Urban: Quiet meetings don't mean A's offseason over

Urban: Quiet meetings don't mean A's offseason over

Dec. 8, 2010URBAN ARCHIVEA'S PAGE A'S VIDEOMychael Urban
CSNBayArea.com

LAKE BUENTA VISTA, Fla. -- A's assistant general manager David Forst was in an unenviable spot Tuesday and Wednesday at baseball's annual winter meetings.His boss, Oakland GM Billy Beane, is a master at saying very little in such an entertaining manner that is seems like he's saying quite a bit. Forst, while a fine prospective heir to Beane and a respected baseball man, either hasn't quite developed that particular skill or simply doesn't have the patience andor inclination to try to make something of nothing.So Forst, who's handling Beane's media responsibilities in the wake of the GM's Tuesday-morning departure from the meetings (for personal reasons), on Wednesday told it like it is and didn't bother to dress it up with the cultural references and irreverent humor favored by Beane.The A's haven't really done jack here outside of what baseball folks who haven't done jack like to call information-gathering, and Forst said as much.'We feel like we've learned a lot,' he offered said Wednesday night during an exceptionally short de-briefing with Bay Area writers in the team's hotel suite. 'Just because you're not going to complete or announce anything here doesn't mean it hasn't been productive.'So the to-do list that the A's brought to central Florida doesn't have a single item crossed off. They still need power, and in the wake of their failure to sign Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma before Monday's midnight deadline, they still need more options for the fifth spot in their starting rotation.
RELATED: A's, Iwakuma fail to reach agreement
Without saying the actual words, though, Forst seemed to send a message to A's fans frustrated by the lack of tangible action. Wednesday was Dec. 8, spring training is more than two months away, and the free-agent market -- Oakland's preferred method of doing business this winter -- figures to settle and set itself within the next several weeks.'I'm confident we will add players,' Forst said. 'We're committed to making upgrades, and I think we will.'With Daric Barton's status as Oakland's starting first baseman having been cemented by Forst's comment on the situation Tuesday, certainly one of the upgrades will come at designated hitter. The top target there is free agent Hideki Matsui, and his options dwindled by one Wednesday when Jack Cust -- Oakland's primary DH for the past four seasons -- signed with the Mariners.NEWS: SOURCE: Mariners reach 1-year deal with Cust
The A's met with Matsui's agent early this week, and he seems open to coming to Oakland because they appear to fit his reported criteria: regular playing time and playing for a legitimate contender.Are the A's really a contender? With Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez and Dallas Braden fronting the rotation, a bullpen that might feature two legitimate closer types in Andrew Bailey and Joey Devine, and a punched-up offense, many in baseball think they can be.Adding another top offseason target, free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre, certainly would help on the latter front. Beltre's agent, Scott Boras, suggested that ia deal remains a possibility Wednesday despite of reports that the A's recently withdrew their reported five-year, 64 million offer.'The door's not closed there,' Boras said while holding court before a pack of 30 or so reporters in a hotel hallway. Forst, sticking to the team's policy of silence regarding free agents, didn't bite when asked if the A's have ever put an offer back on the table after withdrawing it.'You're asking about a specific player and a specific situation,' he said with a knowing smile. 'I'm not going to get drawn into that.'Chavez door shut: Even if former A's third baseman Eric Chavez were to prove he's healthy and ready to contribute to a big-league team this season, he won't be back in Oakland.Reports surfaced Wednesday that Chavez, a free agent whose final four years with the A's were marred by a steady stream of injuries, surgeries and rehab, has drawn interest from the Pirates, among other teams.'I'm sure he'll find a spot if he wants to play,' Forst said. 'But like Eric himself said, he's probably better off going somewhere else to get a change of scenery.'Dribblers: Cust's signing also reduced the options of Vladimir Guerrero, another potential DH, but the Rangers remain the frontrunner to retain his services. '. Nothing significant to report on the quest for a fifth-starter candidate, Forst said. Non-tendered pitchers and six-year free agents are sure to be explored, and a trade hasn't been ruled out. ' The meetings close Thursday morning with the Rule 5 draft, but the A's aren't expecting to lose anyone in the big-league phase of it. ' Forst said the team's search for pop isn't limited to third base and DH. If a corner outfielder makes sense, they'll add him.

