Tag Archives: contenders

Texas Rangers Aren’t Fading For Once…

The Rangers have gotten a ton of play on the MLB network over the past month or so. I can’t remember seeing more of their games on TV at any point in my life. They’ve earned those televised games, as they are the clearly the class of the AL West, and playing as good as any team in the league right now. They usually fade during July and August when their home field turns into a launching pad, but not this year. I was hoping for an implosion from them, so maybe the A’s would be able to sneak into the playoffs, but that’s like hoping for the Raiders to show up in back to back games. Once again, I’m starting to wonder if the A’s are cursed. Not because of the numerous injuries they suffered for a third straight year, but because we let Ron Washington go. I’d much rather have Washington as the manger over Geren, but Beane was very pro Geren, so we’re stuck with the schlep. Until A’s fortunes change, I think we are still under The Curse of the Wash. Normally I’d root against the AL West winner if it wasn’t the A’s, but I found myself pulling for the Rangers to succeed this postseason.

The Rangers sweep over the Yankees showed us exactly what they’ve been doing well all year long. Come from behind to win. They came back to win two of the three games, and even made one of those comebacks while Rivera was on the mound. That kind of win can’t be understated when it comes playoff time, and just knowing that they have already beaten up the most dominant closer of all time is a feather in the cap. They also had their ace (Cliff Lee) back on the hill to close out the sweep. It was his first start in two weeks. He showed how healthy he was shutting the Yankees down for 8 innings giving up only one run. It’s only the second time all season the Yankees got swept! What made this even more impressive was that they didn’t need their MVP candidate Josh Hamilton, who is still out with a bruised up ribcage. There’s no rush to get Hamilton back, since they do have a commanding lead in the West (8 ½ games). Now that the Yankees and Rays starting to come back to earth a little, does this give the Twins and Rangers an edge? I’d probably put both of them above the TB and NY on power rankings if I made them right this moment. I’m already envisioning an ALCS matchup between Minnesota and Texas. Maybe that’s a little presumptuous, but if Morneau and Hamilton come back healthy, who’s to say that these two teams are the favorites to make it to the ALCS?

Another thing I’ve noticed about this Rangers team is their swagger factor. It’s crazy how together these guys are. Early in the season after they took out the Angels in the opener of a series in June, right after the final out of the game was recorded Ian Kinsler was out there yelling for them to “get off our field”, as the Angels were heading to the showers. At the time I thought Kinsler was just being the dickhead he is, but now months later I think it was a statement of things to come. It was like they finally believed in themselves before anyone else did, and knew they weren’t going to have a collapse when the weather got hot. They were no longer going to be a pushover and would play every game hard, just the way Wash would’ve played. They were paying attention to more details than they used to, even doing the small ball stuff that wins games utilizing their speed in Bobon and Andrus. We will see if they can continue their good play through the last 19 games. I don’t see any reason for them to slow down since they don’t have the division locked up yet, but they are in as good of a position possible for a solid postseason run, and can let guys like Josh Hamilton and Cliff Lee take some extra rest if it’s needed. I’m glad my prediction of who would win the AL West is working out thus far!

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MLB Trade Deadline Actually Makes Sense

My favorite trade deadline in all of sports is baseball’s July deadline. Basketball might be a close second, but baseball is the most interesting for both teams involved in a trade. Pretty much anyone could go anywhere. In basketball, we only see trades that fit within contract constraints hence the creation of the ESPN trade machine. Basketball also has a lot of players that are disgruntled with their current team only to be shipped away for basically nothing, so the talent traded isn’t all that exciting except for the team that gets the big name player. In baseball, we at least see talent traded for talent. You’re either a team building for the future, and stocking the farm system with prospects or you are going to improve your team to compete for a championship that year by sacrificing your farm system. In short, you get trades that actually make sense for both clubs kind of like when your a kid trading baseball cards with a friend. Even if it’s a high risk high reward proposition for all teams involved. Sure we may not know who the AAA guys are that were in the trade off hand, but if you’re a fan of that crappy team that just gave away their star, you instantly have hope for the future, and want to see these guys called up as soon as possible. I doubt the A’s will be wheeling and dealing since they have little to offer other teams. Maybe we can get a couple of project guys for Sheets, but I’m not holding my breath at this point. Here’s a few guys that I think could make an impact on a contending team that sound like they are on the block.

Pitchers – Obviously Cliff Lee was by far the best pitcher on the market, and he was gone before we could even start the rumor mongering about him. After him there isn’t a whole lot of big names out there, but there’s a few impact players that could make a difference.

