Giants

Matt Williams joins NBC Sports Bay Area's Giants TV coverage

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AP

Matt Williams joins NBC Sports Bay Area's Giants TV coverage

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — It has been 30 years since Matt Williams broke into the big leagues with the Giants, and he has been back many times in recent seasons as an opposing player, coach and manager. When the Giants play their home opener on April 10, Williams will once again be affiliated with them, this time in a new role. 

Williams will join NBC Sports Bay Area this season as a studio analyst for the pre- and post-game shows, which are expanding to one hour. After spending most of the last two decades in various on and off-field roles for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Williams is coming full circle with the Giants. 

“It feels like that, doesn’t it?” he said. “I love coaching and managing, but I also enjoy talking about the game and experiencing the game from that angle, which is a lot of fun. I really enjoy it. You get to talk about the intricacies of the game.”

Williams knows it inside and out, and not just because he played 17 seasons for the Giants, Diamondbacks and Indians. He has coached first and third base for the Diamondbacks, most recently during the 2016 season. When the organization retooled the front office in the offseason, changes were made to the coaching staff. Williams has also had a stint as a manager, doing two years with the Washington Nationals. He went 179-145, winning the NL Manager of the Year Award in 2014, when the Giants knocked the Nationals out of the postseason in the NLDS. 

Williams is best known in San Francisco for 10 strong years on the field. He hit 378 career home runs, 247 of them with the Giants. Williams is a five-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger winner and four-time Gold Glove winner, and he finished in the top five in the MVP voting in 1994 and 1999. While Williams was gone by the time a title drought was broken, he does have a ring to wear around the ballpark. He batted .275 with 16 homers for the champion Diamondbacks in 2001. 

Williams’ time in Arizona also included color commentary for their television and radio broadcasts, and he said he’s looking forward to working with former Giants players he has coached against, and fellow former coach Tim Flannery, who was an NL West rival in the late 1980s. 

“During the offseason, this is always one of my favorite cities to visit,” he said. “It’s home. I’ve been in the Bay Area practically my whole life. It’s a fantastic atmosphere in the ballpark with a great fan base, and the Giants’ recent success has been phenomenal.” 

The Giants plan on that success carrying over into the odd year, and one of the best infielders in franchise history will be along for the ride. 

How Giants prospects acquired at MLB trade deadline played this season

How Giants prospects acquired at MLB trade deadline played this season

There are just nine games left in the Giants' 2019 season. Manager Bruce Bochy already earned his 2,000th win. Mike Yastrzemski already had his magical moment at Fenway Park. 

What's left in the season is cherishing every game Bochy writes the lineup card and perhaps Madison Bumgarner's last days as a Giant, among others. 

As we look back at the most memorable moments from the season, the most important for the future could be several calls president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi made during the July 31 MLB trade deadline. In his first year calling the shots for the Giants, Zaidi might have made all the right moves. 

Let's look back at all the prospects the Giants acquired at the trade deadline and how they fit into the future. 

Mauricio Dubon, 2B/SS

This seems like a rare win-win trade for both sides.

Dubon, 25, is the future at either second base or shortstop for the Giants. Drew Pomeranz has a 2.42 ERA with 38 strikeouts in 22 1/3 innings for the Brewers, who enter Thursday with a one-game lead for the second NL wild-card spot. Ray Black also has been a formidable option out of Milwaukee's bullpen.

With Dubon's age and the fact he's under team control, the Giants are the real winners here. Through 19 games with the Giants, Dubon is batting .284 with three homers, four doubles and an .802 OPS. Before joining the Giants, Dubon hit .323 with four homers and an .876 OPS over 25 games in Triple-A for the Sacramento River Cats.

He's listed at just 160 pounds, but Dubon has flashed some power, has great baseball instincts and could be a future Gold Glover.

Tristan Beck, RHP

No matter how long Zaidi leads the Giants' front office, one of his greatest accomplishments will be getting rid of Mark Melancon's contract.

The veteran reliever still was owed nearly $20 million of his four-year, $62 million contract. That now belongs to the Braves. The Giants traded Melancon to Atlanta at the deadline for pitchers Tristan Beck and Dan Winkler. 

Beck, 23, is the prospect in the deal and he's an interesting one. The former Stanford star struggled at the start of his minor league career, but turned it around after joining the San Jose Giants in High A. He went 3-2 with a 2.27 ERA and 1.29 WHIP over six starts. 

Now, Beck joins River Cats pitching coach Steve Kline in the Arizona Fall League. If he keeps progressing, he could be a quick riser through the farm system.

Dan Winkler, RHP

Winkler, 29, pitched 27 games out of the bullpen for the Braves this season. He went 3-1 with a 4.98 ERA and 1.34 WHIP with Atlanta prior to the trade. 

The veteran reliever spent the rest of the season in Sacramento where he had a 0.64 ERA in 12 appearances out of the 'pen. Winkler is arbitration-eligible this offseason and likely doesn't have a long-term future in San Francisco. 

Jaylin Davis, OF

The Giants might have fleeced the Twins when they traded reliever Sam Dyson to Minnesota.

