Matt Carpenter the best at the top.

Matt Carpenter has entered himself into the National League MVP race over the last two months of the 2018 season after many wrote him off, including yours truly.   I went so far as to write an article about the Cardinals moving Tommy Pham into the leadoff position was what was best for the St. Louis Cardinals.  Just like Carpenter and his salsa I am ready to eat my words.  Carpenter has found himself in this situation while being primarily in the lead off role. His potential MVP status has opened my eyes to the evolution of the lead off hitter as a force in MLB lineups.

Traditionalist have a predetermined idea that a leadoff hitter should be someone with speed. A player that can turn a single into a double or even triple by being on the move. But today’s MLB doesn’t work that way anymore.  Baseball is a game of statistics as well as ever changing dynamics.  Players like Billy Hamilton and Dee Gordon can change the game with their speed, but they are the leadoff hitters of the past.   The new form of leadoff hitters are players that force a pitcher to be on their game right away or be down by one run.

Today’s leadoff hitters focus more about getting on base and provide much more power.  Look at the impact that George Springer had for the World Champion Astros during their great 2017 run in the playoffs.  Springer was able to jump on get me over fastballs to start the game and put an immediate run on the board.  Lead off hitters now rely on patience and launch angles to beat up on the opposition rather than using their speed.

Look at a list of impactful leadoff men in today’s game and see that there is a new trend in the game.  Joining George Springer are star caliber players like Charlie Blackmon, Mookie Betts, Anthony Rizzo, Corey Dickerson, and even Bryce Harper have spent time in the leadoff spot for their respective teams.  Managers are beginning to understand that their best hitters will not only be getting more at bats but they will also be in a position to see a few get me over fastballs that can be deposited in the seats.  Instead of pitchers trying to pitch around these players they are forced to pitch to them at least once rather than start a game with a runner on base.

Matt Carpenter is currently leading the National League in homeruns. While a large portion of those homeruns are solo shots he is still making an impact from the lead off position.  What is overlooked is that he has the protection of the middle of the order forcing pitchers to throw to him.  The worst thing a pitcher can do is to put a man on in front of the middle of the order.  Carpenter has to see strikes, he has to be challenged and he more you challenge him the better he has been.  This is the new idea of lead off hitters.  In a way its like a slow pitch softball approach, why not get your best player as many at bats as you possibly can?

I Talk DFS Picks: August 6 MLB

Tons of potential tonight with multiple games projected for high run totals, here are the Power 5 DFS Picks for August 6th.

Nick Tropeano, Pitcher, Los Angeles Angels ($6,200)

Tropeano is by far not the biggest pitching stud on this slate but a matchup against the awful Detroit Tigers is one you should always keep an eye on, especially when they are facing a righty.

Tigers hitters bat 30 points lower against righties to go along with 30 points lower on the road. Tropeano’s low cost will allow you to pay up for bats with so many potentially explosive games on the slate you will need to have room for stacks.  Tropeano will face a projected 5 right-handed batters and four switch hitters, on the season righties are hitting just .215 against him. At just $6,200 the flexibility he brings is worth the risk.

Jose Martinez, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals ($4,000)

With injuries becoming a an issue for the St. Louis Cardinals Jose Martinez will be called upon as they head into Miami.  Dexter Fowler and Tyler O’Neil have recently been put on the disabled list allowing Martinez to benefit from the playing time.  Luckily for DFS players defense is not taken into consideration.

Martinez is projected in the middle of a St. Louis lineup that has been steady against lefties all season. Eight players in the St Louis lineup have at least a 108 wRC+ against LHP over the last calendar year with only cleanup hitter Marcell Ozuna (118 wRC+, .158 ISO) below a .200 ISO.  That’s some proficiency against a southpaw who has allowed a .350 wOBA to RHBs since the start of last season.  Martinez can supply the runs and hits that will make him worthy of the nod as your starting first baseman.

Whit Merrifield, 2B/OF, Kansas City Royals ($4,900)

Merrifield is the definition of on hot right now, hitting .479 over his last seven games.  Matching up with the surely popular Cole Hamels will set you apart from most players.  Merrifield has been a lefty masher all season with a .377 average and five of his seven homers.  Look for Merrifield to also give you a boost on the basepaths as Hamels has shown an inability to hold runners on this season.  The Royals currently have nothing to lose so why not let your players run free on the bases.

