Giants

Bochy meets with bullpen, maps out new plan for 9th

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Bochy meets with bullpen, maps out new plan for 9th

ST. LOUIS As recently as four months ago, Jeremy Affeldtwent on record calling a closer-by-committee approach an exercise in futility.

Hes a believer now.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy and pitching coach Dave Righettiassembled the relievers and delivered an impassioned speech, telling them thatmatchups would dictate who inherits the closer role on a given night and thatthis bullpen was talented and tough enough to adjust.

I think Boch and Rags both said it pretty good, Affeldtsaid. They said, Look, this is what we have to do. We believe in you guys. Weknow what can happen in these situations, but we have a lot of faith that thisbullpen can do it.

When youre addressed like that, you want to go out andback them up. You say, If this is what it is, lets do it.

They got the job done Tuesday night while protecting BarryZitos decision in a 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium.Bochy tapped Sergio Romo in the eighth inning to get through the right-handedmiddle of the Cardinals order. After Yadier Molina hit a two-out double,Affeldt took it the rest of the way.

It couldve been the other way with Romo, said Bochy, whodescribed the committee in these terms:

When we get down to the last six outs, itll be Romo andAffeldt and (Javier) Lopez, and if they need a break, itll be the other guys.

What about erstwhile closer Santiago Casilla, who naileddown 19 of his first 20 save attempts but has a 7.82 ERA over his last 17games?

He warmed up in the seventh inning. He wasnt warming up inthe ninth. Only Brad Penny was getting loose as Affeldt finished up for histhird save.

Sure enough, Bochy confirmed that Casillas blister issueacted up again. He wasnt available.

Affeldt can cite plenty of anecdotal evidence about thecloser-by-committee turning toxic. Its hard to imagine the Giants, who play somany tight games especially at AT&T Park, where theyve hit 17 home runsin 55 games can operate smoothly down a pennant stretch with such an unsettledbullpen.

Theres a reason that Bochy left Matt Cain and Zito on themound a bit longer in the first two games of this series (with a bad resultMonday and a better outcome Tuesday).

And the Giants remain actively looking for bullpen help onthe waiver wire, which could change the dynamic.

But for right now, for those eight relief pitchers, this isthe contract theyve been assigned.

We all felt more comfortable at least being told, Affeldtsaid. Today, it would have been chaotic if we didnt know whats going on.Because we did, we handled ourselves appropriately.

Were carrying eight guys in the pen. Well be used. Butour starters, man, the way they throw, theyre pretty consistent. I dont thinkwell burn through all our guys.

Affeldt also pointed out that because its a veteranbullpen, the relievers are thinking as the game goes along. They account forwhos coming up and whom the opposing team has left on the bench. Bullpen coachMark Gardner is in their ear with scouting reports and reminders so they arentsurprised by anything when they get out there, which is a huge help.

You just mentally agree to it, Affeldt said. I thinkwere all pretty comfortable with the scenario weve been given.

Theyll have to be. In the meantime, more run support isnever a bad thing.

Offseason can be tense on other side of Giancarlo Stanton rumors

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USATI

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

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AP

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.