Thursday, October 29, 2009

The nation, say hello to Cliff Lee

In the sports media and viewing capital of world say hello to 2007 AL Cy Young winner and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee.

Cliff Lee put on a World Series pitching performance to remember, and of places, at the new hitter friendly Yankees Stadium. He pitched a complete game striking out 10 batters and gave up 6 hits and a run taking the Phillies 6-1 game 1 win. The run was unearned at the bottom of the 9th. He stifled the heart of the Yankees lineup of Mark Teixeira, ARod, and Jorge Posada as they combined for 0-12 performance with 8 strikeouts. His complete game helped from potentially stretching and tiring out the team's bullpen unlike the Yankees who brought in 5 relievers in game 1.

After flirting with Roy Halladay trade Phillies pulled the trigger trading for the 2007 AL Cy Young winner which is the best move they made before the trade deadline. He became essential part of the rotation going 7-4 in his 12 starts with ERA of 3.39 and one of key core players of the team playoff run. In four starts in the playoffs he is 3-0 with 30 strikeouts with .54 ERA while giving up 4 runs, 2 unearned. If the series extends and likely will expect him to lead the charge on the mound as Phillies try to repeat as World Series champion.

Cedric Benson blasts the Bears and backs it up

Chicago Bears got burned on Sunday from a running back name Cedric Benson. After drafting him fourth overall in 2005 they released him after three disappointing seasons and run-ins with the law. He signed with the Bengals middle of last season and put up respectable running yards. This season he turned it around with multiple hundred yard rushing games and leading the league in rushing yardage. Last week, what thought be sour grapes, the Benson blasted his former team claiming they tried to blackball him before joining the Bengals last year. His public airing motivated him to stick it to the Bears on Sunday. He backed up his comments rushing for 189 yards and a touchdown as Bengals destroyed the Bears 45-10. It didn't help as Bears second year running back Matt Forte, who replaced Benson, rushed for 24 yards in 6 carries and fumbling twice on the goalline. After a thousand yard season in his rookie season Forte have struggled this year a pale comparison to Benson who is currently rushing yard leader. Look like the Bears gave up on Benson quick as the Bengals got a piece of the puzzle for the team's rushing game.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

To come out early or not to come out early

Student athletes might have a tougher choice on whether to enter the sports draft early or stay in school. Yesterday Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford hurt his throwing shoulder for second time this season. Last year Heisman Trophy winner decided to stay for another season instead going to the NFL draft despite projected as one top QBs. He is still projected as the top QB on the draft board. The effect of his injured shoulder will cause lower his draft stock and losing out in a guaranteed $10-$20 million contract. With Sam Bradford being injured this will cause student athletes to ponder enter the draft early.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Shane McMahon resigns from WWE

Shane McMahon resigns from his family company, WWE, effectively on Jan 1, 2010. This shocking news came out of nowhere and I'm still speechless about it. From his entertaining and crazy matches to his role in WWE I will miss him. Let's see how the future goes for WWE.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Crabtree finally signs; Braylon jets to New York

Michael Crabtree ends holdout finally agreeing to six-year, $32 million deal. It's the best move for him he could accept. With the deadline coming a week away he either sign or risk re-entering the draft and get laughed at the end when he gets drafted second/third round or worse undrafted. That's loss of millions right there. Good thing he choose to sign. Good job for 49ers for sticking to their guns. How about Crabtree just dump his agent and find a new one?

Cleveland Browns shipped wide receiver Braylon Edwards to the Jets for Chansi Stuckey, Jason Trusnik, and two 2010 draft picks. For Jets it was too much to give to become the team no. 2 wide receiver despite his veteran presence. Do they even have a draft pick for 2010? For the Browns they blown this team up again and rebuild as they couldn't build off from 2007 success. It's rough return to the NFL for the team with one trip to the playoffs (and it wasn't 2007 season) in a decade. This leaves Mike Furrey as team no. 1 wide receiver with a possibility rookie Mohamed Massaquoi taking over the spot in the season. Chansi Stuckey could become team go-to receiver not now, but in a few years. Browns are likely to waste the picks in the draft. The trade of Edwards left Brodney Pool the only player 2005 team draft class remaining and is the longest tenure player from any of the team's draft. This trade looks even for both teams. While Braylon Edwards gets a fresh new start with the Jets can he catch balls without dropping it?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tough to be Detroit sports team

It's tough to be a major sports team in Detroit. The economic meltdown resulted in job losses and high unemployment thus making citizens tighten up the wallets and keep a close eye on spending. Already dealing with empty seats, loss of revenue from sales to sponsorships, now the city four major sport teams have been hit hard with heartbreak or just simply bad on the playing field.

Before last week win Lions lost 19 straight straight regular season games going back to late 2007. Pistons went 39-43 and exited out of the first round playoffs their shortest playoff run since 2000. Red Wings made it to the Stanley Cups finals only to squander 3-2 series lead and lose in seven games to Pittsburgh Penguins. Tigers is the latest team from Detroit to hit rock bottom.

