Pre-Trade Deadline Spar

Joe to Greg (July 24th)

Well a lot has happened since we last did this so let’s address the one elephant in the room first. LeBron. As I’ve told you I’m in the middle of writing an NBA piece highlighting all the free agent signings this offseason so I’ll keep my comments short. Besides the fact that you TOTALLY CALLED THIS, I’m still surprised.

I always knew he’d go back, just to set the record straight. To be honest, I didn’t think it would be this soon. I can’t believe we’ve been watching LeBron James for 11 years now. Those four years went by faster than I thought and in those four years, James wound up with 4 Finals appearances and 2 titles. Why would he want to leave that? Well Wade was aging and Bosh was past his prime, but why not sign a 2-year deal with an opt-out again next summer? Obviously make another Finals appearance because the East is well…the East and then sit back and evaluate things. I don’t think that is guaranteed with the Cleveland roster now (although there are still moves to be made and one move sounds LOVEly). I think in the end his heart was always in Cleveland and I never doubted his return, just the timing of it. I know you’ve written a separate post about this, but any thoughts now that time has passed?

Greg to Joe (July 24th)

Personally, if you think that LeBron could lead the Heat to the NBA Finals, you have to think he could lead the Cavs. Wade is done. Unless they can work some Duncan resting magic on him, he may be done for good. I think Bosh is really underrated, but he and James together isn’t as good as Kyrie, Wiggins, and a bunch of young guys that can run. With Love, the Cavaliers have to become the favorites to win the title. I bet that deal happens and the Sixers will end up getting Dion Waiters, Kevin Martin and a first round pick because they joined as the third team. Wolves will get to unload a bunch of big contracts, Wiggins, Bennett, and a bunch of picks. It will work out nicely for them. I see Kevin Love as a Cav, but we’ll see in a month because Wiggins cannot be dealt for a month.

So on a baseball note, do you think the Red Sox will be sellers? I think that they should just pack it in and get some more prospects. I would deal Jon Lester for a young pitcher and outfielder. Then I would try to resign him after the season. I think they could also deal Koji, former Oriole great, but I am not sure who else they could deal. It is going to be interesting to see what they do. Also, do you see any big deals happening before the trade deadline? I would have said David Price, but I don’t think the Rays will deal him anymore after their mini-hot streak.

Joe to Greg (July 25th)

Quick LeBron note: I think you know this, but Thursday, Wiggins was offered a contract. With that contract, he isn’t allowed to be traded for 30 days. Which means any trade going on between Cleveland and Minnesota would have to be after August 23rd. I think, and I’ll elaborate on this more in my NBA piece, that Chicago has a better deal in place for Minnesota and you could see them swoop in before Wiggins is trade eligible. Don’t sleep on Golden State either, they could easily throw Klay Thompson in the mix, but they hate the thought of losing that Curry-Thompson duo.

As far as the Sox are concerned, they should be in full sell mode. Their biggest mistake was not signing Lester at the beginning of the season so I think they should look for some prospects to get in some sort of trade. Also Jake Peavy could be on his way out, I think he is something like 1-9 right now. His record doesn’t show much, but he’s still a veteran pitcher who can support the back end of a rotation for say the Dodgers or the Cardinals or some team in the playoff race. I’m with you on the Price scenario. I thought he was on his way out, but why not ride his hot hand the rest of the season and see if you can sneak into a wildcard spot? Besides that, Lester could be the biggest name out there, but I can’t see many other big trades happening before the deadline.

What are you thoughts on the Ray Rice 2-game suspension? Was it too much or too little?

Greg to Joe (July 26th)

Yeah, thats why I said we need to wait a month about Wiggins because I knew that contract would be signed. The only competitor to the Cavs are the Warriors in my opinion. If they add Klay Thompson, they get Kevin Love. Easily. I don’t think the Bulls are a huge competitor because I doubt they will trade Douggie McBuckets and if they do, they have the same 30 day restriction the Cavs do with Wiggins. I also hope that the Bulls do not trade Nikola Mirotić because I am really excited to see him in the NBA and have him on my fantasy team.

I think the Peavy trade was great for the Red Sox. I do not know much about Edwin Escobar, but I do know the Heath Hembree will be the Red Sox future closer and could even start closing at the end of this year. He has a power arm with great stuff, but he needs to control it better. I think that getting Hembree in this trade makes Koji EXTREMELY expendable. I see him getting dealt before the trade deadline as well and hopefully, it is to a team that has outfield prospects because the Red Sox need outfielders. I know I said this before, but I do not think it can be overstated. Lester might get dealt as well, but I think he still has a chance to be on the 2015 Red Sox.

