Every day in spring training until we finish the entire league, Big League Stew takes a brief capsule look at each team we visit in the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues. We begin in Scottsdale, Ariz., where Buster Posey(notes) (pictured) wants the Giants to make winning the World Series a yearly achievement in San Francisco.
2010 RECORD: 92-70, first place, NL West (World Series champions)
BIGGEST ACQUISITION: General manager Brian Sabean didn't make many changes to the 40-man roster, but he's hoping infielder Miguel Tejada(notes) can fill the need at shortstop. Tejada, for his part, said he's excited to play for San Francisco because he has missed being in "the playoffs."
BIGGEST DEPARTURES: Probably to their credit, the Giants were not too emotionally attached to Juan Uribe(notes) and Edgar Renteria(notes), who helped provide big moments in the postseason but have since moved on.
FIVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE GIANTS
1. They can't expect to get that kind of pitching again, can they?
The Giants led the majors in team ERA (3.36) and strikeouts (1,331) but neither of their top starters, particularly Tim Lincecum(notes), pitched as well as he is capable. If Lincecum regains his Cy Young form and Matt Cain(notes) continues to improve, the Giants will be as good at the top of the rotation anywhere this side of Philly. Lefty Madison Bumgarner(notes), at 21, could develop into another elite starter soon. Because of the general nature of relief pitching, it's hard to imagine Brian Wilson(notes), Sergio Romo(notes) and Santiago Casilla(notes) repeating their ridiculous performances of a season ago. But if they do, the Giants probably will win the NL West.
2. Can Buster Posey start 145-150 games at catcher and continue to be a hitting beast? Posey hit .233/.313/.505 in the last month of 2010 and just wasn't quite as awesome overall at bat in the second half as he was in the first. So, folks assume it's because the grind on the season wore him down. Figuring out clever ways to keep Posey's batteries charged will be one of manager Bruce Bochy's most important tasks.
3. Will the pounds Panda dropped help him pound the ball? Pablo Sandoval's(notes) official weight was 240 pounds after he hit the scales Friday — 38 pounds lighter than his poundage at the end of the 2010 season. That's great news for his health and conditioning, and it undoubtedly will help him on defense. He looks good (as you can see on the right) but will it matter to his offense? Can he put the 60 points he lost back on his batting average? What about the nearly 200 points of OPS?
4. Where are they going to play all of the outfielders and second basemen? Seriously, look at this roster; It's filled with outfielders and second basemen! Pat Burrell(notes), Cody Ross(notes), Aaron Rowand(notes), Andres Torres(notes) and Nate Schierholtz(notes) make for a crowded pasture. And that doesn't even count Aubrey Huff(notes), who would have to play the outfield if Brandon Belt(notes) were promoted to the majors. (Or, if Posey or Sandoval had to play first base for an extended period.) It also doesn't count Mark DeRosa(notes), who was the opening-day left fielder in 2010. DeRosa, of course, also plays second base, where Freddy Sanchez(notes) is the starter. But second base is also the primary position for Mike Fontenot(notes) and Emmanuel "Manny" Burriss. That's ... a lot of outfielders and second basemen.
5. Will Huff let Brandon Belt wear the Rally Thong? Huff recently said he would be retiring the womanly underwear that symbolized the team's run to the World Series. But what if he slumps again and needs something to change his luck? Further, what if Belt — probably the top hitting prospect in the majors — makes the major league roster, or is promoted after spring training? This is actually a nice problem for the Giants to worry about. Belt could have a Posey-like impact once he's ready.
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