Now that all teams have officially had their home openers, the MLB season is officially underway – analysis is ongoing and predictions are rejiggered. From a macro-perspective, YKI won’t attempt to make copious observations, but one thing is becoming evident: despite initial predictions of the Rockies running away with the NL West crown, the team that’ll win the West will undoubtedly be the the San Francisco Giants.
Ouch – Dodgers fans and L.A. sports loyalists have already begun to cower, especially with the increasing security issues at Dodger Stadium clouding an already nebulous season at Chavez Ravine. The divorce has been discussed ad nauseam, the pitching was such that Vicente Padilla started opening day, and though the offense is rolling – the ethereal ‘mojo’ that is so important over the course of a baseball season is non-existent, unless one is referring to the ONE HUNDRED & THIRTY-TWO PEOPLE THAT WERE ARRESTED AT DODGER STADIUM ON OPENING DAY.
Its still early, so I’ll make this short: in the post-steroid era, Good Pitching Beats Good Hitting. Let’s have a quick precap of the Giants’ Guns:
Tim Lincecum: Unorthodox, undersized, doesn’t ice his arm, meddling father, arrested for weed possession and just plain overwhelmingly dominating. Two Cy Youngs in three years. Beat that.
Matt Cain: A right-handed, tall version of Lincecum (minus the weed). Dominating.
Jonathan Sanchez: Young, nasty left-hander with a no-hitter on his resume (last year) and 17 K’s (in 12 innings) in his pocket. Gnarly stuff would make him an Ace-in-the-making on a ‘normal’ pitching staff.
Barry Zito: “my. Boy. BARRY!“is proving once again why he was a Cy Young Award winner, and earner of that monstrous, $126mm contract in 2006. While many Giants fans consider him an albatross, he is clearly comfortable (finally) in SF, and since the 2nd half of 2009, recovered his old form – making him the only Ace in the league that holds down the 3 spot in a pitching rotation.
Now, there is still the pesky issue of a medicore bullpen, but closer Brian Wilson is strong enough to finish games, and deserves the ‘closer’ moniker in the true sense, as opposed to say, the Jeff Shaw/Brian Fuentes/Eddie Guardado Closer that received the role by default and was somehow labeled as such.
Offensively, special things are happening with this team. Pablo Sandoval is still raking. Edgar Renteria can still hit. Aubrey Huff is doing the job. And while they wait for uber-prospect Buster Posey to arrive from Fresno, Bengie Molina continues to win over fans and critics. And perhaps most scary, Aaron Rowand is Kirk Gibson – a football mentality, hard-nosed outfielder that plays balls-out, and though numbers don’t indicate his value, is a stalwart in the middle of that offense.
In short, this team has arrived earlier than planned, and they will continue to scrap out victories in 3-2, 2-1, 2-0 fashion. The Giants are here, and they will win the West.