Urban: The hits (to roster) keep coming for Giants


Urban: The hits (to roster) keep coming for Giants

May 31, 2011

If you believe in karma, you might as well believe in there being a Karma Bank of Big-League Ball.And if you believe in such a bank, by now you might believe that the Giants' remarkable run to the 2010 world title left them severely overdrawn. Tuesday's loss merely underscored the notion. RELATED: Giants Insider notes: Ugly eighth leads to loss
Going through an entire 162-game season, plus playoffs, without suffering a significant injury to a major contributor almost never happens, but it happened for the Giants last season despite adding players at an aggressive pace.

Now they're losing players at an equally aggressive pace -- so much so that head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner is getting more TV time on a daily basis than Oprah in her heyday. If the guy has some sort of mileage program with the makers of his shoe of choice, he and 25 of his closest friends will be heading for the Bahamas come October.
Think about the impact players they've lost for significant stretches already, a third into the title defense.The season started with their All-Star closer (Brian Wilson) and one of their biggest playoff heroes (Cody Ross) on the disabled list.Once the season started, they lost one of their top guts-and-grit guys (Andres Torres) for a long stretch; another one of them (Mark DeRosa) went down for what might be the year; a previously indestructible starting pitcher (Barry Zito) suffered a freak foot injury; and the feel-good story of the spring and an early frontrunner for Comeback Player of the Year (Pablo Sandoval) needed surgery.And then, of course, came the crusher. Buster Posey, out until 2012.Heck in the past two days alone, we've seen Aaron Rowand slide into the path of a thrown ball, Torres nearly twist his ankle in the outfield, the new feel-good story (Ryan Vogelsong) take a line drive off his leg, and coveted rookie first baseman take a pitch off his left wrist -- x-rays came back negative and Belt is officially day-to-day.
General manager Brian Sabean tried to get overdraft protection by building a deep and versatile team, but that depth is kiddie-pool shallow at this point, and that renders versatility far less potent.And speaking of Sabean, remember how golden all of his moves ended up last season? This year's big addition so far has been Miguel Tejada.That's a lot of bad juju. In fact, it seems like an awfully stiff penalty for winning a title, if that's what this is.Maybe it's time for an audit of the Karma Bank of Big-League Ball. The Giants might just have some payback coming their way.If not, it's time to start walking some old ladies across the street.

Vogt's defensive cameo comes straight out of left field

Vogt's defensive cameo comes straight out of left field

OAKLAND — Stephen Vogt made an unexpected appearance in left field Wednesday night, and his performance got approval from a pretty good outfield authority.

Former A’s teammate Josh Reddick was watching from the Houston Astros’ dugout and thought the catcher-by-trade handled himself very well.

“I was talking to (Houston manager) A.J. (Hinch) and I said, ‘It’s gonna be interesting because you know at least one ball’s gonna get to him,’” Reddick said. “You start laughing because four of the five that were hit that inning were hit to him.”

With the A’s bench short-handed, manager Bob Melvin sent Vogt to left after he pinch-hit for Rajai Davis, and indeed Vogt got a workout throughout the top of the eighth. That added a bit of levity to a 5-1 loss that otherwise provided the A’s very little to cheer about.

They were bottled up by Astros right-hander Mike Fiers and four relievers as the Astros won their ninth in a row at the Coliseum and their third straight in this four-game series. A’s starter Sean Manaea was rolling through five scoreless innings before Houston blitzed him for three runs in the sixth. The Astros tacked on a couple more late runs against Oakland’s bullpen and that was enough on a night the A’s mustered just four hits total.

After Vogt delivered an RBI groundout that scored the A’s only run in the seventh, Melvin wanted to keep Vogt’s left-handed bat in the lineup, so he asked the veteran catcher if he could handle left.

“I said yeah, absolutely,” Vogt said.

It’s easy to forget that Vogt came up through the Tampa Bay Rays’ system playing a lot of outfield, and he played more than a dozen games in the outfield in 2014 for the A’s, mostly in right.

He sure got tested. The Astros’ first four hitters of the eighth all hit balls in Vogt’s direction. He got a routine fly from Brian McCann, a difficult low liner off the bat of Yuli Gurriel that he smothered for a single, a double from Alex Bregman that he did a good job cutting off and a sacrifice fly to the warning track from Jake Marisnick.

“I had the adrenaline shot run up and I was loose and ready to go,” Vogt said. “Obviously I was a little more focused than probably your average outfielder out there. I’m glad the first one came to me, otherwise I would have been sweatin’ it for a while.”

Vogt has lost time recently behind the plate against right-handers to Josh Phegley, who has done an effective job controlling the running game. And though you shouldn’t by any means expect to see Melvin running Vogt to the outfield often, you also shouldn’t assume it won’t happen at all.

At some point, the A’s figure to call up catcher Bruce Maxwell as part of the crop of young players they’re trying to give more time too. If the left-handed hitting Maxwell were to share catching duties with Phegley, and if the A’s were to trade Yonder Alonso (again, we’re talking ‘ifs’ here), it’s conceivable Vogt’s left-handed bat could be put to use at spots other than catcher, perhaps at first base or, in a pinch, even the outfield.

His old teammate thinks he could pull it off.

“I remember him playing in right in ’14 when I was (injured),” Reddick said. “He did a pretty good job out there, it’s not like he’s foreign to it. He knows what he’s doing.”

No need for Warriors fans to fret over NBA's projected lower salary cap

No need for Warriors fans to fret over NBA's projected lower salary cap

There is no need for the Warriors fan to grow anxious with the news Wednesday night that the NBA salary cap and luxury tax threshold will be roughly two percent lower than initially projected.

For one, those players committed to returning are not likely to change their minds.

For two, the cap/tax figures also will influence other teams that might target members of the Warriors, such as Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.

Even with the lower numbers, reported by multiple outlets, Kevin Durant remains in line for a raise from the $26.5 million he made last season, and he already has made clear his intentions to accept less than the $31.8 million the Warriors could’ve paid him.

With the cap expected to be about $99 million instead of the roughly $101 million originally forecast, that figure falls between $30 million and $31 million.

Durant’s willingness to be flexible -- designed to help the team in its attempts to retain Iguodala and maybe Livingston -- remains the most significant factor for the Warriors as they proceed. Even if Durant takes 10 percent less than, say, $31 million, he still would get a modest increase.

Stephen Curry, who also has announced his intention to re-sign with the Warriors, still could receive about $35 million in Year 1 of a five-year contract worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 million.

When the numbers are that astronomical, losing a small percentage is not such a crucial factor.

The Warriors surely knew the cap/tax figures would take a hit. Both figures are impacted by revenue generated through the playoffs, which featured only 79 of a possible 105 games.

Only two series -- Jazz-Clippers and Celtics-Wizards -- went the full seven games and eight of the 15 series ended in five or fewer games, including five sweeps.

The Warriors accounted for three of those sweeps.