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Monday, February 28, 2011

Three Giant' Questions This Spring

The Cactus League is well underway, as the Giants have started off 2-1 and are squaring off with the Milwaukee Brewers as I type. A lot of people feel Spring Training doesn't mean much, the games don't matter and there are tons of players fans have never heard of or likely will never see play in the big leagues filling out teams lineups. However, even though the Giants are coming off of a World Series win, they still have some things they need to determine over the next month or so. Here are the 3 big questions that surround the Giants this spring:

1.) IS BRANDON BELT READY: The young first basemen was the toast of the organization in 2010 and probably would have gotten a lot more headline and even maybe a September showing had the Giants not been on their way to the playoffs. Now they must figure out what to do with the 22 year-old who's done all he can do in the Minors, but the Giants don't quite have a spot on their roster for him to get a whole lot of at-bats. If he makes the Big League roster out of Spring, it won't be as a bench guy. Young players of his caliber need to be playing everyday, so that will either be in Fresno or San Francisco. That moves the focus to Aubrey Huff, Mark DeRosa and Pat Burrell, the three guys who are big league vets who Belt has in-front of him on the depth chart right now. Still, Huff is just 2 years removed from a .240, 15 hr season in which he finished it riding the pine, and we all know what Burrell's story was before the Giants came calling. That said, the Giants don't win the World Series without Burrell and Huff and they did win it without Belt. If Burrell tanks in spring, and Freddy Sanchez or Mark DeRosa aren't 100% healed, he could make this team out of spring, but my guess is that he follows the Buster Posey route and comes up in June. But the answer is yes, I do think Belt is ready.

2.) WHICH SANDOVAL WILL SHOW UP?: At the end of 2008 and throughout 2009, Pablo Sandoval hit nearly .350 with power and run production and was counted on heavily to be the main source of runs for the 2010 lineup. Not sure if it was the expectation or the weight issue, but he struggled mightily in 2010, and got even worse as the season wore on. That prompted a revamped offseason training program, one that allowed him to lose over 20 pounds and he's shown up in camp this year as slim and fit as the Giants have seen him since they signed him as an 18 year-old. I don't know that the .330/25/90 version of Panda that we saw in 2009 is the guy your going to get every year, but I'm certainly expecting an improvement on last years .269/13/68 line. We haven't done the GBB's 2011 hitting projections yet, but I expect Sandoval to be closer to '09 than the '10 version. Maybe something like .295/20/80 and I think the Giants would take that from their 24 year-old 3rd basemen as long has he stays in shape and holds down the hot corner. I think Miguel Tejada will be a nice influence on him.

3.) WHERE'S EVERYONE GOING TO PLAY?:
Bruce Bochy is going to have some decisions to make, as he's got a roster full of position players who are used to being everyday players. They have Mark DeRosa coming back, and he's going to demand some work, then there's Aaron Rowand, who even though he lost his job to Andres Torres in '10, Bochy still says is firmly in the outfield mix. Then if Brandon Belt tears up the Cactus League, that's another bat that Boch will need to find daily at-bats for. That's the big reason why I see Belt ending up in Fresno until something gives. Now, we have a month of spring games to play before rosters need to be set anyway, so these things may just work themselves out. At least that's what the Giants are hoping, otherwise there could be a deal in the works which may not be such a horrible idea, thing is, nobody wants the guys who the Giants want to deal (Rowand/Zito).

-Now, there are many more little questions that need to be answered this spring like who fills out the bullpen and bench, but I think those spots are already set, unless somebody gets hurt. Eli Whiteside will back-up Posey, and Fontenot/DeRosa/Rowand/Schierholtz will likely make up the rest of the bunch. The one guy I could see losing his spot is Nate Schierholtz if they can find someone with some more speed who can play all outfield positions.

Check Back on March 25th for the Answers to these 5 Spring questions!
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Saturday, February 26, 2011

World Champs Pick Right Up Where They Left Off

Finally, the shortest off-season the Giants have endured since their move out west has come to an end. The 2010 World Champion San Francisco Giants are officially back at work and playing games again, albeit of the exhibition variety.

