Pagan gets what he wants, where he wants it


Pagan gets what he wants, where he wants it

SAN FRANCISCO -- Exactly one year after he was originally acquired from the Mets, Angel Pagan received real financial security for the first time in his career. The seven-year veteran has never had a deal lengthier than two years or one that earned more than $5 million a season. Next season will mark his first of four with the Giants, where he will earn an average of $10 million, and the man who calls himself "Crazy Horse" is looking forward to settling down in an area he has fast grown to love.

"The Giants were my No. 1 priority," Pagan told beat reporters at Comcast SportsNet's San Francisco studios Friday. "Then the other teams."

Pagan, who passed his physical Friday morning, was one of three free agents the Giants re-signed, joining Marco Scutaro and Jeremy Affeldt with a four-year contract worth $40 million dollars.

Pagan acknowledged he had multiple three-year contract offers on the table, but that he was looking for more.

"The Giants were the first ones to offer that fourth year, like I was hoping," Pagan said. "Right after they did it, I didn't hesitate. I wasn't waiting for another team."

If it was another team that proposed a four-year contract, though, Pagan most certainly would have given the Giants a chance to match the offer.

With his finances secured, Pagan is looking to move his family to the Bay Area. His two daughters, who are currently schooling in Puerto Rico, love San Francisco, and they could be seeing a lot more of it, if their dad can maneuver the local housing market.

"I'm looking to buy a house here in San Francisco right now, but they are pretty expensive," Pagan said with a laugh.

It was the right decision for his family, but there was another influence that drew Pagan back to the Bay.

"Nothing makes me happier than to be back to play with my teammates," Pagan said meaningfully.

He remained in contact with fellow table-setter Marco Scutaro nearly every day, updating each other with contract talk and reaffirming their desires to be reunited atop the Giants lineup for seasons to come.

"The chemistry shows on this team," Pagan said. "When we go out there trying to compete with one common goal -- not as teammates, but as brothers."

Scutaro wasn't the only teammate he stayed close with, though. Pagan cited Madison Bumgarner and Brandon Belt as others he communicated with frequently.

"I used to mess with them, telling them, 'It was nice playing with you guys.'" Pagan said. "They said 'Don't say that, again!' I have a lot of respect for my teammates because they showed me a lot of love."

Tough love, too. Recalling a conversation in the aftermath of the World Series, a group of teammates that included Matt Cain, Ryan Vogelsong and Buster Posey approached Pagan in the clubhouse.

"Aye, you better re-sign with us, because if you don't sign, you better wear the best elbow guards out there, 'cause you're going to get smoked," they said to him.

It was said in jest, but Pagan kept that moment close to his heart.

"That's something that makes you feel good, that they want you back," Pagan said. "And that's why I want to go out there and win championships, because I know my team would do the same for me."

Following the team's 2010 World Series title, the Giants won 86 games and failed to reach the playoffs in 2011. Pagan isn't concerned about a drop-off after the 2012 title. He plans to keep his sword sharp by representing Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic -- the semifinals and finals of which will be played at AT&T Park.

"The better you are, the higher the expectations."

Pagan, 31, is about two months away from reporting to spring training and realizing just how high the expectations surrounding a four-year, $40 million contract truly are.

Cubs rock Kershaw, reach first World Series since 1945


Cubs rock Kershaw, reach first World Series since 1945


CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton Kershaw, Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.


Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.


Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.

If Cubs get to World Series, injured slugger could make surprise return


If Cubs get to World Series, injured slugger could make surprise return

As if the possibility of clinching their first National League pennant in 71 years didn’t create enough drama and excitement in Wrigleyville, the Cubs have sent Kyle Schwarber to the Arizona Fall League, hoping he can add another chapter to his October legend.
Schwarber earned this chance after beating every expectation in his recovery from major surgery on his left knee in April. The Cubs haven’t ruled anything in or out – and still need to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers one more time this weekend – but they want to see how he responds on Saturday with the Mesa Solar Sox and ultimately decide if he would be a viable designated-hitter option for the World Series.
Schwarber gained clearance on Monday from Dr. Daniel Cooper, the head team physician for the Dallas Cowboys who reconstructed his ACL and repaired his LCL after a devastating outfield collision during the first week of the regular season. Schwarber immediately phoned president of baseball operations Theo Epstein after the six-month checkup.   
“I wasn’t expecting the call,” Epstein said. “We got news that was beyond better than we could have expected by any reasonable standard. 
“He asked for a chance to do this. And with as hard as Kyle has worked and as much as this means to him – and potentially to us – we wanted to give him that opportunity.”