2014 Outlook: San Francisco Giants

2014 Outlook: San Francisco Giants
February 1, 2014, 4:00 pm
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2013 record: 76-86, 3rd place in NL West
Manager: Bruce Bochy, 8th season
Estimated 2014 payroll: $154 million
Key additions: OF Michael Morse, SP Tim Hudson
Key losses: SP Barry Zito, RP Chad Gaudin, OF Andres Torres

Projected lineup
CF Angel Pagan
2B Marco Scutaro
1B Brandon Belt
C Buster Posey
RF Hunter Pence
3B Pablo Sandoval
LF Michael Morse
SS Brandon Crawford

Projected rotation
RHP Matt Cain
LHP Madison Bumgarner
RHP Tim Lincecum
RHP Tim Hudson
RHP Ryan Vogelsong

Top relievers
CL Sergio Romo
RHP Santiago Casilla
LHP Jeremy Affeldt

Biggest questions entering 2014
1. Will their rotation bounce back? Before the 2013 season the Giants had ranked no worse than sixth in MLB in starting pitchers ERA for four straight years. From 2009-11 they ranked no lower than third. But last season, as both Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong struggled, the Giants dropped all the way to 24th in baseball with a 4.37 combined ERA from their rotation. For them to return to contention, that will obviously have to change. Cain will need to re-install himself as one of the game’s best pitchers, and Vogelsong will have to be better than the 5.73 ERA he posted last season. Tim Hudson has also joined their rotation. If healthy, he could be a great addition.

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2. Can Brandon Belt take the next step? First baseman Brandon Belt finally tapped into his immense potential in 2013 with a strong year. He hit .289 with an .841 OPS, hit 17 home runs and drove in 67 RBI. Those are good numbers, but at 25-years-old Belt can be even better. Belt has All-Star potential, and if he builds off 2013, could reach that milestone this season. A big year for Belt would help the Giants get back to playoff contention.

3. Can they keep up with the Dodgers? The Giants won the World Series just two seasons ago, but since the Dodgers have passed them in the standings and figure to be a favorite for 2014. Los Angeles is loaded and will be a popular World Series pick. If the Giants can get their starting pitching in order, they should be legitimate contenders in the NL West. In order to win the division, however, it could take upwards of 95 wins when last year they won only 76.

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