Friday, June 29, 2007


What better way to begin an entry than bestowing upon it the title of a great Beatles song?
Frivolities aside, I've decided to dispense with the draft-day grades for the time being and instead focus on some of the rather shocking trades that took place yesterday. Why? Every columnist from Alaska to Moscow has a 'Draft Grade' piece up today. So I'm going to add a necessary and unexplored dissection to the afternoon browsers. However, readers, do not fear! You'll get your draft grades here... It'll most likely just have to wait until tomorrow.
Let's start right at the top, with the trade that not only took place before all others, but was the most significant. Rumors had been circulating about Ray Allen, but most, myself included, just labeled them as random baseless scuttlebutt, throwing them back in the Kobe for Maurice Ager and Big Damp pile. However, when Boston's #5 pick came along, the shocker thundered into Times Square and left me thunderstruck for the remainder of the night. Seattle traded their superstar, their franchise, the only reliable player on the squad-for the #5 pick in the draft (Small forward Jeff Green), a future second rounder, Wally Sczerbiak, and Delonte West. For lack of a better term, this trade... perplexes me. Boston's made the move that should shut Paul Pierce's yap up for a while. They will go from the second worst record in the league to contending for a playoff spot. My question:Why?
The way sports work, you try to be the best. Either you reach for the top, or you do your best to rebuild. Boston's held off the inevitable and thus condemned themselves to mediocrity. Congratulations. You've dealt a large piece of the future and likely won't get this big a piece of that valuable pie for quite a while. You'll settle for mid-round picks for a period, trying your best to rebuild around mediocre college talents whose games don't translate to the show and obscure foreigners whose faces you won't glimpse for several years.
Seattle: You had an incredible draft. Problem: You chose 3 terrific college players- and all of them in the 6'8-6'10 range. Essentially, Kevin Durant will need to play out of position for Jeff Green to even dream about being successful. Durant's pre-draft workouts don't lie, he's not very strong. Matching him up against NBA 4s would be a massive mistake. Either he gets physically dominated and comes out of every game bruised, battered, and bitter, or he wills himself to do nothing but lift weights, and therefore his overall game suffers. Putting your new cornerstone in jeopardy is a foolish, foolish venture. Another facet of the deal which people don't seem to want to consider is the fact that this seals the deal on Rashard Lewis. He's yet another 3, and Seattle obviously can't keep him. They've added a tremendous amount of young talent, but lost any semblance of veteran presence they had.

The next deal is one that worries me greatly as an ardent Maverick supporter. Golden State dealt the talented Jason Richardson to Charlotte for the rights to North Carolina wing Brandan Wright. The Warriors have set themselves back... temporarily. Richardson was the second option offensively, and losing him will hurt. However, in Wright they've brought in one of the draft's most skilled players. Give him a year or two to develop, and he could truly become a force. Another mistake by Michael Jordan, who joins the list of sports legends who fail in the management game. He feels that Charlotte is ready to win, and frankly I don't see it. They should make the playoffs... but what when?

The third major trade of the night involved Portland and New York. I like this move for both sides. The troubled Zach Randolph was dealt out of the newly rebuilt Blazers and to New York, for Stevie the fallen franchise and Channing Frye. New York dropped Steve's contract, and word has it that Portland will buy him out and let him go. (How's that for the list of potential free agents? Hrmm, interesting...) Portland released a character they desperately wanted and needed to get rid of despite his terrific post scoring skills and added a promising backup to young Oden in Channing Frye. This should make both teams better in the long term; a change of landscapes may be what Randolph needed.

And for the sake of giggles...
The Dallas Mavericks dealt the last pick in the draft to Orlando for North Carolina's Reyshawn Terry. At this point I expelled a sigh of relief- how could I possibly explain coming into a draft with 3 picks and spending all three on underdeveloped white guys who can't defend named Fazekas, Seibutis, and Rakovic? I thank you, Donnie Nelson, for feeling compassion for my woes. Reyshawn Terry may not play a single minute in this league, but you have spared Mavericks fans some agony.
By the way, what the hell is up with Orlando? They picked Terry at 44, then traded him for the rights to 60? Straight up? Sounds like a team that's doing everything possible to save cash...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Or's NBA Mock Draft: 21-40.

I'm back!

21: Philadelphia: Rudy Fernandez
22: Charlotte: Derrick Byars
23: New York: Daequan Cook
24: Pheonix: Tiago Splitter
25: Utah: Wilson Chandler
26: Houston: Jared Dudley
27: Detroit: Nick Fazekas
28: San Antonio: Aaron Afflalo
29: Phoenix: Marc Gasol
30: Philadelphia: Josh McRoberts
31: Seattle: Morris Almond
32: Boston: Stanko Barac
33: San Antonio: Petteri Kopponen
34: Dallas: Gabe Pruitt
35: Seattle: Aaron Brooks
36: Golden State: Glen Davis
37: Portland: Alando Tucker
38: Philadelphia: Aaron Gray
39: Miami: Ramon Sessions
40: LAL: Taurean Green

You're good to go! The draft board is assembled as completely as I can possibly come close to pretending to be able to do it. Tune in to Norm at 6 (Or even better, visit him at Dave and Buster's) to witness what should be a flood of new drops and a plethora of retreads.

Or's NBA Mock Draft 1-20

Merry Thursday to you all! The big day is upon us- the day during which teams select their cornerstones; their foundations for numerous years.
Please note before reading it that this is not simply a ranking of players in order of talent or projection. It's a projection of who the relevant teams will actually take at the position.
#1: Portland Trailblazers: Greg Oden
#2: Seattle Supersonics: Kevin Durant
#3: Atlanta Hawks: Al Horford
Memphis: Yi Jianlian
Boston: Brandon Wright
Milwaukee: Jeff Green
Minnesota: Cory Brewer
Memphis: Joakim Noah
#9: Chicago: Julian Wright
#10:Sacramento: Mike Conley
#11: Atlanta: Javaris Crittenton
#12: Philadelphia: Al Thornton
#13: New Orleans: Spencer Hawes
#14: LAC: Nick Young
#15: Detroit: Acie Law
#16: Washington: Rodney Stuckey
#17: New Jersey: Marco Bellinelli
#18: Golden State: Sean Williams
#19: LAL: Jason Smith
#20: Miami: Thaddeus Young

The next 20 will come sometime this afternoon.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

NBA Draft Spotlight: Big Men.

Merry Wednesday, good readers. The time has come to examine the big men available in this draft; those behemoths who dwell in that dangerous area we like to call 'The Paint'.
And what better place to begin than the most eagerly anticipated, earnestly beckoned, longingly yearned for center since Shaq Fu? Greg Oden is the complete package. He's a seven footer with an incredibly polished defensive game, athleticism and ballhandling to make some 2 guards envious, and a post game that flourished when unleashed. His upside is truly special, and it is very foreseeable to see him achieving it. In addition to his incredible game, Oden is exceptionally humble and hungry to win.A truly special prospect, the kind of big man who comes along once a decade.
Comparison: Bill Russell. In an absolute worst case scenario, during which his offensive game does not expand one iota from its current form, he'd be Dikembe Mutombo or Marcus Camby.
It is a testament to Oden that the dropoff is so significant to the #2 player on this list, not at all a black mark on Al Horford. Horford is the concensus third best player in the draft, and Florida's forward (Good lord, what a talented crop of 3s and 4s they eked out this year!) is very deserving of the honor, he'd easily be the #1 of last year's draft. He's 6'10 and possesses an array of talents comparable to Carlos Boozer's. He's a very good rebounder, a good defender, an above average passer and a solid shooter. But his game lies primarily in his post play. Horford is versatile, and was tasked with guarding Greg Oden for the majority of the two matches between Florida and Ohio.
Comparison: Somewhere between Emeka Okafor and Carlos Boozer. More scoring ability than Okafor but less than Boozer. Not quite the rebounder those two are, however.

