Enemy Lines


As usual it's all about pitching and defense for the Giants.... Their obvious strength is the rotation with Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong, Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito. But their depth beyond that is a concern if someone goes down.... Lincecum is much further along than he was last year at this stage. He threw 90 to 92 and had good command of his curveball in camp. But is his stuff ever going to be what it was a few years ago? Probably not.... The bullpen has strength in numbers, but Sergio Romo just doesn't fit the true closer's profile. He throws 88, maybe 90 at times, and slider after slider. But it's 76, 78 mph, not a power slider. I admire what he's done, but I have to see it for the whole year.... Santiago Casilla has crisper stuff, but he fits best in the seventh or eighth inning as well. Bruce Bochy will mix and match and make it work—he does that as well as anyone.... Buster Posey looked great in camp—his swing looks good, and he's moving well behind the plate.... Power is a concern, but you can expect Brandon Belt to hit for a little more. He's turning on the ball more this spring.... The more I watch Brandon Crawford, the more he grows on me. He's not the rangiest shortstop out there, but he makes all the routine plays. He has swung the bat well, and I wouldn't be surprised if they get more offense out of him.... Hunter Pence is an enigma. You watch him, and you swear there are some body parts that are broken. He handles fastballs, but breaking stuff can give him problems.

The Lineup

2013 Projected Statistics


Seventh season with the Giants


RH MATT CAIN 15 3.18 1.11 7.6
LH MADISON BUMGARNER 16 3.03 1.15 8.3
RH TIM LINCECUM 12 4.12 1.37 8.9
RH RYAN VOGELSONG 14 3.29 1.28 7.6
LH BARRY ZITO 12 4.66 1.42 5.9
RH SERGIO ROMO 32 2.33 0.91 10.5
LH JAVIER LOPEZ 1 2.85 1.44 7.5


The K Meter

Percentage of 2012 plate appearances that ended with a strikeout, and major league rank

BY HITTERS | 17.7% | 4TH

BY PITCHERS | 20.2% | 13TH

Best Case

Lincecum is an ace, and S.F.'s pitching-and-just-enough-offense formula produces a third title in four years.

Worst Case

The rotation's run of durability ends, and Posey gets no support in the lineup; San Francisco is a football town by September.

Joe Lemire has more on the Giants at SI.com/mlb

Modest Proposal

The Giants are reportedly discussing a long-term contract extension with 25-year-old Buster Posey. While they're negotiating with the reigning NL MVP at the peak of his value, they should move to sign one of their other stars at a low point of his. Tim Lincecum is coming off the worst season of his six-year career and will be a free agent after the World Series. An extension for the two-time Cy Young winner would lock up San Francisco's top three pitchers—Matt Cain is signed through 2018, and Madison Bumgarner is five years from free agency—for the medium term. Even with his 5.18 ERA in 2012, Lincecum still struck out 23.0% of batters faced. The biggest benefit of signing him would be greater flexibility in how he's used. Lincecum, 28, was a devastating weapon out of the bullpen last October, but he would rightly resist such a role while on the brink of free agency. A new contract could free the Giants up to make him a full-time (and highly effective)multi-inning reliever.

PHOTOBRAD MANGIN FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATEDMatt Cain PHOTOBRAD MANGIN FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED PHOTOBRAD MANGIN FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATEDTrust Buster On his way to the NL MVP, Posey put up numbers both old- and new-schoolers could love: He led the league in batting and in WAR.