Increasingly closer to on-the-field irrelevancy in each year of the Bob Geren regime, the A's have done a nice job of keeping themselves in the news every offseason.Thursday's news &8213; reported by CSNBayArea.com &8213; that Oakland has been talking with uber-agent Scott Boras about free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre, is the most recent example. It capped a busy pre-Christmas week for the A's, who finalized their deal with CoCo Crisp on Tuesday and essentially agreed to terms with Justin Duchscherer on Wednesday.Factor in the swap of top prospect Brett Wallace for fellow ascending star Michael Taylor as part of the Roy HalladayCliff Lee deal, and here's how the scoreboard reads thus far this winter:The A's have acquired a potential superstar (Taylor) by getting involved in a blockbuster trade; they've made a head-scratching gamble of a move by adding an outfielder (Crisp) coming off two shoulder surgeries; they've brought back a two-time All-Star pitcher (Duchscherer) assumed to be long gone; and they're toying with the idea of acquiring one of the bigger names (Beltre) on the market.The Giants, for the sake of contrast, have parted with their second-best hitter (Bengie Molina) and perhaps their third-best starting pitcher (Brad Penny); they've lost out on one of their top free-agent targets (1B Nick Johnson); and they've made several offers to other players who clearly are waiting for something better to come along. Were it not for reports that tell us their third-best hitter in 2009, Juan Uribe, is close to re-signing, the Giants would be looking at a Hot Stove shutout heading into the new year.And when it comes to the Giants, getting shut out in any sort of game has a distinctly familiar sting to it. Granted, pitchers and catcher don't report to Arizona for another seven weeks or so. Maybe Brian Sabean will stun us with as flurry of moves in the meantime. But for now, he's getting his butt kicked by Billy Beane in terms of giving frustrated fans any sort of hope.Credit Beane for that much, even if you don't quite understand what he's trying to accomplish with any given move. The Crisp signing still makes as much sense from this angle as did Shelley Long leaving "Cheers" to make movies like "A Very Brady Sequel" and "A Couple of White Chicks at the Hairdresser," but Beane, as the architect of teams that reached the playoffs five times between 2000-2006, has earned a certain benefit of the doubt over the years. There's no doubt that many A's fans are wondering what happened to the Midas touch Beane seemed to have for the bulk of this soon-to-be-done decade, but at least they have in recent memory the Oakland team that reached the 2006 American League Championship Series.Giants fans, on the other hand, are still struggling to get rid of the memory of the 2002 World Series loss. They want a new, winning memory with which they can replace the image of Dusty Baker handing Russ Ortiz the game ball in Game 6, and they'd prefer it be one starring Tim Lincecum &8213; backed by an offense that doesn't need an act of god or for the opposing starting pitcher to be the current version of Russ Ortiz to score more than three lousy runs.To nudge the Giants in that direction, Sabean needs to move boldly. If free agents are balking at coming to San Francisco, it's time to take another approach. That means trades, and big ones. And that means moving a big-name pitcher.Matt Cain? Jonathan Sanchez? Madison Bumgarner? Moving any of those three would scare me to death if I were the GM. But the only way to add big-ticket offense is to give up big-ticket pitching, and the Giants have some of the latter.Until then, CoCo Crisp and talking with Adrian Beltre tips the offseason scale in Oakland's favor. Not exactly a winter wonderland, is it?
Madison Bumgarner was back on the bump Sunday night in a Giants jersey for the first time since being placed on the DL due to a dirt bike accident on April 21.
Bumgarner took the mound for the Arizona Rookie League Giants against the Arizona Rookie League Angels and did not allow a hit in three innings pitched. The Giants' ace also struck out two and walked one.
In both the first and third innings, Bumgarner pitched a perfect three up and three down frame.
Bumgarner was diagnosed with a Grade 2 sprain of his left throwing shoulder and sustained bruised ribs from his dirt bike accident on an off day in Colorado. Pitching in a game for the first time in over two months, Bumgarner was throwing between 88-91 miles per hour, according to Tommy Stokke of FanRagSports.
After finishing his three innings of work, Bumgarner went down to the bullpen to increase his pitch count, reports Sande Charles of FanRagSports.
