Giants

MLB free agency: Giants might look to upgrade in these three areas

MLB free agency: Giants might look to upgrade in these three areas

SAN FRANCISCO -- For the first time in 13 years, the Giants spent the beginning of their offseason hiring a new manager, but that wasn't the only heavy lifting president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and the rest of the front office had to do.

A new general manager, Scott Harris, also was hired, and since Harris and manager Gabe Kapler came on, the organization has spent weeks putting together a young coaching staff

Now comes an even more tedious job. The Giants need to seriously upgrade their roster. Zaidi, Harris and Kapler sat down with the media on Monday afternoon and had their first opportunity to lay out some of that vision, and during the half-hour session, they hit on three spots that stand out as obvious holes.  

Infield Depth

At least on paper, the Giants are set here. Brandon Crawford and Evan Longoria will start on the left side, Mauricio Dubon should enter camp as the second baseman, and Donovan Solano was signed to a one-year deal in November. But three of those four hitters are right-handed. 

"We're still looking at options to add infield depth," Zaidi said. "We've talked a little bit about (how) a left-handed bat might make more sense ... but we're not limiting ourselves to that. When you get to the middle infield it's always nice to have depth and those guys can always obviously move around to the corners."

Adding another middle infielder could allow the Giants to push Dubon to center field, something they discussed before non-tendering Kevin Pillar and continue to assess, Zaidi said. At the very least, the Giants figure to add a left-handed bat who can play third.

Pablo Sandoval is a free agent and out for most of 2020 (although he did get married over the weekend with plenty of former teammates -- including Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, Mike Yastrzemski and Bruce Bochy -- in attendance).

A Bat In The Outfield

While the Giants are right-handed on the infield, they're awfully left-handed when you get to the outfield. Yastrzemski, Alex Dickerson and Steven Duggar might be the three Giants currently locked in for the most playing time out there, although Austin Slater and Jaylin Davis are both right-handed. 

Enter Nicholas Castallanos? Maybe. The Giants are interested in the right-handed slugger, and he could be the jewel of their offseason. Either way, a right-handed bat is high on the wish list. 

"With the extra roster spot next year, there's always a possibility to do a little bit more matching up, so you want to have balance on all parts of your roster," Zaidi said. 

Yastrzemski actually crushed lefties last year but Dickerson was just 4-for-21, so the Giants will certainly try to add another platoon option for one of the corner spots. 

Veteran Catcher

A year after they let Nick Hundley move on, the Giants watched Stephen Vogt sign with the Diamondbacks. It's a move that stings, because Vogt was a clubhouse leader and a left-handed hitter who had almost formed a platoon with Buster Posey by the end of the season. 

You would think the Giants would want another veteran in the mix, especially because they went so far -- remember Erik Kratz? -- to keep Aramis Garcia off the opening day roster last year. But Zaidi said that's not necessarily the case. 

[RELATED: Report: Seven teams outside of Giants interested in MadBum]

"We'd like to see him get an opportunity," Zaidi said of Garcia. "He's putting in a lot of work this offseason and he's a guy we would like to see get an opportunity as well. I guess we're not closed off to (adding) but we have some good young catching depth and at some point we want to create opportunities for these guys."

Garcia, who turns 27 in January, is more than capable of backing up Posey and he's playing Winter Ball this year to prepare himself. The Giants also have top prospect Joey Bart on the fast track, so this is one area where perhaps there's no need to put another veteran in the room with Posey. 

Five weird Giants stats that stand out after 20 games of odd MLB season

Five weird Giants stats that stand out after 20 games of odd MLB season

The Giants' 2020 MLB season officially is one-third of the way done. That feels extremely weird to write after a 20-game sample size, yet here we are. Blink and the 60-game season will be over.

After their 5-1 loss Wednesday night against the Houston Astros, the Giants are 8-12 on the year. They just finished a grueling road trip where they went 3-7, and finally have a day off after 16 games in 16 days. With their latest defeat, the Giants now are tied for the second-most losses in baseball. 

Despite that fact, they're far from out of the playoff picture as the postseason has been expanded to eight teams for each league. Here are five stats -- good and bad -- that have defined the first third of the Giants' season. 

.458

I mean, who didn't expect Donovan Solano to be hitting .458 right now? It was pretty obvious this would happen. Right? .... right? 

OK, back to reality. Nobody, and I mean nobody, saw this coming. Solano, 32, did hit .330 last season and proved he's a major league hitter. Now, he's one of the best stories in baseball. 

Solano has the third-highest batting average through 16 games in San Francisco Giants history. Only Barry Bonds (.525) in 2004 and Willie Mays (.470) in 1964 have been better. That's a pretty, pretty good group to be a part of. 

Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon (.472) is the only player with a higher batting average than Solano right now. They're joined by New York Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu as the three players hitting over .400 this season. The only down side is Solano has been shelved recently with an abdominal injury.

.219 

For as great as Solano has been at the plate, the Giants' catchers have not. Chadwick Tromp (.226) and Tyler Heineman (.212) are batting a combined .219 right now. 

