Gonzales: Jed Hoyer is avoiding using 'rebuild.' Ex-Cubs pitcher Krukow says that's smart

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Broadcaster Mike Krukow, right, welcomes former Giants star Barry Bonds to the broadcast booth during a game against the Cubs in August 2017 in San Francisco.

    Broadcaster Mike Krukow, right, welcomes former Giants star Barry Bonds to the broadcast booth during a game against the Cubs in August 2017 in San Francisco. Associated Press

  • Giants pitcher Mike Krukow celebrates his 4-2 victory over St. Louis in the 1987 League Championship Series in San Francisco.

    Giants pitcher Mike Krukow celebrates his 4-2 victory over St. Louis in the 1987 League Championship Series in San Francisco. Associated Press

 
Updated 9/9/2021 3:03 PM

Rebuild?

Cubs president Jed Hoyer prefers to avoid using the word as the goodwill built from a 2016 World Series title after a century-long drought has eroded.

 

And that's OK, according to former Cubs pitcher Mike Krukow.

Krukow, 69, has witnessed the sky-high expectations for the last 11 of his 31 seasons as an announcer for a San Francisco Giants franchise that won three Series in five seasons (2010, 2012 and 2014) and currently possesses the best record in the majors (90-50).

"Zero goodwill," Krukow said of the value of the three titles applied toward subsequent seasons. "(The fans) expected them to win the next year. Obviously, they appreciated what they did, and it was wonderful.

"But once you set the bar, you're a product of your own accomplishments. And once you win, you're expected to win every year, which is a great place to be."

Unlike the Cubs a decade ago, the Giants haven't embarked on a full-scale rebuild. They fortified their efforts toward overtaking the 2020 Series champion Dodgers for the National League West title on July 30 when they acquired Kris Bryant, who returns to Wrigley Field for a three-game series starting Friday.

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Snapping the Dodgers' eight-year hold on the division title would provide only minor bragging rights for Giants fans expecting more despite the Dodgers' superior star power.

"They don't want to hear about the labor pains," Krukow said. "They just want to see the baby."

The production of Patrick Wisdom and Frank Schwindel have eased the frayed emotions of some Cubs fans following the trades of star players like Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo and Bryant. But this offseason's moves will dictate how seriously they want to win in 2022.

Meanwhile, since Farhan Zaidi took over as president of baseball operations in 2019, the Giants have maximized every resource toward improving immediately without trading a prized player and managing to rebuild a farm system once gutted by trades.

"When you are 'going through a rebuild as an organization,' you've created a culture where it's acceptable to lose," Krukow said. "You've died before the first pitch is thrown. And once you do that, you set yourself back as an organization for a long, long time. And to me, that's the first white flag that goes up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"'We're in a rebuild.' Bull (bleep) to that. This is the freaking big leagues."

Unlike Baez and Rizzo, Giants stars Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt have performed well in the final year of their respective contracts, and Crawford's performance earned him a two-year extension last month.

LaMonte Wade Jr. has hit 17 home runs after being acquired in a trade last winter from the Twins for starting pitcher Shaun Anderson, who since has been waived three times.

Kevin Gausman is 16-8 with a 2.86 ERA since signing as a free agent in 2020, and homegrown pitchers Logan Webb (9-3, 2.64) and Tyler Rogers (1.72 ERA in 68 appearances) have helped carry a well-worked staff.

The trading of several Cubs veterans has placed a greater emphasis on teaching through early drills and videotapes. It will be curious to see if the Cubs follow the path of the Giants, who overhauled their coaching staff by stressing teaching over experience after manager Gabe Kapler took over in 2019.

The teachings haven't hurt the progress of the veterans.

"Once they bought in, it was a beautiful thing because every guy was convinced they were going to get better," Krukow said. "How do you do that to a 10-year veteran?"

One of Zaidi's biggest moves was allowing World Series hero Madison Bumgarner to depart via free agency after 2019. The Diamondbacks owe $60 million over the next three years to Bumgarner, who is 8-13 with a 5.02 ERA in two seasons.

Meanwhile, the Giants have committed only $43.41 million in salary obligations for 2022, leaving them plenty of room to pick up the $22 million option on Posey and sign free agents Bryant and/or Gausman.

"We thought we were saddled with those bad contracts, that those Giants are past their prime," Krukow said. "What Farhan has done with the new coaching staff, with the rebound of the minor league system, this guy is the golden child."

@MDGonzales

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