The Ray Rice suspension is a black mark on the NFL. I think that he should have been suspended much longer. As a Ravens fan, I am pretty happy because I think that he could have a good year in Gary Kubiak‘s 1-cut running system, but I just can’t believe that he will be allowed to play after two games. I think 8 should have been the punishment, and I love Rice. I think he is a great person, and this happened to be his only mistake. It just also happened to be very public in nature.

Gronk is ready for training camp, you excited about that? Also, who do you think will win MVP this year… if it wasn’t allowed to be a Quarterback?

Joe to Greg (July 28th)

I have to do some more research into Embree and Escobar, but hopefully they can fill some of the gaps in the roster in the coming years. What are you thoughts on the development of Matt Kemp/Jon Lester rumors? Can you imagine Lester in that Dodgers lineup the way Kershaw and Greinke have been pitching this seaon? Is Kemp even worth going for from the Sox persepctive?

As far as Ray Rice is concerned, again, I’m with you. I think that he should have gotten a bigger penalty. It just makes the NFL’s discipline system look all out of sorts. The only reason I can see why it was a less severe penalty is because he’s a first time offender. In the long run, this helps the Ravens out a lot, but I do think they have to be careful in those first two games because they are both divisional games.

I’m very excited for Gronk to return. He is Brady‘s favorite target by far and I’ve enjoyed watching highlights of them hooking up in mini camp this past week. I’m interested to see how Darrelle Revis does this year because if he does well, I think he would be more inclined to resign next season considering hes on that one-year deal. If I were to pick an MVP, and it wasn’t a quarterback, I would say Shady McCoy has a chance to have another great year this year. I haven’t put a lot of thought into this, or fantasy for that matter, so I may have to change that. Who do you think will be the non-quarterback MVP?

Greg to Joe (July 28th)

Kemp wouldn’t be the centerpiece of the deal. The Red Sox wouldn’t take him unless they were getting a top prospect and the Dodgers pay most of his salary. The Dodgers pitching would be sick, but I don’t think Kemp has much left in the tank for the Sox. The ankle injuries really took a toll on his defense.

I think Revis is more of a mercenary. I honestly do not think he cares about winning that much. He just wants his money. He will go to whichever team will pay him the most. The team that pays the most, will probably win more because of him, but he only cares about money. I think he is a great addition to the Patriots. He should really help the pass rush out by locking down one receiver.

My non-quarterback MVP would have to be Jamaal Charles. He led his team in rushing and receiving, and he finally got paid. To which I say, good for him.

Greg Danchik (@gregdanchik)

Joe Meola (@brosephmeola)

So About Last Night…

The Athletics do something that they usually don’t do and gave up a couple of cheap players for some expensive ones. The pick up pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel (former Oriole…) for the best SS prospect in baseball in Addison Russell, Billy McKinney (2013 1st rounder) Dan Straily, and a player to be named later/cash.

I personally think they Cubs made out great in this deal. First, they get a young pitcher with talent who has struggled in the American League. This is the perfect pitcher for the Cubs. They STOLE Jake Arrieta from the Orioles last season. The Cubs basically have given him permission to use his cutter (Something the Orioles refused to let him throw), and now he is pitching like a stud with a no-no into the 7th in Boston last week.

Addison Russell (Photo Cred: Bill Mitchell/Baseball America)

Addison Russell (Photo Cred: Bill Mitchell/Baseball America)

The Cubs also pick up Addison Russell and Billy McKinney. Russell is a great defensive shortstop that turned out to have a great bat too. He has had an average around .300 at every level with an OPS above .800, including .939 this year. Billy McKinney is a corner outfielder that is projected to have a great bat but be a slow baserunner and a below-average defender.

Since the Cubs have too many infielders after this trade (Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Arismendy Alcantara, Starlin Castro, and Anthony Rizzo), do they deal Baez for a pitching prospect?

Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara for Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero and Gonzalez Germen.

Who says no?

Jeff Samardzija playing for Notre Dame against Stanford. (Photo Cred: Getty Images)

Jeff Samardzija playing for Notre Dame against Stanford. (Photo Cred: Getty Images)

Now for the Athletics, they pick up the Major League talent in this deal. Samardzija becomes their best pitcher and Hammel slots in as a back of the rotation guy who is over-achieving this year. Samardzija has been brilliant this year even though he only has 2 wins. He has increased groundballs, decreased the flyballs, decreased his home run to fly ball rate, and decreased the amount walks. He has been superb. The reason for the lack of wins is his league slow run support of 2.41 runs per game… TERRIBLE! The Cubs probably just hate him because they can’t spell his name. Who knows…

Coming of an injury-filled year with the Orioles last year, the Cubs were able to sign Hammel to a 1-year deal for $6 million. For that price, he is  having a career year with his highest strikeout percentage and lowest walk percentage in his career. It will be tough for him to keep those numbers up with the move the AL, but the A’s believe he can do it so you know what? So do I!

