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Donovan Solano Jersey

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Stat line
228 PAs, .330/.360/.456, 4 HR, 23 RBI, 116 wRC+, 1.6 rWAR

Donovan Solano was not supposed to be a name we remembered this time of year. He was one of Farhan Zaidi’s earliest moves, signed to a minor league contract (like so, so many others) the day after his 31st birthday.

14 years after signing with the St. Louis Cardinals as an international free agent, Solano had provided all of 0.9 Wins Above Replacement in his career, per Baseball-Reference. He was supposed to be the minor leaguer that provides a little emergency depth in Sacramento, before being waived prior to ever seeing what Oracle Park looks like.

Well that didn’t happen. Solano was called up in May, and stuck with the team the rest of the year, platooning with Joe Panik, and then playing a utility role. He was the Giants best infielder, which is both a testament to magically flipping some switches and the rest of the Giants infield dramatically disappointing.

But he was good. Good at a time when he had no right to be. Good at a time when few others were.

Role on the 2019 team
Despite being the Giants best infielder, Solano’s role was as a pinch-hitter and backup middle infielder. This is understandable. He’s on the older side (in baseball years), with an invisible track record, and a nearly invisible contract.

It made more sense at second base to see if there was anything left in the Panik tank, and then to give Mauricio Dubon reps, than it did to play a guy with a limited long-term role.

It made more sense at shortstop and third base to play the expensive, long-term contracts of Brandon Crawford and Evan Longoria, respectively, than to find cheaper production elsewhere, when there’s no easy path to shedding the expensive production.

His role was backup infielder extraordinaire, something the Giants haven’t seen much of in recent years.

Solano finished third among Giants position players in rWAR. When your backup infielder who receives fewer than 230 plate appearances finishes third in WAR, then something has either gone terribly wrong or terribly ri…….no, wait, just terribly wrong.

Yup.

Role on the 2020 team
Solano’s role on the 2020 team will likely be exactly what it was in 2019: Backup middle infielder.

Barring a shocking trade, Brandon Crawford isn’t going anywhere. And the Giants will play him, though if his cold bat continues, it seems quite possible that Crawford will be platooned. Dubon will likely be the everyday second baseman (unless he’s the part-time second baseman and part-time shortstop), meaning there’s no permanent place for Solano, but lots of part-time space for him.

If he replicates his 2019 performance, the Giants will have no choice but to find a way to get his bat into an otherwise dreary lineup.

Expect him to see more than 228 plate appearances next year, though not a ton more. Unless, of course, he’s traded. Or unless, of course, he was a flash in the pan who doesn’t actually break camp with the team.

All of these options are distinctly possible.

How Farhan is Solano?

I’m going for three Farhans, assuming Solano is the player we saw in 2019. That probably shouldn’t be the assumption, but for the sake of this article, I’m pretending it is.

Last year Solano was very valuable, could play at least three positions, and made the league minimum. He was a good clubhouse guy, and happy to start one day, rest two days, and repeat.

Versatility and flexibility is the name of the game with Zaidi. Solano isn’t four Farhans worth of either of those things, but when he’s hitting 20% better than league average, he’s three Farhans worth.

[Editor’s note: Solano is also one of the candidates for Batter of the Year. If you think he’s the best the Giants brought to the plate in 2019, vote for him our poll.]

Jandel Gustave Jersey

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The Giants lost an All-Star early in free agency when closer Will Smith signed with his hometown Atlanta Braves last week.

Smith’s departure left a clear void in San Francisco’s bullpen, as he tied for fifth in MLB with a career-high 31 saves in 2019. Replacing Smith is a clear priority for Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, but he told The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami on Tuesday that he is in no rush to name a new closer.

“We’ve got some time to figure that out,” Zaidi said on “The TK Show” podcast. “I don’t think we need to decide that before Thanksgiving here, but one of the benefits for us of having made some of the trades we made at the deadline is it gave us the opportunity to see some of the younger relievers in our organization. Guys like Tyler Rogers, Jandel Gustave and Sam Coonrod. [These are guys] that could work their way into the picture and work their way into late-inning [situations] in 2020.”

Rogers, Gustave and Coonrod were bright spots as rookies last season. None of the trio pitched more than 30 innings, but each showed potential pitching out of the bullpen in August and September. Rogers pitched the fewest innings of the three (17 2/3), but was worth nearly a win above replacement in his appearances, according to Baseball Reference’s metrics.

[RELATED: Former Giants hitting coach Powell takes job in Japan]

No matter which of the three emerges, the Giants are going to have a different look in the late innings next season. That could include a free-agent acquisition as well, according to Zaidi.

“Our closer may be in the organization right now,” Zaidi continued. “We’re going to continue to shop around and see what options are out there, but we at least like the depth that we have in our group of relievers.”

Rich Aurilia Jersey

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2001 was a wild year. Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs. The Mariners won 116 games. Cal Ripken Jr. retired at season’s end and famously hit a home run in that game. When he rounded the bases, he passed the NL’s starting shortstop that year: Rich Aurilia.

Aurilia remains the top offensive character in San Francisco Giants history, with 1,226 hits as a shortstop and 1,292 games played. His competition is just Brandon Crawford, of course, but in an offensive era and in a lineup that was pretty well stacked, Aurilia stuck. He was never known for his glove, but in that same 2001 season, he led the National League in hits with 206. His 144 wRC+ means he was 44% better than the league average. He ranked 23rd by this metric, just a point about Jeff Bagwell, Mike, Piazza, and Carlos Delgado.

It was an impressive outburst of talent for the 29-year old, and it all came because Dusty Baker had decided in spring training that he wanted to bat Aurilia second. He had 2,125 plate appearances in six seasons prior to 2001, and had a just a bit below league average line of .270/.327/.419. It wasn’t unprecedented, but it was a bit surprising, especially for Aurilia himself, who wondered if Dusty Baker wanted him to change his approach.

That was not the case.

