SAN FRANCISCO -- What could have been The Winter of Bryce has turned into The Winter of Incremental Improvement.
And that's fine, to be honest.
Farhan Zaidi was brought in because the organization's rosters, from the big leagues to A-ball, were a mess, and he promised on Day 1 to find any advantage he could while adding slight upgrades here and there. This is what the Giants needed to do, but there's no doubt that they still trail well behind most others in terms of roster strength.
As we get ready for Opening Day, here's a look at the position groups, with some grades. The first thing you had to do in school was show up, and in that respect, the Giants are in good shape. They're remarkably healthy, and that makes the outlook a little rosier here at the end of the spring:
Starting pitching: B-
These guys could be an A or a C. Who knows what the Giants will really get from a group that looks deep but does have question marks. Madison Bumgarner, Derek Holland and Dereck Rodriguez provide a solid foundation, and Drew Pomeranz could be a sneaky addition.
But the peripherals on some of the top guys are concerning, and Jeff Samardzija will have to re-prove himself after an injury-marred season. He had a good spring but got rocked Tuesday in his return to Oracle Park.
For now, it might be the strength of the team. Will Smith, Tony Watson, Sam Dyson and Reyes Moronta form a nice quartet at the back end and Trevor Gott and Travis Bergen look like finds. Mark Melancon had a brutal spring, but shouldn't be in a high-leverage role given the depth here. Nick Vincent has had a good career and made the team early.
There's more depth in Triple-A than a year ago, and starters Andrew Suarez, Tyler Beede and Shaun Anderson could help as relievers if needed.
There are five All-Stars here, and all enter the season fully healthy, so the potential is there for this to be one of the better groups in the majors. Joe Panik, in particular, looks like a new man this spring, and Buster Posey has had no setbacks after season-ending hip surgery.
It should be noted, though, that Panik is the only starter here under 30 and all five infielders dealt with injury issues last season. On talent alone, this is a strong group, but it's hard to rely on health for a full season.
The grade here really would be a D or an F, but it's hard to even make a determination because half the outfield consists of players -- Connor Joe and Michael Reed -- we simply haven't seen.
Steven Duggar's teammates think he can be a star, and Gerardo Parra was a nice addition, but this group will undergo changes throughout the season as Farhan Zaidi looks for a fix for an organization allergic to developing outfielders. On paper, this is the worst outfield in the majors, but it's also the one place where Zaidi may be able to make the biggest impact by getting creative.
On days when Yangervis Solarte starts in left, the Giants will have three bench bats -- Erik Kratz, Joe and Reed -- who were picked up in the week before the opener. It's not a sign of strength when 25 percent of your position player group was available in minor trades that late in the spring.
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The fourth player here is Pablo Sandoval, and while he provides value as a left-handed bat, he duplicates what Joe does defensively. There's not really a backup shortstop, so expect the bench to get shaken up pretty quickly.