Evan Longoria, 3B, San Francisco Giants ($3,200)

In a time where Draftkings is making you pay top dollar for even the most modest of batters, Evan Longoria is still nicely priced for a hitter that has been streaking.  Going for over 8 points in five straight games Longoria has the potential to bring lots of value at a low cost. Even with All- Star Charlie Morton on the mound sometimes you just can’t put out the flame of a hitter on fire.

Daniel Palka, OF, Chicago White Sox ($4,700)

Palka loves to hit fastballs.  Lance Lynn only throws fastballs.  This is a dangerous matchup for the veteran hurler.  Palka also loves himself some home cooking, hitting .278 at US Cellular Field nearly 70 points higher then he does on the road.  Look for Palka to try and jump on Lynn early.  I am calling a home run tonight and potentially a dominant night from the young White Sox Hitters.

 

Stackable Teams:

Seattle Mariners

Colorado Rockies

Cleveland Indians

 

 

 

I Talk Sports DFS Picks Aug. 2nd (Night Slate)

With a nine game slate upon us in DFS I wanted to pass along my plays for tonight August 2nd 2018. All prices based on Draft Kings.

Pitcher- Mike Foltynewicz, Atlanta Braves ($10,500)

Most people will be drawn to known aces Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer.  But with matchups against much better offenses I wanted to go with a much lesser known All-Star pitcher.  Mike Foltynewicz has established himself at the top of the rotation starter.  Playing in New York against a team that has been underwhelming to say the least should give Foltynewicz a better matchup to get him on track post All Star break.

In two post All Star break starts thus far Foltynewicz has struggled playing much higher level offenses of the Nationals and the Dodgers.  Mike’s last start against a much more inspired Mets team on June 12th he was able to score 21.5 DK points.  While you are paying a steep price at $10,500 I believe you will see a big upside and can save yourself over $1,000 when compared to the two previously mentioned aces.

SS/3B- Tim Beckham, Baltimore Orioles ($3,800)

Former prized draft pick Tim Beckham recently made a list of top 20 draft busts over the last ten years.  With star Manny Machado in LA Beckham will see an increased role with the Orioles and I believe increased production.  This Orioles/Rangers game looks and feels very stackable. Beckham stands out to me due to his mid-level cost and power/speed potential. Beckham’s is 3/4 in his career versus Yovanni Gallardo, while that is a small sample size I really like the exit velocity of 95.8MPH in those at bats.  Not only did he hit Yovanni, those balls were destroyed.

SS/3B- Johan Carmago, Atlanta Braves ($4,100)

Carmago has been a big part of my DFS lineups this year, especially against lefties.  The Braves showed that they are committed to Carmago at third base for the rest of the season by not making a move at the trade deadline.  The matchup tonight vs Jason Vargas intrigues me.  Carmago has shown great power against lefties slugging a ridiculous 200 points higher as a right handed batter.  Vargas has also been a dumpster fire the entire season, there is no reason to think that is going to change.  With Draftkings prices as high as they are playing a guy with major power upside and a low price is a need.

OF- Shin-Soo Choo, Texas Rangers ($4,900)

The resurrection of Shin-Soo Choo is in full force in 2018, until the last 15 games.  A matchup with Andrew Cashner is always a way to break a slump . Choo hits 60 points higher against righties as well as 15 point higher at home.  Choo will have his chances during this game projecting to bat second.  This game will be one that many pick on with the highest projected run total on the slate.  I expected Choo to be a cornerstone in my lineup.  I see a potential home run from him tonight.

1B- Justin Smoak, Toronto Blue Jays ($4,100)

First base has its obvious choices.  Paul Goldschmidt should be popular tonight, Joey Votto actually has some great career numbers versus Max Scherzer, Justin Bour versus a struggling Nick Pivetta is also intriguing.  I am looking at Justin Smoak against the pitcher formally known as King Felix.  Smoak is 6 for 10 in his career against Felix with a 95.2MPH exit velocity. He hits Felix very hard and consistently. Even though Smoak has not had the season he had in 2017 he has still been consistent with his power holding a season long ISO of .223.

