Giants welcome challenge of upgraded Dodgers

Giants welcome challenge of upgraded Dodgers

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Los Angeles Dodgers' recent additions to their pitching staff commanded ample attention from the baseball universe, including members of the Giants.

The Giants' reaction to the moves by their archrivals was roughly along the lines of, "Bring it on."

Conventional wisdom dictated that signing former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke and Korean left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu not only strengthened the Dodgers' pitching, but also made them early favorites to unseat the Giants as National League West champions.

This was nothing new for San Francisco, which almost perennially is ranked behind Los Angeles in preseason forecasts. Yet the reigning World Series champions have finished ahead of the Dodgers for three years in a row.

Right-hander Sergio Romo pointed out that the Giants already have re-signed or have under contractual control all but four players from last year's postseason roster. Some might say that the Giants have erred by declining to make significant personnel upgrades. Predictably, Romo disputed that notion.

"You have to like our chances," Romo said. "We already have a great beginning with a great group of guys we can build off of and hopefully defend our championship."

Right-hander Matt Cain echoed Romo's sentiments.

"We feel that we have a lot of great talent over here and we can play with anyone," Cain said. "If we take care of our job, a lot of good things should happen."

As impressive as the Dodgers' roster appears, it all comes down to performance.

Los Angeles look formidable with Greinke joining Clayton Kershaw at the head of its starting rotation. Greinke compiled a 31-11 record in the previous two seasons, including a 25-9 mark with Milwaukee -- his lone NL experience in nine big league seasons.

Greinke also recorded a 3.48 ERA in 34 starts last year with the Brewers and Angels -- a figure eclipsed by three Giants starters, namely Cain (2.77), Madison Bumgarner (3.37) and Ryan Vogelsong (3.37).

Greinke received a no-decision in his only career appearance against the Giants, surrendering four runs (three earned) and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings on May 4 at AT&T Park. He blanked San Francisco on one hit for four innings before yielding six hits in a stretch of 10 batters.

Kershaw finished 2-3 against the Giants in 2012, despite posting a 1.62 ERA against them.

Overall, the Giants expressed proper respect for the Dodgers' ability to obtain Greinke and Ryu for $183 million, excluding the $25.7 million posting fee Los Angeles paid to negotiate with the latter hurler.

"There was all kinds of word that they were going to try to become the West Coast Yankees. Cool," Romo said. "I think that's good for them. They bettered their team."

Asked if the Dodgers' acquisitions will increase the challenge the Giants face in returning to the postseason, much less repeating as World Series champions, Cain said, "It definitely will. They're in pursuit of trying to put together a great team."

Though the Giants aren't familiar with Ryu, they know that Greinke alone will make the pitching-rich NL West even more talent-laden.

"I think it's great," catcher Buster Posey said. "It's fun as players, and I think it's exciting for fans, as well. We'll all look forward to the challenge of competing against him."

Manager Bruce Bochy noted that pitching can provide a shortcut to success.

"I think in our division, with the bigger ballparks, it just seems like teams have gone more toward pitching and defense," Bochy said. "I know that's what we wanted to do, and it's worked well for us. Instead of trying to slug it out with the other team, hopefully you've got a pitching staff that's going to keep you in the game and give you a chance to win."

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.