It's official in San Francisco. Andrew McCutchen is slated to play right field for the Giants, while Hunter Pence moves to left. Both players said they were with the program, which has several advantages. Both Cutch in center for the Pirates and Pence in right for the Giants had sub-par defensive years the last year or two. Cutch is definitely faster and covers more ground than Pence, so he's a good fit for right. Pence still has a rocket arm, so playing left is an upgrade for the defense.
With lesser defensive ground to cover, both players may see the offensive upside, in hitting but also base-running. Cutch is always a threat to run and to take the extra base. It should be a more dynamic situation out there.
With their outfield corners set, Evan Longoria, their other big acquisition, will start at third, the hot corner of the infield. That makes a potentially solid infield, though whether it can return to the chemistry it had with Matt Duffy at third remains to be seen.
This of course leaves center field as the big question mark. The Giants are open about wanting to deal for an established center fielder, opting for defense over offense if necessary. Currently the speedy journeyman Jarrod Dyson is the favorite, since the Giants dropped out of bidding for the Royals' Lorenzo Cain. Cain's free agent price has reportedly been dropping though, so that could change. Failing a deal, they have a few speedsters in their farm system to examine.
The club also says it's on the lookout for relief pitchers but didn't sound hopeful. This remains a conspicuous vulnerability. Their closer, Mark Melancon, another former Pirate, is reportedly healthy after a year of injury and bad results.
Meanwhile, the two teams who've met in the NBA finals for the past three years and are expected to again, are looking at the February trade deadline in totally opposite ways. The Warriors are pretty much uninterested. The Cavs are desperate.
News is flying about the Cavs many interests--notably in a couple of Clippers (a team that lost 11 games in a row to the Dubs)--and it appears that nobody but LeBron (and a few of his close friends) is off the trade table. The urgency increased after the Cavs lost to the Dubs again, at home, by ten.
Meanwhile the Warriors keep winning through injuries to their stars and supporting cast. The injuries have had an up side in that more players on the roster have gotten playing time and Coach Kerr has been able to experiment with different combinations of players in game conditions.
Whatever combinations of stars played, they tended to dominate. Klay Thompson is still capable of breakout scoring games, Kevin Durant takes over games and ran the offense in Curry's absense, and very quietly perhaps, Steph Curry is leading the league in scoring efficiency, with a higher shooting percentage than in his unanimous MVP year.
As for new talent, well, the Warriors are watching yet another young talent in Chris Boucher--playing in their first G-league game after recovering from a serious injury, which is how the Dubs got him for almost nothing. They are quite simply loaded. That doesn't mean they won't surprise with a deal before deadline, if opportunity knocks. But they really don't have to. The overheated media rumor mills suggest the Cavs aren't being shy about their belief that they really really do.
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