The Giants are realistic. They knew when they reported to Scottsdale Stadium in February that they did not yet have the talent base of most other organizations, but they also figured they could cut off that gap by doing more prep work than any of their opponents.
That work has continued even in quarantine, and Gabe Kapler regularly gets his massive coaching staff and analytics group together to simulate games and talk through scenarios. There's just one problem: The Giants have been doggedly preparing for the National League West opponents they'll normally see 18 times a year, but the ground underneath them might be shifting.
The proposal from the owners to the MLB Players Association reportedly will call for reduced travel, with the Giants playing their NL West counterparts but also seeing significant action against American League West teams. That would mean the loaded Astros, the up-and-coming A's, and Mike Trout and the Angels. During an appearance on KNBR on Monday afternoon, Kapler said the staff is already preparing for a schedule heavy on the American League.
"We spent a lot of time on the Dodgers, we spent a lot of time on the Diamondbacks, obviously preparing for the Padres, etc.," Kapler said. "We just changed our approach and our gameplan. We are definitely going to be preparing for the A's, we are definitely going to be preparing for the Angels and the Mariners and more interleague play. We just have to know that that's at least a possibility at that point, which gives us a lot of work. I mean, we have a lot to do considering we weren't preparing for those teams as much and now that's definitely on the table."
There are positives and negatives to all that. A schedule heavy on the AL West could be tough, as the Astros and A's in particular figured to be two of the four or five best teams in the American League. This schedule would give NL Central teams at least a small advantage in an expanded playoff race.
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On the other hand, it would be a nice change of pace to see so much of Trout and also of the A's, and the Giants would unexpectedly get to face the Astros, the current bad boys of the sport, in 2020. And then, of course, there's the ultimate positive.
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Talking about scouting Jose Altuve and Anthony Rendon means you're talking about baseball at all, and that's something we'll all take. Kapler thought Monday's developments were a good sign, and said he's "really optimistic" about the sport returning this summer.
"I think that from the players to the fans to the owners to the individual clubs, everybody is really excited about the prospect of playing baseball," Kapler said. "I think it's great that a proposal is on the table. I think it's great that it's getting examined. We've had lots of discussions about it internally and the way we think about it is we need to be ready for every possible outcome, for several different rule changes, for training in home cities or in spring training sites, and not to get too caught up in what's going to happen and preparing for that, rather than getting prepared for every possible outcome."