Giants

Down on the Farm: Meet the Giants' 'Homeless Minor Leaguer'

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San Jose Giants/Tim Cattera

Down on the Farm: Meet the Giants' 'Homeless Minor Leaguer'

Matt Paré sat in a Boston coffee shop sipping his drink in January of 2015 while columnist Steve Buckley typed away at his next story for the Boston Herald. A simple thought popped into Paré’s head as he looked to occupy himself — Well, now what do I do? 

You know the saying. Monkey see, monkey do. I’m not taking it to the Michael Scott level, but Paré went along with the saying. He started writing too. Next question — Where do I put my words? 

Paré started a blog, and with the help of Buckley, there was no need for a third question to make up a name for his site. 

Homeless Minor Leaguer. 

“He (Buckley) had covered minor league baseball for three years I think way back in the day, and he joked, ‘Oh you’re just a homeless minor leaguer’ and that kind of stuck,” Paré explains as he winds down his fifth minor league season in the Giants’ farm system. 

Buckley’s joke stemmed from Paré's offseason routine starting after he graduated from Boston College in 2013 and signed with the Giants as an undrafted free agent. Every year, Paré would go back to Boston and couch surf at different friends’ places, including Buckley’s. The two met during Paré’s time at Boston College. Buckley hosts a charity Old Time Baseball Game in Cambridge, Mass., and the two bonded the summer after Paré’s sophomore season when he couldn’t play in the game due to knee surgery. Still, he wanted to be a part of the event and wound up there from 9 a.m. until midnight to do all he could. 

The first entry Paré ever wrote for Homeless Minor Leaguer begins like this

I hate the name of this blog…

Because it holds too much truth.

Who would want to be “homeless” and be a minor leaguer for most of his emerging adulthood? Until a month ago, I drove a 12-year-old car with the “check engine” light on as a permanent interior feature. I questioned my frugality and common sense when I recently took out a car loan to buy a new car.  To give you some perspective, I make below the poverty line and sometimes think about filling out an application for food stamps.

Since September alone, I have slept at over 20 different locations with the sleeping arrangements including, but not limited to futons, pull-out couches, standard couches, air mattresses, a bean bag, and a surprisingly comfortable shaggy rug. Sometimes, I had the luxury of sleeping in an actual bed.

But then, Paré wants to make it clear how grateful he is to play baseball for a living. He was drafted in the 26th round by the Astros out of high school before turning that down to attend Boston College. His four years didn’t go as planned on the field, but the Giants gave him his second chance. Behind the plate, the 26-year-old will fight to continue his baseball dream with the San Jose Giants. Off the field, he has other dreams too. 

Granted, no one is holding a gun to my head forcing me into this adverse lifestyle, but I have higher aspirations and goals than this for my remaining youth, whether it’s as an everyday catcher in the MLB or a successful entrepreneur. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing baseball for a living, and I’m very privileged to have the opportunity and thankful for the lessons and experiences that the game gives me.

After eight months of writing about topics ranging from dating to video games to acceptance, Paré turned from blogging to vlogging. 

“I have no background whatsoever in it,” Paré said, who earned his degree in Human Development and Organizational Studies. “It’s all self taught and doing my own research and reading and ironically watching YouTube videos on it.” 

Paré released his first comedy sketch in early January of last year with "Minor Leaguers Need Your Help." Months following that first sketch, Paré dropped parodies on subjects such as a Minor League Baseball dating app, ridiculous recruiting videos, Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood," and NBC's "The Wall."

For the last year, Homeless Minor Leaguer has truly evolved. Paré now has another team off the field that includes Ty Kelly of the Phillies, who writes scripts with him and acted with him in Paré's favorite Homeless Minor Leaguer video to date, along with two producers, an animator, and a music composer. Plus, independent film workers help Paré's team whenever they are needed.  

"I’ve been able to work with such amazing people and going forward we have such amazing things planned," Paré said of his off the field team.

On the acting side, Paré joined another Giant on YouTube last year as Hunter Pence and his wife Lexi made a video titled, "We Adopt a Minor Leaguer!"

This season, Paré was able to know Pence even better as a teammate when the right fielder rehabbed in San Jose.

"He doesn't act like he's bigger than anyone else," Paré said on Pence. "He's such a presence in a clubhouse.

"Off the field, same guy. He's amazing. It was awesome working with Hunter and Lexi. She's helped me out with YouTube stuff in the past. A good resource that I still keep in contact with."

During the season, keeping up with the grind and growing another passion off the field can be hard. Paré toyed with doing a Day in the Life vlog during the season, but that proved to be too much. Instead in his downtime, he's been writing scripts for videos that will be shot in the offseason. 

No videos have been posted to the Homeless Minor Leaguer YouTube page since June 3. That's about to be much different. 

"We’re going to start putting out a video a week starting November 1," Paré revealed. "Basically we’re gonna be doing a bunch of bulk shooting this offseason so I don’t have to worry about anything this season because it’s hard. It really is."

Of the upcoming videos that Paré could give a sneak peak of, kicking off the once a week video campaign is a Superhero spinoff that stars Ty Simpkins, who has played large roles in Jurassic World, Insidious and Iron Man 3. Another video Paré is really excited to put out is for all the Harry Potter fans. The premise brings light to the second-most popular sports at Hogwarts besides quidditch. No spoilers. 

What started as a simple writing platform in the offseason is now becoming much more than just an offseason hobby. And, ironically, another home. Paré and his partner Kelly are moving to Los Angeles in the offseason. There Paré will take acting lessons and as a writing duo, their ideas have already reached eyes beyond YouTube. 

"We actually just sold our first script to a prodcuction company," Paré said. "We sold it and not only did we sell it but they are making it one of the final 20 episodes for their upcoming season.

"I can't say what it's for yet, but it's for an online streaming platform." 

For now, everyone that works on Homeless Minor Leaguer is doing so pro bono. That is sure to change soon as the project rapidly grows. 

"It’s just amazing how passionate everyone is working on Homeless Minor Leaguer and I’m so thankful I have a core group of people," he says.

When asked what Homeless Minor Leaguer means to him, Paré looks at the bigger picture. He is not alone in this journey and he wouldn't change a thing. 

"Homeless Minor Leaguer represents a lot of guys," Paré said. "I'm not the only Homeless Minor Leaguer. But in order to pursue your goals of playing in the big leagues, every guy has to go through the minor leagues and I'm sure if you ask those guys about their experiences in minor league baseball, they wouldn't trade them for anything." 

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.

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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. 

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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.