The Weirdness Continues #sfgiants #weekinreview

Let’s get right to it.

The Good:

  • The Giants go 5-2 this week, they have now won 3 series in a row (I think I wrote something about this importance of this), and sit at .500 after, essentially, one month of baseball.
  • The Giants have already hit 30 home runs, just 4 behind league leading Colorado, a welcomed development.
  • Several surprising pitchers have shown signs of being significant contributors (Stratton, Blach, Moronta, Johnson, and Hunter Strickland)
  • Johnny Cueto has been great. Tony Watson has been great.
  • Brandon Belt is great (happy face emoji)
  • Evan Longoria is settling in quite nicely
  • Mac Williamson might be legit
  • And, we got treated to the magnificent sight of Pablo Sandoval on the mound!

The Weird:

  • Overall, the Giants offense is still in the bottom third in the league in most categories. We are still waiting for a few guys to show up.
  • The Giants did win 5 games this week, but both times they lost they gave up 15 runs! Those games were weird for a variety of reasons, but the blowouts really mess with the run differential numbers. The Giants are 14-14 but they sit at a -19 run differential. We are enough games in at this point for that to mean something (but not everything). The Rockies, who sit half a game ahead of them in the NL West standings are -24, and the A’s who also happen to be 14-14 are +3, so obviously it doesn’t mean that much. However, it would be much easier to be confident about the future if that number were positive.
  • The Giants also hit their first big rash of injuries this week. Hunter Pence went down with a sprained thumb, but that was good news as it allowed Mac Williamson to join the show. But then Mac hit his head and is in the concussion protocol. He should be back soon. Joe Panik, however, will not be back soon. He has a ligament tear in his hand, which means we may not see Joe again until July (sad face emoji).
  • All of this means, the Giants have had a parade of guys coming over from Sacramento. Things should settle down in a few days, and there is a looming decision about Hunter Pence and Mac Williamson, but chaos reigns for the time being.
  • Will Smith returns to getting jiggy with it, and so the Giants staff is at about as full strength as it will be until Bumgarner (and Melancon?) are back. Which leads to:

Confidence Power Rankings After One Month. Let’s start with the Starters:

  1. Johnny Cueto (no brainer here, Cueto’s been brilliant)
  2. Chris Stratton (we’ll give him a Mulligan for Saturday. I’m sympathetic to what we’ll call “new dad syndrome”)
  3. Ty Blach (he’s not going to dominate or go deep into games, but he competes and he beats the Dodgers all the time)
  4. Jeff Samardzija (the home run problems are still there, but something about him pitching every fifth day is mildly comforting)
  5. Derek Holland (has shown flashes, but he is quickly moving into long man territory as he can’t even get through a line up twice, let alone three times)

Relievers:

  1. Tony Watson (dude’s magical)
  2. Hunter Strickland (has had his moments but overall he’s been extremely effective)
  3. Reyes Moronta (had a bad outing on Sunday, but has been refreshing solid all season)
  4. Sam Dyson (seemed destined to get cut, but has turned it around. The sinker is sinking and he is getting big double plays)
  5. Pierce Johnson (very unremarkable and yet surprisingly effective. He’s the Ty Blach of the bullpen)
  6. Will Smith (not even active yet, but he beats out the rest of the list)
  7. Cody Gearren (feels like he should be so much better, but I have zero confidence in him in almost any situation right now)
  8. Other (Derek Law makes me sad. Roberto Gomez in intriguing. DJ Snelton is fun to watch. This is a revolving door, so not much to say, since these guys will all be gone by Wednesday).

Hitters:

  1. Brandon Belt (that’s right haters)
  2. Evan Longoria (he’s hot right now, sorry Buster)
  3. Buster Posey (hard to imagine him not being in the top 2 at any point this season, but the guys above him are hot)
  4. Andrew McCutchen (this is where it gets interesting…McCutchen probably doesn’t deserve to be in the top 5, but some of the other guys are not producing or are hurt, so I’d still rather watch Cutch bat than just about anyone else on the team right now)
  5. Alen Hanson/Austin Slater (again, this has nothing to do with how good they are, it’s just given the rest of the team they are the most interesting at bats to watch).

