Giants mailbag: What future holds for young pitchers, top prospect

Giants mailbag: What future holds for young pitchers, top prospect

Today would have been an off day. By this point, the Giants already would have faced Madison Bumgarner for the first time, along with Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler. They would have spent today at Target and Best Buy, loading up their new apartments and rental homes. 

It's a weird time right now, and that gets exacerbated if you look up an MLB schedule. It's a strange alternate reality that so many people had been preparing for over the course of months, but it no longer exists. 

At some point, we'll hopefully get the game back, but there are far more important things to worry about right now. So stay home everybody, and stay safe. We'll keep trying to bring you fun Giants content in the meantime, so here's a mailbag with some actual baseball questions and some interesting ones about covering the team ...  

"How will the pandemic affect operations at Oracle Park if, and when, fans are allowed to attend?" -- rioscristian15

There's unfortunately not really an answer for this. One thing I've tried to remind people is that it's not as simple as getting 52 players on a field and telling them to be careful. With fans, you have 2,600 or so game-day employees who take care of security, food, etc. It's a massive group that you're getting together for any sporting event, and it feels like a situation where you're all-in or all-out. You can't have a game at Oracle Park and ask people to sit six feet away from each other.

Even without fans, it's complicated. You have players, umpires, coaches, trainers, bat boys and more. You obviously want to broadcast those games, which means cameramen and a broadcast truck of producers, and then you would need security around the ballpark. This is all unprecedented and complicated and I don't think anyone can accurately tell you what a game will look like when it returns. 

"Do you see Webb as a solid piece in this year's rotation?" -- its_ya_boi_jime

The last interview I did before the shutdown was with Logan Webb, and we talked about the proposed innings limit. When the game returns, the Giants won't need to worry about Webb's innings, and I don't think they'll have to think as much about building the trade value of others, so I see no reason why Webb wouldn't be in the rotation for the entirety of a shortened season. 

"Do you have a Brian Wilson story?" -- jacksonirwin_

I have plenty! One that comes to mind is my first visit to spring training in 2011 when I was filling in for Andrew Baggarly for a week. Wilson was a full-on character by that point (remember the Taco Bell commercial?).

I was standing in a hallway near the clubhouse with Peter Gammons, and Wilson walked through and the two struck up a conversation about New England. Wilson grew up in New Hampshire. I just remember them talking for 20-30 minutes, and I remember Wilson being a completely different person, soft-spoken and inquisitive, the person I imagine he is when cameras aren't around. 

That one always stood out to me, because when the lights went on, he would immediately put on a show. To this day he still does that. 

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"Your favorite Giants moment ever?" -- kitkat_kitty

You mean, aside from every relief pitcher at-bat? 

This is a really tough question, but I'll give you three that immediately stuck out. 

It was incredible being on the field right after Travis Ishikawa's homer and interviewing Jake Peavy like 10 minutes after he had tried to stop Ishikawa at third. I think that's my favorite interview, because Peavy could barely even recall doing it and everyone was still just so stunned about the way the game had ended. 

The entirety of Game 7 in Kansas City is probably my favorite day on the beat. I've never seen a press box as chaotic as when Gregor Blanco bobbled the ball in the ninth inning, and I'll never forget how tired -- truly exhausted -- guys were in the clubhouse that night. Buster Posey told me he would sleep for three weeks and Madison Bumgarner finally admitted he was out of gas. I spent so long talking to trainer Dave Groeschner that I nearly missed a deadline, and I remember him nursing a beer and talking about how Bumgarner must be half man, half horse. 

One other one that sticks out is Game 1 of the 2010 World Series. I wasn't on the beat at the time but the Mercury News sent me to the park to run our live chat. When it started raining, everyone left the auxiliary press box -- the seats at the top of the third deck in left field -- but I couldn't unplug because the chat would have stopped. Two ushers came over and held umbrellas over me and another one stood there and kept wiping down the table and my laptop. There was just a really cool sense of community that night, and I'll never forget how happy all of the employees and fans in that section were that they were watching their Giants in the World Series. 

