Dodgers sale adds drama to Cain talks

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Dodgers sale adds drama to Cain talks

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. New Los Angeles Dodgers owner MagicJohnson pledged to knock on doors at 12:01 on the day the free-agent marketopens for business after the season.

Take heart, Giants fans. Maybe the Magic Man will have anold address for Matt Cain, who just sold his Diamond Heights house.

Or maybe the Giants will make sure that Cain never hits theopen market.

Based on what Im hearing, the Giants and Cain, perhapsnewly motivated by the Dodgers 2.15 billion sale, have picked up talks againon an extension that will keep the decorated right-hander under contract beyondthis season. Where it goes is anyones guess. But Ill stand by my earlierprediction that both parties have too much mutual interest for a deal not tohappen.

Its a negotiation that is being watched carefully by thePlayers Association. Thats because Cain signed what was viewed as a pair ofclub-friendly extensions earlier in his career. Its particularly important tothe union that Cain get close to market value because the Phillies Cole Hamelsis in an identical position, and the last thing the union wants is for onehigh-profile negotiation to undercut another.

My CSN colleague in Philly, Jim Salisbury, wrote aboutmovement in Hamels talks earlier Wednesday. Substitute Cain and Giants forHamels and Phillies and the story is pretty much identical.

With one major difference. The Dodgers are the Giants NLWest rivals. Seeing Cain in Dodger Blue would be a double concussion to theGiants and their fans.

Its not impossible to imagine the Dodgers new owners -- whojust dropped 2.15 billion, all cash, to purchase the club -- swooping in andtrying to sign both Cain and Hamels if theyre available over the winter,adding to Clayton Kershaw to form what would be a fearsome trio.

The Giants cant operate based on that fear. But they dohave to answer to their fans, who probably will sell out the season for thesecond consecutive year.

GM Brian Sabean has gone on record several times to say thathe will prioritize investing in his pitching staff. Thats the reason theGiants didnt pursue any multiyear contracts over the winter to free agentsgreat (Jose Reyes) or small (Michael Cuddyer). They were keeping their moneyfree for Tim Lincecum and Cain.

So they have to get Cain done especially after Lincecumagreed to just a two-year extension that didnt buy out any of his free-agentyears.

But the Giants also need to be careful. Whatever they giveCain will be an absolute floor for what Lincecum will demand in his next deal.The Giants also cannot in good conscience give Cain a contract at his full,open-market value today because they would be assuming some risk of injury in2012. Theyre entitled to a discount because of that.

Ive tried to divine numbers from both sides and neither iswilling to be so forthcoming. But my best educated guess is that its going totake five years and 110 million to make a deal come together by Opening Day.

There is general optimism among the Giants and Cain has beenas relaxed as Ive ever seen him. So perhaps Giants fans wont have anything toworry about in another week or so.

But perhaps its best if Cains new address is unlisted.

Giants put it together in all phases, get back in win column

Giants put it together in all phases, get back in win column

SAN FRANCISCO — In the bottom of the eighth inning Monday, with the Giants finally running away with one, Johnny Cueto started blowing into a giant wad of bubble gum. He held two hands out, ready to catch remnants of an explosion as Brandon Crawford and Kelby Tomlinson looked on and smiled. 

A few minutes later, players started migrating to the dugout rail as they have done in each of the three starts Ryder Jones has made. They are ready to cheer on a rookie’s first big league hit, even if the wait has been an excruciating one for the third baseman. 

Bruce Bochy likes to say that your personality is better when you’re winning, and his players certainly showed that Monday in snapshots here and there. They woke up to a report that there were fractured in the clubhouse, caused in large part by the new closer. They denied it, they met as a group, and then, finally, they won. 

Jeff Samardzija pitched as he has for two months, the top of the lineup came through over and over again, and Brandon Crawford paced a golden night with the gloves. A 9-2 win over the Rockies was just the second since June 11 and it snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Rockies. Any win is meaningful at this point, but this one seemed to mean just a little bit more given the drama of the day. 

