BOSTON -- Just about every top Giants baseball official made the trip to Boston and New York this week, but the organization still had scouting eyes at other parks throughout the country. As Larry Baer, Brian Sabean, Bobby Evans and others watched two games at Fenway Park, reports came out that Giants scouts were everywhere from Philadelphia to Milwaukee to New York, looking for quality arms.
That buzz is just the way Baer wants it.
"One of the mantras around here is we want to be in every deal flow," he said during a podcast taped with CSN Bay Area on Wednesday. "I remember going back to whether it was Manny Ramirez or guys that were probably not going to end up in Giants uniforms, we have enough intellectual curiosity and enough focus on the full gamut and spectrum of baseball that we want to be in the deal flow."
The Giants, with Evans and his cell phone taking the lead, will check in on everybody. They have the financial wherewithal to make any deal work, and Baer said there is room in the budget to add at the deadline. They also believe they have the prospects and young big leaguers necessary to be in on any conversation, although there's always a breaking point.
The focus right now is on the bullpen, and Sabean said Wednesday evening that the Giants definitely have a type. They are looking for a high-end reliever, someone who can pitch in the ninth and get strikeouts.
With the Giants in first place, I asked Baer if he feels a different kind of responsibility this season. You can listen to the whole podcast here, but here's a snippet of what he said.
"I think there's a responsibility to multiple constituencies. There's a responsibility to the fans, there's a responsibility to the clubhouse -- which is the players and the manager and the coaches -- and there's a responsibility to ourselves to do the best and scour the most," he said. "Having said that, go back to 2014. We had done a deal for Jake Peavy, which is sort of a week before the deadline. But right up at the deadline, I mean, we struck out. Because some of the players that were available -- and we were especially looking at second base at that point with Marco Scutaro out -- some of the players, just the asking price was too high.
"Some of the players that you'll be seeing in Giants uniforms a couple years from now will be gone. So we didn't make a deal. We called up Joe Panik, so I think we have that responsibility, but I don't think anybody who has the full information would want us to do an ill-advised deal. It's not really a money thing as much as clearing out our farm system, cleaning out our farm system. We just can't do that.
"August 1 will come and go and I think there's a decent chance we'll make a deal but there's also a decent chance that we're going to say to ourselves, that asking price -- those two players, three players, four players -- for somebody that can help us immediately just is not responsible. Giants fans, as we would explain it to them if we could explain it to them without tampering, would appreciate that. I think it could go either way. Sitting here a couple weeks out from the deadline, I think it could go either way."
This deadline is expected to be a bit different than past ones. In the National League, the division leaders are the Giants, the Nationals (who have been in win-now mode for years) and the Cubs, who are trying to make history and have a loaded farm system. All three teams need bullpen help, along with the Dodgers and Cardinals, who are right near the top of the Wild Card standings. With the Mets also in position to contend, you're looking at a group of big-market, big-money teams going after the same small group of players available. And that's just in the NL.
"I think the prices will be high," Baer said. "The teams that are in it have good farm systems and have money, so they'll take on contracts, so I think this is going to be one of the tougher -- I'd put this more like a 2014 -- one of the tougher times to deal. The one thing I would just say to our fans is we'll deal if we can. We've seen in the years we've won, and you go back to 2010, it was Cody Ross and Pat Burrell and Javier Lopez and Scutaro and Pence in '12 and Peavy in '14. We'll do it if we can, but we're also not afraid to look at the guys in the clubhouse and say we can ride you, too. We're going to try. We're going to try hard. No stone will be unturned, I'll tell you that."
There was a lot touched on in the podcast, which you can download on iTunes here. (You can also subscribe on iTunes so you get the weekly podcasts delivered when they’re ready.) Baer also talked about …
--- Giants fans taking over other ballparks, and if other owners are appreciative of that or hate it.
--- How Fenway Park helped inspire the design of AT&T Park.
--- The MLB-best first half. "We're really proud of the resilience," Baer said.
--- The decision to lock up the Brandons early, and how that might change future plans for Joe Panik, Matt Duffy and other young players. "The two guys (Panik and Duffy) are also definitely on the list," Baer said.
--- The farm system.
--- Finally, the last couple minutes touch on players with off-field issues (read: Aroldis Chapman, Ryan Braun, etc.) and how the front office makes those decisions.