Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hanley for Reyes?

            The Marlins are in last place. They are sixteen and a half games behind the Phillies. Josh Johnson might be done for the season. But they aren't in the financial turmoil the Dodgers are in. They have more talent than the Astros. They have a young core that includes Logan Morrison, Gaby Sanchez, Mike Stanton, the previously mentioned Johnson, and the once considered best shortstop in the game Hanley Ramirez. The New York Mets find themselves in a peculiar position. They have outperformed anyone's most generous predictions for them this season thus far. Met fans would storm Citifield in protest if the team entered a fire sale right now. But the reality is that they cannot pay Jose Reyes the money he's going to be looking for, reportedly a contract larger than Carl Crawford's. What to do?

             Ramirez's unpopularity has been documented. He's worn out his welcome and this year's performance simply does not justify putting up with his antics anymore. Most general managers feel he may even be untradeable figuring his attitude, lack of performance, and his increasing weight. But a change in scenery is definitely needed. His remaining contract presents a nice discount compared to what Jose Reyes will command in free agency. The Mets should look into swapping Reyes for Hanley now. It's a gamble. But if Hanley refocuses, changes his act, loses this weight, and gets back to being the power/stolen base threat he was in seasons past, then the Mets will have actually gotten fair value for Jose Reyes while paying less.

              At the same time, such a deal should provide a boost to the Marlins. Infuse a young talented core with more energy, and positive attitude. Reyes would provide the team with the table setter they undoubtably need. He would get into the heads of opposing pitchers who would need to deal with him while pitching to Stanton, Sanchez, and Morrison. Such a trade would make them dangerous. Yes there's the threat of injury. Yes there's the question if the Marlins can afford Reyes. But if they can get out from the shadow of Hanley Ramirez, then it is a risk that may be well worth it.

Daniel Mazler
Twitter - DMazzle

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Why The Lockout?

            The NBA hasn't learned much since the infamous lockout of 1999. Just off what might be the best season since 1998, the league has forgotten how bad the game had gotten for much of the decade. The league forgot the hit in popularity it took. There were a few factors; Michael Jordan and a host of other 80's and 90's greats stepped away from the game, an uprising  of talented players who lacked character (hello Antoine Walker, Rashard Lewis), the league became desperate and extended the first round playoff from three games to four so that they could manufacture the Laker dynasty, and a portrayal of greed across the league. Now that the league has come so far, what exactly is endangering its progression?

             One look at the highest paid players of 2010 and I already get a sense of what's wrong with the NBA. The general managers. How exactly is it possible that Rashard Lewis ranks #2 on the list at over $20 million this season? How is it that a nice, complimentary type player, is making elite player money? Michael Redd was paid $18 million dollars this season to do what exactly? Look back at the contracts of Jerome James and Eddie Curry. Is it player greed? Who is anyone to stop a man from going out and getting the most they can for their services. It's the American dream. The problem here is that there are too many high ranking officials who do not know how to build a roster and spend wisely. Why is it that the San Antonio Spurs ranked outside of the top 5 in salary, yet consistently year after year they are able to draft well and piece together very strong rosters. Are they the only team capable of smart decisions? Maybe Billy Beane's next job should be in the NBA. I'd love to see an NBA version of money ball.

             Of course that isn't the only problem with this league. Unfortunately the league does need for contraction to happen. The luxury tax is not helping weaker teams. Though David Stern says that the league is set up to assist small market teams, they really should not be watering down the league and taking losses. David Stern should also stop dreaming about an NBA franchise abroad. He has done a great job in the last 25 years growing the league. But his magic has faded and his ambition is almost bad for the league.  Contract structures should be reworked. Last season the maximum contract for an unproven rookie was $13.6 million. But the minimum for a ten year vet was $1.4 million. No wonder there are so many bad contracts across the league. The last CBA was built on the premise of a strong economy. This time around both sides need to work out a recession proof CBA that will endure. But the NBA needs to take a hard look at its owners and gm's. They are at the heart of the problem.

Daniel Mazler
Twitter - @DMazzle

Monday, June 27, 2011

Old Time Magic

             Old Timer's Day has become something all too routine in recent years. The Yankees pretty much had the same roster to usher out each year, a few cheers, and on to the game. The excitement was pretty much gone. The new generation just couldn't connect with these players who came way before their time. Let's not forget that these players aren't always the stars, these aren't the Mickey Mantles, these are the guys who sometimes batted eight or ninth in the order. And in recent generations, who cares about Homer Bush? Fans aren't paying in some cases upwards of $200 a ticket to see a pinch runner.

