January 2011

Giants hope Banks can provide depth

Monday, Jan. 31

SAN FRANCISCO — According to contract information obtained by MLB.com, the Giants have signed right-hander Josh Banks, who has pitched in the Major Leagues briefly in each of the last four years, to a Minor League deal.

Banks, 28, is 4-8 with a 5.66 ERA in 27 career appearances, including 19 starts, with Toronto, San Diego and Houston. A second-round pick in the First-Year Player Draft by the Blue Jays in 2003, Banks spent most of last season with Houston’s Triple-A Round Rock affiliate, finishing 9-12 with a 4.04 ERA in 27 starts.

Banks made one appearance with the Astros last season and absorbed the defeat, allowing six runs in four innings.

Chris Haft 

SF signs hard-throwing righty Kroon to mnor-league deal

uesday, Jan. 25

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants announced Tuesday night that they agreed to terms with right-hander Marc Kroon on a Minor League contract with an invitation to big league Spring Training camp.

Throwing hard always has been Kroon’s primary asset. Control hasn’t. In 26 Major League relief appearances with the Padres, Reds and Rockies spanning 26 2/3 innings, Kroon struck out 23 and walked 26 while recording a 7.43 ERA.

Kroon’s last Major League appearance was June 29, 2004. Since then, the 37-year-old has pitched in Japan with the Yokohama Bay Stars and Yomiuri Giants.

Chris Haft

It could be Showtime for Giants

Thursday, Jan. 13

SAN FRANCISCO — At this rate, the Giants might have to join the Screen Actors Guild.

Showtime is hoping to create a documentary series on the 2010 World Series champions, whose accomplishments already have been captured on the Series DVD, “The Magic Inside” highlights collection and ComCast’s hourlong special that debuted last month.

That doesn’t count the documentary that Plan A Films expects to release in July on outfielder Andres Torres and the circuitous route he has taken toward claiming a World Series ring.

Entertainment Weekly initially reported Showtime’s interest in the Giants, though club insiders knew of the potential for a project during last month’s Winter Meetings, when film crews followed Manager Bruce Bochy and general manager Brian Sabean.

Entertainment Weekly said that the series will be akin to HBO’s “Hard Knocks” project on the New York Jets. EW reported that Showtime wants the project to be handled by Mike Tollin, whose vast experience with sports-related subjects includes ESPN’s “Bonds on Bonds” series in 2006, which briefly chronicled the life of Giants slugger Barry Bonds.

Filming would begin in Spring Training. Would this distract the Giants from their efforts to prepare for Opening Day? Probably not. Tollin is a consummate professional, and much of the videography would be done by Major League Baseball Productions, whose employees know how to behave in clubhouses and dugouts.

Chris Haft

Bochy salutes all-time saves leader Hoffman

Tuesday, Jan. 11

SAN FRANCISCO — Trevor Hoffman accumulated 457 of his record 601 career saves with Bruce Bochy managing him in San Diego from 1995-2006. Thus, it’s fair to suggest that nobody appreciates Hoffman’s handiwork more than Bochy, who’s entering his fifth season as the Giants’ manager.

Typically, closers are viewed as individuals who live for the ninth inning and don’t influence the success of their fellow relievers. But after Hoffman announced his retirement Tuesday, Bochy spoke of Hoffman like basketball coaches used to speak of Magic Johnson or Larry Bird.

“He made those guys better,” Bochy said, citing Padres setup relievers such as Doug Bochtler, Tim Worrell, Dario Veras, Scott Linebrink and Akinori Otsuka. “That’s what great players do. If you look at the bullpens he’s pitched in, it’s not by coincidence that the rest of the guys had great years, too.”

Hoffman accomplished this, Bochy said, by inspiring others to join him in his daily workouts and counseling unlucky teammates who absorbed a tough defeat.

“He was really a great pleasure for me to manage,” Bochy said. “He was so respectful to the game and his teammates and did whatever I asked. I consider myself fortunate to have had Trevor Hoffman all those years.”

Bochy began regarding Hoffman as a Hall of Famer after the right-hander reached the 400-save plateau in 2005. Apparently, Hoffman didn’t share those thoughts. He continued to punish himself in conditioning exercises, which, Bochy said, is part of “the beauty of great players.”

Added Bochy, “He never felt like he arrived as a player. He was religious with his workout.”

*****

The Giants will officially announce their Minor League managing and coaching assignments later this week, but most of them are known already, since the respective teams released their staff lists Tuesday or earlier.

As expected, Steve Decker will return as Triple-A Fresno’s manager.

The Giants switched personnel at Double-A Richmond, where Dave Machemer, most recently low-Class A Augusta’s manager, has replaced Andy Skeels. Machemer managed at Double-A from 2005-07.

Brian Harper left the organization and created the San Jose managerial vacancy for Skeels, who piloted that team to the high-Class A California League title in 2009.

Chris Haft

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