Giants

MLB Winter Meetings Notes: Familiar faces abound; Giants' John Barr honored

MLB Winter Meetings Notes: Familiar faces abound; Giants' John Barr honored

SAN FRANCISCO -- On the first day, Stephen Strasburg got $245 million. A night later, Gerrit Cole blew that away with a record $324 million contract. Finally, Anthony Rendon got $245 million to switch leagues. 

By the end of the four-day MLB Winter Meetings, super-agent Scott Boras was within striking distance of watching his clients -- led by those three -- get more than $1 billion in new money. So, there was a reason Boras was smiling as he walked through the lobby at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego on Wednesday night. 

Boras met with the Giants, as he always does, but they weren't involved with the big fish this time around. So far they have spent $9 million, but general manager Scott Harris said the team wasn't spooked by the frenzied pace this week.

"That happens every winter," he said of the market, smiling. "We just sequenced it differently this winter."

It's true that most of the heavy lifting was done much sooner than a year ago, but the Giants still have plenty of time to put together an improved roster. As they work the phones, let's look back on the four days in San Diego with some news and notes ... 

A Giant honor

John Barr, who now serves as a special assistant in baseball operations, was honored Wednesday night as the Scout of the Year for the East Coast region. The award was particularly meaningful to Barr because it was voted on by his peers. Barr was in charge of drafts for the Giants for more than a decade, bringing in Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt, Joe Panik, Matt Duffy among many others. He recently had another huge day, watching Mike Mussina get into the Hall of Fame.

Barr was the scouting director who selected Mussina for the Orioles, and he is Barr's first Hall of Famer. 

The Giants kept Barr around even after Michael Holmes took over amateur scouting, and they have leaned on him during the transition and brought him back in a new role. In fact, new boss Farhan Zaidi was the one who gave the speech introducing Barr at the ceremony. 

"He commiserated with me when I first started about moving from the Dodgers to the Giants and the fact that we both got aired out by Tommy Lasorda," Zaidi joked. "He's been a tremendous resource and support for not just myself, but obviously Michael Holmes, as well, and the entire scouting staff. It's a super well-deserved honor."

Forever Giants

Kevin Frandsen, now a broadcaster for the Phillies, was in San Diego. At one point, he found himself in conversation with Brett Pill and Dan Runzler. That was quite common over the course of the week.

Among those spotted in the lobby in San Diego: Yangervis Solarte (who is looking for a job), Bobby Evans, Jake Peavy, Moises Alou, Aubrey Huff and, of course, Bruce Bochy, who will manage next spring for Team France. 

Pill will also be on a new staff. He's joining the Dodgers as their Double-A hitting coach, and Manny Burriss will be their Triple-A hitting coach. The Giants aren't the only ones hiring from a rival. Carl Kochan, their former strength coach, apparently also works for the Dodgers. 

Still Looking

A couple of former Giants expressed disappointment that Curt Young, the pitching coach the last two years, is not on a big-league staff anywhere. Young has had a good career but the Giants went in a much different direction, hiring Andrew Bailey, who actually pitched for Young in Oakland. 

The Giants may hit it big with their young staff, but it's disappointing to see the sport turn its back on so many experienced coaches. Jose Alguacil, once a rising star in the organization, is managing in the Dominican Republic and looking for an opportunity elsewhere.

The Giants have not yet decided if they'll bring Shawon Dunston back but it doesn't sound likely, and it's unclear where Rick Schu has ended up.

The same thing is happening on big-league staffs around the game and at the minor league levels, although some people around the game believe it will swing the other way in a couple of years. The Phillies, for example, followed Gabe Kapler with Joe Girardi. 

Oracle Changes

The big news Thursday -- other than the potentially crushing news about Madison Bumgarner -- was that the Giants officially announced their dimensions. Triples Alley might not play all that different, because studies have shown that the wind and cold weather actually has the biggest impact, but I do think we'll see a lot more homers to dead center. A ton of balls die on the warning track there every year and last year's track now will be beyond the wall. 

There was one other bit of ballpark news. All 30 MLB teams will expand their netting and the Giants are one of seven that will have the protective nets go all the way to the foul poles. 