A month ago (dating September 6) they had 7 game lead over the Minnesota Twins. From there they went 11-15 starting with a five game losing streak. Twice they had three game losing streaks. The longest winning streak was four which was done once. Twins went 18-8 withing winning streaks of six, five, and four. By last week (dating September 30) Tigers still have three game lead over the Twins including splitting the series going into last weekend of regular season. Tigers lost the first two to the Chicago White Sox before winning the much needed final game of the series. They were outscored in the series putting up total of 6 runs to White Sox 16 runs. Twins swept Kansas City Royal in convincing fashion outscoring them 28-15. The Twins three-game sweep and Tigers going 1-2 in their series put both teams tied on top of AL Central standings forcing one game playoff. Tigers started off with 3-0 lead thanks the Magglio Ordonez RBI single and Miguel Cabrera two-run homerun. Twins battled back to lead 4-3 with Orlando Cabrera two-run homerun in the seventh. Tigers tied it in the eigth from Ordonez homerun. Both teams traded runs in the tenth. It was in the twelfth inning where the baseball Gods favored the Twins. Tigers had a bases load with Brandon Inge on the plate. A pitch grazed Inge jersey but the didn't get the call from the umpire. He grounded into a force out at home plate. Tigers didn't score a run in the inning. At the bottom of the twelfth it took Alexi Casilla single to send Carlos Gomez home from second as Twins win the game and trip to the postseason while sending Tigers out of the postseason. Tigers came so close only to collapse and lose out at the end.

It's another tough heartbreaker for Detroit sport teams.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Why the Astros underachieved since 2006 - Part 1

This year's Houston Astros finished the season at 74-88. Ever since their World Series appearance in 2005 they have gone 315-332 without a playoff appearance and changed managers three times. They have fallen on hard times as key veteran players while still producing become older, questionable pitching rotation outside of Roy Oswalt (who been hampered with injury bug), iffy middle relief, and plenty of poor decisions in the front office. So what went wrong? This will be multi-part post on why the Astros underachieve because its long to discuss.

Here is my reasons why they underachieved.

- They made moves but most of them has set them back and/or depleted their prospects from the minor league system. Instead keeping younger potential prospects to rebuild the team up they went for broke shipping them out going for "names" to contend for a playoff spot. Here are impacting trades they made from 2006-current that got them where they are.

Trade: Mitch Talbot and Ben Zobrist
To: Tampa Bay Rays
Get: Aubrey Huff and cash
Winner: Tampa Bay Rays

Astros jumped the gun weeks before the trading deadline getting Aubrey Huff in hope for second half dash to the NL Central crown or a wild card spot. Huff played 68 games, batting .250 with 13 HRs and 38 RBIs in his only season with the Astros. Ben Zobrist, in the other hand, spent his time around Rays minor league system, worked his way from utility/bench player to everyday starter with a breakout season this year with a trip to All-Star game. Oh yeah, Rays made the playoffs last year.

Trade: Willy Taveras, Jason Hirsh, and Taylor Buchholz
To: Colorado Rockies
For: Jason Jennings and Miguel Asencio
Winner: Colorado Rockies

How did Rockies won out this trade? All three players have played two seasons with the club whether its full time or part time. As for Jennings? He spent half of the season on the DL not without going 2-9 in 18 starts with a whopping 6.45 ERA. He was gone after 2007 season. Asencio never made it back to the majors at all.

On possible what if the Astros could have kept Hirsh and Buchholz and have them be part of the rotation for a year or two. Instead they shipped potential prospects at the time to somewhere else.

Trade: Dan Wheeler
To: Tampa Bay Rays
For: Ty Wigginton
Winner: Tampa Bay Rays

In a run for the postseason they shipped a struggling Dan Wheeler for Ty Wigginton to replace a declining Morgan Ensberg who was designated for assignment. Instead it was other way around. While Wigginton did bring a bat he lasted a year and half with the team. After continue to struggle with his new team Wheeler turned it around the following season lowering his era from 5.30 to 3.12 along with notching 13 saves. He was one of key relievers for the Rays' playoff and World Series run. Rays won out this trade.

Trade: Brad Lidge and Eric Bruntlett
To: Philadelphia Phillies
For: Michael Bourne, Geoff Geary, and Michael Costanzo
Winner: Philadelphia Phillies

At the time this trade went Astros way. Brad Lidge wore out his welcome in Houston when he was blowing saves and removed from closer role. Astros' fans were happy see him gone. In return they got major league ready player as in Michael Bourne. Bourne became the team's leadoff hitter with good base stealing and a potential superstar. Geary end up having a decent season as a reliever in his first year with the team before falling off this year and end up at Triple-A Round Rock. Costanzo was used as trade bait (which soon to be mentioned). For Lidge something strange happened in his first year with the Phillies. Instead blowing saves like he was in Houston, he converting saves perfectly. In fact he was 48 out of 48 throughout the season including the playoffs. He was one of key players to the Phillies playoff run. How did he end 2008? He closed the season with a save giving the Phillies a World Series title. Phillies became the big winners of this trade. It didn't help Rays have Dan Wheeler and Ben Zobrist in their playoff run as well. Mark four players Astros traded that end up playing in the World Series that year. Lidge returned back to earth this season while utility player Eric Bruntlett made history with a spectacular unassisted triple play to end a game. Not only his name end up in the history and trivia books his jersey gone to Cooperstown. Double ouch! There's a chance this trade could even out in the future, but thanks to Lidge 2008 season Phillies won this trade big time.

