Two big things have happened to Bay Area sports teams over the last 3 days. One is that the 49ers kept their dim playoff hopes alive by smoking the Seahawks behind a great outing from Alex Smith. Then the A's announced Tuesday that they will be bringing in Hideki Matsui to DH for them in 2011, the biggest name Athletic' since Eric Chavez and Miguel Tejada and Dan Haren.
Alex Smith Dominates: First off, we'll start with the Niners, and for the first time in a long while, there are a lot of positives to talk about. Alex Smith looked like a number 1 pick, going 17-27 for 255 yards and 3 scores, coupled with 0 turnovers. He had by far his best game of the 2010 season and like he normally does once every blue moon, he showed #1 pick potential. Problem is, he is a guy who's never had the ability to do that week to week. He finished last year off strong, but nothing was on the line, and I think we're in fore the same situation this time around. The Niners can still technically sneak into the playoffs, but there is no pressure on them anymore, and Smith can relax and just play. It seems like when he does that, and when coaches aren't all in his face and every body's pulling him in different directions, he ends up playing well. Keep in mind that the Niners running game was virtually non-existent, and their top pick from '09, WR Michael Crabtree, was a non-factor, so a 40-21 win gets even more magnified. The Seahawks aren't a defensive powerhouse, but they're no slouches, and the fact that Smith picked them apart has to be attributed to the way he played. However, even if Smith finishes the year off perfectly and the 49ers are stuck in the same position they were last February on whether to keep him or axe him, there is no possible way Alex Smith can be wearing a 49er uniform beyond this season.
A's Ink Hideki Matsui: Onto Matsui, who, believe it or not, was a great bargain for Billy Beane and the A's, if you ask me. The A's are a young team without much direction offensively, and although Matsui's language barrier will keep him from being a real vocal leader in the clubhouse, the guy has won all his life and should rub off well on these young A's hitters. The 36 year-old still managed to hit 28 homers and drive in 84 runs hitting .274 while DH'ing for the Angels in his first season away from New York (an off year by his standards). The A's lack power, and lack left-handed hitting in general, and Matsui immediately takes care of those two holes, plus he's coming in at a bargain at $4.75 million. Matsui joins David DeJesus as the two new lefties who should help turn the A's horrific offense around. He's penciled in to DH right now, but can also fill in for Conor Jackson in left field when needed too. As long as he's healthy, he's going to be the A's biggest threat at the plate, and I think right now, he'd be their option to cleanup, sandwiched between Kurt Suzuki and Kevin Kouzmanoff. They still have a ways to go in terms of adding run production to their lineup, but as far as defense and young starting pitching, the A's are on the right path.