Whether you like it or not, 2019 is going to be another 2008 for the San Francisco Giants.
Since the San Francisco Giants were unable to land Bryce Harper, this season is more about developing than winning. They’re not going to tank, but the front office probably knows that contending for the playoffs and finishing over .500 are not too realistic this season. This season is going to be about determining who stays for the future, and who goes.
The roster when the Giants end the season on Sept. 29 against the Dodgers is probably going to be very different from the roster now. There is a possibility that Madison Bumgarner, Brandon Belt, Joe Panik, Jeff Samardzija, Tony Watson and Will Smith could be else where at the end of the season.
At the same time, the organization is going to try to put the best 25 guys on the field who can surprise everybody, including themselves, and make a run at it. While I don’t see them contending or going to the playoffs, I wouldn’t completely write it off. This team could surprise people this season. One of the reasons they could surprise people is Bruce Bochy‘s retirement at the end of the season. Sentimental things like that can motivate a weaker team to have a special season. Another thing that may motivate them is the fact that the organization is finally heading in the right direction and planning to get younger.
The Giants got younger in 2008, and that was the reason that I kept saying that the Giants could surprise that season. It was the first season without Barry Bonds and with a new clubhouse chemistry. While the Giants went 72-90 that season—just one game better than their 71-91 last-place finish the year prior—they were expected to lose 100 games, and they provided many more exciting moments than the 2007 Giants did.
2008 was the year Tim Lincecum won his first National League Cy Young Award in his first full major league season. This season should be Dereck Rodriguez‘s first full major league season. Last season, he showed that he can be a future ace, and he reminded me of Lincecum at the beginning of his career. In 2008, Brian Wilson established himself as the Giants’ closer in his age-26 season, and Reyes Moronta could have the chance to do the same here in 2019 in his age-26 season.
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Like 2008, the Giants’ farm system is weak. At the end of that season, Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner were the Giants’ top two prospects, followed by a lot of players who really never panned out. This year, Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos are the organization’s top two prospects, followed by a lot of players who may never pan out.
In 2008, almost every Giants fan told me the same thing: “We’re going nowhere this year, we’ll be .500 next year, and maybe we’ll be a playoff team in 2010.” 2009 was one of my most favorite seasons as a Giants fan, as they contended and went 88-74, just two years removed from Barry Bonds. With Bart impressing people here in Spring Training, it’s becoming more and more likely that he’ll be an everyday guy next season in 2020. If he is an everyday guy next season, the Giants will at the very lease finish over .500 and contend.
Believe it or not, with prospects like Bart and Ramos, the Giants have a bright future. All they need to do is sign a couple of proven free agents, and they will be set to contend next season. For this season, be patient. It’s probably not going to be the greatest season ever, but know that the organization is finally heading in the right direction, and as long as we finish better than we did the last two years, I’ll be satisfied.