Looking Ahead. I’ve written quite a bit about the difficulty of the early schedule. Things do get a easier this month, however, the “easy teams” are also on the east coast, which makes them slightly less easy. May will also involve the Astros and the Cubs, and only 9 home games overall (18 road games), and a stretch of 17 games in 17 days.

So, the goal for May is to stay at .500 and hope that Arizona falls back, and then Bumgarner returns in June and the team gets rolling. The Giants will still need to get 5-8 starts out of Derek Holland and whoever else (and that assumes no gets hurt).

In the immediate future, root for another series win. The Padres have been annoying, so a minimum of 2 out of 3 would be a great way to start. They get a day off then head to Atlanta for three this weekend. Don’t sleep on the Braves, lots of talent there! I’m hoping for a 3-3 week and continued consistency throughout the roster.

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It’s Not Over…Yet #sfgiants #weekinreview

Of course it’s not over yet, but what an interesting week in Giants-land. There was a little something for everyone: Bumgarner started the healing journey, the triumphant return of Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija, bad Brandon Belt and very good Brandon Belt, bullpen meltdowns, and some big home runs (and the arrival of Big Mac).

All of which boils back down to the damning-by-faint-praise tagline for the 2018 season: at least it won’t be boring!

In Praise

  • I named Johnny Cueto the most important player to the success of the 2018 Giants, and, so far, minus a short DL stint for a twisted ankle, he has not disappointed. One earned run in 26 innings! 23 strikeouts to four walks! He sure looks like vintage Cueto and that is VERY good news.
  • Jeff Samardzija returned and while he did not set the world on fire, he was good enough for the win, and it was certainly a start to build on. He’s got a tough assignment this week versus the Nationals and Max Scherzer, but it still feels good to have him back.
  • Chris Stratton has been awesome as well. In fact, the entire rotation had a nice showing this week. Stratton is demonstrating that the Giants were not foolish at all to trust his ability to easily replace Matt Moore’s “production” (by the way, it has been an ugly start to 2018 in Texas for poor Matt Moore).
  • Tony Watson continues to be the star of the bullpen, and while he did get touched for his first run this week, is there anyone else you trust as much coming out of the ‘pen right now? And, who was the last guy you trusted this much coming out of the pen? Affeldt in 2014? Romo in 2012? It’s an interesting thought experiment.
  • Evan Longoria is going to be just fine, thank you.
  • Brandon Belt is as streaky as they come, and yet there is something about this current streak that feels a bit more like a “finally” moment. I do believe that if he can stay on the field he will hit 30 home runs this year and put some of his doubters to rest.
  • The Giants won a series! I talked about this last week and I stand by it. This team needs to keep grinding 2 out of 3 and winning more series if they want to compete.
  • Finally, as much as we all love Hunter Pence, it’s going to be hard to deny Mac Williamson. I wrote, a while back, about his natural ascendance as the next system guy to make an impact, but injuries and lack of opportunity held him back. I love this comeback story and I am buying the new approach as being major league worthy.

In Critique

  • Is the Hunter Strickland show over? Folks will be pulling for Watson to take over the closer duties, but I do believe he is better suited coming into big situations like he did yesterday against the Angels. I think the best set up, for now, is to press on as is and hope Hunter can get back to the calmer innings we saw earlier. Plus, there doesn’t seem to be any answer yet to when Mark Melancon may return. This will be an interesting week given Strickland’s history with the Nationals.
  • The offense continues to be sporadic and inconsistent. The positive signs are certainly the increased power, and they do continue to face some outstanding pitching. It would be great, though, to see more consistent 4-5 run games.
  • In particular, the Giants inability to get hits with runners in scoring position is very weird. They have the lowest production in the majors in that stat category, and I have to believe it will normalize. It may simply be a function of facing some of the top pitching staffs in the game, again that’s a task that doesn’t get easier this week, but one trend that has to level off at some point.

