Urban Interaction

Urban Interaction

If it's Friday, it's time for some give and take. I'll take questions, and little Matt Steinmetz will stand on a milk crate, peer over the wall that separates our cubicles and give me grief for my answers. Away we go What would the Giants need to do to "take" Miguel Cabrera off the Tigers' hands? That would be the trade of this decade a la the Barry Bonds free-agent acquisition in the 90's
--Cannonball, San Francisco, Calif.Wow, I'm guessing it would take Matt Cain and a very good position-player prospect or two, at the very least. In other words, it's not going to happen -- for three reasons. One is that the Giants don't want to part with Cain, who seemed to have finally turned the corner last year in terms of turning his obvious talent into consistently strong performances. That he's the youngest starter in the rotation (until Madison Bumgarner is officially installed) and under contract for this year (4.25 million) and next (6.25 million club option) make him far more attractive to keep than to move, even it meant landing a big bat like Cabrera.Another is that the Giants can't afford to move any very good position-player prospects. There are about five guys that they're expecting to be excellent players at the big-league level within a couple of years, and they're going to form the nucleus of the club for the next decade. Then there's Cabrera's contract. He's due 126 million over the next six years. No way the Giants take that on.Who do you think might be the breakout player of the year for the A's in 2010?
--Jerry S., Los Gatos, Calif.I'm going to go with Gio Gonzalez. I think he learned a lot of hard lessons last year and did a lot of growing up. If he ever puts it all together mentally and physically, he's got the kind of stuff that could make him one of the better lefty starters in the American League.We'll know whether I've made a horrible pick the day he reports to camp, though. If he shows up soft and flabby and 20 pounds overweight, like he did last spring, it'll be clear that he hasn't learned or grown up as much as I think he has. You got me all fired up about the Giants signing Kiko Calero, but I haven't heard anything about it since your story? Anything new on that front?
--Lyle F., San Rafael, Calif.Nope. I've been pretty busy running other things down this week, but I've touched back with a couple of my sources and they say there haven't been any serious discussions -- yet.My guess is that the Giants are prioritizing their desire to add a left-handed bat, although I still don't understanding the obsession with a lefty. I'd be far more concerned if my team were too left-handed than too right-handed, but that's just me. I saw you on TV from a Stanford basketball game the other night. What do you think of my Cardinal? Anyone stand out other than Jeremy Green and Landry Fields?
--Caleb H., San Carlos, Calif.They are what we thought they'd be. They're a team that needs to play as well as they can to hang with the big boys, and they played very well against the Trojans on Wednesday. They still almost lost that game, though, primarily because they stunk at the free-throw line down the stretch.One of the guys who struggled late at the line was one of the players with whom I was otherwise very impressed: sophomore forward Andrew Zimmerman. He's not a "wow" guy by any stretch, but he did a lot of subtle, dirty-work things that help a team win close games. He got his hands on a lot of balls, knocked down open shots when USC sagged off and did a nice job of getting after it on the boards.Your boy Steinmetz called you out in his mailbag yesterday, saying that without having seen you play, he already has you pegged as a "mechanical" big man who turns the ball over too much. Got any hoop in your background? Is his scouting report accurate?
--Thomas D., Sunnyvale, Calif. There's a lot of hoop in my background, actually. It's my favorite sport. I just happened to be better at throwing a baseball, so that's what I played at USF. But I did start for a conference championship basketball team in junior college, and I can tell you with certainty that my Canada College would have boat-raced the Div. III band of ragamuffins for which Steinmetz served as a practice dummy.I haven't seen Matt play, either, but unlike him, I'm willing to show some respect and assume the guy can ball a little bit. But he's way off on the scouting report. He'll realize that if he ever puts down the I-don't-want-the-big-guy-to-hurt-me crutch, because as arrogant as he is, he'll sag off me because of my size and find himself needing an umbrella to protect him from the feathery mid-range jumpers I'll rain on him. Give me three predictions for 2010: A's team leader in wins, Giants team leader in homers, number of wins for the 49ers.
--Nathaniel R., Rocklin, Calif. Justin Duchscherer, with 15. Pablo Sandoval, with 31. Niners win nine games.

Giants Notes: Marrero hopes to be back; Posey faces Romo


Giants Notes: Marrero hopes to be back; Posey faces Romo

SAN FRANCISCO — About 45 minutes after the Giants announced that Chris Marrero had been designated for assignment, the left fielder walked up to the locker of one of the newcomers. Marrero patted Christian Arroyo on the back and shook his hand, congratulating him for his first call-up to the big leagues. 

“That’s my boy,” he said later. “I was really happy for him.”

The Arroyo promotion and the addition of Drew Stubbs signaled the end of Marrero’s April run in the lineup. He was cut and Aaron Hill was put on the disabled list, clearing two roster spots. Just as Arroyo forced his way up with three huge weeks in Triple-A, Marrero forced his way onto the opening day roster with a monster spring that included eight homers. He had just five hits in 38 at-bats before Monday’s moves.

