A Quick Guide To: #SpringTraining

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Spring Questions For All 30 Teams:

Will the Cubs live up to the rampant World Series expectations? Are the D-backs for real? Can David Price make his contract worth it? Are the Royals a dynasty in the making? Do the Blue Jays, Astros and Mets have staying power?

Spring Training preview materials will be loaded with these questions and more, but the obvious truth is that Spring Training itself can’t answer those questions. So the goal in this particular preview, mere days away from pitchers and catchers report dates, is to pose an actual, spring-specific question each Major League club is facing on the cusp of camp.

I’m dedicating this column to the memory of my friend and teammate Tom Singer, who suddenly passed away earlier this week. Tom was one of the more inquisitive and creative minds in the business, and I know he was looking forward to showing up at Spring Training camps and asking unique questions of his own.

Here we go….

NL East

Mets: How carefully should the young starters be eased into the season?

For the Mets, it will be a delicate balance between overworking and underworking Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard after they all saw significant innings increases due to the postseason run. Syndergaard jumped 65 2/3 innings from his 2014 total in the Minors, while deGrom and Harvey jumped 37 2/3 apiece. Because of injury, Steven Matz (15 2/3) didn’t see quite as big an increase, though he, like Syndergaard, is entering his first full Major League season, an adjustment in and of itself. These guys need to be properly prepared for the every-five-day grind, but they should also probably see a less rigorous spring workload than the typical big league starter.

Nationals: Is Trea Turner ready for the big leagues?

The Grapefruit League will be a great test of the Nats’ new-look infield. Anthony Rendon is moving back to his natural position at third base — a fine move in isolation (he grades out better defensively there than at second base). But some scouts believe Daniel Murphy would be far better suited at third than at second base and that Rendon is the better defensive option at second. And then, of course, there’s the big question at short, where the Nats’ options come down to a utility guy (Danny Espinosa) who has spent far more of his career at second, a light-hitting free-agent signee (Stephen Drew) and the top prospect (Turner), who has only played 212 games in what has already been a whirlwind pro career (including 27 with the Nats down the stretch in 2015). Lots of questions in this infield.

Marlins: Can Barry Bonds help Marcell Ozuna’s swing?

New manager Don Mattingly and new hitting coach Bonds pleaded with the front office to keep Ozuna despite the rampant trade rumblings and the disconnect between player and organization last season. Ozuna was one of eight players identified as above-average in each of the five-tool categories by Statcast™, so the potential is off the charts. But his decline in production last season — leading to a controversial stay in Triple-A — was as swift as it was stunning, and spring is an important time for Ozuna and Bonds to develop a positive working relationship.

Braves: Will Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn open any eyes with their spring at-bats?

It’s no secret the Braves would love to move one or both of these guys. So they are destined to receive a steady dose of Grapefruit League at-bats as the Braves try to garner enough interest for a salary dump swap. With Freddie Freeman working his way back from a wrist injury, perhaps Swisher will see some time at first base.

Phillies: Is Tyler Goeddel the next Odubel Herrera?

Last year, Herrera arrived as a Rule 5 Draft pickup and wound up leading the Phillies in WAR (and yes, that says as much about the Phils as it does Herrera). Now, Goeddel is the marquee Rule 5 Draft addition (the first overall pick). That he’ll make the big league club is a foregone conclusion, because the Phillies have nothing to lose by keeping him. The question is how much the athletic but unpolished Goeddel will separate himself from Aaron Altherr, Peter Bourjos and Cody Asche in the battle for playing time in Pete Mackanin’s lineup.

AL East

Blue Jays: Will Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion agree to extensions?

In the lead-up to Opening Day, the new-look front office will have to weigh the attraction of satiating the fan base and ensuring stability in the long-term lineup against the obvious risks that come with power hitters in their mid-to-late-30s. These discussions will take place when all parties arrive in Dunedin, Fla., later this month.

Yankees: CC Sabathia or Ivan Nova?

The last rotation spot is the lone source of genuine positional intrigue in Yankees camp. (That said, Starlin Castro’s continued immersion at second base and first-ever trial at third base, where the Yanks might need him as a Chase Headley backup, is interesting). Sabathia is the former Cy Young Award winner coming off a homer-prone year that ended in alcohol rehab. Nova is the Tommy John alum the Yanks tried to trade. General manager Brian Cashman has said Sabathia’s $25 million salary wouldn’t preclude the Yanks from sticking CC in the bullpen if somebody else (Nova is the obvious candidate, though Bryan Mitchell is another) wins the job outright.

Orioles: What’s the outlook for the outfield?

They’re reportedly making progress with Yovani Gallardo to fill a big hole in the rotation, so let’s focus on the outfield here. Big-bodied Hyun-soo Kim, fresh off signing a two-year contract with the O’s, will arrive from South Korea and try to prove he has the range and athleticism to handle the everyday left-field assignment. Adam Jones was tasked with covering a ton of outfield ground last year, and his performance tailed off in the last two months of the season. At the moment, right field likely belongs to Nolan Reimold, though an O’s team familiar with in-spring splashes could still sign somebody to support or replace him.

Rays: Will James Loney, Desmond Jennings or Brandon Guyer be moved?

It’s a question that presumes a healthy camp, of course, but it would solve a logjam. Dealing Loney would allow Logan Morrison and Steve Pearce to share first, Corey Dickerson to spend the bulk of his time at DH and Jennings, Kevin Kiermaier and Steven Souza Jr. to provide dependable defense in the outfield, with Guyer as a bench option vs. lefties. Or the Rays could move Jennings or Guyer and open up more at-bats for Pearce and Morrison. Whatever the case, one presumes the Rays would be seeking relief help in any deal involving their position player depth.

Red Sox: Can Hanley Ramirez handle first base?

The Red Sox don’t have any position battles, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have position issues. Hanley’s position switch last year — from shortstop to left field — wasn’t subjected to any truly challenging plays during the spring schedule, but obviously the ball is going to find him at first. Because they’re paying Ramirez a ton of money, the Red Sox have no choice but to hope this works — and the same goes for Pablo Sandoval at third. The Panda’s physical condition will, naturally, be a spring storyline all its own.

NL Central

Cardinals: What is Yadier Molina’s timetable?

Molina will spend camp’s early days not swinging the bat or catching bullpen sessions, but building strength back up in his left thumb after having a second surgery this winter. Because there’s no telling how long that process will take and how much it will affect his season preparation, it’s hard to know if Molina will be ready by Opening Day. To say getting him back in a timely matter is important for the Cards is, of course, an understatement.

Pirates: How well is Jung Ho Kang progressing?

Because of the division’s demands, the decisions to deal Neil Walker and non-tender Pedro Alvarez, and the lack of additions of bankable depth options, the Pirates can ill-afford any medical setbacks for Kang, who suffered a fractured tibial plateau and torn lateral meniscus on an ugly takeout slide by Chris Coghlan last September. The move to third base (with Jordy Mercer at short and Josh Harrison replacing Walker at second) will limit Kang’s lateral movement when he returns. As of now, the Pirates are expecting him back in April, with Sean Rodriguez (last seen assaulting a water cooler) filling in and Minor League free agent Cole Figueroa competing for a bench job.

