Intimidation can be utilized in any sport and when it comes to baseball, there is no player that brings the intimidation factor better than starting pitcher Brad Penny.
At 6' 4" and 230 pounds, "The Bull", as fans like to call him, is the guy who, when you pass him walking down the street, you'd expect him to be able to chuck a baseball 98 MPH.
His size and personality are fit for an NFL tight-end. (In fact, I would be surprised if he isn't already friends with colorful Jeremy Shockey of the New Orleans Saints.)
Regardless of an attitude that can sometimes rub certain people the wrong way, Penny's style is extremely important for the 2010 Giants staff. His large frame and intensity make him the absolute perfect veteran leader for a starting rotation.
With the Giants' top two pitchers, as well as most of their staff, still considered by many to be just young pups, Penny's experience and savvy would allow some of the pressure to be taken off the rest of the rotation.
In his short stint with the Giants last season, Penny dominated his opponents going 4-1 with a 2.59 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and a .205 BAA including eight shutout innings against the then defending World Series Champion Philadelphia Phillies (at Citizen's Bank Park no less).
By making such an impressive showing late in the year and with both Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum struggling down the stretch (Timmy to a much lesser extent), Penny was the starter a significant amount of fans were most excited to watch.
The only other pitcher on the Giants staff that showed as much emotion as Penny last year was set-up man Jeremy Affeldt.
Bringing in a starter with that type of emotion on his sleeves made for the most anticipated every fifth day to be not when Lincecum was due to pitch but rather when it was Penny's turn in the rotation.
As a ten year MLB veteran, Penny has spent nine-and-a-half of those seasons in the National League, including four-and-a-half inside the NL West.
His experience in the division in which the Giants reside and his similar over-powering style to San Francisco's two aces would be a perfect match of veteran and youth mix.
Unlike Lincecum and Cain who have yet to experience post-season baseball, Penny has been there and done that.
Winning a World Series with the Florida Marlins and making numerous playoff appearances has enabled Penny to know what it takes to get to the highest point of baseball glory.
With Randy Johnson almost assuredly not returning, Penny gives the Giants staff that championship pedigree and knowledge.
A possible Giants rotation of Lincecum, Zito, Cain, Bumgarner and Penny would have a much better all around then a rotation of Lincecum, Zito, Cain, Sanchez, and Bumgarner.
The second group would be relying on four young starters, including two lefties and the only long tenured veteran with playoff experience would be the hit and miss Barry Zito.
Plus with Penny in the rotation, the Giants could put him at the back end, giving Lincecum some natural competition between himself and Penny who became good friends last season.
Lincecum already has two Cy Young Awards but imagine how much better he could be down the stretch with Penny pushing him over the entire season? Taking starts in front of "the freak" would allow Penny to set the bar for the young stud.
Instead of Lincecum being known as the "stopper" (one who stops losing streaks) as typically a mediocre starter preceded him in San Francisco's rotation over the last two-and-a-half seasons, Lincecum could start extending winning streaks.
But where Penny's value truly lies is in allowing the Giants to trade Jonathan Sanchez. Now Sanchez did have a bounce back year last season with the no-hitter and subsequent improved pitching down the stretch, but the Giants have enough pitching without him.
Considering Bumgarner is due to take over the back end of the rotation as a hard throwing lefty, the more experienced Sanchez can be used as trade bait.
Sanchez, who went 8-12 with a 4.24 ERA in 29 starts last season has some impressive numbers for a left-handed starter. He averaged more than a strikeout per inning with 177K's in just 163 1/3 innings, posted a 1.37 WHIP and a .221 BAA.
The solid performance last season and with the no-hitter on his resume, Sanchez as a center piece of deal ought to bring back the impact power bat the Giants so desperately need.
Multiple teams are always in the market for starting pitching and would be willing to give up a hitter in return.
By going through the trade market, Giants GM Brian Sabean would save the money he would have to spend on the various free-agent hitters available.
Not overspending on big-name free-agents would allow for smaller deals also to be made like perhaps re-signing Juan Uribe and bringing in Ivan Rodriguez to mentor the up and coming Buster Posey.
However, none of this would make sense without re-signing Penny. Trading Sanchez without Penny on the roster would mean the Giants would have Bumgarner as the fourth starter and a new need to fill in the fifth slot in the rotation.
Of course the Giants could hold onto Sanchez and go after a big-name free-agent but that is typically not how the Giants handle their business in free agency when it comes to hitters.
If Sabean lets Penny walk and subsequently plans to go with the younger rotation then he will most likely try to address the offense with second tier free agents like Adrian Beltre/Joe Crede/Jermaine Dye etc.
Unfortunately the Giants need a difference maker, not a solid veteran hitter who may or may not produce at his usual levels.
Plus, since the Giants have money tied up in players like Zito, Aaron Rowand and Edgar Renteria, signing another second-tier free-agent might not be the wisest move financially.
Yet going through the trade market to acquire an impact hitter would allow more flexibility money wise and by re-signing Penny, the Giants would have an expendable and impressive bargaining chip with Sanchez.
The free-agency period is still young, but hopefully the Giants can re-sign Penny to an inexpensive deal.
If they can, San Francisco will be better for it as their rotation will be deeper and more experienced. Not to mention it will give Sabean much more flexibility in the trade market.