Things got off to a strange start in Friday's opener, as the Diamondbacks touched up Tim Lincecum pretty good, knocking him out before he could get through his scheduled 2 innings. He gave up 5 hits and 3 runs with just 1 strikeout. Lincecum had a very similar start to his Cactus League last season, so I don't really see anything to worry about here. He felt fine after the game, as the stiff neck was a non-issue. But even though Lincecum didn't due his part, the Giants still managed to battle back and take the Cactus League opener. Buster Posey, Cody Ross and Pat Burrell all came up with big RBI hits, though no Giant hitter left the yard. Posey, in-fact, led all Giants hitters, going 2-3 with a 2B and 2 RBI. Aaron Rowand and the slimmer Pablo Sandoval also drove in runs and Andres Torres scored 2, but the guy who's under the microscope the most, Brandon Belt, didn't do too much on day 1. Belt got just 1 at-bat filling in at first base after Travis Ishikawa finished up, as projected starter, Aubrey Huff, sat down for the afternoon. So even though the Giants got to Timmy early, the bullpen, mainly Madison Bumgarner, Javier Lopez, Sergio Romo and Henry Sosa all helped hold down the fort while the offense climbed back.

In game 2, which just now ended, it was much of the same from game one. The Dodgers got to Jonathan Sanchez a bit early, collecting 4 hits while drawing a walk in just 1 2/3 innings. He did manage to keep the Dodgers off the board, but that was more so help from his bullpen. Then the Giants offense did all the work and blew LA out before the 5th inning, meaning it wasn't a team full of 2nd and 3rd stringers they were doing it against. It seems like almost all key starters got into the action. Torres went 2-3 with 2 runs and an RBI, Aubrey Huff had an RBI single and Nate Schierholtz had a big 2-RBI triple. Once again though, the Giants young stud and top prospect Brandon Belt was left hit-less, though he didn't get an official at-bat today.

The two big showings in Saturday's game came from a couple of guys who we here at the Giants Baseball Blog had just got done talking about a few posts back here, and I couldn't help but think about that post as those guys tore it up. Those two players are the overlooked Mark DeRosa and the re-focused, re-conditioned Pablo Sandoval, and Bochy couldn't be any happier about that. The Panda went 2-3 with a homer and 3 RBI hitting out of the 4-hole. Keep in mind, Buster Posey, the likely 4-spot hitter sat out Saturday, but still, the fact that Boch has Panda that high in the order is showing confidence in the youngster. I'm glad I've gotten delayed in doing our version of the Giants hitter projections because Sandoval's new conditioning certainly looks like it's playing a role and will be a big factor in his 2011 season. I was thinking a mix between the '09-'10 numbers, but right now I'm expecting closer to the '09 version.

As far as DeRosa is concerned, he's certainly eligible for the Comeback Player of the Year award, and even though were in the 2nd game of spring, this guy actually looks 100%. A lot of times you here players say that then they come out and you can tell they're not right, but DeRosa is right at this moment, and when he swings like he's swinging now, you need to find him 20 ab's per week. He just admitted he's more comfortable in the infield, which kind of mixes things up because I though his best chance for at-bats was in left-field. I also wonder if Bochy may do a little competition with DeRosa and Freddy Sanchez at 2nd base. I mean, the salary's are a wash and their both in their final year of their contracts. Sanchez, though he came up with some big hits in October last year, didn't have a great regular season in 2010. If your giving me an option between a healthy, '08 first-1/2 '09 version of DeRosa ( 220 games, .280 avg.,150 runs, 34 hr, 137 RBI, .842 OPS) with pretty solid defense and sure hands. When looking at Sanchez's 2010 line of .292/7/47/.739, and you see the difference in the offensive abilities between the two players. Now, Sanchez is a better defender, a much better contact/average hitter with more bat control (won batting tittle in '06), so DeRosa will have to go all Cody Ross early on if I's going to unseat Sanchez.
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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Giants Rotation Set, Ready to Start Spring

While spirits are high in Giants camp and the Cactus League set to open up Friday afternoon against the Diamondbacks, for some of these guys, a lot is at stake. There are still roster spots and orders to be determined and those, hopefully, will transpire over the next month.

