With the San Francisco Giants out of the playoff hunt, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Jeff Samardzija’s name in trade chatter. But the pitcher likely won’t be on the move, especially because he has a say in the matter.Rumor CentralAndrew Baggarly of San cheap jerseys mlb Jose’s Mercury News reports that Samardzija is unwilling to lift his no-trade clause, which allows him to reject any trade to 22 teams. “Obviously it hasn’t gone the way we wanted it to, which has put some people in some trade talks,” Samardzija said. “But we also know that we have a great core of guys here [and] as long as we do our jobs and have confidence and momentum and excitement, we’re going to do really well.” He added to Baggarly that he loves being in San Francisco. Samardzija, 32, is in the second year of a five-year, $90 million deal that brought him to San Francisco last season after a year with the Chicago White Sox. He has struggled to a 5-11 record this season with a 4.85 ERA. One thing the right-hander can provide to any team is innings, as he has topped 200 frames each of the past four seasons. Of the eight teams that Samardzija can be traded to without his permission, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Washington Nationals and New York Yankees all are in the market for starting pitching but seem to be focused on higher-end options. It remains to be seen if a market will develop around Samardzija, but he maintains some control of his destiny.
Archive for January, 2017
The Washington Wizards played a total of six lineups more than 19 games in the 2017-17 NBA season. Some lineups worked much better than others.In the modern NBA, having a lineup for every type of scenario is crucial. Since the Golden State Warriors started their reign of terror in the league, many teams have started to shift to smaller lineups, eliminating post-up play and traditional big men for crunch-time lineups. The NBA has started a phase with an emphasis on efficient scoring, caring more about three-point percentage and shots at the rim than midrangers and post moves. In this new era of the NBA, it’s interesting to see what a team’s best and worst lineups are over an entire season. This shows exactly what type of personnel is on the court for the most successful box score numbers. Below is the best lineup (based off of plus/minus) the Washington Wizards played more than 19 regular season games: Lineup: cheap jerseys John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr., Markieff Morris, Marcin Gortat (+3.4 plus/minus)
There’s not much surprise here. The Wizards were a pretty solid team in the 2016-17 NBA season, so it makes sense their starting lineup would be their best combination. In an NBA where lineups are getting smaller and smaller, Marcin Gortat is still the best option to protect the rim and rebound for Washington. But what might be more interesting is to take a look at the other five lineups the Washington Wizards frequented this year: Lineup 1: John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr., Kelly Oubre Jr., Marcin Gortat (+2.2 plus/minus)
Lineup 2: John Wall, Bradley Beal, Kelly Oubre Jr., Markieff Morris, Marcin Gortat (+0.2 plus/minus)
Lineup 3: John Wall, Bradley Beal, Kelly Oubre Jr., Otto Porter Jr., Markieff Morris (-0.1 plus/minus)
Lineup 4: John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr., Markieff Morris, Jason Smith (-1.0 plus/minus)
Lineup 5: John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr., Jason Smith, Marcin Gortat (-1.3 plus/minus)
There are a couple of key takeaways from these numbers. The first one and probably most obvious is that John Wall and Bradley Beal are in every single one of these lineups. This just shows that those two are very much at the center of everything the Washington Wizards do. The second takeaway, and the most alarming one, is that the Wizards only have two commonly used lineups from the entire NBA 2016-17 season with a plus/minus of more than 1.0. For reference, the Golden State Warriors have seven lineups that are all net positive last season.
This snapshot at lineups just shows how a lack of depth is extremely detrimental to Washington. If the Wizards are unable to field more than two lineup combinations for extended periods of time, they will be in huge trouble come playoff time. Hopefully the signings of Tim Frazier, Jodie Meeks and Mike Scott will give the Wizards more flexibility in their lineups, allowing John Wall and Bradley Beal to rest on the bench without their team crumbling around them. The third takeaway is that the Wizards have tried to use a small-ball lineup and haven’t really figured it out yet. Lineup 3 consists of two guards and three forwards, using no traditional big man. The problem is, the lineup was a net negative for the team. What the Warriors have (and other teams have that have succeeded with small ball lineups), is a bunch of wing forwards who can guard multiple positions. The reason the Wizards’ small-ball lineup isn’t working is most likely because Otto Porter Jr. and Kelly Oubre Jr. aren’t able to guard multiple positions yet.
If those two can work on their defensive game and hold their own against opponents both smaller and bigger than them, the Wizards may have the makings of a fantastic small-ball lineup, but until then, keep the Polish Hammer Marcin Gortat on the court…please.
