2006 Finish: 76-85, 3rd place in the NL West, 11.5 games back
Manager: Bruce Bochy, first year with the Giants
Comings: LHP Barry Zito, CF Dave Roberts, C Benji Molina, 1B Ryan Klesko
Goings: RHP Jason Schmidt, RF Moises Alou, 1B Shea Hillenbrand, C Mike Matheny
Offense: The offense goes as LF Barry Bonds goes. The everyday lineup is old and succeptible to breakdown. Bonds has looked good in spring so far, showing a spring in his step not exhibited by the surly slugger in quite awhile. Talk has been about batting Bonds third and he surprisingly has agreed to make the switch from the cleanup spot. Roberts was brought in to be the catalyst at the top of the lineup. 2B Ray Durham posted career highs with 26 homers and 93 RBIs while batting behind Bonds. He is projected to hit cleanup with Bonds being moved to the third spot. Molina was brought in to replace Matheny. Last year Molina hit .284 with 19 HRs and 57 RBIs. First base will be shared by veterans Rich Aurillia and Ryan Klesko. SS Omar Vizquel would like an extension but the Giants are not sure about giving a multiyear deal to a 40 year old shortstop. He had another very solid season hitting .295 while still exhibiting Gold Glove defense. RF Randy Winn struggled only hitting .262 and provides a lot less power than a typical right fielder gives a team. 3B Pedro Feliz is streaky. He had a solid first half and a poor second half. He strikes out too much and doesn’t walk enough.
Rotation: The Giants paid Zito big bucks to come in and be there number 1. He showed up to camp with different mechanics and larger legs and the Giants talked him in to going back to his old mechanics. He also should be much healthier than Schmidt who has had a history of injuries. RHP Matt Morris was really bad in his first year in the Bay. He went 10-15 with and ERA near 5. RHP Matt Cain was good in his first complete season. He went 13-12 with a 4.15 ERA but had an ERA of just over 3 the last two months of the season. LHP Noah Lowry is shaky but should continue to improve. The fifth spot in the rotation looks like it could come down between veteran RHP Russ Ortiz and the Giants’ number 1 prospect Tim Lincecum. LHP Jonathan Sanchez also has to be in the mix. More on both below.
Bullpen: This definitely is the Giants’ achilles heal. No one associated with the Giants really want the inconsistent Armandon Benitez back. The Giants say there best closer canidate is RHP Brian Wilson who has 1 career save. RHPs Brad Hennessey and Kevin Correia both pitched well out of the pen last year. The losers of the fifth starter competition could be put in the bullpen. LHP Steve Kline did post a 3.66 ERA but left handed hitters hit .266 off of him last year.
Tim Lincecum–Giants first rounder in last year’s draft out of the University of Washington. Listed as only 5’10” but has a big time arm. If he were 4-5 inches taller, he might have been the number 1 overall pick. Lots of comparisons to Pedro Martinez due to his stature. Struck out 58 in 32 innings in his pro debut. There is no debate on whether he will make the big leagues, but the debate is over if he projects as a starter or closer long term. He should make his Major League debut this summer.
Jonathan Sanchez–LHP–Projects to be a durable lefty starter but made his major league debut in 06 as a reliever based on the Giants’ need. He went 3-1 in limited action last year for the Giants.
Analysis: The bullpen is weak. Besides Zito and Cain the rest of the rotation is very mediocre. Then there is all the Bonds drama. Will he be indicted? Will he be hurt? How much will his chase of the homerun record affect the team. Some analysts are picking the Giants to win the West, but I would be surprised if they finish above .500.