Giants

Giants shake-up starts with Bobby Evans' ouster, but it won't stop there

Giants shake-up starts with Bobby Evans' ouster, but it won't stop there

Round 1 of the San Francisco Giants’ shake-up is here, and the ace of spades has been dealt to general manager Bobby Evans.
 
Kind of.
 
Larry Baer had said there would be changes two weeks ago, and since most folks looked at a roster with few desirable pieces and a threadbare farm system, the obvious next choice was in civilian clothes. Since that wasn’t going to be baseball operations head Brian Sabean, Evans was the logical goat to be scaped.
 
So it came Monday, as the Giants came home to finish off a season that never got much traction and has slowly deteriorated since the All-Star break. Evans, ever earnest and hard-working, would be reassigned for what has been a precipitous fall since the summer of 2016.
 
It seems unlikely that Baer would go after either Sabean or manager Bruce Bochy next, as it is difficult to make a convincing case that they both turned into bad baseball men at the same time. Their combined work has given the Giants two decades (one decade in Bochy's case) of mostly admirable results, and whatever Baer’s skills might be, building a baseball organization from the top down would not seem to be one of them.
 
But Evans as the sole reason the team has gone so far off the boil is not convincing, either, which probably is one reason why he wasn’t fired outright. Sabean likely will undertake a dramatic change beneath him, or at least to bring in a new version of Evans whose skills better match a changing sport, and can buttress Sabean’s gifts.
 
It simply might be a case of reordering what the franchise looks for in a prospect. It might be a renewed interest in power hitters to fit in a park that typically punishes them. The questions far outnumber the answers, and even with a reconstructed starting rotation centered on Madison Bumgarner and Dereck Rodriguez, the Giants are well behind in bullpen and outfield construction, and their once-envied infield strength now is aging and league average.
 
In short, the shake-up that Baer advertised has started with Evans, but the best guess from here is the rest of the changes will range from the physical to the philosophical, and everything will be on the table -- save dynamiting the right field wall.
 
The Giants won early in the decade by working against the conventional math-driven wisdom and using old-school wisdom, but the grain has moved further away from them as time has passed. The A’s now are the prototypical late-teens operation, using power, defense and a deep bullpen to fulfill what their starting pitching cannot. They might be a surprise, but the elements are in place for them to maintain course for several years if they choose.
 
And what the Giants need will not come immediately. Bullpens, outfields and farm systems don’t turn on a dime. It’s been more than a decade since the organization has had to exhibit patience in reconstruction, and the fact that Sabean oversaw that reboot and included Bochy in the blueprint means it can be done again.
 
But their windows might be closing as well, so a five-year-plan probably won’t be mentioned. Indeed, these past three seasons have shown how quickly surprise turnarounds can be done. Oakland, Tampa Bay and Atlanta all made swift course corrections, though they chose different methods to get to where they are now.
 
But don’t expect the Giants to be one of those teams. There is too much to do and too little off-season in which to do it.

Evans is being taken out of the firing line, but the shake-up isn't going to stop with him. It’s just a matter of how you choose to define “shake-up."

What 2019 Giants would have looked like over shortened MLB schedule

What 2019 Giants would have looked like over shortened MLB schedule

It wasn't hard to predict that the negotiations between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association would get nasty, but over the last few days, the twists have gotten a bit silly.

The owners have been pushing for an 82-game season, and on Sunday the players finally made their counter. Their return-to-play proposal included a season of 114 games. A day later, the owners leaked to ESPN's Jeff Passan that they might counter with a season of about 50 games. 

Guess what happens to be the midpoint between the two latest proposals? That's right, exactly 82 games.

The simple explanation here is that the owners believe they'll lose money for every game that's played without fans, and if the players aren't going to renegotiation their per-game salaries, the owners will make sure the entire pie is much smaller. The players, naturally, are pushing for as many games as possible, knowing that every extra week is that much more money. 

On and on they'll go, but sources on both sides still believe there will ultimately be a resolution. It just will take longer than first expected. 

As the sides continue volleying back and forth, let's bring it back to the Giants. We know how last season ended up over 162 games -- 77-85 -- but what would the 2019 Giants have looked like over a shortened season? 

50 Games

MLB is not going to play a 50-game season. That's an absurd notion, one that will force players and teams to spend a month scrambling to get health protocols in place only to rush through a season in less than two months. 

A season anywhere near this short would turn the playoff race upside down, eliminating teams like the 2019 Nationals, eventual champions who lost 31 of their first 50 before getting hot. The Giants weren't much better last year. They were 21-29 and somehow already 11 1/2 games out in the NL West. 

In the 50th game last season, Drew Pomeranz started and saw his ERA rise to 6.45. Joe Panik was the leadoff hitter that day, Tyler Austin batted third and Mac Williamson played left field. Mike Yastrzemski had not yet been called up. 

Over an actual 50-game season, you would expect some wild swings in stats -- perhaps someone batting .400 or posting a 1.30 ERA -- but there were no Giants last year who would have clearly benefited. Pablo Sandoval led the 50-game Giants with a .304 average and was tied with Brandon Belt with seven homers. Jeff Samardzija led the starting staff with a 3.27 ERA. 

