Urban: Giants' lack of rotation depth makes trade tough


Urban: Giants' lack of rotation depth makes trade tough

June 21, 2011


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Mychael Urban

For those among the Giants' fan base in favor of trading Jonathan Sanchez to address the offensive issues so clearly plaguing the defending champs, the Twins on Tuesday offered a very clear and thoughtful reminder of why it might not be such a good idea.In short -- as opposed to the long and painful parade of well-struck spheres that was the top of the first inning -- the reminder went a little something like this:You might think you have rotation depth, but you don't. Not by a longshot.

That Barry Zito, working at Fresno, had by far the best of his string of four impressive rehab starts on Tuesday night, doesn't represent depth.What Zito represents -- yeah, yeah, yeah; other than a bad contract -- is a reasonable and now very attractive option in the event that what we're seeing from Madison Bumgarner, whom the Twins treated like a pinata, are signs of the fatigue brought on by his career-high-by-a-mile workload last fall.Such fatigue typically doesn't reveal itself early in a season. It shows up after a couple of months -- and look at the calendar, boys and girls. Zito, on the other hand, is fresh and riding a Mavericks-sized wave of confidence, as evidenced by the two-hit shutout (two walks, seven strikeouts, 118 pitches) he spun for the Triple-A Grizzlies on Tuesday.So here's the obvious short-term plan the Giants have to put into play: Rather than wait until June 28, when the Giants need an extra starter for a doubleheader against the Cubs, activate Zito to take Bumgarner's next turn. Give Bumgarner the extra two or three days of rest, maybe an extra bullpen session to figure out what went so horribly wrong against Minnesota, and have him work in the doubleheader. No-brainer.But Bumgarner only threw 25 pitches, you say? True. Did you see them? Twenty-two of them were strikes, most of them just begging to be crushed. It's not always about the pitch count. It's about the pitches themselves, and Bumgarner's pitches screamed fatigue. Flat, high, hittable.What's the corresponding roster move? Hey, leave that for the smart guys with offices at 24 Williie Mays Plaza. But if Guillermo Mota's reward for saving the Giants' week with his 4 23 innings on Tuesday is the loss of a roster spot, something's wrong.Now back to the rotation depth thing. Where were we?Oh yeah. The Giants don't have any rotation depth.They have six starters in the organization that you'd truly trust to a regular big-league role. That's it.Tim Lincecum? Scuffling hard in June before flashing some signs of improvement over the weekend.Matt Cain? Typically steady and solid. You simply count on Lincecum and Cain, whether they're going through a funk or not. They'll be there for you and you know it.Sanchez? Maddeningly inconsistent.Ryan Vogelsong? Heck of a story, but can it last?Zito? He killed Single- and Triple-A hitters. Great. But how will it translate?Bumgarner: see Tuesday's box score.Add it all up and you've got two guys you're pretty sure of, with everyone else something of a question mark. And beyond that, in the minors, you don't have much.Ergo, you can't afford to trade Sanchez. You can't afford to trade anyone in the rotation. What if Zito's foot gets hurt again? What if Bumgarner needs an extended shutdown? What if anything happens to any one of the aforementioned six?Then you're down to five, with no help in sight.

Warriors as healthy as ever while playing waiting game for next opponent

Warriors as healthy as ever while playing waiting game for next opponent

OAKLAND -- Now that the Warriors have gone through a full-squad scrimmage for the first time in three weeks, there is only one issue to be resolved before they get back to the business of the playoffs.

Whom to play? And when?

As of Friday afternoon, the Warriors had no idea of either.

They will face the winner of the Clippers-Jazz first-round series, in which Utah took a 3-2 lead into Game 6 Friday night in Salt Lake City.

“Why are we talking about Utah like the Clippers are done?” Draymond Green wondered after fielding several Jazz-related questions after scrimmaging.

Well, because the Jazz won Games 4 and 5 and is favored to win Game 6 at home. If they win, they’ll come into Oracle Arena Sunday afternoon to meet the Warriors in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.

If the Clippers win Game 6 to even the series, those teams will meet for Game 7 Sunday in Los Angeles, with the winner advancing to face the Warriors in Game 1 of the conference semifinals next Tuesday night in Oakland.

In any case, the Warriors appear about as healthy has they have been at any time since February.

Veteran guard Shaun Livingston, out with a finger/hand injury since Game 1 (April 16) of the first-round series against Portland, participated in the scrimmage, as did veteran forward Matt Barnes, who last played on April 8, when he sustained a bone bruise atop his right foot.

“They practiced today and they even went through the scrimmage,” acting head coach Mike Brown said. “But we’ll wait for our training staff to clear them, after they see how they feel today and (Saturday).”

In short, if swelling is minimal, both will be available for Game 1, regardless of when.

So, too, will Kevin Durant. After a strained left calf kept him out of Games 2 and 3 against the Trail Blazers, he started and played 20 minutes in decisive Game 4 without any ill effects.

Nothing changed during the scrimmage Friday.

“It felt great out there,” he said. “Nothing bothered me. It was definitely good. I’m just trying to hopefully put that injury stuff behind.”

Durant conceded that he continues to receive treatment and ice, but mostly to minimize potential swelling.

49ers select CB Ahkello Witherspoon in third round of the 2017 NFL Draft

49ers select CB Ahkello Witherspoon in third round of the 2017 NFL Draft

Position: Cornerback
College: Colorado
Height: 6-2 3/4
Weight: 193
Selection: Third round, No. 66 overall

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers selected Colorado cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, a Sacramento native, in the third round of the NFL draft with the No. 66 overall pick.

“Being close to home is an incredible opportunity, as well as the type of defense they play -- press man, up in your face,” Witherspoon said. “When I came in for a visit, they were asking me if I’ve adopted that role and if I’d be willing to continue that. And I said, ‘Absolutely.’

“It’s an opportunity to play for such a great organization, close to home, with such a savvy defensive mentality. I think it’s going to be a great place for me.”

The 49ers were also scheduled to have the next pick, but traded the selection at No. 67 for the New Orleans Saints’ second-round pick in next year’s draft, as well as a seventh-round selection (No. 229 overall) this year. The 49ers now have 10 picks in next year’s draft.

The Saints used that pick at No. 67 to select Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara.

Witherspoon began his college career at Sacramento City. He played his final three college seasons at Colorado. He started 12 games last season and earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors.

Witherspoon led the nation with 22 pass breakups. He recorded one interception -- a game-saving pick in the end zone to preserve a 41-38 victory over Oregon. A pre-med student majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology, he said he aspires to be a doctor after his football career.

But Witherspoon said he is committed to football and promised the 49ers during his visit to Santa Clara that he will make huge strides over the next few years as he continues to develop as a player.