Panda Party

My favorite part of the Winter Meetings came late one night when a team employee walked up and asked, "Did you hear about Pablo's wedding?"

Sandoval's wedding last weekend was apparently one of the parties of the year, and it was full of present and former Giants, all of whom saw their old manager, Bochy, who made the flight out to Miami. I mean, how many can you count in this photo alone? 

Yes, that's Albert Suarez. Yes, Mike "Glass of Whiskey" Yastrzemski formed such a bond with Sandoval over one season that he ended up at his wedding. 

I won't get into all the details, and hopefully Sandoval is back late next season to give us the full scoop, but the wedding started late and dinner was apparently served at midnight, and then again and again throughout the night.

One guest said the party lasted until 9 a.m. and breakfast was actually served at some point. There were multiple bands and singers who were flown in, and plenty of panda hats, as Hunter Pence shared:

[RELATED: Giants add interesting arm on way out of Winter Meetings]

I don't know how true this is, but one guest told me Pence showed up for the wedding and was told that he was actually the best man. Surprise! Maybe Sandoval just knew that nobody else could give a better speech? 

What 2019 Giants would have looked like over shortened MLB schedule

What 2019 Giants would have looked like over shortened MLB schedule

It wasn't hard to predict that the negotiations between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association would get nasty, but over the last few days, the twists have gotten a bit silly.

The owners have been pushing for an 82-game season, and on Sunday the players finally made their counter. Their return-to-play proposal included a season of 114 games. A day later, the owners leaked to ESPN's Jeff Passan that they might counter with a season of about 50 games. 

Guess what happens to be the midpoint between the two latest proposals? That's right, exactly 82 games.

The simple explanation here is that the owners believe they'll lose money for every game that's played without fans, and if the players aren't going to renegotiation their per-game salaries, the owners will make sure the entire pie is much smaller. The players, naturally, are pushing for as many games as possible, knowing that every extra week is that much more money. 

On and on they'll go, but sources on both sides still believe there will ultimately be a resolution. It just will take longer than first expected. 

As the sides continue volleying back and forth, let's bring it back to the Giants. We know how last season ended up over 162 games -- 77-85 -- but what would the 2019 Giants have looked like over a shortened season? 

50 Games

MLB is not going to play a 50-game season. That's an absurd notion, one that will force players and teams to spend a month scrambling to get health protocols in place only to rush through a season in less than two months. 

A season anywhere near this short would turn the playoff race upside down, eliminating teams like the 2019 Nationals, eventual champions who lost 31 of their first 50 before getting hot. The Giants weren't much better last year. They were 21-29 and somehow already 11 1/2 games out in the NL West. 

In the 50th game last season, Drew Pomeranz started and saw his ERA rise to 6.45. Joe Panik was the leadoff hitter that day, Tyler Austin batted third and Mac Williamson played left field. Mike Yastrzemski had not yet been called up. 

Over an actual 50-game season, you would expect some wild swings in stats -- perhaps someone batting .400 or posting a 1.30 ERA -- but there were no Giants last year who would have clearly benefited. Pablo Sandoval led the 50-game Giants with a .304 average and was tied with Brandon Belt with seven homers. Jeff Samardzija led the starting staff with a 3.27 ERA. 

There were no crazy outliers. The 50-game Giants were pretty boring in 2019.

82 Games

In theory, an 82-game season should put the Giants on the fringes of the playoff race. They don't have the talent to stick with the Dodgers or even the Diamondbacks for 162 games, but cut that season in half and some crazy stuff might happen. You remember that spirited run last summer, right? 

Well, in an 82-game season the Giants would need to get into gear a bit earlier than they did last year. That July stretch got them briefly thinking about the Wild Card race and altered their deadline strategy, but it also started a few days after the midpoint of the season. At 82 games, the Giants were 35-47 and had the second-worst record in the National League. 

At the halfway (plus one) point, Sandoval led the Giants in WAR and was tied with Belt and Kevin Pillar at 10 homers. Alex Dickerson, just called up, was batting .367. Shaun Anderson (3.86 ERA) looked like he might be locking down a future rotation spot. Again, there aren't really wild swings here, though. 

