Giants notes: Gillaspie would trade in stats for Game 5 against Cubs

Giants notes: Gillaspie would trade in stats for Game 5 against Cubs

SAN FRANCISCO -- Before the Wild Card Game, Bruce Bochy was asked an odd question about going through a postseason without Pablo Sandoval. He laughed it off, saying Sandoval had not been with the Giants for two years, and they no longer gave him much thought. 

As it turned out, the Giants did have a Sandoval this October. Conor Gillaspie played the part of fearless slugger, laying waste to pitchers with far bigger names and much longer resumes. He had four hits Tuesday, becoming the first Giants since Sandoval in Game 1 of the 2012 World Series to record four hits in a postseason game. The veteran finished with eight hits in 19 postseason at-bats, including the game-winning homer off Jeurys Familia and the series-shaking triple off Aroldis Chapman. 

Gillaspie has found a second life in the big leagues, and he'll enter next spring as a lock for the bench and a possibility for a platoon of some sort with Eduardo Nuñez. He didn't want to think of any of that Tuesday. He didn't really care about the stats. 

"I would have traded them all in to just be playing," he said. "I would have liked to just keep playing."

The Giants won't play another game this year. The bullpen collapsed in the ninth, ending a season that seemed destined for greatness before the All-Star break and collapsed afterward. 

"It's a tale of two seasons, the first half and the second half," Bochy said. "But I think what I'll remember is how they bounced back and found a way to get in there, to get to the wild card and that game. And this series was ... they played well against a very good ballclub. And we were so close to heading to Chicago. We had our guy Johnny (Cueto) going. So this, it's a tough one. There's no getting around it, to end it like this.

"We really would have liked to have had a shot there in that fifth game. But you give them credit. They threw out some good at-bats against us."

There will be time to analyze what just happened and look ahead. Management will meet with the media on Thursday, and questions will be asked about the inability to ever fix the ninth and the plan to do so going forward. As always, please follow along here on our site and on Twitter (@AlexPavlovic) for all of that. For now, let's empty the notebook one last time ... 

--- Brandon Belt was always one of the first players at his locker, in good times and bad. He was the first to speak tonight, and here was his instant reaction, a few minutes after the season ended. "It's pretty crappy. I don't think in any situation you ever feel like the game is over until the final out is over. We had a lot of fight in us. They had a little more. They're really, really good. They weren't ready to quit tonight."

Brandon Crawford called it a "punch in the gut," adding, "It happened pretty quickly. That's the way it went." Crawford came an inch away from hitting a two-run homer.  Hunter Pence took an odd path on the play and nearly got thrown out. He said he thought the ball had cleared the wall, so he went back to second to make sure he touched the base on his way home. 

--- In the game story, I touched on the decision to pull Moore. It's a call Bochy might look back on, but he made the right move. If you can't get three outs with a three-run lead and your whole bullpen available, well, then you really should be at home anyway. Moore said you always want the ball as a competitor, but he also made it clear that all involved felt his night was over. 

"Everyone kind of knew (the eighth) was my last one," he said. "We didn't really have a conversation about how I felt. I was at 120 or so. We have guys who can get the job done. This is the way baseball goes sometimes."

Maybe it won't help much given the way this one ended, but Moore's performance is a huge confidence-booster for the organization going forward. With Madison Bumgarner, Cueto, Moore, Jeff Samardzija and (maybe) Ty Blach ready to go next April, the Giants should be as deep pitching-wise as anyone. Matt Cain might get another shot, too, and Tyler Beede is on the way. 

--- Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla and Javier Lopez are among the free agents. Given the way he was booed late in the regular season, and the fact that Bochy didn't even hint at using him tonight, it seems clear that Casilla's time here is done. Romo said he would "love to be back," but he doesn't know what will happen. Lopez, the 39-year-old, seemed headed for retirement all season long, but he struck a different tune Tuesday. 

"I don't know what's next for me," he said. "I'm a free agent and we'll see what happens. If I have the opportunity to come back, I'll welcome that."

--- Two relievers who visibly seemed to take this one hard: Hunter Strickland and Derek Law. Regardless of what the Giants do, those two will be part of the late-innings mix next year. 

--- The Giants cleared out as soon as the final pitch was thrown. Nobody stuck around the dugout to feel the pain, or get any motivation. "It's not fun," Belt said. "I had no intention of sitting there and watching them."

--- Pence said losing a postseason series with the Phillies helped make him the competitor he is today. "Sometimes the pain of losing in a playoff series is a very beautiful thing, a motivator," he said. 

--- A tip of the cap to the Cubs, who were the best team all season long and now will get a shot at the Nationals or Dodgers. As the Giants reload, they will need to keep one eye on Chicago. With their young, loaded roster, they're the team to beat moving forward. Everyone talks about Bryant and Rizzo and Russell, but Javy Baez might have been the best player in this series. The sequence with the near-out at first base and the ridiculous tag on the stolen base attempt was as good as it gets defensively. 

The Cubs handled this night with class. Joe Maddon called the Giants' run of elimination wins "crazy ... crazy good."

"I do want to congratulate the Giants," he said. "Listen, I've known Bochy for a long time. I've always had a tremendous amount of respect for him and how he does things and this entire organization. I have a lot of friends in this organization. I actually had the pleasure of meeting Willie Mays before the game today, which was really special for me.

"So for us to be able to win today, it's like I said, to beat you guys in this ballpark is not easy. The way (the Giants) do things, I think it's very admirable and a great example for the rest of the industry."

What will Farhan Zaidi look for in next Giants manager?

What will Farhan Zaidi look for in next Giants manager?