Dan Haren – It sounds like the D-Backs want more than a kings ransom of prospects for Haren, and it’s doubtful that teams are willing to give that much up to get him, but if someone can pull of a deal to grab him, he’s by far the best pitcher in the market. He usually doesn’t do as well in the 2nd half of the season, but it’s hard to say adding an ace of his status isn’t worth it for anyone seriously contending for a pennant. The Twins desperately need someone of his pedigree. He’s also not a short term fix since he’s locked up through 2012, so it’s a move that could yield more than one playoff run.

Roy Oswalt – It’s tough to see a lot of teams wanting to give up a ton of prospects, AND have to pay Oswalt $25M on top of that. Plus, he has a no trade clause that would make things even more tricky, but then again I’m sure you could persuade him to waive that clause if he has a chance at pitching some meaningful games. He made a trade demand, but made his small list of teams that he’d like to go to… Houston might have to send some cash in any deal made.

Joakim Soria – I think the Royals must be riding the short yellow bus thinking they are in the race, but somehow, in spite of their record each year, they seem to think they are. I don’t think they’ll trade away one of their only players worth having on the roster, unless they get some godfather offer from someone. They’d deal Soria five times before Grienke though, or he would be on the list as well.

Ted Lilly, Ricky Nolasco, Jake Westbrook, Edwin Jackson, Kevin Millwood, and Wandy Rodriguez – None of these starters are going to be an ace for teams, but they might be cheaper to get than the other guys mentioned above. I like Lilly and Nolasco the most of the bunch. I don’t see any of them really making a huge impact on teams unless a team like the Yankees needs to grab someone they know can hold down the fort while others get healthy from injuries.

Octavio Dotel, Jason Frasor, Kerry Wood, Brandon Lyon, Kevin Gregg, David Aardsma, and Aaron Heilman – These are all guys you could bolster that bullpen with. Everyone needs some reliable guys that they can call on in a sticky situation. Some of these guys might not be sexy names or guys you’d really be all that excited about if your team traded for them, but they will be invaluable in bridging that gap to the closer.

HittersThere aren’t a ton of teams looking for hitters, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Giants, Angels, Padres, and possibly the Cardinals try to make a move that would improve their offenses.

Prince Fielder – It’s pretty unlikely any offer they will receive would match what they want for him. He’s as big a name as you could find on the trading block, but it sounds like there’s not many ways he’d actually be traded. It’s more likely he ends up being traded over the off season than the July deadline.

Jayson Werth – The Phillies haven’t given the five tool outfielder a new contract that he was asking for. If they keep playing mediocre ball, and fall behind the Mets and Braves further than they are, don’t be shocked if Werth is moved for the right price. I can’t think of many teams in the hunt that couldn’t use an upgrade in the outfield.

Corey Hart – The more likely player to leave the Brew crew. He’s only moving if they get some pitching in return, it’s just a matter of what teams are willing to give up. The Giants sound intriguing possibly giving up Sanchez or Bumgarner, and Corey would provide Buster Posey some protection or vice versa.

David Dejesus – He’s in the same boat as Soria with a breakout season this year. It would be nice to see him in another uniform playing some meaningful games, but for some reason Kansas City’s front office always thinks it’s still in the race.

Adam Dunn – He’s the big guy that a lot of teams will look at as a rental with a solid track record of performing. I hope he doesn’t don the Angel red in place of injured Kendry Morales, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they did pull out a trade as an answer to division leading Rangers big move in acquiring Cliff Lee.

Everyone else on the Marlins, Blue Jays, Astros, Diamondbacks, Cubs, and Orioles – All of these teams have some interesting players that could help a team out. None are extremely exciting, but are guys that could mildly upgrade a position for a playoff bound team. Should be fun when it gets closer to the deadline!


Power Shift in the AL West

Looks like we're moving again kids!