Bochy has decided to send ace Tim Lincecum to the hill in-light of his recent shoulder tenderness. Timmy says "what shoulder stiffness?" as he plans to pitch like any other game during his scheduled two innings (or around 25 pitches). I believe the Angels are responding with their most tenured arm, ace Jered Weaver. And outside of 2nd basemen Freddy Sanchez, the Giants should be at full force, though that doesn't necessarily mean Bochy will be trotting out the same lineup he plans to employ April 1st in Los Angeles. Boch did, however, disclose the way the Giants rotation will lineup, health impending, come opening day and there was a bit of a head-scratcher in there for me. There was no question as to who would compose the starting five, in-fact, I think they became set last August once Madison Bumgarner arrived. Ttrue to form though as Boc with his RH-LH-RH mix-up, something which doesn't quite work when your two best pitchers are both right-handed, and everyone knows it. Instead, following Lincecum in LA will be Jonathan Sanchez, then Matt Cain 3rd, Barry Zito 4th and Madison Bumgarner 5th. Now, I see logic in using the young kid in the fifth spot, but Madison Bumgarner is a much, much better pitcher than Barry Zito right now, and should be moved ahead of him in the rotation. Also, it's a shame Matt Cain isn't getting rewarded with the 2-spot after his brilliant showing last October.

Now, it's still only late-February, and things can change drastically over the next 5 weeks which is the reason I found it odd Boch announced his rotation so early. There is some good in that though. With a winning team like the Giants, plyers like to know their roles as early as possible and this will allow them to go through spring training knowing where they'll be when the bell rings. Speaking of players with unclear roles, two guys who shown up in camp and have been working their tail off in order to ensure themselves a spot on the 25-man roster, cause there isn't room for both. One is young Giants middle infielder Emmanuel Burris lost upwards of 15-20 pounds this winter, improving his speed and range drastically. A big reason for Burris' sudden disappearance over the last few years is that he hasn't quite figured out how to put his tools back together since his nasty injury in spring 2009. The other is Mike Fontenot, a guy who was added mainly for depth last summer after Edgar Renteria went down and Juan Uribe got banged up a bit. Fontenot didn't do much until the playoffs started, and without his work in October, I don't even think he's in this conversation or on this team right now after the key role he played in the Atlanta series after Pablo tanked.

Quick Hits: I'd expect most of the positional starters to only go 3-5 innings, some many only take 1 ab, but generally, during the first week of spring, the veterans will get two AB's before exciting. I wouldn't expect to see all the starters appear on the lineup card... Since it is in an NL park, I'd guess Boch would use DeRosa in left field as he probably wants to keep "The Bat" from playing the field as much as possible this spring.... Also, with Sanchez nursing his shoulder, look for Fontetnot or Burris to get the nod at 2nd.
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Monday, February 21, 2011

Giants Full-Squad Workouts Underway

Well baseball fans, spring is officially in the air, and the World Champion San Francisco Giants are back at work preparing for their tittle defense in 2011. We were going to use today's post as the follow up to our pitching projections with our hitting version, but there's a lot going on in Giants camp and I figured we'd put the hitting projections on hold for another day.

It was the first day of live batting practice, and workouts for all players have started to intensify, yet the piece of news which gathered most of the headlines was the private trip closer Brian Wilson took to Hollywood to hang out at Charlie Sheen's mansion with various celebrities and prominent former baseball players. I don't really put a lot of time into non-baseball off field issues unless it effects on field performance, but the reason I'm touching on this subject, is because of all the fans calling into the Bay Area sports stations and commenting all over Giants fan-sites on the Internet complaining of Brian Wilson not focusing on getting ready for the Cactus League, but rather taking time out from his conditioning to hang out with the likes of Kenny Lofton, Eddie Murray, Todd Zielle and Lenny Dykstra. My take on the situation is that these people are making too much a deal out of nothing. Wilson is nursing a stiff back, and his short trip west did not interfere in the slightest with his work schedule for the Giants. What people are fussing about though is the pitcher is losing focus with all the national attention that he's gained over the last 6 months, going from a solid big league closer to one of the MLB's most unique personalities.... Long story short, I say don't worry about B.Willy, he'll be ready to answer the bell on April 1st in LA, I'm sure of it!

