Giants

Tyler Beede's latest poor outing leaves Giants with huge rotation questions

Tyler Beede's latest poor outing leaves Giants with huge rotation questions

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants will visit Chase Field on Thursday for the start of a big four-game series against the Diamondbacks, but the most important pitch for the organization's September and October hopes will be thrown hundreds of miles away. 

Johnny Cueto will start for the San Jose Giants in Visalia, pitching around three innings as he takes the next big step in his rehab process. It is asking a lot of Cueto to view him as a September savior for the rotation, but at this point the Giants appear to have no choice. 

They have leaned heavily on rookies in the second half and that plan is collapsing quickly. Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija have been great, but as Tyler Beede showed in a 9-5 loss to the A's on Wednesday, the Giants have no idea what they can count on from 60 percent of their rotation. That's not a comfortable feeling in a postseason race. 

"It's a challenge, but hey, I don't mind a challenge," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's up to me to try to get this figured out. You know when you bring up young pitchers you're going to have some growing pains, and that's the case."

The staff discussed the rotation before the game and planned to again before a flight to Phoenix. For now, the immediate solution is penciling Dereck Rodriguez back in for Thursday's game. The Giants still are TBD for Saturday, although right-hander Logan Webb could take that spot. He has just one appearance above Double-A but was dominant in his Triple-A debut. Beyond that, there are other question marks. Bochy wouldn't commit to Beede making his next start. 

"He's a guy we believe in," Bochy said. "We'll see where we're at five days from now."

This is a situation that has been threatening to boil over for a while. After pulling Derek Holland and Drew Pomeranz from the rotation and trading both, the Giants were left relying on three rookies and one second-year player who has bounced back and forth. It's been an ugly stretch for the youth movement.

Shaun Anderson had a 7.76 ERA over seven starts before a blister landed him on the Injured List. Conner Menez, now back in Triple-A, has allowed 10 earned and walked eight over 12 2/3 innings in three starts. Beede seemed to be turning a corner in July, turning in dominant performances before and after the All-Star break. But he has allowed at least four runs in each of his past five starts and recorded just two outs beyond the fifth inning during that span. 

Command has been the issue, and on Wednesday it was missing from the start. Beede left too many balls up and the A's picked up eight hits off him before he was lifted one batter into the fifth inning. Beede's ERA for the season is up to 5.77. He has limited walks, but he isn't getting into pitcher's counts. 

"I didn't walk anybody today but I look back and the counts got to 1-0, 2-0, 2-1. That gives hitters more confidence," Beede said. "I need to do a better job of locating."

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The road won't get any easier for Beede or any of the other young pitchers. It's four in Phoenix, followed by three in Chicago and two in Oakland. The Giants have Cueto on the way back, but he's not expected to be ready until the first week of September. For better or worse, they'll go as far as the young pitchers take them. 

"We have to use who we have here," Bochy said. 

Former Giants hitting coach Alonzo Powell takes new job in Japan

Former Giants hitting coach Alonzo Powell takes new job in Japan

SAN FRANCISCO -- As Farhan Zaidi and the rest of the front office started the search for a new manager, the coaching staff was given time to look for new jobs. Hitting coach Alonso Powell ended up across the ocean, but his new job will still be a familiar one. 

Powell will join the staff of the Chunichi Dragons, a Japanese team based in Nagoya. He played for the Dragons for six seasons, hitting .355 in one of them and won three straight batting titles while starring in Nagoya from 1992-97. Powell is reportedly already working with the team:

The Giants had kept quiet about Powell's status, but they are expected to have nearly a completely new staff under Gabe Kapler, who was hired last week. Ron Wotus will return as third base coach, but he was the only holdover to attend Kapler's press conference. 

Bullpen coach Matt Herges has already joined the Arizona Diamondbacks as pitching coach and former bench coach Hensley Meulens has been offered a job by the Marlins. Meulens was also thought to be a candidate for the Mets bench coach job, and he has not officially been announced as a staff member for the Marlins. It's unclear where pitching coach Curt Young, assistant hitting coach Rick Schu, and first base coach Jose Alguacil currently stand.

[RELATED: Harris details meaningful trip to Wrigley bleachers

Powell, a Bay Area native, came to the Giants after the 2017 season with the task of getting an aging lineup to hit for more power. There were success stories, and Powell was popular within the organization, but he was unable to squeeze much more out of a veteran group. Powell came from Houston and brought some new methods to the Giants, and they're expected to go even further in that direction. The addition of Kapler, along with former Cubs executive Scott Harris, indicates the Giants will dive even deeper into analytics. 

Giants GM Scott Harris details meaningful trip to Wrigley Field bleachers

Giants GM Scott Harris details meaningful trip to Wrigley Field bleachers

SAN FRANCISCO -- Farhan Zaidi has been part of the group moving the bullpens to center field at Oracle Park, but once the season starts, he'll never have an up-close view of the action out there. The front office has a suite on the club level and Zaidi also has an office in the clubhouse, where he can work while watching his Giants. 

If Zaidi is able to accomplish his goal of getting the Giants back to the postseason, though, you might see him out in the bleachers by the new bullpens. His general manager might demand it

Scott Harris was an integral part of the Cubs' baseball operations department when the team won the World Series in 2016, and earlier that year, he played a leading role in a moment that went viral. Harris and other Cubs executives watched a game from the bleachers after the Cubs clinched their division, with president of baseball operations Theo Epstein sporting a fake mustache that made him stand out even more than his fame would have. 

On this week's Giants Insider Podcast, Harris explained how he got Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer, and other Cubs executives to watch a game from Wrigley's wild bleachers. Harris said they generally watched games from the general manager's suite behind the plate and always noticed how much fun fans were having in the bleachers. 

"We were longing for a day when we could actually go out into the bleachers," Harris said. "I kept asking Theo and Jed, 'Hey we should do that one time' or 'Everyone should have the opportunity to go.' They finally said, 'If we win the division, the next day we can all go out to the bleachers.' Sure enough, we won the division and I reminded them via text message that night and we set it up so that we could go sit in the bleachers for that game. 

"We thought we would get away with it for a few innings -- maybe by the seventh inning people would start to catch on. In the very first inning the relievers in the bullpen started pointing at us and then our centerfielder flipped a ball to us. We thought to ourselves, 'Well, our cover is blown.'"

For Harris, hired a week ago to rebuild the organization with Zaidi and Gabe Kapler, it's more than just a funny story and memorable day. It's an example of the kind of leader he wants to be. Asked what stood out about working for Epstein and Hoyer, who finally brought a championship back to Wrigley Field, Harris mentioned their "commitment to culture."

"These are really stressful and very demanding jobs and you often work closely with people for as many as 17 hours a day, so culture is very important, working relationships are very important," Harris said. "You have to work closely together with the people on your baseball ops staff and the president and put yourself in a position to make the right decisions, to make sound baseball decisions one after another after another, to reshape an organization. 

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"They were fully committed to that in Boston (where Epstein won a title). Jed was in San Diego and then both Theo and Jed were in Chicago, and I hope to bring elements of that to San Francisco."

For more of Harris' thoughts on coming to San Francisco, learning from Epstein and Hoyer, developing top prospects, and baseball research and development, you can stream the Giants Insider Podcast here or download it on iTunes here.