Kentucky Faithful Follow John Wall to D.C.

Editors Note: This is an exclusive to DCSportsfan.com. Feel free to follow this link for the full effect: http://www.dcsportsfan.com/article.aspx?aid=4109

Antawn Jamison returned home for the first time since being traded to Cleveland, Gilbert Arenas made his Verizon Center debut, and all the fans seem to care about is John Wall.

“We need Gilbert because we need more scoring, but John Wall… he’s going to be the future,” Wizards fan Jack Jenkins said.

Watching Wall play for a struggling Wizards team reminds many of those early days in the Ovechkin Era — an exceptional young talent determined to build a winning tradition in Washington. After Saturday’s loss to the Cavs, the Wizards have now endured more losses than Wall did his entire freshman season at Kentucky.

“We’ve just got to find a way to finish out games,” Wall said.

As Cleveland fans can attest, sometimes a player can transform a franchise.

The absence of Lebron James jerseys at the Verizon Center was painfully noticeable — serving as an eery reminder of the void his departure created. Last season Cavs games at the Verizon Center served as a quarterly celebration for Ohio transplants and bandwagoners alike. Now the arena is littered with listless Cleveland fans who purchased cheap tickets in hopes that it would give them some closure. Zack Morris quit Saved By the Bell and the show must go on.

“Lebron is a once in a lifetime player,” Cavs fan Dan Riffle said. “John Wall is nowhere near the player he was, but the Wizards are in a good place with him.”

For Lexington natives Joseph and Whitney Estes, watching Wall play was the perfect way to spend their one-year anniversary together. Donned head-to-toe in Kentucky Wildcat gear, beadednecklaces, and holding an oversized sign that read “FREE ENES”, the Esteses treated their anniversary present like a makeshifthomecoming. Perhaps the only thing missing from their motif was a cardboard cutout of Ashley Judd holding a pair of blue pompoms.

“I bleed blue”, Estes said “and any time I can get a chance to follow somebody that has come from the University of Kentuckygo to the pro level, I’m there to support him.”

And Estes wasn’t kidding when he used the word “follow”. Now a naval officer at Bowling Air Force Base, Estes was going through boot camp while Wall endured the rigors of the NBA draft process.

“As soon as I heard there was a chance I could [be stationed] in D.C., I said ‘sign me up because John Wall is going there.’ He’s going to be a star.”

“The support of these Kentucky fans means a lot to me,” Wall said, “they travel so well.”

Joseph and Whitney Estes have their eye on January 11th when former Wildcat DeMarcus Cousins and the Sacramento Kings come to town. They welcome fellow Kentucky fans and UK alums to join the fun. Maybe Ashley Judd will be in attendance. Maybe the Wizards will get a win this time.

CliffsNotes: MLB Playoffs Preview

 

The lazyman's guide to postseason baseball.

 

October has arrived and so has playoff baseball. Only three of these postseason teams returned from last year so a little cramming can help the average fan. Here’s the CliffsNotes on each divisional series…

RAYS VS. RANGERS – Game 1 Wednesday 1:37 pm

There are good divisions… then there’s the AL East. Many say the 162 game baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. Top that off with a 12-round boxing match and you’ve got the AL East. The Rays, not the defending champion Yankees, were the last one standing when regular season play ended Sunday.

While the two playground bullies slugged and spent their way to division titles in the early 2000s, Tampa Bay quietly built themselves a nice little franchise. All those past #1 picks have bubbled up to the surface in the form of an annual contender. They have the deepest rotation in the league and boast a lineup a lineup that hits lefties better than anyone. Their first round opponent Texas Rangers they has two: Cliff Lee and CJ Wilson.

Texas is a throwback to the late 90s — a team that leans heavily on power hitters sandwiched between aggressive speedsters and table setters. They spent like a late 90s AL team too… frantically dealing away young talent at the trade deadline to solidify a roster that had some obvious holes. While many will argue Tampa Bay is the most complete team in the league, the one thing they don’t have is Clifton Phifer Lee. The guy has a knack for the postseason: carrying the Phillies in ’09 to the tune of 4 wins and a 1.56 ERA.