Smoak’s price tag will allow you to make moves on some of the beast of the night like Mookie Betts and JD Martinez.

Stacks

Rangers

Braves

Secondary Pitchers

Mike Montgomery- Cubs

Felix Hernandez- Mariners

 

 

 

 

MLB Trade Deadline

Best

Dodgers- Manny Machado, Brian Dozier

With Corey Seager out for the season the Dodgers needed to find a replacement at shortstop.  Playing Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez are better utilized in a play anywhere and everywhere role. Adding Manny Machado gave them a player with huge upside, while his defense is suspect he right away can be placed in the middle of the Dodgers order making an impact.  With the Diamondbacks hot on their heels in the National League West it was fair to assume that the Dodgers brass didn’t want to rely on the bats on Max Muncy and rejuvenated Matt Kemp.

The Dodgers also added more depth to their middle infield adding veteran second baseman Brian Dozier.  Dozier, whose name has come up around the deadline for what seems like the last century will finally be placed on a team that is ready and willing to do what it takes to compete for a championship.

Yankees- J.A. Happ, Zach Britton, Lance Lynn, Luke Voit

The New York Yankees had a few holes to fill going into the trade deadline.  Starting pitching was the biggest need.  They filled it without giving up their top tier prospects.  While J.A. Happ doesn’t have the sexy stats you may want to see in New York he does bring a valuable asset.  He can beat the Red Sox. Since 2015, Happ, a 35-year-old lefty, has one of the lowest ERAs at 1.78 among starters vs. the Red Sox. This season alone in two starts vs. the Red Sox Happ has allowed only one run in 10 2/3 innings pitched.  The Yankees were also able to add a veteran starter Lance Lynn who can eat up innings down the stretch allowing your dominate bullpen to get rest during the dog days of August.

The under publicized move to add Luke Voit can end up being an impact for the Yankees.  With the injury to Aaron Judge the Yankees will have a small void to fill for a few weeks.  Voit allows the Yankees to place power back in their lineup.  Will he be Aaron Judge? No that’s not fair but he can supply a right handed bat to platoon at DH and 1st base for the time being.  Oh… Zach Britton also joins a bullpen with Aroldis Chapman and Delin Betances.  That’s not to shabby.

Worst

Astros- Roberto Osuna

I am not a believer in getting involved in the personal issues of professional athletes, this one is hard to ignore.  Roberto Osuna is an extremely talented reliever with huge upside now and in the future but this seems like a buy low move from an organization that has openly stated they have zero tolerance against domestic abuse.  Osuna makes them stronger on the field but has a chance to cause some issues in the locker room.  Team leader Justin Verlander has already openly made a statement against the move which right away could cause a rift between new teammates.  I understand Osuna’s talent and every person should have a second chance in life if they truly regret what they have done but this move I cannot agree with.  The Astros are a classy organization with respectable players.  If any team can handle some controversy then it would be this team, but why bring it??

Mariners- Zach Duke, Sam Tuivailala, Adam Warren

Jerry Dipoto loves to make trades.  In fact a strongly believe that during his time off he plays fantasy mode on MLB the Show just so he can make more trades.  He reminds me of the guy in your fantasy football league that will offer you a trade every week that makes no sense for you or him.  He just can’t help himself.  When evaluating his moves I focused more on the actual moves made closer to the deadline.  The pickup of Denard Span and Alex Colome were very good but a little early for our rating system. Adding three arms to the bullpen was a sound strategy for a team looking to make a run right now, but it doesn’t really get you over the hump against the beasts of the east.  Juan Nicasio’s offseason signing has turned out to be a bust as he currently sits with an ERA way to close to six but Sam Tuivailala and Adam Warren are not two guys that are battle tested enough to fill in that need.  Zach Duke has been a consistent performer in his major league career but are you really going to trust him in the middle innings of a playoff game to get a big out….nope.  These moves have make the playoffs all over them but the Mariners were likely to do that anyway.  They don’t put them any closer to the World Series.

