Friday, December 30, 2011

New GiantsCast Up At Unify TV!

Thought I'd mix things up a little bit and post our most recent video-cast in today's post, just since we haven't talked Giants baseball, or really any baseball, here in a long time. Anyway, here is The GiantsCast you can find at the base of our page or right here at! and Share Branded Video Content.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

49ers Beat Seahawks, Cut Braylon Edwards

The 49ers barely made it out of the Seattle game limping, but they did manage to pull off the 19-17 win, but it didn't come at cost.

There's no doubt, this win vs. Seattle was one of the bigger wins of the season, going into their house (loudest stadium in NFL) with the Seahawks hungry and the 49ers fended them off like a good team would do. They didn't have their A-game, as Smith was just 14-26 for 179 yards, but once again, he held onto the ball and never gave Seattle good field position via turnover. Gore was Gore, going for 83 yards and a score while Kendal Hunter provided the burst off the bench (12 runs, 73 yards). The big play of the game though to me, came at the hands of Michael Crabtree, who in my eye has graduated from mid-level NFL wideout with huge talent into a real good NFL wideout. His maturation is probably a big reason the 49ers felt they could cut Edwards and not miss a beat at the wideout position, though I'm a little concerned. The reason they won this game though, again, was due to their tremendous defense. Yes they allowed "Beast Mode" to go for 100 yards and a score, but they had no Willis, so the 100-yard rusher streak should still be alive. Navarro Bowman and Larry Grant (Willis' replacement) each led the team in tackles while Grant also forced a fumble in the defensive oriented game. Alson Smith and Ray McDonald each delievered sacks as well. All-in-all, the 49ers went up into a packed Seattle house vs. an underrated, hungry football team, in a playoff environment and won, bottom line!

Onto the notables. Delanie Walker (jaw-bone) and Kyle Williams (concussion), two very key contributors in the 49ers passing game, took some gnarly hits on Sunday vs. Seahawks that were both head shots. Walker looks to have a broken jaw-bone and will likely be out 4 weeks, meaning he could miss the first playoff game and more if they go on. That's a big loss as about 1/2 the 49ers offensive packages came with 2-TE sets in which Walker and Davis were the guys. Perhaps the bigger injury though, lies with Kyle Williams, who now all the sudden is thrust into the starting flanker spot full-time upon the releasing of Braylon Edwards. I think the Edwards release surprised me as much as anyone else, as the 49ers just don't have receiver depth to begin with. Not to mention, Teddy Ginn has had a bum ankle and he may miss next weeks finale. He must have been fussing about his lack of targets or something, otherwise I don't get this. They still may bring in another veteran wideout to help for their playoff run, but they've been trying out names like Brian Finnernan and Chris Chambers at Santa Clara in recent weeks and haven't found anyone yet. With Edwards out though, they're going to need someone else to fill that roster spot and it's most likely going to be a wideout. If I had my choice, I go for someone who's played recently, most notably former Niner Jason Hill. Bernard Berrian or Brandon Stokley would also be nice alternatives. I believe Antonio Bryant or T.O. could have obviously have the biggest impact of all the free agent wideouts, but both already have some spotty history here in the Bay.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Bay Area Sports Notes for the Holidays

Well folks, Christmas and the New Year are just around the corner, and we here at The Bay Area Sports Journal wish all our readers and their families the very best. We'll be away for a few days starting Christmas eve and returning December 27th and won't be posting at that time so I figured I just do another quick version of the Bay Area sports notes.

A's: The A's have gone into full on fire-sale mode and it's making one wonder whether this team is long for the Bay Area. Tearing down your team and dealing away your young, marketable stars is not the way to get baseball to help back you for a new ballpark. They've lost half their lineup to free agency, and dealt away 23 year-old fan favorite, Trevor Cahill. Their latest giveaway was left-hander Gio Gonzalez to the Nationals in exchange for 4 minor leaguers. While I really like young Brad Peacock and A.J. Cole, I just think they could have gotten at least one major league proven player with those two for a healthy 26 year-old left-handed all-star starting pitcher. Ian Desmond would have been nice! Danny Espinosa would have upgraded the offense, but the deal obviously shows the A's are not worried about 2012 or 2013.

