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

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

Dec. 21, 2010

URBAN ARCHIVE
GIANTS PAGE GIANTS VIDEO
A'S PAGE A'S VIDEO

Mychael Urban
CSNBayArea.com

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.

A's spring training Day 8: Top pick AJ Puk attracts a crowd

A's spring training Day 8: Top pick AJ Puk attracts a crowd

MESA, Ariz. — The A’s are excited about 2016 top pick A.J. Puk, that much was apparent by the crowd the lefty attracted for his first “live” bullpen session Tuesday.

Among those watching closely were executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane, general manager David Forst, manager Bob Melvin and pitching coach Curt Young.

Puk, who shaved about 20 pounds off his 6-foot-7 frame over the winter, looked strong against a group of hitters that included touted infield prospects Franklin Barreto and Yairo Munoz.

Melvin in particular liked the way Puk, the No. 6 overall pick out of the University of Florida, worked his curve ball into the mix. That’s a pitch he hadn’t used since high school, but he dusted it off back in the fall instructional league with some encouragement from minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson, and he’s working to sharpen it this spring as a complement to his fastball, slider and changeup.

“It’s just nice to have another pitch that’s slower than my other three pitches,” Puk said before Tuesday’s workout.

“It’s a four-pitch mix,” Melvin said. “He’s really starting to distinguish between this slider and curve ball. It was quite a crowd around his cage too. When you’re a young kid you tend to notice that, but I thought he responded really well.”

Puk, 21, is rooming with shortstop Richie Martin, a teammate at Florida whom the A’s made their top pick in 2015. They also lived near each other in Tampa this offseason and worked out together.

Puk comes off very quiet upon meeting him, but Martin warns against being fooled.

“It takes him a while, but once he feels comfortable he’ll break out. You’ll see.”

Melvin was impressed with Puk’s physical shape, saying he’s fielded his position well in pitchers’ fielding drills.

CAMP BATTLE Jesse Hahn will start the A’s Cactus League opener Saturday against the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs. It’ll be a chance for Hahn to make an early impression in his bid for the fifth starter spot.

“After the year he had (in 2016), it’s important for him this year. We have to show some faith in him,” Melvin said. “He performed well for us the year before. Last year wasn’t really consistent. We’ll try to get him out there and get him off to a good start.”

Kendall Graveman will take the ball in Sunday’s spring home opener against the Angels. Sonny Gray and Sean Manaea both will pitch Monday against the Giants and Jharel Cotton and Andrew Triggs will be among the group throwing Tuesday against the Indians.

PROSPECT WATCH: Sean Murphy, the A’s third-round pick in June, has shown a very strong throwing arm early in camp. Is it any wonder Melvin, an ex-catcher, was impressed?

“The kid can throw, it’s special,” Melvin said. “We really like him.”

NOTEWORTHY: Still no word on when reliever Santiago Casilla will arrive at camp from the Dominican Republic. Melvin said he isn’t concerned at this stage, and noted that Casilla has been working out at the team’s complex in the Dominican Republic and gave a motivational talk to the younger players there.

Cousins thanks Sacramento: 'Wouldn't trade it for anything'

Cousins thanks Sacramento: 'Wouldn't trade it for anything'

The Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, prompting the All-Star big man to post a heartfelt message on his Instagram account.

Words can't even express how hard it is for me to have to leave the city of Sacramento and all of the amazing people that I have met while out here. I gave it my all for you and you gave it right back. The most amazing fans on the planet and I just want you to know that your support has meant everything to me. It's hard to believe that it was seven years ago that this young kid from Alabama showed up in Sacramento scared and not knowing a soul. As I look back upon my time here, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have met so many amazing people, many of whom went out of their way to make me feel right at home from day one. Each and every one of you have played such an important part in my life and helping me become the person I am today. I don't just consider you all as fans, you all are my family...and a couple thousand miles aren't going to change a thing. Thank you Sacramento. 
#LoyaltyisLove #sactownkingforever

Cousins, 26, averaged 27.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.3 blocks and 34.4 minutes per game for the Kings this year.

Words can't even express how hard it is for me to have to leave the city of Sacramento and all of the amazing people that I have met while out here. I gave it my all for you and you gave it right back. The most amazing fans on the planet and I just want you to know that your support has meant everything to me. It's hard to believe that it was seven years ago that this young kid from Alabama showed up in Sacramento scared and not knowing a soul. As I look back upon my time here, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have met so many amazing people, many of whom went out of their way to make me feel right at home from day one. Each and every one of you have played such an important part in my life and helping me become the person I am today. I don't just consider you all as fans, you all are my family...and a couple thousand miles aren't going to change a thing. Thank you Sacramento. #LoyaltyisLove

A post shared by DeMarcus Cousins (@boogiecousins) on