Friday, November 30, 2012

(Not So) Instant Trade Analysis: David Wright, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Russell Martin and BJ Upton

In the midst of the NBA's multiple storylines right out of the opening gate, the MLB hot stove is burning. In the past 36 hours especially, there's been a ton of action on the baseball front, so let's take a MAMBINO-sized shot at examining the various moves with our (not-so) Instant Trade Analysis:

New York Mets get: 3B David Wright

David Wright gets: 7 years, $122 million

As much as people everywhere want to revile David Wright for signing with one of the worst ownership teams in professional sports, the truth is that on his end, the future could look pretty bright for the Mets. It certainly doesn't start with the bats: the offense is still hugely reliant on big years from Wright and Ike Davis to merely be better than mediocre. Meanwhile, the bullpen still lists Frank Francisco...anywhere, so there's obviously work to be done. But, the hardest task is seemingly complete--the rotation.  

Examining their 2013 roster, it's headlined with the 2012 NL Cy Young winner, an aging but effective Johan Santana, young pitching prospects in Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey and Jenrry Meijia, and steady hands in Dillon Gee and Jon Niese. If Harvey and Wheeler emerge this year in a Lincecum/Cain-like tandem, then the Mets could potentially have rotation in the NL East? It's not crazy. 

For the Mets, there's obviously two ways to look at this: management needed to show fans (and the team itself) that they weren't going to completely submerge themselves in a middle-market type of free agent irrelevance. They had to keep their star player at whatever price it took. After all, what type of message would not re-signing a six-time All-Star who just finished in sixth place in the NL MVP voting? 

However, I do have concerns that as Wright reaches his 30's (this contract will take him until his age 37 season), he's going to wear at a high pressure, high intensity position at third base and his recent injury history is going to become even more a problem. All of Wright's advance metrics suggest that he's just as good as he's ever been despite hitting for less power than in his early twenties, but he's still a very good to elite defensive hot cornerman and a 40 doubles, 20 (maybe not 30) homer hitter. 

In regards to the contract, Wright certainly could have gotten more money playing out free agency. Anaheim, LA, the Yankees, Philadelphia and both Chicago clubs could have offered him more money. However, Wright has always proclaimed that he's wanted to retire as a Met (the fool!), and he obviously saw the team's future prospects ready to emerge.

The Mets had to make this deal, simply to show everyone that they weren't turning into the Cleveland Indians. I have little doubt that Wright won't be earning his money by the time the contract ends, mostly due to the fact that he'll be playing first base around that time. However, re-signing with the Mets wasn't an awful decision for his personal future, baseball-wise.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

How Much Worse Could the Wizards Get? Finding Hope in the District

Yesterday, I started an e-mail chain with my man AO, the greatest (and only) Washington Wizards fan I know. At the time, the Wiz were mired in a 0-12 start, by far the worst in franchise history. Without young point guard John Wall and mostly without productive center Nene, the former Bullets stood amongst the league's most disappointing teams with even the most modest of expectations. 

In a seemingly everlasting attempt to make a die-hard hoop head feel better about his seemingly perpetually terrible team, I e-mail AO with vibes of positivity. What I got was clairvoyance from a NBA sage. Check out our first exchange:

KOBEsh: The Washington Wizards are 0-12, and looking like far and away the worst team in the NBA. Without former number 1 overall pick John Wall and new center Nene for most of the season, the Zardos have struggled in nearly every conceivable way. They're not atrocious defensively, thanks to the efforts of offseason imports Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor, but offensively, this team looks absolutely lost. They're last in total points, points per game, points per 100 possessions, field goal percentage and those are just the categories they're dead last in
Though Wall is scheduled to come back any time within the next month or so, but at this point, there's really no rush to get him on the floor. Thus...there are so many negative things to say about the Wizards--you don't have to google far to find them--but we're going to do something a bit differently on MAMBINO. Let's keep up the positive vibes the District has been nuturing lately, from the loins of RGIII to the bat of 12 year-old superstar Bryce Harper.

