Giants

Giants Mailbag: What should we make of possible MLB season in Arizona?

Giants Mailbag: What should we make of possible MLB season in Arizona?

There are a lot of different ways to simulate what this season would have looked like, but sometimes all you need is your imagination. For instance, it's not hard to picture how tonight's Giants-Padres game at Petco Park would have played out. They're generally pretty similar.

There would have been a few thousand Giants fans behind the visiting dugout because while it's no longer AT&T South, San Diego still is a go-to destination for the diehards. The score would be 3-2, or 4-3, or 2-1 -- you just know it would have been close. Wil Myers probably would have hit a home run and some random bearded dude you've never heard of would have come out of the Padres bullpen in the seventh inning with a 97 mph fastball and a 2.37 ERA. I would have had nachos in the third inning. 

Alas, none of that is happening. It's another Friday without baseball, but that also means it's time for another Friday mailbag. Thanks as always to the Instagram followers who sent these questions over ... 

"Asking as a new employee of the Giants -- do you think the season will resume in June/July?" -- sdot_youngu

Might as well dive right in. I do not. 

More than 700 people died in New York on Thursday, and I just have a really, really difficult time seeing how baseball resumes at a time when this is still going on in our country. Hopefully, this all slows down in the coming weeks, but it's going to be hard for any sport to resume until it's under control, and until there's enough testing that players can be checked on a daily basis without taking that ability away from doctors, nurses and their fellow citizens. 

A few people also asked if I think MLB should resume. I love baseball, I miss baseball, and my career is directly tied to baseball. But I'm on Team Stay at Home and Flatten the Curve, and I'm extremely grateful that I live in a city that reacted early and has done a pretty good job of fighting back thus far. I hope the officials at MLB who are considering this Arizona plan also are putting plenty of time into planning how they will take care of hotel workers, trainers, the grounds crew, security guards, drivers, chefs, etc. There are a lot of non-players who will be put at risk if MLB returns too soon. 

"How do players feel about the proposal to start the season? Those conditions sound bleak." -- tylerdrums

So far I think they're generally trying to be positive about it and point out how much they want to play baseball and hope the sport can return soon. But I think when it ultimately comes time to make a decision, a lot of guys will push back. 

Perhaps MLB will find a better way, but the proposal to put players in hotels for four months and keep them from their families will be a non-starter for a lot of guys.

For example, if you're a veteran who already is financially set for life, plays for a team that's not projected to be very good anyway, and you have multiple young children at home, what's the incentive to leave them for four months to play games in 105-degree heat? 

Maybe that gap can be bridged by allowing families to rent houses and quarantine themselves, but that's a slippery slope if much of our society is still on lockdown. Once all that's decided, you have to figure out the finances of a shortened season with no fans in the stands. Good for MLB and the MLBPA for trying to find solutions, but it's a nightmare. 

"Will Darin Ruf make the team, and if so does Pence play in right a lot?" -- jesseaflora

Ruf, a veteran who came back from Japan, was the hottest player in the Cactus League when play was suspended. He finished 12-for-28 with three homers and five doubles, certainly making a strong push.

I tend to think spring numbers barely matter, because often times the guys who tear up the Cactus League are doing so against minor league pitching late in games and we've learned over and over again -- hello, Chris Marrero -- that a hot spring doesn't necessarily translate. But Ruf was putting himself in a strong spot and he certainly filled a need.

He'll have a new issue working against him when the Giants resume. Pablo Sandoval should be 100 percent healthy and will take one of those bench spots. On the other hand, if MLB resumes in 2020 there will be expanded rosters, and that could allow Ruf to make it. I would think he would be more of a bench bat in that situation, leaving Pence and Dickerson in left field.

"Hey Alex, what do you normally do during the quarantine?" -- huddler_92

On the day spring training got canceled I ordered an Xbox, which has been helpful. 

In all seriousness, every day is kind of the same, right? We're doing our best to bring you original Giants content, including two new podcasts this week, and I've enjoyed digging through my phone and laptop to find photos and videos for Instagram. I know we have some cool content coming, but I'm certainly open to any ideas from readers, so reach out if there's something you've always wanted to know.

There was a Tiger King weekend, obviously, and I'm grateful that The Challenge has returned. I spend about 10 minutes every day watching new versions of that coffin meme and trying to decide if it would be cruel or funny to make one about the 2016 NLDS. Standard stuff. 

