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Grant Cohn: Whether fluke or trend, 2013 season should be Giants' signal to get busy

  • Right fielder Hunter Pence has been a steady, productive bat for the Giants this season, but he's about to hit the open market. (Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

The Giants failed this season.

The defending World Series Champions will not defend their championship this postseason. They ended play Wednesday 15 1/2 games out of the second wild card spot with 23 games to go. They haven't been mathematically eliminated yet, but they're history.

We're talking about the same players who won the World Series last year minus Angel Pagan, who tore a hamstring and missed three months this season.

And now, the Giants are one of the worst teams in the majors.

Is that a fluke?

Will the Giants be World Series contenders next year? And which players absolutely are essential to their future?

Let's go position-by-position with the help of New York Mets' scout and CSN Bay Area commentator Shooty Babitt:

Babitt on the Giants' starting pitchers: “Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner are essential, obviously. They are front-of-the-rotation studs.

“Tim Lincecum, that's where the Giants are going to start looking at dollars and cents. How much money do they make every time Lincecum pitches? People love Lincecum, so I think that's the value. I don't know what his value is going to be on the market. That's going to be real interesting to see if teams think he can reinvent himself. He's been 50/50 with that. I don't think anyone knows.”

Babitt on the catcher: “I guess the Giants are all right at this position.”

Babitt on right field: “Hunter Pence has been great for them. They'll miss him if they don't re-sign him this offseason. But can they afford him? They still need another big bat in the outfield, because ... ”

That brings us to Babitt on left field: “Roger Keischnick is not the answer. Brett Pill is not the answer.”

More on the left-field answer down below.

Babitt on center field: “The Giants are committed to Angel Pagan for three more seasons. We had Pagan in New York and we let him go. We traded him. He didn't bring that World-Series pedigree to us. He's come to San Francisco and become a hero. He got $40 million over there. Timing is everything.”

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