Wednesday, February 18, 2009
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Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Now we are certain that this is a good team, that can combine fantastic defense of the past few seasons with a more balanced, efficient offense. In fact, the Illini sit in second place in the Big Ten with 21 wins against 5 losses. This is great for Illinois fans; so great that they may be overlooking something fans are typically very wary of: a lack of respect.
A lot of the teams ahead of the Illini are very good, and it's hard to argue for one over the other, but a couple things stand out when you take a look at the top 25. First, Illinois has one more loss than Missouri, yet the Illini beat the Tigers earlier in the year at a neutral site by 16 points. Mizzou also stacks their resume with losses to Kansas State and Nebraska. Nebraska!
The second problem I have is that Michigan State is ranked so damn far ahead of the Illini. They're number five! Michigan State is a good team, probably the best in the Big Ten, but they aren't top five good if Illinois is out of the top 15. We're talking about a team that lost by 22 to Maryland, lost by...wait for it...35 to North Carolina in Detroit, and lost to Penn State and Northwestern at home. They beat two Big 12 teams that are both ranked below Missouri, and aside from the two terrible losses have been solid in conference play, including a six point win in East Lansing against the Illini.
Illinois' schedule is not as tough as Michigan State's according to RPI numbers, but a close loss to Clemson and a win over Missouri look as good as anything on MSU's out of conference resume.
I'm not saying Illinois is better than Michigan State, and I wouldn't dare put out my own version of the top 25 because somehow I've become a cynical college basketball fan that thinks there are only a few good teams in the country, but all of this information leads me to the conclusion that either Michigan State and Missouri are severely overrated, or because they have exceeded the "experts'" expectations, Illinois has become the victim of a blatant lack of respect.
Even though he seems to understand baseball, there are still a few questionable moves he has made. Foremost among those was his insistence that Soriano lead off. It appears that he is finally starting to budge on that one:
Cubs manager Lou Piniella has stuck by Alfonso Soriano as his leadoff man the last two seasons but on Monday said he may drop the left fielder down in the order. Piniella said he talked to Soriano at the Cubs Convention about it. One reason for the switch is that Soriano doesn't run as much as he used to.I will just ignore that comment about how he doesn't run like he used to (running is overrated and in fact can be detrimental to the team if the success rate is not very high, it is also almost completely irrelevant to the effectiveness of a leadoff man). While he is not a terrible leadoff man, his numbers are clearly not conducive to getting on base, the most important thing from a leadoff man. It's not that he is bad at it, he actually had a .344 OBP last season. The thing is that he has a high slugging percentage at .532 which makes him far better suited to the 3, 4, 5, or even 6 spot in the lineup. On top of that, there are 7 everyday players that have a higher OBP than Soriano: Johnson, Lee, Soto, Ramirez, Theriot, Fontenot and...the player everyone loves to hate...Fukudome! Yes all 7 of those players had better OBPs. I don't hate Soriano, but I do hate him in the leadoff spot. Hit him 5th or 6th and have a Theriot, Fontenot, Johnson, or, dare I say it, Kosuke, lead off. Make it happen Lou.
And yes, I'm just as excited as you that baseball is almost here.
President Barack Obama will be in the Phoenix area this week and a Chicago sports franchise has taken notice. Did the Bulls ask him to put in a good word to help get Amare to Chicago? Do the Cubs want him to hit in the leadoff spot? Come on now, we know this is going to be about those creepy Obama-stalking White Sox, who invited Obama to check out their new training facility. Hard to pass that up!
I get that Obama is a White Sox fan and that's fine; cool for the White Sox even. However, the Sox are starting to look like the girlfriend of the NBA star that just got into the league. She doesn't realize her man is busy now, and frankly isn't paying as much attention. I'm not saying Obama doesn't care about the White Sox anymore, that's his team, just quit inviting him everywhere.
First it was to come and throw out the first pitch on opening day. That's a great idea, but it seems like every couple of weeks I'm reading that the offer still stands. You don't say? Don't stop reminding. Now they want him to tour the new training facility. Unless Ozzie is interrogating suspected terrorists there, it's hard to imagine any interest.
A rant against the White Sox here might be a little premature, but with four or five announcements since the election, it might be time to scale back on the public invitations. It's nice to show him you're still interested, but left unchecked this ends with Kenny Williams calling the White House switchboard and hanging up before making a scene on a public tour.
**Update: Now the Cubs are getting in on the act. Seriously Chicago teams, enough President stalking, he doesn't want to visit your shitty winter homes!
- Everyone knows about Amare Stoudemire. The deal that most news outlets are reporting has the Bulls shipping out Gooden's expiring deal, Tyrus Thomas, and another player, possibly Noah, Thabo or both. Picks would also be involved in this deal. This deal was a fact until about 24 hours ago, when people started reporting that the deal was basically dead, because the Suns were taking Amare off the table. That seems like something of a negotiating ploy by Kerr to try to get more for Stoudemire, but it's possible that the coaching switch has changed the mindset of the Phoenix management.
- Just last night, a new wrinkle was thrown into a possible Amare deal. Apparently there is a three-way trade being discussed that would send Amare to Toronto, Bosh to Chicago, and a bevy of young players and picks to Phoenix. I'm not sure why Phoenix would be more interested in this than just the straight up swap with the Bulls. It seems like they would be getting back similar pieces. Maybe the Suns just want to help out their friend and old GM Colangelo?