The best international player in the draft is once again a large one! Yi Jianlian, a 7-foot mostly-forward from China (yeah, really!) has few weaknesses to speak of. Jianlian is a good handler, fundamentally sound, shoots exceptionally well for a man of his stature, is an exemplary passer...and the inevitable catch? His opposition has been... lacking to this point. He is reported to shy away from tough competition and his game declines when Yi comes under pressure. He's not a true post player, usually relying on a turnaround jumper or hook. And his toughness has been called to task in the past. He remains a worthy selection due to his terrific arsenal, but could take a bit of time to work into the game despite being 22 years old (Which, incidentally is under debate-some allege that he was actually born in 1987, not '84).
Comparison: Pau Gasol.

There are winners and losers in every draft. In this case, North Carolina University came out behind in a big way. Losing a player with the repertoire of Brandan Wright hurts badly- subsequently, he could be a lucky team’s next superstar. Wright is not just another of the supremely talented but unsure-about-translation-to-the-association players. He’s a player who, in addition to having the talent that can build a franchise from the ground up, also has the talent to contribute in an immediate manner. There’s very little Wright does not do well; he is a 6’10 guy who, when on his game, can slash to the basket with the ease and fluidity of Dwayne Wade. He’s also a 210 pounder who can pile up rebounds like a pissed off Kevin Garnett. He could use to improve his shot and add some weight, but other than that he’s the complete package.
Comparison: Amare Stoudemire.

There is no doubt that the talent most coveted within the basketball world is center talent. This is the primary reason that Greg Oden will almost certainly be selected ahead of Kevin Durant. And a major beneficiary of this windfall will be Washington’s Spencer Hawes. Hawes is a 6’11, 250 pound 19 year old. He’s displayed good post scoring skills anchored by very good footwork, is a good ball handler, runs the court decently for a man of his size, and is a great passer. Cons? He’s not particularly athletic, could use some work on his post moves, and plays atrocious defense. One can only hope that these faults will cease as Hawes matures and develops his game. Excuse the criticism, but I’m not very high on Mr. Hawes. He could become Brad Miller, and that’s all well and good. But I don’t see it happening, and when people have him slotted as highly as eight-I’m sorry, but frankly he’s not that good.
Comparison: Poor man’s Vlade Divacs.

Intrigue surrounds the troubled frame of Boston College’s immensely talented Sean Williams. Williams is a headcase, the guy who makes you want to scream for his wasted talent. His antics got so bad during this past season that he was permanently dismissed from the university. Why, then, take a player that can’t keep his head aligned out of the crime world and into his profession? Because Sean Williams proved himself as one of the top defenders in all of college basketball. Williams has the lateral quickness and perimeter ability to guard shooting guards, and his 7’5 wingspan in addition to jaw-dropping leaping ability made him college basketball’s top shot blocker. Williams has an unpolished offensive game and could be a far better rebounded if he put some effort into the endeavor, but don’t count on it. However, if the team picking him brings him into a stable, steady atmosphere where people know their place, there’s always the chance it rubs off. Williams needs to go to a good team pronto-that is the only way he will attain his potential. Inversely with the player preceding him in Hawes, I think Williams is actually an undervalued player. I realize that picking him is treading on hot coals, but the potential benefit is great enough to make the risk meritorious.
Comparison: Amare Stoudemire if put in the right situation.

The situation of Brazilian big man Tiago Splitter is a complex one. Splitter has entered and withdrawn from the draft numerous times already, mostly based on the fact that his current Euro team has him on contract and would require a 4.5 million dollar buyout to let him go. Splitter is 6’11 and plays both the power forward and center positions, although he spends more time at the former than the latter. A prototypical skinny big man, Splitter does not have much of a shot. However, with his handy ability to create his own opportunities he more than compensates for this deficiency. But Splitter’s greatest strength lays on the other spectrum: Regardless of the competition, he has always delivered defensively. I do realize the flaw of such a comment, seeing as NBA clashes could prove far more difficult than contending with Marc Gasol a couple of times a year. But he has given nobody any reason to doubt his prowess as a defender.
Comparison: Fabricio Oberto.

Mavs Factor: There are a couple of interesting names who could be available at 34. The foremost is Pau’s brother Marc, who resembles an inferior Mehmet Okur. The second, and someone I’d be more interested in, would be LSU’s Glen Davis. He’s certainly not tall enough to play center consistently at the top levels, but would make a very useful substitute for Dirk, or come in for the Diopampier conglomerate when post scoring is needed. However, I think It’s a definite possibility that the Mavericks trade up in the event that a Williams or Splitter slides to 25 or so. A package could be built using almost certainly this year’s second rounders, and possibly a spare part such as Austin Croshere or big lumbering Pavel (He’s still on the payroll, somehow… common thievery!).
Oh, and all of you theorycrafters who speculate about Donnie trading for a top 10 pick somehow-don’t count on it. Teams greatly overvalue their picks this time of year. Actually, let me rephrase. Teams not completely foolhardy overvalue their picks. Atlanta is a horribly run organization, evidenced by the fact that Luke Ridnour for the #11 pick is even being spoken of. I think I could win a negotiation with that organization.

Tomorrow I will bring you… the Mock Draft! 1-20 in the morning, 21-40 later in the day!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

My Thoughts on the KG Situation

It's an exciting week for those avidly following the association, during a time when all of the games are... over for a while. Not only is there endless draft prep going on, but the usual speculation and rumors caused by hurt feelings and moody prima donnas is quite apparent. We all know about Kobe the Kantankerous Kreator of Kaos and his bipolarally reminiscent doings. And doubtless, most of you have heard the latet rumors involving Kevin Garnett and a flight to Hollywood.
I think this would be a mad move. For both teams.
What are the Lakers accomplishing? Here are the pros: Their superstar is happy again, and they get to pair him up with another of the top 10 players in basketball. The cons: They just got older. And they have nothing, absolutely NOTHING, to put around those two. If LA gives up Bynum, Cook, Odom, and a first rounder (as is rumored)The player of greatest import remaining on the roster would be...Kwame? Oh good lord help us. 2 players can't win a championship on their own, no matter how good. Even with dominant Shaq on the team, the Lakers needed players like Rick Fox and Robert Horry to put them over the top. And that was in a league with less top-end squads.
Minnesota? They're adding Odom, who is in no way a #1 guy. He takes a backseat, and there's no emerging superstar in sight. Bynum is an interesting young player, but nothing more. There are hundreds of projects flying around this league, and I really don't see the reason for the amount of value attributed to him. And the #19 pick? In this draft, that's a nice asset to have. But at best they'll grab a *good* starter, or take a wild swing at a guy like Sean Williams in hope he achieves his potential. (More on him tomorrow) They've taken a step forward toward rebuilding, but I think the most logical move would be to trade Odom as soon as they receive him. Get a good young player or a collection of picks. And if LA leaves out even one part of this deal, turn it down. Don't deal KG for the sake of dealing KG.

NBA Draft Spotlight: Swignmen

Happy tuesday to you all! Apologies far and wide for my lack of a publication yesterday, but I got held up writing research papers. Is there anything more annoying and time-consuming than a research paper? Anything more frustrating? Within my time on this earth, I have yet to find it.
Today I'll shed some light on the 2 and 3s in the draft. I originally intended to cover 1 position a day, but again, I don't have the necessary time to do that anymore. So today will be the 2/3s, tomorrow the mammoths at power forward and center, and on Thursday I'll put up my own mock of the first 40 picks in the draft.

