Urban: Five baseball things you can do

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No matter what your favorite baseball team might be up to these days, it’s still way too early to either panic or plan a parade. But it’s a very good time to …

ASSUME THAT EVERY GIANTS FANS’ FAVORITE WHIPPING BOY, PEDRO FELIZ, IS ABOUT TO PUT TOGETHER ONE OF HIS HOT STREAKS: People tend to forget that big-league ballers are human beings, too. But if you don’t think Pete Happy was a tad distracted in the run-up to his wife’s recent delivery of their fourth child, you’re nuts.

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Bay Area Baseball 2007

BET ON THE A’S WINNING THE AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST: They’ve been without heart-and-soul center fielder Mark Kotsay, breakout-year candidate and projected starting first baseman Dan Johnson and veteran innings-eater Esteban Loaiza all year; they’re also currently without five-tool No. 3 hitter Milton Bradley and no-hitter-in-waiting Rich Harden; and key players such as Gold Glove-caliber second baseman Mark Ellis, Rookie of the Year candidate Travis Buck and elite setup man Justin Duchscherer have missed several games with nagging injuries. And they’re still in first place because they’re starting pitching is almost comically good. If this team ever gets healthy, they’ll lap the field.

MAKE YOURSELF LOOK SMART AMONG FRIENDS BY GUARANTEEING THAT ALEX RODRIGUEZ WILL TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE OPT-OUT CLAUSE AS SOON AS THE YANKEES FINISH 11 GAMES BEHIND THE RED SOX: Don’t believe a word he says about wanting to stay. Unless the Yanks win the World Series, all the April home runs in the world won’t make him any more beloved in the Bronx, and with that pathetic pitching staff, it sure’s heck ain’t gonna happen this October.

SCHEDULE A LITTLE ROAD TRIP TO FRESNO TO WATCH GIANTS PHENOM TIM LINCECUM, A K A THE FRANCHISE, MAKE TRIPLE-A OPPONENTS LOOK LIKE OVERMATCHED LITTLE LEAGUERS: It’ll probably be your only opportunity to watch the flame-throwing, rail-thin righty live until at least the All-Star break, during which he’ll probably be the starting pitcher in the Futures Game at AT&T Park. The way the Giants’ rotation is rolling right now, it’d be insane to not keep the Franchise down on the farm, where he’ll be able to shore up any weaknesses in his game without the ungodly pressure he’ll face upon arriving in the bigs.

PUT A’S RIGHTY CHAD GAUDIN ON YOUR FANTASY BASEBALL TEAM: His successful transition from the bullpen to the starting rotation is no fluke. He throws four quality pitches, has a mean streak that rivals that of Matt Cain and he’s working with the most underrated pitching coach in the Majors in Curt Young. The only way Gaudin doesn’t win 15 games is if the A’s offense falls flat, and as long as re-Marco-ble Scutaro is lurking in the dugout somewhere, that’s unlikely to happen.

Mychael Urban is the author of “Aces: The Last Season On The Mound With The Oakland A’s Big Three — Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito” and a writer for MLB.com. He also hosts the weekend edition of “Sportsphone 680” on KNBR (680 AM).

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