Cubs: Can Kyle Schwarber improve in left field?

As much as we love this Cubs lineup, there’s no denying there are defensive concerns in the outfield, where Jorge Soler had some surprising struggles in ’15, Jason Heyward is moving from right to center and, most importantly, Schwarber was a mess during the NLCS. Schwarber has been working on his first step and flexibility this winter, and that work will be put to the test in Arizona. But his efforts in left coincide with his work behind the plate, where he still hopes to remain an option long-term. Combine all of this with Schwarber’s bid for more at-bats against left-handed pitching, and the kid’s got a lot on his plate.

Brewers: How’s Ryan Braun feeling?

Not that the Brewers are making an earnest effort to contend in 2016, but Braun could stillpotentially play himself into a viable trade chip (provided the Brew Crew is willing to eat some cash, of course) if he’s healthy and producing the way he did for much of ’15. Braun had surgery for a herniated disc in the offseason, but he won’t have a clear idea of how well his back is responding until the regular swings that come in the Cactus League.

Reds: Will a market develop for Jay Bruce?

He only remains in Cincinnati as a function of the unusually deep and late-developing free-agent outfield market this winter, because the Reds, now in full-on rebuild mode, were motivated to move him. Most likely, Bruce will start the season with the Reds and try to piece together enough of a bounce-back campaign to become July trade bait. But all it takes is one spring injury elsewhere to suddenly make the idea of dealing for Bruce more palatable for a contending club. The Reds also have to hope Zack Cozart’s grisly knee injury last year hasn’t affected his defense at short, because he, too, could play himself into trade-chip status.

AL Central

Royals: Can Christian Colon steal playing time from Omar Infante?

In the third year of a four-year deal, Infante will make $7.75 million, and there was a time when that fact alone would settle him into a starting spot for this small-market club. But you might have noticed things are a little different in the realm of the Royals these days, and they’re calling this a legitimate position battle between Infante and Colon, who drove in the winning run in the World Series Game 5 clincher. (Top prospect Raul A. Mondesi will also get consideration but is far more likely to start the season in the Minors). Sure, the Royals are paying Infante a good amount of money, but, hey, they took Colon ahead of Matt Harvey in the 2010 Draft! One way or another, they’ll look for better returns on both of these investments.

Twins: Will Miguel Sano stick in right?

Byung Ho Park’s transition to the bigs is also a major matter in Minnesota, but Sano’s defensive work — directly related to Park’s arrival — will be a more pressing spring concern. Torii Hunter will be in camp as a special assistant to work with the 6-foot-4 Sano in the outfield, and the Twins’ lineup alignment demands that this experiment be successful. Sano was tasked with dropping 20 pounds this winter. Citing a desire to maintain his power, he dropped just five. He’s agile for his size, but this is undoubtedly a big test for him.

Indians: Will Michael Brantley continue his rapid recovery?

He’s the key to the whole darn thing for an Indians team projected by FanGraphs to have the best record in the division despite a less-than-dynamic winter. Brantley didn’t have surgery on his lead shoulder until early November, which means you can count him out for Opening Day and likely all or most of April. But because his recovery has progressed so well so far, Brantley must avoid the temptation to do too much too soon, lest he suffer a setback that crushes a Tribe club already prone toward slow starts.

White Sox: What’s up at short?

Tyler Saladino played terrific defense at third base for the Sox down the stretch last season, but his 68 OPS+ detracted from his value. So it’s an open question whether he’s ready for prime time at a prime spot, and he could be pushed in camp by top prospect Tim Anderson. The other, still-lingering question here is whether the Sox will wind up too tempted by Ian Desmond’s reduced price tag to pass him up. With a protected top-10 Draft pick, the White Sox are better positioned to sign Desmond than many others in the market.

Tigers: Can Bruce Rondon work his way into the bullpen plans?

Well, obviously we’ll be playing close attention to the statuses of Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. But they’ve both had a healthy offseason, so, at this point, there’s little reason to doubt they’ll be in the Opening Day lineup and, hopefully, ready to produce. But Rondon’s dismissal from the club due to a lack of effort makes him an interesting figure in camp. The Tigers’ bullpen has a new closer in Francisco Rodriguez and better balance overall, but there’s always room for a motivated flamethrower. We’ll soon learn for sure if Rondon is committed to winning the respect of his teammates.

NL West

Dodgers: Will Hyun-Jin Ryu be ready by Opening Day?

And if so, what does that mean for fellow lefty Alex Wood? The Dodgers have assembled rotation depth to allow Ryu to ease into action, rather than rush back from labrum surgery. So the most likely outcome is that he starts the season in extended Spring Training or on a rehab assignment. But the Dodgers could also be tempted to take advantage of Wood’s ability to be optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Giants: How is Joe Panik’s back?

He’s 25 years old and coming off an All-Star season. But that season was cut short by back woes. Doctors have not discovered any structural damage, so Panik did not have surgery. But only time and performance will dictate whether this will be a persistent problem for a club all too familiar with back issues involving their second basemen (see: Sanchez, Freddy and Scutaro, Marco).

D-backs: Can Yasmany Tomas acquit himself in the outfield?

In their bold bid to take a major competitive step forward, there’s no denying the D-backs sacrificed defense by involving Ender Inciarte in the Shelby Miller swap. The question is how much. Tomas enters the year as an everyday corner outfielder (Arizona is still unsure whether he’ll remain in right or swap spots with left fielder David Peralta) after proving he can’t handle the hot corner. Tomas has indicated he’s more comfortable in right field, though the D-backs might prefer to have the better defender there and use this spring to get Tomas acclimated to left. And oh by the way, Tomas, who had a .707 OPS last season, needs to hit, too.

Padres: Can Andrew Cashner limit walks and neutralize lefties?

Yeah, yeah, the spring results don’t matter. But scouts are in the stands for a reason. Cashner is a guy with ace-quality potential when he’s right — and that’s a big deal for a Padres team either hoping to surprise some people in the NL West or use Cashner as a valuable trade piece midseason (or even sooner). Last year, Cashner’s effectiveness against left-handed hitters spiraled (.383 wOBA vs. a .294 mark a year earlier), and his overall walk rate jumped to 8.2 percent.

Rockies: What will Jose Reyes’ punishment be?

In invoking punishments under the sports’ domestic violence policy for the first time, Commissioner Rob Manfred has big decisions to make with Reyes, Yasiel Puig and Aroldis Chapman. But Reyes is the only member of that group who is facing a criminal procedure. He has pleaded not guilty to domestic abuse charges, and his trial is slated to begin April 4 (Opening Day, of course). Manfred can make his decision independent of those proceedings, and there’s no telling how stiff the penalty will be. Reyes is the Rockies’ highest-paid player and a guy they hoped would rebuild his offensive value (and, ergo, his trade value) at Coors Field. Right now, there’s no way of knowing when or if he’ll be on the field in 2016.

