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Madison Bumgarner looms large in Giants’ decision-making

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 04:55:13 UT

CEO Larry Baer said the Giants remain open to paying Bumgarner market value but didn’t give a timetable. The decision not to acquire a big-name player for left field could make it more possible to structure a new deal for Bumgarner, who played a big role in the Giants’ three World Series titles. When we were successful in 2010, 2012 and 2014 (as World Series champs), we always introduced new players from our system into the lineup. When it comes to Bumgarner’s situation, two prominent agents The Chronicle interviewed in December suggested two possible contractual options the Giants could pursue. Another option is to rip up the contract with the understanding that Bumgarner would sign a six-year deal. In so doing, the Giants would take into account the luxury-tax threshold, which is $195 million this year. The Giants committed $64 million on two free agents on the 40-man roster, Mark Melancon ($62 million) and backup catcher Nick Hundley ($2 million), a year after a wild spree in which they earmarked nearly $400 million for free agents Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Denard Span and extensions for Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt. New A’s President Dave Kaval is promoting his team’s pursuit of a ballpark in Oakland, but the payroll won’t experience a spike.



Any challengers for Giants, Dodgers in NL West? Uh ...

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 23:22:33 UT

The Dodgers have won four straight division titles, the Giants’ three World Series championships in seven years. The question is whether the Diamondbacks and/or Rockies will make noise. Because we know the Padres won’t. In Arizona, where the Tony La Russa-Dave Stewart administration was replaced by a Red Sox connection of manager Torey Lovullo and general manager Mike Hazen, who are analytics-friendly, the expectation is that the rotation can’t possibly be as bad as last year’s. [...] notice, it’ll be another two-team race, and neither will be the Diamondbacks or Rockies.



Raiders’ Todd Downing breaks down role as offensive coordinator

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 00:51:29 UT

Raiders’ Todd Downing breaks down role as offensive coordinator For Todd Downing, one of the benefits of remaining with the Raiders as the new offensive coordinator is continuing to work with quarterback Derek Carr, who finished third in the MVP voting. After two seasons as Oakland’s quarterbacks coach, Downing, 36, was promoted last month while other teams considered interviewing him to be their offensive coordinator. Carr completed 357 of 560 passes (63.8 percent) for 3,937 yards and 28 touchdowns for a passer rating of 96.7. Carr broke his leg on Christmas Eve in the second-to-last game of the regular season, and the Raiders lost their finale and an AFC wild-card playoff game in Houston. Much of what he learned came from his mentor, Scott Linehan, the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator, when they worked together in Minnesota and Detroit. Downing said he learned of his promotion from head coach Jack Del Rio in the staff’s wrap-up meeting after the playoff loss. After Latavius Murray had just five carries in the regular-season finale, Del Rio was quoted as saying, “How does that happen?”



Giants fans anticipate 2017 season without forgetting 2016

Sun, 12 Feb 2017 03:20:48 UT

The Giants staged their annual FanFest to promote the new season, but the ending of the old season remained on the minds of some fans at Saturday’s event. In one of the question-and-answer sessions, a woman asked shortstop Brandon Crawford about the difficulty of getting over the Game 4 loss to the Cubs in the Division Series, adding she thought the Giants would have won a clinching Game 5 in Chicago. Weeks after coughing up a three-run, ninth-inning lead in Game 4, the Giants signed closer Mark Melancon for $62 million over four years to prevent such nightmares. Five relievers were used in the fateful inning, and all failed. “One move, that’s such a hard one,” Bochy said, because it’s easy to say to say let (starter) Matt Moore go the ninth inning or (use Santiago) Casilla, who was our closer (before losing the job in September). Melancon joins a team that blew a franchise-record 30 save opportunities. “He’s able to throw that cut fastball on both sides of plate and expands when he needs to,” Posey said. For the Giants to win their fourth World Series in eight years, they might need to knock off the defending champion Cubs. Someone asked Melancon how he’d pitch to league MVP Kris Bryant in Game 7 of the NLCS. Former Giant Brian Wilson is talking about making a comeback as a knuckleball pitcher, and Bochy was asked if he has interest. “I just want to make sure he gets his ring,” quipped Evans, referring to Wilson once confronting Larry Baer about his 2012 World Series ring. Brandon Belt ripped the proposed rule on placing a runner on second base to open extra innings because it would lessen the chances of achieving his goal to appear in a game as a pitcher.



