Our guest bloggers is Matt Seybold from The Sporting Hippeaux.
Question 1 – Can Tim Lincecum win his third consecutive Cy Young?
Matt: Can he? Absolutely. I don’t expect him to backtrack significantly from his ’08 and ’09 numbers. Will he? I think the main thing standing in his way in Roy Halladay.
Daniels: It’s arguable one of those two belonged to Johan Santana and the only reason Santana didn’t get it was due to the catastrophic failures of the Mets bullpen. Sour grapes aside, the addition of Roy Halladay to the league for a full season is going to hurt Lincecum’s chances. History has indicated that when a great starter switches leagues (in either direction, usually) his first season is generally awesome. Should the Phillies bullpen be a touch better than they were last season, I’d expect Halladay to make a strong push for the NL’s award.
Eugene: I also think Wainwright will have another strong season (how do you have the most first place votes and end in 3rd?), so there is another source of competition. I though Lincecum deserved it last year and will have a great shot of winning it again. I just don’t see the baseball writers giving him 3 in a row.
Question 2 – When will Buster Posey become the full time catcher?
Daniels: I would imagine that Bengie Molina will retain the full time job for at least one more season.
Eugene: There will be 2 way that Posey will end the season as the Giants catcher:
1 – If Posey is playing incredibly well in Triple A, the Giants would look into trading Molina.
2 – If the Giants are not in contention, they’ll give Posey the opportunity to get his feet wet.
If neither happens, Molina will be the catcher in September (possibly October).
Matt: I expect Buster Posey will have some role with the big-league club prior to September. If the Giants fall out of contention by July or August, I think they will bring Posey up and insert him in a timeshare with Molina, so that the pitchers can adjust to him in a lower intensity setting and he can get some tutelage from the veteran. However, if they are still in the thick of the NL West race come mid-August, I think they will still bring Posey up, if only so he will be eligible for their postseason roster (in the event Molina got hurt, or merely as a backup catcher who would also be valuable as a pinch-hitter). I wish the Giants would put him on the Opening Day roster and give him about half the starts (which might also increase Molina’s productivity over the course of the season), but it’s pretty clear that isn’t going to happen.
Aaron: Posey should’ve been the man entering this season, but instead he became something of a tug-of-war between the old school ex-backstop manager Bruce Bochy who doesn’t think Posey’s got the chops defensively and the front office that wanted Posey to play now. If Posey isn’t behind home plate on a regular basis by the All Star Break, I’d be genuinely concerned about his future at the position.
Question 3 – Can Pablo Sandoval continue to hit as well as he did last year?
Matt: People are questioning the legitimacy of Sandoval’s .330 average because he had a .350 BABIP, which was 22nd in the major leagues. What they aren’t realizing is that that high BABIP was perfectly in line with his ’08 BABIPs, which were .384 at A-ball, .345 at AA, and .354 in the majors. I think it’s very possible that Sandoval is one of those players whose career BABIP may end up at .340 or better, which makes .350 hardly outside the range of expectations. I think we can assume he will again hit well above .300 in 2010 with an OPS above 900. Hopefully, the modest upgrades the Giants made around him will help to improve his runs (79) and RBI (90), which were ridiculously low in ’09 considering his ratios and the number of games he played (153).
Eugene: I really hope so, because he was part of a deal where I gave up Pujols in my fantasy league.
I do think he can continue to this that well. He put up similar numbers in the minors and should see a boost with an improved line up this year.
Question 4 – How will the Giants finish?
Matt: I really want to say the Giants will make a playoff bid this season, and it isn’t terribly far-fetched, but I’m still having trouble figuring out how they manage to score runs.
The pitching staff is clearly exceptional. It isn’t even out of the realm of possibility that they could be even better in 2010. Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum are still in their mid-twenties. Jonathan Sanchez is a year older (and hopefully wiser). Zito seems to be going through a minor renaissance. And the Giants have more stellar young arms coming up through the ranks (Madison Bumgarner, Kevin Pucetas, Henry Sosa).
The Giants big problem is Brian Sabean’s obsession with players who shouldn’t hit higher than sixth. Aaron Rowand? He was great hitting sixth for the Phillies and White Sox. Mark DeRosa? He was an excellent six-hole hitter for the Cubs. Aubrey Huff? I’d be comfortably with him hitting sixth (maybe fifth). Bengie Molina? Edgar Renteria? Nate Schierholtz? They are all decent complementary players, but Pablo Sandoval is still very much an island in the middle of the SF lineup. I see a lot more 2-1 and 2-0 losses in the Giants future. .500 record, third place.
(Yes, I believe that’s now four teams I’ve predicted to finish third in the NL West)
Eugene: I think the Giants will contend, but end up falling just short in second place. They added some good pieces, but lack a true slugger to complement Sandoval.
Tags: 30 Teams in 30 Days, Baseball, Baseball Preview, Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants, Tim Lincecum