The San Francisco Giants will open the season as defending World Series champions. Many lifelong fans thought they would never hear that sentence, but the franchise’s dream season came true last year.
Now comes the hard part: can the team repeat in 2011?
And let’s not forget about the team across the Bay, as the Oakland A’s have a promising roster with several new faces.
Here’s a brief team preview of both squads for the upcoming season.
San Francisco Giants
While the 2011 roster is not fully intact from last season, there is plenty of optimism among fans and so-called baseball experts.
The starting pitching rotation returns intact with the main difference being that they will have a full season from last year’s standout rookie Madison Bumgarner. The bullpen also remains mostly unchanged, although closer Brian Wilson is on the disabled list to start the year.
The main additions came via the everyday lineup. Rookie 1st baseman Brandon Belt made the opening day roster. One of the Giants top prospects, he could have a similar impact to the one Rookie of the Year Buster Posey had in 2010. And Miguel Tejada is the team’s starting shortstop, replacing World Series MVP Edgar Renteria.
While the losses of Renteria and Juan Uribe will hurt, the team is also getting a full season out of Pat Burrell, Aubrey Huff, Buster Posey and Mark DeRosa, which should help make up for the losses.
Although not nearly as successful, the A’s finished last year with an 81-81 record, finishing in second in the AL West.
The team will continue to be led by a strong starting pitching staff, which includes All Star Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez and Dallas Braden. Closer Andrew Bailey is starting the season on the DL, but the team fortified its bullpen with the additions of Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes.
The big changes come on offense, as the A’s finished near the bottom in most offensive categories last season.
In the offseason, the team added three veteran bats to the lineup: outfielders David DeJesus, Hideki Matsui and Josh Willingham, all of whom are expected to contribute from Opening Day.
Leaving the predictions to the experts, expect an exciting season from both Bay Area teams in 2011. Now let’s play ball!
Photo Credit: SFGiants.com