As the reigning champs, the San Francisco Giants have a lot more to lose in 2011.
If the team thought last season was tough, get ready for life to get harder repeating it all over again.
Unlike being crowned champs, keeping that title again successfully is when a team becomes a dynasty.
For the Giants it would cement them in sports history; as no National League team since the 75’-76’ Cincinnati Reds, also known as ‘The Big Red Machine” has been able to accomplish the feat of repeat.
Well, the Giants do have their own ‘Machine’ whose ass is whiter than Powder. Still, whether San Fran’s version can keep his thong for 162 games is a whole different story.
Let’s take a look at the self-proclaimed ‘Castoffs and misfits’:
The young staff is lead by 26-year-old Tim Lincecum, who in his first four seasons has been an All-Star three times and won back-to-back CY Young Awards in 08’ and 09’. This guy is called ‘the freak’ because he is that good; posting career stats that read 907 strikeouts, a 3.04 ERA over a total of 811 innings pitched.
Look for Lincecum to only get better with the added experience and a newly added slider that debut in September to be thrown for a full season. As the saying goes, “where there’s dope, there’s hope.”
Three more youngsters in Jonathan Sanchez, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner follow Lincecum and if they can all maintain 2010 performances that would be welcomed. It would be ideal and more likely that they all take steps forward this rotation is not one any team will want to face.
The bullpen is pretty solid. Closer Brian Wilson racked up a major league-leading 48 saves last season and my dreams say he remains one of the best in baseball again.
BUSTER POSEY IS THE REAL THING
Catcher Buster Posey is a player that doesn’t come around often, as haven’t heard “the Giants version of Derek Jeter” said about anyone. Posey is just 23 and only became the full time Giants catcher on July 1, 2010, but that was all the time needed.
In 108 games, Posey posted a .305 batting average; hit 18 homeruns, 23 doubles, 67 RBIs and 124 hits. He also guided the pitching staff and the team to a record of 63-37, with 11 being postseason wins. Posey’s stats without question go from great to superior, but that is not why he is already a household name.
Posey displays a personality well beyond his years. He is a leader, humble, not attention seeking but holds guys accountable, as well as himself. Posey has baseball fans everywhere watching him for all the right reasons; he is what every team dreams to find. Well, the Giants certainly have found theirs in Posey.
The City of San Francisco hadn’t seen a playoff game since 2003 and since the team’s arrival in 1969 the city had never won a World Series Championship until last season.
Now that fact is just ancient history, and the City by the Bay has caught baseball fever. Nothing inspires a team more than the fans.
A lot has been written that it is the Giants team chemistry that is the glue, but who doesn’t get along when you’re winning? Fact, the fans are the oil when chemistry causes rust.
Look for Giants top prospect 1B Brandon Belt to debut mid-season, as he is major league ready.
Following a dreadful 2010, Pablo Sandoval got to work in the off-season. Sandoval dropped 38 pounds and if he can get back to 2009 form of hitting 25 homeruns, that is good news.
NO MOVES IS BAD NEWS
There was no comfort provided by the Giants only off-season moves of adding Miguel Tejada to be their shorting shortstop, resigning Pat the Bat and handing Audrey Huff $22 million bucks for two more seasons for what he did in 2010.
Pat Burrell might lose his regular outfield spot to Huff and we have all witnessed how unproductive Pat is with the bat as a DH. Huff’s deal prolongs seeing 1B prospect Brandon Belt promotion, and Tejada playing the most athletic position on the field for $6.5 million bucks….need I say more? Actually yes, it was a big waste of money, except Burrell inking a 1 for $1 million.
Wouldn’t getting an extra starting pitcher in case of injury have been a smarter move?
THE PHILLIES AND ROCKIES
Fact is the Phillies got much better and I don’t think they meant to lose to the Giants in the 2010 NLCS. Actually, the Phillies should have won because they were better last season. If the Giants want to look at an NL team as models for success, look to all aspects of what goes on in Philadelphia.
The Rockies off-season was even better than Philadelphia’s by inking stars SS Troy Tulowitzki and OF Carlos Gonzalez to long-term deals. Also, the Rockies were injury riddled last season and seemed more determined than ever. The Rockies bullpen is awesome, pitching is good enough and the bats can hit which makes for a very competitive team.
TOO MUCH ATTENTION
Champions draw media attention, but when players are acting more Hollywood than athlete it doesn’t fare well. Look I am all for having a personality, growing a beard and even a ‘Machine’ for a mascot, but having Showtime cameras documenting a team’s every move for a reality show will not fare well. Especially, in addition to the added media interest that comes with every championship team.If I were a Giants fan, closer Brian Wilson’s recent trip to Charlie Sheen’s house as an advisor for the making of Major League 4 (really 4?) would disappoint me. Not because it was Sheen, I am no jury but because Wilson a certified ninja genius is a good baseball player and whether he want to be remembered as one is at stake. Do you think Nick Swisher would ever ask Joe Girardi if he could fly to see Sheen’s as an advisor for Major League 4? Point is Wilson awesomeness comes from being a regular nut that doesn’t care about hanging with Hollywood.
Maybe the Giants could get Hank Steinbrenner on retainer from the Yankees, as Hank would make things real clear, real fast. Considering Hank thought the Yankees overly celebrated last season by only making it to the ALCS.
The Giants will be known as a fluke and the attention from both media and fans will flee fast. They set the bar high and distraction has made teams miss the playoffs before.
2011 NL West Prediction:
GM Brian Sabean will have to get to work like last season to improve the team. Even if the Giants take the Wild Card or win the West again, getting past Cincinnati, Philadelphia or Colorado will be tough act to follow in 2011. Every game is more meaningful to the competition when playing the reigning champs. It doesn’t seem like this franchise has done much to get better, or that the group can deal with the attention. The forecast says San Fran will come in Wild, as too much has to go right for the second time.
Regarding a repeat is a tough a call this early, but it just doesn’t look so good right now.
- Giants’ Buster Posey a hit with fans (sfgate.com)
- Giants don’t want Buster Posey ‘resting’ at first (sfgate.com)
- Fans of all ages are mobbing Posey (sfgate.com)
- San Francisco Giants as fun-loving as ever, but can they repeat? (sports.espn.go.com)
- After Tim Lincecum, rotation’s order not set (sfgate.com)
- Posey prepares to build on Rookie of the Year (theglobeandmail.com)
- San Francisco Giants: 10 Reasons To Wait Until June To Call Up Brandon Belt (bleacherreport.com)