“Despite what people might think, we still have a pretty good group here and we get along just fine,” Crawford said. “We’re all rooting for each other.”

It’s one thing to support teammates off the field, and there’s been no indication that the Giants aren’t doing that. It’s quite another to be hand-in-hand between the lines, and for much of this season, Samardzija has been on an island. 

The right-hander has been Bochy’s best pitcher since Madison Bumgarner went down in the hills outside Denver. But he entered Monday with a 2-9 record and 4.74 ERA inflated by faulty defense. He hasn’t grumbled, but he has grown accustomed to the worst, and when Nolan Arenado bounced a ball deep to the hole in shortstop with two on and two outs in the third, Samardzija figured the game was probably tied. 

“I’m thinking maybe they charge it in the outfield and maybe make a play at home,” Samardzija said. “But with a guy like that at shortstop, things change so fast.”

Crawford scooped the ball on the edge of the grass. He would have liked nothing more than to make an otherworldly throw to first to nail his World Baseball Classic teammate, but he knew the best chance was at third. A couple of days ago, Crawford and Jones discussed how the rookie should cover third on such a play. Jones played it perfectly, retreating in time to catch Crawford’s inning-ending throw. 

“The best thing (about Crawford) is he doesn’t even talk about it,” Samardzija said.

No, Crawford put the spotlight on Jones.

“That’s a pretty heads-up play,” he said. “We talked about it and he was there. It was a funny coincidence.”

The play held the lead, and the Giants kept pushing. The top four hitters in the lineup finished with 10 hits, six RBI and six runs. Brandon Belt had an RBI triple in the five-spot. Crawford drove in a run behind him. Gorkys Hernandez and Kelby Tomlinson added insurance from the bottom. Bochy watched it all from the top step and saw a group collectively relax.

“Just quit fighting it so much,” he said. “There’s a lot of talent in this offense. There’s no reason they can’t put consistent runs on the board. Tonight I just thought the at-bats were so much better and the focus was. Once it started rolling, guys felt better about themselves, and it just got contagious.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' skid-snapping win over Rockies

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AP

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' skid-snapping win over Rockies

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — On a day that started with controversy, Giants players called a meeting following batting practice. Perhaps they were talking about when and where to stretch. Perhaps a reminder was given to keep clubhouse complaints in the actual clubhouse. 

Or, perhaps, the players just decided that enough was enough. 

In a rare display, the Giants put a clean and complete game together. They beat the Rockies 9-2 at AT&T Park, getting just their second win since June 11 and snapping a nine-game losing streak to the Rockies. 

Jeff Samardzija continued his hot streak, the lineup was opportunistic and flashed some power, and the defense sparkled at times. Here are five things to know from the throwback night … 

—- Samardzija walked off to a standing ovation after throwing 112 pitches. He was charged with two earned in 6 1/3 innings. Ignore the record and ERA for a second — his FIP is 3.37 and his xFIP is 2.95. He really is having a very good and underrated season. 

—- Here’s another one for your Samardzija file: Over the past two months, he has 82 strikeouts and three walks. 

—- It was a good day in the race for another Brandon Crawford Gold Glove. Adeiny Hechavarria, one of the few in the National League who even approaches Crawford, was traded to the Rays. Crawford added to the reel by gunning a runner down on third and making a nifty spin-and-throw in the fourth to rob Ian Desmond of a hit. 

—- There are nights where Denard Span looks like a game-changer, and this was one of them. He had a single, walk and triple in his first three plate appearances, scoring twice as the Giants built a 5-0 lead. He was spry in center, too 

—- Nolan Arenado was 0 for 4. Apparently that’s legal now. (It was actually his ninth 0 for 4 or worse against the Giants, in 81 games.)

—- Bonus sixth fact since the Giants won a game: Sam Dyson, acquired basically for free, is the new setup man. That didn’t take long, and it probably won’t be changing anytime soon. Dyson gave up a single but struck out the other three batters he faced.