Archive for July, 2012

I haven’t been posting much lately because the 2012 London Olympics have began. I’m engrossed in them, so haven’t been posting much and probably won’t for the next two weeks. With that being said, this is the medal count so far (from nbcolympics.com , a great site):

Nation Medalists Gold Medal Silver Medal Bronze Medal Total
See names 6 4 2 12
See names 3 5 3 11
See names 2 3 2 7
See names 2 1 2 5
See names 0 2 3 5
See names 2 1 1 4
See names 1 0 3 4
See names 2 0 1 3
See names 1 1 1 3
See names 1 1 1 3
See names 1 1 1 3
See names 2 0 0 2
See names 1 1 0 2
See names 0 1 1 2
See names 1 0 0 1
See names 1 0 0 1
See names 0 1 0 1
See names 0 1 0 1
See names 0 1 0 1
See names 0 1 0 1
See names 0 1 0 1
See names 0 0 1 1
See names 0 0 1 1
See names 0 0 1 1
See names 0 0 1 1
See names 0 0 1 1
See names 0 0 1 1
See names 0 0 1 1
See names 0 0 1 1
See names 0 0 1 1
Totals 26 26 30 82

At the top there are some familiar names; China, and the US. After that, though, there are a few surprises in Italy, South Korea and Japan. There is a reason for that. The three have earned a combined 8 medals (out of 17) from archery or fencing. Those two sports are two of the ones that start and end relatively early in the Olympics. So expect those countries to slide. Countries like Russia, Australia, and the hosts are going to pass them. Here are my top 10 predicted finishers (in terms of a weighted medal system. Gold is worth 3, silver 2, bronze 1. my own mini invention.)

1. USA- score, 194
2. China- score, 180
3. Russia- score, 125
4. Great Britain- score, 100
5. Australia- score, 96
6. Germany- score, 90
7. Japan- score, 68
8. France- score, 63
9. Italy- score, 55
10. Brazil- score, 44

 

So don’t look too much into what’s happened so far. By the way, I wouldn’t be surprised if China gets the most overall medals.

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Today, Cole Hamels was signed to the second largest contract for a pitcher in MLB History. The only pitcher who got more is CC Sabathia. Hamels, at 28, is one of the 10 best pitchers in the Major Leagues, so he is extremely valuable. But was he worth 144 million? Is anyone? This deal has a major effect on a lot of teams and players, not just the Phillies. A few teams and names come to mind quickly (Texas Rangers, NL East, Zach Grienke). More on that later. But first I want to examine Hamels and if he was worth this contract.

Phillies Mindset: This was easy for the Phillies, and to them it was worth breaking their rule of not signing SP’s for more than 5 years. They did what they had to do, and that was lock up their homegrown ace, their youngest of their three aces by five years, and the only one still in his twenties (Hamels is 28, Cliff Lee is 33, Roy Halladay is 35). This tells up that while the Phillies probably aren’t serious about competing this year, they do believe that they will be able to compete next year. At the end of this deal, Hamels will be 35. He should be able to ace the rotation effectively at least until the last year or two of this contract. The 24 AAV (Annual Average Value) is a ton. So is the six years. But the fans love him, and he is homegrown. So this is a solid deal for them, even though they could have traded him for some prospects and then resigned him (albeit for more money).

Hamels Mindset: There is no doubt in my mind that Cole Hamels would have gotten 7 yrs/160 million if he had gone to free agency. So it’s obvious that he wants to stay in Philly. He was never going to accept the original 5 yr/ 120 M original offer this close to free agency. But they got it done.

Edge: Hamels is obviously a winner in this deal. He gets 144 million guaranteed dollars and gets to stay in Philly. But is this a win-win deal? It depends on who you are asking. The Phillies have about 140 million invested in 8 players (assuming none of Pence, Lee or Rollins gets traded). Thats a lot of money. Their overall payroll may raise to around 200 million. That means they would be over the luxury tax. So unless the Phils trade one of the three I mentioned (Lee, Rollins, Pence), they won’t have a lot of money to spare. The question is, is Hamels worth that? My answer is yes, but it’s a really tough question.

