David Price Trade: How the Mariners Have Made Out So Far

Nearly a month ago, the baseball world was thrown into a frenzy. Not just because it was the non-waiver trade deadline, but because David Price was traded. That the former Cy Young winner had been dealt wasn’t the shock. Everyone and the foul pole knew that was coming for years, but the shock was who acquired him— the Detroit Tigers. Detroit didn’t just do it on their own, they got the Seattle Mariners involved— acquiring Price from Tampa Bay, flipping Drew Smyly and minor league shortstop Willy Adames to Tampa and sending Austin Jackson to Seattle, who in turn sent Nick Franklin to the Rays.

While most will talk about how Detroit came away as a huge winner or maybe Tampa Bay didn’t get as much as it could have, the Mariners are the forgotten team in the trade. Seattle made out like highway bandits. Highway bandits.

The Mariners’ offensive output was horrendous. The infield is excused from this discussion because of Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager. While the infield gets a pass, the outfield doesn’t. The pre-trade deadline offensive production in the outfield was dreadful.

Like any good general manager of a contending team, Jack Zduriencik made a trade to fix that. In actuality, he made two. One was to bring in Chris Denorfia, who is at best a platoon option on a good team, and the second involved acquiring Jackson.

The one-time Yankee farmhand hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire in the Emerald City. He’s hitting .227 with a .542 OPS and is averaging one strikeout per game. But, at age 27, Jackson still has room to improve and time to get back on track. At best he’s a .290-ish hitter who’ll reach double digits in homeruns, steals, triples and approach 30 doubles.  In addition, he plays strong defense in center field. The caveat with Austin Jackson is that he strikes out a lot. He paced the league with 170 punch outs his rookie season and fanned at least 100 times every season he’s been in the big leagues.

So, maybe he strikes out a lot. Maybe too much.  But at this point, the Mariners will take any offense they can get, no matter what the cost (i.e. lots of strikeouts). It wasn’t exactly like the M’s acquired a .227 hitter in the trade; Jackson hit .273 in 100 games for Detroit. If he can get close to that number, he’ll be exactly what the Mariners need.

What made the Jackson trade look so one sided was what Zduriencik gave up to acquire the former Tiger— minor league second baseman Nick Franklin. Once thought to be one half of the Mariners’ double play combo of the future, along with Brad Miller, Franklin hit a mere .225 in his first season. Despite that, he showed promise with 12 homeruns and 45 runs driven in across only 102 games. All of that progress was seemingly chucked out the window when Seattle signed current offensive catalyst (and second baseman) Robinson Cano. Franklin was then thrown into a spring training battle with Miller for the starting shortstop job. Miller won the job, hence making Franklin expandable.

The second baseman only got into 17 games with the Mariners. He hit an extremely underwhelming .128. His OPS over those games? .363. It wasn’t a case of Franklin being in the minors because of lack of available at bats in Seattle. It was because of a lack of production in Seattle.

The bottom line is that the Mariners acquired Austin Jackson for Nick Franklin. They acquired an above-average center fielder for a minor league second baseman who was failing to produce in the majors, an established player with a track record for above-average play for a player whose value comes more from a promise that may or may not come, as opposed to on-the-field play.

The Mariners didn’t bring in David Price like the rumor mill thought they would, but they were still involved in the trade. And from their perspective, it looks pretty good.

 

All stats courtesy of http://www.baseball-reference.com/ unless otherwise noted.

Knowhitter Crossover- Fantasy Football: Picks and Tips for the 2014 NFL Season

The NFL Season is almost upon us and with preseason already underway, the focus of the NFL fan is fixed on fantasy football. To get you ready for the upcoming season, here are some picks to consider when drafting your team.

QB: Drew Brees

You can’t go wrong with either one of the “Big Three” quarterbacks, i.e. Brees, Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers, but Brees is the best bet. Manning is older than both and faces a much tougher schedule, while Brees’ schedule is much easier than Rodgers. You can’t botch the pick, but for me Brees is the best bet.

RB: Bishop Sankey

Rookies always carry risk, but Sankey could be a good value pick in the mid-late rounds. He could enter the year dividing carries with Shone Greene. A strong performance or two could vault him past the former Jet.  The Titans aren’t going to be world beaters. That much is true, so it could reach a point where the team gives more reps to the younger players. If Sankey is already in a time-share situation with Greene and the Titans tank, Sankey could receive the lion’s share of the carries, giving him some decent relative value.

WR: Percy Harvin

Last year I gambled on a lot of Seahawks having big years. I reached for the defense/special team, took Marshawn Lynch high and bet big on Russell Wilson. This by-and-large worked out, but the one Hawks’ weapon I struck out on was Percy Harvin, who barely played in the regular season. Everyone saw his impact in the Super Bowl, and while he won’t be returning kicks for touchdowns every week, he’ll make plenty of big plays. Pete Carroll will make sure he’s involved. Whether it is with screens or end arounds, the former Vikings star will have the ball in his hands and do what he does best, be a playmaker.

D/ST: Seattle Seahawks

A QB turning in a mediocre/sub-par showing against Seattle has become commonplace. Just ask Colin Kaepernick. The Seahawks don’t have the easiest schedule in the world in terms of opposing offenses, but their defense is that good. Reaching for it isn’t unheard of. The champs made, among others, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Kaepernick and Eli Manning look foolish last year and also held the likes of Cam Newton and Matt Ryan in check. Even with Peyton, Aaron Rodgers, Newton, Kaepernick and Nick Foles on the slate, expect the champs to put up more big numbers, and fantasy points.

 

Tips:

Don’t fall in love with the end of your bench.

Injuries and ineffectiveness happen, so you’re probably going to have to cut somebody at some point. But breakouts happen as well. Every year a player comes out of nowhere to register a stretch of monster games. We saw it last year with Jordan Cameron and Keenan Allen. Don’t miss out on the breakout stars because you’re keeping an injured handcuff running back from your favorite team on your bench. The logic also applies if someone in your league inexplicably cuts a player who could be a solid contributor for you. Don’t fall in love with your bench.

Avoid reaching on a backup QB.

If you draft a Drew Brees or an Aaron Rodgers in the early rounds, don’t reach on Russell Wilson or Matt Ryan in the middle rounds. Barring an injury, only look for a backup QB with a good matchup when your starter has a bye week. The well of quality flex options (running back, wide receiver, tight end) dries up quickly. Don’t reach for a backup QB when you’re only going to realistically play them one week.

What tips do you have for the upcoming fantasy season?

 

You can view the original piece at knowhitter here. For more sports in general check out knowhitter.com

The Seattle Mariners Have Been Here Before With Kendrys Morales

The Seattle Mariners have been here before. Not just with Kendrys Morales; he was with the team last year, but in this situation. Not re-signing a player after a productive season and then trading part of its future to get the player back. This happened with Russell Branyan in 2010.

Branyan had an absurdly productive power year in 2009 with an unprecedented 31 home runs. He would sign with Cleveland the following year only for the Mariners to suddenly want him back. Their replacements obviously didn’t work.

Seattle surrendered outfielder Ezequiel Carrera and shortstop Juan Diaz in the trade. Neither was tipped for stardom, but neither were the two players Seattle sent to Cleveland in two deals for Ben Broussard and Eduardo Perez. The two players Cleveland got for Broussard and Perez? Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera.

Despite the iffy track record the M’s have in dealing away future talent for role players (see Jason Varitek, Derek Lowe, Michael Morse… the list goes on) Carrera and Diaz never really panned out. Neither made a sizable impact in Cleveland and as such, aren’t with the organization at present. However, both were dealt to Cleveland as minor league players with no big league experience. The player Seattle surrendered to Minnesota in order to obtain Morales, Stephen Pryor, does have big league experience. In fact, he’s been quite good in the Majors. He’s no Mariano Rivera in terms of relief pitchers, but he does own a career 2.81 ERA across 30+ innings.

