Let’s fix the New York Knicks

Draft Lamelo Ball or Tyrese Haliburton.  

The first move is going to be dependent on draft position.  If the Knicks are lucky enough to find themselves in a top three pick they should have a shot at Lamelo Ball.  Ball obviously comes with some baggage but his skill set and size make him NBA ready.  New York has had a spinning wheel of point guards over the last few seasons.  Elfrid Payton, Frank Ntilkina, Dennis Smith Jr. have all spent time running the point position last season, none of them performing to the level that allowed them to take charge of the position.  

If Ball is not there for New York they need to look at Iowa State Cyclone Tyrese Haliburton.  Haliburton flourished in his final year in Ames, stuffing the stat sheets  averaging over 5 boards and 6 assists along with 15 points. Haliburton was able to shoot over 40% from behind the arc.  His consistent shooting and size set him apart from Cole Anthony, the other top PG prospect.  

New York is in need of a leader.  They have had a long history of instability at the position and the addition of one of the premier guards in the draft is a need to go along with RJ Barrett and Julius Randle.  

Trade for Devin Booker.

We may not know exactly the player Devin Booker is.  He has never been given the chance to play with a team that can help his talents flourish.  The raw potential of the 23-year old is something that the league can’t ignore.  Booker’s extension has him in Phoenix for the next few seasons but if the organization can’t find a way to make them winners it won’t take long for Booker to want a new opportunity.  Players now have all of the power in the league and it is a matter of time before Booker gets fed up with the direction of the team.  The Suns have done their best to build around Booker and the combinations they are putting together are not working.  

The Knicks have stockpiled a few draft picks over the last few seasons trading away Kristaps and Marcu Morris.  The picks along with Kevin Knox and their litany of PG’s on the roster may be enough to entice the Suns to move their franchise cornerstone.  Booker along with RJ Barrett and a new young PG picked up in the draft will give them a core that can compete with the middle of the pack in the East.  The talent, along with the addition of another high star will push them where they need to be. 

Commit to Mitchell Robinson

Robinson has faults.  His ability to stay on the court is the biggest problem.  If Robinson can mature as a player he can be the biggest asset the organization has.  The ability to lock down the paint on the defensive end can help a young team develop a team concept. 

If New York is able to add a game changer like Lamelo Ball the pick and roll with Robinson can be deadly, similar to the Chris Paul- Deandre Jordan connection of the mid-2000’s.  Entering 2021 the Knicks have to decide what their direction for Robinson is going to be.  They need to be done with Taj Gibson and Bobby Portis.  Continuing to have pointless veterans in the middle  needs to be a thing of the past.  

It’s time to commit to the youth and ability of Robinson.  Look to the future and run with it. 

The future of the Frontier League – An interview with Manager Phil Warren.


The Frontier League was forced to suspend the 2020 season on June 24th.  The longest running independent baseball league in the United States was looking at a banner year.  The recent expansion with the Can-Am League in the offseason was not only going to add five new teams to the league but was also going to expand the league into another country.  The expansion was going to lead to a new level of exposure for the league that is known more as a midwestern league.  The Gateway Grizzlies were going to celebrate their 20th season as a part of the Frontier League.  Their manager Phil Warren was going to enter his 14th season with the organization.  He was excited to get a chance to see arguably the most talented collection of coaches and players come together during the tenure of the season.  He won’t get that chance.  I got a chance to talk with him about that and what he thinks about the future of baseball. 

With the addition of an unlikely ally the upcoming season was going to have a new look and a new voice helping to guide the Grizzlies. Cross town rivals the River City Rascals closed operations after winning the Frontier League Championship in 2019.  Long time Rascal’s skipper Steve Brook signed on to work alongside Warren bringing along a load of talent from the championship squad. 

“We anticipated several “hard” releases that would have to be made before opening day, which means we had done a great job this off-season.” -Grizzlies Manager, Phil Warren

Warren will be looking at the first season since he was in 8th grade that baseball wasn’t his main priority.  While he is excited for the chance to fish as much as he would like and go on vacation with his family the question of “what if” is going to be on his mind and the minds of the fanbase.  

“We now have turned our attention to building on the assembled 2020 roster to ensure that 2021 has the same outlook.  The work never stops if you want to ensure a successful future.” 

While the coaching staff will work to replenish the roster, there will be plenty of options available in the open market.  With professional teams continuing to cut costs at different minor league levels the access of talent will be available.  Warren spoke about the continued issues between Major League Baseball and the Player’s Association.

