Giants don't need more '1960s baseball' - NBC Sports

Giants don't need more '1960s baseball'
Bochy is hoping new guys Pagan and Cabrera can revitalize team's terrible offense
AP
"We're faster. That's going to help us create runs a little easier," Giants manager Bruce Bochy says.
March 1, 2012, 4:03 pm

"It's a big number,'' Sabean said. "A lot more.''

And therein lies the key to a return to the postseason for the Giants. Can their offense get back to at least middle-of-the-pack production and support an elite pitching staff enough to leapfrog the Arizona Diamondbacks in the always-fluid NL West?

A quick review of the basic numbers: On their way to a 92-70 regular-season in 2010, the Giants scored 697 runs - only ninth-most in the NL, but 127 more than they scored in 2011.

Meanwhile, the pitching staff was almost identically excellent in both seasons - 583 runs allowed in 2010 and 578 last season - both second-best in the NL.

That left the Giants with run differentials of +114 in 2010 and -8 last season, which makes their 86-76 finish in 2011 even more remarkable. They finished 10 games above .500 while being outscored by eight runs.

"We won 86 games scoring 570 runs; that's 1960s baseball,'' Sabean said.

So Sabean knew an off-season, pitching-for-hitting makeover had to occur. He couldn't dump inconsistent and arbitration-eligible Jonathan Sanchez fast enough, sending him to Kansas City for Melky Cabrera less than a week after the World Series ended.

"Between the lack of strike throwing and the way (Sanchez) got banged up, we weren't willing to pay him around $6 million a year,'' Sabean said. "He had run his course here. We had legit interest in Cabrera. We were fortunate to get a player like that in return.''

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Image: Angels' Albert Pujols gestures as he warms up during a baseball spring training workout in Tempe

Some of baseball's biggest stars are with new teams this season.

"We think we're more athletic,'' said manager Bruce Bochy, whose spring workouts are emphasizing baserunning. "We're faster. That's going to help us create runs a little easier.''

The current plan is for Pagan to lead off, proably followed by Cabrera - and with 32 and 20 steals respectively last season, they would have been the top two on a Giants roster that combined for only 85 stolen bases. Both players also are a year away from free agency, so Sabean is counting on motivated, focused seasons from them.

"I've been through those types of years where you lose a guy or two, but last year, we didn't really have a top of order,'' Sabean said. "Torres crashed and burned. We lost (Freddy) Sanchez as No. 2 hitter, and then Buster (Posey to a season-ending leg injury). And (Aubrey) Huff didn't have the year we expected.

"We were scrambling. Obviously, we had guys overexposed because they weren't used to being in the spots that we asked them to hit in.''

Freddy Sanchez's healthy return could drop Cabrera to the No. 3 spot, and Brandon Belt will get an opportunity to take away playing time from Huff, who needs a fast start to avoid a permanent loss of playing time after a precipitous falloff in 2011.

But Sanchez (shoulder) is behind the other position players at this point, just taking ground balls and playing catch, so Bochy will have the spring to experiment with several different lineup configurations.

And after two very sub-par team performances with runners in scoring position - yes, the Giants were last in the NL in that category in 2011 - Bochy figures things can't get any worse.

"We've had two rough years in a row hitting with runners in scoring position; you don't see that happening again,'' Bochy said. "We're not as bad as those numbers were.

"Just getting Buster and Freddy back, the offense will be more consistent. It needs to be, it has to be for us to have a good year.''

Baseball Expert Tony DeMarco has been covering the big leagues since 1987, and been casting Hall of Fame ballots for the last 14 years. Follow Tony on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/demarconbc.



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