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Monday, August 31, 2020

Giants surprisingly inactive at trade deadline

Two weeks ago, it appeared as if the Giants would be clear-cut sellers by the August 31st trade deadline. However, after they caught a hot streak and have moved back into playoff contention, it was unclear on exactly which way they would go.

After the 1 PM deadline came and passed Monday, the only semi-significant Giants news to come out was that Dereck Rodriguez, someone who figured to fit into future plans as recent as last season, was claimed off waivers by the Detroit Tigers. Hardly earth-shattering news as the 28 year-old right hander had fallen behind numerous other arms on the organizational depth charge over the last 18 months. There was no big selling as it appeared there would be when this team sat at 8-16 halfway through August, and there were no additions at all, either significant or a small one, that would help aid in a possible playoff push over the final month of this truncated 2020 season.

I wasn't entirely sure which way the Giants would lean heading in and I don't think anyone really was. Even though they are technically in it with a month of baseball left, the chances of this team making any noise if they reach October is very minimal. I am, however, very surprised that Farhan didn't make a single move. While I don't think it was plausible to see a huge deal involving someone like Johnny Cueto or one of the veteran infielders, I was more so expecting to see guys like Kevin Gausman and Tony Watson on the move both to further bolster the minor league system the Giants have been developing under Zaidi, and to clear some roster space for some of those younger guys to get their feet wet at the big league level in September. The Yankees were said to have major interest in Gausman, but that need maybe dissipated a bit for New York after 21 year-old Deivi Garcia came up yesterday and shut down the Mets. I think the keeping of Watson was the most surprising though, as the Giants have a plethora of younger left-handed options in the bullpen right now and could have been able to sustain losing Watson while still keeping the bullpen in pretty good shape from that side.

As far as a couple of names that were linked to the Giants in possible "addition" scenarios were Boston's Jackie Bradley Jr. and Texas' Joey Gallo. Zaidi was quoted last week saying that if they were to add he would be in the market for a left-handed bat/right handed relief pitcher. I was intrigued with the Gallo rumors especially, as he's a 26 year-old left handed slugger with 40 home run potential. That's power that the Giants haven't come close to having since the Barry Bonds era ended well over a decade ago. Sure his career average raises some red flags, but his OPS numbers are still well above average and the impacting power in the middle of the Giants lineup would have looked good.

The fact the Giants will stand pat over the last month of this season isn't necessarily a bad thing though. With this shortened season, the return for players in trades, especially rentals, are at an all time low. The Giants may very well be better off trying to sneak into the playoffs this year with the likes of Gausman, Cueto and Watson instead of dealing they away for likely mid-level prospects. Gausman is a free agent after the year, and while he's been largely a success for the Giants so far, team's weren't going to give up a top-5 prospect for the rental of a #4 starter for 4 weeks. The idea of adding Gallo was intriguing for the same reasons, the cost would probably be lower than it relatively would in normal circumstances, but being that he's under team control through 2023 would likely have meant the Giants would have had to part with something pretty substantial in order to get him.

I'm still very interested to see what this team does over the next few weeks as the playoff race tightens up. Maybe Joey Bart will get comfortable and really break out, alleviating that need for an extra bat, and maybe a healthy Sam Coonrod will thrive in the closers role, alleviating the need for that extra right-handed arm Zaidi was reportedly seeking. This team has shown they're good enough to compete and we all know that once you make it into that postseason tournament, anything is possible so things should only get more interesting as the days go on.

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The Giants Baseball Blog
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Saturday, July 25, 2020

Bright spots emerge in first victory

After a couple of un-inspiring performances by both the offense and pretty much every arm to take the mound, the Giants got into the win column for the first time in 2020. While there still haven't been any earth shattering performances three days into this accelerated season, at least a couple glimmerings poked through on Saturday.

First and foremost, even with each league expanding to 8 playoff teams, the Giants are nowhere near the top-8 in the NL. And since this season is a short one, they should really waste no time in getting the younger players out there to see what they can do during this 2-month tryout/experiment for 2021.

That being said, I was very excited to see 23 year-old Logan Webb take the mound in LA Saturday. Without Tyler Beede and with Gabe Kapler insisting on trotting out lesser veteran arms to eat up the bulk of the innings early on, Webb is easily the most interesting pitcher on the roster, in my opinion of course. I'll always enjoy watching Johnny Cueto pitch and Jeff Samardzija has been pretty steady throughout his tenure here, but those two guys are well into their 30's and probably won't be on the roster by the time the Giants are relevant again.

