Giants, Hunter Pence agree to five-year, $90 million extension

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UPDATE: Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com hears that Pence’s new deal will include a no-trade clause.

1:30 p.m. ET: Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News reports that the two sides have agreed to a deal, pending a physical.

1:28 p.m. ET: FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that it would be a five-year, $90 million deal.

1:18 p.m. ET: CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Giants and Pence are “closing in” on a $90 million deal. The contract would carry an AAV (average annual value) of $18 million per season, topping Andre Ethier’s five-year, $85 million ($17 million AAV) extension from last year. Pence’s new deal will likely set the bar for free agent outfielders like Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury this winter.

10:08 a.m. ET: Hunter Pence is poised to do quite well in free agency this winter, but it’s possible he’ll come to an agreement with the Giants before getting a chance to hit the open market.

In an unusual scene, Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com reports that Pence and Giants president Larry Baer had a long discussion in the clubhouse “within earshot of reporters” after last night’s game in which they appeared to be discussing a new contract. Baer merely said that he was congratulating Pence for winning the team’s Willie Mac Award, given annually to the team’s most inspirational player, but the impending free agent confirmed that the two sides are discussing a contract and that a deal could be imminent.

“They’re about to get back to me, seriously,” Pence said. “So we’re either really close or really far away.”

Like, close as in he could reach an agreement before everyone scatters for the winter on Sunday?

“Yeah,” Pence said. “I’ll know shortly. We’ll just say we’re talking, I guess.”

His quotes came hours after general manager Brian Sabean called re-signing Pence the first priority among the “heavy lifting” prior to the start of the free agency period. The club also hopes to retain Tim Lincecum and Javier Lopez.

Pence has enjoyed one of his best seasons this year, batting .282/.339/.481 with 26 home runs and 94 RBI over 160 games. The 30-year-old has previously said that he would pass up free agency to sign a multi-year deal with the Giants, but he’s obviously not going to come cheaply.

Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak ended 78 years ago today

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There’s nothing special about a 78-year anniversary. It’s not a round number or anything and we tend to like round numbers. But (a) I was reminded of this today; and (b) we have no idea if the Martians will have invaded and taken over the planet come 2021, so I feel like it’s best to run this now than wait for the 80th anniversary. Cool? Cool.

Anyway: on this day in 1941, Joe DiMaggio’s still-unbroken and possibly unbreakable (see below) 56-game hitting streak came to end. The game took place in Cleveland in front of a staggering 67,468 fans. Not bad for a Thursday night. The way the streak ended, courtesy of an ESPN Classic post from Larry Scwartz back in 2003:

Third baseman Ken Keltner makes two outstanding plays, grabbing DiMaggio smashes down the line in the first and seventh innings and throwing him out at first base. In between these at-bats, left-hander Al Smith walks DiMaggio in the fourth.

The Yankee Clipper has one more chance to extend his streak when he bats in the eighth with the bases full against Jim Bagby, a young right-hander who just enters the game. DiMaggio hits the ball sharply, but shortstop Lou Boudreau plays a bad hop perfectly and turns the grounder into a double play.

Stuff happens.

To be clear: 56 may not be broken in my lifetime or yours. It’s obviously a SUPER difficult task to string together a hitting streak of considerable length. As we saw when guys like Pete Rose or Paul Molitor or whoever have come within spitting distance of DiMaggio’s record — long spitting distance — the pressure ramps up and it’s hard to do you job with a lot of pressure. Add in the fact that simple base hits are harder to come by in today’s game than they used to be due to prevalent hitting, pitching and defensive trends, and it’d be no shocker whatsoever if no one ever does it.

But I draw the line at “unbreakable,” simply because, as noted above, stuff does happen. And because there’s nothing structural preventing it from happening. It’s not like Cy Young’s 511 wins or something which fundamental changes in the game have made basically impossible. No one is going to win 26 games a year for 20 years straight or what have you. Heck, CC Sabathia is baseball’s current gray hair among pitchers and only has a few dozen more career starts than that. It’s just a different game.

Hitters do play in 150-160 games now, though, and the good ones do average more than one hit per game. Putting them in the right arrangement may never be likely, but doing so is only a matter of stars aligning, not breaking the fundamental rules of engagement. It could happen. Maybe. Because, unlike some other records, it did before under broadly similar circumstances.

OK, that aside, I’ll offer up my favorite and most maddening DiMaggio hitting streak fact.

During his streak, which lasted from May 15-July 17, DiMaggio went 91-of-223, which is a .408 average. Between April 15-September 28 (i.e. the whole dang season) Ted Williams hit .406. And when it was all said and done he was substantially better in virtually every other batting category as well.

Joe DiMaggio won the MVP Award.