Five Giants takeaways in week of MLB simulation, including Yasiel Puig

Five Giants takeaways in week of MLB simulation, including Yasiel Puig

Baseball-starved fans are watching hours of classic games, playing MLB The Show and tweeting through it all while the season has been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. We've all gone a little stir crazy, and it's probably not a good sign that Netflix is on our emergency contacts list now.

Through the power of technology, though, baseball still is being played ... kind of. Baseball-Reference is using Out of the Park Baseball 21, a baseball simulation game, and posting stats, box scores and standings every day. Through one week of this simulated season, there's a lot to digest for the Giants. 

San Francisco has a 3-3 record in the simulation, good for third place in the NL West but only 1.5 games back of the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks. The Giants likely would be just fine with a .500 record after opening the season on the road against the Los Angeles Dodgers and D-backs. There's a whole lot more to unravel here, though. 

Here are five takeaways from a one-week simulation to start of the Giants' 2020 season. 

Yasiel Puig ... is a Giant 

Your wish (nightmare?) has been granted. That's right, former Dodger and Giants nemesis, Yasiel Puig, now is wearing orange and black.

In this world, Puig has played two games with the Giants, likely making him a recent free-agent signing. Through two games, Puig only has one hit in seven at-bats, but he made it count. 

The Giants took down the D-backs 7-5 on Wednesday, and Puig played a big part. Trailing 5-1 in the eighth inning, Puig hit a solo shot off Hector Rendon. The Giants then scored five runs in the ninth inning for a wild comeback win. 

As recently as three weeks ago, the Giants reportedly have shown interest in Puig. MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported last month that the Miami Marlins have offered Puig a contract, and the other team interested in him was the Giants

Puig, 29, has an .839 career OPS at Oracle Park and has hit five homers in the pitcher-friendly ballpark. Past bad blood be damned, Puig would fit a need for the Giants as a right-handed power bat.

Giants find their closer 

One of the biggest question marks this spring was at the back of the Giants' bullpen. Who would Gabe Kapler name as the team's closer? It's not that simple.

Will Smith is gone after signing with the Atlanta Braves this offseason. One obvious candidate could be Tony Watson, but he dealt with shoulder tightness in camp. The simulation has Watson appearing in two games. However, he isn't the Giants' closer. 

That title belongs to Trevor Gott. The Giants love Gott's versatility and he did close games in college and the minor leagues. He also has one save in his big league career. 

So far, so good. Gott has thrown two scoreless innings and recorded two saves in this simulated season. He surely will have an important role once the real season eventually begins, and it will be interesting to see how Kapler uses the right-hander.

Brandon Crawford stays hot

In reality, Crawford currently is spending his time playing basketball video games and creating a wild bracket for Giants fans on Twitter. But he surely would love how this simulation views the start to his season.

Crawford was crushing the ball this spring. The veteran shortstop had a .391 batting average with one home run and a 1.005 OPS. He has been even better in the regular season, too. Through six games, Crawford is 10-for-23, good for a .435 batting average and 1.049 OPS. He also has one home run and four RBI. 

This would be huge for the veteran shortstop. Crawford took a big step back last season, batting only .228 with a lowly .654 OPS. There's a chance he loses some at-bats this year against left-handed pitchers, but not if he hits like the simulation suggests. 

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How has Buster Posey hit? 

This was the first offseason in years where Posey didn't have to worry about an injury or recovering from a procedure. And it showed in spring training. 

Posey ramped up his usual workload during camp and played in 10 games before spring training shut down. He showed shades of his younger self, too, by batting .455 (10-for-22) with one homer and a 1.206 OPS. The simulation took notice. 

While the former NL MVP hasn't gone deep yet, he does have three doubles, three RBI and a .333 batting average. Posey has two more years remaining on his contract and can't imagine playing for another team. Hitting like this will only help his desires.

[RELATED: Looking back at 19 homers Giants have hit off of Kershaw]

Surprise starter

With the loss of Madison Bumgarner, the Giants have a massive hole in their rotation that nobody truly can fill. But they certainly have options. The No. 5 starter remained a bit of a mystery well into spring, though, especially after Tyler Beede underwent Tommy John surgery.