“Don’t change anything. Just do it in Spring Training and we’ll see how it goes and we’ll take it from there… just do what you do, Richie.”

He tells Renel his All-Star Game story and shows nothing buy joy and pride from his Giants days. He also recounts his final game, which certainly brings back some memories (his last game in SF was also Randy Johnson’s).

Aurilia played 921 games after this All-Star season and never got back there. That 37 home run season will always be one of the most bizarre outlier seasons in Giants history. That’s never what a player sets out to accomplish, but at the same time, it happened, so why not cherish that?

Mike Krukow Jersey

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Gerrit Cole likely will be the most valued free-agent pitcher Major League Baseball has ever seen.

Just about every team with the budget to do so will be breaking out the checkbook in pursuit of the 29-year-old.

One team that has been linked to Cole for several reasons is the Giants, and San Francisco broadcaster Mike Krukow is exuberant about the potential of seeing Cole in Orange and Black.

“Oh, hell yes, who doesn’t want Gerrit Cole?” Krukow said on “The TK Show” with The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami.

The Giants have a unique, familial connection to Cole, as shortstop Brandon Crawford famously is the brother-in-law of the former Astros ace. Cole and Crawford also were college teammates at UCLA.

“I’m thinking, ‘OK Craw, here’s the sales pitch of the year,’” Krukow said. “‘You gotta convince him that it’s just the place to be.’”

There have been reports that Cole, a Newport Beach native, would like to return to the West Coast.

Krukow also expressed an interest in Anthony Rendon, who just helped lead the Washington Nationals to a World Series victory over Cole’s Astros.

While the Giants would be incredibly lucky to land either of these superstar players, both are going to command contracts well north of $200 million.

[RELATED: Herges is first member of Bochy's Giants staff to find job]

It remains to be seen whether Farhan Zaidi will make the necessary financial commitment to land one of these players.

We’ll all find out this winter just how good of a recruiter Crawford really is.

Lefty O’Doul Jersey

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Few have eclipsed Lefty O’Doul as a baseball legend in San Francisco. He was known first as a pitcher and then as one of the game’s best hitters. Later, he managed the local Seals club for 17 years. He was always readily identifiable for his attire and was nicknamed “The Man in the Green Suit” for his penchant of wearing such an outfit daily. Even today, his sports bar is a city landmark.

In the majors O’Doul won two batting titles and nearly hit .400 in 1929. He finished with a .349 career batting average, fourth-best in history. After leaving the majors, he returned to the west coast and managed for more than 20 years, amassing more than 2,000 wins, a total surpassed by only eight men in minor league history. He was recognized as one of the game’s great hitting instructors. Men would travel from far and wide to have the Seals’ manager critique their skills.

O’Doul may have made his greatest contributions to baseball with his many trips to Japan. He trained countless Japanese in the skills of the game and fostered communication and interaction between those in the Japanese and American games both before and after the Second World War. He is also credited as one of the founders of Nippon Professional Baseball. For his efforts, O’Doul was the first American elected to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame.

Francis Joseph O’Doul was born on March 4, 1897, in San Francisco, the only child of Eugene and Cecelia O’Doul. Eugene was born in California to August and Catherine O’Doul. Cecelia, nee Suhling, was born in California to German-born parents. Eugene supported his family as a butcher in a slaughterhouse. He passed away during the 1910s.

O’Doul, known as Frank, grew up in the Butchertown district of San Francisco, the center of the city’s meat-packing industry, an area now known as Bay View-Hunter’s Point. He and his family lived out their lives in the area. It was a tough neighborhood that constantly pitted the kids of Irish parents against those of Italian descent in nearby North Beach. O’Doul fought and identified with the Irish boys but he was more Irish in name than in background. His father was of French descent and his mother’s heritage was German. The only Irish blood came from his father’s mother.

O’Doul’s road to baseball began in 1912 at the Bay View School. The school’s baseball coach, a woman named Rosie Stoltz, helped develop his fundamentals. As O’Doul, a lefthander, later noted, Stoltz “taught me the essential fundamentals of the game. She taught me to pitch, field and hit.” Their club won the city championship that first year. The following year, at age sixteen O’Doul quit school to join his father in the slaughterhouse. He worked six days a week, playing baseball on Sundays for amateur and semi-pro clubs. Late in his teen years, O’Doul made a name for himself locally as a member of the undefeated Native Sons team.

At the end of 1916 O’Doul, a lefthanded pitcher, was plucked off a semi-pro club by his hometown San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League. He appeared in three games for the Seals in 1917, recording no decisions, before he was farmed out to Des Moines of the Western League in May, where he pitched in 19 games with an 8-6 record. With San Francisco again in 1918, O’Doul pitched in 49 games, posting a 12-8 record and a 2.63 ERA. He enlisted in the Navy, and was drafted by the New York Yankees on September 21,1918. O’Doul and George Halas were the only two Yankees to enter camp in shape and ready to play in 1919. O’Doul was fresh from playing winter ball, and Halas kept in shape with naval training teams playing football and basketball.

O’Doul impressed quite a few in camp, posting a mark of 8 3/5 seconds sprinting 75 yards; however, he hurt his arm during a throwing contest. He appeared in only 19 games for New York, pitching only three times, but remained with the club all season pinch-hitting, tossing batting practice and doing whatever was needed. His day-to-day services that year though went mostly unnoticed. For example, prior to a doubleheader one day, rain was pouring down. Figuring the games would be cancelled, O’Doul and teammate Chick Fewster took off for Belmont Park race track. Returning home later, they noticed a newspaper which posted the score of the first game with an update of the second game. Fearing reprisal, the two quietly slipped into the clubhouse the following day. Manager Miller Huggins never said a word; he hadn’t missed them.