I think that his deal was very fair, but the Athletics will need to make a World Series and see Samardzija and Hammel be big pieces for this type of deal to be worth it. They do not have the kind of money to sign Samardzija long-term so they have to win this year or next with him, or they will have wasted a top prospect, also known as a cheap star, for no title.

This is not the type of deal that the Athletics can make every year and sustain a winning team because they purely do not have the money for it. However, the Athletics must have decided this is the one deal that they can make that will push them over the top, and with one of the top front offices in baseball (along with the Astros, Cardinals, Cubs,  and Red Sox), I have to believe this is the right move, and I now think the Athletics are clear favorites to win the AL Pennant and a top 3 favorite for the World Series title.

In a football note…

Josh Gordon gets arrested in North Carolina. If he never plays in the NFL again, is he the greatest one-hit wonder in sports ever?

Lemme know what you think

Greg Danchik

Twitter: @gregdanchik

Email: gregdanchik@gmail.com

Buehrle Surprises the MLB

I haven’t been writing a lot lately, but plenty has been going on the world of sports. Obviously, the Heat and Spurs are playing for the Larry O’Brien Trophy, and the Rangers and Kings are playing for the Stanley Cup. If these series are as good as their Game 1’s, then they will be great.

While all of this has been going on, the MLB season keeps chugging along. I have been watching and seeing a ton of surprises. Over the next week, I am going to be posting about these surprises and trying to explain them, if I can. I will also be giving you the best free agency signings this season. They will be in no particular order.

Mark Buehrle pitching against the Astros (Photo Cred: Steve Russell/Toronto Star)

Mark Buehrle pitching against the Astros (Photo Cred: Steve Russell/Toronto Star)

The first surprise I am going to talk about is Mark Buehrle. You know, that guy who was consistently average/mediocre in the AL Central and NL East.  Thats the same guy that is 10-1 this year with a 2.10 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. His statistics are unreal, and the Blue Jays win almost every game he pitches. But why is this happening?

The biggest reason he keeps winning is his run support. The Blue Jays are a great offensive team and score roughly 5 runs a game, which is second in all of baseball (Oakland is first). However, the Blue Jays are scoring, on average, 6.08 runs during his starts. He is getting a little bit more than a run of extra support from the team over the other pitchers (1.22 runs per game). With that type of support, it is no wonder he is 10-1.

However, the reason Buehrle’s numbers, excluding record,  look spectacular is his ridiculously low HR/FB%. It is 2.4%, which is 7.3% less than his career mark. He cannot keep this up, and he will start to give up some dingers especially in his home ballpark. Rogers Centre is 3rd in home runs allowed and runs allowed. While this will probably be his career year, he will most likely regress some. Expect his ERA and FIP to rise, and it could all happen at once, which would be bad for fantasy owners and the Blue Jays.

The first free agent signing I will talk about is Michael Morse. Morse is a pretty decent outfielder with a .282 batting average, .818 OPS, and HR/FB% just below 20%. However, the big knock on him is that he is very injury prone. He could never stay healthy, but when he did, he performed.

Well, he is healthy this year for the Giants and out playing his career numbers. He already has 13 homers, a .286 average, and an OPS of .916. His HR/FB% is 27.1% so that will likely regress towards 20%, but he should still end up with at least 25 homers. This is a great season for any player, but the Giants got away with signing him for just $10.5 million over 2 years. For a comparison of how good of a deal this is, I will use Derek Jeter.

Derek Jeter will eventually make $45 million from 2012-2014.

Including his good 2012 season where he had 200  hits, Jeter has had a combined fWAR from 2012-2014 of 2.6. That is definitely not living up to his contract considering this offseason teams payed only $6 million dollars per win above replacement. Morse is actually outperforming the price point for fWAR as he already has a fWAR of 1.1 this season.

The Giants got a great deal even if Morse gets hurt, but if he doesn’t get hurt, the deal will look even better for the MLB-best San Francisco Giants.

Greg Danchik

The Harper Situation

A lot of interesting stuff happened over Easter weekend in the world of baseball. The one thing that peaked my interest the most was the Bryce Harper benching incident. My interest was truely peaked when I was listening to Jonathan Coachman on Coach and Company on ESPN Radio while driving down to my Aunt April and Uncle Ed’s house. My mom had to calm me down because I almost screamed in frustration.

