Liotta: The end or beginning for Giants? 

A little more than half a season in the Giants’ 2008 bank and I think it is worth posing this question: Are we watching the leftover year from the Barry Bonds era or the inaugural year of next era of Giants baseball?

The Giantsdeserve plenty of kudos for the way they’ve developed into a scrappy ballclub. After falling to 17-29 on May 29, they’ve basically played .500, which exceeds expectations by a huge margin.

The good news? If before the season you told me Barry Zito and Matt Cain would combine to go 8-18 and Noah Lowry would be a non-entity to this point, I would have guessed the Giants weren’t going to win 50 games.

While Cain’s ERA and walk total are concerns, the fact that Tim Lincecum (10-1) and Jonathan Sanchez (8-4) have blossomed into bona fide talent puts the Giants even further over the top in the pitching department. And there’s no such thing as too much there.

The bad news? While a nucleus of solid pros that include Aaron Rowand, Bengie Molina, Rich Aurilia and Randy Winn has been key, only Fred Lewis and John Bowker rank among the top eight Giants in terms of plate appearances. This really has been a veteran-laden lineup Bruce Bochy has been throwing out there and there doesn’t appear to be much potential for growth.

Look, everybody knew this year would be painful, but if 2008 doesn’t serve the Giants as the step toward becoming a contender again, then it’s a waste.

The key statistic for me regarding the Giants so far says they are 26-10 in games pitched by Lincecum and Sanchez, 12-38 in all other games.

Second-half formula? More Emmanuel Burriss. More Travis Denker. More John Bowker. Get them as much playing time as possible.

Random thoughts:

» The Baron Davis opt-out may be the best move Chris Mullin ever made. Yes, Davis ranks near the top of the NBA in talent, but he was showing some wear and tear down the stretch last season. And don’t forget the number of key games which he was unable to turn the Warriors’ way. Better for the Warriors his exit come one year early rather than one year late.

» Boy, it can’t be fun being ex-Cal star Aaron Rodgers. He can’t win. The ghost of Brett Favre simply won’t leave Green Bay.

» The next look of Major League Baseball? Josh Hamilton, Evan Longoria, Jay Bruce. Between them, less than 300 games of big-league experience and they already look like stars. Why can’t the Giants draft guys who turn out like this?

» The Giants and Dodgers over the Fourth of July weekend. Doesit get any better? No matter what year it is — 1958 or 2008 — this series deserves a circle on any calendar.

Tim Liotta is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to The Examiner.

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