Happy New Year!!!

Here's to a prosperous new year for the San Francisco Giants in 2005! (hopefully in the form of a World Series championship! :^)

Right now it looks pretty good for a 90-95 win season for 2005.
  • The offense is about net even with the moves from Pierzynski to Matheny (big minus), Tucker/Mohr to Alou (big plus), and Cruz to Vizquel (even against Cruz of 2004, plus against Cruz lifetime). Bonds, Grissom, Snow looks to be down overall, but if we have a healthy Durham and fit Alfonzo for 2005, that should even out everything plus perhaps a net gain with Cruz on the bench (vs. Neifi or Ransom), Tucker on the bench (vs. Mohr), and hopefully Torrealba returning to his offensive contribution from previous years.
  • The defense is greatly improved at SS and C but down for RF, but those are two critical fielding positions and RF is not, even with how tough SBC's RF is, as that position does not see as many fielding plays as SS or C.
  • The starting rotation should be better with Schmidt (healthy vs. missing April and toughing out Sept), Williams (fit vs. very out of shape), Lowry (full season vs. part season plus Hermanson), Tomko (hopefully a full season of confidence vs. a half season of mental acuity), Rueter (hopefully return to health and past success vs. a poor year overall, but in any case, pitching in back of rotation may help).
  • The bullpen should be much better just with Benitez closing, then with Herges as lights out setup man like in 2003, Brower having a breakout year as setup man, Eyre having a full year with changeup he learned from Lowry, and Christiansen having a fully healthy year. Then hopefully Walker can continue his breakout year and either Aardsma, Foppert, or Hennessey do a Nathan circa 2003 for us in 2005 (my bet is on Foppert; Aardsma need a year as closer in AAA, Hennessey need more seasoning in AAA while Foppert has nothing to prove at AAA)

I will do my usual full analysis before the start of the season but that's how it looks to me from a overview look at the team. I don't know if that's good enough to beat the D-gers and Pads (Rockies? really...) because they might make more changes.

But right now it looks good as the D-gers lost Beltran, Finley, and Odalis Perez's performances and they were the difference makers last season for them, though they did get injury prone JD Drew and did sign Jeff "it's my life-long dream" Kent. However, if they are able to sucker some sad-sack team into taking Green off their hands and get useful parts for him, then there may be hope for them afterall (then they might take a flyer on a one-year deal with Ordonez... :^( ). If we are lucky, JD Drew will take Green's place of the past two seasons..

And I don't know what the Pads have done, so they probably haven't done much. Oh yeah, they lost their best pitcher in David Wells so that's probably good. And took a flyer on Darrel May. So, yeah, the Giants look good against both opponents right now.


World Series or bust?!?

"There are very few times when you're humbled by signings," said Sabean. "This signing was momentous to the Giants. To put him in the middle of the lineup -- he's one of the top five most dangerous hitters in the National League. He's a gamer and I think we'll all take great joy [by earning] a World Series ring. " (sfgiants.com)

I guess this means that the rumors are true, the Giants are going for it. Finally, all of us fans voices are being heard. This was not said at the beginning of the off-season. No, in fact, it looked like same-old, same-old "we're not a big budget team, we can't get a bopper, blah blah 2004." But somewhere along the line the Giants owners finally got it - "gee Bonds is 40!" - and realized that they had to go for it now, there's not many more seasons of Bonds left, let alone at historic levels. Perhaps the Red Sox's stirring victory inspired or motivated them (or just plain kicked them in their keister!).

"I'd compare it to our 2000 team and 2003 teams," said Magowan. "This team compares favorably. We have a strong bullpen, a lot of run-scoring ability in the lineup and a good defensive team. I expect to have a great year in 2005." (sfgiants.com)

Oh boy, wouldn't Baker have been crying to the press with this one and the previous quote. I expect them to have a great year in 2005 too. With Alou's signing, now we have the bat behind Bonds to drive him in a zillion times for the zillion times Bonds gets walked.

Alou career 2004
Bases Empty .287/.346/.507/.852 .272/.338/.532/.870
Runners On .313/.388/.520/.908 .319/.389/.589/.978
RISP .312/.397/.518/.915 .303/.363/.566/.929

vs. Left .326/.391/.539/.929 .298/.355/.491/.846
vs. Right .292/.359/.505/.864 .292/.363/.573/.936

Gosh, with these numbers, maybe Bonds can be convinced to bat 3rd with Alou 4th!

"The heavy lifting's done," said Sabean. "We will tweak the team's bullpen and defensively, but we have a good shot at doing good. When these guys sit around the clubhouse they'll see veterans with experience and passion. They're gamers who'll feed off each other." (sfgiants.com)

So the roster is pretty set with the following:

Starting Lineup: Durham, Vizquel, Snow/Feliz, Bonds, Alou, Alfonzo/Feliz, Grissom, Matheny; with Alfonzo batting 3rd sometimes when Feliz is playing 1B in platoon with Snow.

Starting Rotation: Schmidt, Tomko, Williams, Rueter, Lowry

Bench: Tucker, Feliz, Cruz, Torrealba

Bullpen: Benitez, Herges, Brower, Eyre, Christiansen

That leaves three spots open: reserve OF/1B or perhaps another reliever plus two relievers. Torcato looks to be the one to beat right now because he bats LH and has done well hitting in MLB in short stints, however Ellison has to be in the mix because he can play all three OF positions while Torcato really can only play RF and 1B and not even decently. Foppert, Hennessey, Aardsma, Franklin, Fassero, and Correia are probably the main battlers for the final bullpen spots. It will probably depend on how well they all do in spring training, with Fassero getting an edge because he's gone if he don't make the MLB roster.

For all these players I get a total player payroll on a cash basis of $83M, a bit over the $78M that was mentioned as a target but within the "Maddux Money" extra over the budget.


Moises Alou is here...

He signed for $13.25M, $7.25M 2005, player option for $6M in 2006, small deferrals. Wants to retire with his dad (and presumably help him get his first championship! Hope he succeeds. :^)


Minor League deals

Forgot to note a dozen minor league signings from Dec. 14th. The biggest signing was Jeff Fassero, 41, LHP, who has pitched 14 years, for Alou from 92-96. Others include pitchers Armando Almanza, Brian Cooper, Matt Kinney, Jeremy Fikac, Brandon Puffer, and Brandon Villafuerte, catcher Yamid Haad, infielders Julio Cordido and Donaldo Mendez, and outfielders Doug Clark and Julio Ramirez. Julio Cordido and Doug Clark played in the minors for SF last season, Brian Cooper played for SF in 2004 but I think he was elsewhere for 2005. I was surprised by Villafuerte, I thought he had done well for the Padres (and he did, his stats looked good from his time with them, but he was bad with D-Backs...). Only he and Fassero look promisingly to make the bullpen, but they'll be battling Franklin and probably Foppert, Hennessey, and Correia for the two bullpen spots open.