Not since the 1962 Boston Red Sox has a franchise had to deal with such a significant transition of dealing with life without their signature player. But when Ted Williams retired, the Red Sox brought up Carl Yastrzemski for his rookie season. They also won 11 more games following Williams' retirement (though that was the first year MLB expanded the season schedule from 154 to 162). Before looking at the first season of A.B.B. (after Barry Bonds), how did they do in his final season? 2007 Record: 71-91 2007 Pythagorean Record: 77-85 (54-69 or .439 when Bonds played and 17-22 of .435 when he sat) Team FIC Batting: 6.1 per game (23rd overall) Team FIC Pitching: 8.9 per game (20th overall) Click here for more information about the Field Impact Counter What Happened Last Season At the plate: The Giants? lineup was decidedly old and mediocre in 2007. Their entire everyday lineup was either in their 30?s or in the case of Barry Bonds and Omar Vizquel, their 40?s. They struck out too frequently (907 times, 15th in the NL), didn?t get on base enough (.322 OBP, 14th in the NL) and didn?t hit enough homeruns or extra base hits (.387 SLG, dead last in the NL). On the mound: The Giants did not lose 91 games due to a dearth of talent in their rotation or their bullpen. Matt Cain had a historical season in terms of the large discrepancy between his ERA and his win-loss record. Cain had a 3.65 ERA, but a 7-16 record. Tim Lincecum emerged as the early star of the 2006 draft class, striking out over one batter per inning. Noah Lowry also had a highly productive season, posting a 3.92 ERA and a 14-8 record. He looks like a solid lefty middle-of-the-rotation pitcher for a very long time to come. But Barry Zito unquestionably was a high priced disappointment. Zito had a season FIC of 177 and a Reina Value of -35%. He did have a 2.50 ERA in six August starts, so it is too early to believe he will never have a sub-4.00 ERA again, though the 2.75 ERA of his Cy Young season is in the past. Brian Wilson and his 0.972 WHIP materialized late in the season as a fully functional closer. What Happened In The Offseason The Giants? first move was a non-move in finally resisting the temptation to bring back Bonds. As much as he helped the club on the field and helped the franchise by filling AT&T Park, the marriage had to end. The Giants were five seasons removed from the World Series, four seasons removed from the playoffs and three seasons removed from seriously contending. The decision to sever ties with Bonds is certainly more an act of symbolism than it is about money or production. He was by far their most productive offensive player, posting an OPS of 1.053, with 28 homeruns in 337 at-bats. Their next non-move was their refusal to trade Lincecum in a package for a proven bat. They gave serious consideration to Alex Rios of Toronto and attempted to be players for Miguel Cabrera and Carl Crawford. Eventually, they signed Aaron Rowand to a five-year, $60 million deal. The Giants will absolutely need him to contribute on the field, but like the Zito signing the previous winter, it was symbolic of the kind of culture they want to develop in the post-Bonds era. I can certainly understand and respect the logic, but the premiums paid for such emblematic moves can hardly be considered sound business. What Could Happen This Season On the mound: The Giants have a group of young starters that could resemble what Oakland had a few season?s ago. Cain could win a Cy Young, while Lincecum could have a Fausto Carmona type of season. Zito and Lowry are both very capable of having ERAs in the high 3.00?s in the middle of the rotation, while Jonathan Sanchez and NAME will be the fifth starter. If Zito returns to form while Cain and Lincecum develop into the dominant aces the Giants expect them to be, scoring runs against this club will be a tall measure in the light hitting NL West. At the plate: But speaking of tall orders, the Giants will have one of the most anemic lineups in all of baseball. Bengie Molina will be their clean-up hitter with Randy Winn and Rowand surrounding him. Even by the most hopeful of standards, the Giants will struggle to score runs. If two or more of their young positional players like Dan Ortmeier and Nate Schierholtz pan out to be better than a 4A commodity then they could possibly score more than the 4.2 runs per game posted last season. What Should Happen This Season Even those who are most optimistic about the Giants must consider 2008 a pure transitional season. I don?t know if a franchise even of the caliber of the Yankees or Red Sox could withstand the loss of a player of Bonds? stature without stumbling. The only way they can entertain playing meaningful games in August is if Cain, Lincecum and a third starter flirt with true Cy Young seasons and they also get timely hitting to win close games the way Arizona did last season. Ultimately, because expectations are so modest, the Giants season will be termed a success if two things happen. One, the Giants can continue to develop their young pitchers without any becoming plagued by serious injuries. And two, they also mine a position player from their system that can become even a fringe All-Star. Prediction: 73-89 - Christopher Reina is the executive editor of RealGM and the creator of the Reina Value.
2008 Season Preview: San Francisco Giants