Let's talk 2013 Giants, and let's get some comments and analysis from a number of other Giants' bloggers.
Each year Daniel asks a number of MLB team bloggers a set of questions about the teams they cover, and he features their answers in a series he calls "Playing Pepper".
SF Giant bloggers participating in this endeavor included M.C. O'Connor of Raising Matt Cain, Craig Vaughn of THE San Francisco Giants Blog, Bryan Rosa at Around the Foghorn, and Ronnie Redmond at Garlic Fries and Baseball. Check out their comments and check out their San Francisco Giants blogs.
Also participating, of course, were The Giants Cove staff of researchers, writers, and media broadcasters. And while I'm covering all of these positions myself at this particular time, I expect my CraigsList Brazil ad will change all that soon ("Wanted: string swimsuit model, age appropriate, must be able to replace ink jet cartridges on discontinued HP printer").
Anyway, here is the naked, acoustic version of the Giants Cove Playing Pepper 2013:
1) How would you grade the offseason?
The Giants organization’s goal was to reassemble the 2012 World Championship team, and in that they succeeded spectacularly.
Signed were free agents Angel Pagan (center field) and Marco Scutaro (second base); avoiding arbitration was right fielder Hunter Pence in a one year $13.8 million deal; and the team’s stellar bullpen was kept intact via a series of extensions. Chad Gaudin will replace the departed Guillermo Mota in the pen (an upgrade) and lefty mid-season acquisition Jose Mijares is back.
All five starters (Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Barry Zito, Tim Lincecum, and Ryan Vogelsong) begin the 2013 season under previous multi-year deals, as does third baseman Pablo Sandoval. National League MVP Buster Posey was extended in a one year $8 million deal, but expect the Giants to tear that up and sign Posey to a multi-year mega deal before the All Star break.
The biggest off-season negative was San Francisco not addressing their need for a run producing left fielder. Amazingly, former Giant Andres Torres was signed for $2 million to platoon in left with light hitting Gregor Blanco. Torres, who is 35 years old, is coming off two terrible seasons with the Giants (2011) and the Mets (2012), and has never been a defensive standout. The left field issue weakens an already shaky offense, which means GM Brian Sabean will have to fix that problem at some point in the 2013 season.
2) Will Brandon Belt have a full time job this season?
Brandon Belt is the team’s first baseman. Last season Buster Posey played 29 games at first, both as a break from catching and to face left handers. But expect to see Posey a lot less at first because this team still needs a lot more offense and Belt is coming into his own as a run producer. If anything, Bruce Bochy may sometimes use Belt in left field to keep his bat in the line-up for 150+ games.
3) What are the chances Marco Scutaro regresses?
The Giants signed Scutaro to a 3 year $20 million deal, and of course the 37 year old Scutaro will regress over the life of that contract.
But think of Scutaro’s signing this way: year #1 is to see if Scutaro recreates his production at the plate for another run to the postseason. Year #2 is for Scutaro to come off the bench as a pinch hitter and to mentor minor league hitting machine Joe Panik. And year #3 is the team’s “thank you” for Scutaro’s amazing 2012 performance in leading the World Champions.
4) What rookie will make the biggest impact in 2013?
Outfielder Francisco Peguero looks like he’s ready to bring his power and speed to AT&T Park in 2013. The best case scenario for the Giants is that Peguero blossoms and takes over left field when the Torres-Blanco tandem fails. Peguero could be a difference maker in a 2013 drive to the playoffs. If one of the Giants starters falters or is injured, look for either Chris Stratton or Kyle Crick, two of the team’s minor league power righties, to get a shot in a move that could kick start their development.
5) What will be the final record of the team and where will they finish in the division?
San Francisco should go 96-66, and will take the NL West Division as the Dodgers stumble under the weight of too many flawed former superstars.
6) What one thing from your team are you most looking forward to watching?
One of the most compelling stories in all of baseball to start the 2013 season is Tim Lincecum’s performance.
Two Cy Young Awards, then two terrible seasons (13-14 in 2011, 10-15 in 2012). But then came the 2012 playoffs, and Lincecum was a performance powerhouse coming out of the Giants postseason bullpen. He’s starting the final year of a 2 year $40.5 million deal so there’s a lot at stake all around.