AL West

Rangers: Can Jurickson Profar get back in baseball shape?

We’ll venture away from the obvious intrigue surrounding Yu Darvish’s timetable, because, by all accounts, he’s still on track for a May return. Profar provides intrigue of his own. This is a guy who was once considered the top prospect in the game, but hasn’t played a single inning in the field the last two years because of shoulder issues that eventually required surgery. Profar’s bat action as a designated hitter in the Arizona Fall League caught the attention of scouts, and several teams contacted the Rangers in an attempt to buy low on the middle infielder. The Rangers wisely held onto him, and they’ll ease him back into action in the field this spring. His odds of making the big league club are slim to none, barring injury to somebody else. But the Rangers are about to see if Profar can emerge as an important depth piece in their bid to win the AL West again.

Astros: Will Evan Gattis be ready for Opening Day?

It was revealed this week that Gattis required surgery for a sports hernia, sidelining him for four to six weeks. That’s going to hurt his ability to get his timing back before the end of Grapefruit League play, so the Astros will dole out more playing time to Jon Singleton, Matt Duffy, A.J. Reed, Tyler White and Preston Tucker. While the Astros, in letting Chris Carter walk, might generally be trying to get away from the all-or-nothing approach that was one of their calling cards in ’15, Gattis is still clearly a key cog in this offense. He was also hopeful of increasing his value to the team beyond his DH duties, losing weight and doing catching drills in the offseason.

Angels: What’s Albert Pujols’ timetable?

The Angels are getting crushed in many corners for not doing more to improve their production potential around Mike Trout, opting instead for a more contact-heavy approach. Maybe the Halos have it right, but there’s little denying that their lineup look demands healthy and productivity from Pujols, who is working his way back from November surgery on the plantar plate of his right foot. Pujols is already hitting off a tee but is not expected to resume full baseball activities until March, putting Opening Day in jeopardy. Pujols rushed back to action too quickly in 2013, to the point that it affected his performance, and the Angels don’t want that to happen again.

Mariners: Can James Paxton win a rotation spot?

Technically, it’s Taijuan Walker, Nate Karns and Paxton for two spots, though you’d have to imagine the 29 starts and the progress Walker made as ’15 evolved give him the inside edge on one of those. Karns was Dipoto’s first addition in a busy offseason, but Paxton is the guy who was long lauded as one of the M’s prominent prospects. Injury issues have limited Paxton to 30 career starts over parts of three Major League seasons, but the left-hander has dropped some pounds and will come to camp intent on proving he’s ready to turn his potential into production. Other guys potentially in the mix for that last spot are Mike Montgomery, Joe Wieland and Vidal Nuno. Paxton seemingly has the most upside of those options, but he’s got to earn it.

Athletics: What is the rotation beyond Sonny Gray?

Oakland has probably one of the most — if not the most — unsettled rotation situations in the big leagues. The A’s signed Rich Hill with the intent of inserting him into the rotation, though he hasn’t been a regular starter at this level since 2009. After Gray and Hill, it’s a wide-open competition involving Kendall Graveman, Jesse Hahn, Chris Bassitt, Sean Nolin and possibly even Jarrod Parker (who is attempting to come back from two elbow surgeries) and Sean Manaea (a promising trade acquisition who hasn’t pitched above Double-A but who manager Bob Melvin has called a “wild card” in the rotation battle). Should be fun to watch this evolve.

Source: A Spring Training question for all 30 MLB teams.

Power Ranking All 30 MLB Starting Rotations Entering 2016 Spring Training:

SchwarberPanikRamirez

 

Rejoice! Spring training is almost upon us, bringing to an end what has been a hectic offseason, one that saw a slew of starting pitchers change uniforms, whether via free agency or trade. Keeping up with what your favorite team’s rotation looks like, much less the competition’s, has been challenging at times.

Read: Power Ranking All 30 MLB Starting Rotations Entering 2016 Spring Training

What You Need To Know For #TNF & 4 More Things

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1.

By the Time I Get To Arizona…

 

The Vikes are missing 4 guys on D.  Anyone else think this could get ugly in a hurry in the desert?  If it was in the cold blanket of the outdoors of Minnesota, maybe…Sure A.P. is whining that he’s not getting the ball enough and the last time he did that he went off – this is the matchup tonight – Adrian Peterson, child-abuser versus the front 7 of Arizona.  For me, the issue is not so much that matchup, it’s can the Vikes score enough points regardless what A.P. does.

When Carson Palmer starts, the Cardinals as home favorites are 9-3-1 against-the-spread, but All-time, touchdown or greater underdogs against the Cardinals are 20-10-1 against-the-spread – so something has to give.  DC*3PO says the Cards win by only 4 so to take the Vikes – make mine the Cards, as they are the better team and Minnesota struggles against good teams – in fact John Beckwith made a bet that Minnesota would not beat another team whose record is above .500 – so far they have not.

Guys to watch on #DraftKings for Tonight’s game, according to DC*3PO

  • Carson Palmer $6,500 – 19.8 – 66.6%
  • Adrian Peterson $6,900 – 15.4 – 40.9%
  • Larry Fitzgerald $7,400 – 15.3 – 57.7%
  • Teddy Bridgewater $5,100 – 13.5 – 45.4%
  • John Brown $4,500 – 13 – 51.1%

Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks, during a game against the Minnesota Vikings on Dec. 6.

2.

Can The Seahawks Get Back To The Super Bowl?

The Seattle Seahawks came into 2015 as championship favorites, having put up one of the best two-year runs in NFL history, with a bid for back-to-back titles undone by one of the most shocking twist endings in Super Bowl history. But things went downhill in a hurry. Seattle lost four of its first six games; then won two in a row, against the foundering 49ers and Cowboys; and in Week 10 dropped a crucial home game against the Cardinals that effectively killed any chance of a third consecutive NFC West crown. It was mid-November and the Seahawks were unlikely to make the playoffs, let alone win the Super Bowl.

Source: Can The Seahawks Get Back To The Super Bowl?


 

3.

Last One Out of the Circus…

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich fired another shot from long range Wednesday night as he continued to voice his displeasure over 3-point shots.

“I still hate it,” Popovich told reporters before the Spurs’ 97-94 loss to theToronto Raptors. “I’ll never embrace it. I don’t think it’s basketball. I think it’s kind of like a circus sort of thing. Why don’t we have a 5-point shot? A 7-point shot? You know, where does it stop, that sort of thing.

“But that’s just me, that’s just old-school. To a certain degree, you better embrace it or you’re going to lose. And every time we’ve won a championship, the 3-point shot was a big part of it. Because……(continue reading)

Source: San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich says 3-pointer is ‘like a circus sort of thing’


4.

Day 3 and Counting…

The great thing about the Winter Meetings is that every club is involved. No matter who you root for, there is going to be a rumor or two tied to your team every day of the proceedings. With that in mind, here’s a look at the most intriguing rumors attached to each club, as of Wednesday night.

