Wednesday, June 30, 2010

4 comments Gene Wojciechowski Is The First To Write A "Here's How You Fix The MLB All-Star Game" Column

Every year about this time sportswriters start getting bored and trying to figure out ways to fix the MLB All-Star Game. Gene Wojciechowski deserves some congratulations because he is the first sportswriter I have seen to write this type column for 2010. As if to rub his achievement in, he writes it in the form of an open letter, or something that looks like an open letter, which is probably one of the laziest forms of sportswriting. Some of the solutions aren't terrible (while some are), but I have grown tired of the yearly "let's fix the All-Star Game" columns.

If you want to make the All-Star Game relevant again, here are the solutions to your problem:

It's the first sentence of the column and I already am irritated slightly. The All-Star game is relevant because it decides which league gets home field advantage in the World Series. That makes the All-Star Game relevant. We need solutions on how the All-Star Game can deserve to be relevant. Personally, I think the All-Star Game as a format is completely outdated and worked better when fans didn't have satellite television and MLB Network to watch any game of their choosing and did not get to see players play any time they wanted. The purpose originally was to see players who fans didn't normally get to see play together and have a competition to see which league was better. Free agency, the opening of rosters to where each team has a player included, and time has caused the game to lose its luster. I don't think it is coming back either.

Still, let's hear Gene's solutions to "fix" the All-Star Game.

Instant replay

If ever there was a game in which to experiment and expand the use of instant replay, this is it. I mean, what's the downside? That the umpires might get their feelings hurt?

I don't see why instant replay would be experimented with in the All-Star Game rather than a regular season game. The All-Star Game winner decides which league gets home field advantage in the World Series, so it is probably better if there isn't too much experimentation during this game. While a Texas-Seattle game where one game in the standings is on the line is probably a better place to experiment with instant replay. Why choose the game where home field advantage in the World Series lies to experiment with new concepts?

For starters, you have months to scout out the perfect positions for replay cameras at the All-Star Game stadium.

It really wouldn't take months to figure this out. Television cameras presently catch the replays during games very well. It would take maybe a day to figure the camera placement for instant replay out.

Balls and strikes belong to the umpires, but everything else is reviewable. The managers each get, say, three challenges during the first nine innings and one additional challenge if the game goes into extras.

Son of a bitch! Three challenges during the first 9 innings of the game for both managers? Has Gene ever seen a baseball game? There is maybe one semi-controversial call per game, much less six plays that would need to be challenged during a typical 9 inning game that doesn't involve balls and strikes.

Holy crap, three replays per manager is a huge amount. Seriously, has Gene watched a baseball game lately?

If it works -- and it will -- then you prove to the traditionalists that the human element of umpiring can coexist with replay.

You can do this during a regular season game as well. I don't get why the experimentation of instant replay works in an exhibition game that isn't really an exhibition game rather than in a regular season game.

The point of replay is to get the call right. Nothing else should matter.

Agreed, though I don't see how the All-Star Game is the best chance to experiment with instant replay...but three challenges for each manager? That's a lot.

Metal bats

Want to see a 600-foot home run? Me too.

Want to see someone die? I don't.

Metal bats being used in the All-Star Game is perhaps the worst idea in this column and that is saying a lot. I don't care to see a home run derby. The official Home Run Derby I don't watch prior to the All-Star Game is boring enough for me as it is. Metal bats in the hands of professional baseball players is a terrible, terrible idea. The players don't want to use them and shouldn't have to. If a pitcher got hit by a ball off a metal bat during an exhibition game...well I would hate to be Bud Selig trying to explain to the General Manager of the Phillies why Roy Halladay had to face batters who had metal bats when Halladay is missing a month and a half due to breaking his leg from a line drive hitting him.

Let the Home Run Derby contestants go aluminum and ping themselves silly. More dingers. More freakish distance.

The Home Run Derby is exciting for the first 5 minutes. Then it gets boring, tedious and makes me want to book a red eye flight to strangle the hell out of Chris Berman.

No more fan voting

It isn't the All-Popularity Game; it's the All-Star Game.

I am on the fence about fan voting. Fans are idiots and stuff the ballot for stupid players, but the game is also for the fans so the players they want to see start should be able to start. It sort of takes away the point of the All-Star game if the fan voting is taken away. I was always under the assumption the game is supposed to be for the fans, so naturally fans should vote for the players they want to see. This is why people who use All-Star Game appearances as a main criteria to say why a player should be in the Hall of Fame are idiots.

Did you realize you can vote online up to 25 times before the deadline of midnight, July 1? And depending on how many punch cards you scarf up at a major league stadium, a minor league game or a home improvement store (an official distribution site), you can stuff the ballot boxes full of votes for Mark Teixeira (.229, 12 home runs, 45 RBIs) instead of for Miguel Cabrera (.328, 19, 61).

I believe it is 25 times per day. The fan selection can be retarded, there is no doubt about that. Maybe, and this is just a suggestion, if ESPN didn't feature so many games that involved the New York Yankees or gave Miguel Cabrera a similar amount of coverage they give to Mark Teixeira more fans would vote for Miguel Cabrera. The same thing goes for Brennan Boesch. Perhaps if the media spent less time up the ass of Jason Heyward, they could figure out there is an equally good rookie outfielder in the American League.

Again, this is just a suggestion, but a writer for ESPN complaining that certain players aren't well enough known is very ironic to me. Naturally, the teams that win more games and are more popular are going to have players who get more votes.

So my careful, well-researched and performance-based vote for Cabrera doesn't have a chance against someone with a laptop or a chad fetish for Teixeira. Dumb.

But I want to hear from someone why you have to carefully research how well Cabrera is doing at the plate this year, while it is assumed Teixeira is having a good year. Why would fans (outside of Yankees fans) vote for Teixeira vote for him if he isn't having a good year? Why would many fans just assume Teixeira is having a good year, other than plain ignorance?

My solution: Bud Selig appoints a 12-person selection committee that chooses the starters. The committee would include a mixture of, say, Hall of Famers, members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, Bob Costas, Bill James, George Will (he's on every baseball-related commission or committee, so he might as well be on this one), someone from Baseball Prospectus and an advance scout or two.

Because we all know the BWAA is always spot-on with their analysis of players and who deserves certain honors and who doesn't deserve certain honors. It may be better to choose the All-Star Game with darts and a dartboard. The Hall of Famers probably know less than the fans (example #1: Joe Morgan) and what the hell does Bob Costas know about baseball that doesn't involve broadcasting it?

So rather than have the All-Star Game starters voted upon by the biases and perceptions of the fans who watch the games and players, we will have the starters voted on by the biases and perceptions of more famous people who watch the game and players. At this point, we are essentially switching the biases and perceptions of the average fan for the biases and perceptions of a different group of people.

You'd still have controversies, but I can live with those debates. And this way the selection show would have some meat on its bones.

I would agree that some of those people Gene listed could probably do a better job than the fans, but there is still going to be some curious selections to the All-Star team if Hall of Famers, Bob Costas, George Will and the BBWA get to least I would think so.

I love the assumption that fans are idiots when it comes to choosing the best players, but this doesn't go for the fans who read Gene's columns. Fans can be idiots when it comes to the All-Star voting, but I find it deeply ironic sportswriters like Gene believe those who fans who vote for the All-Star Game can't get accurately choose the best players, but he will be glad to use the pageviews he gets from these moronic fans who choose to read his columns to show ESPN what a great writer he is and how valuable he is to get a raise at his next annual review.

So people are idiots and can't make smart choices unless their idiocy serves some purpose.

Stephen Strasburg

Do I even have to explain why?

Yes, you do. He has had five starts in the majors. If he is one of the 12 best pitchers than he should be in the All-Star Game. This does need to be explained.

Player vote

Forget about the players voting for other players. Let them vote for the umpires.

What about a 12 man committee voting for the umpires? WHAT ABOUT A COMMITTEE INVOLVING BOB COSTAS? HE'S THE VOICE OF A GENERATION!

I've talked to players about their All-Star votes. Most of them try to make informed choices, but there are plenty who vote purely on reputation, or because they think a guy is a good dude, or because they're trying to keep somebody else off the roster.

It can get that petty and arbitrary.

So these are definitely the people we need voting for the All-Star umpires.

I am sure players wouldn't be petty or vote for an umpire based on reputation. I am sure players wouldn't punish an umpire who is good at his job but abrasive and difficult to talk to and reason with. Why not have the people who admit to having biases in voting for their peers vote for the umpires?

Stagger the starters

Instead of pulling all the starters by the fifth or sixth innings, use three in the first three innings, another three in innings four through six and another three in innings seven through nine. That way you always have at least three starters in the game.

Yeah, but this would ruin the entire purpose of the All-Star Game, which is to have all the best players on the field at the exact same time. What kind of honor would it be for a player to be voted into the All-Star Game if he gets to play the same amount of time as the backups, doesn't get to start the game, and enters the game after most East Coast viewers have gone to bed?

This is a terrible idea. So the backups would potentially play more than those players voted in to start the All-Star Game?

No more World Series home-field advantage

MLB's heart was in the right place, but the All-Star Game shouldn't determine who gets to start the World Series at home.

I've always been pretty torn on whether the All-Star Game was the best place to determine which team gets home field advantage in the World Series. At least MLB tries to make the All-Star game relevant again. I still think home field advantage should go to the team that has the best record in the majors and if that is a tie then to the team with the best record in their division. This seems easier and allows the home field advantage to go to the team that has earned it the most.

I like the idea behind it -- make the All-Star Game more meaningful -- but why would you want an RBI infield single by a Pittsburgh Pirate in July in Anaheim to be the reason the New York Yankees don't get home-field advantage in October?

I don't know. What is Gene's preference for what decides which team gets home field advantage in the playoffs? We will never know. This never fails to annoy me. It is fine to not like an idea, but if you can't think of a solution to the problem either, then you are just a part of the problem yourself. Gene may hate the idea, but he doesn't seem to have a better solution.

Ditch mandatory representation

This isn't the U.S. Senate. Not every team should get an automatic spot for one of its players.

