Get Ready for the Dixie Championship: #TNF

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1. Canadian Club

Chaos and self-destruction, is what is commonly viewed from the perches of the Coliseum.  A half-inning of baseball, the bottom of the 7th, took 53 minutes and went from riotous to invictus, with tension and emotion swung wildly like the swing that won the game.

SCENE: Rougned Odor is on 3rd and Shin-Soo Choo is at the plate – in the batters box – when Russell Martin attempts to throw the ball back to the pitcher, but instead hits Choo’s bat.  The umpire waves dead ball, the Blue Jays stop play and Odor scores.  The Umpires deliberated and concluded the run scored because:  Rule 6.01 (d) (3.15)
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It was the right call, and after it was confirmed the fans went nuts.  One to many Mooseheads and Canadians can become some real Ugly Americans – who knew.  The Blue Jays said they’d play under protest and the Rangers forgot how to make 3 routine plays that would have ended the inning and instead let @joeybats19 park one into the same section Joe Carter did in ’93.  This is what #KarmicResponsibility is all about folks, and it’s all on the Texas Governor…(see #2)
  • The Bizarre (Legal) Play That Almost Started a Riot – When Russell Martin‘s throw back to the pitcher hit Shin-Soo Choo, and Rougned Odor raced home to score the go-ahead run, the pages of baseball’s rule book fluttered open across America and Canada. A stunned silence in the park hid the grinding of gears behind the masks, and in baseball’s offices — was that strange, strange play… legal?  Yes, it turns out. To the consternation of the fans, who began to litter the field with debris. Twitter, the announcers, the fans — it was bedlam……(continue reading)

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2. We’ll Wire The Governor

You see it is the Governor who is at fault for no teams from Texas advancing to the ALCS.  That pompous tweet was sent before the Royals scored six runs to win Game 4, leading to game 5 and also before the Rangers got their butts kicked at home, to then play a game 5 on the road in Toronto, (see #1).  The Royals beat the Astros last night and now will play the Blue Jays in the #ALCS; while the Rangers will have to sacrifice a live rooster to remove that jinx.  No Astros.  No Rangers.  Recall!

In this Era of the New Dumb, idiots can never be under-estimated.  Like cockroaches, they are hard to kill and will be around long after we’ve left this ethereal 3rd Stone from the Sun.  What we do know for certain is no matter how tonight’s Dodgers/Mets game turns out – the World Series will definitely be Blue.

  • Johnny Cueto dominates, Royals beat Astros to return to ALCS – Johnny Cueto woke up Wednesday morning, feeling completely different than any day these last three tortured months, suddenly overcome with a sense of confidence.  Cueto drove to Kauffman Stadium, walked towards his Kansas City Royals’ teammates, and told them that in the biggest game of their season, to go ahead and relax……(continue reading)


3. 2015 Dixie Championship pt.1

Tonight, it’s the Southern Showdown.  The NFL’s most bitter, hated, rivalry with nothing on the line but pride and prejudice.  The first two franchises in the traditional “Deep South” have shared players; Morten Anderson (leading scorer in both franchises), Bobby Hebert (QB for both teams in the ’90’s), Joe Horn, Curtis Lofton, etc…and we have also shared sons of coaches, like Jim L Mora and Wade Phillips – sons of Jim and Bum – soon we will share Stadium Names – and we both have been to Superbowls, but only one of us lost to the Broncos…sinner.

For more than 40yrs, fans of either team have considered the other their most hated opponent.  Even ESPN’s Len Pasquarelli said this rivalry is one of the best in sports:

Every year, bus caravans loaded with rowdy (and usually very inebriated) fans make the seven-hour trip between the two cities. Unless you’ve attended a Falcons-Saints debauchery-filled afternoon, you’ll just have to take my word for how much fun it really can be

Records do not matter.  For the Falcons, they will want to beat down the Saints and crush all the hope that is left in an already dismal season.  God’s Army will want to stop a 2-game losing streak to c’Antlanta and give the Dirty-Birds their 1st taste of humble pie for 2015.  The Falcons overall, lead the series all-time 49-43, but since Drew and Sean got together the Saints are 13-5 against the Dirty-Birds, and tonight its gonna be a Duck-Hunt!