 

Surprising-

Brewers- Mike Moustakas, Jonathon Schoop

I am trying to understand the moves that the Brewers made during the deadline and I have come up with this…they are going to try and out slug everyone.  Continually their starting pitching has been questioned.  After the injury to Brent Suter all eyes were watching for what potential starting pitcher was going to be headed to Milwaukee.  Instead they added two players that bring the boom stick with them.  Adding Schoop and Moose to a lineup that already features one of the best home run hitters in the league, Jesus Aguilar, makes their lineup up one of the most vicious the NL has seen in years. I guess who needs starting pitching when you can potentially put up 12 runs a game.

Pirates- Chris Archer, Keone Kela

No much was expected of the 2018 Pittsburgh Pirates.  An offseason of change saw veteran franchise faces Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole moved in what seemed like the beginning of a rebuild in the steel city.  Sitting 3.5 games back in the NL Wildcard race and seeing their young stars emerge into the roles they had envisioned has inspired the front office to make moves that are not only bold but uncharacteristic of the organization. Picking up Keone Kela to match up with All- Star Felipe Vasquez as already a noteworthy move.  Then out of nowhere the blockbuster deal getting long time Ace Chris Archer from the Rays caught the entire league off guard.  The Pirates have decided they are very close to being a true contender for years to come and they proved it today.

 

Final thoughts

St. Louis needed to go young in the outfield.  Welcome to the majors Tyler O’Neil.

Tampa Bay may have the craftiest front office in all of baseball.  Austin Meadows can hit.

Braves bullpen got much better.  O’Day and Brach are going to help them win the East.

Poor Nationals

 

 

The Cardinals stepped into the second half taking a glass is half full approach.  By moving on from Mike Matheny all their problems would magically dissapear.  The bullpen would pitch better, Ozuna and Fowler would start hitting, the defense would play error free.  After just six games they realized that not only was the glass half empty but it has been thrown to the ground and shattered.

Sitting five games back in the Wild Card is an illusion of potential for a team that has lost its way.  While they only sit five games back they have to jump two teams in their own division just to make case for the second spot. It is time to open their eyes and see that this is a team that has to find a new direction.  I wrote a piece earlier in the month talking about the potential of trading “ace” Carlos Martinez in hopes to have a return that can set them up for future success.  While it is unlikely that they move on from Martinez they have to see that it is time move the pieces that are not going to be a part of the future.   Players like Jedd Gyroko, Jose Martinez, Kolten Wong,  Tommy Pham and Bud Norris have to be put on the trade block.  Each one of these players have friendly contracts and assets that can intrigue true contending teams.

Players like Jedd, Jose and Kolten may not bring you high valued prospects in return, but  they can allow the team to open up spots for young talent. Players that are ready in the minors like Patrick Wisdom and Tyler O’Neil need to be called up and put into bench roles while Yairo Munoz and Harrison Bader should be given the chance to play everyday to see what they can bring to the table on a day to day basis.  The players that can bring you the most value on the market like Bud Norris and Tommy Pham should be moved in order to restock your system with top 15 potential players.

So why not move your hottest hitter Matt Carpenter or your bad contract Dexter Fowler or your “big” offseason pickup Marcell Ozuna?

Carpenter is the player you have to build around, moving him full time to first base is your best option and can bring you stability to work around for your infield.

Fowler’s contract will most surely be impossible to move.  The reality is that you have to put him on the bench and try and find a suitor in the offseason that will help you take on some of his salary (Very Unlikely).

Ozuna is injured.  He has little to no value at the moment unless you want to sell low.  Shut him down and let him go fix his shoulder injury.  If you would like to move him next season before he becomes a free agent then look into it then.  He has to much potential as a great trade piece when he is fully healthy.

It’s hard for a front office to admit that the season is a bust.  I am not admitting that it is a bust yet, but what the organization is putting on the field is not one that can make it to the playoffs let alone compete in an extremely competitive 2018 National League Central.  Let the young kids come up and see what kind of impact they bring.  Being a seller at the deadline does not admit defeat it can show a better understanding of your personal.  This team needs a change, they need fresh faces beyond Mike Shildt.  Let the young guys play and see if it can turn things around.  Use Poncdeleon, Gomber and eventually Dakota Hudson in the bullpen if their is not a spot in the rotation.  Let Bader get as many at bats as he can and see if he changes your team dynamic.  Cardinals fans may not like the idea of “selling” but they will have to understand that sometimes selling just means admitting your mistakes.   Everyone can accept that.

