Talking Giants Baseball: A San Francisco Giants/Baseball Blog: February 2011

Saturday, February 26, 2011

MLB Predictions 2011: Projecting the Win Totals of Each NL West Team

Aubrey Huff stretches out to retire Ryan Theriot at first base during a heated Giants/Dodgers 2010 rivalry game.
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The National League West is shaping up to be one of the most competitive divisions in baseball.

Each team in the division has formidable pitching staffs that can compete. Even the Arizona Diamondbacks, who were pitching starved for the last few years, have good, young starting pitching developing—Daniel Hudson and Barry Enright, to name a couple.

The Dodgers have their talented core of Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw, while the Padres still have their great bullpen in tact.

The Rockies still have Ubaldo Jimenez and perhaps the best offense in the division, with the likes of Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.

Then there are the San Francisco Giants, the band of rag-tag misfits who stole the hearts of Giants fans and marched on to baseball immortality. They still have their World Series-winning pitching staff in tact, but can their offense get the job done again in 2011?

Here are the projected win totals for each team in the National League West.

The San Francisco Giants

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 01:  The San Francisco Giants including Mark DeRosa and Aubrey Huff celebrate their 3-1 victory to win the World Series over the Texas Rangers in Game Five of the 2010 MLB World Series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on November
Elsa/Getty Images

According to Baseball Prospectus, the Giants are projected to finish 90-72. This is two fewer wins than last year.

Baseball Prospectus seems on par with this prediction. Although the Giants will retain their championship pitching staff, the Giants will lose a step offensively with the loss of Juan Uribe.

Uribe was a clutch hitter for the Giants in 2010. Most of his 24 home runs either tied or gave the Giants the lead. Although the Giants signed Miguel Tejada to fill the void, he does not have as much pop as Uribe does at his current stage in his career.

With Andres Torres, Cody Ross, Freddy Sanchez, Buster Posey and a healthier Pablo Sandoval playing for a full year, the loss of Uribe may be taken care of with the contribution from these players, but anything can happen over the course of 162 games.

Will Cody Ross continue his amazing postseason offensive run in 2011? Will Andres Torres follow up his career year with another?

Because of the offensive question marks for the Giants, I will agree with Baseball Prospectus and predict conservatively that the Giants will finish 90-72 in 2011 and take first place in the National League West.

Los Angeles Dodgers

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 24:  (L-R) Blake DeWitt #33, Casey Blake #23, James Loney #7, Matt Kemp #27 and Russell Martin #55 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate Loney's game winning walk-off homerun in the 13th inning against the New York Mets at Dodger Sta
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Baseball Prospectus picks the Dodgers to come in second place in 2011 at 87-75.

This might be a bit of an underestimation for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Now that they have shored up their pitching staff with the additions of Matt Guerrier and Jon Garland, the Dodgers can compete with any staff in the division.

Furthermore, the Dodgers improved offensively at second base with the addition of Juan Uribe. Combined with a healthy Andre Ethier (that thumb injury affected him more than you think), the Dodgers may be a force to reckon with in the division.

The major question mark is Jonathan Broxton. If he can return to his greatness, I believe that the Dodgers can give the Giants some problems and win 89 games—or maybe win the division. If not, don't expect the Dodgers to do any better than their 2010 record of 80-82.

The Colorado Rockies

DENVER - SEPTEMBER 25:  Troy Tulowitzki #2 of the Colorado Rockies celebrates with Huston Street (L) and their teammates after he hit the game RBI double to score Carlos Gonzalez #5 against the San Francisco Giants in the 10th inning at Coors Field on Sep
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

In 2010, the Rockies stayed competitive, but fell to the Giants in the end.

Interestingly, Baseball Prospectus picks the Rockies to go 83-79, which was their same record in 2010. The web site also projects the team batting average to be .279, with a .452 slugging percentage, by far the best of any of the teams' projections (which is no surprise considering the venue the Rockies play in).

Baseball Prospectus seems to underrate the Rockies just a bit, although the team is not that much different from last year, their core players—Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, Ubaldo Jimenez—remain in tact.

The Rockies are the most balanced team in the division, but I still do not see them being as good as the Giants or Dodgers. Their pitching staffs as a whole are just a notch better and the Rockies' offense is skewed because of Coors Field.

For this reason, I predict the Rockies to finish 88-74.

