Tag Archives: San Francisco Giants

Season Preview: Playoffs and Awards


With less than a week until opening day, here’s my predictions for the playoffs and the major awards as well. I already gave my division winners in each division preview post, but here’s a recap:

NL: San Francisco, Milwaukee, Philadelphia
AL: Texas, Minnesota, Boston

My two wild card predictions are Atlanta and Tampa Bay. As a result, here’s my playoff matchups:

Atlanta vs. San Francisco
Milwaukee vs. Philadelphia
Tampa Bay vs. Minnesota
Texas vs. Boston

I think that San Francisco and Philadelphia will both just have too much pitching not to advance in these matchups, and will face each other in the NL Championship. On the other side, I think that Tampa and Boston will be the top two teams overall in the league, and will advance to the AL Championship

Tampa Bay vs. Boston
San Francisco vs. Philadelphia

In the AL Championship, I think that the Boston lineup will be just too much for Tampa, despite potential flaws in the Boston pitching staff. In the National League, the addition of a 4th ace by the Phillies may be too much for the Giants, but it will definitely be a series that is built around pitching.

Boston vs. Philadelphia

In what appears likely to be the top offensive team facing off against one of the best pitching staffs in recent memory, I think that Philadelphia would likely defeat Boston. Off the top of my head guess makes me think it will take 6 games.

Awards Predictions

Here’s my picks for the major awards:

AL Rookie of the Year: Jeremy Hellickson
NL Rookie of the Year: Brandon Belt
AL Cy Young Award: Jon Lester
NL Cy Young Award: Roy Halladay
AL Most Valuable Player: Evan Longoria
NL Most Valuable Player: Ryan Braun
AL Manager of the Year: Joe Maddon
NL Manager of the Year: Ron Roenicke

Season Preview – NL West


We’re up to the last division left to review with the NL West. You can also take a look at my previews of the AL East, AL Central, AL West,  NL East, and NL Central.

Last Year’s Records
San Francisco – 92-70
San Diego – 90-72
Colorado – 83-79
Los Angeles – 80-82
Arizona – 65-97

Notable Additions

Arizona – Xavier Nady, Russell Branyan, J.J. Putz, Melvin Mora, David Hernandez, Kam Mickolio

Colorado – Matt Lindstrom, John Maine, Jose Lopez, Ty Wigginton, Felipe Paulino

Los Angeles – Marcus Thames, Matt Guerrier, Jon Garland

San Diego – Brad Hawpe, Cameron Maybin, Jorge Cantu, Aaron Harang

San Francisco – Miguel Tejada

Notable Losses

Arizona – Ryan Church, Adam LaRoche, Mark Reynolds, Brandon Webb

Colorado – Miguel Olivo, Clint Barmes, Jeff Francis

Los Angeles – Russell Martin, Ryan Theriot, Scott Podsednik

San Diego – Adrian Gonzalez, Miguel Tejada, Chris Young

San Francisco – Jose Guillen, Edgar Renteria

My Thoughts

Arizona – Under the leadership of new GM Kevin Towers, the Diamondbacks have already begun the process of rebuilding by trading away Mark Reynolds and letting Adam LaRoche and Brandon Webb leave via free agency.  They seem extremely unlikely to compete this season, but will look for improvements from Justin Upton and Stephen Drew.

Colorado – The Rockies spent their offseason spending money on contract extensions, as both Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki were signed to long term contract extensions. The team also did well to re-sign some of their free agents, most notably Jorge de la Rosa. This really seems like a team to me that has the chance to compete for the division title, providing they get a few breaks to go their way. They will look for a repeat performance from Ubaldo Jimenez and improvements from Jhoulys Chacin and Dexter Fowler as well.

Los Angeles – With the ownership situation in a state of partial disarray, the Dodgers didn’t really go out and spend a lot of money this offseason. They did resign free agent starter Ted Lilly, but otherwise did not make any large acquisitions. The pitching staff is excellent, but they will look for a bounce back season from Jonathan Broxton as the closer. The Dodgers are another team that seems to me like they can compete, providing they catch a few breaks.

San Diego – The biggest news out of the Padres this offseason unfortunately was the trade of star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. They have cut payroll down to a very minimal amount at this point, and could look to move closer Heath Bell if they fall out of contention. I am not seeing a repeat of last year’s 90 win performance out of this group of players, but I don’t think they are necessarily going to be terrible either. They will look for Mat Latos to build on his excellent 2010 season and try to take another step forward, but there’s a lot of questions after him in the rotation.

