Urban: Bay Ball news and notes


Urban: Bay Ball news and notes

Nov. 22, 2010


Mychael Urban

Joey Votto is the National Leagues MVP?Cody Ross got hosed!OK, maybe not. But thats the best we can do in terms of Bay Areabaseball conversation starters right now. Monday marked the start of whats typically a very quiet time onthe games calendar. From Thanksgiving week until the start of the annualwinter meetings, which this year will be held in Orlando, Fla.,Dec. 6-9, front offices tend to stay under the radar.Thats not to say there wont be any big news. There justwont be a torrential downpour; thatll come once the big-name freeagents start signing (i.e., setting the market for everyone else).For now, then, well have to make due with making sense of thesteady drizzle of rumors and roster machinations, including ... Oaklands stalled pursuit of Japanese pitching starHisashi Iwakuma. As first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle,talks between the As and Iwakuma, a 29-year-old righty, have hit a wall-- of cash. The As paid a posting fee of between 16-18million for the right to negotiate with Iwakuma for 30 days, and two weeks intothe process the sides are said to be worlds apart on proposed contract terms. Oaklandwont have to pay that fat fee if it doesnt reach an agreementwith Iwakuma, who apparently wants to be paid like an ace. The As,however, already have an ace in 18-game winner Trevor Cahill, and BrettAnderson and Gio Gonzalez have ace potential. Youve heard the adage that sometimes the best deals are thosethat dont go down? This might be one of them. And dont worry about that deal that Vin Mazzaro to the Royals acouple of days after the As won the bidding rights; that was more aboutlanding David DeJesus -- an excellent all-around player -- than it was aboutOaklands supreme confidence in signing Iwakuma.With or without the Japanese import, the As are going to have atremendous rotation in 2011, especially if Josh Outman is 100 percent in hisrecovery from the Tommy John surgery that cut short his breakthrough 2009season. If healthy, Cahill, Anderson,Gonzalez, Outman and Dallas Braden -- with Tyson Ross and Bobby Cramer asinsurance -- would represent the best 1-5 in the American League West.And with the 16-18 million posting fee, plus another 10 million orso for the actual contract, that Oaklandappeared to have earmarked for Iwakuma, theyll have a better shot attruly addressing the glaring need that is their dearth of power. The D-Trains never-ending quest for a return torelevance. Its a sad story, really. Dontrelle Willis was oneof the most charismatic players in the game when he burst onto the scene as arookie on FloridasWorld Series-winning 2003 team, but injuries and anxiety issues have sincerobbed him of his confidence and command.They havent robbed him of his love for the game, though. Thatmuch is obvious. And perhaps because of that charisma, teams continue to givehim chance after chance to find his once-funky, fantastic form. Hes a Tiger! Hes a Diamondback! Hes a Giant! Andas of Monday, hes a Red, signed today. All in the past six months alone. Good luck to one of Alamedasfavorite sons. Darren Ford avoiding time behind bars. TheGiants speedy outfielder entered a pre-trial intervention program that keepshim out of jail in connection with a November 2009 arrest for essentiallystealing 300 from the car dealership at which he worked and making up a storyabout it being taken from him at gunpoint.Ford, who provided one of the seasons more memorable momentswith his mad dash home in a big September win over the Rockies,declined comment after reaching a deal with prosecutors.The deal means Ford wont have a criminal record in his hometownof Vineland, N.J.,and thats probably a relief to Vinelandmayor Robert Romano. Last week, Romano gave Ford a key to the city. The unenviable task of Nick Paparesta.Whos that? The guy the As just hired as their head athletic trainer.And we can neither confirm nor deny that he sprained a finger reaching for thepen with which he signed his contract.
What's on your mind? Email Mychael and let him know. He may use it in his Mailbag.

Giants Notes: Span feeling better, hopes to return to lineup Wednesday


Giants Notes: Span feeling better, hopes to return to lineup Wednesday

CHICAGO -- Joe Panik's leadoff homer in the series opener was a jolt, but the Giants are a much more dangerous offense when Denard Span is clicking atop the lineup, a spot ahead of Panik, and they hope to have that duo going Wednesday. Span got treatment all day Tuesday and said he could return to the lineup against Kyle Hendricks. 

"The swelling has gone down," Span said of his sprained left thumb. "The thing to do is to come in tomorrow, test it out, and if it feels good, you strap it on."

Span said an X-ray came back clean, but he didn't grab a bat Tuesday to test the thumb, focusing instead on treatment. He is batting .326 in nine games since coming off the DL. His replacement in center this week, Gorkys Hernandez, was 0-for-3 against Jon Lester, lowering his average to .160. 

