2014 Predictions for the San Francisco Giants' Offseason Acquisitions
The San Francisco Giants and general manager Brian Sabean moved quickly after the end of the season to bolster the roster.
Sabean was very aggressive as he signed his own would-be free agents as well as two new additions to the orange and black.
The Giants' ownership group has expanded payroll significantly over the $137 million they started the season with in 2013. The final numbers are not in yet, but look for the Giants' opening day payroll to be in the range of $150-155 million.
Sabean has given manager Bruce Bochy a much deeper and more solid lineup than the Giants had in 2013. In addition, the Giants focused on pitching, which has been their proven formula for success.
Let's look ahead to the upcoming season and make some educated predictions on how these newly signed players will perform.
All stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com.
All contract data courtesy of baseballprospectus.com.
Hunter Pence was the first player to agree to a contract once the 2013 season ended. He signed a five-year, $90 million deal.
In 2013, Pence led the Giants with 27 home runs, 99 RBI, 91 runs scored, 22 steals and a .483 SLG.
Pence batted .283, with an OBP of .339 and OPS of .822. He played in all 162 games—the only Giant to do so.
Looking ahead to the 2014 season, look for Pence to continue to produce. However, there will likely be a slight dip in his overall production.
The forecast for Pence is a batting average of .274, with 25 home runs and 90 RBI. Manager Bruce Bochy will also give Pence a few days off, so expect him to play around 155 games.
Pence desperately wanted to stay with the Giants and got his wish. He is a fan favorite because of his constant hustle and positive attitude.
Tim Lincecum in no longer the totally dominant pitcher that won back-to-back Cy Young Awards earlier in his career.
Lincecum still has flashes of brilliance, but he has bouts of inconsistency. Gone is the fastball clocked at 96 mph, as Lincecum must now get by with a fastball in the low 90s.
His change-up is still outstanding, but Lincecum needs to command his fastball better in order to set up his specialty pitches, especially that change-up.
Lincecum threw a no-hitter in mid-July against the San Diego Padres, which was one of the highlights of a down year for the Giants.
Giants GM Brian Sabean inked Lincecum to a two-year, $35 million deal. This may have been a little bit over market, but Lincecum is loved by the fans and extremely valuable to the Giants as a marketing asset.
With that said, Sabean would not have signed Lincecum to the large contract unless he believed Lincecum could still be an effective pitcher.
Lincecum made strides as a pitcher in 2013. He did a better job commanding his pitches and tried to get hitters out earlier in the count, instead of trying to strike everyone out.
Lincecum's 2013 numbers were very pedestrian. He had a record of 10-14, with an ERA of 4.37 and a WHIP of 1.315. Lincecum threw 197.7 innings, allowed 184 hits and 76 walks while striking out 193.
His walks were too high, but his strikeout total showed that he can still be dominant at times.
One of the keys to the upcoming Giants season will be how well Lincecum can pitch. A major issue is his ability to pitch deeper into games, thereby putting less stress on the bullpen.
Looking ahead to 2014, expect continued progress from Lincecum. The projection is for him to throw 204 innings and fashion a record of 12-8 with an ERA of 3.86, a WHIP of 1.29 and 188 strikeouts.
When the San Francisco Giants opened the 2013 season, they felt their starting pitching was one of their biggest strengths. Unfortunately, only Madison Bumgarner met expectations, and the rest of the starting staff struggled.
Brian Sabean was intent on fortifying the rotation and made a bold move by signing free-agent pitcher Tim Hudson to a two-year, $23 million deal.
In 2013, Hudson was throwing the ball well when he suffered a major ankle injury while covering first base.
Hudson started 21 games, threw 131.1 innings, allowing 120 hits, 36 walks, while striking out 95. Hudson had a record of 8-7 and an ERA of 3.97 with a WHIP of 1.188.
Looking ahead to the upcoming season, look for Hudson to benefit from pitching half of his games at the spacious AT&T Park.
The projections for Hudson are a 10-7 record, starting 28 games, with a 3.91 ERA and 1.21 WHIP.
Javier Lopez is a left-handed relief specialist who is used to get one or two left-handed batters out in the late innings.
Lopez had an outstanding season in 2013 and was rewarded with a three-year, $13 million contract.
Lopez appeared in 69 games, but he pitched only 39.1 innings. He allowed 30 hits and 12 walks while striking out 37. His ERA was an excellent 1.83 and his WHIP was 1.068.
Look for Lopez to pitch well again in 2014, although it will be tough to duplicate those gaudy numbers from 2013.
Lopez is projected to have an ERA of 2.70 and WHIP of 1.15.
Ryan Vogelsong was coming off his second strong season with the Giants in 2012 and was chosen to pitch in the World Baseball Classic (WBC).
After throwing a career-high of 214.1 innings in the regular season and postseason in 2012, Vogelsong had to get ready to pitch in the WBC.
The Giants' World Series title run in 2012 meant the team played until the very end of October. The short rest period in the winter seemed to affect Vogelsong negatively in 2013.
Vogelsong was not pitching well early in the season and then was injured while batting. In 103.2 innings of work, Vogelsong allowed 124 hits and 38 walks while striking out 67. His record was 4-6, and his ERA of 5.73 and WHIP of 1.563 were alarmingly high.
The Giants are hoping Vogelsong can recapture some of the magic he had in 2011 and 2012. Brian Sabean signed him to a one-year, $5 million contract.
With a full winter of rest, look for Vogelsong to be rejuvenated and start the season off strong. However, he is 36 years of age and will be 37 in July.
After a strong start, expect Vogelsong to fade somewhat in the second half of the year. He projects to finish the 2014 season at 10-9 with an ERA of 4.12. These are solid numbers for a fifth starter.
The San Francisco Giants' biggest hole in the starting lineup was left field. The production from that position was the worst in the National League and Brian Sabean knew he had to upgrade that spot.
Sabean signed free-agent Michael Morse to a one-year, $6 million contract. Morse is coming off a very poor season so he was relatively inexpensive. This is a good gamble by Sabean.
Morse was plagued by an injured wrist and appeared in only 88 games.
Morse's best season was in 2011 when he hit .303 with 31 home runs and 95 RBI. The Giants are hoping he can come close to duplicating those numbers.
The projection for Morse is to be somewhere in between his 2011 and 2013 numbers. Although I do expect Morse to spend at least one stint on the DL, look for him to play in about 115 games and have 389 at-bats.
Morse projects to hit .246 with 16 home runs and 48 RBI. His defense in left field is weak, and we will see a lot of Gregor Blanco in the late innings.