The San Francisco Giants aren’t considered clear-cut World Series contenders this season, but manager Bruce Bochy adamantly disagrees. The long-time skipper told the Giants that they’re more talented than the 2012 team that won a championship before they took the field for their first full-squad workout on Wednesday.
Bochy’s speech didn’t result in a fiery uproar similar to what happened before Game 3 of the 2012 NLDS when right-fielder Hunter Pence delivered an explosive rant before first pitch. The Giants collectively took the field as a unit for the first time since the bitter end of the 2013 campaign, though.
The Giants project as an 86-87 win team this season, according to oddsmakers. That’s a drastic improvement over what they were able to accomplish last season, although it won’t be good enough to win the NL West. Bochy isn’t renowned for a rah-rah approach to managing, but his speech served as a motivational ploy.
Bochy’s statement could be described as surprising, but those who listened in the Giants’ crowded locker room at Scottsdale Stadium knew that Bochy was giving them a reason to prove themselves on the field. Shortstop Brandon Crawford told Giants’ beat writer Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area.com, “We’re all getting together for the first time and when you get that confident feeling from your manager, it means something.”
Bochy told his team they’re fortunate to be part of an organization that constantly straps together a quality on-field product that has a chance to contend each season. He wanted that message to resonate with his players, some of whom are entering make-or-break seasons. The Giants could have torn apart their 76-win team from 2013 but retracted from the infamous Jeffrey Loria-strategy.
San Francisco spent the majority of the offseason re-signing “key” players from their 2012 title team like Hunter Pence (five-years, $90 million), Javier Lopez (three-years $13 million) and Tim Lincecum (two-years, $35 million). The Giants also added veteran hurler Tim Hudson (two-years, $23 million) and power-hitting outfielder Michael Morse (one-year, $6 million). The culmination of these moves preemptively makes the Giants better than they were in 2013, but that is still yet to be determined.
On paper, the Giants feature a decent lineup that boasts more offensive firepower than it did last season, barring injury. Their pitching staff remains mostly intact from 2013 but showcases a few vital additions. The 2013 version of the Giants was void of a long-man in the bullpen after Ryan Vogelsong went down to injury, forcing Chad Gaudin to claim a rotation spot. This prompted several key proponents of the ‘pen to eat-up extra innings, resulting in fatigue. The Giants’ bench depth was also exposed when lead-off hitter Angel Pagan suffered a hamstring tear which required mid-season surgery.
Bochy’s motivational ploy has set the wheels in motion for the Giants, but nothing will change in 2014 if they don’t overachieve like they did in 2012. It’s also paramount for the Giants to stay healthy due to a glaring lack of depth. It wouldn’t be farfetched for the Giants to make another late season run at a World Series title, though. After all, they’ve done it before.