Friday, June 28, 2013

5 comments Peter King Used to Hand Out NFL Draft Grades

So apparently Peter used to hand out NFL draft grades in MMQB. That's right, MMQB used to be a column that consisted of something other than Peter's reaction to the latest Meryl Streep movie, complaints about cab drivers who don't speak sufficient English, and 500 words about the week's most interesting Tweets. Thanks to Dave for pointing out these 2000 NFL Draft grades from Peter. Just look at his picture beside the column title. Peter was so young and so much less lofty than he is now. He was just a squirrel out in the world trying to find a nut or at least some good NFL nuggets to chew on. It's amazing how short MMQB used to be back then. It feels very bloated now compared to this one page Peter used to write for his readers every Monday.

I must preface my 2000 NFL Draft Report Card by saying I don't think these things are worth very much. 

And yet, he isn't doing them for fun, so either Peter is being forced to give out draft grades by Sports Illustrated or he chose to give them out and immediately wants us to dismiss his opinion.

I'm a guy who travels or interviews on Saturdays during the fall, catching snippets of games on TV with phone glued to ear. I remember watching Wisconsin beat up Iowa last fall from the Marriott Suites/Chicago O'Hare and seeing Ron Dayne dominate the game and thinking: Boy, is he slow hitting the hole, and is he lucky to have that mountainous offensive line. The NFL will eat him alive. True?

Yes, it was true.

I remember seeing Peter Warrick in the bowl game and thinking what a great NFL player he would be. And so for me to say I know with clarity who did well in the draft this weekend is stupid. 

"Hey everyone, come read this week's MMQB. It's really, really stupid because I try to grade each team's draft. It's incredibly dumb for me to do this, but I encourage you to read it anyway. You are a moron for reading these stupid grades because as someone who makes his living as an NFL insider I know nothing about any of the players entering the NFL Draft."

I will, however, tell you how I think each team did in assessing its needs, responding to its needs and maneuvering to address those needs on draft weekend. 

Yes, but how do you know how well a team addressed its needs on draft weekend if you have no idea how good the players they drafted are? So if a team covered all of their needs, but drafted players who were all back-ups at Division III schools would that team have done a good job on draft weekend? I doubt it. There has to be some analysis and knowledge of the players that are being picked in order know how well a team addressed its needs. Otherwise if you aren't aware of a player's talent then you can't judge how well the need for a team was filled. So Peter can't dismiss his knowledge on the players in the NFL Draft and then expect us to believe his grades as they pertain to filling a team's need.

My ground rules have one key element: With few exceptions, anything after the fourth round I don't count. Look at the fifth round in 1992, for instance.
Three of the 30 guys picked turned into good players -- Ed McDaniel, Santana Dotson, Joe Bowden. I'm not real high on a 10 percent rate of return. 

As we all have heard constantly, Tom Brady was picked in the sixth round of this very 2000 draft. It's sort of ironic Peter didn't worry about picks after the fourth round in this draft.

1. Oakland. Now, I fault the Raiders for panicking and not dropping down once or twice 10 or so spots and getting an extra four, five or six while ensuring they'd still get their man, kicker Sebastian Janikowski.

This is a tough grade because the Raiders got Shane Lechler and Sebastian Janikowski with two picks. They got two quality players in this draft, but they were a punter and a kicker. The Raiders also took the kicker in the first round and passed up Shaun Alexander. I have a hard time giving this draft an "A-" even if the Raiders nailed down their punter and kicker for the next decade (or more).


3. Tampa Bay. I count Keyshawn Johnson, who cost two ones and makes Shaun King 20 percent better just by suiting up. Cosey Coleman's an eight-year starter after Randall McDaniel retires. 

Actually Coleman started for seven years until he knees gave out on him. This is probably the right grade, even though Nate Webster was the second-best player to come out of this draft. Johnson did help Tampa Bay win a Super Bowl.

4. Washington. They picked the right guys. By the way, remember it's the long-lost Charley Casserly who made Arrington/Samuels happen. 

Did they pick the right guys though? I know Arrington had injuries, conflicts with the coaching staff and other issues, but Urlacher was still there for the Redskins to draft (more on Peter's opinion of Urlacher later). The Redskins didn't get anyone else out of this draft other than Arrington and Samuels. I'm not sure I can go all the way to a "B+" for a team that had two of the top 3 picks (with one of the guys not lasting past 2006 with Washington) and they didn't do anything with their other six picks. 

5. Buffalo. Pick 89 overall, Corey Moore, will be one of those classic Bills picks (they always get a very good player after the first round, every year), the kind of player GMs will regret passing on. 

Big miss here. The Bills regretted drafting Moore. Erik Flowers, the Bills' first round pick, didn't last to the 2002 season with the Bills and Corey Moore lasted one season in Buffalo. The Bills' second round pick Traveres Tillman last two seasons with the Bills. This was a bad draft for them and Sammy Morris is probably the best player to come out of it. It has to be an "F," right?

6. Green Bay. Bubba Franks becomes the next Mark Chmura, for health and off-field reasons, immediately. Late Sunday, one scout told me Na'il Diggs, the Ohio State linebacker picked in the fourth, will be a classic NFL playmaker, a quicker Spielman. 

It's hard to grade this draft fairly. The Packers had 13 picks and came away with Franks, Diggs, Clifton, Gbaja-Biamila and Mark Tauscher. That's a lot of picks in a draft, but the Packers did pretty well with five of them, so I have to agree (I know!) with Peter. This is a "B+" draft.

7. Pittsburgh. Here's one of my post-fourth-round exceptions: Love the pick of Tee Martin late in the fifth.

Well of course Peter is going to make an exception to the rule he just stated about not evaluating players past the fourth round. It's one of his northeast NFL teams and the Steelers drafted Tee Martin who was (Peter's boy) Peyton Manning's backup at Tennessee. That's a home run pick right there...or it was until it wasn't.

Watch the games. He belongs in the NFL.

I did watch the games and have the benefit of hindsight. It turns out Tee Martin did not belong in the NFL after all. He didn't belong in NFL Europe or the CFL either. 

Steelers got two big receivers (Plaxico Burress and Danny Farmer) and I have a sneaking feeling that Martin will be throwing to them in December, at the end of a lost Steelers season.

Tee Martin never ended up throwing a pass in the regular season as a Pittsburgh Steeler. So much for the Tee Martin era in Pittsburgh. The Steelers did draft Plaxico Burress, Marvel Smith, Kendrick Clancy and Clark Haggans though. Not a terrible draft. I think "B+" is a bit high though.

8. New England. J.R. Redmond will be the every-down back by Oct. 1. Not bad for the 76th overall pick. 

Redmond wasn't an every-down back by October 1. The Patriots did draft Adrian Klemm and Patrick Pass though. Oh, and they also drafted Tom Brady. I don't like giving out a grade based entirely on one pick, but I'm going to give the Patriots an "A" for this draft. That tends to happen when Hall of Fame quarterbacks are taken in the sixth round.

9. Tennessee. Good value in LB Keith Bulluck at 30. The Titans are the NFL's Linebacker U. 

Other than Bullock the Titans got Robaire Smith and Erron Kinney in this draft. I'm pretty sure that's not a "B" draft. Let's give this one a "C-" and move on.

10. Cleveland. Courtney Brown is a draft. 

No he's not. Courtney Brown is a bust. The Browns had 13 picks in this draft. That's a lot of picks and the best player they got out of this draft was Dennis Northcutt or Lewis Sanders. That's right. So what grade should I give this draft. They didn't draft all busts, and even Brown was okay when he was healthy, but this was a terrible draft for Cleveland. I'll be kind and give it a "D-."

11. San Francisco. The 49ers did the right thing by passing on Pennington.

Probably not. On the bright side they did draft Giovanni Carmazzi and Tim Rattay.

Four or five of the defensive draftees will be in the starting lineup on opening day, and none is a slam-dunk great player. Worrisome. But what choice did they have? This gives them the best chance to be good the fastest. 

It really depends on the scale you want to grade these picks on (like whether you think short-term contributors are valuable), but this wasn't a bad draft for San Francisco. A "B" might be a fair grade. The 49ers had 11 picks and got Ahmed Plummer, Julian Peterson, Tim Rattay, Jeff Ulbrich, John Engelberger, and Jason Webster. It's certainly not a murderer's row of picks, but they also played well and contributed for the 49ers.


12. Jacksonville. R. Jay Soward and Tom Coughlin. Now that's a match made in heaven.

Soward was drafted later in the first round so I don't know if I would call him a bust, but he was one of the worst first round draft choices in the history of the NFL Draft. Soward had a drinking problem, didn't want to be a first round pick and played in Jacksonville for one season catching 14 passes. This was a match made in Hell, not heaven. Even the most disciplinarian-type coach can't coach an alcoholic who won't listen to anyone.

Why do I give this a chance? Because scouts love Soward -- assuming he'd have someone to lean on him 25 hours a day. 

So it could work as long as the Jaguars never let Soward out of their sight. That sounds like a plan that had no way of working. The Jaguars did excellent in getting Brad Meester, Rob Meier, and Danny Clark. I'm not sure that deserves a "C+" grade. I would bump it down to a "C."

14. Jets. Call me a nut. I like Laveranues Coles, who has Deion speed and, at 77 overall, is an almost riskless pick.

Actually Coles was 78th overall, but third round picks really aren't "riskless" picks. A team hopes a player chosen in the third round can be ready to be contribute or be a quality backup. So there is some risk involved in the pick, especially since the Jets had just traded Keyshawn Johnson.

The Jets had four first round picks and Peter barely mentions them. I find that somewhat odd.

The big question here is: Is Keyshawn Johnson for John Abraham and Anthony Becht a good trade? Didn't think you'd think it was.

Actually that's not a terrible trade. John Abraham was a really good player for the Jets until he left to go to the Falcons. The Jets got Shaun Ellis, Abraham, Pennington, and Becht in the first round, as well as getting Coles in the third round. I have to give this draft at the very least a "B+" and possibly an "A-." Becht wasn't ever great, but Ellis, Pennington and Coles were good players for the Jets for a while.

15. Giants. I do think Dayne's a plodder, which would be okay here if he had a line to open a hole for him.

This was a good call by Peter. Dayne was a plodder.

The Giants have picked six in the top three rounds of the past seven drafts: Thomas Lewis, Amani Toomer, Ike Hilliard, Joe Jurevicius, Brian Alford, and, this year, Lambuth (Tenn.) College's Ron Dixon. You see, then, why I am not advocating Ron Dixon buy a split-level in Tenafly, or even a condo in Hackensack. 

Peter King with the brief travelogue on north Jersey. I would say this was a "C" draft and Peter was right, but I have to give the Giants credit for hitting on Short and Dhani Jones. Well, maybe a "C" sounds about right. Actually, I'll be kind and go with a "C+."