O’Doul played winter ball at the end of the season to get his arm in shape. Just a few days before Babe Ruth was traded to the Yankees, he and O’Doul met in an exhibition game in California. O’Doul struck Ruth out in his first two at bats, but Ruth homered the next time up. O’Doul appeared in only 13 games for the Yankees in 1920, but again stayed on the roster all season. In January 1921 he was optioned to San Francisco, by way of the Vernon club. O’Doul had his breakout season for San Francisco that year. In 47 games and 312 innings, he posted a 25-9 record and a 2.39 ERA. He also batted .338 in a total of 74 games. On December 6 the Yankees exercised their option on O’Doul, and brought him to spring training.

Once again the Yankees gave O’Doul little playing time. He appeared in only eight games in 1922; however, he was with the pennant-winning club the entire season. On June 23 the Yankees traded Chick Fewster, Elmer Miller, Johnny Mitchell, $50,000 and a player-to-be-named to the Red Sox for Joe Dugan and Elmer Smith, one in a slew of tranasactions between the two clubs during the era. O’Doul found out on September 29 that he was the player-to-be-named. Miller Huggins decided to leave him off the postseason roster despite the fact he was the Yankees’ only lefthanded pitcher. He remained with the club to pitch batting practice and sit on the bench during the World Series. The Yankees formally released him to Boston on October 12.

O’Doul spent all of 1923 with the Red Sox, pitching in 23 games, including his only major league start on April 21, the fourth game of the season. Five days later, O’Doul notched his only big league victory, a 5-4 win over the Yankees. But on July 7, as Cleveland was clobbering Boston 23-7, he gave up a record 13 runs in the sixth inning. On February 2, 1924, the Red Sox sent the 26-year-old O’Doul to Salt Lake City of the Pacific Coast League. He appeared in 140 games, showcasing a .392 batting average and a 7-9 won-loss record. Suffering chronic arm trouble, he gave up pitching and became a full-time outfielder, but he acknowledged his deficiencies with the glove. One of his favorite stories, true or not, concerned a man who signed O’Doul’s name to a bad check in a bar. O’Doul told the bartender, “The next time somebody comes in here and says he’s me, take him out in the back and have somebody hit a few balls to him. If he catches them you know he’s a phony.”

In 198 games for Salt Lake in 1925, O’Doul hit .375 with 309 hits and 24 home runs. On September 12 he was purchased by the Chicago Cubs for $50,000, but he never played for the club. With Hollywood in the PCL in 1926 he batted .338 with 223 hits and 20 home runs. Back with San Francisco in 1927, O’Doul won the first-ever PCL most valuable player award, batting .378 with 278 hits and 33 home runs. On October 4 he was drafted by the New York Giants. Returning to the majors at age 31, O’Doul broke his ankle in the seventh game of the 1928 season, and missed six weeks. He managed to hit .319 in 94 games in left field. On October 29 he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies with cash for Freddy Leach.

O’Doul, a lefthanded hitter, was among the elite in 1929, finishing second in the MVP voting to Rogers Hornsby, 60 votes to 54. He played in every game for the Phillies, hitting a league-leading .398, and adding 122 RBI and 32 home runs. He also led the league with 254 hits and a .465 on-base percentage. He had another outstanding year in 1930, batting .383 with 97 RBI and 22 home runs. Nevertheless, he was traded to the Dodgers after the season with Fresco Thompson for Clise Dudley, Jumbo Elliott, Hal Lee and cash. O’Doul hit .336 for Brooklyn in 1931. On January 21, 1932, he signed a new contract for $4,000, even though it called for a 5 percent pay reduction. He even enclosed a note with it thanking Brooklyn management for treating him nicely during 1931 when he was in a batting slump. (Salaries were being cut all around the majors because the Depression was hurting attendance.)

O’Doul hit .368 in 1932 to capture his second batting title. But when his average dropped to .252 in the first 43 games of 1933, he was traded to the Giants on June 16 with pitcher Watty Clark for first baseman Sam Leslie. He joined the Giants for the pennant drive, batting .306 in 78 games. That summer O’Doul made his only appearance in an All-Star Game, as an unsuccessful pinch-hitter. The Giants won the pennant and met the Washington Senators in the World Series. He made his only at-bat count. In the sixth inning of Game 2 he pinch hit after Mel Ott was intentionally walked to fill the bases. O’Doul singled to knock in Hughie Critz, and Bill Terry and later scored. The six-run inning led to a 6-1 New York victory.

After 83 games with the Giants in 1934, O’Doul’s major league career ended with some stellar figures: a .349 batting average, .413 on-base percentage, and .532 slugging percentage in 3,264 at bats. San Francisco offered O’Doul the job managing his hometown Seals, but he was still under reserve by the Giants. He requested his release from manager Bill Terry. The Giants originally wanted $4,000 from the Seals, but O’Doul was a ten-year player who would have to clear waivers in the majors before he could be sent down. Rather than jamming him up, the Giants granted his unconditional release on February 16, 1935.

O’Doul managed the Seals through 1951. On November 3, 1937, San Francisco owner Charlie Graham gave him a contract to manage the club “for life.” The Seals won the championship in 1935 and took four straight pennants from 1943-1946. O’Doul was mentioned many times as a potential major league manager, but it never happened. He was named Minor League Manager of the Year in 1945 by The Sporting News.

After leaving San Francisco, O’Doul continued managing other Pacific Coast League teams: San Diego, 1952-54; Oakland, 1955; Vancouver, 1956; and Seattle, 1957. He currently ranks ninth on the all-time victory list for minor league managers with a 2,094-1,970 record. On September 16, 1956, at age 59, O’Doul went to bat for his Vancouver Mounties against Sacramento. The opposing manager pulled in his outfielders. O’Doul knocked the ball over the centerfielder’s head for a triple and later scored. After the National League Giants relocated to San Francisco, O’Doul served as a part-time hitting instructor from 1958-1961. He was a renowned baseball teacher, especially of hitting. Over the years, O’Doul tutored some of the best in the game. Joe and Dom DiMaggio started their careers with his San Francisco clubs. His many other pupils included Ted Williams, Willie Mays and Willie McCovey.

