It’s an even year- if you’re a Giants fan, you know that’s a good sign. After winning the World Series in 2010, 2012, and 2014, the San Francisco Giants became known as a team that wins the championship in even years.
So far, 2016 is looking great for the black and orange. Coming off a season filled with injuries and pitching problems, the Giants went into the offseason willing to spend money to improve the team. And boy, did they spend money.
First, they signed pitcher Jeff Samardzija to a 5 year, $90 million deal. The Shark, as they call him, is a big, hard throwing right hander that eats a lot of innings. He should fit well with the Giants.
But the Giants weren’t done adding to their pitching staff. They surprised everyone and signed Johnny Cueto to a 6 year, $130 million deal. Cueto is a former ace and all star that is coming off a World Series win with the Royals. He had an up and down season last year, but the move to the pitcher friendly AT&T Park should help Cueto.
The final new addition was centerfielder Denard Span. Span is a veteran outfielder that will take over the leadoff spot in the batting order. He gives the Giants a consistent bat at the top of the order and a good glove in the outfield.
The 3 new players join a Giants team filled with talent. Samardzija and Cueto will join Jake Peavy, Matt Cain, and ace Madison Bumgarner on the pitching rotation that has the ability to be one of the best in the majors. The two new pitchers, along with Bumgarner, can match up with any of the top 3 pitchers in a National League team’s rotation.
The bullpen didn’t change much other than the loss of Jeremy Affeldt, who retired in the offseason. Hard throwing lefty Josh Osich is slated to replace him, and he has the potential to be just as good.
On the offensive side of team, the Giants have one of the best lineups in the league. Span and Joe Panik will set the table for Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, Brandon Belt, Matt Duffy and Brandon Crawford. The 8th spot will be the pitcher and Angel Pagan will hit 9th, giving the Giants a leadoff hitter at the bottom of the lineup.
The big key for success is health. Last season, the Giants strived when they were all healthy. If they can keep guys like Hunter Pence, Joe Panik and Brandon Belt on the field, the Giants will be in good shape.
The other big factor for success is the pitching staff. Can Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija live up to their massive contracts? If they do, the Giants have a great chance at winning the division and going deep into the playoffs.
There’s high expectations for the 2016 Giants, and it should be fun to watch how the season plays out. If they can stay healthy and play to their potential, 2016 may end in late October yet again with another World Series ring.
By Nick Cillo