Thursday, March 04, 2004

posted by James - 12:26 PM

I was unsure whether I wanted to start this endeavor because of the amount of effort it would take to put this online, but it's really effort I've already put in and will continue to put in throughout the season, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

I'm going to start posting prospective lineups and rosters for each MLB team. I'll probably start with the Cubs' opponents for that day at least until I get some feedback on format, and then I'll expand to some select Grapefruit League matchups to cover the rest.

I might start to add some more in-depth analysis of the rosters, but I just want to throw this up here now and see what everyone thinks (partially because the Cubs-Giants game is about to start and I'm trying to beat the opening pitch).

Here are MY 2004 San Francisco Giants:
1. Durham 2b
2. Grissom cf
3. Bonds lf
4. Alfonzo 3b
5. Tucker rf
6. Pierzynski c
7. Snow 1b
8. Ransom ss

N. Perez inf
Hammonds of
Torrealba c
Mohr of
Feliz inf

Schmidt rhp
Rueter lhp
Je. Williams rhp
Tomko rhp
Hermanson rhp

Brower rhp
Eyre lhp
Zerbe lhp
Christianson lhp
Herges rhp
Fe. Rodriguez rhp
Nen rhp

Other notables
Foppert rhp
Jensen rhp
Correia rhp

Lunsford c
Castillo c
Niekro inf
Torcato of
Linden of
Ellison of
Valderrama of

Other lineups
1. Durham 2b
2. Snow 1b
3. Bonds lf
4. Alfonzo 3b
5. Tucker rf
6. Pierzynski c
7. Grissom cf
8. Ransom ss
The latter is what I've read Giants Manager Felipe Alou refer to as his lineup. If 1B J.T. Snow can repeat his OBP from last year, I'd support this move as well. Both Snow (2004 OBP: .387) and C A.J. Pierzynski (.360) could probably do better than OF Marquis Grissom (.322) in front of Barry Bonds, but it's more important to find out if Snow or Pierzynski or Grissom can hit better behind Bonds than find a No. 2 hitter.

All of these options are a credit to Giants GM Brian Sabean, who brought in several outfield candidates, although they could have used an infielder as well because I'm not sold on the offensive threat of SS Cody Ransom or INF Neifi Perez. I'm picking Ransom to win the job this year, because he couldn't possibly be worse with the bat than Perez the last three years (632 OPS after two sub 600 years!), but in his defense, he played pretty good defense last year.

Like I said before, their biggest task is figuring out hitters 4-7. 3B Edgardo Alfonzo did a great job in the second half in his first year in San Francisco. I don't know why it took him so long, but he did make the adjustments and performed well including the Giants' short playoff run.

And he had to because he's got competition. Pedro Feliz got hot in the second half as well, at least with his SLG% (.559). If he continues his improvement this year, he could force several changes on the team.

He could get at-bats in the outfield (15 games in 2003). He could take at-bats away from Snow at first (12 games in 2003) or third against left-handed pitchers. And in an extreme case, he could move Alfonzo to second base, where he's played 530 games in his career, and move Ray Durham into the outfield situation with Dustan Mohr, Michael Tucker, Jeffrey Hammonds and Grissom.

If they decided Alfonzo was a luxury and they could trade him for salary relief to sign a pitcher or two, they also have Lance Niekro (yeah... you've heard that name before), who played in five games in 2004.

The Giants have a good stream of young talent outside of Feliz, Niekro and Mohr, who they adeptly acquired from the Minnesota Twins. They have several outfielders on the way in Todd Linden, Josh Ellison and Tony Torcato and on top of RHP Jerome Williams, who averaged over six innings per starts with outstanding numbers in his rookie season, they also have RHPs Jesse Foppert (who will miss the 2004 season after Tommy John surgery), Kevin Correia, Noah Lowry and Merkin Valdez.

None of these guys are All-Stars or Cy Young Award winners, but they could help fill roles on an already deep team.

The Giants will succeed in 2004 if:

1. ...they identify hitters with high on-base percentages to hit in front of Bonds and high slugging-percentage hitters to hit immediately behind him.

2. ...they have Bonds ready for the start of the season focused on baseball for the first time since the 2002 World Series.

3. ...they don’t suffer major injuries to their pitching staff including having closer Robb Nen at full strength for most of the season. The ripple effect of losing Nen would devastate the depth of the Giants’ pitching staff. (Hello. Ugueth Urbina, anyone? Don't make me pull out the Iron Man Beeps again. Hint: Check the archives.)

That wraps up the even-longer-than-I-expected projection of the Giants for 2004 season (what’s new, right?). I hope to get some feedback from you as to where to take this feature from here. In case you wondering, I'm saving any prediction of where I think people will finish in the standings or the stat pages for later. There's too much going on right now to waste time with that at this point.

Now, enjoy the game everybody.

San Francisco (Kurt Rueter, Dustin Hermanson) vs Chicago (Matt Clement, Carlos Zambrano), 1 p.m. Central, at Mesa, Ariz., TV: ESPN

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