“In terms of the future between the players and the owners, this isn’t anything new. Money will always be the driving force.  I think we are simply getting a taste of what’s to come by 2022,  they are able to hide the real issues under the smoke screen of COVID-19.  Ultimately the fans are the ones that will suffer.”

Unlike the MLB season the Frontier League season was not able to make the finances work heading into 2020.  The loss of nearly three months of income along with the limitations of event hosting forced the hand of the ownership groups across the league. Most teams have found ways to supplement their facilities with high school, littel league and other events that can bring in some income but the loss of the season could lead to a lot of different issues down the line for every organization. 

The Frontier League will plan to be back in 2021. The question will be what players and staff will return for most of these organizations.  With a large portion of the staff being forced to be furloughed alot of these talented employees and players could find themselves working in either a different organization or changing their careers completely.  The future is uncertain for the entire league but the Gateway Grizzlies and Phil Warren still see a future in the smallest town in the United States with a professional baseball team in Sauget, Illinois. 

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Who should replace Markakis in Atlanta?

The Braves have been hit pretty hard by COVID-19.  First it was offseason addition Felix Hernandez opting out and now veteran outfielder Nick Markakis has decided to do the same.  Atlanta plans to not only contend in the NL East but they actually see themselves as real candidates to win the NL pennant.  They have to find a replacement for Markakis.  The in-house options are solid but who should be the man to take over right field?

Austin Riley-

Riley’s power is legit.  He is going to have to find consistency on the major league level.  Bursting onto the scene in 2019, it looked like the Braves had a future star at 3rd base or outfielder ready to take over for the departing Josh Donaldson. Opposing pitchers were having a problem leaving the ball over the middle of the plate to the power hitting prospect.  

Eventually Riley ran into some trouble as pitchers began to figure him out.  During his last 123 plate appearances of the season the slash line is not positive, .150/.202/.293. Riley became susceptible to the slider which forced him to try and change his swing to adjust.  His hand trigger became slower which is allowing pitchers to take advantage with high hard fastballs.  

Austin Riley is still young and his problems can be fixed.  If Riley is able to adjust he can fit in nicely in right field and Johan Camargo can take over full time at the hot corner. 

Ender Inciarte-

Inciarte’s injuries saw him lose his spot in the starting lineup. Even before the injuries the writing was on the wall for Ender losing his job.  The 2017 All-Star saw a decline in his OBP in 2018, falling to just .325. 

Ender will have his chance to reclaim his spot in the starting lineup due to his defense. He is a 3-time gold glove award winner will bring his glove but the offense has to show in the lead up to the season.  If Inciarte is able to reclaim his form from 2017 he will be a great place holder for some developing stars that will come on this list.  

Adam Duvall-

Maybe the most established major league player on this list is Adam Duvall.  The long time Red has had spurts of brilliance in 2016 and 2017, hitting 30+ homers over those two seasons.  The power Duvall brings comes at a cost as his career OBP is a pedestrian .292.  In 41 games last year he showed the Braves what he can bring to the table slugging .567.  

The Braves are a team built around a core of power bats already, Duvall seems to fit better in the power off the bench role.  While he could win the job, it may be hard to keep the job. 

Cristian Pache- 

The top outfield prospect in Atlanta will most likely have a legit shot at making the opening day roster.  A potential five tool prospect was a late bloomer in terms of power but saw his slugging percentage rise to .462 in 2019 reaching as high as triple-A.  

Pache looks the part standing at 6’2” and runs like a gazelle.  He has not developed into a legit base stealer but his first to third speed is exceptional.  His speed transitioned well into the defensive.  Pache has center field skills that will work in the right.  With Pache and Ronald Acuna a gap shot in right center field may disappear.  The Braves would be gambling on exposing Pache before necessary but he should have an impact on this season before it’s over.  

Drew Waters-

Waters had a great 2019 season.  Jumping up to compete with Cristian Pache as the #1 outfield prospect in the Braves system, Waters turned some heads last season.  The Georgia native led all Braves minor leaguers in hits, doubles and triples.  If Waters can find a way to cut down the strikeouts, his hard contact rate is hard to ignore.

Waters had a solid .360 OBP split between triple-A and double-A.  He could be a future top of the lineup standout for the Braves but he will have to show an ability to knock down the strikeouts leading up to the first games or he will be relegated to a bench role or not making the team at all. 

Who should it be?

Atlanta will allow everyone to have a chance to win the position. In my opinion if Cristian Pache shows an ability to hit he should be the man to be given the chance.  Adam Duvall’s skills seem perfect for the power bat off the bench and Ender Inciarte has had problems staying healthy.  