Trade: Luke Scott, Matt Albers, Troy Patton, Dennis Sarfate, and Mike Costanzo
To: Baltimore Orioles
For: Miguel Tejada
Winner: Astros

Astros got a much needed 3B in this trade it costed them big time. They got Tejada and remaining of his six-year, $72 million contract signed in 2004. Orioles received a decent, but seldom used Luke Scott along with at the time Astros two top pitching prospects Matt Albers and Troy Patton, Dennis Sarfate, and minor leaguer Costanzo whom they got from Phillies trade. Tejada put his two solid seasons with the Astros leading the league in doubles this year despite leading the league in grouding into double plays. He was named on the All-Star team in both years. For the Orioles so far Scott been a bright spot hitting 20 HRs, 60 RBIs for second straight season but done it in 113 games this year. Albers been a dissapointment in middle reliever role. Patton has battle back from Tommy John surgery in 2008 putting up good numbers in AA but had up and down starts in AAA. Sarfate put average to nightmarish numbers in two seasons while Costanzo still in the minors. Astros won this trade for now but there two potential Orioles' x-factors out of this trade. Luke Scott, if he were to play entire this season would likely hit 30 HRs, 80-90 RBIs. Let's see how next season goes if he remains in Baltimore. The other x-factor is Troy Patton. If he remains with the Orioles organization, work out on his pitching and put up respectable numbers in AAA he could get a good look in a call up next season. He is still highly touted pitcher at this time. More on Tejada in later posts.

Trade: Chris Burke, Chad Qualls, and Juan Gutierrez
To: Arizona Diamondbacks
For: Jose Valverde
Winner: Astros, just barely

In need to replace Brad Lidge they went for Jose Valverde without costing few more players especially two much needed pitchers. While Valverde notched 44 saves in his first season, Chad Qualls was decent in his reliever role and end up being the team's closer by end of the season. He continued on as closer this season til a freak injury sent on the DL. This where Juan Gutierrez comes in. With Qualls out, he stepped in the closer role and did fairly well going 8-for-8 in save opportunities just giving up one earned run. Astros has the slight edge on this trade but the key player in this trade is Gutierrez. He's been ranked in top 10 Astros prospect for three straight years (8, 5, 4). There's a chance Diamondbacks win out of the trade if Gutierrez becomes the team everyday closer from now to a few years. Astros should have kept and build him as the team's future closer, but instead went for a "name" player.

Trade: Matt Cusick
To: New York Yankees
For: LaTroy Hawkins
Winner: Houston Astros

They won this one because Cusick has yet made it to the majors while Hawkins been a good reliever and closer when Jose Valverde was on the DL. There's a possibility Hawkins is next year's team closer.

When you look through the trades Astros made most of it looked good paper but at the end it became a disaster in the results column. The trades for Aubrey Huff, Ty Wigginton, and Jason Jennings didn't net the team a playoff berth. Only Wigginton been with the team the longest at one and half season. Then there who knew department. Ben Zobrist put up fair numbers in the minors at the time and wasn't anywhere as a prospect. Dan Wheeler just didn't put up the numbers in Houston while he did better elsewhere. Was Lidge suppose to be lights out in his first season? When players done a decent job going elsewhere it left you scratching your head. There was shipping the prospects off when they needed it. For years Astros had very questionable middle relief core. They could have used one of the minor league prospect starters and put in middle relief slowly building it up before getting a shot in the rotation later in the year or the next. Instead they ship them away for "name" players like it was trade one, get one or two free free offer. Imagine if Patton was in the rotation or Gutierrez was in the bullpen for the Astros with Buccholz, Hirsh, and Albers being servicable for few years. There was a time Astros had the one of top pitching prospects in the minor league system. Now they barely have a pitching prospect to be plug in the starting rotation next year. With Ed Wade as GM and Drayton McLane as owner it will not get better. Part 2 coming up soon.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

You CAN'T politic and show off your way for the Olympics

Rio de Janeiro became big winners and heroes as they got the bid to host 2016 Summer Olympics. Chicago quickly gone from potential to zero as they were eliminated in the first round of voting despite having Oprah Winfrey and the Obamas (complete use of Air Force One at the expense of U.S. tax dollars). This is another proof despite having "star power" you can't get everything handed to you from championships (hello 2004 L.A. Lakers) to hosting events. You have to work hard and the drive and determination to deserve it. Let's get ready for The Carnival in 2016.

Friday, October 2, 2009

101 Years Later and They Still Suck

With Colorado Rockies taking the final playoff spot the Chicago Cubs are eliminated (since last week) and will NOT win World Series for 101th year since their last. The beer-league team was plague with unfortunate injury to a key player, massively overpaying average outfielders and closer who manage to have ERA of 4.72 and disruptive fans. In tribute to Chicago Cubs let me introduce this:

Please Cubs fans switch you allegiance to another team with winning values like the White Sox, Cardinals, Phillies, and even the Yankees.