This doesn't sit well with the crowd begging for the Giants to call up top prospect Joey Bart

Tromp has hit two home runs and shown some power, but he also has 11 strikeouts to only one walk. Heineman has displayed a better eye at the plate, however, he virtually has no power at the plate. The two have been solid when it comes to framing pitches, they haven't been as great when it comes to actually hitting pitches.

After a three-game series with the A's, the Giants then have four games against the Los Angeles Angels and three vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks. Perhaps then it finally will be Bart time.

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

21

That's the number of home runs the Giants have hit as a team this season, with their power being an improvement from last year. A total of 11 Giants have gone deep this season. They're currently tied with the Houston Astros with the 17th-most long balls in baseball. 

But that's not the 21 we're focusing on here. 

The Giants also have made 21 errors, the most in the game by far. The next highest is the Kansas City Royals with 17. San Francisco is committing more than one error per game, which can't happen with a team that isn't full of sluggers at the plate. 

For as great as Solano has been at the plate, he has been atrocious defensively. He leads the team with four errors and his fielding percentage is just .902 right now. These aren't the Yankees, these aren't even the San Diego Padres. If the Giants want to compete, they have to clean it up defensively.

79

Speaking of cleaning it, the Giants also can't afford how many free bases their pitchers have allowed. They lead the NL with 79 walks, which ranks fourth in the majors. 

Sometimes walks can be deceiving. Trevor Cahill walked four batters in 1 2/3 innings in San Francisco's loss to the Houston on Wednesday. Those walks never really came back to hurt him, but there's a bigger picture here. Giants pitchers struck out seven batters and walked six in the loss. Astros pitchers struck out nine and walked one. That's a winning formula, the Giants' is not. 

Giants pitchers also have hit 12 batters, tied for the fourth-most in the big leagues. Their 5.10 ERA is the seventh-worst in baseball, and they rank 22nd in strikeouts with 142. It all starts with the walks, though. 

Once again, this is a team that can't afford sloppiness and free bases.

[RELATED: Slater, Solano's injuries expose Giants' offense in loss]

8

When the Giants signed Billy Hamilton in the offseason, he gave them a speed factor they haven't had in years. Hamilton is one of the fastest players the game has ever seen. He also never played an inning as a Giant. 

San Francisco traded him to the New York Mets for pitching prospect Jordan Humphreys on Aug. 2. Still, the Giants are tied for eighth in stolen bases this season, with eight. 

Known speedster Austin Slater leads the Giants with five stolen bases to go with his three home runs. Slater also has legged out a triple, and Mike Yastrzemski has two three-baggers. 

The Giants finished last season with the third-lowest stolen base totals in baseball. They're a team that needs to take advantage of every extra base they can get, and whether it be a stolen base or hustling for a double or triple, they're doing exactly that this season.

Dereck Rodriguez impressed by Joey Bart, Giants prospects at alternate site

Dereck Rodriguez impressed by Joey Bart, Giants prospects at alternate site

There wasn't a player at the Giants' alternate site in Sacramento who had a better feel for high-upside talent than Dereck Rodriguez. He's the son of a Hall-of-Fame catcher and grew up in big league clubhouses. 

Rodriguez, then, was the perfect person to ask about the top prospects who are spending their summer getting reps against more experienced pitchers like him and Trevor Cahill, both of whom were called up Wednesday. He gave a glowing scouting report, too. 

"(Joey) Bart is unbelievable. Bart, he's a big league player if I could say it. He's awesome to throw to," Rodriguez said. "He's awesome calling games, and he looks like a veteran at the plate

"Heliot Ramos, that dude has some pop like no other, and Luciano, for how young he is, he is really disciplined at the plate. He takes some pitches that are tough. Him and Ramos were tough at-bats down there. I don't think I got Ramos out once, and Luciano, man, Luciano was good. He was battling. He would walk here and there. I would have to throw him pitches and he would sit on them. Usually younger guys -- 2-0, 3-0 counts are usually fastball counts -- but to him you have to treat him pretty much like a veteran. He makes good adjustments, it's pretty cool. He's a big boy, man, he can hit."

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Bart, Ramos and Luciano are the organization's top three prospects, and are among the 30 or so players working out in Sacramento every day.

When the minor league season was canceled, the Giants brought most of their top prospects to Northern California, hopeful that they could accelerate their development with daily reps against guys like Rodriguez, a breakout star in 2018 who has seen an uptick in velocity and is back in the big league mix after a down 2019. 

Luciano hasn't even played Low-A ball yet, so this summer is all about learning. But Bart should debut at some point this year, and Rodriguez said he didn't think Ramos would be overmatched. Like Bart, Ramos reached Double-A last season, and as an outfielder he could have an easier adjustment to the big league level. 

[RELATED: New Giants catchers thrive in this stat]

"He's a great runner, he reads the ball well off the bat, he has a really good arm, and he sees spin really well. He's a good, disciplined hitter up there," Rodriguez said. "In my opinion I think he could be up here at any moment. And Bart, everybody loves Bart. I think a lot of the guys up here (in the big leagues), a lot of the pitchers that threw to Joey in camp were really impressed and are excited honestly. 

"We're really excited to try to get him up here at some point, either by the end of the year or next year.  It's going to be a lot of fun seeing him up here and throwing to him."