The Giants are coming off of a disappointing year in 2013 when they went 76-86 to put them 14 games out of the playoff picture. They didn't make too much noise during the offseason, instead opting to roll with their young core of players which has already won two World Series titles. Chad Gaudin, Barry Zito and Andre Torres are the most notable players which have departed from the Giants. San Francisco brought in right hander Tim Hudson and left fielder Michael Morse. The Giants had to deal with numerous injuries last season and a lack of home run production which ultimately led them to miss the the playoffs. The NL West is a tougher division this year and it will surely test the Giants. It will be interesting to see if they are able to come together and get themselves into post-season play during the 2014 campaign.
The biggest question mark in the infield will be Marco Scutaro. The aging second baseman is now 38 years old and is already slated to miss opening day for his second season in a row. Scutaro has back issues and SF doesn't have the best depth at second. They can choose from Tony Abreu, Brandon Hicks, Nick Noonan and Ehire Adrianza. It's possible that they could make a late trade but Scutaro's health will remain an issue. He is coming off of a decent season where he hit for a .297 batting average in 127 games. At first will be the underachieving Brandon Belt who is coming off of his best year. He hit .289 for 17 home runs and 67 RBIs although that still ranks at the bottom of everyday first man. Belt needs to have a breakout season at first this year or else the Giants will be forced to explore other options. A slimmed down Pablo Sandoval will man the hot corner after producing 14 home runs and 79 RBIs in 2013. Sandoval's contribution will need to go up this year and his impact can be the difference between a mediocre and great offense. Brandon Crawford is the Giants starting short stop and he brings defense to the table. The lefty was just average at the plate last season, batting .248 with nine home runs and 43 RBIs.
Angel Pagan is the Giants most notable outfielder and he was injured for a chunk of 2013 which hurt SF's playoff hopes. Pagan played in just 71 games in 2013 and was able to contribute five home runs with 30 RBIs in that span. Pagan needs to remain healthy this season. Hunter Pence will man right field after coming off of a great year, hitting 27 home runs and stealing 22 bases. Newly acquired Michael Morse will start in left field. Morse can be dubbed the wildcard for the Giants in 2014. He has had injury issues for the past couple of seasons and had wrist surgery over the off season. If he can stay healthy, Morse could be good for 25-30 home runs.
Buster Posey in no doubt one of the best catchers in the world of baseball. He is a workhorse and played in the most games of his career last season at 120. Posey was great in the beginning of 2013 but faltered in the back half of the season. Being behind the plate is a rough job for anyone and the workload could get to Posey once again.
Madison Bumgarner is starting opening day and will be the Giants ace. He went 13-9 with a 2.77 ERA and almost nine strikeouts per nine innings. Matt Cain will fill the number two slot after a disappointing 2013. Cain was actually not as bad as most people remember and he improved in the back-half of the season. We think he will return to elite form during the 2014 campaign. Tim Lincecum will be the third starter and he has regressed for the past two or three seasons. Lincecum's production remains questionable and he could turn into a liability for this roster. In the fourth spot will be newly acquire Tim Hudson who had an ankle injury last year. Hudson should provide solid and quality outings from the backend of the pitching staff. Ryan Vogelsong was hurt and not very good last season but he will still be penciled in as the final starter on the Giants rotation. Vogelsong dealt with a freak finger injury that derailed his season and if he can return to his dominate 2011-2012 form, the Giants pitching staff will be lethal.
Sergei Romo is the obvious closer for San Francisco. He had 38 saves and a 2.39 ERA while striking out 8.65 batters per nine innings. We expect even better numbers from Romo this year. The Giants have a variety of set-up men including Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez, and Jeremy Affeldt. The left handed Affeldt will be an important piece for the Giants bullpen since he will be utilized against both left and right handed hitters. San Francisco has a ton of depth in the back-end of their pen with Jean Machi, Heath Hembree, George Kontos, Jake Dunning, and David Huff. Right hander Yusmeiro Petit can provide long relief or a spot start when needed.
The Giants have a great young roster with tons of upside but they will also have some questions to answer in 2014. Their offense is still not at an elite level and the back-end of their rotation is susceptible to give up runs. Injuries could have a large impact on this team since their depth isn't great. Their starting staff has the potential to be truly elite but Lincecum, Hudson, and Vogelsong will need to answer the bell. This is going to be a competitive club in the NL West but that division has improved and SF isn't going to compete with the Dodgers who could win the NL Pennant. The Giants will likely find themselves in the wild card race although don't count out the well-coached Giants.
Projected Record: 87-75
Odds to win World Series: +1800