Where Giants stand on competing, rebuilding after quarter of 2019 season

Where Giants stand on competing, rebuilding after quarter of 2019 season

SAN FRANCISCO -- When Derek Holland spoke up Saturday night and said he didn't know what the front office was doing, he wasn't just speaking for himself. There has been confusion this season, more than in past ones, from the players, coaches, support staff and fans. 

This is not what the #ForeverGiant organization has gotten used to. The roster moves have come quickly, young players are cut loose after a dozen at-bats and veterans are gone in a month. The process has led to some grumbling, and perhaps one day Farhan Zaidi will look back on this season and feel he wasn't clear enough from the start about what the goals would be. 

But in Denver last week, after Yangervis Solarte and Pat Venditte were let go, Zaidi did very clearly lay out his plan. 

"A key for us, I think, is going to be adaptability and looking at different guys. We're trying to compete, but we're also trying to find guys who could be keepers for this organization, who are going to be here for a few years," he said. "We're kind of trying to walk that balance and part of it is giving guys opportunities but sometimes having to pull the plug before you get what really amounts to an appropriate sample look. 

"That's part of the tightrope that we're walking with some of these guys. With that set of goals, I guess it's not that surprising that we moved on quickly from some guys."

That is not the kind of sexy message you put on billboards on Third Street or convey to season ticket holders, but it is a very clear one, and if you just read that one quote, you can see what this season is all about. 

But is it working? A quarter of the way through, let's take a look at those two goals:

"We're Trying to Compete"

Yeah, uhh, they're not competitive. 

At 18-24, the Giants have the sixth-worst winning percentage in the majors. They are 9 1/2 games behind the Dodgers already, and there's no known universe where you could make a realistic argument that they'll get anywhere close to catching them. With a six-game winning streak maybe you could start dreaming of a Wild Card Game, but the Giants have been outscored by 39 runs already, so there's no real reason to believe they can turn it around.

The moves made to compete -- Gerardo Parra, Yangervis, Holland, Drew Pomeranz, etc. -- mostly have backfired. Kevin Pillar has worked out well, but with so much of the core taking a step back, his addition didn't ultimately move the needle much. 

This, most likely, is a 90-plus loss team that will be torn apart at the trade deadline and will end up with another top 10 draft pick. That's good news for the long term!

But it's a major bummer when you remember that this is Bruce Bochy's last season, and the odds are good that he'll be eliminated in mid-September while penciling in a lineup full of prospects. 

"We're Also Trying to Find Guys Who Could Be Keepers"

A big part of the appeal of Connor Joe and Michael Reed was that they are 26 years old. If the front office hit on one of those guys, he could be around for the next Giants team to make the postseason. Alas ...

The jury is still out on most of the "guys who could be keepers." 

Steven Duggar has had a disappointing season at the plate, but the defense -- in any outfield spot -- is elite, and he should be part of the outfield mix for years to come. Tyler Austin, 27, has a .831 OPS and looks like a future bench bat or member of a left field platoon. Mac Williamson is getting his audition, but he's batting just .185 thus far. Mike Gerber did not run with a job. At some point we'll see Aaron Altherr. 

The Giants have plenty of guys in the minors -- Austin Slater, Mike Yastrzemski (who has 11 homers), Chris Shaw (who has made huge strides with plate discipline) -- who could get a look, but here in May, you can't say they have any idea what a 2020 outfield will look like.  

There certainly is concern in the infield, where Pablo Sandoval, 32 years old and about to hit free agency, has been the most consistent hitter. After years of hitting on draft picks, the Giants have gone through a drought in this department, although Jalen Miller has a .802 OPS in the tough Eastern League and the 22-year-old could get a look in the second half. 

On the pitching side, 26-year-old Trevor Gott and 25-year-old Travis Bergen have a chance to be part of future bullpens. But Reyes Moronta has regressed a bit, Dereck Rodriguez was demoted, Tyler Beede has been unable to translate his Triple-A success to the big leagues, Andrew Suarez and Ray Black got hurt, and Logan Webb was suspended

Shaun Anderson's debut was promising, and he'll get another shot next week to try to lock down a rotation spot. But the Giants need to find a lot more over the next four-and-a-half months. They'll send Beede back out to see if it clicks, and Rodriguez and Suarez will be back. 

[RELATED: Which teams make most sense in possible MadBum trade?]

