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Friday, July 20, 2007

Diamondbacks offensive woes continue

i ............................ am



.......... writing ........................ the same


....... way ..................... the ....................... Dbacks


are .......................... hitting .....................................................and



........... scoring .................... runs!


Very, Very, Sporadically!!!!

I am back with Suns draft knowledge!

Imagine this team for the Suns - These are all Suns draft picks
95 - Michael Finley
96 - Steve Nash
97 - Stephen Jackson
98 - no pick
99 - Shawn Marion
00 - Jack Tsakalidis
01 - no first round pick
02 - Amare Stoudemire
03 - Leandro Barbosa
04 - Loul Deng - trade to Chicago
05 - Nate Robinson - traded to NY Knicks
06 - Rajon Rondo - traded to Boston
06 - Sergio Rodriquez - traded to Portland
07 - Rudy Fernandez - traded to Portland

Starting Lineup
PG - Nash
SG - Finley
SF - Deng or Jackson
PF - Marion
C - Stoudemire

Bench - Barbosa, Deng or Jackson, 1 of many point guards drafted in the past 3 years

It is painfully obvious that the Suns can at least draft good players. Recently, they love to trade those players. Lets analyze the trades.

07 K. Thomas & 08 and 2010 first round draft pick for nothing. Winner Seattle
07 Rudy Fernandez & James Jones for 3 million cash. - Winner Portland
06 Sergio Rodriquez for 3 million cash - Winner Portland
06 Rajon Rondo for Cleveland's #1 in 07 (#24 - Rudy Fernandez, traded to Portland) -Winner Portland
05 - Nate Robinson & Q for K. Thomas (eventually traded for nothing) - winner no one
04 - Loul Deng for Jackson Vromen and Future first turning out to be Nate Robinson who was traded for K. Thomas, who was trade for nothing. Winner - Chicago, NY Knicks, and Seattle, big loser Suns. This trade allowed them to go after Steve Nash in Free Agency.

Every Draft day trade for the Suns has ended poorly. When they draft a player and let him play it ends very positive. Maybe they can learn a lessons here. I am not worried about the 08 first rounder to Seattle because we still have Atlanta's First next year, and the 08 pick should be late in the first round. The 2010 first round pick to Seattle scares me a lot. Steve Nash and Marion may be retired or gone leaving Barbosa, Amare and who knows. That pick could be anywhere in the first round. What happens if Amare has to get his knee surgery redone and is out that year. Seattle may have just received the #1 pick. The reasons the Suns are in Salary Cap hell is because they do not have the picks from 04 - 06, who would be on rookie pay scales and making next to nothing, but filling out the roster. The immediate future of the Suns is still very bright for the next two years, but after that it gets very cloudy and scary. Marion will come off the books and save 17 million, but you have to assume they will try to resign him in the 10 - 13 million range, thus not really saving much money. Young talented players will be leading the way in Barbosa and Stat, but behind them are Diaw and question marks. The future is getting scary.

The HEAT is Burning Arizona's GM's Brains!!!

I know it has been around 110 degrees for the past month but everyone else in the valley seems to make it to work and not destroy everything in their path. The same can not be said for the Suns and Dbacks GM's and ownership.

First, yesterday (Thursday) Byrnes (Josh - Gm) and Byrnes (Eric - OF) decide that contract talks are too far apart and end all discussions. Then Josh announces to the nation that they will not trade Eric. WHAT!!!! You are going to lose the player at the end of the season for nothing... I will repeat... nothing! How does that improve this team? I blogged just two days ago that they need to be sellers and now they have a guy that is ready to be sold and the Dbacks decide to do nothing. I am officially confused and frustrated.

Second, today the Suns ship Kurt Thomas and 2008 Suns 1st round draft pick (hopefully low 20's) and the Suns 2010 1st round draft pick for.... nothing. How come I keep using the word nothing when mentioning the Suns and Dbacks. They officially get Orlando's 2nd round pick in 08 and a 8 million dollar trade exemption. So I looked all over online for the stats of Mr. Trade Exemption and could not find them. I did find this list of second round draft picks for the suns:

06 - traded to Minnesota, Loukas Mavrokefalidis
05 - traded to Orlando, Marcin Gortat
04 - traded to Orlando, Antonio Burks
03 - traded to Chicago, Matt Bonner
02 - traded to Washington via Denver, Rod Grizzard
01 - Suns pick Alton Ford
00 - traded to Denver, Dan McClintock
99 - no pick in 2nd round
98 - no pick in 2nd round
97 - Suns pick #43 -Stephen Jackson, yes Golden States SJ - waived at end of training camp

So in the past 10 years we have several games played as a bench player by Alton Ford. In other words no production at all, so now that 2nd round pick is essentially worth nothing. So we trade all of our interior defense, our best defender against Duncan and the Spurs, along with 2 first round draft picks for nothing!!!! Now I am not just upset but pissed. I will be back later today to vent some more but for now I am out.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Out like a fat kid in dodgeball...

