What a strange and mostly awful year it’s been. Kobe Bryant and one of his daughters died in a helicopter crash*. The 49ers lost the Super Bowl* when they should have won it (and now, how shall I put this, they pretty much suck). The Lakers AND the Dodgers won their respective championships. Klay Thompson had a second catastrophic injury on the exact DAY that the Warriors were supposed to triumphantly return to relevance. A whole squad full of Hall of Famers died. The Olympics and Wimbledon were canceled.
*Yes, that really happened in 2020.
But it’s Thanksgiving week, and this is Together We’re Giants, so I think it’s time to remember what the Giants have made us thankful for, this year, and in general. I have a Letterman-style top-10 list, and I’d love it if you’d add your own favorites in the comments.
In reverse order…drum roll, please…
10. A bright future. It’s hard not to be frustrated by the loss of the minor league season and our resulting inability to see how the Giants’ prospects developed. But lately, since the Arizona instructional league ended, there has been a bunch of good write-ups on the Giants’ prospects. I particularly recommend this series by Roger Munter (This link is to the top 1-5 article, but links to his other ones (up to #50) are included in the article) and a recent top-30 write-up by the always excellent Melissa Lockard in The Athletic.
Just for fun, here’s a top-10 chart across several different sources.
9. A surprisingly entertaining and engaging 2020 season. Yes, it ended with a bit of a whimper–soooo close to .500 and a playoff spot, and $%&# Rob Drake(!). But there was drama, there were stirring comebacks, there was Kevin Gausman looking like Jason Schmidt 2.0, there was Brandon Belt having the best year of his career, there was Joey Bart’s debut, there was Brandon Crawford taking that fork that had been stuck in him back out, and there was Yaz. Always, always, there was Yaz. I can’t wait for the 2021 season.
8. Mike Yastrzemski. I just love that guy. Love. That. Guy. I don’t think I’ve felt quite such an attachment to a Giant since Ryan Vogelsong, and I think it’s for pretty much the same reason. Yaz has guts and grit, his road to the majors hasn’t been easy, and he’s inspiring. Vogey and Yaz are now both in the Willie Mac Award winners club. (OK, I’d put Matt Duffy–also a WMA winner–on that list, too.)
I enjoyed this 2020 highlights mixtape.
7. Brandon Belt. As you know, I’ve been a fan since Day 1, ever since that gawky 22-year-old broke into tears when Bruce Bochy told him he’d made the Opening Day roster in 2011. Ryan has been trying to trade him since 2012, but he’s still here and I’m really glad about that. I love his honesty, his sense of humor, and his occasional swagger. I always loved his blog posts, especially his hilarious movie reviews, but the most memorable post was his heartfelt and moving tribute to his wife, Haylee, after he made the 2016 All-Star team.
6. Our beautiful ballpark. I love that place. It really is almost a religious experience for me to be there (thus I nicknamed it “The Cathedral”), and I missed it so much this past season that it almost hurt to see it on TV. I will never forget my first in-person sight of it in April, 2000.
5. The late Willie McCovey. We lost Willie Mac between the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Will Smith, the 2018 winner, was the last to receive the Willie Mac Award from the hands of the man himself, and you can see him behind Mike Krukow in the video linked below. But we’ll remember him every single year when the award is presented, the greatest single honor a Giants player can receive.
If you don’t watch anything else about Mike Krukow’s speech at his memorial service, watch it starting around 6:45-7:10. I dare you not to cry.
4. The late Peter Magowan. I know that he didn’t like to take too much credit for “saving the Giants for San Francisco,” pointing to the group of investors that helped him do it, but it was his vision and his passion that drove that bus. Just think what we would have missed if he hadn’t kept the Giants from moving to Tampa Bay after the 1992 season: no Timmy, no Buster, no parades, no Barry Bonds homers, no stunning Cathedral by the bay. I get choked up every time I think of it.
We were at this game (Opening Day 2019), as were a bunch of other TWGers. Of course Mike Krukow got the tribute pitch perfect. He always does.
