Category Archives: Offseason

MLB Teams That Could Surprise in 2018

FINALLY this offseason is starting to heat up a little. I’ve been dying to write about baseball, but literally nothing has happened. A few free agents remain unsigned, but the bulk of the “big names” have found a home. Teams, for the most part, have their rosters ready to go into Spring Training.

Obviously this year you are going to have the powerhouse teams, and the bottom-of-the-barrel rebuild teams, but what about the dark horses? The ones that have always found themselves somewhere in the middle, but never leaned one way or the other, and now they have a legitimate chance to contend for a playoff spot.

PADRES

Key Additions: SS Freddy Galvis, 1B Eric Hosmer, 3B Chase Headley

The San Diego Padres have been a joke for a really, really long time.  I’ve watched the sport since I was six, and I honestly cannot remember a time they were even close to good. But I think 2018 might be their year to be slightly above average! Adding some depth to their lineup in Hosmer, Galvis, and Headley (his name still sends chills down my spine), in addition to their talented young outfielders (Margot, Renfroe), can actually make them a threat on the offensive side of things. But their rotation lacks any consistency, so don’t expect them to be making a wild card push this season. I’d consider anything over .500 a wildly successful season for the Padres.

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ANGELS

Key Additions: SP/OF Shohei Otani, SS/3B Zack Cozart, 2B Ian Kinsler

With the Messiah in center field (others call him Mike Trout), the Angels are always going to contend in some way. But I’m legitimately excited to see them contend in the AL West this year. They are getting a full season out of slugger Justin Upton and added All-Star infielders, in addition to already having defensive wiz Andrelton Simmons and Albert Pujols.

But, of all the teams in this blog, they have the highest chance of failure. With the exception of Otani, they are bringing in old, declining talent, with the hopes they are the players their reputation holds them to. Upton could begin to lose power like Pujols has already done, as could Kinsler. Cozart is no sure thing, especially while playing a new position (3B). And what if Otani isn’t ready? What if he pitches like a 24 year old is supposed to. They could fly high, or they could fall hard. It’ll be very intriguing to see what happens.

CARDINALS

Key Additions: OF Marcell Ozuna, RP Luke Gregorson, RP Dominic Leone

After falling for the good ol’ “Have Derek Jeter become the owner so he can trade that team’s best player to his former team” trick, the Cardinals recovered quickly and added Marcel Ozuna to an already stacked outfield. With Dexter Fowler, Tommy Pham, and now Ozuna, their lineup is scary. They were already on the verge of being a playoff team, but with ace Carlos Martinez a year older, and a few added pieces to the bullpen, this squad could be ready for the postseason once more.

BREWERS

Key Additions: OF Lorenzo Cain, OF Christian Yelich

The theme of a “stacked outfield” continues here, but like the Cardinals, this team wasn’t missing a whole lot. I don’t think they’re championship caliber, but a few midseason moves could direct them towards the promised land. They have some great prospects to dish out at the deadline, and Jake Arrieta still remains unsigned.  With the Cubs and the Cardinals both getting better this offseason, be on the look out for the NL Central to be best division in baseball.

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GIANTS

Key Additions: 3B Evan Longoria, OF Andrew McCutchen

It’s an even year, so the Giants are automatically a contender. Minus the weirdest trend in sports, the Giants actually made significant moves to be a better team. Longoria and McCutchen are veteran players that still have something to offer, and getting Mad-Bum healthy already gives them a few more wins. I can see them switching between the 2nd and 3rd spot in the NL West throughout the year with the Rockies, and the Diamondbacks falling into mediocrity.

PHILLIES

Key Additions: 1B Carlos Santana, RP Pat Neshek

The Phillies didn’t make a huge splash this offseason, but they are a young team that continues to get older, and this season could finally be the year they breakout as a unit. Fans got a glimpse of what OF Rhys Hoskins can do last season, and as their rising stars continue their gradual pace towards becoming All-Star caliber players, the Phillies have a chance to compete for a wild card spot come October.

MARLINS

Just kidding, they’re a dumpster fire

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LeBron James Lists Warriors As One of His Potential Teams; Fans of Literally Every Other Team Decide to Start Watching More Baseball

According to Bleacher Report , LeBron James claimed he will listen to offers from the Warriors and Spurs this offseason, as well as the Cavs, Lakers, Heat, and Rockets. His decision to include the Warriors is based off his “respect” for their “winning culture”.