16. Baltimore.

But the Ravens were dumb not to trade down from 5 for a bounty of picks. Shaun Alexander (who went 19th) will be a better pro than Jamal Lewis (fifth), by the way. 

They were actually pretty equal to each other. Lewis (along with the Ravens defense) did lead Baltimore to a Super Bowl victory, so maybe I would give him the slight edge. He was more a plodder and never had a high per carry average for much of his career, so maybe Alexander has the edge. Clearly this part of Peter's draft grades has me very confused.

Either way, the Ravens left this draft with Travis Taylor and Adalius Thomas also. I think a grade a bit higher than "C" is required, but not too much higher.

17. Arizona. The Thomas Jones draft. He'd better be the long-term back there, because they've spent too many picks trying to get this right. 

He was a long-term back, but just not for the Cardinals, but for the Jets and Chiefs. The other best players from this draft for the Cardinals were Raynoch Thompson, David Barrett and Darwin Walker. I'm thinking this is more of a "D" draft. The Cardinals waived Walker before he even played one game.

18. Cincinnati. One scout I like said Sunday: "I always like their draft. Then every year their team stinks. I don't know what that means."

This is not even a "C" draft. This was the Neil Rackers Draft. Does that excite you to hear?

I will say this: Peter Warrick will be the offensive rookie of the year or my name is Giovanni Carmazzi. 

Warrick wasn't the offensive rookie of the year and Peter King has still not changed his name. They got Neil Rackers, so that moves this draft into "D-" territory and explains why the Bengals struggled so much at the beginning of the 2000's.

19. Denver. Deltha O'Neal is a better returner than corner; Denver needs him to be great at both jobs. Bill Romanowski, those are Ian Gold's footsteps you're feeling. And his hot breath on your neck.  

Even though O'Neal wasn't great, this probably wasn't a "C" draft. The Broncos got Cooper Carlisle, Mike Anderson, Kenoy Kennedy, and Ian Gold in this draft. Okay, so maybe it isn't much higher than a "C," but it is higher.

20. Kansas City. I like Sylvester Morris.

Well, at least someone liked Morris. The game of football did not like him. He was injured and ineffective for most of his career.

But I can't figure for the life of me why Carl Peterson, who is a smart man, didn't go out and spend a couple of picks to save his running game for years by dealing for Corey Dillon. Dumb, dumb, dumb. 

In retrospect this probably would have been a good move. The Chiefs also got Dante Hall in this draft, so that was fun for a while.


21. Carolina. Top pick Rashard Anderson, a corner/safety, has hands of stone. Not a good quality for an interceptor. 

Oh, and he also had a drug problem. Who doesn't miss the George Seifert era in Carolina? This may shock you, but a team that went 1-15 in 2001 did not have a good draft in 2000. Jeno James and Deon Grant played a big part in the 2003 Super Bowl run, but that's about it.

Lester Towns did teach me a valuable football-related lesson that sometimes tackles are overrated. SOMEBODY has to tackle the ball-carrier and that explains how he had 91 tackles in 2001 despite being the slowest linebacker I have ever seen play. That 2001 team was so terrible somebody had to tackle the opposing player after a 5-6 yard gain.

23. Chicago. Brian Urlacher had better be great. I keep getting a feeling that he might be 80 percent player, 20 percent shoot-up-the-chart myth. 

He's also 100% a Hall of Famer. Remember Peter thought Urlacher was 20% shoot-up-the-chart myth the next time Peter talks about how great Urlacher is. The Bears also got Mike Brown and Paul Edinger in this draft. Anytime a team drafts a Hall of Fame linebacker in the draft I think that draft deserves an "A" not a "C."

SPECIAL ENTRANT IN THE C-MINUS CATEGORY: Brett Favre's Pennzoil commercial. Cute, almost. But you-know-what about the day job. 

Not that Peter has ever had any type of obsession with Brett Favre of course. He still randomly brings Favre up now after Favre has retired and has managed to force a Favre reference into MMQB for over a decade now.


Whew! That's painfully unfunny. I'm embarrassed for Peter.

27. San Diego. When you have one pick in the top 80, as it seems the Chargers do every year, draft is annually unimpactful. 

This draft was an "F." Damion McIntosh was pretty good for a while, but there's not much else here. Okay, if I give the Bengals a "D-" for drafting Neil Rackers maybe I could give this draft an "F+."

29. Atlanta. Their draft looks totally non-impactful. 

This draft wasn't totally non-impactful, but about as close it can be. Travis Claridge is the best player in this draft for the Falcons. Another "F" draft. Peter has to be meaner.

30. Dallas.

Another "F" draft. It's either Mario Edwards or Michael Wiley that were the best picks in this draft.

31. New Orleans. Uninspired. And it's all Ricky Williams' fault. 

Not really uninspired. The Saints landed Tutan Reyes (not great, but he played for a while in the NFL ), Marc Bulger, Darren Howard, Chad Morton, and Terrelle Smith. It's not a "D" draft, but considering they didn't have a first round pick they didn't do too terribly.

3. I think ESPN does a wonderful job covering the draft.

Of course Peter King thought ESPN did a wonderful job. It makes sense. He probably still thinks this.

I did, however, love the ripping by Ron Jaworski of the Browns' picking a Spergon Wynn over Joe Hamilton in round six.

It's good to see Jaws was ripping a draft choice that 13 years later would be seen as debating the value of a turd burger versus a shit sandwich.

There are days, those close to Parcells say, when he thinks he'd like to stay in the Jet front office beyond this offseason. But there are more days that he finds himself thinking how good a life it would be to live in Sea Girt, N.J., a block from the Atlantic Ocean, and, about noon every Saturday, either drive or helicopter up to Bristol, Conn., to work Sundays and Mondays in the ESPN studios. Two workdays a week for what I'm sure must be nearly seven figures.

We had to deal with another decade of Parcells threatening to "come out of retirement" and coach the Buccaneers, then he actually coached the Cowboys, and finally he ended up in the Dolphins front office. I'm not sure if Parcells was ever really thinking about how good life could be a block from the Atlantic Ocean. He was more interested in putting out feelers for jobs and then denying his interest in those jobs.

corners Robert Bean and Anthony Midget went to Cincinnati and Atlanta, respectively. Midget's 5-10, so I guess he's no Mini-Me. 

An "Austin Power" reference. It was the year 2000, so Peter was just being hip and "with it."

8. I think I wonder why the Grande Hazelnut Latte at the Starbucks bars I frequent in Burlingame, Calif., and Embarcadero when in the Bay Area costs $2.95, while the Grande Hazelnut Latte at my Starbucks in Montclair, N.J., costs $3.45. Does it cost 50 cents to ship a pod of espresso from Seattle to New Jersey?

Peter was still complaining about the cost of coffee 13 years ago. I'm pretty sure he will never stop doing this. The reason the prices differ is because it very well could cost Starbucks more money to ship the coffee across the United States or Starbucks just knows Peter will pay whatever it costs to get the Grande Hazelnut Latte wherever he may be.

Shouldn't I have better things to worry about on draft weekend? 

Absolutely. Should you not complain every time you are inconvenienced in any way while in public? Again, yes, but it has never stopped you.

10. I think opening weekend is exactly 20 weeks away. I like Tampa Bay over Indy for the marbles. 

It was Baltimore over the New York Giants. Tampa Bay and Indy both lost in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. It's been over a decade, but MMQB isn't too much different, just much, much longer and it contains more material that is non-NFL related. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

5 comments 2013 NBA Mock Draft

Every year I try to make an idiot of myself and do an NBA mock draft. I do this because I love watching college basketball and I love pretending my love of college basketball in some way translates into being good at guessing which NBA teams will be choosing which players in the NBA draft. Usually trades screw my draft all up, but that's the cost of doing a mock draft I guess. Last year I got five picks correct and got Arnett Moultrie to the 76ers, but just in the wrong spot in the first round. I'm not entirely sure if this is impressive or not. Probably not. Anyway, so here is my mock draft and feel free to mock me in the comments for how wrong it may end up being. I'm not sure I will even get one pick correct. You would think I could get #1 overall correct at least.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers- Nerlens Noel, C

Noel had an ACL injury, but he is a NBA-caliber center when he is healthy and having him and Ty Zeller as the Cavs center rotation isn't a bad situation to be in for the Cavs. I don't think Noel has very much of an offensive game and maybe that will come in time. I'm usually one to talk up a draft a little bit, but I'm not sure I can do that for this year's draft. There are a lot of good players, but I'm not sure how many stars there are. Noel can be a great defensive center, but he also has very little offensive game and is coming off a major knee injury. That makes me nervous. Still, he gives the Cavs options on defense knowing he is back there to block shots. The Cavs have some offensive playmakers and they need a guy who can hold down the middle defensively. Noel fits that bill perfectly and will greatly benefit from playing with Kyrie Irving (of course, who wouldn't?). Long-term I don't see Noel as an All-Star, but I see him as a taller Ben Wallace (how's that for a bad comparison?).

2. Orlando Magic- Ben McLemore, SG

I'm not going to be a sellout and compare McLemore to Ray Allen. Either way, unless the Magic go for Otto Porter then Ben McLemore makes a ton of sense here. Yes, they could probably use a center like Noel, but McLemore has the potential to be a franchise cornerstone-type player. He may never achieve being a franchise cornerstone, but the potential is there. He had some poor workouts, but he is exciting and can score and the Magic need an exciting player. Plus, the Magic can then move Affalo and help build the team around McLemore. If it all turns out badly, they still have room for Andrew Wiggins next year. I can see the Magic taking Victor Oladipo here, but I think McLemore should be the pick in this spot due to his scoring ability.

3. Washington Wizards- Otto Porter, SF

I love me some Anthony Bennett in theory. In practice, he has supposedly become overweight and has had injuries which is hurting his stock. So I want to mock him here, but Otto Porter can do everything on the court and he's the kind of player who will meld well with John Wall and Brad Beal. He doesn't require the basketball all the time and he's a smart player. I think of (lazy comparison alert) as Michael Kidd-Gilchrist v2.0. That's why I thought it hilarious that the Bobcats would trade MKG to draft Porter. That's such a Bobcats thing to do. They would trade a player only to draft a similar player. Porter will never be an All-Star in my opinion, but I think of him as smart player that every championship team needs. Not that the Wizards are close to a championship of course.

