Pre-Flight Baseball Musings

Pre-Flight Baseball Musings

March 26, 2010

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While waiting out the inevitable flight delay -- it's one of my curses, along with always being next in line behind the person at the grocery store who creates some sort of extraordinary delay -- on my way home from Arizona, a few quick thoughts about recent doings in the desert at Giants and A's camps ...

-- We all like to think good things happen to good people, and it actually happened Friday in the form of the Giants sending Kevin Frandsen to the Red Sox.

Frandsen is good people, and a good player, too.

Things obviously didn't work out with the Giants, for a variety of reasons, but he's only 27 and has a lot of baseball ahead of him. There's no guarantee he'll make the Red Sox roster for Opening Day -- Mike Lowell got hurt Friday, helping Frandsen's chances of landing a utility role -- but regardless, this was absolutely a case of a player needing the proverbial change of scenery.

A San Jose native, Frandsen will be missed by the fans who always pulled for the local boy to make good, but he's going to get a real shot in Boston, and his blue-collar style of play will play beautifully among the hardcores at Fenway Park.

-- If the reports are accurate, contract extensions for Brian Wilson and Jeremy Affeldt are tremendous news for Giants fans.

Both would have been arbitration-eligible again after the season, and locking them up now avoids the potential for something messy going down. Lesson learned, courtesy Mr. Lincecum.

The extensions also keep intact, for at least the present and near future, one of the best setup-closer combos in the game. Not many teams have the type of reliability Affeldt and Wilson represent, providing a huge sense of security when a late lead needs tending.

And, hey, is there a more entertainingfunnyridiculous pair of late relievers in the game? Not bloody likely. These guys are nuts. There's value in that, too.

--And finally, what to make of Ben Sheets? The man on whom the A's took a 10 million gamble got hit HARD by a collection of Giants farmhands Thursday, the latest in a spring-long series of beatdowns.

True, Sheets has never lit up the Cactus League during his star-crossed career. True, he appears healthy after missing all of last season, and given that he's always been dominant when healthy (during the regular season), that's certainly encouraging.

But no matter how much a player or manager or executive says March numbers don't really matter, Sheets' numbers are too ugly to dismiss as totally meaningless.

Time is running out down in the desert, and Sheets is being counted on to take the ball on Opening Day and lead Oakland's return to respectability. He needs to have a decent outing before the bell officially rings, if only to calm the nerves of a loyal fan base growing increasingly impatient while waiting for a team about which it can once again be excited and proud.

... That's all for now. Flight's about to take off, and they just made an announcement: "Price check on organic bean sprouts, please."

-- Mychael Urban

What's on your mind? Email Mychael and let him know. He may use it in his weekly Mailbag.

Warriors eye veteran guard Calderon after release of Weber

Warriors eye veteran guard Calderon after release of Weber

OAKLAND -- Briante Weber’s 20 days with the Warriors came to an end Saturday night, creating a roster opening expected to be filled by veteran point guard Jose Calderon.

“We think we have something in place, but it’s not finalized,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after a 112-95 victory over Brooklyn.

Calderon is in the process to be bought out by the Lakers, after which he will become a free agent. Once he clears waivers, the Warriors, according to multiple sources, will be waiting to offer a physical examination and a contract.

Though Warriors president/general manager Bob Myers stopped short of identifying Calderon by name, his insinuations late Saturday night line up with what was learned from league sources.

“You find that in the playoffs, experience matters,” Myers told CSNBayArea.com.

“I don’t want to diminish (Weber’s) contribution and say he’s not capable,” he added. “He could help a team. But I think sometimes you go with experience when going into the playoffs.”

While Weber is 24, with limited NBA experience, Calderon is 35 and has 12 seasons in the league, including three playoff appearances with two different teams. Moreover, Calderon is a career 41.1-percent 3-point shooter.

Calderon has played sparingly this season and has appeared only once, for five minutes, over the last nine games. In November, his most active month, he played in 11 games, averaging 5.5 points and 3.0 assists while shooting 54.5 percent from the field and 45.0 from beyond the arc.

Not that this made releasing Weber any easier. He had, in a short span of time, become popular with his teammates. Though Weber declined postgame interview requests, Stephen Curry spent a few minutes consoling and encouraging him.

Kerr struggled a bit in announcing that the team was releasing Weber, though the move was made by the front office in consultation with the coaching staff.