Giants continue embarrassing stretch against rebuilding Padres

Giants continue embarrassing stretch against rebuilding Padres

SAN FRANCISCO — Three years ago, the Giants and Padres were the two teams in it until the very end for Pablo Sandoval’s services. He ended up in Boston, and when he became available again over the past week, the Padres politely backed away. 

They prefer youth and Rule 5 Draft picks. They came into this season knowing they might lose 100 games, and they didn’t mind. If anything, they welcomed the increased shot at the top pick in the 2018 draft. They’re here to tank, but the Giants (who expect to welcome Sandoval back on a minor league deal as soon as Friday) just won’t let them. 

Thursday’s 5-2 loss to San Diego was like so many others over the past calendar year. The Giants didn’t hit, they didn’t come through in the clutch, they did not support their starting pitcher, and they did not guarantee a handshake line. 

The Giants have lost 15 of 20 to the Padres since last year’s All-Star break, including three straight last July to kickstart a tailspin that has lasted over a year now. They have dropped four of five meetings in this second half, which was supposed to prove that a Padre-like rebuild is not needed up here in the Bay Area. They are five games behind the Padres in the race to finish a distant fourth in the National League, and in a season full of disappointment, that stands as one of the more embarrassing facts. 

Not even Madison Bumgarner’s return to AT&T Park could turn the tide. The lefty looked good most of the night, but two homers left him with a rougher-than-hoped line. Bumgarner gave up four earned on two homers. He has allowed multiple homers in back-to-back games for the first time in his career. Both starts have come against the Padres. 

“I’ve got to stop giving up homers,” Bumgarner said of his start. “That’s not going to work.”

Bumgarner said he felt fine physically, and his curveball — the pitch that has backfired on him most often since his return — feels right mechanically. He was facing his last batter in the seventh as George Kontos warmed up with a runner on. Corey Spangenberg hit a two-run shot to the deepest part of the yard to make it 4-2. 

Buster Posey flied out with the bases loaded in the eighth. The Giants brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth but couldn’t score, which has been the norm against the Padres. The Giants are averaging just 3.2 runs per game during this 20-game stretch of futility against a team they once dominated. 

“We need to win ballgames right now,” Bumgarner said. “We’ve got to start doing that. There’s no magic solution. We’ve got to start playing better, all of us.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as homers hurt Bumgarner vs Padres

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as homers hurt Bumgarner vs Padres

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — A day after he did his press conference from a “Game of Thrones” throne, manager Bruce Bochy said he was happy the Giants won their series finale against the Indians and kept that plan in play. In that respect, he’s lucky his team wasn’t facing the Padres on Wednesday. 

The Giants were on Thursday, however, and they continued their baffling stretch of ineptitude against what is supposed to be the worst team in the National League West. The 5-2 loss to San Diego was the 15th in the last 20 meetings between the two teams, one of which has a $200 million payroll and the other of which is actively tanking. 

The Giants had a shot at a comeback in the eighth, but Buster Posey flied out to right with two outs and the bases loaded. Here are five things to know, if you are the curious type: 

—- Madison Bumgarner has faced the Padres twice since returning. In 13 1/3 innings, he has allowed 10 hits and seven earned runs. He is getting hurt by a familiar problem for the 2017 Giants: The Padres have four homers off Bumgarner in those two starts. Hunter Renfroe and Cory Spangenberg took him deep Thursday, with Spangenberg hitting one out to the deepest part of the yard on Bumgarner’s final pitch. 

—- This is the first time in Bumgarner’s career that he has allowed multiple homers in back-to-back starts. 

—- Kyle Crick showed good stuff — sitting 96-97 — while stranding a runner on second in the eighth. He followed that with a scoreless ninth. The Giants should make it a priority to throw him into some deeper water over the next two months. 

—- There’s an epidemic these days of outfielders making foolish throws to the plate. We see it just about every night, and it cost the Padres in the sixth. Gorkys Hernandez was on second and he took off right away on Denard Span’s single to right. Renfroe had no play at the plate but he threw it anyway and Span took second. He scored when Eduardo Nuñez singled to left. 

—- The Giants announced their second consecutive sellout. That’s a streak. Maybe?