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Know your enemy: San Francisco Giants

The Giants didn’t get Bryce Harper, so what’s this year going to look like?

Scottsdale Stadium, spring home of the Giants
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

True fact: Since the Cubs defeated the Giants in the division series in 2016, San Francisco has not had a winning season.

Okay, so that’s only two years, but one was a 98-loss season and there was only marginal improvement in 2018, to 89 losses.

Injuries and a core that helped them win three World Series in five years aging are the primary culprits here. Just five players who were key components of San Francisco’s World Series teams remain: Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik, Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey. Posey, who will turn 32 the day before Opening Day, is getting to the point where he probably should catch less and play first base more. But if he does that, what do the Giants do with Belt, who can really only play first base and who will turn 31 next month?

Last year, they added Evan Longoria, another aging veteran whose best days are behind him, and Andrew McCutchen, in an effort to... I don’t know, restore the glory days of the 2011 All-Star team? McCutchen was dealt for prospects, and the Giants are going with a young outfield out of their system: Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar and Austin Slater. It’s possible one of those guys might become good, but.. in the meantime, it’s going to be a rough go for a Giants offense that scored only 603 runs last year. Only the Marlins scored fewer.

Bumgarner’s in his walk year, so if the Giants don’t contend — and they probably won’t — he could be traded at the deadline. Bumgarner’s last full season was 2016, due to injuries the last two years, so his previous durability is in question. If he pitches well, he likely gets traded. The rest of the Giants rotation is question marks (Derek Holland, Jeff Samardzija) or guys from their system who could be good, but not yet (Dereck Rodriguez, Andrew Suarez). Lots of guys named Dere(c)k who they hope won’t be ... dreck.

Will Smith will close, if there are any games to close. Or maybe Mark Melancon will — after all, that’s why the Giants signed him after the 2016 season. Melancon has 14 saves (and nine blown saves!) in 73 appearances for the Giants over the last two years.

This will be Bruce Bochy’s final year managing the Giants. He needs 74 wins for 2,000 in his career, and he’d become only the 11th manager to win that many games. The other 10 are all in the Hall of Fame, and Bochy’s three titles will get him in. He’ll be just the second manager (Connie Mack the other) with that many wins and a losing overall record, unless the Giants win 92 games, which they probably won’t. If somehow they win 84 games, though, Bochy would pass Leo Durocher into 10th place all-time on the managers’ list.

In a few years he’ll be speaking in Cooperstown, and well deserved. His sendoff as a manager will be somewhat more understated.

The Cubs and Giants won’t meet until after the All-Star break, by which time the dismantling in San Francisco might be underway. The Cubs visit newly-named Oracle Park July 22-23-24 and will host the Giants at Wrigley Field August 20-21-22.