Lee can’t do it alone and Game 1 starter David Price is well equipped to handle the Rangers lineup because of his regular season experience. Couple that with Matt Garza and this could be a very short series. One AL East starting pitcher recently shared with me how battling in such a tough division can be a major competitive advantage: “pitching against those types of teams so often increases the learning curve… you really gotta develop a lot quicker and when you go against teams that maybe don’t have the types of offenses like the Yankeers or the Rays do,  you can take what you learned and really dominate those lesser offensive teams.”  Prediction: Rays in 4 games.

Reasons to watch this series: Look for Cy Young candidate David Price to dial up his 100 MPH fastball and show everyone why he’s the best pitcher in baseball. Also a new chapter will be added to The Josh Hamilton Story: his first trip to the postseason.

YANKEES VS. TWINS – Game 1 Wednesday 8:37 pm

If you’re a stat junky this is the series for you. The Yankees are the most patient team in the league – Brett Gardner led the league with an average of 4.61 pitches per plate appearance – and routinely wear out opposing pitchers. On the flip side, Minnesota pounds the strike zone and had the lowest walk rate with 2.37 allowed per game. Expect the Yankees to grind Twins starters into submission while their stellar lineup seals the deal in late innings. Not even Carl Pavano’s lucky mustache will muster a win. Prediction: Yankees sweep.

 

Pavano's new 'stache led to 17 wins, 3.75 ERA.

Reasons to watch: Twins strikeout artist Francisco Liriano (9.43 K’s per 9 innings) will be backed by a boisterous home crowd in Game 1. Robinson Cano grew from all star to superstar this season with .319 BA, 29 HRs, and 109 RBI. In true New Yorker fashion, the Yankees have a flare for the dramatic with 18 walk-off wins this year. If Matt Capps enters the game, do NOT change the channel.

PHILLIES VS. REDS – Game 1 Wednesday 5:07 pm

Ugh, they’re back. Phillies starter Cole Hamels has regained his 2008 form and the thought of Game 1 starter Roy Halladay going two games this series is just plain scary. But if there’s any team that can derail Philly’s return to the World Series it’s the Cincinnati Reds. First baseman Joey Votto led the way with .324 BA, 37 HRs, and 113 RBI.

 

Last time Cincy made the playoffs, Sabo was rocking the Rec Specs at third base.

Reds manager Dusty Baker will lean heavily on his bullpen during the late innings to stymie the likes of Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Jason Werth. Bullpen pitching is so critical in the postseason and the Phillies ranked 18th in the league with a 4.02 ERA during the regular season. Cincinnatti will exploit that. Brad Lidge’s presence alone is worth at least two losses this series. Prediction: Reds in 5.

Reasons to watch: Votto vs. Halladay. The Reds will be making their first trip to the postseason since 1995 and Cincinnati fans NEED this. Nicknamed the “Cuban Missile”, Reds reliever Aroldis Champman recently recorded the fastest pitch in major league history: 105.1 MPH.

GIANTS VS. BRAVES – Game 1 Thursday 9:37 pm

While the scenic AT&T Park in San Francisco is home to some of baseball’s greatest fans, the Atlanta Braves struggle to sell out playoff games. Thursday’s game by the Bay will kick off a series that boasts the two best pitching staffs in the NL. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathon Sanchez, and Madison Bumgarner remind many of those four young Braves pitchers that started a dynasty in the early 90s. Unfortunately for Atlanta, they play for the other team. This series will be won by positional depth and clutch play in the late innings. Prediction: Giants in 5.

Reasons to watch: This matchup includes two Rookie of the Year finalists on opposite teams — Giants catcher Buster Posey and Braves outfielder Jason Heyward. The Giants have a player nicknamed “Kung Fu Panda” in Pablo Sandoval and their closer Brian Wilson believes he’s a certified ninja. Game 1 starter Tim Lincecum has one of the more unique pitching deliveries in the game and needs to regain his Cy Young form if they’re going to do anything this postseason. Let’s hope for Giants fans he gets on track in Game 1.