So, Webb was indeed under my microscope Saturday, as I'm sure I wasn't the only one, and he really did look well. Unfortunately he allowed a hit leading off the fifth inning of a 5-1 lead, and was heading into the strength of the Dodgers batting order, so it's understandable why Kapler chose to remove him at that moment. However, I would have liked to see the kid get a chance to pitch out of it. His stuff looked good, and although he gave up a few more base hits than would be ideal, he did a good job pitching out of it. His box score doesn't look quite as good as his performance showed, as he ended up with 4 IP, 6 H, 1 BB and 2 K's as his pitch count dipped just into the 70's. There wasn't much loud contact off the Dodger bats though and he had pretty good command of his stuff with his fastball sitting in the mid-90's consistently. A couple sporadic bouts of wildness, but got it back under control quickly. It's too bad he couldn't squeeze through that fifth though as he would have been in line for a victory and something tells me victories will be hard to come by this year, especially for the guys starting games. Kapler showed even with Johnny Cueto that he's not gonna be pushing any starter too deep, especially early on. Cueto was dealing in the opener and he too was yanked after just 4 innings of work.

As far as the other areas of the team, the defense looked solid, backing up Webb well and took advantage of a couple double plays to help get the youngster out of trouble. The bullpen also looked decent in his relief. However, I'm not at all sold on Tyler Rodgers as I feel even with that submarine delivery, the guys stuff is just too slow and too hittable for this level. Caleb Baragar and Shaun Anderson, however, looked very strong and were arguably the reason why the Giants were able to hold the Dodgers off. Baragar came in to relieve Webb and all he did was throw up 2 perfect innings, mowing through the heart of the Dodgers order in the process. He definitely earned my interest with his impressive MLB debut. Shaun Anderson is another arm that I'm very curious about this year and hope to see him get every opportunity to show his worth. In fact, after him striking out the side in the 7th, I would like to see him being used in higher leverage relief situations and possibly even given some save chances. Trevor Gott got the first Giants save attempt of the season and came through, although he made it interesting by allowing a big fly to Will Smith to bring the Dodgers to within a run.

As far as the bats are concerned, they definitely have been missing Brandon Belt, Evan Longoria and Buster Posey so far. Although the Giants offense was never expected to be a juggernaut, missing your projected 3-4-5 hitters just makes things exponentially tougher. They barely squeaked out two runs over the first two ballgames, but they got things going a bit on Saturday. As I stated at the top of this post, this year should be focused on players who could help this team next year and beyond. One of those guys is Mike Yastrzemski and he has looked very good through three games and just missed knocking one out Saturday afternoon (just hooked it foul down the line). Aside from Yaz, Austin Slater reached base three times out of the leadoff spot, and I really hope he's trotted out there more often over Joe McCarthy. I also would like to see 26 year-old Jaylin Davis get much more of a look moving forward as he's hit the ball well in his first 2 starts of the season, including an opposite field home run off Ross Stripling Friday night. Davis will rack up the k's at the plate but if he can manage a decent average and can pop one out every 4-5 games or so, he'd be well worth starting on a regular basis. 

Last but not least, Wilmer Flores looks like he may have some real value this year, and maybe one of the Giants most valuable trade chips come next month. His ability to play all over the diamond, his relatively cheap price tag and his ability to hit could make him enticing to competitors especially this year with more teams entering the playoff mix. 

Things have pretty much gone as expected through the first weekend of the season. Very little offense and some up-and-down pitching performances seem to be the theme thus far. Right now I'm looking forward to early August when the Giants may start bringing up prospects from their summer camp to get an extended look without losing a year of contract control. One of those guys is obviously Joey Bart as he would unquestionably be the most exciting thing about this season if/when he does arrive. 

Despite the low expectations though, I, and I'm sure many other Giants fans, am extremely psyched that baseball is back though. It's been the strangest summer probably in my lifetime thus far, so it's good to get some semblance of normalcy back! I don't care if the Giants continue to go 1-59 over the next few months, we have baseball to watch, analyze and lean on and even in an expected down year, there could be a lot of things that transpire this summer that impact what next season and beyond hold for this organization!
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The Giants Baseball Blog
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Saturday, June 13, 2020

2020 San Francisco Giants Draft Review

In what's been the most exciting piece of baseball content in months, the MLB Amateur Draft took place this week, and the Giants ended up with five picks in the top-100. Today we'll talk a little bit about each player they selected.

