Giants

Why Giants need to upgrade shortstop in 2020, according to MLB.com

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Why Giants need to upgrade shortstop in 2020, according to MLB.com

Shortstop Brandon Crawford and second baseman Joe Panik formed a Giants double-play duo up the middle for nearly six seasons.

One half of the pair already is gone after San Francisco released Panik in August, and he joined the Mets shortly after. Could Crawford be on his way out, too? 

MLB.com's Will Leitch identified the problem areas for each team going into next season, and his position for the Giants comes as a bit of surprise. 

"Brandon Crawford is under contract for next year, but the Giants need to build from the inside out, and shortstop is a position they’re starting from too far behind on," Leitch wrote. 

Crawford, who turns 33 years old in January, has one season remaining on his six-year, $75 million contract and is coming off the worst season of his nine-year career. The two-time All-Star hit just .228 with 11 home runs and a .654 OPS. 

His 0.6 bWAR was the lowest of his career since 2011, the season in which he debuted with the Giants. To make matters worse, the three-time Gold Glove winner had an oddly down year defensively. 

For the first time in his career, Crawford wasn't worth a positive defensive run saved, according to FanGraphs. He finished at exactly zero, down from six in 2018. Crawford's .972 fielding percentage also was his lowest since 2015. 

But if the Giants do try to dangle Crawford on the trade market this offseason, they could have a solid replacement in Mauricio Dubon

The 25-year-old Dubon might be better pegged as a second baseman, though he has shown the ability to play shortstop just fine. Dubon, acquired from the Brewers at the MLB trade deadline, hit .279 with four homers, three stolen bases and a .754 OPS in 28 games for the Giants. 

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Dubon played second base in 22 games compared to 10 as a shortstop when he joined the Giants, but has played 475 games at shortstop to 113 as a second baseman in the minors. He is an in-house option right away if Crawford winds up on a new team. The free-agent market is thin this offseason at shortstop outside of Didi Gregorious, too. 

If Crawford does remain the Giants' shortstop, they certainly need him to have a bounce-back season next year. 

Giants' Mike Krukow has no sympathy for Aubrey Huff, says he 'blew it'

Giants' Mike Krukow has no sympathy for Aubrey Huff, says he 'blew it'

You can add Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow to the list of people who have no sympathy for Aubrey Huff after the former first baseman was informed that he would not be welcome at Oracle Park for the celebration of San Francisco's 2010 World Series championship team this coming August.

"I think that Aubrey Huff blew it, and I think him not being included is something he needs to take to heart," Krukow said Tuesday on KNBR's "Murph & Mac Show." "I don't think it's going to affect the invitation in 20 years should he compose himself a little more responsibly on social media. He had a chance to represent the Giants away from the community, even though he's not under contract, I think it's a contract you sign for life ... I just think he's been irresponsible and he's paying a price for it.

"The one thing that never really gets discussed: In every contract you ever sign with a professional team, is they have a clause in there where they talk about how you as a player have to comport yourself in an appropriate manner. Those are words that when you sign your contract, they’ll stop the discussion and point to it and say ‘Do you understand this?’ The whole idea is to create a positive image in the community on behalf of the Giants."

The Giants are in Scottsdale, Ariz. for spring training, and several players were asked about the team's ruling on Huff. Buster Posey deferred "to the people that make the decisions," while Pablo Sandoval insisted that he "won't be sad" that Huff won't be at the World Series reunion. Krukow feels similarly.

"Me personally? No," he responded when asked if he'll miss Huff on Aug. 16.

[RELATED: How Panda caught Kapler's attention during first live BP]

As San Francisco and Krukow have made clear, there's a give and take to that whole "Forever Giant" thing.

How Pablo Sandoval impressed Gabe Kapler in Giants live batting practice

How Pablo Sandoval impressed Gabe Kapler in Giants live batting practice

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The first session of live batting practice drew a crowd, but for the Giants hitters involved, there wasn't all that much buzz. 

With Farhan Zaidi, Scott Harris, Gabe Kapler and half the coaching staff watching from behind the backstop, and the analytics staff set up to track pitch characteristics and swings, Brandon Belt stepped up to the plate and took a couple of walks. Buster Posey did the same, tracking pitches into the catcher's glove and then retreating to the dugout to tell hitting coach Donnie Ecker what he was seeing. 

And then Pablo Sandoval dug into the batter's box.

Sandoval swung at the first five pitches he saw from prospect Luis Madero, fouling a couple off and lining a couple into the grass. He was just as aggressive in his second session. When Kapler sat down with reporters a few minutes later, he was still laughing over Sandoval's mentality.

"I've never seen an approach to live BP like Pablo just took," Kapler said. 

The manager loved seeing it for a couple of reasons. First of all, Sandoval figures to be Kapler's top pinch-hit option for most of the year, in part because of that aggression. Kapler said earlier this week that he always feared seeing Sandoval step in when he was managing the Phillies, in large part because he knew Sandoval would be ready to do damage from the first pitch, unlike many hitters who like to first look at a couple offerings in the late innings. 

"It kind of demonstrates why he's so dangerous at the plate, because he's just prepared to drive every pitch," Kapler said. "Generally you calibrate one of two ways: By taking and seeing pitches, and the second way is by swinging at pitches -- and he just took aggressive hacks on everything that was thrown up there."

The second reason Kapler liked what he saw was health-related. Sandoval is well ahead of schedule in his rehab from Tommy John surgery, but he's still likely to miss the first month of the season as he works his throwing arm back into shape. The Giants have, though, discussed the fact that at some point they may have a tough decision to make. 

With a 26th roster spot, they could, in theory, carry Sandoval as he continues to rehab, using him only as a pinch-hitter. On Tuesday, as Sandoval hungrily went after two-seamers and changeups from Madero, he looked the part of someone who could be ready for a hitting-focused role on Opening Day. Kapler noted that Sandoval was "right on" every pitch.

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"He's been thinking about his swing for a long time and working on his swing for a while now," Kapler said. "It's going to be like a bit of a tricky puzzle, because we're going to want to get him reps at his pace earlier in camp, and at the same time we know that he's not going to be ready at the same pace as some of our other players. 

"We want to be respectful of the pace that he wants to work at, so we're going to have to weigh those two factors."