Bryan Reynolds

Pirates call-up a reminder that Giants waited too long to change

Pirates call-up a reminder that Giants waited too long to change

PITTSBURGH -- On Saturday morning, a few hours after Starling Marte and Erik Gonzalez had a frightening collision in shallow center field, the Pirates called up a pair of prospects. 

One of them is a 24-year-old outfielder who is a former top pick and was tearing up Triple-A. The switch-hitter has a .367 average in 13 games, with five homers, three stolen bases, and a strong strikeout-to-walk ratio. He has a .312/.373/.472 slash line in over 1,200 minor league plate appearances. He can play all three outfield spots but is primarily a center fielder. 

Is this the type of player you might be interested in seeing with the Giants, who have serious, serious offensive issues and little help on the way in the upper minors?

Under different circumstances, you would have.

The player is Bryan Reynolds, who was taken by the Giants in the second round out of Vanderbilt in 2016. The Giants felt he was a first-round talent who slipped due to concerns about his desire to sign, but Bobby Evans worked out a deal with Scott Boras. The Giants felt they had one of the steals of the draft. Two years later, they dealt Reynolds and Kyle Crick for Andrew McCutchen. 

Now, that's a somewhat defensible move. Reynolds did not show much power while with Giants affiliates, although he did always hit for a high average. The Giants felt McCutchen and Evan Longoria could join the core and return an aging team to the postseason, and McCutchen was still a valuable player last season. The Giants did eventually get a couple of prospects in a second McCutchen trade. Abiatal Avelino may help them at some point and Juan De Paula helped bring Kevin Pillar to San Francisco. 

Plus, who really knows what Reynolds will become? He has turned into a nice prospect but he's not on anyone's top 100 list. He could be a bust. 

Regardless, he shows why it's so important that the Giants don't continue to kick the can down the road. They dealt one of their best prospects -- and a good controllable reliever -- to the Pirates a few months after losing 98 games. There was every reason to tear down, not deal prospects, but the Giants tried to extend the glory days. They desperately need players like Reynolds, who are young and have the kind of upside that they'll show up in Triple-A one season and start mashing homers.

[RELATED: Bruce Bochy believes Mark Melancon is 'invaluable']

The good news is that Farhan Zaidi knows all this. He has kind of tried to extend the window but has done it half-heartedly with low-cost additions like Derek Holland, Drew Pomeranz and Pillar. He is stockpiling lottery tickets in the minors, and the odds are good that this July he'll be adding a half-dozen more as he subtracts bullpen pieces and a starter or three from a team that's off to an 8-13 start. 

But man, the Giants sure could have used this attitude after the 2017 season.

How beef between Sharks' Evander Kane, Knights' Ryan Reaves has evolved

How beef between Sharks' Evander Kane, Knights' Ryan Reaves has evolved

Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights fans alike were treated to the fight they were waiting for at the end of Game 3 on Sunday night. After days of verbal jabs and glares from the opposing benches, Evander Kane and Ryan Reaves finally dropped the gloves with minutes left in the contest -- a devastating 6-3 loss for Team Teal.

But the beef between Kane and Reaves isn’t exclusive to this first-round playoff series. And even though the two finally got to throw haymakers on Sunday, this likely isn’t the end of the saga either.

Keep in mind, mutual dislike such as this develops over many years. Kane and Reaves have had that healthy level of animosity toward each other for more than a decade, dating back to when they both played against each other in the Western Hockey League (Kane played for the Vancouver Giants and Reaves played for the Brandon Wheat Kings).

That distaste for one another then continued into both skaters’ NHL careers. The two exchanged a few jabs back in 2017 during a matchup between the Buffalo Sabres and St. Louis Blues. The confrontation led to a TV split-screen shot of the two continuing to jaw at each other from their respective benches, not unlike we’ve seen during the current Sharks-Knights series.

Fast-forward to present day and both skaters are on different teams, but the hostility is still alive and well -- and had been growing to a fever pitch leading up to the Game 3 throwdown. With the Golden Knights bumping the Sharks from last year’s playoffs and other teams in the Pacific Division having down seasons, the Vegas squad has quickly evolved into one of San Jose’s most contentious rivals.

