Professional baseball season is here: What to expect from Bay Area teams

2015 redesigned Pioneer logo.

Tam Duong Jr.

2015 redesigned Pioneer logo.

Victoria Groenewold,

The 2018 MLB spring training starts Feb. 23, both the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics are looking to improve off of the disappointment of last season.

San Francisco Giants

This season, Giants fans will welcome some new players to their roster. Outfielder Andrew McCutchen, who was with the Pittsburgh Pirates for nine years, was traded to the Giants during the offseason for right hander Kyle Crick and outfield prospect Bryan Reynolds. This is a solid gain for the Giants since McCutchen’s 28 home runs, a batting average of .279 and 88 RBI’s in 156 games would have led the Giants in both home runs and RBI’s for last season.

Another former All-Star player that was added during the offseason was third baseman Evan Longoria. Like McCutchen, Longoria is a nine year veteran with the Tampa Bay Rays and was traded for outfielder Denard Span, two minor league pitchers along with infield prospect Christian Arroyo. Longoria has proved to be a consistent player at the plate and will be a key role in the Giants offense with 20 home runs, a batting average of .261 and 86 RBI’s in 156 games last season.

The Giants also acquired free agent Austin Jackson from the Cleveland Indians to be at least a part time Centerfielder if not a regular at the position and someone who can hit leadoff. He hit for an average of .318, 7 HR and 35 RBI’s in 280 at bats. By doing so the Giants addressed their 3 biggest needs, a solid third basemen and two outfielders.


The Oakland Athletics

The A’s yet again traded out one of their best players in first baseman Ryon Healy. During the offseason, Healy was traded to the Seattle Mariners for right handed reliever Emilio Pagan and minor league infielder Alexander Campos. Healy was the breakout star of the team last season with 25 home runs, a batting average of .271 and 78 RBI’s in 149 games. This is classic A’s fashion, selling off a commodity when it’s hot.

This season, A’s fans will welcome back a familiar face in designated hitter Brandon Moss. The Kansas City Royals traded Moss along with left-hander Ryan Buchter for A’s right handed pitchers Jesse Hahn and Heath Fillmyer. It’ll be interesting to see Moss redevelop his role on the A’s as Moss was on the A’s in 2013 when they had the best record in the American League West at 96-66 and was traded the following year along with many other fan favorites in another one of  the A’s classic salary dumps.

The Giants need all their regular core players to return to their normal statistical years to have a chance at another playoff run. Players such as Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Hunter Pence, Madison Bumgardner, Johnny Cueto and others need to step up in addition to Macutchen, Longoria and Jackson playing at their normal levels. The bullpen also needs to get healthy with closer Mark Melancon coming back from arm surgery and Will Smith coming off an injury plagued year himself.

For the A’s, the goal is to get let the young players play and grow into their roles. Matt Olson went on a power rage at the end of last year which was unseen in recent years. If he can carry that over to a full season it should be fun to watch. The A’s are looking forward to Marcus Semien returning to good health as he is one of the best young shortstops in the league who can hit for power.

Power hitting centerfielder Kris Davis returns for another year after hitting over 40 home runs in each of the last two years. Second baseman Jed Lowrie is back again for another year and provides solid consistency and a veteran presence in the locker room. The A’s have a lot of potential but it will probably take at least another year or two to realize it.