How this deal impacts other players and team:

NL East: This is obvious. The NL East was hoping one of it’s 4-5 elite starters would depart for another division, or, even better, the AL. Instead, he stays. Interestingly, two of the four NL East teams have hit Hamels very well, in the Mets and Marlins.

Texas Rangers: This is bad for the Rangers as well. They were considered the frontrunners for Hamels, and now miss out on him.

Zach Greinke and other elite FA SP: Much like the Matt Cain deal, this deal will be an example for pitchers like Greinke. Now they won’t accept much less, and this will become the new norm for elite pitchers.
Overall Grades (in terms of $’s, years, and interests):
For Hamels: B+
For Phillies: B-

The MLB (and sort of NHL) trade floodgates opened today, as four big trades went down.

NHL: Rangers trade Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon, 2013 1st round pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets for star Rick Nash.

Reactions: At first glance, it looks like the Rangers- who are in win now mode- got a steal. None of the 3 players they gave were that important to them, and they got a consistent 30 goal scorer. However, the Blue Jackets were in a very bad situation. As they held onto Nash (who requested a trade), his value went down. They did get two solid established forwards in Dubinsky and Anisimov, and a prospect in Erixon. The first round pick is nice, but will be near the end of the first round. All three players are young.

Rangers Grade: A++
Blue Jackets Grade: C+

MLB:

Atlanta Braves trade Randall Delgado to the Chicago Cubs for Ryan Dempster (for the deal to be completed, Dempster needs to waive his no trade clause).

Reactions:
This looks like a pretty good trade for both teams. The Braves are in great position to win one of the wild card spots, but they have lost Brandon Beachy and Aroldis Vizcaino to Tommy John. The acquisition of Dempster will lead to the demotion of Jair Jurrjens or Mike Minor. The rotation is likely to look like this: Tommy Hanson, Tim Hudson, Dempster, Ben Sheets, Minor. That is decent. The Cubs also have to love the deal for their side. They are rebuilding, and Dempster’s contract runs out after this season. They did well to get a top 50 prospect while they could.

UPDATE: Dempster has a 50/50 chance of waiving his NTC.

Braves Grade: A-
Cubs Grade: B+

Miami Marlins trade Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez to the Tigers for Jacob Turner, Rob Brantly, Brian Flynn

Reactions: The Tigers just solidified their lineup and rotation big time. Second base was by far their biggest hole in their lineup, while the addition of Sanchez gives them another solid starter. In return, they gave three good prospects. Turner is their top prospect (and top 20 in baseball), Brantly is their top catching prospect (and their #5 overall prospect), and Flynn is a solid depth piece. This could be the white flag for the Marlins. They had high hopes coming into this season after making several major signings, but they have been bad. Now they are trading their solid players for prospects.

Tigers Grade: A
Marlins Grade: C

New York Yankees trade DJ Mitchel and Danny Farquhar to the Seattle Mariners for Ichiro Suzuki

Reactions: Noooo. Not another high profile star going to the Yankees for nothing. To be fair, Ichiro is not what he used to be. He has had a horrible season with a sub .600 OPS. However, the Yankees really traded NOTHING for him.. Mitchel has appeared in 4 games for the Yankees, with an ERA near 4. He hasn’t pitched 100 innings above AA. Farquhar was recently picked up off waivers by the Yankees. So a WW player and Mitchel for Ichiro. The Mariners didn’t really have a choice. Ichiro is a FA after this season, and reportedly asked to be traded, not for his sake but for the team’s sake (Ichiro realizes  that they are in rebuilding mode). Still, Seattle should’ve gotten a little more.

Yankees Grade: A
Mariners Grade: D-

More possible deals:
The D-Backs apparently are in love with Rangers third base prospect Mike Olt. An interesting trade offer would be a deal around Olt and Justin Upton. The already stacked Rangers would get even better.

The Cubs and Dodgers are discussing a Matt Garza for Zach Lee swap. Lee is the Dodgers’ top prospect, but has a 5.85 ERA this year in A and AA.