 

Monday News – Deadline 4 days

With four days left until the trade deadline, and Cueto officially being traded, things seem to be picking up, with some other potential deals getting done soon. So while we run with these speculative guesses as our post today, we might as well get it out now before teams make a good chunk of this irrelevant.

So, what follows is Dave Cameron’s (FanGraphs) guesses as to who goes where before July 31st, based on what teams are rumored to be looking for and who we know is available. The tricky part is that there are also guys who are available that we don’t know about, and if a team penciled in for one of the available guys goes for the mystery box instead, it will have a domino effect, driving that available player somewhere else, and messing up multiple guesses in the process. So, by Friday, it’d be surprising how many were right. This is really more just for fun, instead of any kind of serious attempt at handicapping. But let’s see.

We’ll go by how impactful the team’s additions would be, with the team’s making the biggest splashes listed first.

Chicago Cubs
Andrew Cashner, Justin Upton, Joaquin Benoit, Jedd Gyorko

Here’s my speculative blockbuster. The Cubs are in a position to make a run this year, and while they may prefer not to pay a high price for rentals, getting a guy like Cashner back might just be the carrot they need to give the Padres a good return for their other two pieces. And the two teams line up in a lot of ways, with the guys the Padres are selling checking a lot of boxes for the Cubs.

My guess on something this size is that the Cubs would send both Starlin Castroand Javier Baez (along with some lower level guys) to San Diego, as this trade would give the Cubs a guy who could slide in at second base and allow Addison Russell to go back to shortstop. The Padres get a brand new middle infield and get out from under Gyorko’s deal (though they take on Castro’s contract in the process), as well as restock their farm system to some degree, while the Cubs push in heavily on 2015 while also getting a couple of guys who will be around next year as well. Yeah, it’s probably too large and unwieldy a deal to get done in July, but we know A.J. Preller is up for shock-and-awe trades, and maybe Theo Epstein will go along for the ride.

Toronto Blue Jays
Jeff Samardzija, Jay Bruce, Aroldis ChapmanWe know the Blue Jays are going to add a starting pitcher, and Samardzija seems like the most obvious fit, even though he’s a rental. Alex Anthoplous could give up a little more to get one of San Diego’s controlled arms instead, but I’ll guess they pay a lesser price for Samardzija and then use the prospect currency to land a Bruce/Chapman package from the Reds instead. That combination would add some significant upgrades to not only this year’s team, but next year’s as well, and would justify giving up the young arms that everyone wants when they talk trade with the Blue Jays.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Hisashi Iwakuma, Jesse Chavez, Jake McGeeThe Dodgers need arms, and I’d expect that they’ll pick up a starter, a reliever, and a guy who could do both, depending on need. Iwakuma would be a perfect fit as a #3 starter for LA, since they don’t really need another ace, and if the Rays really are listening on Jake McGee, I’d have to imagine Andrew Friedman would love to add him as a lefty complement to Kenley Jansen; that pair could be the west coast version of what the Yankees have at the end of their bullpen. Jesse Chavez is a guy who could help keep the team from using replacement level starters down the stretch, then could add depth to the team’s bullpen in October, or potentially remain as the team’s #4 starter if Brett Anderson gets hurt again.

Kansas City Royals
Johnny Cueto, Marlon Byrd, Dan HarenThe Royals make the most sense for Cueto and probably aren’t going to give up on acquiring him just because one of their trade chips failed a physical. Maybe someone will swoop in and steal him away, but this is the one guess that seems most likely to happen, and if the Reds are sending Cueto to KC, they should include Marlon Byrd as well; the Royals could use another outfielder with Alex Gordon on the shelf and Alex Rios being terrible. Haren could make some sense as a replacement for the injured Jason Vargas, and if he’s going to keep his FIP-beating ways going anywhere, KC is probably the best bet for him.

New York Yankees
Ben Zobrist, Mat Latos, Jim JohnsonWhile Brian Cashman keeps laying expectations for a quiet deadline, the Yankees are the best fit out there for Ben Zobrist, given their glaring hole at second base and the likelihood of winning their division. Few teams are capable of giving themselves a larger boost than the Yankees would get from swapping in Zobrist forStephen Drew. On the pitching side of things, I’d imagine they’ll go with lower-tier options, and Mat Latos’ cost will be limited based on his struggles and personality, while a guy like Jim Johnson won’t cost a lot to add a piece who can bridge the gap toDellin Betances and Andrew Miller.

