With the recent embarrassing outburst by demoted San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Derek Holland criticizing his team’s leadership, the discord among Giant players, coaches, and the front office is now out on the street.
There are a number of veteran “old school” San Francisco players who want to continue playing the game the way it was played in the 1970s– the operating philosophy of the San Francisco front office for decades.
Former General Managers Brian Sabean and Bobby Evans spent the better part of 18 years happily ignoring advances in MLB information and their real-world applications, which ultimately drove a once-thriving franchise into a spiral of mediocrity.
They took an organization that was able to win two World Series in 2010 and 2012, and accidentally win another one in 2014, and then did absolutely nothing to build a sustaining championship organization.
Highlights over the last four years include Bobby Evans telling a SF Chronicle sports reporter in June of 2018, “Building a [minor league] system has never been our ultimate goal. Our ultimate goal is to have success at the big-league level, which a strong system helps with but it doesn’t solve.”
And Evans’ mentor, Brian Sabean, openly discounted advanced analytics and embarrassingly prattled on about how “computers” can’t win championships.
Late last year Evans was finally fired, and Brian Sabean is apparently now in charge of making sure those new-fangled computer boxes in the Giants front office have adequate supplies of paper and ink.
Unfortunately, Evans and Sabean left behind a nasty pile of gifts that keep on giving: a group of overpaid, underperforming disgruntled veteran ballplayers who openly hate the current game and the changes happening around them.
It started in Spring Training when pitcher Jeff Samardzija spouted off about the Giants possibly using an “opener”.
“Where did the pride go from the players’ standpoint?” Samardzija bloviated.
“Where were the guys in Tampa Bay saying, ‘No, no, no, I’m good enough to go seven innings and get all these outs. You don’t need to do this.’ Everybody’s just accepting what they’re told.”
Bold advice from a financially secure veteran with a guaranteed contract making $18 million a year, directed at rookie players making somewhere around the MLB minimum and trying to stick with the big club.
I’m sure Samardzija would have bravely taken his own ridiculous advice when he was in his first years in the big leagues.
So a week ago, when Giants Manager Bruce Bochy and President of Baseball Ops Farhan Zaidi announced the Giants would use their first “opener” on Wednesday May 15th, where was Samardzija?
Why wasn’t the tough-talking jerkwad backing up his bold talk by urging Giants opener Nick Vincent to challenge Bochy and Zaidi and refuse to be an “opener”?
But then, that kind of empty-headed bravado has always been part of Samardzija’s bullpuff profile.
And as far as using an opener? Turns out nobody needs it more than Jeff Samardzija.
In the first innings of all his 2019 starts, he owns a 12.38 ERA. Over his 12-year MLB career, Samardzija has a 1st inning ERA of 5.45. Well yikes!
On another front, just before Spring Training this season, Madison Bumgarner sent a text to Manager Bruce Bochy informing him that “If you use an opener in my game… I’m walking right out of the ballpark.”
The next day Bumgarner claimed his comments were said as a joke. But guess what? Bochy obviously didn’t think it was a joke because at the time he immediately sent a serious reply to Bumgarner.
Good to know that Madison Bumgarner’s loyalty to the Giants, his fellow teammates and all Giant fans goes right out the window if he’s unhappy with something the front office does.
And Samardzija and Bumgarner aren’t the only disgruntled brain-challenged veterans.
In 137 games over the past two seasons, Buster Posey has hit a total of 7 home runs. He has only 2 home runs so far this season.
On May 5th, when Posey hit his second homerun of the current season, he circled the bases and came back to the dugout for the usual high fives.
As Giant players and coaches crowded around him and held up their hands, it appeared that Posey deliberately avoided slapping hands with hitting coach Alonzo Powell.
Powell was left with his arms up and his palms extended as Posey pointedly turned away from him. Maybe it was just an oversight, but the optics looked absolutely terrible.
Alonzo Powell was previously the Assistant Hitting Coach for the Houston Astros and no doubt brings the Astros advanced analytic approach to the game. Which the stodgy veterans in San Francisco likely were not happy about.
Then came the Derek Holland blow-up. Holland was demoted from his starting role to the bullpen after he put up a 6.75 ERA in his first seven starts of the season.
In a May 11th interview Holland told the media, “To be honest, I have no idea what they’re doing. I don’t mean that by Boch and them, it’s more from the front office.
We keep changing a lot of things. I did a fake injury, so I’m not happy about that.”
So Holland made sure that his “old school” Manager Bruce Bochy was not accused, just the Giants “front office”, which specifically means Farhan Zaidi.
A moment I’m sure made Bruce Bochy extremely uncomfortable as he completes his last MLB season.
Rather than confront Bochy and Zaidi, Holland made a classic weasel move and went directly to the media. He appeared to be clueless that, in accusing the Giants of making him “fake” an injury, he was essentially accusing his team of MLB fraud.
[Side note: all MLB player IL designations are overseen and approved by the Commissioner’s Office and have actual medical documentation.]
How admirable have Samardzija, Holland, Bumgarner and Posey been this season, leading the San Francisco Giants by the worst example possible.
These wealthy, empowered players are unhappy with the direction the Giants franchise has gone since the end of the 2018 season. The year they assembled a 73-89 win/loss record. In 2017 the team’s veteran “core” went a dismal 64-98.
And their performance so far this year? An 18-24 record to date, the third worst record in the National League, tied with Detroit for the 6th worst record in the Majors.
Normally the best answer to the back-biting, disgruntled multi-millionaire veterans in the San Francisco Giants’ clubhouse would be to dump them via the trade market.
But which MLB team would possibly want the embarrassing Derek Holland (and his equally embarrassing nickname, “Dutch”)?
For that matter, at this point what team would want to trade for Buster Posey (who’s owed a minimum of $55.8 million from July 2019 through 2022; $74.8m with an extension) or Jeff Samardzija (owed $27 million from July 2019 through 2020)?
Among the vocal dissatisfied millionaires in the Giants club-house, only Madison Bumgarner has any actual baseball worth as we approach the 2019 trade deadline. And the sooner the Giants trade Bumgarner and his tiresome red-ass act, the better.