For the San Francisco Giants and their fans, 2010 is supposed to be a good year. If you've been following the team for a while, you'll remember that as far back as 2008, THIS was the year we've been waiting for.
The buzz surrounding the future Giants was getting louder, and now a majority of the pieces have fallen into place. The rotation is there, and was solid in 2009. The bullpen boasts some great arms.
On the offensive side, those homegrown prospects have finally made it onto the scene, and there are free agent additions UNDER the age of 35 that look to make a fast impression.
If the Giants build upon their last two years, in which they've defied most expectations, then 2010 should be the year for San Francisco fans everywhere to celebrate. Until then, here's ten reasons why you should follow the Giants this year.
We all know that Posey will probably end up starting the season at AAA. But who cares? He still rakes, he's got a great, likeable personality, and he'll be up in the bigs sooner or later.
If the Giants get the idea in their heads that Bengie Molina isn't working out, they have a pretty sound contingency plan that a lot of their fans would support. Having Posey and Sandoval grow together in this lineup is something that any Giants fan should be excited to see.
He's as good a position player to come out of the Giants system in a long time, and has the chance to become one of the better hitting catchers in the league.
As for Bumgarner, he will definitely have a chance to show off why he's a top prospect. The Giants refused to listen to any trade offers last year that included this slender southpaw, and for good reason.
His minor league line reads as follows:
27-5, 1.65 ERA, 0.974 WHIP, and a K/BB ratio at a whopping 4.65.
Impressive? Last year when he came to the majors he pitched 10 innings and struck out 10, giving up two solo home runs as the only damage against him.
He's put together pretty much the same resume that Lincecum did in a couple years in the minors, so if he sticks around he should have some success. Look for this lefty to make an impression this year. He'll be here for a few seasons and he'll be a big part of this rotation.
The Giants ranked near the bottom in almost every offensive category last year. In contrast, the AAA Fresno Grizzlies, under the tutelage of one Hensley "Bam-Bam" Meulens, ranked in the TOP half of the league in almost every offensive category.
It can't all be attributed to the hitting coach, but it does stand out when Eugenio Velez, mired in a slump and hitting .194 in the majors, goes down to AAA and hits .297 in 45 games.
The same can be said for John Bowker, who has had a lot of trouble at the major league level, hitting .194 in 31 games in 2009, wins the PCL batting title by hitting at a .342 clip.
The difference in styles between Bam Bam and Carney Lansford should also prove well for the Giants, since Lansford was not very receptive to working with free swingers like Sandoval and Molina.
I'd look for San Francisco to improve significantly on offense this year, and since there aren't a slew of new additions, the improvements will most likely come from the same people that were here last year.
As unexciting as a pitching staff as a whole sounds, the sheer success of the Giants on the mound makes 2010 seems even more exciting than usual. Top to bottom, their pitchers have been some of the best in the league over the last couple years.
Lincecum is simply only the headliner on a staff that includes an All-Star closer in Brian Wilson, a former Cy Young Award winner in Barry Zito, 2009 Minor League Pitcher of the Year Dan Runzler, and last year's holds leader Jeremy Affeldt.
Not to mention Matt "Big Sugar" Cain, Jonathan "No-Hitter" Sanchez, and Madison "Top Prospect" Bumgarner, who will most likely round out the starting rotation for the G's.
The Giants will once again be the pitching staff to beat in the NL West, and possibly in the league, so look forward to another year of impressive stats from the AT&T mound.
The Panda first came on the scene in 2008, blazing his way through the minors and making it to the bigs as the much-heralded best offensive prospect to emerge from the Giants farm system in a long time.
He followed that up with a 2009 season where he lead San Francisco is every offensive category and contended for the batting title for a majority of the season.
He's a free swinger, he's got the power, and he's got the attitude to bring fans around. How many times did the Panda masks present themselves at AT&T Park? It doesn't hurt that he also hit 25 HRs and drove in 90 runs in an offensively starved San Francisco team.
If this guy doesn't scream marketability, with his power, hustle, and overall awesome rotundity, I don't know what does. The Round Mound of Pound, as coined by teammate Barry Zito, will have his own bobblehead night at the park on April 24.
FRIDAY, APRIL 23!
Is there any question about this? The kid has been in the league for two and a half years and already has more awards than people who have careers of over 10 years.
Two All-Star selections. A strikeout title. Two-time winner of the Sporting News Pitcher of the Year. MLB 2K9 cover athlete. Oh, and two awards that are named after the all-time winningest pitcher, Cy Young.
And he's 25. Yeah.
The Freak just signed a two-year, $23 million deal with the Giants, and looks to go into 2010 with just as much momentum as he had last year. If he's not the one to put fans in the seats, I'm not really sure what will.
Any San Francisco fan knows that this is the best pitcher to come through the Bay in a while, arguably since Juan Marichal. Lincecum is electric, eclectic, and flat out exciting to watch. If he doesn't get you to support the Giants, nothing else will.