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David Brown

Spring Snapshot: Led by Tiny Tim, Giants making playoff push

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Every day in spring training until we're finished with the entire league, Big League Stew takes a brief capsule look at each team that we visit in Florida and Arizona. Next, on to Scottsdale where the San Francisco Giants will try to leapfrog the Dodgers and Rockies in the NL West.


2009 RECORD: 88-74, 3nd in NL West

BIG ACQUISITIONS: Mark DeRosa(notes) and Aubrey Huff(notes) are being counted on to improve the offense, which was in the NL's bottom tier a season ago. DeRosa said he is still feeling the effects of last season's wrist injury, which required surgery in October. "It gets cranky sometimes, but it feels good in comparison to last year," said DeRosa, who put himself at about 90 percent healed. "They said it would be a tricky procedure because there are so many small parts in there." ... Two years ago, Huff finished third in the AL in total bases, but slumped last year. He's a born DH, though he has experience at first base (where he'll probably play most of the time). ... Hensley Muelens, who was a hot prospect with the Yankees 20 years ago, assumes the hitting coach duties after a long coaching apprenticeship in the minors.

BIG DEPARTURES: The Great Big Unit Randy Johnson(notes) crossed the 300-victory barrier in 2009 and he crosses the retirement barrier in 2010. ... Randy Winn(notes) (apparently guys named Randy are no longer welcome at AT&T Park) has gone to the Bronx. ... Set-up man Bob Howry(notes) stayed in the division, but will be cashing the checks for the Arizona Diamondbacks this season.

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1. Should Panda change anything? Pablo Sandoval(notes) a free swinger (which the Haight-Ashbury District no doubt appreciates) and he's a tad overweight. Maybe 1 1/2 tads. So, everybody's always on him about his strike-zone judgment and his shape. He's trying to do something about both shortcomings, but there's something to be said for leaving alone a guy with a career .924 OPS in his first 787 plate appearances.

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2. Is Matt Cain(notes) growing into another ace? Some have their doubts, but his batting average against and his control improved in 2009, though his strikeout rate dropped a bit and he's piling up significant innings on a young arm.

3. Is Aaron Rowand(notes) really going to be the leadoff hitter? Maybe, though his .319 on-base percentage in '09 suggests Bruce Bochy should find someone else. Fred Lewis(notes) might be the guy, except he's buried on the depth chart and might not even make the opening day roster. Edgar Renteria(notes) might have been the guy at one point, but coming off the removal of bone chips in his elbow, he might not be 100 percent right away.

4. After Timmy, Cain and Barry Zito(notes), Jonathan Sanchez(notes) is the fourth starter. Who is the fifth? It's a contest! Everyone's invited! OK, that's not true. Madison Bumgarner(notes) is penciled in, but he's not having a great spring with his velocity. ... Todd Wellemeyer(notes) is in camp, too, and had a good outing the other day. If he could repeat his 2008 season, the Giants would take that in a second. ... Joe Martinez(notes), recovered from the line drive off his head, also is a possibility.

5. When does Buster Posey(notes) arrive? When he's ready, jeez! The Giants seem content to let him develop at Class AAA, otherwise why did they bring back Bengie Molina(notes) to catch? Posey has all of the tools to be a great one, but he's only been catching for three-plus years. He's also been taking grounders at first; a defensive alignment that includes Aubrey Huff in right field and Posey at first might be adventurous and counter-productive.

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