Kings

With Huff in fold, Giants offer Uribe arbitration

With Huff in fold, Giants offer Uribe arbitration

Nov. 24, 2010

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URBAN: HUFF SIGNING ENSURES CONTINUITY

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Aubrey Huff flew over San Francisco and was reminded again why he loves it so much.

Huff took a short break to decompressafter the World Series, then wasted little time accomplishing hisoffseason plan: re-signing with the Giants.

Huff is staying put with SanFrancisco just as he'd hoped, agreeing to a 22 million, two-yearcontract with the World Series champions Tuesday. He receives 10million in each of the next two seasons, and the Giants have a 10million club option for 2013 with a 2 million buyout.

"There was a big interest out there.But in the end, it wasn't going to take much to come back here for me,"Huff said at AT&T Park. "Some other team would have had to blow meaway with like a four-year deal or something and a lot, a lot of doughto stay away from here."

The Giants matched a similarly structured offer from another club - knowing full well Huff wanted to stay.

"We paid the piper, and you can'tlook back," general manager Brian Sabean said during a conference call."He was obviously underpaid for what he did for us last year. ... Hecertainly did his part and received a just reward for it."Later Tuesday, the Giants offeredinfielder Juan Uribe salary arbitration. Players offered arbitrationhave until next Tuesday to accept. Uribe batted .248 with 24 homers and85 RBIs in his second season with San Francisco.

Huff hit .290 with a team-leading 26home runs and 86 RBIs while playing in 157 games, then batted .268 withone homer and eight RBIs in the postseason as the Giants won theirfirst title since 1954.

Considering the mutual interest, itwas no surprise a deal got done quickly, less than a month after theclub beat Texas in five games to capture the city's first championshipsince moving West in 1958.

"Obviously with a big contract comesa big responsibility on the field and in the community," Huff said."I'll take pride in that."

The 33-year-old Huff reached theplayoffs for the first time in his 11-year big league career. He hit atwo-run homer in a 4-0 Game 4 World Series victory, then laid down hisfirst career sacrifice bunt in the clincher.

I've played nine years of losingbaseball for not-so-good teams and this is the most fun I've hadplaying baseball in my life," Huff said. "To be able to come back andtry to have a chance to defend this title which we earned this year,and to do it in this great city and this great organization, it'sactually a big moment for me."

San Francisco signed Huff - hislucky red rally thong also certain to come back in 2011 - to a 3million, one-year contract last January to provide a boost in themiddle of the batting order. And the Giants got it.

"He's a loose character but hedoesn't take himself too seriously. He takes the game seriously,"manager Bruce Bochy said. "He was such an important piece of the club.You don't have very many players who can do what Aubrey can do, playfirst and the outfield and the left-handed bat."

The Giants were counting on Huff returning to his 2008 form, when he hit .304 with 32 homers and a career-best 108 RBIs.

He certainly showed plenty ofimprovement, not to mention versatility playing both first and leftfield, in bouncing back from a career-worst .241 batting average in2009 with Baltimore and Detroit.

"Being flexible keeps you around the game longer," Huff said.

Bringing back Huff was an importantfirst step in keeping the winning roster largely intact to try to makeanother deep postseason run.

"It was critical for the lineup. Thegood teams, they really have continuity," Sabean said. "We want tocreate that through retention. The more of these guys we can keeptogether the more strength we have in numbers. It will be interestingto see what we can do to retain our own people to improve the lineupfrom what we started with at the beginning of the season."

Now, Sabean turns his attention tobringing back shortstop and third baseman Uribe. Sabean said the clubalso had discussions Tuesday regarding other available shortstops tofill the void left by departed World Series MVP Edgar Renteria, whomight retire.

"So this may take some time to getsorted out," Sabean said of Uribe. "I think both parties are willing todo something faster, we're just not talking the same language inballpark figures. You have to be patient because we like the player ...but you do have to do business at hand and that's why we're jugglingthe trade scenario. I really don't know what the outside world is goingto bring to him offer wise."

San Francisco also has eightarbitration-eligible players. While Sabean has said it would be nice totender contracts to all, that might not be realistic. Keeping Cody Rossis a priority. The NL championship series MVP, acquired on a waiverclaim from Florida on Aug. 22, hit .288 with three homers and sevenRBIs in 33 games and emerged as an unlikely postseason star.