114 Games

Now we're talking. The Giants got going last July, briefly thrusting themselves back into the playoff race. On August 6 they were 56-58, just 3 1/2 games behind the Phillies for the second Wild Card spot. The Giants got off to a rough start last year and ultimately finished well out of the race, but for a brief moment there -- one that included the proposed 114-game mark -- they were frisky. 

From a player standpoint, not much sticks out. Yastrzemski was the main benefactor of the season going past 114 games, as he had 10 homers at this point and would double that total. We had not yet been introduced to Mauricio Dubon or Tyler Rogers. 

[RELATED: Gabe Kapler encouraged by players speaking up]

To give you a true idea of what a 114- game season looks like, consider that the Giants released Panik on this day last year. A season of this length is plenty long, but there's also a good stretch left to play, and that's shown in the playoff races. 

If the 2019 season had ended after 114 games, the Phillies and Cubs would have snuck into the picture. Gabe Kapler likely would have kept his job. Instead, he's with the Giants, trying to figure out what his team might look like over 50 games, 82, or perhaps even 114. 

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow declares 'it is our duty to protest'

Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow declares 'it is our duty to protest'

Mike Krukow knows how to get people's attention. Ever since he went from the field to the broadcast booth for the Giants, Krukow's unique voice has carried weight. 

Krukow made his voice loud and clear Monday on KNBR's "Murph & Mac" show when he spoke on the protests across the world stemming from the death of George Floyd, an African-American man, in police custody in Minneapolis. An impassioned Krukow stated his disgust for police brutality as someone whose family has a long history in law enforcement.

“My dad was a cop, my grandfather was a cop. All my uncles were cops. My sister was a cop,” Krukow said. “What we have seen in the death of George Floyd sickens me to the core. I’m just completely rocked about this. It is our duty to protest. It is not our duty to loot, that is as disgusting as the crime itself. But it is our duty to stand and you gotta say, ‘This is wrong.’ You have to do it. We’re being asked to tone down the rhetoric in our press, and that is B.S. Now more than ever the outrage has to be written. And it has to be written by us. By you and me, we have to write our letters to our congressmen and our congresswomen and our senators and the president, you gotta let everybody know you’re not happy. This cannot go on. This is disgusting.

“This is 2020 and we are watching this, this senseless murder of a man who could not defend himself and was saying as he laid down on the ground, ‘I can’t breathe.’ It’s appalling.

“You have to tell your children and you have to tell your grandchildren, ‘This is not right.’ Let them see how mad you are. Let them see how disgusted you are. That’s the only thing we can do. We can protest this, we have to. This is not right. I’m not well with this and I don’t know anyone who is. It’s disgusting.

“All of my friends, it’s all we’re talking about. This has just gone on too far. We can’t be silent now. We cannot. You’ve gotta protest. You’ve gotta say everything that you mean and mean it. And put it on paper and send it out and let your children and grandchildren see how upset you are.”

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

After calling for more protesting and disavowing looting, Krukow, 68, spoke on the side of police officers and law enforcement as well. He clearly is sickened by Floyd's death, and also is against any violence towards police as well. 

“I fear for the safety of our police,” Krukow said. “It’s not easy. It’s harder now than it ever has been. When you have a badge, you’ve gotta wear it responsibly. You cannot use it to be a bully or be a murderer. You can’t.

“It sickens the people who do police work for a living. They watch this as we watch this. They know how hard it is out there and perhaps they’ve seen things that none of us have ever even dreamt of. What we watched in the death of George Floyd, it’s absurd -- it’s how does this happen? How do we let this happen in our society? It’s so upsetting. It’s upsetting to everybody. It does not justify looting. It doesn’t. It should encourage protest. I totally believe that is what we have to do.

“The looting is not right. That’s just criminal. Now our police are more at risk than ever. Our society right now -- think about 2020, this year sucks. It absolutely sucks.

"We’re watching something now and going through an experience together as we have done so well together in dealing with COVID, and now we need to come together and we need to resolve what’s going on across this country.”

[RELATED: Kapler encouraged by MLB players speaking against racism]

With protests happening throughout the Bay Area, the Giants boarded up windows at Oracle Park on Monday. 

San Francisco implemented a curfew beginning at 8 p.m. PT on Monday, which lasted until 5 a.m. Tuesday.