Giants

Farhan Zaidi knows Buster Posey's backup is big decision for Giants

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AP

Farhan Zaidi knows Buster Posey's backup is big decision for Giants

Joey Bart is not making the Giants' Opening Day roster, no matter how well he does this spring in big league camp. It's simple as that. 

San Francisco's top catching prospect likely will start the season in Triple-A Sacramento. He might be the Giants' most talented catcher behind Buster Posey, but the backup job will have to go to someone else. 

The Giants' battle to be Posey's backup currently consists of 30-year-old Rob Brantly and 28-year-old Tyler Heineman. Both players spent the majority of last season in Triple-A and haven't played many games in the big leagues. That's a huge step down from Stephen Vogt, who had a great season for the Giants last year. 

And Farhan Zaidi knows it. Zaidi, the Giants' president of baseball operations, recently showed belief in the two catchers but made it clear the front office might make another move. 

"That backup catcher role, if you're playing once or twice a week -- having a guy who can give you quality at-bats is really important," Zaidi said Monday on KNBR's "Murph & Mac Show." Both of those guys can do that. 

"They both have legitimate shots, but we also told those guys, 'Hey, we may go out and get somebody else. Either somebody else who's in the competition or maybe even jumps to the front of the line.' So those guys are aware of that, and we'll keep an eye out. We'll keep looking for the best possible option."

With only a handful of spring training games in the book, it seems a move isn't imminent. 

"I don't want to diminish the in-house chances that these guys have to win that job," Zaidi continued. "Again, they're not necessarily the most proven options at the big league level, but we like what we've seen so far." 

[RELATED: Bochy praises Bart, will have large role in minor leagues]

Posey caught 101 games last season, and 88 the year before. He still is one of the best defensive catchers in baseball, but as he turns 33 years old in one month, manager Gabe Kapler would be wise to limit Posey's innings behind the plate. Quietly, backup catcher is one of the most important positions on the Giants. 

Bart, meanwhile, is expected to be in San Francisco at some point this season. That won't be right away, though. Either Brantly or Heineman figure to be on the roster next month. That is, unless the Giants make a move. 

Help eventually is on the way, but the Giants have a big decision to make in order to get the best out of Posey and the rest of their roster right now.

MLB announces plan to financially support minor leaguers through May 31

MLB announces plan to financially support minor leaguers through May 31

The abrupt end to spring training was a shock to big leaguers, but for the most part, they haven't had many concerns outside of finding a way to keep sharp and in shape while staying at home. It's a group that is extremely well off financially, and a recent agreement between Major League Baseball and the Players Association guaranteed that big leaguers will get paid a portion of their salaries even if the season is canceled. 

There were a lot of concerns, though, when minor leaguers were sent home at the same time. Many of them go paycheck-to-paycheck and they had not been paid since last August, the end of the 2019 minor league season. On Tuesday, MLB took a step towards making sure minor leaguers are financially secure as the sport continues to be shut down by the coronavirus (COVID-19). 

MLB announced that minor leaguers will be paid and receive medical benefits through May 31 or until the beginning of their season, whichever occurs first. According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, the players will be receiving $400 a week. The league had previously announced financial support through April 8, but it has become clear that professional baseball will not resume until late May at the very earliest. 

The salary will be less than what most at the upper levels of the minors are used to, but still will be a huge boost for young players who were sent home with little direction about what to do next and when they might get their next paycheck. The Giants had decided in February to raise weekly salaries this season, with Triple-A players getting $750 and players at other levels also getting a modest bump. 

[RELATED: Crawford Madness: Giants SS creates fan favorites bracket]

On a conference call with reporters a couple weeks ago, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said the organization already was providing financial support to minor leaguers that went above MLB's first proposal. The Giants have closed their minor league facility in Scottsdale but more than a dozen international signees remain in the area because they cannot fly home. The Giants are providing financial support, housing and meal assistance to those players. 

Brandon Crawford creates Giants fan favorites bracket to fill tournament void

Brandon Crawford creates Giants fan favorites bracket to fill tournament void

When the Giants moved into their new clubhouse at Scottsdale Stadium last month, a young reliever looked up at the ceiling and smiled. There were 10 flat screen televisions hanging all around the room. 

"This is going to be great for the tourney," he said, smiling. 

Yes, when it comes to March Madness, the Giants are no different than their fans. They fill out brackets, pay close attention to games ending in the morning, and check in on scores when they come out of Cactus League games. That was one of the many experiences that was missed this month when COVID-19 shut down the sports world, forcing the NCAA to cancel the men's and women's basketball tournaments.

But Brandon Crawford has tried to fill some of that void for Giants fans. 

Crawford put together the #BCrawBracket, which is being voted on by his followers on Twitter and Instagram. The shortstop and lifelong Giants fan seeded 64 players from the 1990-2009 teams and asked Giants fans to vote for their favorites. 

On Monday, I asked Crawford how this all came together.

"First of all," he said, "I love brackets."

On what would have been Opening Day, Crawford asked his Twitter followers to choose between four bracket ideas: Best cereal; best candy; best hip-hop artist/group; and favorite Giants player. The last category won with 45 percent of the vote, although Crawford -- knowing how much research would go into that one -- wasn't necessarily hoping it would. 

"Then I was thinking, do I go all-time Giants? Do I go current Giants or recent?" he said. "But then I'd have to rank guys that I've played with or am currently playing with. So that didn't seem like it would be very fun."

Crawford ended up ranking fan favorites who got any service time between 1990 -- the first year he can remember going to games -- through 2009. He didn't debut for the team until 2011, but set the cutoff before 2010 because that first championship team would have skewed the voting. 

"I thought what would be kind of cool for me also is that it's kind of my entire Giants fan years," he said. "I was thinking like a fan, kind of, during those years for the most part. I was trying to think about (this bracket) how a fan potentially would."

Crawford grew up attending games at Candlestick Park, so he was able to put together most of the bracket just off memory. He called his dad, Mike, and got some additional names -- like Rick Reuschel -- from the early 90s teams. He also sprinkled in a few of his own favorites, like Emmanuel Burriss, an infielder who never turned into an everyday player for the Giants but did have a huge impact on another young shortstop coming through the system. 

"There's obviously some personal bias in a couple of them," Crawford said. "He was almost like my mentor coming up. He was telling me what was expected of me."

The voting started Saturday on Crawford's Twitter page and Instagram story (there will be two different end results). Most of the early matchups were blowouts, although Russ Ortiz -- who would solicit votes in Round 2 -- did beat Jose Uribe 52-48. He said he hasn't been surprised much thus far, and on Monday he unveiled the Sweet 16, which included 15 of the top 16 seeds, with only Brian Wilson crashing the party after beating No. 3 seed Robby Thompson. 

[RELATED: Kapler revealed Crawford created self in 2K]

Crawford has been getting about 4,000 votes in every Twitter poll, with fans confirming his initial suspicions that players who were on that 2010 team would get extra support. For instance, Royce Clayton, one of Crawford's childhood heroes got blown out as the No. 9 seed against No. 8 Edgar Renteria. 

"That was a tough one. That was a tough one for me," Crawford said. "Did he really deserve a nine seed? I don't know. He got beat out by a World Series MVP, though, so it's understandable."