Question #13: Did the Giants do enough to address their outfield problems?
The additions of McCutchen and Austin Jackson are significant and the return of Blanco is also big for a team in desperate need of talent and also veterans in the locker room. This team does not have as much youth as fans and scouting experts want, but they do have plenty of new talent.
2017 began with Chris Marrero and Aaron Hill playing in left field. The team was counting on Jarrett Parker to be a possible every day left fielder when Williamson was hurt and there was no answer other than Gorkys Hernandez when Denard Span and Hunter Pence struggled in the outfield defensively.
Now the team has four outfielders in Triple-A Sacramento that could have made this team. Shaw, Slater, Williamson and Duggar are on deck for a Giants outfield with five major league outfielders better positioned offensively and defensively in 2018.
Question #14: Did the Giants do enough to catch the National League West?
The Giants are vastly improved, but they are in one of the strongest divisions in baseball. While the Padres, who finished fourth, might be worse than the Giants on paper, they were worse last year too and still won more games. With the additions of Eric Hosmer, Freddy Galvis and Chase Headley, they will have a much improved infield to their young core. I doubt they have the pitching to win more than the Giants in 2018, but the Giants pitching has suddenly become below average.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks each made the playoffs last season, and while I think each will win less games in 2018, they could all easily end up with more wins than the Giants. The Giants could go from 64 wins to 81 and still finish fourth in the division.
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Question #15: So, can the Giants make the playoffs?
A lot can happen in 162 games in less than 200 days. Many injuries will happen across baseball because that is what happens. The Dodgers already lost one of their best players, Justin Turner, for several weeks. The Giants have much more depth this year than they had last year. If that depth can play well in April and May, they could go into June with Bumgarner, Samardzija, Melancon and Will Smith all back. Suddenly, their below average pitching staff can carry them.
Question #16: When will we know if the Giants are for real or not in 2018?
The Giants begin with a front loaded schedule, facing the Dodgers ten times early on, and are without two of their top three starting pitchers. Unless they completely collapse in the standings in May, they can make up a lot of ground in May and June with the return of their injured arms.
A month of Bumgarner starts in June should show whether this group can compete with the best teams or if this is a lost season and they should trade their veterans at the deadline.
Question #17: Would the Giants cross the luxury tax line at the deadline if they are for real?
The team proved that earlier in the off-season going after Giancarlo Stanton. They proved they would blow up the luxury tax line if it was for the right player. If the Giants are facing the NL West in July, August and September with a winning record, the team will absolutely go make a trade for a player that can help them get to the post-season.
Question #18: So, how many wins for the Giants in 2018?
The Giants will have a winning record, but they will not make the playoffs. Going from 64 to 82 wins is as much because of the inevitable slow start without their top arms. It is also because 19 games each against the Dodgers, Rockies, and Diamondbacks is no joke.