Shouldn't this take care of the problem with home field advantage being decided by a Pittsburgh Pirate player having an RBI infield single that takes away home field advantage for the Yankees? If every team isn't forced to have a player represented in the All-Star Game shouldn't this ensure that only players who are good enough to play in the game could participate? Would it make everyone feel better about the All-Star Game deciding home field advantage in the World Series if Albert Pujols or the third-string All-Star shortstop gets an RBI base hit that takes away home field advantage for the Yankees?


Let the players sitting on the bench or in the bullpen use Twitter during the game.

Why would I really care about what the players are thinking about during the game? I want to watch the All-Star Game for the actual game itself. I don't care to be entertained by the "hilarious" thoughts of the players.

We can read their tweets online, or Fox can scroll selected messages continuously at the bottom of the screen.

Gene does know we can read the player's Tweets online now, right? The last thing I want to see during any television viewing is more shit scrolling down at the bottom or top of my screen. I don't get how more visual distractions will make the All-Star Game more enjoyable for me.

Texts are good

Girardi turns to the camera in the sixth inning and says, "If I have to bring in a new reliever in the eighth inning, who should I use? So-and-so or what's-his-name?"

This is just stupid. What if Girardi has 2 minutes to make the decision and not enough time to text out the question? What's the point of having a manager who appeared in the World Series the year before managing the All-Star team if he doesn't have a chance to actually make the changes he wants to make?

And we, the fans, text our answers during the next 10 minutes. Girardi has to go with our vote. This way the manager picks the finalists, but we pick the pitcher.

So the fans aren't smart enough to vote the players into the All-Star game, but are plenty smart enough to decide which pitcher should face which hitter?

Bud and Joe Fan

Nine randomly chosen fans -- one for each inning -- get to sit next to the commish in his swanky seats during the game. Selig buys the beers.

Why would anyone want to pay for tickets to the All-Star Game and then not get to sit with the people they came to the game with? More importantly, why would a person want to waste an inning of their life sitting next to Bud Selig?

Now if Gene was talking about letting fans sit on the bench of the NL/AL All-Star team, that may be a good idea but swanky seats are a good idea, but I don't know about sitting next to the commissioner.

I don't know if I even like the idea of ending mandatory representation because I feel like they will cause lesser players from better teams to end up on the All-Star team and cause players on teams that aren't winning as much to be overlooked. If MLB could think of a better way to determine home field advantage, other than the obvious (and best) idea of giving it to the team with the best record, than I think they should go with it.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

13 comments Joe Morgan Is Tired Of Your Stupid Chat Questions

Joe Morgan seems especially irritated this week. I don't know whether he is just having a bad day or is just getting a lot of questions he can't answer or understand, so he treats the person asking the question like he treats the book, "Moneyball," and gets really pissed off because he is too lazy to think hard or change his way of thinking. Either way, Joe comes out blazing with strong opinions this week. I think ESPN never gave Joe that Tony Perez bobblehead doll they promised him last week for chatting.

JM: The hype machine is now trying to get Stephen Strasburg on the All-Star team.

Joe Morgan two weeks ago in a chat when asked about the hoopla around Strasburg:

I think he deserves a lot of it. We tend to go overboard on a lot of it.

So Strasburg deserves a lot of the hoopla, but having him on the All-Star team would go overboard? Is this what I can put together from these two opinions?

I would have a hard time putting him in front of Lincecum, Halladay, etc.

How about putting him in front of Lincecum, Halladay and about eight other pitchers in the National League? If not, he deserves to make the All-Star team.

As I've said on our chat before, I think he's going to be a great pitcher, and there will be All-Star games he'll deserve to be on, but I find it hard to believe that a guy should make the team after three starts.

I agree. I also can't believe this is really Joe Morgan chatting because he is giving an opinion and being very bold in giving his opinion. He must feel VERY strongly that Stephen Strasburg doesn't deserve to be on the All-Star team. This is bordering on an opinion as strong as "Dave Concepcion should be in the Hall of Fame" for Joe Morgan.

Brian (New York)
Joe, has Robinson Cano finally reached his potential or is there more to come?

JM: I don't know if there is more to come, but he's a great player, and you can't always measure a great player by numbers,

This is the pissy Joe Morgan I described in the beginning of this post. The same Joe Morgan that has an attitude that refuses to acknowledge or read a book that he criticizes, "Moneyball." Brian from New York has asked an incredibly simple question of Joe Morgan and Joe Morgan doesn't understand the question, so he gets angry and starts talking about how numbers suck. Brian is merely asking if Joe thinks Robinson Cano has reached his potential or not. It's really a simple question.

Clearly, Joe Morgan has PMS this week. There was nothing in the question even close to asking about numbers or measuring Cano by his numbers. This man, Joe Morgan, needs to be fired. I hate to say it, but he doesn't answer the question posed to him in chats and is generally indifferent as to whether he learns anything new about the game of baseball. We all have these people in our workplace, people who don't care if they learn anything new, and we feel like they need to get fired or retire ASAP. Joe Morgan is that guy at ESPN.

so I don't know what you mean by "potential".

Really? Joe Morgan doesn't know what Brian means by "potential?" Does that mean the question sucked or Joe Morgan should figure out what the hell Brian is referring to? Possibly he should ask the Buzzmaster, who presumably has a middle school education, what Brian means by the word "potential." DIDN'T JOE'S KINESIOLOGY CLASS IN COLLEGE COVER THIS?

Does Joe get pissy like this in real life when he doesn't understand something?

(Joe being pulled over by a police officer) "Sir, please show me license and registration."

(Joe Morgan) "I have no idea what you mean by 'registration' but I wasn't going fast and my speed can be determined by things other than statistics."

(Joe being propositioned by a prostitute) "Care for a quickie?"

(Joe Morgan) "I don't know what you mean by a 'quickie' and there is really no way to say if I care for it or not. There are better way to measure how fast something is other than statistics."

(Joe renegotiating his contract with ESPN...the President of ESPN is speaking with him) "Joe, we feel like your performance has been fantastic, but we think you have the potential to do mor---"

(Joe Morgan) "Let me stop you right there. I don't know what you mean by 'potential,' but there is more than just viewer feedback and the fact I have to wear a bulletproof vest in public that says I could do more at this network. You can measure my performance by more than my knowledge on the game and the fact no viewers appear to like me."

(President of ESPN is smiling) "I was going to say, we are giving you a raise."

(Joe Morgan) "I am a little short, there is no need to suggest I get taller or get whatever a 'raise' is. There are better ways to measure my height than statistics."

(President of ESPN) "Joe, you are fired."

(Joe Morgan) "I don't know what you mean by 'fired' but if that is drug slang I don't appreciate the inference."

(President of ESPN hangs himself)

To ask, is there more to come? I don't know.

Then why the hell are you here? It's a baseball question about whether a player can improve or not. Who the fuck else is qualified to answer this question more than the #1 analyst for the largest sports network in the United States? Robinson Cano plays second base, Joe played second base. Presumably Joe has seen Robinson Cano play before this chat, so he should know his own opinion of whether Cano has reached his potential or not.

Joseph (Bequette)
Do you think the Cardinals will or should make a move at the trade deadline? If they do what do you think they will go after?

JM: After Wainwright and Carpenter, their starting pitching could be helped.

I guess Jaime Garcia and his sub-2.00 ERA and Brad Penny (who has been on the DL) and his 3.23 ERA aren't good enough for the Cardinals starting pitching staff in Joe's opinion. Every team needs starting pitching, but the Cardinals are in the Top 10 in the majors in nearly every single starting pitching-type statistic like quality starts (they are #1), innings, ERA, and batting average against.

Their real problem as far as I'm concerned is that some of the guys who hit so well last year will have to put up better numbers.

I think "those guys" are Brendan Ryan.

Eventually people will stop pitching to Pujols entirely, and Matt Holliday on occasion.

Which would put men on base for guys like Colby Rasmus to drive in...also teams aren't going to completely stop pitching to Albert Pujols.

I still think they need to get more contributions from Ryan, Schumacker, and Rasmus.

Colby Ramsus is currently batting .279/.381/.569. I would say he is doing his part.

Skip Schumaker (not Schumacker) is batting .251/.313/.320, which isn't good.

Brendan Ryan is batting .212/.284/.324 which is about what he has hit every year of his short career except last year.

Rasmus is playing very well and I don't know how much Schumaker and Ryan can contribute. So I would say the Cardinals need another bat in the lineup, and not rely on guys who put up great numbers last year because those guys probably won't do it again. My point is the Cardinals may not be able to get more from Brendan Ryan or Skip Schumaker.

Courtney Jackson (Lindenwold, NJ)
Hi joe, do you see the phillies taking over the nl east lead at the end of the season?

JM: I picked them to win the division at the beginning of the season, but after watching the bullpen still struggle lately and their offensive struggles, I'm still not sure. The Braves' starting pitching is the reason I thought they would be a contender, and since they're getting Jurrjens back soon, I think they'll be back in the race.

The Braves were winning the NL East when Joe wrote this and they still are. He says when Jurrjens gets back, the Braves will be "back in the race." They are currently leading the race. Joe Morgan doesn't know who is leading the division races in the sport he gets paid to cover. Is it that hard to follow the sport of baseball for him?

No one had better mention that man has already landed on the moon or else Joe's entire world will be turned around. I bet Joe Morgan just can't wait until the United States elects a black President.

Anytime you have pitching problems and they fact that they're without a great rotation outside of Hamels and Halladay -- how much can you actually count on Jamie Moyer?

Moyer is 8-6 with a 4.43 ERA, 2.31 BAA and a 1.06 WHIP. Apparently you can count on Moyer a lot. Is Jamie Moyer really the guy the Phillies can't count on? Shouldn't Blanton or Kyle Kendrick be the guy that Joe Morgan feebly tries to call out?

Joseph (St. Louis)
Who's will be the NL Central Champs?

JM: St. Louis has Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday, so anytime you have guys like that on your team, particularly Pujols, you have the edge,

Joe Morgan just got done telling us all about the Cardinals and how they are having so many problems hitting well. Now two questions later, they are the team to beat in the NL Central.

