EXTRA BAGGS: Don't expect return of Ross the Boss, etc.


EXTRA BAGGS: Don't expect return of Ross the Boss, etc.

NASHVILLE – From several angles, Cody Ross would appear to be a perfect fit to rejoin the Giants.

He remains hugely popular from his magical postseason in 2010. He’s a right-handed hitting outfielder. And the Giants would like to acquire a platoon partner for Gregor Blanco in left field.

But it wouldn’t be a perfect fit for Ross, who wants a multiyear contract with an everyday role. And obviously, in a platoon, the right-handed hitter always gets the short end.

So don’t expect Ross the Boss to return.

“Many of these guys aren’t going to sign for a platoon,” Giants vice president Bobby Evans said. “If you’re going to make a multiyear commitment, are you really going to platoon him?

“I wouldn’t rule it out, but we’re looking at one-year deals.”

That likely will preclude them from signing Scott Hairston, who is attracting a lot of interest as he holds out for a deal similar to the two-year, $10 million contract the Red Sox gave to Jonny Gomes.

And although the Giants made a strong two-year offer for Ryan Ludwick, it was contingent on talks falling apart with second baseman Marco Scutaro. Once Scutaro agreed to his three-year, $20 million deal, the Ludwick dollars disappeared.

Nick Swisher? He expects to be in a whole other bracket.

With the Giants already bumping up against their payroll ceiling in the $140 million range, they expect to start the season with Blanco as the starting left fielder – a stance they feel able to make because of the defensive value he brings to their pitching staff.

Barring an abrupt change, the Giants’ key personnel are set for 2013.

“You’re never really done, but certainly, the starting lineup and rotation and top end of our bullpen has been set and that’s very satisfying,” said Evans, who was able to re-sign center fielder Angel Pagan and left-hander Jeremy Affeldt in addition to Scutaro. “Brian (Sabean) and Bruce (Bochy) had a clear vision of what they wanted to happen, and didn’t take for granted that it would. Those players had options and perhaps even options beyond where we were.”

The Giants fell in love with Scutaro’s attitude and clubhouse presence as much as his unbelievable run as the No.2 hitter.

They appreciate him even more now. From what I’ve been told, Scutaro’s agents came to the Giants early in the offseason and told them that a three-year, $20 million contract would get it done.

The Giants preferred a two-year structure. Meanwhile, Scutaro’s agents fielded other offers and the money went up and up. He had a two-year offer for close to $18 million from the Cardinals, who went as far as to arrange Matt Holliday to give Scutaro a call in case there were any lingering hard feelings from his takeout slide in the NLCS. I’m not sure that call was ever made, though, as the Giants sweetened their offer to three years and $20 million.

That’s a far lower average annual value, obviously, and there was some doubt whether Scutaro would accept it. But just as Scutaro’s agents promised, three and twenty got it done.

Scutaro was good to his word.

John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle flagged down the year-by-year on Scutaro’s contract: He gets a $2 million signing bonus and $6 million in each of the next three seasons.

You’ll recall that Angel Pagan received a $5 million signing bonus as part of his four-year, $40 million deal. That money is not deferred and payable immediately.

Expect more players and agents to request front-loaded contracts with a signing bonus, and the reason is simple: The fiscal cliff is looming, President Obama has vowed to increase taxes on the wealthy, and most of these players are very much among the 1 percent.

All indications are that the Giants will not seek to re-sign right-hander Guillermo Mota. They would like to add more relief depth, though.

A lot of people ask me which Giants minor leaguers could make the opening-day roster or make an impact early in the season. I think you’d have to look in the outfield, where the Giants’ depth is likely to be tested. Roger Kieschnick showed that his shoulder is healthy in the Dominican winter league, and Francisco Peguero, while not a finished product, is a right-handed hitter with all the tools to be a plus defender with surprising power. Peguero still has the best bat speed of anyone in the Giants farm system.

Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, asked about the Giants on CSN Bay Area: “It’s part of our mission to not let them keep winning.”

There is a dearth of catching in the league, as illustrated by the fact that Eli Whiteside has been claimed on waivers twice this offseason (by the Yankees and then the Blue Jays).

So it stands to reason that Jackson Williams and Johnny Monell could be the Giants minor leaguers most liable to be snagged in the Rule 5 draft on Thursday. Monell, a left-handed hitter whose bat is much more valuable than his defense, is having a terrific season in the Puerto Rican winter league, too.

