Cain keeping tabs on Hamels and Philly

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Cain keeping tabs on Hamels and Philly

SCOTTSDALE,Ariz. Their words were so similar, they couldve been reading from the samescript.OnMonday in Phillies camp, left-hander Cole Hamels spent 44 minutes tellingreporters how he loves Philadelphia and hopes to commit long term. But whenasked about accepting a hometown discount, he gracefully dodged the question.He talked about his passion for winning, instead.Youwonder if he called Matt Cain and asked him to send over his transcript fromthe Giants FanFest earlier this month.Iliked the part when they asked if his agent was talking to the team right now,Cain told me. And he said, I know theyre supposed to. That was pretty funny.Yes,Cain is paying attention to Hamels. And for good reason. Swap out their names,change Phillies to Giants and replace left-hander with right-hander.Then try to spot the differences in the two stories.Bothare highly regarded, highly intelligent, durable aces. Both are decorated inthe postseason. (Cain has a 0.00 ERA in three playoff starts, while Hamels is aWorld Series MVP.) Both will hit the open market after making 15 million thisseason. Both have spent their entire careers with the same organization, andtheir well-heeled clubs are keen on bringing them back. Yeah,but hes got longer hair, said Cain, a reference to Hamels Hollywood flair.I dont have as good a figure.Thefigures that really matter are impressive and similar. Hamels, 28, is 74-54with a 3.39 ERA in five seasons. He has a 2.92 ERA and struck out 405 battersthe last two years. Cain, 27, is 69-73 with a 3.35 ERA in six-plus seasons. Hehas a 3.01 ERA and struck out 356 batters the last two years.Theresalso a shared assumption that both are comfortable where they are and wouldaccept a friendly deal to stay something in line with the five-year, 85million that Jered Weaver signed with the Angels. Its not an entirely accurateperception and its certainly not helpful to either pitcher, although Hamelscamp has taken more aggressive steps to combat it.Hamels'agent, John Boggs, told CSN Phillies Insider Jim Salisbury in January thatWeaver was not a fair comparable.Thatcontract is great for Jered. I understand it. But he took a different path andleft a lot of money on the table, Boggs said. He came up through the Angelssystem and grew up in their backyard. Hes pitching where he grew up. Thatsituation appeals to him. Its a similar situation to when I had Tony Gwynn.Without getting into specifics of what were looking for, the Weaver situationis unique to Weaver.Hamelsis a SoCal kid pitching in Philly. The speculation is that hed love pitchingin Dodger blue. Cains motivations are a little different. He is from the Memphisarea, but he met his wife, Chelsea, in Scottsdale and they spend most of theoffseason in Arizona.ItsChelsea who made sure to monitor everything Hamels said on Monday.Oh,shes good about that, Cain said. Ive never been a huge guy to readeverything. She tells me whats going on all over the league. She keeps me inline and thats good for me.Baseballis about to be very good to the Cain clan, whether they reach free agency ornot. Some agents believe that if Cain hits the open market, he'd command a contract greater than the six-year, 137.5 million that Johan Santana got from the Mets in 2008. More recently,C.J. Wilson signed afive-year, 77.5 million deal with the Angels in December but only after turning down sixyears and almost 100 million from the Florida Marlins.AndWilson doesnt have the resume to match Cain or Hamels, who would be the clearstars of the free-agent pitching class next winter. If one signs a long-term deal this spring, it will provide a clear template for the other.
Sois Cain waiting for Hamels to set the market with an extension? Or vice versa?Itdoes seem like it happens that way, Cain said. You end up waiting on otherguys to get a deal done. But you never really know whats going on with them,and they dont know whats going on with us.Soyou cant sit there and wait. Youve got to do your homework on your own.Cainlaughed.Idont know, he said. I guess I should call him and see whats going on,right?

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants dropping series vs Braves

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants dropping series vs Braves

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — The kid who raced The Freeze on Thursday night blew a tire as he hit center field, hobbled for about 50 feet, and then went down for good. He still had a better night than the Giants. 