With the MLB trade deadline on July 31, I decided to guess where some of the top available talent would go..

Pitchers:

Cole Hamels  will not be traded.. At this point, that statement isn’t that bold, as the Phillies are rumored to have offered Hamels 6 years at 130 million. Teams are backing off because they think the Phils will resign the ace.

Zach Grienke will either be resigned by the Brewers or traded to the Braves.. Greinke was offered 100M by the Brewers, but if they can’t get it done, I expect him to be traded. The top two teams in the hunt would likely be the Braves and the Orioles, and the Braves would be willing to give up 3-4 good prospects if they knew they would be able to sign him.

Matt Garza will be traded to the Tigers.. The Tigers still fully expect to win the AL Central, even after starting off poorly. After Justin Verlander, their starting pitching is horrible. The price will be steep (4 prospects, including 2-3 top ones), but it is worth it, as the Tigers would be World Series contenders with Garza.

Ryan Dempster will be traded not to the Dodgers, but to the Nationals.. The Dodgers apparently have a 50-50 chance of trading for Dempster, but I believe that the Nats will sneak in and trade for him. One reason is that they have better prospects. A second is that if they are really serious about shutting down Stephen Strasburg, adding someone like Dempster would be essential for them to make the playoffs and be a major factor.

James Shields will almost definitely stay on the Rays.. but if they decide to trade him, and Garza goes somewhere else, I expect the Tigers to be the lead bidder. The Rays want a young catcher and pitching help in any trade. The Tigers can give catcher James McCann, and pitcher Jacob Turner. They could also add some other arms. I actually believe that the Tigers could get both pitchers, if they are willing to trade a combination of McCann, Turner, Nick Castellanos, Drew Smyly, and more.

Wandy Rodriguez will be traded to the Orioles.. The Orioles won’t have to trade too much for Wandy, and need the solid SP. The Astros want to get younger. This trade works.

Edinson Volquez will stay on the Padres… At first, I thought Volquez would be traded, but now it seems like the Padres want to keep him along with Carlos Quentin.

IF Wandy isn’t traded, Jason Vargas or Joe Blanton will be traded to the O’s.

Rafael Betancourt and OR Huston Street will be traded to the Mets.

Hitters:

Hunter Pence will not be traded… He is under team control through next year, and if the Phillies think they can compete next year, they will want to hold onto Pence.

Shane Victorino will be traded to the Pirates.. Unlike Pence, Victorino is not part of the Phillies future. The Pirates need immediate help. A Shane Victorino for Starling Marte trade would be good. The Pirates could add Victorino to their poor offense, and the Phillies would add Marte who could be their left fielder for a long time.

Chase Headley will also be traded to the Pirates or Orioles

Justin Upton will either stay with the D-Backs or get traded to the Blue Jays.. It’s hard to imagine a team wanting to trade JUp (a RF with a ton of potential, under team control for a long time), but it seems like the D-Backs want to do just that. They could get top catching prospect Travis D’Arnaud, along with Anthony Gose.

Marco Scutaro will be traded to the Rangers, where he will be a UTIL player. Or he will be traded to the Tigers, where he could be the starting 2B or 3B.

 

I’m continuing the olympic basketball theme today by counting down the top 10 international players whose country DIDN’T qualify for the Olympics.

1. Dirk
2. Nash
3. Horf
10. Kaman
8. Bargnani
5. Gallo
4. Hibbert
7. Pekovic
6. Gortat
9. Dragic

#10. Center Chris Kaman: Born in USA. Represents Germany internationally. Career stats: 12 points per game, 8 rebounds per game, 1.5 blocks per game. 2011-12 stats: 14 points per game, 8 rebounds per game, 1.5 blocks per game

Chris Kaman is a quality center who recently signed with the Dallas Mavericks. He would rank as a fringe top 10 center in the NBA.

#9. Point Guard Goran Dragic: Born in Slovenia. Represents Slovenia. Career stats: 8 points per game, 3 assists per game, 1 steal per game. 2011-12 stats: 12 points per game, 5 assists per game, 1.5 steals per game.