Tuesday’s Take: Looking back on Week 1

NFL Football is back and better than ever. Let’s skip the pleasantries and go right to the Week 1 story lines.

Arian Foster lived up to the preseason hype then tacked on an additional 100 yards for good measure. Colts linebackers looked lost and Foster’s one-cut style reminded many of Terrell Davis circa 1996. Sky is the limit and he’s the main beneficiary of being in a top flight offense. It’ll be interesting to see how Foster will fare this weekend against a formidable Redskins defense and a week’s worth of film.

Arrowhead Stadium hasn’t been this electric since Joe Montana was slinging the rock to Willie Davis. Javier Arenas, Dexter McCluster, and Jamaal Charles turned that game into a freaking track meet last night. Every good football team has a home-run threat. This team has four (don’t forget about rookie safety Eric Berry). Cassel only threw for 68 yards but no one seemed to care. Why does every west coast team struggle in the elements? San Diego had four chances to tie it with the game on the line and Rivers failed to execute. Memo to Phillip Rivers: drop the “aw shucks” routine from your post-game press conferences. LT is gone, V-Jax won’t come back and you just blew it against a division opponent. Step away from the L.L. Bean catalog and mix in a decent suit for once. There’s room for only one redneck quarterback in this league and his name is Brett Favre.

Minnesota's precarious Situation.

As for Favre, is he ever going to stop treating the NFL like a game of Madden? Forcing balls, refusing to check down, and tunnel vision are the types of things that make watching Favre so tragic yet so awesome at the same time. There’s your “How’d he do that?!” moments followed by your “Why’d he do that?!” moments. Favre’s 2009 was a lot like Jersey Shore season 1 because he vastly exceeded expectations and we were wildly entertained. If Minnesota season 2 is anything like Jersey Shore season 2 we’ll skip the live show and just wait for highlights (thanks Joel McHale). Perhaps Favre’s pants-on-the-ground bit was his jump the shark moment in Minnesota. Jersey Shore jumped the shark when it moved to South Beach. C’mon people, the name of the show is Jersey Shore.

Well look what the cat dragged in… Michael Vick is back and brought a full blown QB controversy with him. He stepped up in place of the injured Kolb (concussion) and led a furious comeback. The last time Vick rushed for 103 yards in a game rap music actually sounded good and sub-prime mortgage brokers were printing money. Oh the memories! After the game Vick stated “If I had been out there for four quarters maybe we would have had a chance to win the game”. How’s that for a headline?

They’re real and they’re spectacular: Foster, Jahvid Best, Matt Forte ver 2.0, the Renaissance of Jay Cutler, Hakeem Nicks, Wes Welker’s knee, and Trent Dilfer’s broadcasting skills.

He lives in a van down by the river.

Monitor the performance of Run DMC over these next few weeks before making a trade. Sure, that Oakland offensive line is turrrrrable but Darren McFadden’s receiving skills should off-set any disparity in the touchdown department. For the record, not enough has been said about how scary Oakland Raiders coach Tom Cable looks on the sidelines. He should’ve been there for Tony’s protection in that last episode of Sopranos. Cable needs to channel that bully mentality and use it to ride the officials more… it worked for Mike Tice in Minnesota. There’s not a single player on that team I’d take over Cable if I needed some back in a bar fight.  Cable could probably take on a whole biker gang Terminator 2 style if he wanted to. Forget the Chuck Norris jokes because this guy is for real. He’s also the only coach in the league who broke an assistant coach’s jaw to make his point. It’s a shame Cable can’t fight his way into the playoffs. Quarterback Jason Campbell is a modern day Scott Mitchell: every GM wants him to do well yet no one is smart enough to figure out why he sucks. Allow me to spell it out for you football “geniuses”– no quarterback should take four years to develop. It doesn’t matter how bad the line is or how many coaches he has. Did I really just burn 228 words on the Oakland Raiders? Sorry about that… they’re just so amusing and ironically awesome. What ever happened to James Jett anyway? That was a great name for a wide receiver. It reminds me of those fake names old video game programmers had to use when they lacked the NFLPA license. Honorable mention goes to former Raiders tight end Doug Jolley and Miami Sharks quarterback Willie Beamen.