Time to sell. Is that a bad thing?

Trading Carlos?

When Mike Matheny was finally let go by the St. Louis Cardinals a large portion of the fanbase rejoiced.  Matheny the subject of  ridicule since his hire has left Cardinal Nation with a gleaming light of hope at the end of the longest mediocrity tunnel this era has seen.  Now that he is gone it is time for the Cardinals to look to the future, as they rebuild the culture and the team they have to figure out who they should take a long for the ride.  Bill DeWitt and John Mozeliak have to look at this roster and figure out who they want to be a part of the next ERA of Cardinals baseball.  Is Carlos Martinez a part of those plans?

Let’s look at the positives of Carlos Martinez.  At the end of the 2018 season Carlos will be 27 years old,  he will have a contract that is team friendly based on the price of quality starting pitchers.  Earning just $11.5 Million per year over the next three seasons he will not hurt your budget.  Carlos currently ranks 33rd in the league in starting pitcher salary per season behind guys like James Shields, Tyler Chatwood and our old St. Louis friends Lance Lynn and Mike Leake.

Carlos has been great for three straight season propelling himself to the top of the rotation accumulating 43 wins and averaging 30 starts per year during that span.  He proudly represented the Cardinals in two All- Star games, 2015 and 2017.  Despite some minor injuries Carlos has stayed healthy enough to keep his spot at the top of the rotation.  While other such as Michael Wacha and Adam Wainwright have broken down, Carlos seems to come back from injuries strong and capable.   Outside of a handful of pitchers in the league he would be an ace on most staffs.

Now let’s look at the negatives. Carlos has been known to be an emotional player,  during the stress of a playoff run and/or series he has been known to get a little flustered.  The veteran presence of Yadier Molina has been able to hide some of those issues.  Martinez can be wild at times his BB/9 has reached a career high so far in 2018 at 4.67.

While erratic at times Carlos will still find himself on the list of top potential targets of any team if made available.  With the firing of Matheny, Cardinals management has made it clear that they are not afraid to shake things up.  While moving Martinez may be looked at as giving up on the 2018 season, would he not bring back the most of any player on your current roster?

Imagine you are the Yankees, stacked with a loaded farm system and the Cardinals have made this great cost controlled pitcher available.  How can you not offer up some of your top prospects to get him. As a Cardinals fan can you really be that upset if you move on from Carlos, when you have seen the strength of your developing pitchers.

Cardinals get: Gleyber Torres,  Domingo German, Dermis Garcia

Yankees get: Carlos Martinez, Jedd Gyorko

While this is obviously hypothetical, I cannot see any way as an organization you cannot at least open up the negotiation.  The Cardinals have been looking for a dynamic position player to take the reigns of the team since the departure of Albert Pujols. Moving on from Carlos Martinez will have backlash,  while he is great on the field he is also a charismatic personality that people are enthralled in seeing. The Cardinals will have a better idea of where they are right out of the All- Star break heading to Chicago for 5 games that can make or break your season.  At that point they have to decide whether Martinez is the future himself or is the key to bringing in the future.

 

Who is Trae Santos?

The Frontier League Homerun Derby took place at Carshield Field in O’Fallon, Missouri this week.  Fans filled the stadium for a chance to see former Cardinals greats compete with Frontier League All-Stars in matchup of local favorites vs. unknown up and comers.  Former Cardinals Mark Whiten, Ray Lankford, Kerry Robinson and Rick Ankiel were set to put on a show for the thousands in attendance. To their surprise they were upstaged by a little known first baseman playing just across the river for the Gateway Grizzlies.  His name was Trae Santos.

Trae Santos put on a show from the first pitch launching mammoth homers over the giant right field wall at Carshield Field.  Santos ran through the Frontier League competitors smashing 22 homers in the first two rounds, setting up a matchup with former Cardinal P/OF Rick Ankiel.  Santos dispatched of Ankiel rather quickly beating his 3 homers in just a few swings.  Fans that had come to see the former Cardinals greats swing left wondering who was this power hitting machine manning first for the Grizzlies.  Who was Trae Santos?

