Giants

Buster Posey's leadership will be missed by Giants in 2020 MLB season

Buster Posey's leadership will be missed by Giants in 2020 MLB season

Through a decade of playing in the big leagues, Buster Posey has every award a kid can dream of in his trophy case. He has the NL MVP. He has the NL Rookie of the Year, along with a Gold Glove, multiple Silver Slugger awards, trips around the country for All-Star Games and three shiny, sparkling World Series rings.

What can't be seen on his mantle is the invisible ingredient that helped bring the Giants their first championship since moving to San Francisco in 1958, creating a dynasty with three titles in five years. It's exactly what Posey showed Friday when he opted out of the 2020 season after adopting two babies who were born prematurely. For how great Posey has been on the field, he has been even better off it. That's what the Giants will miss most this season.

Posey's leadership is immeasurable, and it will be felt throughout the year for players and coaches alike.

When Posey called Logan Webb's first live bullpen of Summer Camp "electric," the Giants' young pitcher said, "When you hear that from one of the best to ever do it, it’s pretty cool.” Mauricio Dubon possibly could play every position for the Giants outside of catcher, yet it's Posey who he couldn't stop asking questions to in spring training and even after baseball was shut down due to the coronavirus. These players want every part of Posey's baseball brain.

“His mindset, it’s unreal so I ask him a lot of questions about this, that, hitting, approaches -- about a bunch of different stuff,” Dubon said.

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Webb and Dubon are 23 and 25 years old respectively. They're two players who are expected to play a big role in the Giants' bright future. Posey being around these types of young players every day was seen as invaluable for the Giants. Now, that's gone.

And that brings us back to Joey Bart.

Ever since the Giants drafted Bart -- a catcher out of Georgia Tech -- No. 2 overall in 2018, questions surfaced when he would take over for Posey. Bart has excelled in big league camp at spring training the last two years while watching and learning from Posey every single day. The top prospect was expected to continue his development and start the season in Triple-A Sacramento this year, but that plan changed with the cancellation of the minor league season. Still, Bart had a great opportunity the moment Giants players returned to Oracle Park on July 1.

Bart, 23, again could observe and digest from Posey. He could see how Posey communicates with pitchers, how he prepares every day and how he makes his teammates better. Bart very well could make his major league debut this season, but Posey won't be there for the ups and downs of the bigs.

What Bart absorbed from Posey the last two springs won't be forgotten, though. That goes for if the hyped prospect finds his way to San Francisco this season or next. Those lessons never will go away. The same goes with the lesson Posey showed every Giant in his latest selfless act.

[RELATED: Posey gets it right again with toughest decision of career]

"My wife, myself, and our older children are just overwhelmed with joy to welcome them into our family, to love them unconditionally, and just share life with them," Posey said when announcing his decision.

Those words should never slip our minds. Posey has shared a baseball field with friends and teammates since he was a young child. His talent and hard work made his love for the game his everyday job, one that supports a family with his wife, Kristen, and their now four children. For how much he must love sharing a ballpark with so many every day, there is no greater joy than sharing life with a family.

Posey was coming into this season his healthiest in years. He very well could have been due for a resurgence, cementing himself again as one of the best catchers in baseball. Instead, he once again reminded us he's one of the best people in baseball and beyond.

The Giants will miss Posey's leadership more than anything this season. His latest lesson, however, will be felt throughout the clubhouse and only furthers his legacy.

Astros getting 'free pass' with no fans in 2020, Mike Krukow believes

Astros getting 'free pass' with no fans in 2020, Mike Krukow believes

It was supposed to be a season of boos for the Houston Astros. After being implicated in a sign-stealing scandal this past offseason that saw Houston's manager and general manager be dismissed and suspended from MLB for the entire 2020 season, the Astros became public enemy No. 1 among the other 29 fanbases around the league.

But the coronavirus pandemic forced MLB to play the 2020 season without fans allowed in the ballpark, eliminating the potential for trash can bangs and vocal criticism throughout Houston's games. Prior to the start of the Giants' three-game series against the Astros at Minute Maid Park, broadcasters Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper discussed how Houston is benefiting from the lack of MLB spectators.

"I think the Astros get a free pass this year because there's no fans in the stands," Krukow said on Monday's telecast. "I think that's where the abuse would have come from, they'd had signs that would have been creative, entertaining, mean-spirited, but they deserve it, they got caught."

[RELATED: Laureano-Astros brawl reminder for Giants to be responsible]

On the day before the Astros opened up the series against San Francisco, Houston was involved in a bench-clearing brawl with the A's after Oakland outfielder Ramon Laureano and Astros coach Alex Cintrón exchanged words. Laureano had been hit by a pitch three times in the series, and said the Houston coach mentioned his mother during the argument, causing Laureano to charge toward the Astros dugout.

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly already received an eight-game suspension after throwing at and taunting multiple Astros hitters, and Laureano likely will be facing discipline as well.

While the Astros won't face any angry fans during the 2020 season, they shouldn't be surprised to see opposing players who were impacted by the sign-stealing expressing their frustrations.

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Giants reminded by Ramón Laureano-Astros brawl to be responsible, safe

Giants reminded by Ramón Laureano-Astros brawl to be responsible, safe

MLB teams have spent the last couple of weeks reinforcing their health and safety protocols, and as the Giants embarked on this three-city trip, they made some changes, including to the types of masks that some members of the traveling party were wearing on flights. 

Every move is made with safety in mind, but on the field, it can still be hard to remember the backdrop of this season. That was the case Sunday, when A's outfielder Ramón Laureano charged the Astros dugout after hitting coach Alex Cintron reportedly made a vile comment about his mother. The ensuing fracas was a nightmare image for the league in an age of social distancing. Laureano is expected to get suspended, and Cintron could face a lengthy suspension for taunting a player into the incident.

A day later, as Gabe Kapler prepared for his turn with the Astros, the manager said the brawl was used by the Giants as a kickstart for another discussion about being responsible. He spoke to his large coaching staff Monday.

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

"I think it's a reminder to be especially aware and sensitive that right now everybody has their stress levels at their highest, because not only are we combining the stress of a major league baseball season and a modified shortened sprint as it is, but we're also doing it under conditions that we've never seen before," Kapler said. "Just the awareness that we're probably already a little bit emotionally charged will help us stay cool under conditions that would normally force us to move out onto the field. 

"I think most of this is about just a heightened level of sensitivity and awareness that we're already pretty stressed out, and leading with a little bit of empathy and understanding, I think that'll put us in a good spot."

The Giants have already played seven games against the Dodgers without incident and shouldn't have any issues with the Astros. Aside from president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, the former Dodgers GM, they don't have anyone who could have a real beef with the sign-stealing scandal that was the biggest story of this past offseason. 

[RELATED: Minor trade is milestone moment for front office]

Some players have said it's extremely easy to hear conversations and expletives in these games being played without fans. The Astros have already had benches-clearing incidents with the Dodgers and A's, but Kapler said he hadn't heard anything thus far that stood out too much. 

"I've seen less jawing with the other team than I would normally see," he said. "There's kind of the same level of interaction with umpires that we've seen in the past. I think one thing that we've been considering is what's the best strategy there, since it's so easy to hear what we're saying to the umpire and to each other in the dugout. Sometimes it has to do with just kind of dialing our voices down a little bit."