Looking Ahead

  • The Giants have another tough week, although all at home! They start off with 3 against the Nationals who are off to a similarly up and down start. The Giants will have to face Scherzer on Wednesday, but get to avoid Stephen Strasburg in this series. Again, it will be interesting to see what happens should there be a show down between Bryce Harper and Hunter Strickland. My prediction: Giants take 2 of 3, but lose the game in which Harper takes Strickland deep.
  • There’s a day off on Thursday, and then 4 games in 3 days against….wait for it…the Dodgers. It seems like that’s who the Giants play every other series this season. Here is a tremendous opportunity to do some damage in the division. The Dodgers have not been playing well, but have turned a bit of a corner recently, and are actually back to .500. This is a big week for them as they could build some serious momentum or continue to tread water. If the Giants can sweep or take 3 of 4 it could slow that train down significantly. My prediction: they split the series, which is a let down, but a 4-3 week would actually be quite welcome as the Giants wrap up a tough first month.

Is It Over Already?

Lots of tweets and commentary along these lines in the last 24 hours:

I’m not going into full-pessimistic mode yet, but the Giants finally got a full week to show who they were, and they did not show well.

One of the alarming stats to come out of 2017 is that the Giants only won 3 series away from home all season. Well, to start 2018, they have yet to win ANY series. They split with the Dodgers, split with the Mariners, split with the Dodgers again, and then lost series to both the Diamondbacks and Padres this week.

A 10 game win streak would be amazing and make us all feel better, but a more realistic quest is to put together a run where they split/win several series in a row. The challenge though, is they may be entering one of the toughest stretches of the season over the next two weeks:

  • In Arizona for 3 starting Tuesday
  • In Anaheim for 3 to face the Angels who are setting the world on fire right now
  • Home to face the Nationals 3 times
  • Home for 4 against the Dodgers (including a doubleheader)
  • Home for 3 against the Padres

16 games. Let’s play out a few circumstances:

  1. Best case scenario, based on what we’ve seen so far, is to go 8-8. That would put the team at 14-17, they would have Cueto, Samardzaija, and Will Smith back by then, and they’d be heading out on the road, but against “easier” competition.
  2. Really best case scenario, involving a vast improvement in at least a couple of areas, would be for the Giants to go 3-3 on the rest of the road trip, and then turn it on at home and actually win some series. Let’s 2-1 against the Nationals, 3-1 versus the Dodgers, and 2-1 against the Padres. That would put them at 16-15, and position them to stay alive until Bumgarner returns.
  3. Worst case scenario, and it feels like this is entirely possible, is for the Giants to continue losing series, especially on the road. 1-2 against LAA, 1-2 against Arizona, 1-2 against the Nationals, 2-2 against the Dodgers, 1-2 against the Padres. That sort of run would leave them 12-19 and in a world of trouble. That’s when the season might be over.

Power Ranking of Concerns

  1. Starting Pitching: The offense is getting a beating on twitter and talk radio. I get it. It hasn’t been pretty. But, it’s actually been better than last year and has shown signs. I still think they will be fine, but fine is consistently scoring 4-5 runs per game. That works if the starting pitching is on point, and it certainly has not been recently. There have been a few moments here and there, and Chris Stratton looks legit, but we are seeing the effects of having the 3 best starters spend time on the DL.
  2. Relief Pitching: The Giants could have a very good bullpen. Melancon at closer, Strickland and Watson for the 8th. Smith and Moronta (who has been a revelation) for the 7th. Gearrin to fill as needed. Blach as the long man. That could be an extremely effective pen. But, right now the depth is not there and so we are seeing too many innings from Dyson, Osich, et al. And one of the reasons we are seeing so many innings is the starters have not been good. These things are obviously connected.
  3. Brandon Belt: I know Belt gets the most heck from people of anyone on this team. But even Kruk and Kuip are on him these days, which is a bad sign. Dude needs to swing and miss at strike three at least.