 

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Fans yelling at their phones and TV screens when they hear this
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Fans when it actually happens

Clearly, I don’t think it will ever happen because there’s no shot they would be able to offer him a max deal while keeping Draymond or Klay long-term, but even the thought of LeBron, Curry, and Durant on the same team makes me feel like Owen Wilson.

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All respect for the NBA, LeBron, KD, Curry, Kerr, and anyone else involved with this move, would be lost entirely. However long LeBron chooses to play for in his deal will be followed with the worst years of the NBA in the history of the league. Professional basketball would matter so little, that I might actually consider watching the Ball brothers in Lithuania before I watch the NBA.

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But don’t you think LeBron would have learned his lesson when he went to Heat and got annihilated for joining a “Big Three”? Or when Durant went to Golden State and had to make a fake Twitter account just to boost his self-esteem? Let’s make this clear:

LEBRON, IF YOU GO TO PLAY WITH THE WARRIORS, FANS WILL HATE YOU AND THAT TEAM.

Your journey to “Catching Jordan” will be over because having a team like that around you is basically like using PEDs (maybe not), and any championships you win basically won’t count in the eyes of those that judge you. Nobody can deny you are the most dominant player of this generation, and your stats alone will force people to argue for you as the greatest player of all-time, but doing this will only hurt your legacy. And at this point in your career…that has to be the last thing that means something to you.

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On the bright side, more people will watch baseball, and maybe 2K19 will be a little cheaper.

After a Thrilling Weekend of Football, Let’s Discuss the MLB Trade Deadline

We are coming off an epic weekend of playoff football.  While I hate when people try to put things in historical context immediately after the events happen, any non-Saints fans can agree that the end of the Saints/Vikings game was one of the greatest moments in NFL history.  However, many people have many great things to say about this past weekend of three fantastic football games.  I do not have anything novel to add.  Therefore, while everyone else zigs, I will zag and say something I have wanted to say for six months about the MLB Trade Deadline.

I am a purist when it comes to sports.  If you have read some of my other blog entries, you might have picked up on this.  At the same time, I am an Economics teacher who majored in Mathematical Economics in college.  Therefore, in previous blog entries, I have preached of purist ideas only if there is economic defense for them.  For example, I hate the NHL’s 3-on-3 overtime and shootouts, but I do not push for the NHL to eliminate these occurrences.  I know that enough people like these things.  Thus, the league would be making an economic mistake to get rid of them.  That is why I instead proposed the 3-2-1-0 point system as a sound way to improve the 3-on-3/shootout situation.  It satisfies both the NHL’s purists and the NHL’s profits.

That said, today I am going to deviate from my usual rule of advocating change only if it makes economic sense.  I am going to speak of a change that the purist in me would love but that the economist in me would hate.  Here it goes: I wish that MLB would move its trade deadline to its former date of June 15.

Because of economic reasons, this change will never happen, but I am going to discuss my purist desire for the change anyway.  It is my understanding that the spirit of a trade deadline is that leagues do not want teams who are out of playoff contention to unload all of their top players during the last week of the season.  It would not seem right to have the top teams in a league suddenly get an influx of great players during the last week.  However, bad teams would be inclined to make such deals, in that they could receive prospects and salary relief in exchange for players who would be of little-to-no value when that team becomes good again.

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Actually, I assume that this is the logic that led Major League Baseball to the June-15 trade deadline in days of yore.  Back then, the league was likely very concerned about teams unloading their top players for prospects as soon as the teams were to fall out of playoff contention.  Back then, MLB probably did not like the idea of subpar teams trotting out minor-league lineups in August and September after having traded so many top players.  Then again, in those days, there were fewer entertainment options in this world.  Therefore, fans were happier to keep watching their non-playoff teams until the end of September.  In fact, during that time, only 4 teams made the playoffs each season, so many fans never even had expectations of their teams qualifying for the postseason.  It is a psychological truth that lower expectations can often lead people to greater happiness than higher expectations.

Anyway, in 1986, MLB moved the trade deadline to July 31.  Actually, that is and was the waiver trade deadline.  Teams could and may continue to trade players who have passed through waivers until August 31.  (Technically, trades can happen after this point, but traded players are ineligible for playoff rosters.)

