Thinking about now and then can be difficult, especially when there’s a lot of time in between happenings, but this is only two years apart with these two post-World Series Champs. Defending the crown as the 2011 Giants, and as the 2013 Giants. I’m working to try and remember what I felt like, what the atmosphere was like surrounding the ’11 team, and comparing that to what there is now with the ’13 team.
The 2011 San Francisco Giants
A team that saw just about everyone make their way back, with Aubrey Huff getting some new coin, Cody Ross hanging around, but Juan Uribe leaving to the rival Dodgers. This team filled a void that will be forgotten by nobody anytime soon, and I wouldn’t expect there were many Giants fans willing to doubt the magic put on by those 2010 World Champs. Buster Posey was supposed to get his first full season, and everybody just dreamed about what he could possibly do, and Barry Zito was still an afterthought but would Jonathan Sanchez finally put it all together? There were hardly any thoughts on the outside of “what happens if [player] goes down,” as would be the theme that year, but there was tempered optimism from the fanbase, with no reason not to believe the Giants couldn’t do it again, and Pablo Sandoval was coming into Spring Training in pretty good shape, which was pretty cool. The NL West was maturing, but without any clear favorites at this time.
The 2013 San Francisco Giants
Like 2011, the 2013 Giants bring just about everyone back (except more than ’11!), and instead of giving one guy lots of money, they’ve given three guys eight-figure deals in Angel Pagan (4/$40MM), Marco Scutaro (3/$20), and Jeremy Affeldt (3/$18). Cody Ross certainly didn’t make the money Hunter Pence will make in ’13 in 2011, but the reverend brings his own expectations with him with the $13.8 owed to him. I want to say that the optimism with this team is different, though. Buster is starting to really emerge as the behind the scenes voice and leader of the group. Pablo, though not really looking like he’s lost much weight, is beaming with confidence, as is fellow character Sergio Romo. The question mark in CF that was Aaron Rowand in 2011 feels like much less of a question mark in Angel Pagan, however the Andres Torres question mark of “can he do it again?” is here again in the form of Gregor Blanco (and Torres). If Scutaro isn’t made of whatever Freddy Sanchez is made of, the Giants shouldn’t have to worry about calling Nick Noonan up if he’s playing in Fresno. Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford will have another year under their belts (no pun intended), but what about the pitching staff? What if Tim Lincecum reverts to even 2010 form? Can Barry Zito still do some magic (I wouldn’t expect it) or was that Postseason just something to cherish forever because we likely won’t see it much again (probably).
The depth the Giants have on their bench — like any other team — isn’t something you hope to rely on every day, but it’s probably better than Eli Whiteside, Mike Fontenot, and Pat Burrell… or at least I hope it is. The optimism this year is different, and especially different because the rivals down south have established themselves as a financial force to be reckoned with and have created a roster built mostly (~70%) on non-homegrown names and big dollars, but mostly big dollars. I think this 2013 team is in a better position to repeat than their 2011 brethren were (especially with that extra wild card spot), as I just feel like there were more question marks then (ignoring possible injuries) than there are now. By no means am I saying they will repeat, just comparing the two teams. Wouldn’t mind, though.