In 2005, star pitcher and first baseman Trae Santos led the Guam Little League team all the way to the semifinals of the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. With that success, the Santos family made a momentous decision. They decided to move their family to America where Trae began to make his mark the baseball community. Drafted in the 17th round of the 2013 MLB draft by the San Diego Padres out of Troy University.  Playing 4 seasons in affiliated ball Santos had trouble standing out.  Hitting his peak during the 2015 season, Santos hit 14 homers and drove in 60 runs for the Fort Wayne Tincaps of the Midwest League. Unable to improve on those numbers the Padres released Santos after the 2016 season, leaving Trae at a crossroads in his career.

“The phones weren’t really ringing last year.  I just kept working on my swing and hitting the gym everyday. Waiting for that opportunity.” said Santos when asked about taking the 2017 season off.

Manager Phil Warren gave Trae a call with an invite to tryout for the Gateway Grizzlies.  With the departure of long time first baseman Craig Massoni their was an opening on the Gateway roster.   Looking for pop in the middle of the order Santos seemed to fit right into the needs of the team.  Beating out Kristian Brito for the starting first baseman spot, Santos jumped right into the middle of the Gateway lineup.  Santos came out the gates struggling in 2018.  Showing signs of rust from the year off of competitive baseball.  After a few weeks into the season Santo was hitting well below .200.  Phil Warren refused to give up on the young slugger.

“I sat Trae down and told him to stop putting so much pressure on himself.  These guys are out here trying to get you out.  Stop worrying so much and just do what you know you can do.” said Warren.

The brief conversation paid off huge for Santos as he was able to turn things around almost immediately.   Hitting .288 with 11HRS, 34RBI’s, earning himself a slot in the Frontier League All-Star game his comeback was complete.

Santos has had a roller coaster career so far in baseball.  Right now he is heading towards the top of the coaster in hopes that there will not be the long drop this time.  At the age of 25 getting a call back to affiliated ball will be a long shot.  But the statement he made during the Homerun Derby will live on in the history of the Frontier League.  Maybe Santos will not be the second player ever to make it to the Majors but he will go down in the Frontier League history books along with the creation of the Baseball’s Best Burger and Brett Gray’s 25 strikeout night.

Come see Trae Santos lead the Gateway Grizzlies in the second half of the season beginning July 14th vs. the River City Rascals.

All Star Snubs, Who they should replace.

All Star games are for the fans first and foremost.  Most of the time the fans make a wrong choice here and there to get a fan favorite in the game…Bryce Harper.  For the mot part the fans got the teams right.  Still there are times where even with the help of the coaches, players and fans the choice are wrong.  Let’s dive into the five biggest mistakes.

Eddie Rosario, OF, Twins.  Should replace: Michael Brantley

Eddie Rosario has struggled over the last few weeks when compared to the start of the season.  Still he owns nearly every statistical advantage over Indians left fielder Michael Brantley.

Brantley, 11HR, 49RBI, .306/.351/.490

Rosario, 18HR, 53RBI, .301/.342/.536

Brantley has the luxury of playing along side stars like Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion.  He has protection all around him as well as many more chances to knock in runs on a team that is loaded with talent.  Rosario features a lineup with the minimal protection.  Currently hitting in front of career utility man Eduardo Escobar has made him target for pitching around.  I get that the Indians are a superior team, but rewarding their 4th best position player with a spot on the All Star team seems a bit ridiculous.



Blake Snell, P, Tampa Bay Rays.  Should Replace: Joe Jimenez

Blake Snell could be he best pitcher in the entire American League…right now.  Snell owns the American Leagues best ERA (2.09) as well as an impressive 12-4 record.    Despite his ideal numbers Snell has fallen victim to another player on his teams success.  With his catcher Wilson Ramos making the team it seemed as if it was decided that the Rays are only allowed one representative. Snell should not only consider this a snub, he should be asking why he isn’t starting the All Star game.

This injustice continues when you see a guy like Joe Jimenez on the roster.  The Tigers are a sinking ship that will be looking to unload every last bit of extra cargo at the trade deadline.  I have never been a proponent of every team should have an all star, but if you are going to have one, make sure they chose the right all star.  Joe Jimenez has had a fine season but a reliever with a solid but not overly impressive 2.45ERA should not be in the All Star game.



Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis Cardinal. Should replace: Buster Posey

Buster Posey is a future Hall of Famer.  He is a former MVP, no doubt he deserves a shot at the All Star game.  This year he should have fell short of that honor.  It has nothing to do with Posey’s abilities as a player.  This is all about the offensive output of the multi time Gold Glover Yadier Molina.  Despite missing time with an injury I choose not to speak of, Yadire Molina has put on one of his best offensive seasons in his storied career.

Molina’s 13HR 38RBI and .495Slug are all on pace to be career highs for the Cardinals backstop.  Molina’s responsibilities with a young pitching staff has made them one of the most effective staffs in years despite dealing with a flurry of injuries, including to mainstays like Michael Wacha, Adam Wainwright and ace Carlos Martinez.  When you are dealing with two great players the debate can go on for a long time, this one I can live with.



Jesus Aguilar, 1B, Milwaukee Brewers. Should replace: Joey Votto

Reputation clearly matters, and before this season the Milwaukee first baseman didn’t have much of one. Aguilar is a destructive force in the middle of a first place lineup. 22 home runs and 63 RBI, and his 1.001 OPS is tops in the NL overall.  Yet he is hoping on the fans to vote him in on the last ballot.

Joey Votto is a great player with a great background.  He is one of the best players in the National League over the last five seasons, but the Reds have representatives at two different places on the infield, Votto should have not even been in the conversation of being an All Star.  It’s debatable whether he should be in over any other first baseman in the NL Central.

Hopefully the fans make the right decision and vote him in.  This selection should never have made it to this.  Shame on the MLB.

 

Don’t Blame Boogie

Unless you live under a rock you probably saw that DeMarcus Cousins has signed with the Golden State Warriors.  The 4-time All-Star joins the two time defending champions creating arguably the best lineup in the history of the NBA.  In the eyes of most fans the NBA title was wrapped up before the end of most teams first summer league games.  Outrage broke out in the social media community ridiculing the Warriors and especially Boogie Cousins for his choice to join the dynasty that has ruled the NBA for the last four years. The world can be as mad as they choose at DeMarcus Cousins but he is not to blame for this situation, NBA GM’s have to be given the blame for the way this situation worked out.  Don’t blame Boogie for making the best choice for himself.  Look at you team’s front office.

One of my greatest pet peeves is when I am drafting a fantasy team whether it is football, baseball or any other sport.  You hear another person yell “I was gonna take him” after you make a pick.  I always say the same thing to that person, if you were going to take him then you should have with your first pick.  DeMarcus Cousins was a free agent, 29 other teams had the chance to make their offers to the skilled big man but they didn’t want to commit their money to him.  Whether it was his injury or his locker room history, Cousins was not looked at as a cornerstone piece deserving of a mutli-year contract.  Cousins, one of two players ever to average 25 PPG, 10RPG, 5APG, 1.5BPG, 1.5SPG, the other  being Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, thought he was a high level player that deserved a max contract.  But when teams thought they could low ball him he decided to turn the table on them.  Instead of allowing front offices to have control he took it upon himself to control the outcome.

The Warriors are the lucky recipients of a market that undervalued a great asset.  Cousins achillies injury could hold him out of the start of the season, by signing with the Warriors he will not need to rush back. He will be able to make sure he is fully healthy before returning and for once not watch his team fall out of a playoff hunt.  Those who question whether Cousins is hurting his chances of getting a max deal because his numbers will most likely take a dive during the 2018 season are not taking into account that this move is more of a public relations decision rather then a professional one.  The former Kentucky big man skills have never been questioned, his ability in the block is second to none, but teams worry about his ability to keep his head straight, front office personal have labeled him as a “cancer”.  Playing with the personalities that the Warriors have will be a great test to see what kind of a person he is.

Adding a fifth All-Star to an already dominate team is scary for the NBA.  I argue that watching greatness is what I look for when I watch the NBA. The only thing better than greatness is seeing David conquer Goliath.  Now the entire NBA is David, the ratings to watch the potential upset will be earth shattering.  There is always the chance that the mix of talents doesn’t work.  Just ask Karl Malone and Gary Payton what happens when you try and make a super team and it doesn’t work out.  There will be more pressure then ever on this Warriors team.  If they don’t win a championship their legacy will be forever tarnished.  This will make blowing a 3-1 lead in the finals look like losing an AAU season game.

