Ratto: Ranking Giants' second-half keys


Ratto: Ranking Giants' second-half keys

July 13, 2011


Follow @RattoCSNRay Ratto

Youre sitting there on the back edge of your couch, waiting for Carlos Beltran. Brian Wilson said you could have him, right there during the All-Star Game and you never doubt a single thing the good Swami Saveananda tells you.In short, you have issues that cant really be addressed in this small space..But on the off-chance that the Giants cant make Brandon Belt and picking up Beltrans remaining 8.5M stand up against the expected onslaughts from the Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers and Phillies, lets consider instead what they have, and theyre going to need from what they have, between now and the final table.In order of importance, and set by your author, and not to encourage some sort of dialogue, because frankly, this is the correct list:
RATTO: A's stagger into season's second half

1. Matt Cain: Someone is going to have to be the bloodless stopper for this rotation, which frankly, has been running at about 70 percent efficiency, and Cain spent the All-Star Break topping off on the oil, hydraulic fluids and windshield washer for the rest of the trip. If he breaks down, the Giants break down.2. Aubrey Huff: Not much production, either with power or with simple getting-on-base-i-tude. If he has a second half of any quality in him, it should start, well, sort of now-ish.3. Sergio RomoRamon RamirezJeremy AffeldtJavier LopezSantiago CasillaGuillermo Mota: Because they have been doing yeomans work of the most extraordinary kind getting the Giants from their starters to Ulysses S. Grant, and if any of them lose their yeo between now and then, the whole enterprise could collapse.4. Tim Lincecum: His numbers are as bad as his record, but any faltering is considered the end of his career by those who think the panic button is actually the enter key. The Giants are built on the assumption that four of their five starters are going to be lights out, and Lincecums bulb, while still shining, isnt giving off all the lumens it should.5. Pablo Sandoval: More of his redemptive first half is required, so he doesnt look like a guy who needs to be constantly whipped to perform, and so that the Giants arent turning 2-1 wins into 1-0 losses.6. Cody Ross: The home runs take care of themselves.7. Rasputin: Three blown saves already, which means hes allowed three more.8. Nate Schierholtz: Hes not a regularly capable four-hitter, but he is now better than a fourth outfielder. At least hed better be if the Giants dont want to lament their inability to close the Beltran deal.9. Eli WhitesideChris Stewart: Because catchers do grow on trees, but there arent many trees out there.10. Andres Torres: There are those who think too little and those who think too much. Torres is one of the latter, but maybe if he stops thinking about going bad, hell start going good again.11. Miguel Tejada: This is his salarynew contract drive -- in case hes not motivated solely by showing he can be of greater help to this team.12. Jonathan Sanchez: At some point, hell be back. If he brings his friends Ball One, Ball Two, Ball Three and Ball Four, even Doctor Seuss will hate him.13. Madison BumgarnerRyan Vogelsong: Only one of the two really needs a dominant second half, and it doesnt really matter which one.14. Brian Sabean: Needs to have a trigger, needs to be ready to pull it.15. Belt: The most tradable non-major-league piece. He may serve going as well as coming. Although if Huff cant snap out of it, Belt might have to become the everyday first baseman again.16. The schedule: Favors Arizona down the stretch, so having a nice lead on 91 cant hurt. Of course, San Diego had a nice lead last 91 and, well, you know.17. Aaron RowandPat BurrellEmmanuel Burriss: You can win without a bench, but the 2002 Giants didnt have a bench and lost to the Angels. The 2010 Giants did, and well, you know.18. Brandon Crawford: If he catches the ball and throws the ball, nobody will mind that he hasnt yet mastered the hitting the ball thing.19. Bruce Bochy: He was smart before he got here, hes smart now, and hell be smart in September. He doesnt play, though, and in baseball, brains are defined by quantifiables like runs and outs and wins. Not ruining the bullpen is still Job 1, and he hasnt ruined a bullpen even in years when he didnt have one to ruin.20. Bob-Tie Billy Neukom: Resisting the impulse to be Jerry Jones is vital here. He has two jobs -- saying, We can afford it, or saying We cant afford it. This might be tough given that he doesnt have the distraction of sniveling about a new ballpark, and may have way too much time on his hands, but him going along for the ride worked a year ago, and theres no reason to think it wont again.21. Duane KuiperJon MillerMike KrukowDave FlemmingTito FuentesErwin Higueros: As more and more of the teams games go national, theyll have to bump up their original-insights-per-game numbers. We all know how people reflexively reel when theyre not getting their Giantsiana from The Boys, so panic may result if theyre not at the top of their laryngeal powers down the stretch. One blown double play call, and it could all go crashing down on them all.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.

