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At A Giant Crossroads (Giants Preview)

Madison Bumgarner’s shoulder injury by way of dirt bike crash was a sign that this past Giants season would be extremely disappointing. Arguably the most disappointing team in baseball, they lost hold of the top draft pick in 2018 after Pablo Sandoval (yes that Pablo Sandoval) hit a walkoff home run on the final day of the season. Championship pieces remain, so hope should not be lost.

What Happened Last Year?

The Giants were plagued by down years from its top players. Gold Glove shortstop Brandon Crawford slashed a poor .253/.305/.403 while adding 14 home runs. Brandon Belt owned an .823 OPS while only hitting .241 over 104 games. Buster Posey and Joe Panik had relatively solid years, particularly Posey. Their star catcher had a slash line of .320/.400/.462 while contributing 12 home runs and 67 RBIs.

Pitching also disappointed. Bumgarner was still their best pitcher with a 3.32 ERA despite only pitching 111 innings. Jeff Samardzjia, Johnny Cueto, and Ty Blach all pitched to ERAs of at least 4.40. Matt Moore and Matt Cain had ERAs of over 5.00. Closer Mark Melancon, who the Giants signed for 4 years and $62 million last offseason, went 11-16 in save opportunities. In only 32 total appearances, he had a batting average against of .301 and a 1.43 WHIP. Rumors of clubhouse drama also plagued Melancon’s debut season in San Francisco.

Key Moves

Key Subtractions: OF Denard Span, IF Christian Arroyo (#1 prospect)

Key Additions: 3B Evan Longoria, OF Andrew McCutchen

The Giants have been one of the few teams making major moves this offseason. While the Longoria and McCutchen acquisitions are solid ones, they aren’t long term solutions. In a division where the top teams are young and the other chasers are young, building the ultimate 2012 team may not be the best strategy. They can certainly compete for a playoff spot this season (it is still an even year). But the next few years, especially if McCutchen leaves in free agency, could be tough.

Do They Need Anything Else?

The Giants would do well to restock their farm system, but that doesn’t seem to be the priority of Brian Sabean. When they traded top prospect Christian Arroyo to the Rays for Longoria, he became the 4th best prospect in the Rays’ system. Hunter Pence is an outfield piece that could be moved, but the prospect haul may not be ideal.

Prospect To Watch

Ryan Howard, IF, High-A (EDIT: Bryan Reynolds was one of the pieces traded for Andrew McCutchen)

Howard is a versatile infield defender, manning both third base and shortstop for San Jose last season. He hit .306 last season in the offense-favoring California League. If his offense carries out of the California League and continues to develop, there will be reason for excitement.

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