San Francisco Giants: 10 Barriers Between Them and an NLCS Rematch With Philly
The Phillies have been a hot topic during the offseason of 2010-11. Jayson Werth is out, Cliff Lee is in and people are talking about perhaps witnessing the best pitching rotations in baseball history.
Let's not jump the gun, but on the same note, it may be tougher for the Giants to repeat as the NL West becomes more competitive.
Bumgarner and Sanchez Lose Their Luster
Both pitchers are young and full of World Series confidence. I love their ability to fill the void in the rotation, and personally believe they will repeat their 2010 performance. But what if they falter?
The Giants have revolved around their pitching, and without two of their key components, it might be Barry Zito that has to step up. I don't think that would take them to the NLCS.
No Renteria Equals No Magic Bullet
Edgar Renteria can't repeat his late-2010 performance, can he?
If the Giants don't make a huge run late in the season, one's left to wonder if Renteria will be reliable down the stretch in 2011. He certainly proved us wrong last season.
Cody Ross Can't Do That Again, Can He?
Cody Ross seemed to be in the right spot at the right time the entire postseason. He almost single-handedly saved the Giants in every series in the playoffs. Surely, he can't do that in 2011, right?
Cody Ross is a low-key guy, and it wouldn't surprise me if his newfound confidence brings him more of a solid role early in the season. Keep in mind, he's never started the season in SF. He was a late-season addition last year.
The NL Westward Expansion
The NL West is no slouch. That's the NFC West your thinking about.
The Diamondbacks have locked up Justin Upton for five more years, signed Zack Duke and Xavier Nady, and are looking to go after more players before the season kicks off.
The Dodgers hope that Juan Uribe can now turn into a Giant Killer. Somehow I doubt that, but I also doubted Uribe would be a key component in the World Series last season.
The Rockies have made it clear they plan on a future, offering Cargo a huge deal. They also re-signed Tulowitzki and De La Rosa, and acquired Ty Wiggington.
The Pads don't look so hot right now, but time will tell. They might be headed to the NL West cellar.
My point: The NL West will provide competition, similar to the NL East. Both teams may not even make it back to the NLCS.
The NL East
Similar to the NL West, the East has had their share of talent improvement.
The Braves look like a solid contender, and with the Nationals opening their checkbook, it wouldn't be surprising if the Phillies were challenged a bit more after the Giants exposed their pitching staff, as well as former Ranger Cliff Lee.
I don't know if I buy this Phillies 2011 team. It's like the Miami Heat: They've assembled the best staff, but can they handle business after being dubbed a sure-fire NLCS team?
Phils Pitchers Tank
Highly unlikely, but as I referred to in the last slide, it may not be enough to get them to the NLCS. The Giants really poked a hole in the Phillies pitching staff, and Cliff Lee is dominant against everyone except the Giants.
It should be interesting to see how they start the season, but in a league of injuries and fatigue, who knows if the rotation stays intact?
I'm going to be on the underdog side and say they won't make the NLCS, let alone the World Series.
Dodgers Rally for Division, Giants Forced to Make Wild Card
With the Dodgers looking to be a force in the NL West, the Giants really need to have a good first half next year. Billingsley is dominant when he wants to be, and could anchor the staff. He's been the guy, and with a little help, could get a lot more recognition.
The Giants could play the Phills in a Wild Card matchup, but it's no secret they can win in the underdog role. It's hard to count them out against the Phillies in a series, but for sake of argument, this would deny an NLCS matchup.
Lincecum Has Bad Start to 2011, Giants Can't Regain Position
Look, I'm a Bay Area guy. I'm not saying this will happen, I'm merely hypothesizing ways that the Giants could fall from grace, and this is certainly one of them. You'd have to think that he will be figured out eventually, right?
Probably not, as his second Cy Young Award was as impressive as the first.
With Offense Lacking, Giants Deal Pitchers for Hitters in 2011 Backfire
Again, merely hypothetical, but if the Giants can't score runs, it will be a frustrating year. I say that because it would be just that, a lot of one- and two-run losses.
If that does happen, Bumgarner and Sanchez could be on the market.
The Giants are in a great position, but with the target on their back, I wouldn't be shocked to see some struggles in guys that are being looked upon as the future stars in SF.
Both Squads Lose in Playoffs as Division Leaders
Could the Cardinals and the Rockies spoil the moment for the Giants-Phillies rematch?
The Rockies could be a Wild Card sensation this season, and never forget about the St. Louis Cardinals. The fact of the matter is, many teams will have their shot. It all comes down to the mental aspects. The Cardinals could certainly make things interesting.