"If the season is canceled, will all contracts just be extended one year?" -- craiggus

Nope, MLB and the MLBPA reached an agreement that guarantees service time even if there is no season. So Jeff Samardzija would be a free agent, and the Giants would be one year closer to the expiration of the other big contracts. 

"Is Crawford better at brackets, or picking ground balls deep in the hole between shortstop and third?" -- lifematt

I appreciate all the hard work Brandon Crawford is putting into his brackets, but Apple Jacks as a 15 seed is an absolute travesty! 

"Giants farm system is considered in the top 10 now. What do you think about that?" -- pasqualeesposito0

This is far and away the best development for the organization over the last year. That is the only way to build a sustainable winner, and you have to give credit to both regimes for making this happen.

Bobby Evans and the previous group brought in players like Marco Luciano, Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos and Farhan Zaidi and the new coaches and development people have done a really nice job of advancing their careers. 

It's not hard to see a situation where Bart, Ramos and Hjelle are getting their feet wet during the 2021 season and giving fans real, legitimate excitement. Luciano has a chance to be a game-changer, the type of young hitter who comes in and changes the entire trajectory of a franchise. Perhaps Hunter Bishop turns into the 30-homer threat this lineup has been missing for years. Beyond that, there's a lot of intriguing depth, too. 

As painful as it is to get there, there's not much that's more exciting for a fan base than the arrival of top prospects, and the Giants have a chance to make some serious strides starting next season. The future appears to be bright. 

"What is your best memory of 2014?" -- coldgame_christian_garcia

There are two that come to mind right away. 

I've never seen a press box shake the way the one at Kauffman Stadium did when Alex Gordon tripled in the ninth inning. There's that old "no cheering in the press box" rule and honestly, people do a really good job of keeping their heads down and updating their stories. That's the job. But when Gordon was held at third, it was mayhem.

I remember looking up and down the first row of the press box and laughing at how many people were having animated conversations about the play or in awe of what they were watching. We were all fans at that moment, just soaking in one of the most intense moments in MLB history. 

The other that sticks out is from the following day. There was an older woman running the United gate at the airport and when she saw that I was going to San Francisco, she asked if I was in town for the World Series. We then spent about 10 minutes talking about how fun the series was and she kept saying how happy she was for Giants fans because it was such a hard-fought battle.

The people of Kansas City were so unbelievably kind to all of us visitors that October. I couldn't help but root for them the next postseason. 

"Is Dubon a realistic long-term possibility in center field?" -- itainteasybeingcheesy28

I think Dubon's long-term destination depends partly on other Giants prospects. He could easily handle shortstop every day, but what if Luciano stays there and is up in a couple of years? Will a Ramos or Bishop stick as a center fielder? 

I think it's too early to try to figure out what Dubon is long term, and first he'll need to prove he can consistently hit in the big leagues, too. But at the very least, he's a nice chess piece for Gabe Kapler. The Giants view him similarly to the way the Dodgers view Kiké Hernandez and Chris Taylor. He can play just about every day, but not necessarily at one position.

He should be able to fill in a lot of gaps when the Giants are ready to contend again. 

"Updates on Oracle Park?" -- thephenomjr

Construction has stopped for now, but if there's a point where MLB is ready to return to home cities this year, the Giants are close enough that it'll take them just a couple of weeks to finish the bullpens.

The park will be ready when the players are.

[RELATED: Kruk and Kuip share hilarious story about Will Clark, sushi]

"Not a mailbag question you can answer probably, but did you grow up a Giants fan?" -- raymondp33

Yep, I did. Actually the other day I posted a video on Instagram of a Barry Bonds home run I witnessed:

I grew up in Cupertino and took the train that day with a few of my closest friends, and to this day we still joke about how we snuck down from the upper deck and found seats about 20 rows behind the Giants dugout. That gave us the perfect view of Bonds' blast sailing into the Cove. 

Everything changes when it becomes your career, but I grew up in the Bay Area and had the same highs and lows as a lot of you. The Steve Finley grand slam was one of the worst moments of my life. 

Why Giants GM Scott Harris wants Joey Bart to learn another position

Why Giants GM Scott Harris wants Joey Bart to learn another position

Buster Posey still is mulling over his plans for the 2020 MLB season, but the Giants do have a young catcher on the cusp of the majors in Joey Bart. The top catching prospect was expected to start the season in Triple-A Sacramento, however, with the minor league season canceled, Bart is a part of San Francisco's 60-man roster. 