So, even though they're not new to Giants fans by now, there are a bunch of Giants in their first Spring Training camp with the club, including post-season hero's Cody Ross and Javier Lopez, regular season savior Pat Burrell and relievers Santiago Casilla and Ramon Ramirez. Also in his first spring training camp with San Francisco is their new $6 million shortstop Miguel Tejada. The 36 year-old shortstop was out on the field at 8 A.M. taking grounders and working on fundamentals, proving just why he's been so highly praised as a lead-by-example-type. I think he's going to be a great influence on Pablo Sandoval, as Tejada is a fierce competitor and serious about his conditioning and preparation. Speaking of leadership, former Giants' MVP 2nd basemen Jeff Kent has been a special guest in Scottsdale, and word is that his main focus here will be to work with Buster Posey on his hitting approach in the cleanup spot. This tells me that Bochy is planning to use Posey in the cleanup spot again this year, which, don't get me wrong, worked out great in 2010, but I really wanted him hitting 3rd with Huff in the cleanup spot. However, Bochy traditionally splits up his right handed hitters and lefties in the lineup when possible, and with Freddy Sanchez slated in at 2nd, the left-handed Huff would fit seem to be Boch's logical choice.

TUESDAY UPDATE: Tin Lincecum declared himself ready to start Friday's Cactus League opener in Phoenix vs. Arizona as he'll likely square up against D-Back's default ace Joe Saunders (that shows you just what kind of disarray their pitching staff is in). The Giants will have a intra-squad scrimmage prior to that on Thursday in which Brandon Belt is among some of the younger prospects to appear. We'll have much more on that game as well as a preview of the Cactus League Opener in Thursday's Post!.... And don't worry, The GBB version of our Giants 2011 hitting projections is coming very soon, and be ready for some surprises!
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Thursday, February 17, 2011

GBB's 2011 Giants Pitching Projections

It's that time of the year, with Spring Training games just around the corner and baseball's opening day just about 6 weeks out, that everybody is putting out their projections for just about everything and everyone in baseball for the upcoming season. With our annual division-by-division preview set to start in mid-March, I wanted to be sure to get out my giants team statistical projections as best as see it. This won't be taking into account any happening from exhibition play, which is another reason why I wanted to do this as early in camp as possible. In this post, we'll go through each of the projected Giants 12-man pitching staff and provide our own projections for the guys we expect to be on the opening day roster. So, without wasting any more of your guys valuable time, let's get into it:

Starting Rotation:

1. Tim Lincecum RHP: 18-6, 2.86 era, 214 IP, 241 K's, 1.10 WHIP, .213 BAA

2. Matt Cain RHP:
16-11, 3.41 era, 237 IP, 199 K's, 1.18 WHIP, .228 BAA

3. Jonathan Sanchez LHP
: 13-10, 3.59 era, 201 IP, 227 K's, 1.20 WHIP, .215 BAA

4. Barry Zito LHP
: 8-10, 4.32 era, 179 IP, 129 K's, 1.37 WHIP, .261 BAA

5. Madison Bumgarner LHP
: 13-7, 3.57 era, 198 IP, 172 K's, 1.22 WHIP, .243 BAA

Bullpen:

Brian Wilson RHP: 2-2, 49 saves, 2.13 era, 81 IP, 98 K's, 1.12 WHIP

Javier Lopez LHP
: 2-1, 66 games, 2.56 era, 60 IP, 52 K's, 1.01 WHIP

Santiago Casilla RHP
: 2-4, 79 games, 2.98 era, 78 IP, 71 K's, 1.15 WHIP

Ramon Ramirez RHP
: 1-2, 80 games, 3.51 era, 74 IP, 64 K's, 1.24 WHIP

Sergio Romo RHP
: 3-3, 77 games, 3.12 era, 74 IP, 79 K's, 1.08 WHIP

Jeremy Affeldt LHP
: 2-4, 69 games, 3.23 era, 69 IP, 55 K's, 1.28 WHIP

Jeff Suppan RHP
: 4-6. 26 games (11 GS), 4.67 era, 85 IP, 52 K's, 1.41 WHIP

Other likely first half call-ups at some point:

*Dan Runzler LHP
: 2-3, 32 games, 3.44 era, 43 IP, 46 K's, 1.38 WHIP

*Guillermo Mota RHP: 1-2, 49 games, 4.49 era, 50 IP, 42 K's, 1.31 WHIP

KEY- *marks player on the bubble of making team and could be called up early in season
NOTE: predictions are subject to change before 3/31/11.