The two wins that weren’t: A game-winning Calvin Johnson reception was overturned by an official review. The Bears are who the Lions thought they were and the officials let em off the hook! Roy Williams and his Cowboys teammates were too busy humping each other in the end zone to realize Alex Barron mugged his way toward a holding penalty that ended the game in favor of the Skins. “Never gonna give you up… never gonna let you down…”

The Cowboys were one of seven playoff teams that started 2010 with a loss. The others include Philly, Minnesota, the Hard ob-Knocks-ious Jets, Bungals, Colts (thanks Arian), and Bolts. Vick starting against the Lions defense this week should be entertaining. I don’t know much about betting but I know it’s never smart to bet against home underdogs vs. a division opponent. The Redskins, Texans, Chiefs, and Seahawks all won. Only the lowly Bills (+3) couldn’t cover against the Fish and lost 15-10.

Which weighs more-- 100 lbs or a jar full of nickels the size of Shonn Greene's head?

Sure it’s only one game but the Jets looked overhyped, overexposed, and over-everything. LT, not Shonn Greene, looks like the running back to own on this team. He essentially got benched Monday night in a game that was dominated by the Ravens defense. Is it just me or does he look eerily similar to Ken Griffy Jr. did when the nuclear accident gave him a giant head in that episode of The Simpsons? It’s gotta be hard to run full speed with that thing weighing you down. Examples like this are exactly why you don’t take chances in the first few rounds of fantasy drafts. Minimize risk and enjoy the guaranteed production. No one would’ve argued if you selected Reggie Wayne over Greene in the early 2nd round. At least you’d know what to expect on a weekly basis.

That sound you heard Tuesday morning was millions of fantasy footballers left-clicking their way to claim Packers running back Brandon Jackson off the waiver wire. Congrats if you landed him. Jackson will provide solid RB2 production as the featured back with incumbant starter Ryan Grant out for the season. Even before week 1 Mike Montgomery praised Jackson and suggested that he was fully capable of being a featured back in that offense. While Jackson may lack the pass-blocking skills of Grant, he’s a great receiver and has the ability to make secondary defenders miss in the open field. Be prepared to watch him run to the sidelines on long third downs. He’ll provide the cheddar in a tasty matchup with the Buffalo Bills this week. Prediction: 140 total yards and two touchdowns.

Week 2 survivor pick: Green Bay. Cheese wins over buffalo wings any day of the week.

Fantasy Folesball: The RBs I Love & Loathe

You’ve seen the numbers. You know the names. When the clock is ticking will you make the right choice? In this entry I’ll highlight five running backs I love and the ones you should avoid.

THUMBS UP:

Jamaal Charles- Breakaway speed on an improved offense. He set an NFL record for fewest carries (190) to reach 1,100 rushing yards for 5.9 yards per carry. That’s some Madden type stuff right there. The presence of Thomas Jones will scare off enough people to make Charles a nice value in the 3rd round of fantasy drafts. He’s an ideal RB2.

Thumbs Up for Southeast Jerome!

Clinton Portis- His offseason conditioning has received high marks from the local media. The arrival of Donovan McNabb and old-new coach Mike Shanahan will open the running game enough to reach 1,200 rushing yards and 6 TDs (if healthy).

Ryan Matthews- Norv Turner sure knows how to please fantasy football fans doesn’t he? Turner suggests that Matthews will fetch 250+ carries and over 40 receptions in his rookie season. One has to like this talk coming out of Chargers camp. Slot him ahead of marginal first rounders LeSean McCoy and Rashard Mendenhall.

