I’m on board with the Giants this year. I think the addition of the two old guys is a brilliant move. The Giants have a couple or three years left till their talent pool goes away. Bumgarner, Posey, Crawford and the rest are leaving their twenties and moving into the less productive thirties and may leave for other contracts and opportunities. Nothing lasts forever.
But this is a franchise that managed to win 3 World Series in 5 years. And, in my opinion, they were never close to being considered the best team in any one of those years. In fact, I ranked them them fifth, sixth or worse. Yet they kept winning the whole thing. Manager Bruce Bochy? Good luck? A style of play that worked in the playoffs? I’m not sure. Maybe a combination of all those things. But MadBum seems to be OK. Cueto is a huge question mark. He can be great, but he’s right in that time (32 yrs old this year) when pitchers have to transition from a power guy to a finesse guy. It’s always a bit different, but many starters go through this. In Cuetos favor he was never a true power pitcher. In fact, he was a bit of an anomoly. He pitched from different arm slots and used big time movement to fool hitters. So he may be able to adjust while just losing a couple of MPH on his pitches. (And he has lost some juice on all his pitches.) I love the guy. He’s a Manny Ramirez kinda dude. A little off of center. He pitches that way and he seems to live that way. The Giants season may rest on him doing well.
The offense is going to be better. Some of the lesser starters, like Panik, Belt and Crawford, need to hit well. Panik posted a decent 768 OPS last year. Belt has been over 800 for the last 3 years (823 last year). But Crawford sunk to 709 after back to back season of 782 and 772. If he can rise to that level, it would go a long way for Giants.
Then there is Longoria and McCutchen. Longoria is 32 this year and has been OK for the last 4 years, after 6 years of All Star level play. His OPS in 2016 was a solid 840, but he fell to an anemic (for him) 737 last year. Hopefully he can rebound this year. Either way, he is a fantastic 3rd baseman and will round out what should be an outstanding defensive infield, helping all of their pitchers. McCutchen is 31 this year. He did win an MVP at 26 in 2013. He has a lifetime OPS of 866, twice topping 950. I think he has a lot to prove and Giant fans will love both these players to compliment the lone offensive star they have had up to now (Posey, of course).
The Giants have been projected to win 86 games. That could easily turn into 90+. Of course, all they have to do is get a wild card and anything is possible. Really! It will be tough for them to win the division because of the Dodgers. If nothing else, the Giant/Dodger games should be quite entertaining this year. But realistically they are looking at a wild card vs the Mets?, the D’backs?, the Cardinals? or Milwaukee?, assuming the Cubs win the Central again. It will be a fun ride and my time in California keeps me rooting for these guys (even though I spent all my time out there rooting for the A’s and spending time at the Coliseum in Oakland watching Ricky Henderson and the boys tear up the AL West.)
So what do I think? I think the Giants will have to fight for a playoff spot. But if everything goes as right as everything went wrong last year, they could be the toast of MLB. In the end I think the get a wild card and then who knows. If any team can win from the WC berth its Bruce Bochy and the Giants.