Evan Longoria

Farhan Zaidi identifies main issue in search to improve Giants roster

Farhan Zaidi identifies main issue in search to improve Giants roster

SAN FRANCISCO -- For the first time in eight years, Farhan Zaidi will not be spending October watching his team participate in the postseason. But that doesn't mean it'll be a quieter month for the Giants' president of baseball operations. 

The Giants have to hire a new general manager and manager. They have to decide what they want to do in the bidding for Madison Bumgarner. The bullpen has holes, and will have two gaping ones if Will Smith and Tony Watson depart. 

Then there's the lineup, and as Zaidi went over the situation on Tuesday - he pointed to that group as the one that represents his biggest need this winter. Asked what specifically stands out about the roster deficiencies, Zaidi said the Giants simply must figure "out a way to generate more offense in this ballpark."

"When you look at our home record and road record, there's a feeling that if we could have sustained offense a little better in this park it would have put us in a better position," he said. 

The Giants finished just 35-46 at home, tied for the worst home mark in franchise history. They scored 271 runs at home compared to 407 on the road, where they went 42-39 and generally looked like a contender. 

Two of those road wins came at the end of August, when the Giants outscored the streaking A's 15-9 while winning both weekend games. Zaidi repeatedly pointed to that series, which got the Giants back to 65-65, as one that stood out given what happened afterward. 

"You looked at the rest of our schedule and we had a daunting road schedule in September, playing some very good teams on the road, and you felt like we were going to have to really make hay (at home) in the games and the series we had left," he said. "We went 6-7 on our last two road trips against some good teams and we were 6-13 at home. Obviously the offensive output in those 19 games was a major issue."

The Giants scored just 58 runs over those final 19 home games. With a city ready to erupt for any sign of life on Bruce Bochy's final weekend, the lineup got shut out twice and swept by the Dodgers. 

Zaidi said the major goal will be finding ways to be more dangerous at home, regardless of what position an option might play. That could ultimately lead to some changes, and less playing time, for core players. Buster Posey didn't hit his first homer at Oracle Park until the final homestand and slugged just .335 at home.

Brandon Crawford had a .209/.292/.269 slash line at Oracle Park. Evan Longoria crushed in away games but had a .658 OPS at home. Brandon Belt was at .709 with just five homers and 20 RBI.

While some of the newcomers had their moments -- Kevin Pillar and Mike Yastrzemski did hit for power at Oracle -- the only hitter with an OPS over .800 at home was Alex Dickerson, who had a .942 but had trouble staying on the field. 

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In future years, it may be easier to sell free agent hitters on coming to a park that will have new dimensions. But that may be a tough ask this winter, so the Giants likely will have to get creative with trades. If you've proven you can hit at Oracle Park in the past, you're going to be on the front office's wish list.

"For us to identify ways to improve in the ballpark, that's going to be a major goal," Zaidi said. 

Giants combine with Rockies to set MLB record in extra-inning defeat

Giants combine with Rockies to set MLB record in extra-inning defeat

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants nearly found a way to keep Bruce Bochy around. He can't retire if the season never ends. 

It seemed to be heading that way as a Tuesday game spilled into Wednesday, with the Giants and Rockies going 16 innings in a game that reminded everyone why MLB is changing its September roster rules next season. An MLB-record 25 pitchers were used before the Rockies prevailed 8-5

The Giants used 13 pitchers on a night when their starter, Madison Bumgarner, went seven innings. The 12th, Dereck Rodriguez, gave up a three-run Charlie Blackmon homer to the empty bleachers. For the second time in eight days, the Giants tied the MLB record for pitchers used in a game. 

“It doesn’t happen often,” Bochy said a half-hour past midnight. “I guess it’s good it’s September. We had plenty of pitching there. The guys battled hard, they really did. It’s baseball and we’re at the end of a long year. To play a long game like that, the way they battled, I’m good with that.”

This game wasn't without highlights for the Giants. Bumgarner and Buster Posey went deep in the same game for the third time, with Posey getting his first homer at Oracle Park this season. Evan Longoria later homered, giving the Giants three players with 20-plus homers for the first time since 2006. 

[RELATED: Torre offers Bochy retirement advice during final homestand]

But it was hard to enjoy any of that after a loss that lasted five hours and 31 minutes.

“I don’t particularly enjoy playing 16 innings,” Bumgarner said.

Giants' Madison Bumgarner convinced balls are juiced: 'No denying it'

Giants' Madison Bumgarner convinced balls are juiced: 'No denying it'

Madison Bumgarner isn't one to mince words, and recently the Giants starting pitcher said what everyone has been thinking.

The balls are juiced.

"There's no denying it," Bumgarner told the San Francisco Chronicle in a story published Friday. "I don't think anybody at this point is denying the ball is different. It's definitely different, and it's affecting a lot of the all-time stats."

The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and a simple glance at the home-run leaderboard serves to confirm Bumgarner's suspicion. While New York Mets slugger Pete Alonso is the only player thus far to reach the 50-homer plateau, there are another seven players in the forties, and another 47 in the thirties.

The league's previous home run record -- 6,105, set in 2017 -- was surpassed two weeks ago. There's still a week left in the season. Those are the only two seasons in MLB history with at least 6,000 home runs.

The Giants haven't had a single player with 20 home runs in any of the last three seasons. They already have two this year, with Evan Longoria knocking on the door with 19.

So, it's not as if the Giants' hitters haven't similarly benefitted from a juiced ball. Still, Bumgarner isn't a fan.

"I just don't like it when they change the game so much," he said. "This changes it a lot."

[RELATED: Giants rookie Webb trying to send message to front office]

Given that the current game has basically been turned into a nightly home-run derby, it's not surprising that a pitcher would complain. Of course, Bumgarner has only hit one himself after five previous multi-homer seasons, so maybe he's just frustrated he hasn't been able to take better advantage.