- Some sources are reporting that the Bulls have made an offer for either Chris Kaman or Marcus Camby. It is unclear whether this is a deal that might happen with the Amare deal or instead of the deal. It is also unknown what the Bulls were offering.
- And of course, what would a report on Bulls trades be without the latest Sam Smith nonsense. I love this one. Apparently he believes the Jazz have interest in Kirk Hinrich and would send Boozer to the Bulls to get him. I know they are trying to get something in return for Boozer before his contract expires, but I just don't see how Hinrich pairs well with Deron.
- Jeff Garcia is a free agent now. Could the Bears be a candidate for his services?
- A couple of sources "close to the situation" in Phoenix say that it looks like Amare is staying put.
- Jesse "The Body" Ventura wants Bud Selig to be indicted, similar to Vince McMahon, for his role in the steroid problem in baseball. I'd settle for fired.
- Brewers fans drop the knowledge.
- Number One goes down again in college basketball as DeJuan Blair thoroughly outplayed Thabeet in Pitt's 76-68 win.
- The Illini jump to #18/16 in the polls. Big game tonight as Michigan State travels to Purdue.
- Will Buehrle retire after the 2011 season? He's considering it; but why are we? It's a little premature.
- I was going to post this yesterday, but I finally found the video of Tim Floyd going nuts on Sunday night. It was an awful call.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Illinois streaked to a 21 point lead in the first half, but saw Indiana claw back to within six with just over six minutes remaining. While Illinois' offense slipped into a "road mode" that is easily identifiable by a lot of passing around the perimeter and taking buzzer-beaters against the shot clock, Chester Frazier was gearing up for a run. Frazier hit a huge three to put Illinois up nine, then made a layup with about two minutes left to make it a 12 point Illini advantage.
Frazier finished the game with nine points, seven rebounds and seven assists; not a bad offensive night for a defensive guy. Mike Davis had another double-double with 16 and 10, and Tisdale chipped in with 16 of his own.
Illinois moves to within a game and a half of Michigan State for the conference lead and the Spartans travel to Purdue on Tuesday. The Illini will play host to Penn State Wednesday, a game that looks tougher every time Penn State plays, then travel to Ohio State Sunday.
I know of no one that could have told me with a straight face that Illinois would be 21-5 right now. It has truly been a remarkable season for the Illini and the goal now has to be to build momentum and secure a top four seed for the NCAA tournament.
#28--Gordan Beckham (SS) Chicago White SoxI don't get how this works. Does Samardijza still count as a prospect? I guess he would need a full season in the Majors to be ineligible for this list. Without him the Cubs have only 1 player in the Top 100. One. They better win soon, because the future may not be so bright.
#34--Josh Vitters (3B) Chicago Cubs
#74--Aaron Poreda (LHP) Chicago White Sox
#85--Jeff Samardijza (RHP) Chicago Cubs
#99--Brandon Allen (1B) Chicago White Sox
- Signed 38-year old Scottie Pippen (Summer 2003)--Much fanfare but lacked any real impact.
- Traded Jalen Rose for Antonio Davis (Late 2003)--A good move, selfish players under the old guard had to be shipped out. Though Davis was not extremely effective on the court, he was a great locker room presence that would be necessary with all the young impressionable players Pax would later bring in.
- Fired Bill Cartwright/Hired Scott Skiles (Late 2003/Early 2004)--This was one of his best moves as GM. The players were tuning out Cartwright and Skiles would lead the team to its first playoff berths in years.
- 2004 Draft Class (Summer 2004)--This was hailed as one of the best drafts ever (though perhaps that verdict came in before all the facts had been heard). Gordon, Deng, Nocioni and Duhon all were drafted by Paxson, and all contributed to various degrees.
- Traded Curry and Davis for Sweetney, Tim Thomas, and draft picks (Fall 2005)--The picks would later turn into Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah. This trade inspired the famous Bulls blog "Thank You Isaiah" for the perception that Pax had completely fleeced the Knicks GM.
- Drafted Tyrus Thomas and Thabo Sefolosha (Summer 2006)--While LaMarcus Aldridge (whom Pax traded to get TT) has been very good offensively, TT is a better rebounder and defender and it is still unclear whether this was a good move. If Pax can somehow convince the Suns to take TT for Amare, then it will make the pick look like a huge success.
- Signed Ben Wallace (Summer 2006)--Paxson's first (and only) big free agent signing was a complete bust. Wallace was over the hill and his contract continues to tax the team's salary cap situation to this day.
- Didn't trade for Pau (Early 2007)--Was it really possible that this trade was even offered? And if so was it really Pax who wouldn't pull the trigger, or did Reinsdorf not allow Pax to deal Deng for Pau? No one will ever know.
- Drafted Joakim Noah (Summer 2007)--A decent pick at the spot he was drafting. The second year player is showing signs of life, but it is too early to tell.
- Fired Scott Skiles (Late 2007)--It had to be done. The team was completely tuning him out and the defensive intensity that had identified the Bulls under Skiles was all but gone.
- Traded Ben Wallace For Larry Hughes and Drew Gooden (Early 2008)--This was a move that traded one team cancer (Wallace) for another (Hughes). The fact that he got Gooden out of the deal makes it a winner, but none of this would have been necessary if he hadn't flopped on the Wallace signing.
- Drafted Derrick Rose (Summer 2008)--Though there was never much doubt that Pax would take Rose over Beasely, so far it appears it was a win-win situation, as both rookies are playing well. Although they are both good, Rose appears to have the potential to be one of the premiere point guards in the league.