AO--looking ahead towards the end of the year, which of these are you thinking is the next (and first) Wizards win? And why?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pau Gasol for Amar'e Stoudemire? Pure Fiction

From: Andrew Hova
To: KOBEsh
Date: 8:21 pm, November 27th, 2012
Subject: Amar'e for Gasol? Oh please make it sooo

This was an e-mail I received last night as I got off of a plane. In a panic, my fingers couldn't light up Twitter fast enough. I was stricken with my worst fear come to light--not so much that the Lakers were close to trading Gasol, but rather that New York Knick Amar'e Stoudemire would be the quarry. 

I searched and searched, but all I saw was speculation. There weren't any solid reports, just rumors floating around that a swap of the two disaffected power forwards could be a possible deal going forward. Both men aren't entirely happy in their current environments and roles on their current squads, and more importantly, have largely underperformed the last year and a half. Switching the two wouldn't be an entirely far-fetched idea, based on various factors of their ages, contracts and personnel redundancies on the Lakers and Knicks, respectively.

That being said, there isn't a scenario where this trade would be anything but an outright disaster for the Lakers.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Andrew Bynum: Best Case and Worst Case Scenarios

"Bottom line is Andrew is out indefinitely," DiLeo said before the Sixers played the Oklahoma City Thunder. "There are no timelines; we just have to wait and see how he reacts."

"His knees now and the MRIs are not the same; it's a different type (of) situation," DiLeo said. "At the time of the trade, we had four doctors look at his MRI; we knew it was a calculated risk. We also knew we were getting the second-best center in the league, a franchise-type player. We took that risk."

Just two days ago, this was the quote from the Philadelphia 76ers, and represented every single fear that they had upon dealing for him in a four-team trade last August. In fact, this exact situation is was the "worst case scenario" that MAMBINO listed in our Philly season preview

Drew has again fallen prey to a knee injury, though this time the cause is as nebulous as the man himself. For weeks, the Sixers have been maintaining that a "bone bruise" has been the source of Bynum's absence, with mysterious, non-surgical treatments being used to try and get the new Philly center on the court. However, unlike previous catastrophic injuries from on-court mishaps, the fear of the unknown is seems to be more frightening than watching him writhe in pain on the floor. Matching up the words "Andrew Bynum" and "indefinitely" creates a sentence more terrifying to fans of his teams than the words "Andrew Bynum" and "your babysitter" together.

There's no return date for Bynum, but according to DiLeo, a December debut is absolutely out of the question. Whether or not Drew comes back at all this season, which at this point is a possibility, could totally change the complexion of the massive deal that sent 12 players and four 1st round draft choices around the league. Let's take a look at how the best case, worst case and everything in between could change how the "Dwight Howard" trade will be viewed going forward. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

YOUR...6-0 New York Knicks. Are They For Real?

(With the Knicks up by five in San Antonio with mere minutes remaining on the clock, I texted MAMBINO's two resident Knicks masochists fanatics, asking if they could handle what was happening to their beloved 'Bockers. I got a number of responses, but mostly in the vein of "AAAHHHHHHHH". Very verbose. 

The New York Knicks have the best record in the league, standing at a very respectable 6-0 record, with quality wins against Miami, Dallas and at San Antonio. Gotham is, to the surprise of no one, reacting with hyperbolic headlines and unbridled excitement at the extraordinary start that Carmelo, Kidd and company have raced out to. As a mere Knicks sympathizer, I had many questions for two rabid fans, who, by their own admittance, have their emotions on the team vacillate on a minute-by-minute basis. This is the e-mail string that followed.)

KOBEsh: El Miz--BockerKnocker, brace yourselves. YOUR...New York Knickerbockers are, I daresay, a juggernaut. At 6-0, this is the best start for the franchise since their Ewing-led heyday in the 90s. Let's start with the most basic question: what's the number one reason they're doing this?