The San Diego Padres

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Chris Denorfia #13 of the San Diego Padres is congratulated by Manager Bud Black after hitting the winning RBI  with teammates Chase Headley #7 scoring the winning run during the Padres 4-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds in th
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Baseball Prospectus has the Padres finishing at 80-82, which is 10 wins below from how they finished in 2010.

Most of the drop is undoubtedly due to the loss of Adrian Gonzalez. He was the only offensive force in that lineup, and now that he is gone, it is going to be awfully tough to make that up.

The additions of Jorge Cantu, Jason Bartlett and Brad Hawpe will help, but it probably will not be enough. Gonzalez was the heart and soul of the Padres, but now, he has migrated eastward.

The Padres retained their stellar bullpen for 2011, led by Heath Bell and Mike Adams. Still, the loss of Gonzalez will have a drastic impact not just offensively, but also on team morale.

Because of the loss of Gonzalez, I predict that the Padres will finish 81-81.

Arizona Diamondbacks

NEW YORK - AUGUST 01: The Arizona Diamondbacks celebrate their win against the New York Mets at Citi Field on August 1, 2010 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

The Arizona Diamondbacks are a very underrated team and should not be taken lightly.

Baseball Prospectus has them finishing 2011 at 74-88, but they have some nice pieces up and coming.
A major problem in 2010 for the Diamondbacks was their atrocious pitching staff. The Diamondbacks attempted to mend their bullpen with the addition of J.J. Putz, but it still needs a bit more work to be as good as the other teams.

A surprising bright spot might be the Diamondbacks starting pitching. Barry Enright and Daniel Hudson looked strong at the tail end of 2010.

Hudson posted an 8-2 record with a 2.45 ERA, while Enright went 6-7 with a 3.91 ERA, but showed flashes of brilliance.

The offense took a blow with the loss of Adam LaRoche, but it is still decent with Justin Upton in the heart of the order. Still, the Diamondbacks do not seem to excel at any facet of the game.

The Diamondbacks are up and coming and will surpass their 2010 mark of 65-97. If Enright and Hudson pitch well consistently, I do not see why the Diamondbacks cannot win at least 76 games.

This article was featured on the Bleacher Report.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Monterey Peninsula capitalizes on De Anza’s mistakes, edges Dons 7-6

I know this is a bit different from what I usually write about, but I'm going to post it here anyway. Here is my game story from today's junior college baseball game between the De Anza Dons and the Monterey Peninsula Lobos.              
CUPERTINO -- The Monterey Peninsula Lobos did not beat the De Anza Dons – the Dons beat themselves.
The Dons led 5-1 after the fourth inning, and then 6-3 after six innings, but the Lobo hits kept on coming in the later innings. The Dons’ brain lapses and missed opportunities throughout the game complicated matters further.
The Dons’ home opener started shaky for De Anza in the top of the first inning. The starting pitcher, Mason Sperakos, balked twice in the inning, once with a runner at first (who reached on an error by third baseman Kevin Roeder) and then again with runners on first and second.
With runners at second and third with one out after the balk, the Lobos capitalized on Roeder’s mistake. Chris Untereiner hit a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Caio Errico and giving the Lobos an early 1-0 edge.
Despite the Dons giving up four walks as they approached the bottom of the fourth inning, they still held the Lobos hitless and only trailed 1-0. Then, De Anza erupted.
The Dons scored five times in the bottom of the fourth inning to take a 5-1 lead. RBI singles by right fielder Victor Barron, catcher Gary Foster, and a bases-loaded walk by first baseman Rob Garrison fueled the rally. The scoring capped off with a bases-loaded two-run double by center fielder Will Gibson.
The Lobos trimmed De Anza’s lead to 5-3, after first baseman Rob Garrison’s throwing error sparked a two-run sixth-inning rally. Had Garrison not committed the defensive miscue, pitcher Brian Fischer’s double-play ball two batters later would have ended the inning with no runs scored.
The Dons tacked on another run in the bottom of the sixth inning. Monterey Peninsula pitcher Corbin O’Reilly hit Taylor Martin with the bases loaded, forcing in a run and widening the Don lead to 6-3.
Then, in the top of the seventh, it was the Lobos’ turn to erupt
Another fielding error by Roeder loaded the bases with one out. After a run came in on an RBI single by the Lobos’ first baseman Jeremy Green, center-fielder Matt Rosa (who went two for five) delivered a clutch two-run game-tying single, knotting the game up at 6. With two outs and runners on second and third, right-handed pitcher Lorenzo Ojeda threw a wild pitch that brought in the Lobos’ tie-breaking run.
The Dons blew scoring chances in the late innings. With the Lobos leading 7-6 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Kai Washington led off with a single but was picked off trying to steal second base.
The Dons tried to rally once more in the bottom of the ninth inning. After left fielder Nathan Kadlecek walked to lead off the frame, a wild pitch advanced him to second.
The next batter, pinch hitter Mike Oram, attempted to bunt Kadlecek over to third. Although he had three decent pitches to bunt at, Oram took strike three on the outside corner at the belt.
The rest of the inning was not much better for the Dons. Right-handed hurler Caio Errico, who moved over from shortstop, ended the game and earned the save by striking out the side looking.
The Dons had plenty of chances to score but could not come through in the late innings. They left 10 men on base in the game.
The Lobos’ Corbin O’Reilly earned the win, pitching two and one-third plus innings while giving up one run on four hits.
 The Dons’ Lorenzo Ojeda was tagged with the loss, lasting one inning and surrendering four runs on four hits. De Anza used nine pitchers in the game and walked a combined eight batters.
On Thursday, the Dons head to Monterey to take on these same Lobos. If they want to see a better result, they must clean up their game and do the little things right.