Goran Dragic is a young point guard who recently signed with the Phoenix Suns. He would rank as a fringe top 15 point guard in the NBA.

#8. Power forward/Center Andrea Bargnani: Born in Italy. Represents Italy. Career stats: 15.5 points per game, 5 rebounds per game, 1 block per game. 2011-12 stats: 19.5 points per game, 5.5 rebounds per game.

Andrea Bargnani is the rare big man who is a good outside shooter. However, he has his flaws. He is a poor defender and rebounder.

#7. Center Nikola Pekovic: Born in Montenegro. Represents Montenegro. Career Stats: 9 points per game, 5 rebounds per game. 2011-12 stats: 14 points per game, 7.5 rebounds per game.

Nikola Pekovic is a young talented center for the Minnesota Timberwolves. In his second season (last year), he broke out. Per 36 minutes, he averaged a double double. I see him putting up double double’s for years to come.

#6. Center Marcin Gortat: Born in Poland. Represents Poland. Career Stats: 8 points per game, 6.5 rebounds per game, 1 block per game. 2011-12 stats: 15.5 points per game, 10 rebounds per game, 1.5 blocks per game.

Marcin Gortat is turning into the best pick and roll center in the NBA, and a top 7 overall center. He averaged a double double and added 1.5 blocks per game. I see him averaging 16/11/2 for the next decade.

#5. Small Forward Danilo Gallinari: Born+Represents Italy. Career Stats: 14 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2 assists per game. 2011-12 stats: 15 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal per game.

Gallo is another flashy young international player. He is a good shooter and decent defender. Solid building block.

#4. Center Roy Hibbert: Born in USA. Represents Jamaica. Career Stats: 11 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks per game. 2011-12 stats: 13 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks per game.

Now we are getting to the elite players. Roy Hibbert got a max contract from Indiana. He could be considered the fifth best center (with Howard, Bynum, Horford, Marc Gasol) in the NBA.

#3. Power Forward/Center Al Horford: Born+Represents Dominican Republic. Career Stats: 13 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1 block per game. 2010-11 stats (2011-12 was injured): 15 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1 block per game.

Al Horford is one of the most underrated players in the NBA. He is a top 4 center, and would rank up there among power forwards as well.

#2. Point guard Steve Nash: Born in South Africa. Represents Canada. Career Stats: 15 points, 9 assists, 3 rebounds per game. 2011-12 stats: 12.5 points, 11 assists, 3 rebounds per game.

Even as he ages, Steve Nash continues to be one of the best point guard’s in the NBA. Along with Rajon Rondo, he is also a top 2 passer. Now on the Lakers, he will have a chance to set up one of the best players of his generation, Kobe Bryant.

#1. Power Forward Dirk Nowitzki: Born+Represents Germany: Career Stats: 23 points, 8 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block per game. 2011-12 stats: 21.5 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists per game.

Another player past his prime, Dirk is still churning out elite scoring numbers, and two years ago he led the Mavericks to the NBA championship.

Breakdown: Only 3 of the 10 players are on the later side or past their prime (Kaman, Nash, Nowitzki). The others are either just beginning their primes or haven’t entered their primes.

There are 7 PF’s/C’s versus 2 PG’s versus only 1 swingman.

 

I’m going to continue to focus on Olympic Basketball by ranking all the 2012 Olympic Teams.

All Bold players play in the NBA

The Teams: (top 4 from each advance to medal round)

Pool A:
Argentina
France
Lithuania
Nigeria
Tunisia
USA
Pool B:
Australia
Brazil
Great Britain
China
Russia
Spain

#12: Tunisia

Projected Lineup:
PG: Marouan Kechrid
SG: Marouan Laghnej
SF: Amine Rzig
PF: Radhouane Silmane
C: Salah Mejri

Exactly. I don’t know one player on this roster. They were the second to last team to qualify (Nigeria was the last) and for good reason. Rzig, Silmane and Mejri are decent, but not nearly enough.

