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Can the San Francisco Giants Contend in 2009? Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha. No. Oh My, No. Wait, Maybe.

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Around the baseball universe, people are applauding the low-risk, high-reward Randy Johnson signing. Some folks are even wondering, gasp, if, you know, the Giants might even contend next season. Craziness! Ludicrousness!

And yet….

It’s still silly to think the Giants are frontrunners, and it’s probably silly to assume that they will contend. But it isn’t silly to wonder if there’s the potential of a possibility of a chance that the stars will align in a 1997 kind of way. Consider the moves made around the division:

Arizona: Replaced Randy Johnson with Yusmeiro Petit, replaced Orlando Hudson with Felipe Lopez, replaced Adam Dunn with a healthy Eric Byrnes

Colorado: Replaced Matt Holliday with Garrett Atkins, replaced Willy Tavares with Ryan Spilborghs, replaced Brian Fuentes with Huston Street

Los Angeles: Replaced Manny Ramirez with Juan Pierre and Andruw Jones (maybe), replaced Derek Lowe with the remains of Jason Schmidt’s shoulder (maybe), replaced Chad Billingsley’s healthy leg with Chad Billingsley’s broken leg, replaced various players at third with a full year of Casey Blake

San Diego: Will probably trade Jake Peavy and replace him with Kevin Correia. Yeah. They’ll also replace Greg Maddux with someone like Will LeBlanc, Khalil Greene with Luis Rodriguez, and Cyborg Jody Gerut with Human Jody Gerut

I don’t want to sell all of those moves short – getting Tavares out of Colorado is a positive for the Rockies, for example – but there aren’t too many positive additions up there. Now to the Giants:

San Francisco: Replaced a swirling vortex of liquid awful with Edgar Renteria, replaced Kevin Correia with Randy Johnson, replaced Tyler Walker with Jeremy Affeldt, replaced Keiichi Yabu with Bobby Howry, replaced Jose Castillo with a full season of Pablo Sandoval, replaced Rich Aurilia with Travis Ishikawa/Other.

I dunno. A lot would have to break right – Ishikawa being the 2008 version, and not the 2005-2007 version, for starters – but those moves probably made the team better. And if the Dodgers don’t re-sign Manny Ramirez, we can only hope they’ll do something silly with Matt Kemp. The Dodger rotation looks pretty thin without any additions, especially considering that, as of right now, a 21-year-old pitcher is their #2 starter. Kershaw’s a great prospect, but that’s a pretty lofty demand. I can’t envision a scenario where Madison Bumgarner is expected to pitch 200+ innings in 2010 that won’t make me nervous, and that’s a pretty realistic comparison if Bumgarner has a strong year in AA.

Every team can hope for good luck/expected improvement. One of these years, Justin Upton is going to go insane on the National League, and the same can be said for Matt Kemp and James Loney. The Rockies have a lot of talent at a lot of positions, and it wouldn’t be unexpected for them to contend. The Padres have a lot of players whose mothers love them very, very much. So the Giants probably won’t win the N.L. West. But that "probably" wasn’t there last year. Heck, it cost a lot of money for the Giants to give us the "probably" in the "probably not." But we’d be crazy not to look forward to probably hating next season as opposed to definitely hating next season.