Giants

Takeaways from Giants' simulated opener vs. Dodgers on MLB The Show 20

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NBC Sports Bay Area

Takeaways from Giants' simulated opener vs. Dodgers on MLB The Show 20

The Giants increased their use of technology this spring, something that was clear during bullpen sessions, fielding drills, meetings and games. But the computers don't always love them back.

NBC Sports Bay Area is playing the original 2020 schedule on "MLB: The Show," and Friday's home opener was shown on the network, with Kruk and Kuip providing the play by play. The Giants lost 10-7 to the Dodgers in the video game version, falling to 0-7 on the season.

The big blow Friday was Max Muncy's grand slam off Jeff Samardzija, and a spirited comeback was never quite completed. The PlayStation versions of Buster Posey, Hunter Pence and Wilmer Flores all went deep, and the Giants forced Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen into the game with two outs in the eighth. Posey came up as the tying run but struck out looking.

It was still fun to watch some form of baseball, though. Here are some takeaways from the PlayStation version of the home opener ... 

Doubles Alley?

Yolmer Sanchez was off to a rough start in his first video game season in San Francisco, but with two outs in the second, he lined a breaking ball from Walker Buehler out to Triples Alley. Billy Hamilton scored easily from first as we got our first look at the new dimensions in right-center. The ball rolled out to the 415 sign (it used to be 421) and Cody Bellinger got it in quickly, holding Sanchez to a double.

Brandon Belt hit one right at the 415 sign three innings later, scoring Sanchez with an RBI double. The new dimensions didn't slow Justin Turner, though. He found Triples Alley in the sixth and slid into third for an RBI triple that put the Dodgers up by four.

There were four balls hit to the gap in the game, but only one went for a triple. We'll see if the park plays that way when real baseball resumes.

The Robots Aren't Ready

This would be a perfect time to have robot umps, which would eliminate four people from the field of play at a time when numbers will be a concern. But the digital umpire behind the plate Friday wasn't ready for primetime.

Mr. Robot repeatedly squeezed Samardzija in the third, helping the Dodgers to a five-run frame as Samardzija's anger boiled over. With the bases loaded and Bellinger at the plate, Samardzija twice got squeezed to fall behind 3-1. He walked Bellinger to tie the game. Samardzija pointed at the umpire after that at-bat and then fell behind Muncy when two pitches at the bottom of the zone were called balls.

"I'll tell you one thing," Mike Krukow said on the broadcast, "This umpire has never been a pitcher."

The count went 3-2, and Muncy hit a grand slam toward what he would refer to as the ocean.

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The Weapon They Expected

Flores pinch-hit against Ross Stripling to lead off the bottom of the seventh and blasted a 2-1 pitch into the seats in left. The homer was the third of the year for Flores, the only player thus far to get a multi-year deal from Farhan Zaidi's front office.

Flores killed the Giants in the late innings last year while with the Diamondbacks, and this is exactly what they were hoping he would provide.

A Solid Home Debut

Rule 5 pick Dany Jimenez entered with the bases loaded and no outs in the eighth. He gave up a two-run single to Mookie Betts, but then struck out Bellinger and got Muncy to hit into an inning-ending double play. The strikeout of Bellinger was Jimenez's first in the big leagues. 

Jimenez had a solid shot of making the real roster even before COVID-19 shut the sport down. Whenever the Giants return, they'll likely have at least four more roster spots to work with, so there's no reason not to carry the young right-hander and keep his rights for 2021.

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Returning Home

Whenever the Giants take the field for the first time, the loudest ovations will go to the doctors and nurses who hopefully get honored. You can bet one of them will throw out the first pitch.

Had they played today, Pence probably would have gotten the most thunder. He was wildly popular when here the first time and it seems to only have increased since he re-signed. Pence pinch-hit in the eighth and hit a two-run shot, his first of the year. He got a standing ovation.

Text Your Friends

The game threw in an at-bat from left-handed reliever Jarlin Garcia, and for that, my heart is full. Well done, PlayStation Gabe Kapler. Garcia put down a sweet bunt.

By the way, the left-hander struck out eight in five scoreless innings in the real spring training. He's on this team.

Giants veterans would be greatly impacted by MLB's proposal to players

Giants veterans would be greatly impacted by MLB's proposal to players

This is a short week for most workers in the United States, but for the two sides trying to get baseball back on the field, these could be their longest days of the year. 

