Urban: Deja vu? Sweep could spur Giants moves


Urban: Deja vu? Sweep could spur Giants moves

June 18, 2011


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Mychael Urban

Admit it. Many of you wear paste-gray rubber bracelets that pay tribute to CSNBayArea.com's Senior Insider, Bay Area sports journalism's longtime and legendary Ray of sunshine, bearing the acronym "WWRW?"What Would Ratto Want?As it relates to this weekend's three-game interleague series between the host A's and, let's get real here, the co-host Giants, we already knew what Ratto wanted even before the second installment of this annual home-and-home exercise in trying to glean relevance from whence very little of it generally exists. He wanted to Pachyderms to sweep, and he explained exactly why in one of his typically sardonic, sensible, stab-in-the-stomach salvos.The main reason: big-league ball in the Bay Area is infinitely more interesting when both teams are worth watching, and we haven't been able to say that for a while now. A sweep, reasoned Ray, could serve as a springboard to something of a resurgence.RATTO: Bay Area rooting interest? A's sweep Giants
No argument there. Certainly most A's fans were pleased with the notion -- once the sting of reading that their boys were not currently relevant wore off, that is.And as of late Saturday night, following another Oakland victory in which the Giants appeared to have "Entry of the Gladiators" -- you know, the classic tune you hear as the clowns come running out at the start of every circus -- stuck in their heads for the second consecutive night, all that separated our Ray of sunshine from getting exactly what he wanted was a Trevor Cahill gem in Sunday's matinee finale.Happy Father's Day, Mr. Ratto. Bully!Don't you dare hate on Ratto for this, either, Giants fans. He actually had your best interests at heart here, too.OK, maybe not. As he might very well say himself, his interests outside himself and his family generally have the heart of a serial killer. He's kidding when he says stuff like that, right?But think about it. What happened last year after the Giants were swept out of this lovely tribute to civic harmony and cooperation of a stadium?They got desperate, they got serious, they got off their butts and they got better. A lot better. See: Nov. 1, 2010, Arlington, Tex.Prior to that sweep here last season, the Giants were content to lean on a sublime pitching staff in hopes that it would hold up under the duress of getting a handful of runs at best every game. They'd recently made it clear that there was no interest in picking up local product Pat Burrell, even thought Burrell was available, ready, willing, dirt-cheap and representative of the type of power threat the Giants lacked.The sweep, though, represented such an embarrassment offensively that the club did a quick and wise and desperate 180 on Burrell, who'd been recruited by BFF Aubrey Huff and former Philly teammate Aaron Rowand during a Giants' road trip to Arizona and was brought in not long after the undressing in Oakland.Energized by a return to the National League, Burrell turned back into Pat the Bat, started batting balls over walls, and soon he was joined by other reinforcements as part of an extreme makeover by general manager Brian Sabean.RECAP: Giants Insider gallery: Offensive woes continue
What have the Giants been doing this year thus far? Let's say it together, shall we?They've been leaning on a sublime pitching staff in hopes that it would hold up under the duress of getting a handful of runs at best every game.Is there another Pat the Bat out there right now? Not really. But there is a Bengie Molina, who represents the catching upgrade -- defensively and offensively if he can get himself in shape -- the Giants desperately need, and what on earth would be so wrong with letting bygones be whatever bygones are, signing Molina to a low-risk deal, giving him some time and Hydroxycut and seeing what's what?If what is good, don't stop there. Keep adding. Keep rolling the dice. See if the magic still has juice. Just keep doing stuff and see what sticks.It worked once. Can't hurt to see if it'll work again.And hey, if it does, everybody wins. Even our Ray of sunshine.

Fultz a perfect fit, but do Kings have assets required to trade up?

Fultz a perfect fit, but do Kings have assets required to trade up?

It’s lonely at the top, which is where Markelle Fultz sits on almost every 2017 NBA Draft board. The Brooklyn Nets should be set for the next decade with a big time scoring point guard. Instead, it’s the Boston Celtics who have no choice but to take Fultz with the No. 1 overall selection after a savvy trade that sent veterans Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to the Nets for a stack of picks and players back in 2013.

Fultz can do it all. He’s deadly from the outside, he can take you off the bounce and he has elite passing skills to boot. In a draft packed with star potential, specifically at the point guard position, the freshman from Washington stands out well above the rest.  

It would take a major shake up at the top for Fultz not to have his name called first on draft night, but there are plenty of very talented players sitting on the board behind him. Here is a deeper look at the potential top overall selection.

The Positives:
Fultz has tremendous size, length and athleticism for an NBA point guard. He measured in at 6-foot-5, 195-pounds with a 6-foot-10 wingspan and has a frame built to take on muscle. At just 19-years-old, he is already well defined physically and has plenty of room to grow and get stronger.

A crafty, high-end scorer, Fultz changes speed and direction well and has an advanced Euro-step for a young player. He averaged 23.2 points in 35.7 minutes a night for the Huskies while shooting 47.6 percent from the field and 41.3 percent from three. He can score from all three levels, finish well above the rim and play through contact.

In his lone season in college, Fultz showed that he is not only a legitimate scoring threat, but he is a willing passer and an unselfish teammate. While Lonzo Ball is considered the true pass first point guard of the draft, Fultz had a higher assist rate (35.5 to 31.5) and lower turnover rate (13.4 to 18.2) than the star guard from UCLA.