Internet immediately goes to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal


Internet immediately goes to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal

In what can be considered your standard bolt out of the blue, California head football coach Sonny Dykes has reportedly been fired.

In what can be considered your standard spur-of-the-Internet-moment-connect-the-dots inspiration, the Internet went immediately to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal rumors.

The logic, of course, is impeccable. Dykes never really snapped the Cal program around, taking a bad program and making it, well, mediocre, and he has spent much of the past two years aggressively seeking out other jobs, so one can assume there was at least some trouble in paradise, even if you want to make the case that Cal football and paradise are somehow connected.

And Kelly just got canned by the 49ers as part of Jed York’s latest I-will-not-be-made-to-look-ridiculous twitch, so he could sign a properly modest contract at Berkeley and still get his full $6 million with the offset from the three years left on his Jed deal.

So it makes perfect sense . . . which is why it should be judged with considerable skepticism.

For one, Kelly can almost surely do better in the college job diaspora. Cal is a big name with modest ambitions due in part to constant budget constraints, and there are better jobs out there even if he sits for a year.

For two, Cal and Kelly are an odd fit, given the persistent tensions between academia and athletica at Berkeley.

For three, the job comes with massive roadblocks, including Stanford, USC, Washington and (potentially) a resuscitation of the Oregon he left behind. Success will not come easy, if it does at all.

For four, Cal just finished four years of gimmick offense and overburdened defense, and Kelly would provide a more successful version of the same.

And for five, this is too easy, too simple, too convenient. Something about this scenario must be wrong somewhere. When people hit the Internet with photoshopped Kelly-in-Cal-costumes within minutes of the Dykes announcement, you know this is too obvious to actually come to fruition.

Why? Because we don’t live that well, that’s why.

The beauty of a triumphant Kelly at Cal glowering down at the charred ruin in Santa Clara seems more appealing than it actually is, because try as they might, Cal fans will never be backing the more popular horse here, and Kelly won’t win that battle unless he takes Cal to the Rose Bowl while the 49ers are still grappling over draft positions.

In that way, reality sucks. The idea that Jed York could be mocked in collegial absentia by his two biggest coaching hires is delicious but almost surely illusory.

But until we get more on why Dykes got canned 43 days after the team’s last game – recruiting, academic issues, legal issues, photocopier problems from him sending his resume out so often – all we have is the Chip Kelly rumor-ette to keep us intrigued.

Okay, to keep us amused.

Okay, to keep us from falling over in a coma. Cal should matter more than it does, but it’s been 13 years since the Holiday Bowl zenith of the Jeff Tedford Era, and 25 since Bruce Snyder took the Ursines to the Citrus Bowl. The evidence since 1990 is of a team with bigger dreams than means that is slightly below .500 (160-164). Sonny Dykes leaving means one more coach who didn’t make an impact unless his departure leads to either reassessment of the program’s standards, internal or external sanctions . . .

. . . or what the hell, Chip Kelly. Let’s face it – in these dismal days for wacked-out rumormongering, this is pretty intoxicating stuff.

Warriors are most geographically vague team in history of American sports


Warriors are most geographically vague team in history of American sports

The Philadelphia/San Francisco/Golden State Warriors have always had a casual attitude about their home court, even by the once-flexible standards of the National Basketball Association.