Again, it's only mid-February, and many things can change between now and opening day, but at this point, I'd say these 12 pitchers are the favorites to make the opening day roster, and the numbers I projected were rough estimates, taking into account their past numbers, age and potential for improvement/decline with this particular baseball team. Again, since it's very likely that these won't be the exact 12 guys that make the opening day roster (with injuries and what not), so we will re-post this along with our upcoming hitting projection version, as well as various other Giants team preview agendas, after the Opening Day roster has been sent in.

Notes
: Arguably the two most important arms on the Giants staff sat out of Thursday's workouts, but only for precautionary reasons. Tim Lincecum complained of a stiff neck early in the day and closer Brian Wilson had the same problem with his back. Neither player said the injury was serious and both are expected back in camp on Friday.... They'll also be joined by most of the positional players as well, as all players are expected in camp by the end of the day Friday with the first full-squad workout scheduled for Saturday. Most of the core players like Aubrey Huff, Pat Burrell, Pablo Sandoval, Cody Ross and Mark DeRosa are already there as they can't wait to get back on the field. 2nd basemen Freddy Sanchez, who was initially expected to miss a portion of the Cactus League games said Thursday he expects to be 100% and ready by the start of Cactus League play on February 25th vs. the Diamondbacks. I think the Giants should play it safe with Sanchez and even if he is indeed ready, they should limit his playing time early. Mark DeRosa and Mike Fontenot are both more than capable of handling the position, and I'd much rather have Sanchez 100% healthy on opening day than try and push him early on in spring.
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pitchers and Catchers Start Workouts

The tittle defense is officially underway for the San Francisco Giants, as Spring Training workouts started Tuesday, with the rest of the bunch reporting arriving in a few days to start full-squad workouts.

Because it's just the first day of spring, workouts were very light, and nothing really newsworthy happened in the light morning session, but it certainly appears like these guys are loose and confident coming in. Sergio Romo and Brian Wilson led the laughs on the field during stretching and long-toss, as the beards were in full force. There really isn't a whole lot to determine with the pitching staff this spring, as most of the roster spots regarding the pitching staff are pretty much sealed up. Their starting rotation remains fully in-tact, so unless there's an injury, nothing has to be determined there. However, there are still a few question marks in the bullpen that need to be answered. Brian Wilson, Sergio Romo, Santiago Cassilla, Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez all have roster spots locked up, but Bochy will likely carry 6-7 relievers to start the year, leaving room for 1-2 other people to emerge. One of those spots will likely go to Ramon Ramirez, unless he absolutely tanks this spring. Besides Ramirez, Jeff Suppan was added last week to provide rotation depth, but could make the team out of spring as a mid/long-reliever. I'd pick both Ramirez and Suppan as the favorites for the remaining openings, but they will face some competition from the likes of Brian Lawrence, Henry Sosa, Alex Hinshaw and Dan Runzler.

There are a few non-pitchers who are in camp working out with the pitchers and have been in Arizona for a few weeks now. It's been no secret this winter that Pablo Sandoval has been in Arizona working on his weight, and everyone who saw him Monday and Tuesday say he's considerably lighter than the 260 he was listed at last year. Now, Sandoval has lost weight before, only to regain it during the early part of the season, so this time around will be a test for him. He has to keep the weight down, and I think whatever happens over the next 6 weeks will be telling on what kind of season Sandoval will have. If he can stay in shape for the Cactus League, than that should be sign on whats to come in the 2011 season. If he can't keep the weight off, than it's going to get inside his head, much like it did in 2010... Also in camp early with Sandoval is the recovering Freddy Sanchez, who is working his tail off to try and be ready by opening day after shoulder surgery in December. Aubrey Huff, Cody Ross, Pat Burrell and Mark DeRosa are some of the veteran position players who are in camp working early. Giants top rated prospect for 2011, Brandon Belt, is also in camp early as he prepares to take his cracks at making the opening day roster.
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Friday, February 11, 2011

Giants' Make Final Tune-Up's for Spring

Although a lot of guys have already arrived, Giants pitchers and catchers are all expected in Camp by Monday, with their first workout scheduled for the following afternoon. As far as the positional players are concerned, they'll be reporting Friday with the first full-squad workout scheduled for next Saturday.