Fultz rebounds well for his position, averaging 5.7 rebounds per game at Washington. He also has potential as a defender, posting 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks, although he is a work in progress on that end of the floor.

Known as a high-character kid and tireless worker off the court, Fultz has the entire package. He can also play the lead or shooting guard spot, which will come in handy if the Celtics decide to pair him with All-Star Isaiah Thomas in the backcourt.

The Negatives:
9-16 is a concern. Great college players should be able to will their team to victory, even if the talent around them is suspect. Washington was certainly worse off without Fultz down the stretch, losing their last six while he sat with a knee injury.

Shot selection and sloppy ball handling was also an issue this season. In Fultz’ defense, he played with a group that lacked overall talent and those issues might eventually disappear when he’s added to a roster that made it to the Eastern Conference Finals.  

Fultz is a quality chase down defender, but he fell asleep on plenty of plays or didn’t show a consistent fight on the defensive end. Lack of focus allowed for plenty of back cuts. He also showed an inconsistent effort fighting through screens.

He’s a work in progress on the defensive end, like most young players coming into the league. Most of these issues can easily be coached out of him at the next level.

Fultz has an advanced feel and tons of room to expand his game. On the court, he resembles another former Husky in Brandon Roy. Fultz is much further along than Roy was at the same age, but possesses both the ability to score from anywhere on the court, as well as rebound and set up his teammates.  

It’s hard to imagine the Celtics passing on Fultz with the top overall selection, but if they do, teams will scramble trying to move up to select him. He would fit perfectly in the Kings starting backcourt alongside sophomore Buddy Hield, but Sacramento lacks the assets to move from five to one, Fultz’ likely landing spot.


Early offense, six strong from Cueto lift Giants past Braves in finale

Early offense, six strong from Cueto lift Giants past Braves in finale


SAN FRANCISCO -- The blisters on Johnny Cueto's middle and index fingers that limited his effectiveness in his last few starts haven't yet completely healed.

But the two-time All-Star is learning to pitch with them.

Cueto threw six strong innings and Brandon Crawford drove in three runs as the San Francisco Giants defeated the Atlanta Braves 7-1 on Sunday.

Cueto (5-4) bounced back from his roughest stretch as a Giant. He was 0-3 with a 4.33 ERA in his previous four starts.

"They're not bothering me like they were before," Cueto said through a translator. "I'm just getting used to it but I have to continue pitching until they get better."

The Giants won their third straight home series and posted their 11th victory in 18 games overall.

Crawford's two-run single highlighted a four-run second against R.A. Dickey (3-4) that made it 6-0.

Matt Kemp had three hits for Atlanta. But the Braves couldn't get much going against Cueto, who allowed one run on six hits and a walk. Cueto struck out eight, including five in a row at one point.

"He did what he needed to do to get us out," Kemp said. "We had chances to score runs and we didn't. I think in this series we really didn't do a good score of scoring runs."

Dickey allowed a season-high seven runs (six earned) on six hits and five walks in six innings.

"This can be a challenging place to throw because of the wind because it swirls so much," Dickey said.

Eduardo Nunez and Gorkys Hernandez each had two hits for the Giants. Joe Panik tripled to start the second-inning burst.

Cueto had two productive at-bats, bunting a runner to second in the second inning and driving in a run with a sacrifice fly in the third.

"It's always nice to have a lead and I thought Johnny was the sharpest he'd been this year," Giants catcher Buster Posey said. "Hopefully it's something he can build on. The changeup was working really well and his command of the fastball was really good."

Posey was 0 for 2 with two walks. He hasn't struck out in 55 consecutive plate appearances.

The Giants scored the game's first run when Nunez came around from third when a knuckleball glanced off catcher Kurt Suzuki glove in the bottom of the first. The play was ruled a passed ball. Asked if he had any empathy for the plight of his counterpart, Posey said "Yes, no question. It's not fun to hit, it doesn't look fun to catch, either."

Hernandez made a diving catch in the gap in left-center robbing Emilio Bonifacio of an extra-base hit with one out in the seventh inning.

Braves: 2B Brandon Phillips left in the fifth for pinch-hitter Jace Peterson. Phillips fouled a ball off his foot in his last at-bat in the third.

Giants: LHP Madison Bumgarner will start his throwing program on Friday, manager Bruce Bochy said. Bumgarner will start out playing catch and make five rehab starts. The 2014 World Series MVP suffered a separated left shoulder in a dirt biking accident. "The progress is happening," Bochy said. "I think he sees light at the end of the tunnel." ... Slumping rookie INF Christian Arroyo was out of the lineup on Sunday and his playing status appears uncertain. Arroyo, who turns 22 on Tuesday, is 0 for 19 in his last five games. "I'll talk to him, about what his situation is," Bochy said. "I'm definitely planning on giving him a couple of days" off.

Braves: RHP Julio Teheran will make his first career start against the Angels in Anaheim on Monday. He is 3-9 with a 5.63 ERA in 15 career interleague starts.

Giants: LHP Matt Moore will face the Nationals for the second time in his career. He was with Tampa Bay when he gave up two runs in five innings against Washington in 2012.