The pitching will continue to make the Giants superior to a lot of teams in the league. Tim Lincecum (13-14, 2.74, 220 K) has not let up after winning two consecutive Cy Youngs in 2008-2009. Matt Cain (12-11, 2.88) is a free agent after the season though he is trying to work out an extension before then. Madison Bumgarner (13-13, 3.21 emerged as a reliable starting pitcher to the surprise of nobody. Expect him to become an even bigger presence this season. Ryan Vogelsong was a surprise. With the help of manager Bruce Bochy, Vogelsong made the NL All Star team in 2011 and was 13-7, 2.71 in 28 starts. Barry Zito still has two more years on his hideous contract, and 2011 was the worst we have seen of him. He was 3-4, 5.87 in 9 starts, also making 4 relief appearances. He will be the 5th starter and should be ok as long as he is healthy. The other 4 starters will allow Zito to not be relied upon to be the ace he was signed to be. Zito is in the 6th year of a 7 year, $126 million contract he signed after the 2006 season. It would still be a huge deal if it was signed right now.
Lincecum, Cain and Bumgarner had to be frustrated with the lack of offense the team gave them. Huff (.246, 12, 59) hit .290, 26, 86 with 100 runs scored in 2010. Posey came off his ROY season in 2010 (.305, 18, 67) and only played in 45 games in 2011 (.284, 4, 21). One bright spot in the 2011 Giants was the development of Pablo Sandoval into a legitimate power hitter. Sandoval hit .315, 23, 70 in only 117 games and is the big power threat on this team. Melky Cabrera comes over from Kansas City and his surreal 2010 season (.305, 18, 87, 102 R, 201 H, 44 2B, 20 SB) and if can come anywhere near those numbers, Giants fans will quickly forget about LHP Jonathan Sanchez. Angel Pagan (.262, 7, 56, 32 SB) comes over from the Mets and offensively is an upgrade over incumbant Andres Torres (.221, 4, 19, 112 games), but is not as good defensively and his character in the clubhouse was called into question with the Mets. Pagan is also looking to revert to his 2010 self, where he was .290, 11, 69 playing 151 games for the Mets.
Nate Schierholtz (.278, 9, 41) will get the full time opportunity of playing RF as he was regulated to 4th OF status when they acquired Beltran from the Mets. Freddy Sanchez (.289, 3, 24) will be healthy and should bring some leadership back to the Giants over a full season. Though he may never win another batting title, he is still a very good hitter and fields 2B well. Brandon Crawford (.204, 3, 21) gets the chance to be the everyday SS and Brandon Belt (.225, 9, 18) remains a possibility to become a regular player. CF prospect Gary Brown may be a year away, but he is a possibility to unseat Pagan is the opportunity presents itself. If Pagan produces, they will gladly be patient with Brown. Gregor Blanco, on a minor league deal, has a very good chance to make this club.
The bullpen was very effective despite an injury and some struggles from ace closer Brian Wilson (6-4, 3.11, 36 saves in 57 games). Sergio Romo (3-1, 1.50, 70 K in 48 IP over 65 games) was dominant and gave the Giants the flexability to trade Ramon Ramirez. They have two solid left handers in Jeremy Affeldt (3-2, 2.63, 67 games) and Javier Lopez (5-2, 2.72, 70). Santiago Casilla (2-2, 1.74, 49) will see an increased role over the course of a full season and LHP Dan Runzler throws mid 90s and is looking to better his command.
I think the Giants will benefit from being able to score some more runs than last season. The top three in the rotation should each win 4-5 more games with an adequate offense. Cabrera and Pagan should help and a healthy Posey and Sanchez will allow the Giants to score more runs in 2012. The bullpen should be shut-down and this team should be able to win the NL West, though it will not be easy. Vegas puts the Giants at 87.5, and I see them finishing over at 91-72, winning a one game playoff over the Diamondbacks and returning to the NLDS.