Jays From the Couch brings you 2016 MLB Wrap Ups. This time, we sit down with The Giants Cove to discuss the San Francisco Giants
Jays From the Couch is kicking off a little series of wrap ups of teams around MLB. We’ll sit down with writers from all over the league to get their thoughts on teams we might not have been paying attention to in Blue Jays Land. This time: San Francisco Giants!
This MLB Wrap Up features a discussion with Richard Dyer of The Giants Cove and his interesting thoughts on how his San Francisco Giants made out in 2016. They finished at 87-75, in 2nd place behind the Dodgers. They managed to snag the second Wild Card spot and played the New York Mets. The Giants would win that pitcher’s duel, but go on to lose to the eventual World Series winners, the Chicago Cubs.
You can Follow Richard Dyer on Twitter @RichardJDyer. He’s new to Twitter, so give him a follow. Be sure to check out his great coverage of the Giants over at The Giants Cove. Richard was also a guest on Episode 95 of the Jays Nest Podcast. Listen to him talk Giants there too!
JFtC: If you could sum up San Francisco’s season in a paragraph, what would you say?
Richard: The San Francisco Giants’ 2016 season was an extension of their 2015 season (and their doo-da lucky 2014 championship season): mediocrity on the field; no vision, creativity, or leadership in the front office.
JFtC: What went right for the Giants this year?
Richard: There was little that went “right”. But three positives stand out: first, the starting pitching was greatly improved with the addition of Johnny Cueto. Cueto’s 2.79 ERA was fifth best among all 2016 MLB starters and he threw 219.2 innings. Second, shortstop Brandon Crawford continued to be a run producer while leading one of the most solid defenses in the National League. And third, the emergence of LH starter Ty Blach (0.76 WHIP in 17 IP) and lefty reliever Steve Okert (16G, 14IP, 14SO, 4BB, 3.21 ERA) looks promising for the future.
The problem here is reluctance of the Giant’s front office to bring up young players. Team President Brian Sabean has the 1960s mindset that talented prospects need to be “seasoned” for years in the minor leagues. Which is why Ty Blach will be 27 years old next season and Steven Okert will be 26.
JFtC: What went wrong for them?
Richard: “Wrong” started last off-season the day after the front office signed free agent starter Johnny Cueto. The Cueto signing was brilliant and the combination of Madison Bumgarner and Cueto looked formidable for the upcoming regular season, and potentially dominant if the team made the post season. Then the Giants did two ridiculous things: first they signed underperforming 4th/5th starter Jeff Samardzija for five years at $90 million. Which was astounding. And then the 4th richest MLB franchise closed their checkbook with several critical needs still on the table.
Left field was an offensive and defensive hole in 2015 and the Giants did nothing to solve that issue. Their much heralded bullpen was getting older and breaking down, but not one move was made to improve the bullpen last winter. Finally Buster Posey, who will be 30 next season, has seen his slugging percentage diminish almost every year since he slugged .549 in 2012 (.450 in 2013, .490 in 2014, .470 in 2015, and .434 in 2016). It may be that catching is catching up with him, but pretty soon that SLG may not play well at first base or third base.
JFtC: Who went under appreciated / Who stood out on the roster?
Richard: On this team first baseman Brandon Belt is perennially under appreciated. He is now the Giants’ #1 offensive weapon. Belt led the team with a .868 OPS, with 256 total bases, and with 66 extra base hits. Buster Posey (.796 OPS, 234 TB, and 49 XBH) was a distant second. Reliever Derek Law (2.13 ERA, 0.96 WHIP in 61 games) looks like a legitimate bullpen chip moving forward. Although Law’s 8.18 SO/9 is only a bit above MLB average he is a skilled ground ball thrower who can shut down an opponent’s offense outbursts.
JFtC: Who underperformed?
Richard: You can’t say that starter Jeff Samardzija “underperformed” because he has always been a home run machine with a list of high ERAs on the back of his baseball card. Certainly the entire outfield did not perform well and the bullpen’s 30 blown saves and inability to stop numerous conga lines on the bases is now legendary.
JFtC: Where does San Francisco go this offseason? What do they do?
Richard: Giant executives recently called a press conference to congratulate themselves on a fine year, and to grandly announce they will sign a 9th inning “closer” this winter. Leave it to San Francisco’s old school front office to approach the game from a distance of 20 years. As progressive teams are expanding and redefining the roles of relief pitchers and “closers”, the Giants want one of those 1990s guys who only works the 9th inning and then only when the team has a lead.
JFtC: What can fans expect from the Giants in 2017?
Richard: Most exciting will be when the Giants unveil their new annual media slogan, with predictable variations on the words “Us”, “You”, “Together”, and “We’re Giant”, etc. Also ownership will carry on another annual tradition– signing one inexpensive, washed up player previously dumped by at least four other teams. They will proclaim it a “smart signing” which every other organization missed, and Giants broadcasters will tout the player’s otherwise unrecognizable talents. These guys are usually released by July or early August in a quiet ceremony behind the visitor’s bullpen.
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