ENEMY LINES

A rival scout sizes up the Giants

The big key, obviously, is Buster Posey. Even so, Hector Sanchez, a catcher in their system, is very interesting from both an offensive and defensive standpoint. He has pop in his bat from both sides.... The rotation is terrific, other than what they have to absorb in the five hole: Barry Zito.... A big concern is the top of their order. They need a table-setter.... Melky Cabrera has been on fire in spring training; the other day I saw him hit a bomb from each side of the plate. But I'm not sure he's the impact bat the Giants need.... They need a comeback year from Aubrey Huff. He played uninspired last year, and he hasn't looked much better in camp.... Their probable shortstop, Brandon Crawford, looks like a solid defensive player who can run, but his bat hasn't shown real well. If he doesn't work, you're resorting to Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot.... Brandon Belt has always gone the opposite way. Now he's starting to pull the ball a lot better—he's got very good power, but he hasn't realized it yet because he's been so oppo focused.... I haven't seen Tim Lincecum throw above 90 miles per hour yet this spring, but he knows what he's doing. He's visibly bigger and stronger than I've ever seen him. He and Matt Cain—who looks ready to go—will again give them one of the league's best one-two punches.... Gary Brown, their future centerfielder, reminds me physically of Mike Trout with the Angels. Kind of an old school kid. No batting gloves. A scrapper with some tools.

THE LINEUP

With 2011 Statistics

MANAGER BRUCE BOCHY

6th season with Giants

[originallink:10881956:1009531]

ROTATION W L ERA WHIP
RH TIM LINCECUM 13 14 2.74 1.21
RH MATT CAIN 12 11 2.88 1.08
LH MADISON BUMGARNER 13 13 3.21 1.21
RH RYAN VOGELSONG 13 7 2.71 1.25
LH BARRY ZITO 3 4 5.87 1.40
BULLPEN W SV ERA WHIP
RH BRIAN WILSON 6 36 3.11 1.47
RH SERGIO ROMO 3 1 1.50 0.71

NEW ACQUISITION †2010 STATS

PROJECTED PAYROLL

$115.2 million

THE NUMBER

0.59

Homers allowed per nine innings by the Giants last season, their lowest mark in two decades. It wasn't simply a creation of pitcher-friendly AT&T Park: The Giants allowed the majors' fewest HR/9 on the road (0.72).

MODEST PROPOSAL

One of the biggest strategic shortcomings of the Giants' 2011 season was manager Bruce Bochy's handling of Brandon Belt. The first baseman, the one hitter on the team who might have made up for the loss of Buster Posey, couldn't get consistent playing time: He started just 50 games, was demoted three weeks into the season and. strangely, was twice benched in September following a game in which he'd homered. It was as if there was a plan to ensure the rookie couldn't find a rhythm at the plate. In two minor league seasons Belt, 23, has a 1.052 OPS, including a .971 mark at Triple A. He's the best hitter in the Giants' organization—and the team that finished last in the NL in runs scored can't afford to bench its best hitter. Belt has to play every day at first base, and if that means Aubrey Huff (35 years old and coming off a .246/.306/.370 year) has to play less or stumble around in the outfield, so be it. The Giants can win the NL West, but not without scoring more than the 570 runs they tallied a year ago. Playing Belt is the quickest way to raise that number.

PHOTOBRAD MANGIN (LINCECUM) PHOTOROBERT BECK (BELT)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)