Urban: Saturday Musings from PETCO Park


Urban: Saturday Musings from PETCO Park

Sept. 11, 2010

SAN DIEGO --Quick turnaround from Friday nights thriller to Saturdays afternoon tilt, buttheres been plenty to keep an active and engaged mind busy. To wit Upon arrivingat the team hotel at about 12:30 last night, the plan was to go upstairs, dropoff my computer, take off my coat and tie and head back down to mingle withsome of the many Giants fans chillin in the lobby and at the lobby bar. Then Istepped into the elevator, with Jeremy Affeldt right behind me, and steppedinto a miniature lake of vomit. Never made it back downstairs. And youthought life on the road was glamorous. MadisonBumgarner was terrific Saturday, but Yorvit Torrealba just wont leave theGiants alone. Jose Guillenshould get Sunday off. The Giants are off Monday, and they need to do whateverthey can to make his legs feel even the slightest bit better. Tim Flannery madethe right call stopping Guillen at third on Juan Uribes second-inning single,but only because Guillen is moving so poorly. His bat offsets the lack of speedfor now, but with the next three Mondays off, Guillen should have the nextthree Sundays off, too. Padres setupman Mike Adams is ridiculous. Cheese at the knees, late sink on the two-seamer,command all over the zone; who gets hits off this guy? Not Mike Fontenot, wholooked like a 12-year-old who stumbled into a College World Series game whenAdams struck him out in the eighth inning. Nothing morelame than a crowd all of a sudden exploding in sound at the prompting of ascoreboard message. Either youre moved by the game or youre not. If you needsome nudging, youre faking it. If you want meto take Chris Rose seriously as a national baseball announcer, you better comeup with some footage of him dominating a game -- any game, any sport -- atleast at the high school level. No way that tape exists. Not saying youhave to have been an athlete to excel in broadcasting; I doubt that Bob Costasown a lettermans jacket, for instance. But come on. Chris Rose? Knock it off. Brian Wilsonwas told not to swing at anything Friday night, according to manager BruceBochy. Wilson said he didnt even know the take sign. Heres a pretty simplesolution to avoid those pesky double plays: Yell from the dugout, Hey, Brian!DONT SWING AT ANYTHING, OK BUDDY? NOTHING. GOT IT? Cody Rossmight be the happiest guy Ive ever met. He never stops smiling. Ever. Alwaysrefreshing to see a professional athlete who understands how wildly fortunatehe or she is to be doing what they do. Tim Lincecumvs. Mat Latos on a sunny Sunday afternoon in San Diego? That should bring outthe Cody Ross in all of us.

As Arroyo is shut down, Sandoval's numbers nosedive


As Arroyo is shut down, Sandoval's numbers nosedive

SAN FRANCISCO — There is a Houston Astros prospect named Dean Deetz, and in a way, Pablo Sandoval can thank him for his second shot with the Giants. 

Deetz drilled Christian Arroyo on July 1, halting the young third baseman’s bid to return to the Giants for the final two months. With Eduardo Nuñez traded to Boston and Arroyo recovering from minor hand surgery, the Giants turned to Sandoval, who has been a fixture in the middle of their lineup the last couple of weeks. Arroyo hoped to get some time at the hot corner in September, but on Thursday the Giants conceded that won’t happen. 

Arroyo will miss the rest of the regular season, team officials said. The hope is that he can get healthy in time for the Arizona Fall League and then potentially make up lost at-bats in a winter league.

Arroyo is either the organization’s best or second-best hitting prospect, depending on which list you look at. He hit .396 in Triple-A this season and then provided a momentary jolt after he forced his way into the big league lineup. Then the slump came, and overall Arroyo hit just .192 in 34 big league games. He was sent back to the minors and promptly was hit by a couple of pitches. 

It was a season with plenty of highs but a disappointing ending, but Arroyo is still just 22 and looks to be a big part of the future. Has he done enough to go into next spring with a firm grip on a job? 

“I’ll have to answer that later on and see where we’re at,” manager Bruce Bochy said Thursday. “It’s all going to be competitive, that’s the way I look at it. You look at where we’ll finish, and not in the postseason, and you have to stay open-minded on everything.”

This could be setting up for a pretty intriguing spring battle. Arroyo and 23-year-old Ryder Jones were the internal candidates set for a competition, but Sandoval likely will be the everyday third baseman down the stretch. He has shown flashes of his old pre-Boston self and the Giants have been generally pleased with his play. Still, the results aren’t really there. 

Sandoval is hitting .200 since returning, with a .220 on-base percentage and .325 slugging percentage. That's good for a .545 OPS, which is nearly 100 points below his OPS in Boston this season. The Red Sox, at some point, had seen enough.  

Bochy said he has taken positives away from Sandoval's energy and some of his bigger moments, particularly the upper-deck homer he hit off Max Scherzer over the weekend. That’s his only homer with the Giants so far, but it made an impression. 

“He’s got the bat speed,” Bochy said. “That’s one of the longest homers we’ve seen this year. That shows (the bat speed) is there.”

Jones has been a fixture as well, playing first base in place of Brandon Belt. He has looked much better the second time around, but his average is still below .200 and his OPS of .559 is just about equal to Sandoval's. The Giants have not seen enough from anyone to have a favorite to play third base next season, and Bochy said the same holds true at other positions. 

"We've got to stay open-minded about who is going to be where next year (and) playing time," he said. "It's up to us to adjust and get better."

Still unconvinced there is a place for Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL


Still unconvinced there is a place for Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL

I hadn’t considered the notion of Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles bombing quite so badly Thursday night, so I hadn’t considered the notion advanced by Pro Football Talk Friday morning that Jacksonville might be a great place for Colin Kaepernick.

That’s because I long ago stopped considering the idea that Kaepernick’s exile from football was, or is, about football. It isn’t. He is the example for future player/miscreants, and trotting his name out every time a quarterback in the new NFL vomits up a practice game on national television is simply perpetuating a lie.

Until someone gets so desperate that it isn’t any more.

That’s the problem with being so definitive about Kaepernick’s perpetual ban. It only takes one owner with a willingness to stick a middle finger up to the objections and say, “I own a football team, not some branch of the USO” to end this national spitfest once and for all. And yes, I say owner because this is an owner’s decision, solely and completely. In the hypothetical of Kaepernick the Jaguar, it will be made not by Doug Marrone, who is merely a coach, or by Tom Coughlin, who is only the general manager, but Shahid Khad, one of the brightest and quietly more powerful owners in the league.

But the odds still scream No Kaep For You, because it would mean that exhibition games matter for judgmental purposes (which they don’t), that Bortles is somehow worse than half the quarterbacks in the NFL (he is part of an amorphous blob of non-producers whose numbers are growing as the differences between college and pro football offenses expand), and that owners easily break away from the herd once the herd has decided on something (Khan is not a rebel in the Jerry Jones mold by any means).

In other words, I remain unconvinced that there is a place for Colin Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL. And he’s probably better off.