San Francisco Giants: Dark Horse or Celler Dweller?

Charlie BoatwrightContributor IFebruary 11, 2009

It has been a while since the Giants could even consider themselves contenders for the NL West title.

Actually, to be honest, they haven't let anyone down in the Bay Area, because after the 2003 season when they lead the division the entire season, they fell off the map immediately and haven't been heard from since.

Moreover, this is the worst division in baseball at this point and little seems to show that it will change this year.

All things considered the Giants could surprise a lot of teams this year, because of the depth of the pitching and abundance of youth and speed balanced by a solid list of veterans to bring them along.

Everyone knows the Giants have good pitching, but no one realizes just how deep they are coming into spring training.

Their rotation has the potential to be one of the best in baseball.

They have at the one and three spot possibly the best two-starter combination in the league with Lincecum and Cain.

Cain could have a really good year this year; in fact, he's due to have a good year.

In his last two years, he has had a cumulative record of 15-30, but that is a poor showing of his ability and his effectiveness.

In the last two years, he has thrown more then 200 innings, and has 163 and 186 strikeouts respectively, with a K/BB ratio of 2.04 and 2.06. Basically the kid can deal.

The rest of the rotation is rounded out by Zito, who, after coming off of two awful years can only get better, the addition of Randy Johnson, who can win some games and bring the rest of the young staff along.

The final rotation spot is up for grabs between a recovering Noah Lowry and Jonathan Sanchez, who had some really bright spots last year, but was pretty inconsistent.

They also, did some work to fill out another weak spot in the celler dwelling club was add some depth to the bullpen.

They added two small name middle releivers, Jeremy Affeldt and Bob Howry.

They will be good durable inning eaters that the Giants need to get the ball to their all star closer Brian Wilson.

It also seems that with the amount of work the young bullpen got last year that they can only improve.

Sergio Romo, Merkin Valdez, Alex Hinshaw and Jack Taschner will all have critical roles to fill in getting the ball into Wilson’s hands.

The mixture of young talent and a few durable guys could prove to be effective in the long season.

The weakest point of the Giants and this is nothing new since the loss of Barry Bonds, is the offense.

This may hold them back from seriously contending in the division.

I liked the pickup of Edgar Renteria, but that is not enough offense to fuel this team.

They need a star to lift everyone else game to a higher level.

Considering the state of Major League Baseball, it doesn't seem like the Giants will be throwing down big contracts for a huge star for a while.

Although, the Giants are pretending to be interested in Manny, I think he might have a destructive impact on the youthful Giants clubhouse.

They need a good third baseman and/or second basemen that are a home run threat.

I think the last time a Giants third baseman was a serious long ball threat must be Matt Williams, please correct me if I'm wrong.

Currently, the Giants are probably going to use Pablo Sandoval as a third baseman after his break out year last year, but I think that a proven player may be needed to push the Giants over the edge in terms of winning the West.

The last thing that gives me hope as to how the Giants may perform in the division is the weakness of the rest of the teams.

The Dodgers are still trying to bring Manny in on their own terms, but as far as I see it, as long as Boras represents him that will not happen anytime soon.

The Diamondbacks haven't been very active this off-season, but did add Qualls and Tom Gordon to sure up the bullpen.

They should be the favorite to win the division last year since their really young group of guys fell off the horse so hard last year, but they didn't lose anyone.

The Padres haven't done anything that says they are going to compete this year and neither have the Rockies especially after losing all-star Matt Holliday.

All in all, this could be the Giants year to upset the two divisional favorites, especially if the Diamondbacks choke again and the Dodgers lose Manny.

I haven't been this hopeful of a Giants season in years and I hope that my hope isn't extinguished too early.


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