Giants' moves all about context

Giants' moves all about context

Jan. 11, 2010


Aubrey Huff, who will become a Giant if he passes his physical Tuesday -- isn't going to make anybody hyperventilate. Neither is Mark DeRosa. And while the return of Juan Uribe was welcome, it wasn't exactly a call-your-mother moment.Three moves, none of them particularly exciting. There might be another move or two in the making, be it the addition of a right-handed early setup man, a fifth starter or a glorified backup catcher to keep Buster Posey's seat warm, but that's your offseason in a nutshell, Giants fans.Is it bumming you out? Given that the two true additions -- DeRosa and Huff -- are the kinds of players we've seen in these parts before, that's certainly understandable. At first whiff, Huff smells a little like Ryan Garko or Shea Hillenbrand or Todd Benzinger, or any of the other 48 underachieving first baseman the Giants have had over the years. He's 33 years old and coming off a dramatic drop-off of a season statistically, and history provides plenty of evidence that some players, when they start to lose it, lose it in a hurry. Might Huff be one of them? The Giants are paying 3 million to find out. It's a relatively small price to pay to see if Huff might have another 2008 -- .30432 HRs108 RBIs.360 OBP -- in him, but if what's discovered is that 2009 -- .2411585.310 -- was the far more accurate predictor, those of us who wonder if a GarkoTravis Ishikawa platoon would have been so bad will be wondering it aloud.And DeRosa, well, he's going to be 35 by Opening Day; he's being paid more by the Giants per year than he's ever made in his career; he's not what anyone would call a true difference-maker; and, um, HE'S GOING TO BE 35 ON OPENING DAY!We've seen this movie before, right? Like, yesterday? Wasn't it called "Being Dave Roberts"? "The World According to Randy Winn"?What we have here is a test -- of patience, faith, and of the kind of optimism that many baseball fans find difficult to muster, particularly when they've been conditioned to disappointment.The optimist, though, looks at what the Giants have done this winter in context with the team's pitching. They had very good pitching in 2009, and they would have made the playoffs were it not for a lineup that did little more than set the bar of offensive ineptitude so low that Jimmy Raye didn't come off as a complete failure.All of that pitching, save Home Run Howry and Brad Penny (whose two-month resurrection with the Giants could very well be proven fool's gold by May), is coming back. And a solid case can be made for most of the pitchers coming back better than ever. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Brian Wilson, Sergio Romo and Jonathan Sanchez aren't yet 28, which is when a great many pitchers start finding their groove. Jeremy Affeldt is 30. Merkin Valdez just turned 28 in November. Barry Zito improved enough last year to suggest that he's not as cooked as we thought.
And give me Madison Bumgarner, the likely No. 5 starter this year at age 20, every day of the week ahead of a bloated contract for Penny that rewards two months of good and ignores the previous year-plus of bad.That's a playoff-worthy staff, and with that staff, the Giants went into the offseason knowing that they didn't absolutely have to have a huge name that would have commanded a huge contract. Jason Bay and Matt Holliday? Not for those prices, thanks. No, what the Giants absolutely have to have in support of their stellar staff is a lineup that's at least marginally better in 2010 than it was in 2009. The moves they've made this winter have clearly been made with that -- not call-your-mother moments -- in mind.--Mychael Urban

GMs have taken all the fun out of Trade Deadline day


GMs have taken all the fun out of Trade Deadline day

The NHL trade deadline came and went Monday night when the Washington Capitals went chips-in on St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.

(For the record, the actual details of the trade are so absurdly complicated that all you will be permitted to know here is that the Caps got Shattenkirk).

But the fact is that, yet again, all the air rushed out of Wednesday’s trade deadline balloon for the hockey media, and the poor sods on set to babysit all the deal-lets and non-deals will weep bitterly as their phones spit out hour after hour of non-information.

At least that’s the way it is playing now. Maybe Pittsburgh will finally close that long-rumored (well, by me, anyway) Sidney Crosby-for-Phil Di Giuseppe deal, but that’s not the way to bet.

But the trade deadline has been slowly but surely dying as general managers find far greater advantage in making their deals away from the time crunch and the persistent phone calls from other general manager, agents and worst of all, media weasels.

For example, the Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans broke the NBA trade deadline as well as the All-Star Game by doing the DeMarcus Cousins deal four days early and midway through the first half, in that order.

And though this wasn’t actually a trade, the Golden State Warriors broke the market back in July by maneuvering their way for the prize of the summer – Zaza Pachulia.

Oh, and the other guy.