Major League Baseball and the Players Association are trying to come to an agreement on a deal that could put players back on the field in July, but Tuesday's developments weren't positive. According to multiple reports, the proposal that MLB made Tuesday included a significant cut for the highest-paid players. The two sides already had agreed to a deal that prorates salaries, although MLB maintains that the financial situation has changed since it has become clear fans won't be allowed into games, significantly limiting revenue. 

The proposal was met with immediate backlash, with just about every national reporter tweeting that the union was disappointed and discouraged. It's easy to see why. Such a deal would have a huge impact on some of the game's biggest stars, including members of the Giants organization. 

Having missed out on Bryce Harper, the Giants don't have anyone in those highest price ranges. But they do have six players on contracts that were supposed to pay them at least $10 million this year -- including Buster Posey and Johnny Cueto above $20 million -- and 14 who would have made more than $1 million.

Most of their veterans would be taking a big cut. Jeff Samardzija, for instance, was supposed to make just under $20 million in the final year of his five-year contract. Per that proposal, he would instead play this season for just about $5 million. Cueto, who signed a few days after Samardzija, was due $21 million this year; the proposal cuts that to a little more than $5 million.  

MLB's proposal would benefit players making closer to the minimum of $563,500, just about making them whole on a prorated basis, and it does a sneaky job of potentially pitting different factions of the union against one another. But for a team like the Giants, just about everyone would be harshly impacted. There are players like Mike Yastrzemski, Mauricio Dubon and Logan Webb still breaking in, but the majority of the set roster has already gotten into arbitration years or signed lucrative free agent contracts. 

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What's the next step? Well, it doesn't sound like MLB is ready to back down at all:

Everyone knew this would be a nasty negotiation, and Tuesday's developments provided a reminder of just how much ground there still is to cover before players can start booking those flights to Spring Training 2.0. 

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Why Giants will have to make even faster evaluations if MLB returns

Why Giants will have to make even faster evaluations if MLB returns

One thing fans learned right away in Farhan Zaidi's first season in charge is that the new-look front office is remarkably fast when it comes to altering the roster. The Giants could move even faster in 2020, though. 

If the season returns in July as hoped, the Giants expect to play 82 games, meaning the long six-month grind is now a bit of a sprint to the finish line. That will have a big impact on roster moves, and during his last appearance on KNBR, manager Gabe Kapler said the staff is already discussing how to handle this, knowing they don't have nearly as much time to evaluate players. 

"We don't necessarily have 82 games to evaluate that and then have another 82 to put the best defense out there," he said. "We actually have to make decisions sooner, we have to evaluate better in this modified camp that we have coming up. So the 82-game schedule absolutely makes us think about the roster construction differently and also about game strategy differently, for sure."

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Kapler mentioned that one discussion going on right now is about center field and right, and which players will be the best options. Even though it might have seemed like Gerardo Parra got a quick hook last year, he did actually play 30 games before being designated for assignment. Yangervis Solarte, another veteran, lasted until May 7.

The Giants seemed set to take a long look at Billy Hamilton this year and potentially break with Darin Ruf in the mix, but if they're looking to stay in the NL West race over half a season, perhaps they'll lean more towards sticking Mike Yastrzemski or Mauricio Dubon in center every day, guaranteeing more consistency for the lineup. 

Dubon is also part of the flip side of this. The front office hoped to give some younger players a few hundred at-bats to sink or swim, but that's not really possible with 82 games. If Dubon struggles early on to stick in his new utility role, that experiment might be halted until 2021. Jaylin Davis might have started the season in Triple-A, but the Giants now won't have that option, and they could run Davis out there every day in right field. But they certainly wouldn't have as many at-bats to play with if Davis gets off to a slow start. 

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The rotation will be impacted, too. Kevin Gausman and Drew Smyly have been viewed as potential 2020 versions of Drew Pomeranz, but Pomeranz struggled quite a bit before he was moved to the bullpen, where he became a good trade chip. That first relief appearance, though, didn't come until the Giants had played 101 games. There won't be nearly as much time to evaluate the pitchers who came in on one-year contracts. 

There are going to be a lot of wrinkles to an 82-game season, and this is an added one. The Giants made quick evaluations last season compared to what fans have gotten used to, but they're still going to need to pick up the pace if the game returns.