Long before taking 49ers’ job, John Lynch played pro baseball

Tue, 31 Jan 2017 16:00:58 UT

“Really good arm,” said Gary Hughes, who was the Marlins’ scouting director when they selected Lynch, a pitcher from Stanford, in the second round of the 1992 draft. The Marlins entered the majors in 1993 as an expansion team, and Lynch started the first game in franchise history a year earlier, for the Erie Sailors of the New York-Penn League, a Class A affiliate. “Great guy, quality person, a heck of a football player,” Hughes said. Asked if he could have envisioned Lynch as a GM of an NFL team, Hughes said, “I thought he’d be in the starting rotation for the Florida Marlins.” Lynch, who was scouted and signed by Hughes’ son, Matt King, pitched parts of just two minor-league seasons, going 1-3 with a 2.35 ERA in nine starts. “He said he wasn’t going to go back to Stanford and play football,” Hughes said, but when Bill Walsh returned to coach, he told me he always wanted to play for Bill Walsh. Walsh helped transform Lynch, a former backup quarterback, into an elite safety, and now Lynch could be headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the next class to be announced Saturday. A fan of multiple-sport athletes, Hughes drafted Delino DeShields (who turned down a basketball scholarship at Villanova to sign with the Montreal Expos), Erick Strickland (Marlins minor-leaguer who played in the NBA) and Randy Winn (drafted by the Marlins from Santa Clara, where he also played basketball).



St. Mary’s beats Santa Clara; Zags looming

Sun, 29 Jan 2017 07:11:41 UT

St. Mary’s keeps marching toward a Feb. 11 showdown against WCC rival Gonzaga, the lone unbeaten team in Division I hoops. The Gaels beat host Santa Clara 72-59 on Saturday night and have three more games — against Pacific, San Diego and Portland — before their rematch with Gonzaga. The third-ranked Bulldogs pummeled Pepperdine 96-49 on Saturday and have a chance to soar to No. 1 in Monday’s Associated Press rankings in the wake of both top-ranked Villanova and second-ranked Kansas losing during the week. “We were ranked last year going into Selection Sunday, so they don’t mean a lot,” said Bennett, recalling how the Gaels were ranked in the coaches’ poll (not by AP) but got no invite to the NCAA Tournament. Guard Joe Rahon cares so little about polls, he said, that he didn’t even know where the Gaels rank. The Broncos (12-11, 6-4) entered with six wins in eight games but were shorthanded because starting guard Matt Hauser (averaging 10.2 points and a team-high 5.2 assists) was shelved with the flu. Shortly after Santa Clara’s student section began chanting “overrated,” the Gaels went on a 16-0 run for a 26-11 lead, but the Broncos finished the first half strong and went into intermission trailing 35-30. St. Mary’s built seemingly comfortable leads in the second half, only to watch Santa Clara fight back.



Similar story: St. Mary’s rallies to beat USF

Fri, 27 Jan 2017 06:58:37 UT

Australian food was served at the snack bars, and the Australian national anthem was played before tip-off. The 21st-ranked Gaels, suiting up on Australia Day, a great day of celebration Down Under, had another sluggish start against cross-bay rival USF before taking control in the second half and cruising to a 66-46 victory. Landale scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds, but it was St. Mary’s three-point shooting that sunk the Dons, along with a swarming defense that limited USF to 16 second-half points. Calvin Hermanson, showcasing a sweet left-handed shot and taking advantage of several open looks, hit 7 of 11 shots (4-for-7 from beyond the arc) for 18 points, and Narr also scored 18 on 6-for-9 shooting, including 2-for-3 on threes. The game was tied at intermission 30-30, and it was 34-34 early in the second half, but the Gaels showed their dominance in a hurry by going on a 14-0 run. Hermanson drilled a three-pointer to open the one-sided stretch. First-year USF head coach Kyle Smith, who previously coached with and under Bennett, vehemently argued that center Matt McCarthy was fouled on the previous possession and was called for a technical, giving Naar two free shots, which he netted to put St. Mary’s on top 44-34. The Gaels built the lead to 14 before USF’s Ronnie Boyce made a layup to break the string. Just one USF player, Charles Minlend, scored in double figures.