Source: Winter Meetings rumors roundup of all 30 teams | MLB.com


5.

Now We Are Just Finding Reasons?

As a player with the San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots, Rodney Harrison thrived off every slight, real or simply perceived.

It seems Harrision may have a kindred spirit in Carolina Panthers’ cornerback Josh Norman.

On Sunday night, Harrison, now an NBC commentator, said on “Football Night in America” that the 7-5 Seahawks are more dangerous than the undefeated Panthers. On Wednesday, appearing on “ProFootballTalk,” Harrison gave the edge to Falcons’ receiver Julio Jones in his matchup with Norman this Sunday.

A Carolina fan tweeted that first Harrison “said the Seahawks are better than the Panthers, now he’s calling out” Norman, and wondered what’s wrong with Harrison while giving the link to Harrison’s ProFootballTalk appearance.……(continue reading)

Source: Panthers’ Josh Norman says NBC’s Rodney Harrison ‘horrible at his job’

Learn More About #KarmicResponsibility

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1. Further Mis-Adventures of #KarmicResponsibility

This is Pittsburgh’s Bartman.  Maybe one of the most complete teams the Pirates have ever had and some douche-nozzle comes up with THIS, AND gets a Hotel chain to produce them to pass out.  Hey, it’s #Murica and we all have that luxury – but just because we can, doesn’t mean we should and #5 is the example hillbilly fandom that screams #KarmicResponsibility.  Beyond the Nuclear-Level of OCD this fan has – he must have forgotten you never plan cheers – you’re not Duke fan and it’s never clever.  I say HE because we all know, only a man would come up with this from his mother’s basement.

Anyway, now the Cubs move on to face a team in the Cardinals that seem to be held together by duct-tape – aren’t they every year? – so now we get two fanbases, that dislike each other, to such a degree, that they both act like everyone’s drunk uncle, on Thanksgiving, at your Mom’s house, with her new boyfriend that looks a lot like Jim Tomsula…Cubs fans are excited, again.  Like a dog chasing cars – it seems like the dopamine dump, cubs fan gets, shuts off their common sense and they quickly forget/bury the destiny that they are to blow it in the worst way.  All we need now, is some clown to get a world series tattoo and complete the affront to #KarmicResponsibility – or some other nonsense that creates the cyclical train-wreck of sorrow Cubs Fan is so used to.


HamiltonTulo

2. ALDS Preview: Rangers v BlueJays

3:30 PM EST ALDS Gm 1 Rangers @ Blue Jays Gallardo (13-11) at Price (18-5) FS1 / SNET

Those plucky Rangers are back in the playoffs, and it seems they only get there when they have Josh Hamilton, and Cole Hamels – eeery.  To start the season, the 2015 Rangers found themselves without young phenom Profar and staff Ace, Yu Darvish – and further seemed out of it by the trade-deadline.  Then they traded prospects for Cole Hamels, strengthened their bullpen, got healthy and went on a second-half tear to win the division from the Astros.

For the BlueJays, you have to remember 2012, when they finished with a 73-89 record and by trades and free agent signings they brought in Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey only to improve by one game.  In 2014, the BlueJays improved to 83-79, so when they were looking at a record of 45-46 at the All-Star break, the ‘Jays pushed all the chips in on Tulowitzki and David Price, to go along with 2015 free-agent signee and possible AL MVP josh Donaldson, to become an offensive juggernaut that can play D and pitch.

  • For all the talk that the Toronto Blue Jays are the obvious best team in the American League — they’re the overwhelming Vegas favorite, and ESPN’s Jayson Stark has already picked them to win the World Series — the one thing Toronto wasn’t this season was the best team in the American League. The Jays didn’t…(continue reading)

CorreaCain

3. ALDS Preview: Astros v Royals

7:30 PM EST ALDS Gm 1 Astros @ Royals McHugh (19-7) at Ventura (13-8) FS1

No-longer are they the Lastros – an organization that averaged 108 losses from 2011 to 2013 and are baseball’s youngest team – they beat the Yankees on Tuesday and now face their opposite in every way.  It’s Manufacturing versus Big Oil.  The steady-rolling production of the Royals, versus the Boom-or-Bust-strike-it-rich nature of the Astros.

  • Just three short years ago, the Royals went 72-90. It was their ninth consecutive losing season, and their eighth out of those nine that they had lost 90 or more games. Being a Royals fan meant unrelenting misery. It meant being unhappy on purpose. That same year, though…(continue reading)

4. Saturday Afternoon in Death Valley

If any fanbase can understand and appreciate what Gamecock fan is going thru – its Tiger fan.  What comes to mind for me is 2005 when LSU had to go to Arizona State after Hurricane Katrina for a home game in the desert.  Arizona State donated the gate receipts from the game to LSU and the Fiesta Bowl covered LSU’s travel expenses – in return, LSU will pay it forward to South Carolina, and what could have been a trap game looks a bit more fortuitous for LSU – so Saturday I’ll cheer for South Carolina before and directly after the game.

  • Because of the aftermath from flooding that began last weekend, officials felt it was unwise to play the game at the regularly scheduled site of Williams-Brice Stadium. Access to areas of the city, the safety of the infrastructure and the availability of drinking water were major concerns……(continue reading)

5. Banner Raised

Last night was the start of the NHL season if you were to busy to notice watching the Pirates and Cubs.  In Chicago they raised another banner and the Rangers started the Blackhawks off with a L.  If you do not have NHL-CenterIce package to watch all the ‘Ockey you want – I think you can find games on the NBCSN channel – I just have no idea where to find it…but anyway here is Yahoo Sports preview of all 30 teams from the Puck Daddy staff:

 

In October, Anything is Possible

Baseball

Ken Rosenthal, in Just a Bit Outside, wrote: “OK, so we didn’t get chaos, entropy or any other form of Monday madness. There will be no game No. 163, no three-team tie, no pushing back of the postseason schedule. The outcomes of Sunday’s games neatly restored order, with the most deserving teams, the Rangers and Astros, claiming the final two playoff berths.”  But, what does it all mean this post-season?  Are the Royals back? Should everyone watch out for the Rangers?  Will the young Astros be intimated in Yankee Stadium?  Should we worry about the Mets?  Are the Cubs the most dangerous team?

Ken Rosenthal breaks all of those things down in his piece: Anything is Possible this Post-Season

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Rosenthal writes:

Will I pick them to upset the Blue Jays? Probably not. But I would not be surprised if the series goes five games.

What I like about the Rangers right now is that their stars are performing at elite levels. Start with left-hander Cole Hamels, who threw a three-hitter Sunday to help clinch the AL West title. Hamels, thanks to the Rangers’ collapse on Saturday, will be available for Games 2 and 5 rather than 1 and 4 (the latter on short rest).

The Rangers have won the last 10 games that Hamels has started, not that it will necessarily matter against the Jays, whose .815 OPS against lefties led the majors. Both of the Rangers’ top starters, Hamels and Derek Holland, are left-handed, and uh, the Jays treat right-handers no better. Their .791 OPS against righties also led the majors, though Rangers righty Yovani Gallardo has pitched 13 2/3 scoreless innings against them this season.

