San Francisco Giants 2009 Season Preview

Tom FroemmingCorrespondent IApril 1, 2009

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 23: Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants poses during photo day at Scottsdale Stadium on February 23, 2009 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by: Harry How/Getty Images)

*From Protect the Plate

In their first season of the post-Barry Bonds era, the San Francisco Giants suffered an appropriate power outage.

They became the first team since the 1995 Phillies to hit fewer than 100 runs in a season, and only the Padres scored fewer runs last year.

There's going to be plenty of power on this year's pitching staff, led by Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum, but there are still plenty of questions about the everyday lineup.

The Giants hope to end their five-year playoff drought in what should be one of the tightest divisions in baseball.

Young Cy

Tim Lincecum won the Cy Young Award as a 24-year-old with only 24 starts under his belt coming into the year.

The slender lefty led the NL in strikeouts by a whopping 59 Ks and finished second in the league in both ERA (2.62) and wins (18). The Giants were 22-12 (.647) on days Lincecum started and 50-78 (.390) otherwise.


New-Look Infield

The entire Giants infield has been made over. Edgar Renteria was brought in to play shortstop, while a trio of youngsters take over the other spots.

Pablo Sandoval, 22, will be the regular third baseman, but will also see time at first base and even behind the plate. He hit .345 in 41 games with the Giants last year and will hit third in the order.

The slick-fielding Travis Ishikawa, 25, will be the starting first baseman. He's coming off a breakout year at the dish, hitting 27 home runs between Double-A, Triple-A and the majors.

At second base, 24-year-old speedster Emmanuel Burriss will look to establish himself early. He stole 103 bases in his first 190 minor league games but was held to 15 steals between Triple-A and the majors last year.

He'll have to hold off 26-year-old Kevin Frandsen, a .328 hitter in the minors. Frandsen, who played just one game last season, will start the year in Triple-A.

Gas Left In the Tank

Randy Johnson showed he could still be a force on the mound last year, and is pursuing his 300th win in a Giants uniform.

The 45-year-old freak of nature has 295 wins to his credit, and posted a 2.41 ERA and 1.05 WHIP after the All-Star break last season. After going 0-5 in June, he had a rocky first start in April but won his next five starts from there.

He ended the season with a major statement, pitching a complete game two-hitter against Colorado in which he gave up one unearned run, struck out nine and walked one.

Giants hitters will be happy to have the Big Unit on their side, as Johnson posted a 1.04 ERA in four starts against San Fran last season.

Still Searching

After being a huge letdown during his first season with the Giants, Barry Zito pitched even worse last year.

He struggled to find the stuff that made him a Cy Young Award winner, and finished the season 10-17 with a 5.15 ERA and 1.60 WHIP. In Oakland, He was 102-63 (.618) with a 3.61 ERA. In San Francisco, he's 21-33 (.388) with a 4.94 ERA.

Hit or Miss

Brian Wilson finished second in the NL with 41 saves in his first season as a closer.

His 4.62 ERA and 1.44 WHIP are certainly far from impressive, but those numbers ballooned due to the fact that when he's off, he's really off. He gave up earned runs in just 18 of his 62 appearances, but gave up two or more runs 10 times.

Other Notes

Matt Cain has gotten awful run support the past two seasons, going 15-30 despite his 3.76 ERA over that span.

Bengie Molina returns as the cleanup hitter after tallying 16 home runs and 95 RBI.

Aaron Rowand saw his average drop 38 points and his home run total fall 14 in his first season with the Giants.

Randy Winn posted a .300 average for the second-straight year and stole 25 bases.

Jonathan Sanchez struck out 157 batters in 158 innings pitched last season.

Noah Lowry (40-31 with a 4.03 ERA in his career) is expected to return to the mound at some point this season after missing all of 2008.

The team added Jeremy Affeldt, who is coming off a career year (3.33 ERA, 80 strikeouts), and Bobby Howry, who's coming off a nightmare year (5.35 ERA), to the bullpen.


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