#11: Nigeria
Projected Lineup:
PG: Tony Skinn
SG: Chamberlain Oguchi
SF: AL-FAROUQ AMINU
PF: Alade Aminu
C: Ike Diogu

Even the Aminu brothers won’t be able to stop a 5th place finish in group A. While this is a talented team, the 10 above them are more talented. However, they could win 1 or 2 games

#10: Great Britain

Projected Lineup:
PG: Nate Reinking
SG: Kyle Johnson
SF: LUOL DENG
PF: JOSH FREELAND
C: Pops Mensah-Bonsu

This team could have been really good if not for two major absentees. Ben Gordon and Byron Mullens, both NBA players. A lineup with 4 NBA players would have been much more lethal than this roster. I still think that they can make a little noise, but they have a tough draw in group B.

#9: Lithuania

Projected Lineup:
PG: Mantas Kalnietis
SG: Martynas Pocius
SF: Jonas Mačiulis
PF: LINAS KLEIZA
C: JONAS VALANCIUNAS

While they have a good frontcourt, (SF, PF, C  could be for 35-40 points, 20 rebounds), their backcourt is shaky. They will have some good games, and should advance to the medal rounds over the two African teams.

#8: China

Projected Lineup:
PG: Liu Wei
SG: Sun Yue
SF: Zhu Fangyu
PF: YI JIANLIAN
C: Wang Zhizhi

This team won’t be great, but they will be competitive. They have the first NBA player from China (Zhizhi) and another guy who has been productive in the NBA Jianlian. They have 3 other solid starters, but it won’t be enough to get better than a 5th place finish in Pool B.

#7: Russia

Projected Lineup:
PG: Anton Ponkrashov
SG: Alexey Shved
SF: Andrei Kirilenko
PF: Viktor Khryapa
C: TIMOFEY MOZGOV

3 of the 5 players on this team have played in the NBA, including Kirilenko who was close to a star. However, now Kirilenko is passed his prime so Russia won’t be able to do better than 4th in Pool B.

#6: Australia

Projected Lineup:
PG: PATRICK MILLS
SG: Joe Ingles
SF: David Barlow
PF: Matthew Nielson
C: David Andersen

Just because Australia doesn’t have a lot of big name players doesn’t mean that they won’t preform well in the Olympics. They have a solid, deep roster and should finish over .500 in group play and advance to the medal rounds. However, I think they will finish 3rd in group B, which will give them a likely matchup against France or Argentina. I think they won’t be able to get past either team.

#5: Argentina

Projected Lineup:
PG: PABLO PRIGIONI
SG: MANU GINOBLI
SF: CARLOS DELFINO
PF: LUIS SCOLA
C: Juan Pedro-Gutierrez

Argentina has 4 starters who currently play in the NBA, and another player (Andres Nocioni) who has had a long NBA Career. They should be able to get through to the medal rounds where they would play Brazil in a very evenly matched game. But I see Brazil winning that game, and eventually competing for the bronze.

#4. Brazil

Projected Lineup:
PG: Marcelinho Huertas
SG: LEANDRO BARBOSA
SF: Marcus Vinicius
PF: ANDERSON VAREJAO
C: NENE

Brazil has a team that maybe has less talent than Argentina, but they will beat them when they go head to head. Here is why: They have a lot move depth down low, with three NBA starters in Varejao, Nene and Tiago Splitter. Argentina has Luis Scola, but that is about it. However, Brazil is clearly a notch below France, Spain and the US.

#3. France

Projected Lineup:
PG: TONY PARKER
SG: NICOLAS BATUM
SF: Mickaël Gelabale
PF: BORIS DIAW
C: RONNY TURIAF

France will likely be in a fight with Spain for a spot in the Gold medal match against the US. This is a team with a lot of talent. Led by a top 10 PG in Parker and a very talented swingman in Batum, they will be hard to beat. They also are solid down low with Diaw, Turiaf and Kevin Seraphin. AND this is without center Joakim Noah.

