StrategyMarch 1, 2013

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30 Teams in 30 Days: San Francisco Giants - 1 comments

By Michael Marinakis

The Giants enter 2013 much like they entered the 2011 season, as World Champions with very little change in the roster. Just looking at the starters, the lineup and rotation are identical to how the Giants finished last year. You have to get down to a fourth outfielder and middle reliever before you find guys who weren’t on the 2012 team, and yet even they contributed to the Giants’ second World Series win in three years. Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez, who were instrumental in the Giants’ magical 2010 run, and were traded for Angel Pagan prior to last season are back in orange and black. It could be that the only player on the roster this year who wasn’t on either World Series team is the last bench bat, and that might be the only spring training battle in Giants’ camp.

With all that said, it’s pretty clear that there isn’t much left “unsettled” with the Giants heading into 2013. Sabean and Bochy are taking the old saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” to heart and basically trotting out the exact same team. It remains to be seen how the Giants will do going up against a Dodger team that seemingly has no limit to the amount of money they can spend, but as Brandon Belt recently put it, “you can’t buy chemistry,” and it’s clear from the crazy 2012 postseason that the Giants have plenty of that.

In “30 Teams in 30 Days,” the Fantasy Baseball Cafe will preview each team in Major League Baseball on a daily basis. In addition to projecting starting lineups, rotations and closing situations, the Cafe will identify potential targets for 2013 fantasy baseball drafts.
Offensive Starters

C Buster Posey.336.408.54978241031610 
1B Brandon Belt.275.360.4214775612472 
2B Marco Scutaro.306.348.405877749683w/2T
SS Brandon Crawford.248.304.349444451476 
3B Pablo Sandoval.283.342.4475912631442 
LF Gregor Blanco.244.333.3445653426453 
CF Angel Pagan.288.338.4409585629659 
RF Hunter Pence.253.319.42587241045688w/2T

Unsettled: Back-up infielder/fifth outfielder? Barring injury or other unforeseen circumstance, these will be the opening day starters. The closest thing to a spring training battle is wondering if Brett Pill will have a good enough spring for Bochy to be fooled into give him real at-bats once the season starts. Cole Gillespie, Tony Abreu and Kensuke Tanaka seem to be on a short list for last bench bat, but none of this is close to fantasy relevant unless you’re curious whether Pill could eat into Brandon Belt’s playing time.
Target: Pablo Sandoval. After a couple of rough seasons dealing with injury, Sandoval is hamate bone-free and just reaching his theoretical prime. Not only did he miss time in both 2011 and 2012 with hamate bone breaks, but even after his return in both seasons it was clear that he felt the after affects in his power stroke. After hitting five home runs in April of 2011, Sandoval missed a little over six weeks with a broken hamate in his right hand. After his return he went another two weeks before homering again, but he seemed to gain strength as the season went on and finished strong, hitting 15 home runs in only 231 at bats in the second half.
His 2012 started similarly, with Sandoval again hitting five home runs before breaking his other hamate bone, this time in his left hand. As a switch-hitter, this seemed to hurt his power from the left side considerably more than the previous hamate break, as he went on to hit only seven more homers after his return five weeks later. Of those seven homers, four of them came in a three-game span at the end of September. Had the season ended there, Sandoval’s value would have a few more question marks heading into the 2013 season. However, the Giants season continued and he went on to hit .364/.386/.712 with six home runs in the playoffs, carrying the team to a decisive World Series win that included a mythical three-home run game, in which he hit two off Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander.
Given the delay in Sandoval’s power returning in both 2011 and 2012, and the propensity for wrist and hand injuries to sap power, it seems very likely that he was dealing with the after-effects of the injury well after returning in both years. The delay was even worse last year due to the injury being in his left hand, but he still managed to finish the season incredibly strong and show us that the power is still there going into the 2013 season. If he manages to put it all together, he has the ability to be a .300-plus-average, 30-home-run third baseman hitting third in what has become a good Giants offense. His conditioning and poor 2012 are turning a lot of people off regarding the Panda, as can be seen in 82 MDP rank. Grabbing Sandoval anywhere after the fifth round could return massive value and probably doesn’t have much downside.
The Rotation
Matt Cain (R)16-52.791.0419351219.1 
Madison Bumgarner (L)16-113.371.1119149208.1 
Tim Lincecum (R)10-155.181.4719090186 
Ryan Vogelsong (R)14-93.371.2315862189.2 
Barry Zito (L)15-84.151.3911470184.1 

