Standing O Sports is previewing all 30 Major League teams seasons, division by division, team by team. Up next is the NL West and the San Francisco Giants.
What Happened Last Season
The San Francisco Giants suffered from a combination things in 2013. There was a World Series hangover, as well as a vast amount of injuries. Angel Pagan missed over half the season with a torn hamstring, Marco Scutaro was consistently battling to stay healthy, and Ryan Vogelsong missed nearly 3 months with a broken bone in his hand. You also had Barry Zito struggling mightily, Tim Lincecum finish with an ERA over 4 for the 2nd time in his career, and Matt Cain having his worst statistical season since his rookie year. All of these factors were too much to overcome for the reigning World Series champs.
- Re-signed outfielder Hunter Pence to 5-year $90 million dollar deal
- Re-signed Tim Lincecum to 2-year $35 million dollar deal
- Re-signed Javier Lopez to 3-year $13 million dollar contract
- Signed Tim Hudson to 2-year $23 million dollar contract
- Signed Michael Morse to 1-year $6 million dollar deal
- Barry Zito’s option declined, not returning to team
Take: Looking at the moves General Manager Brian Sabean made this offseason, he appears to be content with the teams core. After all, that core won world series titles in 2010 and 2012. When you look at the contract Jacoby Ellsbury signed with the Yankees, the fact the Giants were able to re-sign Pence for just $90 million is a bargain. Tim Lincecum got paid for what he’s done for the organization in his career. Signing Tim Hudson was one of the better moves of the offseason. Sabean didn’t overpay and when healthy, Hudson is a gamer who can be very effective.
Angel Pagan (CF)
Marco Scutaro (2B)
Brandon Belt (1B)
Buster Posey (C)
Hunter Pence (RF)
Pablo Sandoval (3B)
Michael Morse (LF)
Brandon Crawford (SS)
Breakdown: Losing Pagan for such an extended period of time really hurt the Giants last season. He was expected to be the table setter in the lineup, and the team was unable to replace him. Marco Scutaro is 38 years-old and his back problems haven’t gone away. That’s a problem. In the 3-hole is Brandon Belt who improved drastically from 2012 to 2013. Look for Belt to take that next step this season. Buster Posey is the heart and sole of the team and bats cleanup. It’s going to be crucial for Pagan and Scutaro to get on base so Posey can knock them in. Last season, the Giants scored the 9th fewest runs in all of baseball. While the Giants offense as a whole was inconsistent in 2013, Hunter Pence was the most productive hitter on the team. He played in all 162 games, the first San Francisco Giant to accomplish that, and hit a career high 27 home-runs. Pablo Sandoval, aka “Kung Fu Panda”, is reportedly in excellent shape. After a superb 2011 season, Sandoval has fallen off a bit the last 2-years, and the Giants are counting on a big-time bounce back season. Michael Morse is hoping San Francisco can revitalize his career. Morse hit 31 home-runs for the Nationals in 2011, and has hit 31 combined home-runs the last 2-seasons. Rounding out the lineup is shortstop Brandon Crawford who is out there for his defense, not his offense.
Projected Pitching Rotation
There may not have been a bigger reason for the San Francisco Giants downfall in 2013 than Matt Cain’s season. Cain finished with his highest ERA since 2006, and it was the first time since 2008 he failed reach double-digit wins. The Giants are clearly hoping this does not become a trend for the 29-year-old. Behind Cain is Madison Bumgarner who had a career year in 2013 finishing with career highs in WHIP, ERA, strikeout rate, and strikeouts. Then there’s Tim Lincecum who’s fall from grace continues. Lincecum is still a 2-time Cy Young Award winner, but has yet to regain that dominant form. Following Lincecum is Tim Hudson who makes his way back to the Bay Area after 9-years with the Braves. When healthy, Hudson can hold his own with anyone. Rounding out the rotation is Ryan Vogelsong who like Cain, fell apart in 2013.
X-Factor: Starting Pitching returning
When the San Francisco Giants won titles in 2010 and 2012, starting pitching was arguably the biggest reason why. Since then however, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, and Ryan Vogelsong have fallen apart. That led to the Giants finishing tied for 3rd in the NL West last season. If San Francisco has any reservations for October, Cain must return to ace status, and Lincecum as well as Vogelsong have to get it together quickly.
The Giants enter 2014 with a lot of question marks. Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro are going to be relied upon heavily in San Francisco’s lineup. But the big key will be starting pitching. If Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, and Ryan Vogelsong continue to struggle this team has no chance. Overall, there’s very little margin for error, but as we’ve seen, if things break right, the Giants can win it all.
Frankel: 86-76 (2nd in NL West)