SF Giants appear shaky for season

After winning it all last season the San Francisco Giants are back in 2015, but unlike in 2011 and 2013 they are looking to make the playoffs in the season following a campaign where they came out on top. It is déjà vu for Giants fans who thought for a third straight time Brian Sabean would upgrade his roster and chose not to.

The team’s general manager has stuck with the same approach in putting the team together for the season following a World Series victory. Instead of going out and over spending for Chase Headley, after losing Pablo Sandoval, Sabean elected to sign a California native, Casey McGehee. We will just have to wait and see when it comes to the McGehee signing, but as far as dabbling in the free agent market goes, Sabean made a good move by not dishing out the dough for Headley, who hit only .243 last season for the Yankees.

Part of the reason why the Giants have won three of the last five titles is they have developed a good core, and held onto those players over the years. This year however, they lost one of their core players in Pablo Sandoval and a key plug-in man, Michael Morse.

Make no mistake, in losing those two players the Giants have become worse on paper. The good thing for the Giants is at some point this year they are going to get back a healthy Angel Pagan, who last year in 96 games recorded 115 hits, giving him a flat .300 batting average before the rest of his season was lost to injury. Yes, the club did win the World Series without him, but they would not have gotten there without him, and are going to need his name to be at the top of a lot of Bochy’s lineup cards in order for them to have any shot at getting back to the playoffs.

The team also added Japanese outfielder Norichika Aoki, who at times hit second for the World Series losing Kansas City Royals. Aoki will be a solid presence for the Giants in left field as he is expected to win the job over platoon player Gregor Blanco. He will not, however, hit with anywhere near as much power as Morse did last year, so sporadic home run hitter Brandon Belt will have to step it up if they want to be good enough on offense this year to make the postseason.

It would not be surprising if the Giants play like a team that has the ability to win it all this season, even though none of the analysts around the game are picking them to win their own division.

The Dodgers did not get any worse (on paper) and the Padres had a party of an off-season, picking up Wil Myers, Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Derek Norris and James Shields.

On top of good defense and timely hitting, for the Giants to make the playoffs Matt Cain will have to have a bounce back year and Madison Bumgarner will have to put the team on his back with another 200 plus inning season. It will also be essential for them to not rely on Joe Panik being a boy wonder this season like he was last year. He should be the starter at second base and the number two hitter in their lineup, but do not expect him to lead the team to the playoffs.

One player who will be interesting to see grow at the big league level is catcher Andrew Susac. He is a promising young talent behind the dish, and his name was surely brought up for trade by a few teams around the league. Look for him to beat out Hector Sanchez to back-up Buster Posey.

Although Madison Bumgarner did not look great in his Spring Training debut against the A’s, he is poised to have a great season and solidify himself as one of the two best pitchers in the National League (the other being Clayton Kershaw). It is an odd year, and based on the last couple of odd years for the Giants, the outlook will not be the playoffs. But if they can stay healthy and pitch as well as anyone in the league, they should be right in the mix come October.