Urban: Busy day (and one more win) for Giants


Urban: Busy day (and one more win) for Giants

July 19, 2011


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Mychael Urban

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants made news on so many fronts Tuesday that they managed to do something typically quite difficult: They made a game against the rival Dodgers seem secondary.Let's break the news down, then, before touching on that pesky game.The biggie, in many minds, was a fairly significant trade. The Giants sent two minor-league arms, both of them with late-inning stuff, to the Astros for second baseman Jeff Keppinger.
URBAN: Giants' Keppinger deal solid if unspectacular
Not an exorbitant price to pay by any stretch, but a price nonetheless -- for a player with virtually no pop, a less-than-impressive on-base percentage and average defensive skills. That's the glass-half-empty take on the deal, anyway. The half-full take: Two guys you won't miss at all this year for a guy hitting over .300 who could play a significant role this year and next.

Biggie 1-B, then, was the promotion of rookie first baseman Brandon Belt, who ripped through the minors last season, made the team out of spring training this year, got sent down after struggling, got called back up after proving he'd closed the hole in his swing, got injured, rehabbed, was activated and sent back down again. His past 12 months have been nothing short of dizzying, but Belt is staring straight ahead, hoping to provide the patience, power and production the club has been sorely lacking.One way to make room for a promotion is to dole out a demotion, and Tuesday's came -- actually, it won't be made official until Keppinger arrives Wednesday -- at the expense of a player whose promotion never made sense in the first place.
Twenty-one-year-old catcher Hector Sanchez, who started the season in Single-A ball, advanced to Triple-A and was called up to The Show last Friday despite the Giants already having two catchers on the big-league roster. Perhaps having three Sanchezes violated some sort of MLB bylaw of which the Giants were unaware when they called the kid up, but they sure didn't give him much of a chance to flash his wares. He came, he got meal money, he was gone.
You've heard a brief call-up to the bigs referred to as a "cup of coffee," right? Sanchez ended up with a thimble full of espresso -- decaf, at that.We also got word of a change in the starting rotation, which taught Barry Zito that the Giants' brass thinks exactly like most of the team's fans. For the enigma that is Planet Zito, three great starts and a stinker means blah, blah, blah, stinker! That's just the way it is, and the way it always will be.What's a busy day without somebody getting placed on the DL? Miguel Tejada, come on down. Despite impassioned pleas, Tejada was shelved with an abdominal strain a day after Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he'd earned back the starting shortstop job he'd lost to rookie Brandon Crawford. Crawford got the start Tuesday, but he might not be the starter even with Tejada out. When Keppinger arrives, it's likely that Mike Fontenot will slide from second to short, bumping Crawford to the bench. There was good news related to the DL, too. Giants VP of baseball ops Bobby Evans told that second baseman Freddy Sanchez, whose injury made way for the Keppinger deal, is progressing well enough in rehab from his right shoulder surgery that he might be DH-ing in Arizona Rookie League games in the near future.
PODCAST: Inside the Giants -- Coming Down the Pipe
When he gets back, of course, he'll be the starting second baseman. But he's not eligible to return until Aug. 11, because Tuesday's ferris wheel forced the Giants to transfer him from the 15-day DL to the 60-day shutdown.
Who'll be the shortstop by mid-August? At this rate, you could throw out Danny Bonaduce and not get laughed out of the room. All that and a game? Relax, boys. Space it out a bit. Living in the KardashianFlavor Flav Era is sensory overload enough.Alas, they did play a game. Pretty darn good one, too. And as things turned out, one of the aforementioned stories factored quite nicely in the Giants' 5-3 comeback win in front of -- cut and paste time -- yet another sellout crowd at AT&T Park.RECAP: Belt powers Giants to 5-3 win over Dodgers
Belt, whom Evans last Friday said would "ideally" spend the rest of the season getting more seasoning at Triple-A Fresno, essentially said, "I've got your ideal right here, pally." First he pounded a home run in his first at-bat, then he smoked a two-run, game-winning double after an intentional walk ahead of him. Why was Belt playing? Oh, more news: starting first baseman Aubrey Huff has a balky back.Wait, one more: Pablo Sandoval, whom you're tempted to refer to as a machine but the prospect of getting that image stuck in your dome is too daunting, suffered a right quad strain during the game and was removed for a pinch runner after going 2-for-3 with a walk and his daily defensive gem.You got all that? Good. For the bars are now closing, deadlines are looming, and there's still one last thing to report: Giants general manager Brian Sabean suggested he's working on another trade, one that might make the Keppinger deal look like child's play.Now that's some serious news, because the Giants, whose calm at the eye of Tuesday's storm was embodied by young Madison Bumgarner, already are -- against all odds -- really, really good. With Belt back in the mix (no more seasoning, please), Keppinger on the way and perhaps another big bat on the horizon, they might very well be on the brink of getting a whole mess better.