First Round, 13th pick: C Patrick Bailey, NC State


The Giants could have went a number of different ways here. Many people, including myself, expected them to call Tyler Soderstrom, prep catcher out of Turlock who had committed to UCLA. There were some people also clamoring for high upside prep prospect arms like Mick Abel and Nick Bitsko. I personally really like Soderstrom's bat and figured there'd be a spot for him in a few years when the universal DH is expected to be implemented full time, but the Giants went with a little more polished talent in the switch-hitting Bailey. There is a lot to like about the 21 year-old who appears to be extremely polished behind the plate with a big arm. His throwing is a bit unorthodox for a catcher, as he throws more out of a three-quarter release than direct overhand, but there's no denying his arm strength. In terms of a hitter, Bailey looks pretty well-rounded with some good pop from his left side and good gap-to-gap power from the right side. When watching video's on him I couldn't help but pick up on Joe Panik vibes in his approach, stance and swing. Let's just hope it translates into more power at the next level than Panik did. 

The one question people had about the pick is what will happen with Joey Bart and Buster Posey, two catchers who are ahead of Bailey on the organizational depth chart. However, Buster's days of catching seem to be numbered and I'd be surprised if he's behind the plate on a daily basis come 2022. Bart also has the ability to move to first base down the line as well, and of course, the eventual expected DH implementation in the NL could be the plan for Bart as well. The Giants wanted to take the best value at 13, despite organizational depth and they seem to think they got it. We'll see how it turns out in a few years. I think it's a solid, safe choice at the moment, maybe not as exciting as some were hoping but certainly not a bad pick by any stretch. GRADE: B+

Round 2, 49th Pick: 3B/P Casey Schmidt, San Diego State

Schmidt was kind of a surprise choice by the Giants here, as many predicted him as a top-100 pick but the Giants may have been able to nab him with one of their later picks. He's got a big arm and can hit and with the trend of 2-way players invading the MLB over the last few seasons, the Giants drafted someone who could fit that mold if all goes well. It's a solid, high-floor pick in the sense that if his bat doesn't translate at the minor league level, the Giants could scrap it and make him a full-time reliever. Then if they get lucky and it does translate and he keeps his ability to throw in the mid-90's off the mound then possibly they could have a super-utility/late relief type option on their roster down the line.  Farhan Zaidi has shown a affinity for players who can do multiple things on the diamond in his brief tenure in San Francisco so this shouldn't come as a surprise. I'm not extremely high on this pick, and there were more talented guys on the board that I would have leaned toward, however, it is in intriguing choice and he's a player I will be keeping close tabs on when minor league baseball does eventually resume (most likely 2021). Probably more of an under-slot selection here for money reasons which makes it less exciting. Grade: C-

Comp. Round, 67th Pick: LHP Nick Swiney, NC State

This is one of the better value picks for the Giants in this draft in many people's opinion. Swiney as projected to go as high as the early 20's and many had him being gone in the top-50 for sure, but the Giants were able to nab him with their first compensation pick of the draft. Fitting that they go get another bulldog left-handed starter with the selection they were awarded for Madison Bumgarner leaving. Swiney doesn't have overpowering stuff, but consistently sits in the low-90's with his heater and commands it very well. He also has a potential strikeout pitch in his curveball and a pretty average changeup. Very typical left-handed repertoire, and someone who may be able to fast track and reach the majors in a year or two. Grade: B+

Comp. Round, 68th Pick: 3B Jimmy Glowenke, Dallas Baptist

A bit of a surprising reach here, as many draft boards had Glowenke barely cracking the top-200 prospects and I'm sure even he planned on having to sign and undrafted free agent deal with a club. However, the Giants shocked a lot of people by announcing his name at 68 nonetheless. He's a good player for sure, but not sure how he'll translate at the next level. He played shortstop in college where he was given his conferences top honors defensively in 2019. His power hasn't quite developed yet as he's much more of a gap-to-gap contact guy with a very interesting plate approach. Does have a high baseball IQ though as his dad is one of the most well known baseball teachers in the community he's from. Grade: D

Round 3, 85th Pick: LHP Kyle Harrison, De La Salle (HS)

Probably the most exciting pick of the draft in my opinion. Harrison is a very intriguing lefty who grew up in the Bay Area and attended the decorated De La Salle High School. He looks years ahead of where he should be at 18 who moderns himself after Chris Sale and you can really see it in his approach on the mound. He throws more out of a three-quarter release point than overhand, much like Sale, and has a quirky delivery that I'm wondering if the Giants will tinker with. He already sits in the low-90s with his heater and at his age he could add some feet to that fastball over the next couple years. He's got solid projected stuff, with the possibility of a big curveball but he's got to learn how to harness it consistently. I just think his commitment to the game and his knowledge will win out and he'll figure out a way to keep adapting as he grows. Keith Law, one of the most respected amateur baseball outlets had Harrison in his 51st best prospect and a top-10 prep arm in this draft. Not bad for an 85th pick. Grade: A-

