With the offseason having started weeks ago, baseball fans have been treated to rumors and speculation as to what their teams are going after. Some rumors have legitimacy, like Josh Johnson’s return to the NL after a disastrous AL tenure, (he signed with the San Diego Padres), some have almost no credibility, like the supposed Dominic Brown for Jose Bautista swap. (It was debunked by Philadelphia)
And then there are the completely dunderheaded rumors.
Baseball fans from the Mets and Brewers were given this today when Matthew Cerrone, the head of Metsblog, an otherwise reputable site, reported that the Brewers were more intent on moving disgraced outfielder Ryan Braun than Norichika Aoki, and would consider sending him to the Mets for much maligned first baseman Ike Davis.
As much as a colossal dick Ryan Braun made himself out to be for appealing his suspension then launching a smear campaign against a urine collector, Brewers management could not possibly be that stupid.
Sure, we don’t know if Braun is going to be the same guy he was pre-suspension or if he’ll just be another Melky Cabrera, but the logic just doesn’t make sense here.
1. Braun is as recognizable a public figure in Milwaukee as Aaron Rodgers is for Green Bay, to trade him, regardless of his indiscretions would be akin to telling pretty much every Brewers fan who hasn’t turned on him (not exactly sure how many people that would be) that they will punt on 2014. Braun is in every way, shape and form, steroids or no steroids, a better athlete than Davis, a better hitter, a more rounded individual talent, and one who actually has hardware to showcase.
2. The Brewers would not be stupid enough just to ask for Davis. Braun, while his value is diminished, would probably command at least one top level prospect, a pitcher perhaps, maybe Rafael Montero or Gabriel Ynoa, not to mention a mid level prospect like Gavin Cecchini.
3. Cerrone also pointed out in later posts that the Brewers would possibly “eat some of Braun’s salary” in the deal, and that the Mets had “at least internal discussions”. about Braun. Ok, if that’s true, WHERE IN GOD’S NAME ARE YOUR SOURCES?????????????? If that’s not enough where was your original source that said the Brewers were more interested in moving Braun? A baseball rumor is not like a schoolyard rumor. There must be a source, and not a “he said, she said” source. You also can’t make up things on the spot, this isn’t like MLB 2k13 where you can make a trade out of nowhere,
While this type of rumor can be retracted easily if the market was manageable, the media market that this rumor is intended for unfortunately pounced on the rumor and blew it into a story. USA Today and ESPN both reported Cerrone’s story as a legitimate rumor. Bleacher Report posted a response article to the rumor as well.
In the case of rumors, especially those based in large media markets, the only credible one that Mets fans have heard involved Robinson Cano. Cano and his representatives, namely Jay-Z, met with Mets management. Now does this indicate anything? Theories range that the Mets may have interest but will not give Cano the money to Cano’s camp gauging interest so that he can get the deal he wants. The logic in this is that it’s too early. Not every big ticket free agent is going to sign early, look at Michael Bourn, who had to wait until a few weeks before Spring Training last year. Cano may or may not get the money he wants, but if there is one rumor that should be treated, it should be one that comes out of the general manager’s mouth. Sandy Alderson confirmed that Cano’s camp met with the Mets brass. Cano’s camp confirmed. News outlets wrote about it, boom, story official.
So be careful where you get your rumors this offseason, some may have legitimacy, some may not, and some may be ridiculous.
It’s the halfway point of the NFL regular season, which means that teams are getting ready either for the playoffs or for the 2014 NFL draft. For those teams looking forward to the draft, there are players that they need to evaluate, talent from schools that when tapped, will certainly either provide the needed resources to win, or will come back to bite teams. That being said, let’s look at this year’s talent, where it came from, and whether or not it should be picked.
Please note that certain players will not be used as they have not indicated whether or not they will go pro.
Top Prospects: Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville, Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M, Zach Mettenberger, LSU, Tajh Boyd, Clemson, Stephen Morris, Miami, Derek Carr, Fresno State, Aaron Murray, Georgia, AJ McCarron, Alabama
Players to avoid: Mettenberger, Boyd, McCarron.
Why? Though these quarterbacks are having great seasons, history has not been on the side of quarterbacks from these schools. In the past ten seasons, LSU has had none of their quarterbacks achieve NFL success. Matt Mauck was a career backup who is now gone, Jamarcus Russell is arguably one of the biggest busts in NFL history, and Jordan Jefferson and Ryan Perriloux both never entered the league thanks to various run ins with the law. Mettenberger has the skill set to be a quarterback, but the system that he is in will not translate to the NFL. At best, he could be a backup to a decent team, but if one has to rely on an LSU star to pilot their team, you know that the worst is coming.
Clemson may be a juggernaut, but they are more for playmakers of the non-quarterback variety. Guys like CJ Spiller, DaQuan Bowers, Dwayne Allen, Andre Ellington, have all established themselves as playmakers for the Tigers and in the NFL too. You look at the recent quarterback history in Clemson, nothing stands out. Before Tajh Boyd was Kyle Parker. Parker turned down the NFL in favor of a baseball career. Before that. the last notable Clemson quarterback was Charlie Whitehurst. Whitehurst is still playing, but he is a backup on the San Diego Chargers. Tajh may be able to break the Clemson stigma, but teams should approach him with caution.