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Monday, February 7, 2011

Super Bowl XLV Halftime Show: Good For The Eye, Bad For The Ear

Super Bowl XLV was an exciting day for football, but an embarrassing one for music as The Black Eyed Peas displayed an uninspiring performance during halftime -- at least they did not forget the words.
The Super Bowl entertainment got off to a shaky start. Christina Aguilera sang the national anthem beautifully, but fumbled the lyrics “O’er the ramparts we watched” by singing, “What so proudly we watched” in its place.
The Black Eyed Peas’ halftime show was worse for the ears, but pleasant to the eyes.
The group descended down from cables to the tune of glittering space show-like laser lights, taking a page right out of Disneyland’s thrilling Space Mountain ride. The crowd of 91,060 roared with excitement, as Cowboys Stadium turned into a cosmic space arena before their very eyes – or maybe because the performers were all under 50.
In a way, the halftime show was a breath of fresh air from the 50-something-year-old classic rockers taking center stage in recent years. The musicians were contemporary, but they were anything but fresh and exciting.
The Black Eyed Peas were pathetic – or mediocre at best -- and did little to match the crowd uproar. As they touched down to the ground, the musicians acted more like robots than hip-hop performers singing at America’s highest-rated television event.
The performance began with their hit song, “I Got a Feeling,” but the title says nothing about the group’s on-stage demeanor. Aside from the dazzling laser-light entrance, the performers did not move much at all, as if they were just going through the motions.
The group sang as if they had somewhere better to be – like the postgame buffet. Fergie sounded lackadaisical at best during her rendition of “The Time of My Life” and absolutely butchered the song with her off-key singing. To the casual music listener, the out-of-tune vocals on just about every song were hardly noticeable, thanks to the rope-lighted dancers taking center stage.
Nearly every major publication agreed that the Black Eyed Peas barfed up a sub-par performance. Thomas Conner, of The Chicago-Sun Times, agreed that the performance was uninspiring at best.
 “After descending from the arena’s ice-covered ceiling on cables, the four Peas didn’t move much beyond their marks except when the guests arrived; Slash stood still and played ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine’ while Fergie slithered around him doing her best yowling Axl Rose impression, and Usher leapt over into the splits during  ‘OMG’,” Conner wrote in his halftime show review.
The performance scored a touchdown with the impressive visual effects that left millions of viewers in awe. The show started with a bang, as dancers in glow-in-the-dark costumes formed a bright green eye.
As they began to move, it was almost as if Cowboys Stadium became a giant planetarium, with the dancers moving like shooting stars. The choreography was reminiscent to a marching band’s color guard during a college football game, with flag bearers prancing around in a perfect formation, but the light-up costumes added an extra flavor to the show.
Unfortunately, for Super Bowl fans and music lovers, the giant lighted letters spelling Usher did not mean someone was escorting Fergie and the gang out of Cowboys Stadium. Instead, fans had to sit through more of the Black Eyed Peas’ lackluster performance, which was worse torture than any 2010 San Francisco Giants game.

Photo courtesy of Christopher Polk/Getty Images.

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This article was featured on the Bleacher Report.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Buster Posey and the SF Giants’ Last 10 Prospects Who Lived Up to the Hype (Part 2)

6. Francisco Lirano

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 6: Francisco Liriano #47 of the Minnesota Twins pitches during game one of the ALDS against the New York Yankees on October 6, 2010 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien /Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Francisco Liriano is healthy and ready to contribute to the Minnesota Twins, but this live-armed, left-handed pitcher came up through the Giants' system.

