Sizing up the 2008 San Francisco Giants

Lyell MarksCorrespondent IDecember 13, 2007

After watching all of the major bats dissapear from the market, the San Francisco Giants landed one of the last marque free agents available in Aaron Rowand.

The two parties agreed on a five year, 60 million dollar contract, which cements Rowand as the Giants' centerfielder of the future.

But at 30 years old, Rowand is hardly budding with potential.

The Giants know exactly what they will get from Rowand: a .290 average, 20-25 homers, and maybe 80 RBI's. He isn't the type of free agent who has the potential to bust out and turn into a tremendous signing, but at the same time he is a safe and rather affordable middle-of-the-lineup hitter.

He also symbolizes Giants General Manager Brian Sabean's new philosophy for the future: small ball, pitching, and strong defense.

The rotation is set with Barry Zito, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Noah Lowry, and possibly Johnathan Sanchez. Zito will have a better year in 2008 after a rough first season in the National League. Cain could possibly be the breakout candidate, after posting an impressive 3.65 ERA in 07'. Lincecum and Lowry are also both reaching the prime of their careers, and with a little run support could each surpass the twelve win mark.

The lineup, on the other hand, is completely void of a power hitter, and will likely fail to showcase a 30 homerun threat. Thus, Sabean must build a small ball image and rely on clutch hitting and key execution.

Speed will also be a new weapon for the Giants, as Rajai Davis, Dave Roberts, Kevin Frandson, and Randy Winn are all capable of stealing bases. The middle of the lineup will rely on big seasons from Pedro Feliz and Bengie Molina—high expectations for career underachievers.

That leaves the Giants in a tough situation for the remainder of the offseason. Do they attempt to land Hideki Matsui from the Yankees for Lowry, or do they stand pat and hope the lineup scrapes together enough runs to support the strong rotation?

I think a better move would be to send Lowry to the Rockies for 3B Garret Adkins, which would allow Colorado to start prospect Ian Stewart and at the same time supply the Giants with a young, middle-of-the-order hitter.

Even with the Rowand signing, the San Francisco's lineup needs another tuneup or two before the Giants can start threatening in the NL West. It would be a terrible shame to watch one of the brightest rotations in the league be diminished by a lack of run support and a shaky bullpen.