Could this be the year the Giants step into the play-off picture?
With Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito, and Jonathan Sanchez all back for another year, it is pretty simple to project how they will fare in the upcoming season. Super prospect Madison Baumgarner may pin down the 5th starter spot, and that could spell trouble for teams in the NL West. Scouting reports suggested a mid 90s fastball, but Bumgarner consistently threw between 88-92 during his short stint with the big club. This could be attributed to a 20 year old running out of steam late season, but if he comes out of the gate throwing his mid 90′s fastball, with an above average curve and deceptive delivery, he could be a legitimate 5th starter. Behind ace Tim Lincecum (second straight Cy Young) and emerging ace Matt Cain, the ’09 Giants knocked on the door of the playoffs but ultimately succumbed to a mostly moribund offense (3rd to last in NL runs). With GM Brian Sabean signing more aging bats this offseason, it is considered by some unlikely that the Giants offense improves enough to get them over the hump. But free agents Mark Derosa, Bengie Molina, Aubrey Huff and re-up Juan Uribe will add some pop to a line-up thirsting for more power. Up the middle – Edgar Renteria, coming off a sub par year but a .288 career hitter, and Freddie Lewis (.293 last year) should both add solid bats to the Giants lineup.
The post Barry Bonds Giants will continue a steady three year climb and could possibly wrench the division away from the Dodgers, a team with troubled ownership and more than a few question marks. The tea leaves show Pablo ‘Kung Fu Panda’ Sandoval and Matt Cain/Tim Lincecum as possibly serious contenders for NL MVP and Cy Young respectively, while Derosa pounds out his 25 HRs, showing late career power and other young Giants work to impress.
Prediction: It all spells 90 wins and a run at the NL West title.