Thus, it should be only slightly amusing but not actually surprising that Warriors chief arenologist Rick Welts is now waffling a bit (courtesy Comrade Poole) on whether the team will change its name to San Francisco Warriors when it moves across the pond in 2019-20, or retain its current geographic association with Narnia.

I mean Golden State. I often confuse utterly fictional locales – when I can be bothered to give a toss either way.

But the Warriors, whether they play in Oakland, San Francisco, Pier 30, Pier 32, Westeros, Hobbiton, the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, Curryvania, the Klingon Empire, the Death Star or Planet Nine, are relocating, and once they break the seal on the earth in 12 days, Welts and his fellow elves will almost surely play the team’s future name as a mildly tedious cliffhanger.

Hey, fun is where you find it.

The matter of the team’s relocation will be a sore subject among lifelong East Bay residents, who have put up with the Warriors for 45 years in various stages of development, including the current “We Almost Never Lose” stage. They regard the Warriors’ transplantation to San Francisco to be an unspeakable crime given the high level of fan allegiance afforded them in Oakland.

And yes, they regard Oakland and San Francisco as very real places, as opposed to Golden State, Freedonia, Vulgaria or the Nexus of All Realities.

It is not yet fully known what San Franciscans think of this development, but that’s the nature of the gamble here. They may embrace the Warriors as the new toy in town and then lose interest, and frankly, neither Welts nor anyone else knows the answer to that.

Either way, their die is cast, and Joe Lacob and Peter Guber are now future former Oakland fixtures. Yes, they are quite fond of the exciting new real estate values and their exciting new unobstructed view of the bay, but it has long been assumed that the move would also entail changing the name back to “San Francisco” for the snob appeal.

Now Welts, who has overseen both arena projects (including the one at Piers 30 and 32 which ended up with the piers beating the Warriors in a rout), tells Comrade Poole that the San Francisco Warriors might not end up as the San Francisco Warriors after all.

“Four years ago, I think the conventional wisdom in our building here in Oakland was that yes, we should attach a city name to the team, then it becomes a more global franchise,” Welts marketing-gobbledy-gooked. “There was a lot of head-scratching four years ago about where the Golden State Warriors even played, in other parts of the world. What’s happened with the team over the course of the ensuing years, until today, has made the Warriors if not the preeminent, at least among the three best-known NBA franchises around the world. And everybody who didn’t know where the Golden State Warriors were four years ago, if you’re a fan today, anywhere in the world, you know where the Golden State Warriors are.”

In Oakland.

Now, the mic drop.

“The team’s success has caused us to really rethink whether or not that’s something we should or want to do,” he added. “I guess it’s fair to say there’s been no final decision made. But if you were a betting man, I think you would probably want to wager that the name might remain the same.”

Of course. Why not stay fictional when specificity might move fewer hoodies?

Then again, this is a team that in its 70 years has played home games in Philadelphia (the Arena, the Civic Center, Lincoln High School and Convention Hall), Hershey and Bethlehem PA, Atlantic City, Trenton, Collingswood and Camden NJ, and Saratoga Springs NY . . .

(a moment’s rest here to catch our breaths)

. . . and then after moving west in 1962, the Cow Palace, San Francisco Civic Auditorium and USF’s Memorial Gym, the Oakland Auditorium, San Jose Civic Auditorium, San Jose Arena, Richmond Auditorium, then Sacramento, Bakersfield, Fresno, San Diego, Eugene, Seattle, Phoenix and Salt Lake City.

In fact, and you can swindle the gullible at your neighborhood tavern with this one, the Warriors’ first game in San Francisco occurred almost three years before the team left Philadelphia. The Warriors played the visitors to the Minneapolis Lakers, who moved to Los Angeles a year later and had already played a regular season game at the Cow Palace earlier in the year, so this game, January 31, 1960, could have been considered a civic scouting trip for both teams as they sought new homes.

In other words, the Warriors are almost surely the most geographically vague team in the history of North American sports. Moreover, they are about to become the first team in sports history to go home for the third time under three different city names – Philadelphia, San Francisco and Krypton, or whatever the hell they want to call themselves this time.