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Melky Cabrera Suspension: Are The Giants Sunk Without Their All-Star Outfielder?

What will the San Francisco Giants do without Melky Cabrera? There are a number of questions now regarding this playoff contender that were not previously an issue, and offensive production will now be a huge issue going forward.

For example, the Giants now have to find out who ends up starting in left field. Hunter Pence will now have to start producing at a much higher rate to make up for the loss of Cabrera. Gregor Blanco is likely Cabrera's replacement, and the offensive drop-off will be significant. Considering how locked in step the Giants are with the Dodgers, that drop-off could make all the difference.

Rob Neyer of Baseball Nation had this report on how the Giants will end up missing Cabrera, and how it a lot of San Francisco's success going forward could rely on how Pence steps up now.

And speaking of Hunter Pence, now it makes a lot more sense, doesn't it? Before the Giants traded for Hunter Pence, they had four useful outfielders: Cabrera, Pagan, and occasional platoon mates Nate Schierholtz and Gregor Blanco. Absent Pence, platooning Schierholtz and Blanco seemed perfectly sensible, with those two providing roughly the same production that Pence might, in a full-time role.

Nevertheless, the Giants traded for Pence, sending Schierholtz (and others) off to Philadelphia in the deal.

Which now makes a certain amount of sense. Without Pence or Cabrera, the Giants would have been reduced to playing Blanco and Schierholtz nearly every day. Which wouldn't have been good for anyone except the Dodgers. Still, they could really use Schierholtz right now ... did the Phillies really want him so badly?

If Pence can start producing better, that can ease the loss of Cabrera. But it won't be easy in any case.

For more on the San Francisco Giants, join the discussion over at McCovey Chronicles. You can also check out everything we have to offer at Baseball Nation.