Bochy, Giants ready to attack offseason: 'We’ll be relentless, all of us'

Bochy, Giants ready to attack offseason: 'We’ll be relentless, all of us'

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants spent six months stunning their fans and even themselves with the depths of their collapse. On the final day of the season, they provided one last surprise. 

Pablo Sandoval, an impossible choice on opening day, ended the year with a walk-off homer that gave the Giants a 5-4 win over the Padres and clinched a 64-98 season. The blast set off a celebration the plate that morphed into a ceremony for an emotional Matt Cain, who thanked the organization, the fans, his family and many others as he broke down a day after his final big league appearance. A few minutes later, Cain stood in the corner of the clubhouse with a smile on his face. 

“It’s good for all of us,” he said of the walk-off. “It’s a good way to go out for the entire team.”

It was also a good reminder of how much work there is to be done. For all the excitement Sandoval brought Sunday — and on nights when he took Max Scherzer and Kenley Jansen deep — he hit just .225 in 160 at-bats after returning home. He entered Sunday with a .622 OPS, which was almost exactly the same as the .623 figure that had the Red Sox give up on him with $50 million left on his deal. 

Sandoval will surely be back next spring, and it’s likely he’ll get a chance to compete for an everyday job at third base. But what are the Giants getting? What are they getting with any of their veterans? That’s the question the front office will have to answer, and the work started right away. General manager Bobby Evans and team president Larry Baer descended on Bruce Bochy’s office in the minutes after the final out. 

As they sit in those meetings, the men can point to highlights for any player. Just about every Giant has a story like Sandoval’s. Take Hunter Pence, for example. He brought energy throughout the year and ended his season with a diving catch in right field. He also finished with a .701 OPS, the lowest mark of his career. Or take Johnny Cueto, Sunday’s starter. Bochy credited him with working through a day where he didn’t have his best stuff. But Cueto finished with a 4.52 ERA and 1.45 WHIP. The stories go on and on.

“We have some work to do, there’s no sugar-coating this,” Bochy said. “You lose 98 games, you’ve got a lot of things to fix. Forget the injuries. You look at the numbers on both sides and we’ve got to get better, especially in our division. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ll be relentless, all of us. We talked to the players. We know what’s ahead of us.”

The key word in that statement, which Bochy echoed in comments to the fans after the game, is “division.” Only a tiebreaker kept the Giants from taking the No. 1 pick from the Detroit Tigers, and they finished a distant last place in the National League West. They were 40 games out of first, 23 out of a wild card spot, and seven behind the Padres, who actively tried to tank this season away. 

There is nothing in the numbers — pitching, hitting or defense — that points to this as a team that had bad luck, and Bochy knows it. He is believed to want massive changes to this roster, but the Giants will have to get creative. Most of this team will be back, and this season, that group wasn’t competitive. 

As players packed up and said goodbye, Buster Posey — one of the few Giants to have a good year — told his teammates to look in the mirror. 

“We need to spend some time thinking about what it is specifically for us to help the Giants win more baseball games and get back to where we all want to be,” he said. “We’re all confident and we know how much ability is in this clubhouse, but at the same time, we’ve got to execute on the field. All of us as players have to play better next year.”

Good news, bad news for Chris Shaw's first week in the Arizona Fall League

MiLB/Sacramento River Cats

Good news, bad news for Chris Shaw's first week in the Arizona Fall League

Every time the Journey song “Lights” plays throughout AT&T Park, the lyrics When the lights go down in the City ring too true for the Giants’ offense. There’s a power outage in San Francisco. 

The savior to this issue can soon be prospect Chris Shaw, who turns 24 years old on Oct. 20. Shaw, along with five other Giants prospects, is continuing his 2017 season among a multitude of baseball’s best young up-and-comers in the Arizona Fall League. As he takes the field for the Scottsdale Scorpions, Shaw’s bat is far from the top focus for the Giants. 

After playing right and left field at Boston College, the Giants turned Shaw into a first baseman once they selected the 6-foot-4, 235-pound lefty in 2015. This year, the Giants’ front office decided to make a change. As the big league team continued to look for their own answers, Shaw saw himself in left field in 94 of the 125 games he played between Double-A and Triple-A this season. 

“I saw improvements through the course of the year,” Brian Sabean said about Shaw’s outfield defense on The Giants Insider Podcast. “The problem is playing left field in our left field isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to do.” 

The AFL is all about reps in left field for Shaw as the Giants have already said he will get a long look in spring training. He earned that right after a breakout year at the plate.

One week into the AFL though, Shaw’s bat is way behind. Through four games, Shaw is batting a pedestrian .133 (2-for-15), both hits being singles. But even in such a slow start there are positives. 

Shaw has walked three times to only two strikeouts. His only downfall at the plate once he reached Triple-A Sacramento was his on-base percentage fell from .390 in Double-A to .328 at the higher level. With the River Cats, Shaw struck out 106 times, leading the team, while taking his base 20 times.

One week in the desert, Shaw is showing more patience and putting the ball into play more often. The ball simply isn’t finding grass.

In the outfield, every ball Shaw sees -- practice or game -- during the AFL is a step in the right direction for he and the Giants. He is yet to make an error in his short time at the AFL. The big lefty will never be a guy to make the spectacular play, but if he improves his instincts with the glove and improves his eye at the plate, the Giants can finally have their left fielder of the future. 

Former Giants infielder replaces Dodgers' star shortstop on NLCS roster


Former Giants infielder replaces Dodgers' star shortstop on NLCS roster

LOS ANGELES — Shortstop Corey Seager has been left off the Los Angeles Dodgers' roster for the NL Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs.

The Dodgers announced Seager's surprise omission due to a back injury on Saturday, several hours before Game 1 at Dodger Stadium.

Los Angeles also dropped reliever Pedro Baez from its roster. Infielder Charlie Culberson and outfielder Joc Pederson were added.

Chicago made only one change from the last playoff round, adding reliever Hector Rondon and removing reliever Justin Wilson.

Seager complained of back soreness during the Dodgers' NL Division Series clincher in Arizona on Monday, and 2016 NL Rookie of the Year didn't participate in team workouts this week. Still, manager Dave Roberts said Friday that he was very optimistic that Seager would play in the NLCS.

Seager was an All-Star selection this season while batting .295 with 22 homers and 77 RBIs as a key part of the top of the Dodgers' lineup.

Kike Hernandez, Chris Taylor and Culberson all worked out at shortstop Friday for the Dodgers. The versatile Taylor was the Dodgers' center fielder during the NLDS, but he made 96 appearances in the outfield this season and 44 in the infield, including 14 games at shortstop.

Pederson is batting .071 with no homers since July, but the Dodgers could need him in center field if Taylor plays shortstop.

Culberson famously homered to clinch the Dodgers' NL West title in announcer Vin Scully's final home game last season, but the infielder spent most of this season at Triple-A, appearing in only 14 games for the Dodgers.

Rondon was the Cubs' closer in 2014 and 2015, but moved to a setup role last season after Aroldis Chapman's arrival. He appeared in 61 regular-season games this year, going 4-1 with a 4.24 ERA in an up-and-down campaign.

Chicago acquired Wilson in a trade with Detroit on July 31, adding a veteran left-handed reliever who had 13 saves for the Tigers this season. The Southern California native wasn't great in his two months with the Cubs, posting a 5.09 ERA with 19 walks in 23 appearances.

Manager Joe Maddon chose Wilson for the NLDS over Rondon, only to switch it up against the Dodgers.