"If the season started today, who is one guy you see closing games outside of Watson?" -- meleh555

Tony Watson's shoulder should be fully cleared whenever this season starts, but behind him, I think Trevor Gott is probably first in line. He was a closer at Kentucky and in the minors. I would also be curious to see how far the staff would push Tyler Rogers. From what I saw, he was throwing as well as anyone in Scottsdale. 

The real answer, of course, is that if the season started today the Giants would likely have a committee. Wandy Peralta and Jarlin Garcia are two more who also had outstanding springs. 

"When will Heliot Ramos make his Major League debut?" -- williamclementi63

This, to me, gets at one of the most fascinating questions this season. I was betting on Ramos making a September cameo, but that won't exist anymore, and it's hard to know if minor league baseball will. I'm on the pessimistic side in terms of a start date, but at some point, big league teams may have the clearance and resources to safely hold games. Will towns like Richmond and Sacramento be able to have gatherings of 10,000, though? 

I have no idea what a minor league season will look like and I don't think the Giants do, either. It's wait-and-see, but it's not hard to imagine a situation in which most or all of the minor league year is wiped out. Does the Arizona Fall League then become bigger? Do guys like Ramos and Joey Bart play a full season of Winter Ball? Will teams more aggressively push top prospects next spring because they're a year older, even if they don't have that year of experience? This is just one of a million things that'll have to be decided when baseball resumes. 

"Are we gonna see Mauricio Dubon in center this season?" -- haileyllanez

Yep, Gabe Kapler made that clear before camp shut down. I was asked to make an Opening Day lineup for a simulation we're running and I actually put Dubon in center for the opener because Kershaw was on the mound. 

If you missed it, Dubon was on The Giants Insider Podcast last week and told the story of how he started playing center field. 

"Who do you think will be the next superstar the Giants sign?" -- haroldstuart

I'll just say this, Mookie Betts offers just about everything that made Bryce Harper appealing last February. He doesn't have quite the star power, but he is a better player, and he'll be just 28 when he hits free agency this offseason, which he'll do regardless of how many games are played. 

There will be a lot of competition -- starting with the Dodgers, obviously -- but I expect the Giants to be in on Betts and I think they'll be better positioned than just about anyone when baseball returns. They're rich enough to survive a lost season, and the work continues on Mission Rock even as most of the rest of the city shuts down (it was deemed "essential" because it includes affordable housing).

The Giants might come out of this year looking at a farm system that's top five or 10 and a roster that's just one season from purging most of the big deals. If they want to accelerate the rebuild this winter, they can. 

"Where do you see Seth Corry in five years?" -- rjkerr28

At or near the top of the rotation. I have no idea why Corry doesn't get more love from national publications that rank prospects. As a 20-year-old left-hander, he had a 1.76 ERA in Low-A and struck out 178 in 122 2/3 innings. Give me all of that stock. 

"What is the craziest Giants moment you've ever been a part of?" -- blakewaldrop67

There are the obvious answers like Ishikawa and the Wild Card games and Bumgarner in Game 7, but I think one that stands out for "craziness" is Game 2 in Washington D.C. That is, literally, the coldest I have been in my life, and I know others feel the same. It was really nice and kind of humid during the day so nobody was prepared for what it would feel like when that game went six hours and 23 minutes. 

The press box at Nationals Park is at the very top of the stadium and the head of PR went down to the heated clubhouse in the ninth inning and refused to let his employees close the press box windows as the game went 18 innings. I don't have kind words for him. Baggs turned on a hot dog roller in the dining room and that's where we would go between innings to warm up our hands, with about 20 other journalists gathering in the bathrooms because they were heated. It was a weird scene, and that game had all kinds of craziness too. Yusmeiro Petit's relief performance is one of the most underrated in MLB history, in my opinion.

