Giants

Giants focused on Pagan as Melky Cabrera escapes to Toronto

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Giants focused on Pagan as Melky Cabrera escapes to Toronto

SAN FRANCISCO The Giants did not view re-signing MelkyCabrera as a priority this offseason. Their focus was and is to bring back free-agent center fielder Angel Pagan.

Cabrera was a fallback option, and a conceptual one at that. The Giants never engaged him this offseason, and they only would've gotten involvedif certain folks in baseball operations could convince ownership to consider thepossibility.
So it was not an apple-cart upsetting moment for the Giantstoday when ESPN Deportes broke the news that Cabrera will sign with the TorontoBlue Jays for a two-year contract worth 16 million. The deal is reportedlypending a physical.

The guaranteed money was more than most in the industryexpected Cabrera to receive after he got popped for using exogenoustestosterone last summer and began serving a 50-game suspension on Aug. 15.Its certainly more than the Giants wouldve been willing to give Cabrera underany circumstances. Even if baseball ops could make a compelling case to CEO LarryBaer and ownership to bring back the disgraced outfielder, it wouldve been ona low-risk, one-year contract.

As enlightening as that internal debate wouldve been, itwont happen now.

Oh, and by the way: the Melk Men can circle June 4-5 ontheir calendars. Thats when the Blue Jays visit AT&T Park for aninterleague series. The Giants also play at Toronto May 14-15.

The Giants remain focused on re-signingPagan, and even though the expectation was that Pagan would let the market play out as Carlos Beltran did a year ago, Im told that there is greater optimism that a deal can be reachedbetween the two parties. Giants manager Bruce Bochy talked to Pagan onThursday, and planned to touch base with second baseman Marco Scutaro in the comingdays.

Pagan is looking for at least a three-year contract afterscoring 95 runs and leading the majors with 15 triples. There are other free-agentoutfield options such as Shane Victorino, Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn. ButBourn is expected to command the biggest salary of the bunch, and the Giantsneed a leadoff presence something Pagan provided forcefully after moving backto the No.1 spot in the lineup on Aug. 3.

RELATED: Angel Pagan stats 2012 game logs

Cabrera was plenty forceful in his 4 months as a Giant. Hewas the All-Star Game MVP and was leading the majors in hits and runs when hewas suspended.

As youll recall, Cabrera was eligible for the NLCS andWorld Series after serving the term of his suspension. But the Giants gave himthe 10-foot-pole treatment and declined to even let him work out at the clubsminor league complex to be a candidate to play in the postseason. That was duein large part to the way he tucked tail and left the clubhouse withoutexplanation following the announcement of his suspension; rumors of thepositive test began to circulate before that, and Cabrera lied to teammates,coaches and club officials when asked if they were true. A handler employed byhis agents, Sam and Seth Levinson, also got caught in a harebrained scheme thatincluded a phony product and a phony Web site in a thinly veiled ruse toconvince league officials that Cabrera had inadvertently taken a bannedsubstance.
Cabrera did not issue a confession and apology until afterthe suspension was announced and he had no other recourse but to try to repairhis image. He and his agents extended another olive branch by convincing unionand league officials to amend a rule that would allow him one extra hitlessat-bat to qualify him for the batting title; by changing the rule, it allowedGiants catcher and NL MVP Buster Posey to win the first batting crown by an NLcatcher in 70 years.

It was thought that Cabreras gesture, combined with the Asdecision to re-sign suspended pitcher Bartolo Colon, would create a climate in which the Giants could be more open-minded to re-signing Cabrera. But Im told no negotiations took placebetween the team and Cabrera. And that wasn't just a reflection on the Giants' priorities.

When a kid gets caught stealing acandy bar from a store, he doesnt want to walk into that store again.

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Gary Brown never recovered on the field from 2015 DFA: ‘Hurt me to my core’

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AP

Gary Brown never recovered on the field from 2015 DFA: ‘Hurt me to my core’

There was a time when Gary Brown was considered the Giants’ top prospect – their center fielder of the future. Hype was never higher than in 2011, when the fleet-footed 22-year-old set a franchise record with 188 hits in 131 games, earning California League Rookie of the Year honors with the San Jose Giants in his first full minor league campaign.

But six seasons and seven major league at-bats later, Brown’s professional baseball career ended at 28 years old.

“I feel like I let my emotions get the best of me in the years after that (2011 season),” Brown told NBC Sports Bay Area in an exclusive phone interview. “I think I started to believe the hype that everyone started to give to me.”