Alabama quarterbacks are known more as game managers, getting by because of the team around them. AJ McCarron had the benefit of playing with playmakers, plus the Alabama defense helped the team win the two national championships. McCarron’s predecessors, in turn, Greg McElroy and John Parker Wilson were also game managers. McElroy had the benefit of playing with a Heisman winner, while Wilson came on during the reestablishment of the Tide as a dominant program. While the Tide have had their share of legendary quarterbacks, Bart Starr, Joe Namath, and Ken Stabler, to say that an Alabama quarterback is the reason why the team is good is a major overstatement. An Alabama quarterback needs to have a good team around him in order to survive the NFL, or else they are just as good as an average quarterback.
Let’s take into consideration other schools that have had great college quarterbacks who couldn’t cut it in the NFL.
USC: Matt Barkley cemented his place in the ever expanding list of USC quarterbacks who failed to ascend beyond college stardom, joining Mark Sanchez, John David Booty, Matt Leinart, Carson Palmer, Rob Johnson, Todd Marinovich, and Rodney Peete. The problem with these guys is that like Alabama, there is enough talent around them to artificially enhance the USC quarterback’s stats to make them look appealing. Matt Leinart wouldn’t have won his Heisman without Reggie Bush or Mike Williams, Carson Palmer. It also doesn’t help that at USC, there is a certain pampered ego aspect. Avoid any USC quarterbacks at any cost.
Notre Dame: Maybe it’s the hype of the program, but Notre Dame has not had a legitimate NFL quarterback since Steve Buerlein. Again, I’ll repeat that, Steve Buerlein. Like USC, Notre Dame is a heralded program whose commitments make them appear to be a strong contender every year. It is with that that each quarterback is expected to be good, and because of that, the Notre Dame quarterbacks are often put under a lot of pressure. Guys like Brady Quinn, Jimmy Clausen, and Everett Golson were not only under intense pressure to succeed on the field, but also to abide by the moral code established by the university itself. Because of that, these quarterbacks often crumble under intense pressure. That being said, it looks like Gunner Kiel may find himself touted as the next big thing one year, but if and when he does falter, it’s another Notre Dame quarterback bust.
Oregon: Joey Harrington, Kellen Clemens, Dennis Dixon, Jeremiah Masoli, and Darren Thomas all came through Oregon’s system, and while they carved out decent college careers, their NFL careers have been far from excellent. Masoli and Thomas have an excuse, Chip Kelly’s offense has shown to be faulty when used in the NFL, plus with teams adapting to the mobile quarterback model, it’s obvious that there’s almost no chance for those two to succeed. Clemens, Dixon, and Harrington were all pegged as conventional signal callers, and yet they still could not hack it as legitimate options. Clemens has at least a chance to bring some respectability back to the Oregon quarterback, as he currently is starting for the St. Louis Rams while Sam Bradford is on IR. My personal belief as to why the Oregon quarterback is unsuccessful in the NFL is the fact that like USC, they are spoiled. Phil Knight, the CEO of Nike makes sure that Oregon has the bells and whistles in their uniforms to give the Ducks a competitive advantage, and while it’s nice to some, it doesn’t help a quarterback succeed in the NFL.
Using these three schools, we can determine that a lot of good quarterbacks who go to good football schools are not given the adequate tools and knowledge to succeed in the NFL. Whether it’s the innovative offenses, like in Oregon, or the talented recruiting classes that take the effort out of the hands of the signal caller, it seems as if the best course of action is to avoid quarterbacks from great football schools altogether.
What then is the best option? Quite simply, go for a quarterback from a decent school, but not a perennial national championship contender or an under-the-microscope school. These quarterbacks had to make due with the weapons they had, and in all likelihood, it was they who made their weapons look good, not the other way around. A quarterback that comes to mind is Andrew Luck. Luck not only has an NFL pedigree, but also an ability to manage games and yet still come out as a leader. That ability has helped him lead the Colts to a 5-2 record and the lead in the AFC south. Luck did not have the types of weapons at Stanford that schools like Texas, Alabama, and others had, and that was fine. He defied expectations and brought the Cardinal back to the John Elway glory days. Hopefully he will bring Indianapolis to a Super Bowl one day and be mentioned in the same vein as Peyton Manning.
So there you go. The best way to find a quarterback is to look for one who is good, and who makes his weapons look good, not the other way around. Hopefully Jacksonville and Cleveland and any other team looking for their next franchise quarterback will take that advice.
Seventeen months ago, Michael Wacha was pitching for Texas A&M in the NCAA baseball tournament when the St. Louis Cardinals took him with the 18th overall pick in the 2012 MLB draft. Wacha, who was one of the top collegiate pitchers in the nation not named Mark Appel, signed, and began what can be regarded as a quick ascension to the Major Leagues. By the end of the 2012 season, Wacha was already pitching for the Springfield Cardinals of the AA Texas league. Exactly one year later, Wacha is a key member of the St. Louis Cardinals pitching staff that is facing off against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS.