San Francisco – The reigning World Champions only had one slightly major acquisition (Tejada), but did well to resign Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff. Their pitching could conceivably be better than last year, with Madison Bumgarner making a full season of starts this year. 2010 NL Rookie of the Year Buster Posey will be up for the full season this year, and top prospect Brandon Belt is not likely to be in AAA for very long either. This is a team that could compete for the NL crown again.

Overall Thoughts

The NL West has the Giants at the top, and then a lot of question marks behind them. I honestly think that any of the teams at 2 through 4 could finish in any order in those spots.  Here’s my predicted order of finish:

1. San Francisco
2. Colorado
3. Los Angeles
4. San Diego
5. Arizona

Who are the Faces of the Franchise? NL West


Finishing up with a trip around the NL West, here’s the last of the face of the franchise posts…

  • Arizona – Right now, I’d have to imagine that Justin Upton is very high on the list. The team has had a lot of turnover in the past year or so, and Upton has become one of the longer tenured members of the team.
  • Colorado – I would say that the previous face, Todd Helton, has been eclipsed at this point, with Troy Tulowitzki taking the helm instead. And with Tulo under contract through 2020 at this point, he’s not going anywhere for a while.
  • Los Angeles – I would imagine that the most identifyable player at this point would either be Matt Kemp, or possibly Andre Ethier. I think it’s only another year or two until Clayton Kershaw could overpower the other players on the team for this, as he is still very young.
  • San Diego – I’m not sure that they have one currently, as they traded Adrian Gonzalez away to Boston during the offseason. It will be interesting to see who establishes themselves as Spring Training and the season progresses. The first candidate that popped into my head was Mat Latos, and I think he may be able to do that as well.
  • San Francisco – Right now, it has to be the 2-time Cy Young award winning Tim Lincecum. Buster Posey will likely eclipse Lincecum at some point in the not so-distant future, but for a team built around its pitching, the best pitcher on the team fits that role very nicely.

Upcoming in the next couple of weeks will be my look at how I think each of the divisions will shake out, along with my predictions for the season.

Season Previews in Review: National League West


Back during Spring Training, I took a look at each team and made predictions about how each team would do and how I thought their season would go. This was the first year doing this, and I figured now was a good time to take a look back and see how it went. I’ve reviewed the rest of the divisions, and now it’s onto the last division, the NL West.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Predicted Record: 74-88
Actual Record: 65-97

What a mess. The team wasn’t really expected to be good, and they weren’t. But I don’t think anyone was expecting Dan Haren not to be on the team at the end of the season, or Josh Byrnes would be employed anywhere but in the desert. The team did get some solid production from first baseman Adam LaRoche and second baseman Kelly Johnson, and made a very nice trade to acquire Daniel Hudson from the White Sox for starting pitcher Edwin Jackson. There are better days ahead with new general manager Kevin Towers at the helm, but I don’t know if they will be in 2011.

Colorado Rockies

Predicated Record: 85-77
Actual Record: 83-79

Every season, the Rockies seem to just be hanging out until around early August, at which point they turn it on and really make a push for the playoffs. They were in the race until about 2 weeks left, carried by the amazing pitching performance of Ubaldo Jimenez and MVP candidates Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki. The team really did well on the Matt Holliday trade, as Gonzalez looks like he will be one of the top players in the National League for years to come.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Predicted Record: 92-70
Actual Record: 80-82

I really liked the Dodgers coming into the season. They looked poised for a division title with all the offense they appeared to have, and with the division not looking that strong, seemed almost like a lock. They did get great seasons from Clayton Kershaw and Hiroki Kuroda, but ended up moving outfielder Manny Ramirez, and not really ending up being important to the NL West race at all. The team has already resigned free agent starter Ted Lilly, but the thing that concerns me about this team is that there are really only two positions where they can make upgrades: catcher, and left field.

San Diego Padres

Predicted Record: 65-97
Actual Record: 90-72

Talk about a huge surprise. The Padres were widely expected to be a terrible team, and not perform well at all. They were carried by some solid pitching from Mat Latos and the rest of the starters, and managed to get enough offense to get 90 wins despite only having Adrian Gonzalez provide a consistent amount of offense. The team was in the race until 2 days left in the season, but wasn’t able to hold onto their division lead against the Giants. Bud Black and GM Jed Hoyer still have their work cut out for them, as the team still is unlikely to spend a lot of money on payroll, but they do have some solid prospects in their system.

