Who’ll have fun while Manny’s away?

As we wonder which teams will benefit most from the absence of Manny Ramirez from the Dodgers’ lineup, stay out west…in northern California.

After taking 2-of-3 from L.A. over the weekend, the Giants outslugged Washington 11-7 to win for the fourteenth time in 20 games. San Francisco is 17-14 now, four games behind L.A., and they seem to have some young hitters coming into their own.

Start with the pitching. The Giants 3.97 ERA is third best in the National League. Their starting five of Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathon Sanchez, and apparently rejuvenated lefthanders Randy Johnson and Barry Zito usually give them innings. Only Milwaukee and Pittsburgh have more quality starts.

On defense, the addition of Edgar Renteria has solidified the middle. With Yadier Molina’s brother Bengie behind the plate, Renteria and Emanuel Burriss at the keystone, and Aaron Rowand in center field…the Giants are solid up the middle. Their outfield defense is as good as anyone’s, although their corner infielders leave something to be desired.

The problems for San Francisco are on offense. They’re second to last in runs scored, they don’t hit home runs and they don’t get on base. However, young third baseman Pablo Sandoval continued a hot streak with an RBI double and two hits vs. Washington, rookie 1B Travis Ishikawa seems to be finding his way in the power department, and outfielder Freddie Lewis is an emerging force. Add in leadoff man Burriss and his recent ten game, .400 stretch, and there’s a threat at the top of the order.

Even though, like the Dodgers, the Giants are missing any thunder in the middle of their lineup…they have pitching, speed, defense and youth. This is a team much like what Giants Manager Bruce Bochy led with so much success in San Diego. Don’t be surprised to see San Francisco have some fun while Manny’s away.