Giants

Strickland defuses subplot of fight: 'I know Buster has got our backs'

Strickland defuses subplot of fight: 'I know Buster has got our backs'

SAN FRANCISCO — For the second time in less than 24 hours, Hunter Strickland stood in front of his locker and addressed a purpose pitch and a punch. This time, Strickland knew what the brawl had cost him. 

The right-hander was suspended six games by Major League Baseball, although he has appealed. Bryce Harper got four games for his role, and he also appealed. Both players are available Tuesday, but Strickland did not expect his showdown with Harper to carry over. 

“I think it’s done,” he said. “Yesterday is in the past and we’ve got to go out today and try to win a game and compete.”

The Giants do not expect retaliation, and there was no indication it was coming. Both sides tried to move forward the day after, putting all the subplots in the past. Strickland met with manager Bruce Bochy and also with catcher Buster Posey. Bochy also met with Posey, who got some national attention for not running to Strickland’s defense. 

“I know Buster has got our backs,” Strickland said. “We as a team stick together and that was never a worry of mine. I have talked to Buster but I don’t think he needs to explain his role.”

Posey repeatedly told reporters, “My focus is on playing the game today.” It would be impossible for Posey to avoid all the noise, but he isn’t one prone to listening to talk radio or cruising social media. He has joked in the past that he drives in silence to get some peace after so much time spent as a father to two young kids.

Bochy did not shed any light on his discussion with Posey. 

“They’re going to find things to say about everything about a brawl,” he said of the reaction. “There are some things we’d like to keep internal and I’ll keep it at that.”

In informal discussions around the clubhouse and during batting practice, players said this won’t be an issue. Sure, there are players down there who don’t agree with what Posey did, but most understand the importance of avoiding pileups, especially when you’ve had an ankle injury in the past and a concussion already this season. 

One player said he was sprinting for the pile in hopes of reaching Harper, but he saw how many large humans had gathered on the mound and thought better of it. The pile included Daniel Murphy, who ended up on the ground and told a Giants coach that he had spike marks all over his legs. It also included Jeff Samardzija and Michael Morse, who collided. Harper told reporters he was happy Morse got in Samardzija’s way before he could throw a punch. 

"I'm very thankful for Mikey Mo,” he said. 

A punch from Samardzija would have led to another suspension, but he’ll start Tuesday. Strickland will be available for the seventh as always, although the Giants will soon have to deal with life without one of their two setup guys. Bochy said George Kontos and Bryan Morris would be elevated when Strickland serves his suspension. He’s hopeful it’s not ultimately six games.

“We’re a man short there with six (games),” Bochy said. “Our hope is we get it down.”

 

Giants' Evan Longoria expresses displeasure with slow MLB free agency

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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.