El Miz: Mike Woodson.  Coach Woody has gotten a group that features Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith to buy into things like holding the opposing team under 25 points per quarter, under 40 points in the second half, and caring about what the other team shot from the field percentage-wise. Carmelo has bought in, and it is pivotal to have the alpha dog buy in--last year, Carmelo wasn't buying anything that Mike D'Antoni was selling...and that was it for the Gentleman Thief.  

The absence of Amare Stoudemire has helped as well -- it has allowed Melo to get into a groove at the 4, a position where he excelled last year and won Player of the Month in April, a month where he averaged 30 points and 7 rebounds per game on 50% shooting from the field (including 46% from downtown).  It is clear now that Melo is better suited in this post-Seven Seconds or Less NBA to be a stretch 4, and without Stoudemire, there is no controversy in getting the best player in his most optimal position.  But this team is not undefeated without the emphasis on defense, and that has started with Woodson.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

UCLA-USC Football Preview

Growing up in Southern California, the UCLA Bruins stood a chance every year to beat the hated U$C Trojans. I have memories of Bruins teams that went to the Rose Bowl (getting crushed by Wisconsin) and squads that consistently produced NFL starters (not simply kickers). Those days are long gone, and since Y2K infected all of our computers and wreaked havoc on the global economy, UCLA has had a crap football team. We hired a boring/awful coach in Karl Dorrell, let him have the reigns for way too long, and felt comfortable with simply qualifying for one of the lower tier Pac-10 bowls. 

Then we decided, "Hey maybe we should aspire to something beyond the Sun Bowl!", and instead of hiring a qualified replacement, threw away another half decade on Rick Neuheisel. 

But now, only 10 games into the Jim Mora era, the Bruins stand on the precipice of being relevant once again.

Mora has taken a squad of physical youngsters and has created, by all accounts, a “tough” team. The youth of the Bruins cannot be overstated with a red-shirt freshman quarterback in Brett Hundley boldly leading the way. On more than one occasion this year, Hundley has stared down a 4th quarter deficit and rallied his boys back to victory (watch this drive this kid is good enough to play on Sunday). Mora has been helped by a pair of fantastic veterans in Jonathan Franklin (UCLA All-time rushing leader) and Joseph Fauria (6’7” touchdown machine) as well as a new playing surface on the practice field. Franklin and Fauria have given Hundley the options he needs to establish a true spread offense, and the new turf has kept the Bruins remarkably healthy this season.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Instant Trade Analysis: The Miami Marlins Trade Everyone to the Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto Blue Jays get: SS Jose Reyes, 3B/OF Emilio Bonifacio, C John Buck, SP Josh Johnson, SP Mark Buerhle

Miami Marlins get: SP Henderson Alvarez, C Jeff Mathis, SS Yunel Escobar, Shame and prospects SP Justin Nicolino, SS Adeiny Hechavarria, OF Jake Marisnick,

Less than twelve months removed from a massive winter shopping spree that preceded the team's long-awaited move into a brand-new stadium in downtown Miami, the Marlins have completed a fire sale that many thought they'd started this summer by trading Hanley Ramirez, Edward Mujica, Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante. The Fish have removed almost every vestige of considerable major league experience or salary demands from their roster, leaving only SP Ricky Nolasco, OF Giancarlo Stanton and new imports Mathis and Escobar as the only players on the roster with three or more seasons of service time. Stanton has already voiced his disapproval, and there are rumors he'll be the next star to go, though I find it hard to believe that Miami would trade him with four years left on his rookie deal.

In a nutshell, the Marlins have completed their once a decade post-championship fire sale, except this time they haven't won anything besides the award for "the franchise least deserving of success in major North American sports". For the purposes of this post, I'll leave out the repercussions this will have the possibility of there ever being success for Major League Baseball in South Beach, as well as the unscrupulous manner in which the Marlins seemed to have conned the city of Miami into paying for a brand new ballpark for what amounts to an expansion team. Let's just focus on what happens to these two teams. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Instant Trade Analysis: Mike D'Antoni to the Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers get: Mike D'Antoni

Mike D'Antoni gets: 3 years, $12 million (fourth year team option), a chance at redemption

Phil Jackson gets: A bowl of regret

Just three days removed from the last surprise development in LA, the Lakers decided not to hold back on the next one. The speculation throughout the weekend was that the recently fired Mike Brown would be replaced by 11-time NBA Champion head coach Phil Jackson. In the 11th hour, the front office shifted weight almost entirely the other way, it would seem, as they went out and signed former Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni. Whoa.