Ladanian Tomlinson- Value, value, value. LT will be ignored in the early rounds. Take him late and expect solid production. The Jets offensive line is the best in the league and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer will give LT every opportunity to earn his fair share of the carries. I forecast a 50/50 split (timeshare with second year back Shonn Greene) and LT getting most of the action near the goal line. “What it do!”

Beanie Wells- In a recent interview on the Jim Rome Show Wells provided some insight as to why his rookie season started so slow. It was the first time he’d ever lived outside the state of Ohio and he struggled with the pressures of being the 1st round pick to a team that made the Super Bowl in its previous season. This year he’s fully loaded and ready to set the fantasy world afire. Arizona will lean heavily on the 6’1″ 235lb back to give Matt Leinart more room in the passing game. Expect his workload to increase significantly from the 176 carries posted in ’09. Prediction: 1,400 rushing yards, 10 TDs, and dozens of trade offers from your fellow leaguemates. You’re welcome.

Keep your eye on…

Buffalo Bills running back CJ Spiller is primed for some major preseason carries. Fred Jackson, who’s fresh off a 1,000 yard season behind that same offensive line, will be out 4-6 weeks due to a broken bone in his hand. Incumbent starter Marshawn Lynch was the mayor of Suck City last season and he’ll be on the sidelines for the next 3-4 weeks nursing a sprained ankle. Monitor Spiller’s progress and adjust your rankings accordingly.

"Are you not entertained?!"

THUMBS DOWN:

Adrian Peterson- Are we supposed to forget that this guy is a torn-ACL-waiting-to-happen? AP now has 742 touches in the past two seasons. He logged 412 total touches last season including the playoffs. Don’t forget the fumbles either. If you have the #1 overall pick just draft Chris Johnson and enjoy the ride.

The mutant child of JStew & DeAngelo Williams- Who’s their quarterback? Which of these two running backs is the starter? How will the carries be divvied up? What’s the ratio of stanley nickels to schrute bucks?

Avoid the Dirty Birds this year.

Michael Turner- Have you ever seen this guy run in the open field? Michael “the Burner” Turner isn’t… and hasn’t been since 2008. He’s every bit of 28 years old in a very young league. Matt Ryan looked very JV last season and defenses will continue to stack 8 men in the box. Yuck.

Ryan Grant- He’s that guy in the office who got promoted to management and no one seems to know why. Yet Ryan Grant shows up to work on time, leaves promptly at 5pm, and does just enough not to get fired. Somehow people keep drafting Grant in the 2nd round. That’s terrible value for a guy who only topped 100 yards twice last year. LOATHE!

Knowshon Moreno- A simple Google Images search will show there are three full pages of pics from Moreno’s college days before you get to some snapshots of him sporting Broncos gear. There’s a reason for that. After a rather uninspired rookie campaign in which he averaged a very pedestrian 3.8 yards per carry, Moreno has yet to show flashes of the form that made him a fixture in Athens. Couple that with the departure of playmaker Brandon Marshall, sprinkle in a few extra gimmick plays for Tim Tebow (hey, you have to sell jerseys somehow) and you have the recipe for regression. He’ll probably never be the featured back in Denver so why waste a 3/4 round pick on him? Don’t be that guy on draft day wearing the hideous Broncos throwback jersey with #27 on the back.

Stay tuned next week for a preview of the wide receivers.

The Good, The Bad, The Astros

Of the Big Four, Major League Baseball most closely mirrors the world of business because it’s much more than a schedule of games. The baseball season is a timeline and that dictates market conditions for future gains. Wins, losses, injuries, and performance create a supply and demand. Here’s a look at some of trade deadline buyers, sellers, winners, and losers:

