The San Francisco Giants have supposedly exhausted their resources this offseason and are officially unlikely to make further additions to a ball club that won a stagnant total of 76 games in 2013. The Giants have purportedly reached their payroll limit, despite inhabiting a big market that owns two World Series championships over the past four seasons and an influx of revenue generated from new league-wide television contracts.
The Giants’ stingy approach to constructing a formidable roster capable of competing with the best teams in baseball could ultimately lead to their demise in 2014. According to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Giants will look toward adding unsigned free agents as minor league invites to spring training. San Francisco has had recent success in finding players that strike lightning in a bottle, most notably Pat Burrell in 2010.
That strategy is dimwitted in the contemporary landscape of baseball operations though. The Giants are desperately reaching for help without exhausting their existing resources, specifically because they lack significant promise at the minor league level. San Francisco’s top-heavy farm system is vacant of difference-making position players, but it does feature a few highly coveted pitching prospects like Kyle Crick and Edwin Escobar.
For the Giants, the future is now. The core of San Francisco is represented in youth, although a large contingency of Giants have arguably surpassed their prime. Second baseman Marco Scutaro and starting pitcher Tim Hudson are solid role players, but they are veterans incapable of being significant components on a winning baseball team.
Scutaro was electric in the Giants’ 2012 World Series title run but struggled to stay on the field last season due to a nasty finger injury on his glove hand. Hudson is one of San Francisco’s “big” offseason acquisitions, but he is 38-years old and started just 21 games in 2013.
If the Giants are going to be successful next season they need All-Star caliber performances from several key players in the middle of their lineup. Franchise catalyst Buster Posey posted solid numbers last season, but he was noticeably tired in the season’s second half. Posey recorded an inefficient .244 batting average with two home runs and 16RBI in his final 55 starts in 2013.
In comparison, the former National League MVP was unstoppable down the stretch in 2012 when he posted a 1.102 OPS with 38 extra-base hits while driving in 60 runs. The Giants’ potential success entirely hinges on whether Posey can post extremely productive numbers in the second half of the season.
San Francisco also figures to heavily rely upon spark-plug Angel Pagan, who missed a majority of last season with a serious hamstring injury, at the top of the lineup, and free-swinging right fielder Hunter Pence, who played in all 162 games in 2013.
The Giants live and die by the collective performances of their pitching staff, but San Francisco needs improved offensive production to compete for another championship. The addition of Michael Morse should increase the Giants’ power numbers, if he’s able to stay healthy, although it’s unknown if “The Beast” can rekindle the brand of success he enjoyed in 2011.
The Giants’ front office brass is essentially finished attempting to upgrade their current roster this offseason, which forces enormous pressure on a handful of position players to carry the load on offense while simultaneously increasing the strain on the pitching staff.