Giants

Rebuild or reload? Giants make their choice loud and clear with Longoria trade

Rebuild or reload? Giants make their choice loud and clear with Longoria trade

SAN FRANCISCO — There are two sides of the Giants’ fan base at this point, and your view of Wednesday morning’s Evan Longoria trade likely depends on which path you embraced during a 98-loss season. 

Should the Giants rebuild or should they reload?

It’s the question that started hanging over the franchise in May, when it became clear that the second half of 2016 was not an aberration. It lingered through an offseason that was remarkably quiet until Denard Span, Christian Arroyo and two low-level pitching prospects were shipped to Tampa Bay. The question will be asked after the next move, and Giants officials hinted Wednesday that another addition is coming soon. 

Should the Giants rebuild or should they reload? Well, which version of events do you believe?

Do you believe that a championship roster simply moved past the prime years, a reality of baseball? Or do you believe that Brandon Crawford’s offensive production will bounce back after some rough breaks on and off the field, that Buster Posey’s power will resurface with better lineup protection, that Hunter Pence will be rejuvenated by a new offseason plan, and that all the others who were part of a horrifically bad offense in 2017 will put up bigger numbers a year later?

Do you believe that Johnny Cueto will stay healthy and be an ace again? That Jeff Samardzija simply needs better outfield defense? That Mark Melancon will be a frontline closer after having a minor elbow procedure to clear out an issue that hampered him in his first year in San Francisco? 

Finally, do you believe that Longoria is the hitter who slugged 36 homers and posted an OPS+ of 127 in 2016, or the one who had a 100 OPS+ a year later and hit 20 homers in a season where power surged? 

You can make a case either way. Longoria, Crawford, Brandon Belt, Joe Panik and Posey might form the best defensive infield in the game, and there are legitimate reasons to believe that Belt and Panik in particular have much more to offer at the plate. Just two years ago, Madison Bumgarner and Cueto were on Cy Young ballots, and Samardzija’s peripheral numbers were off the charts most of last season. On paper, a bullpen led by a healthy Melancon and Will Smith and a full season of Sam Dyson should be much improved. 

The Giants still have moves to make — a defender in center field, another power hitter, another reliever — but Longoria certainly fills two huge holes: A power right-handed bat and an everyday player at third base. The front office believes it is bolstering a core that should be in win-now mode given the roster and Bumgarner’s looming free agency. 

But the first significant move of the offseason also terrified anyone who believes in taking a step back. Arroyo is just 22 years old and showed flashes of being an impact hitter, and his departure further depletes a poor farm system. While the inclusion of Span makes the deal basically cash-neutral for 2018, the Giants are still taking on the bulk of a contract that guarantees Longoria $86 million into his mid 30s. The 2019 Giants owe about $125 million to seven players and the 2020 budget situation is about the same. The 2021 Giants already owe about $94 million to five players, all of whom will be at least 33 years old. 

So, rebuild or reload? 

The Giants emphatically made their choice on Wednesday. 

“We’re convinced that this player is still a player of stature,” vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean said, “And as we preached, we’re not the type of organization or fan base that can go through a rebuild. We need to press the reset button and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Bruce Bochy not worried that he'll be a 'lame duck' manager in 2019

Bruce Bochy not worried that he'll be a 'lame duck' manager in 2019

SAN FRANCISCO — In the ninth inning of an ugly loss to the Padres on Monday, the camera panned over to Giants manager Bruce Bochy. He was scowling at the home plate umpire after a call he didn’t agree with. 

You can see, then, why Bochy laughed Tuesday when asked if he has ever lost the competitive fire in the dugout. 

“You ask a couple of guys last night who were in the dugout,” he said, smiling. “If I did (lose my fire) I wouldn’t be here. I would not be here. I love what I’m doing and want to be back and have another shot at the postseason.”

Of the three most visible faces on the baseball side of the organization, Bochy is the only one not undergoing changes. General manager Bobby Evans was let go Monday and vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean will soon start interviewing candidates to take the baseball ops slot that reports directly to ownership. 

The manager, though, is under contract, and on Monday, team president and CEO Larry Baer said Bochy will be back. That was relayed to Bochy from Baer and Sabean. In turn, Bochy told the two that he’s not at all concerned about the fact that he’s going into the last year of his contract and there have been no extension talks. He does not consider himself a lame duck.