San Francisco Giants

Predicted Record: 76-86
Actual Record: 92-70

The Giants really were a tale of two seasons: pre-Buster Posey, and post-Buster Posey. The team really started to take off once they inserted Posey into the lineup full time, and never looked back. They were expected to be led by their pitching, and while Tim Lincecum struggled at points during the season, him, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, and Madison Bumgarner really helped carry the team. Astute pickups of Pat Burrell, Cody Ross, Javier Lopez, and Ramon Ramirez also helped the team to their first World Series championship in over 50 years.

My World Series Prediction


Well, this wasn’t quite what I had thought would happen at the beginning of the playoffs. But since it is no further off really than I was during Spring Training, I think I’ll be alright and just make my predictions for the World Series:

How the Rangers Will Win

They have to continue to hit like they did in the ALCS and the ALDS before that. Their pitching, while decent, is not good enough to carry them all the way throughout this series. Cliff Lee may be the best pitcher in this series, and Josh Hamilton is the best player overall in the series as well. They will need excellent performances from both of these players to have any chance of winning the World Series.

How the Giants Will Win

Their pitching, from 1 to 4 in the starting rotation, is better than the Rangers’ staff. They are leading off with 2-time reigning Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, and then following it up with the quietly good Matt Cain. This team’s offense is highly unlikely to carry this team if it struggles, as they generally do not hit for a lot of power.

How I Think it Will Go

With that said, who do I think wins this series? I think that it ends up being the Rangers in 6 games, as Cliff Lee makes 2 starts and gets two of the wins himself. Josh Hamilton ends up adding a World Series MVP to his LCS MVP award, and it has more to do with the Giants’ inability to string a fair amount of hits together as opposed to the Rangers being dominant.

Trade Deadline Review


Well, we are now officially one day past the non-waiver trade deadline, and there have been quite a few different trades made. It was definitely one of the more active periods in a lot of years. I wrote up the major trades as they happened, and you can read my thoughts with the links below.

Major Trades

Texas Rangers acquire SP Cliff Lee and P Mark Lowe from the Seattle Mariners for 1B Justin Smoak and 3 minor leaguers
Los Angeles Angels acquire SP Dan Haren from the Arizona Diamondbacks for SP Joe Saunders and 3 minor leaguers
Philadelphia Phillies acquire SP
Roy Oswalt from the Houston Astros for SP J.A. Happ and 2 minor leaguers

Semi-Major Deals

1. New York Yankees acquire RP Kerry Wood from the Cleveland Indians for a player to be named later or cash
2. New York Yankees acquire 1B Lance Berkman from the Houston Astros for P Mark Melancon and Jimmy Paredes
3. Los Angeles Dodgers acquire SP Ted Lilly and IF Ryan Theriot from the Chicago Cubs for IF Blake DeWitt, minor league P Brett Wallach and Kyle Smit
4. St. Louis Cardinals acquire SP Jake Westbrook from the Cleveland Indians and minor leaguer Nick Greenwood from the San Diego Padres, San Diego Padres acquire OF Ryan Ludwick from the St. Louis Cardinals, Cleveland Indians acquire minor leaguer Corey Kluber from the San Diego Padres
5. Pittsburgh Pirates acquire C Chris Snyder and OF Pedro Ciriaco from the Arizona Diamondbacks for P D.J. Carrasco, IF Bobby Crosby, and OF Ryan Church
6. Chicago White Sox acquire SP Edwin Jackson from the Arizona Diamondbacks for SP Daniel Hudson and P David Holmberg
7. Minnesota Twins acquire RP Matt Capps from the Washington Nationals for C Wilson Ramos and minor league P Joe Testa
8. Texas Rangers acquire IF Jorge Cantu from the Florida Marlins for minor leaguer pitchers Evan Reed and Omar Poveda
9. Los Angeles Dodgers acquire OF Scott Podsednik from the Kansas City Royals for minor leaguers C Lucas May and P Elisaul Pimentel
10. Los Angeles Angels acquire 3B Alberto Callaspo from the Kansas City Royals for P Sean O’Sullivan and P Will Smith
11. Toronto Blue Jays acquire SS Yunel Escobar and P Jo-Jo Reyes from the Atlanta Braves for SS Alex Gonzalez and minor leaguers Tyler Pastornicky and Tim Collins
12. Los Angeles Dodgers acquire RP Octavio Dotel from the Pittsburgh Pirates for OF Andrew Lambo and P James McDonald