While I like Pache, it will most likely be Inciarte getting the first chance.

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Teams that should thrive in a 60 game schedule.

American League Central: Minnesota Twins

The Twins were already going to be favored in the AL Central, a shortened season fits perfectly for the power heavy Twins.  An already powerful offense adding free agent prize Josh Donaldson in the offseason to put him in the middle of the lineup along with the ageless Nelson Cruz.  Minnesota’s lineup depth is arguably as good as any team in baseball. Less games means more rest for 2019 breakouts Mitch Garver and Jorge Polanco.  Polanco, a 2019 all-star, saw some regression in the second half but in a shortened season his .880 first half OPS last year shows the type of potential he can bring to the table in 2020. 

The Twins biggest question leading into the 2020 campaign was going to be their pitching staff behind ace Jose Berrios. They didn’t address it as drastically as the fanbase would like adding Kenta Maeda from the Dodgers being the biggest marquee name.  The Twins still have a serviceable rotation backed up by a very solid bullpen.  The aforementioned Berrios should excel in a condensed season. His second half numbers seemed to show the wear and tear of a long season.  

Minnesota has the bats and the bullpen to be dominant out of the gate.  While the White Sox have improved and the Indians still have a great core, Minnesota is built for immediate impact. 

American League East: Toronto Blue Jays

Youth and power.  The Toronto Blue Jays have a litany of both and that is as dangerous as it can come in a shortened season.  A young team getting off to a good start doesn’t always carry the full length of 162 games.  With just a sixty game season by the time Toronto realizes that they aren’t supposed to win we could be in the playoffs.  

Toronto overhauled their rotation in the offseason adding Chase Anderson, Tanner Roark and Hyun-Jin Ryu.  Ryu is the most notable addition from the LA Dodgers immediately jumps to the top of the rotation for Toronto and brings some much needed playoff experience.  Top prospects Nate Pearson, Simeon Woods Richardson and Anthony Kay could factor into the season if there is a playoff push down the stretch. 

The most exciting part of the Blue Jays will be their exceptional power throughout the lineup.  Vlad Guerreo Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio are ready to make an impact right now. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. has legit 30 homer power and the rest of the lineup has legit 25-30 homer power.  This team can erase a deficit very quickly, all it will take is a good start to make them a problem for the American League. 

American League West: Texas Rangers

I loved the Rangers leading into the 2020 season as a dark horse playoff contender.  The additions of Corey Kluber and Robinson Chirinos added playoff experience to a talented team that seemed to be missing something.  They sured up the rest of their rotation by adding two other veteran starters with high upside in Jordan Lyles and Kyle Gibson. Texas may arguably have one of the deepest rotations in the American League one through five.  Their top three starters Kluber, Lance Lynn and Mike Minor can match up with most rotations.  Texas still has some questions in the back end of the pen but Jose Leclerc seemed to settle into the closer role and minor league signee Cody Allen could emerge as a reliable late inning arm down the stretch. 

The Rangers have studs on the offensive side of the ball and the delay in the season allowed Willie Calhoun to heal from getting hit in the face by a fastball in spring training.  Texas has the offensive firepower to hang with anyone.  If they can cut down the strikeouts they can be a serious threat in a shortened season.  The Astros are the clear favorite in the NL West but they will not be able to relax as the rebuild in Texas is nearly finished.

National League Central: Milwaukee Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers could not have asked for a better situation heading into 2020.  A shorter season seems to work right into the hands of Manager Craig Counsel.  Counsel has morphed into the ultimate game manager during his young career.  The Brewers rotation is not built to handle big inning seasons so the bullpen would again have had to eat a bulk amount of innings.  The shortening of the regular season allows the power arms in the pen to conserve some of their best stuff for the stretch run heading into October.

The Brewers will have a fully healthy Christain Yelich and will have a new cast of power bats lining up behind him.  Avisail Garcia should thrive in Miller Park and a second season of super prospect Keston Hiura should make for a lineup that will provide plenty of pop.  

Milwaukee would have run into problems with the rotation if they had to go a full 162 but this set up makes them a serious threat to take the NL Central.

National League East: Atlanta Braves

Heading into the 2019 postseason it seemed like the Braves were the clear favorite to match up with the Dodgers in the NLCS.  Amazingly neither of those teams were able to overcome their first round opponents but a shortened 2020 season could be just what the club needs to get over the hump of the previous year.  