4. Charlotte Bobcats- Alex Len, C

Maryland had point guard problems last year and Mark Turgeon forgot about Len many times last year in the Terps offense, but I still am not excited about Len as a lottery prospect. His defenders say he played well against Mason Plumlee and Nerlens Noel last year, which is true, but with some caveats. Len put up 23 points and 12 rebound against Noel in his (Noel's) very first college game. And before Len put up 19 points and 9 rebounds on Mason Plumlee, yet he also put up 8 points and 10 rebounds in the first Maryland-Duke game and 10 points and 8 rebounds against Plumlee in the ACC Tournament. So it's not like Len lit up Plumlee even 2 of the 3 times they went against each other. Plumlee put up 19 points and 7 rebounds twice on Len, but did have a terrible game (4 points and 3 rebounds) that most people seem to remember best. So the idea that Len played well against Plumlee is true, but Plumlee also played well against Len twice. I can see some Big Z in Len and he does have a high ceiling. I hate drafting guys in the lottery based entirely on potential and what kind of player he COULD be. In fact, I would probably take Cody Zeller over Alex Len. I'm not that down on Len, it's just that while knowing Maryland has point guard and coaching issues (in my humble opinion) I feel like the idea of Alex Len is better than the production he provides on the court. 

5. Phoenix Suns- Victor Oladipo, SG

Oladipo seems like a Phoenix Suns-type pick. Or maybe he seems like the stereotypical Phoenix Suns pick. There's something about about Oladipo that doesn't please me. He is an excellent defender, but the comparisons to Dwyane Wade makes me laugh. I can see how the comparison arises with Oladipo's size and how he attacks the rim like Wade, but these minor similarities are the only similarities I can see. I don't hate Oladipo by any measure, but the Wade the comparison doesn't do it for me. Still, he can attack the basket and play great defense. He's worth a #5 overall pick.

6. New Orleans Pelicans- Trey Burke, PG

Anything needs to be done to keep Austin Rivers from playing point guard for the Pelicans. Drafting the best point guard (okay, I think second-best because I like C.J. McCollum slightly better) is a great step towards making sure Rivers never plays point guard ever again. Of course the way Rivers played last year it may be beneficial if he didn't see the court ever again. Anyway, the Pelicans are in pretty good shape at the forward spots and they don't necessarily need a shooting guard. So why not draft a scoring point guard and a guy who could run the pick-and-roll very well with Ryan Anderson? It's a great it won't happen.

7. Sacramento Kings- Anthony Bennett, SF/PF

I like Bennett a lot and I think in the right situation he could be the best player in this draft. The problem is that he is sort of a tweener. He can play power forward, but he's too small and he is getting a bit heavy for power forward. Still, he is a good shooter. I love what Anthony Bennett can do and when paired with DeMarcus Cousins I really like the frontline for the Kings. Bennett reminds me of no one. He can play in the post, though it may be more difficult in the NBA, but he can also spot-up from the outside. He has a skill-set that is very difficult to find. It's not hard to see I really, really like him. He can handle the ball pretty well also for a man his size. Having said all of that, something is off. I can't place my finger on it, but I'm not sure how his skills are going to translate to the NBA. Still, it wouldn't shock me if Bennett became an All-Star. He's another guy who I reluctantly would draft, while not being completely sure what I'm getting.

8. Detroit Pistons- Shabazz Muhammad, SF

The Pistons are dying for an athletic wing forward who can score. I love Kyle Singler, but he isn't a starter. Imagine a frontline of Andre Drummond (who I didn't like last year, full disclosure...see, I'm wrong every once in a while), Muhammad and Greg Monroe. Not bad. I very well could be the only one picking Muhammad in this spot (not really, but I am not finding many mock drafts who place him here). Muhammad can score like crazy. He won't pass and he's gotten a reputation as not being a team player, plus he is 20 years old and not 19 years old as he claimed, but he can score. He goes left when the defense knows he is going left and he still scores. When he develops the ability to go right, I don't see how he won't score 15-18 points per game easy. Of course, he doesn't pass and he really isn't a great defender, but let's talk more about his scoring ability.

9. Minnesota Timberwolves- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG

This is kind of a sellout pick. I keep reading articles saying Caldwell-Pope will go to the Timberwolves and they definitely have a need at shooting guard, so it all works out. He can really shoot the ball and the T-Wolves need a shooter. I almost had a point guard who could shoot mocked here, but decided against that and went with a shooting guard.

10. Portland Trailblazers- Cody Zeller, C

It shouldn't take long for Zeller to start getting playing time over Meyers Leonard. Who knows, maybe when Zeller pans out everyone will forget the Trailblazers drafted Leonard last year. There's very little way I could have liked Leonard less. I do like Cody Zeller. I've heard he isn't physical enough and that the Syracuse zone gave him problems, neither argument really persuades me he can't be a productive big man in the NBA. I find him to be physical enough and it's not like NBA teams run a lot of zone defense. Will he be a 10-time All-Star? Probably not, but he's very talented and can rebound and score. He'll look great alongside LaMarcus Aldridge. This would be a great pick for the Trailblazers.

11. Philadelphia 76ers- Kelly Olynyk, C

I honestly don't know who the 76ers will pick. I almost think they would draft a shooting guard, but they clearly have a need in the middle with Bynum's status up in the air and Lavoy Allen being undersized for the center position. I had them taking Caldwell-Pope originally in this spot, but I don't think he will last that long. I don't really love Olynyk too much. He's a late bloomer and he definitely has offensive skills, but I feel like he is a liability on defense and isn't athletic enough to be a starter in the NBA. Basically, the 76ers have re-drafted Spencer Hawes, but I don't see that as a bad thing. I'm pretty "blah" on some of these players. I'm not blown away, but I'm also not morbidly depressed at where these guys will be drafted.

12. Oklahoma City Thunder- Rudy Gobert, C

When James Harden got traded last year the question became whether Durant and Westbrook could carry the team themselves, which they did. Then Westbrook got injured and the Thunder realized that Kevin Durant was on the court with Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka, Kevin Martin and various other guys who couldn't necessarily score. The point I'm getting to is I would shit my pants (literally, not figuratively) if Shabazz fell here. I can only imagine the drama that would occur when he didn't pass to Durant/Westbrook more than once a game. I don't think it will end up that way and the Thunder need another big man and there's nothing wrong with a French guy, right? Gobert is raw, but would work well in pick-and-roll situations, as well as have his current lack of strength inside compensated by having Ibaka at power forward. Gobert needs time and the Thunder have two first round picks so maybe they can give him a year or two.

13. Dallas Mavericks- C.J. McCollum, PG

The Mavericks aren't keeping this pick. If they did, this is how they would pick. In fact, if I would the Mavericks I would keep this pick to get McCollum...though I know they want to clear cap space and have enough room to make big free agents signings. We wouldn't want a potentially great draft pick to get in the way of the long-range plan. McCollum is a combo guard and he can shoot the ball very well when playing off-guard. He played for Lehigh, which is a school that may forever burn in Hell, but I can put my disgust aside to understand McCollum has talent. The Mavericks probably need a pure point guard, but I see them going with McCollum over Carter-Williams in this spot...assuming they make the pick in this spot, which I doubt they will. 

14. Utah Jazz- Dennis Schroeder, PG

I'm very, very tempted to put Carter-Williams or Larkin in this spot, but for some reason I see the Jazz going with Schroeder over these two players. I'm not egotistical enough to make it seem like I know all of these international players, but I keep reading that Schroeder is a Rondo-type point guard. I feel like the Jazz are going to want a point guard who is a distributor and less of a scorer. I have no inside information, obviously, but the Jazz are looking to build a young core and a young pass-first point guard. Supposedly Schroeder has a promise that he will be gone before the Top 20 picks are done. I don't think it is Boston who has made this promise, but the Jazz have made the promise. 

15. Milwaukee Bucks- Sergey Karasev, SF

It would be easy to see the Bucks going with a point guard in this spot, but Karsev seems to the perimeter shooter the Bucks will lack once Redick and Ellis don't come back. By all accounts and super-grainy video I have seen, Karasev is an absolute sharpshooter from three-point range and he's only 19. So while I can see the Bucks going with Larkin in this spot, I think they will lean towards a small forward. 

16. Boston Celtics- Gorgui Dieng, C

I'm happy with this pick as long as the Celtics don't re-draft Fab Melo. What a terrible pick that was. They can't draft a head coach can they? I'm reading all this stuff about how the Celtics need a backup point guard, but I see their lack of height in the middle as their biggest issue, especially if they trade Kevin Garnett like they seem hell-bent on doing. Dieng has about the same offensive game as Nerlens Noel, but he does provide shot-blocking ability and would benefit from Rondo's ability to penetrate on defense. The bottom line is if a team needs shot-blocking ability then Dieng can provide that. He will never be great and will forever provide a line of 8 ppg, 9 rpb, and 2.9 bpg, but that's not a terrible thing to get out of the center position. He's like Fab Melo, except he doesn't suck incredibly bad.

17. Atlanta Hawks- Michael Carter-Williams, PG

Yes, the Hawks currently have Jeff Teague holding down the point guard position (assuming they re-sign him), but Carter-Williams is a very tall point guard and don't we all love really tall point guards? He is turnover prone at times, but he also really developed between his freshman and sophomore year. So there is room for growth and Carter-Williams has shown he can improve. He may not be the star player the Hawks seem to desperately want, but he creates matchup problems against other point guards and can really rebound well for the position. Sure, he can't shoot, but that's why the Hawks have a shooting guard. If he falls this much then the Hawks have to take him.

18. Atlanta Hawks- Giannis Anteokoumpo, SF

I feel like most NBA teams that have multiple first round picks stash one of the players overseas or take a project player with the other pick. Here's the Hawks project pick. He is from Greece and quite frankly that's the only thing I know for sure about him. Plus, he will give Hawks beat writers a fit trying to spell his name if he ever does make it to the NBA. 

19. Cleveland Cavaliers- Jamaal Franklin, SG

The Cavs did draft Dion Waiters last year, but Jamaal Franklin is sort of a Kawhi Leonard-lite player. He's not quite as lengthy as Leonard but he does wear long sleeves under his jersey, which looks sort of dumb. I know the Cavs are supposed to be targeting a shooter in this spot, but Franklin can back up shooting guard and small forward, both positions of some need for the Cavs. After taking care of their inside need with the first pick the Cavs provide depth and athleticism to the roster. Not a terrible move, provided you can get by the long sleeve shirts that Franklin tends to wear. 

20. Chicago Bulls- Steven Adams, C

I personally hate Steven Adams as a prospect. The Bulls need scoring from the wing, but the playoffs showed they could also use one more big in the rotation and why not add a guy who has potential to be really good? He has looked clueless to me at times when he was on the court this past season. Maybe some of that relates to him being a freshmen and maybe some of that relates to the fact I think he is an untalented center who only looks like a good player. If Adams ever did succeed it would be with a guy like Joakim Noah in front of him where he could learn how to use his aggressiveness and energy to bring a positive effect on the team. It sounds like bullshit talk about Adams' aggressiveness and energy, and it may be, but I don't think Adams is talented enough to make it in the NBA. He seems to try really hard though. 

