Three lessons the Giants can learn from their past MLB offseasons


Three lessons the Giants can learn from their past MLB offseasons

SAN FRANCISCO — At some point in the next couple of weeks, the Giants will introduce a new head of baseball operations. He or she will take over an organization that has more money committed over the next half-decade than any team in baseball, which can be viewed two ways. 

On one hand, this organization has proven consistently that it is willing to spend. On the other hand, the Giants have not always spent wisely. 

They have an aging roster with eight players scheduled to make at least $12 million in 2019. They already have $124 million committed to the 2020 team and nearly $100 million committed to the 2021 team. The majority of that money was given to homegrown talent, but the front office also has spent heavily on veteran free agents.

The Giants mostly took a few months off from spending last winter, eager to dip under the tax line. But they’re expected to once again be in on big-ticket items this offseason, and that hasn’t really worked out for them in recent years.

What lessons can be learned from previous offseasons? Three stand out … 

Go younger

This is more of a call to make trades or even rebuild, but if the Giants are going to spend on free agents, they should cross a few names off right away for age-related reasons. The majority of the current payroll is made up of players who are 31, 32, 33, etc., which is why Bryce Harper is so intriguing, beyond just his talent.

Harper turned 26 in October, and if the Giants somehow won that lottery, he would be their youngest starter other than Steven Duggar. The Giants have given too many contracts to players exiting their peak years. Free agency, by nature, rewards older players, but when possible the Giants should try to shave a couple years off.

For instance, Marwin Gonzalez and DJ LeMahieu are both 30, which makes them a tad safer than their competition at their respective positions. This leads to the next lesson … 

Be careful with the medicals

This is tricky because there’s only so much you can do to try and figure out if a player will stay healthy. But the Giants have been burned a few times now.

There were whispers about Johnny Cueto’s elbow when he was with the Royals. Mark Melancon’s forearm was bothering him for years before he signed his big deal. Austin Jackson was no longer an everyday player, but the Giants signed him to patrol center field and just about right away in spring training, Jackson started talking about how his legs weren’t under him.

Every player has an injury history of some sort, but the Giants have too many holes to fill to spend their resources on anyone who has a checkered history. 

Don’t force it

There’s another common thread that runs through a lot of recent offseasons. Even people within the organization will admit this hasn’t been a very creative front office, and in recent years the Giants have mostly zeroed in on one group at a time.

After 2015, Bruce Bochy asked for innings-eaters and $220 million was spent on Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. After the 2016 meltdown, the front office was hellbent on getting a marquee closer.

The Denard Span and Jackson deals were part of a continued effort to find a fix in center field by plugging in veterans. The Giants have glaring holes in their outfield, but this roster isn’t nearly strong enough to just focus on one area.

Maybe the money should be spent on two starters and a left fielder can be added via trade? Maybe a couple of dominant relievers will come cheaper than expected and the bullpen can become the team’s strength?

In the past, the front office would have gone into this offseason with a clear goal of adding two veteran outfielders. That’s how they’ve ended up overspending. It’s time to be creative.

If Giants, Dodgers never moved West, MLB might look very different now

If Giants, Dodgers never moved West, MLB might look very different now

Back in the mid 1950's, Major League Baseball hadn't conquered the West Coast.

But that changed in 1957 when the Giants and Dodgers were granted permission to move from New York to San Francisco and Los Angeles, respectively.

Both teams played their inaugural season in California in 1958.

Baseball hasn't been the same since, relocating or adding teams all over the West Coast.

But how would MLB look today if the Giants and Dodgers hadn't moved West? According to the MLB Cathedrals' Twitter account, the Dodgers wanted a new stadium in Brooklyn in 1957, but were denied, leading to the two teams moving.

So MLB Cathedrals ran through the hypothetical scenario with real-world info and some fan input to see what the league would look like today if the Dodgers had been allowed to stay in Brooklyn.

First, the San Francisco Giants in their current form wouldn't exist. The New York Giants would have moved to Minnesota in 1959.

In 1961, the Washington Senators moved to Los Angeles and became the Angels.

That same year, the American League adds two expansion teams: The San Francisco Seals and a new club in Washington, D.C. According to MLB Cathedrals, the Seals would play at Seals Stadium until a new ballpark could be built for them.

In 1962, the National League expands, adding teams in Houston and Los Angeles. Because the Dodgers stayed in Brooklyn, the Mets are never created. The new team in LA is called the Stars, meaning the Giants and Dodgers names never exist.

[RELATED: Inside Giants' 2012 WS sweep]

When MLB Cathedrals conducted the experiment Saturday, they had Oakland getting an expansion team, the Oaks. On Sunday, in a new version of the experiment with more info and fan polls, Oakland never gets a team.

Here's how the AL and NL look as of 1998, according to MLB Cathedrals.

Based on these projections, Major League Baseball and baseball in the Bay Area would look very, very different.

Giants' Mauricio Dubon shares hilarious story of meeting Hunter Pence

Giants' Mauricio Dubon shares hilarious story of meeting Hunter Pence

Mauricio Dubon is living the dream of every young Giants fan right now. 

Dubon moved to Sacramento when he was 15 years old to live with a host family -- leaving his family in Honduras -- in order chase his dreams of playing baseball. He attended his first Giants game as a teenager in 2010, sitting in the center field bleachers as Tim Lincecum pitched the Giants closer to a division title. As a young shortstop he idolized Brandon Crawford, and now is his teammate and will be Crawford's double-play partner on many occasions this season. 

When Dubon first made his Giants debut in late August after being acquired in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers, he certainly could feel his fandom come alive. The same can be said for when the team brought Hunter Pence back this offseason.

"The first time I saw Hunter at FanFest, I asked for a picture, actually," Dubon said on the latest episode of The Giants Insider Podcast. "I asked him for a picture, yeah. 2014, with the whole speech and everything -- as a fan, you kind of get excited. As a player, you get even more excited." 

Dubon said he had to get away from the Giants' veteran players last year when guys like Tim Lincecum, Angel Pagan and many others came back for Bruce Bochy's final game as San Francisco's manager. The young infielder simply couldn't help but get giddy seeing his childhood heroes. Dubon even used Pagan's salute celebration in high school. 

Now with Pence in the fold and Pablo Sandoval returning to San Francisco, Dubon doesn't see why the Giants couldn't shock the world again once the season returns amid baseball's suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

[RELATED: How Dubon is staying ready after missing first Opening Day]

"I keep telling people that when were we favorites -- I say "we" as a fan -- when were we favorites to win a World Series in '10, '12 and '14? Never," Dubon said. "So why's it gonna change right now?

"We have the same veterans. Same hunger, probably even more. We got guys that are willing to do anything to win a game. I think we have a pretty good chance of [winning] the whole thing." 

Dubon is expected to be manager Gabe Kapler's do-it-all utility man up in the middle at second base, shortstop and center field this season to keep his athleticism in the lineup. And while his fandom always will live within him, he could be a major key to the Giants brining their next World Series trophy back to San Francisco.