Giants

Derek Law looks for silver linings after disappointing end to offseason

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AP

Derek Law looks for silver linings after disappointing end to offseason

SAN FRANCISCO -- After a crushing loss in the NLDS three years ago, the Giants had a choice to make. They ultimately went out and spent $62 million on a closer, but back then, there were factions of the organization that preferred for the solution to come internally, with Derek Law one of a few potential options for the ninth inning. 

Law was coming off a strong rookie season and was a big part of the future at Oracle Park. Two years later, he found himself sitting at home as the rest of his teammates gathered for FanFest, where he’s usually one of the more entertaining players on the stage. Law was designated for assignment to clear a roster spot for John Andreoli, who later would also be DFA’d. 

“I kind of knew nobody was going to pick me up, because if guys aren’t signing all the free agents that are really darn good, then they’re not going to take a chance on me,” he said. “It’s kind of a kick in the nuts, because 29 other teams didn’t take you.”

The roster churn has become a part of daily life in the Giants clubhouse, but that doesn’t make it any easier to take when your name gets called. Law was caught off guard a bit. He didn’t get DFA’d until Feb. 1, and by that time he already had his spring training flights booked. 

[RELATED: Breaking down Giants' camp competitions as games begin]

After he was done throwing one morning in Pittsburgh, Law saw that he had a missed call from a San Francisco area code. Assistant general manager Jeremy Shelley gave him the bad news.

“When it finally happens,” Law said, “You’re in a weird sort of limbo.”

The waiver process is a quiet one if you go unclaimed. Law didn’t hear anything about his future until the sixth day of the seven-day period. A day later, the Giants announced he was outrighted to Triple-A and would be in big league camp, this time as a non-roster player. Ironically, Andreoli went through the exact same transaction. 

The timing was poor in a number of ways, including the fact that Law preparing for what he felt could be a huge camp. He says this is the best he has felt physically since coming back from Tommy John rehab. After two down years, Law started throwing earlier in the offseason, and he was taking part in live BP sessions before the rest of the Giants got to Scottsdale. 

Law’s peripheral numbers were better in the second half of the 2018 minor league season after he altered his pitch mix. He even found himself excited by the addition of Farhan Zaidi. Offseason workout partner Adam Liberatore pitched under Zaidi with the Dodgers and told Law that Zaidi would find ways to play to his strengths. 

Then came the bad news, but perhaps Law can find hope in something Zaidi has said repeatedly. The new president of baseball operations believes strongly in looking at a player’s track record from a few years back, and Law, still just 28, isn’t too far removed from posting a 2.13 ERA in 61 appearances as a rookie. 

[RELATED: Ray Black embracing analytics ahead of second season]

That’s the type of performance the Giants have not forgotten. 

“This is going to be big for him, how he bounces back,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s always a tough deal coming off a roster. You can handle it one of two ways: You get down on yourself, or show that you deserve to be back on the roster and be up here. I think he’s got a great attitude.”

That showed the day Law walked into camp, a smile on his face as he hugged teammates. The roster move was bad timing, but Law said he won’t allow it to change the way he approaches the season. This is an organization that has sped up the pace of transactions, but that also means you can quickly be back on the positive end when you pitch well. 

“The silver lining is I’m here,” he said, “And we’ll see what happens at the end of the spring.”

Could Madison Bumgarner's bad road stats hurt him in MLB free agency?

Could Madison Bumgarner's bad road stats hurt him in MLB free agency?

Madison Bumgarner is entering free agency at a curious time in his career. The longtime Giants ace has built a legendary reputation, but plenty of question marks also surround the 30-year-old.

Bumgarner proved he's still a workhorse after missing time the previous two seasons with freak injuries. His 34 starts were tied for the MLB lead, and his 207 2/3 innings pitched ranked second in the NL.

But while looking at Bumgarner's stats from this past season, one thing stands out that could hurt him in free agency and actually help the Giants if they want to bring back the left-hander.

MadBum's home-road splits were staggering in 2019. He was a completely different pitcher in front of the home crowd at Oracle Park, compared to pitching away from San Francisco.

Here are Bumgarner's home stats this past season, compared to when he pitched on the road.

