Giants

Giants announce changes to Oracle Park, move bullpens to outfield

Giants announce changes to Oracle Park, move bullpens to outfield

On the first day of the Winter Meetings, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi joked that Brandon Belt might often be checking his phone these days for updates on exactly how much the Giants would be chopping out of Triples Alley. On Thursday the Giants finally made their new dimensions official, with changes that aren't all that drastic and still will keep Oracle Park as a pitchers' park with a deep alley in right-center.

It still will be difficult for left-handed hitters to yank the ball out in Triples Alley, but the Giants did change enough that offense should get a slight boost. 

With the bullpens moving from foul territory to the outfield, Triples Alley will be cut from 421 feet to 415. The wall will be five feet closer in left-center and eight feet closer in straightaway center. The bullpens will be situated in center field on either side of the garden that already exists out there. 

"Obviously it's something that started off really as a safety issue with some of what we've seen over the last couple of years, but there's going to be a fun baseball element," Zaidi said earlier this week. "We've done a lot of studies on how we think it's going to impact things but until you actually start playing games and the ball starts flying, you're never quite sure how it's going to go. It'll be a fun and exciting time."

It'll also be a much different look for relievers and fans who sit out in the bleachers. The Giants announced that several bleacher seats will directly overlook the bullpens and they will have two new standing-room terraces out there for fans. The garden in center field will also provide a direct view into the Giants' bullpen. 

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For the players, the bullpens will have padded chain link openings in the wall so they can watch the game. The centerfield wall will also be one foot shorter, going from eight to seven feet, which could aid a hitter or two every year but may also make it easier for the centerfielder to rob an opposing batter. 

The Giants expect a touch more offense from the new look, but as they ran studies in recent months, they discovered that the weather was actually the main factor in knocking down potential home runs. The heavy air will still be there at night, protecting pitchers and frustrating hitters. 

That'll be good news for Giants relievers. The press release continued one more bit of important news for that group. Both bullpens will have their own bathroom for players. 

Baseball Hall of Fame: Barry Bonds falls short in eighth straight year

Baseball Hall of Fame: Barry Bonds falls short in eighth straight year

The wait continues for Major League Baseball's all-time home run leader. 

Barry Bonds again fell well short of the needed vote total to make it to the Hall of Fame, finishing with 60.7 percent of the vote in his eighth year on the ballot. Bonds needs to get to 75 percent to make it to Cooperstown and now has just two more years to get there. 

Bonds saw a very slight uptick from 2019, when he received 59.1 percent of the vote. Since crossing over the halfway mark in 2017, he has gotten 53.8 percent, 56.4, 59.1 and now 60.7, but there is still a long way to go and not a whole lot of momentum at the moment. Bonds continues to see more support from younger voters and those who are willing to make their selections public -- he was at 71.2 percent on the 211 ballots that were released before Tuesday's announcement -- but he annually sees a big drop when the private ballots are added in. 

Bonds is MLB's all-time leader in homers and walks and was a seven-time National League MVP, but he continues to pay for his connection to performance-enhancing drugs. Roger Clemens, who has a remarkably similar case, received 61 percent of the vote this year. 

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The class will be a small one, with just Derek Jeter and Larry Walker making it. Jeter was listed on 396 of 397 ballots, coming one vote shy of joining former teammate Mariano Rivera as the only unanimous Hall of Famers. Walker made it in his final year on the ballot, clearing the threshold by just six votes. 

Two of Bonds' teammates received enough support that they will stay on the ballot. Longtime big league shortstop Omar Vizquel finished at 52.6 percent and former Giants MVP Jeff Kent at 27.5. Former A's Jason Giambi and Eric Chavez were among those who did not receive the five percent needed to stay on the ballot another year. 

Giants claim starting pitcher Luis Madero from Angels, DFA Jake Jewell

Giants claim starting pitcher Luis Madero from Angels, DFA Jake Jewell

For the second week in a row, the Giants claimed a right-hander from the Los Angeles Angels and made room on the roster by releasing another former Angel. 

This time, it was 22-year-old Luis Madero joining the organization on a waiver claim, with fellow right-hander Jake Jewell getting designated for assignment. Jewell had been claimed last Monday and the Giants cleared a spot that day by designating Zack Cozart. 

Madero, who made it to Double-A last season, seems to bring a bit more upside to an organization looking to hit on underrated prospects. He was ranked 11th in the Angels' system at the time of the waiver claim, according to MLB Pipeline. Madero had been DFA'd last week.

Madero was originally signed out of Venezuela by the Diamondbacks and has spent the last two seasons in A-ball and Double-A with the Angels. He made 24 appearances last season -- 22 of which were starts -- and posted a 5.03 ERA and 1.54 WHIP. 

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According to MLB Pipeline, Madero has a low 90s sinker and a good slider. That could be a solid combination out of the bullpen, although the Giants also are working to stockpile starting pitching depth. They figure to have a pretty good handle of what Madero is capable of, as new pitching coach Andrew Bailey came to the Giants after two years on staff with the Angels.