The Mariners probably felt comfortable trading Pryor due to the emergence of Dominic Leone and the continued improvement of Danny Farquhar and Yoervis Medina. Still, a team can never have enough quality relievers. Injuries and ineffectiveness run rampant throughout a season, so depth is as much of a necessity as anything.

The package Seattle gave up to get Branyan back didn’t amount to anything special, and Pryor was surplus to requirements given the depth the M’s have in the ‘pen, but both were still significant chips to part with simply to reacquire a player the team could have kept for nothing.

If recent numbers hold true, Morales won’t have the impact that everyone thinks he will. The former Angels slugger has a .439 OPS and more strikeouts (eight) than hits (six). Pryor may not amount to more than a quality reliever, but Minnesota will have pulled off a train robbery if they get Pryor for a player the M’s could have replaced, production wise, with a player from AAA.

Branyan didn’t do much the second time around either. Yes he hit 15 home runs in 57 games for Seattle, but he also hit a lowly .215 at the plate. That’s certainly not what a team is looking for from a middle-of-the-order bat.

The M’s don’t have a strong track record when they trade for a player only a season after letting them leave via free agency. Acquiring Kendrys Morales only continued the trend.

 

All stats courtesy of http://www.baseball-reference.com/ unless otherwise noted.

2014 World Cup: Competition is Wide Open

The 2014 FIFA World Cup is winding down. Gone are the days of the group stage where four games took place on the same day. Arrived are the quarterfinals. The final eight. While pre-tourney favorites Brazil, Argentina and Germany are still alive, but they have looked flawed. As have teams like France and the Netherlands who have impressed since the first kick.

The final eight is loaded with favorites and under-dogs alike, but many have looked vulnerable so far.

Hosts Brazil may have been the field’s biggest favorites, but they have looked anything but perfect so far. They survived by the scruff of their necks in their penalty shout out win against Chile due more to the Chileans inability to convert penalties then anything they did themselves.

It wasn’t just the surviving act against their fellow South Americans, Brazil looked susceptible in the group stages. They were shout out by an admittedly strong defensive Mexican unit, looked shaky early against the Croatians and even struggled for a period against a dreadful Cameroon side.

Brazil aren’t the only South American team to struggle at times in both the group stage and the knockout rounds, Argentina also struggled. The Argentines needed moments of brilliance from Lionel Messi to pull away from Bosnia, Iran and to an extent Nigeria. That’s not mentioning their Round of 16 game against Switzerland where they escaped penalties only thanks to a late strike by Angel Di Maria.

Another tournament favorite, Germany also looked human at times. After their sheer domination of Portugal, they didn’t look like favorites in a draw against a spirited Ghana squad before escaping the United States in a 1-0 win thanks mainly to a clinical, world-class finish from Thomas Muller. Algeria gave the European powers everything they have, and almost forced penalties in a 2-1, extra-time victory by Die Mannschaft. There’s also the fact that Jogi Low seems to prefer playing four center-backs across the back instead of two central defenders, and two outside backs. This limits the Germans going forward and also exposes them to quicker attacking wide players.

Other teams that struggled in the first round included the Netherlands and Belgium. The Dutch played a strong Mexican defense, and only won the game due to some late game heroics. For 80 minutes, it seemed as if the Europeans would crash out after an impressive group stage. Their Belgian counterparts played the US to a dead-lock after 90 minutes. They prevailed in extra time 2-1, but only after their now trademark late scoring. Belgium has thrived on goals late in close games. The competition will only get tougher, so the Belgians could find their late goals too little, too late against elite teams. The Red Devils also seemed to break down physically at the end of the Round of 16 contest, letting the United States back into the game. This could be an issue moving forward.

The tournament is wide open thanks to the struggles of nearly every team in the competition. While picking a winner seemed somewhat easy a month ago, now it seems more difficult despite fewer options.