             This year was different. This year we finally had a cast that the most recent generation can relate with. Not a sprinkle, not one or two players. But this was a healthy dose. Doc, Strawberry, Cone, Lloyd, Nelson, Wells, Girardi, Fielder, Tino, and finally the Older Timer debuts of Mr. Torre and Bernie. That's eleven people of substantial importance on a first name basis with the fans. Yogi of course gets the loudest ovation each year. He's Yogi. But while listening to the cheers for Torre and Bernie, a flood of memories came rushing back. This is an era that I didn't have to learn about from the back of a baseball card, Yankeeography, or even Google. This was for my generation, our golden age of Yankee baseball.

               Seeing Tino take Cone deep to drive in Bernie was magical. Traveling back in time became possible for just a few moments. It didn't count for anything. But in the minds and memories of many, it added to the luster. It gave younger fans something special to look forward to in the years to come. It gave Old Timer's Day meaning again. Mariano Rivera joked that he had wanted Michael Kay to announce him as well. He'll have his moment. Along with Jorge Posada, along with Andy Pettitte, and of course along with Derek Jeter. Maybe one day we'll have a chance to see the bulk of that 1996 team. That will be a truly magical day.

Daniel Mazler
Twitter - @DMazzle

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thoughts on the NBA Draft

The Cavs missed an opportunity here. Kyrie Irving was too easy of a pick. In a league that is now run by point guards, they did not need to take one at #1. They had a chance to nab Derrick Williams with the first pick and then grab a Brandon Knight or Kemba Walker with the fourth pick. Williams is young, explosive,  possibly has a longer future, and is far more valuable. He can either be used to draw a nice package of players to a rebuilding Cavaliers team or slide in at the 3 and become the focus of the Cavs offense. By bringing in Knight or Walker, you can bring them along slowly without the pressures of being the number one picks.

The Mavericks and Trailblazers did themselves well. Dallas acquired a swingman who can shoot in Rudy Fernandez. They got a much needed scoring option. So long Peja. Meanwhile Portland got younger and faster. Good for them. They are young and they needed a younger, quicker, more determined point guard. Raymond Felton should fit in nicely with LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicholas Batum, and hopefully a healthier Brandon Roy. Roy can no longer complain he has a point guard who's too slow.

The Bucks got a much needed scorer in the Stephen Jackson trade. Michael Redd is on the decline. The John Salmons experiment is over. Hopefully Jackson can keep his emotions in check and contribute to a team that isn't too far from being ok.

Can the Knicks please release an official statement on Spike Lee's position with the organization? Strangely he was the one interviewed after New York selected Imam Shumpert with the 17th pick. As many Knick fans voiced their displeasure, there weren't any known Knicks officials releasing any statements. A slightly bewildered Lee basically preached faith and patience in the selection. Perhaps it's time to give him his shot in the front office and see if he can do better. I'll bet he can.

Daniel Mazler
Twitter - @DMazzle

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mets botch another one

        Johan Santana is out until maybe August. At least that's what they're saying now. Check back in August. Who knows when David Wright will be back. As of last week he was behind schedule. What exactly was the schedule? And today Sandy Alderson informed us that Ike Davis will be out at least another three weeks. Wait, what? Three more weeks without Ike? Can someone tell us exactly what happened to him?

        Originally we were told that Ike's collision with David Wright resulted in a rolled ankle. It was then downgraded to a bone bruise. That was back in May. It was supposed to be a brief stint on the DL. Today Alderson informs us that there is in fact cartilage damage. Three more weeks. If there isn't any improvement, season ending surgery is likely. How exactly did this happen? Why is there always so much confusion regarding the Mets and their injuries. How did it take over a month to realize there was torn cartilage in Ike's ankle.

         This isn't the first time the Mets have botched an injury. The way they report the facts is worse. The updates never seem to be accurate. There always seem to be setbacks. And the players who suit up in a Mets uniform always seem to be snake bitten with these injuries. You can understand the fans frustration with the Mets because a status update only brings doom and gloom to these fans. People ask when their luck will change. When the years of bad luck and bad medicine will change for the better. The change wont come until there is a true change at the top. Not the manager. Not the general manager. Ownership. This era needs to change. It's time to close the door and open a window somewhere.

Daniel Mazler
Twitter- @DMazzle

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Can Kobe channel the Phoenix?

         One has to wonder if Kobe Bryant was sitting somewhere watching the NBA Finals. Somewhere secluded, somewhere in the dark, somewhere fuming.  Indy said, "It ain't the years, it's the miles", both of which are starting to pile on for the superstar. Yet with Scoring titles, championships, a bum knuckle, a bum knee, and looking more like the mortal 32 year old that he is rather than an in his prime 28 year old, Bryant may still be the hungriest player in the league. And one has to wonder if he's sitting there, taking in a Dallas win, a new coach with a questionable resume, and facing his own NBA mortality, if Kobe Bryant is planning a comeback. A take no prison, hostile takeover of the NBA crown he once wore. If he is, he's going to need help.

