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.

Top prospect Shaw not feeling pressure of potential call-up


Top prospect Shaw not feeling pressure of potential call-up

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants do not like to set timetables for their top prospects, instead encouraging them to force their way into promotions. Christian Arroyo did that in April and Ryder Jones followed over the summer, and both should be in position to compete for the third base job next spring. 

One of those two could ultimately fill a gaping hole in the lineup. When it comes to left field, one of their current River Cats teammates hopes to do the same. Chris Shaw is the organization’s top prospects on some lists, and on all lists, he is their top power-hitting prospect. 

The 23-year-old has 16 homers and 23 doubles across two levels this season, good for a .503 slugging percentage that’s right in line with his mark (.502) over 269 professional games. Shaw is on the fast track, and he became more intriguing when the Giants — with Brandon Belt signed long-term at first — moved him to left full-time this season. 

Shaw is doing what was asked of him. Earlier this week, I asked him if that has him thinking about a promotion. 

“It’s my motivation obviously to get to the big leagues, that’s why you work so hard in the offseason is to put yourself in that position to be knocking on the door,” he said. “But now, in season, you kind of put all your work in up to this point and everything else is a result of all your hard work up to this point. I don’t necessarily put any extra pressure on myself because right now I just go out and play and whatever happens, happens.

“I can’t dictate what falls and what doesn’t fall and what my batting average is going to look like a month from now, and ultimately what the front office wants to do. I’m fully aware they don’t have to add me this year. I trust in the front office in promoting me when they feel I’m ready developmentally.”

The big problem for Shaw at the moment is that the Giants do not need to add him to the 40-man roster until after the 2018 season. They are big on inventory, and not keen on DFA’ing another player this year and taking up a winter roster spot over the offseason for a prospect who currently is not in the opening day plans for 2018. That’s the paperwork side of this. On the field, Shaw is blocked by Gorkys Hernandez (who is now playing everyday), Jarrett Parker (who will finish his rehab assignment soon), Mac Williamson, and others. It remains a bit of a long shot that Shaw gets a September cameo, and when I checked in with team officials a week ago, the word was that it’s not currently in the plans. 

Having said that, the last-place Giants could certainly use some excitement and a glimpse of power. Shaw has some time left to change the front office's September plans. In the meantime, he’s the latest guest on our Giants Insider podcast. The quote above is from the podcast, which you can stream here or download on iTunes here. We talked promotions, his move to left, his power, his post-deadline tweet last year, and more. 

Former Stanford star scores winning goal for USA in Gold Cup victory


Former Stanford star scores winning goal for USA in Gold Cup victory

SANTA CLARA -- As the victorious American players bounced so hard the podium shook, medals round their necks, a beaming Bruce Arena in the back raised his arms to the air right along with them as gold confetti began to fall.

The U.S. resurgence is off to an impressive start since Arena returned late last year. Another CONCACAF Gold Cup crown, and now on to more important business: qualifying for next year's World Cup.

Former Stanford star Jordan Morris scored a tiebreaking goal in the 88th minute, and the United States beat Jamaica 2-1 on Wednesday night for its sixth Gold Cup title and first since 2013.

Jozy Altidore's goal on a 28-yard free kick in the 45th minute beat backup goalkeeper Dwayne Miller after Jamaica captain Andre Blake left early with a hand injury.

Je-Vaughn Watson tied the score when he got away from Morris for a 4-yard volley off Kemar Lawrence's 50th-minute corner kick.

Morris, who left nearby Stanford in his junior year, has won the 2015 NCAA title, the 2016 MLS championship with Seattle and now the 2017 Gold Cup. He got the breakthrough goal with a 14-yard right-footed shot after Gyasi Zardes crossed.

"I was nervous. It was my guy that scored on the goal, so I was trying to make up for it any way that I could," Morris said. "Obviously. I take responsibility for that. But luckily I could put one in the back of the net."

Jermaine Taylor tried to clear with a header and the ball was knocked by Clint Dempsey with a leg back to Morris. It was the fifth international goal for the 22-year-old Morris, who tied 16-year-old Canadian Alphonso Davies for the tournament lead with three goals.

"That was like a dagger in the heart," Jamaica coach Theodore Whitmore said.

The U.S. extended its unbeaten streak to 14 games (9-0-5) under Arena, who became the first coach to win three Gold Cup titles.

"Bruce brought in a new energy," goalkeeper Tim Howard said. "He just gave us a tremendous lift."

U.S. captain Michael Bradley earned the Golden Ball at the tournament's top player.

The Americans had a chance in the 19th minute when Altidore's swerving 30-yard shot was parried by Blake, who dived left and then beat Kellyn Acosta to the rebound at the 6-yard box. Acosta collided with Blake and appeared to kick the keeper's right hand before Jamaica's Damion Lowe cleared. Blake's hand was wrapped but he couldn't continue and was replaced by Miller four minutes later. As Blake left the field, he acknowledged the cheering fans with a wave of his left hand, then later emerged for the medal ceremony with his hand bandaged after receiving seven stitches. Nothing was broken.

"It was a very unfortunate situation. What to say? Very sad situation," Whitmore said.

Altidore put the U.S. ahead with a curling shot past Miller's outstretched right hand into the upper corner of the net just beneath the crossbar, his 39th goal in 108 appearances.

Lawrence, who scored in a 1-0 semifinal win Sunday against Mexico, took another corner kick in the 75th minute moments after Alvas Powell's shot from close range deflected off Graham Zusi - a sequence that had Howard yelling at the defense.

Using a lineup with about half its regular starters - the rest are in preseason with European clubs - the U.S. reached its record 10th final. The Reggae Boyz were a surprising final opponent after they stunned Mexico in a semifinal Sunday to reach the title match for a second straight time.

With 18 of 22 starters from Major League Soccer, this was a rematch of the 2015 Gold Cup semifinal won 2-1 by Jamaica at Atlanta. For the first time since replacing Jurgen Klinsmann in November, Arena kept his lineup unchanged. He inserted the 34-year-old Dempsey in the 55th minute.

Chunks of turf came loose yet again at Levi's Stadium, the $1.2 billion, 3-year-old home of the NFL San Francisco 49ers. The field has been an ongoing issue.

The Americans hope for momentum built during this run as they prepare to resume World Cup qualifying. The U.S faces Costa Rica in a rematch of the Gold Cup semifinal on Sept. 1 at Harrison, New Jersey, and play four days later at Honduras. The hex concludes against Panama on Oct. 6 in Orlando, Florida, and at Trinidad and Tobago four days after.

"We're not worried one bit about World Cup qualifying today. I can promise you that," Bradley said. "This was about a group of guys winning a trophy and that's been the only goal."

Arena already was looking ahead.

"We're a long way from qualifying for a World Cup, and that's the objective, for sure," he said.