Friday, March 18, 2005

 

2005 Season Preview: San Francisco Giants

With the second knee surgery on Barry Bonds yesterday, and the addition of such hitting machines as Mike Matheny to this lineup (mild sarcasm there everyone) I am smelling a third place finish in the NL West. Or maybe that is just the smell of the Old Folks Home that is SBC Park. Either way, on to the transactions...

Mike Matheny, C: He can't hit at all. His defense is good, but will probably decline from here on out. He is an aging catcher who was just given a rich contract to play for San Francisco. Yorvit Torrealba was a much much better option, and they already had the rights to him.

Armando Benitez, RP: Benitez is one of the more dominant closers in recent memory, but he does not get a lot of the credit he deserves. Even if he regresses from last season's insane lines, he will be an upgrade over the horror show SF trotted out in 2004 after learning Nen would not be back once again.

Moises Alou, OF: 39 HR's with Chicago in 2004...I see more like roughly 20 in San Francisco this year. This is not the masher that San Fran may think they are bringing in, and he is playing the role of resident savior whenever Barry Bonds has to be out of the lineup...not a good thing for this team. Expect decline due to age as well as the team/park switch.

Omar Vizquel, SS: Vizquel's deal started off the free agent acquisition period, and it was too rich for anyone's blood. It is a very perplexing deal, as Vizquel will make more money the more the declines. The best part of this deal was that it made Kenny Williams knickers get in a twist. That's a Rocko's Modern Life quote for all of you who aren't in the know...I feel slightly ashamed.

Wayne Franklin, SP: I don't remember when he got to this team, but I threw him here. He won't do anything substantial, and probably won't even make the rotation.

1) Ray Durham
2) J.T. Snow
3) Moises Alou
4) Barry Bonds
5) Marquis Grissom
6) Edgardo Alfonzo
7) Omar Vizquel
8) Mike Matheny

The lineup starts out on a good note, even though I expect massive decline from J.T. Snow, whose second half of 2004 gave him a serious abberation on his resume. Of course, even though that was part of the reason the Giants only finished an inch behind the Dodgers in 04', Brian Sabean decided to pick up Snow's option, as well as the options of everyone else on the team who overachieved and are bound to disapoint in 05'. Ugh. Alou = dropoff. Bonds = Bonds. Grissom has actually done very well in his time with SF, unlike Alfonzo. Expect decline from Vizquel possibly this year, and at least by next year. Matheny is the quintessential black hole #8 hitter, surpassed in his ineptitude only by Brad Ausmus of Houston. What is it about catchers who can't hit living off a defensive reputation they may have long sense failed to live up to?

1) Jason Schmidt
2) Kirk Rueter
3) Brett Tomko
4) Jerome Williams
5) Noah Lowry

This rotation worries me for a few reasons. Schmidt will be a Cy Young candidate as long as he is healthy, but that could be a big if, thanks to the damage Dusty Baker and Felipe Alou have done to his arm. Kirk Rueter has been pitching with smoke and mirrors his entire career, and I keep waiting for the wheels to fall off. They haven't yet though, so kudos to him. Brett Tomko probably is not a #3 starter. At least people don't feel like he is a #1 anymore; any progress beats nothing I guess. Jerome Williams is regarded highly within the organization, but then again they also like J.T. Snow's bat, Vizquel's current glove, and gave up draft picks to the Royals for Michael Tucker. I don't know who to trust anymore!

Armando Benitez presents a massive upgrade for the bullpen, although Joe Nathan probably would have done fine. And he sure as hell would not have kicked Stan Conte in the crotch. (Oh A.J. Pierzynski, how no one will miss you, not even for a second). The bullpen was a major weakness last year, but adding Benitez will tie up a lot of loose ends for them.

The Giants have improved in their bullpen, but their rotation honestly didn't make any real substantial gains, and the lineup, while improving slightly, will lose some due to the addition of Matheny over Pierzynski at catcher and whatever time Bonds loses. The Giants record without Bonds last season was less than spectacular; the 2003 Detroit Tigers might have laughed at the way they played. Third place is where they will stay, if only because I refuse to acknowledge the Diamondbacks "progress"...or lack thereof.

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