Giants

Bochy renews plate-blocking ban on Posey

676138.jpg

Bochy renews plate-blocking ban on Posey

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Bruce Bochy has forbidden Buster Posey from blocking the plate. The Giants manager confirmed it on Sunday, and much will be made of that decision.But here is one more vital scrap of information: Posey was under the same order the night that Floridas Scott Cousins speared him like a tackling dummy.Bochy and other Giants officials had sat down Posey for that lets be smart about this conversation 10 months before the May 25 game in which he sustained three ripped ankle ligaments and a fractured bone in his leg.The Giants already knew the risk involved with putting their best offensive player in a chest protector. They saw what happened in August, 2010, when the Cleveland Indians lost promising rookie Carlos Santana to a torn knee ligament in a collision at the plate. Shortly after that, Bochy sat down Posey and told him that saving one run wasnt worth the risk.And besides, as Posey rehashed the Cousins play during his meeting with reporters on Sunday, I want to make it clear I wasn't blocking the plate to begin with.

That's the dicey part I guess, is figuring where you've got to be to somewhat avoid that, Posey continued. I have to be instinctual, that's the way I play the game. I try to play off instincts. Some of those instincts come off your preparation and that's why we're going to put in a lot of work this spring.But even the most thorough preparation cannot protect a catcher who is receiving the ball from one direction and absorbing a full-speed, 200-pound baserunner from the other. There is inherent risk everywhere on a baseball diamond, and no place is dicier than behind the plate.Perhaps the greater question isnt whether Posey should block the plate, but whether he should be back there at all.Candidly and surprisingly, Posey said he has asked himself the same question.I'm not going to lie, he said. There were some thoughts a couple of months after, well, maybe it wouldn't be bad to move. But then the more I thought about it, I realized how much I enjoy catching. As hard as I'm going to work and have worked and am going to continue to work to get back behind the plate, I want to catch for as long as I possibly can.Youd better believe the Giants will have some things to say about that, too.There is going to come a point when we will certainly discuss whether its the right thing to make a move, Bochy said. Right now, hes our catcher.The smart money is that Posey wont be a catcher for long beyond 2012. Bochy probably tipped his hand while lauding the stockpile of catchers in the system: A group that includes Tommy Joseph, Andrew Susac and Hector Sanchez.We have some good young catchers in camp the best Ive ever seen, Bochy said.Sanchez is the closest to the big leagues after a monster winter in Venezuela. Susac is highly regarded after being taken as a sophomore out of Oregon State (by way of Jesuit High in Sacramento) in the draft last year. Joseph has the highest ceiling, given the huge strides he made behind the plate in the Cal League last season (he led the circuit in caught-stealing percentage) and the fact his bat played in High A ball as a 20-year-old.As for the here and now, Bochy liked what he saw from Posey during Sundays workout.Blocking balls, theres no hesitation getting up, Bochy said. He looks like hes over it. Hes healed. Now, having said that, hes still got a long way to go, catching innings and seeing how hell react. But for now, hes doing great.If theres any question, its how much we can catch him.For that reason, the Giants are staying open-minded to carrying a third catcher. The current leaning is to carry two. (That decision would be easier if Pablo Sandoval could serve as a very occasional third catcher, but he made it very, very clear that he wont have that conversation with the coaching staff.)RELATED: Sandoval -- 'I don't want to catch'
Bochy said he was glad to see Posey using the two-piece mask instead of the hockey-style helmet he had used in previous years. Concussions are a big part of that added risk behind the plate ask Mike Matheny about that and Bochy always thought the two-piece mask absorbed and distributed force more effectively.According to the studies, theyre the same, Bochy said. But I always said the older mask protected you more.One other note: Posey said he is going to leave discussion of a rule change to the people who makes those decisions. He isnt going to lobby for an amendment to protect catchers.But Bochy isnt going to set down his megaphone on this subject.He got resistance last year from Joe Torre when he was MLBs chief of on-field operations. But Torre stepped down and the league hasnt named a replacement.If its Tony LaRussa, then Bochy should be able to gain more traction on a rule change. LaRussa was receptive to the idea when Bochy discussed it with him last year. Several other managers also feel the issue merits more discussion, Bochy said.Bochy said hed continue his grass-roots efforts to gain consensus with his fellow managers on this topic.

Offseason can be tense on other side of Giancarlo Stanton rumors

beede-stanton-ap.jpg
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

stanton-ap.jpg
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.