How Farhan Zaidi is reacting to Giants' hot streak ahead of trade deadline

How Farhan Zaidi is reacting to Giants' hot streak ahead of trade deadline

DENVER -- The big takeaway from Farhan Zaidi's introductory press conference last November was that the new boss did not talk about grand changes or plans, but rather about the Giants getting incrementally better with every move.

It took a while, but Zaidi's plan is starting to lead to positive results on the field, and that's ironically put him in a tough spot for the next two weeks. The Giants have more trade chips than any team out there and still do not have a winning record. At the same time, they're the hottest team in baseball and have snuck within three games of a playoff spot. 

So does Zaidi sell, does he buy, or does he stand pat? Or will it be a little of everything?

"Like every organization, we have to keep an eye on the future, but the present as well," Zaidi said on KNBR on Wednesday morning.

If the Giants have chosen a direct path, they certainly won't indicate so publicly. The best educated guess at this point is that Zaidi will try to walk a tightrope, potentially dealing pending free agents like Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith while also looking to strategically add. Not every addition has to be a blockbuster; the Giants are in this position because of under-the-radar additions like Alex Dickerson and Mike Yastrzemski.

"Not every trade that's made leading up to the trade deadline is a pure buy or sell deal," Zaidi said. "Sometimes it's a need-for-need deal. That might be the direction that we go."

No matter what he decides, Zaidi certainly is enjoying the renaissance. The Giants have won 11 of 13 and all of a sudden look poised to make good on something else Zaidi said back in November. Despite the dire situation he inherited, Zaidi talked of the Giants being competitive as long as they could in 2019. That became more important once Bruce Bochy announced his retirement.

[RELATED: How many wins will Giants need?]

"This entire season for us has never been a throwaway season or rebuilding season," Zaidi told KNBR. "I think people tried to cast it that way, especially with the way we came out of the gates early in the season and it sort of had that air to it. But one of the reasons we made all the moves and brought up Dickerson and Yastrzemski is we tried to look for a group of players that could get on a roll like this.

"We're very invested in this season and it's been really exciting seeing how the team has played. Every pennant race and every opportunity you have to get to the playoffs has a ton of value. It has a ton of value to the fans and the organization, and we don't take that lightly."

How Giants manager Gabe Kapler plans to handle veteran core of lineup

How Giants manager Gabe Kapler plans to handle veteran core of lineup

SAN FRANCISCO -- Gabe Kapler spent the last month talking to Giants employees about why he would be the right fit for the job, and on Wednesday he spent nearly an hour on a podium discussing his past and future. But now Kapler plans to listen.

The new Giants manager is three months from the start of spring training and soon after that he'll have to start putting together lineups. On the Giants Insider Podcast, Kapler said he plans to talk to core players before revealing any preferences. 

"An executive in Los Angeles once said to me: 'Know where they've been, know where they are, know where they're going," Kapler said. "In order to know those three things, I need to be able to ask those questions and hear what's going on in their brains."

The arrival of Kapler -- and general manager Scott Harris -- should lead to big changes even if the Giants aren't able to trade any veterans. Bruce Bochy had too much respect for Buster Posey's past accomplishments to move him out of the heart of the order, but Kapler enters without that history.

Brandon Crawford is coming off a down year and could lose time to Mauricio Dubon or a newcomer. Brandon Belt didn't hit for much power last year, but Bochy hit him leadoff at times because of his ability to have good plate appearances, and Kapler complimented Belt during his press conference Wednesday. 

"I've thought a lot about Brandon Belt (and) how impressive it is to watch him take an at-bat, independent of the outcome of the at-bat," Kapler said. "He tends to look over pitches and make really good swing-or-don't-swing decisions."

It'll now be up to Kapler to figure out the best configuration. He said he already has started digging into his new options, and he's excited about meeting the longtime Giants. 

"In preparing for an interview like this, you start to learn the players: The areas where they've taken off since you might have seen them last, the areas where they might have regressed a little bit," he said. "Before any real lineup decisions are made or any strategic decisions are made, tactical decisions, you have conversations with the players. I think that's a really important part of the process that sometimes gets blown past.

"I don't think it makes any sense for me to come in here and say Brandon Belt is going to lead off for us and Evan Longoria will hit in this spot and Buster Posey is going to play 'X' amount of games. All of those things we have an idea and a feel for, but much more importantly, before I make any decision like that or suggest any decision like that, I'll have a conversation with Buster, have a conversation with Evan, find out where they've been."

The perception in some circles is that Kapler was brought in partly because he can have those conversations before taking lineup suggestions from Zaidi, a close friend. But Kapler said he had autonomy in Philadelphia and doesn't expect a change, although he's happy to have input from the front office.

[RELATED: Zaidi lands his guy in Kapler, who must prove he fits Giants]

"I see it as a plus and a positive that Farhan will be invested in what happens on the field," he said. "That's the way it should be. But it's also important to note that I have a fairly strong personality. I've always shared my opinions. I always will share my opinions. We'll just come to the best decisions that help the San Francisco Giants win baseball games."

For more of Kapler's thoughts on strategy, bullpen usage, developing top prospects, his reunion with Zaidi, and those ice cream urban legends, you can stream the Giants Insider Podcast here or download it on iTunes here.

Click here to watch the full Kapler interview

MLB rumors: Yankees interested in free agent pitcher Madison Bumgarner

MLB rumors: Yankees interested in free agent pitcher Madison Bumgarner

This isn’t exactly breaking news, but Madison Bumgarner will be a hot commodity in MLB free agency.

The Atlanta Braves reportedly are the favorites to land the three-time World Series champion, but now another title contender is hoping in adding Bumgarner's services in 2020, after his 11-year run with the Giants.

“I will definitely talk to Bumgarner’s agency,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman reportedly told The San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea at the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz. “I haven’t. But I will.”

The Yankees' interest is far from a surprise. Not only does the franchise have one of baseball’s most expansive payrolls, but it could use a pitcher who sports a series of dominant playoff performances, considering the Yankees haven’t participated in the Fall Classic since 2009, despite seven postseason appearances in that span.

[RELATED: How Kapler explained 'problem solving' in 2015 blog post]

It remains to be seen how aggressive the Giants will be in trying to re-sign Bumgarner, but it’s clear they won’t be the only ones after the left-hander this winter.