For many Lakers fans, myself included, we were waiting for an iPad and instead got a Nook Color. In the end, both could reach the same result, but ultimately you're not getting the product you want.

There's two seperate schools of thought on the hire right now, either round approval or damning criticism. D'Antoni has always been a polarizing figure in both of his head coaching stints and his time in LA won't be any different. The biggest knock on MDA is his alleged indifference to defense, which was punctuated by the "Seven Seconds or Less" style and pace at which his Phoenix teams played. Led by current Laker Steve Nash, D'Antoni's offensive philosophy counted on his squads getting up the floor as quick as possible, relying on his point guards propensity on the fast break and versatile wing players' ability to finish at the rack or make long jumpers with no more than 17 seconds left on the shot clock. Essentially, they put up the rock as much as they could and let the defense sort itself out. Not exactly how Dr. Naismith wrote it up, but then again he used a peach basket for a hoop. And he was Canadian. Can't trust him.

Whether you hated it or not, there's no denying that the MDA Suns were one of the most exciting teams to come along in two decades of NBA basketball. They scored at a high rate and did so with style, leaving the viewer just as breathless as the athletes that raced up the court just in time to catch a perfect lob from the Nash's hands. However, the price of such a highly touted scoring binge was seemingly the defense. Whether or not he actually stressed defense or spent any time coaching it during practices (which has been subject to much dispute), Mike's squads have never been anything more than middling defensively. Here's where MDA-led (full season) squads have ranked amongst the league in defensive efficiency, which is points per 100 possessions:

Friday, November 9, 2012

Week Ten NFL Picks

Last week the only one happier than me was the landlord. It only took 9 weeks (well 8 with my personal bye week), but I experienced my first winning season of the season. Since the bye week, I haven’t lost. And dating back to the .500 record of Week 7, I haven’t seen a loss since the presidential candidates were debating. It’s time to start the expert comparisons.

Last week’s 9-4 record only puts a small dent in the overall record that now stands at 37-51, but with a couple more half-full weeks we’re in business. One of those weeks is coming this week.

Instant Trade Reaction: Mike Brown to the Unemployment Office

Los Angeles Lakers get: A new coach (TBD)

Mike Brown gets: A pink slip

In what's been the seventh or eighth shocking announcement from El Segundo in the past twelve months, the Los Angeles Lakers dismissed head coach Mike Brown this morning, just five games into the NBA season. After a 1-4 record, a winless preseason and a gentlemen's sweep at the end of the 2012 season at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder, the front office decided that Brown simply wasn't up to the challenge of making the Lakers into a title contender.

Ultimately, the main question stemming out of this is: was this the right decision, or a hasty panic move?

Sadly for Brown, this was the right move. I've written time and time again that the Lakers' now former head coach needed time to implement his offense and ultimately gain the team's trust. What I overlooked was that perhaps he never had his team's respect in the first place.

Most of the reasons I've preached patience is because nearly every step of the way is because Brown's had the odds stacked up against him ever since he took the job almost a year and a half ago. The list includes, but isn't limited to:
  • A lockout that restricted contact with players the entire 2011 summer and into November, when the season was reinstated
  • The Veto, which stunted the chemistry of the team, Pau Gasol's early performance and ultimately sent Lamar Odom packing
  • A two-week shortened training camp
  • A compacted regular season, that gave his team only a handful of practices for most of the season
  • Midseason trades for Ramon Sessions and Jordan Hill, while exporting veteran Derek Fisher
  • Integrating in two superstars in Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, and several new role players
  • Coaching a new offense in a training camp that largely featured a limited Howard and an injured Kobe Bryant 
  • Losing Steve Nash to injury just two games into the season

The Worst NBA Team You've Seen So Far

(Yesterday, I took a poll from the MAMBINO crew asking who the worst team they've seen this year was. The answers I got were the following two teams that have performed the most joyless form of basketball. I happened to agree whole-heartedly. And wept uncontrollably. Tears of blood.)

