Giants

2019 Giants Position Preview: Nothing changes at the infield corners

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USATSI

2019 Giants Position Preview: Nothing changes at the infield corners

SAN FRANCISCO — The dirt around first base might be the busiest spot on the diamond once players begin full-squad workouts at Scottsdale Stadium next month. Because so many infielders need to get their arms into shape, there’s an endless stream of throws to first, with a seemingly endless supply of coaches and fill-ins on the receiving end. 

Brandon Belt gets his work in, of course. But others — from catchers to trainers to Madison Bumgarner — find their way over to first to catch a few balls and throw some variety into the spring. This time around, there won’t be many new faces in that mix. 

First and third base are like every other group on the roster. There haven’t been significant changes, so the Giants will head to camp with Belt at first and Evan Longoria at third and not much new behind them. 

Yesterday we looked at the catchers. Today, in Part II of this preview series, we look at the corners of the infield, where nothing has changed … 

Returning: Brandon Belt, Evan Longoria, Pablo Sandoval, Ryder Jones. 

Belt is said to be doing well after minor knee surgery in September, and as always he enters camp as a good bet to lead the Giants in most hitting categories … if he can stay healthy. For the first time, he’ll be in camp as a 30-year-old. Longoria, 33, appears to have survived a winter of whispers. The Giants contacted other teams about a salary swap, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Bay Area, but could not find a match. 

The hope is that these two can bring some pop and consistency back to the lineup. Longoria’s offensive numbers took a slight dip after the All-Star break, but the Giants are hopeful he’ll hit better in his second season at Oracle Park. He was strong defensively late in the season, and the gloves at the corners should be one of this team’s few strengths. 

Sandoval is in the final year of his massive Red Sox deal but the Giants are on the hook for just the minimum. He has the potential to be one of the most interesting players on the roster given Farhan Zaidi’s affinity for versatility. Could Sandoval platoon with Longoria at times? Could he again play second base? Would the Giants let him become a two-way player of sorts after his successful pitching debut in 2018? Stay tuned. 

Jones, 24, suffered a brutal break in September when his knee gave out, costing him a chance at significant playing time given all the other injuries. He has dabbled with the outfield in the past, and perhaps Zaidi will give him more time there this spring. 

The departed

Nothing of significance. 

Free agent additions

Nope.

Non-roster invitees: Zach Green. 

The Sacramento native is intriguing. Green is just 24 and a former third-round pick, so he certainly does not fit the profile (think Kyle Blanks, Kyle Jensen, etc.) of corner guys brought in recently. In Double-A last season, in the tough Eastern League, Green hit .296/.375/.578 with 17 homers. His slash line dipped to .248/.312/.432 in Triple-A, where he figures to start this season. He’s the type the Giants should be taking a chance on. Perhaps they’ll strike gold as Zaidi did a few times in Los Angeles. 

Outlook

It’s no secret that the Giants hoped to drop some salary from this position group, but having failed to do that, they’ll enter the season relatively strong in the corners. The most interesting aspect of first-and-third is just how much versatility Zaidi demands. The Giants, as currently constructed, may be served well by letting Belt play some left field again, if his knees can handle it. Buster Posey will need to play plenty of first after hip surgery and others like Aramis Garcia and Austin Slater can slide there if that’s best for the lineup. 

Longoria had a .669 OPS against righties last season and Sandoval was at .816, so there may be a bit more platooning there. That would be a huge adjustment for Longoria, a star and everyday player since the moment he broke into the big leagues. 

Dodgers getting Astros' titles still wouldn't match Giants' decade

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USATSI

Dodgers getting Astros' titles still wouldn't match Giants' decade

The outrage continues in Tinseltown.

