Brandon Crawford

Astros beef up rotation, acquire Brandon Crawford's brother-in-law

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Astros beef up rotation, acquire Brandon Crawford's brother-in-law

The World Series champion Houston Astros just got a little bit stronger.

The Pirates have traded ace Gerrit Cole to the Astros for a package of four prospects.

Cole, the former No. 1 overall pick out of UCLA in 2011, is married to Brandon Crawford's sister Amy.

An All-Star in 2015, Cole is coming off two straight subpar seasons. Last season, he posted a career-worst 4.26 ERA in 203 innings over 33 starts. He struck out 196 batters along the way.

The headliners of the package going back to Pittsburgh are RHP Joe Musgrove, RHP Michael Feliz and 3B Colin Moran. The Pirates will also receive OF Jason Martin.

Trading Cole could be the beginning of more moves for the Pirates, who are shopping former NL MVP Andrew McCutchen. The Giants have been linked to the veteran center fielder.

Giants SS Brandon Crawford wins third straight Gold Glove

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Giants SS Brandon Crawford wins third straight Gold Glove

SAN FRANCISCO — For all that went wrong for the Giants in 2017, their pitchers never had to worry when a ground ball was hit up the middle. On Tuesday, Brandon Crawford was once again rewarded for those efforts. 

Crawford won his third consecutive Gold Glove Award, becoming the first National League shortstop since Jimmy Rollins (2007-09) to pull that off. He is the 15th shortstop in MLB history to win three Gold Gloves and the first Giant since J.T. Snow (1997-2000) to win a Gold Glove in three consecutive years. Snow, Barry Bonds and Willie Mays are the only players in franchise history with more Gold Gloves than Crawford. 

“It was definitely a tough season on the field and off the field,” said Crawford, who dealt with the death of his sister-in-law early in the year. “It’s an individual award, but to at least get some sort of positive out of this season is definitely nice. Obviously we’d prefer team recognition but an individual award is still something nice to look back on.” 

A year after having three winners, the Giants were limited to one. Joe Panik was not even a finalist after winning for second base in 2016 and Buster Posey was likely dinged in the final balloting for catching just 99 games. Posey primarily played first base after Brandon Belt suffered a concussion in early August, and he lost out to surprise first-time winner Tucker Barnhart of the Cincinnati Reds.

Crawford was at his usual position throughout, with the exception of an early stint on the DL to deal with a groin injury. If he suffered any ill effects after his return, it didn’t show. Crawford was third among qualified NL shortstops with nine Defensive Runs Saved, and he led the group in Ultimate Zone Rating, per FanGraphs.com. As always, Crawford mixed in the spectacular on a near-nightly basis. 

The other National League winners were: Barnhart, Paul Goldschmidt, DJ LeMahieu, Nolan Arenado, Marcell Ozuna, Ender Inciarte and Jason Heyward. Barnhart isn’t the only member of that list who could have benefited from the Giants’ lineups down the stretch. Belt finished as a clear leader in the SABR Defensive Index (which counts for 25 percent of the vote) among NL first baseman and he might have unseated Goldschmidt had he not suffered a concussion. 

With Crawford, Posey, Belt and Panik, the Giants have a defensive core that would be the envy of most teams. Team officials have made it clear over the past six weeks that upgrading the outfield defense is the offseason priority, and Crawford believes that continuing to rely on steady defense and pitching could help the Giants push past the 2017 disaster. On a conference call Tuesday, he noted that the Giants have a good head start with Johnny Cueto back in the fold alongside Madison Bumgarner. 

“Whether or not we improve on our defense by getting anybody we have to put this season behind us,” he said. “Defense is always a big deal and I think in our championship seasons we’ve played really good defense in the infield, behind the plate and in the outfield. If we can improve on that, I think we like our chances going into next year.”

Two San Francisco Giants defenders nominated for Gold Gloves

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Two San Francisco Giants defenders nominated for Gold Gloves

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants have made upgrading their defense an offseason priority, but there are two spots where they remain elite. 

Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey were nominated for Gold Glove Awards on Thursday. Crawford will be trying for his third straight Gold Glove; Posey is looking for his second in a row. 

Joe Panik, last year's Gold Glove second baseman, was not among the nominees. A year after defensive metrics helped boost his case, the numbers had Panik well below average, something Giants coaches disputed throughout the season. Brandon Belt's metrics were league-leading after July, but a concussion in early August kept him from being a finalist, and might have kept him from a longtime goal of winning a Gold Glove. 

Crawford is up against Corey Seager of the Dodgers and Philadelphia's Freddy Galvis. Seager led the trio in Defensive Runs Saved, but Crawford was right behind him and should be a good bet for another trophy. 

Posey's case is more interesting. He didn't catch much after Belt got hurt, which likely will hurt his cause against the Cardinals' Yadier Molina and Reds' Tucker Barnhart. A newcomer, Barnhart is an interesting dark horse, with traditional and advanced metrics that were eye-popping. 

The Giants did not have any outfielders get nominated.