Giants let go of nearly half of pro scouts as internal shuffling begins

Giants let go of nearly half of pro scouts as internal shuffling begins

SAN FRANCISCO -- For months, people throughout the Giants organization have expected sweeping changes once the final game is played. The first wave came a bit early. 

On Tuesday, the Giants let go of eight members of their pro scouting staff while informing 12 others that they will be kept on, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said. Brian Johnson, who hit a memorable homer in 1997 and later proved crucial with advance work during World Series runs, was among those let go. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the others are Steve Balboni, Darren Wittke, Matt Nerland, Tim Rock, Glen Tufts, Bob Mariano and Andy Skeels, who managed members of the current core when he was in San Jose. 

"It's a good group of people that have made contributions to this organization over, in some cases, long periods of time and been part of some big moments in Giants history on the field," Zaidi said. "It's obviously sad in that respect, but obviously we're really appreciative of their contributions over that time and we wish those guys the best." 

The Giants had one of the larger pro scouting staffs in the big leagues, but the trend throughout the game in recent years has been to rely more heavily on video work. Zaidi said the Giants will replace some of the fired scouts, but he wasn't sure how many of the spots the organization will fill. 

The Giants already have beefed up their video and analytics staff and much of the traditional "advance scouting" work can now be done by watching clips rather than having a scout in-stadium. They now have two members of the front office traveling with the team and giving data to coaches and players before every game. Zaidi said that it's becoming more and more important to dedicate scouting resources to the low levels of the minor leagues, all the way down to the Dominican Summer League and rookie ball.

"Obviously there's a huge benefit to being in ballparks and the chatter that you hear and getting to watch BP and things that you may pick up," Zaidi said. "But if you're evaluating a pitcher who is on waivers, do you go back to a spring training report or a report from June, or are you going to watch the last 10 innings that he's thrown? 

"Ideally, you have a scout or somebody with pitching expertise doing that evaluation. It's still important in a way to have that expertise and people that, when they lay eyes on a player, whether it's in person or on video, can make that assessment. But maybe some of the mechanics of how the job is done are changing."

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The Giants are also assessing their amateur scouting department and front office. Nearly everyone in the organization has contracts that go through just the 2019 season, so changes have long been expected. 

Giants GM Scott Harris grew up Cubs fan, brother favored San Francisco

Giants GM Scott Harris grew up Cubs fan, brother favored San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO -- As Scott Harris said goodbye to family members on Monday, a Giants employee walked over and dropped off two big bags full of jerseys and orange-and-black gear.

One of his parents needed to load up on the gifts more than the other. 

Harris grew up in Redwood City with a mother who is a Giants fan, but his father, who is from Chicago, is a diehard Chicago Cubs fan. When it came time to pass on their rooting interests, they came up with an easy solution for their children.

"They divided the sons," Scott said, smiling. "I was raised a Cubs fan and my brother was raised a Giants fan, which put my nephew Teddy in an awkward spot because his dad loves the Giants and his uncle was working for the Cubs. Now at least Teddy has a little more clarity."

As Scott finished telling the story, his brother, Chris, laughed and quickly clapped. This worked out well for half of the Harris family. Scott will try and help his mother and brother's favorite team get back to the postseason, and his father has already benefited from the son's talents. Scott was part of the front office that finally brought a championship to Wrigley. 

On his first full day on the job, Scott talked about what made the Giants such a good fit -- aside from the family's rooting interests. He's excited to be back in the Bay Area and noted that as he took profile pictures under the sun at Oracle Park, the temperature was in the mid-20s back in Chicago. Harris has also been through a winter in New York, so he was thrilled to be working back in the Bay Area. The entire Harris family was fired up, too. His parents and brother sat in the fourth row for an introductory press conference and then got a tour of the clubhouse. 

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"I want to thank my family for always supporting me and their relentless pursuit of a way to get me back to the Bay Area. It worked, thank you," Harris said as he looked out as his parents and brother. "It's such a privilege to be here. It's a privilege to come back home. It's a privilege to work for a flagship organization with such a passionate and deserving fan base. 

"I grew up in Redwood City and vividly remember learning what the game looks like at the highest level by watching generations of Giants players come through Candlestick and come through this park."

Giants closing in on new manager after hiring Scott Harris as their GM

Giants closing in on new manager after hiring Scott Harris as their GM

SAN FRANCISCO -- As Giants officials and members of the media filed out of the press conference room at Oracle Park on Monday, a team employee reached over and flicked off one set of lights. Nobody bothered to take down the podium or remove the temporary seating. That all might be needed again in a few hours.

The Giants introduced Scott Harris as general manager on Monday and are poised to hold another press conference for their new manager. Harris is in the process of meeting with the remaining candidates and Farhan Zaidi said he would "have significant input into the final decision."

Zaidi said the manager announcement would come this week, and the Giants were internally preparing to introduce a new manager as soon as Tuesday. There are still three known finalists, and no decision had been made as of Monday morning. There are two who have separated from the pack, though. Former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler and Astros bench coach Joe Espada both have high-level supporters in the organization, per sources, and Kapler met with Giants officials again on Monday. He is said to be the frontrunner at this point. 

The search has lasted more than a month now, in part because it ran as the same time as the search for a new GM.

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"Having both of these balls in the air at the same time has made scheduling difficult and tricky at times," Zaidi said. "I'm just really happy that we have been able to get (Harris) in place and he does have that chance to connect with those candidates and provide input and really have a say in the final decision that I expect us to make this week."