They blew all four tires in the fifth, giving up eight runs in a nightmare frame that turned a two-run lead into a 12-11 loss. The Giants finished 1-7 on the swing through Denver and Atlanta, and they have lost 18 of their last 23 games. 

But, let’s face it, you’re here already. So here are five more things to know from the night … 

—- Matt Cain was hanging in there until the fifth, and then … disaster. The inning started with Brandon Phillips’ solo shot that cut the lead to one. Then it went single, single before Cain was relieved by Bryan Morris. After that, it was single, single, single, sacrifice fly, homer, flyout, walk, single, pitching change, single. 

—- Morris had to wear it in the fifth because the bullpen is short, and boy, did he wear it. Morris gave up five runs on five hits and a walk. His ERA jumped two full points in two-thirds of an inning. 

—- Kyle Crick made his MLB debut in that horrendous bottom of the fifth. The Giants surely did not want to bring him in with runners on, but Bruce Bochy had no choice when Morris blew up. Crick’s first pitch was a 95 mph heater. After giving up a hit in that inning, he pitched a perfect sixth and perfect seventh. Crick topped out at 97 mph. Pretty, pretty good stuff there. He needs to get a long look the rest of this year. 

—- In the second, Buster Posey hit a ball that went 311 feet and had a hit probability of just six percent. Cain hit a ball 357 feet. Posey got a homer that bounced off the top of the wall; Cain just got a double. Baseball is such an odd game.  

—- On a positive note, Javi Lopez, who calls Brandon Belt “Sparky,” repeatedly referred to Posey as Gerald. He’s going to be good at this job. 

Why you shouldn't freak out in June about Cueto's opt-out

Why you shouldn't freak out in June about Cueto's opt-out

SAN FRANCISCO — There’s a very important fact you need to keep in mind when talk of Johnny Cueto’s opt-out comes up, as it so often will over the next six weeks: The Giants always expected him to opt-out after this season, from the moment the ink was dry on the six-year, $130-million contract. 

When you sign at the top of your game and have a chance to hit the market at 31 years old and cash out a second time, you take it. Those are just the rules of professional sports. On the day Cueto was introduced, his agent, Bryce Dixon, said the two-year opt-out was important because they felt Cueto didn’t get a totally fair shot at free agency. 

“Johnny, a little bit unfairly, had a lot of questions about his arm,” Dixon said in December of 2015. “I felt we could reestablish his actual value … He knows he’s as good as (David) Price and (Zack) Greinke, but his situation was a little different.”

The Giants were fine with this, too. The flip side of the opt-out is that if you have the chance to pay a dominant right-hander $46 million over two years, and then escape his mid- to late-thirties, you do it. Every time. You don’t even blink. 

So, here we are, in June of the second year of that deal, with reports that Cueto will opt out. You should take a deep breath because you should have already expected this. But if you didn’t, take comfort in this: By all indications, Cueto has not made a decision, even with the Giants having an unimaginably poor season. 

First of all, Cueto can't make a decision in June. What if the blisters return and he repeats his April ERA a couple more times? What if his elbow starts barking? There are no guarantees with pitchers, and until Cueto gets through the second season, there will be no finality with his decision. 

Aside from the fact that he really can’t make that decision, though, sources insist Cueto hasn’t made up his mind or even thought much about it. People familiar with his thinking continue to say the focus has been baseball all season long, from spring training through his last start. 

Cueto is said to be happy in San Francisco and he enjoys pitching in front of the crowd at AT&T Park. His biggest concern has been wins and losses, and in that respect, this has been a disappointing year for all involved. 

That record has brought the Giants to a crossroads, and this is where it gets interesting. The easy solution is to trade Cueto next month, avoid the opt-out situation entirely, and add prospects to a system lacking them. But, it’s complicated. The Giants do not intend a full teardown, and if they’re going for it again in 2018 — with their core of Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Madison Bumgarner, etc. locked in, that’s the plan — they’ll want that second ace at the top of the rotation. And if Bumgarner doesn’t return to form after an injury, they’ll need Cueto’s presence. 

The Giants have until July 31 to decide what to do with Cueto. He has until three days after the World Series ends to decide what to do with his contract. Here in June, by all indications, those decisions haven’t been made.