It's true that my time covering these events is limited. But nevertheless, I can't remember a forward who's intrigued me more than Kevin Durant. Durant is just a straight up stud. He's 6'10 and at 18 has plenty of time to grow even further. His wingspan is comparable to that of some Boeing models. He's the best shooter at either forward position since Dirk. Durant's an athletic marvel who can run up and down the court all day, and perhaps most importantly: He has the passion to win, and win now. All I've ever heard about Kev suggests that his lifelong dream, from the time he was a tyke, was to someday play in the big leagues. Therefore, despite bench pressing less than me, I think Durant has the ability to become a truly special player in this league-and I'm not talking KG special. The sky is the limit, and Durant could end up going up there with the Birds, Magics, and Jordans. Supersonics, I envy you this day.
Comparison: Dirk Nowitzki/Tracy McGrady. If he develops, he could actually be the best of both players. I'm entirely serious-he's got all the athleticism and fluidity of T-Mac and all the prowess, grit, and sniping ability of the Big German. The absolute worst case scenario? He'll be a borderline all star like Rashard Lewis.

Durant is far and away the top player at these two positions. But the second best is no slouch: Fellow small forward Jeff Green of Georgetown. He's a dude who does nearly everything well, and is a polished enough player to make an immediate impact in the association. Green's 6'9 but possesses ball handling skills far better than the norm for a man his size. He's also a terrific passer and possesses a developed post game. He's a smart player who's never been a detriment to a locker room. He exhibits a varied defensive game, being able to match up with most 2s and the majority of 4s. If he has a weakness, It's his mediocre shooting ability.
Comparison: Boris Diaw.

Defense wins championships. And those looking for it will turn to Florida's Cory Brewer. With outstanding athleticism, relentlessness, and experience, Brewer is the best defender in the entire draft. He's a winner along the same lines as Durant, and is as humble as they come. He does not yet possess the offensive game that would surely push him above the rest of the terrific forward cast, but could easily be the second best to translate to the league.
Comparison: More capable Josh Smith.

The next player on the list is a bit of a mystery. Al Thornton is no spring chicken as far as college players go. Thornton is an athletic marvel, wearing a 6'7 frame but displaying startling speed and leaping ability. The lithe duo-forward from Florida State is surprisingly raw for a player of his age, but he has his talents. While Thornton's shot is good, his greatest strengths lie in physical toools, and he translates these into a solid defensive game, good rebounding skills, and an ability to run the court endlessly. His basketball IQ is not enviable. However, his potential is very high. Comparison: Corey Maggette.

The first real shooting guard on the list is USC's Nick Young. He's a smart player who stands at 6'6 and 206, displaying average strength and speed for his build. His passing is mediocre, and his defense can be overly reckless. But Young wows people with his wingspan (7'0), leaping ability (44") and shooting ability. He is fearless and greatly confident, and his defensive versatility is terrific. He lacks the potential superstar factor evident in a lot of the previous mentions, but is a safe bet as a contributor for many years to come.
Comparison: Josh Howard, slightly lower upside.
Quite often, one will see players whose playstyle is completely out of whack with their size and role. Julian Wright is one of these players. He's guarded shooting guards, but displays a 9 foot standing reach. He can pass with the best of them, but his shooting is extremely suspect. Wright has lit up the stat sheets in many ways, and is reminiscent of a Kirilenko or Hughes in this aspect. He blocks, steals, scores (albeit not a well as some would like) and rebounds very well. It's probably the thing attribute stated more than any other; but Wright's greatest strength is his freakish athletic ability. His combination of strength and speed will take him farther than anything else. If his defense develops, he could become...
Comparison: Andrei Kirilenko.

I am a staunch opponent of stereotypes. But all too often, people will come along to justify the not necessarily unjustified. Rudy Fernandez, a Spanish guard, stands at 6'6 and weighs 172 pounds. He is a good shooter and is said to be very coachable and hardworking. His greatest weakness, other than being the embodiment of the walking beanpole, is a supposed lack of toughness. His offensive game is explosive and polished, and he displays a balanced inside-outside game. However, Fernanzed is still a 19-year old project, nothing more. If he spends more time around the weight bench and improves his defense he could
Compares with Manu Ginobli
. I know most wil label me a stereotyper as well for lumping together all skinny, explosive, raw Euro guys. But the skill resemblance is striking.

Oddly shrouded in mystery is the size of Daequan Cook. He is listed anywhere between 6'3.5 and 6'6. Obviously this causes some problems when evaluating Cook, but here is the information widely known. He is a shooting guard primarily and exclusively, lacking the ability to play the 1 or 3. While this may appear confining, Cook's skills may help him retain attractiveness to prospective teams. He is unfortunately raw and lacks the ballhandling abilities to dominate other guards one on one or run an offense. However, he's very quick for a 2 guard and has a vast amount of untapped potential. Some liken him to current Cavs dissapointment Larry Hughes. However, I think that, if he speculatively reaches most of his potential...
Compares with Jason Terry. The tweener build, the inconsistent defense, the mediocre ballhandling skills and the explosive feet. Give Cook time to refine his shot, and you get two distinctly similar players.

Honorable Mentions: Derrick Byars, Jared Dudley.

Mavs Factor:
Ah, again we turn the spotlight to everyone's favorite franchise! The team probably won't target a shooting guard with the 34th pick. However, listening to Norm throw out random completely unfounded ideas (Did anyone else hear his Larry Johnson 'rumor' today? Dream on...) apparently passes the trait to listener. Last week, he suggested a trade-up with Houston, the franchise inhabiting the 26th slot. It's very possible this guy will be gone by then, but if Marco Bellinelli is available It's not inconceivable that the deal is made. Alas, Bellinelli also adds to the stereotype constantly plaguing Euros: Raw, skilled, quick, lithe. He's a project with a lot of promise, one of the best players in Italy. His defining factor is his jump shot, which has some comparisg him to a lesser Ray Allen. I don't see him approaching that borderline superstar level, but he's certainly a player to keep an eye on as long as expectations are held off for several years.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

NBA Draft Spotlight: Quarterbacks.

Pleasant Sunday, valued readers! With the NBA Draft looming so quickly, I feel any time is a good time to discuss possibilities, probabilities, and potential. For every day this week I will break down one position, analyzing the strength and depth of talent available for that particular spot by, obviously, looking at the players likely to be chosen. We'll start with those who stand tall as midgets to their peers, yet would still appear quite large to most of us. The point guards!

This draft is often heralded as being an exceptionally strong one. Yet one of its few weaknesses lies in the lack of truly good quarterbacks available. Mike Conley Jr. tops the list, but the son of the renowned track and field star has many questions surrounding him. He's very quick, a good passer, and relentless. He's shown nothing to dissuade anyone from handing him the ball with a game on the line. Nevertheless, he is thought to be very raw, and most experts suggest that he should have waited several more years before declaring eligibility for the draft. His shooting leaves much to be desired, and at 6'1 he could be physically dominated by larger guards such as Baron Davis and Deron Williams. But he's the best there is this time around, and look for him to get taken in the top 10.
Comparison: Devin Harris, Higher Upside.

He didn't take his team to the final four, much less the finals. But Acie Law showed enough this past season to cement himself as a top college point guard. Law doesn't possess the terrific speed or passing skill of Conley, but he does everything well. His weaknesses are few, far between, and not exactly glaring. He can shoot, he can drive, he can pass, he can D up, and perhaps most importantly, he wants the ball when it matters and has the ability to force it into the hole. A&M's Star will slide because he's lacks Conley's ability to take over a game, but there's no way he gets past Miami at 20 (and could be selected as early as 10).
Comparison: Chauncey Billups/Jason Terry.