- Hired Vinny Del Negro (Summer 2008)--Really? Vinny Del Negro? I'm still shocked by this hire and Vinny has done nothing to prove he has what it takes to coach at this level (or any level). It's hard to blame this one on Pax though. He wanted to hire D'Antoni but Reinsdorf purposely tanked the deal leaving Pax scrambling for a 2nd or 3rd choice.
- Chicago's landmark ordinance may be in trouble, and the results of the battle may affect Wrigley Field.
- See you later Mike Brown. The way the market works these days, I'm sure someone will take a flyer on him. The Bears lose a leader, but he just couldn't seem to stay healthy.
- Is Tyrus Thomas really playing that much better lately? TYI thinks not, and makes a convincing argument for getting Amare.
- Moneyball has finally made it's way to basketball, and it's very interesting to see how it's being used by guys like Shane Battier.
- Did I forget to mention the All-Star game? Probably because I fell asleep halfway through. The West won I guess.
- Illinois rolls Indiana. They made a little run in the second half, but this IU team is clearly still light years away from competing in the Big Ten.
- Lou likes Sean Marshall as the leader right now in the 5th starter competition.
- Derrick Rose dominated the skills challenge on Saturday night. God-willing we have our first all-star in over a decade next year.
- Is John Tait going to retire? The Bears O-line is such a disaster.
- Skeets ranks the dunks from the dunk contest on Saturday. While Robinson's kryptonite dunk over Howard was the best overall dunk, the best actual dunk (theatrics aside) was Howard's off the side of the backboard dunk. GMTR thinks Robinson is overrated as a dunker in general.
- A great story about Jay Mariotti being a complete douchebag at NBA All-Star weekend.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Yeah, that's braille. But let's not make a big deal out of this, ok? It's just so that all the blind umps make sure they go in the right doors.
11:00 AM [NCAAB] Georgetown at Syracuse - ESPN
12:00 PM [NCAAB] UCLA at Arizona - CBS
12:30 PM [NCAAB] Minnesota at Penn St. - BTN
2:30 PM [NCAAB] Kansas at Kansas State - ABC
3:00 PM [NCAAB] Purdue at Iowa - BTN
3:00 PM [NCAAB] Cincinnati at Pitt - ESPN
4:00 PM [NCAAB] Memphis at S. Miss - CBS
*4:00 PM [NBA] Inside The NBA with H-O-R-S-E (G-E-I-C-O) - TNT
*7:00 PM [LIFE] Valentine's Day - Don't forget to set your DVR!
*7:00 PM [NBA] Dunk Contest, Skills Challenge, 3-Point Shootout - TNT
*7:30 PM [NHL] Stars at Blackhawks - WGN
*12:00 PM [NCAAB] Illinois at Indiana - CBS
1:00 PM [NCAAB] Michigan at Northwestern - BTN
7:00 PM [NBA] NBA Allstar Game - TNT
Friday, February 13, 2009
Joe College from the Daily Herald relayed a story in which he overheard NBA scouts talking about Illinois' senior point guard. Obviously, the scouts weren't raving about Frazier's scoring ability or his jump shot. They actually were all agreeing that the test for whether a player can make it in the NBA is if he can score on Chester Frazier.
Of late, Big Ten players aren't exactly making the cut, or passing the Chester Test. Here's a rundown of recent victims:
- E'Twaun Moore (Purdue): 6 pts, 2-9 fg.
- Trevon Hughes (Wisconsin): 0 pts, 0-7 fg and 13 pts, 5-13 fg.
- Evan Turner (Ohio State): 4 pts, 2-7 fg.
- Kalin Lucas (Mich. State): 10 pts, 3-13 fg.
All four of those guys would surprise no one if they made 1st team All Big Ten. Turner's four point night against Illinois was his only single-digit performance since the first game of the entire season, and he is averaging about 23 points per game in his five outings since Frazier shut him down.
We praise McCamey for his scoring, Meacham for his shooting, and Tisdale for his pure awesomeness, but Frazier is at best a "look who also played well" when it comes to a game recap. He gets his four rebounds and five assists, with at most one turnover and we give him the golf applause. It's time for more Frazier love. The guy is invaluable to Illinois.
And as Joe College points out, he absolutely deserves to be the Big Ten Defensive POY. If not, at least he has a future playing one-on-one at some NBA scouting combine; or, you know, that magic thing.
1. Chase Utley 2B Phillies - Far away the best offensive 2B in baseball, Utley is somewhat of a ? this season, as no one is really sure when he will be able to return from off-season hip surgery. The three time All Star has been saying that he might be ready by opening day if he is able to avoid any setbacks, but a late April/mid May return is more likely. Even with Utley missing a month of ABs, the case can be made for him to be the first 2B selected off the board - in 2007 when he played in only 132 games, he still put up a line of 104 R, 22 HR, 103 RBI, 9 SB, and a .332 AVG.
2. Ian Kinsler 2B Rangers - If Kinsler doesn't get hurt last season, there's a good chance he finishes the year in the top 10 overall players in fantasy. At 26, he's just now hitting his prime and as long he can stay healthy, should be one of a top performer in baseball for years to come. He plays in a great ballpark and is surrounded by plenty of mashers in the lineup, and while Texas most likely won't contend in the AL West due to their lack of pitching, they should have no issue scoring runs. The only knock on Kinsler is that he has never played more than 130 games in a season, and he also seemed to wear down after the All Star break. If he can find a way to stay healthy and stay productive throughout the season, a 30 HR 30 SB season is definitely possible.
