Giants need to make major changes right now, ESPN's Buster Olney says

Giants need to make major changes right now, ESPN's Buster Olney says

I heard somewhere recently that when 40 games pass by in a baseball season, you're no longer allowed to say "it's too early to tell." And while we're entering the "there's still plenty of baseball left in the season" portion, the Giants' are right at that 40 game mark, sitting at a 17-23 record -- last in the NL West. 

ESPN's Buster Olney wrote that if Farhan Zaidi and the front office want to make changes, the time is now and the president of baseball operations needs to get serious during Bruce Bochy's final season as manager. 

"The No. 1 puzzle in this era is how to cope with and adapt to a World Series hangover; like the Cubs and Astros and other teams before them, the Red Sox are trying to become the first repeat champion since the 1998-2000 Yankees by navigating through the complications of a deep run through October," Olney writes. "But another major quandary that some front offices have struggled with, in the past decade, is identifying the appropriate time to break up a championship team."

The struggle with the hangover is real. The championship rings and individual awards (ahem Dallas Keuchel and Jake Arrieta) cause headaches that no amount of hydrating can cure. Staying true to the hangover theme, fans are clinging on to the younger bodies that were able to bounce back from such things.

Now, they have to recover and move on from the 2010, 2012, and 2014 years like Olney says. Some of those players remain with the team and still own those gorgeous rings they earned, but the young bucks need to be introduced -- and more importantly, acquired.

This brings Madison Bumgarner into the conversation, who has been the center of trade talks for the team since the offseason and his impending end to his contract year.

The eight teams on his no-trade cause list have been revealed, which ultimately gives him more control and potentially more cash in his pocket. He loves playing for the Giants and would ultimately want to stay playing for them, but has picked his no-trade list full of contenders so that he has leverage. Additionally, Olney suggested that Zaidi to clean out those "mess of those contracts as best he can." 

And the moves? OIney has some opinions on those as well starting with pitching. 

"The Giants also can flip some pitchers. Derek Holland, making $7 million this year, was dropped out of the rotation Saturday night, but has the stuff to be effective out of the bullpen for a contender."

Despite having some harsh words for the front office -- which have since been put to rest, as NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic reported -- Holland boasts a 6.75 ERA with a 1-4 record. But his K/9 rating has improved drastically this season and Olney mentions his ability to control lefties could make him a tasty target for some teams. And Will Smith has always been a potential trade chip with the way he's been pitching and his affordable $4.23 million contract.

Infield wise, Brandon Crawford was mentioned, but it's hard to believe they would part ways with someone of his magnitude -- the dude bleeds orange and black. But what about Evan Longoria? He blew 33 candles out on his last birthday cake and as much as it scares me to admit 30 isn't the new 20 -- and never will be in the world of sports --  his contract has three and a half years left on it.

[RELATED: Bumgarner trolls Yasiel Puig over homer]

"But the larger sell-off appears to be inevitable, now that the Giants have declared themselves the kind of team they are in 2019."

Zaidi has been making a lot of moves. Erik Kratz was DFA'd on Monday and everyone sporting a Giants' jersey is holding their proverbial breath and waiting for the next move to be made -- and it needs to be a big one. 

Giants miss out on sweep ahead of huge series vs. Cubs at Wrigley Field

Giants miss out on sweep ahead of huge series vs. Cubs at Wrigley Field

PHOENIX -- On days like this, Giants manager Bruce Bochy often says "you like to get greedy." Madison Bumgarner nodded as those words were repeated to him Sunday afternoon.

The Giants took three of four in Phoenix, which was good work given their spot in the NL wild-card race. They moved a game ahead of the Diamondbacks, one of many teams they're battling for two spots. But it was hard not to feel a bit disappointed given that they went into the fourth game with Bumgarner on the mound and lost 6-1

"We'll leave here feeling good because we did take three of four from a team we're chasing. We keep doing that, I think we'll be okay," Bumgarner said. "But at the same time, everyone here -- especially me -- wanted to come away with a sweep."