As the fallout from the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal continues, many have called into question the Astros’ 2017 World Series title, a thrilling seven-game series victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

With the championship appearing to be tainted by Houston’s systematic tracking of pitching signals, the Los Angeles city council unanimously passed a resolution last week urging Major League Baseball to rescind the victory from the Astros and award it to the runner-up Dodgers. The resolution also included the 2018 World Series, which the Dodgers lost to the Boston Red Sox in five games. Boston remains under investigation for similar allegations.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred pushed back on the idea, pointing to the MLB’s history with not altering the past.

“Whatever the impact of the sign stealing was, it could have changed who was in the World Series,” Manfred said earlier this week on Fox Business’ “Mornings with Maria." “It’s absolutely unclear that the Dodgers would have been the World Series champion. I think there's a long tradition in baseball of not trying to change what happened. I think the answer from our perspective is to be transparent about what the investigation showed and let our fans make their own decision about what happened.”

Followers of the Giants’ archrival definitely made up their own minds, as they flocked to Dodgers FanFest on Saturday.

Pantone 294, one of the Dodgers’ fan groups, also has organized an outing to the Los Angeles Angels’ home opener against the Astros. The group’s website wants LA fans to flock to Anaheim and “support the team that's playing the game we all know and love the right way!”

Even if by Manfred pulled a complete 180 and decided to not only take away championships from both Houston and Boston, but award them to the Dodgers, they’d still have fewer rings than the Giants have won over the past 30 years.

Nothing got the fans in LA more fired up than watching the Giants bring home three World Series titles over a five-year stretch, firmly cementing them as the NL West's team of the decade.

We all know this isn’t emblematic of every Dodgers fan, as many have voiced their opinion that being awarded two championships doesn't mean anything after the fact, especially when everyone watched them get obliterated by the Red Sox in five games and only score one run in Game 7 against the Astros in 2017.

No matter how many signs might have been stolen, only scoring one run in a World Series game isn't going to get you a win in almost every situation.

Some players, including third baseman Justin Turner, made it clear they aren't interested in receiving a ring that doesn't feel earned.

Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling, however, is cheering on fans choosing to waste their time and money heckling Houston.

“I like it,” Stripling said (h/t Los Angeles Times). “The Dodger fans are fired up. If they want to do their part, and they think that is what it is, then kudos to them. Go do it.

“I know that they’re passionate, and they wanted a championship as much as we did. Obviously, they have still got some fire in their belly to go fight for us.”

[RELATED: Mailbag: Will Beede, Webb be with Giants come Opening Day?]

While the official punishments likely are over for the Astros, it appears they still will be living rent-free in many Dodger fans’ heads all season long.

Meanwhile, Giants fans can sit back and enjoy three, controversy-free World Series trophies residing inside Oracle Park.

MLB rumors: Former Giants GM Bobby Evans interviewed for Astros job

MLB rumors: Former Giants GM Bobby Evans interviewed for Astros job

A little over a year after he was fired, former Giants general manager Bobby Evans could land on his feet.

Evans interviewed for the open Houston Astros general manager position, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported Saturday, citing sources.

Evans spent four seasons as the general manager of the Giants before being reassigned within the organization at the end of the 2018 season. Including the 2019 season, Evans has spent the last 26 seasons in San Francisco.

The Astros are in need of a new GM and manager after Jeff Luhnow and AJ Hinch were fired in the fallout from the sign-stealing scandal that has rocked baseball in recent weeks.

Houston is tainted at the moment, but Evans would be inheriting a roster that still possesses the talent to compete for a World Series, with or without trash cans.

While serving as assistant general manager for the Giants, Evans helped lead to the team to World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014. But his tenure as GM wasn't as successful. A lot of the moves Evans made, including the signings of Mark Melancon, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Denard Span, didn't lead to the desired results.

[RELATED: Evans' dismissal hard on Giants players]

With Farhan Zaidi and Scott Harris at the helm of the Giants, it makes sense for Evans to consider outside opportunities, even if the Astros are the black eye of baseball.

Both Evans and the Astros need second chances, so this could be the perfect marriage if the two sides can come to an agreement.