The D-word tempts gods to laugh

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The D-word tempts gods to laugh

I hear the D-word being bandied about again, so it is incumbent upon me to remind you of what happened the last time we heard it.Scott Cousins happened. Jonathan Sanchez happened. Cody Ross and Aaron Rowand and Andres Torres and Aubrey Huff happened. Showtime happened. And then nothing else happened.In other words, the D-word Dynasty is the best way to get the gods who handle baseball to laugh.Oh, the talk is louder this time, because Giants are the proud owners of two World Series in three years, and everyone connected with the operation today is being called a genius at worst, a galactic overlord at best.And as delightful as the sensation felt for Giant fans, it now seems closer to being prophetic. And trust us, it isnt.Not that the Giants cant be a dynasty, mind you. Anything is possible. But dynasties are rare, so the odds run against them. Plus, the last time they defended their title, they lost their way, their best players, their bat rack and their sense of joie de sport.In short, championships are fragile. Anything can turn them, especially the notion that one guarantees more.So heres your assignment until the parade forms: Look at 2011 in all its mutant horror (yes, 86 wins is horror now aint that a steel-capped boot in the temple?), and realize that the parade commemorates not only the deeds of October but the struggles of May and July as well.Note that youre a catchers injury away from not defending your title, and a center fielders contractual desires away from losing your exterior defense, and a third basemans attention span from losing the heart of your teams order.Look, lets just generalize. Things happen after a championship, and not all of them are good. Some players fall in love with the good life. Some players fall in love with the free market. Some players fall, period.RELATED: 2012 Giants World Series page
All three of those things happened in the winter of 2010 and the spring of 2011. The Giants of 2012 had none of those issues. Their biggest injury was to Brian Wilsons arm, and they managed to more than merely cope. Their second biggest injury was to Melky Cabreras brain, and they survived that.And that was it. Buster Posey played in 148 games, or 30 more than anyone including him figured. Their starting rotation made 160 of their scheduled 162 assignments, and the others were an emergency start in April for Eric Hacker a few days after a doubleheader and a post-clinching one-off for Yusmeiro Petit. Pablo Sandoval broke a hand and pulled a hamstring. Ryan Vogelsong strained his back in March. Jeremy Affeldt and Ryan Theriot did 15s. But this was largely a very healthy team.And the budget rose to 130 million cover the important contractual matters (Lincecum, Matt Cain), thus keeping what had been built intact.But there is no guarantee that the Giants will remain healthy in 2012. And the savings from expiring contracts and whatever Cabrera isnt going to get if he returns will be eaten by Buster Posey, Marco Scutaro and Angel Pagan, assuming the latter two want to return. And in honesty, good fortune is not forever, and no team that wins a World Series for the foreseeable future wont have at least some of that. In a million simulations of the Giants postseason, Johnny Cueto doesnt get hurt in most of them, and Lance Lynn doesnt hit second base on the fly in most of them, and Justin Verlander doesnt lose his game in most of them. The Giants did very well to capitalize on all these events, but sometimes luck swings back the other way, with a bullet.The point here is, what has been built can be taken out with a stroke of the pen, a snap of a femur, a distracted mind, or just plain old baseball. You can talk the D-word all you want, but in this new world when MLB plays out a lot like NHL, the variables often have more power than the plan.So say it all you want if you must. Maybe silly and grandiose things will be said tomorrow on a dais in front of city hall, and shouted from convertibles. But some of it will be whistling in graveyard, or just be wishful thinking and fate-tempting. The Giants are good . . . very very good indeed. But the last time they were this good, their turn ended abruptly.What can be said is this: They are built to survive as much as building can cover. But building and maintenance are two very different things.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

With Duffy's uncertain health, Rays reportedly trade for another shortstop

With Duffy's uncertain health, Rays reportedly trade for another shortstop

When the Rays acquired Matt Duffy from the Giants last July, they envisioned the then-third baseman as their everyday shortstop.

But the Achilles injury that hampered him with the Giants hasn't fully healed. He hasn't played in a major league game this season and played in just 21 games after the trade last season.

While Duffy is making progress in his latest attempt to get back on the field, the Rays have reportedly acquired a new shortstop.

Tampa Bay and the Miami Marlins have agreed to a deal that would send slick-fielding Adeiny Hechavarria to the Rays for two minor leaguers, according to multiple reports.

