Left Fielder, check. Complete the starting rotation, check. Re-sign Javier Lopez, check. Add depth to the outfield, infield and if possible the bullpen; check?
Here’s the deal, you can never have too many good players, and most championship teams have a strong bench with players who can come in for one at-bat, or one game, or one week; and even longer while still keeping production up.
The San Francisco Giants current 40 man roster has been filled in nicely with the late season signings and off-season moves such as signing former Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Tim Hudson, keeping Hunter Pence and his scooter in San Francisco; and bringing back Tim Lincecum with his revamped pitching attack to cavernous AT&T Park.
But to me, something is missing. I look at the 40 man roster and I’m not all that thrilled with a few aspects of it. Let’s look at the outfield first. The aforementioned Pence is golden, I like Angel Pagan; and his absence last year showed just how important his bat is at the top of the lineup. Michael Morse will be the new left fielder, and his thump in the batting order will hopefully be felt early and often next season.
After these three starters, I feel as though there is a hole in terms of quality depth that can make a difference over the course of a week, or two if needed due to one of the regulars being injured.
Gregor Blanco has nice parts to his game- such as his speed and late game defense, and sometimes there’s some pop from his bat; but it’s just not someone to get excited about.
Roger Kieschnick is young and unproven, Gary Brown– even younger and more unproven, Juan Perez; average. Not much excitement after the starting three, and I have a feeling the overall play of the outfield will be the key to how well and how far the Giants go.
Switching to the infield, depth again seems to be a problem; quality depth I should say. The Brandon’s (Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford) can pick it with the best of them defensively, and hopefully their offense will continue to evolve and produce more consistently. I love Marco Scutaro, just a solid player who embodies a professionalism and veteran savvy.
Pablo Sandoval is in a make or break year if you think about it. Can he stay healthy? Can he keep his playing weight under control? Can he be a consistent threat in the middle of the lineup?
Tony Abreu, Joaquin Arias, Nick Noonan– average. The other infielders on the 40 man roster are all unproven, young, and/or not ready for the big league contribution. As with the outfielders, the quality depth in the infield is a big question mark heading in to Spring Training.
The catching platoon with All-Everything Buster Posey and Hector Sanchez is solid, especially if Sanchez can stay healthy and get his power numbers up.
The starting pitching and bullpen are a good combination of veteran moxie, mixed in with young talent that is on the rise such as Heath Hembree, Jake Dunning, and Edwin Escobar to name a few.
I think Erik Cordier, who throws gas, and Yusmeiro Petit who excelled late last season will be dark-horse candidates that have the potential to make the pitching staff top-notch once again.
Ideally, there will be some mid-season acquisitions or pleasant surprises in spring training that can help the bullpen return to its dominant form exhibited in both of their championship seasons of 2010 and 2012.
The National League West will be a battle all season long. For the Giants to contend and be in the Hunt for October in 2014, thereare still some moves that should be made to shore up the overall team depth.
Hopefully General Manager Brian Sabean and Team President Larry Baer can work some more winter magic and add an infielder or two, as well as one more piece in the outfield. Should this happen, there’s a strong chance Giants fans will be filling the seats of AT&T Park for playoff baseball next season.
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