As a result, in modern baseball; by late August, bad teams have unloaded most of their good players.  Meanwhile, good teams have loaded up on players from bad teams.  I hate this.  I know that this will not change because of economic reasons, but I still hate this.  The New York Mets are a professional baseball team, but they traded Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson, Addison Reed, Jay Bruce, and Neil Walker last July and August.  Based upon the trade deadline, those were all wise decisions by the Mets.  Most fans nowadays stop watching when a team becomes bad, so the Mets might as well have traded those expiring contracts for prospects.  That said, the purist in me believes that those five players should have stayed on the Mets until the end of the season.  The purist in me hates that top teams like the Cubs and Nationals were gifted September games against the Mets with a bunch of minor-leaguers playing.  The purist in me says that this is the whole reason why the trade deadline used to be June 15.

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Granted, full disclosure: the Mets greatly benefited in 2015 and 2016 from such trade-deadline moves.  During both seasons, the Mets beat up on teams like the Phillies and Reds – teams who were already bad but who became worse in August after trading top players.  I was happy to see the Mets win those games, and I was ecstatic for the Mets to ride 2015-deadline-acquisition Yoenis Cespedes to an NL-East title.  As a Mets fan, I loved all of that.  However, today, in the dead of winter two years later, I can sit back and concede that my inner purist wishes that baseball were not this way.

I wish that teams had to decide by June 15, when no more than 2 or 3 teams are “out of playoff contention”, what trades they were going to make.  This way, you would not have traditional “buyers” and “sellers”.  Instead, you would have teams making “baseball” trades – current talent for current talent.  Sure, you would have rare cases where atrocious teams would already be unloading good players on June 15.  However, it would take a really bad team and a general manager who is willing to admit defeat to his or her fan base in June for this to happen.  Meanwhile, the best result of this deadline change would be that bad teams would no longer suddenly get worse during the last two months – and the most important games for good teams – of the season.  This would make the last two months of the season more competitive across MLB.

At the same time, good teams would not be able to improve suddenly with a month left in the season.  It was a great story to see Justin Verlander help Houston win the World Series, but the purist in me has trouble with the star of a championship team arriving a month before the playoffs.  Likewise, good teams with bad bullpens in July never need to worry, because they can always poach good relievers off bad teams.  Look at Robertson, Kahnle, Doolittle, Madson, etc.  We saw the Yankees and Nationals have no trouble acquiring quality relievers last summer, a year after the Yankees traded Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman to the ultimate pennant-winning teams.  Look at the rosters of any playoff team, and you are likely to find a reliever or two poached from a bad team in July or August.  I do not like this.

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Again, this will never change.  The trade deadline will never move forward.  Why won’t it change?  This is how business is done now.  With 10 playoff teams, it is now easier than ever to improve from being a 90-loss team one season to being a playoff team the next, as I hope the Mets will do this season.  Gone are the days when teams needed to build great rosters over several years with the hope of someday reaching the 95-win plateau.  That was in the 4-playoff-team era, when only the elite teams played in October.  Now, fewer than 90 wins is often good enough for a playoff berth.  Now, if you are a bad team, you might as well unload your top players for prospects and salary relief.  In the offseason, you can sign free agents, and, if your team is good enough as of late July, you can add rentals for a championship run.  Moreover, with 10 playoff teams, “good enough as of late July” can often mean “a few games below .500”.

This is the logical way to run a baseball team nowadays.  Furthermore, the month of July is super-exciting because of all the trade possibilities.  While the purist in me dislikes the current deadlines, the Mets fan in me loves spending all summer on Metsblog looking at trade rumors.  MLB knows that I am not the only person like this.  People spend a lot of time watching baseball, MLB TV, and team websites monitoring potential trade activity.  Plus, in a league with 10 playoff teams and in a world with endless forms of entertainment, fans do not have time to watch teams with no playoff chances.  Therefore, the combination of having 10 playoff teams and July 31/August 31 trade deadlines is best for the overall interest in MLB and thus for MLB’s and teams’ bottom lines.  Therefore, the July 31/August 31 trade deadlines are here to stay.  However, the purist in me will never like this.