3. Dustin Pedroia 2B Red Sox - The 2008 AL MVP is on the rise in fantasy drafts, and rightly so. With a line of 118 R, 17 HR, 83 RBI, 20 SB and a .326 average, Pedroia is without a doubt a five tool guy - providing significant production in all five standard categories. The only question being asked about Boston's newest sensation is whether or not he can do it again, and considering that his average draft position on mockdraftcentral.com is 25, most people seem to think that he can. It scares me a little to use a late 2nd/early 3rd round pick on someone coming off a career year, as I really don't think that there is any room for improvement in his numbers, but even if he comes close to matching his stat line from last season, he should still be able to back up his draft position.
4. Brandon Phillips 2B Reds - If there was any way for Phillips to boost his average back up to even the .276 mark he hit in 2006, you would be looking at a fantasy goldmine at 2B. His .262 lifetime average is the only thing holding Phillips back from being considered one of the top all around fantasy players in the game. Hitting cleanup, he doesn't score as many runs as other SB thieves do, but should provide you with about 25 HR and 80-85 RBI, and when you add the 25-30 SBs - that ain't half bad. Again, his average could hurt you, but as long as you're not expecting anything over .265, you shouldn't be disappointed with his overall production.
5. Dan Uggla 2B Marlins - Mr. Thuggla is a three category beast , averaging 100+ Runs, 30 HR and 90 RBI over the past three seasons. Like Phillips, Uggla's average will hurt you, but owners will have no problem looking past that as long as the NL All Star 2B continues to rake. Personally, I don't want anything to do with Uggla, as his 1st half/2nd half splits in 2008 were pretty horrendous, and unless you can send him off to another owner after the break, I would be quite concerned that a repeat performance might be in store.
6. Alexei Ramirez 2B White Sox - The Cuban Missile was a fantasy monster last season, putting up a line of 65 R, 21 HR, 77 RBI, 13 SB, and a .290 avg in only 136 games. However, when you take a closer look at his numbers, he only walked 18 times in 480 AB, meaning it would be almost impossible for him to maintain his .290 average unless he significantly improved his BB rate. Depending on where he bats in the lineup, Ramirez should be able to match all of his other numbers from 2008, but I wouldn't be looking for any large jumps in his HR or RBI totals.
7. Jose Lopez 2B Mariners - SLEEPER ALERT. Lopez had a phenomenal year at the plate last season, posting a line of 80 R, 17 HR, 89 RBI, 6 SB, and a .297 average. At 25, there's still plenty of room for improvement, and considering that Lopez isn't getting selected until the latter half of most drafts, he could be a major steal in 2009. In 2007, Lopez had a great first half of the season but struggled mightily after the All Star break. After finally putting together a productive full season in 2008 though, it looks like Lopez may be climbing the fantasy charts. If you miss out on the top 2B early in the draft, the once highly touted prospect should definitely be on your radar.
- May 3 - Ryan Braun
- May 31 - Trevor Hoffman
- Jun 28 - Jason Kendall
- Aug 30 - Jeff Suppan
- Jul 26 - Bratwurst (Racing Sausage!!)
- Sep 20 - Doug Melvin, Brewers GM
Really? Jeff Suppan? Jason Kendall? Don't they have Prince Fielder? And what kind of franchise gives a bobblehead doll for their GM? I don't know about you, but I haven't many kids walking around in Doug Melvin jerseys. Boom roasted.
"Pete Vecsey is not a credible enough source to comment on. Two weeks ago he had John being fired, now he has him resigning."
With 5:25 to go, the Illini trailed 57-43 marking their largest deficit of the entire game. About 5:22 later, Illinois had a one point lead marking their largest, and only, lead of the night. During those five-plus minutes the Illini must have blacked out, then imagined themselves back in Assembly Hall because it was solid offense and better defense that led the Illini back. Oh, and Trent Meacham.
Meacham had 12 of his 15 points in the last five minutes, including a three with about a minute to go, followed by a layup about 20 seconds later to make it a one point game. As if the offensive revolution wasn't enough for Meacham, he also caused a turnover on Northwestern's next possession, giving the Illini the ball with 14 seconds remaining.
Demetri McCamey was the hero when he banked in the game winner with 2.9 seconds left. Actually, he was heroic long before that, as he finished the night with a game-high 21 points. Chester Frazier was also great for the Illini, posting eight assists and seven rebounds, with only one turnover.
That makes it 20 wins for the Illini with six games left. They will be at Indiana Sunday, then back to Assembly Hall next Wednesday against Penn State. With Big Ten leader Michigan State playing Purdue and Wisconsin in their next two, this is a good chance for Illinois to gain some ground.
- Is it finally the "next year" Cubs fans are always talking about? The journey starts today.
- Bulls blow the game in spectacular fashion against the Heat last night. As my friend NQTC reader Adam pointed out, where was Rose on that last inbounds play? And why was an ice-cold Thabo inbounding the ball?
- Illinois comes back in spectacular fashion to beat Northwestern in Evanston. Meacham looked amazing down the stretch.
- Griffey's short-lived stay on the South Side gets closure as he returns to the Mariners.
- In defense of Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah. Even though I would rather have Amare, I do like these guys.
- If you live in Chicago (which most of our readers do), this is not going to be very uplifting: Forbes listed us as the most miserable city in America. Ouch.
