Giants

Why Kieran Lovegrove signed with Giants after Farhan Zaidi hiring

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AP

Why Kieran Lovegrove signed with Giants after Farhan Zaidi hiring

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- No team has had more success with minor league free agents over the past decade than the Giants, who put together a priority list every season and then go hard when players are let go by their previous organizations in the fall. 

The front office has generally had success selling minor league free agents on their ballpark, their culture, their coaching staff and, for pitchers, their catcher. But for one of last offseason's biggest targets, the most important factor wasn't even part of the organization until Nov. 6. 

"When Zaidi came on, that was pretty much my decision-maker," right-hander Kieran Lovegrove said. "I was very interested in following him wherever he went."

Lovegrove had a lot of qualities that put him right near the top of the wish list for the team officials who kept everything running smoothly as Larry Baer looked for Bobby Evans' replacement. He's just 24 and is coming off a season in which he posted a 2.73 ERA at three minor league levels, struck out 10 batters per nine innings, and pitched in the Futures Game.

Lovegrove has a mid-90s fastball that ticks higher at times, and the Giants' analytics people and scouts felt there were tweaks he could make to his pitch mix to break through. 

When the Indians failed to put Lovegrove on their 40-man roster, the Giants were aggressive. They felt they had a good shot at landing the California product regardless, but the addition of Farhan Zaidi put Lovegrove over the top. 

"I had kind of heard what he had done in Oakland and then I got to see what he did in L.A. as I followed the way that they helped to develop players and find players that had been told, 'Here's your ceiling and you can't go above that,'" he said. "He took them and it seemed like he would just say, 'Look, I believe you can do more so go out there and do more.'"

Lovegrove had a chance to pass that message along earlier in camp when he met with Zaidi, Bruce Bochy, Curt Young and Matt Herges. He already has made adjustments, leaning on Michael Schwartze, an analyst who was hired a year ago and travels with the team, to alter the way he attacks hitters. 

[RELATED: Kieran Lovegrove stands against racism in Black History Month shoes]

Lovegrove talked about those adjustments on this week's episode of The Giants Insider Podcast, along with a lot more. We touched on mental health, what he has learned from Trevor Bauer, fastball spin efficiency, supporting causes that are not usually affiliated with baseball players, minor league pay issues and much more. 

You can stream the podcast here or download it on iTunes here. 

Why Mike Gerber, Levi Michael are Giants spring training cuts to keep eye on

Why Mike Gerber, Levi Michael are Giants spring training cuts to keep eye on

SAN FRANCISCO -- Early in camp, a Giants veteran looked at a group of young players sitting at a card table and joked that he didn't recognize half the guys in the room. That's no longer the case. 

The Giants, after two more rounds of cuts, are down to 39 players in big-league camp, and most of them are familiar to fans. We have hit the point of the spring where guys who were seriously fighting for jobs are seeing that dream end, so as we did last week, let's take a look at who got cut and who might return at some point ... 

March 14: Outfielder Austin Slater and switch-pitcher Pat Venditte optioned; right-hander Derek Law and infielder Zach Green reassigned to minor league camp.

It was a disappointing spring for both Slater and Venditte, who were in races for a backup outfield job and bullpen spot, respectively. 

Slater hit .185 in 12 spring appearances, with just one extra-base hit. The staff asked him to make some swing changes in the offseason to add more loft and hopefully tap into his raw power, but it continues to be a work in progress. More than just about anyone, Slater really could use an everyday role in Sacramento to try and continue to figure out the new swing. He's just 26, offers positional versatility, and could help balance the lineup from the right side, so a breakout would solve a lot of the big league roster's bench issues. 

Venditte was the first free agent signing of the Zaidi era, but he never got on track, allowing seven runs in six appearances. Even at 33, he had a minor league option remaining, so he seems a good bet to shuttle back and forth this season as the Giants embrace some of that Dodger way of handling a pitching staff. At the very least, the switch-pitching thing continues to be remarkable. 

Law was knocked off the 40-man just before camp, but came in optimistic about the way he was throwing. He made just four appearances, allowing a pair of runs. Law's future is murky. If he can get untracked and find that 2016 form, the Giants would be thrilled to add him to the mix. But he's off the 40-man now, so the road back will be a long one. 

Green, 25, was an interesting addition, and he had a nice month, posting an OPS over 1.100 in 23 plate appearances and hitting a couple of homers. It'll be fascinating to check Sacramento's box scores early in the season. Will Zaidi keep giving shots to guys like Slater and Ryder Jones who have been with the organization for a while, or will newcomers like Green jump the line? Green hit 20 homers in the high minors last season and could soon be the next man up at the corner infield spots. 

March 17: Outfielder Mike Gerber and infielder Levi Michael reassigned. 

Anonymous to most fans, these two are guys to keep an eye on.

Gerber was the first player Zaidi acquired for the Giants and they got him through waivers, and onto their Triple-A roster. He had eight hits in 19 spring at-bats, and might have had the plate appearance of the spring, shaking off a head-seeking fastball from a tough Rangers lefty to line a two-run triple into the gap as the Giants nearly pulled off a wild comeback a week ago. He's an outfielder who can play all three spots, and simply has good plate appearances, which is something lacking in this organization. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him get a shot in the outfield this summer. 

[RELATED: Giants top prospect Bart awarded for impressive spring]

Michael played three infield spots this spring and has handled the outfield in the minors. He has always been a high OBP guy in the minors, and reached at a .400 clip in limited action this spring. Does that sound like the type Zaidi might want on the roster? Yep. 

The Giants will carry 13 pitchers more often than not, and might need a third catcher at times. Anyone with versatility -- Michael, Breyvic Valera, Alen Hanson, etc. -- will have a leg up when decisions are made. 

San Francisco Mayor London Breed wants accountability in Larry Baer incident

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USATSI

San Francisco Mayor London Breed wants accountability in Larry Baer incident

San Francisco Mayor London Breed issued a statement Monday calling on Major League Baseball to issue sanctions on Giants CEO Larry Baer over a March 1 incident involving his wife, Pam.

“When the incident first occurred involving Larry Baer and his wife, the San Francisco Police Department immediately began an investigation,” Breed said in the statement posted on her website. "That investigation is ongoing, but regardless of the outcome, Major League Baseball needs to send a message that any and all acts of violence against women is unacceptable.

"The letter written by several respected women leaders in our domestic violence community echoes an all too familiar reality where incidents involving violence against women are not met with true accountability. While Mr. Baer has apologized and expressed remorse for his behavior, it does not excuse his actions and it does not erase what transpired. Mr. Baer’s actions were serious and wrong. We are a City that loves and supports our San Francisco Giants, and that means holding our organization and its leaders to the highest of standards.

“Every little girl, every woman should be able to attend a Giants game with a clear sense of the organization’s values. I share in the call to action by the women who have written the Commissioner calling for greater accountability. There must be a stronger public reaction and response to violence against women in our City and our country.”

The letter that Breed references in her statement came from a dozen San Francisco community leaders, who wrote to MLB that they’d like to see Baer disciplined. The San Francisco Chronicle cited portions of the letter, which told MLB their stance is about “… the responsibility that you, as well as the board and executive leadership of the Giants organization, have to fairly enforce MLB policy, as you would had it been a major league player in that video, rather than a high-profile CEO.”

MLB issued a statement on the day of the incident, saying: “Major League Baseball is aware of the incident and, just like any other situation like this, will immediately begin to gather the facts. We will have no further comment until this process is completed.” MLB has not commented since then.

The San Francisco district attorney’s office told the Chronicle on March 8 it hadn’t decided if charges should be filed and that police had been investigating the situation.