Atlanta lost Josh Donaldson in the offseason but found a more than adequate replacement in Marcel Ozuna.  Ozuna’s stint with the St. Louis Cardinals didn’t pan out the way the former all-star had hoped but he moved from a pitcher friendly park to a much more hitter friendly Suntrust Field.  Ozuna will also have a full season of Austin Riley at 3rd base.  He will be given the reins to handle the hot corner and hopefully find the skills that showed in his first few weeks in the bigs.  

The Braves swapped out Dallas Keuchel for Cole Hamels in the rotation.  Hamels still has a lot in the tank and should be a huge asset for the Braves behind Mike Soroka and the re-emerging Mike Foltynewicz.  Atlanta doesn’t have the same top of the rotation as the Mets or Nationals but both have better bullpens and lineups which should thrive in this situation. 

National League West: Arizona Diamondbacks

The NL West is tricky.  The obvious favorite and most likely winners will be the LA Dodgers.  Nearly every other team in the division could benefit from a shorter season and expanded playoffs.  My favorite team for this situation though is the Arizona Diamondbacks.  The D-Backs made headlines picking up veteran ace Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner is still just 30 years old and brings an imposing figure to the desert.  A leader in his many years in San Fran the Diamondbacks sport a still very young core that needed an on field presence like Bumgarner.  Behind Bumgarner, talented Robbie Ray will have less pressure to be the ace and allow him to just show off his impressive skill set.  

The D-Backs had a few stellar offseason additions in the outfield adding Starling Marte and Kole Calhoun.  Arizona’s dynamic of speed and power throughout the lineup will bring fits for opposing pitching staffs.  Ketel Marte has more protection in front of him and behind.  A ful commitment to Christain Walker at first base and Carson Kelly behind the plate is going to pay dividends offensively.  

Arizona’s bullpen is led by Archie Bradley and has plenty of solid arms to hold up over the shortened time frame.  Arizona is going to be fun to watch and should see themselves in the thick of the playoff race.

90’s MLB All-Stars that had terrible seasons.

Being an all-star is a great honor that not many players get a chance to do.  It seems like in the 90’s your resume did not have to be as solid to make the squad.   I wanted to highlight players that were able to make the team but their actual seasons were subpar to say the least. 

1990- Ozzie Guillen, SS, Chicago White Sox

Ozzie Guillen won the gold glove in 1990.  His defense was great but how does a player with a  -18 value offensively (Fangraphs) make an all-star team.  The numbers don’t lie.  Ozzie Guillen was horrible with the bat during the season.  Guillen featured a .312 OBP, .062 ISO and a 78 WRC+.  These numbers fit more for a late inning defensive replacement rather than an all-star.  

Clearly this was a defensive selection during a time where the shortstop pool was not overly talented.  Imagine seeing a player with an OPS under .700 making an all-star team in today’s game.  Would never happen.  

1991- Juan Samuel, Utility, Los Angeles Dodgers

Juan Samuel had a long career in the majors.  He had a lot of solid seasons that lead to a total of three all star game appearances.  Samuel was a strikeout machine throughout his career and 1991 was no outlier.  Samuel struck out 133 times while providing little power, finishing with 12 homers and an OBP of just .328. Samuel was a good utility player in his career but to be an all-star is well…ugh.

1992- Roberto Kelly, OF, New York Yankees

Roberto Kelly played for eight different teams during his 14 years in major league baseball.  His best two seasons were 1990 and 1993, sandwiched in between was 1992 when he made his first all star game.  Kelly had a decent season but finished with just a 1.4 WAR and an OPS of .706.   Kelly didn’t bring much to the table on the defensive end either as he finished with a -10 defensive runs saved. 

1993- Scott Copper, 1B/3B,  Boston Red Sox

Scott Cooper had a short career in the MLB career. He was able to make it to two all-star games in his career and neither of which resulted in a stellar season.  Cooper had the task of taking over for future hall of famer Wade Boggs.  He had a solid season in 1993 with an OBP of .355.  He however didn’t do much else well.  Hitting nine homers and slugging just .397.  His OPS of .752 is solid but is very average for a corner infielder on an all-star team.  Cooper was good but he was not an all-star. 

1994- Scott Cooper, 1B,  Boston Red Sox

His 1993 season is basically the same. 

1995- Steve Ontiveros, P, Oakland Athletics

Steve Ontiveros was coming off of a career season in 1994.  He led the league in WHIP and ERA, pitching in 27 games, starting 13.  In 1995 Ontiveros was going to be a cornerstone of the Athletics pitching staff.  It didn’t really work out that way.  Becoming a full time starter Ontiveros pitched in 22 games giving up a WHIP of 1.4 and an ERA of nearly 4.50.  This was the time where most teams had to have a representative, but the A’s had Mark McGwire representing them.  Ontiveros actually got to pitch in the game and took the loss…Duh.