Giants sign catcher Nick Hundley

Wed, 25 Jan 2017 07:07:23 UT

The Giants signed catcher Nick Hundley on Tuesday, which naturally triggered this response from some fans: Hundley is a backup catcher and was signed for $2 million for depth purposes. Hundley, 33, is familiar with the National League West, having spent most of his nine big-league seasons with the Padres and the past two with the Rockies. “His experience overall brings added value to our club,” Evans said of Hundley. Brown hit .237 with five homers as a rookie and will be tried at other positions in spring training in an effort to make him more versatile. To create a spot on the 40-man roster for Hundley, the Giants designated Ehire Adrianza for assignment. The Hundley addition came a day after the Giants signed Korean third baseman Jae-gyun Hwang to a minor-league contract — $1.5 million with $1.6 million in incentives if he makes the big-league roster.



Giants sign Korean infielder Jae-gyun Hwang

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 05:41:54 UT

The Giants’ pursuit of roster depth went international, and they signed Korean third baseman Jae-gyun Hwang on Monday. The contract includes opt-out clauses and $1.6 million in incentives for plate appearances, and Hwang basically would need to become an everyday player to reach them all. The Giants have third basemen Eduardo Nuñez and Conor Gillaspie returning next season, and Nuñez is expected to enter spring training as the starter. Hwang hit .335 with 27 homers and 25 steals for Lotte (also the Giants) of the Korean Baseball Organization. The team also is believed to be close to adding a backup catcher to complement Buster Posey and Trevor Brown.



USF men keep it close against St. Mary’s before falling

Sun, 8 Jan 2017 07:02:05 UT

Randy Bennett walked onto USF’s Memorial Gym court just before introductions and made a beeline for Kyle Smith. The scene provided a nifty backdrop to a reunion of two buddies who used to coach together. Smith is trying to achieve what Bennett has at St. Mary’s, a winning program in the WCC, and Smith’s Dons took a promising step in Saturday night’s 63-52 loss to Bennett’s Gaels. “I really don’t like playing against my friends,” Bennett said after the Gaels improved to 4-0 in conference and 14-1 overall. St. Mary’s had beaten USF in 21 of 22 meetings, and the Dons put a scare in the 19th-ranked Gaels by leading at halftime 28-26 and continuing to put up a fight for most of the second half. Three-pointers by Dane Pineau and Tanner Krebs gave the Gaels an 11-point lead with 4½ minutes to go, and the clock ran out on USF. No one else scored in double figures for the Dons, who slipped to 11-6 overall and 1-3 in conference. After six seasons in the Ivy League, Smith returned to the WCC as USF’s lead man, replacing Rex Walters.



St. Mary’s holds off determined USF

Sun, 8 Jan 2017 06:56:35 UT

Randy Bennett walked on USF’s Memorial Gym court moments before introductions and made a beeline to Kyle Smith. The scene provided a nifty backdrop to a reunion of two buddies who used to coach together. Smith is trying to achieve what Bennett has at St. Mary’s, a winning program in the West Coast Conference, and Smith’s Dons took a promising step in Saturday night’s 63-52 loss to Bennett’s Gaels. “I really don’t like playing against my friends,” Bennett said after the Gaels improved to 4-0 in conference and 14-1 overall.. St. Mary’s had beaten USF in 21 of 22 meetings, and the Dons put a scare in the 19th-ranked Gaels by leading at halftime 28-26 and continuing to put up a fight for most of the second half. Three-pointers by Dane Pineau and Tanner Krebs gave the Gaels an 11-point lead with 4 ½ minutes to go, and the clock ran out on USF. No one else scored in double figures for the Dons, who slipped to 11-6 overall and 1-3 in conference. After six seasons in the Ivy League, Smith returned to the WCC as USF’s lead man, replacing Rex Walters.



