Welcome to my second attempt at keeping a Giants blog. I did reasonably well with my first one, but I eventually beceame inactive and I felt compelled to start fresh as die hard fans start to gear up for the new season. Before I begin, I should, for everyone’s benefit, lay out what I am here to do. If you don’t care what I’m here to do, feel free to skip the next four paragraphs.
While I will certainly keep my blog civil, I will strive to be as frank as possible about my opinions regarding the baseball world. Mincing words has never been my style, and I see no reason to start now.
I will focus on the Giants, but that doesn’t mean I won’t address what is happening around the league. Baseball in general is what is most important.
I am not an accomplished statistician, or even an unaccomplished statistician, but I will try to provide stastical context to my writing. I know many people see numbers as scary, but with just a little explanation, statistics greatly enhance one’s understanding and enjoyment of the game. I promise.
And, for ease of reading and understanding, I will try to use proper spelling and grammar. I will even proofread my posts to ensure that I don’t miss anything major.
And now, on to business.
The Giants had a very eventful offseason this winter, but is the team really better? It is certainly not significantly younger, despite the promises of Brian Sabean and the front office. Barry Bonds is still the focus of the team, at least offensively (and of course, to the media).
Moises Alou’s consistent, albeit aging, performance is gone, replaced by Dave Roberts, who would be a backup on most teams. While certainly a defensive improvement, Roberts probably can’t make up for the lost offensive production from Moises Alou.
Shea Hillenbrand, who walked only seven (seven!) times in 244 plate appearances, is also gone, replaced by a familiar face in Rich Aurilia. Aurilia is probably an improvement over Hillenbrand, but is still not that All-Star first baseman the Giants have lacked for so long. Expect his performance to dip now that he is no longer playing in Cincinatti.
I would really like to have seen a new third baseman. Pedro Feliz is a below replacement-level (readily available minor leaguer or waived player) player who is costing the team runs with his lack of plate discipline. I would argue that Feliz should be replaced even by Kevin Frandsen, who has less power but is still probably a better all-around player.
Ray Durham is coming off his best offensive year, which was by most estimates a fluke, but is still a good offensive second baseman. Omar Vizquel also had a decent offensive year, and while his defense is declining, (He posted a 0 FRAA, or fielding runs above average. Think of that measurement as the number of runs he prevented more than the average shortstop would have.) it was still better than passable. The middle of the infield, while not excellent, is a strength for the Giants.
The Giants outfield is perhaps the most volatile in the league. While Randy Winn slumped after receiving a lucrative new contract, many projections have him rebounding back to his average performance. Roberts has already been discussed, which leaves us with Bonds. Bonds can still produce runs and get on base with the best of them, and hit very well in the second half of the season. I envision Bonds pulling a Ted Williams and overachieving in what will probably be his final season. However, projections don’t support this; it is only a gut feeling.
I will discuss the San Francisco pitching staff tomorrow. I apologize for the length, most posts in the future will be shorter.