For most of the last decade, the release of the MLB schedule wasn't all that dramatic for Giants fans. The organization loved to hold onto its own, and it was rare that a big name would end up elsewhere and the first matchup would be a story.
That's changed the last couple of seasons, and Friday's game certainly would have been one that came with some juicy storylines. The Giants were supposed to be in Atlanta tonight, facing a Braves club that has built its bullpen around a pair of former Giants, Will Smith and Mark Melancon.
The game was simulated on PlayStation's "MLB: The Show" and aired on NBC Sports Bay Area on Friday, and it was a somewhat familiar feeling for any Giants fans tuned in. The digital version of Melancon gave up a long two-run homer to virtual Hunter Pence in what was a one-run game. The Giants won 7-4.
In real life, this game would have been part of a tough three-city trip that would have determined a large part of the early-season direction for a franchise thats rebuild kicked into a higher gear when Melancon was dealt.
It took a while for Farhan Zaidi to earn the trust of the fan base, but he made big strides last July 31, when he managed to get out from the roughly $18 million left on a contract that partly led to the ouster of his successor. Zaidi has been pushing to find financial flexibility since he got hired, and that move certainly helped. The Giants have given out just one multi-year deal -- Wilmer Flores at $6.25 million -- under Zaidi and expect to dive back into free agency in the coming years as their previous financial commitments are cleared.
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The underrated part of that deal, though, was the return. Dan Winkler is no longer in the organization but the Giants are excited about 23-year-old right-hander Tristan Beck, a Stanford product who had a 2.27 ERA in six starts for San Jose after the trade. The Giants sent Beck to the Arizona Fall League, where he saw an uptick in velocity. Whenever the minor league season resumes, he should head to Double-A Richmond, joining Sean Hjelle and the next wave of pitching hopefully headed to Oracle Park.
The Melancon deal set the Giants up nicely moving forward, and it also worked out for the veteran pitcher. In the last year of that massive four-year contract, he was preparing to team with Smith on a Braves club that would have entered this season as one of the favorites in the National League.