Sometimes, when I'm bored, I take out MLB 09 the Show and tweak the Giants roster until every good player that was traded away foolishly by Brian Sabean comes back, and every awful deal made (looking at you, Zito) gets erased, which usually produces a playoff team with World Series potential. Consider this the last weird/off topic/so bad its funny offseason post of 2010. Also, i will buy a PS3 just for MLB 10 the Show. The graphics on this game are better on the PS2 than some PS3 games, so the combination of presentation, gameplay, the revamped Road to the Show Mode (catchers calling pitches!), and a Joe Mauer cover should be worth it. Okay, enough of that, let's look at the Giants lineup, except not messed up by Brian Sabean, complete with short explanation and predicted 2010 line. All players are playing actively as of 2/19/10:
C- Buster Posey (best minor leaguer in baseball, best catcher since, like, Benito Santiago or something) .275/.340/.400 w/ 10 homers, 40 RBIs, and a steal, excellent D behind the plate in 155 games (7 for a Mr. Eli Whiteside)
1B- Nick Johnson: Although Sabean did make an effort to sign Johnson, had the lineup looked something like this, and had he known that the Giants would have therefore been serious contenders for the NL West title, he definitely would have signed. The 3rd best OBP in the game last year, second only to AL MVP Joe Mauer and NL MVP Albert Pujols, a near .300 batting average, a steady glove at 1st, and great pop in his bat make for a steal at only $5 mil. His health problems are obviously the major knock against him, but if he starts at least 150 games, he produces. .285/.415/.450 w/ 20 homers, 85 RBIs, Travis Ishikawa-like defense in 150 games. (12 for Ishikawa)
2B- Mark DeRosa: I actually think this was a good signing, but only for 1 year. Although he is 34, DeRosa still has a projected WAR of 2.3, and for 6 mil a year, along with the defensive capabilities/endurance to play 7 positions well, gritty veteran gamerness, and solid hitting (excellent in Gigantes terms), this isn't a half-bad choice. .270/.345/.435 with 20 homers, 60 RBIs, 5 steals, and solid defense in 140 games (22 for Uribe/Frandsen)
3B- Pablo Sandoval: A gem. If he hit like he did in 2009 with no improvement at all for the rest of his career, I'd be thrilled. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, he will get better. Many times over. At 24, Sandoval is in the best shape of his life, having gone through Operation Panda and losing 10 pounds already. He's a leaner, meaner hitting machine who will play a better 3rd base due to added quickness and better durability gained from the lost fat, and probably will have a longer career because of it, too. Best hitter in the NL West. Can you say MVP? .330/.385/.555 with 26 homers, 95 RBIs, underrated fielding at the hot corner and 5 stolen bases in 160 games (2 for Uribe)
SS- Juan Uribe: He was the sparkplug in 2009, with a .289 batting average, 16 homers, and great D wherever he played in the infield, but his BABIP was at a career high, so expect a dropoff from 09. However, whatever bounceback Edgar Renteria might have most likely won't be worth it, as his defense, long a strength of his, is league average at best, and his offensive capabilities as one of the best hitting shortstops of the last decade have been shot down, electrocuted, and prodded with a white-hot poker. Unless he suddenly starts hitting like Jimmy Rollins in 08, that $9 mil a year is not worth paying to a 35 year old way-past-his-prime backup. I knew that signing was doomed from the start, and I absolutely hated it. Still do. Uribe, at $1 million, is an nfinitely better deal, and was an absolute steal in 08, when he was signed for the league minimum. .265/.305/.430 with 15 homers, 55 RBIs, 2 steals, and solid fielding at short for 130 games (with the rest filled by Gillaspie/Frandsen/Uribe)
LF- Mike Cameron: If you're going to dedicate your life to signing the gritty gamers with enough experience/age to qualify for senior Medicare benefits, you might as well sign this guy. He's been a consistent 4 WAR player throughout, and put up a 4.3 WAR in Milwaukee last year at 36. An All-Star in 2001, with 3 Gold Gloves. The 20th player in MLB history to hit 250 homers and steal 250 bases, one of 15 players in history to swat 4 homers in a game, and a career OBP of .340 in 15 seasons. His batting average has always been on the low side, with a career high of .273 in 2005 with the LOLMets, but he more than makes up for it with his on-base abilities, top-flight outfield defense, and impressive speed/power combo, not to mention vast veteran experience. What angers me, though, is that Sabean stood pat and didn't even attempt to sign Cameron, allowing the Red Sox to swoop in with a 2 year, $15 million deal which he accepted. If Sabes had at least made an offer, preferably for 1 year, earlier that the Sox did, and the roster had looked something like this, while competing in a lackluster division, it is not unreasonable to say that he would have accepted. .255/.340/.450 with 23 homers, 70 RBIs, 17 steals, and Gold Glove defense out in left for 150 games (Torres/Lewis for the other 17)
CF- Aaron Rowand: Has had a little difficulty making contact with sliders. Seriously, Rowand is a 2 WAR player at worst, and put up a 6.1 WAR in 07 with the Phillies, the year he was voted an All-Star, won a Gold Glove, and was even 22nd in the MVP voting. Rowand is now 32, and in the prime of his life, and his defense is spectacular, while his offensive abilities aren't too shabby, either. Due to the fact that he has 10+ steal speed, a career batting average of .280, and a career OBP of .339, the omnipotent Bruce Bochy has even toyed with the idea of having him bat leadoff, which is an intriguing idea, I have to say. However, I don't really feel too much love for Rowand here at McC, which kind of makes me sad, since we really do have a value player patrolling center. You can credit him with saving Jonathan Sanchez's no-hitter with that gift of a catch he had (on my 13th birthday, no less!), and you can also feel good about the fact that his BABIP in 09 was below career average, so expect a nice bump in production from Rowand in 2010. .270/.335/.425 with 17 home runs, 70 RBIs, 6 steals, and Gold Glove d in center for 155 games (Cameron/Torres fill in the other 7)
