Sunday, March 29, 2009

Batter up: San Francisco Giants

It's that mystical, wonderful time of year where you commit to a baseball team who you know fully well won't win. This season, in honour of an popular Internet meme, we'll present 25 things about each team. At bat: The San Francisco Giants.
  1. There's a rationale to borrowing a pic of third baseman Pablo Sandoval to polish the turd dress up this preview. Cy Young Award Tim Lincecum is everyone else's first point of reference with Los Gigantes, so it's only natural to go the other way.

    Sandoval, a 22-year-old hittin' machine, could be good for 40 doubles and 20 homers in his first full season. Expect some of the day-to-day focus to be on his fielding. He's basically a DH on a National League team.

  2. You owe it to yourself to read the Driveline Mechanics deconstruction of Lincecum and the Tom Verducci Sports Illustrated cover story. Both capture what LinCyYoung is all about; one just hopes that his unique pitching motion doesn't put too much torque on his right elbow.

  3. It is factual yet intellectually dishonest to refer to the Giants having three former Cy Young winners. Randy Johnson is 45 years old. Barry Zito posted a 5.15 ERA last season and handed out free passes like he was running the theme park in Adventureland.

  4. Something which can't be ignored before you try to look all smart by taking the Giants to win the NL West: Their 72-90 record was built on winning 13-of-18 games vs. San Diego, including a 7-0 mark in one-run games vs. the Padres. Some kind of evenout is probably coming.

  5. Manager Bruce Bochy is probably going to wear the sack after this season if the Giants don't play at least .500 ball. The Giants are a combined 143-181 the past two seasons. It's not Bochy's fault, but someone usually ends up having to pay.

  6. The Tao of Stieb has vowed to eat a pound of raw bacon if centrefielder Aaron Rowand ever has a 20-homer season during his San Fran tenure. He only hit 13 last year, so The Tao's arteries are safe.

  7. The future Giants starting rotation includes right-hander Matt Cain and 19-year-old lefty Madison Bumgarner as the Nos. 2 and 3 starters. Bumgarner impressed Keith Law when he watched him the other day, although some say his fastball is "so trackable." Another assessment is that Bumgarner, "basically got signed only one pitch." (Jonathan Mayo,

  8. Left-hander Jonathan Sánchez, the No. 5 starter, averaged almost a strikeout per inning last season (157 in 158 frames) and almost no one noticed (guilty as charged).

  9. Another bright young hope is the 2008 first-rounder, catcher Buster Posey, who grades out well in Great Baseball Name quotient. The Giants have had only one catcher selected for the All-Star Game in the past 35 years, so you can imagine there's some breathless anticipation over Posey's ETA in the majors.

  10. The best guess at what happened to Zito is that word got around that he was toast if hitters could avoid laying off his famous curveball. His fastball topped out at 89 miles per hour last season, not enough to put fear into hitters. If the velocity comes back, the Giants might have something (or, not).

  11. Cain gets bonus points for telling reporters who were recently scrumming Lincecum, "Man, you guys are fishing. Those are the lamest questions I've ever heard." He was obviously just trying to save the newspaper industry.

  12. There is no truth that San Francisco bars are going to tie drink price to second baseman Emmanuel Burriss' slugging percentage (.329 last season).

  13. Is Bengie Molina that slow or were the hitters coming up behind him that bad? It's a little from column A, a little from column B. The catcher hit cleanup last season and scored only 46 runs all season. To his credit, he cut his passed balls from 16 in 2007 to just five, but he might have had a little to do with Lincecum's league-high 17 wild pitches.

  14. It's not every day you see a blog post listing a prospective Giants lineup which has Fred Lewis as the cleanup hitter and prediction that San Francisco will win the NL West, without even a hint of irony.

  15. Brian Wilson had 41 saves last season. It pays to be the closer for an anemic hitting team.

  16. Lefty Jeremy Affeldt should improve their middle-relief situation — or not.

  17. Is it mean to wonder if Rich Aurilia ever gets asked if he's the father or uncle of the Rich Aurilia who played shortstop for the Giants earlier this century?

  18. Flipping catcher Ronny Paulino to the Marlins for a low minor leaguer, pitcher Hector Correa, just seemed strange. Correa is a 21-year-old who hasn't got past Single-A, so he's not a big prize.

  19. Seventy-three per cent of respondents to a San Jose Mercury News poll, for what it is worth, believe the neighbouring Oakland Athletics should pursue a stadium deal in that city. The Giants, of course, can pull a MLSE to keep a team from invading their turf.

    It's not about the Giants, but reading Stephen Kaus' piece, Athletics Owner Wants Baseball in Oakland to Fail, sounds like the columns which should have been written in Montréal when Jeffrey Loria was killing off the Expos.
    "The TVs are few and far between and you cannot see the field while you wait. Combined with the indifferent "service" from the food servers, you can stand in line for two claustrophobic innings and not see a pitch or even hear a broadcast.

    "And the food is awful, particularly in comparison to the offerings at AT&T Park across the Bay. It is embarrassing to bring a Giants fan to a game. The staple is doughy hot dogs wrapped in tin foil. There are some specialty foods, but they taste like rubber. The only bright spot is some decent beer"

  20. Shortstop Edgar Renteria's numbers absolutely nosedived during his one season in Detroit and when that happens, it usually means a one-way ticket to San Francisco. The Giants put every team to shame with their sign-anyone-who-was-good-once policy.

  21. Renteria is still only 33 and has 2,070 career hits, but his dismal year in Detroit probably muted any talk of him getting to 3,000.

  22. Righty-hitting first baseman Angel Villalona bears watching; he's likely to start in high Single-A ball even though he won't be 19 years old until August.

  23. The Giants' Triple-A team, the Fresno Grizzlies, might have to re-jig their June 6 promotion, As Seen On TV night, in light of recent events:
    What do the Snuggie, the Clapper, the Chia Pet, and the ShamWow all have in common? They're all staples of the 'As Seen on TV' phenomenon known as the infomercial. "As Seen On TV" Night on Saturday, June 6th will honor all the products that seem appealing, at least when someone tries to sell them to you at 3 a.m. on a Saturday. The first 2,500 fans into the ballpark will receive their very own Grizzlies Shammy Cloth.
  24. It has next to nothing to do with the Giants, but you have to read this L.A. Times article about how a group of friends have rallied around a man named Pat Chawki, a high school teammate of the late Giants closer, Rod Beck. Chawki has "a rare disorder that renders him fully cognitive, but unable to move or speak."

    Chawki's old friends (including Beck's widow, Stacie), actually thought he had died — even announced it during their 20th high-school reunion.

  25. Barry Bonds will never spend day in jail.

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