The only way for the Rangers to stay with the Jays might be to slug with them, and suddenly that appears possible — Texas led the majors in runs per game after Sept. 1. Third baseman Adrian Beltre, who is dealing with a jammed index finger and sprained thumb on his left hand, has 38 RBI since that date. Prince Fielder, Shin-Soo Choo and even Josh Hamilton all look like forces again.

October is going to be a great month, after-all ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!  Just ask Ben Larson (h/t Dennis Wierzbicki):

A Cubs fan named Ben Larson, who is a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, emailed one of his professors to see if the teacher could do him a big favor by moving a midterm exam scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 8. As Larson explained over email, he and his family scored tickets to the one-game playoff against the Pittsburgh Pirates and planned to drive to the game. With the game on Wednesday, he wouldn’t be able to take a test Thursday.

Luckily the professor offered to come through for him:

Shoot, if we all had known our teachers would be this accommodating, how many of us would have tried to pull this maneuver?

We knew Cubs fans were loyal and sometimes a disgusting bunch, but one thing you cannot deny is their passion. This is awesome.

What You Need to Know to #win Tuesday Night, #DraftKings #FantasyBaseball

…But First…

The Jets had five takeaways in their 20-7 win in Indianapolis on Monday, three of which were by Darrelle Revis, who recovered two Colts fumbles and intercepted an Andrew Luck pass. Revis had never before had three takeaways in one game. This is after last week when the Browns had five turnovers in the season opener. The Jets are the first team since the 1992 Steelers to have five takeaways in each of their first two games of a season. The Steelers did that in Bill Cowher’s first two games as their head coach – is history repeating with Todd Bowles?

Aside from the Jets looking legit – Indy NEEDS an offensive line.  Luck looked uncomfortable all night and made weird mistakes – some of that has to be attributed to the Jets, but I’m going with the hot-mess upfront.  For those freaking out about Andrew, let’s breathe for a moment – this is not a Drew Brees situation – this is a QB with what was and still is a suspect line that played two quality defenses, back-to-back.  Next up is Tennessee, I’m prettay, prettaaay sure all will be normal for Luck after week 3.  If not, then we can have a full-blown freakout.

As for Gang Green, the D appears to be strong and with Chan Gailey dialing up plays for the Denver Jets, this game could have been a lot worse – Decker and Marshall, each with a touchdown and almost 200yds receiving between them.  Revis Island seems to be a non-vacation spot again and Sheldon Richardson comes back soon to join an already impressive front line.


#NFL week 2 is in the books and it was another successful week and also for those that follow us.  We are still continuing to update+add features to our site – so check it out and join us at theDiRTCanon.com – let us teach you how to #win!!!

Here are week 2’s Perfect Lineups:

Fanduel

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DraftKings

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It’s almost post-season baseball time and with a full-slab of games on tap tonight, it seems like “Revenge of the Lefties” –  we got a lot to get to with SEA+CHC stack ideas and TAM RHB+BOS LHB  – so let’s get it on!

Heaviest Favorites – according to Vegas

Logan Verrett vs. Atlanta Braves (-261) – Raise your hand if you saw this one…Verrett has become a spot start extraordinaire, as his one mission in life is to preserve the innings of Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom.  A tall task indeed, but something that Verrett thus far, has done successfully. Coming into tonight, Verrett owns a 2.89 ERA with a 0.94 WHIP in just two starts. Verrett has pitched only 37 innings this season, but he looks like he’s locked in. Getting a matchup tonight against the Braves is about as good as you could ask for with Verrett. He’s going to cost you next to nothing, priced at just $4,500. Even if Verrett only goes five solid innings, he will certainly be worth the price of admission. Verrett has only allowed two runs in his two starts this season and his looked great in doing so. Without much to go on in the majors, Verrett is someone who’s shown in a short amount of time that he can be a viable option for you tonight. I mean really, can you complain about a pitcher that is just above the minimum?cropped-logo_1260147_print-1-e14180934753933.png

John Lackey vs. Cincinnati Reds (-210) – We’ve seen plenty of this, this season, as Lackey gets a start against the Reds. Lackey enters tonight with a 2.79 ERA to go with a 1.22 WHIP and a K/9 of 7. Going against a team that owns a .316 wOBA in the second half of the season with a K% of 20.8%, Lackey looks primed for another solid start. Owning a career best ERA at this time, Lackey goes against a Reds team who he dominated two starts ago. In that matchup, Lackey went seven innings, giving up two runs on seven hits while striking out 10, scoring 25.8 in that start. His price tag certainly matches his production, as I think this is the highest I’ve seen it for Lackey at $10,300.  As the fourth most expensive pitcher on the night, I think Lackey would need some serious consideration to be in your lineup tonight. If you’re thinking about rostering Verrett, you have no excuse to not fit ANY pitcher going tonight, seeing as how much you’ll be saving with his $4,500 price tag.

Lance McCullers vs. LA Angels (-170) – I’ve been a big fan of McCullers since he’s got the call to the big leagues. Coming into tonight, McCullers owns a 3.18 ERA to go with a 1.22 WHIP and a K/9 of 8.9. McCullers gets matched up with a truly weak Angels lineup, a lineup that owns a .291 wOBA in the second half of the season, good for the lowest in the league besides the Braves. A truly baffling stat if you think about the amount of talent this team possesses. They’ve kept the strikeouts down, which of course is disappointing to hear if you’re rostering an opposing pitcher like McCullers. Their 19.5 K% ranks 22nd in the league. However, at this point, the Angels are entering a territory where no matter who is starting against them, you should at least give them a look. Out of sheer curiosity, I looked up what the Angels have done over the past week, and things don’t get much better. The Angels own a .310 wOBA over the last seven day with a 20.6 K%. Things aren’t looking up for the Halos. With a nice price of $9,400, McCullers should be another pitcher you should look at.

Top Overall Game per O/U

Pittsburgh Pirates at Colorado Rockies 11 Over/Under – The Rockies remain at home, so we’re lucky enough to talk about how they’re the highest projected run total of the day, again. This matchup intrigues me. We have a leftie on leftie matchup, with both teams not exactly hitting LHP all that well. On the season, the Pirates own a .306 wOBA against lefties, which ranks 20th in the league. The Rockies are at .283 which is LAST in the league for wOBA. Soooooo, what should we do here? If this game was at Pittsburgh, I would be loading up on Happ like he was shotgun shells during a zombie-apocalypse. But we have to give some respect to Coors Field here. Can the Rockies overcome their woes against lefties with their home field advantage? It truly brings up a tough question. Overall, I don’t think Happ is someone that should scare you off too much. He has his stretches which he pitches great, but also can do the complete opposite in a heartbeat, evident by his 3.84 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. I think if anything, if you want to play it safe tonight, the Pirates will be the way to go. Rusin owns a 5.11 ERA with a 1.56 WHIP. This will be quite the strange game in Coors tonight, one that you might want to watch.