As for Duffy, he missed all of spring training due to irritation in his Achillies. He began a rehab assignment in May, but that lasted just three games. Recently, the Rays sent Duffy back to the doctor that performed the operation on his heal last year. According to TampaBay.com, Dr. Bob Anderson removed a calcium deposit that was causing Duffy to be in pain.

"We're hoping that that is what's been causing all the irritation because it was taken right from the spot where he gets most of this pain," Rays manager Kevin Cash told TampaBay.com on Friday.

Once the stitches heal from this latest operation, Duffy should be able to resume baseball activities and start a rehab assignment shortly after that. In the meantime, Hechavarria, who has been on the DL with an oblique strain, will likely become the Rays starting shortstop.

Not a chicken-and-egg discussion: Three reasons why Giants are so boring

Not a chicken-and-egg discussion: Three reasons why Giants are so boring

To best understand what has happened to the San Francisco Giants, one must first decide whether or not they have abandoned hope, or just energy.

I mean, that is the new kneejerk position based on losing 18 of 22 games this month by an average margin of more than a run and a half per game, losing to the Phillies, Royals, Braves and Mets, falling five games behind the San Diego Padres and eight games behind the non-noisy neighbors in Oakland, and since the All-Star Break last year, they are 57-93, the equivalent of the third-worst record in franchise history.

Really, to see a happy thing in this team other than Buster Posey is an act of rankest delusion. What hope would you expend on this team?

But there’s a new element involved now, if you take Ken Rosenthal’s report for FoxSports.com on the team’s internal crises at face value.

Apparently the Giants are boring their own management.

According to Rosenthal, the almost stultifying quiet of the clubhouse has become a concern to general manager Bobby Evans and perhaps even to those to whom he reports.

In citing the contributions of such ‘edgy” personalities as Pat Burrell, Cody Ross and Aubrey Huff in 2010, Hunter Pence in ’12 and Pence, Michael Morse and Pablo Sandoval (huh?) in ’14, Rosenthal suggested that the team is too staid – something that winning 38 percent of your games for an entire calendar year will do to you.

“I don’t think I can be definitive in my answers,” Evans was quoted by Rosenthal as saying, “but it’s not lost on us that we’re maybe a little quieter clubhouse than we’ve been in the past. I can’t answer that as being a factor or not.” He then followed up with the always circuitous they’d-be-louder-if-we-weren’t-such-a-tedious-watch argument, which seems self-evident but can’t really be proven one way or another.

But Rosenthal also credited “some with the Giants” as suggesting that the team even misses Angel Pagan, who allegedly help unite the clubhouse because so few of them liked him.

And now we’ve hit the motherlode of bizarre excuses. Angel Pagan is hurting the Giants far more by leaving them than by being with them. And this is, if you’ll pardon the expression, richly stupid.

Not Rosenthal, whom we can presume did his usual diligent work and correctly quoted “some with.” No, our problem is with the thinking that inspired “some with,” because you have to go a long way to make that explanation stick.

The Giants are playing terribly because, well, they are. Their pitching, which has to be in the top sixth of the league for this plan to work, is below average in many of the important metrics. Their offense is horrendous. Their outfield is a disaster. They are 27-51 purely on the merits.

That they are also boring is coincidence rather than causation, because nobody said they were boring after the All-Star Break last year, and nobody accused them of being boring in Game 4 of the National League Division Series with Chicago.

Boring is what you seize on when every other excuse, including the Mark Melancon-doesn’t-stretch-when-he’s-supposed-to straw man Rosenthal also threw up for chewing.

The truth is this, as much as anything. They are bad. They didn’t think they would be bad. They thought the second half of last year was an aberration rather than a harbinger, and they thought they could have gone to the World Series but for one hideous inning. And they are apparently shocked by this for some reason.

So, are they moping, or are they quitting? Do they need a clubhouse visit from Brian Sabean at his most pissed? What’s the thing that makes them fun guys again – other than, say, a five-way trade that gets them Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Cody Bellinger and Nolan Arenado?

Because there’s your problem. Yes, they certainly are boring – downright stultifying, in fact. But this is not a chicken-and-egg discussion. They’re boring because they’ve been brutal, because they were slow to address their needs after misdiagnosing their problems, and because all their calculations from years gone by have gone badly wrong.

But if you really think boring is the issue, let’s have Bruce Bochy dress in a clown suit and Pence play outfield in just a sliding pants and a derby, and have one inning per game designated as the Wild Dingo Surprise Inning, in which wild dingoes are loosed upon the field to terrorize the players and/or fans.

See how many wins you get then.