Wednesday, February 24, 2010

1-2 punch

Giants fans were pretty happy last year with their "1-2 punch" of Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. Funny thing, it was a syncopated 1-2 as Barry Zito and/or Randy Johnson got the "no. 2" call with Matty stuck at "no. 3" for much of the season. Be that as it may, baseball fans love a good 1-2, and we have many intriguing combos this year, like Halladay-Hamels in Philly, Carpenter-Wainwright in St. Louis, Beckett-Lackey in Boston, Kershaw-Billingsley in LA, and, the one that has most observers salivating, Lee-Hernandez in Seattle. The Mariners are one of those teams--like the Giants--who seem on the verge of "putting it all together" despite obvious holes in the roster. When you have genuine superstar aces like Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez it is easy to get excited about your team, much like Giants fans feel about Tim and Matt. M's fans perhaps have a little more going for them as they've recently revamped the front office with a new GM (Jack Zduriencik) and seem ready to embrace a new approach to finding and acquiring talent. Alas, Giants fans can take some solace in the the improvements in our scouting and drafting under John Barr, but the hope we will get new upper management seems like a fantasy at this point. I bring up the M's because one of my favorite baseball writers, Dave Cameron (USS Mariner and FanGraphs) was interviewed at The Baseball Analysts and he says some things that I think fit the 2010 Giants:

It's certainly a risk to put your eggs in the basket of two pitchers, and an extended DL stint for either one probably takes the Mariners out of contention. But, these two are legitimately among the top arms in baseball, and the Mariners will be the favorite in every game where they take the hill. If they can get 65 starts out of that pair, there's a good chance they'll get 45+ wins in those games, and they could then play below .500 ball the rest of the season and still be a playoff contender. That's the blueprint, essentially - win early and often when Felix and Lee are on the hill, try not to get pummeled when the other guys start.

The Giants are perhaps more of a 1-3-3 punch than a genuine 1-2, with JSanchez emerging last season, and we are counting on some starting depth (hell, even Zito was effective), so the comparison is not entirely accurate. Still, worth a look.

So, let me just throw this out there - this team very well might not win. They've bet big on a few guys staying healthy and productive, and they're counting on guys playing better than they have in the recent past in order to score enough runs to contend. There are a ton of risks in this roster, and it could all go horribly wrong. There are plausible scenarios where this team loses 90 games, and they have nothing to do with defense being overrated. (emphasis mine)

The M's have made a push to improve their fielding, not something the Giants can say, but I think the Giants FO believes they have improved the offense, and the assumption is the same by both clubs. That is, a weakness was addressed and thus the team will do better.

Here's the good part, one that Giants fans like to fantasize about:

Will it work? I don't know. But if it does, and the Mariners end up making the post-season, that duo makes them a nightmare to face in a short series. The Mariners certainly aren't as good as the Yankees, Red Sox, or Rays, but in a 7 game series where Felix and Lee take the hill four times, the differences are minimized. With these two guys, the Mariners have a roster built for October. Whether the surrounding pieces are good enough to get them there, we'll see, but there are certainly two cornerstones in place for a post-season run that ends with a parade.

Just my usual scouring of the 'net for interesting tidbits while we all twiddle our thumbs until the season starts.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hmm, hmmmmmmm, yeah, two punches are better than one I suppose. You know what bothers me? Whenever I have my hopes up they come crashing down by September/October. But it's hard not to feel good about the team (for me anyways).

BREAKING NEWS (sorta): Pablo regained the 14 pounds that he lost and possibly a little more. But this doesn't bother me. Prince Fielder did just fine and he's in a higher level of the Chubb. Pablo is still cute and cuddly. I suspect that it was the Venezuelan cuisine that tempted him. Well he's back where he belongs and hopefully he'll lose it all over again, if not, I gotta say, it's nice seeing an athlete who doesn't fit the mold of the norm. We have two extremes in Timmy and Pablo and I wouldn't have it any other way. It can give a nation like ours hope that just because you're different, that doesn't mean that you can't succeed. It gives me hope and further cements me to this team. Besides, I'd take a Freak and a Panda any day over a rapist or a man-woman (see Matt Kemp and Manny Ramirez).