Giants

What Buster Posey's decision means for Joey Bart, Giants' catchers

What Buster Posey's decision means for Joey Bart, Giants' catchers

Because the Giants were split into three workout groups and Buster Posey missed three days, the starting catcher had not had a lot of time to spend with top prospects Joey Bart and Patrick Bailey. 

The latter two worked out in the mornings, alternating reps as they worked toward a future in the big leagues. That day, when Bart and Bailey split time, is at least two years away, but now the Giants are tasked with deciding how soon they want to jump into the deep end with another young catcher.

A decade after he broke through, Buster Posey is opting out of the season to spend time with his family, which recently adopted twin girls who were born prematurely. The Giants were overwhelmingly supportive, but they also know they have to spend the weekend having tough conversations. 

First among them: is it time to turn the starting catching job over to Bart, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft just two years ago. Bart had a strong spring training, but has just 22 games of experience above A-ball. 

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Farhan Zaidi's initial lean seemed to be no. He talked of the veterans who are in camp and said the Giants could look outside the organization for immediate help. He mentioned that a guy having a good camp is "just not the same as being able to see those guys perform at other levels."

"This is a tough environment to evaluate young position players that you maybe went into the situation thinking they need more competitive reps at the upper levels -- Double-A, Triple-A," Zaidi said. "We're having these workouts, they're in live BP and a guy takes a good swing and hits a ball 430 feet, that's all well and good, but it's not really a substitute for getting the 100, 200, 300 at-bats that you might be getting in Double-A and Triple-A where you get a much better sense of whether a guy is capable of handling major league pitching on a day in, day out basis."

Before they found out Posey might opt out, the Giants had Bart ticketed for Sacramento as part of the expanded player pool. They had not ruled out the possibility that he would be used at the big league level this year, but he was not in the Opening Day conversation. Rob Brantly and Tyler Heineman have been competing to back up Posey, but combined they have just 105 big league starts. Chadwick Tromp has experience at the upper levels of the minors but not in the big leagues. 

"Obviously (Heineman) and Rob Brantly have been in the conversation to be backing up Buster and there's going to be more opportunity there," Zaidi said. "Whether we ultimately decide it's a timeshare or there's a starter and a backup, we just have to see. We just added Chadwick Tromp also to the camp and he has taken some nice swings since coming in. 

"At least in terms of those three guys who have played in Triple-A and some in the big leagues, you've got a left-handed bat (Brantly), a right-handed bat (Tromp), and a switch-hitter (Heineman), so it could mean different configurations. I think we still certainly are open to looking to someone outside the organization, perhaps with somebody with a little more experience, especially if we think it'll help us early on in the season."

Given that most teams have five or six catchers in camp already, it may be hard for Zaidi to find external options. Russell Martin, the longtime Dodger, is still a free agent and looms as an obvious first call to make. He played 83 games for the Dodgers last year, and while he didn't hit much, he could step in and lead a staff right away. Some Dodgers players have been clamoring publicly for the team to bring him back as a backup for Will Smith. The Giants also could attempt to trade for a veteran who is buried on the depth chart in another summer camp. 

Zaidi said the Giants would add a sixth catcher at some point just to help catch bullpens. They are now remarkably thin at the position, with two young prospects and two more players with little or no big league experience among their group. Ricardo Genoves was in camp and has been working out during the break, and he could be a possibility to help out, but that's just to catch bullpens and do work behind the scenes. 

[RELATED: Posey gets it right again with toughest decision of career]

The Giants will need a starting catcher at some point. There's no replacing a Buster Posey, but one day the Giants hoped Bart could try. Perhaps they'll decide in the next 13 days that the best option is to start that experiment now. 

"It's just going to open up opportunity for all of the catchers in camp," Zaidi said. "Buster was obviously slated to be our starting catcher. There are more reps, there's more opportunity, and that goes for all the guys in camp."

Jeff Samardzija's rough start to season displayed by stat, odd moment

Jeff Samardzija's rough start to season displayed by stat, odd moment

There's a stunning stat from Jeff Samardzija's first three starts that shows how much he's struggling right now, but perhaps in this case all you need is an exchange from the Giants' loss Friday night. 

When Samardzija grazed Dodgers utility man Kiké Hernandez to load the bases in the fifth inning, Hernandez insisted over and over again to the home plate umpire that he had not been hit by the pitch. It was a strange sight, and the Giants even challenged the call -- with no luck -- to try to send Hernandez back to the box, but it seems that it's not a good sign that he wanted to be there in the first place. 

