Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A-Mazing

I've decided to be a bit more rapid fire with these and less calculated, because it's a freaking blog. It'll be more fun this way.

-The A's have now won 7 in a row after pasting Cleveland tonight, and are leading the wild card race. I'm not sure why I feel so exhilarated by Oakland's success. It's probably a combination of having picked them and watching the anti-stats crowd have to watch eat crow afte reveling in Oakland's anemic first two months. The dangerous thing about Oakland is that their offense could drop off at any moment, sending the team back into the dark ages. Even if that happens, the pitching should be good enough to keep them in contention.

-Looks like A.J. Burnett will be traded to either the Red Sox or White Sox. I'm not sure why either team wants him, because they certainly don't need him. It makes a bit more sense for him to go to Boston, but to get him, they'd have to trade Bronson Arroyo. Burnett has been worth about 8 more runs so far, but it would hurt to lose Arroyo's flexibility and playoff experience. If Boston does end up pulling the trigger and getting Burnett, expect them to throw a ton of rookies in September (like Papelbon and Hansen) in the hopes that they can emulate the 2002 Angels and Frankie Rodriguez. The White Sox don't need Burnett at all--he'd be the 4th starter on this team. I don't think it's worth giving up their best pitching prospect and a reliable left-handed reliever for a 4th starter.

-Homerism: The Reds made a good deal, acquiring two young starting pitchers with high strikeout rates and fairly low walk rates in the minors. Can't do too much better than that for a 35-year old journeyman third baseman. Word is that the Reds will be looking to move Rich Aurilia to some gullible team, but likely won't get as much in return.

-How ridiculous is the NL East? Since when has an entire division stayed in contention through the non-waiver trade deadline? Frankly, if I were the Marlins I wouldn't trade Burnett if I were still within 5 games of the division lead.

-Larry Brown would be a great fit in New York. His emphasis on defense and teamwork is exactly what the Knicks need, and I see two precedents for success. 1) Brown's tenure in Philadelphia. He took a team that was even more messed up than the Knicks are and had them in the Finals in 3 seasons. If Brown can last for 4 years with AI, he can last for 4 with Marbury. 2) Pat Riley's tenure in New York. Though Riley was a bit younger when he took the job in New York, the circumstances were quite similar--underachieving Knicks team that had talent but couldn't play defense, and an incoming coach with a championship reputation. My gut feeling says that Brown would get the Knicks past the first round in 05-06 and then contending for the Eastern Conference title when Shaq crashes and burns, which shouldn't be too long from now, given his health.

-Pittsburgh won the Sidney Crosby lottery, which essentially saves the franchise. Good for them. It will be quite exciting to see Master Lemeiux and his apprentice, that is, if the NHL can get itself a TV deal. I would have to think that ESPN would bite, although I would expect every game (even the playoffs) to be on ESPN2. I certainly hope it is, because this will really be Year Zero for the league. There will be seismic player movement (teams like Philadelphia and Detroit have started things off already), new rules, and very little exposure. With ticket prices being slashed around the league, it seems like teams are counting on luring fans back the old-fashioned way.

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