Webb says Giants need to ‘change the culture’ this year
The Giants are entering year five of Farhan Zaidi’s regime and year four with manager Gabe Kapler, a braintrust two years removed from an improbable 107-win season and NL West crown, but after last year’s disappointing .500 finish, their ace and growing clubhouse leader, Logan Webb, said he’s hoping to see a culture change this season.
“This is a big year for us to change the culture,” Webb said. “There’s a lot of moving parts and a lot of parts that want to stay here for a long time and start their own culture change. We always look back to the ‘10, ‘12, ‘14 teams, like, we want to start our own that.”
Webb was speaking from inside a lounge behind home plate at Oracle Park, where a message was adorned on the walls and a few decorations: Good vibes only.
“I want that all over our clubhouse,” Webb said. “I want us all to feel that all of the time. … I don’t want to sound like a hippie, but positive vibes. Stuff like that.”
Toward the end of last season, Webb suggested the Giants maybe “got a little too complacent” at times, while Kapler had expressed a similar sentiment at one of their lowest points, amid their first of two seven-game losing streaks, saying “I don’t think that we’ve brought our best levels of energy to the ballpark over course of the last couple of weeks.”
Those teams that paraded down Market Street, and even the one that infused the city with the excitement of one of modern baseball’s best pennant chases, had something in common: they felt like they had something to prove because few saw their success coming.
In other words, they had a chip on their shoulder.
It’s as cliche as it gets, but even athletes the caliber of Steph Curry thrive on the narrative of doubters.
It can be even more powerful when it comes from within, as it will this season for Webb and many of his teammates who were disappointed with the outcome of last season.
“Last year I didn’t like my season, necessarily,” Webb said. “I’m super excited to get out there and prove people wrong. That’s kind of the vibe I get around all these guys. That’s a pretty good vibe to have.”
Webb, who lives a scooter ride away from the club’s Arizona facilities, said he’s already seen evidence this offseason.
Kapler and Zaidi have both remarked at the number of players training there this offseason, and Webb estimated he’s seen 10 or so of his teammates around the complex (in addition to 100 or so minor leaguers, he said). Goes without saying, there’s a different energy about than this time last year, when players were locked out and cobwebs accumulated at team facilities.
“For all of us having a full offseason and not having to deal with the lockout and not really knowing what we were doing, it’s very important,” Webb said. “It’s cool to see because I’m in Arizona, I go to the complex all the time and there’s so many guys in there. … There’s music blaring everywhere. Everyone’s pushing each other to lift more weight than they did the day before. You don’t see that very often.”
One certainty this season: the clubhouse will have a different tone, with the departures of veteran leaders Brandon Belt and Evan Longoria. With Buster Posey’s retirement after the 2021 season, stalwart shortstop Brandon Crawford is the last remaining player from their World Series-winning teams.
Their surprising success in 2021, and the pressure to live up to it in 2022, looms a little less large than it did last year. Although this season comes with its own set of challenges, namely making it back to the playoffs in a division that includes the Dodgers and the Padres.
“It’s realizing that it’s not about teams in the past,” Webb said. “Let’s be 2023, all on the same page and all have the same goal. I think that’s how you start that, by bringing that into the clubhouse.”