RF- Nate Schierholtz: This guy was probably the best pinch hitter in the MLB last year, which says something about his skill, and also says something about the lineup quality of 2009 (bad). Anyway, Schierholtz is finally getting the chance to start at right field, and it will pay off for the Giants. He has the contact skills to eventually hit .300, and the CHONE/Bill James/Fan projections are quite optimistic. He was only the 3rd person to leg out an inside-the-park home run in the history of AT&T/SBC/PacBell park's existence, and Vroom started ahead of him. If I was running the Giants, Velez would get sit down in AAA until his OBP exceeded .340, or he hit 30 homers, while Torres/Lewis become the main backups. Schierholtz, however, is an athlete. He has great speed for a 6'2", 217 lb. player. He can hit all over the place, has a consistent line-drive stroke, and pretty good power to boot. His arm is very strong, and his throws are deadly accurate, while his glove is very good, too, with a 5.1 UZR in 2009 and a career .987 fielding pct. What's not to like? .285/.325/.455 with 12 home runs, 40 RBIs, 8 stolen bases and stellar defense out in right in 145 games (Torres/Lewis the other 17)
Bench- Andres Torres (great power potential,
hit crushed 6 homers last year, good contact skills, nice potential)
Fred Lewis (probably will be a platoon/backup for the rest of his career, unless he goes all Russell Branyan on us and explodes for 30 homers. Still a great backup to have in the outfield, especially in left)
Conor Gillaspie (solid in all areas, not too much upside, but has shown a very good eye, nice power for a shortstop)
Kevin Frandsen (could become the next Mark DeRosa, with good pop, .317/.380/.452 line in 5 seasons in the minors, defense a strength at 2nd, solid everywhere else)
Travis Ishikawa (one of the best defenders in the league at 1st, could win a couple of Gold Gloves, has insane splits and hits better Albert Pujols at home, and especially against righties with a .349/.400/.535 line, 7 homers and 28 RBIs in 172 at bats. Over 81 games at home and 4 at bats a game, that would have translated to 19 homers, 52 RBIs, 4 triples, 13 doubles, and 111 hits. That's tough to beat.)
SP Tim Lincecum: 2 Cy Youngs. Strikeout champion. 2 time Pitcher of the year. Half Filipino. When he was called up from the minors in May 2007, ballpark security workers in San Francisco thought he was a bat boy.
SP Matt Cain: 24 years old, and has already pitched 872 innings in 95 starts over 5 seasons, with a 3.23 ERA, a WHIP of 1.23, and a 7.5 K/9 rate, while also 5th in ROY voting and an All-Star alongside Tim Lincecum in 09. So why the hell does he have a 44-51 record? Blame it on the Giants offense. Matt Cain is a stud who would probably be the #1 ace for almost every other team in the league.
SP Matt Garza: If the Giants had not made the Pierzynski trade, they would not have needed to sign Armando Benitez to be their closer and give up their 1st rounder, which would have allowed them to draft Jacoby Ellsbury, who was picked by the Red Sox one slot after the Marlins, who held the Giants' compensation pick, Garza, picked by the Twins (and dealt to the Rays alongside Jason Bartlett for Delmon Young), Joey Devine, the stud setup man who had a 0.59 ERA in 45 2/3 innings in 08, or even Clay Buchholz, picked in the supplemental draft by the Sox. If Garza was the 3rd starter of the Giants, they'd win 100 games a year even with Molina batting cleanup. Just go to his player profile and read the scouting report.
SP Francisco Liriano: The one that got away, along with future hall-of-Famer Joe Nathan and Boof Bonser. Traded to Minnesota. For a one year rental in AJ Pierzynski. A left handed catcher. Worst. Trade. Ever. Go to this site (http://thankyoubriansabean.blogspot.com/), and then sob softly for a couple of minutes. If we had kept Liriano, we wouldn't have needed to sign Zito, which would have saved the Giants 18 million a year, and the price of tickets would have gone down by 0.04 cents! Anyway, Liriano, with his electric slider and mid 90's fastball, had a great 2008, but his 09 campaign was injury-riddled and disappointing. 2010 will prove to be a crucial year for him, as he is an ace starter when healthy, and if still on the Giants, probably would have been the best #4 starter in the Major Leagues.
SP Johnathan Sanchez: No hitter. 26. Good thing. Best 5th starter in the Majors.
Closer: Joe Nathan, the future Hall-of-Famer with 247 saves, 46 wins to 22 losses, a career 2.75 ERA, a 4x All-Star, the Twins single season record holder in saves, set last year (47), and was 4th and 5th in Cy Young award voting in 2004 and 2006, and 12th and 18th in MVP voting in those years, respectively. Stats say it all.
Setup: Brian Wilson, relegated to setup role here, but Nathan will retire within the next 2-3 years, so he becomes the closer again anyway. Wilson is a consistent 40 save man who had a breakout 09, with a 2.74 ERA and 9.1 K/9 in 72.1 innings pitched.
Middle Relief: Boof Bonser, a starter-turned-reliever, has had some stellar stats over his career. Bonser for Pierzynski alone would have been awful. Plus, his name is Boof.
Middle Relief: Jeremy Accardo, who was traded to Toronto for Shea Hillebrand, became their closer for 2006, while Hillebrand sucked. Accardo then switched to setup man in 2007, and had a 2.55 ERA in 26 games last year.
Middle Relief: Sergio Romo, with that slider of his. And the beard. At 26, he is one of the better relievers in the NL West, and still has room to grow.