1996- Roger Pavlik, P, Texas Rangers

Wins can be overrated, according to Brian Kenny they shouldn’t even count.  In the case of Roger Pavlik he ended the 1996 season with 16 wins. That sounds great but every other stat was pretty embarrassing.  Pavlik had a 5.16 ERA, a 1.50 WHIP and FIP of 5.00.  Pavlik was an innings eater with 7 complete games but when he was bad, he was very bad.  Pavlik’s ability to eat innings was the lone positive of a season that should have been forgotten.  He will always have that all-star game in the record books but it is hard to believe. 

1997- Royce Clayton, SS, St. Louis Cardinals

Royce Clayton had the task of replacing hall of famer Ozzie Smith.  Clayton had his positives, he was a solid defensive player that was able to steal 30 bases in back to back seasons.  The problem was Clayton really didn’t get on base enough to utilize his speed.  In 1997 Clayton featured an on-base percentage of just .306. Clayton didn’t walk much and he only hit .206.  This was right before the boom of talented shortstops took over the league.  Clayton may not even start in today’s game.  It’s laughable to think he would be an all-star.

1998- Edgar Renteria, SS, Florida Marlins

Having a historical moment can make your career.  In 1997 Edgar Renteria was a part of one of the greatest moments in baseball history, getting the game winning hit in game seven.  His historic moment seemed to grab him some legitimacy heading into the 1998 season.  Renteria stole 41 bases which was the lone highlight of his statistical season.  Edgar’s season finished with a .9 WAR and a WRC+ of 90.  His loan highlighted statistics, stolen bases, had an asterisk next to eat as he was actually caught stealing a staggering 22 times. 

Edgar Renteria had a few very good seasons but being an all-star in 1998 seems like a big reach.  

1999- Ron Coomer, INF, Minnesota Twins

Ron Coomer was a bright spot in a pretty bad stretch for the Minnesota Twins.  Coomer was a middle of the order bat that brought more of a look of a power hitter than a real threat.  Coomer hit a career high 16 homers in 1999 but that really was the highlight of his season.  His .306 OBP along with an OPS+ of just 86.  Not much of an impact for a guy that was supposed to be able to help carry the order. Coomer making the all-star game was clearly just a guy that was put in there because every team needed to have a representative.

DH for every NL team.

NL Central:

Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals

The argument can be made for a couple of different players on the Cardinals roster.  Tyler O’Neil seems to make a lot of sense as he has had a few problems in the field that were well documented.  But I think that Matt Carpenter makes a lot of sense being a DH.  Bro’Neil needs to be active in the game to keep his focus, he has shown he is not great coming off of the bench as a pinch hitter, while Carpenter is a type of player that can focus on film while the team is in the field.  Tommy Edman has shown he can play a great hot corner.  

Nicholas Castellanos, Cincinnati Reds

Castellanos is not a great defender anywhere on the field.  He was a terrible third baseman and a subpar corner outfielder.  Great American Small Park should hide some defensive inefficiencies but he is still not a great option in the field.  With the addition of 6-time gold glove winner in the Pacific League Shogo Akiyama controlling center along with youngster Nick Senzel, Jesse Winker and Aristedes Aquino the Reds have more than a couple great options in the outfield. 

Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs

Kyle Schwarber is the type of player that the DH is built for.  A great power bat that has never had an exact spot in the field to play.  With Albert Almora, Jason Heyward, Ian Happ and the addition of Steven Souza the Cubbies have enough options to handle the outfield and allow Schwarber to just mash. 

Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers

The addition of Avisail Garcia brought up a lot of questions about what was next for former MVP Ryan Braun.  The Brewers had talked about moving Braun over to first base but another addition Justin Smoak makes that an unlikely option.  Braun still brings impact to the lineup and can be protected from injury by just having a few at-bats per game. 

Josh Bell, Pittsburgh Pirates

Josh Bell became one of the most feared hitters in all of baseball, surprisingly Bell has ranked as one of the worst defensive players in all of baseball.  His -31 DRS (fangraphs) was the worst in the league by a first baseman.  With Jose Osuna on the bench the Pirates can have a better defensive first baseman that can actually bring more power to the lineup. 