World Cup 2014: 5 Things We Learned from Day 3 of the World Cup

1. Greece will struggle to score

The Greeks struggled to create scoring chances for much of the game against Columbia. While this strategy is excusable when you don’t allow any goals, it makes for a long day when the other team is scoring against you. It won’t get easier as the Greeks will have to face the physical Ivory Coast and the technical wizards of Japan. This group is being dubbed the “Group of Life,” where everyone has a shot to advance. Greece needs to shows signs of life offensively to have any hope of advancing.

2. Costa Rica is no pushover

That could have been the headline after a first half where Costa Rica played well and only conceived a well-struck penalty to Uruguay. However, the Ticos came roaring back for a historic win. This put a colossal dent in Uruguay’s hopes moving forward, but also gave Costa Rica a huge chance to move forward.  The CONCACAF reps not only beat their South American counterparts, but they also controlled the game and kept the likes of Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan in check.

3. No Buffon, no problem for Italy

Italy was without legendary ‘keeper and captain Gianluigi Buffon for their clash with England. His replacement: PSG shot-stopper Salvatore Sirigu was superb in the 2-1 win. The Italians were deserving of the win, and Sirigu was vital in the match. The fact that the team was able to adapt so well without their leader, Buffon, speaks volumes to the quality of Cesare Prandelli’s side.

4. Italy should have their group rapped up

One would think that the Azzurri are now in control of the “Group of Champions” as a win versus Costa Rica on Thursday would clinch passage to the next round for the 2006 champions. Especially considering that if they beat the Ticos (not a foregone conclusion, just ask the Uruguayans) they could be facing an Uruguay side potentially without Luis Suarez. The South Americans looked derived of creativity in their walloping by Costa Rica, if Suarez can’t make it back, it could be a very brief stay in Brazil for last year’s semi-finalists. Should Italy win all three games, they would face the second place team from Group C. Which, if Columbia wins, will be Japan, Ivory Coast or Greece. That’s a more pleasant route than finishing second in the group, facing Group C’s winner, likely Columbia, beat them (not a forgone conclusion) and then potentially run into Brazil. This is all guess-work and forecasting at this point, but winning the group definitely holds a much easier outlook for Italy.

5. Is there a changing of the guard in the Ivory Coast Squad? Not yet

Iconic striker Didier Drogba started the Ivory Coast’s opening game on the bench as Wilfred Bony was handed the start instead. Bony responded with a goal, but the African side scored both of its goals in the 2-1 win after the former Chelsea legend’s introduction into the game, cementing his importance.

World Cup 2014: What We Learned From Day 2 of the World Cup

  1. Mexico players could be kicking themselves over those disallowed offside goals

El Tri’s 1-0 win over Cameroon could have been more commanding. A 1-0 result and three points are great for Mexico to open the tournament, but you would have liked to think that the Mexicans would have been more comfortable in terms of qualifying for the next round with a 3-0 or even 2-0 win. The point is that goal differential could be key in Group A. Brazil is obviously the favorite in the group, but should Mexico run into a situation where they are even on points with Croatia and they finish behind the Europeans by virtue of goal differential, they could be “kicking” themselves for not staying onside before scoring, or simply not being happy with the refs.

2. Brazilians don’t like Diego Costa

All throughout Friday’s Spain/Netherlands heavyweight tilt the local fans relentlessly booed Brazilian-born Costa, who plays for the Spanish. You get the impression that they don’t fancy him all that much.

3. Spain are definitely trending down

La Roja got exposed big time against the Netherlands, getting burned on numerous occasions on the counter and just looking poor in defense. If there was ever a time to question the defense of the Spaniards, it’s now. It simply wasn’t there for Spain. Another reoccurring issue for Spain is the fact that they were again stymied by a three-man defensive line. Italy has used a three-man back-line to great effect against the Spanish and now Holland has done it as well. The defending champs just looked like the walking dead, the defense especially.

