A post-World Series offseason is a whirl. It makes Spring Training‘s attendant eternal promise feel almost diminished — it’s harder to imagine a best-case scenario when you’ve recently lived through one. Reminds me of the 49ers‘ glory years. I’d file that feeling under Bay Area problems.
* Biggest Strength: Pitching. Of course. With determined lead horse Cain, a re-tooled Bumgarner, and the constant vengeance-against-the-past of Vogey, the top three SFG starting pitchers are steady, unsparing, and ferocious mow-’em-down competitors. Zito is entering both one of the strangest contract years of all time and odd local folk hero status, having ridden in cavalry-style to save the Giants’ 2012 postseason multiple times. And whither Lincecum? There’s no telling how effective he will be, though Bochy now has a blueprint of how to leverage a struggling Tim, we’d all prefer if he didn’t have to put Lincecum in the bullpen again.
* Biggest Weakness: Everything involving batting. Yes, the Giants could use more contact and power. There are now basepath threats, but that doesn’t matter when guys can’t get their bat on the ball. Pagan is coming off of a career season. Scutaro played at a level unforseen. Pence still hasn’t hit the ball consistently while wearing orange and black. Belt has shown flashes in Spring Training, and we’ve all been watching for him to make steps. Buster can only do so much. All of this adds up to a mixed bag of inconsistent variables leading to that most San Francisco of tragedies: a Cain Game. A Cain Game is when a team’s starter throws a quality start yet still loses the game due to a lack of run support. When the variables miss the saving throw, a Cain Game is what occurs.
* Players to Watch Out For: Not so much a player to look out for, the left field slot will be one to watch. How will Blanco‘s streakiness keep him in the field? And for how long? Will Andres Torres be able to provide impact and OBP against left-handed pitchers? After a scorching Spring Training, will Peguero force his way into the lineup? How much time might Giraffe spend here? Remember (dimly), the Giants were so hard-up for left-fielders that Xavier Nady spent time there in 2012. Somewhere in America, OF prospect Gary Brown awaits.
* Best Case Scenario: Hardened by a season-long duel with the Dodgers, the Giants pull away in the stretch run, bulling through the playoffs with a velocity outsized from their parts and making their playoff opponents look like the 2012 Detroit Tigers. Another trophy is hoisted. Vin Scully continues broadcasting for at least another decade.
* Worst Case Scenario: The old guys get hurt. The outfielders fail to produce any baserunners, repeatedly squandering sterling pitching performances. Panda eats himself out of a job and out of the city. And Buster snaps his ankle irreparably.