Strengths: Management and front office. Last year didn’t go well, but say what you want, Bruce Bochy is one of baseball’s best managers. Remember, he took this team to two championships in three years with a roster with decidedly fewer superstars than most championship teams have. The front office deserves a tip of the cap for that too, compiling a team that wins without the budgetary freedom of the Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox, Rangers, etc. If you’d nitpick, you could say that they overpaid to keep Tim Lincecum and probably should have held onto Nathan Schierholtz last year, but nobody is perfect.
Weaknesses: Pitching depth. Don’t get me wrong, the staff isn’t…bad. But they’re not as scary as they used to be. Matt Cain regressed after a Cy Young-worthy 2012. Lincecum, no-hitter notwithstanding, is pedestrian these days. Madison Bumgarner, while good, has never turned into the Clayton Kershaw facsimile many expected, and Ryan Vogelsong looks more like, well, Ryan Vogelsong than Greg Maddux, like he kinda did for a bit there. When you look at it, is there anything overly impressive, or did everyone overreact a little bit to overachievement?
Off-Season Needs: Shore up the bullpen a little and…fine, I’ll say it. Trade for David Price. I’d hate to see it happen, but if you move Buster Posey to first base full time, give the catching duties to the underrated Hector Sanchez, you end up with Brandon Belt and Brett Pill as tradable commodities to package with a couple of blue chippers. Now everyone do me a favor, and nobody tell the Giants to do this.
2014 Outlook: They should improve over 2013, but the NL West is going to be tough to win with the Dodgers’ unlimited purse strings to contend with, and the Wild Card ain’t gonna be easy to get either with three legitimate playoff quality teams in the NL Central. Ballpark, 85 wins.