Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 3/30/12

Looking to repeat their run to a World Championship, the Giants’ plans hit a snag in late-May, when catcher (and top hitter) Buster Posey broke his ankle in a collision at the plate. Despite a fantastic pitching staff, the Giants couldn’t put it together offensively, and missed the playoffs. With a healthy Posey in 2012, and the same dynamic pitching staff, the Giants are looking to make some noise in the NL West.

Giants on TOC
End of Season Postmortem
Top Ten Prospects
You May Say I’m a Dreamer

Depth Chart (as of 3/30)
C: Buster Posey
1B: Aubrey Huff
2B: Emmanuel Burriss
SS: Brandon Crawford
3B: Pablo Sandoval
LF: Melky Cabrera
CF: Angel Pagan
RF: Nate Schierholtz
SP: Tim Lincecum
SP: Matt Cain
SP: Madison Bumgarner
SP: Barry Zito
CL: Brian Wilson

New Faces
The Melkman has landed in San Francisco, with the Giants trading immensely talented, yet horribly inconsistent, starter Jonathan Sanchez to the Royals for him. The team also has a new center fielder in Angel Pagan, acquired from the Mets for Andres Torres. Both players struggled last season, and the teams figured that a change of scenery for both may help. The Giants also added a pair of bench bats in Ryan Theriot and Gregor Blanco, and a reliever in Clay Hensley.

Departures
As I mentioned, Sanchez was deemed expendable after last season’s emergence of Ryan Vogelsong, and he was dealt for Cabrera. Orlando Cabrera and Pat Burrell both retired. Carlos Beltran, San Francisco’s hope of reinvigorating the offense last season, signed with the Cardinals. Two more bench bats, the oft-injured Mark DeRosa and Jeff Keppinger, also left as free agents. Outfielder Cody Ross also left town as a free agent, heading to Boston.

Impact Rookies
The Giants? Playing rookies? HAH! But seriously, Brandon Belt burned through his rookie eligibility last season, but could start on nearly every team in the league. Of course, he’s on the Giants bench behind veteran Aubrey Huff, who isn’t a good hitter at all anymore, save for one season in the last few years. Belt might not even make the Giants Opening Day roster, perhaps losing his job to older prospect Brett Pill. That would just be a sad turn of events. The Giants really don’t have any more young players looking to crack the team.

Position Battles
Belt versus Pill for a bench spot is one of those completely lopsided decisions that is still a question for some obscure reason. Shortstop Brandon Crawford is younger than both Mike Fontenot and Ryan Theriot, but because of their experience, he might lose his spot if he struggles offensively. The same goes for second baseman Emmanuel Burriss, starting due to an injury to Freddy Sanchez.

Injury Concerns
The aforementioned Freddy Sanchez is probably not going to be ready for Opening Day after shoulder surgery. Ryan Vogelsong also won’t be ready for Opening Day with a strained back (which is why the Giants rotation depth chart is only four deep right now), but he will be ready when the team needs a fourth starter in the season’s second weekend.

Burning Question
How much will holding Brandon Belt on the bench or in the minors hurt the Giants offense this season?

Best Case
Huff hits like he did in 2010, the pitching staff continues to dominate, Cabrera proves that 2011 wasn’t a fluke, Posey looks like he did before he hurt his ankle without missing a step, and the Giants knock off the Diamondbacks to win the division again.

Worst Case
The team still can’t hit, and they refuse to do anything about it. Huff plays in 140 games with a sub-.700 OPS, Cabrera plays like he did for the Braves in 2010, Pablo Sandoval struggles, Posey re-injures his ankle, and the team falls to third in the division.

Realistic Prediction
We all know that the Giants have the pitching to compete, but is the offense good enough? That’s the big question for San Francisco. If they can even score 650 runs, they can win the division. But if they fall under 600 like they did last season, it could be a trying season.

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