I'm off to Iowa for the weekend to visit family (assuming my flight EVER leaves Phoenix), and thought i would post a few quick hits for the weekend.

I hope you are watching, catch highlights, or at least read about the MLS All-Stars playing Celtic tonight. They are drawing near the end of the game and the MLS All-Stars are up 2-0. While this game means very little, it is still encouraging.

Speaking of the MLS... I love soccer, but it is hard to take a League seriously when they don't even own the rights to mls.com, or mls.net. It's mlsnet.com for those counting. This is ridiculous and needs to be fixed immediately. Unfortunately, MLS either doesn't have the money or the want to correct this grievous tragedy.

The Dbacks and Eric Byrnes have apparently broken off talks of contract negotiation, with Byrnes saying it appears he won't be back next year. While I understand the Dbacks reluctance to spend the kind of money Byrnes is sure to go after, it is disappointing to see him, and probably O'Dog, leave next year. They are arguably the Dbacks two biggest fan-favorites.

The Coyotes signed David Aebischer to a contract today. You may remember him as the man who took over goal in Colorado after Patrick Roy retired. I don't really have anything to say about this, other than i hope he doesn't suck. I (still) can't get excited about hockey...

That is all folks. Enjoy the weekend, hopefully my brother and the girl will put up some posts in my absence!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Buyers or Sellers?

12 days until the trade deadline and are the Dbacks buying or selling? This decision affects the franchise for the next 5 years or longer. There are good arguments on both sides, and so we will delve into each.

Buying - You send a statement to the fans that this team is trying for the playoffs and the future is now. In a buying mode we need a Starting Pitcher and a slugger. The options are thin in trying to get a bat. J. Dye has been injured and not effective this year, M. Teixeira has a lot of money owed and the asking price is high. Getting a bat will be difficult. There are rumor's of CoJack heading to the Chi White Sox for one of their young pitchers, J. Danks, a rookie pitcher with a 4.81 ERA. I am not sure he is the answer for the push for the playoffs.

Selling - admitting that you are out of this years playoffs but the future will look bright. I love E. Brynes and O'Dog, the two veterans we have on the team along with T. Clark, but they are both looking to get paid in the off season. I think the Dbacks will pay and keep one, but not both. Either player would or could bring in a nice future starter or slugger.

I like the idea of playing for the playoffs, but the options are limited and expensive. Not to mention, I am not sure the incoming players are better than what we have. The key to making a trade is to make the team decidedly better now, and give up some future. I don't see us getting anything to make us better, and I do not want to give up on the young guys or lose any of the future. If R. Johnson was healthy and pitching like he was in May, I think this team could make the playoffs. Once you are in the post season, anything can happen (06 Cardinals). Unfortunately RJ is injured, the hitters are not hitting, and the best two teams in the NL are both ahead of us in the Dodgers and Padres. If they can sell a player or two and pick up a 3-4-5 starting pitcher for the future or a young slugger, they should. I absolutely hate the selling option but it makes the most sense. The Dbacks of the future are in fabulous shape and only need a starter to make serious playoff runs over the next 5- 7 years.

Future Starters of Webb, Owens, and possible starters in M. Scherzer, Edgar Gonzalez, Y. Petit, D. Nippert, Enrique Gonzalez and a young starter from a trade leave plenty of competition or trade bait to get another front line starter.

The outfield has talent coming in J. Upton and C. Gonzalez coming along with C. Young, C. Quinton, S. Hairston. The infield is set at the corners with CoJack, C. Tracy, and M. Reynolds. S. Drew and O'Dog are a good one two punch up the middle, with Callaspo a nice backup or replacement for O'Dog. The dbacks have good players all over the place, but no super star. They need a superstar to take this team over the top and back to the World Series. Is J. Upton that guy? Or does Young, Drew, CoJack, Tracy, Quinton, and Montero all raise their batting averages 20 to 50 point to make this an offensive team that uses extra base hits to score? The future is bright, it is just going to take a while for the young hitters to adjust to the major leagues and hopefully all live up to their potential. Will that be August and September this year, next year or beyond is the million dollar question.

