Urban: Bay Ball -- The Hot Stove is still lit


Urban: Bay Ball -- The Hot Stove is still lit

Dec. 21, 2010


Mychael Urban

TheGiants were very busy early, tending to Aubrey Huff, Miguel Tejada andPat Burrell. The As have been fairly busy throughout, adding DavidDeJesus, Hideki Matsui and Josh Willingham. The Hot Stove of baseballsoffseason is always on, though, and both teams have plenty of time tocontinue shaping what each hopes will be a 2011 contender.

Andwith Christmas but four days away, what better time to hop onto aspeedboat modified to look like Santas sleigh and criss-cross the Bay?From the shores of McCovey Cove to Jack London Square we go On Tuesday the As landed Rich Harden, formerly known to someOaklanders as King Richard. A king no more, Harden is a low-risksigning at 1.5 million, and hes apparently going to get a chance towin the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation. If hes healthy, hell winit. But starting pitchers are asked to go more than five innings maybetwice all spring, and the much safer play for the As would be to turnHarden into a seventh- or eighth-inning guy. Way more bang for the buckthat way.
NEWS: A's deal for Harden finalized
You can stop hyperventilating about those Aaron Rowand-for-KosukeFukudome trade rumors, Giants fans. A Giants source tells me itshighly unlikely to happen for the same reason Rowand-for-Raul Ibaneznever could. Rowand has two years left on his horrible contract, at 12mil a season. Fukudome, like the Phillies Ibanez, has one year left ona bad deal. Oh, and in case you missed it, the Giants and Phils nevertalked about a Rowand trade. Brian Sabean made that clear at the wintermeetings.The one pro to consider -- and surely the As have and are --regarding Harden as a potential starter: If hes healthy enough tomake, say, 15 solid starts, they could flip him before the inevitabletrip to the DL to a team desperate for rotation help. By that time,Josh Outman, who has missed the past season and a half while recoveringfrom Tommy John surgery, should be more than ready to step in. SoOakland would be getting 15 solid starts and a couple of prospects forabout 750,000 without suffering any sort of dropoff when Outman jumpsin.As predicted, Edgar Renterias agent claims his client was misquotedabout being insulted by the Giants offer to pay him 1 million to beTejadas backup. Good for Giants VP of baseball ops Bobby Evans foressentially calling B.S. Theres no way the reporter, ESPNdeportesEnrique Rojas, who is well-respected and highly trusted among Latinballers, makes a mistake like that.
REWIND: Renteria says Giants' offer shows 'lack of respect'
Remember when Billy Beane announced, for the first time as OaklandsGM, that he was going to blow it all up and rebuild? That was beforethe 2008 season, and he said he hoped to have a stable, sustainable,competitive team by 2010. He did. He does. If the 2010 As are healthy,theyre battling the Rangers to the wire. If the 2011 As are healthy,theyve got a good shot at winning the AL West. And while Matsui andWillingham are free agents after this season, with the pitching in handand the restored depth of the farm system, Beane and his crew should becommended for nailing the plan.
NEWS: A's signing of Matsui official
Based on the responses generated via Twitter to last weeks columnbashing Renteria, its been suggested that the Giants might have a PRproblem on their hands if they end up bringing him back. Hard toimagine any ill will lingering past the World Series ring presentationceremony in April, though. Willing it all -- and hitting the home runthat clinched it -- buys that much forgiveness.Forget about the ballpark mess for a moment, and whatever you think ofthe ownership group. Focus on the baseball. The As are a team thatcounts the Pirates, Indians and Royals among their revenuepayrollpeers, yet in Beanes 14 years at the helm, the As have the sixth-bestrecord in all of baseball. Pretty good stuff.
Ratto: Oakland still in game for new A's stadium
Nice to see Tim Lincecum starting to get recognized for what truly wasa sensational year. The further away we get from those rough times inAugust, the easier it is to put the whole picture in perspective. Hewas dominant when he needed to be, and thats the true measure ofgreatness in sports.And finally, dont hold your breath on Adrian Beltre, As fans. Theteam hasnt spoken to Beltres agent, Scott Boras, for a while, andBeane likes his holidays quiet. Maybe things heat up quickly, but fornow that section of the stove is cool to the touch.Thatsall for which we have time, gang. Rides over, and the year is endingsoon, too. Your MLB Insider will never be far away, however, and comenext week we present the Top 10 Stories in Bay Ball 2010. Until then,peace, peppermint bark and Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt -- always gowith the orchestral original whenever possible on holiday tunes -- toall.

Four players score in double figures, Stanford takes down Oregon State


Four players score in double figures, Stanford takes down Oregon State


STANFORD -- Even though Stanford has been buried in the lower half of the Pac-12 standings all season, Reid Travis isn't so sure his team is an underdog against No. 6 Oregon.

That might be a stretch considering the Ducks are making a run at the conference title but that didn't seem to matter to Travis.

"The way we're playing now is great for this time of year," Travis said following Stanford's 79-66 win over Oregon State on Wednesday. "I feel like we're really taking off. Even though our record doesn't reflect it I really do feel that we're one of the top teams so take that as you want to."