The Dodgers were remarkably comfortable against Samardzija, who is coming off a solid year but has had a nightmare start to 2020. In a 7-2 win over the Giants, they were quiet the first time through the order, then busted out for three homers the second time through. 

Samardzija walked off the mound in the fifth with the bases loaded. For the third time in three starts, he was charged with five earned runs. 

"I think he had a little bit of a lack of fastball command," manager Gabe Kapler said. "This is a very difficult lineup to get through even if you're locating your pitches."

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The Dodgers proved that with the three homers, which brings us to the stunning stat. In three starts, totaling just 13 2/3 innings, Samardzija has allowed six homers but struck out just five batters. Right now, he doesn't have the stuff or command to put hitters away. 

"Too many times we're getting these 0-2, 1-2 counts and battling for too long," he said. "We need to make sure that when we're getting them in the hole, we're finishing them. You give these big league hitters too many opportunities, they're going to take advantage of it. We've got to get them up and set them down as fast as possible."

Samardzija actually looked marginally better in the first three innings, getting six pop-ups and shallow fly balls. But those turned to homers the second time through, dropping the Giants into too large a deficit. The loss was their fifth in six games and put them five games behind the Rockies and 4 1/2 behind the loaded Dodgers after a little over two weeks of action. 

It won't get any better without a sharp turn from the starting pitchers, and the Giants don't have an obvious solution right now if Samardzija keeps struggling. Drew Smyly will be reevaluated when the road trip ends next Wednesday. Swingman Tyler Anderson already is needed for Smyly's spot. 

[RELATED: Reyes Moronta joins alternate site]

The Giants will hope the stuff improves and the command returns for Samardzija, at least enough to make hitters look less comfortable than Hernandez did. 

"He didn't think it hit him," Samardzija said. "I told him it must have hit his jersey or something. They're all gamers over there, they all want to play. I respect those guys a lot. He's just being honest. It's a good quality."

Giants takeaways: What you might have missed in 7-2 loss vs. Dodgers

Giants takeaways: What you might have missed in 7-2 loss vs. Dodgers

BOX SCORE

The Giants went to great lengths to keep Jeff Samardzija from pitching at Dodger Stadium in a season-opening series. On Friday it was more clear why they did it. 

Samardzija gave up six runs -- five of them earned -- and departed in a jam in the fifth. The Giants never caught up, losing 7-2 at Dodger Stadium, where they got a split just two weeks ago. 

The Giants have dropped four of five on this long road trip, and it doesn't get any easier. They'll face Clayton Kershaw on Saturday and Walker Buehler on Sunday. Here are three things to know from a forgettable Friday ... 

Slow Start for Shark 

Samardzija's stuff looked a *bit* better, and he got six pop-ups and shallow fly balls in the first three innings. But the second time through the order, the Dodgers hit three home runs. He didn't last much longer. 

Samardzija was pulled with the bases loaded and no outs in the fifth after grazing back-to-back Dodgers (Kiké Hernandez strangely argued that he was not hit). Sam Selman helped him out, but Samardzija was still charged with five earned for the third consecutive start. 

In three starts, the veteran right-hander has allowed 15 earned runs in 13 2/3 innings. He has struck out just five of the 65 batters he has faced. This is an issue the Giants are going to have to confront. 

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Another One 

The Giants tacked onto their error count early when Darin Ruf couldn't handle a single to left, allowing Cody Bellinger to cruise into second. Bellinger immediately scored on Justin Turner's single. It seems like every error comes around to cost the Giants, and that was their MLB-high 18th of the year. 

It didn't go down as an error, but Donovan Solano failed to get a double play when he threw a ball into the dirt instead of to first. 

The defense has been a problem just about every night. 

[RELATED: How Yaz has turned into Giants star year after close call]

Sam to the Rescue 

How about we end with a positive? 

Selman came on with the bases loaded and Max Muncy at the plate and allowed just one run to score, then went out and pitched another scoreless frame. That was good work -- he struck out three -- and allowed the Giants to avoid getting blown out in the sixth. 

In the old days, the joke would be Samardzija needs to buy Selman a steak. Who knows what that looks like in a season dominated by quarantining. Maybe he'll order the rookie some nice room service?