A few weeks before the trade deadline a year ago, the Cubs acquired Aroldis Chapman, a star reliever who would spend one-third of a regular season and one full postseason in Chicago before hitting free agency.Earlier this month, the Diamondbacks acquired J.D. Martinez, a star outfielder who will spend one-third of a regular season and (most likely) one full postseason in Arizona before hitting free agency. The way we ordinarily assess major leaguers — by their WAR, for instance, or their projected WAR or even by how much a major league team is willing to pay them to play baseball — Martinez and Chapman are comparable. Chapman signed an $86 million contract last offseason; Martinez looks poised to get roughly that much. They are of roughly equal value. This is truly basic analysis, but it’s basically true analysis. The Cubs gave up far, far more in trade to get Chapman than the Diamondbacks did to get Martinez. The Cubs gave up one of the 10 best prospects in baseball; the Diamondbacks gave up one of the 10 best prospects in the Diamondbacks system, perhaps. It follows, then, that either the Cubs got suckered or the Diamondbacks got a steal, and the Yankees were brilliant or the Tigers blew it. Maybe to all of that. I’m here to warn you against declaring suckers and bargains at the trade deadline. The trade deadline is a borderline irrational marketplace that defies the sort of precision analysis we typically apply to transactions. What makes the July market so bonkers? 1. Supply and demand fluctuate wildly from year to year — or even week to week. Unlike the offseason, when the vast majority of teams are trying to improve in a general and immediate sense, trade deadline teams’ incentives are narrowly tailored to the standings, and their rosters are largely already set. Meanwhile, there isn’t a batch of dozens of free agents to choose from; there is a small handful of players available from out-of-it teams. As Dave Cameron wrote for FanGraphs after the Martinez deal, this month there just weren’t any teams with a big enough need to bid against the Diamondbacks. You can basically go through every contender in baseball and not really find another team like the Diamondbacks. They’re the only team who had the obvious corner-outfield need and the incentive to upgrade for the rest of 2017. Other teams were probably interested, but likely not interested enough to really push that hard for Martinez. The other side of pricing is, of course, supply. And while there don’t seem to be that many teams buying corner-outfield rentals, there are a bunch of teams selling them.
Compare that to the 2014 trade deadline, when Boston was shopping Andrew Miller, who had recently broken out as a top setup man in his final season before free agency. There were no other premium relievers available on the market that week, and according to Boston GM Ben Cherington, every contender in baseball called about Miller. The result: Boston got back a top-100 pitching prospect (Eduardo Rodriguez) in a move that Keith Law called “the best value move of the day,” bumming out Orioles partisans. 2. One trading partner might be more motivated to make a deal than the other. In the offseason, even a rebuilding team can justify keeping its players, knowing that they’ll have another chance to cash in at the trade deadline (and that they might sell some season tickets in the meantime). But the Tigers, pretty much out of contention and about to see Martinez hit free agency, had almost no choice but to move him. They could have tried waiting to see if another buyer emerged — either because another team got hot and played itself into contention or because an established contender was hit by an injury — but they couldn’t really not trade Martinez. The only leverage they had over the Diamondbacks was to bluff; otherwise, the Diamondbacks had much more power to set the price. 3. Not all buyers have the same reasons to buy. The vast majority of teams go into an offseason hoping to win their division, not sure (beyond a range of 10 or 15 or so victories) how many games they’ll end up winning and not sure how many victories will be necessary. With this broad uncertainty, every win added is valuable. More important, every additional win is equally valuable for all competitive teams. Their goals for the offseason are all more or less the same: Get good players to win as many games as possible. The trade deadline, though, comes when two-thirds of the season is finished, and a lot of the standings are baked firm. For a team such as the Royals, one or two wins could be the difference between winning a division and missing the playoffs entirely, a difference that could mean tens of millions of dollars in revenue and a dramatically different mood all offseason. But for a team such as the Astros, up by 17 games in the AL West, even 15 extra wins probably change absolutely nothing. The Royals, then, would theoretically be rational if they put a much higher value on a veteran upgrade than the Astros would. Or wait! Maybe it’s the opposite. The Astros know that they’ll be playing in the American League Division Series. They know that they have a reasonable chance of winning a World Series and that whomever they add will be playing incredibly important games. The Royals, meanwhile, might need upgrades to stay alive in this race — but even if they stay alive, they might not make it to the postseason, and even if they make it to the postseason, it might be for only one game. If the point is to win or get close to a World Series, there’s a much better chance that a Royals trade would turn out to be for nothing. Which is to say that the incentives are complicated, and every contending team has its own variables that change every day: how close they are to the division title, how close they are to a wild card, how much they value home-field advantage in a possible wild-card game, how strong their outlook is after this season. In the offseason, 15 teams might look at J.D. Martinez and value him close to equally. That isn’t true 100 games into a season. 