Giants

Giants notes: No move for Posey; six-starter plan

Giants notes: No move for Posey; six-starter plan

SAN FRANCISCO — The last press conference of the year tends to reveal fresh information about the health of players, but general manager Bobby Evans said Thursday that there are no surgical procedures scheduled for current Giants. 

That includes Buster Posey, who played through several issues, including nerve irritation in his right thumb. Posey was out for five days in June and required a cortisone shot. He had just three homers after the All-Star break, and just two in his final 63 games. Evans wouldn’t go into the extent of any injuries that might have sapped power.

“He keeps a lot of things close to the vest. That’s who he is,” Evans said. “But nobody works harder or prepares more.”

Posey started a career-high 122 games behind the plate. His time at first base dipped from 37 starts in 2015 to 11 in 2016, in part because Brandon Belt put together an All-Star campaign. Posey posted a .292/.366/.478 slash line in the first half but was at .282/.357.383 in the second half. Evans said the drop in slugging does not make it more likely that Posey sees more time away from the squat next season.

“It doesn’t make me think more about first base,” he said. “We’re always monitoring his health. We’re still confident that (catcher) is the best spot for him. Whether he has better power numbers next year, I couldn’t predict, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he does because he's very competitive.”

The Giants would love more power in the heart of their lineup, obviously, but as those numbers have dropped, Posey has turned himself into the best defensive catcher in the league. That's a tradeoff they're willing to make. 

The majority of Thursday's press conference revolved around the bullpen, and there's much more coming on that here, on TV and in podcast form. There were also changes to the coaching staff. There were plenty of other notes from the final day at AT&T Park. Here are some highlights:

--- Evans said Eduardo Nuñez (hamstring) would not have been healthy enough to start Game 5 of the NLDS. He wouldn’t have started, anyway. Conor Gillaspie had four hits in the final game. The staff isn’t sure about Angel Pagan. He was to be tested on Wednesday to see if his back could hold up, but obviously that wasn’t necessary. Pagan instead got on a flight home. 

--- The Giants would like Christian Arroyo to get at least a few months in Triple-A next season. The internal evaluation is that he isn’t ready, not after a season in which he hit .274/.316/.373 with three homers. Arroyo is just 21 years old, and there’s no desire to rush him. The Giants believe they have a budding superstar if they handle this right. 

Nuñez and Gillaspie are locks to make the roster as third basemen next year, and while Joe Panik’s name will come up in trade talks, it’s very unlikely the Giants part ways with a young All-Star-caliber player after dealing Matt Duffy away. Arroyo is mostly focused on third base right now. 

“l’ll go into spring training hoping Christian continues to show progress in his defensive role and with the bat,” Evans said. “I anticipate him starting next year in the minor leagues.”

Arroyo will be in camp for a second straight year. Evans said, “I love it when a player tells us he’s ready by how he performs,” and the Giants did once put Duffy on the Opening Day roster because he forced the issue. 

--- Evans said Albert Suarez will come into camp as a guy providing depth. He’ll be competing for a long reliever role on the Opening Day roster. Suarez posted a 4.29 ERA in his first year with the Giants and provided some valuable spot starts. 

--- Ty Blach and Matt Cain will go into camp competing for the fifth starter job, and Tyler Beede will be around to try and swipe it away. The guess right now is that Blach wins the job. Players raved about the young left-hander as they packed up Thursday. But Cain has earned the right to compete, Evans said. 

“Matt wants to be a starting pitcher,” Evans said. “He’ll come into spring training expecting to start and he’ll be given every opportunity, and he deserves that.”

If Cain doesn’t blow the Giants away, it would be worth seeing if he could transform into a Joe Blanton-type. Blanton is much further removed from starting success than Cain, and posted a 2.48 ERA in 75 appearances for the Dodgers this season. There are some in the Giants’ organization who wonder if Cain — with a rare four-pitch mix out of the bullpen — could make a similar transition. 

--- Before you look forward, you must first look back. In case you missed it, here's a pitch-by-pitch recap of the ninth inning.  Bochy said Thursday that he has no regrets about the pitchers he used. "We just had a hard time getting that last out," he said. 
 

Gabe Kapler's relationship with Giants' clubhouse must be focal point

Gabe Kapler's relationship with Giants' clubhouse must be focal point

Gabe Kapler’s tenure in Philadelphia wasn’t met with much in the way of brotherly love.

Kapler was fired after just two seasons in Philadelphia, both of which saw the Phillies fail to reach the postseason.

Now officially minted as the newest manager of the Giants, NBC Sports Philadelphia Phillies Insider Jim Salisbury spoke about Kapler’s tenure and how it ended for the 44-year-old.

“I’m sure Gabe learned a lot, because a lot of things went wrong,” Phillies Insider Jim Salisbury said on SportsNet Central on Tuesday night. “Failure can be a great teacher.”

An overall record just below .500 (161-163) doesn’t necessarily evoke abject failure, but Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi made sure to cover all his bases (I’m sorry, it’s late) in learning about Kapler’s time in eastern Pennsylvania. 

