San Francisco Giants Poised to Make Run at NL West

marco enageContributor IMarch 18, 2009

There has been great debate as to how the Giants will look in the 2009 season.

Players and fans accept the fact that the Giants must rely on their pitching to survive and become a force in the weak National League West.

Preseason rankings have the Giants fluctuating between second and third place, behind the Dodgers and Diamondbacks.

However, with their pitching staff I think they will trail only a little behind the Dodgers.

The Padres are definitely in a rebuilding year, with only two established hitters in the lineup and two established hitters on the staff.

The Rockies traded away their best hitter in return for players with a lot of potential and great upside.  They are back to square one, and it will also be rebuilding year for them.

The Diamondbacks lost Adam Dunn so the production in that lineup will be sketchy. It really depends on how Justin Upton plays this year. The DBacks' pitching staff is also a mess, with not very much behind Brandon Webb and Dan Haren. Their top propect Max Scherzer is sure to be somewhere on the staff—but the big question is where.

The Dodgers are loaded with hitting talent, and Manny Ramirez just multiplies that. There are not many holes in the lineup—however, the major hole is their pitching staff. Chad Billingsley is coming off an offseason injury—and behind him are a lot more question marks. The bullpen has a good finisher in Jonathon Broxton, but there's no bridge from the starters to Broxton

Finally, we come to the Giants.  This is a team with a very dominant pitching staff—three Cy Young winners, and other 2 starters with the potential and ability to win one in the future.

The Giants bolstered their bullpen by signing Jeremy Affeldt and Bob Howry, helping to bridge the gap from the starters to All-Star Closer Brian Wilson.

The Giants' biggest problem will once again be their offense, and new signing Edgar Renteria will hopefully stabilize the team with his glove and his bat. 

The Giants had a few gaps to fill and a few questions that needed to be answered over the offseason in regards to their offense. Fred Lewis has answered the questions surrounding his health and it looks like Pablo Sandoval and Travis Ishikawa have answered the question of who will play the corner infield spots.

There is talk of the Giants only taking 11 pitchers on their opening day roster, so with that in mind here are the 14 Giants hitters to make the opening day roster of 2009:


Rich Aurilia adds a solid, clutch bat off the bench, and a reliable glove (Bench: 1B, 2B, 3B, and SS).

Emmanuel Burriss adds a decent bat off the bench, with speed, and a decent glove with a lot of range (Bench: 2B and SS).

Kevin Frandsen will be the starting second baseman unless Burriss dominates the rest of Spring Training, will be a solid glove and a solid bat in the eight-hole (Starter: 2B, can also play 3B and SS).

Travis Ishikawa will be the starting first baseman barring a huge breakdown, will help defensively stabilize the infield, and adds some gap-to-gap power (Starter: 1B).

Fred Lewis will be the starting left fielder unless his injury comes back to bite him, adds speed, a good bat with some power, and good range in the outfield (Starter: LF, can also play CF and RF).

Bengie Molina will be the driving force of this lineup once again and will hopefully lead the pitching staff to an even better year than last year (Starter: C).

Edgar Renteria, their main offensive pickup this offseason, stabilizes the middle infield and will add more offensive production to one of the worst offensive teams last year (Starter: SS).

Ryan Rohlinger should fill the 25th roster spot. I went with Rohlinger over Jesus Guzman because Rohlinger can play defense. However, if Guzman learns how to use a glove, Rohlinger's job in majors will be in jeopardy. Rohlinger will add a bat off the bench that has some pop, and offer a solid glove to backup Sandoval (Bench: 3B).

Aaron Rowand, the Giants' offensive pickup last year will hopefully produce a little bit more this year after getting acquainted with AT&T Park. Heill probably hit in the sixth or seventh hole and could add a decent amount of power from there. Great, Gold Glove-caliber defense to stabilize the Giants outfield (Starter: CF).

Pablo Sandoval, the Giants' big hitting prospect who thrived in 45 games last year, will be the heart of the Giants lineup. He will hopefully provide the power the Giants seek and stabilize an almost powerless lineup. His defense has improved and hopefully can improve even more as the season progresses (Starter: 3B, can also play C and 1B).

Nate Scheirholtz, due to the Giants cutting Dave Roberts, Scheirtholtz has been moved up to the fourth-outfielder spot and should provide a good lift as a pinch hitter or in place of any other outfielders. He has some pop from the left side of the plate and adds a good defensive glove off the bench (Bench: OF).

Juan Uribe, yes, is related to Jose Uribe. I put him on the roster because he adds experience to a very young Giants team. He adds some power and a very solid, defensive mind set. (Bench: 3B, 2B, and SS). 

Eugenio Velez' versatility will be very important to the Giants, and his hitting late last season has pushed the Giants to create a spot for him. He is a player that can play multiple positions, is a switch hitter, and can change the game because of his speed. (Bench: 2B and OF). 

Finally, Randy Winn will be the Giants starting right fielder and their lead-off hitter. It is a good sign seeing Winn out of the 3 hole and back where he belongs, at the top of the order. He adds experience, a clutch bat, and a very good defensive glove. He will be one of the leaders on the Giants. (Starter: RF, can also play OF).


The Giants pitching staff is set except for the final two bullpen spots. However, I will talk about the Giants' entire staf:

Jeremy Affeldt will be the left-handed set-up man, a key acquisition to a bullpen that had one of the higher ERAs last year.

Matt Cain is the number-three starter on paper, but only because Bruce Bochy wants to seperate the righties. Cain has great stuff and had a good ERA last year. He felt the brunt of the Giants offensive woes the most.

Alex Hinshaw showed a lot of potential last year, pitched well in his rookie season. and should be a stabilizer for the bullpen for years to come.

Bob Howry, like Affeldt, was signed to stabilize an inconsistent Giants bullpen.

Randy Johnson has been signed to add more depth to the starting pitching and to help mentor the young arms on the Giants staff.

Tim Lincecum: 2008 NL Cy-Young Award Winner at age 24, enough said.

Justin Miller was signed to compete for a bullpen job.  With Sergio Romo hurt, will be a good, reliable arm for Bochy.

Jonathan Sanchez is the number-five starter for the Giants‚and could be come the number four. Last year, he had more strikeouts than innings pitched, shows a lot of upside, throws hard, and is left-handed.

Re-signing Jack Tashner, in my opinion, was a mistake.  However, he receives a slight demotion with the signing of Affeldt, which could help him.

If he does not make the roster look for the Giants to take Brian Medders to San Francisco on April 7.  Medders is very similar to Miller.

Brian Wilson will once again close for the Giants.  An All-Star closer last year, he will look to lower his ERA and become more consistent.

Finally, Barry Zito. Honestly, a waste of $127 million—but if he can eat up innings and show signs of how he pitched with the A's, he will not be a complete loss.

If the Giants can put it all together, and their pitching remains strong look for them to challenge for the NL West title. Just remember the saying, "Pitching wins championships." That is the thing the Giants definitley have. 


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