Minor Moves

1. Texas Rangers acquire IF Cristian Guzman from the Washington Nationals for minor leaguers Ryan Tatsuko and Tanner Roark
2. Texas Rangers acquire C Bengie Molina from the San Francisco Giants for P Chris Ray
3. Toronto Blue Jays acquire 1B Mike Jacobs from the New York Mets for a player to be named later
4. San Diego Padres acquire IF Miguel Tejada from the Baltimore Orioles for minor league P Wynn Pelzer
5. Tampa Bay Rays acquire RP Chad Qualls from the Arizona Diamondbacks for a player to be named later
6. New York Yankees acquire OF Austin Kearns from the Cleveland Indians for ?
7. Detroit Tigers acquire IF Jhonny Peralta from the Cleveland Indians for minor league P Giovanny Soto
8. San Francisco Giants acquire P Javier Lopez from the Pittsburgh Pirates for P Joe Martinez and OF John Bowker
9. Atlanta Braves acquire IF Wilkin Ramirez from the Detroit Tigers for cash or a player to be named later
10. Florida Marlins acquire RP Will Ohman from the Baltimore Orioles for P Rick VandenHurk
11. San Francisco Giants acquire RP Ramon Ramirez from the Boston Red Sox for P Daniel Turpen
12. Atlanta Braves acquire OF Rick Ankiel and RP Kyle Farnsworth from the Kansas City Royals for P Jesse Chavez, OF Gregor Blanco, and minor league P Tim Collins
13. Boston Red Sox acquire C Jarrod Saltalamacchia from the Texas Rangers for 1B Chris McGuiness, P Ramon Mendez and a player to be named later or cash

Wow. There’s still stuff coming in as I write this, and in the last hour there have been a lot of these to get done. So who did well here and who didn’t?

Winners

The Yankees – Let’s see if we have this right. The Yankees picked up Lance Berkman to be their designated hitter. They added Kerry Wood to help solidify the back end of the bullpen behind Mariano Rivera. And they got both of them for a pair of players that are of no use to the Yankees, and even got some money in the deals? Really? They already have the best record in the Majors, and have decidedly improved their team with both acquisitions. Oh, and they added to their bench depth with Austin Kearns as well.

The Rangers – With a decent lead in the AL West, the Rangers went out and got themselves an ace starter (Lee), a solid catcher who can help them play defense at the position (Molina), a run producing right handed bat who can play two positions (Cantu), a backup infielder who will be able to spell their third baseman and shortstop, and fill in while their second baseman is on the disabled list (Guzman),  and moved a player that they had soured on for some prospects. They are the prohibitive favorite in the AL West at this point, now being 8 games ahead of the 2nd place Angels and 8.5 of the 3rd place Athletics. They plugged nearly every gap they had in their team, and will go into the pennant chase with a very good chance of being in the World Series at the end of it.

The Angels – Even though the moves may end up being more for next season, acquiring Dan Haren to give them a very good 1-2 punch in their rotation for “some magic beans” as Matthew Berry put it on the Fantasy Focus podcast was a stroke of genius. Callaspo also gives them a solid hitter to play at 3B which they had sorely been missing. While it may not be enough to catch the Rangers, they gave up very little of value to do both trades.

The Pirates – They took D.J. Carrasco, Bobby Crosby, Javier Lopez, Octavio Dotel, and Ryan Church and turned them into a major league backstop (Snyder), two solid potential major leaguers (Bowker and Martinez), and 2 higher end, albeit risky prospects (Lambo, McDonald). Someone must have put something in Neal Huntington’s coffee that helped out a lot. They did extremely well to turn a lot of random pieces that aren’t really that helpful into all that.

The Royals – Pieces that aren’t for the future: Podsednik, Ankiel, Farnsworth, Callaspo. All moved for players with varying levels of upside who can help with the rebuilding process: Lucas May, Tim Collins, Jesse Chavez, Gregor Blanco, Sean O’Sullivan, Will Smith. Not the most amazing group of players, and definitely no high-end prospects here. But the Royals have a lot of high-end prospects already, and need others to help give them some balance as well with regard to position scarcity and depth overall. Very well done today.