21. Utah Jazz- Mason Plumlee, PF/C

Plumlee is what he is and why wouldn't the Jazz take a white center? It seems like it is a tradition for them. Actually, I see Plumlee as more of a power forward and with Millsaps and Al Jefferson possibly on the way out the Jazz need more depth at the power forward position. Plumlee has very few offensive moves, but he is athletic and he can be an aggressive rebounder. He'll definitely be more productive than his brother Miles (how the hell did he get taken in the first round again?), but I think there is a definite ceiling to Mason Plumlee's production. He's going to be a role player and at #21 there isn't anything wrong with that.

22. Brooklyn Nets- Reggie Bullock, SG

The Nets could use some more scoring and if they are really serious about moving Gerald Wallace then Bullock will provide some nice size and shooting at the shooting guard or small forward position. Bullock isn't going to break down his defender, but he fits in well with the slash-and-kick NBA. He has nice size and he can shoot. He's limited, but he will provide outside shooting.

23. Indiana Pacers- Tony Mitchell, SF/PF

It was fairly evident in the playoffs that the Pacers could probably use another power forward if David West/Tyler Hansbrough don't come back. Tony Mitchell has a shit-ton of talent and he can play both forward positions. I can see him completely busting, but the Pacers have done a good job in the past taking players who could use some work (Hibbert, Stephenson, George) and turning them into quality players. So I have faith the Pacers can make it work if they draft him. Mitchell can block shots very well and he would provide the versatility required where the Pacers could have a tremendously long frontline by playing him at the small forward position. Mitchell did take a step back this year upon returning to North Texas for his sophomore year and seemed to pass less, shoot threes more often, and his field goal percentage went from 56.7% to 44.0%. He's got some bad habits that could quickly derail his NBA career.

24. New York Knicks- Shane Larkin, PG

This is a great scenario for the Knicks. Larkin isn't the tallest point guard, but he is fearless and doesn't mind taking big shots. Not that he would have to take big shots on a team with Carmelo Anthony, but still...he will take them. With Jason Kidd's retirement they need a point guard to replace him and I can see Larkin succeeding in New York. At worst, I think Larkin is a backup point guard who can provide points coming off the bench. At best, I can see him as a starter for a high-seeded playoff team. 

25. Los Angeles Clippers- Tim Hardaway Jr, SF

The Clippers could certainly use a small forward and Doc Rivers will like the versatility that Tim Hardaway Jr. provides. I think he should have stayed in school for one more year in terms of his talent-level, but I can't blame him for striking while the iron is hot. With Mitch McGary taking over the Michigan team next year (pure sarcasm is what that is, pure sarcasm) Hardaway's stock could go nothing but down.

26. Minnesota Timberwolves- Lucas Nogueira, C

He's another foreign player I haven't seen play other than in YouTube videos. The T-Wolves certainly could use some more height, especially if Kevin Love leaves town after this next season. He's not a very good offensive player (at least from the scouting reports I've read) and the T-Wolves have shown they are willing to be patient with international players. He'll need to gain some weight, but he's worth a flyer this late in the first round. 

27. Denver Nuggets- Alex Abrines, SG

The Nuggets need a wing player and Abrines seems to have a lot of potential. This is more of a guess at the pick than anything else. Allen Crabbe could possibly contribute more quickly and Ricky Ledo is another option, but I think the Nuggets will look to draft Abrines and bring him over to the United States in the next year or two. 

28. San Antonio Spurs- Archie Goodwin, SG

Goodwin never should have gone to the NBA, but that's life when you commit the University of Kentucky. You have one year to show you can play and then you get recruited over. That's not a criticism, but just a reality. Goodwin didn't show he could play in the NBA and he was already recruited over by the Harrison twins presence on the Wildcats roster next year. I could see a situation where if he came back to Kentucky and gotten consistent playing time he would have been a Top 15 pick, but that wasn't happening. The Spurs can afford to be patient with Goodwin, much like they are being patient with Cory Joseph, and it could very well pay off for them in 1-2 years when Ginobili decides to retire.

29. Oklahoma City Thunder- DeShaun Thomas, SF

Okay, I have to admit I'm just making this pick because I think it makes sense and not because I think this is who the Thunder will be drafting in this spot. I believe the Thunder need a scorer off the bench because, well, they do, and Thomas can score. Yes, he is an undersized power forward, but he has shown at Ohio State he can contribute when he isn't the main scorer and when he has to be the main scorer. He'll never be great, but he can provide offense off the bench, which is something the Thunder need.

30. Phoenix Suns- Livio Jean-Charles, SF

I think this is a nice pick the Suns could make at the end of the first round. Jean-Charles is only 19 years old, but the Suns aren't planning on winning an NBA title this upcoming season so they can wait a season or two on him. He blew up at the Nike Hoops Summit and every scouting report I have read states he is a hard-worker and team player. The Suns are sort-of-but-not-really-but sort-of rebuilding and that's the type of thing a team who wants to be on the rise needs.

I thought about mocking the second round, but decided against it. Here are some second-round picks I think will make an impact in the NBA next year.

Ray McCallum, PG- I love McCallum. He is a coach's son (which means nothing probably) and passed up the chance to play at bigger schools to play for his dad at Detroit. I think he will be a starter in the NBA.

Jeff Withey, C- He is very good at blocking shots. He'll be a very good backup for whoever drafts him.

Tony Snell, SG/SF- I have a weird Tony Snell fetish. I feel like he is going to be firing up 3's for a playoff team this year. I would probably rate him in my Top 15 favorite players in this draft.

Isaiah Canaan, PG- He could very well be a first round pick, but his height and the fact he isn't a "traditional" point guard I think will make him fall to the second round.

Anyway, I can't wait until tonight when all my picks will be wrong.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

2 comments Murray Chass Comments on Baseball's Integrity Issue Again

A few years ago on his non-blog Murray Chass took on MLB's service time issue regarding prospects being called up to the majors in early June so they won't hit free agency a year early. Murray stated MLB and their owners lack integrity by holding back a player to prevent him from becoming a Super 2. He used Buster Posey as an example of a player who was held back in the minors until early June so he wouldn't become a free agent a year early. Murray suggested this lacked integrity and the Giants were even harming their team for the sake of saving money. Well, it turns out the Giants won the World Series the year the column was written, the Giants managed to prevent Posey from hitting free agency a year early and Posey signed a 9 year $164 million deal recently. So everyone won and Murray's accusations that the Giants were being cheap and hurting their team in the process could not have been more wrong.

Well, Murray is back on the service time wagon again. I don't think MLB teams lack integrity by playing along with the rules set out by the MLB union and the owners. Sure, it is kind of dirty pool to call a player up in early June for the sole purpose of ensuring he doesn't hit free agency a year early, but it is playing within the rules and doesn't lack integrity in my opinion. If a guy like Buster Posey plays well then he probably will never hit free agency because the team will give him a long-term contract prior to his hitting free agency. This has happened for quite a few young stars who got called up after June to delay their service time. Before they hit free agency, they got a long-term deal. Murray has a big problem with teams waiting until June and still doesn't have a solution as to how MLB could force teams to call up players when they are "ready" to be in the majors nor does he have a suggestion on how to know for sure how MLB would know a player is "ready." MLB can't just force teams to call up players they deem to be ready.

Memo to New York Mets fans: When the Mets say they will promote Zack Wheeler to the major leagues when he is major-league ready, do not believe them. They will summon Wheeler to New York when they are satisfied that they have cheated him out of enough major league service time to delay his eligibility for salary arbitration and free agency by a year.

The Super 2 rules obviously favor the baseball teams keeping their players in the minors for a longer period of time to prevent a player from hitting free agency a year early. These are the rules. I have difficulty understanding Murray's criticism. The Mets are entitled to run their organization the way they see fit. No one should be able to tell the Mets which players they should or should not call up the majors if they aren't breaking any MLB rules by keeping a player in the minors. It's their call and if they choose to give Zack Wheeler in the minors for two months of the current season to give him two more months of minor league experience while also getting an additional year out of him prior to free agency then I don't see the issue. Sure, it sucks for Wheeler, but if he pitches well enough to get a lot of money in arbitration I imagine the Mets would be open to offering him a long-term contract.

Given that Yasiel Puig has a seven-year contract, the Los Angeles Dodgers shouldn’t have to mess with Puig’s service time, but his contract permits him to opt out of it and declare for salary arbitration when he is eligible so service time could be a factor.

I'm not crying for Yasiel Puig and Murray is getting the issue confused. Puig's agent negotiated this contract, it wasn't put upon Puig after he was drafted by the Dodgers. So I don't feel bad for Puig since his freaking agent negotiated for Puig to opt out of the contract when he is eligible for salary arbitration fully knowing the Dodgers could keep Puig down to delay arbitration by a year.

Despite what the Dodgers may say to the contrary, that contract clause is very likely why the Dodgers left Puig in the minors until last week

And it is a contract clause Puig's agent negotiated into the contract Puig signed. Since Puig is being paid $3.7 million this year regardless of whether he plays in the majors or minors I lack sympathy for him. Murray should lack sympathy as well. Puig isn't a victim of the evil CBA that allows teams to prevent players from becoming a Super 2 if called up after June, he is the victim of a contract clause that his agent negotiated. Murray should suggest Puig fire his agent, not complain about the integrity of the Dodgers organization.

instead of having him on their roster helping them avoid their disastrous start to the season that has kept them in last place for a month and under .500 since April 15.

And of course having Puig start with the Dodgers team in April would have undoubtedly resulted in the Dodgers being in first place right now. It was smart for the Dodgers to wait until June to call up Puig because now they get to pay him $3.7 million for an additional year before he has the chance to opt out of the contract once he's eligible for arbitration and become a free agent. This move of calling Puig up in June doesn't lack integrity either because Puig's agent could have easily negotiated a clause to prevent this from happening. 

there’s no reason to doubt that he would not have hit the first two months, or at least the second month, with the Dodgers.

So how did the extra two months in the minor leagues hurt Puig? How exactly are the Dodgers harming Puig? He doesn't have the chance to become a free agent a year early if he decides to opt out of his contract. He still gets paid $3.7 million for his third year in the majors, which is more than any other third year player who isn't eligible for arbitration or received a long term contract is expected to get. Talk to his agent, don't talk about the Dodgers lack of integrity.

If teams leave good young players in the minors until late May or early June they can postpone their eligibility for salary arbitration and free agency for a year. Clubs don’t disclose the real reason for their timetable. They just say this player or that player wasn’t ready for the majors.

