Posey, Crawford fired up as they leave for World Baseball Classic

Posey, Crawford fired up as they leave for World Baseball Classic

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Buster Posey committed early to this year’s World Baseball Classic, and he has spoken often of how much it will mean to represent his country and try to grow the game. Over three weeks in big league camp, he found another reason to be excited about Monday's flight out of Arizona. 

“I’m ready to get there. I’m tired of answering questions from my fellow teammates on when I’m leaving,” he said, smiling. “I don’t have to say ‘Monday, March 6’ anymore.”

The day has finally come for Posey and shortstop Brandon Crawford to take off. They were originally supposed to be joined by Johnny Cueto, but the right-hander will skip at least the first round because of a late arrival to camp. Cueto is scheduled to make his Cactus League debut on March 11; the Dominican Republic begins pool play March 9.

Posey and Crawford will be in action a day later when Team USA takes on Columbia. Both Giants will start and they should carry a heavy load. They’ve been counting down the days to the tournament. Asked if he was excited about this week’s games, Crawford said, “I was excited about it when I got invited.”

The two changed their spring routines to get ready for the tournament, but Posey was nearly derailed. He missed time last week with a stiff neck, an ailment he termed “old man neck.”

“It’s feeling young again,” he said.

That has been apparent on the field. Posey found his swing in recent days, and he had two hits in his final tuneup, including a two-run single the opposite way. 

“I feel pretty good right now,” he said.

Crawford would normally ease into the spring, and in past years he has taken time to rest his throwing arm. He has had a healthy spring, allowing for 17 at-bats prior to his departure. But he only has three hits. 

“I feel close, I just haven’t been making hard contact,” he said. “I’ve been saving (the hits) for the tournament.”

Asked if he has talked much with other members of his WBC lineup, Crawford smiled. He pointed out that Eric Hosmer was at first base for the Royals on Sunday.

“I would’ve talked (to future teammates) if I could have gotten on base,” he joked. 

Crawford will team with Nolan Arenado to form a frightening defensive duo. Posey will have a more complicated transition to make, leading a staff of strangers, one that includes Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer, Toronto’s Marcus Stroman and Cleveland’s Andrew Miller. Posey admitted there’s not much he can do to try and prepare for pitchers he hasn’t caught before. 

“I’ll try to talk to them a little bit the next couple of days, maybe watch some film when we’re there,” he said. “But it’s tough. You’ve just got to rely on your instincts.”

Posey’s instincts behind the plate are as good as it gets. That’s one reason why Bochy is confident in a United States team that hasn’t lived up to past expectations. 

“I think Buster’s experience and his ability to figure out how to win big games, that can make a difference,” Bochy said. 

MLB free agency debate: Where will Nathan Eovaldi sign this offseason?

MLB free agency debate: Where will Nathan Eovaldi sign this offseason?

Editor's note: Each day this week, Giants insider Alex Pavlovic and A's reporter Ben Ross will debate where one of the top five free agents might land this offseason. Thursday's free agent to discuss is Nathan Eovaldi, a veteran right-hander with World Series heroics but just decent regular-season numbers.

ALEX: Ben, I'm fascinated by Nathan Eovaldi. He pulled a Yusmeiro Petit, except he did it while throwing 100 mph during a World Series game.

The Madison Bumgarner comparisons -- in terms of doing whatever it takes to help your team get to that final World Series win -- are there, too. In an age of guys babying their arms, it was so impressive to see a starter go out there and just let it all hang out even though he knew he'd hit free agency just a few days later. You hope that his arm is OK, and that someone will reward him for that effort.

BEN: I don’t think any free agent earned himself more money during the playoffs than Eovaldi did. He had a decent regular season (3.81 ERA and 1.13 WHIP), but his postseason was legendary. He earned $2 million in each of the last two seasons but now is looking at around $15 million per year.

I thought the A’s would have interest, but his postseason probably priced them out of contention. I have to think Boston is the front-runner to re-sign him. Where else could he land?

ALEX: I've got some thoughts, but first I want to go back to your team. Have they indicated what their price range is? I agree that Eovaldi probably is out at this point, but was he in range before the postseason? It's amazing what they did with castoffs last year, but they have to get a couple more dependable arms in that rotation at some point.

BEN: Agreed. Even Billy Beane acknowledged that last month. The A’s haven’t indicated a specific price range, but it's not their MO to spend big money on free agents, especially when a lot of their current roster will be getting pay raises next year. To me, Eovaldi would’ve been a realistic target at around $8 million per year, but he's not at $15 million.

ALEX: He could be a fit for the Giants, and he's certainly the type that Farhan Zaidi might have targeted in Los Angeles. But I think others will be more aggressive after Eovaldi's postseason. MLB Trade Rumors listed half the league, practically, as potential fits: Red Sox, Astros, Yankees, Rangers, Braves, Phillies, Nationals, Dodgers, Angels, Giants.

BEN: He has certainly become a hot commodity. I think the Yankees and Astros make a lot of sense, as do the Giants. But ultimately, I think he'll stay in Boston. The Red Sox know how valuable he was to their World Series. What’s your pick?

ALEX: I'm going off the board a bit, to a team that really needs some frontline starting pitching. The Angels -- for four years and $64 million -- are my pick for one of the stars of the postseason.

BEN: Interesting. The Angels definitely make sense with their lack of starting pitching. But I’ll say Eovaldi gets four years, $60 million from the Red Sox.

Editor's note: This week across the NBC Sports Regional Networks, we'll be taking an in-depth look at some of the top free agents in baseball. Thursday is dedicated to free agent pitcher Nathan Eovaldi.
Will the Phillies be in the Eovaldi mix?
How Eovaldi set himself up for big payday
How does Eovaldi fit the White Sox?

Farhan Zaidi says it's 'not absolutely necessary' for Giants to hire GM

Farhan Zaidi says it's 'not absolutely necessary' for Giants to hire GM

Farhan Zaidi knows what makes a great GM in Major League Baseball. He might not be looking at a mirror and asking, "Who in this land is fairest of all?" but it could be close. 

The Giants have their new man in charge with Zaidi as the president of baseball operations, yet as the hot stove heats up, the team still is without a GM. It doesn't sound like they're in a rush, either. 

"That process is on-going," Zaidi said Thursday morning on KNBR. "Obviously, it's tricky getting permission for top front-office talent. We're working on a number of fronts on that. And we want to make sure we find the right person. ... We're taking our time, we're vetting candidates, and again, the permission process isn't always straightforward." 

[PAVLOVIC: Will Giants take shot at Nathan Eovaldi, another risky starting pitcher?]

As the Giants take their time searching for the right candidate, the team might be without a GM for the near future and beyond. Though he's new to the organization, Zaidi is putting his trust in the structure of San Francisco's front office. 

"At the end of the day, it's a position obviously we'd really like fill," Zaidi said. "But there's a very competent, skilled front office in place. So, it's not absolutely necessary if we don't feel like have the right person."

[PAVLOVIC: Manny Machado doesn't fit with Giants even if they clear infield space]

Zaidi spent the past four seasons as Dodgers GM. The team won the NL West all four years and made the World Series twice. While it would be ideal having a pairing of Zaidi in the higher position with a GM working with him, he's the right man to handle duel duties for now.