“The team is struggling and we’ve got to make some moves,” Marrero said. “I believe in myself and I’ll go down and get back to how I felt in spring training. This is what I’ve worked for my whole life. I lost the feel that I had in the spring. Things were a little rushed. I came in and worked hard every day to try and find it. I’m going to keep working. I haven’t lost confidence in myself.”

Marrero was put in a bit of a tough spot. He played just about every day in Scottsdale because he was trying to win a job, and when he finally did make it, some Giants coaches felt he was a bit worn down. The team’s brutal start to the season put a glaring spotlight on left field, and this move became obvious over time.

Marrero said he likes it here, and that if he isn’t claimed, he will go to Triple-A Sacramento and try to find that spring swing and get back up here. Count Bruce Bochy among those hoping it goes down that way. 

“We thought a lot of him and still do,” Bochy said. “He’s a good hitter.”

--- Arroyo had a 4.4 GPA in high school, so the Giants knew he was smart. He’s savvy, too. There’s nothing like picking up the longest-tenured player on the team, literally. After snagging a ricochet in the fourth inning last night, Arroyo kept running and lifted Cain off the grass. They then chest-bumped. 

“That just kind of happened,” Arroyo said. “He hit it, I looked at Cain going down and saw the ball, went running and got it, instincts took over. I made a throw and got the guy. It was a fun play. In that moment, I was just pumped up. It’s one of those plays you get excited over.”

Arroyo said he heard Cain yelling and he thought he was hurt, so that’s why he ran over. Cain did have an X-ray on the foot that got hit but it came back negative. 

“Christian did a great job handling himself,” Cain said. “He picked me up big-time.”

The best part of the play came hours after it was made. As Cain talked to reporters, Brandon Crawford — who was in position to scoop the grounder in the fourth — was standing at his locker, a few feet away.

“Let it go through next time,” he said softly.

--- Denard Span was out on the field Monday afternoon, but he’ll miss another two to four days with that right shoulder injury. This will truly be a day-to-day situation. If at any point the Giants feel they need coverage, Span can be put on the 10-day DL. 

--- Hill apparently felt discomfort after playing long toss on the road trip. He can swing a bat but he was going to be kept from throwing for three to four days, so he was put on the DL.

--- This spring, Posey was asked about facing Sergio Romo. Here was his long tendencies-filled answer. Posey faced Romo in the eighth and flied out. 

"It was a little weird, I'm not going to lie," he said. "I caught him for so long. It's definitely interesting being in the batter's box instead of being the plate."

Was there a nod or "hey what's up" look between the two?

"I've caught him long enough to know you don't look at him," Posey said, smiling. 

--- If you missed it, the standing ovation for Romo was a very, very cool moment. Also, here's my story on Madison Bumgarner, who spoke for the first time since his injury. And here's the first story on Arroyo, with a fun anecdote about his mom. She'll be in the stands Tuesday. And finally, my game story from last night. 

Four takeaways from Warriors' first-round sweep of Blazers

Four takeaways from Warriors' first-round sweep of Blazers

PORTLAND -- Four games, four quarters to each and the Warriors are on to the next round of the postseason.

Here are four things we learned about these Warriors in the wake of their four-game sweep of the Trail Blazers in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

IT’S A TEAM THING: The Warriors lost All-Star forward Kevin Durant in Game 1, came back and won Game 2. They lost head coach Steve Kerr before Game 3, went out and fashioned one of the biggest comebacks in franchise postseason history. They are constructed in such a way that the collective is strong enough to overcome the loss of one man. They won this series in a walk despite being shorthanded for the last three games and without their head coach for the last two. This team and this staff are bigger than any individual.

JAVALE McGEE MATTERS: By last Sept. 16 the summer was all but gone and every coveted player NBA player had been accounted for. That’s when the Warriors signed McGee with the hope that he could provide some length and athleticism on the block, if only for a few minutes a night -- and, surely, some nights not at all. McGee was the last man to make the team, and here he was dominating a Trail Blazers team that, to be fair, lacked a healthy center. He was special in this series, and what he provides will be needed as the Warriors move forward.

DRAYMOND’S VALUE IS BEYOND MEASURE: There were so many examples during the regular season that illustrated Draymond Green’s significance to the Warriors. He topped them all in this series. He defended, at some point, every member of the Portland team. He rebounded. He made 3-pointers. He blocked 17 shots. The Blazers tried him early but quickly become discouraged at attacking whenever he was on the court. He disrupted their offense in more ways than they could have imagined. As a bonus, he avoided notable run-ins with officials.

SPLASHING NOT NEEDED: Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were fabulous in the second half of Game 3 and Curry stood out in Game 4. But by the time the Splash Brothers found their offensive groove, the Warriors were up 2-0 in the series and rallying behind their defense en route to taking Game 3. The battle of the backcourts, logically deemed a critical factor in this series, was a virtual statistical standoff. Curry/Thompson combined for 192 points, while Damian Lillard 111 and CJ McCollum totaled 201. If it’s the numbers are that close, the Warriors will win every series, and probably sweep.