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Friday, October 11, 2013

2013 Review: What Went Wrong/How to Fix It

I was going to dedicate a whole post to things that went wrong for the Giants in the 2013 season that saw them sink from World Champs to a 10-game below .500 finish, but we already have a firm grip on that. Instead, I thought I'd discuss some of the things that they could actually fix over the winter to get this team back to championship caliber.

Instead of analyzing every little detail, I figured it be best to nut-shell the negative in this case, cause every Giants' fan has heard the complaints enough over the last few months. To start things off, the main reasons why this team failed so miserably this season is because they simply had no depth to speak of. They didn't come in with a very good plan in left field, and they ended up getting minimal production there, then when Angel Pagan went down, they just couldn't fill the void. That, coupled with other minor injuries throughout (Pablo Sandoval's issues, Vogey's 2-month absence, Casilla and Affeldt's missed time, Marco Scutaro's bum finger, etc...), are what really did this team in. They got solid years out of guys who were there from start to finish like Belt, Pence, Crawford (for the most part) and Posey (when he was out there), but it seemed like the lineup was changing on a near daily basis in the second half, and the Giants didn't have the talent to fill it out.

Big Decision On Timmy Looms
We also cannot forget the abysmal year the starting rotation had. Matt Cain's first half, and Tim Lincecum's start and finish were both very forgettable. Barry Zito was nowhere near the help he was down the stretch in 2012 this year and Vogelsong was hot and cold after returning from his lengthy mid-season absence. Although the Giants got nice performances out of Chad Gaudin and Yusmiero Petit (in September), lack of depth in the starting rotation again came into play, just like it did in the everyday lineup. Vogelsong was the only Giant to miss significant time, but Zito's major fall-off made the Giants really need 2 solid options to step in to keep them up to snuff with the Dodgers, and they just didn't quite get it. Although the bullpen had some ups-and-downs of it's own, they still managed to find enough depth to at least stay serviceable over the second half. Not saying they don't need an upgrade or two, but the bullpen was being taxed because the starters weren't doing their jobs, and they were exposed at times because of it.

Now, I didn't want to use this whole post to just rip on the 2013 performance, but instead start discussing what needs to be done in order to fix it. Obviously the Giants saw throughout the second half of the season that they don't have much major-league ready talent in their minor league system, at least in terms of everyday players. Heath Hembree looks like he may be a real key to the 2014 bullpen mix, and Tony Abreu looked better than Joaquin Arias as the utility infielder in 2013, but other than that, I wouldn't expect too many in-organization fixes for next year. With the lack of minor league depth lower in their system, it also takes them out of the larger trade market, leaving free agency as their best course of action in order to get better. However, we all know Sabean's been skeptical signing outside free agents in recent years, rather working through trade, so we'll see how it goes when he has to fill so many holes with outside help. Luckily for the Giants, this free agent market is pretty deep in areas they need help at. There aren't really any aces out on the free agent market, but there are bunches of mid-rotation level starters saturating the market, and the Giants could go for a couple of those.

Would Abreu Be the Answer?
Also, it's no secret they're wanting to add another bopper to the lineup, and although the hot name out there right now is Cuba's Jose Abreu, there are other more realistic options available in the outfield for the Giants as well. Abreu is mighty intriguing though, to say the least, especially after seeing successes like Yasiel Puig and Yoenis Cespedes happen seemingly overnight. We'll certainly discuss him, and other options as we get closer to free agency opening. Right now though, I'd say the Giants have 4 major spots to fill, and a couple of minor ones. They need a left fielder who can hit, or a first basemen like Abreu who would push Belt out to left field. I have no problem with Belt in left, he's athletic enough to pull it off, especially if he gets to start there day one of spring training. Even higher on the priority list though is the starting rotation. It was the downfall of the 2013 team and right now only Cain and Bumgarner are guaranteed spots next season. I'm open to bringing Timmy back under the right terms as the fourth man, and even Vogey as a fifth starter option (again, at a reduced price from his 2013 figure), but ever if both return, it leaves a spot in the middle of the rotation in which the Giants must upgrade. Even with Vogelsong missing 2 months, they had those four healthy together for much of the year and it just didn't work out for them, so change is definitely in order.

Up next, we'll start breaking down some of the free agent options they may look into, especially in regards to the starting rotation and either left field or first base. Jose Abreu is the only name I've heard really linked to the Giants so far, as we probably won't start hearing significant movement until free agency starts in November, but there is still plenty of speculating to be done as we prepare to enter what I believe to be the Giants' most vital winter for the since they sort of overhauled the team after the 2002 World Series breakdown. I certainly don't expect to see the overhaul to the everyday lineup, but I wouldn't be surprised to see 3 new faces in that rotation as well as a big addition to the middle of that batting order.
The Giants Baseball Blog


  • At 11:47 PM, Anonymous Steven Keller said…

    There are so many free agents this year. I just hope we get the right ones like Pence and Scutaro types that come in and fit like a glove. I really like Jacoby Ellsbury. imagine him hitting third in front of Posey and Pence, that would be a nice lineup IMO. Abreu looks sick though too.


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