Aaron Rowand

10 questions for the World Champion SF Giants

After going all Giants, all the time leading up to and then through their World Series run, this site has been nearly Giants-free since. First I got married, which meant a 3-week break from posts of any kind. Then it was football, and covering Warriors games, then the madness that surrounded Jim Harbaugh.

But the Giants are still on everybody’s minds. There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t hear someone giving thanks for the World Championship. I still find myself watching parade videos from time to time if I’m in the mood for a few goosebumps. But let’s face it, Giants news has been scarce and not all that interesting since the parade.

– They re-signed Aubrey Huff, Mike Fontenot, Pat Burrell and Guillermo Mota.

– Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria fled the premises, while Eugenio Velez and Chris Ray were nudged out the door.

– Pablo Sandoval continues to have team employees rave over his supposed weight loss.

– The 2011 ZiPS projections seem to have faith in Sandoval’s supposed weight loss; they have the Panda at .295/.346/.474 over 156(!) games.

– Brian Wilson went on Jay Leno.

Even though blogging about sports generally trends negative, it’s time to dive back into the orange and black pool of positivity. In an attempt to get my mind back on baseball and the only team that’s really accomplished anything since I started writing about all these teams in January of 2008 (besides the Sharks, yeah yeah yeah), here are the future storylines to obsess over while waiting for pitchers and catchers to report (and the inevitable “Barry Zito has a new attitude/throwing motion/reason to be motivated” story).

1. What can we expect from Pablo Sandoval?

I think one of the things we’re forgetting here is that even if he loses 15, 30, even 45 pounds, the league isn’t going to forget that Sandoval swings at everything, especially with guys on base (first base, to be specific). The weight loss has much more to do with his defensive range and throwing mechanics than whether or not he’ll become a .300 hitter again.

2. Brandon Belt: when and how good will he be?

ZiPS has Belt playing 136 games with the Giants next season (and a very productive 136 games at that, with 14 HR and 18 SB and the 4th-highest OPS+ on the team). Everyone seems to be in agreement that he’s one of the top 20 or so hitting prospects in the game. Will Brian Sabean and the brass take the training wheels off early, or will they attempt to delay the start of his service time as long as they can?

3. Who will break down, Freddy Sanchez, Mark DeRosa, or both?

Both have undergone two separate surgeries in the same area over the last two years (right wrist for DeRosa, left shoulder for Sanchez). We can probably assume that Miguel Tejada will supply 150 games of league average production or slightly below. But if both Sanchez and DeRosa are unable to contribute, that’s going to mean a lot more Fontenot than the Giants want to see.

4. Can the Giants count on their rotation to last the entire season?

Because there isn’t much behind them in the system, and Madison Bumgarner’s increased innings from 2009 to 2010 is a red flag according to a certain SI reporter who likes to give dugout reports while holding onto his microphone with two hands. Actually, there’s just about nothing. Could they gamble on a guy like Chris Young? Chances are he’ll probably be too risky relative to the amount of money he’ll be able to command, but the Giants are going to have to sign some Todd Wellemeyer-type who hopefully doesn’t pitch like Todd Wellemeyer.

5. Just how good is Buster Posey?

If Posey’s production is similar to his 2010 season, the Giants are in really good shape. If he makes the leap and becomes one of the best right-handed hitters in the NL along with Albert Pujols, Troy Tulowitzki, Matt Holliday and Ryan Zimmerman, the Giants might have an easier time winning the NL West than anybody could have imagined.

6. Speaking of the NL West, who is the Giants’ main competition?

The San Diego Padres decided to retreat and build themselves back up for another NL West run in 2014, the Dodgers raided the Giants when they could, and the Rockies haven’t done much other than adding Ty Wigginton and Matt Lindstrom. However, the D-Backs played awfully well near the end of last season and the Giants always seem to have trouble against all the other NL West teams on the road.

7. Will Aaron Rowand last the season?

He’s likable enough and his contract is 60% done. You have to imagine Sabean is praying for starting outfielders to drop like flies throughout the Majors between now and July.

8. Tim Lincecum’s slider: new weapon in the arsenal or postseason experiment?

Lincecum absolutely destroyed the Atlanta Braves in the first game of the playoffs when he started throwing a slider with hellacious movement. Then the blister concerns raised their ugly finger. Can Lincecum take Mike Krukow’s advice and take better care of his hands this season? Because if he can, the chances of a third Cy Young in four years will be much higher.

9. Will 2011 be the year Matt Cain becomes a star?

21 1/3 scoreless innings in the playoffs. If momentum can last 5+ months, he’s going to have one hell of an April!

10. When will Pat Burrell admit he’s “The Machine”?

We all know about your leather fetish, Pat, and how you took less money to live and work in San Francisco. Maybe he’s waiting to make the announcement we’re all waiting for at the next Folsom Street Fair.

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