Posted on: September 8, 2010 1:22 am

Athletics tap architecture firm to build stadium

The Oakland Athletics, along with the San Jose Earthquakes, have selected 360 Architecture to design the teams' privately funded stadiums, the Associated Press reports .

The Athletics currently own the Earthquakes and are looking to move to San Jose, although the territorial rights are held by San Francisco. Even though the A's originally held the rights and gave them to the Giants free of charge to help the Giants build a new ballpark, the Giants aren't willing to fork over the rights.

Commissioner Bud Selig is expected to make recommendations on how to proceed. This won't be Selig's first foray into territorial rights, as the commissioner had to appease Baltimore owner Peter Angelos in the form of creating a regional sports network in MASN to allow Washington to receive the Nationals from Montreal.

Selig, as well as A's ownership, has said the Oakland Coliseum is no longer a viable place to host a baseball team and San Jose represents the ideal location for a stadium to tap into the region's fanbase.

Oakland has no estimate of how much it will cost for the A's to build a new stadium, nor the size. The fact that the A's are privately funding a new stadium has cut through a lot of legal red tape that may have otherwise held up the proceedings.

360 Architecture most notably built the New Meadowlands Stadium, the new home of the New York Giants and Jets of the NFL.

-- Evan Brunell

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Category: MLB
Tags: Athletics, Giants
Posted on: September 6, 2010 12:59 pm

Year of the Rookie in NL

Of all the postseason award races, the most stacked and most interesting is probably the National League Rookie of the Year Award.

Almost impressive as the names on this list are the names not on this list of front-runners, guys like Stephen Strasburg, Jonathon Niese, Tyler Colvin and Mike Stanton. You could add Ike Davis, Neil Walker and Jhoulys Chacin to that list, as well. And Mike Leake and Ian Desmond...

Starlin Castro SS Starlin Castro
Chicago Cubs
.317/.360/.438 3 HR 40 RBI -2.8 UZR/150 2.3 WAR

Castro had six RBI in his big-league debut on May 7 and has been nearly as impressive since.  In fact, he's been better since the All-Star break, hitting .363/.388/.493 in the second-half of the season. Castro has a good bat and good speed, but needs to refine his game. He has eight stolen bases, but has been caught stealing six times. His glove has been erratic, but he has the raw tools to be very good. In short, his future seems brighter than the present, and that's saying something.

Jaime Garcia SP Jaime Garcia
St. Louis Cardinals
13-6 153 1/3 IP 2.35 ERA 61 BB 124 K 3.5 WAR

Although he's behind Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright in the Cardinals' rotation, he has been just as good as either of those two. The left-hander, two years off of Tommy John, has been at his best even as his team has hit the skids. During the team's recent slide, losing 14 of 21 games, Garcia is 3-1 with a 0.67 ERA. In his lone loss during that run, his team let him down, allowing three unearned runs against the Brewers on Aug. 17. The only earned runs he's allowed in that time are the two he gave up in the series-opening 3-2 victory over the Reds on Friday.

Jason Heyward OF Jason Heyward
Atlanta Braves
.281/.389/.473 16 HR 65 RBI 3.1 UZR/150 3.7 WAR

In spring training, it was tough to find anyone who hadn't already awarded the Rookie of the Year to Heyward. It was easy to see why, he's big, strong, fast and has good plate discipline. In short, he's a can't-miss prospect. And he hasn't missed. Although, injuries have slowed him, he's still been nothing short of impressive.

Buster Posey C Buster Posey
San Francisco Giants
.328/.374/.506 11 HR 55 RBI -6.9 UZR/150 3.1 WAR

It took until May for the Giants to finally call Posey up to the big leagues and he quickly showed why people were calling for him to be on the roster since opening day. He took over the starting spot when the Giants traded Bengie Molina on July 1 and is expected to anchor the Giants' lineup for years to come. Since Molina was traded, Posey has hit .346/.400/.562. There are still questions whether he can be an elite defensive catcher, but his bat will carry him.