After loss to Nuggets, it's clear Kings need to fix problem on the glass

After loss to Nuggets, it's clear Kings need to fix problem on the glass

SACRAMENTO -- Light in the rear. It’s a term the Sacramento Kings coaching staff has used since the beginning of training camp to describe the bigs on the roster. On Monday night at Golden 1 Center, the team’s lack of strength inside was on full display as the Denver Nuggets crushed them on the glass.

“I think we’re 29th in the league for rebounding, so that’s a little bit of our makeup of how our team is made,” Dave Joerger said following the Kings’ 114-98 loss.

Joerger is close in his assessment, but off by a few spots. His roster ranks 26th in the league in rebounding overall and 28th on the defensive side of the ball. It’s become an achilles heel for a team that has a few glaring weaknesses.

“When Willie (Cauley-Stein) and Kosta (Koufos) aren’t in there to snag every rebound, we have to get in there and help Zach (Randolph) and help Skal (Labissiere),” veteran Garrett Temple said. “Skal’s a little undersized in terms of weight and Z-Bo will put his body on people, but some people might be able to out jump him.”

On a normal night, Temple is right. Randolph and Labissiere struggle to put up big numbers on the glass. But against the Nuggets, it was Koufos and Cauley-Stein that combined to grab nine rebounds in 51 total minutes of action.

Randolph and Labissiere didn’t fair much better, finishing with 10 boards between the two of them in 38 minutes with the starters. Between the Kings’ four bigs, they were out rebounded by the Nuggets bigs by a final of 34-19.

The Nuggets came into the night a top 10 rebounding team overall and the second best offensive rebounding team in the NBA at 11.8 per game.

It’s not just the bigs that struggled to grab boards for Sacramento. Without Buddy Hield, the club’s best rebounding wing, the Kings’ were dominated 49-34 overall in rebounding, including 14-5 on the offensive glass.

“The first shot, it’s a good contest, we did everything right, except get the rebound,” rookie point guard De’Aaron Fox said. “And then they get an open shot off a second chance shot. If we can complete a lot of plays with the rebound, we’ll be okay.”

To Fox’s point, the defensive possession doesn’t end until the rebound is secured. Sacramento was outscored 19-6 on second chance points. In a 16-point game, those numbers loom large.

“Us guards, we know we have to help our bigs,” Fox said. “We know our bigs are athletic. We know they do what they do, at the end of the day, other team’s guards are helping their bigs rebound and their bigs aren’t alone.”

Outside of the four bigs, none of the other seven players to see action had more than three rebounds. It’s an issue that has to be addressed as the Kings move forward.

“There are some instances that really bothered me,” Joerger said. “We had some guys leaking out, standing at half court and that I won’t have.”

The Kings have a day of practice on Tuesday to try and sure up some of their issues. Some of the problems stem from inexperience, but some of the issue comes down to energy and effort.

It doesn’t even get easier on Wednesday. The Los Angeles Lakers rank second in the league in rebounding at 47.5 boards per game. On the plus side, they also give up the 28th most rebounds in the league.

Klay Thompson randomly interviewed on local NYC news about scaffolding


Klay Thompson randomly interviewed on local NYC news about scaffolding

With a big break until their next game, the Warriors spent a couple days in New York City.

Klay Thompson spent part of his Monday walking around the city.

And as only Thompson could, he wound up appearing on a local news report. But he wasn't talking about basketball. Not even close.

Courtesy of Twitter user @MP_Trey, Thompson was interviewed on Fox 5 NY to talk about ... scaffolding.

"I usually observe if the piping and stuff is new. Sometimes, you know, something looks like it's been there a while, I try to avoid that," Thompson said in the report.

You can watch the odd video here: