Giants fan feels whole by returning Pence's broken bat


Giants fan feels whole by returning Pence's broken bat

SAN FRANCISCO The most famous broken bat in Giantsfranchise history sat in Rick Alagnas house in Pleasanton. But the 57-year-oldsoftware engineer knew there was only one way he could feel whole.

Im going to say goodbye to the collectible of all collectibles,said Alagna, still startled at how he came to obtain a venerated piece offranchise lore.

"My son, J.D., said, You know, Dad, you really should givethat bat back to Hunter Pence. I thought, Hey, Im the dad. Ive got to dowhats right.

So Alagna is bringing the bat every splinter of it toAT&T Park for Game 1 of the World Series Wednesday night. Hes not surewhether hell deliver it to a club official or to Pence himself, but he knowsit will end up in the right place.

Really? said Pence, told the bat was on its way. Thatsawesome.

Pence names all his bats and scribbles it on the end cap.This one was called Fryer. It turned the Cardinals into dead birds all right,when he somehow made contact three times as a Joe Kelly fastball cracked thewood where the honey-colored handle met the black barrel. The bat head kissedthe ball twice more, imparting a crazy spin that deked shortstop Pete Kozma fora bases-clearing double in the Giants 9-0 victory.

REWIND: The Giants win the pennant

Pence also hit his home run in St. Louis with the same bat,so he already considered it a keeper. He was mortified -- along with almosteveryone else in the Giants organization -- when he found out that the club soldthe bat at their From the Clubhouse memorabilia stand in the teams DugoutStore.
RELATED: Giants accidentally sell Pence's historic bat

Game-used and authenticated items are put on sale almostimmediately after theyre taken out of play. Its usually run-of-the-millstuff. Whomever cleared the Pence bat to be sold clearly didnt think about itssignificance -- an almost magic relic from the only Game 7 victory in thefranchises 130-year history.

Alagna knew plenty of interesting stuff might come up forauction from the third inning, when the Giants sent 11 men to the plate. He wasstunned when he saw the Pence bat for sale, marked at 400, along with the ballhe hit for the triple-double, for 150.

Items arent auctioned. They are simply priced, and iftheres more than one interested party, they put names in a hat.

I put my name in the hat for the bat with 10 other guys andthey pulled my name out, Alagna said. I went wild. I thought, Well, Ive gotthe bat. Ill try for the ball, too.

There were 15 names in for the ball, and out of 15, theypulled my number. I mean, can you believe it? I thought, What are the odds?Its just insane.

Naturally, Alagna tried to press his luck.

Tuesday morning, I bought Lotto tickets on the way towork, he said, laughing. Well see how that turns out.

Alagna planned to give the Pence bat to his oldest son,Mike, as a Christmas present. A first-time season ticket holder, he saidbaseball has done wonders to bond with his three boys.

Kyle, our youngest, is an As fan, Alagna said. So wedont count him.

But when Pence asked about the bats whereabouts, the Giantsknew they had a problem on their hands. CEO Larry Baer turned sheet-white whentold the bat had been sold. When Alagna saw the coverage it wasgenerating, he called GregMarinec, who manages his season-ticket account, and told him hed like toreturn the bat.

If he wants the ball, he can have that, too, Alagna said. Itsbetter as a matching set, right?

Hell meet Giants vice president Staci Slaughter at the gametoday, and the team is planning on rolling out the red carpet for him. Alagnasaid he wasnt going to make any demands of Pence or the team.

But after all this dies down, Id love to have my boys meetHunter Pence, Alagna said, and Ill drag my wife along too.

People are telling me, You're stupid. You should sell itfor huge money. But you cant do the wrong thing. Youd feel more stupid fordoing that. Where would that money take me?

Does Alagna consider it a magic bat?

Well, I dont know if its magic, but its got mojo, hesaid. Im a little superstitious right now. Maybe itll give them a littlemojo for tonight.

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.