4. July standings rev up rivalries. With fewer teams in contention, with less ambiguity about which teams you’re battling, with probable playoff matchups foreseeable and with a small number of teams looking to upgrade at any position, it’s easier in July to see an acquisition as also obstructing a direct competitor’s pursuit. A player’s value to a team could be, in the right circumstances, just about doubled. This was certainly part of what made the Yankees’ acquisition last week of third baseman Todd Frazier and relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle such a coup in their pursuit of the division-leading Red Sox: Those are “three players who could have helped address the Red Sox’s two most glaring needs,” as ESPN’s Scott Lauber put it, and Frazier in particular was probably the last true third baseman on the trade market. 5. The playoffs are a whole new ballgame. At this point last year, Cleveland had a comfortable lead in its division and a 97 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to Baseball Prospectus. With such an easy path to October, giving up two top prospects for Andrew Miller — now a bona fide relief ace — didn’t mean much for the rest of the regular season. (They won their division by eight games.) But the Indians knew that when the postseason came around, they would be able to guarantee that Miller would be on the mound in some of the biggest moments of their season. The difference between acquiring him and not acquiring him would be dramatic; a World Series appearance might ride on a single at-bat Miller could be held back for. This is not true for the Diamondbacks and Martinez. He’ll bat when his turn in the lineup comes up. The closer to the postseason we get, the more it might make sense to invest in October-specific value rather than an April-to-September roster. 6. Clubhouse chemistry is complicated. The conventional wisdom around baseball these days is that good clubhouse chemistry is desirable and important but hard to engineer or anticipate or even assess. This is all amplified for a player added midseason, who joins a team that already has its culture, its narrative arc, its pregame music routines and its post-hit celebration memes. The player added midseason doesn’t go through the cheap mlb jerseys authentic team-building rituals of spring training. And the player added midseason joins a team that, mostly likely, has had success. If that success suddenly evaporates, he is the new variable who might well be blamed. See, for instance, the panic that grew throughout the summer of 2014 after the A’s traded Yoenis Cespedes for Jon Lester and went 22-33 thereafter. It wasn’t Lester who was blamed, but the trade took on totemic significance in the collapse narrative — a narrative even the players bought into. 7. The future is unwritten. The Cubs this month traded for Jose Quintana. As all players’ are, Quintana’s next few months and next few years are unpredictable. When Baseball Prospectus used its PECOTA projections to forecast him before the season, for instance, it figured that he was a three-WAR pitcher, but it also allowed that there was a 10 percent chance he’d be a five-WAR pitcher and a 10 percent chance he’d be a one-WAR pitcher. Knowing everything we knew about Quintana, we couldn’t really rule out that he’d be on Cy Young ballots, and we couldn’t rule out that he’d pitch like a lousy fifth starter. That is a scale of uncertainty we can handle, though. The headline name the Cubs gave up for Quintana exists in a world of uncertainty that could make or break a franchise. Eloy Jimenez was the 14th-best prospect in baseball coming into the season, according to Baseball America. Carlos Beltran was once the 14th-best prospect in baseball, and he turned into a superstar who might make the Hall of Fame. Drew Henson was once the 14th-best prospect in baseball, and he retired with one major league hit. If the range of Jose Quintana outcomes spans, say, 10 WAR over the final two and a half years of his current contract, the range of Eloy Jimenez outcomes over the next seven years might be 30 or 40 WAR. To declare a winner or loser based on a player who might turn into Carlos Beltran or might turn into Drew Henson — with absolutely no clue yet which — is bold. This is true even of the non-headline names. When Cleveland traded Jake Westbrook in a three-way deadline deal in 2010, it got back a fringy Double-A pitcher who had a career 4.29 ERA across the Padres’ minor league system and was barely even mentioned in the next day’s newspaper articles. Four years later, he won the Cy Young Award, and two years after that, he pitched the Indians to Game 7 of the World Series. He’s Corey Kluber, he was the best player traded that summer, and it radically altered two franchises. Of course, none of this means we can’t analyze a trade. Better prospects — such as the ones the Yankees got for Chapman — are better than lesser prospects. Diamondbacks fans can be pleasantly surprised that they got Martinez for so little, and Tigers fans can be disappointed that their GM didn’t find a more robust market for such an excellent player. But it’s never harder than it is in July to call a GM a genius or a fool, and it’s never harder to anticipate who we’ll say “won” a trade when we look back 10 years from now.
