SAN FRANCISCO -- There has been a theme at Oracle Park over the past month. The Giants have shown as many Warriors highlights and score updates as they can on their new $10 million scoreboard, knowing that's an easy way to get energy out of a crowd that's not always pulling it from the action on the field. After one particularly listless loss, the team's official Twitter account didn't even send out the final score, choosing instead to focus elsewhere ...
Well, the Warriors are done, too. They have a lot of decisions to make and a fascinating offseason ahead, and they'll remain in the headlines every single day before they move into a shiny new arena down the street from the ballpark. But for the time being, the only action at China Basin will be at Oracle Park, so as you dip your toes back into baseball season, here's what you need to know about the state of the Giants.
1. It's Not Going Well.
They're 28-38 and 16 1/2 games out of first place in the NL West. They're actually just four games out of last place in the entire National League.
2. Bruce Bochy Still Plans to Retire
Perhaps Kevin Durant will still be in the Bay Area in the fall. Bruce Bochy won't. Bochy announced before the season that this is his final year, and he has been given a few gifts from opposing teams as he makes his last tour. Most of them have been some variation of alcohol.
"Looks like I have a problem," Bochy joked recently, "But I don't, trust me."
The Giants hoped to use Bochy's announcement as their rallying cry, but he won't experience October baseball in his final year. You can still expect this to be a huge story, though. September will largely be about celebrating the man who helped bring three titles to the city and experienced so many other highs along the way.
3. Where is Bumgarner Going?
No matter what the Warriors do, the Bay Area will likely lose a legend over the next six weeks. The Giants intend to try and kickstart their rebuild by getting a top prospect or two for Madison Bumgarner, who has a 3.83 ERA but has shown much-improved stuff since the start of May.
Bumgarner submitted a savvy eight-team no-trade list that gives him some control over the process, but he still could be playing for one of those eight teams by the July 31 deadline. The Yankees have scouted him recently and the Brewers will get an up-close look on Saturday at Oracle Park. The Phillies and Braves are among the teams most often mentioned, although Atlanta might have filled that hole with the Dallas Keuchel addition.
The most interesting spot may be Houston. Bumgarner wants to pitch in October, and the Astros could throw him into a devastating postseason rotation with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.
4. That Fire is Still There
Yes, we have spent a lot of time here talking about how rough the season has been going. But Bumgarner vs. Muncy was highly entertaining, and the two face off again next week at Dodger Stadium. That's always a good time, and given that this very well could be Bumgarner's last Giants start against the Dodgers, it counts as must-see TV.
5. Hey Will, You're An All-Star
Closer Will Smith has brought calm to the ninth inning, finally. Smith has 16 saves in as many opportunities and is a lock to represent the Giants at the All-Star Game -- unless, of course, he gets traded. With a 2.03 ERA and high strikeout rate, he has been one of the best relievers in the game, and Farhan Zaidi may actually get more for Smith than he does for Bumgarner.
Not every contending team needs a closer, but just about every one could use a dominant left-hander somewhere in the late innings. Fellow relievers Tony Watson and Sam Dyson also could be popular names before the deadline.
6. Meet the Future
Rookie right-hander Shaun Anderson has three consecutive quality starts, a good fastball-slider combination, and flow that gives him a Thor vibe. He has been one of the big positives of this first half, and he'll spend the rest of the year continuing to try to lock down a rotation spot. Anderson has a 3.97 ERA through his first six starts.
7. What's With the Core?
Just about every key piece is hitting below his career norms. Buster Posey, in his return from hip surgery, has a .256/320/.404 slash line. Brandon Crawford is hitting .206. Joe Panik has a .661 OPS. Evan Longoria is at .715. Brandon Belt (.850 OPS) has the best numbers of the bunch but has been limited by knee and neck pain recently.
At some point, Zaidi is going to shake it up. The most fascinating part of the next six months might be seeing which big names are still around as the next generation starts to arrive.
8. Panda's Surge
Pablo Sandoval has a .869 OPS and eight homers, and has been the best pinch-hitter in the league. He has been a positive from the start of the year, and if he's still around after the trade deadline he should provide some of the second half's best highlights. Bochy always has Sandoval around as an option to pitch -- he has a scoreless inning already -- and has said in the past that he wants to let him play all nine positions in one game. That seems like a lock for late September if this season keeps going this way.
9. Who Else Will Be Around?
With two superstars out for an extended period and facing free agency, the Warriors may have to decide if it makes more sense to build for 2020-21. The Giants have the same thoughts permeating through their building, and the jury is still out on a number of young players who may or may not be part of the next contender at Oracle Park.
Tyler Beede has shown flashes of brilliance, but also has been wildly inconsistent. Dereck Rodriguez is now pitching out of the bullpen. Andrew Suarez is in Triple-A. Trevor Gott looks like a keeper and Tyler Austin could be a platoon piece, but Mac Williamson is now a Mariner, Mike Gerber's audition was short-lived, and Connor Joe and Michael Reed -- well, that whole series of transactions turned into a punchline.
A big part of this second half will be about finding out which young players can succeed here. It's frustrating at times, but also kind of exciting.
10. The Next Core
Speaking of exciting, the best developments for the organization have come an hour away in San Jose. Joey Bart has five homers in 18 High-A games and continues to look like a future star. Heliot Ramos looks like a top prospect, too; the 19-year-old has an OPS over 1.000 in his second pro season.
With pitchers Sean Hjelle, Jake Wong and Jose Marte also in San Jose, the Giants can start to dream about a bright future in San Francisco. They are excited about their high-upside draft class, and outfielder Hunter Bishop could join Bart and Ramos in the heart of a future lineup.