The Padres – They gave up a pair of pitching prospects to acquire a much needed outfield bat, and a utility player who should provide some value over the remainder of the season. Nothing too major here, and definitely nothing that mortgages the future. I like the Ludwick acquisition, as he could see an improvement with a change of scenery. I’m not 100% sold on the Tejada acquisition, but they didn’t really give up that much to get him in my opinion.

Losers

The Nationals – The trade of Matt Capps was nice, netting them a very good catching prospect in Wilson Ramos. But the way that they handled Adam Dunn leading up to the trade deadline was inexcusable. They clearly had not made up their mind as to what they wanted to do with him, and in the end they simply ran out of time. They clearly could have gotten more for him had they moved him instead of waiting for his free agency to play out, and the only reason to do that would have been to get him signed to an extension (which they didn’t do either). Not sure what happened here, but we’ll see if this was a really bad plan from the start.

The Dodgers – In a division where they are 7.5 games back of the leader and 5 games back of the wild card leader, the Dodgers decided to go for it, sending prospects Brett Wallach, Kyle Smit, Lucas May, Elisaul PimentelAndrew Lambo, and James McDonald (along with Blake DeWitt) to other teams to acquire: the remainder of this season from Octavio Dotel, Ted Lilly and Scott Podsednik, and also Ryan Theriot. I’m pretty sure that if they had offered those players to the Diamondbacks they would have been able to get Dan Haren, Kelly Johnson, and a bullpen arm. I’m also pretty convinced that they could have offered that group to the Mariners and gotten Cliff Lee, Jose Lopez and possibly David Aardsma. I’m not at all impressed with what they did here, and are only one bad week from being completely out of the race.

The Orioles – It’s a tough beat, but they were only able to move Will Ohman and Miguel Tejada, and would have been served by moving Ty Wigginton and Kevin Millwood, among others. Unfortunately, neither player has been playing well of late, and had essentially managed to knock their own values down to next to nothing.

The Twins – They needed some help in the bullpen, and really could have used another starting pitcher behind Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano. Unfortunately, they only filled one of those gaps, and at a cost that seems high even considering that the prospect that they gave up had no place to play in the Twins’ future.

Mixed Bag

The Astros – They were able to get out from under a lot of the big dollar contracts owed to Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman, and got back at least a reasonable return. Brett Wallace will slot in at 1B to replace Berkman, and J.A. Happ will fill Oswalt’s slot in the rotation. But time will tell if they get anything other than salary relief for Berkman, and Happ and Wallace will have to be very good to replace the value of Oswalt in my opinion.

The Phillies – They gave up a lot more to get Oswalt than they got back in return for Cliff Lee, who would have played a similar role for the Phillies this season had he not been traded. Oswalt will need to be the piece that moves them over the top for this one to really be a winner for them.

The Diamondbacks – They acquired a pretty good young pitcher in return for Edwin Jackson (Hudson). But they practically gave away Dan Haren, a better pitcher who was not that much more expensive than Jackson. They got back a bunch of garbage essentially for their second catcher Snyder. Crosby is a free agent after the season, and Church and Carrasco are both likely candidates for a non-tender after the season. They also did not move Kelly Johnson and Adam LaRoche, both of whom had a lot of value built up despite poor performance of late. Some of the players they acquired could turn out to be good, but it remains to be seen.

The White Sox – They really could have used a bat, and it sounds like they were trying to get one by acquiring Edwin Jackson. I honestly can’t remember the last time I heard about a player being acquired with the hope of moving him to another team, only to have that other team tell them it wasn’t enough. Jackson is a nice pitcher, but is not that much better than Hudson should be.

Overall, a very exciting trade deadline, and there is still the possibility that we will see a lot more trades before the waiver deadline of August 31st.

Week in Review – June 28th to July 4th


If the Playoffs Started Today

League Leaders

Batting Average – Justin Morneau – .344
Runs – Kevin Youkilis (BOS) – 65
Home Runs –  Jose Bautista (TOR) – 21
Runs Batted In – Vladimir Guerrero (TEX) – 70
Stolen Bases – Juan Pierre (CHW) – 30

Wins – Ubaldo Jimenez (COL) – 14
Saves – Heath Bell (SD) – 23
ERA – Josh Johnson (FLA) – 1.82
Strikeouts – Jered Weaver (LAA) – 124
WHIP – Cliff Lee (SEA) – 0.95

Roster Movement

To the Disabled List: Dallas Braden, Shaun Marcum, Jason Varitek, Manny Delcarmen, Luke Scott, Chase Utley, Placido Polanco, Jason Heyward, Victor Martinez, Joel Zumaya, Shin-Soo Choo, Will Venable, Manny Ramirez,