I will admit that seeing DeMarcus Cousins signed a 1-year 5.3Million dollar deal with the best team in the world was deflating as an NBA fan.  Blaming Cousins for this is not fair to him.  If he signed with Boston would they not be the clear favorites in the East making that conference all but pointless?  Everyone can have their own opinion but this was a mistake made front offices that they will regret for the upcoming season.  It will be a nice learning experience for everyone.

Time to give up on Jameis?

Coming out of Florida State Jameis Winston was the clear choice for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  A two sport athlete, excelling in baseball as well as football Jameis had everything physically a team wanted.  Standing a 6′ 3″  weighing 235LBS  he was the perfect size, he was mobile, agile, possessed great arm strength, had a Heisman Trophy and a National Championship.  The Buccaneers took Jameis with their #1 pick in the 2015 NFL draft.  They had the face of their franchise, the quarterback that was going to lead them for the next ten years.  As they prepare for the fourth year of Jameis Winston the Buc’s may need to rethink their plans.

Entering the NFL with a checkered past, Winston’s talented overshadowed any problems that may come up from drafting an accused rapist.  The Buccaneers wasted no time turning their organization over to Winston naming him the starters right away.  He flourished early dominating his opening season matchup with fellow first round quarterback selection Marcus Mariota, confirming that he was the right choice for the struggling franchise.  Winston set franchise rookie records in pass attempts, pass completions, passing yards, and passing touchdowns. Winston finished his rookie season with 4,042 passing yards, finishing 23 yards short of the franchise record set by Josh Freeman in 2012.  Tying the record for touchdowns in a game by a rookie (5) on November 22, 2015, against the Philadelphia Eagles, Winston had arrived. After Tom Brady declined playing in the pro bowl, Winston was chosen to take his place.

Following his rookie season big things were expected of Winston and the Buccaneers. Winston led the Buccaneers to their first winning season in 6 years after defeating the Carolina Panthers  in the regular season finale, during which he broke the franchise records for passing yards and passing touchdowns in a season and became the first quarterback in NFL history to start his career with consecutive seasons of 4,000 yards passing; however the Buccaneers were eliminated from playoff contention via a tie breaker with the Detroit Lions. He was ranked 57th by his peers on the NFL Top 100 of 2017. 

Entering the 2017 season it was not just Winston that had the high expectations but it was the team in whole.  The pressure seemed to bring out the worst in the team opening the season 2-6, immediately falling out of contention.  The poor start coupled with a Winston injury doomed the Buccaneers to a 5-11 season. While Winston’s numbers and play have shown flashes of brilliance the lack of development on the field has been noticable. After three years as an NFL starter, Jameis Winston is still hard to figure out. He has produced dazzling highlights coupled with maddening turnovers, finding open receivers long after plays have broken down, yet coughing up the ball when he should have taken sacks. While his development of the field has haulted, his maturity as a human being has yet again come into question.

As Tampa Bay enters the 2018 season they have been forced to deal with the new that Jameis Winston will miss the first three games due to an incident with an Uber driver in March of 2016.  The latest incident has raised the question of how much is to much from a public figure.  The face of a franchise cannot be a player that continues to show lack of maturity.

Feb. 22, 2017: During a talk to students at St. Petersburg’s Melrose Elementary School, Winston says that boys are supposed to be strong but ladies are “supposed to be silent, polite, gentle.”

This comment shows a false sense of understanding about how men and women are suppose to be treated in society.  The early excuses for Winston’s actions were that he was young and needed to grow up, but how much time can you give a person who is such a prolific person in your community.  When I took a trip to Tampa two years ago every street light and sign that had anything to do with the Buc’s featured Winston’s face.  He is Buccaneer football, but is that really what they want?

The fact of the matter is they have regressed as a team over the last three seasons,  In an NFL where quarterback play rules all, Winston has tons of trade value.   Still being young enough for a coach to think they can help with his turnover problem and a GM thinking they can fix his personality.  Winston could net the Buc’s a solid second round pick or better if a team really believes in him.  In a time of social consciousness in the NFL the Buccaneers have to make a decision that I am sure they do not want to, it is time to move on from Winston or continue to allow him to put their team at risk.