O’Doul was a scratch golfer, regularly shooting in the seventies, and played nearly every day for years. He ran into trouble with San Diego management when he insisted on a clause in his contract granting him a daily round of golf. He played in the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am Tournament from 1948-1954, winning the pro-am portion in 1949 and 1954. In 1955 he opened a pitch-and-putt course in San Francisco. He played golf with numerous baseball men as they traveled through California, such as former teammate Babe Ruth, and was a regular partner with lifelong friend Joe DiMaggio.

In 2002 O’Doul was elected to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame for his promotion of the sport, particularly in helping to restore friendly relations between the United States and Japan after World War II. He first went to Japan, the Philippines and China at the end of 1931 as part of an exhibition tour organized by former major leaguer Herb Hunter, who had made numerous similar trips. They were joined by Frankie Frisch, Lou Gehrig, Lefty Grove and Al Simmons.

In October 1932 O’Doul went back to Japan for nearly three months to help train ballplayers at the Big Six colleges, Hose, Imperial, Keio, Meji, Rikkio and Waseda. He coached the hitters and outfielders, Ted Lyons taught pitching and Moe Berg showed his catching skills. The men conducted about 40 lessons at each school. Members of the royal family attended, including Prince Chichibu. The Americans also participated in exhibition games that drew crowds of well over 60,000. One day, O’Doul and Lyons were walking along Tokyo’s waterfront with a camera taking “moving pictures.” They were arrested for violating Japan’s strict espionage laws. After they were identified, the American ballplayers were cordially treated at the precinct and happily granted unlimited access with their camera; however, they were arrested again by an officer in another precinct.

Lefty returned to Japan at the end of 1933, and organized a tour to the country the following year. After being rebuffed by National League officials, he recruited an impressive crew of American Leaguers, including Earl Averill, Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Charlie Gehringer, Lefty Gomez, Connie Mack, Babe Ruth and Earl Whitehill. In 1935 and ’36 O’Doul helped organize tours of the United States by professional Japanese players. He also helped form the Japanese professional baseball league and is credited with naming the Tokyo Giants after his last major league club. He spent months in Japan at the end of 1936 and into 1937, helping to oversee the building of Korakuen Stadium in Tokyo.

O’Doul was deeply distressed as Japan slipped into militarism. He stayed away from the country for a time and took the bombing of Pearl Harbor as a personal affront. In October 1949, though, O’Doul took his San Francisco Seals to Japan to foster reconciliation between the countries. He even pitched at age 52. He was roundly and enthusiastically greeted by all, including Emperor Hirohito and Prince Akihito. The club drew 500,000 to 10 games.

O’Doul flew to Japan with Joe DiMaggio for a personal appearance tour in 1950 and led a group of all-stars to the country for a series of exhibition games in 1951. That group included Yogi Berra, Joe and Dom DiMaggio, Ferris Fain, Eddie Lopat, Billy Martin, Mel Parnell and Bobby Shantz. On November 13, 1951, O’Doul’s All-Stars lost 3-1 to a Pacific League all-star squad. It was the first time an American professional team lost to a Japanese professional team.

At the end of 1952 O’Doul went to Japan on another training mission, and he joined the New York Giants on a trip to the Orient the following year. It was the first time an entire major league team traveled to Hawaii, Japan and Manila. O’Doul and family accompanied Joe DiMaggio and his new bride, Marilyn Monroe, for two weeks in Hawaii and Japan in January and February 1954. In November O’Doul returned to take a Japanese club on a tour of Australia.

In October 1960 O’Doul traveled to Japan with the San Francisco Giants for a series of exhibition games and personal appearances. He initiated discussions of a trans-Pacific World Series to be played every year between Nippon Professional Baseball and the American major league champions. A representative of Commissioner Frick met with leaders of the two Japanese leagues to discuss the possibility. In January 1961 O’Doul accompanied Honolulu owner Nick Morgan to Japan and Manila in an effort to recruit ballplayers for the new PCL club.

O’Doul retired from managing after the 1957 season at age 60. Shortly thereafter, he opened a restaurant in San Francisco. Lefty O’Doul’s is still a popular hangout and is one of the oldest continuous sports bars in the country, if not the oldest. He married twice, the first time in 1924 to Abigail Lacey, a Californian. His second marriage took place in 1953 to Jean Goodman. Neither marriage produced children, but he was known in San Francisco for catering to children. He made countless public appearances, entertaining audiences with his treasury of baseball stories. He was a soft touch for anyone who was down and out. “Why shouldn’t I help the guy?” he would say. “He’s in trouble.”

On November 12, 1969, O’Doul suffered a stroke and was taken to French Hospital in San Francisco. He died on December 7 of a massive coronary blockage at age 72. He was interred at Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in Colma, California.

Larry Doyle Jersey

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A left-handed hitter with power and speed who batted .290 over the course of 14 seasons in the National League, “Laughing Larry” Doyle carried an unusually potent bat for a Deadball Era second baseman, but he’s even more well-known today for his kindly nature and sunny disposition. “It’s great to be young and a New York Giant,” he famously remarked to Damon Runyon in 1911, when he helped his team to its first of three consecutive NL pennants. Popular with his teammates as well as manager John McGraw, Doyle was the Giants field captain for more than five years, filling in for McGraw when he was ejected or serving a suspension. “Doyle is easily the best ball player on the Giants, a hustling, aggressive, McGraw style of player, full of nerve, grit and true courage,” wrote Hugh Fullerton in 1912. “I think he is gamer than his manager, and in some respects a better baseball general.”

