Urban: Bay Ball, Hot Stove edition (Dec. 1)


Urban: Bay Ball, Hot Stove edition (Dec. 1)

Dec. 1, 2010

With baseball's annual Winter Meetings set to jump off in full force Monday in Florida, it's exactly the right time to hop into that dusty old dinghy and head out into the restless bay before the next storm hits. The A's are in the lead spot today, so let's start at Jack London Square and head toward McCovey Cove to start what figures to be a fairly bumpy ride The Giants have dominated the Bay Area's Hot Stove doings for the past week or two, but the A's jumped back into the spotlight late Monday when CSNBayArea.com got confirmation that GM Billy Beane was set to meet with free agent Lance Berkman on Tuesday.
RELATED: A's to meet with Berkman
The spotlight got brighter still early Wednesday, when it was reported elsewhere -- by a veteran, conscientious, well-respected local scribe -- that the A's also met Tuesday in Houston with free agent Adam Dunn. Serious candidates for Dunn's services, the A's were said to be, and that got Oakland fans all atwitter (pun intended). Let's face it: Dunn is a heck of a lot more exciting as a potential addition to that power-deficient lineup. Berkman? Not the needle-mover A's fans want to see, and it doesn't help that he's gone public with his disdain for being a DH -- that's kind of where you'd fit best in Oakland, buddy and his preference for playing in the National League.Alll indications are that Beane's meeting with Berkman went well, but Berkman isn't good enough to prompt any sort of move regarding Daric Barton, who is nine years younger (25 vs. 34) and a far a far superior defensive player. Yeah, Berkman hit 45 homers in 2006, but that was while playing in the thimble that is the Astros park, and he had plenty of lineup protection at the time. His power production had dipped every year since, though, and he'd be virtually naked in Oakland's lineup. There's no room for him in the A's outfield, either, so he's a DH at best -- and not the most attractive or healthy option at that. Hideki Matsui would be a far better fit.Dunn, however, would definitely prompt a move to make room at first base. He's a legit slugger, still in his prime, and four years at, say, 60 million total would be a worthy investment despite his defensive shortcomings. He's the epitome of the power bat Oakland needs.Alas, bad things happen to good people, and the report of the BeaneDunn meeting was withdrawn later in the day. Even the very best reporters in the business get burned by bad information from time to ts interest in free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre thus far unrequited, its Berkman or bust. And those two words are a little too close for comfort right now. Brandon Belt, the Giants top prospect, isn't exactly basking in the glow of his stellar 2010 season, which included a star turn as a member of the Arizona Fall League champion Scottsdale Scorpions.I spoke to Belt on the phone Wednesday to set up an interview Friday, but he said, "That's not a great day for me."To clarify: It's not a great day for an interview. It's sure to be a great day in general, though, Belt, back home in West Texas now, is getting married Friday.So we're going to talk again Thursday or early next week. The honeymoon is going to have to wait; his bride-to-be is still in college. The interview, though, will be right here on CSNBayArea.com before you know it. Stay tuned. What of Beltre? I hear he's got an eye on the Angels, who are going to spend whatever it takes this offseason to get back into the contender mix in the AL West next season. Carl Crawford is likely to land there, too, and Crawford and Beltre would turn things around in Anaheim in a hurry.That makes adding a Matsui type -- Berkman at the very least, because Jack Cust is all but gone -- all the more urgent for the A's, whose pitching is great but not so great that it can carry a team that scores less than Les Nessman of WKRP in Cincinnati. The Giants' signing of Miguel Tejada should serve as another kick in the butt for Pablo Sandoval, who appears to be penciled in as the starting third baseman in 2011. But that pencil has a big, fat eraser on it, and with Mark DeRosa said to be headed for 100 percent readiness come spring, Sandoval better be digging him some lettuce sandwiches for the holidays.DeRosa is being paid starter's money, too, and if he's healthy and Sandoval comes to camp still looking like the Michelin Man, DeRosa will happily claim the hot corner. Food for thought for the Panda; just don't smother it with cheese and sour cream, big boy.Smart move by the Giants, by the way, to basically tell their dough boy that he's on his own this winter. No more "Camp Panda" or hand-holding. It's time to find out, once and for all, exactly what makes the guy tick, and leaving him to his own devices -- and vices -- this time around should provide the all-important answer come February. That's it for now, folks. I'm leaving for the Winter Meetings on Sunday, so if you have a coverage idea, drop me a line at murban@comcastsportsnet.com. Until then, peace, Taco Bell's chicken flatbread sandwiches, and Love Gun by Kiss to all.
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Altidore, Dempsey lead US past Costa Rica, into Gold Cup final at Levi's


Altidore, Dempsey lead US past Costa Rica, into Gold Cup final at Levi's


ARLINGTON, Texas — Clint Dempsey fed Jozy Altidore for the go-ahead goal, then scored on a free kick to match Landon Donovan’s American record with his 57th international goal and lead the United States over Costa Rica 2-0 Saturday night and into the CONCACAF Gold Cup championship game.

Playing in his home state of Texas, the 34-year-old Dempsey entered in the 66th minute and made a perfectly timed through pass six minutes later that allowed Altidore to break in alone and beat Patrick Pemberton with a left-footed shot from 10 yards.

Dempsey doubled the lead in the 82nd minute with a 27-yard shot that went around a four-man defensive wall and got past Pemberton on two bounces.