The Detroit Pistons

There's no doubt in my mind that the 0-5 Pistons are the worst squad in the league, even this early in the season. Only one player has registered a double double, which would be burgeoning star Greg Monroe. More impressively, one of those was actually a triple-double, a career first. Against the lowly Sacramento Kings. In a Detroit loss. But other than that, he's getting zero help; no one else on the team has registered more than 10 rebounds or scored more than 20 points. In fact, the team has shot just 43% over five games and ranks 28th in points per 100 possessions.

The rest of the starters are truly the unit that's sinking the Pistons. Second year man Brandon Knight has a really nice looking stroke, but that's it, quite frankly. He's only got 2 assists to every turnover he commits, and not even that can truly capture how poorly he sets up his teammates for quality shots. He's a wretched shooter in general, which is super duper convenient for the Pistons, considering he's taking 10 shots a night and is Monroe's main pick and roll partner. His backcourt mate Rodney Stuckey has been especially terrible in a nightmare first week for the Pistons. Detroit's starting shooting guard is 8 for 46 to start the year, a staggering 17% from the field. But it's not like Stuckey is shooting poorly because he hasn't made a three pointer or is just taking long, contested two-point shots. He's shooting less than 20% from every single area on the floor. Good to know he's not discriminating against the hardwood. Luckily for Stuckey, he still has a 3:1 assist to turnover ration and is still making free throws (84% on 16 shots), so at least he's doing the right things his team lose.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

2013 Free Agency Preview for the Los Angeles Dodgers

Back in April, in my giddiness emanating from the great emancipation from Frank McCourt, I wrote a lengthy article looking forward to this winter and the potential free agents a newly fiscally robust Dodgers team could invest in.

Little did I know that Mark Walter, Stan Kasten and Magic Johnson had more immediate plans in mind.

At the beginning of 2012, the Dodgers were without solutions at left field, third base, catcher and the back end of the rotation and an unsure future with the incumbents at first base and shortstop. Few offensive reinforcements were coming up through the minor leagues, so to very professionally summarize, the Boys in Blue were screwed.

Now, after two massive trades and the emergence of two unexpected life-long farm hands, the Dodgers are set at every position player on the diamond. Upgrades could be had at third and catcher, but if the Dodgers were to stay pat, most fans should feel comfortable with the players at hand.

Looking at this offseason, I earmarked pitching as the biggest probable targets for the team, even though the Dodgers had (and still have) such little offensive firepower in their minors. Starting pitchers Cole Hamels and Matt Cain have since been locked up to long-term deals, as well as second baseman Brandon Phillips and third baseman David Wright has had this 2013 option picked up, as the Mets continue to negotiate with him on an extension.

LA fell a couple games short of the Wild Card playoff game, so even as the team will naturally improve with greater continuity of a more settled squad, free agent additions should be made to bolster the team. It still feels foreign that payroll isn't even something to consider any longer, because in the words of Mark Walter, the payroll ceiling is in the nebulous region of "Somewhere...I suppose". Luckily for the Dodgers, the team doesn't have a whole lot of holes, and most of these targets are merely "wish list" items, rather than absolute necessities. GM Ned Colletti did a lot of his winter shopping in season and picked up several high priced items, so for better or worse, the team will be surfing the season with Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Hanley Ramirez.

An already thin farm system has been cleared out in recent months, so a trade for an elite player is unlikely. Chavez Ravine is awash in cash these days like a giant safe in Duckberg, so simply buying talent is most likely the best avenue for this team to improve.

