The San Francisco Giants finished Spring Training 2012 with a real sense of needing to get some unfinished business done. With a year’s retrospect, it’s clear last year’s follow-up season to winning the World Championship in 2010 was poorly designed and directed. But coming out of the Cactus League this year, it appears the front office has improved the 25 man roster in several critical offensive categories.
And for the umpteenth time, last year’s debacle was not caused by Buster Posey’s injury in May– after Buster went down the Giants spent the next two plus months in first place. They ended up hitting a large wall in early August because the line-up simply couldn’t produce runs, because they were again hobbled by signing a number of over-the-hill veterans on the verge of retirement, and because the up-the-middle defense was astoundingly poor. August? It’s amazing they held on that long.
Now it’s time to get back into the thick of attacking the National League with baseball’s best pitching staff and stomping boldly into the post season. The primary goal will be to send the rest of the League back to their expensively-designed living rooms to watch the 2012 World Series on a 60″ high def TV.
The off-season extensions of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong sent a clear message that San Francisco’s pitching dominance has only just begun. When Madison Bumgarner starts to reach his potential in 2012 and 2013, he could pass them all up. And that pitching dominance no longer has to depend solely on developing talent in the minors. The Giants’ front office moved into the big market-big money category several years ago and is now more than capable of diving into free agency to pick up just about any available starter in the coming years.
Thanks to a serious attempt to add some offensive punch, 2012 should be all about extra base hits and scoring runs in bunches. Melky Cabrera, Brandon Belt, Pablo Sandoval, and a full year of Buster Posey can make that happen. And if the front office gets out of his way, Belt could be a run manufacturing machine for the next ten years.
Other additions to the final 2012 roster show that GM Brian Sabean is all in with offense: newcomers Gregor Blanco and Angel Pagan, minor league star Brett Pill, and back-up catcher Hector Sanchez are all expected to yank San Francisco from the bottom of the run scoring pile to the middle of the pack.
The front office inexplicably decided to hold on to back-up outfielder Nate Schierholtz, who appears completely at odds with the new make-up of this team. A right fielder with little power and a near sub-average career OPS, Schierholtz should be moved off the active roster one way or the other once Freddy Sanchez is activated. With starting left fielder Aubrey Huff listed as an infielder, the team would have been better served taking Joaquin Arias and his excellent infield glove north instead of Schierholtz.
In the next two months we will have an idea if this Giants team will score runs. If San Francisco can move from 29th in MLB runs scored last season to somewhere near 15th overall in 2012, they will dominate again.