Giants

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. 

Five weird Giants stats that stand out after 20 games of odd MLB season

Five weird Giants stats that stand out after 20 games of odd MLB season

The Giants' 2020 MLB season officially is one-third of the way done. That feels extremely weird to write after a 20-game sample size, yet here we are. Blink and the 60-game season will be over.

After their 5-1 loss Wednesday night against the Houston Astros, the Giants are 8-12 on the year. They just finished a grueling road trip where they went 3-7, and finally have a day off after 16 games in 16 days. With their latest defeat, the Giants now are tied for the second-most losses in baseball. 

Despite that fact, they're far from out of the playoff picture as the postseason has been expanded to eight teams for each league. Here are five stats -- good and bad -- that have defined the first third of the Giants' season. 

.458

I mean, who didn't expect Donovan Solano to be hitting .458 right now? It was pretty obvious this would happen. Right? .... right? 

OK, back to reality. Nobody, and I mean nobody, saw this coming. Solano, 32, did hit .330 last season and proved he's a major league hitter. Now, he's one of the best stories in baseball. 

Solano has the third-highest batting average through 16 games in San Francisco Giants history. Only Barry Bonds (.525) in 2004 and Willie Mays (.470) in 1964 have been better. That's a pretty, pretty good group to be a part of. 

Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon (.472) is the only player with a higher batting average than Solano right now. They're joined by New York Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu as the three players hitting over .400 this season. The only downside is Solano has been shelved recently with an abdominal injury.

.219 

For as great as Solano has been at the plate, the Giants' catchers have not. Chadwick Tromp (.226) and Tyler Heineman (.212) are batting a combined .219 right now. 

This doesn't sit well with the crowd begging for the Giants to call up top prospect Joey Bart

Tromp has hit two home runs and shown some power, but he also has 11 strikeouts to only one walk. Heineman has displayed a better eye at the plate, however, he virtually has no power at the plate. The two have been solid when it comes to framing pitches, they haven't been as great when it comes to actually hitting pitches.

After a three-game series with the A's, the Giants then have four games against the Los Angeles Angels and three vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks. Perhaps then it finally will be Bart time.

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

21

That's the number of home runs the Giants have hit as a team this season, with their power being an improvement from last year. A total of 11 Giants have gone deep this season. They're currently tied with the Houston Astros with the 17th-most long balls in baseball. 

But that's not the 21 we're focusing on here. 

The Giants also have made 21 errors, the most in the game by far. The next highest is the Kansas City Royals with 17. San Francisco is committing more than one error per game, which can't happen with a team that isn't full of sluggers at the plate. 

For as great as Solano has been at the plate, he has been atrocious defensively. He leads the team with four errors and his fielding percentage is just .902 right now. These aren't the Yankees, these aren't even the San Diego Padres. If the Giants want to compete, they have to clean it up defensively.

79

Speaking of cleaning it up, the Giants also can't afford how many free bases their pitchers have allowed. They lead the NL with 79 walks, which ranks fourth in the majors. 

Sometimes walks can be deceiving. Trevor Cahill walked four batters in 1 2/3 innings in San Francisco's loss to Houston on Wednesday. Those walks never really came back to hurt him, but there's a bigger picture here. Giants pitchers struck out seven batters and walked six in the loss. Astros pitchers struck out nine and walked one. That's a winning formula, the Giants' is not. 

Giants pitchers also have hit 12 batters, tied for the fourth-most in the big leagues. Their 5.10 ERA is the seventh-worst in baseball, and they rank 22nd in strikeouts with 142. It all starts with the walks, though. 

Once again, this is a team that can't afford sloppiness and free bases.

[RELATED: Slater, Solano's injuries expose Giants' offense in loss]

8

When the Giants signed Billy Hamilton in the offseason, he gave them a speed factor they haven't had in years. Hamilton is one of the fastest players the game has ever seen. He also never played an inning as a Giant. 

San Francisco traded him to the New York Mets for pitching prospect Jordan Humphreys on Aug. 2. Still, the Giants are tied for eighth in stolen bases this season, with eight. 

Known speedster Austin Slater leads the Giants with five stolen bases to go with his three home runs. Slater also has legged out a triple, and Mike Yastrzemski has two three-baggers. 

The Giants finished last season with the third-lowest stolen base totals in baseball. They're a team that needs to take advantage of every extra base they can get, and whether it be a stolen base or hustling for a double or triple, they're doing exactly that this season.

Dereck Rodriguez impressed by Joey Bart, Giants prospects at alternate site

Dereck Rodriguez impressed by Joey Bart, Giants prospects at alternate site

There wasn't a player at the Giants' alternate site in Sacramento who had a better feel for high-upside talent than Dereck Rodriguez. He's the son of a Hall-of-Fame catcher and grew up in big league clubhouses. 

Rodriguez, then, was the perfect person to ask about the top prospects who are spending their summer getting reps against more experienced pitchers like him and Trevor Cahill, both of whom were called up Wednesday. He gave a glowing scouting report, too. 

"(Joey) Bart is unbelievable. Bart, he's a big league player if I could say it. He's awesome to throw to," Rodriguez said. "He's awesome calling games, and he looks like a veteran at the plate

"Heliot Ramos, that dude has some pop like no other, and Luciano, for how young he is, he is really disciplined at the plate. He takes some pitches that are tough. Him and Ramos were tough at-bats down there. I don't think I got Ramos out once, and Luciano, man, Luciano was good. He was battling. He would walk here and there. I would have to throw him pitches and he would sit on them. Usually younger guys -- 2-0, 3-0 counts are usually fastball counts -- but to him you have to treat him pretty much like a veteran. He makes good adjustments, it's pretty cool. He's a big boy, man, he can hit."

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Bart, Ramos and Luciano are the organization's top three prospects, and are among the 30 or so players working out in Sacramento every day.

When the minor league season was canceled, the Giants brought most of their top prospects to Northern California, hopeful that they could accelerate their development with daily reps against guys like Rodriguez, a breakout star in 2018 who has seen an uptick in velocity and is back in the big league mix after a down 2019. 

Luciano hasn't even played Low-A ball yet, so this summer is all about learning. But Bart should debut at some point this year, and Rodriguez said he didn't think Ramos would be overmatched. Like Bart, Ramos reached Double-A last season, and as an outfielder he could have an easier adjustment to the big league level. 

[RELATED: New Giants catchers thrive in this stat]

"He's a great runner, he reads the ball well off the bat, he has a really good arm, and he sees spin really well. He's a good, disciplined hitter up there," Rodriguez said. "In my opinion I think he could be up here at any moment. And Bart, everybody loves Bart. I think a lot of the guys up here (in the big leagues), a lot of the pitchers that threw to Joey in camp were really impressed and are excited honestly. 

"We're really excited to try to get him up here at some point, either by the end of the year or next year.  It's going to be a lot of fun seeing him up here and throwing to him."