#2. Spain

Projected Lineup:
PG: JOSE CALDERON
SG: Juan Carlos Navarro
SF: Rudy Fernandez
PF: PAU GASOL
C: MARC GASOL

Spain has great depth all around. All 5 players in the starting lineup could be in the NBA if they wanted to, and all already have. With two stars in the Gasol brothers and a 10 assist guy in Calderon, they are set. Add in Navarro and Fernandez, both good shooters. Oh, and off the bench they have Serge Ibaka, who could average a double double with 3 blocks.

#1. USA

Projected lineup (all obviously in NBA):
PG: Chris Paul
SG: Kobe Bryant
SF: Kevin Durant
PF: LeBron James
C: Tyson Chandler

Duh. We are just ranking lineups here, and obviously nobody matches this one. The question is whether they have enough chemistry.

2008 team vs. 2012 team

Posted: 07/15/2012 by levcohen in Basketball

We already have decided that the Dream Team is better than this year’s team. But how does the Beijing Olympic Gold Medal team fit in?

2008 Roster:

PG: Deron Williams (24), Chris Paul (23), Jason Kidd (35)
SG: Kobe Bryant (29), Michael Redd (28), Dwyane Wade (26)
SF: Carmelo Anthony (24), Tayshaun Prince (28), LeBron James (23)
PF: Chris Bosh (24), Carlos Boozer (26)
C: Dwight Howard (22)

Average Age: 26.83
8 players in prime (between 24-29)
1 player over the hill
3 players not yet at their prime (probably three most talented players on the team. Paul, LeBron, Dwight)

Current Roster:

PG: Chris Paul (27), Deron Williams (28), Russell Westbrook (23)
SG: James Harden (22), Andre Iguodala (28), Kobe Bryant (33)
SF: Carmelo Anthony (28), Kevin Durant (23), LeBron James (27)
PF:  Kevin Love (23), Anthony Davis (19)
C: Tyson Chandler (29)

Average age: 25.58
6 players in prime
1 player over the hill
5 players not yet at their primes.
Age Edge: 2008
PG Edge: 2012- 2 of the same players now in their prime. Kidd was effective, but so is Westy.
SG Edge: 2008- Kobe+D-Wade+Redd in their prime= dominant. Now, Kobe is older+ less effective. Iggy+Harden are decent.
SF Edge: 2012- Easy pick. Melo+LeBron in their prime now. Durant is sooo much better than Prince ever was.
PF Edge: 2008- Tough one. I think Boozer four years ago was a lot better than Davis now, but Love probably edges Bosh.
C Edge: 2008- Another easy call. Dwight Howard dominates Tyson Chandler

Top 10 players ranked:
1. LeBron James 2012
2. Kobe Bryant 2008
3. Chris Paul 2012
4. Dwyane Wade 2008
5. Kevin Durant 2012
6. Kobe Bryant 2012
7. LeBron James 2008
8. Carmelo Anthony 2012
9. Dwight Howard 2008
10. Carmelo Anthony 2008

Top 10 edge: 2012

Overall Edge: 2008

This was a really close call. It was really hard to go against LeBron, Paul and Melo in their primes, and Durant close to it. But I believe that the 2008 squad had a better all around squad. They have more pure scorers, like Redd, Wade and Howard, which is great at the international level. They also are more physical down low, even with Anthony Davis there instead of Blake Griffin.

Ultimate Team combining those two (no player can be on twice):

PG- Chris Paul 2012, Deron Williams 2012, Jason Kidd 2008
SG- Kobe Bryant 2008, Dwyane Wade 2008, Andre Iguodala 2012
SF- LeBron James 2012, Carmelo Anthony 2012, Kevin Durant 2012
PF- Chris Bosh 2008, Kevin Love 2012
C- Dwight Howard 2008

Now there is a team that could beat the dream team.

ULTIMATE TEAM INCLUDING ALL 3 TEAMS (’92, ’08, ’12):

PG- John Stockton 1992, Chris Paul 2012
SG- Michael Jordan 1992, Kobe Bryant 2008, Dwyane Wade 2008
SF- LeBron James 2012, Kevin Durant 2012, Scottie Pippen 1992
PF- Charles Barkley 1992, Karl Malone 1992
C- Patrick Ewing 1992, David Robinson 1992

Now THAT is an unbeatable team.