Travis had 17 points and eight rebounds to lead four players in double figures. Marcus Allen also scored 17, Dorian Pickens added 15 and Robert Cartwright had 10 as the Cardinal beat the Beavers for the 21st time in the last 23 games between the two teams at Maples Pavilion.

Stanford (14-13, 6-9 Pac-12) led by as many as 25 but had to hold on after Oregon State (5-24, 1-15) pulled within 74-63 with 3:28 left on JaQuori McLaughlin's 3-pointer.

Allen and Pickens scored back-to-back buckets for Stanford, and after Stephen Thompson's putback for Oregon State, Pickens made a 3-pointer.

"We're pointing in the right direction on both ends of the floor," Allen said. "Guys are getting good looks . and on defense we're more active. Hopefully that continues."

Drew Eubanks had 21 points and 14 rebounds for Oregon State. Gligorije Rakocevic added a season-high 16 points for the Beavers, who couldn't follow up after beating Utah last week for their first conference win of the season.

Stanford built a quick double-digit lead despite a strong start by Rakocevic. The 6-foot-11-foot center, averaging 3.8 points going into the game, matched his season high in the first half while scoring 12 points on 6 of 8 shooting.

The Cardinal countered with a more balanced attack after adjusting to the Beavers' zone defense. Travis, Allen, Cartwright and Pickens combined for 32 points in the first half to help Stanford take a 43-33 lead.

The Cardinal also controlled the boards while outscoring the Beavers 46-22 in the paint.

"For us to be at our best we're going to score from the free throw line, like we did in the Cal game, or score around the basket," Stanford coach Jerod Haase said. "Smash-mouth is a football term but if it was a basketball term I think that would be a good word for us."

Travis got Stanford going again after halftime and helped push the Cardinal lead to 69-44.

Eubanks nearly brought Oregon State back. He scored 17 points in the second half, including 13 of the Beavers' first 20.


Oregon State: The Beavers hopes of winning back-to-back games for the first time since beating Prairie View A&M and Texas-San Antonio to open the season didn't last long. They didn't play poorly - Oregon State shot close to 47 percent most of the night - but couldn't match Stanford's run coming out of halftime and never recovered.

Stanford: The win pushed the Cardinal into a tie for seventh place in the Pac-12, still nowhere near enough to get a first-round bye in the conference tournament. The outcome was never in doubt, but Haase was concerned about Stanford's mental approach.


Eubanks and Travis were both hit with technical fouls after a heated exchange in the second half. Although no punches were thrown, Eubanks suffered a bloody nose during the incident and had to be treated near the Beavers' bench.

"We're trying to go at each other as hard as possible so of course there's different plays where a lot of contact happens," Travis said. "I like that. That's how competitors act and we just moved on from it. Unfortunately they called a technical on both of us. I'd like to see us play on in that sense."


Oregon State: Plays at California on Friday night.

Stanford: Hosts No. 6 Oregon on Saturday in the final regular season home at Maples Pavilion this year. The Ducks beat the Cardinal 69-52 on Jan. 21.

Cal blows huge halftime lead, dropped by Oregon on Brooks' game-winner


Cal blows huge halftime lead, dropped by Oregon on Brooks' game-winner


BERKELEY -- Dylan Brooks hit a 3-pointer with 0.2 seconds to play to cap a comeback from 16 points down and No. 6 Oregon beat California 68-65 on Wednesday night to keep its hopes alive for a Pac-12 title.

The Ducks (25-4, 14-2) trailed by 16 points early in the second half and were down 10 with just over 4 minutes left before rallying for the win that moved them a half-game behind Arizona for first place in the conference. Oregon holds the tiebreaker.

Brooks led the Ducks with 22 points and Chris Boucher added 18.

Jabari Bird scored 20 points to lead the way for the Golden Bears (18-9, 9-6), whose hopes for an NCAA Tournament berth were dealt a big blow with this loss.

Consecutive 3-pointers by Boucher, Dylan Ennis and Payton Pritchard cut Cal's 10-point lead to one with just under 3 minutes left. Boucher then gave the Ducks their first lead of the game with a layup that made it 62-61 with 1:48 to go.

Grant Mullins and Brooks traded jumpers before Bird missed a contested 3-pointer with 28 seconds to go. Tyler Dorsey hit one free throw before Ivan Rabb tied the game with a putback of his own miss with 9.7 seconds to play.

That set the stage for Brooks, who hit the 3 that set off a wild celebration for the Ducks.


Oregon: The Ducks finished the season undefeated at home where they have a nation's best 42-game winning streak. They need to prove they can win away from home if they want to have success in the postseason. This comeback win was a start but the task will only get tougher in the Pac-12 and NCAA Tournaments.

California: The Bears had been seeking a signature win to boost their hopes for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. But they blew the lead and a chance at that win as they fell to 1-6 against ranked teams with the only win coming last month at then-No. 25 USC. Cal could get another shot at a top team next month in the Pac-12 Tournament.


Oregon: Visits Stanford on Saturday.

California: Hosts Oregon State on Friday.