Wacha made his presence known in his postseason debut, when he pitched seven innings, allowing only one run and one hit. then opened the NLCS in grand fashion, holding off a Dodgers team that was expected to buy the title at the beginning of the year.
Wacha’s postseason performance so far has been stellar, and may draw comparisons to other young pitchers who, in their rookie season, pitched extremely well. Among those pitchers: Giants starter Madison Bumgarner, Rays ace David Price, former Angels pitchers John Lackey and Francisco Rodriguez, the list goes on.
While we can’t pass judgement on Wacha quite yet, as there are still games to be played, it is safe to assume that after the postseason, whether or not the Cardinals win the World Series, Wacha’s performance will be one of the most talked about rookie postseason performances.
Part of the reason why Wacha is so good is that he had the benefit of playing Major League Ready talent. Spending two years in the Big 12 conference, with such powerhouses as Texas and Oklahoma, as well as a year in the SEC, with teams like South Carolina and Florida will definitely prepare one for the major leagues better than in a smaller conference.
We will have to wait and see on Wacha, but be on the lookout for another excellent performance by him in his next start.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have been nothing short of a dumpster fire. At 0-5, with two of the worst quarterbacks in the league, a running game that looked best when the first iPhone came out, and absolutely no defense, the chances of the Jaguars getting the top pick in the 2014 draft are as high as Skip Bayless’ man crush on Tim Tebow. That being said, one of the biggest problems with the team is that they have no quarterback. Sure, they have a quarterback per sé, but really, Blaine Gabbert has about as much business being an NFL quarterback as I do, and Chad Henne is inadequate as a fill-in. That being said, the Jaguars should seriously reconsider who is behind center. With no one else to turn to, the team should opt for a quarterback who has experience running a spread offense in college, who has played in a big time bowl game (and won), and who, as a hometown favorite, would bring fans to Everbank Field. That player is Denard Robinson.
Robinson is by no means a conventional passing quarterback, something that would play to his favor. Regarded as more of an athlete out of high school, he played on the Wolverine teams led by Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke, While at Michigan, Robinson developed chemistry with wide receivers like Roy Roundtree and Junior Hemingway, and with the ample backfield of Fitz Touissant and Vincent Smith behind him, he was able to lead a high level offense.
Robinson may not have Roundtree, Hemingway, Touissant or Smith at his disposal in Jacksonville, but what he does have is a potentially dangerous wide receiver duo in Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon. Shorts has proven to be invaluable to the anemic Jaguar offense, while Blackmon, fresh off a 4 game suspension, showed his form by ripping off a long touchdown against the Rams last week.
Robinson is a runner as well, and in today’s NFL, a running quarterback is starting to become a viable option, as seen in Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick, Geno Smith, and Terrelle Pryor. If he is unable to go after his offensive weapons, he can just as easily tuck the ball and gain sizeable chunks of yardage.
Robinson is also a local kid, as he came out of high school in Florida. Given the Jaguars’ popularity is next to nil these days, putting a Florida kid in may just entice a few more brave souls to make the trip to Jacksonville.
It’s a thought, but perhaps if the Jaguars do not want to look completely pathetic, maybe they should opt for Robinson instead of waiting the slow and agonizing wait for Teddy Bridgewater or Johnny Manziel.
For the past few months, I’ve been dealing with something more annoying than seeing our current president smirking on my television, more annoying than the Royal Baby drama that happened over the summer, more annoying than the straggling trolls who still believe that my favorite football team, the New York Jets, are still a circus.
That annoying thing is this continuous debate, or rather, force feeding by the liberal media, that the Washington Redskins name is inappropriate and needs to be changed.
Every morning, as part of my daily routine, I turn on my smartphone, go to Uni Watch, and read about sports uniforms. No, seriously, that’s what I read, in addition to the sports pages and the personal journal in the Wall Street Journal. After skimming through the headline story, something that I’ll either take a second look at later, and the Ticker, which highlights bits and bobs from the uni-verse, I often find myself reading the latest “Skins watch”, a crusade by site webmaster Paul Lukas to highlight people’s negative reactions to the Washington Redskins name. Very often, he points out the latest journalists who have decided to protest the Washington Redskins name, and barely covers those who say that the name is fine as it is. On average, in the Daily Skins watch, if there are ten items related to the controversy, nine out of ten of those items are anti-Skins.
Journalistic integrity mandates that there should be no bias in reporting, and while Uni Watch isn’t exactly ESPN, Lukas is still a freelancer for the sports media behemoth. In some of his more recent ESPN columns, mainly the most recent Uni Watch Power Rankings, he voiced his displeasure with not only the Redskins, but also similarly named teams, like the Atlanta Braves and the Cleveland Indians, by having them finish low in the rankings. Naturally, this angered plenty of fans, who correctly assumed that Lukas was venting his political correctness through a sports ranking, two things which really should not mix.
