Wednesday, February 22, 2017

As Flawed as it Could Get

Dellin Betances has been one of the most elite set up men in the majors in the last few years. He's thrown the most innings, he's had the third most strikeouts behind Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller, and has the 4th lowest era behind nothing but elite closers. This offseason is Betances' first chance to get paid through the arbitration process and Betances and his agent filed for 5 million dollars while the Yankees filed for 3 million. Instead of the two parties meeting in the middle of both offers they got dragged to a hearing where both parties make the case for why Betances deserves to either make 3 or 5 million. The hearing process can be ugly. The team pretty much makes the case that the player isn't worth the money that they're asking for in Betances' case the biggest knock has been that he only has 22 saves in the 3 years he's been in the majors.

Saves has been considered an ancient statistic that has no real representation as to how good a player is. Betances lost his hearing and will make 3 million dollars this upcoming season. Three million dollars is not chump change, but it is not indicative of how a pitcher of Betances' caliber should be getting paid. The saber movement has helped front offices quantify how good players are. It's the reason why older players are getting pushed out at the rate they are, but when it comes to a player getting paid front offices use statistics that are considered ancient so they can avoid paying players. Betances got dragged through the mud by his team to save the team 2 million dollars; a team that is valued at 3.4 billion. The arbitration process needs to change so that players in the future can avoid Betances' fate.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Times are a Changing

JP Arencibia is an ex-catcher that played on several teams and has called it a career at 31. The turnover rate is getting smaller and smaller thanks to the amount of young talent that's making it to the big leagues. There's a record number of players age twenty-five and under who teams are valuing more and more. Players are being rushed to the majors the minute they show top to mid prospect level talent. The dreaded stat WAR (Wins Above Replacement - where a player is compared to league average production) has made the old grizzled veterans almost obsolete. It seems like if you're not in the prime of your career teams aren't interested in bringing you on board. Just a year after the Baltimore Orioles signed first base/designated hitter Chris Davis to a huge 7 year 161 million dollar contract Davis' teammate Mark Trumbo had to scratch and claw his way to a 3 year 37.5 million dollar contract with the same Baltimore Orioles after coming off a season where Trumbo hit 47 home runs and drove in 108 runs.

Numbers like those usually guarantee a player a huge pay day, but not in this climate. Trumbo is mainly a designated hitter who spells Davis at first base from time to time and his defensive metrics aren't strong at all, but that's never stopped an American League team from going all in on a player like Trumbo and offering a Davis-like contract. It's not only an issue that Trumbo is suffering. Last year Chris Carter lead the National League in home runs with 41, but he also had 206 strike outs and has the same, if not worse, defensive numbers than Trumbo and Carter had to settle for a 1 year 3.5 million dollar deal with the New York Yankees or he was about to start taking offers from leagues in Asia. If the aging ball player isn't given a chance there are going to be a number of players like Arencibia who is going to be looking for work behind a hot mic and not a hot bat.

Monday, February 20, 2017

What's In An MVP?

This season in the NBA there have been two players who have taken the league by triple double storm. One being Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder who has twenty seven triple doubles and is averaging a triple double on the season. The first player to have such numbers since Oscar Robinson and the other being James Harden of the Houston Rockets who has fifteen triple doubles of his own. Both players have been outstanding and at the all star break for the NBA the competition for MVP so far has mainly been between these two players (even though LeBron James' name has crept into the conversation since Kevin Love has suffered injury and LeBron has taken more on his shoulders). The biggest difference to me is where the Thunder and Rockets stand in the standings of the Western Conference. The Thunder are seventh while the Rockets are third.

To me what Westbrook has been doing has been very impressive if not historic, but I think that with the overall success that Harden and the Rockets are having within this season Harden, at least at this point in the season, is the MVP. It comes down to the term "valuable" are the Rockets a three seed without Harden I'm going to say no would the Thunder be seventh without Westbrook, I will say that the Thunder would have a better chance at seventh without Westbrook than the Rockets would have at being three without Harden. If both players keep up the their on and LeBron doesn't do what LeBron does and just completely takes over I think James Harden should walk away with the MVP. Not to ignore what Westbrook has done, but the goal is to win and considering that Harden is doing more winning I would hand the trophy to Harden.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Is Thinner Always Better?

Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval signed a huge deal with Boston after his championship runs in San Francisco where he gained the nickname Panda after his rotund figure. After signing with the Red Sox Sandoval's weight hurt his production by keeping him off the field. Sandoval only played 3 games for the Red Sox last year and 126 after being over 140 all the seasons before that except for two. There something to be said about performing at a weight especially when your team wins not just one World Series but three. Was Sandoval out of shape yes. Was Sandoval a vital member of those Giants at the time the answer is also yes. Sandoval dedicated himself to getting in better shape and has. He looks better than he's ever had, but the question I have is will it work for him?

New York Yankees ace CC Sabathia had the same weight issue that Sandoval had going into the 2014 season. Sabathia blamed eating large amounts of cereal for his weight issues and like Sandoval made it a goal to lose weight. In 2013 when Sabathia was still overweight he pitched in 32 games he did have a then career high 4.78 era but he still logged 211 innings after losing the weight Sabathia in 2014 pitched in 8 games. Was that all because of the weight, or lack there of, I doubt it, but when Sabathia was overweight he knew what he had to do to make his weight work for him since he was a workhorse. Sabathia made logging over 200 innings a season a tradition. Am I predicting a drop off for Sandoval, not necessarily, but this is something to keep an eye on because as a big man he was a part of a team that won several World Series he's yet to prove what kind of player he is as a thin man.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Circus on 34th Street

It has been a trying week for New York Knick fans. Between Phil Jackson trying to get Carmelo Anthony upset enough to demand to be shipped out of town (which hasn't happened yet) to owner James Dolan having New York Knick legend Charles Oakley banned from Madison Square Garden. Fan favorite Charles Oakley at that. The same Charles Oakley who was an enforcer with the late Anthony Mason in all those heated showdowns with the Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, and Indiana Pacers back when NY Knick basketball actually meant something. New York Knicks owner James Dolan just made himself more the villain to the fans of the Knicks than he already was. From hiring Isiah Thomas who ran a muck in the front office to the revolving door that has been the NY Knick coaching position (11 coaches have been hired and fired since 1999). The Knicks have been a circus of a team and Dolan has been the ring leader.

Phil Jackson is hiding behind the rings he has won as a coach with the Bulls and Lakers to justify the shenanigans he's pulling with Anthony. No one can approach the great "Zen Master" because he was so great at making all the talent he was blessed with go in the right direction to double digit championships. Jackson needs to come off his high chair and see that Anthony is ultimately the one who decides where and when he is to be moved thanks to the no trade clause in his contract and the trade kicker that are in Anthony's contract. Dolan didn't help anything when during an interview on the radio he threw Jackson under the bus by pretty much blaming him for giving Anthony that contract. If more evidence is needed for Dolan to sell the Knicks this week should pretty much answer that for him, but of course Dolan won't sell so the circus will continue down on 34th St.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Chuck V. Bron

In the newest drama that has engulfed the NBA LeBron James has come to beef with NBA legend Charles Barkley. It started last week when LeBron James started making demands of Cleveland Cavalier owner Dan Gilbert over needing more players to support the chase to repeat as Champions. Several media members have either supported LeBron or spoken out against him and Charles Barkley has spoken out against him in usual Charles Barkley form, but what wasn't expected was the LeBron James response. LeBron James, in an interview with Dave McMenamin for ESPN, went on a verbal lashing of Barkley bringing up various incidents from Barkley's playing days that has reminded folks that Barkley's reputation isn't all that clean. Lucky was Barkley that his glory days reached its peak when there were no social media outlets where his indiscretions could be aired out in the way that today's athlete have to deal with.

Personally I believe Barkley had this coming. The way in which Barkley uses his platform to be critical of players as if he were squeaky clean was always interesting to me. Just because you're getting paid to be a gas bag on TV doesn't entitle you the right to throw around insults and speak down to players. Eventually Barkley's words were going to come back and that they did in the shape of LeBron James calling him out for amongst other things chumming up with Michael Jordan during a playoff game something that Barkley has criticized LeBron for since in his day Barkley and other stars weren't so friendly with other stars. I'm surprised more stars haven't gone after Barkley since his criticisms of players have been so harsh. Maybe because Barkley is a legend in the game so players don't think they can go against him, but LeBron is a big enough name where clearly that isn't an issue.