(Joe Morgan during the 2008 Presidential election talking to his wife) "I don't like what Obama has to say. It doesn't seem like he has a plan and I don't know if he has enough experience to lead the country. What scares me the most is that I don't like his foreign policy and I am not sure other countries will respect him."

(Joe's wife) "So you are voting for John McCain?"

(Joe Morgan) "Hell no, anytime you have leadership abilities like Obama has then you know he was built to be the President."

but they still do not have great starting pitching.


Here is what Joe wrote two questions ago:

Their real problem as far as I'm concerned is that some of the guys who hit so well last year will have to put up better numbers.

Joe can't even stay consistent with what he thinks from question-to-question. He deserves a brutal beating from the bat of the Inconsistency Monster right about now. Is the pitching or the hitting Joe? Which is the problem with the Cardinals?

The offense is not as consistent as I thought it would be.

Son of a bitch. The Cardinals sure have a lot of problems (in Joe's eyes) for a team winning their division right now.

I think they're still favored, but don't underestimate the Reds.

No one is underestimating the Reds. JOE is underestimating the Reds by not picking them to win the NL Central. Does Joe have multiple personalities or something? He answers the question by saying the Cardinals will win the division and then warns people who pick the Cardinals, or as I fondly call these people, JOE MORGAN HIMSELF, to not underestimate the Reds.

Joe is the only person I have ever read or met who doesn't even fucking agree with his own opinion. He lectures others on not underestimating teams in answers to questions where he is the one underestimating that team! (Bengoodfella has a seizure)

Tito (Brooklyn)

Hi Joe,The Red Sox score more runs per game on the road than every AL team except the Rays. Why do you think the Red Sox hit so well on the road?

Tito, there is no way you are getting an answer to this question. You aren't even going to get a group of sentences that could be seen as an answer.

JM: They went through a stretch where they were hitting well. Don't get too excited over that point.

That stretch is known as "this entire season." They are in the Top 10 in the American League in nearly every offensive category on the road.

They won't hit as well going forward.

Based on??????????????? The magic 8-ball Joe has?

(Joe shakes magic 8-ball and says, "will the Red Sox hit well on the road for the rest of the year?" Magic 8-ball says "is uncertain" and Joe begins to type the answer to this question.)

They're very good in Boston for obvious reasons, but I don't think they will be a great road team at the end of the season.

I guess when you are an ESPN analyst you don't have to feel obliged to explain your answers. You can just throw shit out there as analysis and see if anyone believes it.

Victor Martinez is starting to play better, but I just don't believe they're a great offensive team on the road.

Joe doesn't have to believe the Red Sox are a good offensive team on the road, but it is true. Joe doesn't have to believe the sun isn't made of butter, but that doesn't mean it is true. Joe doesn't need to believe anything he doesn't want to have to believe, but his reality doesn't always match up with actual reality. This is a good example of that.

Tito (Brooklyn)

What do you think is the Yankees biggest weakness this year?

Brazenly and without regard for his own life, Tito is back for Joe to answer another question of he wants to ask him.

JM: Their offense is not as good as I'd thought.

THAT'S the biggest weakness of the New York Yankees right they are doing compared to how well Joe Morgan thought they would be doing. He thought they would win 125 games this year and they are way off pace for that, so their biggest weakness is the high expectations Joe has for them.

One of the few times Joe tries to give an opinion, he does so in the wrong manner. No one cares about how good Joe thought the Yankees would be, the question was what is their biggest weakness. This is most likely a question that shouldn't include a weakness based on Joe's perception of the team, and should include an actual team weakness.

Rodriguez is not making the same contributions he did last year. That takes a lot away from your offense when your power hitters are down.

Let's do a blind taste-test. Which of these numbers are A-Rod's numbers on June 23 of 2009 and which are A-Rod's numbers on June 23 of 2010?

.207/.362/.443 and 9 home runs.
.281/.353/.474 and 9 home runs.

The first one is A-Rod's numbers (when he was coming off an injury) in 2009 and the second one is A-Rod's numbers for 2010. A-Rod is hitting about the same as he did last year, though he does have less home runs, but he is on pace to hit about the same as he did in 2009.

Cano is having a great year, and Swisher has done well early on, but can you count on him to be the guy?

Plus, what do you even mean by "great year" in regard to Cano?

I thought they would win a lot because of their starters and offense, but none of that seems to be consistent right now. That's why they went into last night with a one-game lead over Boston.

As I proved last week with looking at the 1976 Reds, no team is as consistent as Joe's imagination seems to believe they should be. Also, the Yankees are not consistent and Joe thinks they are struggling, yet they still have a two-game lead over the Red Sox.

Boston's starting pitching is getting better even without Becket -- whichever team of the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox gets it together first will win.

So Joe is saying which team of the three best teams in the AL East play the best over the last three and a half months will win the division? You just can't pay enough for this type of analysis. Step aside Joe Posnanski, there is a new sheriff in town. You may have your statistics and observations based on facts, but try taking the obvious and stating it. Not so easy is it?

"The winner of the three divisions or the Wild Card winner for each league will appear in the World Series this year. Whichever team that appears in the World Series for each league will be the one that played the best baseball this year. "

"Both the National League and the American League have the chance to win the All-Star game this year. It just depends on which team plays better."

Tito (Brooklyn)

Joe, with the emergence of Joey Votto and Adrian Gonzalez, is Ryan Howard now only the 4th best hitting first baseman in the NL?

(Bengoodfella speaking in a soft golf announcer voice) Tito from Brooklyn, going for the trifecta. He's asked about the Red Sox, Yankees, and now he is asking about the Phillies. Three questions about three different teams is extremely difficult, let's see if he can do it.

JM: Are you kidding? Ryan Howard's the only guy besides Pujols that does what a first baseman is supposed to do -- he hits home runs, drives in runs, and leads his team to the World Series.

No Joe, are you kidding? Are you really basing which first baseman in the National League is the best based on whether his team makes the World Series and how many RBI's he has? Seriously, Adrian Gonzalez is getting downgraded by Joe Morgan because he has David Eckstein, Chase Headley, Nick Hundley, and Scott Hairston hitting around him, while Ryan Howard has Placido Polanco, Chase Utley, Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez hitting around him? I don't really care to rate the first basemen in the National League, because it is fairly tough to do, but other than leading his team to the World Series these other guys are nearly as good/better first basemen than Ryan least this year. The following are the numbers around the time Joe had this chat:

Howard: .297/.350/.507, 14 home runs and 52 RBIs.

Votto: .308/.409/.552, 15 home runs and 47 RBIs.

Gonzalez: .315/.412/.569, 16 home runs and 48 RBIs.

Joe has to be the one kidding because as good as Ryan Howard is, under the criteria Joe just listed as what a first baseman should do, Votto and Gonzalez are doing better than or equal to what Ryan Howard is doing. Also, Gonzalez's team is in first place right now and Howard's isn't...if you want to measure these first basemen on the criteria Joe arbitrarily and ignorantly chose.

I love when I can beat down Joe Morgan based on the criteria on rating a player that he himself has created. Ryan Howard is a great first baseman and scares the shit out of me as a Braves fan, so no offense to him, but Votto and Gonzalez are impressive first basemen in their own right.

Everyone took a shot at his contract -- he's been Rookie of the Year, MVP, and led his team to a World Championship and two consecutive World Series appearances.

Dustin Pedroia has led his team to two World Series championships (Correction, I meant to type "appearances" in here not championships. Thanks to Fred for pointing this out), has a Rookie of the Year, and an MVP. Chipper Jones didn't win Rookie of the Year, has an MVP and only has one World Series championship...does that mean Pedroia is a better player than Chipper Jones ever was?

None of those guys have done that.

That's incorrect. I am too lazy to look this up, but I am pretty sure a player has done this.

I wonder why no one questions Matt Holliday's similar contract -- he's never won an MVP award or won a World Series. His numbers were put up in Colorado, where everyone puts up big hitting numbers.

What is Joe's fascination with Matt Holliday's contract? We have discussed this at-length prior to this. It is a smaller contract and people still question it, just not as much as some did Howard's contract.

More importantly, why does Joe think any criticism of Ryan Howard is about his contract? Joe is stuck on this being the reason for any criticism of Howard.

He's the second-best first baseman in the league, not fourth-best.

In the past, yes this was true, but as of today I don't know if this can be said. Statistically, he may not even be the best first baseman (in regard to performance, obviously Glaus is NOT better in the long run, but in a small sample size of "this year") in the National League East.

Troy Glaus is hitting .276/.376/.488, 14 home runs and 55 RBIs. You could argue he has been a slightly better hitter than Howard this year. My point (and I do have one) is that Joe just can't assume Howard is still the 2nd best first basemen in the National League because his team made the World Series last year.

Tito (Brooklyn)

Who should the Mets bench once Beltran returns? Pagan seems to be playing much better than Francouer right now. What do you think about this situation?

Tito is on fire right now. Four questions about four different teams.

JM: Francouer has been real streaky. He got off to a great start, then he's dropped down to less than .200.

I had heard Failcouer had been playing better this year and then I looked at his stats and he was the same old guy that drove me crazy in Atlanta. His reputation always makes it seem like he is better than he is. He is still an average to below average outfielder...but he does have a big, pretty smile the women like.

But he's swinging the bat well again. I guess when he's in a streak, you take out Pagan, but once he's not hitting well, then he should be the one to sit.

Great advice Joe! Now all the Mets need is the ability to be psychic know when Failcouer will start hitting well and when he won't start hitting well so Angel Pagan can be in the game or be pulled from the game! Is a strikeout a sign of a slump or just a bad at-bat, is a home run a sign of things to come or a bad pitch and lucky swing, and if he looks like he is swinging well but not getting hits does this mean he will hit well eventually? Who cares, let's just let the psychic figure that stuff out.

JM: Good to chat with everyone, even though I may not agree with some of your ideas. I can understand where you're coming from.

That's interesting because I don't agree with Joe's ideas and I don't have a clue where he is coming from with those ideas. Clearly Joe and I have communication issues, but we won't know for sure until we go to a psychologist because Joe can't answer questions about things like that.

A lot of it has to do with what you read in the newspaper, about the hype of Strasburg and the questions about Ryan Howard.

