2011 season preview: Expect the unexpected from the Giants
Last year, no one expected the Giants to win the World Series, much less claim the National League West title in the last game of the season.
This year, however, no one should expect the Giants to repeat as World Champions, now that their postseason heroes moved on with different teams.
After the Giants won their first World Series title in San Francisco, they entered this off-season determined to re-sign their star players, while settling arbitration cases with the majority of their postseason roster. They managed to re-sign Aubrey Huff with a two-year deal containing a vesting option, while reaching a one-year deal with Pat Burrell worth a million dollars.
However, they were unable to re-sign other key players during their post-season run. They lost Infielder Juan Uribe to their division rival Los Angeles Dodgers, while losing their World Series hero, Edgar Renteria, to the Cincinnati Reds.
Although the Giants pried away Shortstop Miguel Tejeda from the San Diego Padres on a one-year deal, this move was the only significant off-season addition. However, he was coming off a down year, in which he had a .269 average with 15 Home Runs for the Orioles and the Padres.
Because of this signing, questions now focus on how Tejeda’s addition could replicate Juan Uribe’s production, especially when he provided the majority of clutch hits during the postseason. Uribe hit a game-clinching homer against Phillies Reliever Ryan Madson in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series (NLCS), while hitting a three-run homer that secured the Giant’s win against the Rangers in Game 1 of the World Series.
Although the Giants re-signed reliever Guillermo Mota and an influx of former Major League Stars—the most notable one includes Starting Pitcher Jeff Suppan— to minor league deals, these players are not guaranteed a spot on the 2011 roster, because they have to compete with other minor league and major league players during Spring Training.
Furthermore, some of these players could sign on with other teams if they do not make the opening day roster, instead of heading towards the Giant’s minor league affiliates. Suppan, for instance, has an opt-out clause, if he does not make the team in Late March.
The Giants, therefore, face the challenge of replicating their postseason magic with a retooled roster that guarantees no immediate playoff birth. Baseball fans—be it, Giants fan or not–should continue expecting the unexpected from the World Champions, until they show us that they could repeat as defending champions