Round 4, 114th Pick: RHP RJ Dabovich, Arizona State

A college reliever with some electric stuff, Dabovich is more of a raw talent with the chance to develop into something solid. He has a compact delivery throwing out of the stretch mostly, with a straight overhand release. His control is a little iffy at the moment but there's no denying his raw ability and upside. He was used mainly in relief in school but the Giants may try him out in the rotation and see how his stuff plays there. I don't know too much about him other than he's got a live arm that projects at the next level. If his control comes around and continues to develop at the next level, he could be a future closer/set-up type. Grade: C+/B-

Round 5, 144th Pick: RHP Ryan Murphy, Le Moyne College

There's not much to go off for Murphy as he wasn't ranked on anybodies top-200 and there isn't a whole lot of coverage on him. I looked at some youtube clips on him and found out he was his schools freshman of the year in 2018. His motion looks very solid, compact and easily repeatable. I saw him snap off a couple of big curveballs that missed some bats and it looks like he has good control of that pitch. I'm not sure what kind of competition he was going up against but it appears as if he knows what he's doing out there. He's got a pretty average fastball that rides from 88-91 consistently. He definitely has shown the ability to be borderline dominant against second division hitters, so lets see what happens when he starts going up against the best young hitters in the world. Grade: C

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The Giants Baseball Blog
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Thursday, April 02, 2020

SF Giants 2020 Preview: Part 1

Instead of celebrating the opening week of the baseball season right now, baseball is probably the last thing on most peoples mind. I was gonna hold off on posting anything with so much uncertainty about the upcoming season as far as when and if it will even happen, but we're probably gonna be stuck in this limbo for at least several more weeks and maybe months. So I'm going to try and get things as back to normal while we wait.

Without much to talk about as far as current events on the diamond, we still can look forward to a 2020 season that will hopefully start sometime in June, if all goes well. It seems like the consensus is that if the season where to start say, June 15th, the postseason could be pushed back and possibly bleed into December. All players and owners and certainly the fans would be open to this scenario, and although it would be a little strange watching playoff baseball while putting up Christmas decorations, there's been nothing ordinary about 2020 thus far.

So, we're going to proceed here as if the baseball season is coming and it will be here sooner than later. I'm not exactly clear on how "spring training" would resume and finish off if games aren't able to resume until late-May or June, but I'd imagine teams will be given a week or two of practice/intrasquad gaming before easing into the regular season. Of course the scheduling will have to be revised a bit too, likely picking up where it should have been once the season gets underway. Meaning, instead of the Giants taking on the Dodgers in LA as their 2020 season opener, it could end up being, lets say, June 16th in Washington and continuing the schedule from that point on.

It's going to be a strange summer to say the least, whatever ends up transpiring, but the Giants are still going to have to field a team and at the end of this year, there still will be a World Series champion, hopefully. So, as we wait in anticipation, I wanted to take a look at the Giants projected opening day roster, starting with the starting lineup and rotation in part one today.

Lineup:

1. CF Mike Yastrzemski- Should be patrolling center field on mast days vs. right-handed pitching and was one of the Giants best players in 2019. I expect the 29 year-old to build off of last years success and become a staple in SF.

2. 2B Mauricio Dubon- Wilmer Flores could also get the nod here but if I'm Gabe Kapler and the Giants' brass I want to give Dubon as much PT as possible to start the year as this kid has the chance to be something special. Will also see time at SS and the OF.

3. 1B Brandon Belt- He's a guy who's gonna be on the hot seat throughout 2020. Kapler seems to love his approach at the plate and he's got a steady glove, but the Giants need more out of Belt than a .250-ish average and a mediocre power output.

4. C Buster Posey- 2020 is supposed to be the year Buster regains his swing and production at the plate, but at 33 years old now and all the mileage adding up on his legs, who knows if he'll ever be a plus-hitter again. The Giants are certainly hoping he can as they have limited middle-of-the-order options.

5. 3B Evan Longoria- Longo had bursts last season in which he looked good at times, but it was another injury-riddled, underperforming year from the veteran third basemen. He's a guy who could be moved if he starts the year out well and I think that's what the Giants are hoping.

6. RF Alex Dickerson- This guy was one of my favorites to watch hit last year, until the injuries caught up with him. Looking forward to seeing if he can stay healthy and the numbers he can put up if he does. My pick to lead the team in home runs in 2020 if he stays on the field.

7. LF Hunter Pence- One of my favorite players of all time and in a rebuilding year he's a great guy to have around the clubhouse. Probably won't be in the lineup daily but still can have a big impact vs. lefties and be a mentor to the younger hitters.