The son of a coal miner, Lawrence Joseph Doyle was born on July 31, 1886, in Caseyville, Illinois. For five years Larry worked as a coal digger in the mines near Breese, Illinois, 39 miles east of St. Louis. “When you first go down into the earth there comes a sudden realization of what might happen to you,” he wrote in 1908. “Nowadays the mines can be lighted by electricity, and it’s comparatively simple to go through a mine. But when you get caught without a light in some deep labyrinth in the bowels of the earth, it’s no picnic.” Larry played semipro baseball on weekends, earning anywhere from nothing to $2 per game, depending on the size of the audience. In 1906 he quit mining to play professionally for Mattoon, Illinois, of the Kentucky-Illinois-Tennessee (Kitty) League. Larry undoubtedly gained a new appreciation for the relative safety of his new occupation when six miners of the Breese & Trenton Coal Company lost their lives on December 22 of that year in what came to be known in later years as the 1906 Breese Mining Disaster.

After a year in the Kitty League, Doyle spent the first half of the 1907 season playing third base for Springfield of the Three-I League, batting .290 in 66 games. The club president was Dick Kinsella, the portly proprietor of a Springfield paint shop and an important man in local Democratic politics. Kinsella parlayed Doyle’s talents into a lively bidding war, with the Detroit Tigers and Washington Senators each offering $4,000, but McGraw raised the bid to $4,500 after receiving a favorable report from his old teammate Dan Brouthers, whom he had dispatched to the Illinois capital to look over the 20-year-old Doyle. At the time $4,500 was the highest price ever paid for a minor leaguer, but the Giants shattered the record a year later by paying $11,000 for Rube Marquard, with Kinsella again brokering the transaction. “Sinister Dick,” as he was called because of his dark complexion, went on to a long and successful career as a scout for the Giants, discovering Ross Youngs, Frankie Frisch, Carl Hubbell, George Kelly, and Hack Wilson, among other stars.

Doyle arrived in New York on July 21, 1907. “The train from Springfield dumped me off in Jersey City because Grand Central wasn’t even built then,” he recalled. “When I got off the ferry, I walked over to a cop. ‘How do I get to the Polo Grounds?’ I asked. ‘See that El over there? Take it to the last stop,’ he said. I got off at the last stop and looked around. I didn’t see any Polo Grounds. All I saw was the ocean. I was at South Ferry, the wrong end of the line.”

Larry started his first major-league game the next day against the Chicago Cubs, playing second base for the first time ever in his professional career. In the seventh inning, with Frank Chance on third base, the nervous rookie fielded Artie Hofman’s slow roller and hesitated, unsure whether to throw to first or home. Chance scored, putting the Cubs up 2-0, which was the eventual final score. Doyle wasn’t charged with an error, and the run was simply an insurance run, but later generations of sportswriters exaggerated the game into an almost mythical example of first-game jitters, with Larry booting the ball all over the field and costing a victory for the Giants. Though he wasn’t nearly that bad, Larry still was disappointed in his performance. McGraw simply patted him on the back and said, “Forget it. When you learn more about second, you won’t make mistakes like that.”

Replacing the 38-year-old Tommy Corcoran in the everyday lineup for the rest of the season, Doyle batted .260 with only three extra-base hits in 227 at-bats. He committed 26 errors in 69 games for a .917 fielding percentage, an extraordinarily poor record for a second baseman. With the hefty price the Giants had paid for his contract, New York fans and writers felt cheated. “This is the summer of ‘Larry’ Doyle’s prosperity or discontent,” wrote the New York Evening Telegram at the start of spring training in 1908. “Doyle was so streaky last year that it was almost out of the question to get any fixed line on his ability. One day he would be a dead wall which nothing could pass, and the next he wobbled on every hit that came to him, like a boxcar on a coal railroad. Some days he could hit the ball on both sides of the seams, and on other days he missed all sides. Some baseball men are confident that it is merely a question of time when Doyle will establish himself as a sterling, dependable player. If they have failed to read the signs right they are willing to be sentenced to eat five-dozen hard-boiled eggs and 18 caviar sandwiches as punishment.”

Nobody ended up eating any caviar sandwiches, though Doyle did struggle at the start of 1908; after his fielding error and base-running blunder cost the Giants a 1-0 loss to the Cardinals on May 20, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote, “Mr. Doyle has been analyzed, assayed, dissected and microscopically scrutinized to the end that the peach part of him is entirely absent. In fact, even to the naked eye Mr. Doyle’s appearance at League Park yesterday was positively citric. He contributed a bunch of fat-headed work that would drive a real manager like McGraw to the woods to think it over.” But as the season went on, developing into one of the most exciting in history, Larry suddenly became the team’s hottest hitter, raising his batting average above .300.

“I hung on to Doyle when the New York fans and critics were calling for his scalp,” McGraw bragged to some friends in early September, “and today I would not trade him for any man playing baseball. Think of it, in the last series at Pittsburgh and Chicago Doyle got in no less than 18 safe hits. Every time he went to bat he hit the ball clean and hard. There is nothing like having confidence in one’s own judgment.” On September 8, however, Doyle was badly spiked by John Hummel of the Brooklyn Superbas. He was on crutches for nearly the rest of the season, returning only to pinch-hit for Christy Mathewson in the final game of the season against the Cubs. Larry lofted a foul to catcher Johnny Kling, who made the catch despite having two beer bottles, a drinking glass, and a derby hat thrown at him.

Over the next four years Larry Doyle averaged 36 stolen bases per season and established himself as one of the National League’s greatest stars. In 1909 he led the NL with 172 hits and finished second in home runs (6), third in slugging percentage (.419), and fourth in batting average (.302). The next year Doyle batted .285 and ranked third in home runs (8) and fourth in runs scored (97). After showing up on time for spring training for the first time in three years, ten pounds lighter and in the best shape of his life, the 24-year-old captain of the Giants elevated his performance to an even higher level in 1911. Doyle batted .310 and was selected as the second baseman on Baseball Magazine’s NL All-America team, leading the league in triples (25) and finishing second in slugging percentage (.527), fourth in home runs (13), and fifth in runs (102), and seventh in on-base percentage (.397). In Game Five of that year’s World Series, Larry tagged up and scored the winning run on a fly ball in the bottom of the 10th inning, but umpire Bill Klem later stated that he never touched the plate and would’ve been called out had the Philadelphia Athletics tagged him before leaving the field.

