Despite opening 2-4 on the road, the positives outweigh the negatives as the Giants head into their home opener at AT&T Park today.
Perhaps the biggest positive: the fans. The Giants have always made a grand production of Opening Day, and this year, they have a world championship to celebrate. Giants fans will be screaming nonstop for their heroes from about three hours before game time.
Two of the Giants’ negatives will go away quickly. Closer Brian Wilson got roughed up in his first appearance on Wednesday, but he needed the work. Manager Bruce Bochy was able to give it to him in a game where the Giants had a safe lead. Wilson will be sharp next time.
Outfielder Cody Ross will be back off the disabled list soon, so Bochy can move Aubrey Huff to left field and use Pat Burrell as a late-inning pinch-hitter.
The other negative won’t go away: The Giants have too much age in the middle infield.
Freddy Sanchez is an excellent second baseman and a perfect No. 2 hitter, but he’s fragile. He’s played only 111 games in each of the past two seasons and had still another shoulder surgery in the offseason. His backup is Mark DeRosa, who has missed almost two full seasons because of wrist operations.
At shortstop, Miguel Tejada will be 37 next month, and he’s lost range in the field and power at the plate. It’s unrealistic to expect him to play anything close to a full schedule, and his backup is Mike Fontenot. Good luck with that.
Otherwise, the news is good. The only question about Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain is which one will have the better year. Lincecum fired 13 strikeouts in just seven innings on Wednesday and Cain finally beat the Dodgers, who had been his nemesis, on Saturday. Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner will be solid. Barry Zito will be the most overpaid fifth starter in baseball.
Pablo Sandoval appears to have rejuvenated his career by losing weight in the offseason. He’s much more agile in the field and seems to be stroking the ball well left-handed, though his right-handed hitting is still off.
Buster Posey snapped out of a mini-slump with a home run on Wednesday. He admitted he felt early pressure, but he’s gotten over that. It wouldn’t surprise me if he has an even better year this season than last.
Brandon Belt is still batting below .200 after two hits Wednesday, but that won’t last. Baseball people look for plate discipline, the ability to hit outside pitches to the opposite field, and a compact swing in evaluating young hitters. Belt has all three, and he’ll prove the Giants right in keeping him from the start of the season.
And for their first opponent on their home turf, the Giants get the Cardinals, a team with real problems. Adam Wainwright, no worse than the third-best starter in the league, is sidelined for the year. Matt Holliday just had an appendectomy and, though he insists he’ll play today, just five days after the operation, he’s probably kidding himself.
So, Giants fans should not only be able to celebrate last year, but should also have a win today to make the day complete.
Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. E-mail him at email@example.com.