He's big. He's fast. He's got heart and ability. He's Javaris Crittenton of Georgia Tech, and follows in the Conley mode of game-changing athletes with a high risk factor due to their lack of experience. While not quite the speedster that Conley is, Crittenton makes up for it by being a full 4 inches taller. He possesses similar passing abilities, and is solid, although inconsistent, on the defensive end. His spot up shot leaves much to be desired, and he could have used a few more years at GT. Regardless, Crittenton will cause teams to twist and turn as they dwell on their point guard selection: The 6'5 pointguard with the physical tools, or the sure thing in Acie Law? It's too close to call at this point. In trying to find a fit for Javaris, I encountered a problem. Because while he could very well be...
Comparison: Steve Francis, he could also become
Just another toolsy athlete who fades into anonymity.
I'm in no way knocking him, but that's the plain fact of the matter. There's a large bust factor here, which is why I ranked Law higher.

While most believe Messrs. Crittenton and Law to be in a higher class, some would point out the talents of Rodney Stuckey. He's another in a crop of large point guards, and draws on his strength to push around his peers. Stuckey's a talented slasher and a good shooter, but his passing has been labeled as merely mediocre. His defensive talents are widely heralded, but there is doubt about his ability to keep up with NBA point guards on both ends of the floor.
It's tough to draw similarities to a player with only one year of NBA experience, but...
Comparison: Randy Foye

Oregon's Aaron Brooks shares a name with the NFL journeyman. Unfortunately for himself, that is what he may become in his own league. He's a shooting guard in the body of a very undersized 1(5'11,160), which automatically dismisses any consideration as a starter. What he could very well become is a team's sparkplug, what with his Earl Boykins-like quickness and shooting ability. He won't be able to guard very many players at the top level but should retain the ability to run around disrupting everything in his vicinity. But hey, those players can be valuable as well. Never underestimate a firestarter.
Comparison: Nate Robinson

Maverick Factor: Gabe Pruitt
Apologies to my interstate (or hopefully international!) readers, but the Mavs remain my primary focus. So I'll do a little piece on a player from that day's particular slot who may be a possibility. While some would look at Pruitt and scoff at me, saying that he's just a lesser Devin Harris, I think he's a different player. Harris is a slasher whose primary detriment is his shooting, Pruitt an unpolished but talented 3 point heaver.I wouldn't condone the pick, as I feel the future of the position lies in Devin Harris. But I think It's possible that Mavs management has mistakenly lose confidence in his development.
That's all for today, folks. Tomorrow we'll cover the shooting guard position.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The NBA Trade Spectrum

I realize that most readers are probably looking for an in-depth analysis of Sammy Sosa's lengthy stint with the Rangers, and how much his milestone means to the organization. But this Isn't going to be an endorsement for Sammy's Rangers HOF bid (More to come on that truly elite pedestal at a later point). In light of yesterday's NBA developments, I've decided to take a look at the most likely possibilities and impossibilities to occur in the next few months, weeks, or perhaps..... days? Read on!
(Placement on the list is based on a combination of star value and probability)
First and foremost, Kevin Garnett. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. The downward plunge of the Timberwolves is truly sad, because their superstar has battled tooth and nail to win the big one since coming into the league 12 years ago. Alas, he has nothing whatsoever to show for it. 1 playoff stay past the first round isn't necessarily impressive, and very understandably KG wants to take his immense talent elsewhere. However, in an astute decision he Isn't looking for a change simply for the sake of a new atmosphere. Vetoing the proposed deal that would have sent him to the Celtics was the right move; that situation would have been minimally better than the Wolves', if at all. Garnett has reportedly requested for a deal to be sprung with the Suns, and regardless of his desires it seems like the most likely possibility. Why? First: The Suns are bursting to make some changes. As most teams that exit from the playoffs do, they are overreacting; screaming doom and gloom. Secondly, there is a deal in place that would not only make sense fiscally, but as far as reasonable exchange is concerned. The deal most often discussed involves Shawn Marion and Boris Diaw. This would grant Minnesota two very nice players to build around for seven or eight years at the very least, in addition to shedding the attitudinal albatross that Garnett has become. The Lakers are a distant possibility, and the Bulls even more distant. The Mavericks and Rockets retain their pipe dreams.

Rashard Lewis. The city's soon-to-be savior idolizes him, he's coming off a terrific year, and the franchise finally has hope (due to said savior). But Lewis will very likely be moved during this offseason. Why? The Sonics are paying him 12 million dollars to play the same position and bring the same game to the table as Mr. Durant, and charming as their potential hookup may be, they, like every other franchise, would like to save money (See the story of the Tennessee Titans, Steve McNair, and Vince Young). The list of potential targets has been very murky, but if I had to pick the frontrunner as of today It'd be Houston. They are grasping at straws for anything that will get them past that proverbial first round barrier, and adding a hometown guy to fill a position of need would make some sense. I just don't know what they could give up to make it happen.

Zach Randolph. He's one of the top post players in all of basketball. He's in his mid-20s. He puts up 23 points and 10 rebounds every night. So what is it that compels the team with the first pick in this year's draft to shop him with such fervor? Hmm, let's see...
He's completely incapable of playing defense. He fails to display any sort of athleticism, has got a worrisome injury history and a massive contract to go along with off the field problems. These detriments don't detract from his great talent, but they certainly serve as a reminder to all those who may wish to pursue Randolph: Be wary.
Prediction: He stays in Portland. I really haven't the foggiest idea of where he would go, although his sizable contract presents the most likely hypothetical for a deal involving...

Kobe Bryant.
I retain my belief that I have a higher chance of contracting kryptonian powers of heat-vision and flight than Bryant has of being moved anytime soon. It's intrigue that lands him on this list, not any likelihood of occurrence. Chicago? They have nothing to compel the Lakers to deal. LA is looking for a superstar. Minnesota in a superstar swap? Lakers management would need to be afflicted with a permanent bout of insanity. Phoenix? Doubtful. It would take Stoudemire and Diaw, and I don't know if the Suns would do that. And all of you Devin Harris+Maurice Ager+DeSagana Diop+38 second rounders theorists-back in the basement, from whence you came! And never offer your bilge again! I feel silly even bringing it up, because the chances are none to... negative figures. But the deal that makes the most sense would involve aforementioned dual persona headcase/postpresence and the rights to Greg Oden. Why would LA do this? They get the most dominant big man coming out of college since Shaq and a very usable 4 to play beside him. Why would Portland? The star power Bryant brings would drive up their attendance, sales, viewership... hell, I'd expect free cookies at the entrance. Miracles shall come forth. They'd become immediate contenders for a home court spot-and for a very long time. You'd be matching up last year's ROY with the best player in the game and a solid, emerging 4.
That's it for today. Have a good-scratch that, awe-inspiring weekend unmarred by lawnmowing and family trips to the arboretum, but chock filled with apple pie and Silver Boot Baseball!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Jon Daniels gets Re-upped