Which is entirely possible. How does Murray know Puig was ready for the majors in April? Puig had not played higher than high A-ball prior to playing in Double-A this season. He hit well at A-ball, but he was only playing in high A-ball. Why would giving him two months in Double-A be a bad thing, especially considering not many players go directly from high A-ball to the majors? It would have been somewhat of a risk to start Puig's service clock and have him skip over two entire levels of minor league ball. Plus, it isn't like the Dodgers didn't already have a full outfield with Kemp, Crawford and Ethier ready to start for them out there. So why spot-start him in April rather than get him regular at-bats at Double-AA?

Paul Cohen, the agent for Evan Longoria, who experienced the service-time manipulation in 2008, explained the game as he watched the clubs play it in 2009.
“This is my 20th year in this business,” Cohen said, “and for the majority of my career the majority of young players are not ready April 1, are not ready May 1. They’re not ready until June 1.”

And of course Murray leaves this part out, but Evan Longoria has received TWO long-term contracts with the Rays since they manipulated his service time. He got screwed out of a year of arbitration that he never ever even had a chance of seeing because he signed a long-term contract. This is how it works sometimes and you won't hear Murray complaining about Buster Posey's $100+ million contract because it doesn't fit his agenda. Teams will keep a player down until June to prevent his service time from starting, but then some of these players get long-term contracts before they even get to arbitration.

The 17 percent of the players who had the most service between two and three years would be eligible for arbitration. They became known as the Super 2’s. In the last negotiations, in 2011, that group was changed to 22 percent.

Again, even if baseball teams are keeping these players until the minors to prevent them from becoming Super 2's it is completely within the Collective Bargaining Agreement that the union and players signed off on. This is like Murray complaining that players get randomly drug tested too often or certain players are targeted for drug testing. It's part of the agreement, so get over it.

Teams don’t talk about the practice of manipulating service time; they don’t acknowledge it. By ignoring the subject, they think or hope that no one will notice.

Plus, teams look at the cost-benefit of calling a player up for two months and therefore losing an entire year of service time (which again, assumes the player won't get a long-term contract prior to hitting arbitration). Teams try to decide if calling up guys like Yasiel Puig in April is worth the year's lost service time, having Puig skip two levels of minor league ball, and worth taking the chance that he won't struggle. There's a major cost-benefit analysis here and oftentimes teams would rather be safe than sorry. It can feel dirty sometimes, but when it comes to running a baseball team and managing a budget it's easy to see why teams do this.

Making their major league debuts in 2009, for example, were Tommy Hanson, Braves pitcher, June 7; Gordon Beckham, White Sox third baseman, June 4; Andrew McCutchen, Pirates center fielder, June 4; Matt Wieters, Orioles catcher, May 29; Kris Medelin, Braves pitcher, May 21.

It's actually "Kris Medlen," but what good are details when Murray wants to make a point? Hanson has been traded after he was due to hit arbitration because his production wasn't worth his contract, Medlen had Tommy John surgery and missed an entire year, Gordon Beckham had been a minor disappointment up until year, Matt Wieters is making over $3 million from arbitration (what a poor guy that the Orioles have treated him so unkindly), and Andrew McCutchen received a $51 million six year contract. Four of these players are the very example of why a team wants to get three years of service from a player before he hits arbitration and Andrew McCutchen has a long-term contract. Out of these players I would say only Matt Wieters has performed at a high level and isn't receiving a contract near worth his value...and he is making over $3 million in his first year of arbitration.

The following season the Giants called up Buster Posey May 29, not to affect his eligibility for arbitration since he had played with the Giants for 33 days the previous season but to short circuit his eligibility for free agency.

“We wanted to make sure he was comfortable at the plate,” general manager Brian Sabean explained.

And considering Posey had hit .118 in 17 plate appearances during 2009 this could be seen as a genuine concern. And don't forget, Posey never saw arbitration because he signed a 9 year $164 contract extension.

The problem with that explanation was it was similar to the one used by executives of other clubs that kept good young players in the minors longer than was probably necessary. The names of some of those players were Mike (now Giancarlo) Stanton of Florida (now Miami), Stephen Strasburg of Washington, Jose Tabata and Pedro Alvarez of Pittsburgh, Jake Arrieta of Baltimore and Carlos Santana of Cleveland.
All of those players, as well as others, became “comfortable” around the same time, late May and early June.

Again, it is part of the deal the union signed off on and there is a cost-benefit analysis that teams go through in determining what is not only best for the team in 2013, but also in 2017. If Jose Tabata tears up the minors, why call him up in early May rather than wait a few weeks and get an extra year out of him? It's not against the rules, even if maybe it should be. It's not an integrity problem that teams have because they aren't doing anything wrong. Tabata is hitting well in the minors, so giving him regular at-bats and waiting a few weeks to get him into a non-contending team's lineup isn't a bad long-term move for the Pirates franchise.

Integrity, however, was a serious issue. If a team has a player in the minors who could help it win games – Puig is a prime example – and he is kept on the farm to delay his time for arbitration eligibility, the team is cheating its fans, its other players and itself.

I can see this argument, but it would have to be a very special rookie who would have dramatically changed the fortunes of his team by being in the lineup from April to early June. Not to mention, fans are becoming more savvy and understand an extra year of Stephen Strasburg at the expense of 10 or so starts from April to May is probably worth it in the long-run.

The idea is to win, and winning requires the use of your best players.

True, but overall "winning" isn't the only thing a General Manager has to worry about when constructing a team. He has budget constraints and long-term planning to think about as well.

Here are three highly regarded rookies from this season’s regiment of coincidentally promoted players, those who just happened to jell at the same time: pitcher Kevin Gausman of the Orioles (called up May 23), infielder Nick Franklin of the Mariners (called up May 27) and pitcher Michael Wacha of the Cardinals (called up May 30)

Wacha held Kansas City to one earned run and two hits in seven innings in his first start, but Arizona beat him up, amassing 10 hits and scoring 6 earned runs in 4 2/3 innings. Gausman lost his first two starts with a 7.20 earned run average. Franklin batted .235 in his first 10 games.

Who said these guys weren't ready to play in the majors immediately? But hey, these teams should have called up these players earlier so the players could have struggled and the Orioles, Mariners, and Cardinals would have lost a year of service time from these players. This is a small sample size, but a third party stating a guy is "ready" to be in the majors doesn't mean a hell of a lot if the guy isn't really ready to play in the majors. That's my biggest problem with Murray's issue here. Who is MLB or the union to tell a team that a certain player is "ready" to play in the majors? What does that even mean?

Puig, on the other hand, acted like a one-man gang in his first five games for the Dodgers. With the kind of hitting the young Cuban did in those initial games, the Dodgers could have been in first place had they added him to their lineup at the start of near the start of the season.

Possibly, or else the Dodgers would have won the exact same amount of games and Puig would not have made a difference in the overall record of the Dodgers and he would have been able to opt out of his contract in two years, not three years.

They’re paying Puig $42 million for 7 seasons and should have let him do what he has shown he can do.

And of course this makes total sense coming from a guy who wants MLB to stop teams from screwing with a player's service time but has no suggestions as to how MLB is supposed to go about managing a team's personnel and organizational decisions for that team. MLB should force the Dodgers to call up Puig when MLB sees it fit that Puig should play in the majors. That's Murray's stance.

He had a .421 batting average and 1.105 slugging and .450 on-bases percentages.

Lest a skeptic think this was all an accident, Puig previously demonstrated his hitting prowess in spring training and the minors.

I bet sportswriting was much more fun for Murray at the beginning of his career when he could write statements like this and no one would question what Murray was writing. Puig hit well in spring training, which is fine, but it is spring training so it doesn't necessarily mean a hell of a lot when it comes to hitting pitching during the regular season. Also, Puig did hit well in the the high A-ball level, which isn't even close to looking like major league pitching. So I get Murray's point, but it isn't a very good point.

In the minors, between spring training and the majors, he batted .313 with 8 homers and 37 40 games, not to mention .599 slugging and .383 on-base percentages.

That's fantastic. He still only had played at the high A-level. And for the thousandth time, if Puig was really worried about getting screwed over by the Dodgers as far as service time goes, perhaps he should not have signed a contract that gave the Dodgers incentive to keep him in the minors until early June, no?

Want more? In half a minor league season last year after he signed with the Dodgers, he batted .354, hit 5 homers, drove in 15 runs in 23 games and had .634 slugging and 442 on-base percentages.

That's excellent and certainly enough to get him promoted to Double-A ball, which is where he started off the 2013 season.

However, I did talk to my substitute columnist, Zach Kram, about Puig, and he disagreed with me.

I'm shocked Murray chose a substitute columnist that would ever disagree with him. Murray seems like the kind of guy who only wants to surround himself with people who agree with his point of view.

“Where would the Dodgers have played him?” he asked, citing the expensive, fully loaded outfield of Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford.

That is an excellent point as well. Why call up Puig to the majors so he can platoon or only pitch hit? Give him consistent at-bats, save his service time and then call him up when an injury or underperformance occurs...which is what the Dodgers did.

Expensive or not, Kemp and Ethier were not hitting, and the Dodgers needed someone to hit if they were going to join the National League West race.

While this is true, I'm not sure replacing Matt Kemp (who is turning into a perennial MVP candidate) or benching Andre Ethier so the Dodgers can speed up Puig's service time and jump him straight from A-ball to the majors is the right move. Plus, the Dodgers didn't know Ethier and Kemp weren't hitting until the season began and it makes even less sense to call up Puig and only get an extra month out of him during the 2013 season at the expense of losing an entire year prior to arbitration.

The $20 million the Dodgers are paying Kemp and the $13.5 million they are giving Ethier would be wasted money if someone didn’t step up to the plate. Puig could be the hitter to do that.

If the Dodgers benched either player then it would be wasted money anyway, as well as piss off a franchise cornerstone (in regard to Kemp).

If Puig stays in the majors the rest of the season, he will have 119 days of major league service. Two additional full seasons would leave him short of qualifying as a Super 2 after the 2015 season. That means he couldn’t opt out until after the 2016 season.

I'm not sure how many more times I can say this, but Puig signed this contract. He isn't a typical Super 2 because he could have chosen to not put a contract clause in there saying he could opt out of his contract if he qualified as a Super 2 after the 2015 season. His agent negotiated a contract and Puig signed it. The blame for Puig's late call up can be found in Puig's mirror every morning.

As far as the Dodgers are concerned, though, if there is to be an opt out, a later one is better than one a year sooner so delaying his callup and his arbitration eligibility would make sense to them.

And I'm sure Dodgers fans aren't exactly pissed off they get an extra year of Puig at the expense of not having him during April and May.

