Time to Play 'Guess the Giants Lineup'

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Time to Play 'Guess the Giants Lineup'

Jan. 12, 2010GIANTS PAGE

Based on recent comments by general manager Brian Sabean and president LarryBaer, the Giants seem fairly comfortable with the notion of Buster Posey beingthe starting catcher on Opening Day. So lets assume, for the sake of todaysexercise, that the latest round of "interest" in Yorvit Torrealba doesnt leadto anything.In other words, were assuming that the team the Giantshave now, offensively, is the team with which theyll try to snap their playoffdrought.Whats the lineup? Heres the way I think it might shake out:1. Aaron Rowand, CF
Hes obviously notthe prototypical leadoff man, but its the spot in which he was most productivelast season, primarily because he made subtle approach changes when leadingoff. When he wasnt leading off, he was a straight hacker, and nearly anautomatic out. Besides, there is no prototypical leadoff man on this teamunless Eugenio Velez or Andres Torres is starting, and in this lineup theyrenot.2. Freddy Sanchez, 2B
A No. 2 hitter should be a high-average man who can handlethe bat well. He needs to hit behind runners when appropriate, drop down somebunts, run a little bit and be something of a gap-to-gap RBI guy in the eventthat the bottom of the order sets the table for him after the first inning.This is Sanchez to a T.3. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
The third hitter should be your best hitter, and Panda isthat for the Giants, hands-down. You want him to bat in the first inning, everygame. This is the biggest no-brainer in the lineup.4. Aubrey Huff, 1B
Your cleanup hitter need not be a high-average orhigh-on-base guy, but he needs to be a good RBI guy with above-average pop.Huff, even in a down year, drove in 85 runs last season, and that would havemade him second in RBIs on the 2009 Giants. He should at least be able to dowhat Bengie Molina did last year, and unlike Molina, he can score from secondon a single more often than not. 5. Mark DeRosa, LF
The No. 5 hitter should be a decent RBI guy, too, of course.Ideally, hed have more pop than DeRosa, but its not like DeRosa is a Punch-and-Judy type. Hes a smart, experienced hitter who has a decent track recordwhen it comes to situational hitting. 6. Nate Schierholtz, RF
I still cant figure out why the Giants dont think morehighly of this guy. Hes a very good hitter, and hes proven it at every level.Hes not a big power guy, but hes an excellent all-around player who drivesthe ball on occasion and runs well and runs smartly. Its time to plug him inand leave him alone. If he can get his OBP up, hed be a good No. 2 hitter --with Sanchez leading off -- if Rowand falls flat up there. 7. Edgar Renteria, SS
Heres hoping that his struggles last year really were tiedto his failing health, because hes been a very good hitter at times during hiscareer. If he gets back to being that, youre looking at a nice bottom of theorder.8. Buster Posey, C
Nobody doubts this guys talent, and Im all for startinghim right away. The dude was the Minor League Player of the Year, for cryingout loud. Cut him loose, bat him down low to minimize the pressure hes likelyto place on himself, and let him take whatever lumps come his way. The kidsthe real deal. Lets see it right now.So there you go. Not all that bad, is it? Not amazing, but probablybetter as a whole than last years offense -- as long as certain guys pull moreweight than they did last year and others make modest improvements. My lineup is just one option, though. What do youthink? Id love to see this turn into a raging debate, so leave your thoughtsbehind. If you havent registered, it only takes a minute. So haveat it. Tell me Im dumb and why youre smarter. Tell me Im smart and whyyoure smarter. Or just tell me what you think. Looking forward to hearing fromthe die-hards.
-- Mychael Urban

Clippers have more to prove in first clash of 2016-17 with Warriors

Clippers have more to prove in first clash of 2016-17 with Warriors

LOS ANGELES – On the scale of NBA regular-season epic, Warriors-Clippers on Wednesday night rates a solid 8 for the Warriors. It’s circled on the desk calendars in pencil, a game they want for development and vanity.

For the Clippers, though, it’s a 9.5. Might be a 10. It’s stamped on the calendars embedded in their minds.

They need this game, psychologically, to prove they can stand up to the team that has spent the past two seasons winning a championship and setting a record for regular-season wins, simultaneously suppressing the notion of the Clippers being legitimately elite.

Los Angeles also needs to win the clash at Staples Center if these Western Conference titans are to reignite what once was the hottest rivalry in the NBA.