Looking at the ace free agent listings from, let's shoot off MAMBINO's top free agent targets for the Los Angeles Dodgers' 2012 offseason:

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Asinine Banners Hanging in the Miami Heat's Arena

13 Chamberlain. 44 West. 32 Johnson. 33 Abdul-Jabbar. 25 Goodrich. 22 Baylor. 

2 Auerbach. 33 Bird. 00 Parish. 17 Havlicek. 6 Russell. 3 Johnson. 32 McHale. 16 Cousy. 

10 Frazier. 33 Ewing. 19 Reed. 22 DeBusschere. 15 Monroe.

Those are the retired numbers hanging in the rafters in Los Angeles, Boston and New York. You know who those legends are just by their numbers, let alone last names. They're surrounded by 35 combined championship banners, and little more than that. But after all, is there very much more to be said? Banners are hung in honor of tremendous accomplishments, whether that be Hall of Fame careers that have made indelible marks on a franchise, or a championship forever emblazoned on the docket of a league's history. Growing up in Los Angeles, going to school in Boston and living in New York, I've come to appreciate pennants hung from the rafters because it means there's been something worth celebrating. Maybe that's spoiled, maybe that's unrealistic, but maybe that's just the goal of sports. Maybe it's to appreciate the effort, but celebrate the victory. Anything in between is great, but not worth immortalizing up above the team, it's paying customers and a national television audience.

And this past week, the Miami Heat have yet again taken another big fat crap on what it means to be honored. 

Last Saturday, the Heat raised their second banner in a week, this time to commemorate the Olympic gold medal win of LeBron James in this past summer's 2012 Summer games. This pennant will fly alongside a banner for Dwyane Wade's 2008 gold and Alonzo Mourning's and Tim Hardaway's 2000 gold.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

In Defense of Mike Brown: What's Wrong with the Early-Season Los Angeles Lakers

(MAMBINO piece on the superb Lakers blog, Silver Screen and Roll. Check it!)

''I don't know if they will grasp it all,'' Jackson said the other day. ''Everything takes time and everything is instinctual. A lot of what you do you can't emulate or copy. You can't put it back in the same order you did it before. I may not introduce any of the usual stuff to the team until it's the right time. And it may not be the right time for four or five months."--The New York Times, October 31st, 1999

Before the seven more NBA Finals appearances and five more gold trophies adorning Dr. Jerry Buss' office space, Chicago Bulls maestro Phil Jackson came into Los Angeles charged with the task of making a talented, but underachieving Lakers team into a champion. He would install Tex Winters' vaunted triangle offense into L.A.'s offensive schemes, a conceptual scoring attack that even now (after 11 titles) some people regard as a form of smoke and mirrors witchcraft (one of Jackson's assistants on the Lakers, Brian Shaw, recounted last year to's Ian Thompsen "When I go out on head-coaching interviews and if I mention the word 'triangle,' it makes general managers and owners cringe. They don't want to hear about the triangle offense, they don't want to hear about Phil Jackson").

Ever undeterred, Jackson preached patience, and that's what he got. The 1999-2000 Lakers justified this attitude, and shot out of the gate, going 15-5 in November and along with his extraordinary past success in Chicago, captured the confidence of the city and Lakers Nation.

Mike Brown doesn't have Phil Jackson's record of success. The most the two have in common is coaching a 60-win team, appearing in the NBA Finals and their one Coach of the Year trophy apiece. What they do share is the journey of getting a team of underachieving superstars to buy into an intricate new system. For Jackson, it was the aforementioned triangle offense and relying on the team not to adhere to a certain set of plays, but rather to collectively grow within themselves a set of instincts that would get them open shots. For Brown, he's asking a team of veterans to buy not only into a complex Princeton offense, but also a tough defensive scheme that he only spoke of in theory, not in actual practice last season. Patience, as with Phil Jackson, has been preached by not just the coaching staff, but also by the team. 