“I don’t want them to have that on their plate either, and I’ve told them that,” Bochy said. “I’m signed and I’m good right now. Let’s just concentrate on what we need to do and that’s make this team better. I have zero concerns about (my contract).”

Next season will be Bochy’s 13th with the Giants. He spent a dozen years in San Diego and only went through one GM change, and in his first dozen years here, it has been the same. Even with the one change here, there was no drama. Evans was promoted to take Sabean’s job in 2015. Now, Evans is gone, and Bochy will have to work with a new head of baseball operations. This person may eventually want their own handpicked manager, but for at least a year, Bochy will be the choice. He said he’s not at all concerned about how a new partnership may work. His focus is on the field.

“My job is to make it work,” he said.

POLL: Giants memorable moments -- Winning '10 World Series vs. Winning '14 World Series

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AP

POLL: Giants memorable moments -- Winning '10 World Series vs. Winning '14 World Series

NBC Sports Bay Area is looking back at the Giants' 60 Memorable Moments since the franchise moved from New York to San Francisco. Tune into Pregame Live at 6 p.m. to see the next two moments you can vote on! Then, after the Giants and Padres conclude on Friday, tune into Postgame Live to see which moment will be crowned most memorable!

1. Giants defeat Rangers in 2010 World Series thanks to Edgar Renteria's three-run homer (New winner -- Defeated Travis Ishikawa's walk-off homer wins 2014 NL Pennant)

(From former Giants outfielder and current NBC Sports Bay Area analyst Andres Torres)

I got to the field early, around 1:30pm because it was the World Series and you're pumped. Around 3pm, Edgar came to me and said 'Andres, I'm going to hit a homer today.' I'm like 'Okay, I believe him.'

Then we had batting practice, we came in, had something to eat, then we had soft-toss as we got closer to the game. And Edgar said to me 'Remember, I told you I'm going to hit a homer.'

Then in the seventh inning, he hits it, and we see the outfielder going back and back and back and then the ball's gone!!!

I was so pumped and when he came back to the dugout from homeplate, I started yelling in Spanish 'You told me you were going to do it. You told me you were going to do it.' I said it twice because he said it to me twice that he was going to do it. We were so pumped!!!

It was amazing. He called it twice, twice!!! We were World Champions and he was the MVP and it was amazing. Edgar was a leader in the clubhouse. He played a long time and made sure we were all doing the right things, especially me and Pablo (Sandoval). He's a great friend and that was a special moment, I loved it...it was like wow!! It was so cool!!!

VS.

2. Giants defeat Royals in 2014 World Series, Madison Bumgarner closes Game 7 with five shutout innings of relief

(From Alex Pavlovic)

A few minutes after he threw a 119-pitch shutout in Game 5 of the 2014 World Series, Madison Bumgarner was approached by Royals manager Ned Yost. The two were headed in opposite directions as they gave postgame interviews, but Yost wanted to take a moment to congratulate Bumgarner. 

"Great game," he told him. "You know what? I sure am glad I don't have to see you again."

Bumgarner smiled. He had one more trick up his sleeve that month, and it would win the Giants a third World Series, stun the baseball world, and cement the left-hander's place as the best big-game pitcher of his generation. 

Bumgarner came out of the bullpen in Kauffman Stadium in Game 7 and threw 68 pitches over five innings, carrying an early 3-2 lead all the way to the finish line. Essentially making a second start in four days, Bumgarner allowed two hits and struck out four, finishing one of the best postseason runs in baseball history. He earned a five-inning save, lowering his 2014 postseason ERA to 1.03 over an astounding 52 2/3 innings. 

"As soon as I saw him warming up and we had the lead, I knew it was over," said Game 7 starter Tim Hudson. "I knew the big fella was going to get it done."

Hudson lasted just 1 2/3 innings before turning it over to Jeremy Affeldt, who got the ball to Bumgarner. The Giants scored twice in the second and took the lead on Michael Morse's single in the fourth. Joe Panik had the defensive highlight of the night, diving and glove-flipping to Brandon Crawford to start a huge double play in the third. From there, it was the Bumgarner show. 

A misplay in the outfield put Alex Gordon on third with two down in the ninth, but Salvador Perez popped up. The Giants had a third title in five years. 

"This group of warriors continues to amaze me," manager Bruce Bochy said. "Nobody wanted it more than them."

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