The Giants come into Chavez Ravine with a 14 - 14 record but have lost one of their main cogs for six weeks as Pablo Sandoval broke his hamate bone last week. Tim Lincecum scuffled badly early on but has righted the ship and at least is now a decent starting option but still a far cry from double Cy Young Tim. The Giants still have a formidable rotation, an offensive force in Posey, a potential offensive force in Belt, but the current middle infield woes are holding them back from being anymore than a .500 team.
The World Championship was only 19 months ago and yet the offensive team we see on Monday will bear little relation to that team as injuries, trades, and turnover have left Buster Posey as the only starting position player left from the team that started game the final game of 2010.
1st baseman Aubrey Huff battled personal anxiety issues that started on opening day 2011 and peaked several weeks ago when he hit the DL. Huff should be back this week but his one time lock on the 1st base gig was finally opened by Brandon Belt. Huff might find playing time in LF. Might. Belt so far in his major league career is mostly hype but since being given regular at bats starting on April 24th, he's put up a .817 OPS.
2nd baseman Freddy Sanchez continues to be bedeviled by injury after injury and has been replaced by the combo of Ryan Theriot / Emmanuel Burriss. So far they have both been terrible.
SS Edgar Renteria as been replaced by Brandon Crawford. So far he's been terrible with future expectation of terrible.
Hard to believe that Pablo Sandoval had been benched for most of the 2010 postseason so Juan Uribe was the starting 3rd baseman from that final game. Pablo Sandoval didn't do much for the 2010 team but bounced back big in 2011 and was one of the top hitters in 2012 when he went down last week with a broken hamate bone, and will be out a minimum of six weeks. HIs replacement is expected to be 2008 1st round pick (37th pick) Conor Gillaspie who had been tearing up the PCL with a .939 OPS. Brett Pill might see some time here.
The World Series outfield consisted of Andres Torres, Cody Ross, Pat Burrel, and Aaron Rowand. Burrell getting the DH call in AL games and Aaron Rowand manning CF. They are all gone. The 2012 outfield is all over the place except for one constant and that is Angel Pagan who will be in CF. Left field should be Melky Cabrera but Huff might get some time there which means Melkey could end up in right field. Burner Gregor Blanco has gotten some burn in right field so you might see an outfield of
Blanco/Pagan/Cabera or Cabrera/Pagan/Huff or Schierholtz/Pagan/Cabrera who the hell knows, Brett Pill may get some time as well.
World Series hero Right Fielder Cody Ross is now in Boston but unlike the other positional changes, Melky Cabrera has been a huge upgrade, building on his great year in KC, Melky is doing it again in 2012. TSL of .318 / .377 / .455.
Center field surprise of 2010 Andres Torres was swapped to the Mets for their Center fielder Angel Pagan. He's doing okay but not close to what 2010 Torres gave em.
Left Fielder Pat Burrel has thankfully retired and Aaron Rowand is unemployed.
The one position the Giants needed to be the same was catcher and Buster Posey is back and doing even better than his breakout 2010 season.
Before Sandoval went down the Giants were doing better on offense then anyone expected producing middle of the pack offense. How much a full time Belt will help offset the loss of Sandoval is something we get to find out this week
Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong, and Tim Lincecum will try to knock the Dodgers from their lofty perch. Zito has a 1.76 ERA but don't be fooled he's still Barry Zito as his 5.21 xFIP will attest. Still Barry has had success against the Dodgers so don't get cocky.
Ryan Vogelsong is doing solid work so far in 2012. Voglesong has made four starts and has given up 2 - 3 - 4 - 1 earned runs. Hopefully game five will be five earned runs and not zero.
Tim Lincecum is not doing as bad as his ERA suggests but I think we can safely say he's still not the Tim Lincecum of double Cy Young fame and might be the third best pitcher in the rotation behind Cain and Bumgarner.
The bullpen lost the most famous beard since ZZ Top when Brian Wilson went down but the Giants have plenty of solid setup options to take his role. So far that has been Santiago Casilla. Sergio Romo was always the guy who I thought had the best stuff in the bullpen. Affeldt is also hurt so one good left handed arm the Dodgers don't have to worry about seeing. Other bullpen arms you might have heard of are Clay Hensley, Mota, and Javier Lopez. Names I've never heard of include Dan Otero, Travis Blakley, and Steve Edlefsen
The Dodgers are going to miss the two best Giant pitchers, while the Giants will get our top of the line trio.