Giants Start Shuffling Behind Scenes, Let Go of Nearly Half of Pro Scouts

SAN FRANCISCO -- For months, people throughout the Giants organization have expected sweeping changes once the final game is played. The first wave came a bit early. 

The Giants on Tuesday let go of eight members of their pro scouting staff while informing 12 others that they will be kept on, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said. Brian Johnson, who hit a memorable homer in 1997 and later proved crucial with advance work during World Series runs, was among those let go. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the others are Steve Balboni, Darren Wittke, Matt Nerland, Tim Rock, Glen Tufts, Bob Mariano and Andy Skeels, who managed members of the current core when he was in San Jose. 

"It's a good group of people that have made contributions to this organization over, in some cases, long periods of time and been part of some big moments in Giants history on the field," Zaidi said. "It's obviously sad in that respect, but obviously we're really appreciative of their contributions over that time and we wish those guys the best." 

The Giants had one of the larger pro scouting staffs in the big leagues, but the trend throughout the game in recent years has been to rely more heavily on video work. Zaidi said the Giants will replace some of the fired scouts, but he wasn't sure how many of the spots the organization will fill. 

The Giants already have beefed up their video and analytics staff and much of the traditional "advance scouting" work can now be done by watching clips rather than having a scout in-stadium. They now have two members of the front office traveling with the team and giving data to coaches and players before every game. Zaidi said that it's becoming more and more important to dedicate scouting resources to the low levels of the minor leagues, all the way down to the Dominican Summer League and rookie ball.

"Obviously there's a huge benefit to being in ballparks and the chatter that you hear and getting to watch BP and things that you may pick up," Zaidi said. "But if you're evaluating a pitcher who is on waivers, do you go back to a spring training report or a report from June, or are you going to watch the last 10 innings that he's thrown? 

"Ideally, you have a scout or somebody with pitching expertise doing that evaluation. It's still important in a way to have that expertise and people that, when they lay eyes on a player, whether it's in person or on video, can make that assessment. But maybe some of the mechanics of how the job is done are changing."

The Giants are also assessing their amateur scouting department and front office. Nearly everyone in the organization has contracts that go through just the 2019 season, so changes have long been expected. 

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