Return from the Disabled List: J.J. Hardy, Tim Stauffer, Jair Jurrjens, Matt Diaz, Chad Billingsley, Bud Norris

To the Minors: Max Ramirez, Dontrelle Willis,

Called Up: Edwin Encarnacion, Marc Rzepczynski, Dustin Moseley, Josh Bell, Dexter Fowler, Michael Brantley,

Trades:

Top Stories and Weekly Links

  • I think that the biggest surprise of the week has to be the firing of both manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Josh Byrnes in Arizona on Thursday. Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLBTradeRumors wrote up a pretty solid post with some gathered reactions around the Majors about this, and Mark Polishuk of MLBTradeRumors also had a pretty good write up of the history of both men with the Diamondbacks.
  • July 2nd was the start of the international free agent signing period, and there was a surprisingly large amount of action out of the Athletics, who signed 3 players out of Venezuela according to MLBTradeRumors.
  • The Phillies and the Red Sox both seem to be walking MASH units, as the Phillies lost All-Star 2B Chase Utley for 8 weeks with a thumb injury, and 3B Placido Polanco to the disabled list as well. Over in Boston, they can’t buy a break that doesn’t hurt them, as they lost both Victor Martinez and Jason Varitek to the disabled list this week.
  • The All Star teams were announced on Sunday morning. I wrote up my predictions late on Saturday of who I thought would make the team, and the one thing that stands out to me more than any other is the snub of both Joey Votto and Jered Weaver. I will have more of my reactions up on Thursday.
  • Stephen Strasburg made two starts, and it looks like the league may be starting to catch up a little bit, as he struggled in his start on Saturday. He’s going to be just fine long term, and I think these struggles are what the National were hoping he would have while in the minors.
  • The Diamondbacks struggled really badly on Saturday, committing 6 errors with the “B” team of Tony Abreu and Rusty Ryal both playing out in the field. Even Vin Scully didn’t have a whole lot to say that was good about how they played, but was pretty happy the Dodgers won.

From the Twitter Followers

If you aren’t yet, you can follow me over at Twitter here. These are some of the better reads from the Twitter followers from last week.

Upcoming Posts This Week:

Tuesday and Wednesday: Midseason Prospect Review – I will be taking a look at the players that I reviewed back in January and February to see what they have been up to so far, and see which ones have progressed, and which ones are having some difficulties.

Thursday: My Review of the All-Star Rosters – I will look at the announced All-Star rosters, some snubs and undeserving players, and comparing them to the rosters I built as a part of my Month in Review on last Thursday.

Friday:  Trade Retrospective of Frank Viola to the Mets – The trade, completed midway through the 1989 season, had a pretty significant impact on the pennant races for that year, and I’ll take a look back at how each team ended up doing overall in the trade, and what return they got.

Trade Retrospective: A.J. Pierzynski


This week’s trade retrospective concerns an oft-discussed trade: A.J. Pierzynski to the Giants for Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Boof Bonser on 11/14/2003.

The Background

The Twins were waiting for the coming promotion of top prospect catcher Joe Mauer. Mauer had spent 2003 split between High-A and AA, posting a combined line of .338/.398/.434 with 5 HR and 85 RBI. They had a solid if not amazing player at that position in AJ Pierzynski. Pierzynski was going to be a free agent within the next two seasons, and they figured that they would want to move him at some point to make space for Mauer.

The Giants had been to the World Series two years prior, and had won 100 games in the 2003 season. Despite winning all those games, they had been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the eventual champions, the Florida Marlins. The catcher for the Giants that year had been Benito Santiago, who was 38 years old, and also a free agent.

The Moving Pieces

A.J. Pierzynski was slotted in to be the everyday catcher for the Giants, and it was hoped would hold down the position for many years.

Joe Nathan was slotted into the bullpen for the Twins, and immediately was named as the closer for the team. Boof Bonser and Francisco Liriano were both sent to the minor leagues.

What Happened Next

Pierzysnki had a solid season for the Giants, hitting .272 with 11 homeruns and 77 RBI. The team fell short of its goal of a return to the playoffs, as they finished a game back in the race for the Wild Card in spite of winning 91 games. However, he was not well liked in the clubhouse by the Giants pitchers. As a result, he was not tendered a contract by the Giants after the season, and became a free agent.