The season is far from over, I’m not ready to burn the whole thing to the ground just yet. But the next two weeks are VERY critical.

Four and Four

Let’s start with this!

Full disclosure: I was going to turn the game off. After Roberto Gomez (who really looks like the Giants just let some random guy be their 25th player) allowed the Dodgers 5th run, I was done. This was an all too familiar script: certainly this was a loss and a wasted Saturday afternoon/evening.

And then, baseball magic.

A couple global thoughts: do not change extra innings baseball. I appreciate some of the more innovative ideas being bandied about these days (the pitch clock for example), but don’t mess with extra innings. Extra innings are NOT the problem with pace of play and the time of games.

Second, 2017 really warped me (us). Again, the pattern of folding seemed all to obvious. This was a loss, there was no reason to hope. But, I think we all forgot how magical baseball is. It is magical.

Third, that was one of the best, maybe the best, at bat I have ever seen. Grant Brisbee gives a good run down here, but what I loved about the At Bat (other than the walk off home run part of it) was how it went from darkly ominous, to intriguing, to “we-all-know-what’s-coming” within the 12 pitch sequence. I can’t remember an at bat that changed directions so dramatically. After that dumb curveball for strike one, I thought for sure McCutchen’s great day was going to be a wash because of a strikeout in this big situation. By pitch 7 or 8, I thought we might get a sacrifice fly and tie the game. By pitch 10, I knew the game was over, it was just matter of when (pitch 11, 12, 15, 17, it was going to happen). It was amazing to watch the evolution and to physically see McCutchen gain the upper hand over the course of that sequence of pitches. Awesome.


Last weeks concern ranking:

  1. Starting Lineup
  2. Evan Longoria
  3. Andrew McCutchen
  4. Brandon Belt
  5. Bullpen
  6. Rotation
  7. New Coaches

This weeks concern rankings:

  1. Overall health of the team, and the 4 injured pitchers in particular
  2. Evan Longoria
  3. Starting Pitching
  4. Bullpen
  5. Center Field

For the record, I think Evan Longoria will be fine, and he should fade off these rankings in the next couple weeks. Some people are already clamoring for the Panda to take over: calm down. It’s been 8 games.

The offense had its moments, and is still a work in progress as different guys get going, but one VERY encouraging sign: Every position on the field has produced a home run. And the Giants are out homering their opponents 10-2, which is a supremely positive development.

It’s only 8 games, but I am starting to see some problems with the pitching staff. It’s been as good as one could hope for so far, and yet you can already feel the lack of depth creating a problem. The inability of any starter, other than Cueto, to pitch through a lineup 3 times is a problem. The extra strain that creates on a depleted bullpen is a problem. The four injured arms-men can’t get back soon enough!


The schedule has been weird so far, for everyone. Lots of repeat series in the early going for most team. Lots of days off. Rain outs, snow out, cold weather, it’s hard to get a read on the season given the lack of consistency thus far.

That being said, some teams are racing out ahead, and some are quickly racing to the bottom. That is no surprise because of the great disparity in 2018 between teams going for it and teams in rebuild/tank mode. I just didn’t expect it to show up so dramatically, so early.

Of course, the Giants are right in the middle with their 4-4 record. Is this a harbinger of things to come, or an aberration of a strange opening season schedule?

Who knows at this point, but one of those racing ahead teams now comes to AT&T for the next three days. Welcome your 7-2, first place, Arizona Diamondbacks. The pitching there is legit, so expect some low scoring affairs this week.

Thursday, the Giants head down to San Diego for a week four games, which means they will nearly double the number of games played by next Monday. We should have a slightly better read on this team by that point.


One last thing: Andrew McCutchen is so fun.

The Good and The Bad #weekinreview

If I were to power rank my concerns about the Giants heading into the season it would have looked something like this:

  1. Starting Pitching
  2. Bullpen
  3. Bench
  4. New Coaches
  5. Starting Lineup

This was before the roster was set and before the last minute rash of injuries. Even after both of those realities, I would have given the same rankings.