His figure is not going to affectthe payroll," Sabean said. "We're willing to make that sacrifice to seewhat we can get done."

In addition, third baseman PabloSandoval, coming off a down year in his second full major leagueseason, has decided to train in Arizona during the offseason instead ofsplitting time between the team's spring training facility and SanDiego. The Giants want him to lose weight. The free-swinging Sandovalhit .268 in 2010 with 13 homers and 63 RBIs while striking out 81times.

After tough start to season, Kings make organizational shift towards youth

After tough start to season, Kings make organizational shift towards youth

The time has come. After losing five straight and 10 of their last 12 games, the Sacramento Kings sit at the bottom of the Western Conference standings at 13-30. With playoffs well out of reach, the team is making an organizational decision to go young.

You could say that the Kings made this decision last February when they dealt DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans. You could also point to draft day 2017 when the team traded down and turned the 10th overall selection into picks 15 and 20, giving the team three first round selections, an early second rounder and rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic coming from overseas.

Sacramento walked into the 2017-18 campaign with ten players on rookie scale deals, including nine first round selections with two years of NBA experience or less.

After a rocky first half, the team is going to a complete youth movement. The plan is for the veteran core of George Hill, Garrett Temple, Kosta Koufos, Vince Carter and Zach Randolph to rotate in and out of the lineup over the final 40 games of the season. 

Both management and the coaching staff is on the same page with the decision, NBC Sports California has confirmed. Two or three players will sit each night as they team explores what they have in youngsters.

"Going forward, what I'm going to do is, we're going to play a rotation where two of our five veterans are going to be out every night. It might be some times there'll be three. It's an opportunity for some other guys to get some minutes as we go throughout the course of the season. I've got it laid out...I've got about five or six games laid out, and every week I'll go out again because you want to communicate with those guys when they're not going to play. Other guys, they've got to be ready. If you're in the first three years of your contract, you can expect to play a little, or a lot, or none, but you should be ready to play," Joerger told the media after the Kings' loss to the Thunder on Monday night.

Developing young players was the top priority coming into the season. With the team struggling, the franchise's decision to speed up the transition from veterans to inexperienced players comes as no surprise.

Prized first round selection De’Aaron Fox has already 22 of 35 appearances for the Kings and is settling into the starting point guard position. Since returning from injury, the 20-year-old out of Kentucky is posting 14.3 points and 6.7 assists over 32.5 minutes per game.

Despite early season struggles with consistency, the fifth overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft is improving. With the ideological shift in direction by the franchise, it is now Fox’s show, but he’s not the only one expected to produce.

Willie Cauley-Stein has taken a huge leap forward in his third season with the team as well. After struggles in his first two years in the league, Cauley-Stein is averaging career-highs in points (12.0), rebounds (6.5), assists (2.2), steals (.9), blocks (.8) and minutes played (26.2).

With his confidence at an all-time high, Cauley-Stein is going to be asked to do even more with a reduction of minutes by Zach Randolph. The lanky 7-footer will have an opportunity to prove he is a go-to weapon in the final 40 games of the season.

The Kings have a pair of wings that appear ready to excel in Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield.

Bogdanovic has made tremendous strides through his first few months in the league and he’s clearly ready for a bigger role. The presence of Hill and Temple has forced Bogdanovic to play out of position at the small forward position.

The 25-year-old Serbian has already seen a surge in minutes and production during the month of January. Bogdanovic has scored in double-figures all six games this month and he’s averaging 15.3 points on 55 percent shooting from field and 50 percent from long range. He has a maturity to his game after spending years playing professionally in Europe and Joerger has relied heavily on him throughout the early season.

Hield has improved in year two, especially on the defensive end. He came out of Oklahoma as a pure scorer and hasn’t disappointed. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard is shooting over 44 percent from 3-point range this season and showing a good feel for the game as a volume scorer off the bench.

The front office and coaching staff have an outline of what Fox, Cauley-Stein, Bogdanovic and Hield project as players, but there are plenty of other youngsters on the roster that the club needs more time to assess.