- So was Joaquin Phoenix on drugs when he did Letterman Wednesday night? It sure seems like it.
- Oh that pick McDyess set on Rose the other night? The Bulls are asking the league to review it. It might have been dirty, but McNice? Seems unlikely.
- Ok, so Portland is apparently out of the Amare running. That's good for the Bulls, considering their package was definitely the best out of the ones that I have heard offered.
- A team is down 5 with 12 seconds and makes an intentional foul. Then the team that was behind wins by 6. This is not a joke (well it sort of is, but it really happened).
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Some quick thoughts from last night’s 2-0 USA victory over Mexico:
- This is probably the most important point of all. The USA is better than Mexico. If it wasn’t for Mexico’s ridiculous home field advantage, this would be beyond argument. I think it’s important for all US soccer fans to accept this, so that our reaction after a game like last night isn’t overwhelming joy, but contentment alongside even-handed criticism. We’re the best team in CONCACAF and should expect to beat Mexico now, home or away.
- That being said, Sven Goran Eriksson should be fired. Some of his decisions yesterday were questionable at best. Oswaldo Sanchez starting in the net (That 2nd goal was shit)? Pulling Dos Santos when he was clearly the most dangerous player Mexico had? I’d be shocked if he makes it to the weekend.
- Michael Bradley has pretty much locked up his position in the US midfield for the next 8 years. He gets better with every appearance and last night he was a beast. Two goals, but more impressive is how he dominated the midfield with his smarts and some hardass tackles. There were times when Mexico just looked over matched by him alone. Bravo.
- Donovan is our best player, like it or not, but Dempsey is our most creative. We’ve got to find a way to get him the ball in more dangerous positions. I would suggest the on-the-rise “Christmas Tree” formation, but this leads me to my next point…
- The outside back trials (left-back in particular) are still ongoing. Our outside backs are not skilled enough to play the “attacking wing-back “ role that is so popular these days. They’re not terrible, and I was admittedly impressed by Hejduk last night, but more often than not our attack would grind to a halt when the ball landed at the feet of Hejduk or Pearce. Why not just give our midfield/wingers more offensive freedom?
- All these criticisms aside, it was an overall good performance by the boys in white. We showed that we can build up play through the midfield, we’re still great from set pieces, and we have two solid centerbacks (one or two blunders aside). We’re good, I think people are still getting used to that. Oh, and lay off Brian Ching. Everyone clamors for Altidore to take over his starting role, but Ching plays the targetman role very well…better than Altidore does…for now.
I would say the Illini are playing their best basketball of the season coming off their beat-down of Purdue last week, but it hasn't been that kind of season for Illinois. Every time they look like they are playing great, they go out and shoot 28% on the road and lose. Since the beginning of January, the Illini have won every home game and lost every road game. That will need to change if the Illini hope to catch the Spartans for the Big Ten Championship.
Hustle and defense have been key in home wins for Illinois, two things that should translate well to road games. They're catching the Wildcats at the right time though, as Northwestern will be looking to end a four game losing streak* that has included mostly blowouts.
The key for Illinois tonight will be to control the boards and keep Kevin Coble under wraps. In Northwestern's upset wins it has been Coble who has led the charge.
The game starts at 8:00 PM and it's on ESPN2.
*It's bogus fact day on NQTC. I suspect I was thinking of a three game home losing streak to Illinois, but who the hell knows.
Looking at the career numbers of the 3 outfielders, they are very similar in terms of production:
Adam Dunn--- AVG: .247 OBP: .381 SLG: .518
Bobby Abreu--- AVG: .300 OBP: .405 SLG: .498
Milton Bradley--- AVG: .280 OBP: .370 SLG: .457
If anything, those players have far better career numbers than Bradley. That doesn't even take injuries or age into account either. Abreu is 34, but that hardly matters in terms of his contract since it is only 1 year and not a long-term commitment. Adam Dunn is actually 29, a year younger than Bradley at 30. Both Dunn and Abreu have been considerably healthier during their careers than the fragile Bradley as well.
I'm not trying to say that Bradley will be bad or that he was a bad acquisition. It just seems that with all the salary jockeying the Cubs have been doing, this deal to Bradley is unnecessarily expensive. Hendry clearly misjudged the market for free agent outfielders. It is easy to say that in hindsight, the market was way lower than Hendry had thought. But looking at all the factors, there were a bunch of decent quality outfielders available and not a lot of teams out there looking. Is the difference between Bradley's actual contract and what the market would have afforded him today what handcuffed Hendry on the Peavy deal? We will never know, but right now it looks like our ne'er do wrong GM may have made a bad miscalculation.
***UPDATE: A few things have been brought to my attention in the last couple hours since making this post. Thanks to NQTC reader Gavin, who pointed out a few things in the comments and a few things to me directly. Looks like I was wrong about Hendry being fleeced:
Phillies signed Raul Ibanez - 3 years, $31.5 million on 12/19/08.Also, it appears that the Dunn deal was actually for 2 years and $20 million dollars. This is what I get for doubting Hendry.
Tampa Bay singed Pat Burrell - 2 years, $16 million on 01/08/09.
The Cubs signed Bradley officially on 01/27/09. So it's not as if they went completely out of the range for outfielder's this offseason. It doesn't appear that there were that many high-level OF's out there this off-season but once these guys were signed before Bradley, I'm surprised the Cubs didn't try to play Bradley, Dunn and Abreu off each other to at least make Bradley think they could go elsewhere to get a left handed bat.
