2007 Record: 71-91
Fifth in the NL West – 19 games back
OF Aaron Rowand (signed as free agent from Philadelphia Phillies)
RP Victor Santos (minor league invite to spring training)
No Longer Giants among Men
RP Scott Atchison (minor league invite to spring training with Boston Red Sox)
OF Barry Bonds (free agent)
3B Pedro Feliz (free agent)
1B Ryan Klesko (free agent)
SP Russ Ortiz (free agent)
The Skinny: The biggest piece of news for the San Francisco Giants offseason came during the regular season: the team would not be bringing back slugger Barry Bonds. Instead, the organization wanted to rebuild a mediocre farm system and build their major league club around Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, and Barry Zito.
Needless to say, that last for all of about six minutes. The front office inked Aaron Rowand to a ridiculous contract and brought back shortstop Omar Vizquel. It is going to be another putrid season in San Francisco; the only difference between this season and last is that Bonds will not be playing in left field.
Strengths: The starting pitching should be pretty darned good at the very top. While Lincecum and Cain aren’t Danny Haren and Brandon Webb, who front the best 1-2 punch in the National League in Arizona, they are very good. Both are high strikeout pitchers with impressive stuff and the ability to dominate games. If Barry Zito shows it wasn’t only about the money and Noah Lowry continues to improve, that’s a very formidable 1-4 in the rotation.
Weaknesses: The offense is going to be pretty bad this upcoming season. Rowand may be just a contract year player (see the accompanying fantasy preview for more), while guys like Bengie Molina and Randy Winn are not middle-of-the-order bats. Pitching in the spacious AT&T Park against this lineup is any pitcher’s dream.
Relief pitching probably should not be listed as a strength either. Merkin Valdez should be given the closer’s role next season (again, see the accompanying fantasy preview for more on that), but there are not many guys who can effectively set him up. Brad Hennessey and Randy Messenger are both average pitchers, but will be given high leverage situations in the later innings of games. Beyond that, it gets ugly.
LF Dave Roberts
SS Omar Vizquel
LF Randy Winn
CF Aaron Rowand
C Bengie Molina
1B Dan Ortmeier
2B Ray Durham
3B Rich Aurilia
Set Randy Messenger
Set Brad Hennessey
Closer Merkin Valdez
Keys to success: An absolute miracle. The Giants are going to be desperate for wins in 2008, the 50th anniversary of their moving west. At least last season gave fans a chance to cheer (or boo) Bonds, but this year the two studs in the rotation are the biggest gate attraction. There are some positive things Giants fans can hope for, however. They are the following: 1) Cain and Lincecum continue their development into aces; 2) Zito and Rowand show that they are capable of earning their contracts; and 3) getting to spend yet another season in a beautiful ballpark
Prediction: The Giants will likely lose 100 games, which should put them on track for an early pick in the 2009 draft. That will go a long way toward helping them restock their farm system, which was improved greatly last season. Furthermore, it is always a treat to watch Vizquel take infield before the game. However, 2008 will be a long season for the Giants.