NL East:

Howie Kendrick, Washington Nationals

Washinton has a litany of veteran players in the infield and they are set on giving prospect Carter Kieboom the job replacing Anthony Rendon.  Kendrick has shown his ability to hit and he has to find a way in the lineup.   DH seems like it was made for Kendrick. 

Marcell Ozuna, Atlanta Braves

The former gold glove winner has seen a consistent decline in his defensive ability due to injuries and just extremely questionable decisions.  The Braves needed to replace the Josh Donaldson pop in the lineup and keeping Ozuna healthy could be as easy as keeping him out of left field.  Austin Riley, Ender Inciarte and Nick Markakis can round out an outfield centered around mega-star Ronald Acuna Jr. 

Jesus Aguilar, Miami Marlins

It seems like Jesus Aguilar’s breakout season of 2018 was actually a lifetime ago.  Aguilar couldn’t replicate his success during the 2019 season but he still brings the power that belongs in a lineup.  The Marlins picked up Aguilar in the offseason, he immediately becomes a threat in the Miami offense.  The Marlins actually have a solid option at first base in Garrett Cooper.  Cooper can handle the defense of first base while Aguilar slots in at the DH spot. 

Neil Walker, Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies loaded up with veterans in the offseason. Neil Walker will enter the season in a utility bench spot but would make a lot of sense as the DH.  Walker brings a OBP of .344 which would put him right at the top of the Phillies lineup.  The return of Andrew McCutchen will help with a serious problem Philadelphia has.  They were one of the worst teams in the league at getting on base.  Putting Walker in the lineup provides the RBI chances for the big bats as well as a switch hitter for late inning matchup problems.  

Dominic Smith, New York Mets

Long time prospect Dominic Smith found himself overtaken as the future first baseman of the Mets by Pete Alonso.  Smith is still an impact bat that just needed consistent plate appearances.  Smith transitioned to the outfield where he did not excel defensively.  With a healthy Michael Conforto along with Brandon Nimmo, JD Davis and Jake Marisnick the outfield is too stacked for Smith to find a spot.  Smith can hit and he should be given a chance as a full time DH. 

NL West:

Jake Lamb, Arizona Diamondbacks

Injuries have completely derailed the production of Jake Lamb.  With no set spot in the field because of Eduardo Escobar and Christian Walker, DH should be a great spot for Jake Lamb. 

Sam Hilliard, Colorado Rockies

Colorado has to find a way to get consistent at bats for prospect Sam Hilliard.  Charlie Blackmon, David Dahl and Ramail Tapia currently man the massive outfield in Colorado. Putting Hilliard in the DH role gives him a chance to in the majors with consistent at-bats.  The Rockies had a lot of options with Daniel Murphy, Ian Desmond and Garret Hampson, but Hilliard needs to find a spot in the lineup. 

Joc Pederson, Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers are going to play the matchup game as they always do, so naming one guy as the potential DH is trivial but I would go with Joc Pederson.  Pederson has shown his ability to play the corners as well as first base.  With the addition of Mookie Betts, the Dodgers now have two solid defenders in the outfield. Betts, Bellinger and former gold glove winner AJ Pollock would give the Dodgers their best defensive outfield.  Max Muncy is a better defender at first base so Pederson in the DH role makes the most sense. 

Josh Naylor, San Diego Padres

Josh Naylor mashed in triple-A slugging .573.  He has legit power that can be put right into the middle of the Padre lineup.  Naylor will have to find his way onto the roster.  Franchy Cordero, Will Myers and Juan Lagares are all candidates to take outfield spots from Naylor entering the season.  Despite the competition Naylor brings the most potential power and that is a need in San Diego to protect Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer.

Hunter Pence, San Francisco Giants

Hunter Pence had a resurgence in 2019 with the Texas Rangers.  Injuries cut his season short, ending what was going to be a great comeback season.  He had a WRC+ of 128 along with a .910 OPS he became a great story about a career renaissance. 

The Giants have a set outfield with Mike Yastrzemski, Alex Dickerson and Billy Hamilton.  Pence would be able to get consistent at-bats as the DH and not have to man the large and interesting San Francisco outfield.  

Barkley > Draymond- Why is this even a conversation?

The Last Dance documentary has shined the light on a lot of under celebrated players from the 90’s.  Most notably in episode six they talked about the Phoenix Suns and Charles Barkley.  Today’s generation see Barkley as the outspoken analyst on TNT and other media outlets but it is very noticeably forgotten that the Round Mound of Rebound was actually one of the best NBA players not only of the 90’s but in the history of the game. 