Generations will later re-read JoeChats and see this as the beginning of the downfall of the English language. Joe's chats are the first written assaults upon sentence structure and clear concise thoughts put down on paper and on the Internet, which will later result in Joe forming his own nation that speaks English only using prepositions and sentence fragments.

Monday, June 28, 2010

8 comments NBA Draft Grades

I not doing a Peter King MMQB today because apparently he has not written anything over the past week. His brother Bob has died so he is back in the U.S. and not covering the World Cup. Also, I don't know how fruitful for mocking his replacement-MMQB will be since Eric Winston actually seemed to have a few sensible ideas (from what I scanned over that he read). So I am having to thrown an audible in for the day.

The NBA Draft is now over and my mock draft has absolutely been torn up. I got the first 5 picks right, the 7th pick correct, and I had the 8th pick correct until I put Heyward in that spot over Aminu because I didn't believe the Warriors were really going to go with defense in the draft. I was wrong. I didn't use alphabetical grades for the NFL Draft this year, I used numerical grades between "1" and "10," so I think I will do that again for the NBA Draft. As always, you can count on my grades looking stupid in a few years.

I had thought about covering Bill Simmons draft diary, but I am pretty worn out from his diaries and live blogs at this point...and it just so happens it isn't terrible and I agreed with Bill a few times. It's scary to agree with him. I may still post it though, never count me out.

Atlanta Hawks

This is the first of many teams whose draft will cause me a headache because of all the trading that went on. Basically the Hawks netted Jordan Crawford, cash and Pape Sy (I won't make any jokes about his name because it is just too easy) in return for Damion James and Tibor Pleiss. I like Jordan Crawford, but I can't help but wonder what his place on the Hawks will be. If Joe Johnson leaves then his role is much clearer to me, but I personally would rather have had Damion James overall. I think he fits a need the Hawks have more. It seems like Jamal and Jordan Crawford are sort of a duplicate player, though Jordan Crawford is much younger. Still, Jordan could end up being a good value where he got drafted, but I think overall I would rather have Damion James.

Few people knew anything about Pape Sy, but the important thing to know is he won't be in the United States next year to play for the Hawks. The Hawks had a choice. They could have less money (which they probably need more money to sign Joe Johnson), Damion James, the 31st pick, and Derrick Caracter or Willie Warren instead of Jordan Crawford and Pape Sy. They may have needed the cash to re-sign Joe Johnson, but I still may have taken the second option. The Hawks are a deep team, but they needed a player who could help on the boards and neither Crawford or Sy are that guy.

Grade: 4

Boston Celtics

I know I am in the minority on this, but I don't see Avery Bradley as a definite point guard at the next level. I got really irritated that ESPN kept repeating this over and over. I think he will end up playing the point at times, but he is a pretty good shooter so I think the Celtics see him as a smaller Tony Allen, but also as a guy who can actually hit a jump shot or a layup, which Allen couldn't seem to do. I like the Avery Bradley pick, though it does concern me he didn't quite meet the hype at Texas after his high school career. I hope he isn't an underachiever. Bill Simmons said in his diary that he was ranked above John Wall out of high school and this is not correct. As seen here and here. John Wall always has been, at least for the previous year before he enrolled at Kentucky, ranked over Avery Bradley. I really wish Bill would just stop talking about college basketball because it is embarrassing. Bradley was a top-flight recruit, that is true, and I have a feeling Thursday was the first day Bill had really heard anything about him. How he is qualified to do a mock draft with Chad Ford after watching only the NCAA Tournament is beyond me.

I do like the Bradley pick and he had trouble fitting in on the Texas team that had major injuries at the point guard position. I think of him a little bit like a mini-Derrick Favors. The Longhorns had so many injuries he didn't get a chance to shine as much as he could have his freshman year. The Luke Harangody pick is one I am torn on. He is smaller than I would like for a power forward and I don't know how well he will do at the next level, but he was productive in college and I generally like players who are productive. So I like the pick, but don't have high hopes he will be better than Brian Scalabrine.

Grade: 7

Charlotte Bobcats

They tried to get in the draft and couldn't do it. They have needs, weren't able to meet those needs, and probably don't have enough cap room to do too much. I think they will be fighting to get back in the playoffs again this upcoming year. On the bright side, I continuously forget there is an NBA team 90 miles from my house. Bobcats Fever! Catch it!

In regards to the Bobcats, I constantly feel like a five year old child who had his favorite big wheel stolen and my parents replaced it with a tricycle I hate. How's that for a Bill Simmons analogy?

Grade: N/A

Chicago Bulls

I also realize I may be in the minority on believing this, but teams are going a little too-bananas in their clearing of salary cap room to sign free agents. Not that James, Bosh, and Wade aren't worth the money, but Chicago, New York and Miami are going all-in to sign them and there will at least be one team left in the dark without a marquee free agent and plenty of salary cap room to overpay less quality players. I understand these players are worth it, but they are shooting for the sky and some team is going to miss badly. I don't completely like what the Bulls are doing. I understand they need salary cap room, but they traded Kirk Hinrich and the #17 pick for almost nothing...a future second round pick. I know some people love this move and I don't hate it, but it is a risk. This free agent thing had better work out for them because they just got rid of a quality guard and passed up drafting another quality player at #17 for the chance to sign a big name free agent. There were good players available at #17 and Hinrich was a productive player. I understand why they are doing this, but going all-in is a big risk for a team that could be a perennial playoff team without adding a Wade, James or Bosh-type player. If the Bulls added a player like James or Wade they won't even need another max-contract player.

Grade: 3 (pending free agency...I don't like this strategy for the Bulls because they had a good team already. I think it is a big risk)

Cleveland Cavaliers

Cleveland didn't give a shit about this draft and for good reason. They are worried about re-signing LeBron James. I wasn't sure to be more annoyed or impressed with Mo Williams' Twitter groveling to not be traded. I'm not sure if the Cavs have given LeBron a good enough reason to stay at this point.

Grade: N/A

Dallas Mavericks

I like the Mavericks trade of cash for Dominique Jones. The Mavs need another scorer and Jones can definitely do that. He is a pure shooting guard and I think he will fit in very well with the Mavs. I do sort of wish the Mavs had kept Alabi since he was a good value at #50, but they did get a future 2nd round pick out of it from the Raptors, which is a team that doesn't look like it has a bright immediate future, so that pick could end up being in the #31-#38 range.

I am a little bit confused about this trade detail from CBSSportsline though:

Raptors acquire No. 50 pick Solomon Alabi from Mavericks for future second-round pick and cast

I knew the Mavs were up against the salary cap a bit, but I didn't know they couldn't afford basic medical needs. Do they anticipate a broken bone in the near future?

Grade: 7

Denver Nuggets

They tried to get into the draft, but couldn't. It's hard to get a pick when you don't have much to give or aren't willing to give much. The best news for them is Carmelo Anthony is thinking about signing an extension.

Grade: N/A

Detroit Pistons

I love the Greg Monroe pick. The Pistons were lucky Don Nelson decided to start paying attention to defense and took an inferior player before them. At his very worst, Monroe is a good passing big man who can come off the bench and provide a Swiss Army knife-variety of needs for the Pistons. He can pass, shoot and even handle the ball. He's not really a center, but he is more of a Lamar Odom-type forward and will meet the needs of the Pistons well. I am not as high on the choice of Terrico White because he is like Rodney Stuckey, but with more of a shooting guard body in my opinion. Still, it was a great pick for the Pistons because White isn't close to a finished product and he can fill in very well when the Pistons decide to put Richard Hamilton out of his misery.

Grade: 8

Golden State

I was always under the impression a team would want to choose a franchise changing player or at least a franchise impacting player at #6 in the draft. Don Nelson and the Warriors are always taking my expectations and flipping them around. You can't draft a guy like Epke Udoh at #6. He isn't an impact player or a franchise changing player. He is a potentially good player, but he isn't a high lottery pick. What the hell do the Warriors have against Anthony Randolph and Brandan Wright? Is Don Nelson absolutely against these players being able to prove they can play? Why ruin the potential of those two by drafting Udoh? Yes, Udoh is a good defensive player, but he isn't a center and I still question how he fits in on Nelson's team that traditionally hates defense. Terrible pick in this spot. Terrible fit for what Nelson really wants to do...which isn't play defense.

Grade: 1

Houston Rockets

I thought this was a great, if not obvious, pick for the Rockets. Maybe this means they won't re-sign Scola. I don't agree with that decision, but Patterson's competition at power forward involves Jordan Hill, so even if Scola is re-signed I see Patterson playing good minutes. Great pick and Patterson is going to be a guy who buys into what Daryl Morey is selling in Houston and will also provide a great insurance policy if Scola doesn't return.

Grade: 8

Indiana Pacers

I didn't completely get the drafting of Paul George by the Pacers. They needed a point guard and their best player is a small naturally they avoid all point guards and take a small forward with their #10 pick. Was there really no way of getting a point guard of any type out of this draft? Mangum Rolle has a great name, but wouldn't it be worth it to draft a point guard of any type at that point? Scottie Reynolds and Sherron Collins were available. Hell, Mikhail Torrence was available. Rolle is a 24 year old who isn't going to help this year, while the Pacers still need a point guard. I can't really argue too much with the pick of George and Stephenson is a good player (potentially), but I am continually confused as to how a team that has a glaring need continuously ignores that need in the draft two years in a row. The Pacers didn't make any trades to free up cap room and they still have an influx of wingmen on the roster. Why not draft a point guard at some point or move up to grab one or use the pick to trade for one?

Grade: 4 (just based on the fact I like the pick of Stephenson and he is worth the risk)

Los Angeles Clippers

I will regret this statement, but I really love this draft by the Clippers. I had Aminu mocked to the Clippers with a glowing review of the pick until I gave Aminu to the Warriors because I didn't believe they would actually draft a player who likes defense. Then to get Eric Bledsoe...I won't say too much about him, I promise, but he is a great choice to replace Baron Davis one day. Aminu is a perfect fit for this Clippers team and Bledsoe landed in a good spot. Before this season Willie Warren was considered a Top 15 pick and now he was grabbed by the Clippers in the second round? Great pick. Also, Blake Griffin is back this year pending any further injuries. This is like a draft of four quality players for the Clippers.