: Each Bay Area team gets the Saturday game this week, as the NFL switches over to Saturdays now with the NCAA regular season finished. Both have games that favors them, though the Raiders will have a tough go of it in Kansas City again without Darren McFadden and the Chiefs coming off the Green Bay upset. I still think the Raiders win this game on the arm of Carson Palmer, who's quietly been great after coming in mid-season with no training camp. He's kept the Raiders playoff hopes alive but they have to win Saturday to stay on track. They should do that though as long as their defense keeps Kyle Orton in check and the Raiders can keep their wideouts (mainly DHB and Denarious Moore) on the field cause KC has a good secondary and a lock-down corner in Brandon Flowers, so the Raiders need options! Still should see a lot of Michael Bush though too.

49ers: The Niners are facing a similar situation with the Seattle Seahawks, who have come on tremendously strong in the 2nd half of the season. If they take them too lightly, the Seahawks will take advantage of the 49ers, so they have to stay on their game. They're still fighting for a first round bye with New Orleans and have plenty to play for, so it's not a game where you take your starters out at halftime. They have to let Smith loose cause Seattle packs a tough front-7 that will focus on Frank Gore. With the emergence of Kyle Williams and the strong play of Mike Crabtree and Vernon Davis though, that shouldn't be a problem for the Niners. To get them ready for the playoffs, I'd like to see Alex throw the ball 30 times just for the heck of it, even if they're leading 23-7 or something like that. Take some shots down field. You know if you see New Orleans or Green Bay in January, your going to have to do it, my as well start now.

For Warriors and Giants talk, be sure to check out The Warriors Rundown and The Giants Baseball Blog! Also, we'll be talking a lot more Fiesta Bowl upon our return as well as Andrew Luck and his chances our votes for the Heisman. Cal also has the Holiday Bowl on the 28th and we'll be sure to get our thoughts on that as well!

So, we'll should be back by the 27th for sure, maybe even a late post on the 26th, but definitely by the 27th. Merry Christmas all from here at The Journal!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

NBA Eastern Conference Preview: Atlantic

With the NBA season set to tip off in just a few days, we figured we'd go ahead and cram our NBA Preview in, although it will likely leak into the start of the season, seeing that we'll be covering the 49ers and Raiders this weekend as well. But here's our start with the Atlantic Conference in the East.

Atlantic Conference:

First Place: New York Knicks

Starting Lineup:
PG Toney Douglas
SG Landry Fields
SF Carmelo Anthony
PF Amare Stoudemire
C Tyson Chandler
6th: G Baron Davis

As you can see, I like the Knicks this year. I think Carmelo and Amare are going to be like a Shaq and Kobe Part 2. They also have one of the best centers in the game in Tyson Chandler to compose by far the best front court in basketball. If Baron Davis comes back soon and healthy, they'll be even that much better. I even think a perfect fit for them would be a guy like Calderon who could distribute the ball to Amare and Carmelo. The one thing this team does lack, is depth. When Baron heals up in January, they'll be fine at guard, but up front, things are very thin after their starting 3. Al Thornton, AK-47 and Chris Douglas-Roberts (if healthy) are all players I cannot believe aren't employed yet and any one or two would be welcome additions to the Knicks depth-chart. With Ny's expectations this year, I think they'll make that necessary move when it comes time!

2nd Place: Boston Celtics

Starting Lineup:
PG Rajon Rando
SG Ray Allen
SF Paul Pierce
PF Kevin Garnett
C Jermaine O'neal
6th: F Brandon Bass

The Celtics are just about everyone's pick for the Atlantic conference this year, but in a shortened, back-to-back-to-back game season, I fear the aging Celtics are going to wilt. They'll still make the playoffs, but I think New York, especially if they can get a guy like Calderon in here who can distribute the ball to Amare and Carmelo, are going to end up the team to beat in the shortened season. If this were 2005, the Celtics would be kings of the univers, but in 2o12, they don't have enough youth, outside of Rando who they're shopping for some odd reason, to run with quicker younger teams night after night.

3rd Place: Philadelphia 76ers

Starting Lineup
PG Jrue Holiday
SG Jodie Meeks
SF Andre Iguodala
PF Elton Brand
C Spencer Hawes
6th: F Thaddeus Young

Young's so good they had to pay him starters money to keep him around, prompting all the Iguodala trade-talks. As much as Young helps this team off the bench, I think they would have been better off spending that money on Jason Richardson and an upgrade at center. They'd have done that, they'd be challenging the Celtics and Knicks for a playoff spot. Holiday, in my opinion is the 2nd best PG from the 2009's draft behind Steph Curry. They have a lot of talent on this squad and if they put it together, look out Atlantic!

