Saturday, March 23, 2019

San Francisco Giants 2019 season preview

Dereck Rodriguez


            The San Francisco Giants are in a hole right now. They are the only team in the NL West that are not looking at contending this year, and they have many issues to figure out. These issues consist of their outfield, getting their rotation together, Buster Posey's health, getting Mark Melancon and Evan Longoria back to where they were before coming to the Giants, and having a 20 home run hitter for the first time since Brandon Crawford in 2015. All these problems are for new GM Farhan Zaidi to solve, and it looks like it will take multiple years to get the Giants back to their glory days of the early 2010s. It is an odd year, which is fitting since the Giants have been much better in even years this decade.

                Offseason additions: LHP Drew Pomeranz, INF Yangervis Solarte, OF Gerardo Parra, RHP Trevor Gott, RHP Nick Vincent, C Stephen Vogt, C Rene Rivera, OF Matt Joyce

                 Offseason subtractions: RHP Hunter Strickland, OF Hunter Pence, OF Gorkys Hernandez, C Nick Hundley, INF Kelby Tomlinson, RHP Pierce Johnson

                 Rotation
After six straight seasons of over 200 innings pitched from 2011-2016, Giants ace and postseason hero Madison Bumgarner has had two consecutive injury riddles seasons, making 38 starts combined, just four more than his 2016 total. Bumgarner still had a 3.26 ERA in 21 starts last year. Dereck Rodriguez, son of hall-of-fame catcher Ivan, had a very good rookie season, with a 2.81 ERA in 118.1 innings. Lefty Andrew Suarez and righty Chris Stratton were both very bad in 55 combined starts. Jeff Samardzija struggled in 10 starts, with an alarmingly low strikeout rate. Drew Pomeranz, who had two straight seasons with a 3.32 ERA, had an ERA over 6.00 last season. He is a comeback candidate this year.

                  Bullpen
Mark Melancon was signed before 2017 to be the closer, after four consecutive seasons of over 70 innings pitched, an his highest ERA was by far in 2015, at 2.23. In two seasons with San Fran, Melancon has pitched in just 69 innings, with a 3.78 ERA, and has lost the closer job. That has gone to Will Smith, who came back from Tommy John surgery with 14 saves and a 2.55 ERA. Tony Watson, Melancon's set up man from their Pittsburgh days, had a 2.59 ERA in his first season as a Giant. Sam Dyson returned to his 2016 form, with a 2.69 ERA in 70.1 innings. Rookie Reyes Moronta impressed, with a 2.49 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 65 innings. Lefty Ty Blach, the Opening Day starter last year because of multiple injuries, moved to the bullpen. Nick Vincent, signed to a minor league deal, has a 3.17 ERA in his seven year career. Rule 5 pick Travis Bergen is in play for the last spot, or it could go to whoever doesn't make the rotation.

                  Catching
In 2016, catcher Buster Posey hit a career low 14 home runs. Then that number dropped to 12 in 2017. Playing in just 105 games, Posey hit five home runs. He had 448 Plate Appearances, nearly 400 more than rookie catcher Arasmis Garcia, who hit four home runs. Posey had a .359 OBP, worst since his rookie 2010 season. He is still their guy, but at age 32, he isn't going to get much better. Garcia is the only other catcher on the 40-man roster after Nick Hundley left in free agency, but more qualified options in Stephen Vogt and Rene Rivera are in camp on minor league deals.

                   Infield
First baseman Brandon Belt had a .756 OPS, the worst in a full season for him. Belt has 15 home run power, and in his eight year career, he has never hit more than 18. Second baseman Joe Panik hit a home run in the first two games of the season, both 1-0 wins over the Dodgers, but in 100 more games in 2018, he hit just two more home runs. Brandon Crawford's 21 home runs in 2015 has shown to be a fluke, as he has hit 14 in each of the last two seasons and 12 in 2016. Evan Longoria came to the Giants before 2018 as a four time 30 home run hitter, and had only hit under 20 home runs in 2012, when he hit 17 in 74 games. Longoria played in 125 games, with career lows in home runs (16), batting average (.244, tied with 2011), OBP (.281) and OPS (.694). He might be the only Giant with a shot at 20 home runs.

                     Outfield
The only two outfielders left on the active roster are Steven Duggar and Mac Williamson. They combined for 69 games last year. Duggar is a center fielder, and Williamson primarily plays left. Veteran outfielder Gerardo Parra has had a good Spring Training. So has Mike Gerber, who was claimed off waivers from Detroit.

                      Bench
Unless Williamson falls, it will likely be either Gerber or Parra as the 4th outfielder, with the other playing right field. Garcia could be Posey's backup, but Stephen Vogt and Rene Rivera are options. Pablo Sandoval's first full season back with the Giants was about as good as he had with the Red Sox. Alen Hanson has played all three outfield positions and the left side of the infield plus second base since 2017 with the Pirates, White Sox and Giants. He hit a career high eight home runs and a .252 average last year.

                       Lineup
CF Steven Duggar
SS Brandon Crawford
C Buster Posey
3B Evan Longoria
1B Brandon Belt
2B Joe Panik
RF Gerardo Parra
LF Mac Williamson

                         Rotation
Madison Bumgarner (L)
Dereck Rodriguez (R)
Andrew Suarez (L)
Chris Stratton (R)
Jeff Samardzija (R)/Drew Pomeranz (L)

                          Bullpen
Will Smith (L)
Tony Watson (L)
Sam Dyson (R)
Mark Melancon (R)
Reyes Moronta (R)
Ty Blach (L)
Nick Vincent (R)
Travis Bergen (R)

                           Bench
C Stephen Vogt
UT Alen Hansen
OF Mike Gerber
3B Pablo Sandoval

                            Additional Information
Ballpark AT&T Park
Manager: Bruce Bochy
GM: Farhan Zaidi
World Series Championships: 5
2018 record: 73-89

                           Steal of the Decade
At the 2012 trade deadline, the Giants acquired outfielder Hunter Pence from the Phillies for Tommy Joseph, Nate Schierholtz and Seth Rosin. Joseph hit 21 and 22 home runs in 2016 and 2017, but didn't play in the majors in 2018. Schierholtz had been on the Giants for 6 years, but played just 37 games for the Phillies. Rosin wouldn't play for the Phillies in his first stint, pitched four innings for the Rangers in 2014, then returned to the Phillies to allow five runs in two innings in 2015. Pence was a key part of the 2012 and 2014 Giants that won the World Series, hitting 93 home runs in 772 games. Pence left this past offseason.

                            Prediction
The Giants have problems everywhere. Their offense and pitching is shaky, with a decent bullpen being their main strength. The could easily finish last in the NL West.

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