Young Giants Show Promise

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The San Francisco Giants are coming off their fourth consecutive losing season, which hasn’t happened since the 1970s. The Giants did not add any big value during the free agent or trade markets during the offseason. They hope that they will see a big improvement from their young offensive players. Managing partner Bill Neukon hopes to make the Giants as a farm system, to finish .500 or better in the 2009 seasn, and do well in 2010.

The Giants’ pitching can help them in the NL West. Tim Lincecum won the Cy Young Award last season although he didn’t lead the NL in victories or ERA, but he led the majors in strikeouts. Matt Cain has the stuff to be a 20-game winner. Barry Zito has yet to live up to his $126 million contract, although he made adjustments in his delivery last season. In December, the Giants signed Randy Johnson to a one-year, $8 million deal; the Giants believe that Johnson will do well in AT&T Park. Jonathan Sanchez comes off a first full season as a starter, but he may go to the bullpen when Noah Lowry returns to good health; Lowry had two surgeries last season. Brian Wilson had 41 saves; Wilson did make the All-Star team, although he had a high ERA. The Giants had problems in the seventh and eighth innings, so they signed free agents Jeremy Affeldt and Bob Howry. Alex Hinshaw, Jack Taschner and Sergio Romo will have important roles in the bullpen.

Omar Vizquel left the Giants after spending four seasons with the team. To replace Vizquel, the Giants signed Edgar Renteria. Renteria had a terrible season with Detroit, but the Giants hope he will do well. This season, Renteria will have to refute scouting reports that he is becoming sluggish. Emmanuel Burriss will compete for second base with Eugenio Velez and Kevin Frandsen; Burriss had a knee injury that bothered him in the Arizona Fall League, otherwise he would have kept his starting job at shortstop.

The Giants will start Pablo Sandoval at third base, which is a position he played sparingly in the minors; the Giants have a lot riding on Sandoval and he may pull it off. The Giants’ leading candidate for first base is Travis Ishikawa due to his offensive showing at the end last season. Aaron Rowand did well after he signed with the Giants in May, but the Giants plan to rest Rowand more often since Fred Lewis and Randy Winn are accessible. The Giants will think that moving Rowand to fifth in the lineup will help him become a 20 homerun.

Veteran catcher Bengie Molina is in the final year of his contract and he will probably try-out for other clubs since the Giants will use top pick Buster Posey. Molina isn’t the best at blocking balls and he is among the slowest runners in baseball. The Giants don’t have much punch on the bench. Nate Schierholtz, who participated in the 2008 Olympics, will be the fourth outfielder and Dave Roberts will play sparingly as a fifth outfielder, although his bunting skills and his speed will be useful in close games. The Giants will use Steve Holm to occasionally replace Sandoval.

The Giants will have to utilize their young players and their bullpen in order to do well in the NL West. Their season opener is against Milwaukee on April 7.

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