The Giants had not lost with Bumgarner on the mound in nearly five weeks. The lefty hadn't taken a loss on his record since June 20. But the Diamondbacks scored three in the first and got four in six innings against Bumgarner.

There were two key plays in the loss, one on defense and one at the plate.

With runners on the corners and two outs in the first, Adam Jones hit a sinking liner to center that looked like a hit off the bat. But Kevin Pillar has made a habit of coming out of nowhere for a diving catch, and he got a good break on the ball, which had a hit probability of 73 percent. 

Pillar's diving effort came up about two inches short and the Diamondbacks scored a pair. Jones would score on a single. 

"He makes a lot of unbelievable catches and I want him to try to do that," Bumgarner said. "I was glad to see he tried to go for it instead of trying to play it on a bounce. I like the aggressive play. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't in this game."

The Giants had a chance to get back into the game in the sixth when Mike Yastrzemski tripled and a single and two walks loaded the bases. The Diamondbacks brought lefty Andrew Chafin in to face Brandon Crawford, who had five hits in 19 previous at-bats against Chafin.

Bochy had Evan Longoria on the bench and could have pinch-hit the righty while sliding Donovan Solano from third to short, but he stuck with Crawford, who is batting .224 on the season and came out early on a double-switch the other night. Crawford grounded out. 

"His numbers aren't bad off (Chafin). It's two outs and I'm trying to stay away from Longo," Bochy said. "Hey, he's gotten a lot of big hits for us. I'm not going to quit on him now."

The finale was rough, but the weekend was still a good one for the Giants. Their problem right now is that good may not be enough. Two of the teams they’re chasing won while the Giants were on the field. They’ll now visit the Cubs, who occupy the second wild-card spot.  

The Giants will go with Tyler Beede, Dereck Rodriguez and Jeff Samardzija at Wrigley Field this week. They'll face Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks. 

[RELATED: Bergen DFA'd; Giants to keep Webb in rotation for now]

"They're all big. We've got to win games. We're the ones who are behind," Bochy said. "It was a good series. You come in here and take three out of four, you've got to feel good about that. We lost this one but you take three out of four, you'll take that.

"We'll head to Chicago, take a day off and regroup, and it's going to be another big series."

Giants DFA Travis Bergen; Logan Webb will pitch in Bay Bridge Series

Giants DFA Travis Bergen; Logan Webb will pitch in Bay Bridge Series

PHOENIX -- The most notable part of a roster move made Sunday may have been a player not actually listed in the move.

To clear a spot for Abiatal Avelino -- a needed fourth bench player for Bruce Bochy -- the Giants designated left-hander Travis Bergen for assignment. They kept Logan Webb around, lining the 22-year-old up to face the A's next weekend in Oakland. 

Manager Bruce Bochy said he doesn't have his rotation set yet, but Webb is in it for now. Tyler Beede, Dereck Rodriguez and Jeff Samardzija will start in Chicago this week, followed by Bumgarner and Webb in some order, it seems. 

Webb gave up just two runs through five innings in his debut Saturday night. The Giants need the help, as Shaun Anderson will make at least one rehab start before returning from a blister. 

[RELATED: 'Tough mentality' early helps Giants' Logan Webb earn win in MLB debut]

Bergen was one of five lefty relievers in the bullpen and the move marks the end of a long look for the Rule 5 pick. The Giants parted with their other Rule 5 pick, Drew Ferguson, in spring training, but Bergen made the Opening Day roster and threw 21 times while spending plenty of time on the Injured List. He had a 5.49 ERA. Bergen must now be offered back to the Blue Jays.

"You look at the bullpen and the one we felt we could afford to lose at this point -- we didn't want to -- was Travis," Bochy said. "The young kid did a nice job at times. I know he spent time on the IL. We just couldn't find a way to keep him."