I was just about to write a post about how Khabibulin has turned into the every day starter, and for good reason. It's not clear yet how serious the injury is, but Khabibulin is considered day-to-day. Chicago has called up Antti Niemi from Rockford to fill in as Huet's backup for a while.
Niemi will be up tomorrow night when the Hawks conclude their eight game road trip in St. Louis. Huet will start and should be pretty rested for the extra responsibilities. Khabibulin had started four of the last five games, including the last three.
Huet and the Blackhawks still have a lot of work to do without Khabibulin even though the road trip is ending. Five of the next seven are still away from the United Center. Without the Huet signing though, this stretch would be a hell of a lot scarier. Maybe with Toews and Sharp scoring last night the stars will get back to putting the puck in the net.
Gotta love the "blatant frustration foul" at the end.
Normally, rule changes take place after an outcry against a rule during the season. In this case, Bellotti wants to enforce and expand a rule that actually came under fire during the season. When Washington's Jake Locker scored what looked to be the game-tying touchdown and flipped the ball in celebration, the Huskies were penalized and ended up missing the extra point. There are so many problems with this rule that I have to start with a reason it makes sense.
To some extent it makes sense not to allow a touchdown when someone celebrates by taunting or high stepping before they get in the end zone. After all, the play isn't over when the penalty takes place. It's the only offensive penalty that takes place during the play that allows a touchdown to stand that I can think of.
Still, it's ridiculous. You're really going to take points away for celebrations? If a ref makes a mistake the team will lose a touchdown instead of having to kick a longer extra point or kicking off from their own 20?
Another problem is the potential game changing nature of this rule. When do most of the excessive celebrations take place? That's right, the end of the game in close games. So a kid gets caught up in the moment and dives into the end zone and now he cost his team the game. Please no, NCAA.
firstname.lastname@example.org said...Feel free to post your own comments on his story. Be careful though, I think he survives on hair gel and hate mail.
Stop being so self-righteous and acting as though your life is crumbling right before you because A-Rod or Bonds took steroids. You sound like you go to sleep a night, crying on your pillow because some athlete wanted to gain an edge. Honestly, I wish there was a steroid that would enable you to write a good column for a change.
Mariotti, you are SUCH a loser!!! Ronnie "woo woo" Wickers is more qualified to cover baseball than you!!!
OBAMA IS LAUGHING at MARIOTTI AS HE FIRES UP ANOTHER KOOL CIGARETTE. HE STOCKS THEM BY THE CARTON IN THE WHITEHOUSE PANTRY.
Mariotti is a utterly useless piece of self-promoting crap.
You couldn't make it as a journalist and your blogging days should be numbered too. All you ever write is nonsense.
- Hawks rebound from a bad loss Sunday to beat Atlanta 3-1. Toews and Sharp each had a power play goal.
- Mel Kiper talks Bears draft. I'm glad this is in print, because I can't listen to the guy anymore.
- The U.S. shuts out Mexico in the first game of the final round of World Cup Qualifying. U-S-A, U-S-A!
- Tracy McGrady might really be hurt this time. This awful layup attempt is proof.
- Roberto Alomar has AIDS? I guess it's time to call all the women he has slept with...and umpires he has spit on.
- North Carolina runs away with the game at Duke last night. Hansbrough finishes his career 4 for 4 at Cameron Indoor. Mike Patrick and Vitale are still crying.
- Melo crossed over Vince the other night pretty bad, and Chris Webber and Gary Payton loved it.
- Bob Knight says that Gatorade is a performance enhancing drug. Bonus: it doesn't even shrink your balls!
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
1B preview is up first. Just so you know, this is not a list of the top seven guys at the position but rather seven guys I felt like writing about. Look for the 2B preview on Friday....
1. Albert Pujols 1B Cardinals - What can I tell you about the St. Louis 1B that you don't already know. He is flat out the best offensive 1B in baseball - the guy has never scored less than 99 runs, hit less than 32 HR, drove in less than 103 RBI, and hit lower than .314 in a season. Unlike last year where there was some speculation that he would be shutdown mid season because of his elbow, Pujols will be completely healthy come opening day after having off season surgery to resolve the issue. If you want to nitpick, the only knock on El Hombre is the lack of support surrounding him in the lineup, but people have been saying that for years and it's clearly never impacted his numbers.
2. Ryan Howard 1B Philies - The former MVP has averaged over 50 HRs the past three seasons, and there is no reason to believe he won't continue that trend in 2009. He has also led the majors in RBI two out of the past three seasons, and in 2007 when he finished 4th, he had 136 - not too shabby at all. Howard's draft position varies somewhat depending on your draft strategy and league type. In roto leagues, I personally would not take him until the latter half of the 1st round/early 2nd round as you don't want to target someone who is going to literally kill you in a category (avg). In H2H leagues though, he could be considered a top 5 pick.
3. Miguel Cabrera 1B Tigers - After getting off to a horrible start in his first season with Detorit, Big Mig was still able to put up a line of 85 R, 37 HR, 127 RBI, and a .292 average thanks to a monster 2nd half. Seems like the four time all star has been around forever, but he's actually only 25, and as sick as it is, his best years are surely ahead of him. He put up career highs in HR and RBI last season, and it would not be surprising to see these totals increase again in 2009. Cabrera is without a doubt a first round pick this season - his ADP on Mockdraftcentral.com is 7.3, which seems about right, but if hes 3B eligible in your league, I could see reaching for him as high as fourth or fifth overall.
