Giants Have Strong Chance to Repeat, Thanks to Young, Quality Pitching

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Giants Have Strong Chance to Repeat, Thanks to Young, Quality Pitching Editor's Note: Each day in March, Tony Lee will preview a different MLB team. The series gets started with the defending champion Giants.

The parades and celebrations are over, and it's time for the Giants to get back to work.

Will they repeat? History says no, as there hasn't been a back-to-back champion for more than a decade now. Don't expect that to limit expectations in the Bay Area.

2010 record: 92-70, World Series Champions

Manager: Bruce Bochy

Key additions: 3B/SS Miguel Tejada, RHP Shane Loux, RHP Jeff Suppan

Key losses: IF Juan Uribe, SS Edgar Renteria, RHP Chris Ray

Outlook: The Giants took the "if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it" routine this offseason, standing relatively pat with a roster that was good enough to win it all last season.

The one added element in San Francisco this year will be heavy expectations.

A nearly perfect blend of young and old should allow the club to handle any extra pressure, and the balance up and down the roster gives the Giants every reason to anticipate another return to the postseason.

There is an awesome foursome of young standouts on the rotation, from two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum to the unproven but talented Madison Bumgarner. Barry Zito, however, is the old man of the bunch and has not had a great career in San Francisco. The club may be looking to rid themselves of Zito. That's really the one and only issue for the rotation, and it is a financial one more than anything.

The bearded Brian Wilson is perhaps the top closer in the National League, and the rest of the Giants bullpen, which remains largely intact, provides plenty of support. San Fran's bullpen ERA was 2.99, second in the majors.

The question mark for a few years now with the Giants is the lineup, which has not wowed anyone since Barry Bonds was around. It was good enough to complement the other parts in 2010, but there were days when the lineup could be shut down.

The emergence of 2010 National League Rookie of the Year Buster Posey (.305, 18 homers in 108 games) in the second half of the season and the return to health of former batting champ Freddy Sanchez will help, as will outfielder Cody Ross — if he can come even close to duplicating his postseason heroics. Holdovers Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell provide some pop.

The critical area might lie in the left side of the infield. Third baseman Pablo Sandoval regressed quite a bit at the plate in 2010 and new shortstop Miguel Tejada is a liability defensively at shortstop. The club lost Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria to free agency, two guys who were past their primes but still important members of the infield last season.

If Sandoval can rebound and Tejada's offensive production can counterbalance his defensive limitations, San Francisco will be sitting pretty. As it is, with a solid, young rotation and a formidable bullpen, the team will be in almost every game.

What it means to the Red Sox: The Sox have not shied away from saying that the World Series is their goal (an obvious statement, but it has a bit more oomph this year). If they reach that goal, there is a good possibility that the Giants could stand in their way.

On a side note, you might recall that the last time Boston went to San Francisco, Dustin Pedroia, Clay Buchholz and Victor Martinez each suffered injuries.

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