A couple of weeks ago I wrote an obituary on the San Francisco Giants season. As hard as that was to do, I didn’t see anything that would indicate this team was going anywhere in the 2013 season.
Since that time the Giants played well against a hapless San Diego Padre team and even enjoyed a thrill when Tim Lincecum threw a no hitter.
They came out of the All Star Break with a series win over the then first place Arizona Diamondbacks. There was hope.
But after watching the Giants lose 3 or 4 to the Cincinnati Reds at AT&T Park, I’m more convinced then ever that it’s time to turn the page and look to 2014.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are on a tear and now inhabit first place in the NL West. They’re not going away.
The Diamonbacks continue to play tough and will be in the race until the end.
The Colorado Rockies are hanging around, but in the end I expect this to be a 2 team race. One of those teams will not be the San Francisco Giants.
Watching the Reds series it was painfully apparent the difference between the Giants and the Reds. One is a playoff team with a chance to go all the way. The other is a bad team that continues to make killer defensive mistakes and not hit in the clutch.
I’ll let you guess which is which.
The Giants are now 7.5 games out of first place and 9 games under .500 with 61 to play.
They have the worst record in the majors the past 2 months. To expect them to all of a sudden come to life and turn it on, blasting past the Dodgers and Diamondbacks is a fantasy.
Right now my biggest concern is the 2014 season.
As it stands, the Giants have only 2 starting pitchers under contract, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner.
Hunter Pence will be a free agent at the end of the year as will Javier Lopez, Tim Lincecum, Ryan Vogelsong, Chad Gaudin and Barry Zito, unless the Giants pick up his option, which is getting less and less likely with every bad start.
The Giants would like Pence back and I’m sure Lopez as well, but those are their best trade chips before the trade deadline in 6 days. Lincecum is a pretty nice trade chip as well. It’s hard to tell if the Giants will want him back or not. I’m sure they won’t if it’s going to cost them 21 million dollars a year again.
The other guys may or may not be back, depending on a lot of factors.
So if you look at the Giants for next season they potentially need 2 outfielders, 3 starting pitchers and a handful of relievers. The infield looks pretty set, unless the Giants decide to upgrade at first base and move Brandon Belt.
Brian Sabean could decide to back up the truck and sell all of his tradable parts, Pence, Lopez, Lincecum and maybe even Pablo Sandoval, who can be a free agent at the end of 2014. Maybe Belt as well.
We are well aware of Sabean and Bruce Bochy’s disgust for Sandoval’s inability to keep his weight down and stay healthy. If the interest is high enough and the return is good, a trade might be in order.
Plus the Giants need to get more active in the international market, especially with the Cuban players.
The Dodgers have hit a home run with Yasiel Puig and just signed another Cuban, shortstop Alexander Guerrero to a big contract as well. And they got Ryu Hyun-jin, who has done a great job for them in his MLB rookie year.
If they don’t do something to boost their farm system, which isn’t projected to produce much major league talent in the next few years, the Giants could find themselves at the bottom of the NL West for years to come and the 2 World titles will be distant memories.
Sabean and company have the opportunity to continue the Giants success with the right trades, free agent signings and international acquisitions.
Trading for top level minor league talent now will pay dividends as early as next season.
We see what the Cubs did, getting a nice haul of top level prospects for Matt Garza. The Giants need to do the same kind of thing to win starting next year.
But if they don’t take the opportunity they have in the next 6 days they will find themselves behind the 8 ball (and the Dodgers) for some time to come.