The one downside is that Bill Simmons has already said he liked Eric Bledsoe in his draft diary and I was the first to stalk Bledsoe, so when Bill starts fawning over him at some point I will be upset. As I said in my comments on the day of the draft, Bill will make up some stupid rule to explain why Bledsoe was overlooked, but it is simple. He was overshadowed by John Wall and anyone who watched him play saw the potential. He was overshadowed by Wall at Kentucky and played out of position all year. Sorry, I guess I didn't quit talking about Bledsoe. I am going to feel stupid when he puts up 2.7 ppg 1 apg and 0.3 steals his first year.

Grade: 9

Los Angeles Lakers

It's almost unfair. I'm not saying the two second round picks the Lakers had will pan out, but I am saying they made great picks and Caracter and Ebanks have a great chance to work out. Ebanks wasn't a first round talent like he had been mocked up by some, but he is definitely worth a second round pick. He has too much talent and the Lakers could use some athleticism off the bench. There aren't too many 6'9" forwards who can guard point guards, shooting guards, small forwards, and power forwards. If there is a team that can work well with Derrick Caracter and his weight issues, it is the Lakers. Having Kobe Bryant on that team will ensure he either quits the first year because he is tired of being called fat and unmotivated or he will excel and end up starting later in the season. If he gets his shit together (by "shit" I mean his weight) then Derrick Caracter can start for a good NBA team. Of course he has never actually gotten it all together, but if he does then the Lakers could be looking at a guy who will get Andrew Bynum's minutes when he gets hurt again. I just hope these two guys get a chance to earn some minutes (assuming Caracter doesn't get unmotivated before Lakers camp this season).

Grade: 9

Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies are getting some shit for selling Dominique Jones to the Mavericks, but I don't think he had a place on this team anyway. He wouldn't have gotten the minutes he needed to develop and the Grizzlies didn't have a need for him in my mind after drafting Xavier Henry. If the Grizzlies are planning on starting Henry at SF when/if Rudy Gay leaves then this would be a mistake. Henry is a shooting guard and I think any attempt to have him play small forward will be a bad idea. I don't think he can guard opposing small forwards. I would like to have seen the Grizzlies try to get a big man at #25 instead of selling away the pick, but that's not how it worked out.

Mike Conley hopefully got the message today. His time is going to be very short in Memphis. Greivis Vasquez is a leader, a great passer, a great rebounder, and everything Conley is not...except fast. So Conley can beat Vasquez in a track meet and that's about it. I see Vasquez getting the majority of the minutes at point guard by mid-February. He's not athletic, that's not a shock, and he isn't the best defender, but he will end up starting for this Grizzlies team. Long term, he may not be a starter, but for this Grizzlies team he is a starter. Still, they needed a big man somewhere in this draft and they didn't get it.

Grade: 6

Miami Heat

The Heat have decided to blow everything up and try to get free agents to come to Miami. If it works, then great, if it doesn't work then the Heat may struggle to win 10 games next year. I don't know how to grade this draft without knowing the players around these guys. Assuming Wade and Bosh come to Miami then I like the moves the Heat made in this draft because they got a backup center with a ton of potential (and weight) Dexter Pittman, a great defensive forward who is perfect to be the 8th best player on a good team in Varnado, a leader and intangibles guy in Butler who can handle the ball, and a guy in Latavious Williams who will be a good SF off the bench. Basically, if the Heat ended up drafting a bench for their team, they did a great job. If they drafted starters, it was terrible, and they should have kept the #18 pick. Free agency is making teams do crazy things this year.

Grade: 5 (I have no idea which way to go depending on free agency. It is an 8 with two good free agents and a 2 with no free agents and a 5 with Wade the only free agent signed by the Heat)

Milwaukee Bucks

This is a boom-or-bust draft for me. If the Bucks hit on all the big men they drafted then this will be a great draft for the Bucks. How often do three different big men pan out though? Actually, what are the odds two of these big men will work out? I like the Larry Sanders pick for the Bucks. He needs to add some weight, but part of what makes him effective is that he can run the floor. I don't think Hobson will ever see the floor in the NBA to be honest. I base that on the Bucks trading for Maggette and Chris Douglas-Roberts and I wasn't impressed what little I saw of Hobson while he was in college. I will say I didn't see much, but he probably shouldn't have declared for the draft in my opinion. I am not sure if Jerome Jordan will ever be in the NBA either. He looks like he has great potential, but he is so raw offensively I don't know if he will develop in the NBA. Hobson and Jordan will make a great combination in the D-league though. My favorite part of the Bucks draft is they drafted Robert (Tractor) Traylor again, except his name is Tiny Gallon. The good news is they didn't have to trade the rights to Dirk Nowitzki to get him. Hide the food from Tiny Gallon and give to Larry Sanders, that's my best advice for the Bucks.

Grade: 6

Minnesota Timberwolves

When I saw the Timberwolves draft Wesley Johnson and then draft Luke Babbitt, I just laughed. The T-Wolves just love taking multiple players at one position in the draft and of course they would take two SF in this draft. When I heard Babbitt got traded, it actually made sense, until I saw the T-Wolves were getting a small forward, Martell Webster, back in the trade. The T-Wolves just have to draft or trade over lottery picks don't they? I don't particularly like Johnson as 4th best player in this draft and think the T-Wolves reached to get Lazar Hayward. I do like the T-Wolves got Hayward and Nemanja Bjelica for the #23 pick, that was a good trade. As to why the T-Wolves chose two projects with their other two second round picks (both foreign players) doesn't make sense at all to me. I wasn't aware the T-Wolves were close enough to winning that they didn't need immediate help. Individually, I don't hate this draft, but as a whole they drafted a SF I don't like at #4, a bench player (on a crappy team) at #30, and two projects that aren't ready to contribute anytime soon. The least they could have done is draft a big man to trade Al Jefferson and get some assets back.

I love the report from ESPN this weekend, that if the T-Wolves re-sign Darko then they will trade Al Jefferson. Something about re-signing a shitty player so they can trade a good player seems perfect for the T-Wolves.

Grade: 3

New Jersey Nets

The Nets drafted Favors at #3 and here is a scouting report on him, "If he becomes a more polished scorer he could develop into an Antonio McDyess type talent." That's kind of a low ceiling for the #3 pick isn't it? I don't believe that scouting report, but I thought that was kind of a funny way of describing Favors. I can't wait to see what Favors does with an actual point guard getting the ball to him. I think he has some turd-ish ability on the court and I do hate his body language and how he seems to coast through the game. I would feel that way if I had no point guard to get me the ball too, I guess. I love the Damion James pick, even if he didn't quite do everything at Texas I had anticipated he could do. That's sort of par for the course with a Rick Barnes-coached player. James fills up the stat sheet and I remember him being considered a high 1st round pick at one point. The Nets are on the right track, but a lot of it depends on how Favors shares with Lopez in the paint and how he develops.

Grade: 9 (I am assuming Favors will enjoy having an actual PG getting him the ball and I like Damion James a lot. He does everything well. How will this not translate well to the NBA?)

New Orleans Hornets

So let me get this straight? The Hornets traded the #11 pick AND Morris Peterson to the Thunder for the #21 and #26 pick? There wasn't a gun involved in this transaction? If I am Chris Paul, this is the last straw for me. I am out of there. The Hornets could have had Xavier Henry, Ed Davis or possibly a number of other players who would have a positive impact on the team. So with the #21 and #26 pick the Hornets chose two role players. Brilliant! If you are a team with obvious holes why not draft two role players with a limited ceiling? The least the Hornets could have done is draft a high ceiling guy to give the fans false hope. Don't get me wrong, I like Craig Brackins and I like Quincy Pondexter. I like Pondexter as a small forward off the bench and I love Craig Brackins as the 5th starter on a good team. Maybe I am naive or maybe I am simple, but I don't get how a team with obvious needs doesn't fucking address those needs in the draft and then trades BACK to get role players. How does this make sense? Draft a young guy who has a ton of potential to trick your fans into believing you are trying to put a team around Chris Paul. That's the least the Hornets could do.

Grade: 5 (I like the players, I hate the fact they aren't going to fit the Hornets glaring needs)

New York Knicks

The pick of Andy Rautins was a crowd pleaser, but the fact he isn't worth the #38 pick in the draft shouldn't be. Rautins can shoot and he played good defense in the zone system at Syracuse, but I really, really have doubts about how his skills translate to the NBA level. Landry Fields seems like a guy who plays basketball very well and that's about it. He was on the first team for the weakest major conference in college basketball this year (Pac-10) he has that going for him. I don't get how these were the two picks for the Knicks with Lance Stephenson, Devon Ebanks, and Solomon Alabi available. All of those guys would have been good values at the point where the Knicks picked and provide a tremendous amount of potential and more basketball skill than the Rautins and Fields. Basically, the Knicks chose two guys who may not have even been drafted in the early second round. It sounds like they are another team who is really, really hoping to get LeBron James and another marquee free agent. They are like the Heat in that if they land those guys then the Fields and Rautins picks may not look so bad.

Grade: 4

Oklahoma City Thunder

I have to give the Thunder some credit. They had a weakness inside and they went out and tried to find players to fix that weakness. I just yelled at the Pacers for not doing this very thing so I can't be a hypocrite. As much as I don't like Cole Aldrich, he will be better than what the Thunder have now and you know what you are getting from him. He is at worst a backup center and the Thunder needed size. I don't see Aldrich ever being a star or a starter, so I don't think he was worth the #11 pick, but again, at least the Thunder tried to address their needs. The Thunder gave up two first round picks to trade up and get Aldrich, one of which they would have traded anyway, so it may end up being worth it. Ryan Reid had no business being drafted and I would be shocked to see him make the team and not be in the D-league this year. I like the Pleiss pick, though he apparently is signed to Germany until 2012 and then wants to go play in Spain after that. Maybe the Thunder can change his mind. I wanted to see them draft a SF to back up Durant, but they needed to get taller and they tried to do that. So they are taller now, congratulations to them.

