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Giants motivated for resurgent season

@mi_guardado
March 25, 2019

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Improved health will be pivotal for the Giants this year, and they departed Arizona this past weekend without incurring any serious setbacks or injuries to their key players. "You usually deal with some freakish-type injuries, and we've been clean, for the most part," manager Bruce Bochy said.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Improved health will be pivotal for the Giants this year, and they departed Arizona this past weekend without incurring any serious setbacks or injuries to their key players.

"You usually deal with some freakish-type injuries, and we've been clean, for the most part," manager Bruce Bochy said. "That's great news. Knock on wood, it stays that way."

The Giants will need more things to break right as they prepare to kick off their 2019 campaign, the club's first under new president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and last under Bochy.

After losing 187 games over the last two seasons, the Giants are hoping their experienced core of talent will enjoy a resurgence and outperform their modest expectations to carry them on a surprise run in 2019.

What's the goal?
The projections aren't too high on the Giants -- they are predicted to go 72-90 and finish last in the National League West by Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA -- but the players will be extra motivated to defy the odds and make a surprise run now that Bochy has announced he plans to retire at the end of the season. The stakes will be high. If the Giants fall out of contention early, Zaidi could look to trade ace Madison Bumgarner and other assets to start restocking the club's farm system by midseason.

What's the plan?
The bulk of the Giants' offseason moves have not been very splashy, but they improved their depth and versatility at positions of need by bringing in veterans Gerardo Parra, Yangervis Solarte, Stephen Vogt and Nick Vincent on Minor League deals. They solidified their starting rotation by re-signing Derek Holland and adding Drew Pomeranz, and they figure to have a deep bullpen led by Will Smith, Tony Watson and Mark Melancon. After finishing runner-up to the Phillies in the Bryce Harper sweepstakes, the Giants will enter the season without a significant offensive upgrade and will instead rely on incumbents like Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Joe Panik, Evan Longoria and Brandon Crawford to lead the way this year.

What could go wrong?
The Giants struggled mightily to score runs last season, and their offense will continue to be a question mark heading into 2019. San Francisco ranked 29th in the Majors in runs scored, OPS and slugging percentage, so they will be counting on bounceback seasons from the likes of Posey, Longoria and Panik to boost their production this year.

Who might surprise?
Posey led the Giants with 2.9 wins above replacement last year, but he was hampered by a nagging hip injury that sapped him of his power and eventually led to season-ending surgery in August. He finished the 2018 season with only five home runs, his lowest total since 2011. The Giants still view Posey as a potent middle-of-the-order bat, and they're optimistic that he'll be able to regain some of that pop now that his right hip is structurally sound.

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.