My GM for the day moment would be to be a seller and try to pick up a minor league stud pitcher or slugger. If that means selling a veteran or two and a couple of our prospects then so be it. The future of this team is 2008 - 2012.

More Adversity For Stoudemire

After a 2005-2006 season in which Amare Stoudemire came back from what many consider to be a career threatening injury, playing better than ever and posting career highs in rebounds and Field Goal percentage, everything seemed to be back on track for Stoudemire. Having faced many adversities in his personal and professional career, Stoudemire was poised to have a breakout summer with Team USA, as well as gear up for another run for the NBA Championship in the fall. Then came the morning of July 4th.

Marwan Williams, the half brother of Stoudemire, was one of five people arrested in the investigation of a murder at a Scottsdale motel, and once again Amare was left being the pillar holding his family up as things seemed to be crashing down around him. It is a position that has come often and regularly for Amare, dating all the way back to his days in high school.

Amare’s mother, Carrie Mae, has been in and out of prison most of Amare’s life for drunken driving offenses, and is currently serving a three-year sentence. His older brother, Hazell Jr., was sentenced to jail in 2002, before Amare entered the NBA, on drug and various other charges. Add to this list the latest arrest of Marwan Williams, and it is a wonder Amare has kept it all together over the years.

But this is what Amare does. He has always been the strength in his family, even as the temptations and pressure built. He has also been the first one to back his family, from his mother to his half-brother’s recent trouble. He credits his faith, and God, for giving him ‘broad shoulders’, so he can handle the pressure put on him.

You hear many stories of athletes who make it out of the ghetto, or poverty, or the inner-city, or whatever adversity they may have faced along the way. Amare is not different in many of these respects. His problems, though, have continued to follow him, even as he has enjoyed such great success in his professional career. Poised to be a break-out star of the League following the 2004-2005 season, his third in the League, Amare’ suffered a micro-fracture in his knee, something very few athletes have come back from to return to their pre-injury form.

Amare used the time spent rehabbing not just getting back to form, but also working on his low post offense and defense, developing a great mid-range jumper and getting better at shot-blocking and help defense. He came back this season a more complete player, but also still as an almost freak-of-nature type athlete. Through the adversity, he rose stronger and as a better player.

It is easy to forget that Amare is only 24 years old. He has seen and been through a lot in those 24 years that most of us will never experience. He has also had greater success in those 24 years than most of us ever will. With each comes great responsibility, and sometimes burden. It is how he recovers to those burdens that set him apart from a lot of people.

It is this kind of recovery he has perfected over the years, and this type of recovery he will need once again as his half-brother faces charges. Amare has demonstrated time and again he is up for the challenge, and I have no doubt he will persevere through the latest adversity a stronger person. And hopefully these troubles will stop following Amare, and he can concentrate on just being a basketball player, and achieving the kind of success he deserves.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Arrival Of a Savior?

As big of a soccer fan as I am, I just couldn’t go any longer without writing on the arrival of David Beckham to the US, and to MLS with the LA Galaxy. Following the love fest that was his official welcoming party at the Home Depot Center on Friday, July 13th, Beckham spent the weekend getting to know his new teammates and adjusting to life on the other side of the pond.

While his wife seems to be doing ok, with a reality show that debuted last night (no, I did not watch it. Something about blatant and inherent self-promotion carried all the way to this point makes me not want anything to do with it), it remains to be seen how David will react and assimilate himself to not just the US culture, but also to the MLS. After all, this is not the Spanish La Liga he has been playing in with Real Madrid in Spain the last few years. As much as the soccer in the MLS has improved in just the last few years, it is still far behind the best leagues in the world.

And the absolute best league in the world is where Beckham just finished up, having helped Real to a late surge and League title. While much has been made of his loss of pace the last two years, or his ability to sustain himself for entire games, Beckham is still instantly one of the top five players in our league, if not top three. His ability to bend the ball on free kicks, as well as his pin-point accuracy on crosses and balls through the air, are breathtaking and unparalleled.