One thing the front office liked, in particular, was the reviews from players who had operated under Kapler.

“Players like Gabe a lot,” Salisbury said. “ And I think the reason they do is he lets them do whatever they want.” 

Although Kapler’s leadership style resonated with his roster in Philadelphia, he had a much stronger connection to Phillies’ management than he did with his own dugout. 

“I always thought in Philadelphia, he bonded a lot better with the front office than he did with the clubhouse,” Salisbury said. “I didn’t think they always played for him, but I think he always responded to what the front office wanted.”

[RELATED: Zaidi addresses Kapler controversy after Giants hire him]

Joining an old co-worker in Zaidi likely will make that transition a lot smoother for Kapler, but it remains to be seen how players in the Giants’ clubhouse respond to a very different style of manager from three-time World Series champion Bruce Bochy.

More on Kapler from NBC Sports Philadelphia

Leadership issues led to Kapler's firing
Kapler's reactions on final day of Phillies season
Bryce Harper's thoughts on Kapler's future
Kapler and Velasquez have miscommunication

Why Farhan Zaidi tied his, Giants' fortunes to new manager Gabe Kapler

Why Farhan Zaidi tied his, Giants' fortunes to new manager Gabe Kapler

SAN FRANCISCO -- The best way to get through life on social media is to never check the mentions, but a lot of Giants employees couldn't help themselves over the past month.

The franchise's search for a new manager was mostly quiet outside of the building, but occasionally a scrap of information would leak out, and Giants fans were not shy about making their opinions known about one particular candidate. Team employees found themselves gravitating toward Twitter, reading some of the reaction.

Gabe Kapler was the favorite when the Giants started this process more than a month ago, and in the end, he was Farhan Zaidi's choice.

Zaidi and Andrew Friedman nearly hired Kapler as the manager in Los Angeles before settling on Dave Roberts, but given a second chance, the Giants' president of baseball operations is tying a large part of his own future to Kapler, whom the Phillies fired last month after two seasons.

This perhaps is the biggest decision Zaidi will make over the course of his initial five-year contract with the Giants, and it's one he did not at all take lightly.

The Giants knew Kapler would be a controversial choice, and sources say there was division at the upper levels of the organization about which way they should go. As the finish line neared, Kapler came back to San Francisco.

"He has met with everybody we have," one Giants person said Monday.

There are team employees who preferred Astros bench coach Joe Espada and a path with less baggage, but in the end, this was Zaidi's choice, and it needed to be.

When the Giants brought Zaidi up from LA a year ago, they handed him the keys to the baseball operations department. You can't do that, and then keep him from making his own decision with his most important hire.

Zaidi was deliberate, interviewing two internal candidates and a handful of rising coaches from other organizations. As of Monday afternoon, some of his coworkers believed Zaidi truly had not made up his mind, but the search kept coming back to Kapler.

The reasons for optimism are clear. Kapler is known as a good communicator, and he was a rising star while with the Dodgers. The Giants believe they need changes across all levels, and Kapler helped modernize the Dodgers while serving as director of player development. While he went 161-163 as the manager in Philadelphia, Kapler does have two years of experience and hopefully has learned from his mistakes. Zaidi has publicly talked of the boost a manager can get the second time around.

Kapler certainly has the résumé that can help overhaul a Giants clubhouse that had become stale. He played a dozen years in the big leagues, and that carries significant weight. His time working in the minors should serve him well, as he takes over a team that used 64 players in 2019 and expects to bring in plenty of prospects over the next two years.

But there also are reasons why you'd be ratioed with the mere mention of Kapler as a front-runner. There are questions about the way he handled assault allegations against Dodgers prospects while in LA, and Kapler and his bosses will have to answer those as he's introduced Wednesday. Zaidi gave his initial thoughts Tuesday night, but he'll likely have to address it again. Kapler will, too.

[RELATED: Krukow explains why he likes Kapler's hiring]

Ultimately, this decision will be judged on wins and losses, and Kapler is coming off a rough finish in Philadelphia. The Phillies had plenty of injuries, but they went 81-81 and finished fourth in the NL East after adding Bryce Harper.

The Giants have been worse than that in recent years, of course. That's why they brought in Zaidi and tasked him with overhauling the organization. They gave him the keys and trusted him to make the right decisions.

The first year was mostly positive, with the big league roster showing strides and the farm system hinting that it might get this team back to contention sooner than expected. This is the start of Zaidi's second year with the Giants, so he took a big swing, giving Kapler a three-year contract. Starting Wednesday, when they'll stand side by side at Oracle Park, they'll try to prove it was the right decision.

The easiest way to do that is one that worked for the previous regime. Win, and win big.

More on Kapler from NBC Sports Philadelphia

Leadership issues led to Kapler's firing by Phillies 
Kapler's reactions on final day of Phillies season
Bryce Harper's thoughts on Kapler's future
Kapler, Velasquez have miscommunication