“We are making the decision thinking it’s the best thing for the team,” he said. “We make every decision based on that.

Weber played two minutes Saturday, scoring four points on 2-of-3 shooting. He logged a total of 46 minutes spread over seven games.

“He’s a good kid, did everything we asked of him,” Myers said. “But sometimes you’ve got to make tough decisions. Sometimes you’re not even right, but you make the best decision you can at the time.

“But he’s got a future in the NBA. He’ll have options. That’s the best thing about his situation. He’ll be able to choose what’s best for him.”

Sharks Jones, Tierney find more success in Vancouver in 4-1 win

Sharks Jones, Tierney find more success in Vancouver in 4-1 win

VANCOUVER – One of the more appealing NHL road cities, Vancouver dazzles with its beautiful mountain scenery and walkable downtown avenues.

The Sharks undoubtedly relish those aspects of their trips to British Columbia, but more importantly they’ve enjoyed them on a professional basis, too. San Jose won its 10th straight game at Rogers Arena on Saturday, 4-1, kicking off the final push to the playoffs with a victory coming out of the bye week.

“I think we definitely got better as the game went on, and that’s what you’re looking for,” said Mikkel Boedker, who was one of four Sharks’ goal scorers. “We came out with the win.”

Two Sharks in particular have enjoyed their recent excursions into Vancouver. 

Martin Jones was the best player on the ice, making 35 saves in his hometown. He was relied upon early as the Sharks predictably struggled to get their legs underneath them in what was their first game since last Sunday.

Jones made an impressive stop on Loui Eriksson in the first period, and in the second he stopped Jannik Hansen from point blank range with the Sharks holding a 1-0 lead. Later in the second, it was saves on Alex Edler and Hansen again that preserved San Jose’s 2-1 lead at the intermission. Vancouver was outshooting the Sharks 30-16 after 40 minutes, but trailed.

The Sharks rewarded their goalie with scores by Boedker and Logan Couture on the power play to make the final few minutes of the third period relatively easy.

“When [Jones] plays like that it gives us confidence, and we’ve just got to stick with it and keep creating chances, and we did that tonight,” said Boedker, who snapped a 19-game goal drought.

“[Jones] was our best player tonight,” coach Pete DeBoer said.

Jones improved to a perfect 4-0 in Vancouver, all in a San Jose sweater, with a 1.25 goals-against average and .959 save percentage. He spent the bye week in the area, and had several supporters in the stands.

“It’s always fun playing in front of friends and family,” Jones said. “Happy to get the win here.”

Chris Tierney is another player who seems to thrive in Vancouver. He notched a pair of assists and centered the team's most effective line, after getting his first career two-goal game here earlier this month.

His new line, featuring wingers Tomas Hertl and Joel Ward, opened the scoring in the second period, with Hertl finishing off a pass from Tierney after Ward’s breakaway attempt crept just wide of the net. Later, Tierney got a secondary assist on Patrick Marleau’s second period goal, restoring the Sharks' lead at 2-1.

“They did a good job. I thought some of those guys had our better legs early,” DeBoer said of his third line. “It took some of our veteran guys a little longer to get into it.”

Tierney, who was scoreless in eight straight games since his last time at Rogers Arena on Feb. 2, said: “I thought we generated some good chances. I think we can get better, too. We kind of talked on the bench throughout the game of what we can kind of do to improve and where each other is going to be on the ice, but it felt good playing with those guys. It’s easy to create offense with them.”

In seven career games in Vancouver, Tierney has four goals and three assists for seven points.

“Something about the Vancouver air, or Canadian air,” he said. “I always feel good when I play here.”

After dropping a 2-1 overtime decision to Boston in their final game before the break, the Sharks had a five-point lead over the rest of the division headed into a week off. Saturday’s win pushes the lead back up to five points again on Anaheim and Edmonton, and they now have games in hand on both of those teams, too.

It all adds up to a good start in what is the final stretch before the postseason, and a quest for a division title. Overall, the Sharks are 3-0-3 in their last six games, and have just one regulation loss in their last 11 (5-1-5).

“It’s huge, that’s what you play the regular season for,” said Boedker, when asked about the Sharks padding their lead. “You keep trying to gain as many points as you can, and lately we’ve had some overtime losses, but we keep gaining points.”