[RELATED: What impressed Giants GM in spring training]

"Over the years, which Giants player has had your favorite walk-up song?" -- timarcuscousins

Can I go with a reliever warm-up song instead? Javier Lopez never got the credit he deserved for using "Coastin'" by Zion I when he jogged in from the bullpen. That was such a unique choice and fit him perfectly, and I thought it always brought a different vibe to the ballpark. You just knew Lopez was going to strut up to the mound and calmly get out of the jam. 

And then ... Lopez switched it up and went with "The Humpty Dance" for a while. What a legend. 

NBC Sports Bay Area to air simulated Giants home opener vs. Dodgers via MLB the Show 20

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NBC Sports Bay Area to air simulated Giants home opener vs. Dodgers via MLB the Show 20

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – April 2, 2020 – NBC Sports Bay Area, in partnership with Sony Interactive Entertainment’s MLB The Show 20, today announced it will air a one-hour video game simulation of the previously scheduled San Francisco Giants home opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday, April 3 at 7:00 PM.

Friday’s pitching matchup features the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija versus the Dodgers’ Walker Buehler from Oracle Park.

The artificial intelligence gameplay simulation will be conducted through Sony Interactive Entertainment’s MLB The Show 20. The viewer experience will include the same video and audio components of MLB The Show 20 gameplay, along with commentary from Giants broadcasters Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow and in-game reporter Amy Gutierrez. Additional content surrounding the simulation will be available on NBCSportsBayArea.com and on NBC Sports Bay Area’s social media platforms.

“Our top priority during these uncertain times is to deliver fun and entertaining content for Giants fans to enjoy while they wait for the season to resume,” said Matt Murphy, Senior Vice President and General Manager of NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California. “Hearing Kruk and Kuip’s familiar voices and their witty commentary will brighten the lives of fans by bringing them a sense of normalcy.” 

About NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California:
NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California, both part of NBC Sports Regional Networks, serve more than four million households in Northern California, Nevada, Southern Oregon and Hawaii. NBC Sports Bay Area, the television home of MLB’s San Francisco Giants, NBA’s Golden State Warriors, and the official regional sports network of the San Francisco 49ers, also features a robust lineup of Emmy Award-winning news, analysis and original programming. NBC Sports California offers live coverage of MLB’s Oakland Athletics, NBA’s Sacramento Kings, NHL’s San Jose Sharks and MLS’s San Jose Earthquakes. Collectively, these networks deliver more than 600 live game broadcasts per year. The MyTeams by NBC Sports app provides live steams of the games and pre-and postgame shows, digital coverage of the hometown teams with original stories and content from a team of “Insiders,” breaking news, up-to-the-minute game previews/recaps, highlights and multimedia video clips.  Follow both networks on social media –Twitter: @NBCSAuthentic; Instagram: NBCSAuthentic; and Facebook: facebook.com//NBCSAuthentic.

# # #

Contact:
Jay dela Cruz
(415) 760-0476
jay.delacruz@nbcuni.com

Five Giants takeaways in week of MLB simulation, including Yasiel Puig

Five Giants takeaways in week of MLB simulation, including Yasiel Puig

Baseball-starved fans are watching hours of classic games, playing MLB The Show and tweeting through it all while the season has been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. We've all gone a little stir crazy, and it's probably not a good sign that Netflix is on our emergency contacts list now.

Through the power of technology, though, baseball still is being played ... kind of. Baseball-Reference is using Out of the Park Baseball 21, a baseball simulation game, and posting stats, box scores and standings every day. Through one week of this simulated season, there's a lot to digest for the Giants. 

San Francisco has a 3-3 record in the simulation, good for third place in the NL West but only 1.5 games back of the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks. The Giants likely would be just fine with a .500 record after opening the season on the road against the Los Angeles Dodgers and D-backs. There's a whole lot more to unravel here, though. 

Here are five takeaways from a one-week simulation to start of the Giants' 2020 season. 