Let me prelude today's piece by stating that I listened to Norm today. And if you, the reader, did the same, you will think that I am simply copying and pasting his audio into HTML format.
But bear with me here- I promise, no dad jokes today.
Daniels hasn't delivered this team to the promised land yet. He came herladed with tons of hype and endless optimism-but then again, Tom Hicks could have announced that I was taking over the team and recieved applause at that point, because the bottom line was that it resulted in the dismissal of local whipping boy John Hart. Daniels has exhibited a lot of the traits Hart seemed to lack: A willingness to make the big, risky transaction, the ability to add to a competitive squad during the middle of the season, and an openness with the general populace. But his reign has been marred with disasters like the Soriano deal and legendary debacles like the Young+Gonzalez switcheroo.
Nevertheless, I was very happy with the announcement of JD's extension. It's only one moer year, aye. But it gives Daniels the breath of fresh air he needed. He can no longer be leveraged against to make a deal he may not fully believe in for the sake of retaining his job, and may be content to sit on his assets rather than spending wildly (ala Caminiti, Galaragga, Chan Ho, Juando, Todd Van Poppel... and on and on). This is a wise decision because it keeps the club's future in mind, not the immediacy of reckless spending aimed toward motivating fans to purchase more tickets and Coors Lights.
In adddition, it brings stability to the organization. This is a very important facet in any management body, as is clearly evidenced by the Rangers' complete lack of ability to develop their own talent. Most attribute it to the fact that there's a new scouting director every year, and I really can't blame them. Consistency is key. Let Daniels learn on the job, and perhaps he can become your Dombrowski, your Minaya, your 90's Indians era Hart. Leave him hanging, and you are sacrificing your club's success. Plain and simple. Unless his performance has been consistency and unmitigatedly awful, keep the man around.
This uncharacteristic endorsement of actions committed by the Texas Rangers Baseball Association is not in fact a gesture of approval, nor a plea to the reader to purchase more of said vouchers or beverages whilst watching the product on the field. The writers and/or producers of this article share an opinion independent of Major League Baseball, inc. and its affiliates.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled afternoon browsing.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

NBA Draft-Winners and Losers

This is a topic that should have either been addressed several weeks ago, or within a period of several years. An integral part of good drafting, of course, is the ownership of good positions within said pool, with which one can employ the practice of good scouting to obtain the future of a franchise. So in many cases, histories are written on the back of draft lottery programs. However, scouting and foresight is just as big a part-hence, my suggestion of several years' hiatus pending a review. However... I lacked the presence of mind necessary to write extensively on the outcome of the ping-pong balls and therefore will do so now; in lieu of a time machine and with a desire to write about -cue Norm drop- Interesting Kids! So here, I present to you,
The Chronologically Out of Place NBA Draft Lottery Lucky List!

#1: Portland. It seems redundant to even say so.Portland somehow managed to procure the most coveted draft position since the year of King James whilst establishing themselves as a young team to be trifled with. They now have the rookie of the year playing shooting guard, one of the top post scorers in the league paying power forward, and an emerging talent in Tyson Chandler playing beside him. Oh yeah, and in case I neglected to mention as such- they're all youthful. Landing this draft pick is a dream come true- an occurrence which should turn turn them into a truly top team for the next 10 years. It would take a true buffoon to mess up this situation, and frankly I'm not too fearful for their sake-more for the rest of the league's sake. Adding Oden to the mix makes a lot more sense, as they are in need of a center far more than a forward. I'd put the odds at about 5:1 that they take him. Not a knock on Durant, but It's a position of need and-quite frankly- Oden's a 5. Durant isn't.

#2: Atlanta. I know what most are thinking. The top two in this draft are spectacular talents, beyond that the players are not perennial franchise cornerstones! But the reason I rank Atlanta this highly on the Four-Leaf-Clover list is the fact that they managed to procure a top pick, rather than surrendering it to Phoenix as part of that travesty of Joe Johnson signing. The Hawks will still manage to obtain a very, very serviceable piece here. Cory Brewer, Joakim Noah,Brandon Wright, Al Horford, Mike Conley, The-Chinese-dude-who-some-compare-to-Pau... you get the point. Slight hitch, however: If Atlanta has a strength It's the team's depth and talent at the forward positions. They've invested vast resources into those spots already, and a majority of the top talent this early beckons from that plateau. So if any team will trade their pick-It'll be Atlanta. Keep in mind they have another choice at #11, where maybe-just maybe- they could take Conley (But most likely will settle for Acie Law or Spencer Hawes). Much gratitude to the Hawks, though, for nabbing the #3 selection- Adding a fledgling prodigy to the Suns would have given the other 29 Association clubs endless nightmares.

#3: Seattle. Once you saw that Atlanta and Portland were already secured firmly in their places, I'm quite certain you didn't need Miss Chloe to predict the next team on the list. Seattle, very much like Portland, lucked into a superstar whilst putting a not-entirely-horrible team on the court. Sure, they had problems. Myriads of them. But bottom line, they've got Ray Lewis. They've got Rashard Lewis. They have tradable parts like Earl Watson and some salary cap wiggle room. They will now have the most talented shooting forward to come along since Dirk Nowitzki. Mark my words on this one- Seattle will be a prodigious force for years to come. And it will all be attributed to Durant-because he has it. He's not the guy who wants to be the first NBA millionaire (Hallo there, Bron-bron) nor the dude who changes his mind with variations of the weather (That's you, Mr. Laker wearing a number nearly identical to the King's). He just wants to play basketball-and look good doing so. He'll put up his share of 40 point games, but he won't gloat about them or walk away without an assist. But I digress... the Sonics are a bunch of lucky SOBs. This may be just the ticket to keep them in Seattle.

Nelson Muntz
: "Ha-Ha!"

#1: Phoenix. They weren't anywhere near the worst team in the league. So why are they bemoaning their fate? Because they lost out on a possible top 5 pick due to Atlanta-no pun intended- winning the lottery. While it is true that they receive an unconditional first rounder next year, the sense of immediacy that lingers due to Steve Nash's inevitable aging prompted Suns fans to cross their collective fingers-and utter collective profane statements. Getting an OJ Mayo next year would ease the pain, but... if he's not paired up with the conductor of the whole operation, they are not even breaking even. So bemoan your fate, Phoenix fans! I gloat in your sorrow and still shiver in realization of what nearly became a reality.

#2: Memphis. I shall refer to them by a new moniker: Team that tanked a majority of their closing games, A. The truly humorous part is that they were not the most erroneous perpetrators of this crime-that being our next entry. Back on track, though- they held the greatest probability of winning the jackpot. And instead, they dropped to... number four. That hurts. And if they trade Pau Gasol this offseason, It'll hurt a lot more. They could field a team as awful as Atlanta's '04-'05 squad (the same team that won less games than 3 NFL franchises that year). I am quite certain that Jerry West will be more than pleased to depart.

#3:Boston. Team that tanked a majority of their closing games... center stage, posing for that mugshot with David Stern casting a stern glare over its management....and inwardly gloating at their misfortunes. The franchise long known as the league's pride and joy went so far as to bench their top player whilst holding a second-half lead. A truer embarrassment to the collection of organizations we know as the NBA does not come to mind. Very fittingly, they got their just desserts. Projected to wind up with aforementioned highly hyped UT star Durant,they will now have to settle for a lesser forward. I feel very much justified in deviating from the norm-and in this case, not offering any words of consolation to the Celts. A well deserved streak of bad luck; and may it plague any others who throw games.

Honorable mention: Philly. The 76ers managed to drop (or is it rise? hrmm) to #12 despite fielding one of the worst teams I can ever recall seeing. I remember a game in which the Mavs played them last season-I had to see the extraordinarily exasperated but resigned to his fate coach on the sidelines to reassure myself that it wasn't a D-League team. They need help... badly. And It's a shame they didn't catch a break in a draft class this good.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Sob, people of Dallas. The city weeps with you this day.

