Giants camp report: Likes and Dislikes
What I like (Posey, pitching, Sabean, Bochy, Scutaro) and dislike (Panda's weight, outfield bats are questionable, World Baseball Classic absences, Romo's immaturity) about the Giants.
SCOTTSDALE -- What I like, and dislike, about the Giants:
-- It’s Buster Posey’s world and everyone else is just orbiting. My goodness. At 25, and in less than three full seasons, he's already grabbed two World Series rings, one NL MVP title, a batting title, one Rookie of the Year award and a Comeback Player of the Year award. After hitting .336 with 24 homers, 103 RBI and 78 runs scored last season, what on earth can we expect for an encore in 2013? Posey has turned into everything Joe Mauer was supposed to be in Minnesota.
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-- No secret here: The Giants win with pitching, they’ve won with pitching and they will continue to win with pitching. Their staff ranked fifth in the NL with a 3.68 ERA in 2012 and nearly everyone -- rotation and bullpen -- is back. Matt Cain is a three-time All-Star who fired a perfect game last year and has never missed a start because of injury in eight seasons (and he’s missed only one start in that time). Madison Bumgarner wore down late last season but he’s still growing at 23.
-- No general manager-field manager tandem in the majors is sharper than Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy. With two World Series titles in three seasons, they’ve elevated an already well-decorated franchise into elite status. And at this point, each has moved within reach of Hall of Fame status after retirement. Not a slam dunk yet, but they absolutely are in the conversation. Believe it.
-- Unlike the past couple of springs, the Giants are not waiting around to see if Freddy Sanchez will be healthy enough to play second base. Goodbye, Not Ever Ready Freddy. Marco Scutaro, the most recent Sabean acquisition to have a sensational October, will play second and Brandon Crawford enters his sophomore season at shortstop. Terrific combo. Crawford is a budding star with a winning personality.
-- Biggest question facing this team heading into another classic season-opener at Dodger Stadium is whether an outfield of Gregor Blanco, Angel Pagan and Hunter Pence produces enough runs. Blanco and Pagan combined for 13 home runs last season. If Posey, Pablo Sandoval and others have big years, that’s not so much of a big deal. Pagan belted 38 doubles and a major-league leading 15 triples last season. And for all of his postseason pep talk attention, Pence skidded to .219 in 59 regular-season games with the Giants after they acquired him from Philadelphia. If the Giants’ outfield hits, these guys could be unstoppable.
-- Experience may trump this, but the Giants sent a dozen players to the World Baseball Classic and as a result, have had their 2013 projected everyday lineup on the field together just once during Cactus League play. These guys are battle-tested and maybe that won’t matter. But it would have been nice for the Giants to have everybody together on the same field more this spring. if San Francisco gets off to a slow start, you can probably point to this as one reason why.
-- Sandoval’s ongoing weight issues, and the ulnar nerve issue in his right elbow that could cause him to start the season on the disabled list. As for his weight, carrying around an extra 20 pounds at 23 is a minor problem. At 26, it can become a major issue. He’s up and down with his weight -- literally. For everybody’s sake -- his own and that Giants’ -- he needs to keep it under control so that he stays on the field and avoids nagging injuries. Right now, it’s not under control. Stay tuned.
-- I think the Giants are living on borrowed time with Sergio Romo as closer. I question whether he has the maturity and makeup to last in the role. He got the job done last year and his 5.77 strikeouts-to-walks ratio is fourth-best in the majors since 2008 (minimum 200 innings pitched). Maybe that plays forward for awhile longer. We’ll see what happens when adversity arises. He didn’t have much last year and it inevitably tests every closer.