Urban: Giants' Keppinger deal solid if unspectacular

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Urban: Giants' Keppinger deal solid if unspectacular

July 19, 2011

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Mychael Urban
CSNBayArea.com

He's not the middle-of-the-order slugger that many Giants fans would love to see brought into the defense of the 2010 World Series title, but he's scrappy in general, solid defensively and rarely strikes out.Welcome to San Francisco, Jeff Keppinger. The world is your crab sandwich.
RELATED: Giants acquire 2B Keppinger from Astros
Keppinger, a 31-year-old second baseman batting .307 with seven strikeouts in 163 at-bats this season, was acquired by the Giants on Tuesday afternoon for minor-league righties Henry Sosa and Jason Stoffel. Not exactly a thriller of a trade, but when you factor in what the Giants need and what they gave up to get some of what they need -- versatility, someone who can hit for a decent average, and a guy who puts the ball in play -- it's an awfully nice little deal.

The right-handed hitting Keppinger, a .284 hitter over parts of seven big-league seasons with the Mets, Royals, Reds and 'Stros, also can play third base, shortstop and in the outfield. The obvious questions: What does this mean for Freddy Sanchez? Is surgery a lock now? What does it mean for Miguel Tejada andor Brandon Crawford? How much will Keppinger play and where will he bat?Those questions will be answered in time. Perhaps as early as early this evening, when Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy address the media. Perhaps even earlier, when I speak with VP of baseball operations Bobby Evans for the latest edition of "Coming Down the Pipes," a part of our "Big Urbcast: Inside the Giants" podcast series.For now, though, this looks like a win for the Giants. They got a good player who is making 2.3 million this year and will be arb-eligible next year so if Sanchez isn't ready for Opening Day 2012, Keppinger will likely be around to keep the chair warm at second base.They gave up a flamethrower in Sosa, but radar guns don't mean a ton without command, and Sosa has never been counted on as a big part of the future because of his lack of command. Stoffel? A throw-in. This isn't about the future, anyway. It's about now. And when you look at Tuesday, July 19 in a few months from now, you might very well look back on it fondly. Brandon Belt is back, too, folks, and that's as thrilling as anything.

Giants lineup: Panik leading off in series opener vs Cubs

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AP

Giants lineup: Panik leading off in series opener vs Cubs

Bruce Bochy and Joe Maddon issued their lineups for today's series opener in Chicago:

Giants (19-26)
1. Joe Panik (L) 2B
2. Christian Arroyo (R) 3B
3. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Eduardo Nunez (R) LF
7. Justin Ruggiano (R) RF
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) CF
9. Ty Blach (R) P (1-2, 4.15 ERA)

Cubs (22-20) 
1. Ben Zobrist (S) LF
2. Albert Almora Jr. (R) CF
3. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
4. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
5. Willson Contreras (R) C
6. Addison Russell (R) SS
7. Jason Heyward (L) RF
8. Javier Baez (R) 2B
9. John Lackey (R) P (4-3, 4.37 ERA)

Entering the NBA Finals 12-0 'would be irrelevant' to the Warriors

Entering the NBA Finals 12-0 'would be irrelevant' to the Warriors

SAN ANTONIO -- The Specter of 73 haunts the Warrior still and you can feel it in their dismissive, yes-but responses to being on the brink of yet another entry into the NBA record book.

Though they do not believe their pursuit and achievement last season of an NBA-record 73 wins sabotaged their chances for a championship, it is evident the Warriors came away with diminished appreciation of gaudy numbers.

They can add to their list of shiny accomplishments Monday night. A victory over the Spurs in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals would make the Warriors the first team ever to open the playoffs with three four-game sweeps and a 12-0 record.

“My wife asked me this morning: What if you guys win and you’re 12-0?” general manager Bob Myers told NBCBayAreaSports.com Monday afternoon. “Well, for me, the record thing kind of got screwed up last year.”

Yes, the record thing. The Warriors chased 73 and got 73 and yet they’ll be known just as much, if not more, as the first team to blew a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals.

“It’s all about 16,” Stephen Curry told NBCSportsBayArea.com.

Getting to 16 wins in the postseason means getting to the top. Winning it all. The very thing the Warriors did not accomplish a year ago.

They are one win away from being three-quarters of the way there.

“Going 12-0 sounds great,” Curry said. “But it probably would have happened if the Lakers would have played a seven-game series to start the run through the playoffs.”

The Lakers twice swept their first three postseason series -- in 1989 and 2001 -- but in both instances the first round was best-of-five. Both streaks ended at 11 in a row.

The Warriors seem to view numbers as decoration, ancillary components to the primary. They may have felt that way all along, but going through what they did last season, losing The Finals to the Cavaliers, provided an acute sense of context.

“It’s unfortunate that we put so much into the last game of the season, or winning the whole thing because there are a lot of things that we, as an organization, should be proud of no matter what happens,” Myers said. “But it’s hard, knowing where were last year, to see that regular-season record and then not win the championship. It’s a mixed feeling.

“So when you talk about records and numbers and things like that, and you know what it’s like to win a championship and you know what it’s like to lose, it’s hard to put them in proper perspective.”

The Warriors have made it clear they are less than impressed with their average victory margin of 16.5 points through the first 11 games in these playoffs. The record is 14.5, set by the Bucks in 1971.

They’re not buying into the hype generated by leading all playoff teams in points per game (117.4) and field-goal percentage (49.7) and field-goal percentage defense (41.6).

Numbers. Just numbers. Like, for example, 73.

“To know that we have a great regular-season record and a tiny little banner in our practice facility, “ Myers said, “it doesn’t feel like it should.

“I wouldn’t go as far as to say it doesn’t mean anything. But it’s hard to really understand what it means right now. And knowing that we’ve been in the midst of all these numbers and records and road-win records and things like that, you get lost in it in good and bad ways. It’s fantastic, but also what does it mean? Because what we’re really trying to do is win a championship.”

Which, of course, comes back to numbers.

“You can learn lessons in winning and you can learn lessons in losing,” Curry said. “It’s just a matter of how you respond from game to game. But 12-0 would be irrelevant come next series.”