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a-qa-with-the-giants | October | 2010 Articles

2010 Archives

A Q&A with the Giants

Written by Joe Lucia on .

So this is a fun little thing we've got going on in preparation for the upcoming series... Dave over at Golden Gate Giants and myself each exchanged a few questions before the series begins about the opposing team. My answers aren't up on his site, but I'll be sure to post a link when they are. Until there, here are my questions for him and his responses. -This Giants team has been battered by injuries this year. How is everyone’s health doing, specifically Andres Torres and his appendix? The fact that Torres came back as quickly as he did (less than 2 weeks) amazes me; 2 weeks after I had my appendix out, I was trying to walk for more than 5 minutes without getting winded. He's incredibly important to the Giants' lineup, and he played daily down the stretch, so I have to assume he's in good shape health-wise. He may not be the base stealing threat he was before surgery, but the Giants aren't a base stealing team, anyway. Freddy Sanchez received a pain-killing shot in his right shoulder a few days ago, and it's still bothering him when he throws. It doesn't affect his hitting, but don't be surprised if he's replaced by Mike Fontenot for defensive purposes in the late innings. Pat Burrell, Aubrey Huff and Buster Posey are all worn down, but the 3-day break between games should take care of that. -Both teams in this series are young, but the Giants have a lot less playoff experience in comparison to the Braves. Does that worry you? Do you think it will make a difference? I stopped worrying about playoff experience after the '03 Marlins ran a 100-win veteran Giants team out of the first round. There's something to be said for it, but I don't think it's the end-all, be-all a lot of people make it out to be. When it comes down to it, the Giants have 6 guys on the roster with World Series experience (Juan Uribe, Pat Burrell, Aaron Rowand, Edgar Renteria, Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez) and 5 of them have rings. It's a tight, solid locker room with a good mix of veterans and young players. They won't let anyone get too amped or too nervous. -Brian Sabean picked up something like 12 outfielders in the second half of the season. Who’s going to be left off the roster? I assume there isn’t much of a pressing need for all of those guys. No no, you have your numbers mixed up. Sabean only picked up 3 new outfielders; 12 is the amount of dollars in millions that Aaron Rowand is being paid this year. Easy mistake to make. Basically, Sabean remade the entire outfield: the opening day trio of Mark DeRosa, Rowand and John Bowker has been replaced with Pat Burrell, Andres Torres and Jose Guillen. If the Giants have the lead in the late innings, Burrell and Guillen are replaced with Nate Schierholtz and Cody Ross for defensive purposes. I've come to grips with the fact that Rowand is probably going to be left on the playoff roster. I think it's going to come down to him or Travis Ishikawa, but they'll likely stick with Rowand since he's a right-handed bat (I get into this a little more in depth in my latest article). So, it wouldn't shock me at all to see the Giants carry 6 outfielders. Two of the reserves are important defensive replacements, and the other one is making a ton of money...I don't see any of them being left out in the cold. -We know how good Tim Lincecum is. Matt Cain has apparently put it all together this season and has been one of the better starters in the league. What do you make of the up and down craziness that is Jonathan Sanchez’s season? Is he worthy of getting the game 3 start, or would someone else (coughzitocough) be a better option? Ah, Jonathan Sanchez. I've gone back and forth on him so many times, I've lost track... at one point I was totally in favor of the Giants trading him for Corey Hart (which was a July rumor), while at the end of the season I couldn't imagine trading him for anyone. It's not a stretch to say that Sanchez could possibly have the best stuff on the staff, and that includes Lincecum and Cain. His problem has always been consistency...he's prone to losing his arm slot and his release point, but he seems to have overcome those problems for the most part. He was a beast down the stretch (September numbers: 3-1, 1.17 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, .147 BAA, 37 Ks in 30.2 IP) and came up big when the Giants needed him to clinch the division this past weekend. He's absolutely worthy of the Game 3 start, especially considering his numbers on the road have been excellent this year. Sanchez is definitely ahead of Zito in the rotation hierarchy; at this point, so is Madison Bumgarner. I'd be shocked if Sanchez isn't taking the mound for Game 3 in Atlanta. -If you could pick one “dark horse” player who you think will have a huge impact on this series that no one is talking about, who would it be and why? Nate Schierholtz. He's been relegated to defensive replacement status, but I have a feeling Schierholtz is going to see more time in this series. Jose Guillen has been terrible at the plate lately, and he's a statue in RF... if he's not hitting, there's no need for him to be in the lineup. Schierholtz is an excellent defender, has a rocket arm, and has shown an ability to hit when he's given an extended run of AB's. Cody Ross is the usual lineup replacement when Guillen doesn't play, but Schierholtz can provide another good lefty bat to counteract the Braves' righty-heavy rotation. I think Schierholtz makes a difference this series. One footnote: if Darren Ford makes the postseason roster (a longshot), I'll change my pick to him. He could be the fastest player in the Majors and is a terror on the base paths. I hope he gets a shot at the expense of Rowand. -The Giants bullpen has been pretty great this season, despite being filled with retreads and guys who haven’t really had much success in the majors. Explain what the hell is going on there. It all starts with Brian Wilson and his amazing beard. Wilson stepped into elite closer territory this year, but everyone knew he had that ability; like you said, it's the rest of the 'pen that has everyone wondering what the hell is going on here. Sergio Romo has emerged as one of the top setup men in the game. He's not going to blow anyone away, but his pitches have wicked movement and he makes a lot of hitters miss because of it. Ramon Ramirez and Javier Lopez, both picked up on July 31, have been lights-out for the Giants as well. Ramirez has rapidly moved up the ranks of right-handers in the bullpen and has put up a 0.89 ERA since coming to San Francisco. Lopez is absolute death on lefties, and Jason Heyward can expect to get a healthy does of him over the course of the series. Jeremy Affeldt is having a down year but it still a solid veteran arm, while Santiago Casilla and his 98-mph fastball have been nearly unhittable since August. Is there a big, cosmic reason for their successes? Probably not one in particular. All of the pitchers know their roles, and Bruce Bochy usually knows which matchups to play. The bullpen has been so good, there's a good chance that 3 effective relievers (Chris Ray, Guillermo Mota, Dan Runzler) will be left off the roster simply because there's no room for them. You don't think Tampa Bay or New York would kill to have someone like Ray or Runzler in their 'pen this October? It's a good problem for the Giants to have, and shows just how strong the unit has been collectively. -Finally, give me your prediction. Feel free to offend the legions of Giants fans who read you and pick the Braves, we need all the confidence we get since the media hates this team so much right now. Sorry, Braves nation... I'm picking the Giants (obviously... I probably couldn't get another date in my life if I picked the Braves). I think Lincecum outduels Lowe in Game 1, Cain rebounds from a tough game against the Padres this past weekend to win Game 2, the Braves rally at home to take Game 3, and then rookie Madison Bumgarner makes an October statement and clinches it for the Giants in Game 4. I think injuries have wrecked the Braves' lineup to the point where they'll be hard pressed to keep up with the Giants' dangerous assortment of arms. Pitching's going to be the key to this series: both teams have it in spades, but the Giants' lineup looks better equipped to handle the Braves' pitching than the other way around. Giants in 4. -------------------------------------------------- Aside from the completely incorrect prediction, some great insight from Dave. Looking forward to this series. I'll have a look at my projected first round roster tomorrow. Was going to do it today, but I was juuuuuuuuust a bit tired. I'm sure you all understand. T-minus 3 days until Braves playoff baseball returns...

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