Giants

Morning After: Padres inadvertently fire up Giants shortstop

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Morning After: Padres inadvertently fire up Giants shortstop

SAN DIEGO -- Long before the first pitch Tuesday, or the first hit, or Madison Bumgarner vs. Wil Myers, the Padres tried to gain an edge in a peculiar way. As the Giants took the field for BP, the Petco Park in-stadium employees played a collection of soft songs, from Billy Joel's "Just The Way You Are" to "At Last" by Etta James. The DJ then shifted to songs more appropriate for middle-school dances in the 90s than a ballpark in 2016.

The soundtrack peaked when "Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)" by the Backstreet Boys blasted through Petco Park. Not exactly hitting music -- unless you're the Giants.

"They thought they were putting us to sleep," shortstop Brandon Crawford said. "They were locking me in."

While the Padres hired a DJ to set up his laptop on the field during BP, the Giants this season simply turned the job over to their shortstop/clubhouse DJ. Crawford's "sneaky awesome" BP soundtrack includes NSYNC, Demi Lovato, Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez and yes, those Backstreet Boys. A run of cheesy pop songs during BP was not going to throw him off his game. It only helped.

Crawford hit a three-run homer, drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, and tacked on a fifth Giants run with an RBI double. He finished one RBI short of his career-high. Later, he talked about how much he enjoyed the music the Padres played as he took his cuts two hours before the game.

"They were locking me in and they didn't know it," he said, smiling. 

You can scour the world in search of talent that can help you win games, and A.J. Preller's Padres have. But sometimes all you need to do for an edge is a little research. Read a blog post, maybe listen to a podcast where a certain shortstop talks about how much his team loves hitting to certain songs.

The Padres might lull some teams to sleep with Backstreet Boys during BP. The Giants in the DJ Crawford Era are not one of those teams. 

--- Crawford said he doesn't always have the green light 3-0, but he did when he homered. Andrew Baggarly looked it up and Crawford has five 3-0 swings in his career, leading to three homers and a double. Crawford remembered the lone out. "Cueto ... I flew out to left," he said. 

--- The other Brandon reached base for the 24th consecutive game. That's tied for the longest streak of his career. Belt is hitting .400 in his last 21 games against the Padres.

--- Madison Bumgarner pitched a complete game and got into it with another hitter. In the game story, a look at how the fire that led to that Wil Myers altercation is also leading Bumgarner to search for perfection with his mechanics. 

--- From yesterday, the Giants will be rooting for Tim Lincecum when he joins the Angels. 

Giants' Evan Longoria expresses displeasure with slow MLB free agency

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USATSI

Giants' Evan Longoria expresses displeasure with slow MLB free agency

Despite playing 11 years of Major League Baseball, Giants third baseman Evan Longoria has never gone through free agency. He signed a six-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008, and then a 10-year extension with the club in 2012.

But with what he's witnessing this offseason, it's safe to say he isn't looking forward to the day he has to partake in the process.

Longoria took to Instagram to share his displeasure, writing the following: 

We are less then a month from the start of spring and once again some of our games biggest starts remain unsigned. Such a shame. It’s seems every day now someone is making up a new analytical tool to devalue players, especially free agents. As fans, why should “value” for your team even be a consideration? It’s not your money, it’s money that players have worked their whole lives to get to that level and be deserving of. Bottom line, fans should want the best players and product on the field for their team. And as players we need to stand strong for what we believe we are worth and continue to fight for the rights we have fought for time and time again.

What Longoria is arguing is a lot of common sense that baseball fans need to understand.

Let's look at the following point: "As fans, why should “value” for your team even be a consideration? It’s not your money, it’s money that players have worked their whole lives to get to that level and be deserving of. Bottom line, fans should want the best players and product on the field for their team." 

He's not wrong. 

The money either goes to players, making them millionaires, or owners, making them billionaires. Who are we watching on the field? It's quite simple. 

Sure, it might be fun to play armchair GM, but fans should want the best and most entertaining product on the field. We can understand why teams rebuild, but that doesn't mean we have to get to this point as fans. Every team can afford a Bryce Harper or a Manny Machado.

The best game is the most competitive game, and that's what players want. Fans should be nodding their head in agreement. 

What's most interesting from Longoria is the fact that he's calling out the system and calling for players to fight back. The MLB collective bargaining agreement ends at the end of the 2021 season. If anger increases from players, negotiations could get quite awkward. 

Joey Bart named Giants' best defensive prospect by MLB Pipeline

Joey Bart named Giants' best defensive prospect by MLB Pipeline

Giants top prospect Joey Bart is known for his bat. The No. 2 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft hit 13 home runs in his first 51 minor league games, which is just three behind Evan Longoria's team lead on the big-league club. 

Don't forget about his defense, though.

Bart, the top catching prospect in baseball, also has been named the Giants' top defensive prospect by MLB Pipeline of MLB.com. He has markedly improved since high school, when scouts wondered if he could stay at catcher, enhancing his agility and receiving and improving the accuracy of his strong arm.

The fact that scouts once questioned Bart's future at the position and now his defense is being praised, as it pertains to the Giants' farm system, says a lot. On the 20/80 scouting scale, MLB Pipeline rates Bart's defense as a 55 and his arm as a 60. 

At Georgia Tech, Bart was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2018. He also called pitches, a task that manager Danny Hall didn't even let two-time Gold Glove winner Matt Wieters do when he was a Yellow Jacket. 

In his final college season, Bart had a .992 fielding percentage and threw out 12 of 21 stolen base attempts. After joining the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (Short-Season Class A), Bart's fielding percentage dropped to .983 after he allowed six passed balls and five errors. He did, however, gun down 15 of the 21 runners trying to swipe a bag on him.

Bart's bat most likely always will be ahead of his glove. The fact that he's seen as such a well-rounded prospect, though, is an added bonus to the player the Giants hope can lead them back to the top in the near future.