Toughest Pitcher L/R matchup

  • Left handed batters
    • Jake Arrieta CHC (LwOBA .213)
    • Lance McCullers HOU (LwOBA .265)
    • Martin Perez TEX (LwOBA .266)
  • Right handed batters
    • Jake Arrieta CHC (RwOBA .248)
    • Marco Estrada TOR (RwOBA .264)
    • Sean Nolin OAK (RwOBA .269)

Easiest Pitcher L/R matchup

  • Left handed batters
    • Tyler Cravy MIL (LwOBA .403)
    • Henry Owens BOS (LwOBA .403)
  • Right handed batters
    • Matt Moore TAM (RwOBA .396)
    • Tyler Cravy MIL (RwOBA .369)

All Pitcher Stats

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Hottest Hitters – last 7 days

  • Jorge Soler CHC – DiRT Canon Value127.44
  • Dioner Navarro TOR – DiRT Canon Value117.31
  • Franklin Gutierrez SEA – DiRT Canon Value111.10
  • Omar Infante KC – DiRT Canon Value108.40
  • Deven Marrero BOS – DiRT Canon Value108.20
  • Drew Stubbs TEX – DiRT Canon Value107.34

Other notables:  Tommy Pham: 12-22, 4HRs, 9 RBI, 10 runs scored – Anthony Rizzo: 12-28, HR, 7RBI, 2SB, 6 runs scored – Xander Bogaerts: 9-24, 2HRs, 7 RBI, 1SB, 7 runs scored

Best BvP matchup Tonight

David Ortiz vs. Matt Moore- Ortiz will always remember Moore, the man who gave up his 500th home run. The reason alone, Ortiz will always crush Moore when he’s on the mound. What stats back that up? Zero. That was just a hot take. Good one, eh? Ok, Ortiz is 8-18 against Moore with five extra base hits, three of them being home runs (including a 500th) and a 1.529 OPS.

Brian Dozier vs. Danny Salazar-  Dozier has seen Salazar in a small sample, but he’s done quite well for himself in that time. Dozier is 8-15 against Salazar with five extra base hits, two of them being home runs, and a 1.722 OPS.

Miguel Cabrera vs. Jose Quintana- I was talking about this the other day.  He never seems to take advantage of his superior matchups anymore.  Everytime I put him here, or take him, he does not justify his salary. If it wasn’t for the high batting average for Cabrera, could you consider this season a bust for him? I’m leaning towards yes.  At the least, he has a good matchup tonight against Quintana, who he’s 11-30 against with five extra base hits, one of them being a home run, and a 1.041 OPS.  Which he could duplicate if you did not take him, so….you’re move Miggy.


Weather

We seem to be getting the ALL CLEAR sign tonight


Top 4 by Position – in no particular order

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A Pitcher To Consider

Danny Salazar ($11,100) – Salazar has two things I look for when picking my starting pitching for the night. A weak offense, and a high strike out ceiling. Check and check. Facing the Twins tonight, Salazar is certainly in line for a quality start in this one. The Twins own a .307 wOBA in the second half of the season, good for 26th in the league. Add on the fact that they also have the 3rd highest K% in that same time span at 22.7 and you suddenly have a good start lined up. Salazar comes into tonight with a 9.7 K/9 on the season, which has me licking my chops for this one. After a couple of disaster starts for Salazar against Detroit, which saw him give up nine runs in nine innings, he bounced back nicely against the Royals. In that start, Salazar went seven innings giving up one run on four hits while striking out six, which is impressive, as the Royals are the toughest team in the league to strikeout. Even with the expensive price tag, Salazar is certainly worth the price of admission with this start tonight. I mean, you can always pair him with Logan Verrett.

Worth Considering

Matt Carpenter ($4900) –Carpenter, going against Keyvius Sampson, batting leadoff. I could end it right here if I wanted to. But, I’ll give you my reasons. Carpenter batting leadoff against a pitcher who’s allowing a .430 wOBA to left handed batters is a huge reason in itself. Carpenter hits right handed pitching well, with a .328 wOBA and an ISO of .233. In a game that should provide plenty of offense for the Cardinals, Carpenter is in a perfect positon tonight to be a table setter. He’s been hitting extremely well lately and I don’t see that slowing down tonight.

Save $$$…

Mikie Mahtook ($3100) –Mahtook (LSU) has been fantastic since his callup. Batting .289 with four home runs and nine RBIs in his short stint in the majors is about as much as you can ask for (unless your Tommy Pham.) Mahtook hit left handed pitching really well and faces Henry Owens tonight. Owens does fairly well against righties, with a .303 wOBA. However, it’s the .403 wOBA against lefties for Mahtook that really entices me. He’s dirt cheap and his some pop in his bat, something I like to target with my low tiered priced guys. I think you could find a way to squeeze Mahtook into your lineup


The Rest by Position

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Logo_Snap#1

What You Need to Know for Tuesday Night #Baseball

Clemente

Today would have been Roberto Clemente’s 81st birthday – so let’s all toast a legend of the game while we watch StrikeZone!

Heavy Favorites – according to Vegas

Clayton Kershaw vs. Oakland A’s (-221) – Ànother fifth day, another start for Kershaw as the favorite on the night. It’s becoming  routine, so surely on Sunday, Kershaw will be here. Tonight, Kershaw gets the Oakland Athletics, a team that is really struggling to find their groove – ask Stella. Since the second half of the season, the A’s have the lowest wOBA out of ANY team in the league. Think about that for a moment, worse than Atlanta, Miami, crazy to think about, right? So other than the fact that the A’s can’t hit, they’re at least a tough team to strikeout. They maintained that in the second half, as their strikeout percentage stands at 18%, one of the best in both leagues. But truly, with Kershaw entering tonight with a K/9 of 11.3, what does that mean? Maybe he ends up with eight strikeouts on the night? Kershaw has just been that good. Since the All Star break, Kerhsaw owns a 0.92 ERA giving up only four runs in 39 innings and striking out 45. As usual though, he’s going to cost you a fortune to roster. Priced at $15,000, you better get damn creative building the rest of your roster – thankfully I can help with that.
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Francisco Liriano vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (-215)- We were arguing recently, if the Diamondbacks were getting the respect they deserve when it comes to being a good offensive club. They gave Gerrit Cole a run for his money last night. Tonight, Liriano is the second highest favored pitcher of the night. Like Cole, Liriano hasn’t exactly had a stellar month of August. He’s pitched nine innings giving up seven runs on 13 hits with a 9:6 K:BB ratio. Not exactly great numbers when you’re going to face a team that owns the ninth highest wOBA on the month at .331. Overall, Liriano comes into tonight with a 3.19 ERA with a 1.13WHIP and a K/9 of 9.9. Once again, we’re not sure we’re all giddy to throw Liriano on a roster tonight against this D-Backs team. Are they as good as we’re making them out to be? Maybe not, but I can’t feel great about putting pitcher in tonight that hasn’t exactly shown much as of late. At $10,300, it certainly is risky.

