⏩ Giants FanFest:
Larry Baer: “One player can make a difference” to S.F.
The Giants haven’t done much roster-building in the wake of consecutive down years and aren’t expected to make the playoffs in 2019.
During Saturday’s FanFest, CEO Larry Baer, appearing during a Q&A session under a tent beyond center field at Oracle Park, offered a six-word sentence that provided hope to Giants fans.
“One player can make a difference,” Baer said.
Baer was reflecting on Barry Bonds, whose arrival in 1993 helped turn a 90-loss team into a 103-win team, while answering a question on Bryce Harper.
The Giants have interest in the elite freeagent outfielder, who could be a differencemaker as Bonds was 26 years ago, and Baer wasn’t downplaying how Harper dramatically could boost the lineup and fill one of the outfield holes.
Fans could use a confidence builder, too.
“The thing I’m very proud of with the Giants, and it’s not always successful — it was in ’92 with Barry — we want to be in the deal flow, so to speak. We want to be able to pursue players to bring championships back to the Giants’ fans,” Baer said.
“Bryce Harper is an amazing player. It’s very hard, and these are competitions, and I can’t handicap it. I don’t know where we are. But we’re giving it a shot. That’s all we can do.”
Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in Arizona on Tuesday, and the Giants have made no major improvements to date. Meantime, several players, including Buster Posey, have publicly expressed their fondness for Harper.
Saturday, Jeff Samardzija chimed in, “You want to improve your team, and you’ll always want a Bryce Harper on your team, always, 100 percent.” Evan Longoria added, “If he comes here, we’ll be happy.”
That Manny Machado and Harper are among nearly 100 free agents still unsigned is a sore point for players across the majors, including those at the Giants’ FanFest.
Brandon Crawford and Posey retweeted a national writer’s post that it’s “shameful” outfielder Adam Jones is unsigned. Posey also tweeted in response to Philadelphia manager Gabe Kapler’s quote that the Phillies are in a “win-right-now mode” after trading for catcher J.T. Realmuto.
Posey suggested every team should be in such a mode.
“Somehow, the notion that it’s OK not to be competitive for any window of time has become acceptable. That’s my issue with it,” Posey said of teams tanking by presenting an inferior product in a bid to build for the future.
“As a kid, you play the game, and you’re competitive. That’s what’s fun. You do it in high school. You do it in college. So why at the highest level, where you’ve got the best baseball players in the world, do we accept anything other than the best competition across the board?”
Posey didn’t direct his comment at the Giants. In fact, he tweeted he was “thankful for being in an organization that wants to win.”
Signing Harper would help reiterate that statement for many fans.
Amid Baer’s praise for Harper, he noted with emphasis, “He’s 26 years old, too.” That’s younger than Bonds was when Bonds joined the Giants.
Baer, manager Bruce Bochy and president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi met with Harper in Las Vegas on Monday, a meeting that lasted four hours, twice as long as anticipated. Baer was asked if the Giants’ brass tried to sell Harper on the Giants’ ballpark and fans.
“Overall, every time we go out, whether it’s talking to a player or draft pick,” Baer said, “the fact is, our fans are such a hugely persuasive argument to be a Giant. This is just stuff he said publicly and others have, too, is they love coming to this ballpark with the electricity and the vibe.”
Giants bullpen coach Matt Herges signs a nutcracker statue for a young fan Saturday at the Giants’ FanFest at newly renamed Oracle Park.
Patricia Ferrant reacts after meeting Giants players at the team’s annual free event for fans.
Vying for the title of cutest fan at FanFest was 1-year-old Victoria Santos, shown in a dugout.
Giants fans came prepared for rainy weather, with some donning colorful ponchos at Oracle Park.