With Ivan Drago-like hair and a late-career dragon tattoo covering his back, Andrei Kirilenko was one of the more intimidating forwards in basketball. His nickname, “AK-47,” and tendency to swat shots into the stands didn’t soften his image.But these days, Kirilenko is a disciplined family man who moved on to the next phase in his life after finishing his playing days two years ago. While some of his contemporaries have decided to spend their post-basketball lives somewhere warm, Kirilenko, content with how his career panned out, is still working. And when he gets the time, he thinks of Utah, too. Once the proverbial face of Russian basketball on the hardwood, Kirilenko has become the literal face of the Russian Basketball Federation as the organization’s commissioner. Unlike in the United States, where the NBA has been resourceful with the national basketball program in providing assistance, the Russian Basketball Federation operates as an independent entity. Kirilenko’s day-to-day operations as commissioner aren’t outlined like they are for Adam Silver. From managing the people who referee the games to making sure the program’s relationship with the government is consistent, Kirilenko does it all. “It’s a lot of work, and there’s a lot of challenges,” Kirilenko said in a recent interview with the Deseret News. “Being responsible for a basketball program for the whole Russian nation is challenging. There are a lot of directions, and it starts with mini basketball, with children. Then it goes all the way up to the national team.” Beginning Aug. 31, Kirilenko will be in charge of running two Russian national teams for the 2017 FIBA EuroBasket tournament with hopes of earning a spot in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The responsibilities are demanding, but Kirilenko finds it fulfilling. “I knew I couldn’t be a coach. I can coach for a day or two but not for an entire season,” he said while chuckling. “I never thought I’d be in this kind of position, but I knew I’d always be around basketball.” Instead of taking a year or two off from the game, Kirilenko knew he had to thrust himself into a high-pressured situation immediately after retiring as a player. As his friend who retired from the NHL at 40 told him, “when you retire, go work right away.” “When you take a year off anything, you don’t want to come back,” Kirilenko said. “When you’re still playing, you have that work ethic. You’re used to waking up early, going to work and being on a schedule. That was really good advice. It’s helping me right now because I’m still in work and practice mode.” Now that he’s not focused on X’s and O’s, defending Kobe Bryant in the 2009 NBA playoffs or finding a way to integrate himself in the Utah Jazz offense while knowing Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer would remain go-to guys, Kirilenko has taken a philosophical approach to life. As an NBA All-Star, All-Defensive First Team member, Euroleague MVP, Olympic medalist and his country’s flag bearer, Kirilenko doesn’t look back on his career with regret or think about “what ifs.” He simply recognizes the sheer luck it even took for him to get noticed in the first place. “For a kid that grew up in the streets of St. Petersburg, Russia, to come all the way to the NBA and become an All-Star, to go to the Olympics and get a medal, I did a pretty good job,” he said. “But it really depends on your perspective. If you look at it from Michael Jordan’s perspective, I didn’t do anything. But if you look at it as a kid who started playing basketball, it was an exceptional career. I was lucky enough to be the flag bearer in the Olympics for my country. I had basketball represent the whole country. That’s a big deal.” Kirilenko, who plays pickup basketball and practices from time to time, isn’t frustrated by the way his career ended — riddled by injuries, an unforeseen league-wide lockout and a last-minute trade to the historically awful Philadelphia 76ers. “It’s just a career coming to an end,” he said. “Anything you do, whether it’s in business, sports or entertainment, comes to an end. At that point, I just had to finish it. I had a great career, an exceptional career. But it was time to stop and start something else.” Kirilenko, who splits his time between Los Angeles and Moscow, still owns a home in Salt Lake City and reflected on the times he had with the Jazz but more so on the experiences he had away from the games. “My time with the Jazz is a chain of memories, starting with off the court,” he said. “I always mention, my kids were born there. I spent 10 years of my life there and made so many friends. I came to the United States at the age of 20 and didn’t know anything. I got married right before I moved, so I lived a family life in Salt Lake City. It’s a lot of factors. I played in a gym that was legendary. It’s a lot of little memories that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Salt Lake became my second home.” Last year, the Jazz honored Kirilenko at center court alongside his wife Masha and their kids, presenting them with a jersey in front of thousands of standing fans and Bryant, who greeted Kirilenko and his youngest child after the small ceremony. “The Jazz have always been so wonderful to me, and they’re doing a great job right now,” he said. “I want to wish them luck. They did a great job this season. It’s like a family. It’s a basketball franchise that keeps a certain character. Players that used to play for the Jazz still come back and support each other. It’s very important.” Focused on Russian basketball, Kirilenko doesn’t spend much time thinking in hypotheticals, such as how he would’ve done against Kevin Durant in his prime or what he could have done differently in his decade-long run with the Jazz. “If I changed anything, I wouldn’t have went the path I went,” Kirilenko said. “Those challenges created a chance for me to get better. Those challenges changed my priorities and shifted my mindset. If cheap nba jerseys authentic I could go back, I would put my money in Apple stock,” Kirilenko said with a laugh. “You can’t think about things you should’ve done. If I changed anything, I might’ve not come to this point. It’s important to live through the tough times and go through frustrations.”