          Phil Jackson is retired. Mike Brown is in. Umm, not the first thing you want to hear when trying to get back to the finals. That doesn't mean all is lost. This is an all hands on deck moment. Assess the needs on offense. Assess the needs on defense. Assess the current talent. Phil Jackson has long been a fan of the potent 6th man. The Lakers only have the 6th man of the year in Lamar Odom. But the truth is, Odom might be the most dangerous player on the Laker's roster. Nothing is more beautiful than watching Odom's long arms snare a rebound on one end and push the ball on the break, slowly seeing the lanes part as he takes the ball coast the coast and use those same long arms to lay the ball in before the defense has had the chance to react to this 6'10" swooping concord. The Lakers need more of this. The Lakers need this man in their starting lineup. And the Lakers need this man hungry.

          I've always wanted to see the greats practice. I would have loved to see Michael and Scottie go at each other, pushing each other, teaching each other. To see Magic gather Coop, and Scott, and Kareem, and the rest of the troops and get everyone on the same page. To see Bird running the steps of the Garden while McHale practiced one of his seemingly million low post moves. Lakers fans have to hope that sometime soon Kobe and Lamar will be hitting a gym somewhere, creating their own practice legend. Kobe wasn't able to practice that much this past season. His knee didn't allow him to. From written reports, the Laker training staff believes they can get him healthy enough. Allen Iverson may not have believed in (practice?), but the greats will tell you, that's where a team earns its edge. The Lakers lost theirs. It will be more than a two man show. The Lakers need to alter their defensive personality. They need to infuse athleticism. The triangle is gone. A system which protects aging stars and puts them in their optimal comfort zones to score is no more. Pau Gasol needs to regain his confidence. Andrew Bynum still has a ton of growing to do. The Lakers have a lot of work in front of them. But don't count this team out. They have pieces. They have Gasol. They have Odom. And they have a fuming, ready to be reborn Kobe.

Daniel Mazler
Twitter - @DMazzle

Friday, June 17, 2011

Yanks in position to take advantage of Angels, Mets financial woes.

           The Yankees have some glaring holes. They lack a number two ace (Sorry A.J, you're paid like one but you don't pitch like one). Joba is gone till sometime next year and Rafael Soriano is in hiding after collecting his paycheck. Outside of Mariano Rivera and David Robertson, their relievers cannot be trusted. Their offense has failed to produce consistently as well. Curtis Granderson cannot be your most dangerous hitter. But if Brian Cashman looks around and spends his money wisely, there can be some potentially strong acquisitions.

            We've recently learned that Angels ownership has put a stop to anymore spending this season. Word is the team is cash strapped. Gary Mathews Jr, Torre Hunter, and Vernon Wells have basically produced nothing. The Yankees should inquire about Jered Weaver. There are not too many pitchers of his calibre available. He's arbitration available next season and a free agent in 2013. There has to be internal discussions taking place considering whether the pitcher, who's 8-4 with a low 2's era, will simply cost too much to resign. The Angels, who have one of the worst farm systems in MLB, could take a package from the Yankees, who boast one of the best. Most teams are interested in prospect Jesus Montero, and I have a feeling that much like one time prospect Austin Jackson, Montero will never see big league time with the Yankees. Sprinkle in a few young arms and a deal can be struck. While the teams are talking, perhaps the Yankees should inquire about former right fielder Bobby Abreu. He has a tidy $9 million dollar option for next season. The Yankees at this point will most certainly not bring back under performing Nick Swisher, who's option for next season will cost the team much more. Abreu still hits for a decent average, can drive in a few runs, still has the speed to nab a few bases, and still boasts one of the best eyes at the plate in baseball.

          Cashman should also give the Mets a call. They have several contracts they will be looking to unload and the Yankees should consider Francisco Rodriguez. The Rafael Soriano deal has so far blown up in the Yankees faces and they find themselves very thin in the bullpen. K-Rod can add some much needed depth and experience, rebuilding what would be a very formidable bullpen. The Mets will most likely eat a good portion of this year's remaining salary and his $17 million dollar option for next season doesn't seem too large considering Jorge Posada's expiring contract. Considering the Yankees current rotation after C.C Sabathia - Burnett, Garcia, Colon (who's currently on the DL), and Ivan Nova, you can clearly see the need for some serious bullpen help. Besides, it's a cheaper investment than the deal Heath Bell will be looking for.

        The Yankees have some opportunities to make themselves better. It may require spending some cash, but sense when has that ever been an issue? What remains to be seen is how long Brian Cashman will try to fill holes from within and at what point does he give in to the need for Major League ready players right now.

Daniel Mazler
Twitter- @DMazzle