SAN FRANCISCO -- The first question to Bruce Bochy during his media session at the Winter Meetings was about the use of openers. It's a question Bochy likely will be asked quite a bit in 2019, because his new boss has made it clear the Giants will be creative with their pitching staff, but another theme from Zaidi's own sessions with the media will be much more important to the manager.
Zaidi talked repeatedly about his desire to use platoons -- even noting that the Dodgers essentially had different full lineups for lefties and righties -- and Bochy is fully on board. Bochy was on the other side of the equation last year when the Dodgers mixed-and-matched their way to another division title, and he's ready to have a few more options with the Giants in 2019.
"I really believe in platooning when it's the right situation, I do," Bochy said. "Why not? It makes sense when the splits are that significant on a certain hitter. If you can get the right player (off) the bench, now you're getting everybody involved, you're resting guys, you're getting a better matchup. All these things make it easier for me."
Bochy has always used platoons with his own teams, especially with young players. On the current roster, it took Brandon Belt in particular a long time to gain his manager's trust against left-handed pitchers. But the last couple of seasons, the Giants simply haven't had the depth to truly embrace platoon life. Zaidi's main focus early in the offseason has been adding depth and talent to the 40-man roster, giving his manager the ability to mix it up and give guys a break against tough matchups.
Zaidi already has said he would like a platoon partner for Steven Duggar and Joe Panik could find himself splitting time with a right-handed hitter. There are others on the roster with splits that lend themselves to scheduled off days. Belt's OPS was about 200 points lower against lefties than righties last year, which could lead to Buster Posey getting more starts at first against lefties. Posey's OPS dropped over 100 points against righties and Evan Longoria also had a notable drop-off.
Pablo Sandoval and Alen Hanson were virtually unplayable against left-handed pitchers, but both mashed right-handers, and that could lead to increased time for them next season. Sandoval had a .816 OPS against righties and Hanson was at .781 with all eight of his homers.
Could you see Sandoval at third more often against tough right-handed starters? Hanson in left field on those days? Zaidi hopes to give Bochy additional options.
"We didn't quite have the depth sometimes to give a guy a break but I know that's something he likes," Bochy said of Zaidi. "He likes versatility and I agree. You've seen us move guys around, but to have a guy that's a good athlete -- to the point where he can play second and short and play the outfield -- those guys are invaluable for a team during the course of a season."
For more from Bochy, download The Giants Insider Podcast on our website and iTunes. The manager discussed openers, platoons, Posey's injury issues, Madison Bumgarner playing first base (seriously), his own future and more.