It seemed clear the Giants' first four starters would be Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Kevin Gausman and Drew Smyly. After that, it was a bit of an unknown. And this simulation has quite the wild card: Andrew Triggs. 

This surely would be surprising, and it didn't turn out to be a great idea in this alternate reality, too. Triggs, 31, didn't even pitch in the majors last year and his five appearances this spring all were out of the bullpen. In his one start, the simulation has him lasting only three innings while allowing four earned runs and walking three batters. 

Logan Webb, a candidate for the rotation, has pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings and has three strikeouts out of the bullpen. The 23-year-old seems like the ideal candidate as the Giants' fifth starter, but anything can happen with Kapler and his plethora of coaches running a completely new show.

Giants resume construction on Oracle Park outfield walls, new bullpens

Giants resume construction on Oracle Park outfield walls, new bullpens

If you've spent part of the last three months playing at Oracle Park on your PlayStation, you have a decent idea of what the outfield will look like once construction is finished. But in real life the work continues, and after taking a break because of shelter-in-place restrictions, the Giants have resumed the relocation of their bullpens. 

As part of a release sent out Monday, the Giants included a couple of pictures showing what the center field wall and Triples Alley look like right now:

The deepest part of the yard, shown in that first picture, is coming in just six feet -- from 421 to 415 -- to make room for the visiting bullpen. The center field wall is coming in eight feet and left-center will be five feet shorter. Seats were cut out of the bleachers to accommodate the bullpens, which are being moved off the field to make it safer for outfielders. 

The Giants had to pause construction in March but knew they were close enough to completion that they could get everything in place before players returned. As it turned out, they have plenty of time, as owners and players remain far apart in talks. 

[RELATED: Giants' minor league affiliate lists stadium as Airbnb rental]

You'll surely see completed images of the bullpen in the coming weeks. For now, here's a pretty good sneak peak, courtesy of "MLB: The Show."

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Giants veterans would be greatly impacted by MLB's proposal to players

Giants veterans would be greatly impacted by MLB's proposal to players

This is a short week for most workers in the United States, but for the two sides trying to get baseball back on the field, these could be their longest days of the year. 

Major League Baseball and the Players Association are trying to come to an agreement on a deal that could put players back on the field in July, but Tuesday's developments weren't positive. According to multiple reports, the proposal that MLB made Tuesday included a significant cut for the highest-paid players. The two sides already had agreed to a deal that prorates salaries, although MLB maintains that the financial situation has changed since it has become clear fans won't be allowed into games, significantly limiting revenue. 

The proposal was met with immediate backlash, with just about every national reporter tweeting that the union was disappointed and discouraged. It's easy to see why. Such a deal would have a huge impact on some of the game's biggest stars, including members of the Giants organization. 

Having missed out on Bryce Harper, the Giants don't have anyone in those highest price ranges. But they do have six players on contracts that were supposed to pay them at least $10 million this year -- including Buster Posey and Johnny Cueto above $20 million -- and 14 who would have made more than $1 million.

Most of their veterans would be taking a big cut. Jeff Samardzija, for instance, was supposed to make just under $20 million in the final year of his five-year contract. Per that proposal, he would instead play this season for just about $5 million. Cueto, who signed a few days after Samardzija, was due $21 million this year; the proposal cuts that to a little more than $5 million.  

MLB's proposal would benefit players making closer to the minimum of $563,500, just about making them whole on a prorated basis, and it does a sneaky job of potentially pitting different factions of the union against one another. But for a team like the Giants, just about everyone would be harshly impacted. There are players like Mike Yastrzemski, Mauricio Dubon and Logan Webb still breaking in, but the majority of the set roster has already gotten into arbitration years or signed lucrative free agent contracts. 

[RELATED: Giants would make faster evaluations if MLB has short season]

What's the next step? Well, it doesn't sound like MLB is ready to back down at all:

Everyone knew this would be a nasty negotiation, and Tuesday's developments provided a reminder of just how much ground there still is to cover before players can start booking those flights to Spring Training 2.0. 

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