Gaby Sanchez 1B Gaby Sanchez
Florida Marlins
.284/.353/.467 16 HR 72 RBI -0.2 UZR/150 2.7 WAR

Not only can Sanchez swing the bat, he has a heck of a cross-check, taking out Nyjer Morgan in last week's brawl in Florida. While that may have been his most high-profile hit, Sanchez has plenty moret. He leads major league rookies in total bases (227), doubles (35) and RBI (72).

Jonny Venters RP Jonny Venters
Atlanta Braves
4-2 71 1/3 IP 1.77 ERA 32 BB 81 K 1.7 WAR

Venters won't get too many votes, but he's been fantastic for the Braves out of the bullpen this season. He leads all rookies with 65 appearances, 21 more than the next most-used rookie pitcher in the National League. With Billy Wagner retiring after this season, Venters could be the team's closer in 2011.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: September 6, 2010 10:42 am

Lincecum catches his tip

Tim Lincecum Could Tim Lincecum's struggles this season been as simple as him tipping his pitches?

Remember that game last month against the Diamondbacks when it appeared Stephen Drew was relaying signs to Adam LaRoche? (Here's the video from MLB.com -- be careful, there's a loud ad at the beginning.)

According to author Jason Turbow , the Giants coaching staff had Lincecum alter his delivery.

"I moved my hands closer to my body to make it hard for them to see [the grip]," Lincecum told Turbow. "The pitching coach, somebody notices it. … When things like that happen and someone can see it right off the bat, and it's so blatant like that, you have no choice but to do something about it."

Lincecum said he hasn't had an issue with tipping his pitches before. And he also doesn't have an issue with the Diamondbacks -- or other teams -- taking advantage of his mistakes.

"If you can get a team's signs, and you have them, why not take advantage?" Lincecum said. "It's smart on their part. Baseball is a game of adjustments, and I had to make some."

Lincecum earned his first victory since July in his next start, Wednesday against the Rockies, when he allowed just one run on five hits in eight innings, striking out nine and walking one. Lincecum faces the Diamondbacks again on Tuesday.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: September 6, 2010 9:52 am

'Rally Thong' sparks Giants

Aubrey Huff There are certain things that maybe should just stay in the clubhouse. Not for the sanctity of the clubhouse or anything like that -- no, instead just because I'm not sure I wanted to know them. But since I do know it -- now you have to as well.

So, thanks to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News , you will have this picture in your head, too. The Giants' Aubrey Huff is wearing a red thong. A lacy one. One Baggarly says he walks around the clubhouse wearing and sports  during interviews -- with no accompaniment.

"We're 3-1 with it," he yelled after Saturday's victory. "I might never get a hit the rest of the year, though."

Huff said it's the team's lucky thong -- not his own. The team improved to 4-1 with the thong after Sunday's victory over the Dodgers. The thing is, it's not helping Huff. He's just 2 for 19 in the thong's five games.

"It's the Rally Thong," Huff told Baggarly after Sunday's game . "It's not a slump thong. If I was wearing it to break a slump, I would've burned it a long time ago."

Huff was 1 for 4 on Sunday, with a double. He's hitting .200 in 24 games since Aug. 8.

"This is a team thing," Huff said. "When I broke it out [Tuesday], we had 30 games left. I said, 'Guys, here's 20 wins right here.'"

The Giants are now just a game behind the Padres -- who could use a Rally Thong themselves, losing 10 straight. I doubt that this catches on like the Rally Monkey, and for that, I'm grateful.

But a word of advice to the Padres if they're thinking about stealing this superstition --  the rose goes in front, big guy.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Category: MLB
Posted on: August 27, 2010 9:51 am

Bochy calls out stars for conditioning

Pablo Sandoval
One is too big, the other too small.

And Giants manager Bruce Bochy said both of his young stars, Pablo Sandoval and Tim Lincecum, need to get into the gym. The skipper made some frank comments Wednesday about how failure to be in shape has affected them.