“I saw the keeper cheating a little bit, and it went in,” Dempsey said.

Dempsey has 136 international appearances, trailing only Cobi Jones (164) and Donovan (157) among American players. The assist was his 20th for the national team.

“Coming back from two heart procedures, being able to still play at this level,” Dempsey said in his Texas twang, “living a dream. So I’m happy.”

Trying for their sixth Gold Cup title and first since 2013, the Americans play Mexico or Jamaica in the final on Wednesday at Santa Clara, California.

The U.S. improved to 8-0-5 since Bruce Arena replaced Jurgen Klinsmann in November and returned for a second stint as national team coach. Arena can become the first coach to win three Gold Cup titles following championships in 2002 and 2005.

Tim Howard got his second straight shutout, making key saves on Marco Urena in the 37th and 71st minutes.

After the second save, Dempsey took a pass from Darlington Nagbe in the center circle, made a cut, and took three touches as he sprinted toward goal. Altidore one-timed a shot for his first national team goal since September and ripped off his No. 27 jersey in a wild celebration, earning a yellow card.

Dempsey’s goal sealed the win, putting the U.S. back in the championship after a shocking semifinal loss to Jamaica two years ago. He was playing for the first time in AT&T Stadium, the $1.2 billion home stadium of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys that is about 180 miles from his hometown of Nacogdoches.

“Congratulations, Clint,” Donovan said while working on the Fox telecast of the game. “Feel free to stop now, we’ll share it together.”

After starting in Wednesday’s quarterfinal win over El Salvador, Dempsey moved to a reserve role against the Ticos. While the U.S. inserted five new starters in a roster rotation, Costa Rica went with the same 11 players who started in Wednesday’s win against Panama.

Costa Rica routed the U.S. 4-0 at home in a World Cup qualifier in November, the final game before Klinsmann was fired and Arena was brought back. And up ahead is another matchup, a qualifier on Sept. 1 at Harrison, New Jersey.

Morris, one of the new starters, hit a post just 11 seconds in.

Just before kickoff, El Salvador defender Henry Romero was suspended for his nation’s next six competitive matches and midfielder Darwin Ceren for the next three, those penalties coming three days after Romero bit Altidore and Ceren bit Omar Gonzalez during the quarterfinal. The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football said the discipline was issued by the Gold Cup disciplinary committee for “anti-sporting behavior.”

A's blow five-run lead, watch Mets walk off with victory

A's blow five-run lead, watch Mets walk off with victory


NEW YORK -- Wilmer Flores hit a solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the New York Mets rallied from an early five-run deficit to beat the Oakland Athletics 6-5 Saturday night for their fourth consecutive victory.

Pinch-hitter Lucas Duda delivered a tying single with two outs in the eighth off left-hander Daniel CoulombeJay Bruce hit a two-run homer in the sixth to begin New York's comeback, and Jose Reyes tripled twice.

Flores connected on a 96 mph fastball from Simon Castro (0-1), sending a line drive to left field for the second game-ending homer of his career. That sent a frenzied crowd of 39,629 home happy - hours after fans lined up early in the heat outside Citi Field to get their Noah Syndergaard as Thor bobbleheads.

Matt Joyce hit a leadoff home run and Matt Chapman added a prodigious shot for Oakland, which scored four in the first off struggling Mets starter Zack Wheeler.

Sean Manaea took a shutout into the sixth but then wilted after throwing a career-high 115 pitches Sunday in his previous start, a win against Cleveland.

Hansel Robles (6-1) tossed a hitless inning to win for the second straight day.

With Mets second baseman Neil Walker nearing a return from the disabled list, perhaps Monday in San Diego, Asdrubal Cabrera made his first major league start at third and played flawless defense after working out at the position once. Cabrera's only previous appearance at the hot corner came during his rookie season in 2007 with Cleveland. "He's a middle infielder who's going to play third base. Got great hands, great arm. He'll be fine," manager Terry Collins said. Cabrera initially balked at shifting from shortstop to second when he came off the DL about a month ago.

Athletics: Ryon Healy had a pinch-hit single after getting hit near the left temple by a bad-hop grounder Friday night. Healy went through the concussion protocol and was cleared, manager Bob Melvin said. ... Melvin said he would have news after the game regarding RHP Jharel Cotton, on the DL since July 4 with a blister on his right thumb. Cotton threw a bullpen Friday. Oakland needs a starter for Monday night at Toronto. ... INF-OF Chad Pinder (strained left hamstring) homered Friday on his rehab assignment with Triple-A Nashville and could come off the DL when Oakland begins a homestand next weekend. "That's kind of the target area," Melvin said.

Mets: Walker (left hamstring) went 1 for 3 with Triple-A Las Vegas at Memphis in the first game of rehab assignment. The switch-hitter has been on the DL since June 15. ... LHP Josh Smoker threw a scoreless sixth in his first outing since coming off the disabled list Thursday. Smoker had been sidelined since June 14 with a strained left shoulder.

Oakland rookie right-hander Daniel Gossett (1-5, 5.79 ERA) makes his eighth career start in Sunday's series finale against RHP Rafael Montero (1-6, 5.40). Gossett has given up 10 homers in 37 1/3 innings after yielding only four in 60 2/3 innings at Triple-A.