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How Misfits And Castoffs Became Champions, Part 3

Posted By Joseph Davis On Jan 9 2011 @ 3:43 am In San Francisco Giants | No Comments

(sorry for the long delay in getting Part 3 to you readers…sometimes life makes plans FOR us regardless of our own wishes)

#47 Chris Ray, Reliever

The return from Texas in the Bengie Molina deal, Ray—a once-promising closer for the other Orange-and-Black (Baltimore) who was in his second season after 2008 arm surgery—did a very good job in middle relief that unfortunately may be lost in the great work turned in by several other Giants relievers, especially since Ray was left off the entire postseason roster. Ray, just 28, did not lose a game or blow a save; his one converted save came against the Dodgers in the infamous 9th inning that took 4 pitchers—including Jon Sanchez—to wrap. Ray’s lone dreadful game came against Philly in a game the Giants were going to lose anyway; toss out his 4 ER in 0 IP that day, and he turned in a 2.62 ERA in his other 27 Giant outings.

#16 Edgar Renteria, Shortstop

Do I even need to mention Renteria’s role in making the Giants World Champs? I guess so. Renteria got money for nothing in 2009—not sure about his chicks for free—as a .250 hitter at $9 million who never got hot (although he was king for a day upon belting a big grand slam against Colorado). Edgar, 34, tore up the N.L. early in the season (11-for-his-first-16) and was over .300 in April before tailing off and landing on the disabled list thrice. The veteran would be nothing but a spot starter at short from then on, but come October he made THE MOST of his opportunities. The home run in WS Game 2 off C.J. Wilson came in what ended up a blowout, but at the point of impact the Giants’ ability to score even one run lay in doubt. And I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one who still gets chills every time I see his high, dramatic, wall-scraping, crowd-stunning 3-run jack off Cliff Lee in Game 5. Best $18+ million (including buyout) the Giants ever spent.

#19 Dave Righetti, Coach

Righetti pitched 15 seasons in MLB, including three with the Giants and a decade with the Yankees under George Steinbrenner, and has been pitching coach in SF since the late ‘90’s. Not coincidentally: since then the Giants consistently rank among the league leaders in key pitching categories. Rags is low-key—If you look up low-key in the dictionary, you’ll see Rags’ photo—but he knows his pitching; rarely do his troops fall apart after one of his calming mound visits. San Francisco’s staff avoided major injuries and made just a small handful of D.L. trips. You can thank Rags’ routines, attentiveness and trust from his charges for that.

#29 Ryan Rohlinger, Third Base

Rohlinger has been waiting in the wings for an extended shot at the Giants 3B job, continuing to excel at AAA-Fresno in the interim. In 2010 he was repeatedly shuttled back and forth from Fresno—his final option year—and got in a dozen games. The Giants went 3-0 in his 3 starts and he didn’t commit an error. He aided the Giants’ cause by not doing anything to screw it up, which is good enough for me.

#13 Cody Ross, Outfielder

One of the Giants’ many “castoffs”, Ross: drove in the only run of SF’s 1-0 victory in NLDS #1, hit the winning 2-run single in NLDS #4, cracked two solo jacks vs. Hall-of-Famer-in-waiting Roy Halladay in NLCS #1, took Roy Oswalt deep in NLCS #2, hit RBI single to break 0-0 tie in NLCS #3, and either drove in or scored a run in 8 other postseason games. Need I say more?

#54 Sergio Romo, Reliever

Without Romo’s steady diet of Frisbee sliders causing even the best right-handed hitters in the NL to flail haplessly during the regular season, Brian Wilson is probably called upon for a DOZEN 4+ out saves rather than the 5 he actually was. The third-year slinger’s WHIP measured under 1, and he K’d 70 in 62 innings. He had a rough NLDS and blew the save in Game 4 of the NLCS, but rather than implode, Romo calmly set down the next 3 Phillies in order—leaving SF in position to eventually win. His cheerful spirit might not have meshed during the last years of the Bonds’ era, but is ideal for the “new” Giants. FEAR THE BEARD.

#33 Aaron Rowand, Outfielder

Rowand deserves commendation for what he did not give the 2010 Giants—attitude. It could not have been easy for a proud veteran and former All-Star who was once the Giants’ 2nd-highest paid player to lose his job to an unknown journeyman. Yet, rather than announce the 2nd-coming of “Operation: Shutdown”, Rowand continued to work hard and prepare himself for when his number was called—such as in NLCS Game #3 when he led off the 5th with a double and soon scored a huge insurance run. Or the next night when his perfect throw home from CF nailed Carlos Ruiz in an eventual one-run victory. Examples like Rowand’s do not go unnoticed by up-and-coming players.

#45 Dan Runzler, Reliever

Runzler lost a good portion of the summer to the D.L., and like Ray, his contributions tend to get lost amidst the deep Giants’ bullpen. But he was a valuable regular-season arm to the team, especially during the period after Jeremy Affeldt’s first injury and before Javier Lopez’ acquisition—a coup which may not have occurred had Runzler stayed healthy himself. The big southpaw allowed but one ER from June 1 to season’s end (granted, two months of that time period Runzler was on the disabled list).

#21 Freddy Sanchez, Second Base

Almost a year after his acquisition from Pittsburgh, we Giants loyalists STILL didn’t know what we had in Sanchez. We feared we had irreparably damaged goods thanks to a leftover shoulder injury that needed surgery. Stellar afield, Sanchez caught fire offensively in mid-August, boosting his average from a low of .257 up to the .292 that will decorate his 2011 baseball cards. He went 9-for-11 over 3 August games vs. the Reds, and twice homered in back-to-back games in September—a month he opened with one of the great catches of 2010 to wrap a tight win vs. the Rockies. Oh, and as if you need a reminder, the candid Freddy opened the World Series with 3 consecutive doubles—the first to ever do so—and made a number of impressive defensive plays.

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