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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Giants Prepare For Atlanta

As I'm sure you'll well aware of by now, the Giants will be playing host to the Braves in this upcoming National League Divisional Series, so they first 2, as well as any potential game 5 will all be played in San Francisco. And Game 1 is just over 24 hours away!

The Braves, who had a near identical record as the Giants at 91-71, have a team that is somewhat similar to the Giants' bunch. They both had a 2010 rookie breakout and become one of their leaders, and they also used a few in-season additions (Derek Lee and Alex Gonzalez for Atlanta) which really put them over the hump. They'll also rely heavily on an above average starting rotation and bullpen to help get them through games, much like the Giants do. The three-game pitching match-ups are setting up to be incredible, with Lincecum/Lowe on Thursday, followed by Hansen/Cain, then Hudson/Sanchez, as there really isn't an arm in that bunch that isn't throwing with confidence right now. However, the one area in which I think the Giants, surprisingly, have a leg up on Atlanta, is their offense. After bringing in Pat Burrell, Jose Guillen and Cody Ross and with the arrival of Buster Posey, the Giants lineup was inserted with a bunch of guys who can hit the long ball. I mean, I've been going over the lineups that Bobby Cox has been trotting out there lately, and it's far from the Raffy Furcal/Jones' Bros. days, I'll tell you that much. Where the Braves do certainly have the Giants though, is in the playoff experience department, which the Giants have very little of.

I've always been one to try and downplay playoff experience, but there's no doubt, it can play it's part and take it's toll during crucial points of games. What I am trying to focus on rather, is the Giants huge offensive advantage they'll have over Atlanta (still feels werid to type that the Giants have an offensive advantage on teams now), and have looked like a playoff team over the last couple of weeks. This 3-day break will hopefully give Andres Torres some extra time to heal, as the Giants are going to need him at the top of his game leading off and in center. Other than that, I'd assume that we'll see the rest of the lineup composed pretty much the way it was over the last few weeks with Sanchez 2nd, Huff 3rd, Posey 4th, Burrell 5th, Guillen 6th, Uribe 7th and Sandoval 8th. I've been waiting for Sandoval to catch fire all year, and if he could do it now in the playoffs, how fitting would that be? As you can probably tell, I'm pretty fired up about the Giants' chances in this series, but I am cursed when it comes to predicting outcomes, so I'm going to hold off on that part for now.

Giants Roster Talk: Obviously, the Giants won't be able to carry all those players that finished the season off with them and need to trim the roster back down to 25. With the lack of production they've gotten out of Aaron Rowand and Bary Zito lately, it leaves them as two of the bigger named players most likely to sit this best-of-five game series out. The dilemma is tougher than you think on Bochy, as he has to factor in the post-season history (and success) of both players, and remember, playoff baseball can bring out a whole new side of a player. I've seen players enter the playoffs after hitting .220 in September, then go off and hit .450 in the DS. For that reason, and the fact that Rowand tore up the DS last time he was there with Philly, I think he'll stay. Of the names Giants fans have gotten accustomed too over the last month of 2, the four guys that I think will be left off the Giants post-season roster are Guillermo Mota, Chris Ray, Barry Zito and Travis Ishikawa. Leaving off Ishi could bit if the Giants need a defensive replacement at first late in a game, but he just hasn't been doing enough with the bat to warrant a spot..... We'll have the official 25-man roster for the Giants once they make it public, either late Wednesday night, or just prior to Thursday morning's deadline.
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The Giants Baseball Blog
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