As a sports fan, I agree that politics and sports do not mix. Sure, you can have a president throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Nationals Park on Opening day, that’s fine, but to impose your ideology on people who couldn’t care less about whether or not the team name is offensive or not is stupid. It makes you look immature. In addition, journalists who protest the name by not using it or referring to the team as something else aren’t being noble, they’re acting like children covering their ears and saying “Nyah Nyah, I’m not listening.” Again, I point out, that’s something a five year old does on a schoolyard, not a fully grown journalist. In addition, what type of message are the journalists trying to convey? Are they saying that in order to rise above the name, they won’t use it? Yeah, that may work for characters in fiction like Beetlejuice or Lord Voldemort, but for a sports team, that’s just plain stupid.
Dan Snyder, owner of the Redskins, has said that he will never change the name as long as he owns the team, despite commissioner Roger Goodell saying that “if one person is offended, then something needs to change”. I applaud Snyder for this. While Goodell may be the commissioner of the NFL, the league that the Redskins are a part of, he has no right to force Snyder to change just because some PC liberal white people, and yes, the majority of those offended are PC liberal whites, say the name is offensive. Even if Goodell did threaten action against the Redskins, he would have to realize that they are a popular franchise, and if he offends the fans of the franchise, the NFL will take a large money hit, something they really cannot afford in light of the big concussion settlement.
One of the questions that has been asked is “What do Native Americans think about it?” In truth, most Native Americans don’t seem to care. The only tribe that seems to be really taking offense to it is the Oneida tribe in upstate New York. While the Oneidas are gaining ground in their offense against the name, their backers are…surprise surprise… members of Congress, particularly those in the Democratic party, which… surprise surprise… is already against the name. Even if Congress did support changing the name, forcing the team to change their name would be a violation of the First Amendment, which is the protection of speech. The Oneidas may feel that they are doing many people a favor by launching this campaign, but in truth, they are wasting people’s time.
Another question that needs to be asked, “If the name is so offensive, why wasn’t it changed before?” And that is a good question. If the name was so offensive, it should have been changed, and not now, but back then. But in truth, can you imagine a revisionist history in which the team name was changed? Could you see the name being changed in the NFL record book, the Super Bowl champion Washington (changed from Redskins)? Ask any fan who was there when the Redskins won a Super Bowl, if the name was changed, their likely response would be to the question, who won the Super Bowl between Washington and Buffalo would be The Redskins. No amount of white out would change what the fans would say. They were born into the Redskins culture, and even to this day would refer to them by their old name.
No matter what happens, the fans will continually support the Redskins. Forcing a name change on a team only works with an unpopular franchise, not one who has a large fanbase. Even if you appease the PC liberal whites, you realize that you are offending those who actually care. Nobody cares about the stuffed shirt journalists who may talk until they’re blue in the face. For every one that cries foul, you can bet that there are hundreds. if not thousands, who say “Go Redskins”. Teams weren’t made to appease the media, they were made to appease the fans, and even then they weren’t meant to appease all fans. If that was the case, then what point would there be in having a league, or 31 other teams for that manner? Would there even be sports if one team could appease everyone?
That being said, I think that Paul Lukas, and all the people who are offended by a name really need to take a good long hard look at themselves. Your cause may be noble in your mind, but in truth, you are being nothing more than immature spoiled children. Everyone is going to be offended by something once in a while, and not everything is going to go your way. Lukas and the Anti-skins crusade is fighting a losing battle. The Redskins will never change their name, and a small group of butthurt PC liberal white journalists isn’t going to change anything about the situation.
It took almost six years, but for the first time on September 19th, 2013, Tampa Bay Rays shortstop and former first overall pick Tim Beckham made his major league debut at the age of 23. Beckham, once a highly touted shortstop from Griffin High School in Georgia, made the most out of his major league debut, tapping a single in a pinch-hit spot for Matt Joyce. Although the Rays lost the game to the Texas Rangers, 8-2, Beckham certainly had to feel good about finally breaking through after nearly half a decade of minor league toil.
Beckham came from what can now be considered one of the better draft classes for hitters in history, being drafted ahead of the likes of Pedro Alvarez, Buster Posey, Jason Castro, and Jason Kipnis, among others. Because he was a high schooler, it was naturally assumed that Beckham would have to wait a few years before his time came. However, nobody expected him to take that long.
A combination of growing pains, drug suspensions, and a dearth of talent at the shortstop position ultimately led to Beckham’s prolonged minor league career.
Although Beckham’s development went the typical route in his early minor league career (by 2010, he had made it to the High-A level), it was his time in AAA which took the longest. Beckham played for the Durham Bulls from the latter half of 2011-2013. Although he had a reasonable start to his AAA career with a modest .256/5/13 triple crown line, his development was halted in 2012 when he was suspended in violation of MLB’s drug agreement. It was Beckham’s second suspension. Despite his growing pains and drug problem, Tampa Bay must have seen something in him, as they added him to the 40 man roster in preparation for the following season. In addition, Beckham once again put up pedestrian numbers, with a .256/6/28 crown line.