Texas Rangers
Cole HamelsThe teams in win-now mode have enough short-term alternatives to not need to pay a premium to get the 2016 value that comes with having Hamels under control beyond this year, and while I don’t necessarily see the Rangers as on the verge of contending, they clearly see themselves that way, and adding Hamels to a healthy Yu Darvish would at least give them a shot to get back to the postseason next year.

The Rangers probably aren’t giving up Joey Gallo, but if they put Nomar Mazaraor a combination of Jorge Alfaro and Alex Gonzalez on the table, this is the kind of deal that could work for both sides. I’m lower on Alfaro and Gonzalez than most, so I’d push pretty strongly for Mazara and some lesser stuff if I was Ruben Amaro. Getting at least one high profile guy seems to be the preferred course of action for the Phillies anyway, and Mazara is a legitimate top prospect, so this is probably the best option for Philly to get a guy with All-Star upside in return.

Houston Astros
Carlos GomezThe Astros already got a pitcher, but they shouldn’t stop there, and Gomez would be a perfect fit for them, sliding in as their regular center fielder, pushing the overmatched Jake Marisnick back to a reserve role. With George Springer,Colby Rasmus, and Preston Tucker around, a center fielder makes more sense for the Astros than any of the corner guys on the market, and Gomez is the best center fielder potentially available. Given that he’s under control for next year as well, this is the kind of guy the Astros should be willing to pay for.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Mike Leake, Tyler ClippardThe Aramis Ramirez acquisition essentially sums up the kinds of moves the Pirates like to make at this point in the year; looking more for depth than paying for the perceived huge impact that doesn’t really exist in acquiring a guy for two months. Given that, I don’t think Pittsburgh will be in on the big names, though Ben Zobrist does still make some sense there, and I would see them going more for the middle-tier guys who can help but aren’t going to cost an arm and a leg. Leake and Clippard both fit that mold, but there are a lot of other mid-level starter/reliever combos that could go here too. And if Ramirez doesn’t take to 1B well, I could see them swinging a deal for Mike Napoli, though that might be an August trade.

Anaheim Angels
Carlos GonzalezThey want a left-handed power hitting outfielder, and there’s really only a couple of them on the market. Bruce could fit here too, but because they don’t have much in the way of prospects to trade, taking on most of CarGo’s contract is probably an easier deal for them to make. His recent hot streak has made it more likely that he’ll get moved, and Anaheim looks like the most logical landing spot for him if they have the budget room to get it done.

Minnesota Twins
Yovani Gallardo, John AxfordThe Twins are openly talking about adding a power arm who can rack up strikeouts, and Axford checks both boxes. If the Twins are really going to make a run, they’re going to need to add another arm to their rotation as well, because Ervin Santana is ineligible for postseason play; Gallardo seems like a good fit among guys who could be an actual upgrade but won’t cost top-line prospects.

San Francisco Giants
Gerardo ParraParra is a classic Giants player, with the good-at-everything-great-at-nothing skillset that has become the team’s hallmark. He makes contact, hits for power, plays solid defense in a corner, and could even replace Angel Pagan in center if the team needed him to. While Parra is playing well enough to appeal to a wide variety of teams, he seems destined to play for the Giants; they own the copyright on players like this.

St. Louis Cardinals
Adam LindIt’s tough to see St. Louis really rolling into the postseason with a rookie platooning with Mark Reynolds at first base, so I’ll pencil them in for Adam Lind, though they could go with a buy-low guy like Mike Napoli if they wanted to give Stephen Piscotty a longer look. My guess is that they know Piscotty isn’t the answer, though, and a lefty with power who can fit between Matt Holliday and Jhonny Peraltafits the bill nicely.

Washington Nationals
Jonathan PapelbonThe Nationals are getting their big guns back, making additions anywhere besides the bullpen less likely. But they’re almost certainly going to add a reliever, and Papelbon actually makes some sense here. Yes, Drew Storen is doing a great job as the team’s closer, but they wouldn’t lose much in the ninth with giving Papelbon that job, and that would free Storen up to pitch high-leverage spots in the 7th and 8th innings. And since the Phillies are reportedly willing to pay down some of Papelbon’s contract, the Nationals — who even got the Indians to pay the freight on Asdrubal Cabrera last year — might be able to get a good reliever by just taking on 2016 money.