Unsettled: Emergency starter? The rotation to start the season won’t be any different this year as the Giants have kept their rotation intact heading into 2013. Only two(!) starts all of last season were made by pitchers other than those listed above as, pretty amazingly, all five starters went on to start over 30 games. However, it’s incredibly unlikely that we’ll see that again and the Giants lack of depth at starting pitching leaves a question mark on who will step in if there is an injury. Most of the Giants’ pitching talent in the minors is still a ways away from making a major league impact, though Eric Surkamp coming back from Tommy John surgery could be an option. Yusmeiro Petit is probably the best healthy option the Giants have in an emergency situation, but I can’t see the Giants relying on him for any length of time. Whoever it turns out to be, it seems unlikely that they’ll have much value in any but the deepest league should the opportunity arise.
Target: Madison Bumgarner. Two and a half seasons under his belt, and Bumgarner’s still only 23 years old, a year younger than guys like Stephen Strasburg, Matt Moore and Chris Sale. After a Cy Young-caliber start to the season, Bumgarner was hit by fatigue late in the season and gave up 16 earned runs in only 26.1 innings in September and October. He continued to pitch poorly in the postseason, although he finished strong with a solid start against the Tigers in the World Series. With his 6′5″, 235-pound frame and another year under his belt, it seems like a solid bet that Bumgarner is able to pitch deeper into the season without dealing with the mechanical issues that seemed caused by fatigue. While he’s not exactly being ignored in drafts, I think grabbing him as your ace in the fifth to sixth round is a solid option after the top 10 or so starters are off the board.
The 8th and 9th Innings
Sergio Romo (R)141.790.85631055.1 
Jeremy Affeldt (L)32.701.26572363.1 

Chasing Saves: Sergio Romo may not be your stereotypical hard-throwing closer, but with his devastating slider he doesn’t need to be. Romo mixes an incredible combination of control and strikeout stuff, as can be seen in his 133:15 K:BB ratio in 103.1 innings over the last two years. Even when he wasn’t closing, Romo had fantasy value as an elite middle reliever putting up some of the best ratios and strikeout numbers in the game. He theoretically has the job full time going into this season and is a guy to target, going after guys like Mariano Rivera and Joe Nathan in drafts so far. However, this draft position isn’t without its reasons, as Romo has been handled very carefully by the Giants due to issues with his elbow and knee. It’s likely that the Giants will remain careful with Romo, even going so far as to give Affeldt or Lopez save opportunities against multiple left-handers or not using Romo in more than a couple games in a row. He is a little riskier than some of the closers with secure jobs, but the reward could be immense if he stays healthy and keeps the role the whole year. Should he be injured, it’s likely the Giants would use Santiago Casilla and the lefties in the pen in a closer-by-committee, something with which no fantasy manager enjoys dealing.
Final Thoughts
The Giants of 2013 are basically the Giants of 2012 with full years from Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro hopefully replacing the production that they got from Melky Cabrera before the suspension. While they no longer look like favorites to win the division after the Dodgers’ spending spree, they should remain competitive and could easily see their way back into the playoffs come October. As they proved in 2010 and 2012, anything can happen in October.
Check back tomorrow for our look at the Houston Astros.

Michael Marinakis is a 27-year-old Giants fan who is basking the the glory of the Giants second World Series Championship in three years. You can find him on the forums where he posts as GiantsFan14 or on Twitter @FBC_GiantsFan14.
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One Response to “30 Teams in 30 Days: San Francisco Giants”

  1. User avatar MashinSpuds says:

    Good write up about Sandoval. Injuries really do dull the memories of what a young guy was able to do relatively recently. The conditioning is certainly a concern, but people are getting bargains on Sandoval based on where he’s going these days. I wonder if he’ll move up in rank at all if he puts in a solid spring.


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