Urban Interaction

January 8, 2010, 11:47 pm
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If it's Friday, it's time for some give and take. I'll take questions, and little Matt Steinmetz will stand on a milk crate, peer over the wall that separates our cubicles and give me grief for my answers. Away we go What would the Giants need to do to "take" Miguel Cabrera off the Tigers' hands? That would be the trade of this decade a la the Barry Bonds free-agent acquisition in the 90's
--Cannonball, San Francisco, Calif.Wow, I'm guessing it would take Matt Cain and a very good position-player prospect or two, at the very least. In other words, it's not going to happen -- for three reasons. One is that the Giants don't want to part with Cain, who seemed to have finally turned the corner last year in terms of turning his obvious talent into consistently strong performances. That he's the youngest starter in the rotation (until Madison Bumgarner is officially installed) and under contract for this year (4.25 million) and next (6.25 million club option) make him far more attractive to keep than to move, even it meant landing a big bat like Cabrera.Another is that the Giants can't afford to move any very good position-player prospects. There are about five guys that they're expecting to be excellent players at the big-league level within a couple of years, and they're going to form the nucleus of the club for the next decade. Then there's Cabrera's contract. He's due 126 million over the next six years. No way the Giants take that on.Who do you think might be the breakout player of the year for the A's in 2010?
--Jerry S., Los Gatos, Calif.I'm going to go with Gio Gonzalez. I think he learned a lot of hard lessons last year and did a lot of growing up. If he ever puts it all together mentally and physically, he's got the kind of stuff that could make him one of the better lefty starters in the American League.We'll know whether I've made a horrible pick the day he reports to camp, though. If he shows up soft and flabby and 20 pounds overweight, like he did last spring, it'll be clear that he hasn't learned or grown up as much as I think he has. You got me all fired up about the Giants signing Kiko Calero, but I haven't heard anything about it since your story? Anything new on that front?
--Lyle F., San Rafael, Calif.Nope. I've been pretty busy running other things down this week, but I've touched back with a couple of my sources and they say there haven't been any serious discussions -- yet.My guess is that the Giants are prioritizing their desire to add a left-handed bat, although I still don't understanding the obsession with a lefty. I'd be far more concerned if my team were too left-handed than too right-handed, but that's just me. I saw you on TV from a Stanford basketball game the other night. What do you think of my Cardinal? Anyone stand out other than Jeremy Green and Landry Fields?
--Caleb H., San Carlos, Calif.They are what we thought they'd be. They're a team that needs to play as well as they can to hang with the big boys, and they played very well against the Trojans on Wednesday. They still almost lost that game, though, primarily because they stunk at the free-throw line down the stretch.One of the guys who struggled late at the line was one of the players with whom I was otherwise very impressed: sophomore forward Andrew Zimmerman. He's not a "wow" guy by any stretch, but he did a lot of subtle, dirty-work things that help a team win close games. He got his hands on a lot of balls, knocked down open shots when USC sagged off and did a nice job of getting after it on the boards.Your boy Steinmetz called you out in his mailbag yesterday, saying that without having seen you play, he already has you pegged as a "mechanical" big man who turns the ball over too much. Got any hoop in your background? Is his scouting report accurate?
--Thomas D., Sunnyvale, Calif. There's a lot of hoop in my background, actually. It's my favorite sport. I just happened to be better at throwing a baseball, so that's what I played at USF. But I did start for a conference championship basketball team in junior college, and I can tell you with certainty that my Canada College would have boat-raced the Div. III band of ragamuffins for which Steinmetz served as a practice dummy.I haven't seen Matt play, either, but unlike him, I'm willing to show some respect and assume the guy can ball a little bit. But he's way off on the scouting report. He'll realize that if he ever puts down the I-don't-want-the-big-guy-to-hurt-me crutch, because as arrogant as he is, he'll sag off me because of my size and find himself needing an umbrella to protect him from the feathery mid-range jumpers I'll rain on him. Give me three predictions for 2010: A's team leader in wins, Giants team leader in homers, number of wins for the 49ers.
--Nathaniel R., Rocklin, Calif. Justin Duchscherer, with 15. Pablo Sandoval, with 31. Niners win nine games.