Active A's winning Hot Stove war

Active A's winning Hot Stove war

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 &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?

David West is coming up big for the Warriors

David West is coming up big for the Warriors

OAKLAND -- David West is as much a cleanup man as he is a basketball player.

The veteran power forward, masquerading as a center for the Warriors, cleans up behind teammates, cleans the clocks of opponents and probably cleans his plate after every meal. And he’d hit fourth in any manager’s batting order.

The Warriors during their renaissance haven’t had such a personality. They’ve been a fun bunch, enjoying life, each other and their pillaging of the NBA.

West, 36, brings a more laconic dynamic, and it’s on full display as the Warriors lean into the final weeks of this regular season. He’s a leader who is producing and, more and more, winning over a fan base that was somewhat skeptical early this season.

“David West has been playing brilliantly,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Friday night, after West came off the bench for a highly efficient 14-minute stint in a 114-100 win over the Kings.

Showcasing sharp passing, splendid shooting, solid rim protection and his usual old-jerky toughness, West totaled 8 points, four assists, three rebounds, three blocks and one steal. The Warriors were plus-8 when he was on the floor.

Such production, it seems, is a bit of a bonus.

“He’s been very good for us as a veteran leader,” Draymond Green said. “He’s been playing well, but just his presence also has meant a lot to this team.

“D-West is just kind of a no-bull---- type of a guy. He doesn’t say much. But when he does, you know it means a lot. And everybody hears him.”

Said West: “It’s just about adjusting and learning personalities. Obviously, this group has been very successful. I just try to add my 2 cents where I feel like it fits. Try not to over-talk people. I speak to guys directly and just make sure that we’re all on the same page.”

West is in his 14th season. Drafted by the New Orleans Hornets in 2003, he also has played for the Pacers and, last season, the Spurs, before joining the Warriors in July.

The question at the time was whether he still had a lot to give. West is a two-time All-Star and one of the most widely respected players in the league. But did he still have the legs to compete at a high level?

The answer is visible, particularly over the past month, since he returned from fractured left thumb on Feb. 23. West is shooting 53.0 percent from the field, he’s rebounding consistently and he has proven to be a spectacularly good passer -- easily one of the best in the league among big men.

Earlier this week, to quell any lingering concerns about how much athleticism he still has, West rose up and dunked over a crowd of three Dallas Mavericks. It was clock-cleaning at its finest.

“I’m just getting more comfortable,” West said, referring to his game and his locker-room influence. “We’ve developed good chemistry, communicating, harping on our defense more than anything else at this moment, because we feel that’s going to give us a chance if shots aren’t falling.”

West is on a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum, $1.55 million. He sacrificed bigger dollars for a chance at his first championship. He’s doing his part. And he neither takes nor leaves any mess.

Dempsey hat trick lifts US over Honduras in statement win


Dempsey hat trick lifts US over Honduras in statement win


SAN JOSE — Bruce Arena's return as U.S. coach reignited American confidence, and his players responded with an emphatic rebound in World Cup qualifying.

Clint Dempsey returned from an irregular heartbeat to score his second international hat trick, 18-year-old phenom Christian Pulisic had one goal and set up three others, and the U.S. routed Honduras 6-0 Friday night to get right back in contention for an eighth straight World Cup berth.

Surprise starter Sebastian Lletget got his first international goal in the fifth minute after Pulisic's shot deflected off the goalkeeper, Michael Bradley doubled the lead in the 27th and Dempsey scored off Pulisic's perfectly weighted chip in the 32nd.

Finding room to maneuver in a central midfield role, Pulisic made it 4-0 just 12 seconds into the second half with his fourth international goal, Dempsey rounded the keeper to score following a Pulisic feed in the 49th, and Dempsey got another on a 23-yard free kick in the 54th. With 55 international goals, Dempsey moved within two of Landon Donovan's American record.

In its first competitive match since Arena replaced Jurgen Klinsmann, the U.S. moved from last to fourth in the final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region, tied at three points with Honduras but ahead on goal difference, Mexico leads with seven points, followed by Costa Rica with six and Panama with four.

The top three nations qualify for next year's tournament in Russia, and the fourth-place nation advances to a playoff. With a victory at Panama on Tuesday, the Americans could move into the top three.

The U.S. had never before won a hexagonal game by more than three goals.

And oh how the American Outlaws and others among the lively home crowd loved every second of this long-awaited showing, chanting "Michael Bradley!" and "Demp-sey! Demp-sey!" through the Bay Area rain and cool March air.

Then, it was "Bruce Arena! Bruce Arena!"

Gloom descended upon the Americans in November when they opened the hexagonal with a 2-1 home loss to Mexico and a 4-0 wipeout at Costa Rica. The defeats caused the U.S. Soccer Federation to fire Klinsmann, who had coached the Americans since 2011, and bring back Arena, who lead the team from 1998-2006.

Dempsey, 34 and hoping to reach a fourth World Cup, was sidelined from August until this month by an irregular heartbeat and likely was starting only because of injuries to Bobby Wood and Jordan Morris. Tim Howard, the Americans' 38-year-old goalkeeper, got the shutout after returning only two weeks ago from a leg injury sustained in the loss to Mexico.

Geoff Cameron, back from a knee strain that had sidelined him for fourth months, was shifted to right back from central defense because of injuries to others, and Jorge Villafana was inserted on the left.

But there were yet more injuries. Lletget hurt his left ankle on Ever Alvarado's tackle and was replaced in the 18th minute, and defender John Brooks was stretchered off the field, hand over his face, in the 69th due to dehydration.

From the opening whistle, the U.S. played more aggressively than in the latter years of Klinsmann's reign. Arena revamped the midfield, giving a prominent role to Pulisic, who last week became the youngest American to score in the Champions League. He inserted Lletget and Nagbe, who were largely overlooked by Klinsmann last year, on the flanks.

The U.S. went ahead when Jozy Altidore picked up a loose ball and on his second try poked the ball ahead to Pulisic. His left-footed shot that went off goalkeeper Donis Escobar, and Lletget tapped in the ball with his right foot from 2 yards.

Bradley, given his debut by Arena in 2006, doubled the lead when he took a pass from Alejando Bedoya, cut to his left, took four touches and cut the ball back to beat Escobar with one-hopper from about 25 yards.

Showing poise beyond his years, Pulisic created the third goal when he lofted a pass to Dempsey, who allowed the ball of bounce off his right shoulder. Dempsey held off Henry Figueroa and while falling scored with his right foot from 8 yards.