It is this feature which should gain Beckham a following within the US among casual soccer fans, as he can play ‘the beautiful game’ as well as anyone in the world, making it spectacular and fun to watch. I can already picture him making 50 yard through balls to an on-rushing Landon Donovan, perfectly placing the ball at his feet as Donovan breaks away from the defense and slots one in the corner.

Then again, you have the other side of Beckham’s arrival, the variable. Will he be able to make soccer in the US relevant? Will he be able to elevate the play in the MLS, making it a viable league and possibly attract more big name players to come play here? This seems to be the pressure put on Beckham, the expectation. Beckham wasn’t brought here to play in the MLS. He was brought here to save it, and to save soccer in the US.

Then again, I’m not sure I buy the idea that the MLS needs to be saved. The league is in probably the best position of its history. It has major sponsorship and TV deals in place to last many years, and its popularity is at an all-time high, albeit partly because of Beckham’s impending arrival on the scene. The US team is showing signs it could become a powerhouse, with a lot of the young talent trading their wares in MLS. All in all, the league is in a good position.

But it can be better. The MLS’s ultimate goal is to barge its way onto the national scene in the same way the Big Four have done, the NFL, MLB, NBA, and the NHL. It is seeking to become number 5, alongside those other professional leagues. Though the way I see it, they have a chance to flat-out replace hockey on the Big Four list, as Gary Bettman is doing everything in his power to make hockey completely irrelevant. This leaves a large, gaping hole in American sports, one the MLS is attempting to fill.

Personally, I think they have a great chance. With David Beckham comes increased national exposure, and while this exposure is not necessarily geared towards the game but Beckham himself, eventually the soccer story will be told by Beckham. He is a fantastic ambassador for the game, one the likes of which this country has not seen. And he has stated many times, and I believe him, that one of his goals for playing in the US is to increase the awareness of soccer in the US.

It has been said many times, at various points throughout the last 30 years, that soccer in the US was at the brink of becoming a national pastime. I truly believe we are at that brink in the US, and all it will take to overcome that is a few years and some lucky breaks. With another three years until the next World Cup, I believe when we reach South Africa in 2010 soccer will have taken a great hold on the US.

Beckham is one of those lucky breaks we need, coming to America at just the right time to jumpstart the sport here. Combine that with what could be the best 1-2 punch in American soccer history coming up through the youth ranks, Jozy Altidore (who has just started getting national attention) and Freddy Adu (who we have all heard about for several years), and you could really be garnering the attention and coverage needed to push American soccer into the mind’s of Americans once and for all.

As for Beckham, I will be watching intently how he handles the MLS, and also how he handles elevating the awareness of soccer in the US, and the awareness of US soccer to the world. It’s an exciting time to be a US soccer fan, and I can’t wait to see what the next three years bring.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Starting the 2nd Half

And we’re off! The 2nd half of the baseball season is upon us, and the races for division titles, the playoffs, and the wildcard are soon to be heating up. The Dbacks figure to (hopefully) be prominent in all of those races, but need a good start to the 2nd half. What better way to get that start than three games at home against the division leading San Diego Padres.

Two games into that series, with the final one getting under way in just a few minutes, and the Dbacks are looking good. With an 8-3 win on Friday, the Dbacks bats came alive again, racking up 15 hits (and a free chalupa for everyone in attendance, something my brother was apparently real excited about). Punishing Greg Maddux, as has become Maddux's custom when he shows up in Chase Field, the Dback offense found it's groove, scoring in 4 of the 8 innings they batted in. The new call-up, Jeff Salazar, led the way with a 3 for 4 night, including one that was about 3 feet from going yard. This coming on the same night he made one of the best catches ever seen at Chase Field, robbing Brian Giles of homerun by leaping about three feet over the fence (See it here - Love listening to Darren Sutton call this...).

Last night the Dbacks showed the ability to come from behind, trailing 4-1 going into the 7th, where a singles parade then ensued. With 5 singles and 2 sac fly's, the Dbacks managed to tie the game, plating three runs. Then in the 8th, Chad Tracy had a hit to center to score Orlando Hudson, giving the Dbacks the go ahead run and the eventual win. Jose Valverde was once again dominant, getting the save by facing the minimum.

While it is only two games, the Dbacks offense has looked better already. How much of that is attributed to the new hitting coach and how much of it is due to the break is hard to say. Either way, it is an encouraging sign to see the bats flying again, especially against the division leaders. It's a good start to the last few months of the season, which should be an interesting race to the finish.