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Community Projection: Matt Cain

A Randy Winn projection can't avoid being boring. I fell asleep three times while writing it. The guy is who he is: an average center fielder masquerading as a below-average right fielder. He knows Steve Nash pretty well. I think he likes certain pastries. That's Randy Winn. Maybe I could have spiced it up by inserting Winn and Nash into a Good Will Hunting scene:

Winn: That's why I don't come to the damn reunions! Because I can't stand the look in your eyes when you see me! You think I'm a failure because I'm on the Giants. I'm proud of who I am, and all of you think I'm some kind of pity case. You and your sycophants following you around. And your damned MVPs....

Nash: Is that what this is about, Randy? My MVPs? I can go home and get them for you...

Winn: I don't want your MVPs, and I don't give a crap about them, because I knew you "when". You and Jack and Tom Sanders. I knew you when you were homesick and pimply-faced and didn't know what side of the bed to piss on.

Nash: That's right! You were a better point guard than me then, and you're a better point guard than me now. So don't blame me for your life turned out. It's not my fault!

Winn: I don't blame you! It's not about that, it's about the boy! 'Cause he's a good pitcher, and I don't want to see this happen to him. It's about Matt Cain!

That's right, Randy. Today is about Matt Cain. A Randy Winn projection is written valium. A Matt Cain projection comes with angels and coronets, bears and hoops of fire, shrieking teenage girls, and Starting Lineup figurines that cry tears of blood. A hologram of Larry Baer frequently appeared on his shoulder during the offseason: "Help us Matt Cain; you're our only hope. Help us Matt Cain; you're our only hope." The future of the Giants is Matt Cain. Matt Cain is the future of us all. Matt Cain will take us with him when he ascends in the vessel of smoke and light.

No pressure on the kid, though. He needs to do things at his own pace.

Last year's projection was an attempt to stuff ten pounds of optimism in a five-pound sack. I wanted to drop a ROY projection -- something like Dwight Gooden's rookie season. That wasn't an urge because it was especially likely, but because it was a beautiful dream. That sort of thing only comes along once a generation, though, and these are the Giants we're talking about. I held back on the grand predictions of dominance. You can certainly make the Flavor-Aid for this season, too, but don't drink it just yet.

Ah, whatever. Guzzle the stuff. Splash it on those wide lapels of yours. We don't have too many players worthy of total and unreserved optimism. Enjoy it while you can:

Matt Cain

IP: 218
ERA: 3.14
K: 230
BB: 85
HR: 19

Was there something in the end of last season that would make you disagree? The guy was chewing through the mid-summer months, and he had to rebound from a disastrous start to even make it through the season. This Philadelphia game would have spooked a lot of 21-year olds into tears. He was skipped in the rotation, and showed up in relief in one of those Brett Tomko we're-not-dumping-you-from- the-rotation-no-no- heavens-no, now-pitch-the-seventh- in-this-blowout moments. If he returned to AAA and put up a 3.30 ERA in the second half of the season, there still would have been some excitement going into the season.

Nope. He was spectacular, putting up a 3.26 ERA in the majors over the second half. His early malfunction -- righties hit like Jason Schmidt against him, lefties like Ryan Howard -- almost completely disappeared by the end of the season. His two best months of the season were August and September.

Even if you think the Giants are a 70-win team at most, this is the best reason to watch team. Pessimistic projections will be buried out in the backyard by the McSeptic Tank.