With the first spring training workouts scheduled for less than 1 week from now, the Giants are fine-tuning their roster for the Cactus League. They added a few more players on minor league deals over the last few days, none of which really jump out at you, but at least one guy who could play a valuable role for them in 2011, and that guy is Edgar Gonzalez. The Giant inked the former Padres infielder to a minor league deal after the 32 year-old spent the 2010 season in Japan with the Yomuri Giants. Like they did with Jeff Suppan last week, they added Gonzalez in order to provide depth to an area in which the Giants don't have a bunch of ML ready options, and that's middle infielders. After Freddy Sanchez and Miguel Tejada, the Giants do have Mike Fontenot and Mark DeRosa, but neither of those guys are considered fluid shortstops. Gonzalez has plenty of experience at shortstop, and could be in camp to provide some competition to guys like Fontenot and Emmanuel Burris, another younger option for back-up middle infielder. The question about Burris is his health and bat. He's been battling injury for much of the past 2 seasons, and hasn't done much at the ML level since 2008, when he hit .283 in 240 at-bats. Even though he showed some ability in the 2008 season, he tailed heavily towards the later part of the year, and has never really regained his confidence since.

So, long story short, as long as the Giants aren't giving away guaranteed dollars, or roster spots, then they can sign all the minor league, spring training invitees that they want. What's the harm? There's nothing wrong with a little healthy competition for the middle infield spots. And speaking of competition, with just a week until Spring Training workouts start, and only 2 weeks until Cactus League games start, which means the Giants tittle defense is beginning. Plus, with all the Zips and Projections being tossed out right now, we feel a little left out, so in our next post, we'll start our own version of the Giants projections. I'll tell you right now though, this team is in a much better position than the one that entered Spring Training 2010, and we all know how well that turned out. Now, with most of those key players back for another, full season, plus the likely-hood of a Pablo Sandoval/Mark DeRosa-rebound and Brandon Belt's debut, I must tell you, things are looking as optimistic in Scottsdale right now, than they ever have.
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Saturday, February 05, 2011

Giants FanFest: 2011

The 2011 MLB season hasn't officially started yet. Heck, we're still a 2 weeks out of spring training. However, to Giants fans in Northern California and all over San Francisco, baseball fever has begun, and the countdown to the tittle defending is on!

For the most part, the Fanfest is a casual baseball gathering where fans get to meet and greet the players and coaches, but coming off the heels of the 2010 World Series Champion, this fanfest is more like a follow up World Series parade party. I was unable to be in attendance for this one but instead typing the post as I watch but mostly listen to the Fest. What I saw were images of a gathering that resembled more like a World Series Parade than a Fanfest. They even had to shut the gates to the stadium and stopped letting people in around 11:30, just 1/2 hour after the even started. I was there last year, and there was easily 3-4 times the amount of people at that point packed around Willie Mays Plaza and all down King St. They can't wait to get their Orange and Black winners back to cheer for.

There isn't a bunch of strategical or player movement talk during these events, but there has been a few pieces of baseball news being bandied about is that I'm picking up on. It appears that Bruce Bochy has early plans to use Cody Ross, the Giants most prolific RBI man during the playoffs in '10, in the 8-hole. Now, I know Cody did most of his damage in that spot last fall, but thing of all those solo homers and extra-base hits he got when nobody was on base? This guy's got too much run production value to hit that low in the order, and the simple fact is, pitchers aren't going to pitch him like an 8th batter any longer after the fall he proved he just had. The thing is, now that the Giants nabbed Miguel Tejada to play shortstop instead of Renteria or Uribe, their lineup is so deep that hitting 8th for them isn't like hitting 8th for the Pirates.

If I were filling out the lineup card though, I still would have Ross up higher and probably use Pablo or quite possibly Freddy Sanchez, depending on how he's swinging. If today were opening day, I think I'd go 1)Torres-2)Sanchez-3)Posey-4)Huff-5)Ross-6)Tejada-7)Burrell-8)Sandoval. They also could hit Tejada 2nd and DeRosa could fill in at 2nd base if Sanchez is unable to start the year. Things will obviously change throughout spring, but if your talking about hitting the players who get on base and produce towards the top and middle, than that's the way I'd go based on how the 2010 season finished. Again, a lot can change between now and then. Giants fans are getting a glimpse of Pablo's slimmed down physique at the fest today, and I think big things are in store for the Panda in '11. If Pablo catches fire, he goes from 7th-8th place hitter, right into the middle of the order. The Giants won the World Series last year and their best hitter on the opening day roster wasn't even in the lineup during the playoffs, so just imagine if he can get back to himself. I'm really looking forward to eventually watching Pablo and Buster hitting back-to-back, or at least Posey 3rd and Panda 5th (Brandon Belt for cleanup anyone?!).