--- The main story from the second game of this series: Johnny Cueto is now dealing with a second blister, and you can see the lack of movement on his pitches. The Cubs took advantage. Lester didn't need much help while throwing a 99-pitch complete game in two hours and five minutes. 

"He threw a lot more changeups than we've seen in the past," Buster Posey said. "He's shown it in the past but tonight he had good command of it. It wasn't just a show-me pitch. He used it a lot and threw it to lefties as well.

Posey twice grounded short rollers in front of the plate.

--- Posey's throw to nab Javy Baez on Monday was one of the best of the year, and on Tuesday afternoon, Bruce Bochy said, "If he's given a chance, I don't think there's anyone better in the game." That might be true, but Willson Contreras is threatening to get into the conversation. He threw an 85 mph rocket to second in the fifth to nab Eduardo Nuñez. If you're wondering how Lester -- who flat-out has the yips about throwing to first base and doesn't do it -- has allowed just six stolen bases this season, look no further than his young catcher. Long-term, Contreras is the guy I would expect to compete with Posey for Gold Gloves. 

"Nuney, with his speed, can go," Bochy said. "Their catcher made a great throw. Put it right on the money."

--- From before Tuesday's game, what do the relievers think of the new hidden bullpen at Wrigley? And if you missed the Power Rankings the other day, the records are outdated, but there are updates in here on old friends Matt Duffy, Chris Heston, Tommy Joseph, Adalberto Mejia, Yusmeiro Petit and others. Petit in particular is incredible ... just keeps doing his thing. 

--- This play was made by the shortstop. That's good for the old UZR.

Injuries to Hahn, Alonso compound A's loss to Marlins

Injuries to Hahn, Alonso compound A's loss to Marlins

OAKLAND — Their pitching staff got banged up throughout the night, but the A’s hope the only lasting damage they absorbed Tuesday night was on the scoreboard.

In the process of an 11-9 defeat to the Miami Marlins, they lost starting pitcher Jesse Hahn to a strained triceps and first baseman Yonder Alonso to a contusion on his right hand and wrist.

The early diagnosis showed they may have dodged a bullet with Alonso — X-rays came back negative for a fracture after he was hit flush in the wrist area on a pitch from lefty Jarlin Garcia. Alonso initially walked off the field after being hit, but after a few moments re-emerged and took first base to run. He was replaced on defense in the seventh.

“I’ve had some history with my hand,” Alonso said afterward. “I broke it three or four years ago. At the time when I got hit, I felt like that was the case all over again. The pain started going away, that’s when I realized I think I’m OK.”

Alonso’s wrist and hand began to swell while he was running the bases, and he had to exit the game. The first baseman had missed the four previous games with a sore left knee, then proceeded to homer in his first at-bat Tuesday, pulling him back into a tie with Khris Davis for the team homer lead at 13. Suffering another injury in the same game could be classified as rotten timing, but Alonso came away feeling fortunate all things considered.

“I think we got very lucky,” he said. “It got me right on the wrist but a little bit on the hand as well. We’re lucky that there’s no break. You just gotta move forward.”

Manager Bob Melvin said Alonso would be a game-time decision for whether he’ll start Wednesday afternoon’s series finale, but with the A’s off Thursday, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they rested Alonso in an attempt to let him heal up for Friday’s road trip opener against the Yankees.

Hahn’s condition seems more ambiguous, and perhaps more troubling. He said he felt fine warming up before Tuesday’s game, but when he took the mound to warm up before the third, he experienced a drop in velocity and couldn’t figure out why.

“I experienced some tightness near my triceps and a big velocity decrease,” Hahn said. “The ball wasn’t coming out (well) at all. It was a weird feeling. I’ve dealt with elbow (problems) before. Usually for me when I have elbow pain I can feel it on my pitches, and I didn’t feel it. It was kinda weird. … It almost felt like a dead arm.”

Hahn gave up a leadoff single to Christian Yelich in the third, then was taken out of the game. Afterward, he and the training staff discussed the possibility of getting an MRI but nothing had been set in stone.

“I’m throwing the ball as hard as I can and I see 89-90 on the board,” Hahn said. “I know something’s not right. But at the same time, I’m not feeling anything. It leaves you thinking. To be in that state of mind on the mound is not good.”

Should the A’s need to fill Hahn’s rotation spot the next time through, and should they want to dip into the minor league ranks, Daniel Mengden is on the same turn with Triple-A Nashville and threw seven scoreless innings Tuesday (81 pitches). He’s on the 40-man roster. Jharel Cotton and Daniel Gossett also are coming off great outings for Nashville, though their turns in the rotation don’t line up as good with Hahn’s.