Joe Nathan took to his role as the closer immediately, saving 44 games in 2004, posting a 1.62 ERA, and finishing 4th in the Cy Young voting for the American League. He helped to lead the Twins to the AL Central division title, although they were eliminated in the first round by the Yankees.

Boof Bonser spent the 2004 season split between AA and AAA for the Twins, posting a 13-9 record with a 4.24 ERA in 161 1/3 innings pitched. He struck out 153 and walked 57 batters in that time.

Francisco Liriano spent the season split between High-A and AA, posting a 9-9 record with a 3.79 ERA in 156 2/3 innings pitched. He struck out 174 and walked 60 batters.

The Net Moves

Giants – First Level

  • Pierzynski only spent the 2004 season with the Giants, posting a .272/.319/.410 with 11 homeruns and 77 RBI
  • He was not tendered a contract after the 2004 season, and became a free agent. He signed with the Chicago White Sox.

Twins – First Level

  • Nathan has been a cornerstone closer for the Twins. In 6 seasons, he has posted 246 saves, a 1.87 ERA, and 518 strikeouts in 418 2/3 innings pitched. He is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery, and is not expected to return to the team until sometime in 2011.
  • Boof Bonser did not make his major league debut with the Twins until 2006, and was in the starting rotation for 3 seasons. He posted a lackluster 18-25 record with a 5.12 ERA in 391 2/3 innings. He was traded to the Red Sox on 12/10/2009 for minor leaguer Chris Province.
  • Francisco Liriano made his debut in 2005, and had his first full season in 2006. He missed the 2007 season due to having Tommy John surgery. He appears to have put it back together in the 2010 season so far, posting a 4-2 record with a 2.63 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 48 innings pitched. To date, he has a 28-24 record with the Twins, 412 strikeouts and a 3.97 ERA in 405 1/3 innings pitched.

Overall Reactions

This trade has widely been viewed as a complete disaster for the Giants. As well it should be. Nathan had been an effective reliever with the Giants, notching 12 wins in the season before the trade. However, the Giants didn’t view him as a closer, and the Twins did. This trade may have been slightly better had the Giants retained Pierzynski for longer than the single season. However, Liriano continues to be a high-upside, high-risk pitcher for the Twins, and will hopefully be able to stay healthy and effective for the whole season this time around.  Pierzynski has become a solid catcher for the White Sox, and for the most part they have been happy with the time he has spent there.

Team Preview – San Francisco Giants


Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C Bengie Molina SP 1 Tim Lincecum
1B Aubrey Huff SP 2 Matt Cain
2B Freddy Sanchez SP 3 Barry Zito
3B Pablo Sandoval SP 4 Jonathan Sanchez
SS Edgar Renteria SP 5 Todd Wellemeyer
LF Mark DeRosa Bullpen
CF Aaron Rowand CL Brian Wilson
RF Nate Schierholtz RP Jeremy Affeldt
Bench RP Sergio Romo
OF Eugenio Velez RP Brandon Medders
1B Travis Ishikawa RP Dan Runzier

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
1B Aubrey Huff Free Agency SP Brad Penny Free Agency
OF Mark DeRosa Free Agency SP Randy Johnson Retirement
C Bengie Molina Resigned SP Noah Lowry Free Agency

Top Prospects: Buster Posey (C), Madison Bumgarner (P), Zack Wheeler (P), Thomas Neal (OF)

2009 Review

The Giants came into 2009 off of a losing season in 2008, and were looking to improve on their performance substantially. The team had been built around their excellent pitching staff, led by 2008 Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum. Behind him, they had slotted in multiple Cy Young winner Randy Johnson, Matt Cain, Barry Zito, and Jonathan Sanchez. Unfortunately, the team has been lacking in offense ever since Barry Bonds was not resigned. 2009 would be no different for that topic. The team did perform well overall, posting an 88-74 record, which was unfortunately good for only 3rd place in their division.

On offense, they were led by the Kung Fu Panda, 3B Pablo Sandoval, who posted a .330 batting average with 25 HR and 90 RBI. Not unexpectedly, only 3 other players on the team posted even double-digit homeruns last season besides Sandoval (Molina with 20, Rowand with 15, and Uribe with 16). The pitching staff made up for it, with Tim Lincecum winning his second consecutive Cy Young award behind an excellent season (15-7, 2.48 ERA, 261 strikeouts in 225 innings). Veteran Matt Cain also had probably his best season to date, with a 14-8 record and a 2.89 ERA. Closer Brian Wilson posted 38 saves along with a 2.74 ERA.

