Urban Interaction: Taking all questions

Urban Interaction: Taking all questions
December 19, 2009, 12:57 am
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As part of our ongoing effort to engage and interact with as many members of the Bay Area sports community as possible, every Friday morning I'll be trolling through my e-mail, selecting a handful of submitted questions, and answering with no-holds-barred opinions and insight. Most people call this type of content a "Mailbag" or an "Inbox." We just call it another cool way to rap with fans. Keep the queries comin'.Email MychaelHey Mychael, great to see you back online. I'm a huge A's fan and was bummed when I heard you'd left the beat, but now I see you're covering them for Comcast. I assume you'll be doing Giants stuff, too, and baseball in general. What kind of coverage, though? Just columns, or will you do news and notes and game stories, too?
--Rick P., Lodi, Calif.Having covered the big leagues exclusively for the past decade, baseball is my primary area of expertise, and I'll still be providing virtually every type of coverage of the A's and Giants I've provided elsewhere. Working on the TV side for post-game shows figures to prevent me from doing traditional game stories, but being at CSNBayArea.com will allow me the time and freedom to go much deeper into team-related stories than I've ever had.We're also going to create new types of content that will bridge the gap between players and fans; I can't give away any trade secrets before we unveil these bad boys, but trust me -- you've never seen anything like it on the web. And the great thing about said creative new content is that it translates across all sports. We'll use it for everything we cover, and as much as I love baseball, I'm pretty jacked to go back to covering the "other" sports, which I did for the first 10 years of my career.I'm a Bay Area guy, born and raised. I grew up as a fan of every team in the region, and I grew up to eventually cover every team in the region. So when you're sending in questions, by all means come strong with baseball all you want. But I can get into the respective futures of JaMarcus Russell, Alex Smith, Don Nelson or the merits of the "C" on a hockey sweater with equal enthusiasm. And if I don't have a good answer for you, I'll tap into the expertise that's coursing through the halls of our offices and get one for you.And hey, if you want an opinion on Tiger, LeBron vs. Kobe, Sid the Kid vs. Alex O., NCAA hoops, whatever bring it. This is your one-stop shop.You get to be the Giants' GM for one hour. You get three phone calls. Who do you call?
--Cameron J., Hayward, Calif.First I call Bill Neukom and ask him to conference in Larry Baer. Saves me from burning a second call. Then I explain to them how badly the team needs not just an impact offensive player, but a player with whom Giants fans are somewhat familiar and have seen do some serious damage. I add that it'd be nice if the player were a prince of a man, a positive clubhouse influence who might ease the pain among the team's Latin players in the wake of wildly popular Juan Uribe's departure, and highly marketable. I tell them that player is Miguel Tejada.Then I call Tejada's agent and make him an offer he can't refuse. Two years, 16 million? Fine. Heck, Edgar Renteria costs more than that. Miggy needs more? Fine. Hey, I'm out of a job in an hour, anyway. I'll overpay.Then I call Kung Fu Panda and tell him he's a first baseman. Miggy's at third now.That should take about 48 minutes. For the next 12 minutes, I cruise the halls and swipe as much schwag as possible.What are the chances of this Michael Taylor kid the A's got in the Brett Wallace trade making the team and starting out of spring training?
--Lyle F., San Rafael, Calif.First of all, he won't make the team if the A's don't plan to start him right away. He's turning 24 on Saturday, and at this point in his development, he has to play every day, whether it's in the bigs or at Triple-A Sacramento.What are the chances? I'd say decent, because I hear he's a potential beast, but you never know how a kid's going to handle the kind of hype that's going to follow him into camp. And to have any chance at all he's going to have to go off in Cactus League play if the A's are still carrying Scott Hairston and Travis Buck at that point.Oakland didn't exactly steal Hairston from the Padres in that midseason trade, so they're going to want to get some bang for their buck -- not Buck -- out of it. That means getting some production out of him while delaying the start or Taylor's arbitration clock, and flipping him elsewhere when it's financially safer to promoter Taylor.Where does that leave Buck? I have no idea. Personally, I think Buck could be a very good big leaguer if he got another chance to play on a regular basis, but a lot of the moves the A's have made in the past year suggest that they don't agree with me at all.Was it a mistake by the Giants to not make a harder run at re-signing Brad Penny?
--Vicki L., Dublin, Calif.That's difficult to answer because I don't truly know how hard their run was, but I don't think what he got from the Cardinals (one year, 7.5 million plus 1.5 mil in possible incentives) is something that should have scared anyone off. I'm guessing a second year might have brought Penny back, but I've heard the G's didn't want to go there.The problem with not bringing back Penny, whom I think probably overperformed for the Giants but still would have been a valuable member of the 2010 staff as back-end starter, is that it appears to have taken Jonathan Sanchez away as a potential trade chip. I've heard that the Dan Uggla deal with Florida might have been done if the G's were open to parting with Sanchez, but with Penny gone, Sanchez can't as easily be moved.I was never a monster fan of the Uggla thing, anyway, by the way. He's obviously got pop, and the Giants could use his bat, but he's an absolute butcher on defense. I've heard the nod the plan with Uggla on board was to move Freddy Sanchez to third, but that would have weakened two defensive positions on a team that needs to give its pitching all the defensive help it can get.I heard the "Moneyball" movie is back on. Is it the good script that ends with Scott Hatteberg's homer and Billy Beane turning down the Red Sox job, or is it the snoozer than I used to read when I couldn't sleep?
--Tim R., Rocklin, Calif.I'm pretty sure it's the former, and it better be. I've read both scripts, too, and I couldn't agree with you more. The re-write was awful. The first version, though, was terrific. I covered the A's during the season that's depicted in the script, and it's pretty true to life. Certainly there's a little editorial license used, such as the presence of a soda vending machine in the clubhouse to pound home the point that the A's are somewhat frugal, but that's Hollywood.There is not a soda machine in the clubhouse, of course. And the truth is, the A's aren't as cheap as you think. I just got a lovely holiday card from the public-relations staff, for instance, when they totally could have gone the e-card route. And they do have free hot dogs in the press box. The Yankees charge for that.