8. SS Brandon Crawford- Another guy, like the other Brandon, who's on the hot seat heading into the year. He has to justify his spot in the lineup with some strong at-bats out of the gate to silence the whispers calling for Dubon to take over at short. His glove as fallen off a bit but he's still a plus-defender, just has to give that average north of .250.

Rotation:

RHP Johnny Cueto- Going to be interesting to see how he does in first full year back from Tommy John. Probably won't be the guy we saw in 2016 but should be much improved over 2019. Could be a candidate to be dealt if he starts the year off strong.

RHP Jeff Samardzija- Quietly been the Giants most consistent starter over the last 3 seasons. I look for much of the same in 2020. Not a flashy arm but gets the job done and can be counted on to eat innings, even at age 35. Also will likely spend much of the year in trade speculation if he's right.

RHP Kevin Gausman- He was the Giants biggest priced free agent acquisition this winter, getting a guaranteed $9M after coming off a season in which he could not perform well enough to keep his rotation spot. However his strong finish out of the bullpen helped him win back some faith and I do expect a better all-around 2020 campaign from him throwing half his game at Oracle Park.

LHP Drew Smyly- Much like Gausman really had two different seasons in one last summer. He was as bad as it gets with while trying to hold a rotation spot in Texas, producing an 8.42 ERA over 13 games. However his strong finish under Gabe Kapler in Philly and his solid performance earlier this spring are giving the Giants reason for optimism. It wouldn't surprise me if any of these front-four arms are dealt at some point this summer though.

RHP Logan Webb- The 23 year-old is now the favorite for the fifth starters job to start the season with Tyler Beede having undergone surgery and slated to miss the season. Webb showed some promise last year and should be given plenty of opportunity again this season. However, the Giants aren't going to want him on a full workload, even in a shortened season, so look for some other guys like Andrew Suarez, Tyler Anderson and Derrick Rodriguez to also be sprinkled in at various points in the year.

So, there you have what projects to be the lineup and rotation for the Giants, at least to start the 2020 campaign if and when it gets underway. Obviously it's not the lineup your going to get day in and day out with Kapler and Zaidi I think planning to move pieces around as much as possible to create versatilty as well as positional battles probably unlike we've seen in San Francisco under Bochy. Boch did some light platooning but largely stuck with proven guys even when they were struggling. I don't think Kapler will take the same approach, especially now that the club is in full blown rebuild mode. In other words, if hitters like Belt, Longoria, Crawford and pitchers like Smyly and Gausman are not carrying their weight, they're not going to have as long a leash as they would have under the previous regime, and that should keep things interesting throughout the summer.
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The Giants Baseball Blog
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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Giants' flurry of signings don't add up to much

The Giants are set to report to camp early next week, with the first pitchers and catchers workout slated for the 12th followed by the positional guys getting their workouts underway a few days later on the 16th.

A lot has transpired with the Giants' roster over the last handful of days, including perhaps the biggest splash of the offseason with the re-signing of Hunter Pence. In what has been an extremely quiet winter for the Giants up until this last week, Pence was easily the biggest asset to join (re-join actually) the team and we'll delve more into that shortly. However the 2019 AL All-Star was not the only player to join the team over the last ten days. Aside from Hunter, the Giants inked utility man 27 year-old Wilmer Flores to a 2 year/$6MM deal, an under the radar move that I really like. They also added 2019 AL Gold Glove second basemen Yolmer Sanchez and center fielder Billy Hamilton on minor league deals.

These appear to be the Giants final significant additions to the roster as they get ready to break for Scottsdale. I have to say, given the circumstances of the upcoming season and what is really to be expected, I don't hate any of these moves. Pence, for one, is a great clubhouse guy and he should earn his money with ease just being that leader in the clubhouse no matter what he's able to do on the field. However, if you do look at what he did in Texas last year before his back started acting up on him, it was pretty damn impressive. The soon to be 37 year-old raked a cool .317 with 18 big flies and helped carry Texas offensively when he was out there.

With the additions of Pence and Hamilton, the Giants now have some crowding in the outfield with returnees like Yaz, Dickerson, Steven Duggar, Jaylin Davis, Austin Slater and the expectince that bright young infielder Mauricio Dubon will also get time out there. However, you'd have to place the early favorites of Dickerson in left, Yaz to start the year in center and Hunter back in right (It's also possible Pence actually would play left with Dickerson/Slater sliding into right). Versus lefties we could see Hamilton sneak into the lineup and with Yaz possibly sliding to a corner spot moving Dickerson to the bench but it's way to early to contemplate on what Gabe Kaplar's plan will be. With the way they've been hyping up Dubon as a potential center fielder and all the work he appears to be getting out there prior to camp, he could very well be the wild card of this bunch. With what he showed down the stretch last year, it's obvious the rebuilding Giants are going to look for a spot that Dubon can settle in at.

