Giants

Giants' new role players must step up for team to have successful 2019

Giants' new role players must step up for team to have successful 2019

SAN FRANCISCO -- Before you start reading this, knock on wood a couple dozen times. 

The Giants have stayed healthy this spring, and that's the first step towards being better than they were the last two years. 

But that could change at any moment. After all, Madison Bumgarner got hurt in his final start last spring. Whether it's next week or next month, the Giants will need to start dipping into their depth, and while this has been a remarkably quiet offseason, they have done a decent job of upgrading the back ends of the active and 40-man rosters. 

The 2018 Giants were bad, but the 2018 Sacramento River Cats were also bad, which gave the big league club little hope of finding adequate replacements when injuries popped up, or regulars became ineffective. 

That's one area where this year's team should be better, and if you're looking for a way Farhan Zaidi can automatically pick up a few wins in Year 1, look no further than last year's roster. This is some of what he has had to replace:

Gorkys Hernandez: Despite the homers, he had a .656 OPS in 451 plate appearances
Hunter Pence: He is beloved, but posted a .226/.258/.332 line in 248 plate appearances
Gregor Blanco: Also a #ForeverGiant, but he hit .217/.262/.317 in 203 plate appearances 
Austin Jackson: Had a .604 OPS in 59 games before he was salary-dumped
Kelby Tomlinson: Great dude, fan favorite ... slugged .264 in 152 plate appearances
Chase d'Arnaud: Great dude, great with fans ... had a .618 OPS in 100 plate appearances

The pitching staff was better, but the Giants still had a lot of appearances Zaidi believes can be more effectively replaced. Notably, Hunter Strickland, who was non-tendered, had a 3.97 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 49 appearances and Pierce Johnson had a 5.56 ERA in 37 appearances. This year's bullpen is deeper and the rotation is deep enough that Andrew Suarez won't be in it to start the year. 

Of all the players listed above, Hernandez (0.5) was the only one with a positive WAR. The rest combined for negative four Wins Above Replacement.  

[RELATED: How will Giants narrow bullpen options before Opening Day?]

Will Yangervis Solarte make better use of those spare infield at-bats? Will Travis Bergen or Trevor Gott be better than the relievers who were let go? Will Mac Williamson, Gerardo Parra and Cameron Maybin greatly outperform Hernandez, Pence and Blanco? 

We'll see, but the standard set in 2018 was not at all a high one, and improvement from the complementary pieces on this year's roster would help the Giants inch a bit closer to meaningful September baseball. 

Giants' Mike Yastrzemski, family ready for emotional series at Fenway

Giants' Mike Yastrzemski, family ready for emotional series at Fenway

As he prepared to board a flight back to Boston, Giants outfielder Mike Yastrzemski said he wasn't sure how many family members and friends would be in the seats at Fenway Park on Tuesday night. All he knew was that it would be measured by the dozens. 

"I'm not leaving tickets for them," he said, smiling. 

The Giants' star rookie won't have to. In Boston, his last name opens doors, and Red Sox fans have been waiting for this day just as Yastrzemski has. There were so many media requests for Yastrzemski that the Giants will hold a press conference at Fenway Park on Tuesday, when his famous grandfather is expected to be at the park. 

Carl Yastrzemski, Mike's Hall of Fame grandfather, told The Boston Globe that he plans to visit with Mike on Tuesday but won't stay for the game. He'll be in a suite for Wednesday's game, soaking in an amazing moment for a family that's baseball royalty in New England.  

"It will be the first time since 1983 that the name 'Yastrzemski' will be announced," Carl Yastrzemski told The Boston Globe. "It's definitely going to be emotional. To see him come into Fenway Park where I played for 23 years, to have his name announced, that will be a great thrill for me."

Carl played all 23 seasons of his Hall of Fame career in Boston, totaling 3,419 hits and 452 homers while making 18 All-Star appearances. He was the 1967 American League MVP and won seven Gold Glove Awards. In 1989, he was elected to the Hall of Fame. 

His grandson had to wait until he was 28 to break through, but Mike has been a revelation as a rookie. He has a .833 OPS and needs just one homer to reach 20, and he should get plenty of chances this week. Manager Bruce Bochy said Mike will start all three games at Fenway Park, where his grandfather played nearly 3,000 games. 

"It's going to be pretty emotional," Mike said on Sunday. "I'll try and contain those things and try and make it feel like it's just a regular game."

[RELATED: MadBum in line to start Bochy's last game, as it should be]

Mike said he hasn't been to Fenway Park since taking part in a workout there when he was in college. While his grandfather has seen him play in spring training games, he has not yet watched him in person in the big leagues. Carl told The Boston Globe that he's been losing a lot of sleep while staying up late to watch Mike's games on the West Coast. They talk every couple of weeks, but it's not necessarily about giving hitting advice. 

"I don't like to talk to him about hitting or anything else, because you see a game on TV and you can't tell too much," Carl said. "On TV, you don't look for little things, you just want to enjoy the game, but it's hard to enjoy it because you're so keyed up watching him. You want him to do well."

Barry Zito reveals why he rooted against Giants in 2010 World Series

Barry Zito reveals why he rooted against Giants in 2010 World Series

Imagine rooting against your employer after they paid you $18.5 million.

That's the story Barry Zito is telling.

According to The San Francisco Chronicle, Zito revealed in a new memoir that he rooted against the Giants in the 2010 World Series because they left him off the playoff roster.

“It was really hard to admit," Zito told The Chronicle's Ann Killion.

Zito was in his fourth season with the Giants, and things weren't going well. At that point, he had a 40-57 record and 4.45 ERA in 133 appearances for Bruce Bochy.

So despite his high salary, the Giants made the tough decision not to use Zito against the Braves, Phillies or Rangers.

For someone in the middle of a seven-year, $126 million contract, the snub stung, causing him to root for the Giants to lose the Fall Classic.

“I rooted against the team because my ego was in full control and if we lost then I could get out of there,” Zito said. “It would a) prove they couldn’t do it without me, and b) take me out of the situation because I was so miserable coming to the field every day. I was so deep in shame. I wanted out of that situation so bad.”

As you know by now, the Giants went on to beat the Rangers in five games to capture their first World Series since moving to San Francisco in 1958, and the franchise's first since 1954.

But this story had a happy ending. The Giants didn't get rid of Zito, and he played a big part in their march to the 2012 World Series title.

With the Giants down three-games-to-one to the Cardinals in the NLCS, Zito saved their season by tossing 7 2/3 shutout innings in St. Louis. San Francisco would go on to win the next two games at home and advance to face the Tigers in the World Series.

[RELATED: Zito reveals he almost retired before 2012]

Bochy gave the ball to Zito in Game 1 against Detroit and the lefty allowed just one earned run in 5 2/3 innings. San Francisco would win the first game and go on to sweep the Tigers.

In the end, Zito is in possession of two World Series rings. One he never wanted and another that the Giants wouldn't have gotten without him.