2007 San Francisco Giants

Mar 7, 2007 - 7:32 AM By Jim Keller PA SportsTicker Baseball Editor

Say Hello To: LHP Barry Zito, IF Rich Aurilia, 1B Ryan Klesko, C Bengie Molina, OF Dave Roberts, RHP Russ Ortiz

Say Goodbye To: OFs Moises Alou and Steve Finley, 1B Shea Hillenbrand, RHPs Jason Schmidt, Tim Worrell, Jamey Wright

Projected Starting Lineup:

C - Bengie Molina (contact hitter (19 BB/47 SO) struggles to get on base (.319 OBP)) 1B - Rich Aurilia (returns to SF after best season since only All-Star game in 2001) 2B - Ray Durham (35-year-old had career highs in HR (26), RBI (93), and SLG (.538)) 3B - Pedro Feliz (feast or famine hitter: 22 HR, 98 RBI; .281 OBP with 112 SO) SS - Omar Vizquel (faster as he gets older? 48 SBs in last two seasons) LF - Barry Bonds (all eyes on HR record; still scary - 26 HR, 115 BB in 130 games) CF - Dave Roberts (2004 ALCS hero had 72 steals in 244 games with San Diego) RF - Randy Winn (11 HR, 56 RBI, .396 SLG lowest in career as everyday player)

Projected Starting Rotation:

LHP - Barry Zito (prized free-agent pickup walked career-high 99 last season) RHP - Matt Cain (future ace had red-hot second half: 3.26 ERA, 99 Ks in 99 IP) RHP - Matt Morris (former ace had career highs in ERA (4.98) and WHIP (1.35)) LHP - Noah Lowry (26-year-old took a step back in 2006, 166 hits in 159 1/3 IP) LHP - Jonathan Sanchez (24-year-old mowed down AA hitters; 4 starts with big club)

Projected Closer:

RHP - Armando Benitez (much-maligned fireballer has knee problems; 17 saves in 2006)

Spring Training Battles: The Giants have numerous veteran position players, which also means there are not many position battles during spring training. However, two newly acquired veterans will fight for a spot at first base. With Aurilia coming back to his old team after a stellar season, he will compete with veteran power hitter Klesko, who has belted 20-plus homers in a season eight times but is coming off an injury-plagued campaign - playing in only six contests in San Diego. In the rotation, Sanchez, a 24-year-old lefthander, has the edge as the fifth starter over veteran righthander Russ Ortiz, who has been susceptible to the long ball and an inflated ERA over the last two campaigns.

Minor League Report:

Ready in 2007:

Tim Lincecum, RHP

Although nine players were taken ahead of him in the 2006 draft, Lincecum could be the first member of his draft class to make an impact in the majors.

After twice being named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year at Washington and claiming the Golden Spikes Award as the nation's top amateur player in 2006, Lincecum carried his success into his first crack at professional baseball. He struck out 10 of the 14 batters he faced in the short-season Northwest League before going 2-0 with a 1.95 ERA in six starts in the hitter-friendly advanced Class A California League.

The 5-11, 170-pound Lincecum uncorks a devastating curveball and fastball that can hit the upper-90s from an unorthodox delivery. A strong first camp with the Giants could entice them to carry him as a member of their bullpen, although the rotation would better suit the 22-year-old.

Down on the Road:

Nate Schierholtz, OF

A converted third baseman, the 23-year-old Schierholtz could inject some youth into a lineup otherwise past its prime in San Francisco.

Chosen in the second round in 2003, Schierholtz belted 18 homers in his first full professional season and followed by batting .319 with an .877 OPS in the advanced Class A California League in 2005. Schierholtz got off to a slow start in his first crack at Class AA last season but rebounded with the aid of a 25-game hitting streak to finish at .270 with 14 homers.

In addition to mastering a new position in the field, Schierholtz needs to adopt a better approach at the plate before getting a legitimate shot at a starting role with the Giants. The 6-2, 215-pound lefthanded hitter has draw just 59 walks in 972 at-bats the last two seasons.

Joey Martinez, RHP

In his first full professional season, Martinez showed he belonged by leading the organization with 15 wins last year.

A 12th-round pick out of Boston College in 2005, Martinez ranked second in the lower-level South Atlantic League in wins and fifth in ERA (3.01) in 2006. Old for his league last year, the 24-year-old may be challenged at Class AA to begin 2007.

With a fastball that tops out only in the upper-80s, Martinez does an excellent job of keeping hitters off-balance with an array of offspeed pitches. Consistently painting the corners with his pitches, Martinez had a ratio of 5.19 strikeouts to one walk while surrendering only nine homers in 167 2/3 innings last year.

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