Well, I just posted about David Lee’s jump to the Warriors, so I may as well dedicate today as Lee day, and talk about the Rangers acquisition of Cliff Lee. The Rangers are already 5 1/2 games up on the competition in the standings, and the Angels continue to slide, losing four in a row, and seven of their last ten without their main man Kendry. The power in the west shifted even more today, as Texas acquired Cliff Lee from Seattle for Justin Smoak (2008 first round pick), and four other minor leaguers. The Cliff Lee sweepstakes took a surprising turn when pretty much everyone had him going to the Yankees earlier today. He instead will be heading to Texas in a deal that had to make Nolan Ryan crack a smile. It’s a good move to do it now, so they can get an extra three or four starts out of him instead of waiting all the way to the trade deadline. As a rabid A’s fan, I’m not completely against making our current division leader better, because if there was a team I wanted to win outside of the A’s, it would be the Rangers. Maybe that’s why I picked them in our predictions at the beginning of the year. Their biggest weakness was pitching, and now they have a true ace of their staff that they’ve been missing for so many years. If they get back Rich Harden from the DL after the all-star break, and he is what he used to be with Oakland, they’d have a very solid top of the rotation with Lee, Harden, and Colby Lewis. They might get rocked here and there in the home run friendly confides of Arlington during the dog days of August, but all of these guys know how to pitch when healthy. Does this make the Rangers a contender to win it all? Most would say no, and I’d agree with that, but the way their offense is set up they can beat good pitching, and now acquired one of the best pitchers in the game that will surely give them a win every fifth night. As long as Ron Washington is there, I’ll be rooting for that club to do well, and with some pitching to back up that great offense this deal couldn’t have worked out better for them. Side note, it also feels good to be a Vlad supporter again after he spent so many years on the Angels.


Evaluating the NBA Trades

The trade deadline has come and gone, and there was some activity over the past week leading up to the salary dump or be a contender deadline. I can’t say I was surprised that Amare or Boozer didn’t go anywhere since both teams are still in the playoff hunt, and the Jazz look to be a threat in the west. There were some big moves by teams in contention, so I’ll go through and give you my thoughts on if these teams actually made themselves better to contend for a title…

Camby to the Blazers for Blake and Outlaw

Great pickup for a team that desperately needed someone to help out Aldridge down low. Aldridge has been playing out of position since Oden and Pryzbilla went down, so moving back to his natural PF spot should increase his productivity. I don’t see Portland as a contender, but this move could get them into the playoffs, and give them a little more experience come next year when they have a better chance at competing for a title. That is, if Brandon Roy starts looking like his old self, and gets that hammy healthy. Trade grade B.

Caron and Haywood to the Mavs

Yeah, I know. I already wrote about this one. I’ll rehash what I wrote before, this does make them better defensively, which should improve their soft image. Caron hasn’t had a great start in Dallas, but I’m sure it will take a little while to assimilate to the new team. I really like Haywood down low. I caught some of the game against the Suns last night and he was swatting all that weak sh** out of the paint. I thought they had a chance before the trade to do something in the west, but this only increases their chances. The trade grade B+

Tyrus Thomas to Charlotte

This feels like a terrible trade for the Bulls. They are finally gelling and out of nowhere they ship out a big man that is finally playing well out of town. I like the move for Charlotte, who needed to make a move to be better, and getting rid of Acie Law and Flip Murray won’t effect them at all from an on court standpoint. They’ve easily leapfrogged the Bulls in the east to get destroyed by one of the top three seeds. I still like that they made an improvement, so I’ll give them a B.

Kevin Martin, Hilton Armstrong, Jared Jeffries, Jordan Hill, and a first round draft pick to the Rockets

Great deal for the Rockets, although I don’t see why they traded away Landry who has a shot at 6th man of the year. I’m just glad he landed in Sac who now has ten PF’s. I think having K-Mart will help the Rockets in the clutch, and since they are in a lot of close games, they will need him at the end of games. I feel like he will give some relief to Ariza and Brooks on the scoring load, and also make their offense tougher to zero in. He’s being reunited with his old coach Adelman so at least there’s a familiarity there. Martin also has that high basketball IQ which never hurts on a team that looks to overachieve. Trade grade B+. I don’t like them giving up their best bench guy in Landry could hurt their chemistry, but overall it’s a good move…

Antawn Jamison to the Cavs

I really like Jamison (partially for his Warriors ties, and partially because it’s my favorite Irish Whiskey). There’s no doubt that Amare would’ve been a bigger acquisition, but Jamison is no slouch. He’s a team guy and his averages are nearly identical to Amare’s 20ppg and 8 rpg. I’m not sure why people don’t view this as a great move. I mean look how well Jamal Crawford is doing for Atlanta after being stuck on crappy teams for years and years. The Cavs didn’t need to add someone that needs to dominate the ball to be effective, and Jamison is a guy that can get his without holding the ball too much! I thought they were the best team to knock off the Lakers, and this only improves them. Trade grade A-. It’s only a minus because they could’ve gone for Amare.