Four Inexpensive Moves to Make the 2018 Mets a Playoff Team

After a 70-92 2017 season, the Mets have left most of their fans expecting a rough 2018 campaign.  Since the end of last season, the Mets have more or less kept the team intact.  The three notable changes have been hiring Mickey Callaway as manager, signing reliever Anthony Swarzak, and signing Jay Bruce (whom the Mets traded away in August).  While I like the Swarzak and Bruce moves (and the jury is out on the Callaway move), let us not act like these moves make the Mets major playoff contenders.

Let us examine the hypothetical world in which the 2017 Mets had Anthony Swarzak and did not trade away Bruce in August.  At best, that Mets edition might have been 5 games better than the actual 2017 team.  This is a very generous “at best”, but I will go with it.  In that case, the 2017 Mets would have finished 75-87.  Keep in mind that the 2017 Mets had Jose Reyes for the full year and Neil Walker, Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson, and Addison Reed for most of the year.  All of those players are now either gone or currently free agents (whom the Mets could potentially sign).  While none of those players is going to set the world on fire by himself, those five players nevertheless represent a great deal of talent to lose.  The Mets would have likely been at least 4 games worse without them for the full 2017 season.  Meanwhile, the Mets would have likely been at least 5 games better last year with Noah Syndergaard healthy all season.  The sum of those alternate-reality scenarios would have put the Mets at 76-86 last season.

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That “76-86” mark is important, because that is the record that I feel the current Mets would have attained if they had played together for all of 2017.  Therefore, how are the Mets to improve by 14 games to gain a playoff berth in 2018?  One way would be for the Mets to go out and sign big-time free agents at catcher, second base/third base, and starting pitcher.  Wait, why are you laughing so profusely???  Oh yeah, that’s right.  The Wilpons have too much debt and never spend a lot of money.  Therefore, that “spending lots of money” option is off the table.  Forget about Yu Darvish.  Forget about Lance Lynn.  Forget about Mike Moustakas.

Anyway, since bringing in high-priced talent is off the table, the Mets must get creative.  I do feel they have a set of moves that can bring the club to 90 wins.  Within their budget, I feel their best option is to do the following four things:

  • Move Matt Harvey to the bullpen. This is my #1 way to improve the team.  The guy comes into every start wanting to blow people away.  I guess this is how he impresses his supermodel girlfriends, so I guess I do not blame him.  However, Harvey clearly has a closer’s mentality.  Starters have to manage their way through several innings.  They cannot max out on every pitch like Harvey tries to do.  Harvey often does well in the first and maybe second innings of games.  Then he completely falls apart.  He had a 4.86 ERA in 2016 and a 6.70 ERA last year.  That is where having a plethora of  5-or-6-run 3rd and 4th innings will land you.  The guy should be a closer.  This role will allow him to pitch one inning per appearance and max out each time.  He will end up throwing no more than 80 innings, which is good for a man with as many physical ailments as he has.  Plus, I know he really does not want to be a closer, but I really don’t care (Demi Lovato).   He is lucky he is still in the majors, and he can wave bye-bye to the massive contract that 2015 Matt Harvey thought he would earn in 2019.  Starting pitchers with ERAs approaching 7.00 are not given very good contracts if they get any contracts at all.  However, good closers are at least paid moderately well.  The Mets and he might as well try this option, as they have nothing to lose right now.  As for the supermodels; if he is with a supermodel now when his baseball career seems broken beyond repair, he will do just fine after he starts to excel as a closer.

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  • Move Zack Wheeler to the bullpen. I have heard this nonsense about the Mets potentially using Harvey, Wheeler, and Steven Matz for no more than 4 innings per start.  That sounds like an absolute train wreck over a full season.  This plan will sound great when every reliever has already made 20 appearances by the end of April.  So great.   Anyway, sarcasm aside, the truth is that Wheeler is an unreliable commodity.  After missing two seasons due to Tommy John Surgery, he pitched in 2017 to a 5.21 ERA.  I do not care if he was once a hot prospect; he is currently a pitcher who has pitched poorly since returning from a two-year injury hiatus.  Is it possible that he someday becomes a great starting pitcher?  Of course.  However, I would rather see him pitch in the bullpen first, so that the team initially relies on him for fewer innings.  Give me a bullpen of Harvey, Wheeler, Jeurys Familia, A.J. Ramos, Swarzak, and Jerry Blevins.  That is actually a fantastic bullpen.  You can win a World Series with that pen….and other good players.