Giants fans dread the date Nov. 14th, 2003. On this date, Brian Sabean dealt Liriano, current Twins closer Joe Nathan, and Boof Bonser to the Twins for A.J. Pierzynski, who would be released a year later.

After years of health battles, Liriano pitched a formidable 2010 campaign. In 191.2 innings pitched, Liriano posted a 14-10 record, with a 3.62 ERA and 201 strikeouts.

According to Kelly Thesier of, the Twins see the arbitration-eligible Liriano as part of their future, but are hesitant to sign him beyond 2011. Liriano is seeking $5 million, but the Twins do not want go that high.

With Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, and Sanchez, the pain from 2003 has soothed dramatically, but Liriano is still capable of greatness.

7. Joe Nathan

20 Aug 2000:  Pitcher Joe Nathan #36 of the San Francisco Giants winds up for the pitch during the game against the Atlanta Braves at Pac Bell Park in San Francisco, California.  The Braves defeated the Giants 8-5.Mandatory Credit: Tom Hauck  /Allsport
Tom Hauck/Getty Images

Joe Nathan is another pitching star who slipped away from the Giants in the Pierzynski deal, but fans are not complaining about the current Giants closer.

As a starting pitcher in the Giants' organization, Nathan stood out. During his time at A San Jose, Nathan posted a 3.32 ERA with 118 strikeouts and led the A Giants to the California League Championship.

On Apr 21, 1999, Nathan pitched seven shutout innings in his major league debut against the Florida Marlins. He had promise but could not completely put it together as a starter, finishing with an ERA of over five in 2002.

After a solid 2003 season as a reliever, although blowing a save in his first postseason appearance against the Marlins, Nathan was traded to Minnesota. The Twins stumbled upon a gold mine.

In 2004, Nathan closed for the Twins. In his first full season as a closer, Nathan posted an impressive 1.62 ERA and saved 44 games in 47 opportunities.

In his last full season (2009), Nathan converted 47 saves, with a 0.93 WHIP and 2.10 ERA. If he can successfully return from injury, Nathan may have a few more good seasons left in him.

According to the Minneapolis Star, Nathan has started throwing breaking balls en route to his return from Tommy John surgery. He threw a bullpen session last Sunday, as he was in Minnesota for TwinsFest.

8. Rod Beck

27 Sep 1997:  Closer Rod Beck of the San Francisco Giants celebrates on the mound after the Giants 6-1 victory over the San Diego Padres at 3Com Park in San Francisco, California.  The victory clinched the National League West title for the Giants and sen
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Before Nathan, the Giants struggled to produce great talent out of their farm system. Although the Oakland Athletics drafted Rod Beck, he blossomed in the Giants' organization.

In 1989, Beck's 11-2 record at A San Jose opened the eyes of the Giants. He was promoted to AA and continued to pitch well in the minors.

In 1992, Beck took over Dave Righetti's closer role. He posted a 3-3 record, converted 17 saves, and had a 1.76 ERA in 65 games (he was not the closer in all of them).

Rod Beck continued his success as a closer in the following years. In the 1997 season, Giants fans saw what Beck was really made of.

On Sept. 18, 1997, Beck pitched the top of the 10th inning in the Brian Johnson home run game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. With the score tied 5-5, and the Giants one game behind the Dodgers for the NL West lead, the Dodgers loaded the bases on three consecutive singles.

Seeing that Beck was struggling, Manager Dusty Baker paid a mound visit and told him, "You're the guy." Having lost the closer's job to Roberto Hernandez, Beck proved he had something left.

He proceeded to strike out Todd Zeile looking on an inside-corner fastball. With the bases still loaded and one out, Beck induced Eddie Murray to bounce a splitter into an inning-ending double play.

The crowd of 52,188 at Candlestick Park clamored with delight. Two innings later, backup catcher Brian Johnson gave the crowd reason to be elated again, as he hit a game-winning home run that beat the Dodgers 6-5.

Beck was traded to the Cubs in 1998 and did have some good years with the Padres. However, Giants fans will not forget the legacy Beck left in San Francisco.

Sadly, Beck passed away in 2007 due to a drug overdose, according to his ex-wife.

