2009 MLB Preview: #17 San Francisco Giants

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Offseason Movement: The G-Men added a solid piece to their starting rotation in former Cy Young-winner Randy Johnson. The club also signed free agent Edgar Renteria to play shortstop, and added Jeremy Affeldt and Bob Howry in hopes to strengthen their bullpen. Rich Aurilia and Josh Phelps were given minor league contracts, although Phelps was already reassigned to minor league camp.

Top Prospect: Madison Bumgarner, LHP
Who would have thought that the farm system that produced Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Brian Wilson and Jonathan Sanchez would have a pitcher as its top prospect? While catcher Buster Posey, corner infielder Angel Villalona and starter Tim Alderson deserve mention here, Bumgarner earns the Giants’ top prospect tag for his “ace” potential. While he isn’t expected to take Lincecum’s No. 1 spot any time soon, Bumgarner could turn out to be a San Fran’s No. 2 in the next couple seasons. He dominated his first full year in the minors after being selected in the first round out of high school, posting a 1.46 ERA in A-ball. He has a fastball that reaches 97 mph and once he develops his secondary pitches, Bumgarner should make his first big league appearance in no time.

The Big Question: Will this team score any runs?
Out of all the teams in baseball last year, only the Padres (637) scored fewer runs than the Giants (640). And all San Fran did to reshape their roster was give youngsters Pablo Sandoval and Travis Ishikawa full-time roles. While Sandoval has a ton of potential, he is largely unproven and along with Bengie Molina and Fred Lewis, he comprises one of the weakest 3-4-5 middle-of-the-orders in baseball. From top to bottom, the Giants once again have one of the worst offenses in the league and unless they can add a big bat at the trade deadline, they’ll likely play in a ton of low scoring ballgames this year.

Outlook: This team actually has scattered potential, but they’re just not there yet. 2008 Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum is already one of the most dominating pitchers in baseball and it seems like his popularity has grown overnight. Randy Johnson, Matt Cain, Barry Zito and Jonathan Sanchez join Lincecum to form one of the better young rotations in the National League. Unfortunately, they’ll once again have little to no run support because GM Brian Sabean has ignored drafting top position players for years. Instead, he has chosen to overpay for guys like Aaron Rowand, and therefore must hope that youngsters Pablo Sandoval, Fred Lewis, Travis Ishikawa and Kevin Frandsen have breakout years. Randy Winn, Edgar Renteria and Bengie Molina are fine role players, but they’re being counted on as the core of the Giants’ lineup, which limits this club’s potential. The starting pitching will once again be solid and the bullpen actually looks decent with closer Brian Wilson leading the way, followed by free agent addition Jeremy Afeldt and promising youngsters Alex Hinshaw and Sergio Romo. But the lineup will once again hold the Giants back this year and unless Sabean has a trick up his sleeve at the trade deadline, San Fran will have to wait another year or two before they’re competitive again.

Projection: 3rd NL West

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