Skal Labissiere has fought his way out of a rough patch and is showing signs of improvement. His rebounding numbers have steadily jumped up and he’s figuring out how to defend stretch fours on the perimeter.

Before his injury, Frank Mason III was making strides as the team’s backup point guard. The second round pick is solid, but struggled with his shot before going down with a plantar fascia injury. He’ll be back in early February and should slide right back into the rotation.

Justin Jackson and Malachi Richardson have taken turns bouncing between the Kings and  the Reno Bighorns. Jackson has a maturity about him on the floor, but he’s been inconsistent with his shot and needs to get stronger.

After earning his way into the rotation last season, Richardson has struggled when given the opportunity this year. He’s worked tirelessly on his body and he’s a great practice 3-point shooter. He’s learning to play the 2, 3 and even some stretch four this season, which shows versatility, but he passes up too many open looks.

Lastly, the Kings have a complete unknown in 7-foot-2 center Georgios Papagiannis. Like Richardson, the giant out of Greece has worked hard to reinvent his body. He’s clearly quicker and more agile than he was in his rookie season, but at 20-years-old, he’s still considered a project.

It might be 10-15 games earlier than expected, but at some point this season, the Kings were going to throw their young players to the wolves and see how they fair. Sitting out games is a tough pill to swallow for veterans, but with just 13 wins through the first three months of the season, the writing has been on the wall for a while.

What the Giants’ farm system lost in trade for Andrew McCutchen

What the Giants’ farm system lost in trade for Andrew McCutchen

San Francisco’s second splash of its offseason reloading plan came to life Monday with the acquisition of outfielder Andrew McCutchen in a trade with the Pirates.

In trading for the five-time All-Star, the Giants held on to top prospects Heliot Ramos, Chris Shaw and Tyler Beede. The win-now move bolstered the Giants’ outfield — one that needed the most help in all of baseball — while the Pirates again have a potential big piece in their outfield with Bryan Reynolds headed to Pittsburgh. 

While the farm system took a win in keeping its biggest names, let’s look at what the Giants’ future lost with the addition of McCutchen. 

Bryan Reynolds, 22, OF
The Giants clearly have their own prospect rankings. Baseball America (5) and MLB Pipeline (4) ranked Reynolds ahead of Steven Duggar, who is the Giants’ No. 8 prospect by Baseball America and No. 6 by MLB Pipeline, after the 2017 season. Duggar is expected to compete for the Giants’ starting job in center field unless they make another big move like signing Lorenzo Cain. 

There’s a reason Reynolds is ranked so high though. The Giants’ top pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, is a switch-hitter who is primarily a center fielder, but like Duggar, he played all three outfield positions in 2017. 

"I think it's too early to dictate if he'll be in a corner or center," Nestor Rojas, Reynolds’ manager for the San Jose Giants, said to me in July. "He's really good and he has the tools to play center field. He's got speed and he's got range. He can do really well in all three." 

Reynolds slashed .312/.364/.462 with 10 home runs at Advanced Single-A this past season. He was the Giants' lone representative at the Futures Game and named San Jose Giants MVP. Even if he never unlocks his power, Reynolds is expected to be a solid big leaguer one day with well-rounded overall tools. 

[READ: How Reynolds went from undrafted to Giants' top 2016 pick]

Kyle Crick, 25, RHP
Crick was expected to be a future ace when the Giants took him No. 49 overall as a high school pitcher back in 2011. Control issues hampered him mightily. 

Down in the minors, Crick flashed dominance on the hill at times with a fastball that reaches the upper 90s. Still, command won the battle and the Giants turned Crick into a reliever. The move may have saved his career. 

As the Sacramento River Cats’ closer in Triple-A last season, Crick recorded six saves with a 2.76 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 29.1 innings pitched. Crick earned his call-up to San Francisco and was solid for the Giants. He put together a 3.06 ERA in 30 games out of the bullpen, giving a glimpse of what he can be in the future. 

Crick has always been full of potential. Now as a reliever, he’s starting to turn it into results at the highest level. The Pirates may have a future shut-down arm in the ‘pen, but in the Giants’ reload, there are plenty of in-house options that can do the job he was expected to do in 2018.