9. Matt Williams

SAN FRANCISCO - APRIL 13:  Former San Francisco Giants great Matt Williams throws out the first pitch during the game against the Milwaukee Brewers on April 13, 2004 at SBC Park in San Francsico, California The Giants won 4-2.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/G
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Before "Pat the Bat," "Matt the Bat" patrolled the field for the Giants.

Pat Burrell and other Giants fans had the pleasure of watching Matt Williams play in the 80s and 90s. His great defensive skill and dangerous bat in the minor leagues prompted the Giants to call him up in 1987.

Williams, who was a first-round draft pick for the Giants in 1986, played in his first full season in 1990. That year, Williams hit .277, with 33 home runs and 122 RBIs.

Williams was traded to the Indians in 1997 as part of the Jeff Kent deal, but his success did not end. In 2001, he won the World Series with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Williams is also tied for the Arizona Diamondbacks' all-time single-season RBI record at 142. He is currently the third base coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

10. Will Clark

SAN FRANCISCO - 1989:  Will Clark #22 of the San Francisco Giants leads off base during a 1989 season game at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Will "The Thrill" Clark debuted with the Giants on April 8, 1986. In his 15-year big league career, he hit .303, with 284 home runs and 1,205 RBIs. Currently, he works with the Giants in their front office, and fans love him just as much today as they did back when he played.

On opening day in 1986 at the Houston Astrodome, the rookie Clark stepped up against the Astros' Nolan Ryan. Clark, unfazed by his greatness, hit a Ryan fastball out of the ballpark. It was his first swing he ever took in the major leagues. The Giants ended up winning the game 8-3.

Clark's peers recognize him as one of the best clutch hitters of his time.

One clutch hit came during Game 5 of the 1989 NLCS when Clark broke a 1-1 tie against the Cubs in the bottom of the eighth inning. After an epic at-bat, fouling off two-strike pitch after two-strike pitch, Clark singled to center against Cubs closer Mitch Williams, giving the Giants a 3-1 lead and sending them to the World Series.

Oddly enough, in his minor league debut, Clark hit a home run against none other than Dodger great Fernando Valenzuela.

This article was featured on the Bleacher Report

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Buster Posey and the SF Giants’ Last 10 Prospects Who Lived Up to the Hype (Part 1)

Buster Posey during batting practice before a World Series game
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The San Francisco Giants struck out in developing major league talent for most of the 2000s, but that trend has turned around recently.

Born and bred within the Giants' organization, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Buster Posey are emerging as perennial superstars in the major leagues. They have demonstrated leadership and poise during baseball's biggest stage, the World Series.

Many formidable predecessors donned the orange and black on day one of their professional careers. Will "The Thrill" Clark was one of them, along with many others.

Posey has lived up to the hype so far, but who else in Giants history has preceded Posey? Here are the last 10 Giants' prospects who lived up to the hype.

1. Buster Posey

SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 19:  Buster Posey #28 of the San Francisco Giants stands on the field during Game Three of the NLCS against the Philadelphia Phillies during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at AT&T Park on October 19, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Pho
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Buster Posey made his major league debut on Sept. 11, 2009 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Although Posey looked foolish on a check-swing strikeout during his first major league at-bat, the AT&T Park crowd roared with excitement for their up-and-coming rookie sensation -- and with good reason.

Posey did not have many half-hearted strikeouts in 2010. In his first full rookie season, Posey hit .305, with 18 home runs and 67 RBIs, in 108 games.

If Posey can replicate his success in 2011 and beyond, the Giants may have a future Hall of Famer on their hands. Leading his team to a World Series title in his rookie season is an impressive feat.

If Posey stays healthy, he will live up to the hype -- and more.

2. Madison Bumgarner

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 31:  Starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner #40 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Texas Rangers in Game Four of the 2010 MLB World Series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 31, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo b
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

On Sept. 8, 2009, the Giants were vying for a Wild Card spot with the Colorado Rockies. When Tim Lincecum was unable to make the start in a crucial pennant race game against the San Diego Padres, pitching phenom Madison Bumgarner stepped up to the challenge in his major league debut.

Although Bumgarner lost the game, he pitched well. In five and one-third innings of work, he gave up just two runs on five hits and walked one -- even when he lost about 7 mph on his fastball since the beginning of that year.

Fast forward to 2010. Having already pitched a big game in a pennant race in 2009, nothing seemed to faze the 21-year-old left hander.

Although Bumgarner had some rough outings at AAA Fresno, he was ready for a big league challenge. In 18 starts, Bumgarner finished 7-6 with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP.