4. Adrian Gonzalez 1B Padres - Since 2006, his totals in runs, HRs, and RBIs have gone up every year, and while I don't know if we'll see that happen again this season, I would surely take last years 103 R, 36 HR, 119 RBI, and .279 average. Gonzalez usually gets taken in the late 3rd/early 4th rounds of drafts - since January 31st on MDC, he has been taken as high as 21 and as late as 50. It really depends on your personal preference with Gonzo, but he has been raking in the WBC, and at the age of 27, is in the prime of his career.
5. Prince Fielder 1B Brewers - Similar to Miguel Cabrera, Fielder got off to a horrendous start in 2008, hitting only four HRs in each of the first two months of the season. I'm not really sure what to expect out of Fielder this year - if you take a look at his stats over the past three seasons, his 2006 and 2008 seasons look a lot alike, where his 50-HR 2007 clearly stands out and at this point should be considered somewhat of a fluke. Fielder is still young (he turns 25 in May) so he still has plenty of room for improvement, but his K rate was slightly up and his BB rate slightly down - two signs that don't point to a turnaround in production. I would project Fielder for similar numbers to last season, with a few more HRs and RBI.
6. Joey Votto 1B Reds - The 25 year old Votto might be a couple of years away from showing his true potential, but should still put up solid fantasy stats in 2009. He put up a line of 69 R, 24 HR, 84 RBI, 7 SB, and a .297 average last season , and considering that he started off sharing time at 1B with Scott Hatteberg and got most of his AB hitting 7th, that line is fairly impressive. He will most likely be hitting 3rd for Cinci this year behind Willy Taveras and Jay Bruce. Taveras had an OBP of .308 last season, and Bruce was not much better at .314, so a lot of Votto's value depends on how the speedy Willy T and potential-oozing Bruce produce in front of him.
7. Derek Lee 1B Cubs - There is not a whole lot of upside that comes with drafting Lee in 2009, as he seems to be way past his prime. After crushing 46 HRs in 2005, Lee hit 22 HRs in 2007 and 20 in 2008, so you should look for that 20 or so HR trend to continue this season, a total that isn't very sexy when compared with the other studly 1B. While he may be lacking potential for a monster season, Lee is extremely safe and reliable - in addition to those 20 or so HRs, you can definitely expect 85-90 Runs and 85-90 RBI, in addition to an average around .30o. Lee's average draft position on MDC is 73rd overall, and I can't really see taking him before then.
Blagojevich may not have much of a baseball pedigree, but he did play high school basketball and participated in a pair of fights after training as a Golden Gloves boxer. And he is supposed to be a die-hard Cubs fan, despite allegations he tried to hijack the Tribune company into firing some editorial writers in exchange for help in selling Wrigley Field.
"We figured with his vast knowledge and love for the game he would be a great addition to the team," said Kelly Sufka, JackHammers executive vice president and general manager, in a press release about the PR stunt. "Wally Backman, manager and former Major League player, will do what he can to get him as many at-bats as possible, but he may have to work hard in spring training to find himself a regular spot in the lineup."
The JackHammers obviously see the value in getting Blago on their roster and are ready to offer him a few incentives to come on board, starting with a Rod Blagojevich bobble-hair night, where 1,000 bobble-hairs (the hair instead of the head will bob) will be given away, and the ex-governor will throw out a first pitch. It marks the first time in team history a rookie has been offered a promotional item in his likeness.
The team also plans on having special "golden" seats available for purchase.
Will the good times never end for Blagojevich? There's no way he actually takes this offer, but how funny would it be? I would definitely go see him play.
dixie2003: Mr. Mozeliak, I would like to know how you were able to make a competitive offer to Brian Fuentes, then sign Royce Ring on the cheap? How do you go from a top tier free agent then sign a guy with an over 8 era? Is there any chance of signing a player that any other team would actually want?
John Mozeliak: Interesting question, and the answer is supply and demand. Yes we did try to sign Fuentes, but with him out of the market we simply just don’t over pay for some else. We allocate resources when we feel the player is worth the investment. Not to get to detailed on this topic but I feel it is a nice place to address how we make decisions. First we look at the player performance, then scouting reports, then enter the risk factors, and then finally place a dollar value and length we feel comfortable with. I know it is not always popular, but there is a logic to our process.
Boom roasted. (Even Real Stadiums Have Roofs has to admit that was a good "boom roasted") At least we have Hendry working for us. I still trust he will make the right moves. Royce Ring? Really?
I Hate Bill Dewitt!!: Mo,
Please describe what it’s like living in your little land of make believe where you honestly believe that Cardinal fans should be excited about this team. If you wouldn’t mind, go into details, about how in MO’s world people are celebrating are three horrible new lefty relievers, and the signing of our awesome new .213 hitting shortstop.
John Mozeliak: First I rather live in my world then yours…it is sunny out today??? No you’re right it is 30 something degrees, my girl friend dumped me, and my car won’t start.
First, it is not we stink (unless you ask yourself these questions in the mirror) and we make decisions based on scouts, stats, and other information. If we thought Greene was going to hit .213 we would not, I repeat, not make the deal.
Go back to your world and I hope by mid summer you’re ready to come out for air.
I Hate Bill Dewitt!!: Hey Johnny-
After this are you going to go into the yahoo teen chat room, and talk about designer clothes, and playing spin the bottle. GO DO SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE LOSER!!!! Other G.M’s are working on deals, don’t you get it!!
