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

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.

Prediction: Boredom only thing that will stop Warriors from sweeping Jazz

Prediction: Boredom only thing that will stop Warriors from sweeping Jazz

OAKLAND -- Though the Warriors marched through the first round of the playoffs, winning by an average of 18 points while sweeping Portland, the second round shapes up to be considerably more difficult.

The Utah Jazz are much deeper, play some of the best defense in the NBA and play their home games at altitude, which partially explains why only five teams posted better records at home.

That the Warriors won two of the three regular-season meetings is somewhat inconsequential. In two of those games, Utah was without All-Star forward Gordon Hayward and starting point guard George Hill. Power forward Derrick Favors missed all three games.

Regardless of the results of this series, there definitely will be a different look.

Here is our preview of the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals series (first-round statistics in parenthesis):


POINT GUARD: Stephen Curry (29.8 points per game, 6.5 assists, 5.3 rebounds) vs. George Hill (16.9 ppg, 3.7 apg, 4.1 rpg): Hill’s availability was been crucial to the regular-season success of the Jazz; he missed 33 games. Utah was 15-1, however, when he scored at least 20 points. Curry may be the most dangerous scorer among all point guards, and he’ll be a load for Hill. EDGE: Curry.

SHOOTING GUARD: Klay Thompson (18.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg) vs. Joe Ingles (6.6 ppg, 4.0 apg, 3.9 rpg): Aside from a couple brief hot streaks, Thompson struggled with his shot in the first round. He’ll fix that, and he’ll torch Ingles (or Rodney Hood). Ingles is crafty inside but of most concern when he’s beyond the arc. He has little chance of producing offense with Thompson as the primary defender. EDGE: Thompson.

SMALL FORWARD: Kevin Durant (21.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.0 apg) vs. Gordon Hayward (23.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.9 apg): Two All-Stars, only one of which is headed for the Hall of Fame. The Jazz, quite simply, have no answer for Durant’s offensive arsenal. Their best hope is that he is assigned to Hayward and has to expend energy on defense. EDGE: Durant.

POWER FORWARD: Draymond Green (13.8 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 7.5 apg, 4.3 blocks per game) vs. Boris Diaw (6.0 ppg, 2.6 apg, 1.7 rpg): Oddly enough, Diaw, because of his bulk and passing ability, is one of the few players who can give Green fits. Diaw won’t score much, but Utah could play through him at times. Green will try to run the big man off the floor. EDGE: Green.

CENTER: Zaza Pachulia (6.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg) vs. Rudy Gobert (8.4 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.2 bpg): Pachulia will need plenty of help from his bench, and he’ll get it. His role will be to free up scorers for shots coming off picks. Opportunities will be there, because Gobert tends to hunker down in the paint. He’s a terrific shot-blocker, but don’t be surprised if the Warriors test him inside. EDGE: Gobert.

SIXTH MAN: Andre Iguodala (7.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg), 4.5 apg) vs. Joe Johnson (15.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.0 apg): This is a fun matchup of wily veterans who rely on profoundly different styles. While Iguodala plays fast and is disruptive on defense, Johnson is deliberate and offensive-minded and is playing very well. Johnson also is among the game’s best clutch shooters. Iguodala finds more subtle ways to make an impact. EDGE: Even.

BENCHES: The Warriors are about as healthy as they have been at any time over the past two months, which means they are deep with players capable of producing. Matt Barnes is ready and Shaun Livingston is set to return no later than Game 2. The Warriors have considerable size, and they’ll need it. JaVale McGee and David West will come in handy against the likes of Favors, Diaw and Gobert. Both benches were effective in the first round. EDGE: Warriors, but it’s slight.

COACHING: With Steve Kerr out indefinitely, Mike Brown remains as acting head coach. He has plenty of postseason experience, as does veteran assistant Ron Adams. Jazz coach Quin Snyder did a tremendous job in the regular season when a slew of injuries could have knocked the team off course. He also is coming off his first playoff series victory as a head coach. EDGE: Warriors, due to experience.

ORACLE VS. VIVINT: Oracle Arena was massive for the Warriors in their first round, at times waking thunderous echoes of the “We Believe” experience in 2007. Vivint Smart Home Arena has a well-earned reputation for hurling loud insults at visiting players. The Utah crowd had better be careful, though, because the Warriors tend to thrive off crowd abuse. EDGE: Oracle.

PREDICTION: Warriors in four, five if they get bored.


Melancon wastes Blach's gem, Giants fall to Padres in 12 on Myers' homer

Melancon wastes Blach's gem, Giants fall to Padres in 12 on Myers' homer


SAN FRANCISCO -- Wil Myers hit a three-run homer in the top of the 12th inning to send the San Diego Padres past the San Francisco Giants 5-2 on Sunday.

Myers' seventh home run and second in two games came on a 1-0 fastball from reliever George Kontos (0-2). Cory Spangenberg singled against Kontos leading off the inning, and Erick Aybar singled two batters later.

Hector Sanchez, who played parts of five seasons with the Giants, had a pinch-hit, two-run homer off San Francisco closer Mark Melancon in the ninth to send the game to extra innings.

Sanchez turned on a 1-1 cut fastball over the heart of the plate for his first home run of the season and third career pinch-hit homer.

It was Melancon's second blown save in seven chances.

Sanchez represented the tying run after shortstop Eduardo Nunez booted Luis Sardinas' leadoff grounder for an error.

Ryan Buchter (2-1) pitched two shutout innings for the Padres. Jose Torres worked a scoreless 12th for his first save.

Melancon's flop followed a full meltdown by the Giants' bullpen Saturday, when the Padres tagged San Francisco relievers for 11 runs in three innings of a 12-4 win that included Myers' three-run homer.

Giants starter Ty Blach pitched seven innings of three-hit ball, retiring 10 of his last 11 batters in his second start for San Francisco since taking injured ace Madison Bumgarner's spot in the rotation. Bumgarner is expected to miss three months with a separated left (pitching) shoulder he sustained in a dirt-bike crash.

The Giants, who were hitting a league-worst .217 against lefties going into Sunday, took a 2-0 lead against southpaw Clayton Richard, who pitched 5 1/3 innings of six-hit ball.

Joe Panik, who was hit by a pitch leading off the fourth, scored on Blach's sacrifice fly. Michael Morse doubled in Hunter Pence in the fifth.

The Padres have won 12 of 16 games against the Giants dating to last season.

San Francisco (9-17) has the National League's worst record and is 39-59 since going into last year's All-Star break 24 games over .500 with the best record in the majors.

Padres: RHP Jarred Cosart, on the disabled list with a hamstring injury, tentatively plans to pitch for Class A Lake Elsinore on a rehab assignment Tuesday, manager Andy Green said. Cosart will throw three innings or about 45-50 pitches.

Giants: RHP Neil Ramirez was designated for assignment and the Giants called up RHP Bryan Morris from Triple-A Sacramento. . CF Denard Span, on the disabled list with a right shoulder injury, tentatively plans to take batting practice in Los Angeles on Monday.

Padres: After an off day, RHP Trevor Cahill (1-2, 4.50 ERA) will pitch the home series opener against Colorado on Tuesday. Cahill is 5-6 with a 4.44 ERA in his career against the Rockies.

Giants: RHP Johnny Cueto (3-1, 5.10) starts the series opener against the Dodgers in Los Angeles on Monday. The two-time All-Star gave up three runs in six innings vs. the Dodgers last week and was 3-1 with a 2.67 ERA against them last season.