If you haven’t heard the story yet, I’ll let you know what happened. In the 6th inning of the Nationals’ game against the Cardinals, Bryce Harper grounded out to the pitcher for the first out of the inning; in Matt Williams’ eyes, he did not hustle. Here’s the play so you can make the call. But remember that Harper has a quad injury right now as well, so he is not at 100%.

I have a couple of thoughts on the issue.

The first one is how fast does Williams think Harper is? He clearly was not walking, but he was not jogging either. He was not at a full sprint, but he did not lack hustle in the way that should cause a benching. I understand that he is a star player and has been in the public eye since he hit the cover of Sports Illustrated at the age of 16. However, if Williams’ did nothing, his players would still have respect for him and wouldn’t have even thought twice about the incident especially with Harper’s injury.

The other issue I have with it is something that stems back to last season, but my intruige was reignited by Coachman. It came specifically from this statement, which I am going to paraphrase. Coachman said that he would be surprised if Mike Trout did what Harper did, but he was not surprised by Harper.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

I love Mike Trout, but I think I’d be more surprised if Harper didn’t hustle.

He was dead serious too. My mouth dropped, and I almost dropped an F-bomb in front of my mother. Luckily, I did not.

You know the type of person Coachman probably was last year after Harper got his concussion from running into a wall when he did not need to? He was probably the guy that was preaching Harper should tone it back a notch because he will get hurt too often otherwise. Sports talk show hosts cannot have it both ways! If he decides to tone it back a notch when he is hurt and you have been preaching he needs to tone it down otherwise he will continue to get hurt, YOU CANNOT SAY HE DID NOT HUSTLE HARD ENOUGH!

Harper plays baseball with more hustle than anyone I have ever watched. It is incredible. I still remember his baserunning against Cole Hamels that got him hit. It was one of the best moments of the 2012 season. Harper is one of the best athletes in the game and gives it his all in every single instance, even if it puts him in harms way. I wouldn’t have thought anything of the play had Williams not pulled him, so I think Williams overreacted and created a story for desperate sports’ reporters. Harper will be one of the best baseball players in the league soon and will most likely win an MVP within 5 years. People should lay off him for less than average effort by Harper’s standards when he is hurt. Overall, I think this should have never happened in the first place, and I would be willing to bet that this will never happen to Harper again.

Greg Danchik

Opening Day

Yesterday was like Christmas morning, for so many reasons.

The biggest reason that I was excited was there would be a nearly full slate of baseball games on over the course of the entire day. At any point in the day, I could have had MLB.tv on with a game playing. (Yes, MLB.tv is still the greatest invention for a baseball fan. The biggest issue they need to fix is their blackout policies.)

The other reason that I got extremely excited is it was the first full debut of the Greg Danchik Model, or GDM. Yes, I am selfish enough to name the model after myself.

The GDM is a model to predict the outcome of Major League Baseball games relative to the implied odds that sportsbooks give out every day.

The four main ideas behind the model are…

  1. The order of the lineup matters! If a player can contribute more runs to a teams total runs, you want them higher in the order. Therefore, runs scored for each team is totally lineup dependent.
  2. Defensive statistics are unreliable. If Vegas is using them, it could be a disadvantage to them. I am going to stick to the basics of hitting and pitching, which are much easier to quantify and predict (not that either is actually easy).
  3. The best way to predict how good a bullpen is going to be is by using the average bullpen statistics from last year. Relievers, other than Mariano Rivera, are the most fickle of all athletes. They come from everywhere including from behind the plate, like Kenley Jansen. It is really too hard to predict game to game how to relievers will be used or perform. That’s why I am sticking to the average.
  4. Using projected stats from projection systems that have proven to be accurate will be better than using past statistics. I do not know if this is true, but it is what I believe, so it is what I am doing.

I am not going to break it down much further, but I will give some results from Opening Day.

Felix Hernandez delivering a pitch in the first inning of the Mariners Opening Day game in 2014 (Photo Cred: Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)

Felix Hernandez delivering a pitch in the first inning of the Mariners Opening Day game in 2014 (Photo Cred: Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)

This rudimentary model only went 5-3, but I couldn’t have been more ecstatic to see Danny Farquhar finish off the Angels after the Mariners extended their lead in the 9th around 1:30 am EST. The game that started with Jered Weaver and Felix Hernandez at 10 pm EST had finally come to a close. That signaled an above .500 Opening Day, and I, now, feel justified for spending a lot of my spare time over spring break getting this done before Opening Day.

And here’s to hoping for more, or mostly, above .500 days for the reminder of the MLB season.

Greg Danchik