2005 San Francisco Giants: It's Now or Never
For all those who pick the Giants to finish near the bottom of their division, I laugh at you. For all those who say Barry Bonds wont win the NL MVP award again this year, I crack a smile. If there's one thing the Giants have been the last eight seasons (besides controversy ridden over steroids) its consistent. The Giants have had a winning season, and finished either first or second in their division EIGHT STRAIGHT SEASONS. The NL MVP award has reigned in San Francisco FIVE STRAIGHT SEASONS, with Bonds winning the last four. You cant take anything away from a team that changes faces every year, changes playing style every year, and even changed managers, yet still performs consistently. I don't know how these guys always get it done, but you aren't hearing any complaints from this Giants fan. So now that we've cleared things up that the Giants will at the least finish in second in the NL West, going through 6 pitchers and giving up 7 runs in the bottom of the ninth to the Dodgers the day before the season ends to lose the division (ugh), lets go through each player and discuss how this old-timers club is gonna get it done this year.
First Base: Probably one of my favorite baseball players of all time, but also one of the suckiest players of all time, JT Snow. He does just enough in a few clutch moments (i.e. game tying 3-run home run of new Giants closer Armando Benitez in the 2000 NLDS, ironically a game the Giants lost to the Mets in extra innings because of a go ahead double by now Giants third basemen Eduardo Alfonzo) and just enough defensively to make you cringe as you write him into the lineup thinking of his offensive stats. Can we have a designated fielder? Surprisingly, Snow hit .327 last year, although in just 113 games in an injury ridden season. The thing to remember though is that he's a career .267 hitter, which means I would be surprised, obviously happily surprised if he puts up the same numbers this season. You gotta feel bad though for a guy that grew up rooting for the California Angels, played his first four full seasons with them, and then promptly loses his only world series appearance with the Giants to those same Angels in their only World Series appearance.
Second Base: Jeff Kent, oh how I miss thee, even if you did break your wrist performing motorcycle stunts in the parking lot of the Giants spring training facility, err I mean falling off your Texas sized truck while washing it. Even though Kent has been gone for two seasons, I think we should spend some time to discuss this character. He left San Francisco to play for his hometown Houston Astros, and then left Houston to play for his hometown Los Angeles Dodgers (he actually cried at the press conference because he was "coming home". How many hometowns does this guy have? Anyways, that was then and this is now. We have Ray-Ray Durham, quite possibly the most overrated leadoff hitter in baseball. Durham went from 8 straight seasons with at least 20 or 30 steals for the White Sox, to 7 and 10 in his first two years with the Giants (Greeaaaat). Is it good if your leadoff hitters average is .279? I think its a safe bet to say no. Durham did hit 17 home runs last year, which is always nice, but again what good is a leadoff hitter with a bad average, no speed, and few hits. Id much rather have some dude from Japan, or my beloved Jeff Kent.
Shortstop: What's with all these old guys? Well at least we have a young, up and coming shortstop in Omar Vizquel. I think it will be funny in two years when Snow, Vizquel, Grissom, Alou, Bonds, and Reuter all retire in the same season. I hope the Giants have a backup plan. Last year the Giants were paying Deivi Cruz $500,00 to put up a .292 average. This year they are paying Omar Vizquel $4 million a season to put up a .291 batting average. Its always smart to sign a 37 year old to a three year deal. He does fill the speed hole in the elderly Giants with 19 stolen bases last season for Cleveland. Vizquel is the kind of player a major market team who claims to have a mid-major market budget can afford.
Third Bade: Eduardo Alfonzo. Hahahahahahaha. What a loser. I bet Alfonzo didn't see two mediocre at best seasons ahead of him when he signed with the Giants and spent $47,000 on apology/thank you for the good times ads on top of taxis in New York City. Alfonzo actually hit .289 last year, an upgrade from his .259 average the year before. Sometimes I like to use batting average to blast a guy because of my personal feelings. Other time I ignore it when I prop a guy up because of my personal feelings ( on that note look for future posts about the best player in baseball Troy Glaus). Nonetheless, you know your a bad power hitter when Marquis Grissom hits double the amount of homers as you. The guy does look good though. Its obvious he gets his haircut before each game, and I guess you want to look good sitting on the bench. Because that's where I hope Felipe Alou, Giants manager will put him. Pedro Felix, the Giants other second basemen hit 22 home runs last season, and could also replace JT Snow when he gets hurt mid-season.
