Giants

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.”

Cain, Moustakas on Giants' radar? Sabean: 'My vote would be a no'

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Cain, Moustakas on Giants' radar? Sabean: 'My vote would be a no'

ORLANDO — In a world without qualifying offers, a lot of offseason moves would be easier to swallow. Put Lorenzo Cain in center, giving the Giants an elite defender at a time when outfield defense is their biggest flaw. Put Mike Moustakas at third, adding power to the worst home-run-hitting team in the majors. Many around the game, perhaps not familiar with the Giants' desire to rebuild their minor league system, think both players make sense in orange and black. 

But nine players received — and turned down — qualifying offers, including Cain and Moustakas, the former Royals stars. That’s why you can just about cross them off the winter wish list. The Giants, being over the luxury tax, would forfeit two draft picks and international bonus money if they signed either player. Asked about that possibility on the first day of the winter meetings, vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean left no doubt about where he stands. 

“If you’re asking me personally, my vote would be a no, being that we wouldn't want to get involved with somebody like that,” Sabean said.

VIDEO: Sabean says pursuits of Ohtani & Stanton were a "must"

Sabean’s vote, of course, carries significant weight, but he’s not alone in his thinking. Sources said others in the front office, including general manager Bobby Evans, are just as protective of the picks that would be surrendered. The Giants would give up the second pick in the second round and the second pick in the fifth round. Because they lost 98 games and will pick second overall in every round, every pick in next June’s draft will mean a bit more. The Giants would also have to give up $1 million in international bonus pool money at a time when they are focused on becoming bigger players in that market. 

“That would be a huge hit in a year (we have) the second pick in every round,” Sabean said. “We really have a chance to make hay in this draft and we expect to do so, so that would be a stretch.”

The other players who rejected qualifying offers last month were Eric Hosmer, Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis, Alex Cobb, Greg Holland, Lance Lynn and Carlos Santana. 

Stanton turn down Giants because of Dodgers? 'If they were in the right...'

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Stanton turn down Giants because of Dodgers? 'If they were in the right...'

ORLANDO — The baseball world spent the month of November waiting for Giancarlo Stanton to narrow his list and find a new home. It turns out the finalists were decided on the field in October.

Stanton’s agent, Joel Wolfe, confirmed Monday that the National League MVP preferred to play for the Yankees, Astros, Cubs or Dodgers. On the first day of the annual Winter Meetings, Stanton donned the pinstripes for the first time, and he talked about why he felt New York was the right fit in the end. He also talked about why he bothered meeting with the Giants and Cardinals if they were not on his original wish list. 

“(The Marlins) went to San Francisco and the Cardinals and struck deals with them,” Stanton said during a press conference. “So I was open to listening to them, but those were not my teams. Those are great people. They were great meetings and a great organization and culture there, but that just wasn’t the fit for me.”

The Giants flew their executives down to Los Angeles to meet with Stanton and his representatives and they felt the meeting went well. They had already agreed to terms on a package with the Marlins, with mid-level prospects being sent over in return. They were ready to assume the vast majority of the $295 million left on Stanton’s deal.

But this process was controlled by the player, and Stanton called the Marlins’ bluff. He said repeatedly on Monday that he wants to win and he’s tired of rebuilding, and he forced his way to a team that looks ready to kickstart another lengthy run of October appearances. 

The Giants and Cardinals have been postseason mainstays over the past decade, and surely that intrigued Stanton a bit, even if he had other plans. He said he wanted to learn what both organizations were about and that was part of the meeting process. 

“All I’ve experienced is the Marlins and basically one way of going about things,” he said. “So I wanted to see how other organizations went about their business and how the city and everything would appeal to me if that was a way that I wanted to go.”

During an appearance on MLB Network after his press conference, Stanton said he hopes Giants and Cardinals fans don’t hold the process against him. For the Giants, at the very least, Stanton is not a Dodger, and that played a part in this process, too. Wolfe compared Stanton — a Los Angeles native — to Brandon Crawford (another of his clients) potentially playing for the Dodgers. When he met with a scrum of reporters, Stanton said playing for his childhood team’s rival played a small part in the process. 

“I wouldn’t base a decision off that but also I wouldn’t want to go to the team that (the Dodgers) dislike the most, and I wasn’t sure if (the Giants) were going to beat that team, either,” Stanton said. “But at the same time if they were in the right position that I wanted, I would have done it.”