4th Place: New Jersey Nets

Starting Lineup
PG Deron Williams
SG Anthony Morrow
SF Damian Jones
PF Kris Humphries
C Brook Lopez
6th: G MarShon Brooks

The re-signing of Humphries saved their season in a sense. In the dudes last 30 games in 2011, he averaged nearly 15/15 a night. Very similar to former Knick Derek Lee in my opinion. They also have the exciting MarShon Brooks who they drafted in the first round this summer. He should get plenty of time as a 6th man and could overtake Morrow's starting 2-guard spot by mid-season if he plays like he has this pre-season. What they need is a solid wing scorer, a team a guy like Caron Butler would have been a perfect add for.

5th Place: Toronto Raptors

Starting Lineup
PG: Jose Calderon
SG DeMar DeRozan
SF James Johnson
PF Andrea Bargnani
C Amir Johnson
6th: G Jerryd Bayless

The Raptors are a team in full re-build mode and they really should try and pitch Jose Calderon to a team like the LA Lakers who need a point guard badly. Jerryd Bayless is their future there, and they need him, DeRozan and Bargnani all getting valuable time together this season if they want to eventually become contenders. Bargnani needs to start rebounding too, not 5 a night, more like 8-9, he's 7 feet tall and needs to be down low more often.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bay Area Sports Blog Network

The Bay Area Sports Blog Network was created in 2009 and currently consists of 3 Bay Area Sports Blogs:

The Giants Baseball Blog: The Giants Baseball Blog,, was created in 2005 by Trevor Cole. It was basically the founding blog of BASBN, and it focuses only on the San Francisco Giants, their organization, as well as some other major issues involving Major League Baseball. It is the longest running blog with BASBN, and is one of the most popular San Francisco Giants Blogs on the Internet according to Google (PR 5 as of 12/13/11) and other publications. Check it out for news, analysis and hard nosed opinions on everything dealing with the San Francisco Giants organization.

The Warriors Rundown
: The Warriors Rundown,, was created in January 2008, and has been rapidly growing ever since. This blog focuses on the Golden State Warriors and the NBA and runs year round. It's mostly written, edited and ran by Trevor Cole, with occasional posts from Brian N. Wright. (A PR 3 site as of 12/13/11)

The Bay Area Sports Journa
l: The Bay Area Sports Journal,, is the newest addition to the B.A.S.B.N. This blog will cover anything and everything going on in the bay area sports world, while giving a bay area sports fans perspective on the rest of the sporting world. If I had to choose one sport and team in the Bay Area that we cover the most, especially during the winter, were a psuedo-49ers site. But check it out for the latest news on the Giants, 49ers, A's, Raiders, Warriors and Sharks as well Stanford and Cal sports as well as Trevor's opinion on the big news involving MLB, NBA, NFL . Ran and written by Trevor Cole. (A PR 3 site as of 12/13/11).

Update: BASBN is also in the midst of adding video as well to their columns, which is already underway @ UnifySports.TV!

49ers Hand it to Steelers at Candlestick

I could go on and on about this game, from some of the blocks that were made for Frank Gore at key times, to some big, third down stops by the defense, but I since this was such a big game and there's so much being talked/written about, I just wanted to stick to the points (bullet style) that I stuck out to me!

  • Aldon Smith is a monster, simple as that. The dude is the best pass-rusher I've seen in a 49ers uniform in my 27 odd years on this planet, and he makes it look so effortlessly. He sacked Roethlisberger 2 1/2 times and knocked him down at least five more times. He was so good that I forgot Pat Willis wasn't even playing Monday Night. The 49ers defense caused 4 turnovers, Smith played a big role in most all of them!
  • Alex Smith had his typical '11 Smith game, tossing for 187 yards and a score without a turnover. He missed a few receivers who were wide open (Michael Crabtree), but made up for it with a beautiful cross-back pass to Vernon Davis that led to another creative play call for a Davis TD. Alex played with confidence and you could see it in his face!
  • Frank Gore quietly plugged away at the Steelers, but didn't go crazy, collecting 64 yards, but did break free for a nice 5-yard game-sealing TD run.
  • Niners O-Line did a very, very good job against the violent Steeler pass-rush, granted they were without their ace rusher, James Harrison. Still though, even without Harrison, the Steelers have a vaunted defense that is a top-5 NFL D.

  • Just another couple of things before I get outta here for the day, I wanted to point out the emergence of Kyle Williams. The dude's been a PC player for years here and never had much of a chance, but injuries to Braylon and Josh Morgan have paved the way for him. I think he should be the clear-cut #2 WR from here on out with Ginn moving into the slot.
  • I also don't think it would be a bad idea for the 49ers to maybe look into free agency for another wideout as insurance. The guy I'm thinking of is Chris Chambers, who played just last January and basically had 20 catches 200 yards for the Chiefs in 6 games at the end of the season. T.O. would be awesome for this offense (what Braylon hasn't been) if he didn't come with such baggage!
  • Wanted to give out kudos to the special teams, who've done a real bang up job this year in all. Andy Lee (4 punts inside 20) and David Akers (among league leaders in scoring) are sure Pro-Bowlers and showed why yesterday. Shout out to C.J. Spillman too!
  • The defense as a whole, besides Aldon who we gushed about at the top of the post. Carlos Rogers has been re-born as a 49er and they need to extend him another year right now. He grabbed his 6th pick of the year, and deflected 2 key passes.
  • Goldson was again his active self (6 tackles, int), still can't believe the 49ers almost let him get away! He missed two hole games and still has 66 tackles/6 ints.
  • Lastly, Tarell Brown is developing into a pro-bowl caliber cover man as well, but still sometimes gets beat, needs to get more consistent! Brown, Goldson and Rogers have been the reason why the Niners secondary isn't getting burned like they did pre-2011. (Still waiting for Whitner to really breakout)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Raiders Get "Megatroned" vs. Lions

In easily one of the best football games I've laid eyes on this season, the Raiders and Lions squared off in a good old shootout in the Black Hole and it came down to a last second, epic blocked field goal that sealed it for Detroit.

It's been a while since we dedicated a post solely to the Raiders, and with the 49ers playing in Monday Night's game, it gives us a chance to look at their contest with Detroit a lot closer. I thought it was a very well played game on both ends, especially offensively. Both teams didn't seem to have trouble throwing the football, as Carson Palmer went 32-40 for 370 yards while Matthew Stafford bested him with 391 yards and 4 scores. The most impessive TD's, easily in my mind, came from MegaTron himself, Calvin Johnson who had one of his best games of his career. He hauled in both a 51-yard and 16-yard strikes from Stafford and finished the day with 9 grabs and 214 yards. He really was the difference maker out there Sunday as the Raiders were again without Darren McFadden. Michael Bush struggled to get it going on the ground, which stumped the Raiders offense a lot on 3rd-and-short. Early on in the game, I thought Oakland had the hold on them though. Speaking of career type games, Darrious Heyward-Bey easily had his, reeling in 8 passes for 155 yards and a TD. It makes me wonder what happened to him in the offense after the Palmer trade when he became non-existent until a week ago. I know there was some injury issues there, but this guy is rounding into the Raiders top pass-catcher.

It really just came down to two good football teams battling it out and the better team won. The Lions, even with the question mark at running back, clearly are the superior team to Oakland, especially without Run DMC. It also took a last second block of a "Seebass" 65-yard attempt that may have very well been the game winner. You hate a loss, and this one hurts, but the Raiders, especially their offensive passing unit and O-Line should take plenty of positives out of this game. What they do need to figure out, is how to contain teams' big-play recievers without negating the rest of the offense, which is why Hue Jackson makes millions of dollars of dollars per year!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bay Area Sports Notes

With the Holliday season upon us, I thought I'd run down the various teams in the Bay Area that we cover her at The Journal, and let you know where each team currently stands. We've been talking Niners in every post so we'll hold back off them (just scroll down for our last post on the), but what about the Warriors, the Giants, the A's and Raiders?
Warriors Notes:

First off, the Warriors made a move for a much needed big man this week, inking former Michael Jordan protege and #1 pick Kwame Brown. I don't necessarily love the deal, but it sure beats throwing huge dollars at an un-proven DeAndre Jordan in my eyes. I don't get the infatuation with Jordan, he can jump and rebound and cause havoc in the middle, but so can Epke Udoh and Brown will bring just that kind of presence if he's motivated and healthy. Not saying I think Brown's a better player than Jordan, just saying that the W's have overpaid their share for mediocre big men already. I'm glad they didn't waste a bunch of money in order to do so and got themselves a defensive presence in Brown. Kwame's never lived up to his #1 pick billing, so people will always look upon him with a frown, but he's a Warrior now and he's got my full backing. If the W's get the player who showed up in Charlotte in the 2nd half (10/7 per night), then he'll probably take the starting job from Biedrins without much of a fight. The only other center being possibly discussed was Samuel Dalembert, so Brown doesn't look so bad considering. What surprised me the most upon hearing this signing was that Biedrins was not amnestied, instead they used it on Charlie Bell. Should make for an interesting small preseason!
Giants Notes:

On the Giants front, their offseason has been very quiet outside of two mid-range trades in which they've added Angel Pagan from New York and Melky Cabrera from Kansas City. With the two moves, the Giants appear to have done their major work this winter, with the chance of them still signing a utility infielder and a right-handed hitting outfielder before spring training. If they are indeed done though, I can't say I'm overly impressed with what Sabean has done. I like Pagan and Cabrera as players and believe the Giants made good deals, but they still need pop in that lineup. Someone who can hit more than the 20 HR's Pablo and Buster will give them. They're banking on Huff, Sanchez, Posey, Crawford and Belt all improving by standing pat, and that's a lot to ask. As always, for our daily, in-depth Giants talk, check out The Giants Baseball Blog!
A's Notes:

Onto the A's, who have moved into full on sale mode once again. Luckily though, they traded the right pitching in my mind in Cahill instead of Gonzalez, but they still could deal Gonzalez away as well. They sent Cahill to Arizona for a speedy average hitting outfielder in Collin Cowgill, and a few young arms in Jarrod Parker (starting pitcher) and Ryan Cook (relief pitcher). Now, Parker is a nice young arm, who projects out to be a 3 or 4 starter, but Cook looks like a mid-reliever and I'd be surprised if Cowgill becomes a successful MLB regular. In other words, I think AZ won this deal hands down, getting a potential 23 year-old ace under control for years and not even near his prime yet. I know he had a hiccup in 2011, but he was still one of the most consistent starters in that rotation and again, he's 23! Seems to me for a 23 year-old #1-2 starter, they could have gotten an already proven everyday player (Drew, Montero, Perra?), as well as the team's top pitching prospect like Parker. I mean, Cahill's younger than Parker, and already has years under his belt!
Raiders Notes:

I'm going on longer than I was planning, so I have to keep the Raiders notes short and sweet. This team hasn't tanked like everyone in the Bay Area media is saying they have, they've actually played quite well up until the last few weeks considering the QB change in season and all the injury problems on the O-line and wideout spots, but the ultimate missing piece has been Darren McFadden, who just made this offense go when he was on the field. No knock on Mike Bush, who's playing well in DMC's absence and is good enough to start in this league, but he doesn't catch the ball like DMC or have that game-breaking speed. Also, Denarious Moore and Jacoby Ford, arguably the two most vertical threats on the roster, who also have great rapport with Carson Palmer (who we'll analyze more since the trade soon!), have been non-existent the last month. Even so, the only game this team lost that they really shouldn't have since the bye was the game vs. Miami in week 13. They could have played better vs. Green Bay, but they weren't winning that game with Rogers having the year he is. All in all, the Broncos are in better shape right now, as they both have pretty equal ending schedules, but Denver hasn't lose a game since October!
49ers: Since we do so many 49ers posts here and this blog has become a psuedo-49ers Blog, this post will be 49ers-free. Just scroll down for plenty of current Niners talk, including thoughts on Sundays rough loss here?

Also, please join our Twitter Feed here, (under GiantsBlogger) for news on new posts and breaking Bay Area sports news!

Monday, December 12, 2011

49ers Return to Old Ways Vs. Arizona

I was enjoying my time in beautiful Santa Barbara Sunday morning, and getting ready to watch another 49er's clinic of fundamentally sound football vs. the lowly Arizona Cardinals. However, instead, we saw one of the worst 49ers offensive outputs of the year, and it just so happened to come against one of the NFL's most generous defenses.

They were in Arizona territory for most of the first half of the game, but could only come away with David Akers field goals, and that's what ended up costing the team. Yes, they did give up a lead late and their defense let them down a bit, but if they perform like they should have on offense in
the first quarter and the passing game was more in tune, it would have been a blowout early rather than a field goal parade. Three times in the first half the 49ers got inside the 10-yard line of Arizona, and were held to
field goals on all three trips. The turning point in the game though, in my opinion, came in the 2nd quarter when the 49ers executed a fake field goal perfectly when holder Andy Lee hit All-Pro center Jonathan Goodwin on a perfect lob pass that would have put the 49ers inside the 5-yard line, or possibly into the endzone. However Ken Whisenhunt threw a challenge flag for the previous play a spit second before the snap, challenging the previous Kyle Williams catch which put the Niners in field goal position. It was a such a bad luck play for San Francisco because replay booth didn't even allow the officials to challenge the play so it was all moot anyway. Then Akers went on to miss the 50-yard field goal attempt, giving the 49ers zero points instead of 7. Then to top it off, Josh Skelton hit Early Doucet on the very next play for a 60-yard TD pass and it was all down hill from there.

The 49ers didn't play their normal hard-nosed style defense either, as their front-7 failed miserably at getting after Josh Skelton. They shut down Wells and the running game, and did a fair job in pass coverage except for a few big plays they gave up.
Skelton's TD pass to Larry Fitzgerald was classic Fitz, beating good coverage and going up to get a tough pass then taking it to the house. The Doucet TD, then that little Andre Roberts dump off TD pass were each plays the 49ers stop when they're on, so that was more than a little concerning to see them play like that. The offense struggled all day long, and Alex Smith completed just 48% of his 37 pass attempts while Frank Gore was running wild on them early (10/72 TD) but then Harbough abandoned the run in the second half. Basically though, if Alex Smith plays Sunday like he has for most of the 2011 campaign, the 49ers win this game, but we got pre-2011 Alex, and it caused a ripple effect. It's not entirely his fault, as receivers dropped balls all day, including one by Kyle Williams in the end-zone, and also a key one by Vernon Davis. They better get right this week, cause they have Pittsburgh next Sunday and if they show up like this against them, they're in for another loss and another hit to their attempt at a first-round bye.

On the Raiders front, it was a mess, again. You can really see how important Run DMC was to that team cause they've been a mess without him. Their receiving corps has been banged up all year and their best pass catcher can't seem to stay healthy. Carson Palmer is trying to work with what he's got, and I think the Raiders don't have too far to go to really improve themselves, but a makeover on the O-line as well as their secondary would be a good place to start.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Giants/A's Winter Meetings Preview

We're just 24 hours away from the start of the Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings, and with many of the top free agents still looking for homes for the 2012 season, it promises to be a busy week.

Just how busy the Giants and A's get this week though is anybodies guess. They have been extremely quiet since their trade for Melky Cabrera in early November, and as the offseason moves along, it's looking more and more like that was their big move of the winter. Their still is an outside chance they bring back Carlos Beltran, but Sabean isn't going to get into any bidding wars for the aging outfielder and that's what it would likely take to get him to return to San Francisco. Instead, Giants beat-writer Andrew Baggerly is speculating the club will look to a 2nd-teire free agent to help round out their starting outfield. The name that I immediately think of if Beltran is indeed off the table is former National and A's left fielder, Josh Willingham. The 32 year-old outfielder put up huge numbers in a spacious Oakland Collesiuem in 2011, with a career high in home runs with 29 and RBI with 98. His batting average didn't exactly shine, as he finished at .248, but he still managed a +.800 OPS due to his slugging and ability to take walks. He really reminds me a lot of Jeff Kent, and I think he would fit very nicely out in left field as a shoe in for 25 HR/90 RBI. He isn't the greatest outfielder defensively, but his career .262/.361/.831 line would currently rank 2nd to only Pablo Sandoval on the entire Giants roster, so there's no doubt he'd be an upgrade. He's younger and healthier than Beltran, and wouldn't cost as much. He'd also slot into left field and keep right open for Nate Schierholtz and possibly Cody Ross... The Giants will also be searching for a utility infielder and backup catcher this week.

As for the A's, they have been quiet all offseason long, and not much figures to change at the Winter Meetings. They have a whole slew of free agents, including Josh Willingham, who likely won't be returning, although they did offer arbitration to Willingham and have expressed interest in bringing him back. The A's brass seems more interested in securing a spot in San Jose for a future ballpark rather than focusing on improving the team. One thing they've considered doing, and something I definitely support, would be dealing away a starter, such as Gio Gonzalez, in order to bring a couple of young hitters in to town. The Marlins have interest in Gonzalez, and have plenty of young pieces to deal should they decide to go that route. If I were Oakland, I'd ask for Gaby Sanchez and Chris Coghlan. Sanchez could fill a big void at first base while Coghlan could play an outfield spot and leadoff. They're pretty set up the middle with Cliff Pennington and Jemile Weeks, and Michael Taylor should be given an oppotrunity in center. A couple of guys I think would fit in well with Oakland, and are realistic targets are first basemen/DH Casey Kotchman, 3B Wilson Betemit and outfielders Raul Ibanez and Ryan Ludwick. None of those guys will likely take more than a 1-year deal and none will break the bank. As much as I respect Billy Beane, I haven't been too impressed with anything he's done in recent years, and it's time for him to mix things up.