San Francisco Giants Have Their Offseason Priorities Right


According to San Francisco Giants General Manager Bobby Evans, the team’s main priority this offseason is to address their ailing starting pitching rotation — something that plagued the team to no end down the stretch. Both statistics and the simple eye test say that this is absolutely the correct and necessary course of action for the team to take.

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Beyond Madison Bumgarner, the Giants’ staff this season was decidedly average, with a team ERA of 3.72. By comparison, the National League teams that made the playoffs this year, the Dodgers, Mets, Cubs, Cardinals, and Pirates, all ranked above the Giants and laid claim to the five best team ERA’s in baseball.

There is truth to the old adage that pitching and defense wins championships, and the Giants’ pitching simply couldn’t hold up down the stretch. Between injuries and ineffectiveness, San Francisco starters not named Bumgarner each averaged around 105 innings pitched for the season, with their team total adding up to 1444.1 innings — significantly below league average compared to other contending teams.

While it is certainly a positive to have a veteran staff, one that has been there before and has experience on their side, the Giants paid the price for it this season with almost half of their aging starters taking extended DL stints. The San Francisco rotation this season was in fact, the oldest staff in Major League Baseball, with an average age of 31.

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In terms of options for improvement, this offseason might prove to be the perfect time to look for potential upgrades. The only guarantees for 2016 are Bumgarner, Chris Heston, Jake Peavy, and Matt Cain, with Tim Lincecum, Ryan Vogelsong and Mike Leake becoming free agents (though it has been reported that the Giants are interested in re-signing Lincecum in some capacity) and Tim Hudson retiring.

The free agent market for starting pitchers this season is exceptional. Between high end options like David Price, Zack Greinke (if he opts out of his contract), Jordan Zimmermann, Yovani Gallardo, Doug Fister, and Johnny Cueto, and slightly less expensive options like Jeff Samardzija, Hisashi Iwakuma, and Scott Kazmir, it is hard to imagine there being a better year to be in the market for starting pitchers.

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  • The Giants also will have the financial flexibility to make signings happen, with well over $30,000,000 coming off the books as a result of their own free agents. And though a good many players are arbitration eligible, they will still have room to land some big name players before the start of the 2016 season.

    One of the other problems with the staff this year was the lack of a solid number two starter behind Bumgarner. Heston seemed ready to settle into that role, but after going 9-5 in the first half with an ERA of 3.39, he struggled with his command after the All-Star break and went 3-6 with an ERA of 4.91.

    While Cain seriously struggled throughout the season to rebuild his mechanics after his arm surgery, the team can’t put their faith in him immediately regaining his previous form. The three time All-Star was limited to just 11 starts and 60.2 innings pitched as he tried to fix the flaws he developed from overcompensating during his delivery while his arm was still an issue.

    Peavy has already stated that he expects 200 innings out of himself for the coming season. And while that would go a long way toward helping the Giants’ pitching dilemma, the rest of the rotation still looks spotty at best. If the Giants can land a big name it would lengthen the longevity of their staff and take the pressure off of Bumgarner.

    It remains to be seen what direction the team will go in to address their rotation concerns, but the point remains that they are addressing the right problem. If they can upgrade in that area and potentially add a few young arms to the bullpen, either from within the Giants’ farm system or from abroad, the team will begin to look like a serious contender again.

    Add in a healthy homegrown infield and an outfield that will hopefully include a healthy Hunter Pence and Angel Pagan and things are most certainly looking up going into yet another promising even year in 2016.

    Next: San Francisco Giants: The Eddy Julio Martinez Saga Continues