A rival scout sizes up the GIANTS
Their homegrown core has stayed together, and they've proved they can win. Everything will have to go right, but they can take the division.... MADISON BUMGARNER and MATT CAIN threw the ball well in camp; they'll anchor things. The bottom of the rotation is a concern. TIM LINCECUM doesn't have power stuff anymore, and he was a bit erratic this spring. His margin for error is much less than it once was. He has to really hit his spots.... When I saw SANTIAGO CASILLA this spring, he was throwing 95 and getting his breaking ball over for strikes. I like him as the setup guy. But after him the bullpen could be their weakness.... I do not like SERGIO ROMO as the closer—he's a slider guy who's throwing 88. It's hard to be comfortable with him.... PABLO SANDOVAL came to camp in better shape and is moving around better defensively. But it's his contract year, so that's not totally surprising.... BRANDON BELT's power is still on the rise. He's more of a gap-to-gap guy and their park will hurt him, but I think he has the ability to hit 20 home runs.... BUSTER POSEY has a good three years, minimum, left behind home plate before they entertain moving him to another position.... BRANDON CRAWFORD doesn't have much speed and looks a bit thicker this spring, with range a half step slower at shortstop.... HUNTER PENCE is still his wild self—he's the most unorthodox run producer in the game. He looks like he shouldn't hit, but he does. He has more strength than you think.... MIKE MORSE has been swinging through a lot of balls this spring. I think he's on the downside of his career.
2014 Projected Statistics and Run Totals by ROTOWIRE.COM
PROJECTED RUNS SCORED
NL AVERAGE 667
PROJECTED RUNS ALLOWED
NL AVERAGE 677
The Giants have quietly become one of the game's biggest spenders: Their payroll will approach $150 million just four years after the team crossed $100 million for the first time. San Francisco already owes $127 million to 12 players in 2015, a figure that doesn't include a third baseman or a closer or account for arbitration raises for three starters. They need to manage rising costs—which means signing BRANDON BELT to a long-term deal. It's a good time: BRUCE BOCHY's stubbornness about playing Belt early in his career tamped down the first baseman's counting stats, as have the dimensions of AT&T Park—he has just 33 homers and 141 RBIs in 358 games. Look deeper, though, and you find a 25-year-old heading into his peak (and his first year of arbitration eligibility) after setting career highs in slugging, doubles and homers while playing deft defense. Laying out some extra money and risk up front is worth it for the Giants to keep Belt through his peak.