Grade: 6

Orlando Magic

I didn't realize so many "experts" hated Daniel Orton as much as they do. He backed up DeMarcus Cousins this year at Kentucky so it's not like we got a great look at what he can do and no one said he was going to be an All-Star his first year in the NBA. If there is a team in the NBA that can afford to take a risk on a player at the center position it is the Magic. I do hope Orton doesn't learn some of Dwight Howard's bad habits, though I think he already has a more sophisticated offensive game compared to Howard. I hated Stanley Robinson in the first round, but at #59 this is a great pick. He is an athlete and will be a great rebounder off the bench...assuming he makes the team.

Nitpick time! What lowers this grade dramatically is the Magic are a deep team, but I still believe they needed another point guard out of this draft. What was wrong with taking a PG at #29 and then drafting a big man in the second round? The Magic need a better backup than what is available now. If Nelson gets hurt again, they are screwed.

Grade: 6

Philadelphia 76ers

They only had one pick and they chose the right guy. Favors would have been tempting to draft and there may come a time when the 76ers wish they had taken DeMarcus Cousins, but Evan Turner could very well be a star in the NBA. I actually think he was held back last year because he had to play the point guard position at Ohio State. I actually think Evan Turner was badly misused out of necessity at Ohio State. He played too much point guard for my liking. It isn't the best place for him and to have another player on the roster who is like Iguodala is not a bad thing. Iguodala is a great #2 option, but he isn't a #1 guy. Evan Turner can be that guy.

Grade: 9

Phoenix Suns

It is not secret to those who read this blog that I like Gani Lawal. In fact, there were so many times last year I thought he was a better player than Derrick Favors (no, I wasn't drunk or high). He outrebounded and outscored Favors last year. Lawal works very hard on the boards and I didn't always see Favors do that. Maybe I just had higher expectations for Favors. As a Duke fan, Lawal is the guy I didn't want to see on the floor during the game. I wanted him in foul trouble the entire game because he had the ability to kill Duke inside. The Suns made a great pick with him. Dwayne Collins is a bit undersized for a power forward and I always had the feeling he just wanted to punch someone. You aren't beating him to a rebound without a fight. He has a little bit of Ben Wallace in him I believe. The Suns needed these guys and they made great picks. I just hope these two guys are given a chance to succeed.

Grade: 8

Portland Trailblazers

The Blazers needed a rebounder in my opinion. I have fond feelings for Elliot Williams from his time at Duke but I don't think he was the right guy at #22 for the Blazers. Granted, the Blazers do have a deep team, but I feel like they could have taken advantage of their depth better. Babbitt isn't a terrible pick at #16, but it appears the Blazers are set at small forward, at least in the starting lineup. I guess when you have a team with so much depth it is hard to find guys in the draft who don't duplicate what you already have. I thought the Blazers were in a position to get a difference maker in the draft if they had chosen to and they only chose rotational guys. Of course what does Kevin Pritchard care? He was getting the hell out of there anyway. I would have drafted the shittiest players available if I had gotten fired and still had to draft for the team that fired me.

Grade: 7

San Antonio Spurs

I always tend to give the Spurs the benefit of the doubt. Then they go and draft the guy who I find to be quite overrated, James Anderson. So clearly someone is wrong and I still don't think it is me. Not to say Anderson can't succeed on the Spurs, but he is a guy who is similar to Roger Mason Jr to me. He can shoot and doesn't seem to have too much interest in doing anything else. Anderson doesn't enjoy driving to the basket, which means he doesn't seem to be an ideal fit to be the replacement for any of the older players on the Spurs. Who knows, maybe the Spurs teach him to drive better or he will fit in perfectly in their system. Ryan Richards is a guy who I have heard a little bit about and I feel like the Spurs tend to know what they are doing in the overseas market. For me, the best news for the Spurs is that Tiago Splitter is looking to come to America and I think he could have a bigger impact on the Spurs than either of these picks.

Grade: 6 (I bumped it up a point because the Spurs generally are good drafters and there is a 35% chance I am wrong about Anderson)

Sacramento Kings

The Kings were very smart to ignore the maturity issues and take DeMarcus Cousins. True centers with skill don't come along very often and Cousins is a guy who could easily average 20 ppg and 10 rpg for a few years. He was a good choice for the Kings. The pick of Hassan Whiteside I hated and I loved. I hated it because I feel like they already took a semi-risky center pick at #5 and didn't need Whiteside on the team. The Kings could very well have twin towers in their future, but they could also have invested all their cards in two risky big men. I didn't like the pick for those reasons. Otherwise, I love the Whiteside pick because he has a huge amount of potential and he can reach that potential. To take a guy who could be as good as Whiteside could be in the second round is just tremendous. The odds of both these guys busting aren't great, so the Kings probably got a quality center out of this draft, even if it took two picks to do it.

Grade: 9

Toronto Raptors

The Raptors just re-drafted Chris Bosh. A left-handed lanky power forward from the ACC. I don't think Davis is just a complementary player at all. He came from UNC which has a system that focuses on the team concept and few players are going to score a ton of points on average during the year. I honestly can't think of a better power forward to replace Bosh with in this draft. I think both players have a similar skill set. I am not saying Davis will be Chris Bosh, but he feels similar to him. Solomon Alabi was also a great pick at #50. How he lasted that long I don't know. He's incredibly raw, but he also works hard and was a great value pick in the second round. Alabi can get better. The Raptors may not have had an incredibly impressive draft, but they did get better in regards to their power forward and center position.

Grade: 8

Utah Jazz

Was there any doubt the Jazz were going to take a white guy? Maybe the Jazz should have moved back in the draft to feel more comfortable. I know how good Gordon Hayward has looked and I know he is full of intangibles, but he wasn't even the best player available and may not have been the best small forward available. I know people have doubted Hayward his whole life and he has proven them wrong. He looked good in the NCAA Tournament and those who watched Butler before that knew he was good the entire year. He just isn't a #9 pick. He fills a need for the Jazz, I will grant that, but the Jazz needed a power forward to replace Boozer or another scoring guard. Henry or Ed Davis would have been much better choices. I guess I am one of those underestimating Hayward again. I just don't think he is going to be the 3rd/4th best player on a championship team...and I am assuming Utah wants to be a championship team. Jeremy Evans had no chance at being drafted and rather than take an athletic power forward like Stanley Robinson or a player with a high ceiling who hasn't reached his potential like Derrick Caracter, the Jazz wasted the pick on Evans.

Grade: 2

Washington Wizards

The Wizards got John Wall. He is the best player in the draft and the team's fortunes could very well turnaround. Now if they could just do something with Gilbert Arenas. The Wizards stole Kirk Hinrich from the Bulls and they even got a great foreign prospect in Kevin Seraphin. How ironic will it be this next season when the Bulls cleared out all this room to get marquee free agents and the Wizards beat them out for a playoff spot? I'm not saying the Wizards will make the playoffs, but Seraphin was the best foreign prospect in this draft as well as a guy who is a power forward, a position of need for the Wizards. I could make this a "10" if they had just not overdrafted for Trevor Booker. I like Booker, but not in the first round. That was a terrible reach. There were so many better players on the board at that point. If they had drafted Damion James, Terrico White or Hassan Whiteside I think they would have knocked this draft out of the park. Booker is a hard worker and he will be productive, but I think the Wizards could have done better.

Grade: 8

A week without a Peter King column is a sad week.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

14 comments Rick Reilly Is On A Mission To Continuously Show How Terrible Of A Writer He Truly Is

Rick Reilly could pretty much be featured here at BotB anytime he writes a column. He combines the bad jokes of Woody Paige, smarmy nature of a guy who doesn't have to go to work anymore because his father owns the business and will inherit it, the lack of sports knowledge of Gregg Easterbrook and the terrible sportswriting of a Bill Simmons impersonator. He is a quadruple threat in that way. In fact, I feel terrible that I just indirectly compared Bill Simmons to Rick Reilly. It's unfair to insult Simmons in that way.

So I only feature the Rick Reilly articles that are so terrible I have to write about them or I would write about him every week and his columns are not even close to be interesting enough to do that. Rick Reilly has written the ten most annoying things about the World Cup. Actually, he lists the same "thing" three times, but it wouldn't be a Rick Reilly column if he didn't cheat in some way.

Here are the top 10 most annoying things about watching the World Cup already:

"A column by Rick Reilly" had better be #1 on this list. Let's see how many cultures Rick can mock in this column.

1. That pesky cerebrum-blowing incessant buzzing sound coming from the TV set. "Babe, something's wrong with the TV," my wife said Saturday. But there wasn't anything wrong. It was the dreaded vuvuzelas, the yard-long plastic horns (voo-voo-zella) that South African fans blow all the time, without rhyme nor reason,

Those crazy Africans and their silly traditions! AFRICANS HAVE STUPID TRADITIONS!

They never stop. It's like having a desk in the center cubicle at American Bee, Inc. They sound like 80,000 yaks getting sick. They are the leading cause of Tylenol sales in the world today.

I demand of ESPN right Rick Reilly or hire a joke writer for his columns. It's time for him to stop making jokes that are right in the wheel house of Jay Leno or directed towards a generation that fought in World War II.

2. The embarrassing photographer bibs the guys on the bench have to wear during the game. They're very purple and dorky.

Dorky? I swear to God, this may be the worst column Rick Reilly has ever written. I don't even have jokes to make, it is so bad. I should just copy and paste the entire article and just type "this is terrible" at the bottom. My point would be made. He is giving writers who mail in columns a bad name right now.

Hey, are you on the American national soccer quad or do you throw bags for Northwest Airlines?

Haha! Throwing bags for Northwest Airlines is only for lower class people who dress like dorks and look stupid because they are poor. Rick Reilly has a shitload of money, class and many famous friends. He is wealthy and would only throw bags for Northwest Airlines if he could do it only to show how poor people work during the day. POOR PEOPLE HAVE STUPID JOBS THAT DON'T REQUIRE YOU TO BE WELL-DRESSED!