4. The Dutch are for real

Just as it’s premature to completely count out Spain, it’s probably a little premature to bump the Dutch to co-favorites or favorites. But… the Netherlands annihilated the defending champs. Annihilated.  They look potent and sharp on the counter and simply didn’t allow the Spanish to play the way the Spanish want to, especially in the second half. If this team can beat Spain this convincingly… who knows what they can accomplish?

5. Chile at their best are entertaining

Chile plays kamikaze football. They press high with numbers up the pitch. When this works, the Chileans can put up a wonky score line. The South Americans will sometimes press everyone forward with the exception of the two center backs, who will sit at mid-field. The entire team plays high up. Because of this they can also be scored on in droves. It’s an ultra-aggressive style of play, but one that has benefited the Chileans so far.

NBA in Seattle: A Retrospective Look at Traded Players with Local Connections

We may not have a team in the Emerald City at the moment, but a host of players with Seattle/Washington ties were moved at the trade deadline. Whether this is good or bad remains to be seen. Here are those esteemed Washingtonians/people with Washington connections.

  • Aaron Brooks

The Seattle native was acquired by Denver from Houston to fill a need at back-up point guard. He cost the Nuggets young, swing-man Jordan Hamilton, but hopefully the former Rockets standout will provide Brian Shaw’s team a spark. The Nuggets only moved for Brooks to fill their back-up point guard spot after losing fellow Seattleite Nate Robinson for the year due to injury.

  • Luke Ridnour

A former Sonic and graduate of Blaine High School, Ridnour is one of the few ex-Sonics left in the league. He and Gary Neal are headed to Charlotte, while Ramon Sessions and Jeff Adrien moved the other way to Milwaukee.

  • Spencer Hawes

Hawes, the first Husky on the list, was dealt from deadline-seller Philadelphia to quasi-contender Cleveland for Henry Sims, Earl Clark and two second-round draft picks. Here’s hoping he finds a smidgen more team success in Cleveland than in Philly.

  • Austin Daye

The former Gonzaga standout isn’t from the state of Washington, but he was a superb collegiate player in Spokane. He’ll look to rekindle his career in San Antonio.

  • Reggie Evans

Another non-Washingtonian makes the list. Evans started his career as a Sonic and is one of a few left. He and the next player on the list were dealt to the Kings for Marcus Thornton.

  • Jason Terry

The Jet has moved again. This time from Brooklyn to Sacramento. He’s out for the year with an injury. Hopefully he finds success in Sacramento.

Seattle Seahawks’ Repeat and Dynasty Potential: Why Team’s Superb Player Development is the Key

The Seattle Seahawks have experienced some of the usual perks of winning a Super Bowl. The parade, the sudden interest shown by media in the team’s players, etc.

Another result of the Super Bowl win has been a number of teams taking interest in the Seahawks’ free agents. Other teams are/were looking to take some of the Seahawks’ exceptional depth. The team has already lost supporting players Chris Maragos, Paul McQuistan and Clinton McDonald to free agency while key players like Golden Tate, Red Bryant, Walter Thurmond and Chris Clemons have also left town.

In addition to those players, the team also lost cornerback Brandon Browner and tackle Breno Giacomini, while players such as Sidney Rice and Michael Robinson could be brought back, but nothing is certain.

All of these losses will be felt in one way or another, but the team’s superb player development will help them sustain their winning ways.

Pete Carroll and friends find diamonds in the rough. Players like Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor. Players who were late-round draft picks or undrafted. These players soon develop into starting players, as evidenced by Sherman’s meteoric rise to elite status.

Developing late-round/undrafted players also gives Seattle a huge boost in terms of the salary cap and money. These players’ rookie contracts are much cheaper than a first or second-round picks’ contract. All of this adds up, thus the team can target more players in free agency to supplement the team.

So far, some of the Seahawks’ more prominent losses in free agency are easily replaceable with much cheaper players who could develop into better players.

For example, Tate’s will be replaced by Jermaine Kearse, while a healthier Percy Harvin will improve the offense even more so. The two should more than make up for the former Notre Dame standout.