BUYERS

New York Yankees
It’s hard to start this entry without mentioning the Big Apple, right?  There’s a reason why Yankees GM Brian Cashman chose the font silian rail for his business cards and the word “cash” is part of his name… he’s the shrewdest of all negotiators. Have you ever wondered what happens to these “prospects” the Yankees trade away at the deadline every year? Nothing. The Yankees always keep the Robinson Canos and the Derek Jeters of the world. They added 1B/DH Lance Berkman for pennies on the dollar and filled in a couple holes with some spare parts from the Cleveland Indians. Berkman looked a little awkward in Yankees garb the other night but he will pay dividends as a #7 hitter. Read that again. Lance Berkman is going bat 7th. Kerry Wood and Austin Kearns will be solid role players for the Yankees. Wood struck out the side in his first appearance as a Yankee. Situational relievers and power off the bench are at a premium come playoff time. The Big Apple is ripe for a repeat: GRADE A+.

Someone needs to remind the Texas Rangers that they don’t play in the AL East. The Cliff Lee pickup in early July was phenomenal, but did they really need those impulse buys at the cash register? Jorge Cantu’s production has dropped off significantly since May and Cristian Guzman is… well… Cristian Guzman. He’ll be relegated to the bench once Ian Kinsler returns from the DL anyway. Shame on the Rangers for not having more positional depth. What ever happened to Chris Davis anyway? The guy hit 21 home runs in half a season last year. GRADE C.

The Anaheim Angels landed Dan Haren without giving up prized prospect Mike Trout (not to be confused with former Angel Tim Salmon). Joe Saunders, a couple mid-level prospects, and a plater to be named later doesn’t seem like fair market value. Haren’s numbers will likely improve moving from a ballpark that surrendered the third most HRs in the league. Their postseason rotation could shape up to be Haren, Jered Weaver, and Ervin Santana. GRADE B.

SELLERS

Houston Astros
Billy Madison: I bet that snack pack is pretty good huh?
[the little kid smiles and nods]
Billy Madison: Wanna trade me the rest of it for this banana?
[the little kid smiles and shakes his head]
Billy Madison: You know how badly I could beat you, right?

That’s exactly what Brian Cashman did to Astros GM Ed Wade. The Astros surrendered Lance Berkman to the Yankees for two crummy side items. Triple-A pitching prospect Mark Melancon will have immediate value as a situational reliever while Jimmy Paredes will fade into minor league obscurity. Worst of all, Houston will pay most of Berkman’s contract. Michael Bourn’s bunting skills probably won’t be enough to keep Houston fans coming through the turnstiles.

Billy Madison: Bunt. B-U-N-T, in perfect cursive. Any more brain busters?
Veronica Vaughn: “Rizzuto”? [Billy ponders, then writes]
Veronica Vaughn: Rirruto?
Billy Madison: Those’re Z’s.
Veronica Vaughn: They look like R’s to me.
Billy Madison: That’s not fair! Rizzuto’s not a word! He’s a baseball player! You’re cheating!

Ed Wade cheated the rest of the AL East by making this deal. Of course, the ‘Stros tipped their hand early by dealing Roy Oswalt to the Phillies for pitcher JA Happ, Jonathan Villar, and OF Anthony Gose. While Happ will slide right into the #3 starter, Anthony Gose was the key piece of this deal. Wade quickly swapped the 19-year-old speedster for Blue Jays prospect Brett Wallace. The guy has crushed Triple-A pitching to the tune of .301 AVG 18 HRs 61 RBI and was immediately called up to take Berkman’s spot in the lineup. Wallace has now been involved in deals for Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Matt Holliday, and Roy Oswalt. Not sure what that suggests but we’ll find out over his next two months in the bigs. Wallace was a great consolation prize but the Astros still receive a GRADE F. Perhaps Ed Wade should go back to school… “the Billy Madison wayyyy!”