Today marks the anniversary of the fateful game 3 in last year's NBA finals. with 6 and a half minutes to go, the Mavericks seemed to be an unstoppable juggernaut, beating the hapless, derelict Heat down as if they were cardboard in the way of a jackhammer. Then Dwayne Wade went ballistic, Gary Payton got lucky, and Dirk missed a free throw. And the Mavericks never recovered.
It was supposed to all be OK, because the Mavericks had retained a degree of intensity and competitive spirit all throughout the regular season, posting the 5th most regular season wins IN HISTORY. Then 67 wins go right out the window as Don Nelson and his Warriors topple Goliath, launching two deadly pebbles right at the skull of the giant that ended up proving fatal (Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson, for those who didn't follow the analogy). This will go down as the playoff defeat in NBA History.
Now that's just basketball. Let us turn to the great game of football, the barbaric sport practiced nearly exclusively in our fair land. The Cowboys were riding first class on the gravy train and it was going full steam ahead. Led by the best young quarterback in the game who happens to date Carrie Underwood, they were simply rolling; making some think of Peter King's preseason prediction of them in the super bowl as prophetic. Romo played fairly well in his first playoff game, and was poised to win it. He came onto the field to perform one of his more trivial duties; that of holding the ball for the field goal kicker. Then he did something he'd never done before. Not even in practice.
He fumbled the snap.
(OK, lots of innuendo material right here, refrain from the puns)
Oh yeah. And the Rangers are the worst team in Major League Baseball. But at least firing Buck Showalter and hiring Ron Washington has made the clubhouse a happy place where players can frolic in the sunshine amidst blooming flowers and artificial rainbows!

Weep, metroplex area sports fans. For recent history has been brutal. But know that good times lay ahead. Because that's how it always works.
At least that's how it usually works. The Rangers are screwed no matter what they do.
Excuse today's unusually short entry, it was meant to be a forum reply to a despondent Cavs fan and... degenerated into me spewing venom and hatred for fate.
Good night.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Additional Redundantly Early NFL Power Rankings: 6-10

Merry Tuesday, good readers! I present to you the product of limited labor and plenty of boredom.

#6: Denver Broncos. The wild stallions from the mile high city have decided that the time is ripe to add the final pieces to the puzzle. They've made some fairly significant additions in free agency, augmenting what was already a rock-solid squad. I was deeply shocked that this group didn't make the playoffs last year, and hoist the blame onto the slumping shoulders of Jake the Snake. Fortunes should improve this time around, but a lot of that is contingent on...
The X Factor: Jay Cutler. This is one of those guys who was so often proclaimed to be underrated that I fear he's become vastly overrated. I don't doubt that he can become a good NFL QB, but let's give it a bit of time. If he steps into the limelight and shines as so many seem to think he will, this team could be a super bowl contender. Otherwise... Expect this year to be no different than the last.

7: New Orleans Saints. The best feel-good story in decades was a resounding success, lasting until the NFC finals last season. This young squad is back in full and can't wait to show up the doubters. Many would label them just another one-year-wonder Cinderella story, but I choose to abstain from that crowd. Color me hoodwinked.
The X Factor: The Offense. I know, It's a broad spectrum. But the fact remains that the scoring came out of nowhere; and while It's very easily attributed to the emergence of Stars (i.e. Bres, Bush, Colston) who had not been on the team in previous years, I don't know if they can sustain it. I think so, I hope so, but there's a small part of me that still doubts this sudden meteoric rise.

8: Philadelphia Eagles. There are several cutoff points on this list: The first, teams with truly elite talent, ends with San Diego. The second, the really talented teams who also have a noticeable flaw, ended with New Orleans. The Birds from the City of Brotherly Shove begin a new one; teams that are mostly solid, but probably not super bowl contenders. Don't get me wrong: Philly is a very good squad. They're solid all around the board, especially showing their mettle late last season. But here's what worries me: All of that was piloted by Jeff Garcia. This team is going to...
The X Factor:Bank on Donovan McNabb to win its games, and frankly his recent history suggests that playing every day is no longer a strength. If he displays the consistency of super-bowl year Donovan, great. The NFC East should be in the bag. But if he does not, the team lacks the capable backup to manuever them around the final stretch.

9. Cincinatti Bengals. The feline lords are an exciting bunch; one reminiscent in almost every way to the Colts of four or five years ago. You've got your stud quarterback, the consistent RB, the lead wideout and the very good #2. Unfortunately, they also duplicate those Colts' lack of defensive presence. The blame partly lies at thee feet of players' off-field conduct, sometimes I think there are more Bengals defenders in county prison than off it.

The X Factor: Act like a bunch of human beings. The team is hugely talented, it just needs to find a way to keep everyone away from the cells. If the players can somehow be inspired to act like good samaritans, they can go far.

#10: Dallas Cowboys. Call me a homer, I've certainly been guilty of the crime in the past. I believe that these Cowboys can do some fairly special things if things pan out. I see a situation very much like Denver's. A talented team that's addes some pivotal pieces and will come to depend on their young, untested quarterback to lead them through the year. Wade Phillips' Defense should result in a lot more big plays, both for the defense itself and the other team. I'm optimistic as to the end result, however.- probably because I saw, scared, undisciplined play out of these bunch when they were coached by the Tuna. The cowgirls will depend on, as I stated....
The X Factor: He was Captain America, Part II during his first five or six games. Then everything fell apart on the football field. He started throwing interceptions left and right, getting sacked, making bad decisions. He fared fairly well during the playoff game against the Seahawks... until that fatal mishap with the Grammatica field goal. Nevertheless, I still have faith that Tony can lead us out of the wasteland and into the promised land. And Carrie Underwood is... err, very talented.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Trade Review on a Monday!

I know, I'm not adhering to my own policies. Thursday is rerun day. But this weekend's Mil-Tex series afforded too great an opportunity to pass up. Here's a short rundown of what went down in that particular deal. Around trading deadline time,the Rangers had been hovering slightly above five hundred for the majority of the year, and holding their own in the AL West. They therefore went out and acquired the top bat available, Carlos Lee, and another outfielder, young Nelson Cruz. In return, Milwaukee got former top closer turned unsuccessful setup man Fransisco Cordero, mediocre outfielder Kevin Mench, and former blue chipper waylaid by injuries Laynce Nix.
Lee went on to play well for the Rangers for the remainder of the year, and Cruz hung out in the outfield sometimes and looked pretty. Mench did the same thing he had been doing for the Rangers; hit .280 or so with mediocre power. Nix sat on the disabled list and played Xbox. But Cordero reemerged as a top closer for the Brew Crew.At the end of the year, Carlos Lee bolted for the Houston Astros and their 100 million dollar offer sheet. The Rangers received the 17th and 44th (I believe) picks in this draft as compensation, which they used on starter Blake Beavan and reliever Neil Ramirez.Fast forward to this season:
CoCo Cordero had been absolutely flawless until this weekend. He had given up ONE run all year-yes, one, count it-and converted all 22 of his save opportunities, striking out 35 hitters within that span. Mench and Nix did their thing, continuing to operate in mediocrity and inactivity, respectably. And Nelson Cruz has struggled mightily, commencing in being sent to Oklahoma a week ago. All this prompted many to endlessly rip on Jon Daniels for this trade.
But then this weekend happened.
A lot of the apologists, myself included, contended that trading Cordero was the right move, reasoning that he was simply incapable of pitching in this ballpark; whether it had something to do with the park's dimensions or with a psychological aversion to throwing a decent slider here. And I think that this weekend series proved those of us correct.
Cordero got the save opportunity on Saturday night. He came into the game leading 3-0 and retired the first two hitters without any problem. He then would go to two strikes on the NEXT FIVE HITTERS, eventually surrendering four two-run outs to blow the save in dramatic fashion. And this is the man who had given up ONE, UNO, ECHAD run all year long. And as if this were not enough, he came into last night's game and blew another save, surrendering a ninth inning run to Marlon Byrd (the same hero of Saturday's game).
The man simply cannot pitch here.
I don't doubt that Cordero has been absolutely dominant everywhere else he's played. And I know that Carlos Lee bolted after 2 months here. But you cannot blame Jon Daniels one bit for making the move, seeing as Cordero was simply not going to be a successful pitcher for this team. So let's run down the deal once more:
Middle of the order slugger,2 months
Talented young outfielder who can't seem to produce, immediate future
Blake Beavan
Neil Ramirez
Top closer, immediate future
Mediocre Outfielder
Oft-injured ineffective young centerfielder.
I know it sounds cliche, but only time will tell. As far as total production, the nod certainly goes to Mil. But I can certainly understand Daniels' reasoning for pulling the trigger, and if Beavan and Ramirez develop... well.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Unneccessarily Preiliminary NFL Power Rankings