These solid numbers do not even tell the whole story. Game 4 of the 2010 World Series was certainly one to remember for Bumgarner.

In baseball's biggest stage, Bumgarner dazzled in front of a national audience. In his eight shutout innings, he yielded three hits and two walks, while striking out six Rangers.

Bumgarner is no ordinary rookie. When he takes the mound, he looks like he owns the mound. He has the confidence of a 15-year veteran, and the heart of a champion.

3. Tim Lincecum

SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 27:  Tim Lincecum #55 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Texas Rangers in Game One of the 2010 MLB World Series at AT&T Park on October 27, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Tim Lincecum was no stranger to the national stage, even before his legendary 2010 playoff performance.

After learning about the live arm of the freakish-looking right hander, Giants fans were excited when Lincecum made his major league debut on Sunday Night Baseball. The day was May 6, 2007.

His first big league pitch was to the Philadelphia Phillies' Jimmy Rollins. The pitch was clocked at 97 mph, leaving Giants fans roaring with excitement, as they gazed amazed at the radar reading.

Lincecum took the loss that night, pitching just four and one-third innings, giving up five hits, walking five, striking out five, and surrendering four earned runs. That night may not have been pretty, but the Giants knew they had something special -- if Lincecum could control his pitches.

He did.

Lincecum developed a change-up (or split-finger), won a couple Cy Young Awards, and lost a few feet on his fastball along the way, but his lines became better and better as time progressed. He was changing from a thrower to a pitcher.

Although Lincecum had a horrible August in 2010, he shined in September and the postseason. His 14-strikeout, complete-game shutout in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Braves demonstrated Lincecum's capabilities when everything comes together for him.

Then came every child's dream -- winning a clinching World Series game. He did that and made it look easy during Game 5 of the 2010 World Series.

On that fateful night, Lincecum pitched eight strong innings, giving up one run on three hits and striking out 10. Expect more of these thrilling moments from him.

4. Matt Cain

SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 28:  Starting pitcher Matt Cain #18 of the San Francisco Giants pitches in the first inning against the Texas Rangers in Game Two of the 2010 MLB World Series at AT&T Park on October 28, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo b
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Matt Cain was another highly touted pitcher within the Giants' ranks. However, at times, it seemed as though Cain's lack of run support was holding him back.

Making him the longest tenured Giant, Matt Cain debuted during the Barry Bonds era against the Colorado Rockies on August 29, 2005. He was only 20 years old.

Cain gave up just two runs and three hits in five innings on that night, but lost the game 2-1. That game served as a microcosm of how his next few seasons would fare for the gutsy righty.

In 2007, Cain finished the season with a 3.65 ERA, good for the 10th lowest in the National League. However, the Giants went 9-23 in his starts and scored two runs or fewer in 21 of his starts.

As the Giants got better, Cain emerged as a candidate to strip Tim Lincecum of his ace status. He has yet to give up an earned run in postseason play and had a phenomenal 2010 season.

With his blazing 91-93 mph fastball that blows away hitters as if it were 98 mph, Cain finished 2010 with a 13-11 record, with a 3.14 ERA, 177 strikeouts, and a solid 1.08 WHIP.

Expect more good things to come from Cain.

5. Jonathan Sanchez

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 23:  Jonathan Sanchez #57 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies in Game Six of the NLCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Citizens Bank Park on October 23, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

In 2006, Baseball America ranked Jonathan Sanchez as the sixth best prospect in the Giants' organization. In 13 appearances (three starts) at AA that year, Sanchez went 2-1, with a 1.15 ERA.

The Giants were intrigued by Sanchez and called him up in May 2006. He made his major league debut on the day Barry Bonds hit home run number 715 against the Colorado Rockies, retiring Todd Helton, Matt Holliday, and Garrett Atkins in order.

Sanchez would go through ups and downs from 2006-2009 but put it together in 2010. He still had his moments, but Sanchez grew up dramatically as a pitcher that year.

In his best season as a big league player, Sanchez went 13-9 for the Giants, had a team-leading 3.07 ERA, 205 strikeouts, and a 1.23 WHIP, despite leading the league in walks. He was incredibly hard to hit, as batters hit just .204 against him.

Sanchez had his brain lapses in the 2010 postseason, but he still pitched well in big games in September, including the National League West clincher. At 28, Sanchez is still improving and has the potential to measure up to his companions in the rotation.

For more on Jonathan Sanchez, see this article here.

This article was featured on the Bleacher Report

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