Giants miss playoffs after winning World Series
SAN FRANCISCO (AP)
Buster Posey glanced toward Tim Lincecum's locker and pondered what the Giants' clubhouse might look like without The Freak or fellow starter Barry Zito, and only because the catcher got asked about it last week.
''Honestly, I guess I haven't really put much thought into that,'' Posey said.
He might not have to for long, either.
Giants general manager Brian Sabean plans to do all he can - and soon - to keep Lincecum around. The club already took care of its first order of business: Signing right fielder Hunter Pence to a $90 million, five-year contract. He played every game this season.
Two others with multiyear contracts struggled to stay on the field this season.
San Francisco lost center fielder Angel Pagan to a serious hamstring injury, while another key piece of last season's World Series run - second baseman Marco Scutaro - dealt with lingering back and finger problems that limited last year's NL championship series MVP for much of 2013.
After hitting an inside-the-park home run May 25, Pagan had surgery on his torn left hamstring and missed 82 games. It was considered a possible season-ending injury and a big blow after he re-signed for $40 million over four years, but Pagan returned late in the year and gave the Giants a lift once they were long out of contention.
Scutaro, who signed for $20 million and three years two days after Pagan last December, was determined to help carry the Giants back for another special October run.
''We missed that 1-2,'' manager Bruce Bochy said. ''Those were the guys that really got us going last year and we kind of fed off those guys, our catalysts, guys who ignited this offense.''
The Giants struggled at AT&T Park, where they ran their sellout streak to 246 but underachieved and finished 76-86 with most of the same faces that were part of the franchise's second World Series in three years last fall.
Injuries played a big part, as well as lack of production.
''Overall, we didn't have a good year as a team ... after a great year last year,'' Scutaro said. ''It didn't work out. We had some injuries to key players. That's part of the game. You work hard all season to get your body in shape and you never know when you might get hurt. It's going to make us stronger for next year.''
San Francisco also missed right-hander Ryan Vogelsong, who was sidelined more than 2 1/2 months after breaking bones in the pinkie area of his pitching hand on a swing in May. He had problems when he was healthy to pitch.
The Giants must decide whether to bring him back.
''I don't worry about Scutaro as much as we really have to fill in the blanks what went haywire with Vogey,'' Sabean said. ''He was so good for us last year. He's got some mileage but this guy's a warrior and he's forever found a way to reinvent himself.''
Zito's $18 million option for 2014 won't be exercised, so he is to receive a $7 million buyout to end his $126 million, seven-year contract.
Lincecum, meanwhile, is prepared for whatever comes next, yet he made it clear he likes familiarity and would listen to the Giants first - and Sabean plans to make that happen soon.
The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner has been part of many special moments during his seven big league seasons.
''It'll always been the first World Series when we won it. That was the highlight,'' he said. ''I've always tried to take the positives out of it, kind of hard not to. Going forward you've got to focus on that and get away from the negatives. Obviously, you want to reassess and try to fix whatever you can. I think the positive mindset is the biggest thing for me.''
The Giants find themselves again challenging the mindset of third baseman Pablo Sandoval, last year's World Series MVP who will enter his contract year next season trying once again to maintain a healthy weight in what has become his biggest issue.
He batted .276 with 14 home runs and 78 RBIs.
''You're amazed when you look at the scoreboard and see the stats,'' Sabean said. ''It hasn't been a full, complete or good year for him. The sky's still the limit and we're still waiting for that. We've seen the good, the bad and the ugly. He's on the last year of a contract and that either means stepping up for this organization and doing enough to want to have us keep him here, or get himself ready for free agency and move on. It's in his court now. We've done everything we could.''
NOTES: The Giants and Pence agreed to a change in the way his new deal is spread out. He gets a $1 million signing bonus, $15 million next season and $18.5 million in each of the following four years.