Liotta: Giants have the pieces in place to make a postseason run 

In honor of the latest media craze, this column — and the Giants’ chances for success in the upcoming season — must be viewed with rose-colored, 3-D glasses in order to be confidently optimistic. (What those glasses will do for you is remove the word “if” from the following five sentences):

If the Giants’ rotation proves to be more than a Tim Lincecum-Matt Cain duet ...

If the Giants’ additions of Aubrey Huff and Mark DeRosa, and a full year of Freddy Sanchez, can turn back the clock on their bats ...

If Edgar Renteria rekindles his performance in a way that takes us back to his 2007 year with the Atlanta Braves ...

If Pablo Sandoval actually improves his offensive numbers this season ...

If Barry Zito’s second half last year was not a one-time-only performance ...

I don’t care what anybody says, the Colorado Rockies are never a solid pick to do anything (I’m still not sure science has figured out the true impact a mile-high altitude has on baseball, or human existence, for that matter).

That being the case, if everything breaks right for the Giants in 2010, they have a chance to reach the postseason. If the Giants reach the postseason, Lincecum and Cain make them a legitimate championship threat.(Those glasses really come in handy for that paragraph, too.)

Assuming that Lincecum and Cain spend the season cementing themselves as baseball’s best 1-2 pitching punch, Zito becomes a critical barometer for success. He has to build upon the second half of 2009 which saw him post a 2.86 ERA over his 13 starts after last year’s All-Star Game.

The Giants have to improve the run production that saw them score just 657 runs last year, ranking them 13th in the National League ahead of three teams — Houston, San Diego and Pittsburgh — that averaged 70 wins for the season.

That will only happen if the new arrivals to their lineup can dial back the clock in terms of their production — Huff to 2008 (.304-32-108); Sanchez to 2007 (.304-11-81), and DeRosa to 2008 (.285-25-87) — and if Renteria returns to being the
“do-everything” guy he was in his last season with Atlanta.

Sandoval’s first complete big league season saw him become one of the NL’s best hitters, posting a .330 average with 25 home runs and 90 RBIs. He’ll be the key figure in the Giants’ 2010 order, and a season of equal or better numbers is a must.

My favorite intangible says the Giants play the field like they did in spring trainig. If they do, they’ll be very, very difficult to beat. The team the naysayers always under-estimate is the one that, rather than being forced to win every game, simply allows its opponents to beat themselves.

That happens with timely hitting and timely fielding.

If the Giants do all that, they’ll be in the playoffs.

Now, put those glasses on one last time, and re-read the “If the Giants reach the postseason” line in the eighth paragraph. Over and over and over ...

Tim Liotta is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to The Examiner. E-mail him at

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