San Francisco Giants

Behind-the-scenes decisions come into focus for Giants as season winds down

Farhan Zaidi is in his first season as president of baseball operations of the San Francisco Giants.
Farhan Zaidi is in his first season as president of baseball operations of the San Francisco Giants. AP file

At the end of a 98-loss season in 2017, Giants executive Brian Sabean explained that the organization was not going to begin analyzing the team’s most significant issues.

Sabean said the “autopsy” performed by the Giants’ front office was executed months earlier, when the front office understood the season was destined to be a massive failure.

As the 2019 season winds down, first-year president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi is in a similar situation. Zaidi spent most of the year doing a deep dive into all aspects of the franchise and doesn’t have much left to learn about the club he inherited and has attempted to reshape.

The Giants understand their shortcomings well and have a thorough grasp of why the team is not headed to the postseason.

What takes place over the club’s final 15 games won’t do much to change the opinions of the Giants’ top executives, even if rookie starter Logan Webb throws a no-hitter or veteran first baseman Brandon Belt tacks on eight more home runs.

Zaidi and members of the new leadership team he assembled last winter already dismissed eight pro scouts earlier this week and are planning to make more changes in the coming days. The Giants will adjust scouting processes at both the pro and amateur levels and move forward with plans to further refine a player development system that made impressive strides under first-year farm director Kyle Haines.

Those macro decisions will matter much more than the micro choices Giants manager Bruce Bochy makes over the next two weeks.

If Bochy decides to give rookie Mauricio Dubón a few extra starts at shortstop or reliever Shaun Anderson some additional high-leverage opportunities out of the bullpen, it could instill some confidence in the team’s young players. A few extra at-bats here or there, however, won’t change the Giants’ long-term outlook.

The Giants may not have much to play for outside of helping Bochy notch his 2,000th career win, but that doesn’t make the team’s situation any less stressful for some of its key figures. A coaching staff that features several long-time members of the organization including third base coach Ron Wotus and first base coach José Alguacil hasn’t learned of its fate, which will make for a tense few weeks.

“Obviously, we’ve got some games left and these (coaches) are still kind of grinding every day,” Zaidi said earlier this week. “I’m sure I’ll sit down with all of them individually and hopefully with all of our players as well.”

Some of the young players auditioning for larger roles next year have exciting opportunities ahead, whereas some of the team’s veterans are left to ponder what kind of impression they made with the chances they were given this year. Ace Madison Bumgarner and closer Will Smith are preparing to embrace uncertainty and enter free agency, but starters who are under contract including Belt and Evan Longoria may feel unsettled about their own futures given Zaidi’s desire to shake up the roster.

Even catcher Buster Posey, a franchise pillar and nine-year starter, will soon confront some doubts regarding his job security as top prospect Joey Bart inches closer to the majors.

Decisions to retain or dismiss front office personnel and members of Bochy’s coaching staff are next on the docket for Zaidi, followed shortly by manager and general manager searches. How Zaidi navigates the first few months of the offseason will have a much greater effect on the expectations that surround the Giants entering the 2020 season than what transpires in the final days of their 2019 campaign.

Bochy’s last milestone and upcoming farewell have given the last two weeks a sense of intrigue, but decisions the Giants make off of the field should be followed more closely than what transpires on it.

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