Another wild card, to a lesser extent, is Billy Hamilton, who can go get in in center field and is as quick on the base paths as anyone in baseball. Now his bat has gone from below average to downright replaceable, but I've seen more surprising late bloomers over the years and he's still in his 20's so I can see why they rolled the dice on him with the minor league deal. Hamilton 's best year came in '16, hitting .260 with 55 swipes and a passable .323 OBP. He was one of the guys the Giants were linked to as a possible replacement to Denard Span the following offseason. I know a lot of people aren't really excited about the signing because Hamilton is coming off his career-worst campaign in 2019 and hasn't done much since that 2016 season, but on a minor league deal, I don't see the harm in it. If he doesn't pan out they can simply release him after spring or even early in the season. Not a bad move for depth in my opinion as obviously they're not going to be tittle contenders this year. Maybe Hamilton has a hot streak and they can flip him for a few prospects early on. Same can be said for Pence as well as their third addition, Wilmer Flores.

Now, Flores and Pence obviously excited me the most because those guys could have some real value come the trade deadline. Pence, again, was an all-star last summer so he obviously still has something left in the tank, ans I'm sure an AL team that needs DH help will come calling if he starts his year off like he did with Texas in '19. The big thing with him at this point in his career are the nagging injuries which started popping up in 2015 and it's unlikely he plays in 100+ games at 37 years-old but that experience and positivity alone make him worth the $3M base salary he'll receive and like I said, if he does catch fire like he did in the first half with Texas last summer, he could net the Giants a reasonable prospect from a contending team in July.

Flores seems like a guy the Giants may want to keep around though, as he's just 27 years of age and is coming off his best, albeit injury shortened, season of his career in Arizona. Depending on what ends up happening with Evan Longoria, the Giants could view Flores as the franchises next third basemen. For now, I believe he'll be splitting time at second with Dubon while also filling in at short and even playing some first base in a pinch. With Flores signing, Sanchez now may be on the outside looking in, but of course that's why they play over a month of spring games.

All these additions fit the Farhan Zaidi mold of versatility so none of them should surprise anyone who's been following the team this offseason. No, there wasn't a big Nick Castellanos or Gerritt Cole signing like some rumors stated way back in November as possibilities for this club, but honestly, did we ever really expect that? I think the big question for Zaidi was contemplating bringing back Pillar instead of Pence but he may have burned the bridge with Pillar by non-tendering him back in December and certainly the latter would be looking at a payday larger than the $3M Pence will be guaranteed. The arbitration number had Pillar slated to make around $9-10M this year and even if you cut that down a couple million the Giants saved millions while still keeping the fan base from going too crazy by bringing back a favorite.

I would be surprised if we see any other big league deals, or significant minor league deals struck between now and the beginning of the Cactus League, which is a short 2 weeks away, so what you see now is what you'll be getting as your 2020 San Francisco Giants. Much like last year and the goal for this year should be further development and progress of the younger core. Hopefully another couple guys like Yaz and Dubon emerge and maybe Logan Webb and Tyler Beede take that next step and become rotation staples. Regardless of the team expectations though, I, like I'm sure every other Giants fan on the planet, am anxiously awaiting to see this new regime get to work and get a glimpse at some of these younger players getting to start the year with the team. They could be tough to watch on a lot of nights, but just give us something that we can look forward to in 2021 and beyond guys, that's all this fan is asking!


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The Giants Baseball Blog
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Sunday, December 15, 2019

MLB Hot Stove heating up as Giants make first impactful additions

The annual MLB Winter Meetings in San Diego came to a close earlier this week and the Giants have to feel pretty decently about what they were able to accomplish while in attendance.

No, there was no Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburgh signing, and Nick Castellanos has not agreed to come aboard (not yet at least), but the Giants and Farhan Zaidi were able to make a couple of moves that will help them both in the upcoming season, and perhaps for many years to come.

In their first notable move of the offseason, the Giants inked free agent starting pitcher Kevin Gausman to a 1-year/$9M deal with incentives added in that could push the deal into the $10M range. We'll talk more about Gausman and what he'll bring to the table in 2020 in a minute but first lets take a look at who they now have locked into their rotation.

