Giants

Giants bring back Pagan with four-year deal

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Giants bring back Pagan with four-year deal

NASHVILLE -- Giants general manager Brian Sabean was advised by doctors to stay home because of a respiratory illness and did not travel to the winter meetings, but the team still completed one major piece of offseason business on Day 1.The club and center fielder Angel Pagan agreed to terms on a four-year contract worth 40 million. The announcement is pending a physical, Giants sources say.Pagan will receive a 5 million signing bonus and annual salaries of 7 million salary in 2013, 9 million in '14, 9 million in '15 and 10 million in '16.
Pagan, 31, was a key contributor to the Giants' World Series title run this year and shined as the leadoff hitter after moving back into that role Aug. 3. He hit .288 with a .338 on-base percentage and .440 slugging percentage, scored 95 runs and led the major leagues with 15 triples -- a total that broke the San Francisco-era franchise record previously held by Willie Mays and Steve Finley.It was just the second time in his career that Pagan exceeded 125 games in a season, which is what scared off some suitors. Pagan watched two potential landing spots disappear when the Atlanta Braves signed B.J. Upton and the Washington Nationals traded for Denard Span.When Pagan couldn't get the Phillies to commit to a fifth year, he took the Giants' deal.There was a willingness on both sides to wrap up negotiations. The Giants didn't like their other options in center field, especially after gauging the brisk interest in Shane Victorino. Ichiro Suzuki was another brief consideration.But they preferred to keep together the cohesion and chemistry that helped the Giants win six playoff elimination games to reach the World Series, and Pagan was deemed a huge part of that. Also, center field prospect Gary Brown is no longer considered on the fast track to reach the big leagues.The club remains in pursuit of re-signing second baseman Marco Scutaro, although the Yankees could emerge as a competitor after learning that Alex Rodriguez would be out until June, at least, following hip surgery. With the infield market thin on choices, it's a strong possibility the Yankees will look at adding Scutaro as a third baseman.Sources say the Giants also have checked in on outfielder Scott Hairston as a right-handed platoon possibility for Gregor Blanco in left field. Hairston, 32, has been a Giant killer over his career and hit 20 home runs in 377 at-bats last season for the New York Mets.Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal was first with the news that the Giants and Pagan were close to an agreement. Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports was first to report terms and CSN Bay Area was first to report the year-by-year breakdown.

Gabe Kapler breaks down some of Giants' strategy early in season

Gabe Kapler breaks down some of Giants' strategy early in season

Two things have become clear over the first 13 Giants games. Gabe Kapler and his new coaches are going to make a lot of decisions that are slightly -- or very -- different from what we've seen from the previous regime. But Kapler is also going to be very open about explaining them.

There were a few that stuck out in Wednesday's win and during this series in Colorado, and some hit on bigger themes. Kapler was happy to dig into the thought process a little bit after Wednesday's game and again Thursday morning. Here's how he broke it all down. 

Why was Donovan Solano, not Brandon Crawford, the only player on the left side of the infield in some shifts Wednesday? The Giants have generally left Crawford to patrol the whole left side when they shift, knowing that he has more range and a better arm than their other options. But Crawford was playing a bit to the right side of the bag in those situations Wednesday, and Solano booted a grounder to "short," costing Logan Webb an early run. 

Kapler: "We've spent a lot of time looking at spray charts to determine where the ball is most likely to be hit, so where the biggest clusters are. We feel like oftentimes Craw is going to be on the other side of the (second base) bag because that's where the ball is most likely to be hit. I understand the thought, which is that Craw is very comfortable on the left side of the diamond. 

"He's in that position naturally, but we really want to catch as many balls as possible, so you kind of put your better defender, the one that's the general of the infield, in the spot that you think the ball is going to be hit."

Why are the Giants playing the infield in so often with a runner on third, especially at Coors, where you try to avoid the big inning?

Kapler: "It's trickiest at Coors, obviously, because it's such a high-run-scoring environment, and because outs are at such a premium. It's an easier answer for me when we're at Oracle or other ballparks around the league, and that answer is you actually don't lose as much of an advantage as you think when playing the infield in and you record almost as many outs. And, you guys know how win expectancy changes pretty dramatically based on the score. One of the things that you'll likely see from us is that if we're up a run, in a tie ballgame, down a run, those are opportunities for us to play aggressively and bring our infield in. 