Gonzaga too much for USF on the Hilltop

Fri, 6 Jan 2017 07:17:18 UT

USF, three games into the WCC season following an encouraging nonconference performance, drew a standing-room-only crowd Thursday night because the Dons were hosting undefeated Gonzaga, ranked fifth in the nation. The Dons hadn’t beaten a top-five team since December 1981, and they were sixth-ranked at the time, so the atmosphere was lively Thursday. With legend Bill Cartwright at courtside, in eyesight of his retired No. 24 jersey, and career steals leader Gerald Walker in the house, the Dons had a chance at history. The Dons (11-5, 1-2) rallied before the half and went into intermission trailing by 10 but didn’t threaten much in the second half against the Zags’ swarming exterior defense and inside presence of 7-foot-1, 300-pounder Przemek Karnowski and other big men. [...] there’s reason for optimism under Smith, a first-year coach, especially after the Dons went 10-3 in nonconference play and split their first two conference games, thanks largely to sharp-shooting beyond the three-point arc. Mathews’ father, Phil, coached USF from 1995 to 2004 and led the last Dons team to reach the NCAA Tournament. A lot of rough seasons ensued, and it’s Smith’s turn to try returning USF to some level of prominence. Before the game, the public-address announcer referred to the home team as “your three-time national champion USF Dons.”



Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant lead Warriors past Blazers

Thu, 5 Jan 2017 07:39:08 UT

Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant lead Warriors past Blazers The Warriors had every reason to take Wednesday night’s foe for granted. Lillard, an Oakland native who’s at his best when playing his hometown team, missed Wednesday’s game with an ankle sprain. The Warriors overcame the scare as Stephen Curry scored 35 points, Kevin Durant added 30 and Draymond Green had 11 assists to highlight a 125-117 victory, their 10th win in 11 games. The momentum changed in the third quarter, the Warriors focusing on stopping McCollum and taking a 99-92 led. Shaun Livingston’s jumper put the Warriors above 100 early in the fourth quarter, and his dunks with 6½ minutes to go (making it 111-103) and 3½ to go (116-107) helped sink the Blazers. [...] Portland missed Lillard. Durant blocked consecutive shots and hustled down the floor to hit a three-pointer in transition. Another time, just before the half, Durant won a jump ball, raced to the three-point arc, took a feed from Andre Iguodala, hit the shot and was fouled. The Warriors made four straight three-point shots for their first 12 points, and four men took turns hoisting. The three-point attack resumed with the Warriors attempting 13 first-quarter shots beyond the arc and making seven — six players sank threes in the period, the aforementioned four plus Iguodala and Ian Clark.



Festus Ezeli back in town, not back on court

Thu, 5 Jan 2017 05:03:11 UT

[...] popular in these parts, Festus Ezeli had lively conversations with several former teammates and received warm hugs and handshakes from several fans. After playing three seasons with the Warriors, the 6-foot-11 center signed in July with the Trail Blazers but still hasn’t played with Portland because of left knee woes. “As of right now, I’m still considering all the options and trying to make sure I’m healthy and make sure when I’m back on the court, I can play to the best of my ability,” Ezeli said. Portland head coach Terry Stotts, whose team lacks a prototypical interior defender and could use a healthy Ezeli, said, It’s his decision to do whatever needs to be done. Despite not suiting up, Ezeli has tried to take an active role during a disappointing season, but his message hasn’t always been received. According to the report, Ezeli had given a “stern speech” on playing with urgency after a loss two games earlier. Point guard Patrick McCaw returned Wednesday after missing two games with flulike symptoms.



White Sox claim minor-leaguer Dylan Covey from A’s

Fri, 9 Dec 2016 03:05:31 UT

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The only winter-meetings transaction for the A’s involved a player they lost. Pitcher Dylan Covey, 25, was taken by the White Sox in Thursday’s Rule 5 draft after an impressive showing in the Arizona Fall League. Covey was available because he wasn’t protected on the A’s 40-man roster and must remain on Chicago’s big-league roster all season or be offered back to Oakland. The A’s priority is finding a center fielder, and they remain linked to Kansas City’s Jarrod Dyson, but they say they’ve got multiple options in both the free-agent and trade markets. Rajai Davis and Austin Jackson are possible free-agent fits, and the Reds are shopping Billy Hamilton. Outfielder Matt Holliday, who played 93 games for the 2009 A’s, signed a one-year deal with the Yankees, and the contract prohibits a trade to one team: the A’s.