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Inbox: How will Smith fit into Giants' bullpen?

Fans ask about recovering reliever, prospect development, possibility of rebuild
MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

How is Will Smith recovering from Tommy John surgery? If he's healthy, do the Giants see Smith, Sam Dyson and Mark Melancon as a solid core for the last nine outs?
-- Lyle N., Santa Rosa, Calif.

The Giants aren't fully certain how extensively they can use Smith immediately.

How is Will Smith recovering from Tommy John surgery? If he's healthy, do the Giants see Smith, Sam Dyson and Mark Melancon as a solid core for the last nine outs?
-- Lyle N., Santa Rosa, Calif.

The Giants aren't fully certain how extensively they can use Smith immediately.

"We'll have to keep a watchful eye on him this spring," manager Bruce Bochy said at last month's Winter Meetings.

Since the Giants would like to employ Smith in a variety of situations, including multiple-inning stints, expect them to handle him with care until they're doubly sure that he's ready for diverse responsibilities.

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Why has it been so hard for the Giants to develop an outfielder in-house? Do they just not draft them?
-- Alan I., Belmont

The Giants draft outfielders; they just haven't drafted very good ones. It's a well-worn fact by now, but it bears repeating: Chili Davis, whom the Giants selected in the 11th round of the 1978 Draft, was the last All-Star outfielder they drafted and developed. Unless you count Cincinnati's power-hitting left fielder Adam Duvall, whom the Giants swapped for right-hander Mike Leake at the 2015 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Duvall was named to the 2016 National League All-Star squad.

You may remember that for quite some time, the Giants struggled to develop decent position players in general, not just outfielders. Then catcher Buster Posey came along, followed shortly by the all-homegrown infield of first baseman Brandon Belt, second baseman Joe Panik, shortstop Brandon Crawford and third baseman Matt Duffy.

The Giants might need to evaluate outfielders differently from infielders. They've succeeded with the latter group by drafting players capable of using their intelligence as a sixth tool. Maybe with outfielders it's best just to get the best darned athletes available. I'm not sure whether the likes of Todd Linden, Nate Schierholtz and Gary Brown fit that category.

The Dodgers are stacked with talent. The D-backs and Rockies are not far behind. The Padres are better with a couple of signings and a great farm system. Other than the potential public-relations hit, doesn't it make logical sense to rebuild rather than reload? I believe most fans would favor a long-term solution to putting a Band-Aid on the disaster of the last year and a half.
-- Gerald S., Santa Cruz

All I can tell you is that I've followed the Giants since 1969, and I haven't heard management use the term "rebuild" once. Maybe that reluctance has something to do with being based in a relatively sophisticated city, which fosters the belief among management that only winning will suffice. Personally, I'd like to see how fans might respond to a team full of guys who are a tad short on skill but long on heart. I think the enthusiasm generated by a sincere effort might surprise the front office.

Throughout recent history, Giants NL Rookies of the Year are very hard to find. And yet teams like the Dodgers, Nats, Cubs and others develop them regularly. Is there something wrong systemically with the players that the Giants draft or with the way the players are developed? Will the Giants ever bring up great young players the likes of Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Aaron Judge or Cody Bellinger?
-- Mike V., Tucson, Ariz.

It's certainly possible. Posey was the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year, and he's shaping up to be a legitimate Hall of Fame candidate. Bear in mind that due to the success they've enjoyed through most of the last decade, the Giants haven't had many opportunities to draft high-end prospects. That's why hopes are high for outfielder Heliot Ramos, last year's No. 1 Draft pick (19th overall) who just might prove capable of approaching or even matching the skills of the performers you mentioned.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

San Francisco Giants, Will Smith