Call me crazy, but I just think the San Francisco Giants might do better than what all of the pundits are saying. I think they can be in the hunt all the way to end, but it's going to take some solid pitching from the starters and the bullpen, outstanding defense and timely hitting.
And, some luck.
I really like the Giants starting pitching—yes, even Barry Zito. If Zito has the type of season he is capable of, these guys in orange and black are going to surprise some people. I think Cain and Lincecum are future Cy Young Award winners.
These two are just about to hit their prime and I'm so glad Brian Sabean didn't make the Rios-Lincecum trade. Lincecum demonstrated last night in his last exhibition start vs. the A's what I hope will be standard operating procedure all season—five of shutout ball and nine strikeouts.
The bullpen is again the big question mark. I think Brian Wilson has the stuff to be a quality closer. Can he handle the pressure?
He hasn't had the best of springs, but if he grows into the job by closing games and gaining confidence, the Giants are going to win games. I can't comment on the middle relief guys except to say one thing that they forgot how to do last year was throw strikes and get ahead in the count!
The defense is again stellar, especially up the middle. When Vizquel comes back from knee surgery, the rest of the guys (Rowand, Durham, and Molina) are going to keep these pitchers in a lot of ballgames.
A lot has been written about the offense without Barry Bonds. I loved Barry, but you know what? He only came up four times a game (if that!). I think Bochy has enough talent in that dugout to produce runs. He's got to start Eugenio Velez and let him leadoff every day. That guy's amazing and he, alone, is quick enough to produce some runs. It's time to put Vizquel back in the No. 2 slot.
He did very well hitting second, two years ago. It's time to give Fred Lewis an every day job as well and I'd like to see him hitting third and playing left field. I'm sorry, but I don't see Dave Roberts as anything but an outstanding pinch hitter.
I'd hit Rowand fourth and Winn fifth. I see Ortmeier as a number six hitter, with a Aurilia/Castilla platoon seveth and Mnolina eighth. That should be a good enough lineup to produce 4-5 runs a game, which should be plenty if the pitching holds up.
Well, at 4 a.m. all of my points sound pretty damn good. I guess we'll see if any of this pasta I've just thrown on the wall sticks when the season kicks off in Chavez Ravine on Tuesday afternoon. I can't believe this is going to be a last place team in 2008.
Can we wait until June before anyone tries to put me in a straight jacket?