At the height of his stardom Doyle earned an annual salary of $8,000, only $3,000 less than his road roommate Mathewson. He invested in Florida real estate, and he and Matty studied the stock market intensely. In 1912 Doyle again reached double figures in home runs and posted career highs in batting average (.330) and RBIs (90), winning the Chalmers Award as the NL’s most valuable player. The prize, of course, was a Chalmers automobile. “I didn’t even know how to put gasoline into it,” Larry recalled. The following season he might have wished he’d remained ignorant; a week before the end of the season he lost control of the car and crashed it into a tree, bruising his arm and shoulder. Doyle missed the end of the regular season but recovered sufficiently to play in the World Series, though he managed only three hits and committed three errors in the five games (the Giants losing for the third straight year). Defense undoubtedly was the former third baseman’s biggest weakness. Doyle shaded closer to second base than other second basemen, preventing him from covering as much ground on the first-base side, and he also reportedly had trouble coming in to field slow grounders.

In the fall of 1913 Larry married Gertrude Elizabeth McCombs of Miami. After turning down a two-year contract from the Federal League that would have paid him $27,000, Doyle returned to the Giants in 1914 and batted a meager .260, adding further evidence to McGraw’s theory that a player always needed a year or so to adjust to marriage. The next year, however, he rebounded to win the NL batting title with a .320 average, making Baseball Magazine’s All-America team for the second time. In 1916 Doyle slumped once again. This time the Giants traded him to the Cubs on August 28 in a five-player deal that was essentially Doyle for Heinie Zimmerman. Reunited with his old friend Fred Merkle on the right side of the Chicago infield, the veteran second baseman batted a career-low .254 in 1917. On January 4, 1918, the Cubs packaged him to the Boston Braves in a deal for pitcher Lefty Tyler, but four days later the Giants reacquired him, announcing that he would assume pinch-hitting and utility duties. He missed much of the 1918 season with illness but regained his starting position the next year, appearing in 100 games at second base and batting .289 with seven home runs. The 33-year-old Doyle remained a regular in 1920, closing out his major-league career by batting .285 in 137 games.

Over the next two decades Larry Doyle worked for the Giants in various posts, including managing their minor-league affiliates in Toronto and Nashville. The Doyles raised a son, Larry Jr., and two daughters, Doris and Edith, before Gertrude passed away in 1937. A smoker and former coal miner, Larry was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1942. Word of his illness reached Blanche McGraw and Jane Mathewson, and the widows of his former manager and former roommate teamed with NL president Ford Frick to have him moved to the Trudeau Sanitarium in Saranac Lake, New York, where Matty had convalesced almost 20 years earlier. Larry and Mrs. Mathewson remained close over the years, the old ballplayer referring to her as “my manager.” Doyle not only survived tuberculosis, he outlived the sanitarium itself; it closed its doors in 1954, but Doyle remained in Saranac Lake until his death at age 87 on March 1, 1974.

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After secretly watching Child’s Play at the age of nine, I was terrified of my toys coming to life and killing me. So when Toy Story came out, I thought of it more as a horror flick instead of the humorous family film that other people did. As I’ve grown older and come to accept that dolls are rarely possessed, I’ve been able to appreciate the film for its intelligent storytelling and heartwarming story about friendship.

But when the Giants celebrated Pixar Day on Sunday, all those old fears came rushing back. No, not because John Lasseter was in attendance or for the Pixar-style player introductions:

Rather, it’s because of Kirk Rueter. Nicknamed “Woody” for his resemblance to the animated cowboy, the two look so much alike that it’s almost enough to convince a full grown adult that his toys could morph into people if not closely watched:

Woody and Reuter

But if Kirk Rueter is Woody, how does the rest of the cast shake out?

Buzz Lightyear is clearly Eric Hinske, down to the square jaw and tuft of hair on his chin: Hinske and Buzz

Mr. Potato Head was obviously modeled off of former Yankees slugger and current Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly:

Mattingly and potato

Stinky Pete and Sean Doolittle could swap lives for a day and no one would blink an eye: Stinky Pete and Doolittle

And Rex’s closest match is obviously … this terrifying Tyrannosaur that threw out the first pitch for the Padres: Rex and Rex Tyrannosaur Now we just have to hope that Disney decides to make a live action Toy Story. Because we’ve already got the cast.

Michael Clair writes about baseball for Cut4. He believes stirrup socks are an integral part of every formal outfit and Adam Dunn’s pitching performance was baseball’s greatest moment.

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Reds ace Luis Castillo, the former Giants farmhand who blanked them on two hits for six innings Friday night, has an interesting transaction history.

The Giants signed him as a 19-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in 2011 and traded him to the Marlins in late 2014 as part of a deal for third baseman Casey McGehee, who proved to be a bust. At the time, the other pitcher in the deal, pitcher Kendry Flores, was considered the better prospect.

The Marlins then traded Castillo twice. They sent him to the Padres as part of a multiplayer deal, but when Miami sent pitcher Colin Rea back to San Diego because he was hurt, the Padres returned Castillo to the Marlins. They then put him in a package sent to the Reds for starter Dan Straily before the 2017 season.

The Reds helped Castillo develop the killer changeup that goes with his high-90s fastball and has made him one of the best pitchers in the National League. Stephen Vogt’s flyball double Friday night was the first extra-base hit Castillo allowed on the changeup all season.

“Everything he throws looks like a fastball,” first baseman Brandon Belt said. “He’s pretty deceptive that way. He pretty much throws 100. He’s definitely one of the toughest guys I’ve seen.”

1-2 punch? The Giants’ first-inning struggles are not hard to decipher when you consider their first- and second-place hitters have a .289 on-base percentage, second-worst in the league.

Manager Bruce Bochy might have found a good combination in Joe Panik and Stephen Vogt, at least against right-handed pitchers.