John Mozeliak: Clever, and with that I will sign off big guy. STLtoday - Discussions - Cards Live.
One thing is different this time from the previous stretches of great play. Amid swirling trade rumors, Tyrus Thomas has exploded in the last 10 games or so. Not just exploded, but he looks like he can keep this up. He is averaging 15.6 pts and 9.8 rebs in his last 8 games. Do you think you know where this is going? Do you think I'm going to have second thoughts about dealing him to the Suns for Amare?
Are you crazy? Even if this little explosion by TT keeps up, his fg% during that time has been 47%. An excellent fg% perhaps, but for a big man it is just average. Either one of two things happens now, he continues to shoot that jump shot and miss it pretty regularly, keeping his fg% below what would be expected from an elite big man OR he stops shooting it and raises his fg% to maybe 54-55% but averages only about 12 points a game. I don't see how either option makes him as valuable as Amare. Amare is young, averages about 20 pts and 10 rebs for his career, and most importantly makes most of the shots he takes.
The truth is I'm thrilled that Tyrus is playing well right now. If something finally clicked for him, it's win-win for the Bulls. Either we keep him and he is a much improved player, or we deal him (please do the right thing Pax?!) and get THE Amare Stoudemire in return. Worst case scenario is it doesn't work out with Amare somehow and he walks in 2010, leaving us about $15 million in cap room for that magical free agent summer.
- Bulls win on some last second heroics by Ben Gordon. Is it just me, or do the Pistons just not scare anyone anymore?
- The All-Time Movie Baseball Team. How is Hobbs not hitting 3rd?
- Elton John and Billy Joel are playing at Wrigley Field this summer. Tickets aren't that expensive and I'm all for it, but didn't it mess up the grass last year when the Police played?
- The NBA picked the three people to be in the All-Star HORSE game: Joe Johnson, OJ Mayo and Kevin Durant.
- Charles Barkley is returning to the studio after the break. Props to Ernie and Kenny, but its not the same without Chuck.
- All we have heard about are Housh and Boldin at WR, but what are the other options out there for the Bears?
- The Wade story is getting better and better. First the STD thing, now sex and drug parties? It's almost like he's a typical NBA star.
- Looks like Marmol and Gregg will be competing for the closer job this spring.
- A nice tribute to Johnny "Red" Kerr. Last night's tribute was also great. Red is a wonderful guy and has been there for us through the years, good times and bad. Even Obama seems to think so.
- With the new A-Rod steroid allegations, maybe we should re-examine some of the record books. For instance, give Mr. Cub his shortstop single-season home run record back.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Forward Andres Nocioni chose an unusual off-day activity when the Bulls had some free time in Dallas this week. Nocioni joined strength and conditioning coach Erik Helland for a wild pig hunt in a rural town outside of Dallas. The pair reportedly rode mules, accompanied by several guides and pit bulls. Nocioni owns a large ranch in his native Argentina and spends his summers hunting, fishing and riding horses. Nocioni said he enjoyed the hunt and apparently bagged some wild pigs, because he ended up with plenty of meat to bring home.It's too good to be true. The question is was he the hunter or the pig? Sources have not confirmed the answer to this crucial question.
If you read any Cubs blogs, then you may have already heard this news since it seems like we are the last ones to report it. Apparently PECOTA, an advanced system used by sabremetricians to determine an individual player's contribution to wins based on certain advanced metrics (I think? This stuff is usually way over my head), is used in the aggregate to determine the amount of wins each team will have.
Well using PECOTA, Baseball Prospectus has determined that the Cubs will win the Central by 13 games:
|St. Louis Cardinals||80||82||779||796|
Well...we saw what all this hoopla and high hopes did for us last year. I'm not saying that 96 wins isn't nice, but isn't there something that can project wins in a series? I mean come on nerds, you've been studying the statistics and math of baseball for the past 30 years! I think it's time to figure this one out. Sorry, I just find it hard to get excited about all these Vegas odds and PECOTA projections when all I really want is a goddamn ring.
I'm writing this without doing any research and I'm just using memory and common sense, so let me know who I have missed in the comments. I have no idea who is above suspicion anymore. I think for a while, A-Rod got a pass. Then came Canseco's comments and what seemed like a shifting of public perception about baseball players and steroids in general.
So here are some names to think about: Pujols, Ortiz, Thome, Howard, Morneau, Andruw Jones, and Griffey. These are some of the better home run hitters of the last ten years; are any of them really above suspicion? A lot of these guys, most notably the first four, have typically avoided too much scrutiny because they have always been huge. Thome in particular just has that country strong look, while Pujols was a big guy putting up big numbers consistently.
Griffey seems to be the one that would surprise people the most in the group. His body has obviously gone through physical changes, but how much is simply aging? Plus, Griffey has been hurt an awful lot during his career and has had trouble coming back from those, something not typical of PED users.
Then you have another group of guys who don't look the part of a steroid user: Soriano, Utley, Luis Gonzalez, and Torii Hunter. What about these guys though? A-Rod seemed to fool people with a slow progression from slender to roided, could these guys be doing the same?
The ramifications of this era are yet to be seen. What will be the effect on the record books? Public perception? We'll see, but for now I think it's safe to say that after A-Rod and especially if this 2003 list is released in its entirety, no one will be immune from speculation the shadow of doubt will be cast over all players. Even you David Eckstein! Just kidding. But maybe.