"You'll also see us from time to time bring our infield in if we have two strikes on a batter and we started with our infield back. One of the reasons we do that is because we're maybe anticipating weaker contact on the ground and any time we can wipe out a run at the plate or record an out and keep a runner at third base, we want to do it. In Colorado it's really context-dependent and there's just some gut feel to that. It's less perfect, I'll just say that. I think you saw how we played (Trevor) Story specifically. We waited until he got a couple of strikes on him and we're always trying to apply a little pressure."

Why did Tony Watson pitch the seventh when Nolan Arenado, who was 6-for-13 against him, was due up first? Arenado hit a solo homer to cut the lead to 4-3. 

Kapler: "We know that he's not just going to face Arenado, and I know that Arenado has done damage against Watty in the past. But given the stretch of left-handed bats that were coming up and the likelihood that you're not just going to face three (batters), you might have to face four, you might have to face five -- and we have three innings to cover at that point, the seventh, the eighth and the ninth. I have three really high-quality leveraged arms to go to. Watty, Gott and Rogers, in no particular order. 

"If you think about each one of those relievers having to take down a different portion of the lineup, we felt that stretch through lefties was an optimal spot and then that would give us Rogers and Gott at the top of the lineup. That's sort of how it played out. We didn't have the best matchup there with Arenado, we know that, but we really liked the matchups coming behind him and we thought we had to make the tradeoff somewhat."

This one really was a tradeoff for Kapler and the Giants, and it worked out. Arenado did homer, but Watson did end up facing three lefties after that (plus pinch-hitter Matt Kemp) and he got out of the rest of the inning. Rogers and Gott closed it out from there. 

Why not pinch-run for Pablo Sandoval after he singled with one out in the ninth? The Giants had a one-run lead. 

Kapler: "The concept was you pinch-run for Pablo there with Pence, but in Colorado, you have to assume that there might be a run scored and you might be facing extra innings, and with the extra innings looming you still have Pence as a bench bat knowing that they have a couple lefties looming and some other matchups for Pence. Given the fact that we deployed Longo on defense, we deployed Dubon on defense, we know that that game might have gone quite a bit longer. We just didn't feel like the upgrade was going to be meaningful enough at that point."

That one was the right call, too. Crawford hit into a double play, so ultimately it wouldn't have mattered who was on first base. It was a solid night for the staff, which spends hours before and after games discussing these decisions (Kapler said he watched that botched throw to home five times with Ron Wotus and Kai Correa the other night before meeting the media). Hopefully this gives you a little insight into the process. 

Giants send Andrew Suarez, Steven Duggar to taxi squad as rosters shrink

Giants send Andrew Suarez, Steven Duggar to taxi squad as rosters shrink

There were no surprises Thursday morning when the Giants had to cut their roster down from 30 to 28 players. Left-hander Andrew Suarez and outfielder Steven Duggar got optioned, although both will stay with the Giants as members of the expanded taxi squad. 

Both young players fell victim to the schedule. Suarez was supposed to provide depth Wednesday, but Logan Webb ended up going five-plus innings and getting a lead to the bullpen. Duggar was helpful at Coors Field, but with the Giants facing a lefty (Kyle Freeland) in the finale and then Julio Urias and Clayton Kershaw in Los Angeles, they felt they could get by without the lefty-hitting Duggar. 

"We've got Urias and Kershaw and it seemed like other players on our roster were really important," manager Kapler said. "We've seen some progress with (Duggar's) at-bats, they've gotten better. I know he felt especially confident at the plate. It was a difficult decision because he felt really good. He's such a professional. He understands."

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Duggar's exclusion means the Giants will stick with others, like Pablo Sandoval, who has struggled but hit the ball harder the last couple of nights, and Mauricio Dubon, who has a .549 OPS but could start against all three lefties the Giants are facing. 

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The staff won't have to make those tough decisions in a couple of weeks. The roster was originally supposed to get cut to 26 two weeks from Thursday, but MLB and the MLBPA decided to stay at 28, with two additional taxi squad spots, as COVID-19 has impacted several teams already and pitchers have gone down around the sport. The taxi squad currently consists of Suarez, Duggar, right-handers Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Triggs, and catcher Chris Herrmann. 

"It's nice because I still think we're stretching out and building up the volume of our pitchers, so it's nice to know that we're going to have one additional pitcher," Kapler said of the late rule change. "Look, this is a really long, tough road trip to get through, especially when you have your starting pitchers not quite ready to get into the seventh and eighth and handle the real big workloads. We have to get through those with our bullpens, so it's certainly nice to have one additional pitcher even as far into the season as we are."