Left Field: Do I really need to talk about Barry Bonds. I guess I have a few things to say. Its kind of weird when the best player in baseball that everyone hates is on your team, and it kind of sucks to realize you have the best player in baseball but cant win a world series. I still think he will hit at least 40 home runs next season, and its kind of obvious the Giants are trying to push for a championship in his last few seasons. I will say one thing though. You don't hit .362 by taking steroids. You hit 73 home runs by taking steroids.
Center Field: What better to compliment a 40 year old left fielder than a 37 year old center fielder (just wait till we get to Moises Alou). I got to hand it to this guy though, pretty amazing. I don't joke around when I get to my outfield. The guy has hit 20 and 22 home runs in his last two seasons with the Giants, and promises to do the same again this year.
Right Field: Aloooouuu. The guys 38, but he hit 39 home runs last year. This will be the first time since I can remember, probably since they signed Bonds, that the Giants signed a guy who hit more than 30 home runs the previous season. The Giants at least have a steady backup for Bonds, after platooning from Alfonzo, to Snow to Santiago to Feliz to Aurilia to Grissom after losing Kent. If nothing else, Alou is going to get pitches to hit being behind Bonds. I wonder what Daddy will think of his sons urinating habits in the clubhouse. Lets just hope they do better together than they did in Montreal.
The Backups: Michael Tucker....at least he's not starting anymore.
Catcher: Now that we survived the "Cancer" (I actually liked the NL leader in RBIs for catchers) AJ Pierzynski, the Giants picked up Mike Matheny. Supposedly, his defense and pitcher management is so good that he is worth the money he's making. But I cant help but cringe at that .247 career bating average. Add that with the pitchers spot and that's two automatic outs every season. But I guess the cardinals still got it done with him last year. He's a moral and ethical upgrade at the position for the Giants, after Santiago taking roids and Pierzynski kicking the Giants trainer in the balls (true story). Lets hope ethics wins championships.
Pitching!: Jason Schmidt can be the best pitcher in baseball. He can also be pretty mediocre at times. Nonetheless, the goatee and snarl scares me, and that's why I think he will win at least 15 games next year. Brett Tomko was horrible until he saw a sports psychologist. Now he's unstoppable. Lets hope for more of the same. Kirk Reuter is an old country boy slack jaw from Illinois who the clubhouse lovingly calls Woody because of his resemblance to the Toy Story character. That's fantastic. A 9-12 record last year isn't. Noah Lowry is the giants second lefty in the rotation, and this midseason call up was 6-0 as a starter, and amazingly has yet to lose a game in the majors. He could be the next Livan Hernandez, who started 10-0 as a rookie. Lets hope he doesn't pull a Hernandez and blow game 7 of the world series (still a little bit bitter here). Finally, the last starter is from my home island of Oahu in Hawaii, Jerome Williams. He's pretty good for growing up in ghetto Waipahu. On the downside the only Giants game I went to last year he walked the bases loaded and then gave up a bases clearing double before leaving the game injured and not returning for the rest of the season. I guess I'm bad luck. The bullpen flat out sucks, as everyone saw last year. The Giants traded their set up man Felix Rodriguez to the Phillies mid season for Ricky Ledee, who had a bout 5 hits for them the rest of the season. They then promptly blew at least 10 late leads in the last few months to miss the playoffs by a lone 1 game. In two seasons they traded set up men Felix Rodriguez and Joe Nathan, and lost Robb Nen to a career ending injury. Too bad the last game Robb Nen ever pitched in a fabulous career is game 6 of the 2002 World Series where he blew a lead in the 8th inning that would have won the Giants the championship. I'm assuming Matt Herges will take over that role this year, since he pitched himself out of the closer role last season. The good news, they got Armando Benitez as their closer. The bad news, he really sucks under pressure. All I can say about this bullpen is well see.
Projected Starting Lineup:
Projected Starting Rotation:
Well see how things work out. Both the Dodgers and Diamondbacks have lost and added superstar players, the Padres will continue to grow as a team, and the Rockies, well, they will always lose all their road games. The Giants may not be the preseason favorite to win the west, but then again when are they, and things always seem to work out.