3. The Twinkie-fingered gloves goalkeepers wear.

This gave me a great idea. Let Rick Reilly stand in the goal and see if he could stop a soccer ball coming at him with batting gloves or any other thin type of glove that Reilly thinks would look better. I bet a ball would hit his hands and he would fall down on the ground holding his hands like he got shot. Soccer players kick the ball really, really hard so it is important not to have your finger break when you try to catch the ball and it is also important to make sure you hold on to the ball when it is kicked in your direction. I would love to see a group of 100 World Cup strikers shoot the ball at Reilly and see how the "cool" gloves he wants goalies to wear feel when the soccer ball hits his hands.

Also, since when did Reilly become a fashion icon to where he could point out what looks good and what doesn't? His picture on ESPN's site looks like someone is giving him an anal probe and he is actually enjoying it. All that is missing is him wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a cabana boy bringing him drinks continuously.

No wonder the English goalkeeper allowed that easy shot to give America a 1-1 tie in the Group C opener. You couldn't stop a beach ball with those big goofy things.

Actually if the beach ball weighed as much as a soccer ball and was still huge, it would be incredibly tough to stop a beach ball kicked at the speed a soccer ball gets kicked.

What, is Hamburger Helper a sponsor? Why must they be so huge? Doesn't Roger Rabbit need them back? And where do the batteries go?

There's no excuse for this. I am getting indignant like Peter King now. There are real journalists who aren't making 5% of what Rick Reilly makes who actually work hard to write well. You know how anti-abortion fanatics protest outside of abortion clinics? Rick Reilly is currently aborting the profession of sports journalism, perhaps those same protesters should move outside of the castle where Reilly lives and protest him performing journalistic abortions.

And is it difficult to play goalie while also taking things out of the oven?

I want to hear from one person who likes Rick Reilly. I would love to. I can understand how people can like nearly every sportswriter or at least read the writers columns. I really can. For example, Jay Mariotti, you read him just to hate him. Why the fuck would you read a Rick Reilly column other than to write 5,000 words about how bad it sucks and to raise your blood pressure?

4. The godforsaken vuvuzelas! Make them stop!

That would be the same topic as #1 on this list. Rick Reilly can't even make an entire list of 10 reasons why the World Cup sucks without rehashing something he has written previously.

Soccer fans sing and chant inane hilarious things like, "We are from Norway! We came on a plane! And we are very drunk!" But we don't get to hear the singing and the chanting because of the horrible, hideous, heinous vuvuzelas!

No soccer fans that I know of chant this particular and this chant is not hilarious. Rick fails on all counts. ESPN pays Rick Reilly to write columns. Just think about that. He gets paid to pretend people from Norway who attend the World Cup chant things like this. The presence of Rick Reilly makes me question my belief in a higher power.

My god, they should take them into the mountainous caves region of Pakistan and play them until Osama bin Laden comes running out, screaming, "OK, OK! I give!"

Because they are so annoying even Osama bin Laden can't stand them! That's how bad the vuvuzelas! This is comedy!

These guys collapse as though they've just caught a javelin in the groin every time an opponent so much as asks them for the time. These guys make Paul Pierce look sincere. Sell it somewhere else, Sven.

Apparently Rick Reilly does not like the country of Norway or people from Norway named Sven. Possibly Sven stole away Rick's wife or was the first to point out Reilly is a talentless hack...there is no telling really why he holds this grudge.

We live in the U.S., where hockey players pop their eye back into their socket without missing a shift.

And all of these hockey players who pop their eye back into their socket without missing a shift are from Canada and other countries. So they aren't American, they just happen to play hockey in America.

Americans are proud to have college basketball which has a huge flopping problem, just like soccer does.

6. The yellow cards. I love the way the refs come running up to the player as though he has just taken out a chainsaw and sawed somebody's hand off.

Intentional ignorance is no excuse for failing to understand soccer by putting down that you find something annoying about the sport. The ref runs up to the player to decrease the amount of dead time, to let the scorekeeper know exactly which player got the yellow card and because play continues immediately after and the ref wants the player to be aware he received a card. Perhaps if Rick Reilly spent more time figuring out soccer and less time pretending to be annoyed by it, he wouldn't sound like such an idiot.

And then all the ref does is snap his little yellow piece of paper out of his shirt pocket and stick it in the offender's face, as though the little yellow card has some kind of superpower. As if to say, "Ha! you are powerless against my little yellow piece of paper, which shows your less-than-average marks from third grade!"

There's really no comment I have for this. The overall horribleness of this section speaks for itself.

I'd love to see that in the middle of an NBA fight. Can you imagine seeing some ref come running up to Rasheed Wallace after laying out Carmelo Anthony with a roundhouse right and sticking that yellow card right in his face? He'd soon be digesting it through his ear hole.


You will not see more ties at a J.C. Penney's Father's Day sale. I hate ties. Doesn't anybody want to win in this sport? All these ties are about as exciting as a Jonas Brothers roundtable on sex.

(the sound of talented sportswriters weeping)

8. The World Cup itself. Really? All this running and vuvuzela-ing and pulling off shirts for that trophy? It looks like somebody soldered it together in their basement -- after drinking a handle of Jack Daniel's. It looks like something you'd use to prop open your Tuff Shed door during spring cleaning.

You know things are bad for Rick Reilly when he is ripping off...(drum roll)

Scoop Jackson. Scoop wrote his column on June 15 at 2:07 pm and Rick Reilly wrote his on June 15 at 2:09 pm. All Rick Reilly needs is two minutes to steal someone else's work, when he is not busy re-writing his old columns or stealing ideas from his old columns.

10. The vuvuzelas from eardrum-hellas! Don't tell me it's discrimination to want them to stop.

Rick Reilly has stolen an idea from Scoop Jackson and regurgitated the same idea three previous times. So really there are seven reasons he is annoyed by the World Cup, but he just repeats himself twice and his ESPN editor is fine with this.

Don't tell me it's an essential part of South African culture. If it is, it's an annoying part of their culture. Yes, I know that centuries ago, the vuvuzelas were made from animal horns to call the village elders in for a meeting. And I'll bet you five wildebeests that when the elders finally got to the meeting they said, "Would you STOP already with the blowing? You're making me crazy!"

Not to nitpick Rick's HILARIOUS joke, but if all the elders finally get to the meeting the blowing would have already stopped because the vuvuzelas were used to call the elders to the meetings and they would have stopped blowing if all the elders were there already.

I've been to Africa four times.

And probably stayed in a 5-star hotel paid for by someone else four times.

They do some of the most beautiful singing you can imagine. At the World Cup, I'm hearing no singing. I'm hearing no chanting. I'm hearing 80,000 kazoos on steroids.

The vuvuzelas were annoying at first, but if you watch enough of the World Cup (I know Rick won't do this because he just makes his millions off sports, but actually hates sports) then you eventually don't notice them anymore. This is more than I can say for a Rick Reilly column. I can read 100 of them and still notice how terrible they are.

Friday, June 25, 2010

9 comments Jon Heyman Makes A List of Good Decisions and I Nitpick It

Jon Heyman, everyone's favorite Scott Boras publicist, has listed the twenty best decisions of the past 365 days. Not shockingly given my history with Mr. Heyman, I tend to disagree with a few of them and have different troubles with others. It appears I tend to jump all over Jon Heyman whenever he makes a list. Today is not different.

While some of the best moves in baseball over the past calendar year were obvious, like the Braves' decision to keep phenom Jason Heyward on their Opening Day roster,

It was obvious to give up an extra year of control over Heyward rather than let him sit in the minor leagues for two months? This was just a simple decision to make knowing what we know now. In retrospect, it was a good move and it seemed like a good move at the time, but I wouldn't call the decision obvious. There were financial reasons to hold Heyward down in the minors for a while.

others -- such as the Cubs' acquisition of Carlos Silva -- were panned at the time but have proven to be good calls. It's just further proof that it often makes sense to wait before passing judgment on moves that might have seemed questionable at the time they were made.

Of course half of this specific season hasn't gone by, so a reasonable person may say Jon Heyman should wait for the season to end before passing judgment on the 20 best decisions that were made.

With that in mind, here are the 20 best decisions over the past 365 days.
(NOTE: the best free-agent signings were listed in this space two weeks ago, so this will be the best decisions in the non-free-agent division.)

It's the best decisions over the last 365 days, just so Heyman could shoehorn a little praise for Boras client Stephen Strasburg in this article. I think it is written in Heyman's contract with Boras that he praise at least one Boras client per column.

1. The Nationals' signing of Stephen Strasburg

(Scott Boras nods his head approvingly)

Everyone might think this was easy.

You mean the decision to sign the #1 overall pick is an easy decision? Signing the one player the Nationals could have chosen out of every eligible baseball player, this deserves some sort of congratulations? Knowing before they drafted Strasburg that Boras was his representative and still drafting him...and then miraculously signing him. That's some top-notch team management there. It may have been difficult to sign Strasburg, but it was really a no-brainer considering the Nationals pretty much had all the facts on what it would take to sign Strasburg before they drafted him.

If a team is going to draft a guy #1 overall, it is an easy decision to sign this guy. Only the retarded-ass Nationals could have made this a difficult decision.

But the Nationals failed to sign their No. 1 pick, pitcher Aaron Crow, the year before and knew they'd have to pay the biggest signing bonus ever to secure Strasburg.

Crow wasn't the #1 overall pick and the Nationals got a lot of shit for not signing him. Also, the Nationals knew how much money Strasburg would require before they drafted him. It is not like they drafted him and were shocked to learn he wanted the largest signing-bonus ever given to a player taken in the draft.

Just to be clear, this list of the best moves in the last 365 days involved signing the #1 pick in the MLB Draft. That is just a low standard for the rest of these moves to have to meet.

3. The Tigers' acquisition of Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer and Phil Coke in the three-team trade with the Yankees and Diamondbacks for Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson.

This was the most unpopular of moves at the time in Detroit.

Dumping payroll and trading for two unproven players and a middle reliever? How in the world could that be controversial?

It's way early to say for sure, but as of today it looks boffo,

Boffo? Really?

It's not too early to say for sure this trade deserves to make Jon Heyman's list of the best moves of the last 365 days! That whole, "waiting and passing judgment" thing is out the window at this point. Everyone knows the best way to evaluate a trade is after a little more than a third of the season has been played.

