Pagan, Cabrera and Blanco turning out to be terrific outfield trio


Pagan, Cabrera and Blanco turning out to be terrific outfield trio

SAN FRANCISCO They met in center field and leapt inunison. Angel Pagan gloved the final out in the Giants 4-3 victory over theChicago Cubs, then he collided with Melky Cabrera and Gregor Blanco for acelebratory, triple-hip check.

There was nothing choreographed about it.
RECAP: Baggs' Instant Replay -- Giants 4, Cubs 3

Yes, the Giants starting outfielders are having as much funas it appears. Thats easy when youre breaking records, setting the table fora productive offense and whacking one pitch after another to the wall. But itseven better when theyre all doing it together.

Oh my God, its the best, Pagan said after Fridaysvictory. To me, weve got three center fielders running around. I dont thinkthe pitchers mind that, either. Definitely, you have fun playing with thoseguys. Were getting to know each other more and more.

Whats not to like about these three first-year Giants?

Cabrera, fresh off a 51-hit May, kicked off June withanother multiple-hit game. He singled and tripled to fuel scoring rallies inthe first and third innings. He leads the majors with 80 hits, 26 multiple-hitgames and seven triples.

His .376 average is the highest in the NL.

And its the highest by a (qualified) Giant on June 1 inalmost two decades. Barry Bonds, fresh off signing his record contract in 1993,had a .394 average on June 1 of that season. (Hat tip to the amazing DaveFeldman for crunching those numbers).

Cabrera even found a way to smile through some rather personalpain in the fifth inning, when he chopped a foul ball off his manly parts.Credit Cubs catcher Steve Clevenger with some solid bro points; he made a moundvisit to give Cabrera some time to gather his considerable thoughts.

The most important ball of the night belonged to Pagan, whoblooped a single in the third inning to enter the Giants record books. Heextended his streak to 25 consecutive home games with a hit. Its the longestin franchise history, or at least dating to 1918 when data is available tocheck such matters.

Pagan secured the ball from the hit and clubhouse managerMike Murphy also made sure to save him the lineup card. Pagan received waves ofhugs and handshakes upon returning to the dugout.

Hes hitting .356 at AT&T Park and he hasnt gonehitless since the home opener here. Thats quite an accomplishment in a parkthat causes mostly grumbles from hitters especially for Pagan, who endured awretched spring and had to hear whispers about losing a regular gig even beforethe season began.

We didnt start the best way I wanted, but every day I findsomething to do to help the team, said Pagan, who didnt know about the recorduntil hitting coach Hensley Bam Bam Meulens told him about it earlier Friday.

He said, Youre going to break a record today, Pagansaid. It feels good. Its not something Im looking to do, but it means Imdoing my job. Im getting on base. Its good. It feels good, the vibe from yourteammates, when they support you for what you do.

The Giants have a pretty good team vibe going right now.They have nearly cut their NL West deficit in half in five days, takingadvantage of the Dodgers four-game losing streak to creep from 7 out to fourout. Its the closest theyve been to first place since May 8. Cubs' comeback bid falls short against Giants

Blanco is a big part of that resurgence ever since becomingthe clear, everyday leadoff hitter. He entered with a .401 on-base percentageand led off the first inning with a walk, then scored on Ryan Theriots double.

Bochy credited Blanco with setting the tone for a lineupthat still lacks power, yet is taking the field with greater confidence.

You see the energy we have here, Pagan said.

Pagan had one more reason to be excited after the game. Hisfriend and former teammate Johan Santana, became the first pitcher in New YorkMets history to throw a no-hitter. Pagan said he was about to send acongratulatory text.

Johan is one of the best teammates Ive ever had, Pagansaid. I want to congratulate him because hes come a long way from hisinjuries. Thats a good thing. He competes and hes a horse. Weve got a lot ofthose guys here, too.

Giants hire David Bell to fill key front office role


Giants hire David Bell to fill key front office role

SAN FRANCISCO -- A familiar face is returning to the Giants organization to serve a key front office role.

The Giants announced Friday that David Bell, their former third baseman, has been hired as Vice President of Player Development. General manager Bobby Evans said Bell will oversee all aspects of player development, including hitting, pitching, strength and conditioning and the operations of the minor league affiliates. 

"He was the perfect fit," Evans said. "His experience is so strong and encompasses so many aspects of the game. He’s got a really strong base of experience and background and understanding of the game, and he has a passion for the game and working with young players. He really showed a desire to pursue this opportunity." 

Bell, 45, played 12 major league seasons and spent 2002 with the Giants. He hit 20 homers that year as the starting third baseman and scored the winning run in the final game of the NLCS. Since retiring, Bell has served as a minor league manager for the Reds and a big league coach for the Cubs and Cardinals. He spent last season as the bench coach in St. Louis. 

Shane Turner had previously served as farm director, but at the end of the minor league season he was asked to take a role as a special assistant in baseball operations. While Evans did not announce any other changes Friday, there are expected to be other moves within the organization's depth chart. At least one member of the coaching staff is still in the running for a managerial opening. 

Dusty Baker won't be remembered the way he should be remembered


Dusty Baker won't be remembered the way he should be remembered

Firing a manager is easy, and there are lots of ways to do it.

Dusty Baker, for example. He worked this year on the last year of a contract, which usually means there won’t be another one, and he relied on his players to deliver the goods.

Which, as we remember from our reading, they didn’t do. Again.

But Baker was marked for the chop unless those players did deliver, and when they didn’t, general manager Mike Rizzo did the expedient thing.

He fired one person rather than several. And changed exactly nothing.

Baker’s managerial career is probably over now, as most teams don’t look at 68-year-olds to fix their teams. He will never manage a  World Series champion, something he ached for, and he was always be caricatured in part as the guy who didn’t speak metric, and who believed in players as men whenever in doubt.

And the Nats didn’t betray him, either. They were always not as good in the big moments because someone else was, and they became part of Washington’s new fetish – Why Can’t We Win One? It’s as if having a cringeworthy President isn’t good enough for them.

So the time came, and he will be replaced by someone who will either win and get credit for work that was largely his, or he won’t win and the town can continue to wallow in its tedious We’re-The-New-Cubs pity. It is the circle of life.

At least it is for groups of people. For individuals, the circle of life is actually nothing more than a straight line that ends abruptly. For Dusty Baker, as it did for Tony La Russa in Phoenix two days earlier, that day came today. He deserves to be remembered as a very good manager who won a lot more than he lost, made more friends than enemies, and was honest from Day One until the end.

Which, as we also know, doesn’t matter a whole lot on days like this.