This season was Beckham’s first full season in Triple-A, and he had plenty to show. Hitting a far more respectable .276, Beckham’s power dipped slightly as he only hit four home runs, but he did add 51 RBI.
Beckham’s debut shows that he could still be an interesting player to watch, and that there may still be a decent career in him. He certainly met the first of many expectations on Friday by making his big league debut, since the common draft era, only three first overall picks have never made the big leagues, catcher Steve Chilcott in 1966, pitcher Brien Taylor in 1991, and shortstop/pitcher Matt Bush in 2004, with an additional two having just started their pro careers in Carlos Correa (2012) and Mark Appel (2013).
The expectation for next year is that Beckham will have finally outgrown Triple-A. In all likelihood, if the Rays deem him ready, Yunel Escobar will likely be moved to another team and Beckham will be given every opportunity in the spring to prove that he can cement the position.
With Tim Beckham finally making his debut, the Class of 2008 has 26 of the 30 first round picks (not including the compensatory picks) play at least one major league game. The only players who have yet to make their major league debuts are as follows:
New York Mets shortstop Reese Havens (Currently in AAA Las Vegas)
New York Mets (Originally San Diego Padres) first baseman Allan Dykstra (Currently in AA Binghamton)
Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Anthony Hewitt (Currently in AA Reading)
Chicago Cubs (Originally Minnesota Twins) pitcher Carlos Gutierrez (Highest level was AAA Rochester, currently in AA Tennessee)
There is a small chance that this could be the first first round class to have all the first round picks (not including the compensatory round) play at least one major league game. In order for that to happen, the above players mentioned need to have monster minor league seasons and hope to have their contributions recognized by their parent clubs. Havens, Dykstra, and Gutierrez all are in the 26-27 year threshold, which means that while they will not likely enjoy long careers, they still could carve out decent supporting roles. Given Gutierrez is a pitcher, his capacity could be as a reliever, and given that relievers are technically open to making their debuts at any time in their baseball careers, even in their late 30′s. he could be next. As for Hewitt, although he did come out of high school, he stands the lowest chance of making the big leagues. Many have already labeled him a bust and a reach since he came out of Salisbury. Considering he is a full 2-3 years younger than his fellow draft mates, he still falls in the fringe prospect category, meaning he still has time to make a meaningful impact.
Prospect junkies should keep a close eye on these four players next year. It will be interesting to see if the 2008 class can do what 43 classes before them couldn’t do.
With almost nothing baseball prospect related to write about until the offseason, Prospects2Pros has decided to multi-outfit the blog into a multi sport blog. Look, it’s the best way to use it, and if it helps keep me in practice especially while I have to wait through the non prospect activity that comes with October, then it’s all for the best. You don’t like it, you don’t have to read it. MLB.com doesn’t like it, MLB.com doesn’t have to sponsor it. I just feel that moving into different channels is certainly going to have a positive effect on my writing. And I have no doubt that there are plenty of multi-sport fans who peruse Reddit, MLB.com’s blog network, and so on and so forth. Heck, when I wrote for Bleacher Report, I covered both the Mets and the Jets, as well as the occasional outside sport team. My point is, there is nothing wrong about it, and if there is, it’s not illegal.
Moving on from my little rant, let’s get to the post at hand.
Last year’s NFL season saw the introduction of five very gifted quarterbacks who changed the paradigm that is what a rookie quarterback is expected to do. Andrew Luck shattered rookie records that had been just recently topped, en route to leading the Indianapolis Colts, who had finished with the worst record in the NFL, to a playoff berth. The same happened to former Baylor University star and Washington Redskins starter Robert Griffin III. He took a team that had continually been miring in coaching ineptitude and horrifically bad contracts, and lead them to a playoff berth, all while dealing with injury. Ryan Tannehill, a converted wide receiver out of Texas A&M, helped the Miami Dolphins, who haven’t had a continuous starter since Dan Marino, finish in second place in the AFC East, although granted, the AFC East is probably the weakest division in football right now. And if that’s not enough, there is considerable debate as to whether or not the Seattle Seahawks took the best quarterback in the draft in undersized Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson, who not only contributed to the re-strengthening of the NFC West as a power division, but actually took his team the farthest in the playoffs in his rookie class, that is, if you do not count Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers, who ended up playing half the season and picking up where Alex Smith had left off.
Fans and the media were spoiled rotten by this group of talented gunslingers. Ratings went through the roof when their teams were on primetime TV. All in all, they signified the complete and total annihilation of the old system of sitting a rookie quarterback in his first season, a system that had continually gained in popularity until it reached a head in 2003, when Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer was benched for his entire rookie season, followed a year later by the benching of quarterbacks Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, and Ben Roethlisberger, all of whom made late season debuts.
