Giants Insider notebook: Speed kills

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Giants Insider notebook: Speed kills

April 26, 2011BOX SCORE GIANTS VIDEOMLB PAGE MLB SCOREBOARDMychael Urban
CSNBayArea.com
Goat to hero: Darren Ford, who failed to execute a bunt properly in the top of the 10th inning, turned his night around very quickly by scampering all the way to third base after a pick-off attempt went awry and then -- pulling a move straight out of the Little League playbook -- boldly dashing for home while Freddy Sanchez was grounding out with the infield in. Speed: You can't teach it and it kills.RECAP: Giants ride Ford's speed to 3-2 win over Pirates
"I know the game is on the line," Ford told Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper on the game broadcast. "I gotta go out there and use my speed and it worked out today."
This is not the first time Ford's speed has led to a Giants win. On Sept. 1, 2010 -- the day he was called up -- Ford entered a tie game against the Rockies as a pinch-runner and scored the go-ahead run when he tried to steal third base, saw the throw sail into the outfield and made it all the way home.

Uncle Nasty: Pirates starter Charlie Morton gave the Giants fits all night, dominating with pinpoint command of a sinker that CSN Bay Area analyst Shawn Estes compared to that of Kevin Brown, who at one time was the top sinkerballer in the game. Morton, who flummoxed the Braves organization as a prospect with all the physical tools but much to be learned about the mental side, appears to have put it all together in the Steel City. He slipped a sinker under Buster Posey's bat for a tone-setting strikeout early in the game, and he went back to it over and over with great success.Cain was able: It was turn-back-the-clock time for Giants starter Matt Cain, and a pleasant trip to yesteryear it wasn't. Cain, formerly the poster boy for criminal lack of run support, spent the whole night working without a safety net. For a while it looked like Garret Jones' solo home run in the second inning on a hanging breaking ball was going to be all the Bucs needed, but Aubrey Huff's sixth-inning sacrifice fly locked things back up -- momentarily. Lyle Overbay's poke past third baseman Pablo Sandoval in the bottom of the frame put the Pirates back in front and again brought to the game the feeling that the Giants' only hope was to get Morton off the mound. Cain gave up four hits and a walk while striking out six over six strong innings.Chess match: Pirates manager Clint Hurdle appeared to do the Giants a favor when he lifted Morton with runners at first and second and nobody out in the seventh inning, but that's how much faith Hurdle has in his bullpen. At that point, Giants manager Bruce Bochy had a huge decision to make: have Cody Ross bunt the runners over, or let him take his hacks against Pittsburgh right-hander Chris Resop. Bochy decided against it; no surprise there. Ross has home-run power, and Bochy isn't big on bunting in general. But it backfired, with Ross and struggling Miguel Tejada both popping out in foul ground, and pinch hitter Mike Fontenot struck out to end the promising threat.Big-time Buster: It's what he does. It's who he is. Just when the Giants looked ready to shoot themselves in the foot again, after Aubrey Huff popped out with runners at the corners and nobody out in the eighth, Buster Posey jumped on the first pitch he saw from Jose Veras and launched it high and deep to left field for the game-tying sacrifice fly that took Cain off the hook for the loss. Props to Freddy Sanchez, too, for executing a hit-and-run by shooting a single through the left side to allow pinch runner Darren Ford to glide from first to third ahead of Huff's at-bat.

Decision time for A's: Trade Sonny Gray now or later?

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AP

Decision time for A's: Trade Sonny Gray now or later?

As Sonny Gray prepares to take the mound against Toronto on Tuesday night, there’s not a hotter name in the rumor mill as the major leagues’ non-waiver trade deadline approaches Monday.

Yet there’s a contradiction attached to the A’s right-hander. He is simultaneously the likeliest Athletic to be traded, and the toughest to pry away simply because of what the team will demand in return.

The markets for first baseman Yonder Alonso and second baseman Jed Lowrie haven’t developed as expected, to the point that you wonder how much the A’s could even get in return for them right now.

That focuses the spotlight squarely on Gray, 27, who has posted a 1.62 ERA over his last five starts and comes with two more seasons of team control before he hits free agency. That’s why he’s been linked to no fewer than nine contending teams who are looking for starting pitching.

The A’s sit in a position of strength here. They don’t have to deal Gray right now, and indications from within the organization are that they don’t feel a pressing need to deal him before Monday if they don’t get swept off their feet by an offer. They can retain him, and he’ll still hold great value as an offseason trade chip with those two years of team control.

MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi reported Tuesday morning that the Yankees and Nationals — who have already struck a deal with Oakland to get relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson this month — are two teams in particular to watch in the hunt for Gray.

Morosi also reported that the A’s are targeting young outfielders as the anchor of any deal. That makes all the sense in the world given their organizational needs, particularly in center. It’s also in line with what I’ve heard that the A’s would prioritize getting position players in return since they worked so hard over the past couple of years to acquire and draft young starting pitching (though it stands to reason a deal for Gray would be a multi-player package that could also include pitching prospects as well).

Morosi specifically mentions Yankees Single-A center fielder Estevan Florial as a player the A’s like. He’s just 19 and at least a couple years away from the majors. But Billy Beane, the head of Oakland’s baseball operations, said after making the Doolittle/Madson trade that the emphasis moving forward would be on acquiring high-end talent, not necessarily prospects close to being major league-ready.

Other potential Gray suitors have elite outfield prospects in their system: The Astros boast Kyle Tucker, the Nats have Victor Robles and the Mariners have Kyle Lewis, though it’s doubtful whether Seattle has enough elsewhere in its farm system to assemble a package to land Gray.

Just a hunch, but keep an eye on the Dodgers as a team that could enter the Sonny Sweepstakes in light of Clayton Kershaw’s lower back injury. There’s strong ties between the Oakland and Los Angeles front offices, and the teams struck a deadline deal last summer that sent Rich Hill and Josh Reddick to the Dodgers. They have one of the majors’ top outfield prospects in Alex Verdugo, who’s currently at Triple-A.

Though much mystery remains, an eventual trade of Gray is inevitable. The A’s have a solid base of young pitching depth, both in the majors and coming up through the system. And Gray’s rebound from a poor 2016, combined with his favorable contract status, makes him too tantalizing a trade chip for the A’s not to make the move.

The key question is not “if” but “when.”

 

Report: Blazers trade Allen Crabbe

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USATI

Report: Blazers trade Allen Crabbe

Allen Crabbe will end up in Brooklyn after all.

The Blazers will trade the shooting guard to the Nets, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

In exchange, Brooklyn will send big man Andrew Nicholson to Portland.

Nicholson will not suit up for the the Blazers, as Portland will waive and stretch his contract.

Last summer, Crabbe -- who was a restricted free agent -- signed a 4-year, $75 million sheet from the Nets.

The former Cal star returned to the Pacific Northwest because the Blazers matched the offer.

Last season, Crabbe averaged a career-best 10.7 points per game, while shooting just under 47 percent from the field and over 44 percent from deep.

He averaged just 5.5 points in the opening round of the playoffs against the Warriors.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders and a Web Producer at NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller