Looks like my assumptions about the Giants simply taking a flier on free agent 2B Dan Uggla – signed to a AAA contract with the Fresno Grizzlies earlier this week – were greatly underestimated.
According to this recent report, Uggla and Tony Abreu were called up earlier today, and will be inserted into the lineup tonight in their opening game against the hated Dodgers. They will be replacing injured starters Marco Scutaro (back) and Ehire Adrianza (hamstring strain).
While I can sit here and say that this is a terrible idea, it looked like the Giants didn’t really have much of a choice. Something tells me that they didn’t mean to call Uggla up so soon – or, at least, I’d like to believe that – but, when you’re dealing with injuries to players in your lineup, you’re pretty much stuck.
At least for Uggla’s sake, let’s hope the Giants’ knack for rejuvenating players on a downslide help his game. Because, with this pivotal series against the Bums, offense is going to be critical.
In another case of giving someone the benefit of the doubt, here comes one Aldon Jacarus Smith.
Recently sentenced to community service (and no jail time), the talented yet troubled LB for the San Francisco 49ers reported to training camp, saying he has been sober since September, and is in the best shape of his life:
I’ve been able to maintain, and it’s going good. I’m in the best shape I’ve been in coming into a camp, and my mind is probably in the best spot it’s been in, so I’m feeling great.
The fact is, this is still a tenuous time in his life. After all, he still has to face the consequences of his past transgressions with Commissioner Roger Goodell – he will likely be suspended for a number of games this coming season. And, ultimately, the young man has a problem with alcohol – that’s not something that a person gets past overnight.
But, Aldon credits his sobriety to the fact that he’s in great shape now. You can only imagine that that would be a good enough reason to stay on the straight-and-narrow – that his play on the field contributes to his desire to stay sober.
In any case, I think a lot of 49ers fans can point to this as a good reason to keep him – not just for the team’s sake, but for Smith’s. It looks like, at least initially, that Aldon has really changed for the better. The coming months, that will make up his 2014 season, will be the real test for his overall progress, moving forward.
Personally, I just hope the guy keeps it up.
I just got done reading an interesting piece on Grantland.com about Tim Lincecum – deconstructing his apparent “resurgence” as a quality pitcher after what seemed to be his worst stretch as a starter in his career. And, from what I gather, author Ben Lindbergh came up with a number of conclusions:
1) Lincecum, despite his impressive pitching thus far after April – including his second no-hitter against one of the worst-hitting teams in the sport’s history – is still just an above-average pitcher that will never hit his elite status of 2008-2010;
2) That’s okay, because he’s learned to turn his weaknesses into strengths – mainly a decline in velocity – making sure if he’s getting hit, he’s not getting knocked out of the park; and
3) He’s getting better with control and accuracy, allowing him to thrive more often against hitters ready to exploit his slowing fastballs.
Now, I’m not the smartest man in the world – especially when it comes to the sabermetric-looking statistics Lindbergh presents in his piece (still a good read, though) – but there seems to be one thing I, and many other Giants fans, can hang my hat on: Lincecum may never be the Cy Young Award winner he once was, but he is still intelligent enough to be a good starter for years to come. Additionally, the more he masters his pitch control, the longer his career with the Orange and Black will be.
And, especially now, with a tenuous stretch in July and August coming up, the Giants will likely lean on Lincecum’s consistency, rather than his fastball, to make it through with the division lead still intact.
I shall remember the day 49ers fans booed the 30th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
I will likely remember it more as a misstep in the Faithful’s … well … faith … in the 49ers organization – especially if said pick will be making plays like the one he made on Thursday, on a regular basis.
The 5’10, 193-pound CB/SS from Northern Illinois made his presence known right away in training camp on Thursday, when he made an impressive tip-ball interception on the third play of a 7-on-7 drill vs. starting QB Colin Kaepernick. It was that kind of playmaking ability the team coveted enough to take him at the end of the first round.
It was important for a guy who missed minicamps with a broken foot. He seems to be catching up rather nicely – and hopefully he will turn enough heads to cement his place as the nickel cornerback he was originally drafted to be.
Then again, Ward had been making spectacular plays in college – for example:
So, the organization shouldn’t be too surprised. In any case, if Ward plays his cards right and learns quickly in Vic Fangio’s defense, we could see a second coming of Eric Reid – the kind of player that will greatly contribute immediately, and help the secondary in ways that it failed during the 2013 season. Hopefully, Friday’s big play is only a glimpse of what Ward has in store for the 49ers defensive backfield.
And I shall remember the day 49ers fans booed the 30th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.