Read more over at Silver Screen and Roll

Friday, November 2, 2012

NFL Week 9 Picks

Well I took a week off to celebrate a .500 week in Week 7. The record now sits at 28-47. I still haven't had one winning week all season, but my six week losing streak is over. And now let's commence a winning streak.

(Editor's note: At this point, I'd just go ahead and do the opposite of what Mr. Marquez predicts. You've got a 3/5 chance that he's completely wrong)

CINCINNATI (+3.5) over Denver: I was thinking of taking Denver, but I took a page from Peyton and called an audible. The Bengals are at home, coming off the bye, and getting points.

Instant Trade Analysis: Dan Haren to the Chicago Cubs

(Editor's note: This trade was consummated last night....for about two hours. The Cubs pulled out of the deal late, and as a result, Haren was still an Angel...for another hour. 

The deadline for Anaheim GM Jerry DiPoto to exercise a $15.5 million dollar option for Haren's 2013 season was 9pm PT, and thus the mad rush to try and trade him. However, after such a poor 2012 and a very expensive price tag, DiPoto declined and thus, the right-handed pitcher is now a free agent and could leave the Halos for nothing. Even for as badly as Anaheim wanted to trade him, ironically Haren becomes one of the biggest free agents on the 2012 winter market

But this was a pretty sweet trade analysis post. Take a look into an alternate reality where this happened)

Anaheim Angels get: RP Carlos Marmol

Chicago Cubs get: SP Dan Haren

A little less than a year ago the Los Angeles Angels appeared to be the front-runners for the American League pennant. And that was before they traded for a 28-year-old former Cy Young Award winner and before we knew that they had the best 20-year-old ever to play the game.

Once again though in the beautiful world of sports we found out that’s why they play the game. Josh Reddick and the Oakland A’s took the AL West division crown and Albert Pujols watched his old team come within one game of going back to the World Series without him. Pujols, Mike Trout and the Angels will certainly not be taken lightly again next year, but if they could not win with Dan Haren, it’s hard to see how they get better without him.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Fact or Fiction: 2009 NBA Draft Class Contract Extensions

As the country was out giving candy to either children or twenty-something girls that were both curiously wearing the same size costumes, the NBA's deadline for 2009 Draftee extensions came and went. The draft class ended up with seven different players being offered multi-year deals, while the rest would go on to being restricted free agency next summer. Thus, players like OKC's Eric Maynor, Sacramento's Tyreke Evans and Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings could be extended offer sheets by other teams, only to have them matched by their current squad. 

Before this week, Clippers forward Blake Griffin had been the only 2009 rook to sign an extension, a five year pact worth approximately $95 million. Since then, six of these twenty-somethings have signed within the past few days, four just before the midnight buzzer Wednesday night. 

Resuscitating a feature from THE GREAT MAMBINO's blog predecessor NYisMecca, we're going to examine these deals and ask "these young fellows worth the money: Fact or Fiction?"

James Harden: $80 million over 5 years and Blake Griffin: $95 million over 5 years 
2012 stat lines: (Harden) 16.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.7 apg .491/.390/.846 shooting and (Griffin) 20.7 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 3.2 apg .549/.125/.521 shooting

Fact.  Griffin was an open and shut case for an extension here, even with a documented history of knee injuries. By the time this extension even begins, he'll most be one of the most decorated Clippers in franchise history (two presumed All-Star teams, one 2nd Team All-NBA nod and perhaps another one on the way). This isn't to speak to Griffin's still burgeoning potential--he's got enough room to grow to fit both of Boris Diaw's boobs--but rather to the dubious distinction which is being a good player on the worst franchise in American sports history. Owner Donald Sterling couldn't let Blake go no matter what the price was for keeping him. 

Harden has had his detractors the past few days after the trade to Houston, but after his ridiculous 37 point, 12 assist night (even against the lowly Pistons), I can't imagine there's very many people yelling "fiction" at his max deal. The Beard is questionably one of the top-20 players in the NBA right now, and could end up being one of it's 15 best in April. Fact, fact, fact over the validity of this contract.