 

  • Sign R.A. Dickey. The key to the 2015 Mets’ pitching success was the reliability of Jonathon Niese and Bartolo Colon.  That season, neither veteran missed a start.  This was huge, as the Mets managed Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Jacob deGrom through injuries and innings limits.  In 2016, Colon continued that reliability.  However, last year, the Mets had no such starter.  I wrote a lengthy post in August about the large number of Mets pitching starts of more earned runs allowed than innings pitched.  That happens when you have to use the likes of Tommy Milone and Tyler Pill to make a whole bunch of starts.  If the Mets sign Dickey, a fan favorite, to a presumably relatively cheap contract, they will have that veteran starter.  He should be able to give the Mets a regular 6 innings pitched and 4 or fewer earned runs allowed.  Plus, Dickey would allow the Mets to have three somewhat sure things in the rotation – deGrom, Syndergaard, and Dickey.  Meanwhile, Steven Matz would be the fourth starter, and Seth Lugo would be the fifth starter.  Both of those are unknown quantities.  Matz can be the ace of the staff when healthy, but he is never healthy.  Lugo has pitched to too small a sample size for me to judge him accurately.  If one of those guys can stay healthy and effective, the Mets’ rotation should be just fine.  Rafael Montero would likely be the fifth starter if one of these two cannot get the job done.  Hopefully, it does not come to that.  Actually, the ideal scenario would be for the Mets to sign Jason Vargas as a fourth starter.  That would give the Mets six legitimate starters and two sure-thing veteran pitchers.  It would mean the Mets could avoid Montero as long either Lugo or Matz is healthy.  However, even Vargas is probably too expensive for the Mets.  However, I really really really wish they could sign him because that would make me feel excellent about the rotation.

 

  • Bring back Jose Reyes. While most of us Mets fans were ready to run Jose out of town last spring, he ended up having a good season.  He could play second base or third base in 2018 and could bat leadoff or further down in the order.  This would give the Mets plenty of roster flexibility.  Reyes, Asdrubal Cabrera, T.J. Rivera, and Wilmer Flores could play second base or third base.  Meanwhile, Jay Bruce, Wilmer Flores, and Michael Conforto could play some first base if Dominic Smith struggles.

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In fact, I think that the Mets’ strongest offensive/defensive lineup (if they bring back Reyes) would actually be:

  • Reyes 2B
  • Rosario SS
  • Conforto RF
  • Cespedes LF
  • Bruce 1B
  • Cabrera 3B
  • Lagares CF
  • d’Arnaud C
  • Pitcher

 

At the same time, a bench with Smith, Brandon Nimmo, Flores, and Rivera is fine with this lineup.  Meanwhile, Yoenis Cespedes is clearly a front-runner.  With a good team, he is inspired to be a great player.  With a bad team, this is far from the case.

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In the end, I am not saying that the aforementioned moves would guarantee the Mets a playoff berth.  However, I do feel that the combination of a healthy and more motivated Cespedes, a healthy Conforto (he did miss the last six weeks of 2017 too), 30 MLB starts from R.A. Dickey (as opposed to a potential of 30 starts from fringe MLB pitchers), slightly healthier seasons by Matz and Lugo, an improved Amed Rosario, the return of Jose Reyes, and a revamped bullpen make it possible that the Mets earn those 14 extra wins needed to reach 90 and a likely playoff berth.

Seahawks Clean House; Some Potential Offseason Moves

The last two weeks of the Seahawks 2017 season was a rollercoaster of emotions.

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From no hope to tons of it, to seeing the Falcons win and Blair Walsh miss another important field goal to ensure the Seahawks’ loss in Week 17 and miss the playoffs. As a long-time Seahawks fan, I’m no stranger to seeing them miss out on the January festivities, but based on their success under Carroll, I really thought they could find a way. Unfortunately, all good things come to an end, and it’s time to move forward.

A good thing for the fans is that the Seahawks organization is clearly not accepting this failure. Yesterday, they fired offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and offensive line coach/assistant coach Tom Cable. There are also rumors that defensive coordinator Kris Richard and QB coach Carl Smith could be asked to hit the road, too.

