The problem with Zito last year (9-14, 4.15 ERA) is that he was unable to keep it together for a full 6 innings. For example, Zito would throw 5 1/3 scoreless innings, and then suddenly lose control. He would put runners on base in the 6th, and 7th innings, which led Bochy to pull him. Subsequently, the tying or losing run, would often be scored after he was pulled, thus adding to his ERA. The Giants offense also had a tough time scoring runs for Zito (they averaged 1.6 runs a game when he was pitching), which resulted in more losses and no decisions. Hopefully, the Giants offense will be able to score for Zito this year, allowing him to achieve his first winning season as a Giants pitcher.

Another lefty, Jonathon Sanchez had a great spring as well, with a 2-1 record and 2.70 ERA. Even more impressive, Sanchez walked only four batters in 20 innings. Last year was the first time Sanchez posted a winning season (13-9, 3.07 ERA, 205 SO). He is capable of being the most talented pitcher on the Giants’ staff, but he tends to struggle with command and consistency. If he can stay consistent throughout the season, there is no reason why (other than lack of run support) he can’t win 20 games.

Two time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum posted a 3-0 record with 24 SO on top of 8 BB. Anyone watching him during spring training this year could see that he wasn’t giving his all, which resulted in an abnormally high ERA (4.37). However, I am sure that he will be on track after he beats the Dodgers on opening day tomorrow.

Sergio Romo, Dan Runzler, and Jeremy Affeldt, all had a great spring, posting low ERA’s (Romo 1.04, Runzler 2.20, and Affeldt 0.79). I was most surprised with Runzler, who had the tendency to get knocked around last season. He finished the spring with 17 SO and 2 BB.

Spring Training Question Marks:

-Miguel Tejada:

– Showed weak range defensively

– Batted .234 with 1 HR and 6 RBI

– Old and may not be a capable everyday SS

-Cody Ross:

– Calf injury, will most likely be back by mid- April

-Madison Bumgarner:

– 1-4 Record, 7.17 ERA

– Ryan Vogelsong:

– I thought Jeff Suppan would be the replacement starter for our rotation, but after his release, and Vogelsong’s performance, it became obvious that Vogelsong would make the Giants’ squad.

– 3-2 Record, 3.45 ERA

– Lets just hope he isn’t another Todd Wellemeyer

– Javier Lopez:

– 1-0 Record, 9.00 ERA, 7Ks

– Brian Wilson:

– Oblique injury (he has had this same injury twice before), will be out until mid April.



Posted in: Giants, MLB