Yasiel Puig ... is a Giant 

Your wish (nightmare?) has been granted. That's right, former Dodger and Giants nemesis, Yasiel Puig, now is wearing orange and black.

In this world, Puig has played two games with the Giants, likely making him a recent free-agent signing. Through two games, Puig only has one hit in seven at-bats, but he made it count. 

The Giants took down the D-backs 7-5 on Wednesday, and Puig played a big part. Trailing 5-1 in the eighth inning, Puig hit a solo shot off Hector Rendon. The Giants then scored five runs in the ninth inning for a wild comeback win. 

As recently as three weeks ago, the Giants reportedly have shown interest in Puig. MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported last month that the Miami Marlins have offered Puig a contract, and the other team interested in him was the Giants

Puig, 29, has an .839 career OPS at Oracle Park and has hit five homers in the pitcher-friendly ballpark. Past bad blood be damned, Puig would fit a need for the Giants as a right-handed power bat.

Giants find their closer 

One of the biggest question marks this spring was at the back of the Giants' bullpen. Who would Gabe Kapler name as the team's closer? It's not that simple.

Will Smith is gone after signing with the Atlanta Braves this offseason. One obvious candidate could be Tony Watson, but he dealt with shoulder tightness in camp. The simulation has Watson appearing in two games. However, he isn't the Giants' closer. 

That title belongs to Trevor Gott. The Giants love Gott's versatility and he did close games in college and the minor leagues. He also has one save in his big league career. 

So far, so good. Gott has thrown two scoreless innings and recorded two saves in this simulated season. He surely will have an important role once the real season eventually begins, and it will be interesting to see how Kapler uses the right-hander.

Brandon Crawford stays hot

In reality, Crawford currently is spending his time playing basketball video games and creating a wild bracket for Giants fans on Twitter. But he surely would love how this simulation views the start to his season.

Crawford was crushing the ball this spring. The veteran shortstop had a .391 batting average with one home run and a 1.005 OPS. He has been even better in the regular season, too. Through six games, Crawford is 10-for-23, good for a .435 batting average and 1.049 OPS. He also has one home run and four RBI. 

This would be huge for the veteran shortstop. Crawford took a big step back last season, batting only .228 with a lowly .654 OPS. There's a chance he loses some at-bats this year against left-handed pitchers, but not if he hits like the simulation suggests. 

Listen and subscribe to the Giants Insider Podcast:

How has Buster Posey hit? 

This was the first offseason in years where Posey didn't have to worry about an injury or recovering from a procedure. And it showed in spring training. 

Posey ramped up his usual workload during camp and played in 10 games before spring training shut down. He showed shades of his younger self, too, by batting .455 (10-for-22) with one homer and a 1.206 OPS. The simulation took notice. 

While the former NL MVP hasn't gone deep yet, he does have three doubles, three RBI and a .333 batting average. Posey has two more years remaining on his contract and can't imagine playing for another team. Hitting like this will only help his desires.

[RELATED: Looking back at 19 homers Giants have hit off of Kershaw]

Surprise starter

With the loss of Madison Bumgarner, the Giants have a massive hole in their rotation that nobody truly can fill. But they certainly have options. The No. 5 starter remained a bit of a mystery well into spring, though, especially after Tyler Beede underwent Tommy John surgery.

It seemed clear the Giants' first four starters would be Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Kevin Gausman and Drew Smyly. After that, it was a bit of an unknown. And this simulation has quite the wild card: Andrew Triggs. 

This surely would be surprising, and it didn't turn out to be a great idea in this alternate reality, too. Triggs, 31, didn't even pitch in the majors last year and his five appearances this spring all were out of the bullpen. In his one start, the simulation has him lasting only three innings while allowing four earned runs and walking three batters. 

Logan Webb, a candidate for the rotation, has pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings and has three strikeouts out of the bullpen. The 23-year-old seems like the ideal candidate as the Giants' fifth starter, but anything can happen with Kapler and his plethora of coaches running a completely new show.