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Murph: Takeaways from a week in Scottsdale that left us both unsettled and curious

© Rick Scuteri | 2020 Feb 22

The week the ‘Murph and Mac Show’ just spent in Scottsdale was a smorgasbord for the senses.

By the end, we hardly knew what to make of it all — nostalgia mixed with uncertainty; familiarity meshed with the total unknown.

In walked Bruce Bochy, carrying with him the sheen of glory, and the memories of a misty-eyed September afternoon at Oracle Park, saying goodbye to all that.

In walked new bench coach Kai Correa, with zero big-league experience, brashly assuring us that he knew what he was doing.

In walked Brandon Crawford, hair ever lush, but carrying the doubt of a declining bat — while telling us he was open to the new thoughts of the Gabe Kapler regime.

In walked Joey Bart, full of talent and the future, lending hope that everything would be OK, after all.

In walked Pablo Sandoval, and all of a sudden it was 2012 and he was rounding the bags against the Detroit Tigers not once, not twice, but three times in one Fall Classic game. It felt a very long time ago.

In walked Mauricio Dubon, the sort of Farhan Zaidi acquisition that gives fans hope; swapped for an asset the Giants no longer needed, he represented the youthful versatility that Zaidi so dearly prizes and thinks can win ballgames.

In walked Ron Wotus, the lone holdout from Bochy’s staff, his avuncular presence calming any jittery Giant nerves, reassuring all that someone in the dugout knew the Giants Way.

In walked Farhan Zaidi, the architect still constructing his vision some 16 months after his hiring, with a second losing season possibly staring him in the face.

In walked Hunter Pence, an unexpected blast of good vibes, ready to embrace it all. Then again, you get the feeling Hunter Pence would embrace any day, anywhere at any time.

In walked Gabe Kapler himself, body strong and healthy, vocabulary full of words like “collaboration” and “tunneling” and “engines” and “environments fertile for growth.”

And almost poetically, in walked our final guest — 84-year-old Felipe Alou, a Giant since 1958, telling us he wouldn’t be able to manage in today’s game and leaving us to wonder if the game missed the game Alou played — and Alou telling us that for all the language and meetings and “open communication” . . . “you still have to play the game between the two white lines,” he said, nodding towards the grass at Scottsdale Stadium.

It was enough to leave us skeptical, hopeful, doubting and optimistic all at once.

Will Kapler’s New Age stylings win the Giants games because of extra information on a swing path, or extra rest for a tired player, or extra intelligence in sculpting a varied lineup to defeat an opposing pitching staff?

Or will it all be window dressing, boardroom blather that masks the fact that the aging core is in regression, and no new prospects outside of Bart have any of the glow that the Posey-Bumgarner-Lincecum-Cain-Sandoval era had?

Questions abound: Where is the power going to come from? Will Mike Yastrzemski and Evan Longoria again crest the 20-HR mark, and if so, who will join them? Brandon Belt? Jaylin Davis?

Who on the staff will be the shutdown starter? If it’s Johnny Cueto or Jeff Samardzija, will either just turn into a trade piece in July? Does Zaidi know something about Kevin Gausman and Drew Smyly that we don’t — and again, if either player performs, will he be a Giant after August 1?

Is this all just building towards 2022 and beyond? And if so, is that a fair expectation for Giants fans who have to know that a deep retooling is necessary?

The black and orange brand remains strong, and inspires feelings of passion and curiosity from fans whose World Series dreams finally achieved still have them longing for more.

We leave Scottsdale unsettled, and curious.


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