"In this game, I don't think players should ever feel they've arrived," Bochy told the San Jose Mercury News. "They should always seek to improve. And not only in how they play, but what kind of shape they're in."

In Sandoval's case, that shape is round. "Panda" is a catchy nickname, but you don't want a panda playing third base -- which, given the 24-year-old's increasing size and decreasing range, he might not be able to continue to do for long. A move to first could be in his future.

Sandoval went through a "Camp Panda" program in Arizona last winter, attempting to slim down, but it didn't seem to take. He was listed at 262 pounds to start the season, though that number is simply whatever the team chooses to submit.

Bochy hinted that there might be a tough trainer on retainer to push Sandoval, who batted .330 last year in his first full season but has seen that drop to .276 this year, through next winter.

"Pablo and I will talk about that," Bochy said, smiling. "We may have somebody in mind already. That all will be addressed when the season is over."

Lincecum's delivery requires that he remain lithe and flexible, but the issues for him are cardiovascular conditioning and lower-body strength. Phillies pitcher Roy Oswalt, also a power guy of relatively slight stature, told the San Francisco Chronicle that Lincecum's drop in velocity had to be a conditioning issue and that pitchers like them "have to do twice the work a bigger guy's going to do."

"With Timmy, it's all strength and stamina," Bochy said. "But I'll say this: He's taken responsibility already for putting in more time and effort into his workouts. He's been spending more time in the weight room. He's got a routine. But that has to carry throughout the offseason, too."

The manager is hopeful that the struggles of the young duo have served as a wakeup call about the importance of conditioning.

"They are two young players with special gifts and talents," Bochy said. "But you still have to work at all parts of the game, and that includes conditioning. Sometimes you learn in your second or third season how important that is. Players realize how hard they have to work to continue the level of performance they want to play at."

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: August 27, 2010 9:50 am
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Posted on: August 25, 2010 2:48 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2010 2:49 pm

Astros claim Giants' Downs on waivers

The Astros have become a beneficiary of the Giants' waiver claim on Cody Ross.

The Giants, who are collecting outfielders like bobblehead dolls, claimed Ross to block the first-place Padres, who need a center fielder. Their bluff got called by the Marlins, who decided to let the Giants pick up the rest of Ross' salary.

In order to make room on their 40-man roster for Ross, the Giants had to designate infielder Matt Downs for assignement, which meant he had to go through waivers. The Astros snatched him up Wednesday. Downs, 26, hasn't done much in limited big-league action, but he's batting .280 with some power at Triple-A. He's mostly a second baseman, but has played everywhere except catcher and center field, making him a solid utility possibility.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: August 22, 2010 4:48 pm
Edited on: August 22, 2010 6:16 pm

Giants block yields them another OF

Cody Ross One of the beauties of the waiver process (and there are few of these) is the game of chicken between teams trying to block players and the team waiving the player.

San Francisco put in a claim on Marlins outfielder Cody Ross in what was regarded as an attempt to keep him from the first-place Padres, who need a center fielder after Tony Gwynn Jr. broke a finger. The Marlins, now safely out of the playoff race at 62-61, decided to let the Giants pay Ross the roughly $1.1 million left on Ross contract for this season, as he didn't figure into their 2011 plans, so they let the Giants have him.

Ross is hitting .265/.316/.405 with 11 home runs and 58 RBI after a two-hit performance on Sunday. He is arbitration eligible for 2011, his final year of arbitration. He beat the Marlins in arbitration in February.

The Giants already have outfielders Pat Burrell, Jose Guillen, Aaron Rowand, Nate Schierholtz and Andres Torres on the roster, so don't have an immediate need in the outfield.

The Marlins will call up 23-year old Cameron Maybin to take Ross' place on the roster.

UPDATE: Ross said he was "in shock" by the move, according to the Miami Herald .

"A part of me is really excited, and the other part is really sad. You play your heart out for this organization, and the next thing you know, you're gone.''
-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Category: MLB
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