Wheeler is a different case. A 23-year-old right-hander, he is in his fourth minor league season, his third since the Mets acquired him from the Giants in the Carlos Beltran trade. People outside the Mets’ organization have said Wheeler is ready for the majors, but he remains in Las Vegas, the Mets’ AAA team, where at last look he had a 4-1 record and a 4.14 e.r.a. in 12 starts and 66 strikeouts in 63 innings.

I get that teams hold back players from time-to-time so they don't become a Super 2. My issue comes in when "people outside" an organization start telling that organization what to do. Shut up. Don't tell the Mets how to run their organization from an anonymous ivory tower. This is my problem. Murray says teams who hold back potential Super 2 players lack integrity, but he has no solution for how to counter this problem other than hope the union will insist the rules get changed in the next CBA. MLB and certainly "people outside" an organization should not be able to tell the Mets how to run their organization.

Asked about Wheeler and the service time issue, a union lawyer said, “That’s the one that smells a little fishy.”

File a grievance then. Say the Mets are violating the CBA by following the guidelines set out by the CBA. Anonymous complaining from a union lawyer about a clause the MLB union agreed to be a part of the CBA sounds fishy to me.

A club executive said he didn’t think the matter was relevant anymore because clubs were signing good young players to multi-year contracts before their arbitration years.

This is something that is happening. Quite a few teams are signing their young players to long-term contracts before they can hit arbitration. It's still a relevant matter, but Murray's whining about MLB teams lacking integrity is just stupid. His previous whining about Buster Posey being screwed out of an arbitration year led to the Giants calling up Posey, winning two World Series titles and now Posey has a contract for over $150 million. Evan Longoria has had two long-term contracts despite being called up in early June. These early June call ups are about teams hedging their bets on a player and not wanting to waste a year prior to that player entering free agency, as well as giving the player more experience in the minors.

“That’s my impression, too,” said David Prouty, the union’s general counsel. But he added, “We’ve looked at it. We haven’t come to any conclusions.”

I think a general conclusion that can be made is that MLB teams will pay a player if he shows he can perform. When he gets paid is the issue, but a player who gets called up in early June will either be offered a long-term contract or arbitration if he continues to perform well.

Asked about the issue, Rob Manfred, MLB’s top labor executive, said, “All I can tell you is there’s been little or no discussions about this in the industry.”

I know Murray hates this rule, but it is the rule. I'd love to hear some suggestions from Murray as to how this rule can be changed or have him explain more in-depth how owners are showing a lack of integrity by following the rules set out in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The basic point is that even if a team holds back a player and prevents him from becoming a Super 2, the player is going to get paid in free agency or arbitration at some point, especially if he performs at a high level. I understand how holding back a player until early June can be seen as dirty pool, but owners and teams have budgets and if they aren't 100% sure a player is ready to start at the majors in April, it makes sense to hold that player back.

I'm just surprised Murray didn't get Fay Vincent's opinion on this issue. Vincent is Murray's idol. I'm sure as MLB commissioner Vincent was adamant that young players get Super 2 status as soon as possible and teams could never manipulate service time on his watch.

Monday, June 24, 2013

5 comments MMQB Review: Guest Writer Chris Kluwe Edition

Sorry, I couldn't think of a more exciting title for this MMQB. I could go with "Peter Invites Someone with a Klu(we) to Write MMQB," but that would turn me into Rick Reilly or something that is unimaginably worse than Rick Reilly, which at this point I am not aware actually exists. So I went with the boring title.

Peter King was on vacation last week and so he had Steve Gleason, formerly a player of the New Orleans Saints, write MMQB in his place. I will not make fun of someone suffering from ALS, so I figured I would let MMQB go for last week. Perhaps if Gleason had some King-like thoughts then I could have posted something, but he wrote about his disease and how it has affected him and his family. Even I'm not that much of an asshole. This week Peter has Chris Kluwe write MMQB while he is busy enjoying his vacation (Peter is enjoying the vacation, not Chris Kluwe...everyone knows an NFL punter gets no breaks). Kluwe serves a two-fold purpose in writing MMQB. First, Peter agrees with Kluwe on social issues and Peter likes Kluwe which has caused (in my opinion at least) Peter to take up Kluwe's cause in MMQB when it comes to finding a new NFL punting gig. Peter cherry-picked punting data in a previous MMQB to make Kluwe seem like he had a better year last year than he really did. Second, Kluwe is popular with "the kids" so it gives Peter some street cred that a super-cool guy who plays awesome socially acceptable games like Warcraft is guest-writing MMQB.

And no, I don't expect Kluwe to be as good of a writer as Peter King since Kluwe doesn't make a living writing about sports. The writing style Kluwe uses feels like some bizarre combination of Big Daddy Drew and Bill Simmons. I'm not even sure that is a thing, and yes, I realize I am critiquing Chris Kluwe's writing which is against the unspoken rules of the sportswriting Internet gods. After all, he's much beloved around the Interwebs and is just like us. If there were a weekly sports magazine like "US Weekly" then there would be a picture of Chris Kluwe shopping in GameStop in the "Athletes: They're Just Like Us" section. So forgive me in advance for even thinking of retorting to what Kluwe may have written. I'm just happy he doesn't bitch about a tough cab ride or criticize the conversation that some people may have in public.

Good news, everyone! Apparently Peter King is on vacation (the lazy bum), and for some reason he decided I would be an excellent choice to fill in for him on MMQB. He chose poorly. Normally I would decline, since I have to remain super-duper-hyper focused on punting 27 hours a day, but fortunately we're in the dead month of the NFL year and I don't really have a lot going on right now (other than focusing).

I like the "Indiana Jones" reference, but don't like the whole "Athletes are supposed to take sports so seriously, which is ridiculous" commentary. I get it, athletes and fans shouldn't be expected to take sports so seriously. The best time to mock this might not be in a weekly NFL column on a sports site when the dedication and focus you are mocking has made you wealthier than 99% of the rest of the world.

Where to start, where to start ...

Let's start with the life cycle of the common athleta Americae vensica (that's Latin for "Google translate").

Apparently Peter left some jokes around for Kluwe to try out on the MMQB audience.

After a week or so, you scrape together some money to split a rental car with a couple of the other undrafted rookies, because the walls of your hotel room get that much closer every day. Eventually, OTAs end, and you head home for the month of July, head still spinning, and try to stay in shape.

While staying in shape doesn't sound very easy, and isn't easy, it's also the job of an NFL player. You are in the NFL partly because of your physical condition that allows you to perform at the highest level of football and part of your job is making sure you stay in that physical condition. For a defensive tackle, that means not losing 35 pounds after OTAs and for a wide receiver it means not gaining 35 pounds after OTAs.

If you're lucky enough to survive the roster cuts and make the 53-man roster, you go find a place to live -- generally a rental apartment or a townhouse because you don't know if you're going to last the entire year. Some guys make it, some don't, and just because you're one of the 53 at the start of the regular season doesn't mean you'll be there at the end.

Though in the case of a punter or kicker, you do know if you perform well during the season then you will probably be on the roster at the end of the season. Not too many teams replace their kicker the way a special-teams player might be replaced, where the 52nd or 53rd player on the roster is a backup and might be replaced mid-season to fill a position on the roster that has been decimated by injuries. Teams usually only carry one kicker and punter. So what Kluwe says is true, there's very little job security, but assuming a kicker or punter performs well during the season then job security should follow for at least the rest of that season.

If you're lucky, you sign an extension with your team and stick around the community you've come to know, attend birthdays and barbecues and bachelor parties. You make a life, maybe start a family, upgrade to a house with room for a dog (or two) and possibly a kid (or two). You start thinking about schools, about long-term plans with the friends you've made in your new environment, about the events you're committed to and the causes you're supporting, and you start talking to your agent about negotiating another extension.

Then you get cut and you're a rookie all over again, because it's the NFL.

You are a rookie all over again, albeit a rookie who is now a millionaire and has already signed an $8.3 million extension. Then you are a rookie, but find work quickly and get a $840,000 veteran minimum to sign with another NFL team. So you are a rookie, but you get paid like a veteran after you have already been paid more than most other rookies get paid. There's that small loophole in the "you're a rookie all over again" comment as it relates to being least in the case of Chris Kluwe.

Some of you may have seen an impassioned plea I wrote for a rival website

I'm not sure Deadspin is in any way a rival to They seem to have two completely different missions. Both sites have a moronic comments below the articles, so perhaps they compete for some of the idiots who seem to comment on some of the articles, but otherwise Deadspin is very different from CNNSI.

about how basically Peter King and the other voting members of the Hall of Fame are failing to do their jobs properly because there are no punters or specialists in the Hall (along with only one pure kicker). 

There should be so many more punters in the Hall of Fame. Personally, I'd like to see at least 8 punters per year placed in the Hall of Fame. What a travesty.

"How do you put in a punter when you only have five slots and so many other deserving players?" That's how the reasoning that keeps perpetuating this problem goes.

Actually, there's a simple fix for that. Change the selection criteria.

Whatever it takes to rig the system to get more punters and kickers into the Hall of Fame, it must be done. Change the selection criteria, execute Hall of Fame voting members who won't vote for a punter or kicker, whatever it takes.

Right now, the Hall of Fame is a straight up horse-trading session (truth in advertising: I've never been in the voting process, but it's not hard to read between the lines). Some voters have their guys, and other voters have their other guys. So when 46 people are in a room trying to narrow down a list of 25 candidates to five Hall of Famers, there's going to be dealing between the voters to get guys in, especially since an 80 percent majority vote is required.

Kluwe is absolutely right about this. It's pretty clear the Hall of Fame voting process is a horse-trading session. Voter A agrees to vote for Player A if Voter B will vote for Voter A's guy, Player B. It's how the world works, but there is probably a better way to do Hall of Fame voting. I would imagine the voting system used by the Baseball Hall of Fame is a better system. In that system, the voter usually just votes for whichever player he best remembers had an exciting moment in the postseason or vote for a guy the Baseball Hall of Fame voter doesn't suspect, using his vast medical and investigative experience, of using PED's. It's a pretty sophisticated system the Baseball Hall of Fame voter uses.

So here's how we fix it! 

Change the selection criteria to: Two to four offensive players, two to four defensive players, and zero to one specialists/administrators.

That's a good idea. It makes the voting more flexible by adding in a specialist/administrator category, but making the voting less flexible by insisting the voters have to put in two defensive or offensive players. I'm not against more specialists entering the Hall of Fame, but I don't know about providing a minimum or maximum of players that can enter the Hall of Fame from the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Plus, I'm not sure including zero to one specialists/administrators on the ballot will cause the Hall of Fame voters to include a specialist or administrator. They still could look at this position as not being worthy of a Hall of Fame vote, even if the number of players who can be voted in per year goes from 5 to 8. I think the Pro Football Hall of Fame should increase the amount of players who can be voted in during a given year, but I'm not sure this would mean more specialists would have a better chance of making it into the Hall of Fame over the long run. Some voters would still have a problem voting in a kicker over an offensive/defensive player. Specialists and defensive/offensive players will still get compared to each other, just in a different way.

