San Francisco Giants 2011 Season Preview

Leading up to the start of the 2011 Regular Season, Diamond Hoggers will preview each of MLB’s 30 teams . Today’s preview features the San Francisco Giants. Stay tuned as Diamond Hoggers previews every team division by division until the start of the regular season.

Last season’s world champions, the 2010 San Francisco Giants. Perfect example of a team coming together and getting at the right time, gelling beautifully, everyone knowing and accepting their role with the end goal in mind. They weren’t the best group of 25 you would assemble, but they possessed something that went beyond numbers on paper. It is that often over-stated ‘C’ word. Chemistry.

From the manager Bruce Bochy, to the young star behind the plate, to Pat the Bat (aka The Machine) and that wacky Closer of theirs. It all came together so eloquently. And I would have never expected it. But to be honest none of us should have been all that surprised. And if they make a run to repeat this year I don’t think that it should come as a shock to anyone.

We love us some Buster Posey

I think Buster Posey is about to be a legitimate MVP candidate. I think he’s a guy who could get 3000 hits if the Giants would be smart and get him out from behind the dish to prolong his career. I’m telling you, this almost makes too much sense. The guy was a shortstop in college. I would like to punch the man who made Posey a catcher.

People act like he doesn’t have big power potential. I think that he’s got enough to pop out 25 or 30 and lead all catchers. But I also think that will come with a .320 average and 100 RBI. And if he does that, you’re looking at an MVP candidate. Again, we hope that he’s not catching for long in his young career. We want this guy around as long as possible. He’s the type of guy I would want a son watching tape of when he’s hitting. Look at that follow through. Look at his dismount. It’s like watching a Picasso being painted.

Reasons why they’ll repeat as NL Champions

So we’ll admit we’re leaning towards them getting back to the World Series, maybe. One thing we love about them is their starting pitching. They’re a team that can really get after Philly in a playoff series as they proved last year. They’ve got the guns to go toe to toe with anyone as far as starting pitching. I like Matt Cain to be a Cy Young candidate as much as I like Timmy Lincecum to win one this year. Either one of those guys have a shot at 20 wins. Then they’ve got two of the nastiest lefties in baseball to throw at you in Madison Bumgarner and Jonathan Sanchez. If you get through that gauntlet you’ve still got the forgotten man Barry Zito to deal with. And 50% of the time he’s good all the time.

Brian Wilson figures to be Brian Wilson again, and when he’s in the game in the 9th inning you should start warming up the bus. It’s as good as in the standings.

They return most of the high energy, high character group from last year. Can they ride it out just a little longer? I don’t think they’re built to win for a decade but in terms of winning for another year or two I think they’ve got as good of a shot as anyone. The NL is wide open, and every turd GM Brian Sabean brings in seems to turn into a golden egg. You can’t deny that.

This year I actually think they’ll bring in a relatively big name around the trade deadline. The window isn’t big–but it’s open for now to really compete for rings. They have to know that, and they’ll make a move according to that to bolster the lineup. And of course, they’ve got a perennial MVP candidate in Posey.

Arguments against the Giants winning

People who think I’m crazy for thinking they’ve got a shot at making a run again ask how this team is going to score runs. The lineup isn’t filled with light tower power guys and things seemed to come together perfectly last year for Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell. But the lineup has a lot of tough out guys in it.

Andres Torres will need to stay healthy, and that’s my concern with him at the top of the lineup. Pablo Sandoval will have to return to Panda form. Brandon Belt is only going to be a rookie. Cody Ross will likely play to the back of his baseball card. Mark DeRosa can’t play every day and is banged up. They have the pieces but it’s not a finished product at this point.

Along with all of that, Tim Lincecum might experience an early downward arc of his career. People are waiting on it to happen. He’s still one of the best, but one day not too far from now he’ll start to burn out and he’ll get hit and be shut down for the second half of a season because of a ‘tired arm’ and we will never see the innings eating, high K per 9 Lincecum again.

The Final Verdict

We’ll stop short of throwing them back in the World Series until we have to make those picks the night before Opening Day. We still think they win the NL West. We don’t like anyone in that division as much as we like the Giants, and it’s not even really that close. The 2011 Giants will be NL West Champions and we’ll decide on the rest later.