San Francisco Giants season-ending report: Looking for relief, power

By Dave Del Grande, The Sports Xchange   |   Oct. 13, 2016 at 9:43 AM
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SAN FRANCISCO -- The spotlight that was shined on the club's shaky bullpen in the season-ending loss to the Chicago Cubs blinded Giants fans to a greater truth.

A team that finished the second half of the season with the fourth-worst record in baseball (30-42) had many more issues than only the guys who saw 32 late-inning leads slip away in 2016.

A tale of two seasons, Giants manager Bruce Bochy labeled it.

Bochy might as well have called it: The end of an era.

Oh, the Giants, who appeared to be the best team in baseball at the All-Star break, proudly showing off their best-in-baseball 57-33 record, have every reason to believe they will be a serious contender for a fourth title in eight seasons in 2017.

They will probably just have to make that trek without several guys who earned one, two or even all three of those previous championship rings.

"Great season," Bochy noted after the crushing defeat in Game 4 of the National League Division Series, which ended his team's year. "I'm very proud of this group."

Six free agents could potentially be gone before spring training. Giants fans probably will be happy to see at least three of them go.

Santiago Casilla, the poster boy for the bullpen failures until he sat and watched five of his mates melt down in the finale, and the guy who replaced him as closer, Sergio Romo, are timely free agents and likely casualties in the relief-corps shuffle.

Veteran Javier Lopez, a candidate to retire at age 39, is a third.

No doubt, Priority I in the off-season will be finding a veteran closer.

"I wear it every day," Giants general manager Bobby Evans admitted of his failure to acquire a closer at the trade deadline. "Every time we lose, I think, 'What a knucklehead am I?'"

No doubt, Evans won't be single-minded this winter. He also employed a team that ranked 28th in the majors in home runs with 130, getting a total of only 14 (sixth-worst in baseball) from their left fielders.

The man who played 123 games out there, 35-year-old Angel Pagan, is another of the veteran free agents.

If there was a positive to the postseason, it was the sight of Denard Span and Joe Panik finding their strokes. Even when Brandon Belt, Hunter Pence and Brandon Crawford weren't hitting, it put championship-type depth back in the batting order.

The Giants might have up to $50 million to spend in free agency this off-season. Splitting that among Aroldis Chapman and Yoenis Cespedes would make San Francisco a prohibitive favorite in 2017.

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