June 20, 2011
GIANTS PAGE GIANTS VIDEO
So here the Giants sit, licking their wounds on the heels of the three-game beating administered by the rival -- in the stands, anyway -- Athletics and set for their first real look at unfamiliar interleague foes, this week in the form of the American League Central bottom-feeding Twins and their bizzaro-world-counterpart Indians.Swept by previously poor but Bob Melvin-buoyed Oakland, San Francisco looked like anything but the reigning world champions over the weekend, every weakness exposed and perhaps a new one or two revealed, yet the Giants woke up Monday ready to face their day off still in first place in the wholly flawed National League West.
Among the weaknesses we already knew about are the offense as a whole and the Issue at Catcher. The one revealed, albeit not an earth-shaker, was the need for a far more athletic option defensively at second base. REWIND: Urban: Deja vu? Sweep could spur Giants moves
Bill Hall still can hit a little bit, and his underrated pop is more than welcome, but said pop isn't so prodigious that the Giants should value his run production over run prevention at the position on a daily basis.So now what? Let's take a quick look at three potential solutions and how feasible and fixer-upperish they might be.One player who would single-handedly change the entire offensive dynamic is Jose Reyes. You remember him, right? A while back it appeared as though the Mets were likely to move him by the trade deadline because they had a major cash problem, and Reyes is a free-agent-to-be. It stood to reason New York needed to get more than the compensatory draft pick it would get if Reyes played out the season and moved on via free agency.Things have changed, though. Not Reyes' performance; he's still among the most productive players in his category. But the Mets have enjoyed a recent infusion of cash, and while they know they need to rebuild regardless, Reyes just turned 28. He's exactly they type of player a team can rebuild around, so the odds of him being shopped have dropped. Considerably.In other words, settle in, Brandon Crawford. Unpack your bags and sign that four- or five-month lease. The Issue at catcher? Bengie Molina's name has been brought up here and plenty of other places, and he's made it clear he'd be willing to entertain the notion of a reunion.The troubles with this potential solution are many, though. Nobody's quite sure how big Bengie's gotten since helping the Rangers reach the World Series. He might be a house right now. He didn't exactly endear himself to Brian Sabean after the mid-season trade that sent him to the Lone Star State, either. And Giants hot prospect du jour Hector Sanchez could very well be ready for his close-up in another month or so.But barring a more attractive option presenting itself, it makes at least a little sense to see if Molina is willing to sign a minor-league deal, hook up with the magician that made so many pounds of Pablo Sandoval disappear over the offseason, and spend a month or so trying to downsize from house to studio apartment. If it doesn't work, perhaps Crawford gets Sanchez to co-sign on the aforementioned lease.As for making second base more about run prevention, nobody prevents runs at the position better than Mark Ellis, and the A's have been more than pleasantly surprised by what they've seen from the long-ago-appointed heir to Ellis' throne in the East Bay, speedy Jemile Weeks.A respected Oakland source told CSNBayArea.com over the weekend that prying Ellis from the A's would take no more than a mid-level prospect. A Thomas Neal-type (the source didn't offer specific names), perhaps.But would Billy Beane be down to help the Giants? Some say no. Beane's history says he's far too smart to let something so petty as the rivalry that really isn't to impede him from making a deal that serves his team well now and later. And if a Neal type is all it would take, Sabean would be nuts to not pull the trigger. Ellis is a free agent next year, too, and it's not like he's breaking the bank in his option year with Oakland -- 6 million.Any of this make sense? If it does, great. If not, well, neither does the Giants waking up in first place Monday.
NASHVILLE – Apparently, one wake up call wasn’t good enough for the plummeting San Jose Sharks.
Just one day after suffering what was arguably their worst game under coach Pete DeBoer, Nashville put up a touchdown on the Sharks in a 7-2 win, giving San Jose its sixth straight defeat – all in regulation.
After getting outscored 13-3 the last two nights, including Friday’s 6-1 loss in Dallas, where do they go from here?
“In two years, last year and this year so far, we haven’t had one night like this almost. Now we have back-to-back nights,” Joe Pavelski said. “I think it’s just a reality check. A gut-check time.
“It’s on us as players. Bottom line is we haven’t put the effort in that we need to have right now, and it snowballed on us a little bit at times. I think we’ve got to take a deep breath and really take a look in the mirror, refocus a little bit and understand there’s hockey out there, but it’s not going to fix itself.”
What has to be fixed immediately is the defensive structure that has been so vital to the Sharks’ success in the Pete DeBoer era. Even when the club was going through stretches of struggling to score, as it was earlier in the season, it was still collecting points in the standings with its ability to limit the opposition’s scoring chances.
While the game against the Predators was actually a little better in that regard, believe it or not, it was still nowhere near the level it needs to be for the postseason. Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s absence was partly to blame for that, but the Brent Burns-Paul Martin pair has been a disaster lately. Both have a minus-nine rating during the six-game losing streak, and that number is indicative of how they’ve looked, too.
“We’re giving up some goals. It’s a combination of things,” DeBoer said. “Obviously it’s not good enough to win games, so we’ve got to figure it out. I don’t have an answer standing here for you, but I know our group. Every team I’ve ever coached has a tough part of the season. This is obviously ours. We’ll regroup, and figure it out.”
Burns, who admitted to a “bad read” on Nashville’s second goal when Roman Josi sped around him, said: “It’s a tough league when you’re not executing little things.”
The Sharks actually looked strong early, poised to put the Dallas disaster behind them. The first few shifts, they had the puck in the Nashville end.
But Tomas Hertl was outmuscled behind the net by Colin Wilson on Colton Sissons’ goal at 4:14, Burns got beat on the second, and the Sharks never recovered. Patrick Marleau’s second period power play goal offered life, but that was extinguished 24 seconds later when James Neal answered with a power play goal of his own. The Sharks never got closer than two goals after that.
“When things are going bad, those are the things that are happening,” Burns said of Neal’s response to Marleau’s marker. “So, you’ve just got work through it."
Will they be able to work through it with just seven games left in the regular season, though? That this cold spell is happening in late March doesn’t speak well to the Sharks’ chances in the postseason, which begins in just two-and-a-half weeks.
Burns said: “Right now we should be just tightening up everything. … We've got figure it out pretty soon.”
NASHVILLE – Sharks forward Micheal Haley could be in line for supplemental discipline from the league, after earning a match penalty in the third period of Saturday’s 7-2 loss in Nashville.
After absorbing a borderline hit from behind by Calle Jarnkrok, Haley tracked down the Predators forward and promptly delivered a left jab to Jarnkrok’s face at 12:56 of the final frame, with the Sharks trailing 5-2 at the time.
Naturally, there were differing opinions from the two head coaches on the play.
Pete DeBoer said: “When you run someone from behind in a game like that, you probably deserve to get a punch in the mouth.”
Predators coach Peter Laviolette told reporters: "It's an ugly play. This isn't the wild, wild west. I mean, Calle hit him. We took a penalty. If we start doing that, we're in trouble, so hopefully it gets looked at."
The Sharks denied a request to make Haley available to reporters after the game.
Any player who earns a match penalty "shall be automatically suspended from further competition until the commissioner has ruled on the issue,” according to league rules.
In 54 games this season, Haley has two goals and nine assists for 11 points. His 110 penalty minutes is fifth in the league.
Jarnkrok did not return after the punch, but told reporters after the game he felt “OK.”
"I feel pretty good," Jarnkrok said. "Obviously, I saw him coming. There were a couple other guys coming, too. I didn't really know what to do. He got in a good punch on me.”