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How MLB proposal changes Gabe Kapler, Giants' preparation for season

How MLB proposal changes Gabe Kapler, Giants' preparation for season

The Giants are realistic. They knew when they reported to Scottsdale Stadium in February that they did not yet have the talent base of most other organizations, but they also figured they could cut off that gap by doing more prep work than any of their opponents. 

That work has continued even in quarantine, and Gabe Kapler regularly gets his massive coaching staff and analytics group together to simulate games and talk through scenarios. There's just one problem: The Giants have been doggedly preparing for the National League West opponents they'll normally see 18 times a year, but the ground underneath them might be shifting. 

The proposal from the owners to the MLB Players Association reportedly will call for reduced travel, with the Giants playing their NL West counterparts but also seeing significant action against American League West teams. That would mean the loaded Astros, the up-and-coming A's, and Mike Trout and the Angels. During an appearance on KNBR on Monday afternoon, Kapler said the staff is already preparing for a schedule heavy on the American League.

"We spent a lot of time on the Dodgers, we spent a lot of time on the Diamondbacks, obviously preparing for the Padres, etc.," Kapler said. "We just changed our approach and our gameplan. We are definitely going to be preparing for the A's, we are definitely going to be preparing for the Angels and the Mariners and more interleague play. We just have to know that that's at least a possibility at that point, which gives us a lot of work. I mean, we have a lot to do considering we weren't preparing for those teams as much and now that's definitely on the table."

There are positives and negatives to all that. A schedule heavy on the AL West could be tough, as the Astros and A's in particular figured to be two of the four or five best teams in the American League. This schedule would give NL Central teams at least a small advantage in an expanded playoff race. 

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

On the other hand, it would be a nice change of pace to see so much of Trout and also of the A's, and the Giants would unexpectedly get to face the Astros, the current bad boys of the sport, in 2020. And then, of course, there's the ultimate positive. 

[RELATED: Looking back at Giants prospects of 2013]

Talking about scouting Jose Altuve and Anthony Rendon means you're talking about baseball at all, and that's something we'll all take. Kapler thought Monday's developments were a good sign, and said he's "really optimistic" about the sport returning this summer.

"I think that from the players to the fans to the owners to the individual clubs, everybody is really excited about the prospect of playing baseball," Kapler said. "I think it's great that a proposal is on the table. I think it's great that it's getting examined. We've had lots of discussions about it internally and the way we think about it is we need to be ready for every possible outcome, for several different rule changes, for training in home cities or in spring training sites, and not to get too caught up in what's going to happen and preparing for that, rather than getting prepared for every possible outcome."

What we'll miss most with MLB Opening Day delayed due to coronavirus

What we'll miss most with MLB Opening Day delayed due to coronavirus

I might not ever be able to top Opening Day of the 2019 season. And unfortunately, I won’t be able to know that for a while.

Last year, around this time, I saw a tall man walk out of the visiting dugout at the Oakland Coliseum for the A’s home opener. Which, if the unwritten rules apply -- and they should -- that means categorically, this was Opening Day for green and gold fans.

“Beautifullllll Oakland,” the tall man in an Angels uniform said as he smiled and ran out onto the field.

I giggled to myself, and at his tongue-in-cheek quip.

That would be the last time I would see Tyler Skaggs in person. 

Mike Trout was making small talk with some of the A’s ground crew as he stretched next to Albert Pujols near home plate. Watching that was worth almost being run over by the golf cart.

The A’s side had a lot going on as well. 

I got to see young fan Anthony Slocumb reunite with his hero -- A’s designated hitter Khris Davis. Davis hit a home run that day. Then, for some reason, Coco Crisp asked me to squeeze in a quick Bernie Lean with him.

I was happy to oblige. 

Opening Day will not occur on Thursday -- it's originally scheduled day -- due to the coronavirus pandemic. And that really sucks. 

It's one thing for someone who covers the game. But as a pure baseball fan, it’s heartbreaking.

We have to wait for the simple things we have been looking forward to during the winter months.

Fans will have to wait to throw out boos, hisses and bang trash cans toward the Houston Astros after their cheating scandal rocked baseball's offseason. Because despite the delay, people won’t forget.

We won’t be able to see a first pitch thrown before the national anthem for a bit. That iconic photo of the American flag being draped over the outfield will have to wait.

There’s something special about the first day of the regular season. It’s romantic, it’s hectic and it’s one of the first times each team has a sense of hope for the upcoming season.

Even Mariners fans.

Each of the 30 teams has a fresh start and the possibilities are endless.

We have to wait to make the “162-0,” jokes on social media when our favorite team gets the W on Opening Day.

Stadiums that have hosted generations of families on Opening Days will be empty, clean and quiet. No hot dog wrappers, overpriced beer cups or sunflower seed shells to clean up. 

[RELATED: Braden recalls perfect game almost decade later]

Baseball will come back to us, that’s for certain. This delay is bigger than the game. When the 2020 Opening Day finally arrives, think about how wonderful it will be.

Until then, there’s something beautiful in knowing you can miss something so much. Especially a day that has given so much to us.

That’s pretty special. 

Why A's should be seen as big winners of revised Mookie Betts trade


Why A's should be seen as big winners of revised Mookie Betts trade

The A's likely were big fans of the original trade that would have sent outfielder Mookie Betts and pitcher David Price from the Boston Red Sox to the Los Angeles Dodgers. They're likely even bigger fans of the adjusted trade that reportedly was agreed to Sunday.

The main structure of the trade remains unchanged, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan. Betts and Price still are going to the Dodgers, while outfield prospect Alex Verdugo is the main piece going back to the Red Sox.

Since 2015, Betts' first full season in the majors, these are his finishes in the AL MVP voting: 19th, second, sixth, first and, most recently, eighth. Him departing the league for the NL can't be seen as anything other than a major positive for Oakland.

But hold on. It gets better.

As part of the original trade, the Dodgers also had reportedly agreed to trade outfielder Joc Pederson to the Los Angeles Angels in a salary dump. But for whatever reason, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported Sunday that the trade between the Dodgers and Angels now is off, citing sources.

Pederson is coming off a season in which he slashed .249/.339/.538 and hit a career-high 36 home runs to go with 74 RBI. That's a power bat that would have likely played a prominent role for a divisional rival, who now ... won't. It's always possible the two Los Angeles teams could come back to the bargaining table, but at least for the time being, it appears the A's lucked out.

[RELATED: Olson Q&A: A's star talks exit velocity, favorite actor, more]

Unless you're worried about a few good prospects on a team that just agreed to trade away one of the best baseball players on the planet, it's difficult not to view the results of Betts trade as a tremendous development for Oakland.