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I personally would love to keep Richard. I think he has an extremely level head and is a calming presence in what is often a boisterous locker room. The numbers were only bad because the players on the field couldn’t stay healthy. But, he has interviewed for the job in Indianapolis, so if he is ready to move on, then let him walk. Also, former DC Gus Bradley, who left the Seahawks to be the head coach of the Jaguars in 2013, has been rumored to possibly make a comeback to the team (although those rumors were recently smashed). As for Carl Smith, I’m not sure why the Seahawks would let him go as Wilson had a great year and I’m sure Boykin was ready if need be. But he is old and could be moving to a consultant role in the organization.

Coaching is something nearly impossible to predict until rumors break down, so I am not even going to try. But I will play GM and highlight a few moves (albeit somewhat obvious) that the Seahawks should look into:

  • Resign Jimmy Graham/Luke Willson
    • Despite what people say about Jimmy Graham not being the player he was with the Saints, you cannot argue against his recent productivity. His 520 yards are disappointing, but his 10 TDs are impressive. Although, I will say his negligence in blocking is sometimes destructive, I am a big fan of bringing him back. As for Willson, he is the perfect #2 TE. He just seems to have a great rapport with Wilson and I feel he is one of the more underrated players in the league. If they cannot resign one, then I would rather see Graham walk and Willson stay.

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  • Draft an NFL-ready offensive lineman
    • Enough is enough. With only two capable players on the offensive line (Britt and Brown), fans have seen enough of Russell Wilson having to perform a magic act for every first down. Protect him. The Seahawks have drafted linemen in the draft over the years, but they haven’t turned into much. Ifedi and Pocic, still young, aren’t playing at the level they need to. George Fant got hurt, but was he that good anyway? It’s silly to say the Seahawks are ignoring the needs at offensive line, because they are not. But, I think they are relying too much on their “magic eye” that has been used on undrafted players like Doug Baldwin or late-drafted players like Kam or Sherman. Draft a lineman that is ready to go Week 1. If you need to trade up to get him, do it.
  • Don’t worry about running back
    • Chris Carson looked fantastic at the beginning of the year until he broke his leg and Mike Davis was effective in most games. In addition, C.J. Prosise should be healthy next year, although who knows if he really will be, and J.D. McKissic was actually great this entire year. So, there are plenty of options in the backfield, there is no need to waste salary space on another Eddie Lacy.

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  • DO NOT TRADE RICHARD SHERMAN
    • There are already rumors floating around about this, and I absolutely hate it. Yes, he is in a contract year, and yes, he is beginning to age, and yes, he is coming off a very tough injury. But you are not going to find a cornerback that is feared like him, and will produce like him when healthy. His wisdom at the position is unmatched. He is willing to be a Seahawk for life, and I’m sure whatever problems he and Russell Wilson, they can act like men and figure it out. If anything, draft another cornerback like they did last year with Shaquill Griffin, and allow Sherman to mentor him. Only problem with that is, Sherman might feel inclined to walk if he feels to Seahawks are trying to replace him. It’s a unique situation, but trading him is not the best option.
  • Improve the pass rush
    • The idea of cutting Cliff Avril is, in my opinion, a good one. He is owed $7.5 million and is getting old (31), and I would love to see Frank Clark and Dion Jordan get more time. Last year’s draft pick Nazair Jones was a pleasant success, but who knows if Malik McDowell will see the field after 1) getting into a very serious car accident and not playing this entire year and 2) being arrested in December. He has all the talent in the world, but there’s a chance his off-field issues can’t be beat.
  • Address Kam Chancellor injury
    • His season-ending neck injury is something that could also end his career. This could be tragic for a player with so much talent, but I think the Seahawks need to evaluate their options at this position if Chancellor can never reach full health again.

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  • Kick Blair Walsh to the curb
    • He wasn’t the worst kicker on Earth, but he was close. I don’t want a kicker on my team that more than half the world assumes he is going to miss. While he was able to be relatively good this year, he missed too many important kicks to be apart of this team next year.

I think it’s also important to note that the Seahawks dealt with a LOT of injuries this year. Prior to the season, a healthy Seattle Seahawks team had 8:1 odds to win the Super Bowl. A complete shift in the direction of the team is NOT necessary. Changes need to be made to keep up with the rising talent in the NFC, specifically the division rival LA Rams, but just because we missed the playoffs, the whole world does not have to end. The key to this offseason is DO NOT PANIC. Evaluate the injuries, and move on from there. A healthy Seahawks team can still 100% contend, and I look forward to any changes they can make to improve an already talented roster.