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Crowds arrive early on opening day of the Golden Gate International Exposition. Feb. 18, 1939.
Panik has hit .294 with a healthy .379 on-base percentage over this past 14 games. Vogt has been an on-base machine since he arrived last week, with seven hits and two walks in 17 plate appearances.

Panik and Vogt combined were 4-for-6 with four walks in Friday’s loss. They had the Giants’ only hits, three for Vogt and one for Panik.

“Our table-setters did exactly what you’re hoping for,” Bochy said. “We just couldn’t get a big hit to keep it going.”

D-Rod loss: The San Francisco record for consecutive home losses behind the same starting pitcher is 10, set in 1979 with John Montefusco. They need to win Dereck Rodriguez’s next home start to avoid matching that mark. Rodriguez and Barry Zito are tied with nine apiece.

Rodriguez actually showed some improvement in Friday night’s loss even though he allowed four runs, all unearned, in the second inning. In two prior starts he had allowed 14 runs (12 earned) over eight innings.

His stuff is fine. He just isn’t getting the ball where he wants to. He walked four in all three of the starts and is getting beat on a lot of misplaced two-strike pitches.

“I’m trying to get good outs when I need to,” Rodriguez said. “I still feel my command was off like the last two outings, but we’ll get there.”

Rodriguez pitched three shutout innings after the fourth.

Reports: Two national reporters had Giants-related nuggets Saturday morning.

Jon Heyman of FanCred sports reported the Giants have claimed recently designated Phillies outfielder Aaron Altherr, who hit 19 homers in 372 at-bats two years ago but has slumped since. More on that as the news develops. Since Altherr is out of options, he would have to be on the big-league roster if the Giants indeed claimed him.

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported the eight teams on Madison Bumgarner’s no-trade list. They are all contenders: Braves, Red Sox, Cubs, Astros, Brewers, Yankees, Phillies and Cardinals.

The list is clearly strategic. Players increasingly pick contending teams so they gain leverage when one with playoff aspirations wants him. The leverage can gain them financial benefit and more say on where they might go.

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Former Florida Marlins reliever Robb Nen is the franchise leader with 108 saves to his credit.
Born 50 years ago today, former Marlins right-handed reliever Robb Nen was initially a 32nd round selection of the Texas Rangers in the 1987 MLB Amateur Entry Draft. Chosen 831st overall, Nen is the only player chosen at that position to ever graduate to the majors.

Six years after his selection, Nen made his major league debut with the Rangers, striking out 12 and walking an incredible 26 in just 22 2/3 innings with Texas. I guess the Rangers had their mind made up at that point, and traded Nen along with RHP Kurt Miller to the Marlins for RHP Cris Carpenter on July 17th.

Strausburg race looking toward Mad Bum and Wheeler

To be fair, though, Nen was only marginally better with the inaugural version of the Marlins, pitching to a 7.02 ERA over 33 1/3 innings, along with a 1.650 WHIP.

1994 would see Nen starting to come into his own as a reliever. Although not a closer for the full season, Nen nevertheless ranked fourth in the National League with 2.8 WPA in only 58 innings pitched. He was 5-5 with 15 saves, a solid 2.95 ERA, 60 whiffs and a near-elite 1.086 WHIP. Nen’s 15 saves did lead the team, which also saw Jeremy Hernandez (nine saves) and Bryan Harvey (six saves) close games.

Marlins
As the heir apparent closer when the 1995 season finally got underway in late-April, Nen didn’t get his first save until over a month into the campaign. An 0-7 record and a regression to a 1.294 WHIP didn’t sour Miami on Nen, who saved 23 games and struck out 68 and 65 2/3 innings. He ended up leading the NL with 54 games finished in the shortened season.

Nen turned in his best Marlins season in 1996, bettering his three all-star seasons later with the San Francisco Giants going by his FIP mark of 2.06. He went 5-1 with a major league sixth 35 saves, with a 1.95 ERA and 92 K’s in 83 frames. His 3.7 WPA ranked ninth in the Senior Circuit, his 66 games finished ranked second, he ranked 10th with 20 adjusted pitching runs, and he was also sixth with 75 appearances overall.

Despite a career high in wins in 1997, and a World Series Championship for the Marlins, Nen had a down year. Although he was 9-3 with a 3.89 ERA, his WHIP ballooned up to a mark of 1.514. Nen still ranked sixth in the NL with 35 saves, then earned four more saves in the playoffs. Sometimes, you aren’t really aware that you’re actually in “the good old days,” but such was the case for Nen and the 1997 Marlins.

World Championship in hand, Miami traded Nen to the Giants following the season for Mick Pageler, Mike Villano, and Joe Fontenot. Of the three, only Fontenot made it to the majors, going 0-7 with a 6.33 ERA over eight starts in 1998.

As for Nen, he pitched five seasons in the Bay Area for the Giants, saving another 206 contests and racking up a 1.084 WHIP in 365 appearances. He made the all-star team in 1998, 1999, and 2002.

Just prior to the 2003 season, Nen was placed on the injured list with a strained right shoulder, and never again pitched in affiliated ball.

Other Marlins Birthdays
Shortstop Walt Weiss (56) joined the Marlins in an expansion-draft-day trade with the Oakland Athletics. He would go on to rank second on the team with 158 games played, and hit .266/.367/.308. He drew more walks (79) than strikeouts collected (73). He later played for the Colorado Rockies and the Atlanta Braves. From 2013 through 2016, he collected a 283-365 as the manager for the Rockies.

Marlins
Starting pitcher John Burkett (55) signed with the Marlins through free agency prior to the late start of the 1995 season. In a season-and-a-half, he was 20-24 with a 4.31 ERA over 54 starts. He struck out 234 in 342 1/3 innings.

RHP Manny Aybar (50) pitched an eight-season major league career from 1997 through 2005. In 2000, he was 1-0 with a 2.63 ERA in 27 1/3 innings for the Marlins.

