Giants

Logan Webb to become youngest Giants starter since Madison Bumgarner

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USATSI

Logan Webb to become youngest Giants starter since Madison Bumgarner

PHOENIX -- The Giants have gone with youth in their rotation, but even by that new standard, Logan Webb's debut will be noteworthy. 

Webb will be 272 days past his 22nd birthday when he throws his first pitch Saturday night, making him the youngest Giant to start a game since Madison Bumgarner. He'll be the fourth-youngest Giants starter since 2000, trailing just Bumgarner (20 years, 38 days in 2009), Matt Cain (20 years, 332 days in 2005) and Jerome Williams (21 years, 143 days in 2003), according to Stats LLC.

It's been no secret that the Giants have leaned heavily on veteran starters over the past decade, with guys like Ryan Vogelsong, Tim Hudson and Jake Peavy filling in during the championship years and Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto joining the top of the rotation in recent years. 

But as the game has gotten younger, the Giants truly have fallen behind. It's not just that the Giants haven't had a 22-year-old starter since Bumgarner's debut. They haven't even had a 23-year-old. Bumgarner made 105 starts before turning 24. The next youngest Giants starter during that time was Erik Surkamp, who was 24 years and 52 days old when he made his debut in 2011. 

This year the Giants have used 24-year-olds Shaun Anderson and Conner Menez, and they always thought Webb could be an option in the second half. Manager Bruce Bochy admitted the thinking changed a bit when Webb was suspended for 80 games, but back in spring training, Webb opened eyes. 

"He threw the ball well," Bochy said. "The thing you like about him is he throws strikes, and he's got good stuff. I thought he was very confident this spring in his outings and with how he handled himself. This spring he really impressed. I'm not surprised to see him."

Webb said that he thought about his future during the spring, and he was ready to take on any role to get a shot at the big leagues. He said his hopes about a timetable changed a bit after the suspension, but after just three starts back in Double-A and one in Triple-A, the Giants will use him to fill a hole. 

With an off-day Monday, Dereck Rodriguez back in the rotation, and Anderson just about 100 percent, it seems likely this will be a cameo appearance for Webb. But no matter how it goes, he'll get his name in the books as one of the youngest Giants starters of the past two decades.

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Webb gave a reminder of just how young he was while chatting with reporters Friday. Asked about his Niners fandom, he said he doesn't remember certain players familiar to reporters. 

"I was born in 1996," he pointed out. 

As Winter Meetings end, there's mutual interest between Bumgarner, Dodgers

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USATSI

As Winter Meetings end, there's mutual interest between Bumgarner, Dodgers

SAN FRANCISCO -- There wasn't a lot of time to soak in the sunny weather, but the Giants enjoyed their stay in San Diego. They made a creative trade that impressed rival clubs, added a pitcher they believe can break through, announced an innovative approach to a coaching staff, and by all accounts embraced the collaborative spirit that Farhan Zaidi wants in the front office and Gabe Kapler is preaching to his staff. 

But they also left staring at a potential nightmare scenario. 

There is mutual interest between Madison Bumgarner and the Dodgers, sources told NBC Sports Bay Area this week, and the Dodgers met with Bumgarner's representatives at the Winter Meetings. It's unclear if they'll satisfy his salary desires, but Bumgarner and Hyun-Jin Ryu are the top options left on the pitching market after a shockingly active week in San Diego, and the Dodgers would like to add to their rotation. 

The Dodgers struck out on Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon on back-to-back days and quickly pivoted to Bumgarner, as Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic first reported. While the Dodgers have seen Bumgarner's numbers dip in recent years, they still view him as a durable starter, someone who is young enough to be a contributor for years to come and can give them an innings-eater alongside Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw. And yes, they're well aware of what a blow such a move would be to the fan base of their main rival. 

Giants officials downplayed those concerns this week, noting repeatedly that they're going to build back up the right way and not be swayed by emotion. There was some skepticism about the Dodgers' true intentions, but sources say the interest is real, and that could put the Giants in a tough spot. 

They met with Bumgarner's representation on Tuesday and Zaidi said a day later that he remained engaged in conversations with the franchise's longtime ace. The price has gone higher than expected, and that's ultimately one of the main reasons Bumgarner may not end up with the Dodgers. But he also said repeatedly late in the year that his main priority as a free agent was finding a spot where he could win, and not many teams can offer a better shot at that than the one in Los Angeles. 

The Dodgers have limited their free agent spending during their run to seven straight NL West titles. On the other side, the Giants have not yet spent more than $9 million on a free agent since Zaidi took over. Bumgarner's camp, per sources, wants to top the $100 million mark, making up for a below-market deal he signed as a 22-year-old. 

Bumgarner has drawn interest from plenty of others this week, with the Angels mentioned as one potential home and the Twins known to be a strong suitor. It's unclear when he'll make a decision, but he certainly finds himself in a nice spot. The free agent market has exploded, and he can count two longtime rivals among the teams still in the bidding for his services. 

Giants announce changes to Oracle Park, move bullpens to outfield

Giants announce changes to Oracle Park, move bullpens to outfield

On the first day of the Winter Meetings, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi joked that Brandon Belt might often be checking his phone these days for updates on exactly how much the Giants would be chopping out of Triples Alley. On Thursday the Giants finally made their new dimensions official, with changes that aren't all that drastic and still will keep Oracle Park as a pitchers' park with a deep alley in right-center.

It still will be difficult for left-handed hitters to yank the ball out in Triples Alley, but the Giants did change enough that offense should get a slight boost. 

With the bullpens moving from foul territory to the outfield, Triples Alley will be cut from 421 feet to 415. The wall will be five feet closer in left-center and eight feet closer in straightaway center. The bullpens will be situated in center field on either side of the garden that already exists out there. 

"Obviously it's something that started off really as a safety issue with some of what we've seen over the last couple of years, but there's going to be a fun baseball element," Zaidi said earlier this week. "We've done a lot of studies on how we think it's going to impact things but until you actually start playing games and the ball starts flying, you're never quite sure how it's going to go. It'll be a fun and exciting time."

It'll also be a much different look for relievers and fans who sit out in the bleachers. The Giants announced that several bleacher seats will directly overlook the bullpens and they will have two new standing-room terraces out there for fans. The garden in center field will also provide a direct view into the Giants' bullpen. 

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For the players, the bullpens will have padded chain link openings in the wall so they can watch the game. The centerfield wall will also be one foot shorter, going from eight to seven feet, which could aid a hitter or two every year but may also make it easier for the centerfielder to rob an opposing batter. 

The Giants expect a touch more offense from the new look, but as they ran studies in recent months, they discovered that the weather was actually the main factor in knocking down potential home runs. The heavy air will still be there at night, protecting pitchers and frustrating hitters. 

That'll be good news for Giants relievers. The press release continued one more bit of important news for that group. Both bullpens will have their own bathroom for players.