Giants

Giants working to get GM in place as search for new manager begins

Giants working to get GM in place as search for new manager begins

SAN FRANCISCO -- As he sat at the podium Tuesday and talked about all the work ahead of him, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi laughed while telling a story about 2014. Zaidi was a rising star in the industry and had just been hired by Andrew Friedman, a similar talent, to serve as general manager of the Dodgers. 

"There was a lot of talk that this seems like a game of title inflation," Zaidi recalled. "'Nobody ever needed a president and a GM before, how's this going to work?' I feel in five years baseball has come a long way because there's a tremendous amount of alarm that we don't have a GM at this point. I think it shows the evolution of front offices and how sophisticated, and at times complex and involved, running a baseball operations department is."

Giants officials got that sense every time they walked into Dodger Stadium in recent years. To get to the visiting clubhouse you have to walk past the old clubhouse, which now houses the organization's massive analytics department. Baseball operations has become big business, and the Giants -- who mostly have had the same group in place for a couple decades -- plan to keep up.

After being somewhat coy about the process during the season, Zaidi came out Tuesday and made it clear he will hire a general manager. He called it a high priority and said he would move as quickly as possible, but insisted "there's no favorite, let alone somebody who has either (the GM or manager) job in the bag."

Some in the Giants organization might disagree. There's a sense that Zaidi has a clear favorite for his GM after a year of thinking about it, and it's possible that Billy Owens -- an assistant GM in Oakland -- is that guy. Owens, who worked with Zaidi previously, was in consideration for the job last offseason but the Giants ultimately didn't make a hire. 

No matter who the Giants choose, it's clear the new GM will have considerable influence on all areas of baseball operations. Zaidi said he views the front office hierarchy as "sharing the load of managing the overall operation." The Giants aren't necessarily looking for someone known for excelling in one specific area. 

"I think by not defining it specifically, it opens up the candidate pool," Zaidi said. "Whether that's somebody that has experience and expertise in scouting or player development, administration, whatever their strengths are, hopefully, we can complement each other and work well."

[RELATED: How appealing openings could impact Giants' mangerial search]

That person will also have to work well with the new manager, although it's possible a GM won't be hired in time to take part in managerial interviews. Zaidi said the processes would be done concurrently.

"You want to know how the GM is going to work with the manager but you also want to know how the manager is going to work with the GM," he said. "It's a little bit of a 'chicken and egg,' but we will very much have it in mind that those two are going to have to have a close relationship and we have to have confidence they're going to be able to work together."

Mayor London Breed clears way for Giants' June return to Oracle Park

Mayor London Breed clears way for Giants' June return to Oracle Park

The Giants expect the construction of their new bullpens to be finished in the next week or so. It might not be much longer before players are allowed to throw off the mounds. 

San Francisco mayor London Breed outlined new reopening rules on Thursday afternoon, and there was good news for professional sports teams. As part of a phase that will go into effect before June 15, professional sports teams can practice in the city of San Francisco with an approved plan. The city is targeting June 15 for the next phase, which states in part, "Professional sports games, tournaments and other entertainment venues allowed with no spectators with approved plans."

The players and owners are still far apart in negotiations, but if they can strike a deal that gets baseball back in July -- the target is to get games back by the July 4 holiday -- the Giants will be cleared to come home. Internally, they are still discussing the next steps and what a Spring Training 2.0 might look like. They're trying to decide between training at Scottsdale Stadium and doing so at Oracle Park, and the current lean is said to be returning to San Francisco.

It's not quite that easy, of course. The Giants would have to make significant changes to the structure at Oracle Park, expanding clubhouse space and finding new areas within the ballpark's footprint to train while following social distancing rules. They're hashing all of that now, and while they were never all that concerned about the restrictions in San Francisco, it certainly is a sigh of relief that the city is officially moving forward with reopening plans. 

[RELATED: Field to Table: How to make Oracle Park-style garlic fries]

The Giants have quietly reopened one of their other facilities in the meantime. Players who remained in the Scottsdale area have been allowed to work out at the ballpark there, although social distancing is practiced and there are limits on how many people can be in the building at one time. The vast majority of the team remains spread out across the country. 

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

How Giants fans' support impressed Mike Yastrzemski, Mauricio Dubon

How Giants fans' support impressed Mike Yastrzemski, Mauricio Dubon

Mike Yastrzemski and Mauricio Dubon entered this season as two of the more popular Giants, but a year ago at this time they were in extremely different situations. Yastrzemski was just getting his feet wet in his first week in the big leagues. Dubon was playing in Triple-A for the Milwaukee Brewers. 

They both got shots to grab a starting role later in the 2019 season with the Giants, and both did enough that they were going to be in Gabe Kapler's Opening Day lineup, possibly right at the top. Life changed quickly for Yastrzemski and Dubon, and on this week's episode of "Chalk Talk at Home," they talked about how far they've come. Both said interactions with the Giants fan base stood out early in their big league careers. 

"I struck out my first at-bat and they were still cheering for me walking back," Yastrzemski  "You don't get that too often, where it's a big market, big city with a huge history of winning, and usually fans demand excellence. The fans are so great out there that they're just exited for somebody to get an opportunity to come help the team and they're going to support you."

Dubon came along three months later, but he already knew all about Oracle Park's supportive fan. He grew up as one after moving to Honduras to Sacramento as a teenager. Still, Dubon found himself surprised by early interactions. 

"I was just trying to play baseball and the next thing I know I'm walking down the streets going to the field and a lot of people are honking in the car and saying hi to me, and I had no idea how they recognized me," he said. "It's pretty amazing how the Giants fans are."

Last year's rookie breakouts are training in Nashville and Miami, respectively, and both hope to be back at Oracle Park soon. MLB is angling for a July return, although there are plenty of hurdles. Whenever the sport resumes, it'll do so without fans, which might not be the adjustment you would expect.

Yastrzemski said he's able to get so focused at the plate that he never hears any noise anyway. The outfield may get weird, though. 

"You're used to having to like try and scream at the guy next to you to try and get his attention," he said. "You can whisper now."

[RELATED: Learn how to make Oracle Park's garlic fries]

Yastrzemski said it's going to be interesting to see how guys react, because some really feed off the energy coming from the seats. Dubon certainly qualifies as one of those players, and he said the empty stadium "is going to be weird."

"I'm a guy that feeds off that," he said. "I've just got to get used to it, I've just got to get used to not having anybody. I played in rookie ball here in Florida with literally nobody and it's going to be pretty much like that with the best players in the world."

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]