Urban: Potential solutions to Giants' woes


Urban: Potential solutions to Giants' woes

June 20, 2011


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Mychael Urban

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.

Trio of A's rookies make history in win over White Sox

Trio of A's rookies make history in win over White Sox


CHICAGO -- Matt Olson hit his first two major league home runs, Jaycob Brugman and Franklin Barreto also launched their first career shots and the Oakland Athletics routed the Chicago White Sox 10-2 on Saturday.

Barreto homered in his big league debut. He joined Olson and Brugman in becoming the second trio of teammates to hit their first homers in the same game, the Elias Sports Bureau said. It also happened in 1914 with the Kansas City Packers of the Federal League - the rival circuit lasted a couple of seasons, and included many big leaguers.

Former White Sox ace Mark Buehrle had his No. 56 jersey retired in a pregame ceremony. After the 30-minute tribute ended, the A's roughed up James Shields (1-1).

Daniel Gossett (1-2) took advantage of an early 6-0 lead to win for the first time in three big league starts. He gave up two unearned runs in six innings.

White Sox manager Rick Renteria was ejected for the second straight game. He threw his hat to the ground and was tossed, right after third baseman Todd Frazier was ejected for showing his displeasure over a replay review that wasn't reversed.

After a leadoff walk in the first, Olson homered to right. He added a two-run homer in the seventh. Olson was recalled from Triple-A Nashville on Thursday and is in fourth stint with the club.

Brugman hit a solo drive in the second. Barreto had a two-run homer in the third.

Barreto, a top prospect in the Oakland organization, was called up after shortstop Chad Pinder injured his hamstring Friday night and was placed on the 10-day disabled list.

Barreto was a late addition to the lineup at second base when Jed Lowrie couldn't play after a mild knee injury he sustained Friday night.

Shields gave up six runs on seven hits in three-plus innings. He allowed three home runs in his second start since a two-month DL stint.

Buehrle's number was stenciled onto the dirt behind second base. He went 161-119 with a 3.83 ERA in 390 appearances for the White Sox from 2000-11.

White Sox: All signs are reporting for White Sox LHP Carlos Rodon to making his season debut sometime next week. Rodon, who has been out with a biceps bursitis injury, pitched Friday night for Triple-A Charlotte. White Sox Renteria was satisfied with the reports after his fourth rehab start.

"Another start last night. He went 4 1-3, 93 pitches. Actually, in talking to everybody, he threw pretty well. Had a couple miscues in the field that were probably limited his outing. He felt good, pain-free, we're very happy with that. According to the reports, the slider was working very well. He's on track to come on back," Renteria said.

Athletics: RHP Sonny Gray (2-3) is scheduled to start Sunday. He is 0-2 with a 6.43 ERA over his last five starts.

White Sox: LHP Derek Holland (5-7), who is scheduled to make his 15th start on Sunday. He is 1-4 with a 9.55 ERA and nine home runs allowed over his last five starts.

Jones finally gets the call, will be Giants' everyday third baseman for now

Jones finally gets the call, will be Giants' everyday third baseman for now

SAN FRANCISCO — Ryder Jones is 23 years old and Christian Arroyo just turned 22, so when Jones got the call to the big leagues, the first step in the preparation process was about what you would expect. Jones and Arroyo fired up the PlayStation and Arroyo started pumping pitches as Jacob deGrom, the starter Jones will face in his debut Saturday. 

“I faced him last night and got a hit and a pop-up,” Jones said, smiling. 

The real thing will be considerably tougher, but Jones said he’s looking forward to the challenge, noting that deGrom will help make his debut that much more memorable. The Giants are looking forward to the debut, too. Jones is a player Bruce Bochy has been eyeing for a while, and he has finally been deemed ready. 

While Eduardo Nuñez is on the disabled list, Jones will be the everyday third baseman. He’s hitting seventh Saturday, one spot ahead of 24-year-old Austin Slater. Arroyo is sidelined by a bone bruise but he should join the other two at some point later this season. 

“Unfortunately we’ve put ourselves in a position here (with our record) where we’re going to look at younger players, but the good thing is that these guys are going to get a chance to show what they can do,” Bochy said. “They’re going to get some playing time. I look forward to watching him play.”

Jones took Aaron Hill’s roster spot after the veteran was designated for assignment. Bochy said Hill was one of his favorite players to manage, noting his professionalism and solid at-bats, despite the .132 average. He hopes Hill gets a shot on a contender, but that won’t be the case in San Francisco this year, and the Jones promotion was the latest indication that a rebuild/reload is underway. 

Drafted in the second round in 2013 — one round after Arroyo — Jones can play third, first and left field. He has more power than most in the farm system, and he’s athletic enough to handle three spots. The Giants will live with the mistakes at third for now, hopeful that the big arm can stick there. 

Jones was batting .299 with 10 homers and 16 doubles in 53 games for the River Cats. The knock on him has always been a lack of patience at the plate, but he has upped his on-base percentage to .390, a jump of 99 points from his 2016 season in Double-A. In June, Jones had put together a .343/.450/.701 slash line. 

“Patience at the plate is the biggest thing for me,” he said. “If you look at all my years in the minors, I was a little aggressive and antsy. You learn as you get older that you have to pick a pitch you can drive.”

The new approach has Jones in a big league lineup -- the real thing, not the video game version. He went millennial with his preparation, but his promotion was as old-school as it gets. The River Cats have a doubleheader Saturday and when Jones reached third base in Friday night’s game, manager Dave Brundage told him he would get one of the two games off. 

“I told him I could play two,” Jones said. “I know we have some older guys there.”

Brundage called him in later and told him he would only be playing the night game on Saturday. 

“But you’ll be in San Francisco,” the manager added. 

Jones called his parents, who will be in attendance, along with his brother and girlfriend. Then he fired up the PlayStation, packed, and prepared for a short flight to San Francisco. He was still so fired up Saturday morning that he couldn’t handle more than a 30-minute nap. 

“I didn’t know what time I could come to the park,” he said. “I couldn’t sleep.”