While the San Francisco Giants are stranded in Cincinnati as they to learn who will emerge victorious in Friday’s game between the St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Nationals, let’s take a look at the future. Regardless of how the Giants finish out the 2012 season, there are elements of the team that will need to be addressed in the winter.
Here are three keys that San Francisco should keep in mind if they want to contend for a World Series berth in 2013.
While Brandon Crawford appears to be playing his way into a long-term role as the Giants’ shortstop, the second base position is much more difficult to predict. At present, the team is using Marco Scutaro, who by all accounts was a huge factor in San Francisco’s dominant September ahead of the postseason.
Scutaro is a timely hitter and a great teammate, but his glove work has left something to be desired as of late. For a team whose winning strategy is reliant upon the opposing team scoring two or fewer runs, a shoddy glove in the infield won’t cut it.
Whether the answer lies in bench player Joaquin Arias or the free agent market remains to be seen, but with the expiring contract of 2010 second baseman Freddy Sanchez coming off the books, the Giants would be smart to sign someone who can contribute with his swing and his leather.
As much as I’d love to not write about Pablo Sandoval’s weight anymore, he seems to make it impossible to close the book on the subject.
Sandoval is back to looking rather hefty over at third, a physique that ill suits a demanding position and frequent baserunner. Pablo is never going to join the 40-40 club, but he could certainly slim down and add to his potential as a threat on the basepaths (read: not an easy double-play out).
Perhaps more pressing is San Francisco’s hesitancy to commit to Sandoval long-term if he doesn't get himself in shape. Both Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy have indicated that the team may not be include Sandoval as it builds toward the future should he fail to control his weight.
Are the Giants prepared to take Brian Wilson—better known as the guy with the gnarly beard in the San Francisco dugout—back as the team’s closer?
With two Tommy John surgeries under his belt and no evidence to suggest that his arm is back in throwing shape, the Giants will be forced to decide between offering Wilson a contract or declining arbitration. On the one hand, Wilson was as signature of a figure in San Francisco as anyone else on the team. On the other, he may not be able to pitch anymore.
There aren't any solid closer substitutes currently on the Giants roster. The closer-by-committee technique currently being employed by Bruce Bochy may get them through the playoffs, but undoubtedly, Brian Sabean will be looking for someone who can take on the role full-time. Finding that person will be a huge step towards getting a shot at the World Series next season.