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Know your enemy: San Francisco Giants

The Giants won three World Series in five years. And then...

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Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

When the Giants were last seen in the postseason, the Cubs had just ended their “even-year” run of World Series championships by defeating them in their 2016 division series.

Since then, the Giants have had three straight losing seasons. They’re kind of like the Blackhawks of baseball — three titles in a short span, then trying to live off the cheers with some of the same players who brought them those titles.

One of the key players from that title run, Madison Bumgarner, is now in Arizona. (That is, when he’s not riding in rodeos.) The Giants have just a couple of players left from their title run, notably Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford, both of whom are still good players, but definitely on the downsides of their careers.

Johnny Cueto came back from Tommy John surgery to make four starts for the Giants late last year. He’s 34 now, but if he can get back any semblance of his previous form, the Giants at least have a No. 1 starter.

Beyond that? Jeff Samardzija will be in the final year of his five-year deal in San Francisco. He had a pretty good year in 2019; if he’s anywhere near that this summer, he’s probably headed to a contender at the trading deadline.

The Giants are hoping for a comeback from Kevin Gausman to give them a No. 3 starter. Past that they have a bunch of miscellaneous misfits, including almost-Cub Drew Smyly. Their bullpen is similarly uncertain after the departure of Will Smith to free agency. Tony Watson is currently at the top of their depth chart, but that doesn’t mean he’ll wind up closing.

Mike Yastrzemski, grandson of Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, was an unexpected surprise for the Giants in 2019, hitting .272/.334/.518 with 22 doubles and 21 home runs in just 107 games. The younger Yaz turns 29 in May and was never considered much of a prospect until he came to the big leagues.

Lastly, the Giants brought back one of their most popular players from their title run, Hunter Pence. Pence turns 37 in April and obviously isn’t the player he used to be, but he was a very effective hitter (.297/.358/.552) in a part-time role (83 games, 316 PA) for the Rangers in 2019. He could fill that role well in San Francisco and be a mentor to younger players.

The Giants were in marginal wild-card contention at the trading deadline last year, and they made a few deals that basically amounted to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, as they went 22-38 after July 31. They did acquire top prospect Mauricio Dubon from the Brewers and were able to dump Mark Melancon’s contract on the Braves, but they are probably still a year or two away from contending in San Francisco.

KEY ADDITIONS: Tyler Anderson, Kevin Gausman, Yolmer Sanchez, Hunter Pence, Billy Hamilton, Jarlin Garcia, Wilmer Flores, Drew Smyly

KEY SUBTRACTIONS: Madison Bumgarner, Will Smith, Stephen Vogt, Dan Winkler, Steven Okert, Kevin Pillar

The Cubs will face the Giants July 27-28-29-30 in San Francisco and August 31, September 1-2 at Wrigley Field.