A week ago, the Giants signed 31-year-old catcher Guillermo Quiroz to a minor league contract. He has played in 103 games over parts of eight major league seasons with the Blue Jays, Mariners, Rangers, Orioles and Red Sox.

Sounds like a modern-day Yamid Haad.

On Tuesday, A's insider Casey Pratt and I both accepted the challenge and worked in an "I reckon" into our TV appearances from Nashville. Casey outdid me by getting in two of 'em. He would've been tough to beat in "Name That Tune."

How Cubs beat Kershaw to move on to World Series

How Cubs beat Kershaw to move on to World Series

Two quick runs off the best pitcher on the planet on Saturday night afforded the Cubs exactly what they needed to snap a 71-year-old drought.

Already confident after consecutive offensive outbursts in the previous two games, a two-run first inning against Clayton Kershaw had Cubs hitters in a positive frame of mind.

They rode the surprising rally and a dominant performance by Kyle Hendricks to a 5-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Wrigley Field in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series. The win earned the Cubs their first NL pennant since 1945 and on Tuesday night they’ll seek their first World Series title since 1908 when they face the Cleveland Indians in Game 1.

“It’s huge for the confidence, the positive momentum from LA, to carry over back home,” left fielder Ben Zobrist said. “Those were the biggest moments in the game early on to help everybody keep pushing and that we got this thing -- that we’re in charge of the game early. That’s a huge momentum builder.”

The Cubs did a little bit of everything in the first inning against Kershaw, who dominated them for seven scoreless frames in a 1-0 Dodgers victory in Game 2 on Sunday night. Some hitters took a more aggressive approach against the three-time NL Cy Young winner while others remained patient. The one constant throughout the 30-pitch frame was that Cubs hitters took advantage whenever Kershaw made a mistake.


MLB becomes whole new ballgame since Cubs last World Series trip


MLB becomes whole new ballgame since Cubs last World Series trip

One way to realize just how long it's been since the Chicago Cubs last reached the World Series is to look at how much the game has changed since then, on and off the field.

The Cubs are making their first appearance since 1945 and chasing their first title since 1908.

Some of the ways the game has changed since the Cubs lost Game 7 to the Detroit Tigers some 71 years ago:

INTEGRATION: Jackie Robinson became the first black player to reach the major leagues in 1947, two years after the Cubs' last World Series appearance. Baseball has turned into a virtual melting pot in the seven decades since. The Cubs' roster includes players from Cuba (reliever Aroldis Chapman and outfielder Jorge Soler), along with Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, as well as the United States.

EXPANSION: There were 16 teams in the majors in 1945, including two in St. Louis, Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago, and three in New York. The total is up to 30 now.

GO WEST: There were no major league franchises west of St. Louis in 1945. The Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles and the New York Giants headed to San Francisco in 1958. In 1969, the Seattle Pilots showed up - they went 64-98 in their first year, then became the Milwaukee Brewers.

DIVISIONAL PLAY: There were no divisions in 1945, just eight teams in both the American League and National League. They split into East and West divisions in 1969. Then a Central was created in 1994, with the Cubs shifting from the NL East to the NL Central.

PLAYOFFS PLUS: Extra teams and divisions resulted in expanded playoffs. The League Championship Series began in 1969, the Division Series started in 1995 and a one-game wild-card playoff came in 2012. A longer postseason pushed the World Series deep into October and beyond. If the Cubs and Cleveland go the distance this year, Game 7 would be on Nov. 2.

FREE AGENCY: When Phil Cavarretta and Peanuts Lowrey helped lead the Cubs to the 1945 Series, they were bound to the team until they were traded or released. Curt Flood tested baseball's reserve clause in the early 1970s and took his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, helping pave the way for players to move around as free agents. Jon Lester, John Lackey and Ben Zobrist are among the players the Cubs acquired this way.

DESIGNATED HITTER: The designated hitter joined the American League lineup in 1973. The DH debate is still hot, with the leagues playing by different rules. When this year's World Series opens at the AL park, both teams will use the DH; when the Cubs host, the pitchers will hit.

LIGHTS AT WRIGLEY: The Cubs were the last team in the majors to play only day games. That changed when lights were installed at Wrigley Field in 1988. The games there have always been played outdoors on green grass, never under a dome or on artificial turf, trends that became popular starting with the Astrodome in the mid-1960s.