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Whether he’s watching the team from the dugout, standing in the clubhouse hallway, or walking back and forth on the back fields at Scottsdale Stadium, Farhan Zaidi always seems to have his cell phone pressed to his ear. 

That was the case Monday when Bruce Bochy announced that this will be his final season, but Zaidi said he did not get calls from coaches around the game looking to get a head start in the search process. He knows that will change, though. It didn’t take long after Zaidi took the Giants job for colleagues to start asking about a potential GM position, and you can bet that parts of this season will be spent having secret discussions with candidates to replace Bochy.

The man who actually hired Bochy 13 years ago believes that’s a good thing. This won’t be a distraction or an awkward situation, Brian Sabean said. Zaidi was informed during the hiring process that Bochy was likely headed for retirement, and Sabean believes that gave everyone time to get “out front” and “on board.”

“I think it should relax the atmosphere among all parties and give (Bochy) his proper due, give him his proper sendoff, but it also gives Farhan some good lead time to noodle this whole thing or line up how he’s going to attack it,” Sabean said. 

Zaidi has already been through this process once before. He teamed with Andrew Friedman in 2015 to hire Dave Roberts in Los Angeles, and that collaboration proved to be a successful one. Zaidi, a communicator by nature, spent years with the A’s and Dodgers and has given plenty of thought to what or who he would look for if given his own shop.

He wouldn’t give anything away this week, but he has a short list forming in his head already. 

“I think everybody is shaped by their own experience and people that they’ve come into contact with that they value their baseball acumen or their personal values or those kinds of things,” he said. “Everybody just by virtue of their own experience has a list of people that they’ve thought, ‘That guy could be a manager one day,' or, 'If I’m in a position that’s someone I would think about.’”

While Zaidi said this would be a collective process, Larry Baer made it clear that his president of baseball operations will take the lead. Baer said people within the organization — Hensley Meulens and Ron Wotus would be two likely internal candidates — will be considered, but most of the candidates Zaidi has experience with would come from the outside. 

One possible candidate, David Bell, came off the board a couple of weeks before Zaidi was hired. When Bell joined the organization as farm director in 2017, he was viewed as a likely successor to Bochy or general manager Bobby Evans. The Reds hired him away in October. 

Bell was a nice blend of old and new, someone who could be a respected voice in the clubhouse but also work seamlessly with an analytics-driven front office. Roberts has been the same in Los Angeles, and that seems the likely mold for this search. 

But Zaidi promised to be open-minded, pointing out that he and Friedman had no idea Roberts would even be a finalist when they began that search. To that point, two executives known as analytics types put together an eclectic group of candidates when the Dodgers were looking for Don Mattingly’s replacement. 

Gabe Kapler, a favorite to win the Dodgers job back then, was certainly a modern choice. But the Dodgers also reportedly interviewed longtime baseball men Tim Wallach and Ron Roenicke, both of whom were in their late fifties at the time. Kirk Gibson was brought in, and he’s certainly not the type to be a puppet for a front office. Former Angel Darin Erstad, current Rockies manager Bud Black and current Nationals manager Dave Martinez also reportedly interviewed.

That’s not a group that has a ton in common.

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Zaidi has a reputation for being the smartest guy in the room, but he loves spending time with scouts and experienced coaches, and has regularly positioned himself behind the cage this spring, chatting up players and Giants coaches. He eventually will find a replacement for Bochy, but right now it’s not something he’s worrying much about. 

“I’m sure there will be conversations and inquiries along the way, but it’s not the focus for us,” he said. “For me, I’m still trying to learn the organization and the players and make sure I get off to the right start.”

Giants' Buster Posey likely won't play in spring games until March 1

Giants' Buster Posey likely won't play in spring games until March 1

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There has been nothing over the first couple weeks of camp to indicate that Buster Posey won't be ready Opening Day, but the Giants promised all along to be cautious, and that will start Saturday when the Cactus League season kicks off. 

Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Posey won't play until March 1, and that may be the case for some other veterans. Brandon Crawford has been watched closely the last couple of years and Bochy wasn't sure if any regulars would be in the lineup Saturday when the Giants visit the Angels.

He said it's the right thing to do with a long spring, although he's hoping to get big names out there soon, aware that fans often pay a lot for spring games. 

"As a kid, I was one of those guys that would skip school to see spring training games in Florida," Bochy said.

Brandon Belt and Joe Panik seem the most likely to get out there early on. Belt said he's eager to see real pitching. As for the rest of the everyday lineup, Evan Longoria fits the vet status, the Giants have position battles in both outfield corners, and Steven Duggar is coming off shoulder surgery and may be a few days behind. 

Bochy had a somewhat unusual spring when veterans like Cameron Maybin, Gerardo Parra, Stephen Vogt and Yangervis Solarte signed late. He said there's no rush to see what they can do. 

"These guys are chipping some rust off," he said. 

[RELATED: Giants 'trying hard' for Bryce Harper, but not optimistic]

--- The schedule for the starters early on: Chris Stratton and Ty Blach on Saturday; Madison Bumgarner on Sunday; Derek Holland and Drew Pomeranz on Monday; Dereck Rodriguez on Tuesday; Jeff Samardzija and Andrew Suarez on Wednesday. 

--- At the beginning of camp, Bochy said he hoped to get Joey Bart into early Cactus League games. That remains the plan. 

--- One more on the "Bochy is retiring" front: Here's what Bob Melvin had to say.

--- I wrote about top pitching prospect Shaun Anderson the other day. Here's some video of him in action today. There's certainly a Noah Syndergaard thing going on at times.