San Francisco Giants: Three Bold Predictions for Spring Training

Apr 2, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy (15) signs autographs for fans before the game with the Oakland A

We’re still a little over a month away from pitchers and catchers reporting, but it’s never too early to start talking about San Francisco Giants baseball.

The San Francisco Giants have pretty much wrapped up everything they’re going to do this offseason unless they decide to go out and get an outfielder.

There is always a chance that they could get a reliever or another arm to battle for the fifth rotation spot as well.

The San Francisco Giants are looking to build off a good 2016 where they won the Wild Card game and gave the eventual World Series champions a run for their money in the division series.

The top of the rotation is pretty set with Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Matt Moore and Jeff Samardzija.

The only spot in the lineup up for question is in left field – assuming they stick with Eduardo Nunez and Conor Gillaspie at third base.

And then of course there is always room to add an arm in the bullpen if the right fit comes along.

It could be a pretty boring spring training for the San Francisco Giants with most spots already locked up, but that’s a not a bad thing. It’s nice going into a season knowing what you have.

Still, there is a lot for San Francisco Giants fans to keep an eye on next month as spring training starts. Here are three bold predictions for spring training.

February 28, 2016; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tyler Beede (63) poses for a picture during photo day at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Tyler Beede will Push for Spot in Rotation

Most of the talk about Tyler Beede this offseason has been about the possibility of him being traded, but I think if he gets the spring training invite he could turn some heads.

I’m a little biased towards Beede because I got to watch him play a lot living in SEC country. The Vanderbilt product spent the entire 2016 season at Double-A where he was 8-7 with a 2.81 ERA in 147.1 innings pitched with 135 strikeouts.

Throughout his three minor league seasons he has an ERA of 3.32 with a 7.5 strikeout per nine rate.

During his sophomore season with the Commodores he went 14-1 in 17 starts with a 2.32 ERA and 103 strikeouts in 101 innings pitched. He struggled a bit the following year going 8-8 with a 4.05 ERA in 113.1 innings pitched with 116 strikeouts.

However, you have to remember that he is putting up those numbers in the best baseball conference in the country. And he’s coming from a Vanderbilt program that has been spitting out frontline starting pitchers on a regular basis.

In 2014 he helped lead the Commodores to a national championship, and I happen to love guys who have a championship pedigree.

At 23-years-old he is not exactly a spring chicken, and there is already a lot of mileage on that arm. There is no reason to hold him back. He struggled when he first got to Double-A, but then he clearly figured it out last season.

He mainly works off a three-pitch combination with a two-seam fastball, cutter and a curveball. His two-seamer tops out at about 93-94 MPH. He’s beefed up his size a little bit making his 6-foot-4 frame more durable.

I’m not saying he’ll be a Sonny Gray or David Price, but I think he has a good chance at being a solid middle of the rotation starter for the San Francisco Giants. I doubt he gets the chance to start the season in the rotation, but a good performance this spring will earn him some spot starts throughout the 2017 season.

Sep 1, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; San Francisco Giants right fielder Jarrett Parker (6) reacts after striking out against the Chicago Cubs during the seventh inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

A Trade Will be Made for a LF

This could obviously happen before spring training, but I think at some point the San Francisco Giants make a move to get a left fielder. It’s the only real hole in the lineup at this point.

Once we get to spring training and see the options available, I think they will make a move to get a solidified left fielder.

Right now the options are Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson.

Williamson hit just .223 last year with a .298 on-base-percentage and 6 home runs in 54 games. He actually hit better against righties than lefties.

Parker hit just .236 but actually had a very good on-base-percentage of .371. He also hit 5 home runs and scored 22 runs in 63 games. His splits are a bit more dramatic. He hit just .108 against lefties and .289 against righties.

Williamson is 25 years old and Parker is 28, and both guys have had two years in the big leagues to show what they can do, so we pretty much know what they are at this point.

The San Francisco Giants actually have a lot of good outfielders in their farm system, but unless someone like Steven Duggar gets hot this spring, the Giants will go out and look for an upgrade in left field.

I don’t think it will be a big acquisition, and it may just be someone to platoon with Parker if Williamson can’t prove that he can hit lefties consistently.

Either way, if you’re the San Francisco Giants you can’t go into the season with what we currently have in left field. They will go out and make an upgrade this spring once they see their options.

Oct 8, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija (29) reacts after giving up an RBI single to Chicago Cubs left fielder Ben Zobrist (18) during the first inning during game two of the 2016 NLDS playoff baseball series at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Moore or Samardzija Will Scare Us

I think Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto are about as reliable as a starting pitcher can be these days – knock on wood – but I’m not nearly as confident in Matt Moore and Jeff Samardzija.

I remember watching Matt Moore in the playoffs for the Tampa Bay Rays back in 2011 when he absolutely dominated the Texas Rangers. Moore started game one and tossed seven shutout innings of 2-hit baseball with 6 strikeouts.

At that point I thought he was going to become the next great Rays pitcher, but injuries have derailed his once promising career. He hasn’t had an ERA under 4 since 2014 when he threw just 10 innings.

In 68.1 innings with the San Francisco Giants last year he had a 4.08 ERA with 69 strikeouts. He’s still just 27 years old and has great stuff, but we need to see more consistency from him this spring to feel good about him during the season.

Samardzija has been Mr. Dependable the last five season starting at least 28 games each year and throwing over 200 innings four times. However, he’s only had an ERA under 3.81 once during that stretch, and twice he’s had an ERA of 4.34 or higher.

I hate to put bad mojo on these guys, but I get the feeling that one of them is going to have us worried this spring training – whether it be with an injury in Moore’s case, or lack of consistency with Samardzija.

I don’t feel nearly as confident about the depth of this pitching staff if one – or both – of those guys have struggles in 2017. I know spring training doesn’t always correlate, but it would be nice to see both of them have good springs.

However, I predict that we go into the regular season feeling a little worried about one of them.

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