3. Buster F. Posey. Before Steph Curry turned a hard-luck franchise around for its beleaguered fans, Posey arrived in May 2010, and did it first with the Giants. He’s a great player and a better person, and I’m so glad we still have (at least) one year left with him. I missed him so much in 2020.
I’m not crying; YOU’RE crying!
A wildfire in California destroyed this 9-year-old girl's baseball card collection.
So her favorite baseball player Buster Posey surprised her on Zoom ❤️
(via @abc7newsbayarea) pic.twitter.com/Spzm45akfW
— ESPN (@espn) October 31, 2020
2. Three championships in five years, recently enough that I have a closet full of T-shirts and a shelf full of DVDs/books to commemorate them. Flags fly forever; those memories are priceless.
1. Greek Giant started TWG for us in September 2016 when Giants Extra abruptly shut down. He continues to maintain it for us even though he’s moved to Venice, Italy! I’m also thankful for all the great TWGers I’ve gotten to meet here and in person over the years.
Rule 5 Follow-Up
Last week I posted a rundown on the Rule 5 decisions the Giants had to make by Friday, Nov. 20. I predicted that Alexander Canario and Camilo Doval would be protected on the 40-man roster to keep them from being taken in the Rule 5 Draft. (Of course, after the news came out later on Sunday that Canario had shoulder surgery, I backtracked on my pick.) In the post, I also mentioned Gregory Santos as a high-profile prospect who was Rule 5 eligible but not likely to be protected because he hadn’t pitched above Low A. Here’s what happened:
To make room on the 40-man roster the following players have been designated for assignment:
• C Aramis Garcia
• IF/OF Chris Shaw
• RHP Jordan Humphreys
With today’s additions, the 40-man roster is now at 40 players.#SFGiants
— SFGiants (@SFGiants) November 21, 2020
The DFAs of Garcia and Shaw were no huge surprise. Shaw had been pretty much ignored all year and clearly didn’t seem to be on the front office’s radar. As for Garcia, the Giants had four catchers on the 40-man roster. Obviously neither Buster Posey or Joey Bart are going anywhere, and Chadwick Tromp showed more in his limited sample than Garcia did in his. It was noted that the Rule 5 decisions can tell you a lot about a team’s drafting and/or international free agent classes 4-5 years earlier. Garcia was from the Giants’ 2014 draft (2nd round), and Shaw was from their 2015 draft (1st round/compensation pick). Neither of those drafts has paid off in any significant way for the Giants to date–2014 first-rounder Tyler Beede could still work out, but other 2015 names included Steven Duggar, Phil Bickford (instead of Walker Buehler), and Andrew Suarez, and…meh.
No one predicted that Kervin Castro would be on the new 40-man roster list. This shows you what the Giants think about Canario (despite his injury), Santos, and Castro. Doval is a more typical protection move because he could actually pitch for the 2021 Giants. The Giants chose (as I predicted) to leave Tyler Cyr unprotected for a second straight year, and of all of their prospects who could be snagged in the Rule 5 Draft (and as you saw last week, it’s a long list), he’s the most likely to be taken. It’s worth noting that Tyler Rogers and Caleb Baragar, both of whom were valuable parts of the 2020 Giants’ bullpen and are likely to be integral going forward, were also left unprotected in previous Rule 5 years.
If Giants are crossing their fingers over any one omission from 40-man, it's probably RHP Tyler Cyr. Was close to a call-up a couple times this year. Ricardo Genoves is another player they left off, but it's harder to keep a catcher on your roster who hasn't played above Lo-A.
— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) November 21, 2020
The Giants have signed a few minor league free agents over the past week or two, and we’ll look at those at some point, maybe in December. But the next big deadline is Dec. 2, the Wednesday after Thanksgiving, when teams have to decide about their arbitration-eligible players. We’ll probably look at that list (again, a rather long one) next weekend.
In the meantime, please stay safe and be smart this Thanksgiving. Try to have a good one, 2020 notwithstanding. Lefty out.