Fans of the Giants have every reason to be excited for the 2013 season, as the World Series champs are mostly intact and injury-free. But, baseball is a rough game: Will everyone stay healthy long enough to repeat last year's successes? Will the stars of the 2012 postseason, such as Marco Scutaro and Buster Posey continue their hot hitting? And what's up with Timmy? As the season's first pitch draws near, here are the three biggest concerns the Giants face:
1. Will the Real Marco Scutaro Please Stand Up?
One of last year's heroes is back with the Giants after signing a three-year deal, but the veteran infielder is no sure thing. Scutaro is a career .275 hitter, even after he hit over .300 in a career year last season. With the Giants, he hit an astouding .362 in just over one-third of a full season. It's hard to argue that the Giants would have won, let alone reached, the World Series last season without Scutaro, but expecting him to hit at the same level as he did in 2012 is very ambitious. Traditionally, middle infielders in their late 30's don't hit well, and while Scutaro's insane contact indicates that the Giants think he'll be an exception to the rule, a regression to around his career batting average wouldn't be surprising at all.
2. Can Tim Lincecum Return to Form?
While he does get to start fresh in 2013 (and forget about last year's disaster), the former ace hasn't looked great in the spring thus far. Sure, spring training is a tune-up, and even the most exceptional players in baseball can look awful in exhibitions, but the continued mediocrity of Lincecum's pitching is frightening. The problems he had with location last year are still present, the velocity still isn't back on his fastball, and his spring ERA dropped to 10.57 after getting knocked around by the A's in his final start. If Lincecum doesn't step it up in the regular season, he may be relegated to the bullpen—or worse.
3. Can They Survive the NL's Murderer's Row?
The Giants are contending with a whole new level of danger in the National League, especially within their own division. Everyone knows the Los Angeles Dodgers have a lot of power (and money) in a revamped lineup, and that they went out and got the top free agent pitcher on the market, Zack Greinke, to complement former Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw. But improvements can be seen everywhere: the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Cardinals, Washington Nationals, and Atlanta Braves should all compete for playoff spots, and a return to the postseason for the Giants is far from a sure thing.