Fast forward now, and we’re looking at what the media calls the weakest rookie quarterback class since 1996. In this year’s class is Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel, from Florida State. Manuel, like his predecessor Christian Ponder, a 2011 draft pick, rose up draft boards with a decent senior campaign highlighted by an outstanding Senior Bowl performance, which rose his stock from a Day 2 pick to a top 16 pick. Also in this year’s class is Geno Smith. Smith graduated from the University of West Virginia and was chosen by the New York Jets in the second round of the draft. While the two names lack the notability that their predecessors have, they certainly have had their fair share of controversy. Geno came into what was dubbed by the media as a “circus” environment, supposedly left over from the 2012 season, when the Jets had such star studded names manning the quarterback position as Mark Sanchez, Greg McElroy, and even Tim Tebow, despite the fact that Tebow never started a game for the team.
The point I am trying to get across here is that Smith, Manuel, and any quarterback from the 2013 class is going to have a rough adjustment period. Sadly, what with the exploits of Luck, Wilson, and Griffin, they will not be given the leeway that they undeniably deserve. Manuel came into a losing culture, the Bills have the longest active playoff drought in the NFL. Despite spending money to improve the team last year, the Bills have no realistic shot at competing unless a miracle happens. Geno, unfortunately is playing in the media capital of the world, where results are expected now, and anything short is considered a failure in the minds of the fans, and the media. You look for instance at the 2013 preseason. Manuel had the poise to play well, but his season started out in doubt when he hurt his knee. Geno, on the other hand, was under the microscope. He had a solid, if unspectacular debut, then in week three, when actually exposed to a full game, he fell to pressure. Three picks later, as well as a safety, people were already clamoring that the season was lost, and even worse, when Mark Sanchez did come in, and got hurt, people latched on to the closest security they had, an undrafted free agent named Matt Simms, who did end up leading the Jets to victory, although 1. it was in the preseason, and 2. it was against third and fourth string football players.
Whatever happens this year to the rookie quarterbacks, you can expect a hard eye. Smith and Manuel are playing in the shadow of what could be arguably one of the best quarterback classes in years, and unless they manage to blow people out of the water, you can expect people to say that the teams that chose them should have waited or should tank and hope for a better quarterback next year. In my opinion, that is grossly unfair, and to that, I also point out that there are 17 weeks to determine what a quarterback can and can’t do.
Would you agree? Should the 2013 class not be judged against the 2012 class? Should the 2012 class be used as a measuring tool to indicate the potential of a quarterback? I leave the floor open to you.
Phew! My two month hiatus is done. Sorry that I didn’t post anything for a while, but nothing really broke, and with the trade deadline being literally dead, never mind the fact that the expected happened, although the return could have been better, I really had nothing to write.
Anyway, yesterday was a big buzz day in terms of August trades. With Matt Harvey possibly shut down until 2015, the Mets pulled a classic “Oh sh*t” and promptly traded their two best players to Pittsburgh for Futures game alumnus and Pirates infield prospect Dilson Herrera, as well as a player to be named. Herrera is a 19 year old who, while undersized, can hit for power. He has above average speed, and while his glove needs work, he certainly could factor into the team’s long term plan. Dilson, at the time of the trade, ranked as high as the Pirates number 9 prospect, and as low as number 11. It’s also been reported by Pirates GM Neal Huntington that the PTBNL is expected to have people say that the Mets got very solid pieces in the deal (Update: The PTBNL in question is pitcher Vic Black, former 2009 first round pick of the Pirates). And all it took was a 36 year old outfielder having a miracle season and a catcher who had just lost his starting job to the team’s second best prospect.
This begs the question, how does Sandy Alderson do it? Since becoming the team’s general manager in 2011, Alderson has made three major trades, including the one above, in which he shipped out players who either had one miracle season, or who were starting to get past their prime, in exchange for at least one hotshot prospect. Examples:
July 2011: Trades outfielder Carlos Beltran, who is in the midst of a comeback season after an injury plagued 2010, to the San Francisco Giants for pitcher Zack Wheeler, who rises through the Mets system as the team’s number two, then number 1 prospect, before making his major league debut with the Mets. Wheeler is currently the number 3 starter in New York, behind Jon Niese and Dillon Gee. He is expected to get some points in the already established Rookie of the Year race. Beltran on the other hand, serves as a rental player, and the Giants do not make the postseason in an attempt to repeat as World Series champions. He signs with the Cardinals, and is named an All-star for them twice.
December 2012: Trades pitcher R.A Dickey and catchers Mike Nickeas and Josh Thole to the Toronto Blue Jays for catchers Travis d’Arnaud and John Buck, pitcher Noah Syndergaard, and outfielder Wuilmer Becerra. Buck ends up serving as catcher for most of the year and actually ends up third in the All-star vote, before being traded in the above deal. d’Arnaud starts as the team’s top prospect, ahead of Wheeler, ends up in Triple-A, gets hurt, rehabs, and makes his long anticipated big league debut in mid-August. Syndergaard blazes through Single-A and Double-A, and is named the starting pitcher in the 2013 Futures game. He is regarded as the team’s new number 1 prospect. Becerra is playing modestly well in the Gulf Coast league, and may or may not factor into the team’s future.
