As the 2015 baseball comes to an end many questions surround the San Francisco Giants this offseason. 2016 is an even year and Giants fans know too well what that means. The Giants are well positioned to make another run in 2016. They were well positioned to make a run this season until the injuries started to pile up. Heading into the offseason the Giants are already aware that they will be without 2 key players as Jeremy Affeldt and Tim Hudson have announced their retirements. Affeldt a member of what I like to call the “core four” was a mainstay in Bruce Bochys bullpen. The left-hander was key in all 3 World Series title runs. Tim Hudson who joined the Giants last season had his moments as a Giant. The team rallied last season to finally get him a World Series ring. I believe the biggest contribution Hudson had on the Giants was his bond with Madison Bumgarner. These two hit it off and it’s been great for Madison to have a mentor on the team.
The rotation has been the strength of the Giants over the years, but this offseason it looks like there will be some changes. Madison is the clear cut ace of the staff and everyone else after him seems to have question marks. Matt Cain coming off surgery this past offseason could’t capture his magic from years past. Ryan Vogelsong is a year older and who knows how much interest the Giants front office has in his ability to get batters out. Tim Hudson is hanging up his cleats and Jake Peavy who’s an ultimate gamer is also a year older. Mike Leake who was acquired before the deadline will be a free agent, but both the team and him have strong interest in a reunion for 2016. Then there’s fan favorite Tim Lincecum who is a free agent and recently had hip surgery for a degenerative condition. Lincecums velocity has declined the past few years, but his doctors believe with the surgery he could gain some of it back. Bruce Bochy has already expressed his feelings to have Timmy return. “My door will always be open for Tim Lincecum.” said Bruce Bochy. Chris Heston who surprised everyone this season and was able to fill the void that Cain and Lincecum left.
The bullpen will definitely see some changes this offseason as they didn’t perform to the standards of what Giants fans have seen in the past. The seemingly untouchable Yusmeiro Petit was knocked around a few times this season. Jean Machi was designated for assignment earlier this season and served as the closer for the struggling Red Sox for the rest of the season. Hunter Strickland had his moments, but as the season came to an end we started to see what we saw during last seasons playoff run as he started to get roughed up for a good stretch of games. Javy Lopez was his usual self getting lefties out. Affeldt hit the disabled list once again with one of his quirky injuries. Sergio Romo and Casilla were both shaky at times. This season we were able to see some young arms. Josh Osich is the guys I believe that can step into the role Jeremy Affeldt had for many years. Osich has a 1.95 ERA in 33 games and he showed a lot of promise. George Kontos had a breakout season and I believe he can have a big role next season.
Pitching has been the key to the Giants success and no question they will need to address major holes this season with players retiring, players hitting free agency and players decline in production. Here is a list of current Giant pitchers that are scheduled to hit free agency:
Tim Lincecum, Mike Leake, Tim Hudson (retiring), Chris Heston, Josh Osich, Jeremy Affeldt (retiring), Ryan Vogelsong, Yusmeiro Petit, George Kontos, Hunter Strickland
It’s up to the organization if they want to go and sign a big name free agent like David Price or Jordan Zimmerman or if they want to see what the young arms in their system can do. They were aggressive last season with the pursuit of Jon Lester. Are guys like Tyler Beede, Kyle Crick, and Chris Stratton ready for the big show? Do the Giants need to shakeup the bullpen and maybe find a new closer or does Casilla or Romo have something prove next season? Will Tim Lincecum return and will he be productive? Does Mike Leake return and will he benefit with a full spring training with the club?