#GoHawks

Continuity is a Good Thing

When I heard the other day that Marvin Lewis would be coming back for a 16th season as coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, I was surprised.  The guy has no playoff wins, and the Bengals have disappointed for the past two seasons.  However, I cannot argue with the Bengals’ decision.  Continuity is a very important thing for a team to have – most specifically continuity at quarterback, head coach, and general manager.  We have heard stories of quarterbacks like Alex Smith cycling through coach after coach and offensive coordinator after offensive coordinator.  Usually, this cycling does not result in great success on the field.

Meanwhile, many people find it laughable that Hue Jackson remains coach of the Cleveland Browns after winning once in 32 tries as Cleveland’s head coach.  However, I am glad that Cleveland has finally resisted the urge to fire a coach after two or fewer seasons.  Before Jackson took over the reins, the Browns had 4 coaches, none lasting more than 2 seasons, in 7 seasons.  Eventually, a team has to stick with someone and let him grow a program.

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As for another team who has had minimal success in recent years, the Jets have done the right thing by letting Todd Bowles keep the coaching job and grow into (in my opinion) a strong coach.  The Jets’ organization now has a corps of talented young players and a stable climate that should both be beneficial if the team drafts a young quarterback and if the team tries to lure free agents this offseason.

I like to think that the Jets and Browns “get it” in these cases.  Good for them, as it is rare that either of these teams “get” anything.  In my mind, a team should only look to change its head coach (or GM or quarterback, but my focus here will stay on the head coach) if either a) the coach is clearly not the right coach or b) there is a great coaching candidate on the free market.

By that logic, the Rams were right to part ways last offseason with Jeff Fisher.  I do not know if the Rams had Sean McVay in mind when letting Fisher go, nor could the Rams have guaranteed that McVay would become as successful as he has been this season.  However, by last season, moving from Fisher to anyone else seemed like a good plan.  As for the second clause listed above, I was surprised that the Raiders fired Jack Del Rio.  I thought that his playoff appearance last season had earned him the ability to keep his job after a disappointing 2017 in which Derek Carr was never fully healthy, in my mind.  However, once the Jon Gruden rumors began to circulate, I understood the Raiders’ decision.  Granted, coaches who return after long layoffs are rarely successful, but at least the Raiders did have a Super Bowl-winning coaching candidate in play.

Meanwhile, the Giants were generally correct in their two most recent “firings”.  Tom Coughlin had been a great coach, but the 2015 season saw too many moments where Coughlin seemed overmatched by end-of-game strategies.  It was time to get a younger coach.  That younger coach, Ben McAdoo, was similar to Del Rio in that his 2016 playoff berth was followed by a disappointing 2017.  As you would probably guess, I think it is ridiculous that the Maras fired McAdoo because of “the way he handled the Eli benching”.  The Maras were like me in that they were shocked by the uproar over the Eli benching.  Therefore, even though the Maras probably initiated said benching, they needed to sacrifice a scapegoat to the Giants’ fanbase.  That scapegoat became McAdoo.  Anyway, I never liked McAdoo either, so I am OK with his firing; I just do not like using the Eli benching to be the reason.  At the same time; now that the season has ended, I suppose the end justifies the means.  But I digress…

The Giants, Raiders, Rams, Browns, Jets, and Bengals have all made defensible coaching choices; unlike the Lions.  Look, all football fans like to make fun of Jim Caldwell.  Ever since Peyton Manning’s reaction to Caldwell’s awful timeout call in a 2010-season Colts playoff game, it is easy to do.  At the same time, look at the stats.  From 2001 through 2013, the Lions made exactly one playoff appearance and had exactly one season finishing above .500 (2011).  After taking the Detroit coaching reins in 2014, all Caldwell did was lead the Lions to 2 playoff appearances and 3 seasons above .500 in 4 seasons.  Also, in my opinion, the Lions are one of the several NFC teams who are not in this year’s playoffs but who would have likely been a Wild Card team if in the AFC.  Furthermore, Caldwell has coaxed two 9-7 records these past two seasons out of a team who lost the top wide receiver (Calvin Johnson) in the league after 2015.

