Bochy to face tough task of determining Posey's playing time


Bochy to face tough task of determining Posey's playing time

SCOTTSDALE, Az. -- The hook of the day is that Bruce Bochy has told Buster Posey not to block home plate. The sidebar is that he is going to help train Posey how to do it anyway.I mean, you never know, right, the manager said in his office while his catcher was holding his first State Of The Squat address in the dugout at Scottsdale Stadium. Id like him to have all those fundamentals down by the time we leave here, because you cant always avoid those situations.This is one of the many dichotomies the team faces with Posey as he transitions from star in the making to invalid to star in the remaking. The Giants, and specifically Bochy, are charged with helping restore Posey while learning just how much rope to give him in that restoration, and how much to hold fast.Posey, you see, wants to play yesterday, to see if he is his old pre-May 25 self. Bochy does, too, but he acknowledges he has never really had a case like this in his career.

You have someone whos very important to the club, obviously, and hes very intelligent about the way he goes about his job and the way he handled his rehab, but hes going through something hes never been through before, Bochy said. You want to make sure that hes not going to try and hurry his way back, that hes not going to jeopardize that by trying to be a warrior.That said, Bochys job on that score is easy so far. It will get more difficult.Right now, were all taking our lead from the medical people and the training staff, he said. Theyre in charge of how much he should play and rest, and monitoring how hes doing, and all that. Right now, theres no pressure on me.But thats going to change once hes been given full clearance. Thats when Im going to be the guy who has to make those decisions about when to give him a day, or when to push him. Thats when its on me.Bochy said he doesnt anticipate a problem keeping a governor on Posey, or convincing him that a day off here or there is a good thing. But Posey said Sunday he wants to play in the first exhibition game March 3, and Bochy is being cagier about it.Were going to see where were at, he said. He and I have talked about this, and we agreed that yeah, he wants to play right away, but we dont have to make that decision today.Bochy having been a catcher has a level of simpatico with Posey that many managers wouldnt necessarily have, but that rule isnt universal. Indeed, some managers who are ex-catchers, like the Angels Mike Scioscia, would almost certainly want Posey blocking the plate every chance he got because that is how Scioscia made his reputation as a player.But Bochys experience is like Poseys in that he hurt his knee early in his minor league career, and wound up missing a much greater amount of time because of the relatively primitive state of rehabilitation knowledge.Id play nine innings, and I think that I was good, but then Id be sore for two or three days, he said. I had no strength in my leg, and it took a long time to get that back. Buster doesnt have that problem.No, Poseys problem is really restricted to returning to his former state as the Giants most important hitter and the catcher the pitching staff lines up to throw to meaning his days off will come with a concurrent groan from that day's starter.His secondary issue is in acknowledging that his return to catching is also the beginning of a slow, almost molecular-level move toward another position. He has already plotted out the outfield as not his cup of meat, saying, Im too slow for the outfield . . . well, (Pat) Burrell played out there.But for the moment, he is working with the knowledge that his comeback is in the hands of many people, most notably the manager who grappled with his absence last year in what might in many ways have been the worst year of his managerial life.Worst, in part, because Posey left a void that was never close to being filled. And now the plan is for this year to be better as long as Posey doesnt decide to take the enemy gun emplacement by himself, or that Bochy realizes that Posey in the lineup is always better than him not in the lineup, and can say Youre off today when Youre off today is the correct answer rather than the answer that satisfies.

Offseason can be tense on other side of Giancarlo Stanton rumors


Offseason can be tense on other side of Giancarlo Stanton rumors

SAN FRANCISCO — Just around dinner time on Monday, Tyler Beede got a call he had been waiting for. General manager Bobby Evans informed Beede, the Giants’ top pitching prospect, that he was being added to the 40-man roster, a significant step toward making his big league debut. Earlier that day, however, Beede’s phone brought him some unwanted news. 

Like most Giants fans, Beede woke up to a report out of South Florida that he was one of several names the Giants and Marlins had discussed in Giancarlo Stanton trade talks. For fans or team employees, it would be painful to give up a Beede or a Chris Shaw or a Joe Panik, but images of Stanton taking aim at the Coke bottle at AT&T Park would soon wash away most concerns. 

For players, the reality this time of year is much different. The Giants are the only organization that all of the rumored pieces have ever known. Panik is a New Yorker, but he and his wife have grown to love San Francisco. Beede and Shaw have spent years dreaming of debuting at AT&T Park and playing in front of sellout crowds. That makes the Hot Stove Season a particularly tense time of year. 

