Sep. 14, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants infielder Pablo Sandoval (48) is congratulated in the dugout after teammate outfielder Hunter Pence (not pictured) hit a grand slam during the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the third inning at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Giants: Will Lack Of Depth Be A Problem in 2013?


The San Francisco Giants have seen the good and bad sides of the word “depth.” More specifically, productive depth.

Pickups such as Cody Ross and Pat Burrell in 2010 fueled a World Series run. Then the sly trades by general manager Brain Sabean in 2012, such as the Marco Scutaro trade, fueled another run.

Through the years, Sabean has become famous for these types of moves. They don’t cause a stir of discussion at first, but the results generally speak for themselves.

In 2013, Sabean may be forced to perform some of his magic once again because the Giants are low on depth, specifically in the pitching area.

Let’s take a look:

Analyzing Starting Pitching Depth

In 2013, San Francisco will have to pray that none of their starters are sapped by an injury, because the list of alternatives becomes less and less appealing as you scroll down. The list isn’t that big to begin with.

Dan Runzler, who’s looked good in spring training, could become an extra starter. He missed the majority of 2012 with a shoulder injury, but that’s in the rearview mirror.

Apr 29 2011; Washington, D.C., USA; San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Dan Runzler (45) pitches in the eighth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. The Nationals defeated the Giants 3 – 0 Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Runzler throws hard and induces plenty of swings and misses (12.3 career K/9 ratio), but his problem lies within his command. He has a 5.5 walk per nine innings ratio in 89 career major league games, which has been the one obstacle stopping him from becoming a full-time starter–or consistent reliever for that matter.

Regardless of whether he breaks camp with the big league Giants, his services will be valued at some point, should an injury occur.

Other options include Eric Surkamp and Yusmeiro Petit.

Surkamp is fresh off Tommy John Surgery, and probably won’t be ready until the midseason mark, and even then, he will be plenty rusty. Petit made one fill-in start for the Giants in 2012, and he allowed two runs in 4.2 innings pitched. If Runzler doesn’t pan out, Petit will be the fill-in guy.

Clearly, the Giants are skating on thin ice should one of their five starters go down. They do have some viable short-term replacements, but nobody who can fill-in over the long haul.

Yet San Francisco doesn’t at all seemed concerned, and for good reason. Of their five starters, only two of them missed starts in 2012, which evidences the durability of this rotation. No one suffered an injury that put them on the DL.

The Giants were fortunate to avoid injuries in 2012, and for the past few years, frankly. But should that trend change in 2013, they could find themselves at the bottom of the scrapheap looking for replacements.

Analyzing Bench Depth

The Giants do have bench depth consisting of a surplus of infielders and a couple of outfielders. Depth in this area won’t be a problem. But the quality of these various bench pieces could come back to bite them.

Currently, the Giants bench looks like this: Hector Sanchez, Brett Pill, Tony Abreu, Joaquin Arias and Andres Torres. There could be a few tweaks between now and Opening Day, but the core of the above group is pretty much set.

Now, benches aren’t supposed to be dominant, as that would defeat the purpose of having a good starting lineup. However, a somewhat average bench is always a good luxury to have, and the teams that can rely on someone coming off the bench in the later innings to come through with the big hit, have a huge advantage on the competition.

September 20, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants first baseman Brett Pill (6) in the dugout against the Colorado Rockies during the fourth inning at AT

The question: Is the Giants’ bench average?

Well, that’s a very good question. Sanchez is the only proven threat on that list, whereas the rest are question marks. Pill has power, but he isn’t the most consistent hitter. Abreu isn’t going to provide much pop. Arias showed flashes of brilliance in 2012, but in an everyday role, he was also inconsistent. Then there’s the strikeout-happy Torres.

It might sound odd, but Ryan Theriot will be greatly missed by the Giants just because of the veteran presence he brought to the plate. Not always did he come through, but he’s an established veteran and that sediment is well-known throughout the league. The current Giants’ bench doesn’t have this type of guy.

While the Giants’ bench won’t be doing most of the heavy-lifting offensively, there could be times where their bench disappoints.

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Tags: San Francisco Giants