Recently Barkley has been in a war of words with fellow outspoken power forward Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors.  Green has cited that Barkley’s inability to win a championship puts him below the level of the Warriors star.  I am a believer in championships cementing the legacy of great players. It  is downright laughable for Green to believe that his legacy in the league will ever match Charles Barkley.  Green is a key cog in the machine the Golden State Warriors have built but by no means is he in the league of the Hall of Famer.  Barkley was a cornerstone of two different franchises.  The Sixers of the late 80’s and the Suns of the 90’s success was primarily built on the back of Barkley.    

Who had even heard of the Phoenix Suns before Barkley was traded there and led them to a losing effort against the prime Michael Jordan Bulls of the 90’s. The Suns had made it to one other finals in the 1975-1976 season and to this day haven’t made it since the time of Barkley and company.  It wasn’t until the Steve Nash and Amare Stoudamire Suns of the mid 2000’s that Phoenix was able to make any impact in the league.  Barkley is unquestionably the face of the entire organization and unless Devin Booker gets some help he will be the face for years to come.  

I am not here to knock Draymond Green.  He is the perfect example of the progression of the point-forward position in today’s NBA.  Barkley however was carrying teams with lesser talent for years.  No matter who was on the court Barkley found success.  His career PER was 24.6 and destroyed Green who hasn’t had a season PER above 19.  We have seen what happens when Green becomes the focal point of a team.  He is not the scorer, rebounder or leader that Barkley was.  Draymond Green is an overachiever in the NBA.  He has done great things in the league, his defense is better than Barkleys.  That is the lone aspect about his game that you can argue is better.  That is it.  Someone tell me something that he does better.    It is actually very funny that Drayond believes that he is on the level of an NBA hall of famer.  Imagine if Green didn’t play along with some of the best players in the entire league. Would he even be talked about?  

Barkley played with some talent in his prime.  Kevin Johnson was very good for a small amount of time.  Dan Majerle was a three time all star, but he was never a premium level player.  Who did he play with on the level of  Steph Curry, Klay Thompson or Kevin Durant? Green could never take a team as far as Barkley did.  He could never be the #1 option. 

Ranking Rookie Fantasy Breakouts.

5) Ke-Shawn Vaughn, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Vaughn is going to immediately push the underwhelming Ronald Jones in his first season in Tampa Bay. Despite playing for the often overlooked Vanderbilt Commodores Vaughn put together some great statistical years his final two seasons.  

An explosive back that can break away from any tacklers if given space to work one on one. He will most likely be looked at as a third down back at the very least to help in the pass game.  Early looks would put him in a spot similar to James White in New England. While Bruce Arians has openly said that Ronald Jones will start the season as the number one back but Vaughn has too much big play potential to not make a difference in the league. 

4) Michael Pittman Jr, WR, Indianapolis Colts

The Colt’s dealt with consistent wide receiver injuries during the 2019 season.  The addition of Michael Pittman Jr gives them insurance incase of another potential injury apocalypse.  Pittman has great hands and a great frame for impact in the red zone.  At 6’4” 223 pounds his frame is similar to Mike Williams.  Philip Rivers had an instant connection with Williams in Los Angeles leading to double digit touchdowns in 2018.  

Pittman Jr. is a physical receiver that fits in well with TY Hilton and Paris Campbell who will be able to stretch the field with their speed leaving the middle open.  Pittman Jr.’s size and ability to handle press coverage will make him an immediate producer.  

3) Cam Akers, RB, Los Angeles Rams

The Los Angeles Rams spent their first pick of the draft on a running back.  The obvious is that they believe in the talent of the former Florida State star.  Despite having Malcom Brown and Darrell Henderson I see Cam Akers winning the starting spot.  Akers had great numbers in college behind a subpar offensive line and will now be behind a more improved offensive line heading into next season.  

Akers had 18 touchdowns (14 rush, 4 pass) in his final season as a Seminole, showing he has a nose for the end zone.  His pass catching ability is going to fit in nicely with Sean McVay’s offense.  The most telling part of the story of Akers is he was the first pick of the Rams, meaning they had little faith in their existing backs on the roster.  He will be given the chance to succeed.  Most rookies don’t get that chance right away. 

2) Jerry Juedy, WR, Denver Broncos

I literally jumped out of my seat when Jeudy dropped to the Broncos at 15.  Denver was in need of a second option behind Courtland Sutton.  Jeudy combines deadly deep ball speed with unique acceleration in and out of routes that allows him to keep opposing defenders on their heels at all times.  