The Giants, as of now, only have 3 guys cemented into the 5-man rotation, led by Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and now Gausman. Cueto, although he looked pretty good in his brief return from Tommy John Surgery in September, can't be penciled in for a 180+ inning workload so they're gonna need starting pitching depth this season more than ever. Farhan has stated his desire to head into the season with at least 7-8 guys capable of holding down a rotation spot so you know he's going to be active searching for more depth in addition to Gausman.

Most likely Logan Webb and Tyler Beede would round out the rotation if the season were to start tomorrow, but I think Zaidi would ideally like to have those guys more of the 6th and 7th options. Or, at the very least, have them battle it out for the fifth spot, with the loser then waiting in the wings when needed. So, if that is indeed the case, the Giants should still be in the market for at least one more starter, and maybe two. The one name that I really like, and someone I would have chosen over Gausman, even if you had to go multiple years and a little more annually than they did with Gausman is Braves free agent right-hander Julio Teheran.

I've always been a big fan of Teheran as I've seen that guy when he's on and he has legit #2 starter capabilities. He, like Gausman, is 28 years old, but has an even better, more consistent track record than the Giants new number-3 starter. In seven full seasons in Atlanta, Teheran has had an ERA over 4.04 just one time and is coming off back-to-back campaigns in which he's combined to put up a 3.84 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and ERA+ of 114. Obviously not earth shattering, but his consistency is about as legit as any other free agent starter on the market. Putting him in Oracle Park for half his starts would probably increase his peripherals as well. The Braves declined his $12M option but only because I believe they're trying to allocate funds to use elsewhere. In my opinion Teheran is well worth $12 million a season and I'd have no issues whatsoever if the Giants offered the right-hander a deal in the $10-12M range for 2 or 3 seasons. Michael Pineda (2/$20M) and Kyle Gibson (3/$28M) would seem to fall around the same ballpark as Teheran's expected AAV and that would be completely fine with me.

In comparing Teheran and Gausman, they're both identical ages, and have pretty similar track records but Teheran has been much more consistent and I believe has more of an ability to dominate when he's on. Like I said, I've seen some starts by him in which he was looking downright unhittable with crazy movement and very good command. I couldn't find a 2019 highlight reel for the right-hander but here's a nice 2018 highlight video that shows you some of his abilities (including being a threat with the bat in his hands.'

Anyway, Gausman is on-board, and the more it's been sitting with me, the more I'm taking to the deal. He leans mostly on 4 pitches and he can command them all very well when he's on, which makes him a tough at-bat. He leans mostly on his mid-90's heater that can touch 99, to go along with a biting splitter, a sinker and a change-up. His swing and miss pitches are his nasty slider and split which both sit in the low-to-mid 80's. Here is a clip from 2018 when he was using all his pitches well and ended up striking out the side on 9 pitches and you can get a good look at that slider, the split and the movement on his heater. If you overlook his brutal '19 season, and if he instead were coming off his '18 or better yet, his '16 season (180 IP, 174 K, 119 ERA+ and a 1.20 WHIP) this guy's probably looking at offers closer to what Zach Wheeler got from Philly (5 years/$118M). In fact in his 2016-18 season's he averaged an ERA of 4.09, 1.34 WHIP, 109 ERA+ with 8.5 ks/9 and a 3/1 K:BB ratio. Basically a smidge better than Jeff Samardzija at half the price and 6 years younger.

When taking everything into consideration with this Gausman deal and his potential coming to this ballpark, I have to give Farhan a solid B for this one. Again, I'd have liked to see Teheran instead if they're only able to get one of the two, but Gausman should be a fine 4 or 5 starter with the potential to be a 3! Sure we all want Madison Bumgarner back to round out the rotation, but keep an eye on Teheran as a consolation. I could totally live with a rotation of Cueto-Teheran-Samardzija-Gausman-Webb/Beede while guys like Dereck Rodriguez, Tyler Anderson and Andrew Suarez provide some of that depth that Farhan desires.

I'm gonna save the Zach Cozart/Will Wilson trade talk for either Sunday or Monday's post as we're running low on time and I don't wanna take too much of your guys' in one article. I can say, however, that I'm a fan of both of the moves Farhan has made since letting Kevin Pillar walk, and this shows me that he had a plan of some sort by making that decision with Pillar.
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The Giants Baseball Blog
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Thursday, November 28, 2019

The future should be now at first base and catcher

The Giants' most pivotal offseason in over a decade is in full force and with the departure of closer Will Smith, who inked a 4-year pact in Atlanta, marking the first big loss for the ballclub.