Then the Giants played the Dodgers four times in LA. Before the season started I outlined a possible way for the Giants to get off to a fast start, primarily by going 3-1 in this opening series. I would have easily settled for 2-2, which is what we got.

Anyone paying attention though, knows that this 2-2 feels entirely unsatisfying. Or maybe, the better word is unsettling.

Yes, the season got off to about as good a start as possible, and yet it feels less than good. It feels like disaster may be looming.

And now, after this opening series, for most Giants’ fans, the ranking or concerns look something like this:

  1. Starting Lineup
  2. Evan Longoria
  3. Andrew McCutchen
  4. Brandon Belt
  5. Bullpen
  6. Rotation
  7. New Coaches

In other words, the offense has been bad.

I would argue, though, it hasn’t been that bad. The Giants actually out hit the Dodgers 25-24. The Giants hit two home runs, the Dodgers only hit 1. None of this means a whole lot because the season has been so short, but the problem for the Giants was not hitting per se, it was getting the right kinds of hits at the right times.

And that is the one thing I thought, and still think, this lineup will be able to do. There are enough good hitters now that they should be able to survive with 3-4 going well at a time. Last year, especially, the Giants seemingly needed everyone to hit if they were going to score, there was no one to carry the load. This team is still built like that to an extent. Gone are the Barry Bonds days, where there is a legitimate threat every day, in every at bat. But this is a more than competent unit that should be able to score runs.

I do wonder how long it will take McCutchen and Longoria to settle in. Neither guy has ever been traded, never played for another franchise, so it might take some time to get right. Plus, the Giants slow played a lot of their vets in Spring Training. To go from easing in to the Dodgers rotation is a jump.

But they are better than this. I expect many more runs this week.

On the bright side, the pitching has impressed. I was satisfied with each starter’s turn. Blach and Cueto probably can’t do much better than what they showed, and Holland and Stratton can give a bit more, but this is what we should expect and it should be good enough for a month or two.

The bullpen had a few rough moments, but showed that there are some dangerous pieces, some potential to be a real strength. Tony Watson is legit. Hunter Strickland can take this closer role and own it. And the Giants have enough other pieces to be very competitive at the ends of games.

Now, time to hit.

3 More Days…

…until meaningful baseball. Something we have not experienced since, roughly, April 21 2017. That’s how bad it was last year.

And while things were looking hopeful this winter and spring, the events of the last couple days have left a dour pall over 2018. SI released their predictions today and not one writer picked the Giants to make the postseason.

While it seems virtually impossible to imagine the Giants remaining competitive without Madison Bumgarner (see 2017), every Championship Team the Giants have put together featured some aspect of the “they-could-never-win-without-that-guy-but-then-did” storyline.

If you had told me before the 2010 season the Giants would win the World Series without a significant contribution from Pablo Sandoval I would have laughed you out of the room. Partly because the Giants did not win World Series’ at that point, but also because the 2009 Giants were HORRIBLE with the bats, the Panda as the lone exception. There was no way they made the jump from mediocre to competitive without another big year from Sandoval.

In 2012, if you had told me the Giants would (a) lose Brian Wilson for the year, (b) have to send Tim Lincecum to the bullpen, and (c) rely on Barry Zito to pitch significant postseason games, I would have laughed you out of the room. (Not to mention, this team lost Melky Cabrerra half-way through the season, which, with the year he was having, seemed absolutely devastating at the time).

Finally, if before the 2014 season you would have told me the Giants would win the World Series without a major contribution from Matt Cain, essentially no closer, no Angel Pagan, and Travis Ishikawa starting meaningful games IN LEFT FIELD during the postseason I would have laughed you out of the building.

Please note that in each case you would have been exactly right.

In all three instances the Giants were able to overcome through some luck, their depth, timely acquisitions during the season that panned out well, and then the emergence of young studs (Posey and Bumgarner in 2010; Crawford and Belt in 2012; Panik in 2014).

