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THE REALISTIC GIANTS FAN: 2010's Playoff Recipe

It'll Take A Lot to Reach Postseason

We all have the same goal here, and that's to win a championship, but in order for that to happen it's gonna take more than bringing in a new bat from out of town. It's gonna also take some of the idividuals who are already here to step up and start playing like major leaguers, and one returning vet to have at least as good a year as he had last year. Even if a huge bat came in here if no one else is hitting at all then they will just pitch around him. Remember how frustrating it was that the other teams wouldn't let Barry bat? Well, it would be that all over again.

The first in our cast of characters is an anomaly. The flashes of brilliance shown at times by Nate Schierholtz is honestly more frustrating than if he just stunk up the joint. Nate has shown us on occasion that he can be a very patient, selective hitter, with real gap power. His arm in right field may be the best in the league (although there is plenty of competition). Nate also has a flat level swing that covers a lot of the strike zone, which could lead to him eventually being very hard to strikeout, but he has the same problem as John Bowker in the fact that he can't lay off the breaking ball at his back foot. Sometimes Nate shows too much aggression at the plate, and can't wait on a pitch. He is not alone in this lineup as far as impatience goes, but Nate is capable of having at bats that some of the others simply cannot. Perhaps Nate will flourish this year now that he will see a large increase in his playing time with the departure of Randy Winn. However, he needs to get off to a good start or else Bochy will be tempted to use Nate in a role he does quite well at: coming off the bench. Schierholtz also needs to show us some of that power we keep hearing about. I'm not saying he has to rip off 30 homers, but at least 15 would help, especially if that came with 25-30 doubles. I actually have more confidence in Nate having a breakout season than not, but for his own sake he needs to play well right from the start, or he will find himself back on the back burner, a spot he has spent the last three seasons getting all too familiar with. Mark De Rosa, Eugenio Velez, and Andres Torres all can play right, and with Schierholtz being so far unproven, and with a minimal salary, it will be easy to sit him down in the name of a hot hand.

Eugenio, Eugenio, Eugenio...oh what raw talent and athletic ability...ohh what a lack of baseball skills! How many times have we seen Eugenio dive for a ball not to complete a great play, but rather to make up for a terrible route to the ball? Eugenio actually broke camp with the club last year after having a rather decent spring, only to be the largest non factor off the bench, and the largest non factor period not named Fred Lewis. Management saw enough in the early going, and decided that Eugenio still needed more seasoning in Fresno. The Eugenio that came back was a very different sort. He seemed to have gotten higher up on his back leg, (a switch credited to incoming hitting instructor Hensley Muellens) and now was hitting for power. After getting off to a screaming start, Eugenio cooled quite a bit. He started crouching lower again, and developed a more pronounced upper cut in his swing. Eugenio trying for power is definitely not a good thing. Now the Giants are envisioning him as the opening day lead-off hitter. That's a lot of pressure for young Velez, who sometimes seems impervious to such psychological burden, but then again he sometimes seems impervious to what's happening in the game going on around him. When the pressure is on it actually seems to help Eugenio at times. I recall in 2008 him having two walk off hits in two days against the Dodgers. That being said, baseball is full of tedium, and non-action. I sometimes wonder where Eugenio's mind wanders, and this makes me worry about him. If anything, he may be the scariest prospect going into the season, as his role seems to be a large one, and so is the giant question mark surrounding him. Velez has the talent to be a star, I just don't know if he has the focus.

A third returning youngster could be the x factor. John Bowker is a minor league monster, and a major league no show. He got off to one of the hottest starts a Giants rookie had gotten off to in years in 2008, and then cooled right off, and has stayed that cool ever since. Last year John received the award for Minor League Player of the Year, but sadly it makes no translation. We can hope that the promotion of his triple A hitting instructor to the big leagues will play a factor, but it seems more and more apparent that it may be caused by the combo of inferior minor league pitching, and lively PCL ballparks. There is also a small chance, too, that it's mental. I saw John play when he was at Rio Americano High School, and I saw him hit a monster home run and a couple of doubles. I was impressed at his awareness. John has very short arms for whatever reason, and he utilizes this to really punish inside pitching. In high school the coaches had their pitchers throw him outside, and breaking balls in and at his feet. He showed great patience and eventually the pitching would get frustrated and try to blow a fastball by him. I've never seen John play in the minors, but I'd imagine he must have a similar approach to be putting up the numbers he does. Then John puts on a Giants uniform and he's flailing at pitches outside that his arms could never reach, and swinging at 0-2 throwaway breaking balls at his back foot. Hopefully Bowker will spend this offseason maturing, and will try to relax and have more fun this year. A breakout year from John Bowker would definitely go a long way in putting us over the top.

Some other things must occur as well. Juan Uribe needs to duplicate his production of a year ago. I expect that to occur. Juan felt like a leader on this team, and with a very similar returning cast I don't see why that would change. Uribe plays the game hard, and takes pride in his performance, which is why I think he will repeat his numbers of a year ago. Second, the bullpen needs to have another good year. The bullpen's performance in 2009 was the number one ingredient in last year's turnaround. If the bullpen has a year where they falter, or get imploded with injury, this could be a very long year. Third, Andres Torres needs to avoid injury. I worry about this one because last year, my first introduction to Torres, showed me that he seemed to be a little injury prone. Eugenio Velez, Nate Schierholtz, Aaron Rowand, and Mark De Rosa are all streaky hitters, which means Torres and John Bowker will have a lot of oppurtunity to crack the lineup, especially if Velez or Schierholtz are struggling. Torres showed flashes of brilliance last year, and could be another lead off option, that being said he won't be able to produce much if he's on the pine with two busted hammies. Next the Giants need to add one more stick, even if at this point it's not a huge bomber. I already cast my vote for Jermaine Dye, and would rather stab my eye with a fork than see us sign Adrian Beltre. Thankfully, the signing of De Rosa made that a distant possibility. It makes sense to sign an outfield bat, and we could do worse than Dye, a local product who is rumored to want to come back home to finish out his playing days. The final and most important key to a good year? Keep Fred Lewis out of the mix entirely. Would it really be that big of a loss to just release him? I'm sorry Fred-O, you may be a heluva guy, but if the world's nicest guy ain't sellin' cars, well the dealership axes his ass. No compensation is given to the dealership, and sometimes they even have to give severance pay, but that's better to them than having a unproductive employee sitting around. Hmm...makes perfect sense to me.

(The Realistic Giants Fan appears every Monday and Friday. Feel free to email me at realisticgiantsfan@yahoo.com)


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