Kearse is still on his rookie deal, while Tate signed for five years and as much as 31 million dollars with Detroit. This will save the Hawks lots of cash to funnel into players like Harvin or complementary veterans on shorter contracts.

On the offensive line, McQuistan and Giacomini will be replaced by younger players like Michael Bowie and Alvin Bailey. The team showed confidence in the latter pair last season and could also draft a lineman or two come April. Former first-round pick James Carpenter could also start.

Cornerback Byron Maxwell is another young player who will find himself starting again next year. The former Clemson Tiger filled in admirably for Browner during his suspension and in the process left no doubt that he was the better player for the role, as opposed to Thurmond. Maxwell, as well as young, cheap and talented corners Jeremy Lane, DeShawn Shead and Tharold Simon, will make up for the loss of the departed players.

All in all, players like Kearse, Bowie and Maxwell may or may not turn into star players. Their impact probably won’t be the sole reason the Seahawks turn into a dynasty. What will propel the Seahawks into a dynasty is their ability to continually find and develop under-valued players into impact performers.

Seattle Mariners: Signing Nelson Cruz Doesn’t Guarantee Success

Rumored Mariner signing Nelson Cruz would add a powerful bat to a lineup already bolstered by the arrivals of Robinson Cano and Corey Hart. What signing Cruz doesn’t do is guarantee success.

An offensive triumvirate of Cruz, Cano and Kyle Seager isn’t one to balk at, and is a wonderful foundation for the team moving forward, but in terms of success, it guarantees nothing.

In most divisions, like say the NL West, these kinds of additions (Cano, Cruz, Hart) would push a team towards the top of the table. Not so much with the Mariners in the AL West.

The rest of the division is stocked. The Mariners’ rise to “playoff-contender” status, if not the realm of respectability, has vaulted the division to a ridiculous level. On paper, the Angels, A’s and Rangers all have the talent to be playoff teams. Throw in Seattle, and you end up with a lot of unhappy teams come the postseason.

It wouldn’t be completely surprising to see, even with Cano and friends, the M’s finish in the same exact place in the standings as last year. They’re probably going to have an improved record, but as stated, the division is stacked.

If one thing is clear after watching postseason baseball, it’s that pitching is needed to contend. Teams like Detroit, Boston, St. Louis and Oakland found great success last year with tremendous staffs. And it wasn’t just those four teams; most playoff teams boasted strong pitching. Great pitching is nearly synonymous with a playoff squad now-a-days.

Which brings the topic of one-way conversation in the piece to the Mariners’ pitching.

The M’s will use some combination of Erasmo Ramirez, Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, Brandon Maurer and recent signing Scott Baker for the last three spots in the rotation. This is where question marks come into play. Moving into the future, both Walker and Paxton figure to be mainstays in the Seattle rotation thanks to their fantastic potential, but between them they have a grand total of 39 innings at the big league level. Whether they continue to show promise or hit a wall remains to be seen.

Ramirez and Maurer have both shown flashes of potential in the past, but the jury remains largely out on the pair. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Baker, given his experience and quality, leapfrog one or both of them to claim a rotation spot. The bottom line is that the Mariners’ rotation could show the promise and poise that Oakland’s young hurlers have shown, or they could continue to display the growing pains that have plagued the team.

If anything, a potential Cruz signing puts more pressure on the rotation to succeed. The one-time Brewer coupled with Cano, Hart and Logan Morrison would vastly improve a team that had issues scoring runs. The run output in Seattle should, at the very least, be slightly above average. The Mariners need their young pitchers to step up. If they can do this, Seattle will be in a position to contend. If not, well let’s just say get ready for all those low-scoring losses to turn into higher-scoring losses.

Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl Champions: Top Photos from seahawks.com

Here’s a cool picture slideshow from seahawks.com showing everything from the team heading to the airport to last Wednesday’s victory parade. Click the link to check it out.