Ahead of the Round 1 matchup, Kane said of Knights: “We’re not going to be inviting each other over for Sunday night dinner.”

Kane ended up fighting Reaves on a Sunday night, instead.

The war of words only adds fuel to the fire, whether it be on-ice chirps or cutting jabs told to the media. Kane has referred to Reaves as the Knights’ “babysitter” and Reaves has quipped that Kane doesn’t stand so tall when he isn’t on the ice. The two needled each other from their respective benches in Game 1 last week and finally dropped their gloves in Game 3.

Sunday’s bout isn’t likely the end of this roast-fest, either. Reaves kept the comments flowing after the Knights took Game 3 of the series by attacking Sharks’ center Joe Thornton’s age in regard to No. 19's check to Tomas Nosek’s head. As you may recall, Thornton and Reaves had a few run-ins during the regular season as well.

[RELATED: What we learned in Sharks' Game 3 loss]

It's possible Kane will stand up for his teammate, whether that be verbally or on the ice. But Sharks fans sure hope Kane doesn't do anything that will get him into trouble or cause him to miss game action.

Heck, at the very least you can say this series isn’t boring.

What the Giants’ farm system lost in trade for Andrew McCutchen

What the Giants’ farm system lost in trade for Andrew McCutchen

San Francisco’s second splash of its offseason reloading plan came to life Monday with the acquisition of outfielder Andrew McCutchen in a trade with the Pirates.

In trading for the five-time All-Star, the Giants held on to top prospects Heliot Ramos, Chris Shaw and Tyler Beede. The win-now move bolstered the Giants’ outfield — one that needed the most help in all of baseball — while the Pirates again have a potential big piece in their outfield with Bryan Reynolds headed to Pittsburgh. 

While the farm system took a win in keeping its biggest names, let’s look at what the Giants’ future lost with the addition of McCutchen. 

Bryan Reynolds, 22, OF
The Giants clearly have their own prospect rankings. Baseball America (5) and MLB Pipeline (4) ranked Reynolds ahead of Steven Duggar, who is the Giants’ No. 8 prospect by Baseball America and No. 6 by MLB Pipeline, after the 2017 season. Duggar is expected to compete for the Giants’ starting job in center field unless they make another big move like signing Lorenzo Cain. 

There’s a reason Reynolds is ranked so high though. The Giants’ top pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, is a switch-hitter who is primarily a center fielder, but like Duggar, he played all three outfield positions in 2017. 

"I think it's too early to dictate if he'll be in a corner or center," Nestor Rojas, Reynolds’ manager for the San Jose Giants, said to me in July. "He's really good and he has the tools to play center field. He's got speed and he's got range. He can do really well in all three." 

Reynolds slashed .312/.364/.462 with 10 home runs at Advanced Single-A this past season. He was the Giants' lone representative at the Futures Game and named San Jose Giants MVP. Even if he never unlocks his power, Reynolds is expected to be a solid big leaguer one day with well-rounded overall tools. 

[READ: How Reynolds went from undrafted to Giants' top 2016 pick]

Kyle Crick, 25, RHP
Crick was expected to be a future ace when the Giants took him No. 49 overall as a high school pitcher back in 2011. Control issues hampered him mightily. 

Down in the minors, Crick flashed dominance on the hill at times with a fastball that reaches the upper 90s. Still, command won the battle and the Giants turned Crick into a reliever. The move may have saved his career. 

As the Sacramento River Cats’ closer in Triple-A last season, Crick recorded six saves with a 2.76 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 29.1 innings pitched. Crick earned his call-up to San Francisco and was solid for the Giants. He put together a 3.06 ERA in 30 games out of the bullpen, giving a glimpse of what he can be in the future. 

Crick has always been full of potential. Now as a reliever, he’s starting to turn it into results at the highest level. The Pirates may have a future shut-down arm in the ‘pen, but in the Giants’ reload, there are plenty of in-house options that can do the job he was expected to do in 2018.