San Francisco Giants: How The Dodgers’ Elimination Impacts The Team


The San Francisco Giants, in trying to avenge their title in 2015, faced an unfortunate injury-plagued season that didn’t end as they’d hoped. Their division rival Los Angeles Dodgers won the NL West title and received a very quick elimination in the National League Divisional Series at the hands of the New York Mets. As entertaining as that is, it may not bode well for the Orange and Black.

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After a historical regular season by Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke that was not good enough to propel the Dodgers through the playoffs, former skipper Don Mattingly was canned, which raised eyebrows around the league.

Despite having baseball’s biggest payroll and the allure of a famous city, the Dodgers failed to bring a world title to Southern California. Mattingly, the former New York Yankee third baseman has played in the spotlight before and has dealt with the pressures of New York, but in Los Angeles, it was a monster he could not conquer. It should not all be blamed on Mattingly, but a failed coaching staff and a roster full of self-worshipping players are not going to win a title. Or, so it seems that way.

Attempting to handle the personalities over the last few years of Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez, Matt Kemp, Greinke, Andre Ethier, and the short-stay of Mat Latos, has the Dodgers learning the hard way. But with the allure of the bright lights of Los Angeles, and a head coaching vacancy, the Dodgers have the bank account to lock out the NL West and the Giants.

How will the Giants respond to the Dodgers, who most likely will attempt to bring more change like last offseason? The Dodgers’ struggles could force the Giants to respond by opening up their wallets as well.

This leaves a situation so foreign to a team who has learned to build from within, offering team-friendly contracts to veteran players and extracting what talent they have left in the tank. This past offseason, we almost saw the strange occurrence of the Giants attempting to spend on Jon Lester — who ended up choosing the Chicago Cubs.

In the past, the Giants took a bullet by bringing Barry Zito across the Bay, who then only produced solid performances in the 2012 playoffs — which ended up being a defeat by the Detroit Tigers in sweeping fashion. But Zito was beloved by fans despite his struggles.

With a seven-year, $126 million deal and a player who didn’t come close to earning it, that defining moment appeared to be the last we would see of the Giants being extravagant in the spending department for quite some time.

Depending on what the Dodgers do, the 2015 offseason could be a different story.

Very likable names are available out there, especially ones who were rumored trade interests, most notably David Price. This season, Madison Bumgarner was the lone wolf in the rotation who literally had to continue carrying the entire staff on his back.

Mike Leake came over in a trade from Cincinnati and was supposed to provide a boost and take some of the stress off of Bumgarner to perform. Leake had some bad luck out of the gate after a hamstring injury shelved him after his debut against the Texas Rangers. He pitched an excellent game, but came up without a loss. After sitting out for a while, the momentum he had before the trade seemed to vanish — until a season-ending complete game shutout of the Dodgers.

Jake Peavy upped the intensity and solidified himself as being a clutch counterpart to Bumgarner and Leake. As for the rest of the rotation, that is where the Giants most likely are turning their attention this offseeason as they have no choice.

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Leake was essentially a one-year rental, but heavy interest between the two about a return is something to be watch out for once the offseason officially begins. For right now, Bumgarner and Peavy are the two safe locks for the rotation, with three spots still to cover.

Greinke opted out of his contract with the Dodgers, which now adds him to the free agent pool. And given the deal he walked away from, he is likely hungry for a lot of money. Oh, how Giants fans would love to see the team lure over one of the Dodgers’ greats last year — especially after all the years Giants players were seduced over to the dark side.

Just ask Jason Schmidt and Jeff Kent. Ned Colletti might have had something to do with that, as he was the Giants’ assistant general manager from 1996-2004, and general manager of the Dodgers before the 2015 season began.

October 15, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher

Zack Greinke

(21) pitches the first inning against New York Mets in game five of NLDS at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Would Greinke want to return to the Dodgers or is his opting out a ploy to receive a larger contract from management? Well, he did lead the entire major league in ERA (1.66) and a dazzling 19-3 record, so why not see what you can get? At this point, there is no telling, but there are many teams who would love to have Greinke in their uniform.

As much as San Franciscans might want to see it, the clubhouse dynamic he would bring might not be the right fit.

If Greinke does leave however, the Dodgers’ bank account might draw interest from other players looking to receive a nice pay day for their contributions. The Dodgers could very well target Price, Jordan Zimmermann, and Johnny Cueto, — who has helped the Kansas City Royals reach the World Series for the second consecutive season.

Pitching alone isn’t the only concern the Giants may have to consider. The 2015 season couldn’t have been more disastrous than it was for Hunter Pence . Some fans were tired of seeing Pence in the dugout and not on the field. It is true in sports that the competitive instinct is so high, that players will do outrageous things to get back out there and compete. But it appeared Pence rushed back from injuries too soon and continued to re-aggravate injuries that needed more time to fully heal.

Pence is a valuable player to this club, but eventually he will need to be replaced just like any other player. 2015’s injury plagued season might have started a trend with Pence we have never seen before. Mr. Efficient and Iron Man wannabe — no one will be Cal Ripken Jr. — just could not catch a break or stay on the field.

Not that a Pence replacement is in the works, but the Giants may want to consider what is out there in the near future and be prepared. Jarrett Parker was a late surprise after disappointing call-ups earlier in the season, but a late season surge definitely turned some heads. He is a possible in-house option for the Giants when the time is right.

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The loss of Jeremy Affeldt and Tim Hudson, both veterans and team leaders, is going to sting for the continuity and chemistry of the clubhouse. But the Giants have shown they have no problem bringing in guys who fit the dynamic of what the franchise and Bruce Bochy have instilled. There are young guys who look poised to take on bigger roles next season, to take some pressure off of Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla, who will be called upon to lead the bullpen.

Then there is the question mark with the beloved Tim Lincecum. Is he coming back? That will be on the minds of a large part of the fan base through the offseason and until he signs his next contract. Only Lincecum knows what his hip has in store for him and how much longer he can go. Helping turn the franchise around after the departure of Barry Bonds, Lincecum won the hearts of the fans and gave them something to believe in again.

If Lincecum is back, don’t be surprised if the sum of his contract is a lot less than his more than generous previous contracts. His next might be a minor league deal just to be on the cautious side.

With an active Dodgers team this offseason and $57 million opening up in the books for the Giants, the rivalry of the two might stretch into the offseason — and they might have some company with the emerging Arizona Diamondbacks. Worrying about bringing Lincecum may not be needed, as other priorities have now arisen. The Giants’ identity under Bochy has always been pitching, and the emphasis on that should continue despite the breakout seasons of Brandon Crawford and Matt Duffy on the offensive side.

Another hit the Giants could take this offseason would be the departure of Ron Wotus who is very deserving of a managerial job. Being a heck of a bench coach for a team that has won three titles in six years, should garner him some much deserved consideration.

The Washington Nationals early on in their managerial search, have had Wotus in as a potential candidate for the job, after former Giants’ third baseman Matt Williams was relieved of his duties and fired immediately once the regular season ended.

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If Wotus were to go, that would be another heart-breaking loss after the retirement of Tim Flannery. If Wotus leaves, perhaps Williams can get a job back with the club he played for, which would be something of a salve for that wound.

While the Giants have been victorious, their true challenge of fixing multiple positional holes will begin this offseason after the Mets and Royals compete for the World Championship. An elimination of the Dodgers might just reward or doom the Giants, as a spending games looks to begin here shortly.