RA Dickey vs. Philadelphia Phillies (-190) – We’ll give credit when it’s due, Dickey has been solid as of late. Dickey has given up only four runs in his last three starts on 14 hits and a K:BB ratio of 13:6. For a knuckleballer, that’s pretty good. Tonight, he gets those Phillies that Vegas loves to hate on. After starting off the second half on fire, the Phillies have seen their wOBA slip to the middle of the league at .312, good for 16th. Dickey is of course, one of the toughest pitchers to predict because, quite frankly, even he doesn’t know what the knuckler will do on a particular day, Dickey has had his struggles on the road this season, with his wOBA against is over 60 points higher compared to at home. His price tonight just might make him a serious consideration, as he’s only going to run you for $7000.

Top Overall Game per O/U

Washington Nationals vs. Colorado Rockies (Coors Field) – 11 Over/Under- Vegas is expecting some fireworks in this one. Jordan Zimmermann takes on David Hale in this one. Zimmermann has looked like his old self lately in his past two starts, scoring 22.6 and 30 points against the Rockies and Dodgers. However, of course, pitching in Coors Field adds a whole different dynamic to the equation. As for Hale, he’s coming off the disabled list to return to the rotation, proving how bad their rotation really is. Hale owns a 5.69 ERA on the season with a 1.39 WHIPand a K/9 of 6.6. The Nationals have really been struggling at the plate, owning a .296 wOBA this month, good for 24th in the league. Nothing a little Coors Field can’t fix, right? As always, find a way to work a couple of these hitters into your lineup tonight.

Toughest Pitcher L/R matchup

  • Left handed batters
    • Felix Doubront OAK (LwOBA .218)
    • CC Sabathia NYY (LwOBA .222)
    • John Danks CWS (LwOBA .253)
  • Right handed batters
    • Jacob DeGrom NYM (RwOBA .197)
    • Clayton Kershaw LAD (RwOBA .238)
    • Jordan Zimmermann WAS (RwOBA .256)

Easiest L/R matchup

  • Left handed batters
    • Matt Wisler ATL (LwOBA .436)
    • Tyler Cravy MIL (LwOBA .424)
  • Right handed batters
    • CC Sabathia NYY (RwOBA .385)
    • Felix Dubront OAK (RwOBA .373)

All Pitcher Stats

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Hottest Hitters – last 7 days

  • Chase Utley PHI – DiRT Canon Value 106.66
  • Carl Crawford LADDiRT Canon Value – 101.06
  • Pedro Alvarez PITDiRT Canon Value – 98.37
  • Jackie Bradley Jr BOS  – DiRT Canon Value – 93.63
  • Alejandro De Aza BOSDiRT Canon Value – 90.90
  • Matt Kemp SDP – DiRT Canon Value – 88.86

Other notables:  Joey Votto is 11-for-23 with 2 HR’s, 7 RBI and 6 runs scored.  Miguel Sano is 10-for-24 with 3 HR’s, 9 RBI, a stolen base and 4 runs scored.

Best BvP matchup Tonight

Brian McCann vs. Mike Pelfrey – All is right in the world once again! McCann is 19-40 against Pelfrey with 10 extra base hits, two of them going for home runs, and a 1.368 OPS.

Adrian Beltre vs. Hisashi Iwakuma- If Iwakuma is thinking he’s going to pull out another no hitter, Beltre is here to stop him dead in his tracks. Beltre is 11-33 against Iwakuma with four extra base hits, three of those going for home runs and a 1.008 OPS.

Nick Markakis vs. James Shields- These two have seen a lot of each other back in their AL East days. Tonight, they matchup once again with Markakis 23-74 against Shields with seven extra base hits, two of them being home runs and a .859 OPS.


Weather

Looks like it might be a clear night of baseball!


Top 4 by Position – in no partciular order

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A Pitcher To Consider

Garrett Richards ($9,800) –Raise your hand if you made a weird face when you saw Richards here. I’ll admit, I did, and I’m the one writing this. I have a few reasons to go this route so hear me about before you close this article in disgust and un follow me on Twitter. First off, Kershaw is just too expensive. $15,000. Putting Kershaw on your roster leaves you with $35,000 to work with, or $3,888 on average for each remaining player. Even if you went with Adam Conley, who’s the cheapest pitcher on the night, that leaves you with an average of $3,862 per player. Doable, but tough for sure. Then we have deGrom. Do I like the matchup against Baltimore? I don’t love it. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t hate if you draft deGrom tonight. His WHIP is a ridiculous 0.83 and he doesn’t give up a lot of home runs, only 11 on the year, but at Camden Yards scares me a bit. I have no doubt that deGrom will most likely have a solid start, but at $11,600, I’d at least want to like the matchup a bit more. Baltimore does own the best wOBA against RHP this season. So, with all that being said, here we are with Richards.

After starting off the month hitting way more to the potential people thought the White Sox have, they’ve fallen all the way down to 15th in wOBA in the month of August. Their power is decent, as they’re 10th in ISO this month, but a matchup in LA makes me feel a lot better about dealing with that. The White Sox are also in the middle of the pack in terms of strikeout % sitting at 20.5 on the month, or 14th in the league. I’m ok with that since Richards has a K/9 of 7.1, which I feel as if that’s obtainable tonight or close to it. Overall, for his price tag of $9800, it gives you a good chunk of flexibility that you wouldn’t necessarily get with deGrom and certainly not with Kershaw. Richards certainly isn’t the same caliber pitcher as those two, but matchup wise, I’m feeling good about this one.

Worth Considering

Anthony Rizzo($4900) – Rizzo gets a matchup tonight with the home run happy Anibal Sanchez. The majority of the home runs Sanchez has let up as come from RHB, but Rizzo does such a good job against righties, I like this chances tonight. Rizzo owns a .392 wOBA against righties this season with an ISO of .262. Big numbers for sure against someone who struggles to keep the ball on the park. Sanchez is given up an astonishing 28 home runs on the season. If someone can take him deep, Rizzo is certainly fitting the mold tonight.

Save $$$…

Abraham Almonte ($2000) – Honestly, I’m riding the hot streak right now. Almonte doesn’t have impressive overall numbers, but he’s been hitting well since taking over the every day outfield role in Cleveland. In the month of August, Almonte is batting .286 with two home runs, and eight RBIs. Again, nothing overly impressive, but at just $2000, you have nothing to lose here. Tonight he faces Eduardo Rodriguez, who has an wOBA over .300 against both RHBand LHB. Almonte, being a switch hitter, can take advantage of either side. He’s not a great hitter and don’t expect a ton, but even a 5-7 point night exceeds what you could ask for from someone who’s an everyday starter costing you the minimum price possible.