Late July is generally not supposed to be the time for landscape altering transactions in the NBA. The heavy lifting is normally done sometime between draft week in late June and shortly after the free agent moratorium ends in early July. Logical teams want to make their big moves first and conduct the rest of their offseason accordingly, filling in the edges around the larger picture front and center.Life doesn’t always stick to the plan you’d prefer, though. Sometimes, a really good player ups and decides he no longer wants to play with the league’s best player and one of the greatest players of all time. On the court, there’s little sane reasoning for anyone not to want to play with LeBron James, a preternatural basketball phenomenon and, seemingly, one of the most malleable chess pieces in existence. Off the court, though, you can squint and see why it may be tough to be a number two, to live in James’ immense shadow, and to receive mostly blame in hard times and rarely the same effusive praise in good times. And so it is that Kyrie Irving has told the Cleveland Cavaliers he wants out. Again, the logic is arguable, but when it comes to a player’s feelings, who are we to really judge? James disagrees with how he’s been characterized in the ordeal and the Cavaliers say any animosity has been “overblown.” Irving’s camp is putting it out there that Irving wants to be his own star, run his own show, and not be beholden to James reportedly sometimes prickly leadership style. The Cavaliers do not have to honor said request, but at a press conference Wednesday introducing new general manager Koby Altman, if you find your way through the spin, it’s clear Cleveland would prefer to not have to deal with yet another in-season circus, which would probably be the case of Irving remains on the roster when the season opens. Altman called it a “fluid situation,” but a trade is believed to be inevitable. This obviously stands to have an impact on the Toronto Raptors, who will once again measure themselves using the Cavs as the stick in 2017-18. As currently constructed, the Raptors aren’t any closer to catching the Cavs or threatening them in a playoff series, but they’re one of a handful of Eastern Conference teams that might be able to take a swing at them if they falter. In all likelihood, this news only impacts the Raptors to the degree it signals Cleveland’s instability ahead of a huge summer in 2018, when James can leave and further tilt the balance in the East. But even though the Raptors aren’t likely to be able to top Cleveland even without Irving (the Cavs might make it back to the NBA Finals even before accounting for the return for Irving), any changes at the top of the East are worth monitoring. If you’ve been engaging in sports betting this offseason, you know that the Raptors are well behind Cleveland and Boston in terms of the title odds for Eastern Conference teams. They’re even behind the 76ers, and tied with the Bucks and Wizards. It’s hard to gauge just how much those lines would swing with any given deal, but there cheap jerseys nba are also have odds on an Irving trade, which can inform how the East might shake out post-megadeal. Irving remaining in Cleveland still remains the most likely outcome (+150), but it’s not favored versus the field. Minnesota (+200) is the most likely landing spot, followed by New York (+550), Phoenix (+600), Boston and Miami (+1000), and Denver and San Antonio (+1200). For the Raptors, the hope is probably two-fold: Irving doesn’t land in a situation where he would elevate another East team to the second tier (this seems unlikely given the reported asking price from Cleveland and Irving’s own limitations as a true No. 1, however dynamic and exciting he may be), and Irving doesn’t bring a return that makes it more likely James stays beyond next summer (this is next to impossible to tell from outside James’ circle, but anything that strengthens the Cavaliers’ medium-term would hurt; making Cleveland better for 2017-18 doesn’t move the needle much). As for Toronto themselves, they’re off the board as an Irving landing spot, likely because an Irving-Kyle Lowry swap is a case where all three sides would say no (Toronto would get cheaper but probably a little worse considering the defensive side; Cleveland would see their tax payment balloon even further; Irving wouldn’t be the clear-cut No. 1 alongside DeRozan). Is there a destination you’d like to see Irving land, from a Toronto perspective? From a general NBA fandom perspective? Anywhere that scares you? We need things to talk about here in late July, so thank shammgod for Uncle Drew.