In lieu of a philosophy revealing draft or big-time trade rumors of any significance, I've decided to fall in line with the cool kids and predict the regular season success of every franchise several months before the onset of training camp. Bite me, those who choose to wait and make logical speculation! I'm wild, crazy, and raring for some football!
This will be conducted in the usual fashion for this kind of thing; I'll be working my way from the top down at the rate of five teams a day. Enjoy!

#1: Indianapolis Colts. Some cite the fallout super bowl teams are so very prone to. Others would point to free agent losses like Dominic Rhodes, or the complacency of a team that's done everything there possibly is to do. But I look at this team and I see Peyton Manning, the ultimate competitor. I see a defense featuring many players in their prime, back nearly whole. And I therefore see a team that will very likely post the bet record in the league. Prediction:13-3

#2: New England Patriots. The team's gone in an entirely different direction, redefining what everyone thought was true about Boston's Brady Boys. Bill Bellichick's team, signing top free agents! Trading for headcases! Drafting college brawlers! My gut tells me that the genius who was Bill Parcells' primary disciple will handle it all with his usual aplomb; however, I'm still worried about what could theoretically happen the first time Randy Moss offers Tom Brady a snort in the locker room, prompting Brandon Merriweather to take a swing at the two of them and Adalius Thomas to show off his paycheck and mutter something about the disabled list. Prediction: 13-3

#3: San Diego Chargers. The most dynamic, young, exciting team in the league underwent major changes this offseason without losing a single significant player to free agency. How? The coaching staff was stripped bare from the top down. The headcoach, both coordinators; hell, I think they even had some position coaches bolt (No pun intended, my apologies). The team will be different with Norv Turner running it. The former OC savant is in awkward position; on one hand he'd have to be unequivocally awful to have a bad season with this team, and on the other anything short of 14 wins will be considered a failure. I'll be very interested to see what direction this franchise takes. Prediction: Prediction:12-4

#4: Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens are old. The Ravens are old school. The Ravens can't score. Regardless, the Ravens still maintain enough of their dominant Super Bowl Defense to compete in any game they get themselves into, and their stellar offensive line paves the way for what should be another fairly successful running game. Willis McGahee wil help them loads if healthy, and the only thing to watch for is the inevitable decline of mainstays like Ray Lewis and Jonathan Ogden. Prediction:12-4.

#5: Chicago Bears. Da Ursines are back without sustaining much damage. They dealt lead back Thomas Jones in a move that really does puzzle me-the only justification here is the "Former Top 5 Pick!" sticker on Ced Benson's back. Much like the Ravens, you can always depend on the D's consistency while sighing endlessly at the pitiful passing attack. If I were generally managing this squad I would have made it my priority to sign Jeff Garcia; but alas, I'm just an unemployed guy with a blog. They'll be the top team in the startlingly mediocre NFC yet again, and yet again the most exciting player on the team lacks a real position. (Hint, his name is Devin) Prediction:12-4.

Friday, June 8, 2007

The Revealing Nature of the Ranger Selections

The Rangers were presented with an opportunity yesterday that is nearly unprecedented. By allowing everyone of value to walk this past offseason, they acquired quite the crop of early picks. This crop consisted of five picks in the first 54-and just to punctuate further the amount of picks brought in by other clubs, the Rangers gave up their own first rounder (#16) when they signed Frank Cattalanatto from the Blue Jays.
Jon Daniels and his staff know very well how integral this event is. The opportunity will not present itself again: A plethora of such early picks in a draft laden with talent is a rare thing. So when asked about the team's position on making selections as it pertains to the prospect's signability, Daniels insisted that he who holds the almighty checkbook had authorized substantial increases in the amount of bonuses handed out. The metroplex rejoiced.
Now, let me preface this by stating that I'm very pleased with every Ranger pick of a player I know remotely of. Blake Beavan, Mike Main, and Julio Borbon were all very solid based on their draft position. Beavan and Main are top 10 or 15 talents and Borbon was a definite first rounder and projected in the top 25.
However, there was talent available definitely superior to those three guys. Let me run this possibility by you:
With the 17th pick in the MLB draft, the Texas Rangers select Blake Beavan
With the 24th pick in the MLB draft, the Texas Rangers select Rick Porcello.
With the 35th pick in the MLB draft, the Texas Rangers select Matt Harvey.
Porcello is the concensus top high school pitcher since Josh Beckett. Harvey is comparable if not better than Beavan. I'm a serious Beavan fan, not only for the feel-good factor of selecting a guy who is truly homegrown, but for his tremendous cockiness and competitive spirit. But many have displayed qualms about his mechanics, his command, and the fact that he only really throws two pitches-which however dominant they may statistically appear at the high school level, will need to come up a notch for him to join the ranks of successful two-pitch MLB starters.
The only one that comes to mind is some guy by the name of Randy Johnson.
But, back to the Rangers philosophy. Main and Borbon were both very solid picks at their respective positions. But Porcello is a VERY serious talent. The Tigers cannot believe their luck on this day-they've augmented the best crop of young pitchers out there with another stud. The Rangers balked on the selection because of one obvious mitigating factor: He is a Boras client. The same theme runs true for Mr. Harvey.
Shame on you, Tom Hicks. Shame on you for pinching pennies during a desperate situation. Shame on you for spreading misinformation to the masses. And shame on you and your front office for refusing to discuss your failure to adhere to your personal philosophy.
I hope with all my heart that Beavan, Main, Borbon, and every other Ranger selection of significance rises to the big league level and develops into a superstar. I'm a fan of the franchise, and I am true blue. Your awful management cannot dissuade me from liking my team. But I will not allow you to make a single penny because of me. I won't buy your tickets ticket, I won't pay for your TV packages, I won't even buy an effing baseball card. Not until you decide that the time for change is ripe.
And I dissuade every reader to adhere to the same philosophy. Fight thrift with thrift.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Rerun Thursday Is Back!

