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.”

Giants walked off by Reds in 11th for second straight loss

Giants walked off by Reds in 11th for second straight loss

The first night at the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati wasn’t what you would expect. The Giants and Reds took a 1-1 tie deep into the night in one of the league’s best hitters parks before Phillip Ervin took Ray Black deep in the 11th.

The Giants lost their second straight after a hot start to this trip. They are 2-2 on what they felt would be a trip that could get them back into the NL West race. Here’s what else you need to know from a disappointing night... 

—- The lineup did absolutely nothing against Anthony DeSclafini, who entered with a 4.46 ERA. He was finally knocked out in the eighth when the Giants put two on with two outs, but Buster Posey tapped out to short. 

—- The Giants couldn’t have asked for much more from Casey Kelly, an emergency starter after Dereck Rodriguez strained his hamstring. Two days after pitching the 12th in Los Angeles, Kelly gave up one run over 4 1/3 innings. He allowed nine hits — eight singles — but repeatedly wiggled out of trouble. It helped that he picked Billy Hamilton off.

—- Kelly shared a cool moment with his dad, Pat, the bench coach for the Reds. The two made eye contact before the first pitch and saluted each other. 

Why Dereck Rodriguez's injury hits outside-looking-in Giants at worst time

Why Dereck Rodriguez's injury hits outside-looking-in Giants at worst time

SAN FRANCISCO — Your view of which side was to blame Tuesday night depends almost entirely on which side of the Giants-Dodgers rivalry you grew up on. That much was made clear over the past three days, both in the aftermath of the mini-brawl and when the punishments were handed down Thursday. 

At this point, it doesn’t really matter how much blame to place with either party. The only thing that matters for the Giants is that for the second consecutive year, they found themselves mixed up in a silly skirmish that cost them a player. This time around, the price is steeper for the team, both because of the player involved and the circumstances of the season. 

A year ago, Michael Morse’s career ended with a concussion suffered when Jeff Samardzija crashed into him seconds after Hunter Strickland threw at Bryce Harper. Morse was put on the DL and soon found himself retired, but with a .194 average on a terrible team, he wasn’t going to stick around much longer anyway. Morse admitted to USA Today earlier this year that he looks back on that stretch as “playing with house money.”

This season’s injury will have a far greater impact, even though the hamstring strain Dereck Rodriguez suffered was announced as just a Grade 1. The timing couldn’t be worse for the Giants, who are on the fringes of the playoff race, sure, but are far from the 98-loss pace they were on when Morse went down last season. They still have hopes of making a run. 

The staff got together in Los Angeles and went away from manager Bruce Bochy’s tradition, using the off day to skip the fifth starter spot. That had Rodriguez lined up to face the Reds on Friday night, with the hope that the Giants could build off the momentum from the Dodgers series. He was going to face the lowly Mets next week, too. Those were two very good opportunities for road wins. 

Instead, it’ll be Casey Kelly on Friday, and the Giants will piece it together from there. The rotation is weakened with the loss of a dominant rookie who was soaking up innings like an ace, and the repercussions surely will be felt in the bullpen at some point on this important road trip.

The Giants have no margin for error this season, and they already have found themselves reeling from things like Madison Bumgarner being hit by a liner, Brandon Belt’s appendix acting up, Evan Longoria getting drilled by a pitch, Joe Panik spraining his thumb on a tag, and Mac Williamson suffering a concussion when he ran over a bullpen mound. 

There was blame to be placed Tuesday, but this also is another bad break. Rodriguez was the first from the dugout to reach the scrum, doing what players do dozens of times a year without injury, and he appeared fine as he hopped around the outside of the altercation. Two days later, the Giants admitted their latest beef with Yasiel Puig had come at a costly price.

The Giants will hope Rodriguez can return on the next homestand, but this is a blow to his Rookie of the Year campaign and a big shot to a roster that now has just three healthy starters and really could have used two more Rodriguez starts over the next week. Chris Stratton is an option to return, and Ty Blach is available for spot-start duty. Tyler Beede is on the minor league DL, so you can cross him off. Perhaps Shaun Anderson is thrown into a playoff push. Management surely spent the flight to Cincinnati trying to figure all that out instead of enjoying a successful and dramatic series at Dodger Stadium that was highlighted by Tuesday's shoving match. 

An hour after the shoving had ended, catcher Nick Hundley said he hoped the incident would bring the team closer together. 

“This is a tight-knit group,” he said. “We’ll feed off that. What a great win.”

The next night, the Giants lost in extra innings. They now have lost at least two starts from a player who was the best part of a season forever stuck around the .500 mark.

It doesn’t really matter who is to blame at this point. The simple truth is that the Giants have been involved in several of these incidents the last five years, and they finally paid a steep on-field price.