Dyson was 4-1 with a 2.47 ERA in 49 appearances for the Giants when they shipped him off. He has dealt with multiple bicep injuries since joining the Twins and had a 7.15 ERA in 12 appearances on his new team. 

Davis, 25, was slugging his way through the minors with 25 homers between Double-A and Triple-A when the Giants acquired him. He added another 10 with the River Cats in only 27 games. 

In eight games with the Giants, Davis is yet to knock one over the fence and is batting just .130. He has shown off his athleticism with his speed and arm in the outfield, but can he catch up to major-league velocity? 

That's a question the Giants will have to answer. 

Kai-Wei Teng, RHP

Teng, 20, is a big starting pitcher at 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds. He throws from a 3/4-arm angle and had a dominant season this year. 

Teng went 7-0 with a 1.58 ERA between two Class A teams. After joining the Augusta GreenJackets, he struck out 39 batters in 29 innings and opposing batters hit just .160 off him. 

At his young age, Teng will be an interesting prospect to keep track of next season. 

Prelander Berroa, RHP

Berroa only is 19 years old and is extremely unpolished. While he's only 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds, he sits in the mid-90s and has touched 98 mph. 

As the third piece of a trade, Berroa is a low-risk-high-reward prospect.

Joe McCarthy, 1B/OF

The Giants acquired McCarthy from the Rays for Jacob Lopez, their 26th-round pick from the 2018 draft. McCarthy was the Rays' No. 28 prospect at the time. 

McCarthy, 25, struggled with Sacramento, batting .165 in 24 games. He doesn't seem to have too much of a future with San Francisco.

How Bruce Bochy uses Madison Bumgarner for advice when he's not starting

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AP

How Bruce Bochy uses Madison Bumgarner for advice when he's not starting

ATLANTA -- In the bottom of the ninth inning last Wednesday, the Giants got a walk and a single off then-Pirates closer Felipe Vasquez, inviting their fans back into the game as they attempted an unlikely comeback. As those remaining stood and cheered, Madison Bumgarner emerged on the top step of the dugout and stood to Bruce Bochy's right. 

Bochy turned to Bumgarner and had a quick conversation, and then both men focused their attention back to the field. As Austin Slater walked up for a pinch-hit appearance, the two spoke again. Bumgarner stood next to Bochy, a hoodie on, throughout the ninth, ending the conversation only a few seconds before the rally fell short. 

Part of the discussion was exactly what you might imagine. 

"It was, 'Listen, this guy throws really hard and has great stuff ... but you know I'm a great matchup for him,'" Bochy recalled, smiling. 

Bumgarner actually might have been as good a matchup as Bochy had for Vasquez. He once drew a walk off Aroldis Chapman, another lefty closer with similar stuff, and this season has two walks in two pinch-hit plate appearances. But most of the conversation wasn't about giving Bumgarner a shot. The two discussed Bochy's pinch-hit options, and as he has done often over the years, Bochy used his ace's advice as part of his decision-making process.

Bumgarner is famous in the clubhouse for the way he can read swings during a game. While his process has changed a bit over the years, he's still pretty old-school for the most part, watching where a hitter sets up in the box, the way he places his hands, and how he approaches different pitches. That has instructed the majority of Bumgarner's game planning over the years, and Bochy has taken advantage. 

"He's got a good feel for the game, he really does," Bochy said. "He watches the game and studies the game. He has a great feel. There's been a couple of times this year when he gets by me and we're talking strategy or a move or possibly who to use as a pinch-hitter. A couple of times I've used his advice. It's great because if it doesn't work, I can get on him."

Bochy used Bumgarner with Vasquez on the mound, asking him which right-handers on the bench he felt were the best matchup. It's a process that Bumgarner said started later in his career. He was curious to know what Bochy was thinking during games he wasn't starting. 

"I'd seen a lot of moves he made early in my career and they always seemed to work," Bumgarner said. "Granted, you've got to have the players to do that, too, but when I got comfortable enough with him and he made a move, I would ask him about it. If I was thinking something else or I was thinking the same thing, I would just ask him how he decided to do what he did. He would walk me through it and it helped me learn a lot about this game, also."

Asked how often he feels his advice has pushed Bochy in a new direction, Bumgarner paused for a moment and then frowned. 

"You know, it has, but I'm pretty sure it's whenever I say whatever he's already thinking," Bumgarner said. "A lot of times he'll ask me what I would do here, but most of the time he does the same thing that I say. But I think the only reason for that is that's what he was going to do anyway."

Coach Bumgarner has been a resource for Bochy, and the manager thought Bumgarner would be "great at it" if he ever wanted to coach or manage.

"You look at how he prepares for his games, reads hitters -- he can assimilate information very well," Bochy said.

Don't hold your breath waiting for Bumgarner on the top step, though. A large part of Bochy's job is briefing the media every day, and there's no chance Bumgarner would sign up for that gig. 

[RELATED: MadBum's road struggles continue before ace's free agency]

Instead, he'll enjoy his final week as an extra set of eyes for Bochy, trying to find an edge even on days when he's not starting. Bochy cherishes the interaction, in part because he knows what's usually coming at some point. He laughed when asked what kind of advice Bumgarner gave him as they went over options against Vasquez. 

"He said, 'I think you might want me to pinch-hit here,'" Bochy said.