Giants fans are upset about 2013, but it's tough to complain after winning the 2010 and 2012 World Series. As the Dodgers head into the bay area, Don Mattingly and company are competing for improved seeding. To help us figure out what happened to the Giants, Grant Brisbee of the McCovey Chronicles kindly stopped by.
BEN: As the season winds down, what were the Giants biggest issue in 2013?
GRANT: Pitching. So horrible. The starting rotation was a mess, save for Madison Bumgarner all season and Matt Cain in the second half. The bullpen was one of the most expensive in baseball, but it was also ineffective compared to what the Giants were used to.
BEN: Matt Cain appeared to be the ace of the present and future, but that could be in doubt after posting an 8-9 record and 4.09 ERA. Do you expect Cain to return to form next season?
GRANT: Yes, absolutely. He looked great in the second half. He was fighting through some mechanical issues and poor luck earlier, but his peripherals, velocity, and everything else stayed the same. He'll be fine.
BEN: Madison Bumgarner unfortunately gets overshadowed by the Dodgers brilliant young left-hander in Clayton Kershaw. What does Bumgarner need to do to take the next level and establish himself as one of baseball's best pitcher?
GRANT: He's not overshadowed here! I, for one, would much rather hang an oil portrait of him in my office than one of Kershaw.
The next step, if there is one, would be further refinement of his command and pitching deeper into games. He's good for six or seven now, but he can be good for seven or eight with a little more economy.
BEN: Brandon Belt posses the potential to provide solid production, and we began to see the talent come though via his .289 average, 16 home runs and 62 RBI. Is Belt the long-term solution at first base?
GRANT: He is, unless he's the long-term solution in left field. The Giants want to add power -- they've taken a keen interest in this "home run" fad -- and they'll move Belt if they can get it at first.
BEN: Hunter Pence joined the "20/20" club with 20 plus home runs and 20 plus stolen bases. Throughout the disappointment, Pence's consistency has been overlooked. Will the Giants re-sign him and how much money may it take?
GRANT: I would be stunned if he doesn't re-sign. The team and fans love him. It will take at least $60 million now -- maybe more.
BEN: There are few dominant hitting catchers left in the league, with Buster Posey standing in his own class. Should Bruce Bochy move Posey to third or first within the next couple of seasons?
GRANT: The template for me is Joe Torre, who was a power-hitting catcher until he was 30, when he moved to third base. That's exactly what I'd like to see from Posey.
BEN: Tim Lincecum was one of the key pieces to the Giants 2010 and 2012 World Series Championships. Does general manager Brian Sabean want to bring Lincecum back? Also, do you think Lincecum needs to move to the bullpen?
The Giants will have holes in the rotation, and I'm sure they want Lincecum back. But I'm not sure if he wants to come back, or if he thinks he might be better served with a change of scenery.
BEN: Brandon Crawford took baseball by storm in April and May, but he never dropped off quickly. What happened?
GRANT: He's not a very good hitter. He's not a good hitter. He's not an average hitter. If he were an average hitter, he'd be an $80/$100-million player. So while the first month was exciting, it wasn't realistic.
BEN: Going into the off-season, what are some of the Giants top needs and how active will they be in free agency?
GRANT: They need power, and they need pitching. They'll be active on the international market if they don't have a protected pick. I'm hoping for Masahiro Tanaka because I feel like we'll be lonely without a pitcher on a big free-agent deal.
BEN: Series Prediction?
GRANT: Barry Zito gives up three home runs.