Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' tough loss to Marlins


Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' tough loss to Marlins


SAN FRANCISCO — Giancarlo Stanton had AT&T Park buzzing 90 minutes before first pitch Saturday when he hit a couple of batting practice homers to the Coke bottle. The Giants never quite brought the excitement back to their side. 

They fell behind early and lost to the Marlins 5-4. The tying run was left on third in the ninth. 

Jeff Samardzija took his 10th defeat of the season’s first half. On the other side, lefty Chris O’Grady picked up his first career victory. Here are five other things to know ...

—- The Giants gave up two runs in the first inning, which is much better than the four they allowed in the first inning Friday. 

—- Stanton’s fifth-inning double left the bat at 118.4 mph. It was the hardest-hit ball against the Giants in the Statcast era. The previous record was a 116.1 mph single in 2015, hit by … Stanton. 

—- The Rally Lights came on with two in scoring position and one out. Brandon Crawford grounded out and Gorkys Hernandez popped up. It’s like you people aren't even reading my tweets. 

—- Jeff Samardzija walked one and struck out five. He has 14 consecutive starts of zero or one walk. 

—- Ichiro got a nice ovation when he pinch-hit in the ninth. The 43-year-old put down a sacrifice bunt and the runner scored two batters later on a wild pitch. 

Report: Giants interviewed D'backs senior VP Amiel Sawdaye


Report: Giants interviewed D'backs senior VP Amiel Sawdaye

The Giants are casting a net near and far for their next head of baseball operations.

The latest candidate works in the NL West and resides in Scottsdale, the city the Giants call home during spring training.

Amiel Sawdaye, the senior vice president and assistant general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, interviewed with the Giants, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale.

According to his bio on the D'backs website, the 41-year-old Sawdaye was in charge of Arizona's amateur and international scouting. Before joining the D'backs, Sawdaye spent 15 years with the Boston Red Sox.

Sawdaye is among the finalists for the Giants' open position, according to Nightengale.

Over the last week, it was reported that the Giants will interview MLB exec Kim Ng and that they were denied permission to speak with Brewers GM David Stearns.

The Giants are in need of a new head og baseball operations after they fired Bobby Evans as general manager a week before the end of the regular season. Executive vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean is expected to take a step back once the Giants hire their new executive.

Giants Review: After historic start to 2018, Joe Panik's future up in the air

Giants Review: After historic start to 2018, Joe Panik's future up in the air

SAN FRANCISCO — Joe Panik’s season started with a pretty cool bit of history. The second baseman accounted for the first three runs of the Giants’ season, all coming on solo homers, the first two of which were game-winners off Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen. 

Six months later, Panik’s name is again coming up in trade rumors. It’s not impossible that he would be non-tendered, becoming a free agent. How did we get here? 

Let’s run through the highs and lows of Panik’s strange season, and figure out where the second baseman and the Giants go from here … 

What Went Right:

Panik hit solo shots in a pair of 1-0 wins over the Dodgers to start the year and homered again in the home opener. The Giants became the first team in MLB history to get the first three runs of their season on solo homers by the same player. When Panik took Kershaw deep in the fifth inning on Opening Day, he became the second Giants second baseman to homer for the only run of a win. When he took Jansen deep in the ninth a day later, he became the first player in MLB history to drive in the only runs of back-to-back 1-0 wins by hitting solo homers. It’s hard to find firsts in MLB these days, but Panik did it, and he was the star of the season’s first weekend. 

When Panik homered again in the fifth game of the season, he talked of a new approach, and it all looked sustainable. It was easy to picture him hitting 15 homers or maybe more, especially since he had hit 10 on the road in 2017 and it only took him four innings to get one at home in 2018. 

Even in a down year, Panik showed off what may be his best trait as a hitter. He struck out in just 7.7 percent of his plate appearances, by far the lowest rate in the NL. Panik has led the league in strikeout rate for three consecutive seasons.

[RELATED: Panik plays first base]

What Went Wrong:

After the hot start, Panik’s numbers took a serious nosedive. He went on the DL twice and never found any consistency, finishing with a .254/.307/.332 slash line and an OPS+ that made him 23 percent worse than a league average hitter. Those were career-lows across the board. He hit just one homer over the Giants’ final 157 games. 

“I know what type of hitter I am,” Panik said on the season’s final day. “The numbers are what they are, but it’s not even close to where I want to be.”

Panik is still just 27, but opposing scouts have pointed to some concerning trends. His sprint speed was 25.6 feet per second, which ranked him ahead of just Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey. He hit the ball on the ground nearly 50 percent of the time, repeatedly grounding out into shifts. Panik’s defensive metrics no longer stand out, and members of the staff had concerns about how many grounders up the middle got past him or under his glove. 

One of the injuries — a thumb sprain — was a bad break on a tag play. The other was a groin strain. It added up to just 102 appearances.

Contract Status:

Panik made $3.45 million in his first year of arbitration. He is under team control for two more seasons. MLB Trade Rumors projects him at $4.2 million in 2019. 

The Future:

After Bobby Evans was dismissed as GM, Panik talked about an uncertain future.

“It’s all about whoever comes in and who they feel is the best fit for the organization going forward,” he said. “You hope it’s you, but at the end of the day, it’s not your call.”

The Giants almost certainly will tender Panik a contract, but after that, his future will be up to a new president of baseball operations, one who has no connection to Panik’s past successes. If the Giants really intend to “shake it up” on the field, second base is one of their only options, because much of the diamond is covered by players with no-trade protection. Panik was quietly shopped last offseason and likely will be again this winter, but his value is at an all-time low, and the Giants don’t exactly have a replacement. They do not view Alen Hanson as an everyday player, and while there are plenty of second baseman on the free agent market, they all come with their warts, and most of them are in their thirties. The best course of action may be to hope for a bounceback season from Panik and bolster the lineup with additions to the outfield corners, but as Panik noted, “it’s all about whoever comes in and who they feel is the best fit.”