Team Outlook for 2010

The Giants are hopeful that the moves they have made in the offseason will help to vault them to the top of the division. They brought in some offense, with the signings of IF/OF Mark DeRosa, who will be slotted in to start in LF this season, but will see some time at 3B, 1B, and 2B potentially as well. 1B Aubrey Huff will also be asked to provide some pop as well. The Giants are looking for Sandoval to continue his torrid hitting from last season, and are looking for rookies Nate Schierholtz and Buster Posey to have impacts during the season as well. The Giants remain dependent on their pitching staff, and with the retirement of Randy Johnson will look for production from free agent signee Todd Wellemeyer. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Barry Zito will lead a very formidable rotation in 2010, and all three will be requisite to any success the Giants have this year.

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Pablo Sandoval are the class of this group, as all three are top-tier for their positions. Lincecum enters the season as the top pitcher for many rankings. For deeper leagues, I like both Jonathan Sanchez and Mark DeRosa. DeRosa is going to give you position flexibility, and some pop. He’s likely to be a drag for batting average, but in deeper leagues he is a solid play. Sanchez finally began to show some of the promise that was talked about. He has the potential to be a high strikeout, low ratio pitcher, but only if he can keep his control in check. Keeper leagues should take note of both C Buster Posey and P Madison Bumgarner, as both are likely to spend large portions of 2010 with the big club.

Prediction for 2010

The Giants offense is, in my opinion, not strong enough to compete in this division, in spite of the excellent pitching staff they have.

76-86 3rd in the NL West

Free Agency Review – Starting Pitchers


As expected, the free agent class of starting pitchers was pretty deep this offseason, although there were very few solid options.

All salary data from ESPN.com’s Free Agent Tracker
All 2011 free agent information from MLB Trade Rumors’ 2011 Free Agent List

LH Starting Pitchers
Name Old New Years Total $
Randy Wolf LAD MIL 3 $29.75 M
Andy Pettitte NYY NYY 1 $11.75 M
Erik Bedard SEA SEA 1 $1.5 M
Aroldis Chapman CIN 6 $30.25 M
Doug Davis ARI MIL 1 $5.25 M

Notable Remaining Free Agents: Jarrod Washburn (DET)


Of all the lefties, Randy Wolf probably did the best in terms of capitalizing on a good season. Milwaukee got a very good veteran starting pitcher for a reasonable price. Bedard signed an incentive-laden deal which could be worth up to $8.5 M total, and if he earns them all, the Mariners will be extremely happy with the results as well. The most unusual signing in my opinion was the Chapman signing. The Reds, not known for spending a lot of money necessarily, sign a pitcher who will be under contract for 6 seasons, and be paying him for as much as 10 perhaps, and will hopefully not be starting his career in the Major leagues.

RH Starting Pitchers
Name Old New Years Total $
Rich Harden CHC TEX 1 $7.5 M
John Lackey LAA BOS 5 $82.5 M
Brad Penny SF STL 1 $7.5 M
Joel Pineiro STL LAA 2 $16 M
Justin Duchscherer OAK OAK 1 $2 M
Ben Sheets OAK 1 $10 M
Jon Garland LAD SD 1 $5.3 M
Colby Lewis JPN TEX 2 $5 M
Jason Marquis COL WAS 2 $15 M
Vicente Padilla LAD LAD 1 $5.025 M
Carl Pavano MIN MIN 1 $7 M

Notable Remaining Free Agents: Braden Looper (MIL), Todd Wellemeyer (STL), John Smoltz (STL), Pedro Martinez (PHI)

Lackey was the big name on the market this offseason, and got the big contract that went along with it. I was a bit surprised at the time about this since I didn’t really think that the Red Sox were in the market for a starting pitcher. However, it looks now like he will be the replacement for Josh Beckett should he leave via free agency after 2010. The Angels did well to replace Lackey with Pineiro. Pineiro, while not the same quality pitcher as Lackey, will provide more stability to the rotation being led now by Jered Weaver and Scott Kazmir. Free agency was also littered with high-risk, high-reward types like Harden, Sheets, and Duchscherer. The most interesting signing for a right hander to me is the Rangers’ signing of Colby Lewis. Lewis is returning from 2 seasons in Japan where he was very dominant, and should be interesting to watch this season.

Tomorrow: Free agency review of relief pitchers