Awards season reminds us how far Giants fell in 2017

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USATSI

Awards season reminds us how far Giants fell in 2017

SAN FRANCISCO — It was revealed Thursday night that Giancarlo Stanton is this year’s National League Most Valuable Player. The rest of the MVP ballot shows why the Giants are chasing Stanton so hard this offseason. 

Led by Stanton, 22 different players were listed on NL MVP ballots, which have 10 spots. Two of the top five finishers — Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon — were Rockies. Four different Diamondbacks got votes, led by third-place finisher Paul Goldschmidt. The Dodgers had five players listed on ballots, including rookie Cody Bellinger, who arrived a couple of days after Christian Arroyo and finished ninth in MVP voting. 

The Giants? They didn't have a single player receive an MVP vote, continuing a theme during awards season. 

The team built around pitching did not have any players listed on the five-person Cy Young Award ballots (full disclosure: I had a vote). There were no Rookie of the Year candidates, either, and Bruce Bochy was out of the Manager of the Year running sometime in early May. The 2017 season was the first since 2007 in which the Giants didn’t have a single player listed for any of the four major awards voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America. 

The lack of award-season love is a reminder of how deep the hole is, but it’s also a sign of how much help the Giants need from their stars in order to dig out of this hole. This isn’t as simple as fixing the center field defense and upgrading the bullpen. 

Buster Posey had a good season, but his 12 homers, 67 RBI, .861 OPS and 4.3 WAR (ranked 17th in the NL) didn’t get any love at the end of a 98-loss year. Posey had been listed on at least one MVP ballot every season since 2012, when he won the award. This is the first year since 2007 that the Giants did not have a player listed on an MVP ballot. 

The organization has had similar success in the Cy Young balloting, with Tim Lincecum winning twice and Madison Bumgarner finishing in the top 10 in each of the previous four seasons. A dirt bike accident cost Bumgarner any shot of getting votes this year, and also likely cost him a third Silver Slugger Award in a season that started with two homers on Opening Day. Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto finished fourth and sixth in the Cy Young voting last season, but Cueto had a similarly forgettable season. 

Giants helped facilitate Meulens' interview with Yankees

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AP

Giants helped facilitate Meulens' interview with Yankees

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants moved Hensley Meulens to bench coach last month in part so that their former hitting coach could prepare for a future as a manager. The front office helped Meulens make that push in other ways, too. 

Because he is under contract with the Giants, Meulens is technically not allowed to throw himself into the running for open managerial jobs, but on a conference call with reporters Thursday, he said the Giants organization helped set him up to interview for the open Yankees job. Meulens met with Yankees management on Thursday in New York in a bid to be named the replacement for Joe Girardi. 

“The Giants want to see a few of us in managing situations,” Meulens said, noting that the same has been done for Ron Wotus. “The organization found a way to let people know we’re available or interested.”

For Meulens, Thursday morning's interview was a dream come true. He broke into baseball with the Yankees and said the organization taught him what it means to be a winner. To prepare for the interview, he turned to friends around the game who are familiar with coming out on top, especially in heated battles for the limited managerial jobs in Major League Baseball. Meulens said he talked to current managers Don Mattingly, Dave Roberts, Jeff Bannister and Torey Lovullo about the best way to prepare for such an important interview, and he also reached out to longtime manager Dusty Baker. 

Meulens got a dry run of sorts earlier in the offseason. He said he interviewed for the Detroit Tigers job when it became available, and his conference call with Yankees reporters showed that he was certainly well prepared for one of the most pressure-packed jobs in sports. Meulens repeatedly hammered home the fact that communication is a strength of his. Girardi was reportedly let go in part because his rapport with players was considered to be a weakness. 

“I’m somebody that’s ready to take the challenge and bring new positive energy on a daily basis, and also connect with everybody on the roster,” Meulens said. 

Meulens expanded on his past work with Yankee Didi Gregorius, a fellow native of Curacao, and he mentioned the Giants several times. In discussing his work with Gregorius during the World Baseball Classic, he compared him to Brandon Crawford, who made similar swing changes to improve against left-handed pitchers. When asked what separates him from other candidates, Meulens repeatedly noted his long history with winning, from his four minor league titles with the Yankees to his three rings with his current employer. 

“I was groomed to be a winner,” Meulens said. “All my career, I’ve won a bunch, and that never changes. Every day I put on my uniform, I come to the park to win the ballgame. Nothing against (any of the other candidates), but I have a drive for that.”

Giants complete Sam Dyson trade with Rangers five months later

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USATSI

Giants complete Sam Dyson trade with Rangers five months later

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Sam Dyson trade was one of the few decisions the Giants made in 2017 that ended up being a clear success. On Wednesday, they finalized the terms of that trade. 

The Giants sent minor league outfielder Hunter Cole to the Texas Rangers as the player to be named later in the trade. Dyson was originally acquired in June after being designated for assignment. 

Cole, 25, played 83 games for Double-A Richmond last season, hitting .249 with seven homers and 20 doubles. Overall, he hit .275 in four seasons in the Giants minor league system. He was a 26th-round pick in 2014 and at this point he was not considered much of a prospect, or particularly likely to reach San Francisco. 

Dyson had a 4.03 ERA with the Giants and 14 saves in 17 opportunities. His numbers were skewed by a few rough outings down the stretch, and the Giants anticipate that he'll go into the 2018 season as the setup man to closer Mark Melancon.