Since the departure of Barry Bonds two seasons ago, the San Francisco Giants have undergone a youth movement—from the completely revamped and most feared starting rotation in the major leagues, to the likes of Pablo Sandoval and Eugenio Velez in the infield.
The Giants will be expecting big numbers from Sandoval, dubbed the “Kung-Fu Panda” by teammate Barry Zito...a nickname that has since stuck. They will also need contributions from Velez, who has been up and down for the last three seasons, as well as outfielder Fred Lewis.
Players like John Bowker and Buster Posey are no shoe-ins to make the team right out of spring training, but they will be relied on at some point to bring offense to a team who had the worst ranked run support in the entire National League last season, and not much better the year before.
But, with all the fresh, promising new faces in the lineup, the veterans will still have to lead the way if the team wants to make a run at the division title, and go anywhere in the playoffs.
Aaron Rowand, who saw time at lead off during the middle of last season, will begin there on opening day. He does not have the blazing speed that one would like at the top of the order, but his contact ability and power may be more appealing than anyone else in the Giants’ lineup at that spot.
Aubrey Huff was acquired in the off-season, and they desperately need power out of him. Huff had 15 HRs and drove in 85 RBI last season, but has hit 20 or more homeruns six times in his career.
Utility man Mark DeRosa will also be needed. He is likely to reach 20 homeruns because he is a right-handed batter, and in order to be a successful power hitter in AT&T Park you need to bat from the right side (save for a certain #25).
He can play 1B, 2B, 3B and outfield, but he will most likely be starting in left field come opening day, with Rowand at center, and Schierholtz in right.
Bengie Molina, who I feared would not sign with the Giants, ended up inking a one year deal with the team, and he will bring leadership as well as offense. He has had career numbers since coming to San Francisco, and has driven in no less than 80 RBI in each of his three seasons here.
But what will be more important is his ability to work the young pitching staff, which may be even younger if Kevin Pucetas and Madison Bumgarner make the team.
There really is not much to expect from Edgar Renteria, the Giants veteran shortstop. He hit well at the end of the year but that was not enough to erase a disastrous campaign in 2009. I would expect he gets the chance to start at short, but with how Juan Uribe ended last season, do not be surprised if he is even given a chance at all.
The Giants need power this season, and if Uribe can match what he did last year, then the team will be in for a treat.
Over the next few weeks I will be giving my stat predictions for hitters and pitchers on the Giants. The rebuild is slowly but surely getting there, and I think we are in for an exciting season in 2010.
Please check out my sports blog called "From New York to San Francisco" .