Mike Krukow

Mike Krukow discusses options for Giants in center field

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AP

Mike Krukow discusses options for Giants in center field

As we inch closer to 2018, the Giants' outfield is still a mystery. The team sent Denard Span to Tampa Bay in their trade for Evan Longoria, there have been talks for months of Hunter Pence moving to left field, Jay Bruce remains linked to them in the free agent market and Billy Hamilton likewise as a trade option

One thing is certain though, the Giants need a defensive upgrade in center field.

"You have to have a center fielder who covers ground at that ballpark," Mike Krukow said Thursday on the Murph & Mac Show. "You have to have a center fielder who can cover ground in that division. You think about all the ballparks in the National League West, they're big yards and you cannot ham-and-egg it in center field. You have to have coverage there." 

Hamilton, 27, is currently with the Reds and becomes a free agent in 2020. He is one of the fastest players in the game and saved nine runs in center field this past season, according to FanGraphs

But getting on-base to use his speed has been an issue. Hamilton has a .298 career on-base percentage and finished at .299 in 2017. He also only walked 44 times to 133 strikeouts.

"In regards to Hamilton, on-base percentage is huge. You can't steal first base," Krukow said. "And that's going to be a challenge for Hamilton as he goes forth in his career.

"He needs to learn how to take a walk. He hasn't mastered the art of leading off yet. I think there's improvement that can be made to his game." 

The Giants could also stay in-house and put a younger, cheaper option in center field. Prospect Steven Duggar is known to be high on the team's radar. 

"If you get another guy like a Jay Bruce that lengthens out your lineup, you're just looking for someone to get on base at the top of your lineup. That means you can eat a position in the lineup with a guy like Steven Duggar," Krukow said. "I haven't seen him play center field, but they say he can go get it. 

"Well, why not get a guy on the cheap that's a defensive player out there and let him learn to hit at the big league level in the eight spot?" 

Between three levels, Duggar slashed .262/.365/.445 with six home runs and 10 stolen bases in 2017 while battling injuries. 

What Mike Krukow likes most about Giants' trade for Evan Longoria

What Mike Krukow likes most about Giants' trade for Evan Longoria

Giants color commentator Mike Krukow started his interview Thursday morning on the Murph & Mac Show full of enthusiasm. 

"I'm doing a lot better today than I was yesterday because of the trade," Krukow said. "I'm pretty excited about it." 

The trade Krukow brought up was of course the Giants' acquisition of third baseman Evan Longoria from the Rays. San Francisco sent Denard Span to Tampa Bay, along with prospects Christian Arroyo, Matt Krook and Stephen Woods

Krukow then went into detail about what he likes most about the Giants trading for Longoria. Right off the bat, Krukow is happy with the Giants for bringing a powerful stick to the lineup that badly needs one. 

"He's a player with reputation, which simply means when you put him in the middle of your lineup, he's a guy that you start thinking about if you're the opposing pitcher against the Giants," Krukow said. "He's a guy that you can make a mistake with and he can make you pay for it." 

Longoria's 20 home runs in 2017 would have led the Giants. But that was his lowest total since 2012 when he only played 74 games. 

"He's also a great glove," Krukow said. "... That's one of the things and priorities I think they wanted to address this year and they certainly did." 

Even at 32 years old, Longoria is considered one of the best defensive third basemen in the game. He won his third Gold Glove award this past season and his dWAR (1.3) was his highest since 2013 (1.6). 

"Plus he's a leader," Krukow continued. "He's gonna fit right into the clubhouse of guys that he respects." 

Despite being a premier player, the postseason has not been kind to Longoria. In 30 games, Longoria has only hit .191. He has, however, added nine home runs. 

"For a guy who's had a gifted career like he has, that gnaws at him. He burns to get back to the playoffs. He burns to atone for the .191 lifetime average in the postseason. And I think it's an opportunity he feels he's gonna get with this Giants club."

Krukow changes course, would love to see Puig with Giants

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USATSI

Krukow changes course, would love to see Puig with Giants

Ever since Yasiel Puig joined the Dodgers in 2013, the Cuban outfielder has been a polarizing player for both his talent and antics. For Giants fans, Puig is public enemy No. 1. 

Imagine if the 26-year-old (Puig turns 27 on Dec. 6) was giving Madison Bumgarner run support with balls over the wall instead of playing his part in bench-clearing shouting matches. That's exactly what Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow has done and he's now all for it. 

“I’d have said I don’t want him to come near the Giants organization,” Krukow said Tuesday on the Murph & Mac Show as to how he used to feel about Puig. “But I think now I’d love to have him in the organization because of what we saw last year, and I think a lot of teams say the same thing about the guy.”

Puig burst on the scene as a rookie with 19 home runs in 104 games, finishing second in National League Rookie of the Year voting. He followed that up with an All-Star season as a sophomore before disappointing the next two years. 

“I think he’s finally starting to mature a little bit,” Krukow said. “I’ve been really frustrated with the guy because he’s got such incredible tools and I’ve been pretty critical of him throughout his time in the big leagues.

"Things that I’ve seen that I just shake my head at, and really quite honestly at times disgust me. To me, there’s no greater disgust than a guy that has great talent and watching him not develop or work it out, and he was that type of athlete."

Puig bounced back last season with a .263/.346/.487 slash line and also put together career highs of 28 home runs and 15 stolen bases in 152 games played. 

“Last year he made some strides to become a big leaguer, and I think over a period of time it’s going to happen," Krukow says. "As he matures he’s realizes he doesn’t have much time in this game and you do indeed have to take advantage of it. He is an interesting player.”

In five seasons, Puig is now a career .281 hitter with 85 home runs. He has hit .280 against the Giants in 67 career games, including four home runs. Puig's seven-year, $42 million deal is set to end after the 2018 season.