The San Francisco Giants caught lightning in a bottle for the second time in three years last season in winning the World Series. They parlayed a ragamuffin lineup and a makeshift pitching staff with a couple aging former stars into a title. They’ve been spoiled. There were about a four other teams last year that entered the postseason looking better on paper than the Giants.
And I’ll admit, I’ve got a little bit of a sore spot because they took the title that should have belonged to my Cincinnati Reds. At least, the NL title should have belonged to Cincinnati. We had them down two games to zero and heading back to Cincinnati for three. And then it all fell apart. Or it all came together if you’re looking at it from the San Francisco viewpoint.
They had a quiet, Giants-like offseason. They’ll be there all season long, pesky and ready to slip in and steal another title that should belong to another team and another fan base.
Major offseason moves:
Really, the Giants offseason consisted of retention of the key components of their title run in 2012. There are few teams in baseball that underwent less change than the Giants this past offseason. This roster of familiar faces will remain competitive but will fail to capture another championship in 2013. No one can be that lucky.
Let’s look at the Giants in-depth after the jump.
Anyone reading this article kind of feel like Angel Pagan, Gregor Blanco, and Andres Torres are all interchangeable, doppelganger-style outfielders who came from the same mother and a different evil underworld Latin father? No? I just thought I would throw that out there. You do what you want with it. I feel like they’re all the same player and easy to mix up. And they’re in the same place now for the second season in a row.
In actuality, Pagan is a pretty damn good little player. He’s scrappy, and has a knack for making game saving catches and getting hits at big moments with the game on the line. He scored 95 runs at the top of this lineup last season while stealing 29 and hitting .288. If he does that again, the Giants will be in good shape.
And how about that pesky little Scutaro? He’s kind of a forgotten man in all of baseball but he hit .362 in 61 games driving in 40. He followed that up with a really nice postseason.
The heart of the order has unheralded stars that can flat out rake but they do it in an ugly fashion. I’m not sure there are two uglier players in all of baseball then Kung-Fu Panda Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence. Pence throws like my wife–honestly her form is better–yet he has an absolute hose piece. His swing mechanically looks like shit 99% of the time, and he hits piss ropes all over the field. There’s nothing ugly about the player this franchise is built around right now, Buster Posey.
Sweet Jesus, it hurts to watch that Grand Slam he hit against the Reds last season in game five of the NLDS in Cincinnati. No swing in my 30 years of watching baseball has crushed my soul like this one did. I will never forget it, and it was at that moment that Buster Posey said to the baseball world that he’s really a big-timer. He has two rings, and he could easily end up the next Derek Jeter type in all of baseball. Piling up rings and playing in one World Series after another.
Posey hit .336 last season and won the MVP award. He deserved it. The Giants need to get him out from behind the dish though and save some years in his career.
Brandon Belt has a lot of people that like him. I don’t see how he’s not a skinnier, more awkward version of J.T. Snow. I don’t think he’s going to be a Will Clark type. I don’t think he’s going to be a whole lot more than a solid .280-.285 hitter with marginal power at a position where you need some pop. Then again, he fits the Giants mold of men of an inexact mold that seem to get the job done. Another reason why my hatred for Brian Sabean’s little roster is beginning to grow.
Everyone has to love San Francisco’s number one and two. Matt Cain is an ace in every sense of the word, an absolute horse who eats innings and has nasty stuff and can absolutely shut down the opposition to two hits and no runs on any given night. Bumgarner was the guy I predicted to win the NL Cy Young last season. I had a real feeling about him–he won 16 and struck out 191 hitters while walking under fifty. It was his second season in a row of those exact K to BB stats.
I’ve always enjoyed Tim Lincecum, and who calls themselves a baseball fan that doesn’t enjoy the guy? He finally showed that he wasn human last season and had an ERA over five while striking out less than 200 hitters for the first time in a number of years. His walks rose to 90 and he continued to give up a fair share of hits. I think the curtain is starting to fall on a remarkable career, but Lincecum is a guy who could take this team from contender to frontrunner in the entire NL if he returns to his old form.
Vogelsong is incredibly solid as the number four and Barry Zito somehow went 15-8 as the number five with an ERA of 4.15. And that’s how you don’t slip too far in the big leagues. When you can trot out guys who are dependable like these two are every fourth and fifth day, you aren’t going to endure too many losing streaks and you’ll enjoy a fair share of runs where your team seems to get hot and be in it every night. There aren’t many teams around baseball that are as strong one to five in the rotation as the Giants. They have a lot of veteran presence that will serve them well as they try to defend their title. Experience and guile shouldn’t be underestimated when you’re talking about starting pitching.
The bullpen is among the best in baseball. Sergio Romo will headline them as the pseudo closer, with Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt, and Javier Lopez ready to throw pretty much every time Bochy wants to give them the ball. The permanent loss of Brian Wilson will cost them a few victories, but Romo is pretty solid in terms of a guy finding a way to finish out a ballgame.
Quick footnote on Giants manager Bruce Bochy. I kind of feel like Bochy is the Bad Santa of baseball. Am I not right? Look closely. This guy is totally capable of bagging plus size women in the fitting rooms of America’s malls during his breaks of being a holiday Santa. As I play a clip that is actually Bruce Bochy playing Billy Bob Thornton’s stunt double, I want you to take a look at him drunkenly slugging that statue-donkey and pissing himself. His elf would be Gregor Blanco or Andres Torres, take your pick.
That’s him. You know it is. Can’t you see Bochy asking a fan if ‘granny is spry’? I know he has asked that.
Mevs’ Projected Record:
88-74, 2nd in the NL West
The Giants will still be one of the National League’s top gun teams, but they’re not going to beat the world again. Then again, this is exactly the type of record that would allow them to sneak into the playoffs quietly again and steal another title in ugly fashion. I just can’t believe this team has won the championship in two of the last three seasons. There are so many loaded teams in baseball, it just seems like such an unlikely turn of events.
The truth is Bochy is a really solid manager and these guys go to war for him about as much as anyone in baseball. Sabean doesn’t always make the flashy move to shore up his roster but he finds the right guy that will step in and make him look brilliant. In short, Sabean shits golden eggs. He’ll probably add some over the hill designated hitter at mid-season who is plodding his way through a .178 season and stick him in left field. Said player who was left for dead by the rest of baseball goes on to hit .422 the rest of the way and the Giants win yet another title with the same ugly roster as they did the last two times.