Washington Nationals
Nats brass has learned a few things from those summer interns who use Craigslist religiously. Post a bunch of your stuff that’s available for sale, set prices ridiculously high, and sit back while your inbox gets flooded with stupid questions. Unfortunately the asking price for free-agent-to-be Adam Dunn was too expensive (Daniel Hudson +1) for the White Sox GM Kenny Williams’ taste. Alfonso Soriano anyone?
Even though the big name stayed put, the Nats quietly pieced together some nice deals. Wilson Ramos for Matt Capps was an absolute steal. The development of closer-in-waiting Drew Storen made The Mad Capper expendable and LHP Joe Testa was also a decent bargain grab for the Nats.
The longest tenured National Christian was exported to Texas for a couple minor leaguers. RHP Ryan Tatusko projects as a #4 starter while RHP Tanner Roark has a long way to go. Without the presence of Guzman, shortstop Ian Desmond and his pancake hands will challenge baseball’s modern day errors record (Joe Cronin – 62). The biggest loser in this deal is Nats color guy Rob Dibble because he’ll be tasked with the responsibility of making non-Strasburg games interesting for viewers. No deal for Dunn, but the Nationals still get a GRADE B for their ability to land top catching prospect Wilson Ramos.

Cleveland Indians
All this guff about Lebron James had everyone forgetting that Cleveland still has a really bad baseball team too. The Kerry Wood trade makes sense because it saves money and gives 8th inning guy Chris Perez a chance to shine in the closer role. But why would you trade Jhonny Peralta and Austin Kearns when there’s no one to replace them? 19-year-old LHP Giovanni Soto (not to be confused with Cubs catcher Geovany Soto) had some success at the Single-A level and is the lone bright spot of these deadline deals. Adding insult to injury for Cleveland fans, Jake Delhomme was on Sportscenter this morning talking about how he’s ready for week 1. Ugh. Speaking of Jakes, they couldn’t get more than Corey Kluber for Jake Westbrook? Cmon Shapiro, you’re better than that. GRADE D.

WINNERS

The Boston Red Sox were penny-wise at the trade deadline and took a flier on catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Every week there’s a new All Star coming back from the DL and it’s hard to gage how good or bad this team can be. Playing it safe was the right move here.

LOSERS

Chicago White Sox failed to land Adam Dunn and settled for Edwin Jackson. Division rivals Minnesota and Detroit also got better at the deadline. Dunn would’ve been the perfect anchor in that lineup as a DH. Chicago missed its chance to set themselves apart. They might win the division, but October will be an early exit for the South Siders.

Did the Philadelphia Phillies really need to make that deal for Oswalt? It seems like that move was motivated by pure paranoia. If the Phillies kept Cliff Lee rather than dealing him to Seattle in the offseason this trade wouldn’t have been necessary. JA Happ outshined Oswalt in his first start for the Astros. Perhaps Ed Wade didn’t do so bad after all.

What’s a “Player To Be Named Later”?

Today the Diamondbacks traded Dan Haren to the Angels for Joe Saunders, Raphael Rodriguez, Patrick Corbin, and a player to be named later. While the term “player to be named later” may remind many of the 2008 trade that sent a minor leaguer packing in exchange for 10 baseball bats, the PTBNL is more than just a throw-in.

Famous PTBNLs include David Ortiz, Scott Podsednik, and Moises Alou. These players were part of a deadline deal but not immediately traded because the receiving team was still in the process of evaluating their talents and positional needs. For sake of convenience negotiating teams usually agree on a list of 5 to 10 players that can ultimately be chosen. The player must change leagues and a cash sum is negotiated if the two teams cannot agree on a player. By rule, teams have six months to complete this part of the deal.

As for the Diamondbacks, there’s speculation that the player will be named Tyler Skaggs, a 19-year-old lefty who’s considered one of the best arms in the Angels farm system. In 14 starts this year he’s 8-4 with a 3.61 ERA for Class-A Cedar Rapids. At 7-8, Haren’s fortunes will likely change going to a contender with strong run support. He has a National League leading 141 strikeouts in 141 innings pitched this season. The Angels will owe Haren $33 Million on a contract that runs through 2012 and includes club option for 2013. Kudos to Angels GM Tony Reagins for completing this trade without surrendering top prospect Mike Trout. Their potential post season rotation would start with Haren followed by Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana, and Joel Piñeiro. Lackey who?

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