Julian of Splashing Pumpkins has become one of our friends here at Ross and The Heckler speak, and I recently asked him to lend us some of his insight for the upcoming Giants questions by answering these ten questions for us. Make sure to check out his blog here
1.) Do you think Lincecum's performance in September and October prove that his horrible August was a fluke? Do you have any concerns of over-use or under-conditioning on his part?
Yes, I think his August was essentially anomalous. He did develop that slider in September, also, so that should give him add another great pitch to his arsenal. I’m not really concerned about overuse (he rarely pitches on short rest, and doesn’t throw too many complete games), but I do have a mild concerns about his conditioning. As a guy with a small frame, it’s absolutely ideal that he maintains great physical shape in order to endure a full season of maximum-effort pitching. Roy Oswalt has been great about conditioning, which has helped him remain successful in spite of his small frame and a loss of velocity. I hope Lincecum can do the same.
2.) What do you see for Matt Cain in 2011? Will this be the year he regresses to the levels predicted by his xFIP, or will he continue to be an outlier in this metric?
I think there’s a large enough sample to give Matt Cain the benefit of the doubt. I see him posting an ERA between 3.00 and 3.50, probably closer to 3.00 though. He has a natural talent for keeping flyballs in the ballpark, and I don’t think that this will change in 2011.
3.) Will the weight loss help the Panda as much as everyone hopes?
I think the weight loss will help the Panda a lot, but I don’t know that it will be the only factor of his improvement if he does in fact have a better season next year. He was a bit unlucky, as his 2010 BABIP would suggest, and I look for that and the improved fitness to give us a much better Panda in 2011.
4.) Biggest area of concern for the Giants in 2010?
Their pitching staff is as solid as ever, so I think the concern is what it has been the last couple of years: the offense. I think we have enough offense to support this pitching staff, but there are still some inherent flaws. The team is lacking in speed, and the Miguel Tejada signing will only exacerbate the Giants' double-play problems. They set a franchise record last year for GIDP, after all. And their OBP is still a big concern. I don't know that Huff will be able to maintain the walk rate he posted last year, and Pat Burrell probably won't be an everyday player, so that's something of concern. Tejada has horrible walk rate...I'm hoping Posey will step up in this aspect.
5.) What is the one area of the Giants team you are most confident about?
I’d have to say I’m most confident about their bullpen. They have key contributors who are pretty reliable in Brian Wilson, Sergio Romo, Javier Lopez, and Jeremy Affeldt, and the other guys in the ‘pen are quite solid too. If any of them struggles, they shouldn’t have a hard time finding someone to step up and replace them.
6.) What do you predict Brandon Belt's role will be with the team in 2011?
I think he's shown in the minors that he's got what it takes to produce on the major-league level. He hasn't had a lot of AAA experience, so I imagine he'd start the year there, but I'm sure he'll get plenty of major-league at-bats this year. Huff will probably move to the outfield some time midseason so Belt can slide into first. I wouldn't be surprised to see Belt's bat make an immediate impact in the lineup -- he's got nice combination of power and plate discipline that will serve him well.
7.) Which players do you see as candidates for regression from their 2010 seasons?
Based on peripherals, I'd expect Jonathan Sanchez to see a mild regression. Also, Tim Lincecum and Pablo Sandoval should both see positive regressions, with Pablo's being the most significant.
8.) Do you think that Bumgarner secures his place as one of the best young LHP in the game this year? What sort of season do you see from him?
That’s a tough one. There are a lot of great young LHP in the game, namely Clayton Kershaw, David Price, Francisco Liriano, and Jon Lester. He certainly warrants consideration as one of the best, though. I think he'll put up solid numbers -- maybe a 3.50 ERA with 200+ IP.
9.) What do you think about the what the other teams in the NL West have done this offseason?
To be honest, I’m not too impressed. The Dodgers probably overpaid on Juan Uribe and Matt Guerrier, and didn’t do a great job replacing Manny Ramirez. The Rockies didn’t acquire any big names, but the extensions they gave will probably help them maintain a quality offense for several years to come. Ty Wiggington, Jose Lopez, and Felipe Paulino certainly aren’t names that scare me, though. The Diamondbacks – I don’t know what they’re doing. They signed the underwhelming Willie Bloomquist, which seems pointless given the fact that they already have Geoff Blum. And the Armando Galarraga acquisition wasn’t really a great move. The Padres have probably had the best offseason, acquiring good players at cheap prices in Orlando Hudson, Jason Bartlett, and Brad Hawpe. They also did well to acquire good prospects in the Adrian Gonzalez trade. I don’t know how they’ll be able to make up for the loss of Gonzalez, though.
10.) How do you predict the NL West to play out this year? (Give us an order of finish and # of wins if you would)
1. San Francisco Giants
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
3. Colorado Rockies
4. San Diego Padres
5. Arizona Diamondbacks
I honestly have no clue how their records will play out. The NL Central could be competitive with the Cardinals, Cubs, Reds, and Brewers, or it could be as bad as it was last year. Similarly, the NL East might be pretty competitive with the Phillies, Braves, Marlins, and Mets, or it might just be average. The NL West records will depend on the quality of teams in other divisions, essentially.