Giants CEO Baer says club isn't low-balling Cain


Giants CEO Baer says club isn't low-balling Cain

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Giants CEO Larry Baer said the team remains in active negotiations with representatives for Matt Cain and sought to repair what he described as a mischaracterization that the club is making a lowball offer to their prized right-hander."We're both working very hard," said Baer on Thursday, responding to fan questions on a streaming web chat on "Our desire is for him toremain a Giant. Theres nothing weve seen from him that shows his desire isnot to be. We just keep plugging along."Theres been a lot ofmischaracterizations with hard-and-fast deadline or were lowballing him. Thoseare uneducated. I cant promise it will or wont happen thats going toultimately be the process of negotiation and Matts decision."The Giants and Cain have a soft deadline to conclude negotiations by the April 6 season opener, but that is more of a preference than a hard action date. Cain has said he is willing to listen to "anything of fair value." According to sources familiar with the talks, the two sides have been substantially far apart on determining that value.Baer said he didn't want to put a percentage on the chances of locking up Cain, 27, who would be a free agent after this season."Wed like to keep the homegrown players that areperforming and Matt Cain is at the top of the list," Baer said. "Weve been earnest in negotiationswith Matts representatives. We continue to be. Were working hard. Theyreworking hard."Last month, Giants GM Brian Sabean said the club has the wherewithal to sign both Cain and Tim Lincecum to long-term contracts. Lincecum agreed to a two-year, 40.5 million deal over the winter that will take him through the remainder of his arbitration eligibility but will not buy out any of his free-agent years. Cain has said the Lincecum negotiations would have an impact on his decision to commit long-term, citing the importance of pitching in a deep and talented rotation.The fans participating in the chat with Baer via Twitter weren't always civil and many used blue language to express their frustration that a deal with Cain hadn't been reached already. Fears might be spiking after the Los Angeles Dodgers were sold Tuesday for a record 2.15 billion, and new owner Magic Johnson pledged to be aggressive in courting top free-agent talent.Baer said he didn't expect the Dodgers sale would have a major impact on the free-agent market next winter. But taking Cain off that market certainly remains a top priority. He said the Giants are more interested in retaining their top players like Cain rather than going shopping for other big-name free agents such as Albert Pujols."Fans would like certain free agents like Albert Pujols ... but the first priority is homegrown playersthat we still think have a lot of productivity left," Baer said. "(But) we cant control the overall economics of player and agent. Its got to be something that allows us to field a team that will win.Industry sources believe Cain would fetch at least a six-year contract on the open-market, with an average annual value exceeding 20 million. The Giants are seeking a below-market contract, given the additional risk they would assume if Cain does not remain healthy this season.That hasn't been a problem throughout Cain's career. In each of the past four seasons, the rock-steady All-Star has ranked among the top seven NL pitchers in innings. Despite a minor scare last spring that turned up loose bodies in his elbow, Cain went on to pitch 221.2 innings and rank eighth in the NL with a 2.88 ERA.

What they're saying: 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame class

What they're saying: 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame class

The National Baseball Hall of Fame inducted Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez Wednesday. Here's what they and their peers are saying.

Still on outside, Bonds, Clemens have become invaluable to Hall

Still on outside, Bonds, Clemens have become invaluable to Hall

The Baseball Hall of Fame becomes yesterday’s news Friday, as it always does. Three months of buildup, one day to announce the names, one day to castigate the voters for their willfully negligent slights, and then nine months of hibernation.

So much for the concept of “joining the immortals.”

But at least Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez never have to go through this annual pageant of nonsense again.

Barry Bonds does, though, and so does Roger Clemens, and to a lesser extent, so does Curt Schilling. They are the new litmus strips for the Hall, and they will more than replace Raines (voter ignorance division) and Bagwell (presumption of guilt with evidence division) for self-involved debate.

And in that adjusted role from doomed outsiders to serious candidates, Bonds and Clemens – and to a lesser extent again, Schilling – have become invaluable to the Hall, and their eventual election and induction will reduce the Hall’s ability to inflame passions outside the seamhead community.

On a day when Bagwell and Raines finally cleared the 75 percent threshold and Bonds and Clemens moved from 45 percent to 53.8 and 54.1 percent, respectively, the Hall of Fame Debating And Chowder Society saw the end times for its power as a multi-month debate-churner.

The blatherers are dead, long live the blatherers.

An entire mini-industry of Hall watchers has been spawned, in part by the now-feted Ryan Thibodaux and his exit polling but also by the debates about what the Hall should be and who should get to decide it. It has made days like Wednesday event viewing when it hadn’t been for years. For that, the Hall owes Bonds and Clemens a debt that the powers inside Major League Baseball wishes it didn’t have to pay. But the day they are inducted is the day that PEDs die as a debating point. The answer will have been provided, and there will be no more need for discussion.

Worse yet, the BBWAA’S new voter transparency rules may unfortunately impact our pal Thibodaux, whose seminal work in this understudied area of social science undermined ballot secrecy. In short, if everyone has to fess up, the desperate need to know early returns may dry up.

Oh, there will always be the day of post mortem-ization, as those who didn’t clear the threshold are subject to a few rounds of the popular parlor game, “Who Got Snubbed, And The Tedious And Half-Informed Reasons Why.”

For instance, the big debating point from today’s results will not be about Raines and Guerrero getting in, but what happened to the Bonds and Clemens votes. People have already postulated that a lot of the jump in their respective votes can be directly linked to Bud Selig’s election from the Veterans Committee. Voters who had previously ridden the Hall-as-temple argument suddenly lost their raison d’etre and realized that the PED problem was an industry matter rather than a greedy players’ matter.

In short, they saw Selig getting in as tacit approval that the PED issue was no longer a moral one in baseball but a cynical one, a way to blame labor for management’s culpability. That is an irony whose existence Selig will almost surely deny, but it’s there anyway, and it represents one more non-glacial change in a system that has been nearly immovable for most of its existence.

The next change, of course, may be removing the vote from the BBWAA and turning it over to a more malleable panel of “experts” who may not skew as young and values-neutral as the BBWAA of the future seems to be heading. That course may be hastened if/when Bonds and Clemens are elected, because halls of fame in their more traditional role have been more about rewarding friends and punishing enemies, and a large and shifting electorate makes that harder to accomplish.

The argument against such a course, though, is that the current system of three months of fevered public debate about the same old stuff works for the Hall’s sense of its importance. I mean, MLB Network and its fetish for shrill argument only has so much reach.

By Friday, though, all of this will revert to its typically inert state. Bonds, Clemens (ATALE Schilling), PEDs, morality, practicality, secrecy, old voter/young voter – all of it will fade back into insignificance.

And in a year or two or maybe three, Bonds and Clemens will wipe it all out by being included in the one club that we once knew would never tolerate their presence, and the Hall Of Fame’s Golden Age Of Shrieking Argument will end.

In a weird and largely unpleasant way, it will be missed.