Brown never matched his magical .336-season in High-A ball with 14 home runs plus 53 stolen bases, and then struggled finding a routine with the rigors of the Pacific Coast League’s travel schedule once he reached Triple-A. Despite three hits in his seven at-bats as a September call-up with the Giants in 2014, Brown was designated for assignment on March 31, 2015.

Brown’s career spiraled playing the draining waiver game. Unsuccessful stints with the Cardinals and Angels sent Brown to the land of the last chance: Independent ball in the Atlantic League.

“It was not fun for me for quite a few years. I wasn’t a very happy person,” Brown said. “After I got DFA'd by the Giants, that really took a toll on me. I never really recovered from that, so I was kind of stuck in the past and things kind of just got away from me. 

“I was kind of heartbroken to be honest. I mean, it hurt me to my core.”

Through tumultuous career turns, the Southern California native never turned on the team that drafted him 24th overall in 2010.

“I'm thankful for the opportunity the Giants gave me. No matter how big or small mine was, I am very thankful” Brown said emphatically. “I definitely wish I could have shown what I feel like my true potential was, but it didn't work out that way. 

“I still root for the Giants. All my friends with the Giants, I'm still pulling for them. They run that organization so well. I have no ill intentions or anything bad to say about the Giants organization.” 

Far removed from his days with the Giants, Brown found new life with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in 2016. Brown batted .249 and returned to the team in 2017. He started strong with a .298 batting average in 31 games while having fun for the first time in years, but injuries struck at an inopportune time.

Chronic aches in his hip joints and intense back spasms, in addition to a frustrating lack of interest from MLB teams and the fact he and his wife had twins on the way, spurred Brown to retirement in the middle of the season on July 5.

“Retirement has nothing to do with the lack of competitiveness (of the Atlantic League). It was the distance and the time away, matching the minor league salary,” Brown said. “Going back to that makes it really hard on the family and when you get older it really becomes about what you value more.”

The player he once was is gone, but the person he is has only grown. There’s one piece of advice which goes beyond the diamond that Brown was sure to pass on to the next wave of future top Giants prospects.

“Never stop making adjustments,” Brown said ruefully.

Days away from turning 29 on Sept. 28 and out of baseball for the first time in his life, Brown is certainly making his own.

***

Part 2 of our interview with Gary Brown focusing on where he is now in his life will be released Friday on NBCSportsBayArea.com.

Matt Moore blanks Rockies, continues late-season surge

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AP

Matt Moore blanks Rockies, continues late-season surge

SAN FRANCISCO — Matt Moore knew there was something different about his final home start at AT&T Park this season, and not just the fact that he received a loud ovation as he walked off the mound in the seventh. Moore noted later that the outing was the first shutout he has been a part of this year. In fact, it was the first time in 30 starts that he walked off the mound without having allowed a run. 

“I guess it’s better late than never,” he said. 

The Giants are hoping it’s actually a preview of things to come. They counted on Moore to be a big part of their 2017 push, but instead, he likely will finish with the worst ERA of any full-time starter in the National League. Still, general manager Bobby Evans has informed Moore that his 2018 option will be picked up, something that Moore appreciated given the time of year. 

“I always pictured myself here,” he said. 

Whether coincidence or some kind of “weight off the shoulders” situation, Moore’s first start since the public revealing of the decision was his most encouraging of the year. Facing a good lineup, and a team that needed a win desperately, he pitched six shutout innings. The Giants beat the Rockies 4-0. 

Moore was already showing signs of life, with a 3.76 ERA over his seven previous appearances. Bruce Bochy viewed this as another step forward. 

“It’s been getting better and better with each start,” he said. “What he did really well today was on the arm side. He had good balance to both sides of the plate.”

Moore peppered the outside corner with fastballs, and he credited catcher Nick Hundley with stealing a few strikes. The plan allowed Moore to put hitters away in big spots, one of three points of emphasis he brought into the second half. The other two: limiting lefties and getting ahead of hitters.

That’s Moore’s roadmap back to being the player the Giants acquired. For the team as a whole, the roadmap back to relevance is similar to Wednesday’s plan. This is not a home-run hitting lineup, but the Giants are 47-21 when scoring four runs, and Wednesday was a reminder of the different paths to that magical number. 

Brandon Crawford had a solo homer, but the first two runs came on sacrifice flies and the fourth on a walk-wild pitch-single combination. Bochy said he liked “the brand of ball” his team played.

“They executed so well today,” he said. “It’s just good baseball, and that’s what I felt good about.”