Home: 19 GS, 6-2, 2.93 ERA, 122 2/3 IP, 40 ER, 15 HR, 120 SO, 21 BB, 0.93 WHIP, 5.71 SO/W
Away: 15 GS, 3-7, 5.29 ERA, 85 IP, 50 ER, 15 HR, 83 SO, 22 BB, 1.41 WHIP, 3.77 SO/W

Oracle Park is known as a pitcher's dream. In fact, the Giants' home park was the least favorable for offenses this season by Park Factors, per ESPN. The 11-year veteran used that his advantage, but that luxury didn't follow him on the road.

Bumgarner allowed the same amount of homers in four fewer road games as he did at home. He also walked one more batter and allowed five more hits -- 98 on the road, compared to 93 at home. For someone with a lot of mileage on his arm and his fastball declining in velocity, that's certainly alarming.

[RELATED: Astros call possible Giants target Cole 'West Coast guy']

As a pitcher who's never tested the open market and has spent his entire career in a pitcher's paradise, these numbers will be looked at closely by front offices around the league this offseason.

Bumgarner figures to join Gerrit Cole, among others, as the most coveted starting pitchers in free agency. So, while his road numbers could help the Giants in keeping him in San Francisco, they also could prevent the veteran from signing the hefty contract he likely desires.

Alex Dickerson's bright future with Giants clouded by injury concerns

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USATSI

Alex Dickerson's bright future with Giants clouded by injury concerns

SAN FRANCISCO -- Once he hires a manager and general manager, Farhan Zaidi will turn to the heavy lifting. The main goal this offseason is to make the Giants lineup more competitive, particularly at home. It would be a lot easier to do that if the Giants knew exactly what they could count on from a midseason acquisition. 

Alex Dickerson changed the course of the season when he joined the Giants at Chase Field in late June against the Diamondbacks, bringing left-handed thunder to the lineup and life to the dugout as a struggling team briefly put it all together with a memorable July run. But Dickerson's season ended up going a familiar route.

He was available to Zaidi only because he had been unable to stay available for the Padres, and an oblique injury wrecked Dickerson's second half. 

That didn't leave a bad taste in his mouth, though. As Dickerson stood in front of his locker the final week of the season, he pointed out that he didn't play an inning in the big leagues the previous two seasons. 

"I just wanted to get out and compete again, and I knew there were going to be ups and downs," he said. 

The highs were game-changers for the Giants. Dickerson drove in six runs in his Giants debut and didn't slow down until he was forced to the Injured List the first week of August. In 30 games over that stretch, he hit .386 with six homers, 10 doubles, 23 RBI and a 1.222 OPS. The Giants went 20-10 when he was in the lineup. 

That's certainly not sustainable, but nothing about what Dickerson was doing looked particularly flukey, either. He has always flashed power and he showed good plate discipline and a short swing that first month. 

The oblique injury put a halt to all that, and when Dickerson returned, it was touch-and-go the rest of the way. He never felt quite comfortable, hitting .164 with three extra-base hits over his final 67 at-bats, which were scattered because he was able to start only 14 times the final six weeks. 

Looking back, Dickerson feels he returned earlier than he should have, but he has no regrets because the Giants were trying to stay in the race. He said his swing got out of whack and he was never able to find it again because he didn't go through a normal rehab process. 

There were positives, though. Dickerson's surgically-repaired back and elbow were not an issue, and he plans to be aggressive in attacking the oblique pain this offseason. Dickerson said he will do additional research and talk to as many experts as he can in an attempt to increase his core mobility and make sure the oblique pain does not return. For the first time in a long time, he's not rehabbing going into the offseason. That's a comforting feeling. 

"It'll just be a normal offseason and building up and getting in shape to hopefully play a full season next year," he said. 

[RELATED: Watch Giants prospect get ejected on call by robot ump]

Given Dickerson's history -- he has never played more than 84 games -- the Giants can't count on a full year. But they're hopeful that Dickerson, who is arbitration-eligible and a lock to return, can be part of the solution. They can manage his health as long as that bat is still helping win games. 

"With the impact potential he showed, he's going to play as much as his body will allow," Zaidi said.