Before sustaining the injury, Bumgarner was 0-3 with a 3.00 ERA in four starts this season.
The Giants have gone 21-41 since Bumgarner's injury. They are 27-51 on the year and sit 24.5 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West.
SAN FRANCISCO — A few minutes after yet another missed opportunity at the plate Sunday, a voice came over a speaker in the press box at AT&T Park and announced a 524th consecutive sellout. It nicely summed up this current stretch of Giants baseball.
The seats are emptier than they used to be at first pitch, and they were just about abandoned in the ninth inning of an 8-2 loss, but for the most part the fans are still showing up in droves. One woman brought a toaster by the dugout Sunday morning and asked players and coaches to sign it, hoping to recapture the magic from across the bridge. Another, Bryan Stow, made his first appearance of the season at AT&T Park, met with Bruce Bochy, and said he hoped to see a win. As Matt Moore started warming up, a band set up on top of the visiting dugout to play hits that celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love.
For a while, AT&T Park was rocking. And then, as has happened so often this summer, the game started.
The Giants turned in another epic clunker in a season full of them. They have lost 12 of their last 13 games and 21 of 26, but it’s worse than the raw numbers. On most nights, some in the organization have noted privately, they are simply boring. It’s one thing to lose, it’s quite another to do it in this way.
“There’s no getting around it,” Bochy said after the sweep. “I’ve been through some tough stretches here and this is as tough as any stretch I’ve seen. For some reason the baseball gods are really testing us here and (testing) this group. It’s not that they’re not coming out ready or trying, but enough is enough.
“At some point, we’ve got to find a way to get this thing turned around.”
Even a slight pivot would be welcomed by the faithful. There were scattered boos Sunday, the latest in a growing trend. This is a fan base that has seen the highest highs, but rarely in franchise history have the lows been this low.
The crowd no longer turns to the rally lights that were used so often in an awful April, but the noise still grows with each new rally. And then, every single time Sunday, the Giants killed off any hope.
In the second inning, a Brandon Belt bunt single and Brandon Crawford bloop put two on, but a pair of rookies flied out.
In the third, the bases were loaded ahead of Buster Posey. He flied out to bring one run across, and there were still runners on the corners for Belt, who leads the team in homers. On a 2-2 count, Hunter Pence inexplicably took off for second. He was caught, the inning was over, and the two-run Mets lead was intact. Bochy said he did not send Pence.
In the sixth, there were two on with no outs for Posey. Both runners bolted to stay out of a double play. Posey popped up to first -- for a double play.
“He’s not a guy that strikes out, so I’m pretty confident sending runners with Buster,” Bochy said. “We can’t keep laying back. We’re trying to force the issue a bit and stay out of double plays.”
In the eighth, the Giants loaded the bases for Posey and Belt. Posey grounded out. Belt struck out for the third time.
“We’re getting guys out there,” Bochy said. “We’re not doing enough damage.”
Matt Moore’s damage was self-inflicted. He twice gave up homers to the guy — Rene Rivera — hitting in front of the pitcher. Moore said he has stopped throwing his cutter the past three starts and tried to get his four-seamer going, but the Mets were teeing off. Moore gave up five runs on seven hits. He was pulled in the fifth, left to think about mechanics that still aren’t right.
“The cutter is a little bit different of a pitch and at times it can take away from the four-seam fastball location-wise, and command of the four-seam was starting to go down the more I threw (the cutter),” Moore said. “I’m anxious to get back to it, but the foundation has got to be throwing the four-seam fastball. I need to execute where they’re carrying through the zone, not running or cutting.”
Moore said his confidence is fine and his problems are not physical. Others can no longer say that. Austin Slater, a rare bright spot in this five-win month, was pulled with a tight hip flexor. He was headed for an MRI.
Slater is too young to be one of the players Bochy approached after the game. He said he talked to a few, though, passing along that “enough is enough” message. Moore, last in the National League in ERA (6.04), was not one who needed a reminder.
“I’m sitting on a six right now with not a lot of wins and not enough team wins when I’m throwing,” he said. “It’s been 'enough' for me for the last couple of months.”