Spring Postcard: With another bat, Giants could steal division title
Zito could bounce back as the most well-compensated No. 4 starter in baseball
The Giants are heavily relying on Fred Lewis and Pablo Sandoval to supply offense
The key to San Francisco's success this season could be Matt Cain
1. Barry Zito: Comeback Player of the Year?
2. Fred Lewis has some pop.
"The power is there," manager Bruce Bochy said.
The Giants are penciling Lewis into the meat of their batting order -- along with Pablo Sandoval and Bengie Molina -- which means they need him to hit more than nine homers and drive in more than 40 runs (his totals last season). The Giants, who have not had a homegrown position player make an All-Star team since Matt Williams in 1996, are giving Sandoval and Lewis every opportunity to be next.
3. Still, they need another bat.
Not done yet
Shortstop Edgar Renteria has been in the major leagues since 1996 and only once has he finished with a batting average below .270. His defense has eroded somewhat -- he doesn't make the play between shortstop and third base as well as he used to -- but the Giants can count on him for at least 150 hits. This team is not going to score a ton of runs, but with Randy Winn and Renteria at the top of the order, they are going to have plenty of opportunities.
Sandoval driving a pitch back up the middle and nearly removing the kneecap of starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez. A year ago, Sandoval was in spring training with the Giants, but he was not a highly regarded prospect. The Giants shipped him to Class A San Jose so he could learn how to play catcher. Now, he is their starting third baseman, batting in the middle of their order, billed as their breakout star. He is also entertaining to watch. He never stops smiling, swings at everything, and is built like a rounder Molina brother.
"I like the pressure on me," Sandoval said. "I'm just doing everything exactly the same as I did in the minor leagues. That's what got me here."
The last team with three Cy Young winners in its starting rotation was the 2002 Atlanta Braves, with Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz. The Giants have Lincecum, Johnson and Zito, but the key to the staff is Cain. A hard-throwing righty, Cain has Cy Young-caliber stuff, but his record has not reflected it. Over the past two years, he has gone 15-30, let down by meager run support and a questionable bullpen. Cain is due some better fortune.
MLB Truth & Rumors