So, crazy as it may seem, I am reaming hopeful to begin the season. The Giants are deeper than they were a year ago. There is still the possibility of mid-season aquisitions, and they are going to see if some young guys can emerge (looking at you Chris Stratton, Steven Duggar, and Tyler Beede).

The Giants need several things to break their way, but if they can stay a couple of games over .500 into June, they could be in good shape to make a push for the Wild Card.

I am also of the mind that the Dodgers are due for a regression. That may mean they “only” win 93 games, instead of 103, but they do not scare me the way some other teams do (namely the Astros and Yankees).

A massive key will be getting off to a strong start. I do wonder, again crazy as it sounds, how the Giants season would have been different last year if they had simply won that first game against Arizona. The way that they lost, with the bullpen meltdown, placed them too quickly back into the same conversation of the year before. I wonder, if they are able to hold on and win that game, how different things may have turned out. Probably not all that different with what we know now, but baseball is weird like that.

In the same way, if the Giants get off to a losing start in 2018, if the pitching is not sharp, and the defense kicks the ball around, and the offense sputters, the whispers of “nothing has changed” will turn to shouts and this thing could go into the tank before it ever gets off the ground.

Moving mast those mixed metaphors, let’s take a quick look at what a good start might entail:

  • Game 1, March 29th, at the Dodgers: Ty Blach vs. Clayton Kershaw…let’s be honest this is probably an L. But there are different kinds of L’s. Let’s assume the Giants score a few off Kershaw, maybe even take him deep a few times (Pence and Longoria, for example), and Blach is good enough to keep it close. That would be a good start in my opinion. Giants lose 3-2.
  • Game 2, March 30th, at the Dodgers: Johnny Cueto vs. Alex Wood…here’s where the Giants really need to make a statement. Alex Wood dominated them last year but I am still not impressed. They need to get to him early and often and Cueto needs to be on point. Giants win 7-2.
  • Game 3, March 31, at the Dodgers: Derek Holland vs. Kenta Maeda…Maeda is a nice pitcher, but the Giants know him and should be able to hit him. Derek Holland keeps the tradition of Giants’ lefties doing well against the Dodgers. This is the first game of the season the bullpen is really called on to seal a win. Giants win 5-4.
  • Game 4, April 1, at the Dodgers: Chris Stratton vs. Rich Hill…I’m not super excited about this matchup. It seems to favor the Dodgers in every way. But, here is where the Giants can really make hay to start the season well. Andrew McCutchen has a big day, Stratton’s curve ball is better than Hill’s curveball, and the Giants steal the series with a 5-2 victory.
  • Game 5, April 3, home against the Mariners…Ty Blach will get the opening day daily double, pitching the home opener too. I have no idea who will be starting for the Mariners, but again, here’s a significant opportunity for the Giants to make an early season statement. They skip the 5th starter position, and utilize a day off and the energy of their home crowd to get off to a 4-1 start.
  • Game 6, April 4, home against the Mariners…Johnny Cueto keeps the dominance going and the Giants move to 5-1.
  • Game 7-9, April 6-8, home against the Dodgers…yes, the Dodgers again. We will see them oh so much right out of the gate. Notice, there has been another off day, which again shields the Giants from using a 5th starter. The downside to this series: no Cueto. The upside, the Giants will throw two lefties, and potentially miss Kershaw! That being said, I feel like the Dodgers end up taking two of three, and the Giants fall back to 6-3. That is a fantastic start before they even have to call upon a Tyler Beede or Andrew Suarez.

The rest of April is no cake walk. The Giants will get the D-back six times, a 4 game series in San Diego (which always feels like a week), plus they see the Nationals and Angels, and THE FREAKIN’ DODGERS AGAIN at the end of the month. If they can go 10-10 over those games, they could be 13-10 by the time Jeff Samardzija returns.

If they can repeat a .500 month in May (27 games, so let’s say 13-14), they could be 26-24 by the time they can start expecting Madison Bumgarner back.

It may be a long shot, but something to root for!

