Inside Look: San Francisco Giants

The Mets – Giants weekend series is underway, and there are a few new faces on the San Francisco club.

Additionally, if you haven’t been paying attention to the NL West, you may be mildly surprised to discover that the Giants are in first place — a half-game over the surprising Padres and a full 3.5+ over the rest of the division.

How are they doing it? Can they keep it up?

Don’t ask me. Instead, refer to Chris Quick of Bay City Ball — the ESPN SweetSpot blogger for the San Francisco Giants.

1. It’s early May and the Giants are atop the NL West. How did this happen and do you see the Giants remaining on top for the long term?

The Giants had a pretty forgiving schedule to start the year (Houston, Pittsburgh, a Chipper-less Braves) but they’ve also taken some series against some really good teams (St. Louis, Philadelphia, Colorado). The Giants have a major strength in their pitching, the rotation looks good from top to bottom and bullpen should shape up a little. Whether or not the team will consistently play this well for the rest of the year is anyone’s guess, but you have to expect that our offense will come back to earth a little at some point. The Giant should be able to hang around as long as the pitching stays healthy and productive.

2. The Giants brought in a few new faces during the offseason. Are they performing as expected?

New first baseman, Aubrey Huff, has played decently posting a line of: .278/.366/.485. In particular, his willingness to take a walk has been nice. Meanwhile, LF Mark DeRosa is only hitting .205/.298/.277. You’ve got to wonder how much of DeRosa’s struggles are related to bad luck or to his healing wrist.

3. Over the winter, a lot of Giants fans were expecting / hoping to see Buster Posey behind the plate in 2010 — while many Mets fans felt the same way about Bengie Molina in New York. As it turned out, Bengie stayed in San Francisco, is enjoying a hot start, and Posey remains blocked. How does the current catching situation sit with you, and do you see Posey playing regularly before the end of the year?

I think with Bengie’s start, the Giants will leave Posey be for now. But Posey is doing his best in AAA to show that he’s major league ready. The young catcher is currently hitting: .343/.436/.525 while getting the occasional start at 1B. It’s no secret that before the season I preferred Posey as the starting catcher, but Molina has been fine so far. The Giants will most likely call Posey up sooner than later, maybe even before June. It’s going to depend on how the team is performing and what they want to do.

4. What is Barry Zito doing differently this year, and do you see him remaining effective through 30+ starts?

Honestly, I wish I knew. Zito really started to use a slider in 2009 and has carried that into 2010. I think it gives batters an extra pitch to look for when they’re hitting against him. Other than that, his fastball velocity is around 86-88 mph these days instead of the 82-84 mph that he was throwing from during 2007-2008. He’s yet to give up a HR this year in 40+ innings and that will obviously change at some point. He has looked good this year, but there’s a lot of season left. I think the Giants would be very, very happy if he pitched somewhere between 2009 and his 2010 so far.

5. We know the Giants have pitching quality and depth, and the offense is currently hitting above the expectations of the “experts”. What do you, as a regular evaluator of the team, see as their true strengths and weaknesses?

The Giants are pretty straight forward. Our strengths being our fantastic pitching, the weakness being the hitting, and maybe the infield defense, too. The pitching will have to carry this team if they want to make a playoff run.

6. We Mets fans don’t get to see much of the West Coast clubs. Tell us about a Giant or Giants we may not know much about, who could have an impact on this weekend’s series.

Keep an eye out for RF Nate Schierhotlz. After years of putting up somewhat decent numbers in the minor leagues and playing sparingly in the majors, he’s off to a hot start hitting: .381/.458/.587. He’s got underrated speed and he plays a fantastic RF.

Good stuff. Many thanks again to Chris Quick. Be sure to check out his blog Bay City Ball for the all the scoop on the San Francisco Giants.

Inside Looks

About the Author

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.

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