SAN FRANCISCO – When he packed his bag in the middle of Tuesday's show at Oracle Park, Brandon Crawford nodded toward Steven Duggar's closet. The veterans all think a lot about the young centerfielder, and Crawford pointed out that he knows another guy who came up for his defense, but became a good hitter.
It would be the short stop that was always sure he would find out, no matter what others said. Crawford feels the same about 2019 Giants, and he's not alone. It's a confident group.
During the TV show one night earlier, Derek Holland told passionately that everyone chose Dodgers to be champs and added "yes it does not" and "we will definitely do some noise."
"No one chooses us to do something, "said Holland, who will start the second game of the season.
To be fair to anyone who turns in a prediction column, there is a good reason for it. The giants lost 1
This is a group that wants to send Bruce Bochy out with a last October round, but if they do, it would really be a shock to almost everyone outside the clubhouse.
Can they actually do that? Now the organization has succeeded as an underdog before, and players and coaches think there is a blueprint. However, there are important things to happen.
First of all, almost all regulators must remain healthy. Giants spent 1,107 days at DL in 2018, which was placed only 15 in the league. The main problem was not the total days, but the specific players who went down. Every member of the huge infield missed time and anything but Crawford hit DL. Buster Posey and Brandon Belt had season-ending operations.
With a udfield filled with players who get their first real shot and some help in the top minors, the hunters must keep their stars in the lineup. It's their only shot at scoring enough runs to get back to a solid pitching staff.
"We need to stay on the track a little better, which is not in our control for the most part, as there have been many freak injuries that we have had in the last two years," Crawford said. "I think it's the biggest thing. We have many good players on this team, so I think if everyone can get healthy and just have normal years – not excellent years – the normal years for everyone on the pitch, I think we have a good chance of making it a very memorable season for everyone. "Normal years from the five All-Stars on the infield would go a long way. Also saw a breakthrough from Duggar, and perhaps a surprise from a Connor Joe or Michael Reed type. It would be a big part of any race.
A slightly better line would allow the giants to do what they have done before: Win with pitching. The rotation has the potential to carry a heavy load, and the bull looks like the greatest strength on the opening day. The giants were 52-20 last year when they scored four or more races, so a healthy and more consistent offense would go a long way towards guaranteeing meaningful September baseball. Even health and consistency in the first half alone could make it convincing Farhan Zaidi to hold Madison Bumgarner, Will Smith and others as this group plays it out in September.
The players want more than that of course. In the hours when Bochy announced his retirement, Giant after Giant traveled to get him a final shot in October. They think there is a blueprint, and on Thursday they get their first shot to prove it works.