2018 SF Giants Preview

Welp. I had a preview post outlined and ready to go for the 2018 Giants. It was about the improved lineup and defense, the potential for the bullpen to be decent, and it was especially focused on the massive year Madison Bumgarner was poised to have.

That was the formula in my head. A career best year from Mad Bum, Johnny Cueto back to his wiley ways, and then some league average performances from the rest of the rotation should have been enough to get the Giants to the Wild Card.

Then yesterday happened:

Well, shoot.

This, coupled with a Jeff Samardzija pectoral strain, has cast a dark shadow on the start of the season.

The good news is that there are still 162 games left to be played.
The bad news is they will lose 15-25 starts from 2 of their 3 best/most reliable pitchers.

So, what now? 5 Keys to Stay Competitive into June:

  1. Johnny Cueto, whom this site named the Most Important Giant for 2018, only becomes all that more important. He needs to pitch like a badass right out of the gate, and have a GREAT first half. We’re talking prime 2016 Cueto.
  2. Somebody else in the rotation needs to come out of nowhere and have a great 8-start run to begin the season. Derek Holland? Ty Blach? Chris Stratton? Don’t care who it is, but one of them needs a magic run to get the team off to a good start.
  3. The bullpen needs to go from serviceable to an absolute strength of the team. The Giants may be able to get through the lineup a couple of times with Holland and Blach and maybe the Tyler Beede’s of the world, but they are going to have several days where they need 10-15 outs from the bullpen. That’s asking a lot from a unit that has some question marks.
  4. Andrew McCutchen, Evan Longoria, and Buster Posey need to earn their paychecks. No slow starts here. No “I’m just getting used to my surroundings” from the new guys. They need to mash, and they need to mash early and often.
  5. Finally, someone, and I’m looking at you Brandon Belt, needs to have a career year at the plate. If the 2018 Giants are going to be competitive, then this needs to be the long-awaited Belt breakout.

One interesting side effect to all this: the Giants will likely go with a 13 man pitching staff, and cut a position player (probably an OF), which makes the roster predictions a little different. So a final proposal:

  1. Posey C
  2. Hundley C
  3. Belt 1B
  4. Panik 2B
  5. Crawford SS
  6. Longoria 3B
  7. Sandoval INF
  8. Tomlinson INF (probably makes it since he could play OF in a pinch)
  9. Pence LF
  10. Jackson CF
  11. McCutchen RF
  12. Blanco OF (makes it as the ultimate backup guy…without the injuries I’m 100% Duggar makes the team to open the season)
  13. Cueto SP
  14. Stratton SP
  15. Blach SP
  16. Holland SP
  17. Beede SP (my guess is the Giants will stay in-house and see if they can get some starts out of Beede until Samardzija returns…it looks like there is not much room left with the addition of Blanco for another SP, and to be honest there is not a lot available anyway…my apologies to the Bartolo Colon lovers out there)
  18. Melancon CL
  19. Dyson R
  20. Strickland R
  21. Watson L
  22. Gearin R
  23. Osich L
  24. Fernandez R
  25. Law R (Now, here is where it gets interesting. The Giants could keep Gorkys Hernandez as a 5th OF, or they could go any number of ways with a pitcher: A guy they know well like Law, a guy the like such as Reyes Montoya, or a guy who could give them innings, like Andrew Suarez. My guess is they go with the guy they know well, hence Derek Law. Also, remember that at some point in late April/Early May Will Smith will return.)

One final note. I’ve heard some rumblings about a big trade for Chris Archer or someone like him. I’d be shocked by this for a few reasons. First, that kind of trade would officially rid the farm system of anything it has left. Second, I don’t see Tampa making that trade to start the season.

Finally, the Giants do have an opportunity here to stay somewhat competitive while finding out what they have in a lot of guys early: Chris Stratton, Ty Blach, Tyler Beede, Josh Osich, and Julian Fernandez can all make the case that they are significant big leaguers. Gregor Blanco, Derek Holland, and Austin Jackson can prove they are indispensible pieces ready to help a good team.

We’ll see!

To add salt to our wounds: a tweet I completely agree with…