“We get to see what they do; they get to see what we do,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr says.

“It’s a new four-game journey against this team,” guard Stephen Curry says. “We have history that, when you play in the division, year after year, we’re fighting for the same goal of not only winning the division but playoff seeding and coming out of the west. It’s been a nice little back and forth.”

It has been mostly forward for the Warriors, generally backward for the Clippers.

A rivalry is defined somewhat by geography but mostly by hostilities over both the regular season and the postseason. In the very best rivalries, the teams are hunting the same bounty and end up exchanging feelings of ecstasy and heartbreak.

That has been missing the past two seasons, with the Warriors winning seven of the eight games and the last six in a row. It has been Curry over Chris Paul, Draymond Green over Blake Griffin, Klay Thompson over J.J. Redick and Kerr over Clippers coach Doc Rivers.

The contempt that began percolating back in 2012, reaching its apex in 2014 during a spellbinding seven-game playoff series won by LA, has been submerged by this wave of Warriors success.

The “rivalry” has declined considerably, leaving nothing but memories of the days when the teams were striving to reach the same level.

“We were a team trying to break through and make the playoffs,” Klay Thompson says. “They were trying to do the same thing, as far as trying to make noise in the playoffs. We both had an edge to ourselves and we haven’t lost it. They’re still hungry to get to that championship level. You can see that. And so are we.”

Curry traces the origin of the rivalry to Paul’s arrival in December 2011. The decorated point guard brought instant credibility to a franchise that had been every bit as much of a laughingstock as had the Warriors.

“When CP got there and the organization took a different turn, for the better obviously,” Curry recalls. “It was probably that first year we both made the playoffs (2012-13) because the records were a lot better than they usually were and there was a little more excitement around the new and up-and-coming teams.”

Games have featured ejections, multiple technical fouls – once in a preseason game – with an overdose of grabbing and posturing. One beef went postgame, nearly becoming physical in a hallway near the locker rooms.

There has been verbal warfare, sarcasm and slights and insults, though most of it lately has come from LA.

With the Warriors at 18-3 and the Clippers at 16-6, this may be the last season to reignite the conflict, and the first of four meetings will provide a sense of placement. The Warriors are 18-3, having won 14 of their last 15. The Clippers are 16-6, having lost four of their last six.

“It’ll be fun to see how it plays out,” Kerr says.

The Clippers, however, showed up for this season with a sense of urgency. Paul and Griffin both have opt-out clauses and will be free agents in July. The perennial All-Stars have been teammates for five-plus seasons, but this may be the last.

“Their continuity is really key; it’s one of the things that has helped us the last couple years,” Kerr says. “When you have basically the same team for a while, and you’re already a good team, you tend to get better. You tend to grow more and more comfortable with what you’re already doing and then, maybe even have the ability to add on some things.”

So maybe it’ll be different this season. Maybe we’ll have actual back-and-forth.

“They could be a team down the road that we need to get through to get where we want to go, and they probably see us the same way,” Curry says.

Oh, there is no doubt about that, certainly not among the Clippers.

A's reeling after death of minor league video coordinator Mark Smith

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ATHLETICS/TWITTER

A's reeling after death of minor league video coordinator Mark Smith

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — A’s officials at the winter meetings carried heavy hearts Tuesday following the death of minor league video coordinator Mark Smith.

Smith died unexpectedly Monday in Arizona at the age of 41. No cause of death was known, a team spokesperson said, and the A’s traveling contingent at the meetings were still processing the news Tuesday night.

“We’re still sort of absorbing this whole thing. As you can imagine this came as a shock to everybody,” said Billy Beane, the A’s executive vice president of baseball operations. “He had such a commitment to the organization and was such a diligent worker. He’s a tremendous loss. Everybody thought the world of him as an employee, a person. It’s shocking.”

Smith worked for the A’s for eight years and was instrumental in creating the team’s minor league video department in 2009. Manager Bob Melvin, who crossed paths with Smith every spring at the team’s minor league training complex, said Smith went above and beyond the expectations of his job to help everyone in the organization.

“He was the first guy you saw,” Melvin said. “Just a great guy that everybody felt close to. He couldn’t do enough to help wherever he could. … He’d send me video during the year of guys he thought I might see at some point, and I never even asked for them. Just a hard-working guy who was very aware of what each guy he was working with was looking for and needed.”

Funeral services are pending.