I'm tired of writing about teams that have better players than us. Let's face it, our lineup--other than Pablo Sandoval--is not going to be much fun to watch. But when our youngsters take the hill, things will be different. We've got some serious talent on our club! Much of the blog-talk about the Giants (my own included) assumes the lads will not pitch quite as well as last year's historically awesome staff. That's a reasonable assumption--excellence is diffcult to maintain, especially in the ultra-competitive world of professional baseball. And there's that pesky fact of life called "normal variation" that even the finest ballplayers are subject to. Finally, a pitching staff is an aggregate of many individuals and many performances. Predicting and projecting almost two dozen guys (Giants used 21 pitchers last year) over the course of a season is fraught with uncertainty.
That being said, we have the best pitcher in the universe. I have no reason to expect our 2006 number one draft pick to do anything but pitch Cy Young-level baseball. After all, he did that last year. And the previous year as well. In fact, his 2009 was better than his 2008! He's going to be something to see this season. We also have a fellow that's only 25 but has logged 130 major-league starts in his last four seasons. His ERA+ for those seasons? 108, 123, 118, 151. And he's our second-best pitcher! Factoid: Matt Cain is the longest-serving Giant--he's been on the big squad since the end of the 2005 season. He was the 2002 number one draft pick and made his debut in Arizona when he was 17! I like it. We've got a another young fellow who's got 429 strikeouts in 413-1/3 innings in his career, and threw a no-hitter last season. And we have still one more very young fellow who's also a number one draft pick (2006). This 20-year old is one of the hottest prospects in baseball, and the Giants are going to give him a job next year.
Barry Zito, it should be noted, was also a number one draft pick. He, unfortunately, makes more money--way more money--than he's worth. This isn't a problem until you try to sign Tim Lincecum. You can't, because you have one guy already on a high-dollar long-term deal and that means you won't make another until that one is done. Zito was a reasonably effective starter (108 ERA+) in 192 IP last season, so you can expect a positive contribution (2.2 WAR in 2009) from him. But $18.5 M this season, $18.5 M in 2011, $19 M in 2012, and $20 M in 2013 means $76 M you can't give to Tim.
But that's only a problem for 2011. The rotation looks pretty damn formidable for 2010. The only realy question mark is MadBum--ready? Not ready? Alternatives?
I think the 'pen deserves a separate post, don't you?
Speak, O My Brothers. What are your thoughts on the 2010 rotation?
UPDATE (Monday 0650): A couple of items I gleaned from the indispensable Baseball Musings: Justin Verlander just signed a long-term deal. The negotiations with Lincecum are (perhaps) complicated by the ownership group's links to Silicon Valley. The first story tells me it is possible to make a deal for an elite pitcher. Let's hope the Giants are paying attention. The second story (from Extra Baggs) is great for fueling Tim-panic. It has a sort of DaVinci Code vibe--convoluted and bizarre but strangely believable! (Good God, I need the season to start so I can read and write about ACTUAL BASEBALL.)