The 2009 Rays? How About The...San Francisco Giants

Andrew PhillipsCorrespondent IOctober 28, 2008

In January of 2008, I was sitting in the MGM Sportsbook in Las Vegas with a friend of mine; another Yankee fan. I reached behind all of the spreadsheets and stats to get a copy of the 2008 World Series championship odds. I scanned through it briefly with my friend, and then I came to the bottom.

The Tampa Bay Rays were listed at 150/1. So, naturally, my heart began to race, and I asked my friend his opinion. Now being the typical jaded Yankee fans we are, we both quickly discounted this seemingly crazy notion. I'm praying for a Philadelphia championship more than anything. I'm not letting this happen again.

Here's why.

Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, Barry Zito, Noah Lowry. The starting five. Lincecum is the cream of the crop of the N.L. Cain is a great pitcher, who, in the last two seasons, has gone 15-30 because of poor run support. He struck out 186 last year, and now, with the alleged brewing (no pun intended) of a trade with Milwaukee for J.J. Hardy and quite possibly Prince Fielder, the Giants would lose a top-end starter, but look at the run support they'd suddenly get.

Sanchez is heading into his second season after a productive rookie outing. Finishing 9-12 with an ERA a touch over five, he now has the experience needed to step up and become a solid starter in the Giants' rotation.

Zito. Barry Zito. If Zito gets on track, watch out. He had, at one point, more talent in his curveball than most pitchers had in their entire pitching repertoire. Lowry, people seem to forget, finished 2007 with a record of 14-8 with an ERA of 3.92. 14-8! Think about it. Let it sink in. Lowry, if he can regain his form, can be a top pitcher in the league, let alone the N.L. West.

With all the talk of Padres P Jake Peavy on the move, and Rockies OF Matt Holliday as well, the N.L. West stands to be weaker than ever—if that's possible. Imagine if the Dodgers don't sign Manny Ramirez and trade Rafael Furcal. The weakest division in baseball just got a lot weaker.

From Yahoo news: SS Emmanuel Burriss was hitting .321 (no homers, six RBI, seven steals in nine attempts) through 15 games for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League. GM Brian Sabean said he expects Burriss to be an everyday player in 2009. With SS Omar Vizquel not being re-signed, Burriss is favored to be the starting shortstop. Burriss hit .283 last season in 95 games with the big club. Look for nothing less in '08.

If Burriss plays regularly, Randy Winn returns and is solid as he can be, and Fred Lewis continues to evolve into a slick outfielder who's a threat on the basepaths and can swing a bat, as well as the Giants bringing in some power to help out Aaron Rowand, whether it be in the form of Prince Fielder, Jason Giambi, or Adam Dunn, the Giants will be a force to be reckoned with.

With their pitching alone, they were 26-26 after Aug. 1, 2008. They were 44-63 before that. The reason for that turnaround was the infusion of youth. Now, two years removed from the Barry Bonds saga, the Giants can focus on youth, talent, and playing the game because they actually like it.

Cain is making $950,000. Lincecum makes $405,000. In time, they will make the money. For now, let them play for the love of the game. Sound familiar? Watch the World Series and those guys from St. Petersburg.