As the San Francisco Giants attempt to repeat as World Series champions, there are some major concerns that face them.
In 2010, GM Brian Sabean did a remarkable job infusing the team with players who helped lead the Giants to their first-ever championship in San Francisco. Sabean may very well need to work his magic again in 2011.
Two major areas of concern have become painfully apparent with the 2011 team. First off, the Giants' fourth and fifth starting pitchers have not pitched anywhere near expectations.
Barry Zito, an expected innings eater, injured his foot and could be out a month or more. Truth be told, he wasn't pitching well prior to his injury anyway.
In his three starts this season, in only 13 innings, Zito allowed an alarming 20 base runners, for a WHIP of 1.538. Zito is 0-1 with an ERA of 6.23. The Giants would have been satisfied if Zito threw his customary 200 innings and came away with a .500 record. That's not going to happen.
A lot was expected of 21-year-old Madison Bumgarner coming into this season. Bumgarner pitched very well late in 2010 and was great in the postseason, going 2-0 with an ERA of 2.18 and WHIP of 1.113.
Unfortunately, that success has not carried over into 2011. In his four starts, all Giants losses, Bumgarner has shown the propensity for giving up the big inning. In addition, he and Zito have not gone deep into games, which causes a lot of stress on the Giants bullpen.
Bumgarner is 0-3 with an ERA of 7.79 this year. He has thrown only 17.1 innings in his four starts, allowing 25 hits and 10 walks for a WHIP of 2.019. Bumgarner's velocity is still good, but he seems to have lost confidence and is also getting rattled by questionable umpire calls.
With Zito out, Bumgarner will get a few more starts to turn things around, but if he continues to struggle, a bus ticket to Fresno may be in his future.
The Giants have only one pitcher who looks even remotely ready to step in for Zito or Bumgarner, and that's veteran Ryan Vogelsong.
At 33 years of age, Vogelsong looked very good in spring training, but in seven major-league seasons his career ERA is 5.77. His career record of 10-22 also indicates that he is hardly someone the Giants want to count on for the long haul.
The other key area of concern for the Giants is at shortstop where Miguel Tejada's defense has cost the team two or three games already. Offensively, Tejada has also struggled as his .205 batting average and .240 OBP bear out.
Tejada, who will be 37 years old in May, looks slow in the field and at the plate. Utility infielder Mike Fontenot is a solid sub, but he is best utilized in a reserve role, as opposed to playing every day.
The Giants could very well be in the market for starting pitching and an upgrade at shortstop, as we get closer to the trade deadline.
I will identify 10 potential trade targets for the Giants in the upcoming months. In order to be a realistic trade candidate, the player will be playing for a team that has fallen out of the playoff race and also may command a high salary or be a free agent after this season.