This October Giants Could Turn Beer Into Wine 

This October Giants Could Turn Beer Into Wine

Matthew Adamski for SBS

The Giants were left with a bad taste in their mouths after last year's series defeat to the Anaheim Angels in the World Series. The championship got away from them after it appeared they were going to run away with it in Game 6. However, they blew a six run lead in that game and went on to lose Game 7.

This year, they will get another chance to return to the World Series and win a championship when they begin another playoff run.

I think the Giants will not let a championship slip away this time around. This year's team is too strong for that to happen.

Last year they qualified for the playoffs as the National League Wild Card. This year they won the NL West by holding on to the division lead since day one.

If they finish with the best record in the NL, they will have home field advantage except for the World Series. This would help them greatly as it would allow them to play more games at home than on the road. The Giants don't lose much at Pacific Bell Park where they have a record of 54-23, the best home record in the National League.

Outside of Pac Bell, they're not bad either. They are tied for the second best road record in the NL at 43-37 with the Cubs.

The Giants will have four solid starting pitchers on their postseason roster instead of only three last year. Jason Schmidt is the ace of the Giants' pitching staff and a Cy Young Award candidate. His 17 wins and 207 strikeouts this season are a career high. He is the first Giants to break the 200 K mark since John Montefusco blew away 215 in 1975. Schmidt is playing well entering the playoffs winning 11 of his last 13 games.

Kirk Rueter continues to be a reliable veteran.

The Giants lost Livan Hernandez and Russ Ortiz in the off-season. Jerome Williams, a first year starting pitcher, has been a pleasant surprise this season filling one of the vacant spots in the rotation. Williams has 2 complete games and 1 shutout in 20 games.

Sidney Ponson, a pitcher who they acquired via a trade with the Baltimore Orioles, has filled the other vacancy. He has struggled to earn wins as a Giant despite playing well. He has a 3.71 ERA in 10 games. Some of the games he started ended up as losses instead of wins because he had backups as his supporting cast who were unable to provide him with enough run support he needed to win. This won't be the case during the playoffs when backups will play very little.

Their star closer Robb Nen has been on the shelf all season due to an injury. Fortunately, Nen's absence has not hurt their success on the playing field, as Tim Worrell has been extremely effective closing out games. His effectiveness can be measured by his 37 saves in 44 opportunities.

However, the Giants are hurt by the simple fact they must pay Nen's hefty salary despite missing him throughout the entire season. He has a salary of $8.75 million, which is second highest on the team.

Barry Bonds, who makes $15 million, is the only player with a higher salary. The Giants aren't complaining because they have arguably the best player in baseball. The price they pay is worth every penny.

When you look at how much attention opponents put on Bonds, it's hard to deny that this alone give the Giants a great chance to win it all this year. He gets walked in practically every game, which provides the batters who hit behind him plenty of opportunities to drive in runs. Plus, when he gets pitched to he gets a hit 40% of the time and half of his hits are home runs.

The bad news for the opposition is that even if Bonds gets out or walks; the Giants have enough offensive weapons to hurt the other team. Ray Durham is a much better lead off hitter than Tsyoshi Shingo because he is a more consistent hitter and has great base running ability. He also has fit nicely as their second baseman with the departure of Jeff Kent to the Houston Astros.

Edgardo Alfonso is an upgrade at third base over Derek Bell. Alfonso can hit for power and can get the clutch hit when needed. J.T. Snow and Rich Aurilia continue to play like Gold Glovers while making tough plays and few errors on defense and providing adequate offensive production.

Andres Gallargha is not only a great backup to J.T. Snow, but also a dangerous hitter. He has great power and strength, but above all he can flat out hit and start late inning rallies.

Behind the plate, Benito Santiago plays like he is ten years younger. He throws runners out with regularity and has excellent hitting skills. Yorvit Torrealba is solid backup to Santiago.

Marquis Grissom and Jose Cruz Jr. are solid outfielders. Grissom is one of the team's best hitters. He is second on the team in home runs with 20, third in RBIs with 77, and third in batting average at .299.

As the Giants enter the playoffs, I believe they have the right blend of pitching, solid defense, and explosive firepower that will enable them to replace the bitter taste of defeat with the sweet taste of championship victory.

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