“I try to be a guy who doesn’t look those kinds of things up too frequently, but obviously I’m a normal guy, so I tend to dig into it a little bit more and see what’s going on and see what people are saying,” Beede said on this week’s Giants Insider Podcast. “It’s funny. I don't really know how to handle it. It’s my third year going through the trade deadline and trade talk. I’ve just go to keep telling myself it’s a realistic possibility and not to be shocked if anything were to come out or a trade were to be made.”

The rumor mill is nothing new for these players. Panik acknowledged several times during the season that he could be the odd man out. Shaw actually already once thought he got traded to Florida. For a few minutes at the 2016 deadline, Twitter had him as a key piece in the Matt Moore deal. The outfielder came out of a hotel bathroom right after the deadline to see two teammates staring at him in disbelief as Twitter rumors flew. 

Five minutes later, he got a call from Bobby Evans. “You’re still a Giant,” Evans told him. “Don’t take your jersey off.”

“It’s a little tense for sure,” Shaw said earlier this year. “It’s not something you can try to predict. You can have a feeling but that means nothing.”

Evans has always communicated to players and their agents that they can reach out any time they have a question or concern about what they might be hearing, but when it comes to getting on the phone himself, he treats the trade deadline and offseason differently. There’s more urgency to clear the air in July when players might have to take at-bats or throw pitches with rumors weighing on their minds. In the offseason, Evans will wait to reach out until deals are closer to being agreed upon. He tries not to worry as much about “hot stove banter,” he said. 

“In the offseason I think it’s a little less of an issue because a lot of things get thrown out there that don’t have validity,” he said. “We certainly don’t try to respond to every single rumor with an update because there are new rumors every hour, so it’s hard to keep up. A lot more names are mentioned this time of year.”

Players try to find different ways to get away from it all. Every year, several Giants prospects talk of playing golf during the trade deadline to stay away from MLB Network and their phones. For veterans, it’s often easiest to just take offseason vacations, and Panik planned to visit Europe with his wife. 

Beede has a somewhat unique distraction as rumors trickle out. He’s getting married on Saturday, which along with the holiday, has kept him busy all week. Still, he knows the rumors will be out there. 

“After a couple of days I start to just understand that (my) name is going to be in rumors or there may be things that people say or speculate,” he said. “(If) Bobby tells me something, or my agent says something, then I can start to maybe engage in it a little bit more. But as of right now, I’m just trying to go about my preparation and I’ll continue to enjoy being a San Francisco Giant.”

Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park


Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have made a habit in recent winters of “kicking the tires,” so to speak, on as many free agents as possible. General manager Bobby Evans is committed to being thorough, but at times there is probably no need. 

Hitters have made no secret of the fact that they prefer friendlier confines, and if you’re a power hitter, you’re going to ask Evans for a significantly larger check to play 81 of your games at the harshest power park in the majors. That’s what makes Giancarlo Stanton, readily available via trade, so intriguing. But would Stanton be fully immune to the realities of AT&T Park?

The numbers, at least in a small sample, suggest he would. Stanton has played 27 games in San Francisco and taken 108 at-bats. He has nine homers, 11 doubles and a triple. His .676 slugging percentage at AT&T Park isn’t far off his mark at Coors Field (.714), and his 1.048 OPS is higher than his OPS during the 2017 season, when he hit 59 homers. 

The damage has been done in limited time, but the Giants clearly believe it’s fully sustainable, and a recent study done by ESPN’s Dan Szymborski backs that up. Szymborski ran his ZiPS projection system to estimate Stanton’s stats over the next 10 years for a variety of suitors. The numbers in orange and black are overwhelming. 

The projections have Stanton at 46.2 WAR over the next 10 seasons, including 7.1 in 2018 and 6.8 in 2019, the two seasons the organization should be focused on given Madison Bumgarner’s contract situation. ZiPS projects Stanton at 46 homers next season if he plays for the Giants, followed by 43, 42, 39, 35 over the following four years. For comparison’s sake, Brandon Belt led the Giants in homers each of the last two seasons and he has 35 total during that span. 

Any sort of projection system needs to be taken with a huge grain of salt, especially with a player who has had injury issues in the past. But ZiPS believes Stanton -- who plays in a huge park already -- is a rarity, the kind of power hitter who can keep crushing well into his 30’s and put up huge numbers even if he is limited by the realities of getting older and getting hurt. Szymborski’s projections have Stanton playing just 102 games in 2025, but he’s still projected to hit 23 homers, 20 doubles and post an OPS+ of 121. Even in the 10th year of the projections, ZiPS has Stanton down for 16 homers. 

There are no sure things in this game, but as Evans continues to chase a blockbuster deal, he can be confident that Stanton is one player who should be able to provide power for years to come, no matter what AT&T Park does to hold hitters down.