San Francisco Giants preview: Looking to repeat with same pieces
After winning it all in 2012, for the second time in three years, the San Francisco Giants decided to stick with what got them there and re-signed their core instead of making a splash in free agency like their rivals to the south.
While the Los Angeles Dodgers were signing everyone they could, the Giants were keeping their chemistry together re-signing Marco Scutaro and Angel Pagan, and bringing back Andres Torres from the Mets after he helped the Giants win it all in 2010.
“All I can say is, you can’t buy chemistry,” Brandon Belt said at his team’s FanFest earlier this month.
Melky Cabrera and Guillermo Mota were both run out of town after positive drug tests had them suspended during the season. Heroes during the 2010 stretch run, Aubrey Huff and Brian Wilson will not be suiting up for the G-men in 2013.
The pitching that led the San Francisco Giants to the 2012 World Series will be intact, and MVP Buster Posey will be leading the way once again.
San Francisco Giants position players
The lineup will look almost identical to the end of the year last year. The only difference is that Torres was brought in to platoon in left field with Gregor Blanco.
Blanco filled in for Cabrera nicely after the suspension, but he still had the worst batting average of any Giant in 2012 at .244. His 26 steals helped the organization look past his poor batting average. With Torres, the Giants get a lot of the same as he is another speedy guy on the base paths and in the outfield. Belt could see some time in the outfield, as well, when Posey is taking a day off behind the plate and playing first.
With the emergence of Belt (.275/.360/.421) and Brandon Crawford’s defensive prowess, the Giants have young players at all infield positions except second.
Scutaro hit .362 after getting traded from the Colorado Rockies to the Giants at the trade deadline last season, and the Giants rewarded him with a three-year, $20 million deal. Scutaro is the oldest infielder on the Giants, at 37, by more than 10 years. The San Francisco Giants infield should be good for years to come.
The defense will be good for the Giants which is important in spacious AT&T Park. The outfield will be fast whether Torres or Blanco is starting. With how good the Giants pitching is, a good defense is important.
Above all else though, Posey is the catalyst. He will bat clean up and handle one of the best pitching staffs in the league. In his first full year, Posey won MVP and led the majors in batting average at .336. If Posey can continue to play at his torrid pace, the San Francisco Giants should match their run total, which was good enough for sixth in the National League last year.
San Francisco Giants pitching
Matt Cain has solidified himself as the ace of the rotation with a 2.79 ERA and the 22nd perfect game in major-league history last season. Cain is one of the best pitchers in the major leagues and will continue to dominate for years to come.
Madison Bumgarner will be the second pitcher in the rotation, as he won 16 games last year and has 3.20 ERA for his career. Bumgarner is only 23 years old and should be a stalwart in the
Giants rotation for years to come. He should be in Cy Young contention for years as well.
Tim Lincecum has the most questions of any pitcher on the Giants, or in the league for that matter. After two straight Cy Young awards, Lincecum fell apart in 2012 with 15 losses and a 5.18 ERA. Lincecum did have a resurgence in the playoffs, coming out of the bullpen, which could lead to good things. He also was put on a strict workout regime in the offseason trying to regain some of the velocity he lost on his fastball. If Lincecum can get back to his usual form, the Giants rotation will be on the short list of great staffs in the majors.
Ryan Vogelsong and Barry Zito have both gone through a lot in their long major-league careers, and both have revived their careers in the past two years. After five bad years in San Francisco, Zito became the playoff savior last year. He will be entering the final year of his monster contract, and to the disbelief of many, if he finds a way to recreate his 2012 success, the Giants could re-sign him next offseason.
With Wilson leaving, Sergio Romo will take the closer role from the beginning of the season. With a 1.79 ERA last year, Romo was fantastic during the playoffs filling in as the closer when Santiago Casilla started to struggle. If Romo struggles, Casilla or Jeremy Affeldt could step into the closer role as they both have experience.
The San Francisco Giants bullpen is one of the best in the league and one of the most experienced. With Jose Mijares and the George Kontos being newcomers to the bullpen last year, the veterans should help to bring them along quickly.
San Francisco Giants opening day lineup
- Angel Pagan CF
- Marco Scutaro 2B
- Pablo Sandavol 3B
- Buster Posey C
- Hunter Pence RF
- Brandon Belt 1B
- Brandon Crawford SS
- Gregor Blanco LF
- Matt Cain P
San Francisco Giants prospect watch
The Giants are a largely veteran group with not a lot of holes, so it will be hard for many prospects to break through in 2013. Heath Hembree might be able to get some time in the bullpen as he did last year.
Pitcher Eric Surkamp was on track to be in the Giants starting rotation within the next few years but will miss the entire 2013 season with Tommy John surgery.
Another top prospect not expected to join the club this year is outfielder Gary Brown. Brown is the Giants top prospect and many expected him to be in the big leagues by now, but a tough 2012 has put those plans on hold. If the Blanco/ Torres platoon doesn’t work out, the Giants might be forced to call upon Brown this season.
Brett Bochy, manager Bruce Bochy’s son, is another pitching prospect who could appear in the majors at some point during the season. He was a non-roster invitee to spring training and looks to be headed to triple-A Fresno. Being the manager’s son could give him an edge when it’s time to call up a pitcher.
The San Francisco Giants won it all in 2012 and are bringing back much of the same cast in 2013, which could be good or bad for them. The club did the same thing in 2011 after winning it all in 2010 and didn’t even make the playoffs.
Just as in that season, and many seasons to come, the success or failure of this team revolves around Posey. If he has another MVP year, there is no telling how far this team can go. The pitching will always find a way to win, and the defense will be there.
If the San Francisco Giants can score as much as last year they shouldn’t have a problem contending with the Dodgers for the NL West, even with all the pieces they brought in. While the Dodgers are the ones all over the news, the Giants will be overlooked like they are every year.
The San Francisco Giants pitching staff is good enough to contend with anyone in the majors and is good enough to shut down any lineup on any night, including the Dodgers “dream team.”
The Giants should at least match their 94 wins from last year and will be a contender throughout the playoffs as long as they stay healthy.
With Bruce Bochy as a manager, working his magic in the dugout, the San Francisco Giants have a chance to make a deep run once again. The Dodgers revival will hopefully refuel one of the best rivalries in baseball, and the NL West race will be must-watch TV in September.