In a day dominated by the MLB draft, I find myself constrained by my promise to review the AJ Pierzinsky deal. Curse me for making promises ahead of time without recalling events that are scheduled to occur. But no matter, we'll go over that first thing tomorrow!
OK, back to business. Dateline: November 14, 2003. Brian Sabean is sitting in his office pondering the situation of his franchise. He sees a team that is, for lack of a better term, archaic. His squad is also focused around satisfying one man, that being Big Bat Barry. Regardless of these deficiencies, the team was literally a hair's breadth of contact on a filthy K-Rod fastball away from a world title. Sabean's catcher, Benito Santiago, is retiring at the tender age of 38 despite stellar play during the previous season. He fit in well with the other senior citizens donning their Giants uniforms, but decided Miami was a better place to live out his years. The GM obviously felt pressured to at least hold ground in that position, and searched for a catcher to fill the newfound void.
Meanwhile, Terry Ryan is watching a young, underfinanced team work its magic in an inconspicuous AL central. Help is on the way, as top prospects like Jason Kubel, Justin Mornaeu, and Joe Mauer are making their way up. But Terry Ryan also realizes that there's no harm in adding to the stockpile, and his revelation coincides with Sabean's dilemma. Hey, you know what I have? A .300 hitting catcher in his prime with a reasonable expiring contract and a hot head! What a perfect short-term solution for a shortsighted fool!
Ryan could have picked one major prospect, like the highly mediocre Jerome Williams. However, he saw a several players within the organization that he felt were very undervalued. The first was Joe Nathan, who had put in a successful stint in the bullpen but for some reason or another was viewed as easily replacable. The second was Boof Bonser,a first round pick fallen out of style. And the last was an unknown commodity, a throw-in guy with a high ceiling but little chance of developing it. Let's call him Fransisco Liriano.
AJ Pierzinsky acted in his typical mercenarial way, playing one decent year for San Fransisco and bolting to the Chicago White Sox. The Giants had a respectable year but fell short of their '02 mark, losing to the trophy-destined Marlins in the NLDS.
The Twins are still in control of all 3 players they acquired. Joe Nathan is one of the very best closers in the game, possibly the most consistent there has been since Mariano Rivera had a fastball.
Boof Bonser is now pitching in the big leagues. He's pitched 168 innings over these past two seasons, posting a 4.18 ERA and striking out 163. He's an asset any team would love to have: a 26-year old #2 starter.
Fransisco Liriano got his callup last season and emerged in a whirlwind, dominating major leaguers left and right. His stuff is very likely the very best in the entire MLB:His repertoire features a high nineties fastball with movement, allegedly the best slider in the game, and a changeup comparable to the one thrown by the best pitcher in the game, teammate Johan Santana. He's had a major setback lately, requiring Tommy John surgery that renders him incapable of playing this entire season. However, expect him back next season and with a vengeance. This is a true blue chip #1.
Brian Sabean's complete ignorance in all things trade becomes clearly evident. He dealt a proven young bullpen arm, a first round pick, and a pitcher with incredible upside for a 1-year rental of a catcher who was merely decent during his time in San Fran.
Advantage.... I'm not sure. It's hard to decide between the Minnesota Twins and THE ENTIRETY OF THE NATIONAL LEAGUE.
Or out.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

NBA Free Agency Crystal Ball, part 2

Hello again, and merry tuesday. My apologies for the delays during this past week, I got bogged down by various assignments. But no matter-let us proceed to the subject at hand.
#3:Rashard Lewis, SF,27,Sea. The common attribute between the best free agents available this year is the fact that they are all opting out of existing deals. Lewis could make 22 million dollars over the next two years, and as I stated in my article a short time ago, will probably not make much more elsewhere. But his slot on the squad will be filled by incoming superstar Kevin Durant. (For an in-depth analysis on the Lewis dilemma, see
Bottom line: Lewis will likely be resigned to a 4 or 5 year deal at 10-12 mil and traded to a team looking for that missing link. (My prediction at this point: Houston) There's an off chance that one of the teams with ample cap space goes after him, and a decision of that variety would make more sense for him than any of the other top guys, seeing as he is only 27. But i still don't see it happening.
For the sake of filling up space and adding a snazzy graphic, here is another widget. Speaking of widget, isn't that a great word? It somehow brings to mind a mallet while also being the sort of thing you'd call a pet hamster.
#4: Gerald Wallace, swingman, 25, Char. Wallace is virtually anonymous, shocking when you consider his accolades this past year. Indulge in his little e-card, if you would.
Keep in mind he's also widely regarded as a defensive force, and you have a Josh Howard clone here. Needless to say a 25 year old who plays all-out with success on both ends of the court should be a real commodity. I don't see Charlotte letting him go, but if they do the ensuing bidding war could be fierce-expect a max deal for five or six years.
#5: Mike Bibby, PG, 29,Sac. Bibby was once held in renown as one of the very best point guards in the NBA, and frankly I don't see why so many have leapt hastily off the bandwagon. The man didn't put up mind-boggling stats last year, but I attribute that to the fact that his team is woeful more than anything else. Bibby is a team player and one who has remained true to his skills and consistent throughout the entirety of his career. Perhaps I'm a bit biased in his favor based on the constant whippings he gave Stevie Nash in Mavs-Kings matchups in the days of old. But those games notwithstanding, I hold him in high regard. As little as they have behind him at the 1, I still expect the rebuilding Kings to allow him to walk and try to tread water with another young project. In this case, one of the cap-flexible teams should pull the trigger.
Alow me to present Mike Bibby dribbling on the open court.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

NBA Free Agent Preview

Hello there, and happy Monday to you all. Whilst the hype machine that is constantly and irrevocably following Lebron James has shaken the basketball landscape and thereby obscured everything else, I decided to hide mine eyes from the horrible spectacle of an NBA finals without my Mavvy Mavs, and instead concentrate on something more palatable...
Making a list! And checking it repeatedly!
OK, maybe in this case not much backtracking is needed. But either way... I digress. One of the things I really like about the association is its knack for getting all of its dealings done within as compressed a period as possible. It's the only sport I can bring to mind in which some of the off season dealings are conducted in the middle of the playoffs. Yes, draft lottery, we're looking your way and hope to raise enough protest to force your dismissal sometime very soon. The draft itself is conducted less than two weeks after the final trophy presentation; which from one end of the spectrum gives the coaching staff and front office limited time to scout players; but from another end allows the league to maintain some attention directly following their last game. Free agent negotiations begin a mere pittance later, on July the first (Although signings are not official until eleven days later).
So what I've done here is gone through all the lists; examined all the players who may or may not be technically restricted or free to negotiate with teams other than their current franchise within a certain period of time allowing that a lucrative financial deal is on the table. I've ranked them in order of significance; the higher the player's quality, the more prominently he will feature onto the top of the list.
#1: Chauncey Billups,31,PG,Det. This is a sticky situation that I could see developing several different ways. First, the situation:
Billups has an option for the coming year at a meager 6-7 million; he will obviously decline this. However, most hold strongly to the belief that the Pistons will retain their point guard, signing him to a nice long offer sheet worthy of his contribution to the franchise. However... I have a slight hunch that the unceremonious beating Det was handed by the fledgling Cavs squad may complicate matters.
As things stand, only five teams are under the cap: the hapless Hawks, the New Orleanhoma Hornets, da Bulls, the fierce but unenviable felines from Charlotte, and the far more dangerous Raptors from the country up north. I personally don't think any of these would display significant interest in signing Billups for 13-14 million a year outright. So what seems likely is either the Pistons resigning him for that sum, or... outside chance...
the Pistons decide that their horrible conference final is a herald of things to come and blow the whole thing sky-high; in doing so, deal Billups for whatever they can get. As I said, It's an outside chance. But a possibilty nonetheless, especially considering that teams even better than them (Phoenix, for instance) have vowed to make major changes.

#2: Vince Carter,30,SG,NJ. Vince can't share. Vince doesn't care. Vince is quickly losing hair. But regardless of these faults, Carter remains a dynamic scorer who could be potentially attractive to many teams in need of that player they believe to be the missing link. Personally, I think he'd be making a mistake by opting out of the 16 million dollars he's owed this season. But Obviously, It's his prerogative. Not mine. A is the situation with Billups, however, he is not a young player. While not necessarily in decline, he's reached his upside already. None of the four aforementioned teams with cap space should go after him; the Raptors would make slight sense if not for the fact that he began his career there and demanded a trade. My prediction? He gets a three or four year extension for fourteen million or so to stay in Jersey. (As with Billups, there is an outside chance of a sign and trade, however unlikely).

That does it for the top two, more to come tomorrow!