Ultimately, the pitching staff is now in the same position as the lineup. How many guys in either group can you guarantee will be a contributor in 2021? Zaidi had a clear goal, but he'll have to shift. 

To find guys who can be keepers, he will have to officially give up on "trying to compete," trading the likes of Madison Bumgarner, Will Smith, Tony Watson, Sam Dyson and others for prospects and young pre-arbitration players. We always knew that was coming at some point, but the poor start should accelerate the teardown. 

Shaun Anderson's first-inning problems are a head-scratcher for Giants

Shaun Anderson's first-inning problems are a head-scratcher for Giants

LOS ANGELES -- Giants rookie right-hander Shaun Anderson has a problem, but it isn't what you would expect. 

Anderson is a young starter who was a closer in college, so it wouldn't be a surprise or at all concerning if he had issues getting deep into games. The head-scratcher thus far, though, has been that Anderson is struggling mightily with the first inning. After that, he tends to cruise. 

Joc Pederson hit a leadoff homer on Tuesday night and the Dodgers followed with two more hits and another run, kicking off what would become a 9-0 win behind Clayton Kershaw. 

The homer was the second leadoff blast Anderson has allowed in seven starts and the fourth he has allowed in the first inning. Opponents are hitting .438 off him in the first with four homers, four doubles and seven runs. In all of his other innings, Anderson has allowed just one homer and posted a 2.56 ERA. 

"I do need to bear down a little in those first innings," Anderson said. "This isn't the first time it has happened. I'll look into it."

Anderson said it was simply a lack of execution to start, and manager Bruce Bochy wasn't all that concerned. There's a trend, and he said the Giants will discuss potential changes to Anderson's pre-start routine, but they won't make too big a deal of it. 

"You know what, the kid is throwing well," Bochy said. "So it's not like we want to do a lot."

Anderson is not alone in this issue. The Giants as a team have had serious first-inning woes all season long, but Anderson has shown an ability to get past any early wobbles. He pitched into the sixth Tuesday, allowing just one more run. 

The problem was that the Giants had no margin for error. Kershaw did what he always does to them, and while Anderson kept it close for a while, this one turned into a blowout in the seventh. Enrique Hernandez's grand slam off Trevor Gott capped a six-run inning. 

[RELATED: What can Giants get in MadBum trade? Kurkjian answers]

With the blowout, the Giants have now been outscored by 90 runs this season, the third-worst differential in the Majors and worst in the National League. Anderson might be having an issue with the first inning, but for the team, the problems go much deeper. 

Giants vs. Dodgers lineups: Shaun Anderson opposes Clayton Kershaw

Giants vs. Dodgers lineups: Shaun Anderson opposes Clayton Kershaw

On Monday, Tyler Beede got a win in his first-ever start against the Dodgers. On Tuesday, Giants rookie right-hander Shaun Anderson will attempt to do the same.

Anderson (2-1, 3.97 ERA) enters Tuesday's start at Dodger Stadium on a roll. He's coming off three consecutive outings in which he went at least six innings and gave up no more than three runs, and he's picked up two victories over that span.

Anderson will face a significant challenge in his first-ever start at Chavez Ravine, not just in the formidable Dodgers' lineup, but in Giants' nemesis Clayton Kershaw. While Kershaw (6-1, 3.13 ERA) took his first loss of the season on June 7 against the Giants, he has dominated San Francisco throughout his career, and enters Tuesday's start with a 22-11 record against the Giants with a 1.72 ERA over 330 1/3 innings.

[RELATED: Beede relieved to get first big league win against Dodgers]

First pitch for Dodgers vs. Giants is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. PT with pregame coverage beginning at 6 p.m. You can follow all the action on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming online and on the MyTeams app.

San Francisco Giants (31-39)
Donovan Solano, 2B
Brandon Belt, LF
Tyler Austin, 1B
Buster Posey, C
Evan Longoria, 3B
Kevin Pillar, RF
Brandon Crawford, SS
Steven Duggar, CF
Shaun Anderson, RHP (2-1, 3.97 ERA)

Los Angeles Dodgers (48-25)
Joc Pederson. LF
Alex Verdugo, CF
Justin Turner, 3B
Cody Bellinger, RF
Max Muncy, 2B
Matt Beaty, 1B
Chris Taylor, SS
Austin Barnes, C
Clayton Kershaw, LHP (6-1, 3.13 ERA)