Image result for jim caldwell

So why would Detroit make the decision to fire Caldwell without having a great candidate on deck?  Probably to appease the fans.  Right now, Bengals fans are probably unhappy to keep Lewis while Lions fans are happy Caldwell is gone.  However, if I were to put money right now on one of these two “cats of prey with a decent veteran QB with no career playoff wins” teams, I would bet on the one whose quarterback does not have to take on a new coach and likely a new offensive system in 2018.

Can the Yankees Land Another Top Player This Offseason?

Apparently…

I don’t mean to brag, but I predicted this. In my coaches office, my friend and I were discussing the Yankees next steps, and realized Gerrit Cole was on the trade block. However, we did argue which outfield pieces would be best to trade away for Cole.

With an abundance of outfield talent, the Yankees have to get rid of somebody this offseason. Ideally, it is Jacoby Ellsbury, but he has a no-trade clause that he does not want to use. Plus, nobody really wants him due to his massive contract and sub-par play…not a great combo.

In second place is Aaron Hicks. He is one of the better defensive center fielders in the game with a rocket of an arm.

He is also coming off the best season of his career. His intake will never be higher, so sell on him now.

Brett Gardner is a leader in the clubhouse, and he was an essential part in the Yankees’ success in 2017. In my opinion, these young hitters still need guidance, and a familiar role model to shadow their at-bats over the next few years will help them tremendously. Gardner is that dude, and needs to remain at the top of the lineup at all costs.

Lastly, Clint Frazier is a potential superstar, and we all saw what he was capable of during the summer.

He was always thought to be the future of left field in New York ever since he was the centerpiece of the Andrew Miller deal. But now, we have Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton manning the corner spots for the next ten years.  He is also the most appealing asset out of the Yankee outfielders the Pirates could receive in this deal. So my question is, do we need Frazier?

My answer is yes, but it is also no. Is our window for a championship now? Yes. Is our window also in five or six years from now? Yes. That seems to be the dilemma. Do the Yankees want to solidify their offense for the next decade, or do they want to fix their one problem remaining and be the favorite World Series contender right now. Are we still rebuilding, or are we officially rebuilt? I’d argue our work is done, and it is time to focus on the now.

Sending Red Thunder to Pittsburgh for an ace-caliber pitcher is something that is mouth-watering to think about.

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A 98 MPH two-seam fastball that moves like a lefty slider. I could definitely get used to that. 

Frazier will not reach his max potential for another 3-4 years, and frankly, the Yankees window for a title is open now. Who knows if we will have the same bullpen in four years, or if Sonny Gray will stick around.  Will we be able to resign all these young, budding superstars?

Brett Gardner is the third outfielder right now, he has earned that. Clint is going to be stuck in Triple-A, or be the 5th man up after Hicks. It really hurts trading away somebody with so much talent and “legendary bat speed”, but that’s the price of becoming a complete team.

In my opinion, acquiring Gerrit Cole now makes them by far the most complete team in baseball. Here’s a look at the rotation (assuming C.C. Sabathia is signed and this trade is made):

  1. Luis Severino
  2. Gerrit Cole
  3. Sonny Gray
  4. Masahiro Tanaka
  5. C.C. Sabathia
  6. Jordan Montgomery

Having six capable starters is a luxury, for multiple reasons:

  1. Tanaka is injury prone, and most effective on an extra day of rest. Giving him that added time every week will save him this season, and hopefully avoid another disastrous summer.
  2. Severino and Montgomery are still young, and could benefit from throwing less innings to help their arm in the future. This applies more to Montgomery, considering Sevy is the ace and will need to hold down the fort, but is still an added bonus.
  3. C.C. Sabathia is old as fuck, and those legs holding up 300 lbs can’t trot out there every 5th day.
  4. If somebody does get hurt, we are good to go with five capable starters, as well as Triple-A guys that are able to jump in if the 6-man rotation is working out.

These are luxuries indeed, but this depth is something that is required for a championship team. The last weakness the Yankees find is the rotation, but with the addition of Gerrit Cole and the probable signing of C.C., it could quickly become a strength. The only downside…is parting with Clint Frazier and his wealth of potential. I think that is worth a ring.