Krukow: Melancon can help develop Law, Strickland into closers

Krukow: Melancon can help develop Law, Strickland into closers

Mark Melancon is the Giants' new closer.

On Tuesday morning, Mike Krukow broke down San Francisco's latest acquisition.

"Number one, he's gonna fit in beautifully," Krukow said on KNBR 680. "He's gonna anchor down that bullpen ... that solves a lot ... when you have a guy that anchors the ninth, everybody else settles into a role. And they think that they have enough talent down there to have a good bullpen. And I agree with them.

"A strike-thrower that puts the ball on the ground that can get a strikeout and basically keeps the ball off the barrel of the bat, that's a commodity. And he's just a bull. He works quick. You're gonna see some quick ninth innings. He doesn't jimmy-jack around.

"And I think he's gonna be very appreciative of the gloves that are behind him in that infield. When you're a guy that puts the ball on the ground, you really rely on your defense ... you got Gold Glovers everywhere."

How will Melancon's presence impact other guys in the bullpen, such as Derek Law and Hunter Strickland?

"It allows guys a chance to develop," Krukow said. "You can't hide in that ninth inning. If you're a guy like Strickland right now -- who we all think has great stuff but he doesn't have the dimension of movement on his fastball that Melancon has -- when Melancon comes into that bullpen he's gonna help guys like Law, like Strickland. He's gonna show them how he throws his cutter and then perhaps they may apply that type of particular movement to their arm angle.

"And lo and behold, all of a sudden, you may have a guy become another pitcher in the bullpen to be responsible for a whole inning -- to get both righties and lefties out. This was the path that Melancon was on when he first got to big leagues. He was not really a guy looked at as being capable to pitch a full inning, but he learned how to do it.

"And that's what you do at the big league level when you have great talent like Strickland or Law -- you have a guy come in and show you how to get to that next level."

Law, 26, went 4-2 with a 2.13 ERA over 61 appearances last season.

Strickland, 28, went 3-3 with a 3.10 ERA over 72 games in 2016.

Melancon, who will turn 32 in March, has racked up 131 saves in 141 opportunities over the last three seasons.

"Then you talk about the guy in the clubhouse -- very solid citizen," Krukow added.

Giants trade minor league infielder for veteran catcher Erik Kratz


Giants trade minor league infielder for veteran catcher Erik Kratz

SAN FRANCISCO -- A day after they made a seemingly endless series of transactions, the Giants got going with an early morning trade. 

Catcher Erik Kratz was acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers, with minor league infielder C.J. Hinojosa headed the other way. The deal was made a day after the Giants released Rene Rivera, a similar veteran who appeared in line for an Opening Day job. 

When Rivera was let go, Aramis Garcia looked to be in line for the backup job. But Kratz is a right-handed-hitting veteran who is out of options, so the Giants may keep him instead. Kratz, 38, will be playing for his eighth big league team. He hit .236 for the Brewers last year with six homers and six doubles in 203 at-bats. 

Kratz was a surprise contributor in the postseason, hitting .292 in 26 plate appearances. He is known for doing good work defensively and is a strong clubhouse presence. 

It's unclear why the Giants elected to go with Kratz over Rivera, who worked with their pitchers all camp. Or why they may be shying away from sticking with Garcia, who had a good spring and also knows the pitching staff well. Those questions will be answered in the next four days, and the Giants figure to make many more moves before the dust settles. 

[RELATED: Giants trade Matt Joyce after three days with team]

Hinojosa was once viewed as a future utility man at the big league level, but he was suspended 50 games last season for a positive test for a drug of abuse. When he returned, he posted a .689 OPS. 

To clear a 40-man spot for Kratz, the Giants DFA'd pitcher Jose Lopez, acquired at the start of the spring from the Reds. 

Connor Joe reveals first reaction when traded to Giants from Reds

Connor Joe reveals first reaction when traded to Giants from Reds

Ever since he was drafted in the first round of the 2014 MLB Draft, Connor Joe has been working to get to the big leagues.

It appears the San Diego native will finally get that shot. A trade from the Reds to the Giants may have smashed open the door for Joe.

"It was exciting," Joe told KNBR 680 on Saturday when asked what his initial reaction was to the trade. "I was thrilled for the opportunity to get back with a team on the West Coast ... that's closer to home is an amazing opportunity for me."

Joe attended Poway High School in San Diego, and then went to the University of San Diego. The Pittsburgh Pirates used the No. 39 overall draft pick on Joe in 2014 and then traded him to Atlanta in August of 2017 for Sean Rodriguez. A month later, the Braves shipped him to the Dodgers. This past December, the Reds claimed Joe in the Rule 5 draft.

Then the trade to the Giants happened on Thursday.

Joe knows San Francisco well. During his time in the West Coast Conference, Joe made plenty of trips to the Bay Area to face the University of San Francisco, Saint Mary's and Santa Clara. He told KNBR's Marty Lurie that his sister lives in San Francisco, and that he traveled up state with his dad for the 2007 MLB All-Star Game.

"It's a great city, I love it," Joe said. "It's a little different speed than I'm used to in San Diego, but I'm really excited to be there and really excited for this opportunity."

The 2018 season was a breakout campaign for the 26-year-old. After hitting just 11 home runs his first three minor league seasons, Joe crushed 17 home runs last season between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City, and finished the year with a .299/.408/.527 slash line.

What led to the improved play?

"For me, I think the biggest thing was allowing my athletic abilities to come out and not being trapped in a certain way that people wanted me to be," Joe said. "So, I told myself to be athletic in the box, out in the field and saw really positive results from that."

One of the aspects that made Joe attractive to the Giants is his versatility. He has experience at first base, third base, left field and right field. But he doesn't have a preferred position.

"I can't tell you what I am," Joe said. "I'm a baseball player. It's something I've done throughout my career, starting in college, so I'm used to bouncing around from game to game, even inning to inning."

Things can change in a hurry, but considering that the Giants acquired him a week before Opening Day, it's safe to say they envision him on the roster.

[RELATED: Giants reportedly acquire Michael Reed]

Guess where the Giants open the 2019 season? Yep. San Diego.

Imagine if Joe is able to make his major league debut in his hometown in front of his family. What a story that would be.