A tale of two pitches for Cain, Affeldt


A tale of two pitches for Cain, Affeldt

SAN FRANCISCO Matt Cain threw 103 pitches. Jeremy Affeldtthrew just 14.

Both of them fixated on one.

For Cain, it was the last pitch he threw a wild, 3-2offering that was supposed to be an enticing changeup to Bobby Abreu. Instead,it was hopelessly wild and allowed the Dodgers to score the tying run in theeighth.

For Affeldt, it was the first pitch he threw a curveballwith his classic hump and tumble. Adrian Gonzalez still managed to stroke it tothe deepest part of right-center field for a triple, and then scored thetiebreaking run on Hanley Ramirezs double.

Cains face was pained with regret.

Its just really frustrating for me to give the lead up ona wild pitch, he said after the Dodgers took a 3-2 victory on an otherwiseperfect Saturday afternoon at AT&T Park. I think youd want almostanything else to happen. I didnt give the bullpen a chance to bail me out.Thats my fault. Thats on my shoulders.

Affeldt was no happier, even if he couldnt share Cainsregret.

I threw the pitch where I wanted it, he said. I made thepitch I wanted to make to Gonzalez and he beat me. Its a pitch you dontexpect a guy to swing at, but he did. You can second guess yourself, but for me he hit my pitch.

Affeldt offered one other thought:

This is why September baseball is so fun. It comes down toone key hit, usually.

One mans fun is another mans torture. Or have youforgotten that word?

There are so many reasons to believe the Giants could clinchthe NL West before Oct. 1, when they arrive at Dodger Stadium for the finalthree games of the regular season. For one, they hold a 4 -game lead. Foranother, theres a schedule that favors the orange to the extreme. The Dodgersstill have a home series with the St. Louis Cardinals and a three-city roadtrip that includes stops in Washington and Cincinnati, the teams with the twotop records in the National League. Meanwhile, the Giants stay entirely within theNL West and the Dodgers are the only team theyll face that has a winningrecord.

Then again

We dont do anything easy, Giants manager Bruce Bochysaid. Its going to be a fight, we know it and thats our nature. We fightevery day, but theres a lot of baseball left and thats the way well look atit.

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.