If you think about it, Alderson, in his three seasons as the general manager of the Mets, has, on a shoestring budget, brought the team out of the Omar Minaya induced darkness, when the team had no prospects, and no real chance of competing. He dumped off bloated contracts and revitalized the farm system with not one, not two, but four top ten prospects, all for guys who on any other teams would have gotten maybe a top 40 prospect and chump change.
Let’s look at each team’s situations to get an idea of how Sandy does it.
1. Carlos Beltran had already served his purpose in New York and looked to be coming off the books if he wasn’t traded. His value was severely diminished due to the 2010 injury, and Alderson had no plans to keep him on the team regardless of whether he revitalized or failed as a man in his last year. When Beltran exceeded expectations, teams were interested. When he made the All-star team as a starter, they were literally falling over themselves for him. Alderson could have basically asked for a contending team to gauge their farm system and they would have not only offered their top two prospects, but also a top ten who had the upside to be a top 5, which, incidentally, the Giants did offer not only Wheeler, but also outfielder Gary Brown and first baseman Brandon Belt. Alderson may not have jumped on the opportunity to gauge the team’s future, but he did get a franchise arm in Wheeler, one that could compete with Harvey when they both came up, and revitalize a much-maligned rotation. Suffice to say, it worked in the Mets favor. Wheeler rose through the system, and despite some mechanical issues, not to mention playing in the baseball Siberia that is Las Vegas, he’s become a much hyped part of the team’s rebuild.
2. Again, the Dickey deal was an effort to capitalize on a solid season. After seeing that the Blue Jays had gutted half their farm system in exchange for practically everyone good on the 2012 Marlins team, save Giancarlo Stanton, Alderson was ready to deal with Toronto. Granted, he could have made a deal with any team that wanted Dickey. The Red Sox would have offered a package that surrounded either Xander Bogaerts or Jackie Bradley, but not both, thus dropping them on the list. Texas offered a package that surrounded Mike Olt, but without Jurickson Profar, the deal was dead. The Dodgers offered Zach Lee, their top pitching prospect, and Dee Gordon, a shortstop, but given the fact that the Dodgers system has been weak, no deal there. Alderson had one big priority: Capitalize on Dickey’s wonder year by getting the next Piazza. In Alex Anthopolous, he found a sucker. Not only was Anthopolous willing to give either d’Arnaud or JP Arencibia up, he also was willing to get rid of one of his 2010 high school pitching phenoms. Having already given up Henderson Alvarez AND Justin Nicolino, you’d think he’d want to hold on to Syndergaard and Sanchez, but no. Alderson insisted, and also asked for Buck so that d’Arnaud’s transition be smoother. Anthopolous was more than happy to oblige, and the team soon found itself with two top prospects and a solid veteran catcher, not to mention an outfield throw in.
So there really is no magic in Alderson’s dealings, it’s just a simple matter of market philosophy. Remember Schoolhouse Rock’s infamous video, Money Rock? That song, Walkin’ on Wall Street? Basically, Alderson is selling high on guys who are past their prime, and reaping returns of enormous value. And again, this is on a shoestring budget. With that problem going away in the offseason, Alderson will be able to make bigger investments, like signing a big free agent outfielder.
The Byrd deal likely won’t pay dividends immediately for the Mets. Herrera is a good two or three years away, and with no clear idea who the PTBNL is (Update: Vic Black), he may or may not contribute to the team’s immediate future either. However, it may turn into another win-win for the Mets, as the team is interested in bringing back Byrd next year. In this case, even if the Pirates do end up relying on the contributions of Buck and Byrd, the team will still lose the deal. Score another for Alderson.
Yesterday, after waiting for what seemed like an eternity, I finally made the trek over to Citi Field to attend All-Star Sunday. I had planned this weeks in advance with my dad, and two of my cousins.
We bought tickets out in right field, in section 106 in the 23rd row: the seats were pretty close to the field. It was agreed that my dad and I would meet our cousins at the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. Due to unforeseen complications, however, one cousin had to back out, as he had been “roped” into meeting his girlfriend’s friend from Miami. And that, my friends, is the true definition of being “whipped”. He gave his ticket to my uncle, so there wasn’t that much issue there.
We had a late start however, as the car needed gas, thanks in part to me sharing the car with my sister, who needed the car for delivering flowers. So when we finally made it to the ballpark, it was about 1:20, and because nobody had thought to get a parking pass, we had to park in the satellite lot across from the park. Incidentally, it cost $35 to park. Yes, $35. Highway robbery? Yes. Fortunately, those prices are for the All-star festivities only, and will revert back to the normal $15 by the time the festivities end, because if that was the actual price, you can bet that going to a ballgame is going to be more of a challenge than before.
We made it to the stadium by 1:30, and after finding out that my cousin (the non-whipped one,) was still waiting for the 7 train to arrive, and my uncle had mistakenly driven all the way to Coney Island thinking the game was there, and would predictably be late, we ended up trekking to our seats, but not before purchasing the official program for the game, and getting a free All-star Sunday handout.