As far as the rest of the Fest, so far, it's just been interviews and joking and what not. It's cool to hear the guys again, and it reminds me again why this team is so darn fun to be around and cover. I'm just ticked they get the great weather this year, cause last year (if you went, I don't have to tell you), it was cold, wet and muddy. The interviews have been pretty standard, even Brian Wilson kept it pretty PG. Other than that, we're still waiting for Cain, Lincecum, Posey, Huff and Burrell to speak, and we'll add notes to the post if/as they occur.
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Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Giants Notes: Fanfest, Posey and Pinella

Well, we won't have to be discussing this offseason for much longer, as pitchers and catchers are set to report to sunny Scottsdale in less than 2 weeks. This time, they'll have a new member roaming the facility, as old Cubs and Mariners manager Lou Pinella officially joined the Giants front office on Monday. With a such quiet spring in which Pinella becoming an assistant makes headlines, it's almost time to lace 'em up and once again start talking actual baseball.

With the Cactus League Opener just 2 weeks away, I figured we'd address some issues heading into spring.

*I don't expect Pinella to appear much with the team at all, taking on a role similar to that of Felipe Alou's a few years back, but I do believe he will have his voice heard in the organization, and although those finals years in ChiTown didn't go as hoped, there are very few baseball minds as experienced as Pinella's. still has plenty to offer a major league organization.

*More so, though, this get's me wondering about the future of Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy. Boch, I believe, really implanted himself into his role, at least for the foreseeable (3 year). Boch and Sabean are each free after this season, then have options for '12. I don't want to start any speculation, heck, last I heard was that Pinella was done for good and wanted to spend time in his east coast roots. Still though, it makes you wonder when a big name, highly sough-after coach takes an assistant front office job when he's still a capable manager.

*Now, that said, and in Boch's behalf though, if he didn't do enough with that bunch of guys last year and in 2009 for that matter, to earn himself a real extension, then I don't know what else he could possibly do. Even if he tanks in '11, I think the Giants are ready to use an in-house replacement next time and I can think of about 4 that are ripe and ready.

*Giants Fanfest Saturday: Besides the Pinella conspiracy and the Giants potential opening GM and Managerial positions GM'ing the Giants, February has officially arrived, meaning Giants baseball is literally, just around the corner. I mean, Cactus League games start 3 weeks from today with throwers and squatters set to report. I'm pretty stoked for FanFest, as the Giants Baseball Blog will be in full effect (look for us in our Giants Blog Tee-Shirt with the banner logo, or the GBB Black sweatshirt). Anyway, I always have a good time catching up with some of the KNBR staff and talking with some of the players. I don't want to promise anything yet, but there could be a Giants Baseball Blog Player Interview (first ever I might ad) for copyright on the site. Again, no guarantees, as this Fanfest will undoubtedly be the biggest one yet, but we'll do our best. If not a player, hopefully a front office member or coach

*Alright, I was going to use my last GBB Notes bullet to talk about the progression of Freddy Sanchez and Mark DeRosa, but readers can find that anywhere, so instead, here on February 2nd, 2011 , we thought we'd give our Buster Posey predictions for the year. Sorry Fangraph nuts and stat enthusiasts, here's where I think the kid ends up at in 2011 (barring injury of course).

*GBB's Prediction for Buster Posey in 2011 as of 2/2/11:

Games: 137 - AB: 513 - BB: 44 - K: 86 - H:171 - 2B-34 - HR: 22- RBI: 86 - AVG. .307 - OBP. .354 - SLG- .482

*We'll have our projections for all players, as always, once rosters become more set, just figured off we'd start with the offensive poster boy, who will have enormous expectations in 2011. He's I don't even want to mention it because of the luck mentioned with the name, but this kid is Joe Mauer good, easily. Now if only he can play 15+ full seasons.

*To a lesser extent, add Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Belt onto that list as well.
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