There were no crazy outliers. The 50-game Giants were pretty boring in 2019.

82 Games

In theory, an 82-game season should put the Giants on the fringes of the playoff race. They don't have the talent to stick with the Dodgers or even the Diamondbacks for 162 games, but cut that season in half and some crazy stuff might happen. You remember that spirited run last summer, right? 

Well, in an 82-game season the Giants would need to get into gear a bit earlier than they did last year. That July stretch got them briefly thinking about the Wild Card race and altered their deadline strategy, but it also started a few days after the midpoint of the season. At 82 games, the Giants were 35-47 and had the second-worst record in the National League. 

At the halfway (plus one) point, Sandoval led the Giants in WAR and was tied with Belt and Kevin Pillar at 10 homers. Alex Dickerson, just called up, was batting .367. Shaun Anderson (3.86 ERA) looked like he might be locking down a future rotation spot. Again, there aren't really wild swings here, though. 

114 Games

Now we're talking. The Giants got going last July, briefly thrusting themselves back into the playoff race. On August 6 they were 56-58, just 3 1/2 games behind the Phillies for the second Wild Card spot. The Giants got off to a rough start last year and ultimately finished well out of the race, but for a brief moment there -- one that included the proposed 114-game mark -- they were frisky. 

From a player standpoint, not much sticks out. Yastrzemski was the main benefactor of the season going past 114 games, as he had 10 homers at this point and would double that total. We had not yet been introduced to Mauricio Dubon or Tyler Rogers. 

[RELATED: Gabe Kapler encouraged by players speaking up]

To give you a true idea of what a 114- game season looks like, consider that the Giants released Panik on this day last year. A season of this length is plenty long, but there's also a good stretch left to play, and that's shown in the playoff races. 

If the 2019 season had ended after 114 games, the Phillies and Cubs would have snuck into the picture. Gabe Kapler likely would have kept his job. Instead, he's with the Giants, trying to figure out what his team might look like over 50 games, 82, or perhaps even 114. 

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow declares 'it is our duty to protest'

Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow declares 'it is our duty to protest'

Mike Krukow knows how to get people's attention. Ever since he went from the field to the broadcast booth for the Giants, Krukow's unique voice has carried weight. 

Krukow made his voice loud and clear Monday on KNBR's "Murph & Mac" show when he spoke on the protests across the world stemming from the death of George Floyd, an African-American man, in police custody in Minneapolis. An impassioned Krukow stated his disgust for police brutality as someone whose family has a long history in law enforcement.

“My dad was a cop, my grandfather was a cop. All my uncles were cops. My sister was a cop,” Krukow said. “What we have seen in the death of George Floyd sickens me to the core. I’m just completely rocked about this. It is our duty to protest. It is not our duty to loot, that is as disgusting as the crime itself. But it is our duty to stand and you gotta say, ‘This is wrong.’ You have to do it. We’re being asked to tone down the rhetoric in our press, and that is B.S. Now more than ever the outrage has to be written. And it has to be written by us. By you and me, we have to write our letters to our congressmen and our congresswomen and our senators and the president, you gotta let everybody know you’re not happy. This cannot go on. This is disgusting.

“This is 2020 and we are watching this, this senseless murder of a man who could not defend himself and was saying as he laid down on the ground, ‘I can’t breathe.’ It’s appalling.

“You have to tell your children and you have to tell your grandchildren, ‘This is not right.’ Let them see how mad you are. Let them see how disgusted you are. That’s the only thing we can do. We can protest this, we have to. This is not right. I’m not well with this and I don’t know anyone who is. It’s disgusting.

“All of my friends, it’s all we’re talking about. This has just gone on too far. We can’t be silent now. We cannot. You’ve gotta protest. You’ve gotta say everything that you mean and mean it. And put it on paper and send it out and let your children and grandchildren see how upset you are.”

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

After calling for more protesting and disavowing looting, Krukow, 68, spoke on the side of police officers and law enforcement as well. He clearly is sickened by Floyd's death, and also is against any violence towards police as well. 

“I fear for the safety of our police,” Krukow said. “It’s not easy. It’s harder now than it ever has been. When you have a badge, you’ve gotta wear it responsibly. You cannot use it to be a bully or be a murderer. You can’t.

“It sickens the people who do police work for a living. They watch this as we watch this. They know how hard it is out there and perhaps they’ve seen things that none of us have ever even dreamt of. What we watched in the death of George Floyd, it’s absurd -- it’s how does this happen? How do we let this happen in our society? It’s so upsetting. It’s upsetting to everybody. It does not justify looting. It doesn’t. It should encourage protest. I totally believe that is what we have to do.

“The looting is not right. That’s just criminal. Now our police are more at risk than ever. Our society right now -- think about 2020, this year sucks. It absolutely sucks.

"We’re watching something now and going through an experience together as we have done so well together in dealing with COVID, and now we need to come together and we need to resolve what’s going on across this country.”

[RELATED: Kapler encouraged by MLB players speaking against racism]

With protests happening throughout the Bay Area, the Giants boarded up windows at Oracle Park on Monday. 

San Francisco implemented a curfew beginning at 8 p.m. PT on Monday, which lasted until 5 a.m. Tuesday.