Questions persist for Giants

Giveaways are a promotional ploy by the Giants to draw fans to Oracle Park when the team is trying to stay within shouting distance of .500, there have been far too many empty seats or the Marlins are on the schedule. Such a ploy should not be needed when the Dodgers are in town, but the Giants are not taking any chances.

“Beat LA” aloha shirts were handed out to the first 20,000 fans Saturday. The rivalry has lost its luster with the Dodgers winning the National League West 10 times in the past 11 seasons. The division race has hardly been thrilling in the past two years with the Dodgers winning by 22 games in 2022 and 16 games last year.

The Giants’ average attendance of 30,606 in 2023 was the lowest in the 24-year history of Pacific Bell, SBC, AT&T and Oracle Park. The Giants are two games into the second half with a 40-43 record as of Friday. They were 46-37 at the same point last year and climbed to 13 games above .500 (54-41) on July 18 before collapsing.

Blake Snell did not last two innings in his first rehab start for Triple-A Sacramento.

Winning three of four at home against the Diamondbacks from July 31 to Aug. 3 did not translate to the ticket office. Just one game against a division rival drew more than 30,000. Three games against the Rays in August drew an average of 26,527. Tampa Bay was 99-63 in 2023, so the Rays were hardly pan-seared flounder.

Empty seats could be plentiful in July with eight of 12 home games against the Tigers (37-45 as of Friday) , White Sox (23-61) and Marlins (29-53). August will not be much better with seven of 10 home games against the Blue Jays (37-44), Rockies (27-54) and A’s (30-54). Need tickets? No problem.

Attendance will likely depend on whether the Giants continue to go with a mix of veterans and youngsters or commit to going young without fretting over the hefty contracts sitting on the bench. The time has come to make that decision so fans will no longer have to wonder who will be in the lineup from one day to the next.

There are far too many questions that have not been answered in the first three months of the season. Can Blake Snell avoid injuries so he will not have to worry about being rushed back? When will Robbie Ray make his debut and in what role? Is Jorge Soler nothing more than Pedro Cerrano with a $42 million contract?

Marco Luciano could be an option at designated hitter if the Giants lose patience with Jorge Soler.

Ray is the only one of the three players who gets the benefit of the doubt for the time being because he is still working his way back from Tommy John surgery. The 2021 American League Cy Young Award winner can opt of his contract after this season, when he is making $23 million, or stay and make $50 million in 2025-26.

Snell had done nothing to prove he was worth a two-year, $62 million deal when he ripped the Giants for trying to rush him back from injuries. The Giants should not stick with a high-priced malcontent to avoid admitting it was a bad move. Trade or release him and take a good long look at 22-year-old Hayden Birdsong.

The Giants are expected to activate Snell, who is nursing a groin injury, when they begin a three-game series with the Blue Jays on July 9. A decent outing or two could attract suitors in need of a veteran left-hander. Snell is scheduled to make his third rehab start on Wednesday at Triple-A Sacramento. He went three innings on 62 pitches at Las Vegas on Friday, allowing three runs on four hits and striking out six, in the River Cats’ 14-8 victory.

Soler has never hit 20 or more homers in consecutive seasons, so the Giants should have known what to expect after he hit 36 with the Marlins last season. Would you rather see Marco Luciano bat lead off as the designated hitter and get an occasional start in the infield or watch Soler flail away at breaking pitchers?

That is yet another question for the Giants to answer.