The second departure from the '19 roster took place Tuesday after backup catcher, and a guy who really took well to this clubhouse and this fan base, Stephen Vogt, decided to take his talents to Arizona. In AZ, he'll be asked to backup and help mentor impressive young backstop Carson Kelly. Now don't get me wrong, the Vogt departure isn't anywhere near as impacting as losing ace closer Will Smith, but as painful and strange as this is to say, Vogt was the teams best catcher in 2019 so he too isn't someone Farhan and Scott Harris can easily replace. I mean, on a roster with a former MVP backstop and someone still relatively in their prime, Vogt was the more productive of the two, and by a good amount. The 32 year-old Vogt slashed a solid .263/.314/.490 over 255 at-bats. Posey. on the other hand struggled as he was trying to get his surgically repaired hip back into form, only able to muster a career-low .257/.320/.368 line in over 400 at-bats. Posey left the yard just 7 times and drove in 38 runs while taking most of his at-bats right in the middle of the lineup. Vogt left earth 10 times with 40 driven in with almost 200 less at-bats than Posey.

That doesn't tell the whole store though, as Posey has had an ongoing struggle with his hip the last couple of seasons and had surgery to repair it last winter. I obviously effected his play in 2019 but the Giants are hoping now a full, health offseason where he can divulge focus on refining his game rather than just trying to get himself healthy.

Thus, the catching position will be very interesting to keep an eye on moving forward. The plan is for Posey to revert back to full health and in-turn, hopefully his numbers climb back up as a result. However, Buster will be 33 heading into next offseason and while I'm definitely expecting a much more respectable offensive showing, counting on someone who's caught a lot of ballgames over the last decade to all of the sudden revert back to his 27 year-old form would be foolish. He, in my opinion is probably the most pivotal and impactful player in that lineup this year. If he can get back to his pre-2018 drop-off, that that would provide such an amazing boost for this offense. Not saying they need him to be a 20 HR/year guy again, but it's not like he forgot how to hit, Buster at .285/.335/.450 are numbers well within his reach if he's physically able to play up to his capabilities.

This, like for may other players on the team, will be a crucial year for Buster. If he struggles with injury and ineffectiveness yet again, it should signal the end of his days as the Giants primary backstop. And seeing how he's making north of $20M/year for another couple of seasons too would be all sorts of bad. Best case scenario, at least in my opinion, is if he can bounce back offensively and maybe start his transfer over the first base this year. Not only would that open up a spot for the team's top prospect Joey Bart, who I expect to see this year and hopefully plenty of him, but it may in turn improve his offense all together as his legs won't be taking the same beating which could work wonders on his foundation at the pate.

On top of all of that, I feel like Brandon Belt is one of the more trade-able pieces the Giants have on their roster now is the time to find a taker for the 31 year-old power/on-base style hitter. The Giants may need to eat a portion of Belts large contract in order to open up first base, but I think it could end up being a win-win for whoever he potentially would get moved to along with the Giants. It's no secret that Oracle Park has been about as hard on Belt as any other Giants lefty since he arrived. Still very much in his prime as a first-basemen, I could easily see Belt landing in a more hitter friendly confine and finally reaching his 25+ home run potential. He plays solid defense and gets on base at a high clip so the Giants shouldn't have too much trouble finding a taker for him. The Brewers are a team that immediately comes to mind who could use a first basemen like Belt and that's exactly the type of yard that could elevate Belt's offense big time. Another team I think could use Belt are the reigning World Champion Nationals. They lost Ryan Zimmerman to retirement and Belt would be a huge upgrade defensively or Zimmerman while, again, most likely providing offensive numbers north of his career average.

I just feel like it's time for a change at first base, and I think putting Buster there would help his offense out a lot while opening a spot for Joey Bart, who may come in like Posey did in 2010 and immediately become the team's best hitter. Those are the type of aggressive moves that push the envelope and maybe remove some guys who've been staples here over the last 8-10 years and I'm pretty confident they have the guy in Farhan Zaidi who won't be afraid to make those tough decisions.

Taking a glance at the free agent options out there, there aren't a whole lot of options that really excite anyone. Farhan has always preferred to house a backup catcher who can play multiple positions but with Posey likely slated for less and less time there in 2020, it would make sense to just try and get the best available. My top two choices would be Wellington Castillo and Martin Maldonado. Those two could start in a pinch and tide things over until Bart arrives, maybe sometime in June. Castillo is particularly intriguing as he can really hit when he's right and had a WAR over 2 in two of his last four seasons. Even if they do plan on having Buster back there more games than not, having a solid backup like one of these two would still serve them well.

Now, regardless of whether or not the Giants do take my advice and ship Belt off to open first for Posey, Vogt's departure leaves an open catchers spot on the 25 man roster and that spot will not go to Bart unless he'll be playing more often than not.
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The Giants Baseball Blog
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