New York Mets
Koji UeharaThe Mets made their move to solidify their line-up on Friday, adding Juan Uribeand Kelly Johnson as solid role players who didn’t cost a lot. I’d expect one more similar move for the bullpen, with a guy like Uehara being a good fit as a different look from the hard-throwing staff the Mets already have. It isn’t a sexy deadline, but the total value added by these three guys may have just as large of an impact on the team as making one big acquisition.

Quick Hits

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The (unofficial) second half of the baseball season starts tonight with four of the six divisions up for grabs and could also come down to the wire – including second-wild-card-spots.  The trade deadline is July 31 (non-waiver) and August 31 (waiver) providing plenty of rumors for the next couple of weeks.  So, here are some compelling story-lines to follow during the second-half.

  1. Where does Cole Hamels go – again?
    1. It is likely that this time, Cole Hamels may not tip the scales on a playoff race but could strengthen a contender even further.  Cole is the only bargaining the Phillies have and it would be crazy if they didnt move him for more young talent for their $85m remaining investment.  Philly will likely have to pay some of that remaining salary for the top-tier talent they’ll want in return.  It would seem the Dodgers or the Cardinals would be the best place for him.
  2. What Division does Johnny Cueto decide?
    1. Johnny Cueto could be the tipping point in a number of playoff races.  However, because he will be a free-agent next year, the Reds will not be able to ask for what Cueto is worth.  Think about how much influence Cueto could have if he was traded to the AL East, AL West or anyone one of the contenders in the NL.
  3. Houston, do we have a problem?
    1. The team that surprised everyone in the first half is no longer in first.  At one point they had the best record in baseball and then July came and they have gone 3-8 so far.  George Springer broke his right wrist and Chris Carter is still hitting below .200.  This is the team that needs another starter to contend down the stretch – but you wonder if that is worth giving away prospects to try and win something that you are not ready for now.  I’d expect the Astros will not do anything drastic and maybe trade for mid-level value type guys that do not impact their farm-system or current roster – unless it’s Chris Carter.

 

Tiger Woods and Paul Azinger at the 2002 Ryder Cup

Paul Azinger does have a history of criticizing Tiger, like when he went off on Tiger back in 2012 for kicking a club on the 16th hole during the Masters – “Tiger’s antics this week were an embarrassment to the game, to the membership at Augusta,” – “I was really disappointed to see him carry on that way. He’s not trying to endear himself to anybody. And after he won Bay Hill I thought, ‘here we go again, this is going to be Tiger just kicking butt and taking names.’ I don’t know. I thought he acted like the south end of a northbound mule.”  

So, as history repeats itself and Tiger may have already played himself out of contention from the British Open ,like he did at the U.S., Azinger calls him a “middle-of-the-pack-hack”.  Tiger is 21 over par in his last 45 holes at major championships – so the assessment is not far off.  On the front-nine yesterday Tiger was 4-over-40 and later in the day chunked a chip shot.

You’d have thought Tiger showed some signs of life recently, when he shot a 7-under for the tournament at the Greenbriar Classic.  Now, it just seems like he is lost in his own head.  Maybe the booze, women-chasing, bad swing and all, has kidnapped the once and future king of golf – not that we care anymore because we are doing just fine playing DraftKings Fantasy Golf Millionaire Maker – how about Jordan Speith?!


 

Doc Rivers the GM is crazy.  The Clippers lose Matt Barnes, Spencer Hawes and Hedo Turkoglu, but gain Lance Stephenson, Paul Pierce and Josh Smith.  You know Kendrick Perkins is waiting for that phone call to join this insane asylum.  We might be the closest we have ever been to someone being murdered on the court.  At any moment someone could implode, explode or just go off the rails – this team was already combustible, averaging two technicals every 3 games and now you have Josh Smith and Lance Stephenson?  CP3 was so hard on DJ that he considered playing for Dallas for 96 hours.  The team has talent but no front-court depth – right now there is no back-up for DJ or Blake.  This disfunction junction is going to be awesome to watch next year and I cannot wait to see the over/under on CP3 meltdowns.