Kluwe's idea could have some merit, but it is basically an idea that consists of giving the voters permission to vote for a specialist/administrator by including a "specialist/administrator" category. I'm not sure the voters need permission like this. The issue is the voters are still going to compare Ray Guy to Michael Strahan (or another offensive/defensive player) and possibly not vote Guy into the Hall of Fame. In short, I don't know if this fixes the problem by simply creating a category for specialists/administrators.

That's it. Nice and simple. The Hall can keep the 80 percent majority horse-wrangling alive and well,

I would personally work on a Hall of Fame that gets rid of as much of this horse-wrangling as possible if I were a person who felt like proposing ideas to improve the Football Hall of Fame voting process.

it can keep the cut-down from 25 to 15, but now it has the option to include the players who might otherwise be overlooked simply because all the slots fill up too fast in that final cut-down from 15 to five.

The issue I can see is that the voters will then have to decide between a borderline Hall of Fame offensive/defensive player over a specialist. In that case, the offensive/defensive player is probably going to win out in the minds of the voters. It doesn't make it right, but I feel like this is the reality. Voters can vote for a maximum of 8 players, but that doesn't mean they will be more inclined to vote in a specialist. It may mean they will be more inclined to stick to a smaller number of inductees in a given year.

Notice that I'm not even putting a minimum requirement on specialists -- if the voters really think there's no qualified candidate, they don't have to vote one in.

One or two specialists may end up in the Hall of Fame if this rule were implemented, but I don't know if this rule change would cause voters to consider more specialists for the Hall of Fame in the long run. Opening up the voting to a larger number of candidates being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame could easily cause have zero effect on specialists being voted into the Hall of Fame.

However, I think there are a lot of voters who simply can't reconcile putting in a Ray Guy or a Jason Hanson over a Jim Marshall or a Randy Moss, even though Ray (and Steve and Reggie and Adam) made just as much of an impact at their respective positions.

But the voters are still going to be forced to decide between Jim Marshall and Jason Hanson in a different way. If the voters are on the fence about Jim Marshall, are they really going to submit a vote for Jason Hanson in the specialist position? There's still going to be a bias towards offensive/defensive players. In a way there is no getting around the consideration of an offensive/defensive player versus a specialist. The thought process may still be "If we don't vote Jim Marshall into the Hall of Fame, how can we vote for Jason Hanson to enter the Hall of Fame?"

To me, and I think to a lot of other people, that's what a Hall of Fame is all about: Players who impact the game at their position at such a high level that everyone notices. I believe those players deserve a chance to be recognized, regardless of what position the impact was made at.

The bigger issue is going to be changing the voter's thinking about specialists and their place in the Hall of Fame. That's the major issue, not whether voters feel like they have permission to vote for a specialist or opening up enough potential Hall of Fame spots to where a specialist could be included without taking away the spot of an offensive/defensive player. At the end of the day, no matter how the categories are sorted out, many voters will still compare an offensive/defensive player to a specialist when determining which player should enter the Hall of Fame. It becomes less of a "Offensive/Defensive player or specialist?" argument and more of a "If we let Jason Hanson into the Hall of Fame, shouldn't we let Jim Marshall in as well?" argument.

I drove my car back from Minnesota to California the other day (if you're interested, the descent into madness is on my Twitter feed), and it got me to thinking: Everyone should take a road trip across the U.S. at some point in order to get a sense of just how big this planet that we live on is, and how diverse this country that we live in is.

No MMQB would be complete without a Peter King-ish thought like this. Everyone should do exactly what Kluwe is doing. Everyone needs to gain the perspective he has the time and money to allow himself to gain.

It would do a lot of people a lot of good to realize that the world isn't just the 25 square miles surrounding their house. Broaden your horizons. You might find something new. You might even like it!

People do tend to leave the 25 square mile area, but perhaps not drive all the way across the country. The two issues in traveling across the country are time and money, which are two things most people don't necessarily have. Most people love to broaden their horizons, but taking a road trip across the United States probably isn't something everyone can do. Chalk one up to being a professional athlete and having some sense of an offseason that most people don't have.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

I've also been doing a lot of traveling in airplanes lately, speaking at schools and whatnot,

Yeah, you know, just speaking at schools. No big deal. Kluwe is in demand to talk to the kids, he thought just he would mention it. Everyone should try to speak at schools and whatnot, it gives such a great perspective on the world outside the 25 square miles surrounding their house. Try to be a public speaker. Go to schools and start speaking to the kids. You might find you like it and get the perspective on the world that Chris Kluwe has and likes to tell us that we need to get.

The 3DS is the perfect size and heft to bludgeon the person in front of me when they lean their seat back into my knees, and then the headphone cord can be used to quickly garrote their stunned body. Executed properly, this technique will save you countless hours of aggravation on plane trips, especially if you happen to be 6-foot-5 or taller and don't like wasting money on first class.

Peter King says flying first class is NEVER money wasted. It helps to keep you away from the middle-class people who are insistent about going about their lives while Peter leers at them from over the top of the seat in front of him.

Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me

The NSA is building a giant spy facility in Utah so it can read all your sexting emails. This facility definitely violates parts of the Bill of Rights that protect your right to cyberhump "bigbuttz420xxx" in private (though probably not in that exact language), but most people don't seem to care anymore. So it goes.

It's not that most people don't seem to care anymore, it's that very little can be done. If Chris Kluwe knows of a way to stop the NSA from building a spy facility I would love to hear his suggestion. After all, I don't speak at schools and have the perspective that a road trip across the United States would provide me, so he's clearly the expert here.

Want me to write my Congressman? The government either spies on us and flaunts it in our face or doesn't tell us when they spy on us. It's happening either way and I am very open to suggestions as to how to stop this. Merely saying "most people don't seem to care anymore" doesn't seem to go a long way to solving the problem once the problem has been found.

"How is that Miami's ball?"

-- @SI_PeterKing, aka Peter King, watching the NBA finals.


It's not that Peter is only supposed to talk about football, it is that some of Peter's observations are surrounded by Peter saying something like, "I'm not an expert on this and haven't ever watched field hockey before, but why don't they use sticks made out of aluminum foil?" Peter can obviously talk about whatever he likes to talk about, and he does, but his observations on other sports seem to come across as uninformed or incredibly obvious. Then there are the times Peter says Derek Jeter is the best player he has ever seen play the game of baseball. Those times are the worst.

Ten Things I Think I Think I Know I Think I Know I Think

1. I think that this part is going to be tangentially about football, if at all, because there are so many other things in life than sports.

If you took a road trip across the United States these insights could be yours too.

It's extremely possible to both follow sports and also be knowledgeable about the current state of the world, just like it's extremely possible to both play sports and have interests outside your job. 

I'm not sure entirely what this means, but it could very well be Kluwe's response to those who don't like an NFL player having an opinion on social issues.

TRES. I think some people skate by on natural talent as long as they can, and never realize they should have put the time in to get better. You can yell at those people, but gently.

Be somewhat lazy with your yelling at these people. Yell at them, but do it gently and don't let it take up too much of your time. Unless these people's laziness is preventing you from doing your job well or causing you to not do your job well. This type of person may indeed eventually burn in Hell and it is perfectly acceptable to yell at them in a non-gentle fashion.

octo. I think bullying is a serious problem in the culture of athletics, and we need to be doing more to prevent it from happening.

Maybe that's the reason for the NSA facility in Utah. The NSA is looking to monitor and look out for bullies and prevent them from bullying others.

I think some people may not realize when they're bullying someone. Here's a hint -- if you wouldn't like someone doing to you what you're doing to them, you're being a bully. Grow up and develop some empathy.

So my boss is being a bully when he asks me to do more work when I am currently already doing enough work to fill my day? He wouldn't like it if I gave him more work to do, so I'll just tell him next time he is being a bully and report him to the new NSA facility in Utah.

Also, what's empathy? I don't understand the word and don't comprehend how bullying can negatively affect a person.

x. I think you should get back to work before your boss fires you.

Well, I have decided my boss is a bully so reading MMQB at work is how I am getting back at him. Well, that and slowly poisoning his c---I mean shooting him mean looks. 

And look, no "Adieu Haiku"! Let's enjoy this short break from short-form Japanese poetry.

Friday, June 21, 2013

6 comments Jim Rich Calls Terry Francona and Joe Girardi Hypocrites, Which Highlights His Own Small Hypocrisy

The Biogenesis scandal has given a lot of sportswriters a chance to do some moral grandstanding and start to take out long-standing grudges on anyone even somewhat affiliated with Biogenesis, Alex Rodriguez, and every other MLB team. Sportswriters rarely pass up a chance to do some moral grandstanding and blame everyone and their brother for steroids being prevalent in MLB. I read the "New York Daily News" sports section everyday for a reason. I like to read sportswriters freaking the hell out about sports and many writers at the "Daily News" do this very well. Jim Rich of the "Daily News" says that Terry Francona and Joe Girardi are hypocrites because they have benefited from managing players who have been accused of using PED's or have been caught using PED's. What's so interesting is that the managers of the Red Sox and Yankees are hypocrites and the focus of Rich's scorn, yet he gives the guys in the Red Sox/Yankees clubhouse a pass for benefiting and playing alongside these PED users. I don't think guys in the Yankees or Red Sox locker room should be scorned for not tattling on their PED-using teammates, but it's an interesting sort of double standard Jim Rich sets forth.

So while Rich criticizes Francona/Girardi for coaching along side these players, while he completely lets clubhouse leaders for the Red Sox and Yankees like Dustin Pedroia, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Kevin Youkilis off the hook. If he is going to blame Girardi and Francona for the steroids in the locker room, shouldn't Rich blame the players in the locker room as well. These players, like Derek Jeter, who have (rightly) spoken against steroid use yet said nothing about the steroid use in the Yankees locker room. To Jim Rich, these guys aren't hypocrites at all because no one is supposed to criticize these players. You just don't criticize the Jeter or a scrappy guy like Pedroia. Interesting how this works, huh? Jeter is a great leader of men, but Rich doesn't know how Jeter could have known of A-Rod's PED use. I guess Jeter's leadership doesn't extend to tattling on his teammates. In Rich's view, Joe Girardi should have known and publicly condemned A-Rod when he didn't expect the same from the Yankees players.

Most people would think of the legacies of Joe Girardi and Terry Francona as scrappy players turned successful managers for two of the most influential franchises in baseball history.