In short, the general managers seem to have figured out the simplest way to foil the pressures of the trade deadline – by ignoring the deadline and acting ahead of time, creating their own spoiler alerts by spoiling everyone’s fun before they were fully alerted.

And that leaves the rest of us faced with an empty day of blather after we’ve all gone to the trouble of doubling down on beer and chips.

Ultimately the idea behind the coverage of a trade is to break the news of the trade whenever it happens. And the idea of the trade from the general manager’s view is to better the team and minimize the chance of being fired.

All laudable goals, by and large.

But a trade deadline without some recognizable trades is just another day when you can’t fake working, and who needs that?

What’s needed here then is a trade deadline with teeth and real tangible punishments for everyone involved. I mean, we have chips and guacamole to think of.

For instance, there is no reason why the leagues couldn’t install rules that say that no trade can be announced even to any of the principals (players, agents, medioids, et. al.) except on the day of the deadline. Any teams involved in a deal that breaks the embargo is fined a massive amount of the owners’ (as in both teams’ owners) money.

To make this work, the teams would have to agree no trade could be made between, say, Thanksgiving and the deadline. Or Christmas, depending on how you feel about tryptophan overdosing. But the point is, nothing could get done until the agreed-upon deadline, and it could only be announced to anyone on the day of the deadline.

This is profoundly unfair to the players, of course, but that little issue has never bothered management before when the alternative was money.

It is also not much fun for the media, which has to twiddle its opposables floating rumors that can’t be proven or disproven except on that one day when everyone works from midnight to midnight, wired to the eyelids on six-buck coffee and enough green tea to turn a gall bladder into a souvenir ash tray.

No, this is about making a worthwhile and ironclad trade deadline for the good of the sport, and the business.

Okay, this is about our amusement.

We all like trade deadlines. It gives order to the market, and it centers everyone’s focus on one hyper-adrenalized day to watch out for double-, triple- and quadruple-crosses from general managers wanting to jump each others’ action in search of their own personal Shattenkirks.

It spikes Verizon stock, it makes lots of business for movers and real estate vultures, it provides cheap and disposable fame for about two-thirds of the players in the league, and it makes everyone involved look like twitchy red-eyed zombies on television.

It beats the Bachelorette every time, because among other things it looks a lot more like parents do when they’ve been up all day and night with the colic farms.

In short, a trade deadline is a precious thing not to be discarded just because it’s inconvenient for a few suits and about-to-be-moved employees.

So yeah, Kevin Shattenkirk could have held another day or so. You know, for the good of the game.


Curry blames weatherman for career-worst 0-for-11 from 3-point range

Curry blames weatherman for career-worst 0-for-11 from 3-point range

In the wake of a 119-108 Warriors win over the 76ers Monday night in Philadelphia, Stephen Curry had a ready explanation for his 0-of-11 shooting 3-point distance.

He didn’t properly account for the change in weather.

“The weatherman said it’s like a low-pressure system that was coming in (and) I forgot to adjust to the thickness of the air,” he told reporters at Wells Fargo Center.

Curry’s comment may open to interpretation, but it was clear his sense of humor remained intact even after a career-worst shooting night beyond the arc.

He wasn’t the only Warrior finding it difficult to score from deep. Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green combined to go 5-of-20. The Warriors were 6-of-29 from deep, their second-lowest total of the season.

“It’s weird,” he said. “Not to discredit anything they did. The first half we had a lot of open looks that didn’t go in. Klay made a couple down the stretch. KD made one. Draymond made one from the corner.

“Other than that we still took really good shots that didn’t go in. But for us to still have moxie to withstand that and still pretty much have the lead the whole game and allow our defense to get us a win tonight was kind of our M.O.”

Given that Curry owns the single-game record for triples (13) as well as the single-season record (402), it was most alarming that he couldn’t find at least one. And he had opportunities.

“It happens but you have to try and find other ways to impact the game,” he said. “I was trying to get to the paint a little bit more and just try to make plays. One thing is I don’t get down on myself. Obviously, that’s why I got 11 of them up. I still have confidence the next one is going in and that will stay the same tomorrow.”

The Warriors face the Wizards Tuesday in Washington. In Curry’s last appearance at the Verizon Center, last Feb. 3, he went for 51 points. He was 11-of-15 from deep.

“What I love about Steph is he went 0-11 tonight from three but you wouldn’t know it if you looked at his face,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He never loses confidence; he never hangs his head. It is a sign of a guy with ultimate confidence in his ability and the awareness that it is one of those nights.

“He is likely to come out tomorrow and make about seven in a row at some point. So that’s what I love about Steph. He keeps playing.”