Giants

Giants, Raiders current predicaments have one big difference

Giants, Raiders current predicaments have one big difference

In an odd way, which is usually the path these things take, the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Raiders are in the same place, heading toward very different places.

Older than they should be because they’re not yet ready to rebuild, yet rebuilding to two very different constituencies.

The Raiders, we have discussed. Jon Gruden was brought in to cheer up a fan base and brighten Mark Davis’ local profile before he takes the enterprise to Nevada, and instead decides that the real task is team demolition and reconstruction on a time frame that pays little heed to Davis’ place in Oakland. Gruden is being the stark pragmatist who may or may not achieve his end, but his mission statement is clear: He wouldn’t have been given 10 years and nine figures to make the Raiders credible again if it didn’t needed blowing up.

So Gruden, voting Gruden’s stock, decided his future lay in making the Las Vegas Raiders good by tearing up the impediment called the Oakland Raiders. He doesn’t say it, but he doesn’t have to.

The Giants, for their part, tried to get one last bounce out of the good old days and instead are in full crater, one defeat short of the longest losing streak since 1951 and nearly closer to last place in the National League than third in its division.

Their decision to ease into their rebuild (which actually hasn’t really begun yet) could have been considered more benignly had their bullpen not imploded so ridiculously in Game 4 of the 2016 NL Division Series, but that would have been wallpaper on dirt. Since the All-Star Break in 2016, when it all started going south, the Giants are playing .426 ball, averaging 3.89 runs per game and a blown save every four games.

So yeah, a rebuild is probably in order. Well past due, one might even say.

[PAVLOVIC: Bochy meets with skidding Giants]

If there is a difference between the two positions then, it is only an emotional one. Most Bay Area Raider fans set themselves a deadline of 2020 to get their fandom worked out of this largely ill-fated 25-year reunion, and the coach they most idolized just yanked the floorboards out from beneath them. Gruden said at his introductory presser (after he alighted from his white horse, that is) that he wanted to bring home a championship for Oakland, a goal he either knew at the time was unachievable or realized soon afterward. The fans had invested in a hero who wasn’t, again, and they believed a battle cry that was just a bugler playing “Retreat.”

The Giants, on the other hand, aren’t going anywhere, at least not in a geographical sense, which makes this simply a baseball problem. A difficult baseball problem to be sure, but a baseball problem. I mean, when the hot argument surrounding the team is over their last drafted and developed outfielder (Chili Davis in 1977 or Marvin Benard in 1992), you know you have a baseball problem.

So maybe it isn’t the act of rebuilding at all, but the reaction to it. Nobody likes it, most fans just walk away and meander back at their own pace, and then they forget about it if it hits.

Except in Oakland, where this is the final rebuild. That one will probably last forever for an awful lot of people.

Giants' Evan Longoria expresses displeasure with slow MLB free agency

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USATSI

Giants' Evan Longoria expresses displeasure with slow MLB free agency

Despite playing 11 years of Major League Baseball, Giants third baseman Evan Longoria has never gone through free agency. He signed a six-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008, and then a 10-year extension with the club in 2012.

But with what he's witnessing this offseason, it's safe to say he isn't looking forward to the day he has to partake in the process.

Longoria took to Instagram to share his displeasure, writing the following: 

We are less then a month from the start of spring and once again some of our games biggest starts remain unsigned. Such a shame. It’s seems every day now someone is making up a new analytical tool to devalue players, especially free agents. As fans, why should “value” for your team even be a consideration? It’s not your money, it’s money that players have worked their whole lives to get to that level and be deserving of. Bottom line, fans should want the best players and product on the field for their team. And as players we need to stand strong for what we believe we are worth and continue to fight for the rights we have fought for time and time again.

What Longoria is arguing is a lot of common sense that baseball fans need to understand.

Let's look at the following point: "As fans, why should “value” for your team even be a consideration? It’s not your money, it’s money that players have worked their whole lives to get to that level and be deserving of. Bottom line, fans should want the best players and product on the field for their team." 

He's not wrong. 

The money either goes to players, making them millionaires, or owners, making them billionaires. Who are we watching on the field? It's quite simple. 

Sure, it might be fun to play armchair GM, but fans should want the best and most entertaining product on the field. We can understand why teams rebuild, but that doesn't mean we have to get to this point as fans. Every team can afford a Bryce Harper or a Manny Machado.

The best game is the most competitive game, and that's what players want. Fans should be nodding their head in agreement. 

What's most interesting from Longoria is the fact that he's calling out the system and calling for players to fight back. The MLB collective bargaining agreement ends at the end of the 2021 season. If anger increases from players, negotiations could get quite awkward. 

Joey Bart named Giants' best defensive prospect by MLB Pipeline

Joey Bart named Giants' best defensive prospect by MLB Pipeline

Giants top prospect Joey Bart is known for his bat. The No. 2 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft hit 13 home runs in his first 51 minor league games, which is just three behind Evan Longoria's team lead on the big-league club. 

Don't forget about his defense, though.

Bart, the top catching prospect in baseball, also has been named the Giants' top defensive prospect by MLB Pipeline of MLB.com. He has markedly improved since high school, when scouts wondered if he could stay at catcher, enhancing his agility and receiving and improving the accuracy of his strong arm.

The fact that scouts once questioned Bart's future at the position and now his defense is being praised, as it pertains to the Giants' farm system, says a lot. On the 20/80 scouting scale, MLB Pipeline rates Bart's defense as a 55 and his arm as a 60. 

At Georgia Tech, Bart was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2018. He also called pitches, a task that manager Danny Hall didn't even let two-time Gold Glove winner Matt Wieters do when he was a Yellow Jacket. 

In his final college season, Bart had a .992 fielding percentage and threw out 12 of 21 stolen base attempts. After joining the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (Short-Season Class A), Bart's fielding percentage dropped to .983 after he allowed six passed balls and five errors. He did, however, gun down 15 of the 21 runners trying to swipe a bag on him.

Bart's bat most likely always will be ahead of his glove. The fact that he's seen as such a well-rounded prospect, though, is an added bonus to the player the Giants hope can lead them back to the top in the near future.