Angel Sanchez (30) joined the Marlins in a multi-player deal that sent Ricky Nolasco to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Sanchez was 4-3 with a 3.22 ERA in 10 starts for the 2013 Jupiter Hammerheads. He then started 12 games for the 2014 Jacksonville Suns, and went 0-8 with a 6.88 ERA. Sanchez later made his major league debut for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2017.

Catcher Taylor Davis (30) was chosen by the Marlins in the 49th round of the 2008 draft, but never signed. He’s since been part of the Chicago Cubs organization since, making his major league debut in 2017.

2000 – Mike Tosar was hired as the Marlins scouting director until joining the Seattle Mariners in 2006 as a manager. He’s currently listed as an international scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

2010 – Javier Vazquez signed with the Marlins, and for the 12th straight season completed the season with double-digit major league wins, despite playing with six different teams during that time. He was 13-11 for the 2011 Marlins, with a 3.69 ERA and 162 whiffs in 192 2/3 innings.

2014 – Aaron Crow joined the Marlins from the Kansas City Royals organization for Brian Flynn and Reid Redman. Crow was a Marlin officially for the full 2015 season, but spent the whole thing on the injured list with a right elbow strain. Meanwhile, Flynn is still part of the Royals, and has pitched to a 6-9 record and a 3.76 ERA over parts of four seasons.

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It’s all over but the accounting.

Maybe you were with me through the summer in believing that the defending champion Red Sox would find their strangely absent mojo, go on a winning streak reminiscent of their 2018 magic, and reward faith by slipping into the postseason and perhaps even sticking around a while.

It’s not happening, of course. It never really came close to happening. They never got hot, some important players got hurt, and the slog through the spring and summer will end with a suspense-free September.

There’s no more resisting what the math is insisting on telling us. After Tuesday’s 7-6, 15-inning loss to the Giants at Fenway Park, there are 12 games left in the season, just four at Fenway, and they’re nine games out in the wild-card race.

These are the last days of the 2019 Red Sox. There will be no postseason, just portmortems. There will be a new World Series champion this year.

I suppose many of you realized this several weeks, ballgames, and degrees on the Fahrenheit scale ago. Maybe you wrote ’em off when Chris Sale went down for the season with an elbow injury a month or go, or the bullpen blew its 20th save (or its 21st, or 22d . . . ), or when another Joe Hardy clone came through for the Yankees, or when you’d check the box scores after a Red Sox win and realize the Indians, A’s, and Rays all refused to yield in the wild-card chase.

Maybe you came to grips with it when president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski did not add a helpful pitching arm at the July 31 deadline.

You probably came to grips with it before Dombrowski was informed he was no longer the president of baseball operations approximately six weeks later.

There’s a little less hustle, a little less bustle around Fenway now, with the kids back in school and the knowledge that the tension of the postseason isn’t coming to Jersey Street this fall.

The sausage guy and the program peddlers still compete for your attention and dollars as you head toward the entrance, but it’s a quieter experience, even as you encounter moments of denial about the team’s status here and there.

The scoreboard still plays a “We were born for this’’ highlight reel before the anthem that leaves you wondering exactly what “this’’ is this year. Third place in the AL East?

Even Tuesday night, with Carl Yastrzemski’s 29-year-old grandson Mike making his anticipated Fenway Park debut as the leadoff hitter for the Giants, the crowd fell somewhere between late-arriving and non-arriving.

If the actual attendance was within a few thousand of the announced 35,925, it must have been because many of them were masterfully disguised as red seats. By the time the 5-hour-54-minute affair — which featured a major league-record-tying 24 pitchers — was over, the crowd seemed to consist mostly of Yastrzemski’s buddies from Andover and St. John’s Prep.

But Tuesday’s game, if prolonged, was a nice reminder that small satisfactions can be found at the ballpark even if the outcome takes too long to arrive and carries little consequence.

Jackie Bradley Jr. homered in the fifth — helping the Red Sox rally from a 5-1 deficit — and made a spectacular leaping catch at the wall in the 12th. Juan Centeno — go ahead, Google him, I’ll wait — tied it at 6 with a five-pitch bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the 13th.

Did I mention that there were 24 pitchers, a group that may or may not have included John Montefusco, Greg Minton, and Ed Halicki?

More than anything, it was a nice night for the sentimental and nostalgic. Yastrzemski crushed a Nathan Eovaldi fastball over the center-field fence in the top of the fourth — the first MLB home run at Fenway by a Yastrzemski since his grandfather hit the 451st of his 452 on July 31, 1983. If that didn’t make your cynical little heart grow three sizes, you’re rather hopeless, Grinch.

If the game had mattered, it would be considered a frustrating defeat for the Red Sox. But it was just one more line in a redundant story, one more loss for a team that has lost 17 more games than it did a season ago, with 12 still to play. You endure enough tough losses, and eventually they don’t seem so tough anymore as that descent from the fringes of the playoff race refuses to cease.

There are reasons to still watch these Sox in their final days of the season. Rafael Devers, still playing with joy, is seeking his 30th homer to go with 50-something doubles; Xander Bogaerts, the leader of this team for the foreseeable future, has already hit those milestones. There are young bullpen arms to watch; Darwinzon Hernandez and Josh Taylor in particular offer hope for next year. Andrew Benintendi, who has had an season inferior to Mike Yastrzemski’s, would be well-served by finishing strong and reminding us he can be a cornerstone.

On the bummer side, Mookie Betts’s next home run, and J.D. Martinez’s too, could be their last in a Red Sox uniform. Let’s hope that’s not the case, especially in regard to Betts, who in his “down’’ year is on pace to slash .293/.391/.527 with 30 homers, 85 RBIs, 43 doubles, 183 hits, and 142 runs. He’s a generational player, a Red Sox star who has the chance to be the Yaz of his time.

Tuesday night, we were pleasantly reminded of Yaz’s time, thanks to his grandson. It’s been that kind of season, when the best we can do while waiting until next year is to appreciate a sweet meeting between the present and the past. It almost makes a near-six-hour game in a lost season worth it.