Most people would not go out of their way to be contrarians and accuse two managers of being hypocrites for managing two teams that had PED users on the roster, while not calling the players in the clubhouse out for playing on a team that had PED users. Most people are not Jim Rich. I don't think either party should be condemned, but I have a hard time going after Girardi/Francona for not throwing their PED users under the bus, while not holding the Red Sox/Yankees players to the same standard. It's all madness. 

But the Biogensis bombshell this past week, where as many as 20 big leaguers could face suspension as a result of their link to the performance-enhancing-drug lab, has exposed the two skippers for what they truly are:

One of a couple dozen managers who managed players who were proven to use PED's or accused of using PED's, but you simply go after Francona and Girardi because you are more interested in getting attention than being intellectually honest? 


Oh, frauds. So if Girardi and Francona are frauds for managing the Yankees and Red Sox when they were two of thirty teams that at some point had a PED user on the roster, then doesn't that mean Tony LaRussa (I know, the great LaRussa!), Bobby Cox, and pretty much any manager over the last 10-15 years is also a fraud? Wouldn't this mean the "clean" baseball players like Cal Ripken Jr, Chipper Jones, Ken Griffey Jr., Frank Thomas, and other guys who (I don't) think used PED's are frauds as well. Why let them off the hook if you are going to bury Girardi and Francona? Why not call Tony LaRussa a fraud? It's a good thing he is retired because he's a fraud. 

Case 1: On Wednesday, Girardi, when asked about Alex Rodriguez’s alleged PED use and looming 100-game ban, said he was only going to talk about baseball.

What? He didn't condemn and throw one of his own players under the bus? What kind of half-assed leadership and clubhouse does Girardi run? If Girardi's players feel like he will take to the media to condemn their actions how will he keep control of the clubhouse and keep the player's respect? I'm sure Girardi has a lot to say about A-Rod, but he keeps it to himself because A-Rod is a Yankees employee and Girardi is a Yankees employee. 

What would Jim Rich want Girardi to say about A-Rod? Would he want to hear Girardi bash A-Rod or hear Girardi tell the media what a disappointing person A-Rod is? Why do we need to hear Girardi say these things, other than to give media members like Jim Rich something to talk about in their columns? The media simply likes it when teams implode because it gives them interesting stories to write. So Jim Rich wants Girardi to comment on A-Rod's 100-game ban because it will help the team potentially implode and give Jim Rich more stories to write. 

Some people just want to watch the world burn. 

“This is in MLB’s hands. For me to speculate doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

A statement that basically says, "no comment"? In order to not be a fraud, Joe Girardi must comment on these allegations against A-Rod. Otherwise, by not condemning A-Rod's actions Girardi is basically injecting PED's into A-Rod's ass. 

Really? What could be more about baseball than a guy taking illegal drugs

Jim Rich is putting words in Girardi's mouth. In this quote Girardi didn't say A-Rod's PED use was not baseball-related. He said it was in MLB's hands and it doesn't make sense for him to speculate. Talking about a potential PED suspension for one of his players isn't an entirely baseball-related conversation that Girardi should be having with the media.

to improve his performance to the point that he hits the fifth-most home runs (647) in history, drives in the seventh-most runs (1,950) and wins three MVP Awards?

A-Rod didn't compile all of these numbers because he used PED's. At least some of these home runs and RBI's can't be directly attributed to his use of PED's. I don't know how many, but I feel very safe in believing all 647 of A-Rod's home runs aren't due to his use of PED's. 

While Rodriguez was launching 129 of those bombs under Girardi’s watch, the Yankees manager was more than happy to discuss them, presumably because that qualified as baseball talk.

I'm sensing the sarcasm that is being written here, but when Girardi was asked about home runs that A-Rod hit during a baseball that did qualify as baseball talk. It was in Girardi's purview as the manager of the Yankees. How long MLB will suspend A-Rod isn't really part of Girardi's job description, so when he is asked about it his answers are pure speculation. 

But now that every one of A-Rod’s 2,901 career hits (37th most) must be called into question as the result of his second association with steroid use -

This is the incorrect use of reasoning and logic. Every single one of A-Rod's hits should not be called into question. Steroids improve an athlete's performance, but they don't make a player who can't hit a baseball at all end up with nearly 3,000 career hits. It just doesn't work that way. It is somewhat reasonable to call a portion of A-Rod's career hits into question, but not every single one of them.

don’t forget how he admitted to juicing for the three years he was in Texas, but never before or after, Scout’s honor - Girardi feels he’s exempt from the discussion?
What a joke.

So Girardi is included in this discussion because he is guilty by association? Should the Yankees first base coach or third base coach also be seen as hypocrites? After all, they are associated with A-Rod and because they coach on the team A-Rod plays on they are guilty. How about the Yankees players, including revered guys like Rivera and Jeter, are they guilty by association? After all, why should they be exempt if Girardi isn't exempt? 

Hypocrisy oozes from Girardi’s dismissal of the discussion as a distraction, nothing more than a persistent gnat buzzing around the brim of his interlocking N and Y on an otherwise peachy spring day.

So because Girardi doesn't give an opinion (based on his own speculation) about A-Rod this makes him a hypocrite? It's not hypocrisy, but simply Girardi recognizing he is a Yankees employee and there is nothing to be gained and everything to be lost by commenting. Jim Rich simply wants something to write about and he needs a little controversy to fuel his writing. 

Here is a guy who, as a player, stood shoulder to shoulder with steroid cheats ranging from Sammy Sosa to Chuck Knoblauch, then went on to manage the likes of A-Rod and admitted HGH user Andy Pettitte.

Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera played with Chuck Knoblauch, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, and A-Rod. Neither Rivera or Jeter have ever been implicated in using steroids, so isn't Jeter a hypocrite for taking a stand against steroids while also benefiting from his teammates that use steroids? I would argue "no," but if Girardi is implicated by being a teammate of Sosa and Knoblauch I can't see how Jeter or Rivera are magically off the hook. They both benefited from their teammates using PED's and only condemned these teammates and ex-teammates after their PED use was found out. 

Why even place blame on Girardi or any other players? Blame A-Rod and the other PED users. No player or manager worth a shit is going to throw a current teammate under the bus for using PED's nor should they.

So, let’s get this straight, Joe: while you were earning close to $30 million as a player and/or coach over the past 24 years, it was OK for you to benefit from all of those players’ pumped-up performances, but when someone wants your thoughts on how they went about executing and maintaining that level of play, you say it doesn’t make a lot of sense for you to speculate?

Yes. That's how it works. Girardi is a Yankees employee and isn't going to criticize or speculate on the fate of one of his current players. It's frustrating for a sportswriter who desperately wants some controversy to discuss, but it's the right thing for Girardi to do.

Case 2: Cleveland manager Terry Francona also said Wednesday “as an industry we kind of buried our heads in the sand a little bit.”

While, on its surface, Francona’s indictment is refreshing,

But if you look beneath the surface and need a column idea then you can look at this comment and think that Francona is a hypocrite. 

where was his searing self-assessment when busted steroid cheats Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz were blasting a combined 289 home runs while leading Boston to two World Series over the eight years that Francona was manager?

Francona's head was in the sand. That's exactly what his quote says. "As an industry" baseball had their heads in the sand a bit. Ortiz and Ramirez weren't busted steroid cheats at the time the Red Sox won these two World Series, so it is possible Francona didn't know. Where was a column about steroids in baseball and how MLB has their head in the sand 15 years ago from Jim Rich during the Steroid Era? Where was all of Jim Rich's searing indictment of baseball managers over a decade ago? It was nowhere because he was too busy enjoying the Steroid Era.

Francona won an average of 93 games a season and made the playoffs five times on the inflated backs of Ramirez and Ortiz, but did you ever hear a word of suspicion from him as he was hoisting his World Series trophies and being lauded as one of the best managers in the game?

This is just stupidity. Is Francona supposed to stop the World Series victory parade and alert the Red Sox fans to his suspicions that Ortiz and Ramirez are using PED's? What kind of manager who likes his job and doesn't want to lose the respect of his team announces his suspicion that some of his players are using PED's? I didn't realize Francona needed to call a press conference to alert everyone to his suspicions of PED use on the Red Sox roster.

Jim Rich can try as hard as he wants, and he's trying very hard, but simply being the manager of the Red Sox during a time when two Red Sox players were using PED's doesn't make Francona a hypocrite or culpable for the actions of either baseball player. I love how some in the media are adopting the "Why didn't the players and managers tell everyone about the steroid issue?" stance now as if reporting on steroid use in baseball is Terry Francona's job now or was his job in the early 2000's. It was Francona's job to manage the Red Sox, and whether Jim Rich likes it or not, it is not Francona's place to publicly speculate that two of his players are using PED's when neither player had tested positive at that point. 

As selfish and infuriating as the two managers’ stances are on the steroid issue, their most egregious hypocrisy lies in the fact that they have managed or played with so many other unnamed cheats, who, in part, were allowed to tarnish the game as a result of their willing blindness.

What about Tony LaRussa? He managed Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. Canseco literally wrote the book (or two books) about steroids in baseball and he was managed by LaRussa in Oakland. Why does LaRussa get a pass? It's fun to point blame and not pointing the finger at specific individuals certainly doesn't help your column get read, but there was more willing blindness in baseball than that exhibited by these two managers. 

I'm also not sure how it is hypocrisy for Francona to say MLB stuck it's head in the sand. He's admitting there were mistakes made, so he's not really being a hypocrite. He admitted a mistake was made.

Francona and Girardi certainly have had plenty of company in allowing this fraud on the game and its fans to exist,

But Jim Rich writes for a New York paper and so he only cares about Joe Girardi and Terry Francona's hypocrisy. Those Yankees and Red Sox players, like Derek Jeter, who are disappointed in players like A-Rod they aren't hypocrites though. Jim Rich has to select who he calls a hypocrite based on whether he likes that person or not. Sure, Jeter played with named and unnamed cheats, but his stance against PED's in baseball isn't hypocrisy because Jim Rich doesn't want it to be hypocrisy. It would sound insane, and it is insane, to call Derek Jeter a hypocrite for speaking against PED use while playing on a team with PED users. Jim Rich would get torn apart by other members of the media, so he goes after Joe Girardi. Rich only points the finger at select individuals. He points the finger at the managers for managing and playing with cheats, but never at the current players who also played with cheats. They're off the hook.

but there have been very few who have basked more in its tainted glow.

There's Dusty Baker who has basked in the tainted glow of steroids. He managed Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa. Yes, managers and players benefited from steroids, but I don't know if it is fair to single out Girardi and Francona. Plus, if Jim Rich wants to talk about willful blindness then he needs to start that conversation by talking about the media's willful blindness to the records being set during the Steroid Era.