Interestingly enough, Citi Field was selling both this program, which was the special edition one, and the regular program for the same price. Guess which one I took?
It didn’t take long to reach the seats, to which I then took some photos. I apologize in advance for the quality, these were taken on an old Iphone 4.
This was a picture of the outfielders for Team USA.
This is Noah Syndergaard, the Mets pitching prospect acquired this past offseason for R.A Dickey.
This is Padres catcher Austin Hedges
This is the All-star Game Apple.
I stopped taking pictures for a while, and enjoyed the flag ceremony as well as the RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) ceremony. After that was done, the Futures gamers were announced. Predictably, the Mets, especially Brandon Nimmo, who had been voted into the game, were cheered, and all Yankees players were booed.
The first inning was pretty quick. Noah Syndergaard set down Padres outfielder Reymond Fuentes, probably best known for being included in the Adrian Gonzalez trade two offseasons ago, then future Cub Arismendy Alcantara before giving up a single to Red Sox Super Prospect Xander Bogaerts. This was followed by an impressive strikeout of Twins prospect Miguel Sano.
The bottom half of the inning saw Mets fast riser Rafael Montero pitching for the World Team. He was untouchable, as he set down Billy Hamilton, Delino DeShields, and George Springer without batting an eyelash.
I then took another photo of Taijuan Walker and Matt Davidson in the second inning. Again, pardon the blurriness.
It’s kind of hard to see, but Walker was wearing stirrups while pitching, a nice touch.
Here’s a better look.
My cousin finally made it by that time, so that was good. He told me that the wait for the train was so long that he bought a sandwich and snacks while he was waiting.
Team USA drew first blood by the way, thanks to Christian Yelich’s base hit in the second. Yelich went 2 for 2, and likely would have been named MVP if Anthony Ranaudo had not coughed up the lead later in the game.
After that came a generally quiet third inning which was used more to showcase Arizona’s Archie Bradley more than anything else. Bradley got a hold, probably the only hold he will ever get in what will likely be a long career.
The real damage done by the World team happened in the fourth inning. With Boston’s Anthony Ranaudo on the mound, Alcantara ripped a right field home run that tied the game. Yes, this is a .gif, I’m not cheap after all. This was followed by Xander Bogaerts scoring on a single in which he beat Austin Hedges on a tag. Unfortunately, I missed the live play, as I was in the concession line getting an early dinner of two Nathan’s hot dogs with ketchup braised onions and an Aquafina water. (MLB likes to hear their sponsors names, so don’t call me a sellout.)
My uncle finally arrived in the middle of the fifth inning. Better late than never, I suppose. How he came to believe that the game was in Brooklyn is still beyond me.
Fortunately, he didn’t miss Joc Pederson reaching on a double, then Matt Davidson crushing a Michael Ynoa pitch into the left-center field seats for the go-ahead home run.
The game was fairly uneventful after that. Jesse Biddle came into the game to a chorus of boos, obviously because he’s a Phillies product, and earned the win.
Brandon Nimmo, who I had hoped would play today, finally made his way into the game, along with Byron Buxton.
As a prospect writer, I try to follow a lot of prospects on twitter, and friend the occasional ones on Facebook. Yes, I sent them links to my futures game articles, and yes, I told them that I would be there, and yes, they “liked” it. I love my hobby.
I sent a tweet to Nimmo for him to read later, saying that I was glad that he had made it into the game.
Eventually, the heat, which I neglect to mention, got too unbearable, so we beat a hasty retreat to the air conditioned confines of the Caesar’s club, where we watched the rest of the game in comfort. Garin Cecchini, top Red Sox prospect and brother to Mets prospect Gavin, scored an insurance run, and AJ Cole of the Nationals earned the save.
Did I mention that during the game, the mascots for most of the teams came out during the t-shirt launch, and seventh inning stretch? While my favorite mascots are Mr. and Mrs. Met, seeing mascots like Dinger of the Rockies, (the purple triceratops) Orbit of the Astros (the alien, and a major improvement over Junction Jack, the previous mascot) and Sluggerrrrr of the Royals (the lion) was pretty cool, especially since I had never seen them in person before. What was funny about it was seeing Dinger really get into the “Lazy Mary” number.
Because the tickets were for both events on All-star Sunday, we stayed for the Taco Bell All-star legends and celebrities softball game. Having moved from the Caesars club to a covered part of the stadium, we had a bird’s eye view of everything.
My favorite celebrities at the game were Kevin James, Brian Kilmeade, (boy were they ribbing on him during the game)
Jennie Finch (although I wanted Kate Upton to be there)
and finally, the wounded warrior, Josh Wege, who won MVP honors with James.
It was also interesting to see Frank Thomas pitch, and Mike Piazza back behind the plate, as well as Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden both playing.
All in all, it was a fun day, and certainly one heck of a way to promote the All-star game. Sure it was slightly expensive, but beyond that, the games were enjoyable, the prospects were fun to watch, and all in all, it was worth the hour and a half long drive.