The Rest by Position

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Randomly Generated Lineup Combinations – Ideas

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On the Hump…

idiot

A kid from Ohio won a championship in Cleveland, and it wasn’t LeBron.  Now we have articles like this – and to me, completely missing the point of what we witnessed.  LeBron became the first player ever to lead BOTH teams in points, rebounds and assists – and the guy who guarded him gets the MVP?!  Sure, it’s a nice story, Iguodola’s rise from bench role-player to Finals MVP, but what are we evaluating anymore?  The current league MVP got 0 votes and 7 out of 11 voters voted for a guy who could not stop LeBron.  I doubt LeBron would have wanted it anyway…

Maybe my point is, we should appreciate a bit more what we saw – because after the guy in this picture got his tattoo – Love went down, then Kyrie went down, and it is like we have said around here before – you do not tempt fate – ask Kentucky fan and the other dopes about #KarmicRespnsibility.  Now, at least, we know we will never see a Finals MVP from a losing team again; if not last night, then never.  Clearly the dogmatic-media chumps are too rancorous to separate performance from result.  The Warriors went wire-to-wire, and deserved this title – none of that will be as memorable as James toting this sack of rocks up the hill like Sisyphus. James showed he’s still the world’s best, one of the best ever, and in losing, somehow managed to play the doomed, tragic hero archetype.  Who’d-a-thunk that?

  • Iguodala, Warriors finish off Cavaliers for first title in 40 years

    The Warriors clinched their first NBA championship in 40 years, defeating the Cavaliers, 105-97, in Game 6. Andre Iguodala, who was named Finals MVP, scored 25 points in Game 6 (tying Stephen Curry for the team-lead), marking his only 25-point game since the start of the 2014-15 regular season. Iguodala is the first player in NBA history to score at least 25 points in a Finals-clinching victory without recording any 25-point games in the preceding regular season or earlier in that year’s playoffs.

    nullGreen records triple-double in Game 6 clincherDraymond Green was a huge contributor in the Warriors’ road to glory as well, recording 16 points in Game 6 along with a team-high 11 rebounds and 10 assists. The 25-year-old became the sixth player to record a triple-double for the victorious team in a Finals clincher, joining Magic Johnson (1982 and 1985), Larry Bird (1986), James Worthy (1988), Tim Duncan (2003), and LeBron James (2012). Magic had been the only player before Green to achieve that feat on his opponents’ home floor – Johnson recorded 14 points, 10 rebounds, and 14 assists at Boston Garden in Game 6 of the 1985 Finals.

    For the 2015 playoffs as a whole, Green averaged 13.7 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game. Tim Duncan is the only other player in the last 30 years who won a championship, having averaged double-figures in both points and rebounds along with at least five assists per game throughout the playoffs; Duncan averaged 24.7 points, 15.4 rebounds, and 5.3 assists in the 2003 playoffs. Other players to reach those heights reads like a list of the all-time greats: Bill Russell (six times in the 1960’s), Larry Bird (1981 and 1984), Magic Johnson (1980 and 1982),Bill Walton (1977), Wilt Chamberlain (1967), Tom Gola (1956), and Neil Johnston (1956)

    nullLeBron falls short despite superhuman effort

    LeBron James did all he could for the Cavaliers, leading the team with 32 points, 18 rebounds, and nine assists in Game 6. James, who also led the Cavs in those three categories in Game 2 and Game 5, is the second player in the shot-clock era to lead his team (or tie for the team-lead) in points, rebounds, and assists at least three times in a single NBA Finals. Tim Duncan had three such games leading the Spurs in the 2003 Finals against the Nets.

    James had also led the Heat in points, rebounds, and assists in six of Miami’s Finals games from 2012 to 2014 (two per year). No other player achieved that feat even once in a Finals game over the last five years.


 

St. Louis Cardinals Hackers Facing Serious Federal Jail Time

Someone is going to jail.  As for the the organization, you would think a minimum, 8 figure fine.  I would give them a post season ban for a few years as well.  The Corporate Espionage that the Cardinals, knowingly and willingly conspired to, did not just impact the Astros – it impacted lots of other teams that compromised relationships with players and damaged salary and trade negotiations.  For some involved, this has to equate to lifetime banishment – this goes beyond Pete Rose’s transgressions or Shoeless Joe’s.  We have witnessed other leagues’ commissioners deal with some sort of league-wide crisis recently, but nothing like this – I wonder what Roger Goodell would do???

  • Home run derby at Camden Yards

    The Orioles played longball and then some against the Phillies on Tuesday, cranking out a franchise-record eight home runs in their 19-3 victory. Manny Machado started the barrage with a leadoff homer in the first inning and then homered again to begin the second inning for the O’s. Machado is just the third player in the last 50 years to lead off both the first and second innings of a game with a home run. The other two to do so in the last half-century are Chad Curtis, who achieved that feat with the Tigers on May 28, 1995 against the White Sox, and Stan Javier, who hit two leadoff shots for the Giants on April 11, 1999 versus the Padres.

    nullLong(ball) night for Phillies bullpen

    Dustin McGowan had a rough night in relief for the Phillies, allowing five of the Orioles’ eight home runs in 3.1 innings pitched. McGowan is just the fifth pitcher in the modern era – and the first in Phillies history – to surrender at least five homers in a game while pitching in relief. The four others to do so since 1900 are George Caster (1940), Craig Skok (1978), Frank Pastore (1979), and Andrew Lorraine(2002) – Caster gave up six homers while the other three pitchers allowed five.

    Justin De Fratus also allowed a home run in relief for the Phillies, as did Jeff Francoeur, who took the mound for the first time in his 11-year major-league career to throw two mop-up innings. The seven home runs allowed by the Phillies bullpen matched the major-league record for most homers allowed by a team’s relievers in a single game. There had been two previous instances of a team’s relief pitchers allowing exactly seven long balls – the Reds’ relievers did so on June 6, 1939 at the Polo Grounds against the Giants, and the Orioles’ pen served up seven at Toronto on September 14, 1987.

    nullHolt hits for cycle

    Brock Holt doubled to lead off Tuesday’s game for the Red Sox against Julio Teheran and the Braves, then singled in the fifth inning, hit a solo homer in the seventh, and tripled in his final at-bat to complete the first cycle in the majors this season. Holt is the first player to hit for the cycle against the Braves since the Mets’ Keith Hernandez did so on July 4, 1985. Atlanta’s streak of 4776 games without allowing a player to hit for the cycle had been the longest active streak in the major leagues by a wide margin. That distinction now belongs to the Blue Jays – Toronto has not allowed a cycle in its last 3954 games. The last player to record a cycle against the Jays was Hall-of-Famer George Brett on July 25, 1990.

    More goose eggs for Pirates

    The Pirates continued their mastery on the mound, blanking the White Sox, 3-0, to win their sixth straight game. Pittsburgh has kept its opponent off the scoreboard in five of those six wins, marking the first time in almost 20 years that a team recorded five shutouts within a six-game span. The Orioles were the last team with such a span, having finished the 1995 regular season with five consecutive shutouts. The only other time that Pittsburgh posted at least five shutouts over a six-game span took place 112 years ago! The Pirates posted six consecutive shutouts from June 2 to June 8, 1903 – two over the Giants, three against the Boston Beaneaters, and one versus the Phillies.