While CeeDee Lamb is in a great spot Juedy has the potential to be the first option in Denver.  Jeudy will immediately be in the starting lineup.  He will immediately be given chances to make an impact.  The Broncos will be a much better offense in 2020 and Jeudy will have a chance to be an elite receiver.  I would still take Courtland Sutton before him in a fantasy draft but Juedy will be on my radar in early rounds. 

1) Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

A dynamic dual threat option in an RPO offense.  Kansas City had a running back carousel last season with injuries and lack of production.  They needed a guy that they could rely on.  Edwards-Helaire posted 1,414 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns for the defending National Champions.  He became the only player in SEC history to rush for over 1,000 yards and have 55 catches.  

Before the Patrick Mahomes days Andy Reid was money for fantasy running backs.  Before the release of Kareem Hunt, Reid had 12 straight seasons with a back in the top 10 in fantasy.  No matter who he put on the field they found ways to produce.  The Chiefs have obvious talent all over the field and will now have a serious threat in the backfield.  Edwards-Helaire should be the starting going into camp and if he stays healthy he should be a very high upside second or third round pick. 

My new favorite NFL team had a great draft.

The death of the XFL was close to the near death of my fandom for professional football.  As a St. Louis native I have now seen two professional teams disappear from my city over the last five years.  I had totally bought into the Battlehawks.  I was screaming KaKaw along with my fellow St. Louisans and dreaming of the future of football in my city and it was taken away again.  Now on the hunt for a new team to support once again, I have found myself on the outskirts of the band wagon the Kansas City Chiefs have been pushing around my city.  While the Chiefs may be a Missouri team my inability to connect with a fanbase that is underrated in their obnoxiousness will forever keep me from enjoying their greatness.  I went into the 2020 draft looking for a team and I may have found it.  Maybe…..

The Draft

First Round Pick: WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama

Second Round Pick: WR KJ Hamler, Penn State

Third Round Pick: CB Michael Ojemudia, Iowa

Fourth Round Pick: TE Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri

The Broncos look like they have found their franchise quarterback in 2nd year quarterback Drew Lock.  Lock started the season on the bench waiting for the franchise to realize that Joe Flacco was no longer a viable NFL quarterback.  When Lock was finally given the chance he ran with it, cementing himself as the new starting quarterback of the present and future. In his five starts the Broncos went 4-1, throwing for 1,020 yards along with a 64% completion rate.  Immediately a chemistry between Lock and new #1 receiver Courtland Sutton developed.  The offense was lacking further exterior threats other than Sutton leading into the draft.  They were able to find what they were looking for at the #15 pick, grabbing Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy.  Jeudy was competing with CeeDee Lamb for the top rated player at their position.  Jeudy has the ability to get separation on the college level averaging 7.8 yards after the catch. His speed will transition to the NFL as well as his ability to make plays from anywhere on the field.  

The Broncos continued to be aggressive in filling needs on the offensive end grabbing KJ Hamler out of Penn State.  Another player with great speed that will fit into the slot receiver role.  He is a little further away from a completed project than the other recievers that were available in the draft.  If he can fit into the slot role he could be a sleeper that makes an impact in big ways during the season. He is an explosive potential playmaker.  

An underrated 4th round pick was the playmaker out of Mizzou,  tight-end Albert Okwuegbhunam.  A very raw prospect that will have time to develop behind Noah Fant.  Okuegbhunam averaged a touchdown every four catches in college, he is a future red zone threat if he can improve on his routes and speed off the line.  He was a high upside pick that won’t be forced into anything right away.  I loved that Denver was willing to take the talent in the later rounds.  

Defensively, Denver’s No. 2 corner position was a revolving door all season last year; it’s possible Michael Ojemudia was selected to be a potential starter sometime in the near future.  He will fit into Vic Fangio’s system which can hide deficiencies of the secondary allowing them to gain experience and progress in the NFL. 

Free Agency

Free Agent addition: RB Melvin Gordon, OL Graham Glasnow

The Broncos quietly had a great offseason before the draft. GM John Elway knew that he needed to protect his new franchise Quarterback.  Adding veteran Graham Glasnow on a 4-year deal from Detroit was a great way to help fill a hole in the line.  

After suring up the line the Broncos went out and made a surprising impact signing.  Adding former Charger Melvin Gordon in free agency has put Denver in the conversation for potentially the best runningback combination in the entire NFL. 

I loved everything Denver did in the draft.  They were clearly trying to build around their young quarterback.  Adding speed and athletes that are NFL ready. This team is a serious contender for a playoff spot in 2021.  John Elway has made some mistakes over the last few years but it is looking like he has found his groove as a GM.