Scherzer has shown only flashes of greatness, and Coke is a middle reliever.

I like the deep analysis Jon Heyman provides here. I am not arguing with the trade necessarily because Austin Jackson has been great, while Granderson has been injured and not very effective.

Scherzer has been pretty much a bad pitcher this year and Phil Coke, "a middle reliever," as Heyman so expertly calls him as been great. Granderson has been injured and just as awful against lefties (.207/.246/.328) as advertised. It appears this was a good trade for the Tigers, but I would file this under "a bit too early to tell," though it does look like the Tigers stole Jackson.

4. The Padres' decision not to trade Adrian Gonzalez and/or Heath Bell

Everyone assumed new Padres GM Jed Hoyer would want to make a big splash and set the team up for the future by trading All-Star 1B Adrian Gonzalez, who could bring a haul with his reasonable contract ($10 mil over two years) and big-time talent.

This does appear to be a great short-term decision. Long term...I am not so sure. Allow me to explain.

However, Hoyer and Padres decision-makers held both Gonzalez and top reliever Heath Bell, fortified the rotation by adding stable veteran Jon Garland and kept their fingers crossed. To everyone's surprise -- except maybe San Diego's brass -- the Padres have been at or near the top of the NL West all year.

Before we go saying what a genius Hoyer was for not trading Adrian Gonzalez and Heath Bell, let's also remember the Padres have pretty much no shot of signing both of these guys together and a bad shot at signing Gonzalez long-term. Though my personal pessimism leads me to doubt the Padres can lead the NL West all year and I still think the Padres should/will trade Gonzalez, and maybe Bell (and no, I am not just mad the Padres have made my preseason prediction for them look stupid).

The Padres have played 39 games at home so far this year and 31 games on the road. The Padres were 15-8 in April, 16-12 in May, and are 11-9 in June so far. I don't have great feelings they will continue to contend in the NL West for the rest of the season. It looks like a good move now, but trading a player two years before he hits free agency is much, much different than trading for a player who is about to become a free agent. Just ask the Braves what they gave up to get Mark Texeira from the Rangers and what they got in return from the Angels for him. Hoyer is a smart guy and he knows if the Padres stop contending then Gonzalez will have to go.

6. The White Sox's decision last August to claim Alex Rios and his $12-million-a-year contracton waivers

This looked like a tough one last year when Rios struggled at his new home on the South Side of Chicago, batting just .199 with a paltry 9 RBIs.

I have no problem with this inclusion on the list. Ken Williams made a good move in picking up Rios on waivers. I have a problem with a quote used to talk about Rios:

But he has been brilliant this year, hitting .320 ("with any luck, it could be .400,'' one scout said) for a suddenly resurgent team.

"With any luck, it could be .400?" Is this scout a scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates or was the scout Rios' agent?

Rios has averaged a .319 BABiP over his career and he is at .320 for this year. 11.3% of his fly balls have been home runs compared to his career average of 6.6%. He has been right on par or even a little lucky to have some of the numbers he currently has.

This scout is an idiot. Rios has 240 at-bats when I was writing this post. He has 76 hits and would need 96 hits to be hitting .400. So Rios has had no luck and should have an extra 20 hits out of 240 at-bats? From his BABiP it can been seen that he has had his normal amount of luck and he has been luckier with the fly balls that have turned into home runs. I don't know what kind of hitter this unnamed scout thinks Rios is, but to have bad luck that affects nearly 10% of your at-bats and turns them into outs would probably be the worst luck in the history of MLB. I am even assuming he hasn't gotten any hits this year based off luck and Rios has only had bad luck.

Rios has luck and he is hitting near or above what he should be hitting. I can't tell you how much I despise this quote. With any luck like the kind the scout thinks Rios should have nearly any player hitting above .300 should be hitting .400.

10. The Braves call to keep Heyward with the big league club this spring

He's proved he deserved the promotion by ranking second on the team in home runs (11), RBIs (44), on-base percentage (.383) and slugging percentage (.481). As good a call as taking him with pick No. 14 in the 2007 draft, where apparently at least 13 mistakes were made.

I would actually disagree that 13 mistakes were made in the 2007 draft. Right now, Heyward is one of the most accomplished players taken in that draft, but Heyman's attempt to be somewhat glib falls short.

Here's a list of players taken before David Price that weren't "mistakes:"

1. Tampa Bay- David Price (currently a great MLB pitcher)

2. Kansas City- Mike Moustakas (He is currently destroying AA pitching)

5. Baltimore- Matt Wieters (the Orioles don't have a need in right field and Wieters is a quality MLB catcher)

10. San Francisco- Mason Bumgarner (he is pitching well in the minors and should be in the majors very soon)

This doesn't include Jarrod Parker who may end up being a great MLB pitcher, but had Tommy John surgery this past year. Sure, Heyward is one of the top players out of this draft, but I would bet at least the Rays and Orioles would surely not take Heyward if there was a do-over.

13. The Yankees' call to put Phil Hughes in the rotation and Joba Chamberlain in the bullpen

Hughes has proven to be one of the league's better starters (he's 10-1, though offensive support has helped a bit there) while Chamberlain has struggled in the pen, going 1-3 with a 5.52 ERA. In fact, Hughes' performance is such that no one's complaining anymore that he wasn't traded for Johan Santana a few years ago.

I advocated for Chamberlain to be in the rotation over Hughes because of Hughes' success last year in the bullpen. I was wrong. Chamberlain, who I think is probably never going to have the career he should have had because the Yankees jerked him around so much from the pen to the rotation, should be in the pen. Hughes has proven he deserves to be a starter even with the run support he has gotten. He has a 129 ERA+, 1.13 WHIP, and 3.17 ERA.

14. Adrian Beltre's call to turn down Oakland's multiyear offer to sign with Boston for one year

It might have worked out in Oakland, but Beltre had already lived through five seasons in a pitcher's park, and Fenway fits his talents perfectly. He rejected a firm $16-million, two-year A's offer that probably could have become a three-year offer for similar annual money to take one year and $9 million from Boston, a rare gamble in baseball today.

You'll never guess which genius agent came up with this plan one year plan for Beltre. I'll give you a hint, Heyman is on this guy's unofficial payroll, his name can be configured to read "Bott Scoras" and Jon Heyman has a poster of him up in his office at home.

Ok, Beltre's agent is Scott Boras. I think it is hilarious Heyman describes the deal as "multi-year" when it is a two year deal. Technically he is right, but I still find it kind of funny. Beltre essentially took more money for one year rather than have a two year contract. So it was a smart move, but it was also a smarter short-term move. Now as for this "firm $16-million, two-year A's offer," I don't know if this exists or not. Scott Boras has a tendency of lying and saying a team has interest in a player to ramp up interest in that player with other teams and Jon Heyman has a tendency to be a mouthpiece for Boras, so.........

I did an internet search on "Adrian Beltre 2 year $16 million A's" and the first hit that came up was.........................this article written by Jon Heyman. I couldn't find a firm offer from the A's for this amount that was publicized. Heyman does a decent job of reporting, but I can't help but think this non-publicized offer is/was one of Scott Boras' lies told to make himself look smart for having Beltre sign a one year deal or was used in the offseason (and told to Jon Heyman) to drive up the market when Beltre was a free agent.

20. The Phillies' trade for Roy Halladay

No one can argue with this move, as they got an anchor to their iffy rotation and quickly signed him to a pretty reasonable $60-million, three year deal. It's easy to say it in hindsight now, but if they needed the money for Lee's $9-million salary, they would have been better off letting go of Joe Blanton, who was instead signed to a superfluous $24-million, three-year deal.

"Letting go" of Blanton? He has very little trade value and then the Phillies probably wouldn't have re-signed Lee after this year. We have discussed this before. Not to mention, the pitching isn't the complete problem with the Phillies this year. They aren't hitting quite as well as they have in the past.

While Blanton had no trade value and they would have been left without the three prospects they received from Seattle, the general belief is they would have been better off with a dynamic one-two punch of Halladay and Lee and three fewer prospects.

It is hard to "let go" of a guy who has no trade value, unless you just outright release him. I guess we'll see in the future what the best move for the Phillies was, but the "trade Blanton" angle doesn't seem too realistic.

Now for Jon Heyman trying to build up the market value of Bryce Harper...

Power prodigy Bryce Harper, whom the Nationals took two weeks ago with the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft, will surely seek a record signing bonus, according to a competing NL executive.

That executive? Any executive who Heyman called and want to watch the Nationals squirm and try to sign Bryce Harper.

While the number $12 million is floating in baseball circles, Harper will be aiming quite a bit higher, according to several sources.

Those sources? Scott Boras and Scott Boras' secretary.

While Strasburg set a record last year at $15.067 million, he has been a major bargain, and that reality could play into the negotiations even though they are vastly different players of different backgrounds and ages.

He's been a major bargain through four starts. Four starts. Can't everyone see how Heyman can be seen as a mouthpiece for Scott Boras, as he has been accused of in the past? Granted, Scott Boras has a ton of high profile, excellent performing athletes, I won't deny this. So it makes sense for Heyman to talk about them. It is just interesting after four starts it seems like Heyman wants Strasburg to start renegotiating a new contract now.

one NL scout, referencing the scout's scale that ranks players from 2-8 on various abilities, said, "You just don't see a 17-year-old with 7 or 8 power.'' In fact, there's a lot of awe among scouts about Harper's talents (the aforementioned power is almost off the charts his arm strength is said to be superb as well).

Harper is programmed to be a pro, so it's hard to see him not signing. But he is only 17 and has time.

I would actually argue that Bryce Harper doesn't have time. If I am not wrong, he has to either go to college for three years now, sit out a year, sign a contract overseas or sign a contract with a MLB team at this point. Harper did as much as he could to ensure he would enter the MLB Draft as soon as possible by getting his GED and going to junior college, I don't believe he will go to college, and I can't see him playing somewhere else for a year or sitting out just to be drafted by the Pirates or Orioles. I think both the Nationals and Harper have a reason to get a deal done soon.