That doesn't mean he will start in the big leagues, though. No matter what Posey decides, the Giants don't want to force Bart up

Before the No. 2 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft makes his debut, general manager Scott Harris would like to see two key parts of development grow for Bart.

“A couple of developmental priorities for him will be first to improve the game calling," Harris said Thursday on KNBR's "Murph & Mac" show. "Not that we’re at all concerned about his game calling, I just think there is a critical mass of games you need to catch at the minor league level before you’re fully prepared to call a game in the big leagues."

Bart actually called games at Georgia Tech, something that even Matt Wieters wasn't allowed to do from the sam college coach. Harris is right, though. Calling games is a skill that catchers must continue to grow and the Giants hoped that would happen for Bart in Sacramento. 

The second part to Harris' answer might be even more important for Bart and the Giants.

“The other thing we talked about quite a bit is we want to expose him to other positions on the field," Harris said. "Not because we are concerned about his catching at all, we already think he is a plus receiver and thrower, but because one of the main tenants of our developmental philosophy is versatility.

"We want to give our major league manager as many opportunities as possible to get our best bats in the lineup. We think the demands of the catching position are such that that it is a benefit of both the player and the team to be able to play multiple positions.”

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Since the Giants drafted Bart, he hasn't played anywhere on the field other than behind the plate. The same goes for his college career. Learning a new position would have been a perfect opportunity for Bart in the Arizona Fall League, but he fractured his thumb hitting in the AFL.

Now Bart will have Summer Camp to learn a new skill, making the name of spring training 2.0 that much more fitting. He will be in camp with Patrick Bailey, a fellow catcher who the Giants took in the first round of the draft this year. It wouldn't be a surprise if the Giants had Bailey work on another position as well. 

[RELATED: Why Bart, three Giants pitchers are intriguing Kruk, Kuip]

Versatility is the name of the game for the Giants and the rest of baseball right now. Bart currently is lacking it, though that soon could change. He has a strong arm behind the plate and moves well for his 6-foot-2, 238-pound frame. It will be interesting to see if the Giants simply hand him a first baseman's mitt, or if he learns another position like third base or the outfield.

“The more that Joey can move around, the more options that his major league manager is going to have to get his bat in the lineup, and I think that’s really important for his career and for the future of the Giants," Harris said. 

Bart could find his way to a major league game during this 60-game season. The Giants will make sure they feel he is 100 percent ready first, though. There's no doubt he holds a key to San Francisco's future success, and there's no reason to rush and open that door too soon.

Matt Duffy gives 'never say never' answer to future Giants reunion

Matt Duffy gives 'never say never' answer to future Giants reunion

The Giants have brought back many players for a second rodeo in the past.

Hunter Pence was their latest example this past offseason when the Giants signed the two-time World Series champion to a one-year contract, and he certainly won't be the last player to come back for Round 2 in San Francisco. Perhaps there could be another reunion for a fan-favorite in the future. 

"Never say never," Matt Duffy said Wednesday to KNBR's Mark Willard. 

Duffy, 29, signed with the New York Yankees on June 28. He signed a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers, but they released him before announcing their 60-man roster for Summer Camp. New York quickly swooped in and signed the infielder. 

The Giants called to "check in" over the offseason as well. But there is no reunion in place. At least, not yet.

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

"We did have some dialogue with the Giants this offseason, but it just didn't seem like the interest was there and as mutual as some other opportunities," Duffy said. "But yeah, like I said, never say never."

Duffy made his big league debut with the Giants in 2014, and instantly became a fan-favorite. He hit .267 over 34 games that year, then starred as a rookie the next season. Duffy finished second in NL Rookie of the Year voting after he hit .295/.334/.428 with 28 doubles, 12 homers and 77 RBI in 149 games.

Unfortunately for Duffy, that has been his only full season in the big leagues. In 2016, Duffy was hampered by an Achilles injury and played in 70 games for the Giants. Then on Aug. 1, 2016 the Giants traded Duffy with prospects Lucius Fox and Michael Santos to the Tampa Bay Rays for left-handed pitcher Matt Moore.

[RELATED: Posey, Belt face inevitable risk amid coronavirus pandemic]

Duffy played 21 games for the Rays in 2016, but underwent season-ending Achilles surgery and missed the entire 2017 season. He hit .294 for the Rays in 2018, and only played in 46 games last year. 

Injuries have hampered Duffy throughout his career. However, if healthy, Giants fans certainly would welcome a reunion in the future.