Urban: Cabrera deal says Giants mean business

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Urban: Cabrera deal says Giants mean business

July 30, 2011

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Mychael Urban
CSNBayArea.com

Say this about Brian Sabean: Hes a man of his word. And then some.A little more than a week ago, during one of his impromptu session with the local press, Sabean verbally spat on the notion that the Giants as currently constructed werent good enough for the club to get where it intended to go. The intended ultimate destination, of course, is right back to Market Street, early November, for another delirious, intoxicating parade.Everyone and their dental hygienist knew that Sabean was going to do his damndest to land Carlos Beltran, but the Giants GM made it clear that in his eyes, Beltran alone wouldnt suffice. He was going to go big, as long as the market allowed him to do so.It has. Since that proclamation, Sabean has backed up his words with action -- the best and only way to engender faith among fans. Talk really is cheap. Acquiring proven, championship-quality talent is not.As such, three very good minor-league arms and a popular outfield prospect with considerable upside are gone. In their stead are starting second baseman Jeff Keppinger, who cost two arms; starting right fielder Beltran, who cost the biggest arm; and now starting shortstop Orlando Cabrera, who came at the cost of Thomas Neal, a gregarious and gifted young man who appeared to be ticketed for left field at AT&T Park sometime in the fairly near future until Saturdays somewhat stunning swap with the Indians.
NEWS: Giants acquire Orlando Cabrera from Indians
Thats exactly the kind of makeover that Sabean alluded was required, and dont be surprised if he makes another move -- the ad reads Championship GM Seeks Catcher With Brains Behind Plate, Brawn In Batters Box -- before Sundays non-waiver trade deadline. Or shortly thereafter; the deadline is a bit overblown that way.Why Cabrera? What does he bring? The first answer is easy: Miguel Tejada didnt work, and Cabrera was the best shortstop available. Emphasis, shortstop.Unlike the Keppinger and Beltran deals, and the deal for a catcher should it materialize, adding Cabrera was not about upgrading the offense. His numbers across the board are nearly identical to those of Tejada, who, quite frankly, is the better and more dangerous hitter between the two.This deal was about getting better up the middle defensively; Cabrera, 36, is only a year younger than Tejada, but hes maintained his range in his old age far better than Tejada, whose timetable for return from his strained abdominal muscle is far from clear.Dont think the lack of news about Freddy Sanchez doesnt factor here, either. Its been said in this space since his shoulder exploded: surgery is the only fix. Rehab is a band-aid all too easy and painful to rip off.So thats part of what Cabrera brings: a better glove than Tejada -- and a better bat than Brandon Crawford, whose roster spot would now appear to be in question given that Giants manager Bruce Bochy recently expressed reluctance to use a rookie as a late-game defensive replacement.What else does Cabrera bring? Class and clout, as evidenced by his short stint with the As, for whom he became a legitimate leader, and by his four playoff appearances in the past four years with four different teams.Thanks to Sabean, who deserves high praise for walking the talk, Cabrera -- and all Giants fans -- should be feeling awfully good about making it 5-for-5.

Barracuda power play leads the way in Game 2 win over Grand Rapids

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Barracuda power play leads the way in Game 2 win over Grand Rapids

SAN JOSE – The Barracuda struck for three power play goals, including the game-winner in the second period by Joakim Ryan, in overcoming the Grand Rapids Griffins at SAP Center on Sunday night, 4-2.

San Jose’s victory evens the best-of-seven Western Conference Finals series at one game apiece.

Grand Rapids erased a 2-0 hole to tie the game in the middle frame, but less than a minute after Matt Ford knotted the score at 2-2 with a rocket from the circle on a Griffins power play, Ryan’s blast from just inside the blue line at 15:28 staked the Barracuda a lead they would keep for the rest of the night. 

The Barracuda finished 3-for-5 on the power play, after going 0-for-6 in a Game 1 loss on Saturday.

“The power play was a lot better tonight,” Ryan said. “We got set up more. We were able to get shots through from the point.”

One of those shots came early, when defenseman Julius Berman beat goalie Jared Coreau from long range just 3:35 into the game with San Jose on a man advantage. Later in the first, on another power play, Ryan Carpenter found open ice in the slot and redirected a Tim Heed pass at 10:44 for his team-leading eighth of the playoffs.

“Coming out, we wanted to get the first goal tonight,” Carpenter said. “For Bergman to get that first goal was huge for us.”

Ryan and Carpenter both attributed the power play success to winning faceoffs, which is something coach Roy Sommer wanted the club to focus on after it dropped the series opener, 3-1.

Winning faceoffs often is an indication of a team’s compete level, and that, too, was lacking for the Barracuda in an opener in which Sommer said his team played “dumb and slow.” 

Sunday was a much better performance.

“Whenever we’ve had a bad start, or a bad game, the next day these guys have responded,” said Sommer, whose club is the top seed in the Western Conference. “They’ve done it all year.”

The series now shifts to Grand Rapids for the next three games, with Game 3 going Wednesday. The primary affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings, the Griffins posted a 25-11-2 record in their own building in the regular season.

The Barracuda, though, should be a confident group on the road. Against San Diego in the second round, San Jose won all three games in Southern California after splitting the first two at home.

“It’s going to be a hell of a series,” Sommer said. “It’s probably going to go the duration, I imagine. Both teams are kind of feeling each other out and kind of have a pretty good idea of what the other guys are doing now.”

Ryan said: “Honestly, I think they are the team in the league that plays the most like us. I felt like last night they did a better job of taking the game to us. I thought we came out better tonight, and we battled harder, competed more, won more pucks. They’re a really good team, it’s going to be a battle the rest of the series, for sure. They’re not going to lay down.”

Barclay Goodrow’s empty netter with 1:06 left in regulation was the only goal in the third period.

The Barracuda outshot the Griffins, 40-35, including a 20-11 advantage in the first period.

No sweep here: Without Isaiah Thomas, Celtics stun Cavs in Game 3

No sweep here: Without Isaiah Thomas, Celtics stun Cavs in Game 3

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CLEVELAND — Avery Bradley's 3-pointer dropped in with less than a second left and the Boston Celtics, blown out in the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals and playing without star Isaiah Thomas, stunned the Cleveland Cavaliers 111-108 on Sunday night in Game 3 to end the champions' 13-game postseason winning streak.

Bradley's shot from the left wing bounced on the rim four times before going down. It capped a furious comeback by the Celtics, who trailed by 21 in the third quarter before rallying to tighten up a series that appeared to be over.

Marcus Smart scored 27 points, and Bradley had 20 for the Celtics. They were given little chance after losing by 44 in Game 2 and then losing Thomas for the rest of the postseason because of a hip injury.

Kyrie Irving scored 29 points, and Kevin Love 28 for Cleveland. The Cavaliers dropped to 10-1 in the postseason with their first loss since Game 4 of last year's Finals.