Giants

Giants' Farhan Zaidi reflects on difficult decision at trade deadline

Giants' Farhan Zaidi reflects on difficult decision at trade deadline

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants used 64 players at the big league level, DFA'd plenty from the Opening Day roster and said goodbye to longtime second baseman Joe Panik late in the year. This was a season of transition, and there were dozens upon dozens of decisions to analyze. 

But as president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi looks back, there's one that stands out from his first year. Asked about regrets earlier this week, Zaidi took a long pause and noted that he's constantly auditing every decision. 

"The thing that I spend a lot of time thinking about is just going back to July 31 and the way the trade deadline unfolded," he said on this week's Giants Insider Podcast. "I feel like I alternate nights losing sleep about not potentially buying at the deadline and trying to improve our chances this year, or selling more at the deadline and setting ourselves up better for 2020 and going forward."

The Giants ultimately played it somewhat down the middle. A stunning July run put them back over .500 and in a crowded wild-card pack, so Zaidi held Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith -- two of the bigger pieces on the market -- to give retiring manager Bruce Bochy a chance down the stretch. At the same time, he shockingly got the Atlanta Braves to take on Mark Melancon's salary and turned a couple of solid Drew Pomeranz performances into Mauricio Dubon. Sam Dyson was also dealt for prospects.  

Looking back on that decision-making, Zaidi noted that the Giants couldn't count on beating out all the other teams in the NL Wild Card chase at the time. But this season wasn't about getting a high draft pick and loading up on prospects at any cost. Team officials repeatedly said that they wanted to compete as long as possible. 

"I do think there are two separate goals between actually making the playoffs and being involved in the playoff chase," Zaidi said during a season-ending press conference. "If we had been basically in the wild-card race until the last weekend of the season and things hadn't gone well, I still would have felt like we achieved a lot of our goals of playing meaningful baseball as deep into the season as possible.

"I feel like we made some trades that are going to set us up better for 2020 and beyond, but we also kept a lot of the ingredients that had gotten our team to the point of being in contention in place."

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The fear within the organization was that the July bubble would burst, and that did happen. But the Giants were still at .500 on Aug. 26 and hanging around in the race after sweeping a weekend series with the A's. 

"On August 26, I was really happy we still had Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith on our team and felt like those guys gave us a chance," Zaidi said. "It didn't turn out the way we wanted and we didn't have the September we wanted, but I think we owed it to our fans and to Boch and to the players to keep those guys and give us a shot to continue what we had accomplished in July leading up to the deadline."

Buster Posey looked like Comeback Player of the Year, Mike Krukow says

Buster Posey looked like Comeback Player of the Year, Mike Krukow says

At his absolutely best, Buster Posey can hit 20 home runs a season.

But in 219 games over the last two seasons, the Giants catcher has bashed a total of 12 homers.

Issues with the hips stripped Posey of his power, and he didn't look like an MVP-caliber player in 2019.

But according to Giants broadcasters Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow, they saw the old Posey in Scottsdale, Arizona during spring training in late February and early March.

"I think what he did when we got to Arizona, is he immediately passed our eye test, where the way he was moving, the way he was swinging, he was getting his hips into his swing," Kuiper told Amy Gutierrez earlier this week. "And then it was nice to actually hear him say "Yeah, I feel really, really good this spring.' I never heard him say one time last spring 'I feel really good.' He didn't.

"He's not going to tell you how he feels. But he did tell us in spring training he felt really, really good. And judging by what we saw, it certainly looked like he felt really good."

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Krukow had even higher praise for the 2012 NL MVP and three-time World Series champion.

"I thought I was looking at the Comeback Player of the Year every time I saw him step in the batter's box," Krukow said. "It's night and day. More than a couple times last year, when we watched Buster in the box, we thought 'Is he just not seeing it? He's got no lower body.' The bottom line is, he was hurt. And we always asked him ... we quit asking him that because we always got the same BS answer. He's old-school. He's not going to tell you or anybody that he doesn't feel good because he doesn't want to create an advantage for the other team. He's going to tell you 'I'm good to go. End of story. Don't even ask me again.'

[RELATED: Takeaways from GIants' simulated opener]

"But when we got down to spring training this year and it was his first at-bat, he took the first at-bat, first couple of swings, we looked at each other and went 'Mmmhmm.' Now we want to see it the next day because we'd see it everyone once in a while last year, but you wouldn't see it two or three or four days in a row. We saw it every at-bat in spring training. And at the end of spring training, that was the talk of camp, really. We thought we were looking at the Comeback Player of the Year and I believe this. This guy finally feels good, he's finally seeing the ball and his bat speed is back, his hand speed is back and that is exciting for us."

Kruk, Kuip and Giants fans everywhere will have to wait to see a rejuvenated Posey take the field again. The global coronavirus pandemic has the MLB season on hold for an undetermined amount of time.

But Kruk and Kuip's assessment of Posey gives Giants fans something to look forward to when baseball does return.

Watch Giants-Dodgers Opening Day simulation from 'MLB The Show 20'

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Watch Giants-Dodgers Opening Day simulation from 'MLB The Show 20'

Friday should've marked the Giants' home opener against the rival Los Angeles Dodgers at Oracle Park. The global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic pushed it back, as well as the rest of the MLB season, but we've got you covered with the next best thing.

You probably missed broadcasters Duane Kuiper, Mike Krukow and Amy Gutierrez bringing you the sounds of summer, but all three were on the call of NBC Sports Bay Area's simulation of the game in "MLB The Show 20" that aired Friday night. Even if you missed the broadcast, you can now watch the full simulation with Kuip, Kruk and Amy G on commentary on our YouTube page.

The virtual Giants started the 2020 season on the wrong foot, and they returned home to San Francisco in search of their first win. Could they get it in a high-scoring battle with their biggest rivals? Watch to find out, and give Giants Insider Alex Pavlovic's takeaways a read once you do.