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Murph: Four reasons to be optimistic about 2020 Giants


© Jayne Kamin-Oncea | 2020 Feb 18


The last time the Jock Blog sat down to pen an ode to the San Francisco Giants Baseball Club, I believe it was the “Farhan has put us all in a pickle” Jock Blog, after he hired Gabe Kapler to skipper the club.

That was back in November. I blamed Farhan for the awkward and bad energy at the Kapler press conference. I noted how he had gone out of his way to seek Kapler, who at the time was surrounded by negative press over his past handling of sexual assault allegations against minor league players. I wrote that Farhan had put us all in a pickle, and now it was his job to get us all out of it by fielding a winning team.

And then Farhan went out and signed Yolmer Sanchez.

Rimshot!

I jest. I hear Sanchez is flashy with the leather.

Besides, it’s a new year. A new decade. A new me, sports fans.

Amazing what four months will do to a Jock Blog.

Because now I am here to call a truce. To wipe the slate clean. To start anew. To turn a new leaf. To offer an olive branch. Did I forget any cliches of peace?

It’s spring training, right? It’s downright un-American to not be pumped for spring training, as I was just saying to a Russian bot on Twitter.

And besides, I don’t want to spend all of 2020 miffed at the Giants for a roster of dubious worth. I am a season-ticket holder, and life is short. I need to feel good.

So with Giants baseball returning to the KNBR 104.5/680 airwaves Saturday — shout out to Jon Miller and Duane Kuiper, who never sound better than when in the Scottsdale Stadium booth — let’s channel the Mark McGrath sound byte from Adam Copeland’s sound board and … “Be positive, bro!”

Why should we find any positivity or optimism? Let us count the ways.

— Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija head up the rotation.

Yes, I start with two holdovers from the Bobby Evans regime. But what are ya gonna do? They are veterans, they are winners and, let’s be honest, they are two of the only players on the roster who you recognize. Don’t forget, Samardzija is coming off his best year as a Giant (3.52 ERA, 1.10 WHIP) and threw 181 innings, which in today’s world of devaluing starting pitching looms like a 300-inning campaign. And Cueto is back from Tommy John, proclaiming that his arm “feels like a baby”. You gotta love loose Spanish-to-English translations in the Cactus League.

— Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval are back.

OK, so we’re only two reasons deep on the “Why Be Positive, Bro?” and we are already playing the Bochy-Era nostalgia card. Heck, you could argue I played it in the above paragraph on Cueto and Samardzija, too. This is our lot in life. And don’t get me started on how Kevin Pillar could have been a right-handed platoon option over Pence. I’ll buy the company line that Pillar wanted to be an every day player, but Pence is willing to accept a platoon. I am buying that company line because the theme of this Jock Blog is to smoke the peace pipe. There. I came up with another cliche of peace.

— Farhan Zaidi wants to go young and energetic.

Behind the scenes, you would hear Giants front office types say the Giants of the last couple of years lacked youth and energy. Now, the Giants are trying to change their energy and youth level. Though naysayers will say Brandon Belt taking a called third strike is not anyone’s idea of upbeat energy, more positive types will say that things like Mauricio Dubon’s versatility, Wilmer Flores’ versatility and Jaylin Davis’ potential power are new and fresh things. Same with the arms of Tyler Beede, Logan Webb and Sam Coonrod. So, that’s something.

— Gabe Kapler’s unique brand of communication.

Despite the fact that every single one of us misses the bejesus out of Bruce Bochy, it’s undeniable that the Kapler hire brings with it a curiosity. How will the apple of Farhan’s eye deliver in his second tour of duty? How will his insistence on “collaboration” in the clubhouse translate to a runner going from first to third? How will he mold the personality of the team? How will his sculpted biceps look in the home creams?

These are the burning questions, kids.

Listen, I know that the 2020 Giants are full of so many question marks, they may as well be wearing the old ‘Riddler’ unitard from the 1960s “Batman” TV series. But maybe, just maybe, they turn a question mark into an exclamation point.

Why? Because it’s spring!

 

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