Thursday, August 30, 2007

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Status check on the Mariners

What I saw the last two days out of the Mariners is concerning. This is a good baseball team. However, it is a baseball team that has been winning games because they believe they are good. In fact, they believe they are better than they actually are and that is half the battle. Yet, today I thought I saw a team that doubted if they really were good enough to compete with the elite. A team that wonders if it really belongs as a playoff team. The M's have had an amazing ability to win close games this year. They won these games because they believed. If they have lost that belief they are about to become very average.

This is a scary scenario. The good news is if the Yankees falter and now jumps on the wild card lead in the next week, the Mariners can right themselves. On the other hand, if they fall out of the lead they may never regain the confidence to believe they should win.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Why do they let this happen

I am at a total loss. The Mariners just let Vlady beat them to take a 6-5 lead and then the Ichiro beat them to make it 6-6. What ever happened to the rule that you don't let the best guy beat you.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Reaction to Sonics Owner Comments

A lot of people have emailed me wanted me to react to the comments by the Sonics owner. I haven't done so since I think it is very well covered and moreover, as someone who was recently fired by them I think my comments seem skewed either way. If I blast you think I am bitter, if I don't you think I being political.

The comments stand on their own along with the released statements for each fan to react to on their own. It doesn't seem like their needs to be a lot of analysis.

On a sidenote, the Sonics yesterday hired Matt Pinto to be the radio play by play announcer. Matt is a really good guy and a very strong announcer. You will like his work. Matt has now worked for 4 different NBA teams so he is very experienced and understands the NBA well.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Mariners should extend Bavasi

Today the Seattle Mariners sit in the playoffs. That would seem to be enough to give General Manager Bill Bavasi a passing grade. However, for a great deal of the Mariners fans the three straight 90 loss season's are more than they can overcome.

Their is no question in my mind the Mariners should extend Bill Bavasi. The truth here is the Mariners got what they hired. The problem is they tried to turn Bavasi into something else in the first few years of his stewardship. Bavasi is a system developer not a free agent signer.

Bavasi's track record with the Angels and the Dodgers is on of the best in baseball in regards to building a franchise from the bottom up. If a major league team can add one position player and one pitcher a year from the system they are well ahead of the game. While in Anaheim, Bavasi regularly superseded that standard. He developed two to three position players a year and numerous pitchers. It was this core that became the World Champions.

This is exactly what he is doing in Seattle. Adam Jones is the newest of a collection of players and mostly pitchers that have been developed in Bavasi's system. A system that was completely dead when he took over. The drought of development in the Mariners system is what lead to the back to back to back 90 loss season not the actions of Bavasi.

Great franchises are defined by their ability to evaluate their own talent not the evaluation of the rest of the league. The ability to know what talent is going to progress and which are going to hit a wall and flounder is the basis by which all deals are made and franchises develop. In the past the Mariners have been one of the worst in baseball at this. Today they are reaching the upper echelon.

If Bavasi has a weakness he is inconsistent in the success of his free agent signings. That is as much a reality of free agency as it is a Bavasi's fault. Free agency is inconsistent. Moreover, Bavasi was forced to play the free agent market with a team that had enormous gaps and no talent coming up the system. The Mariners put Bavasi in a position to fail in an area that was not his strength.

He has now rectified that with the fantastic development of talent throughout the minor leagues. This means that in the upcoming years he will be able to deal from a position of strength when fixing the club rather than a position of weakness.

That is why Bavasi needs an extension.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The moves of the Boston Celtics

I was talking with a buddy about the Celtics today and it finally struck me what I like so much about what Danny Ainge and the Celtics did this off-season acquiring both Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.

Too often teams over value their own talent. The Celtics did the opposite. Some of their players were nice but none of them were anything special. Al Jefferson is currently overvalued because he put up good numbers on a bad team. He is a nice player, but not a star player and to win you must get a star player.

Teams do the young re-building thing all the time. It doesn't work unless you get a star. The NBA is a star's league. The Celtics didn't have a star so they moved a bunch of acquired assets and got established players. The day the Blazers and the Sonics won the lottery the Celtics made the correct decision to move all their assets. Had they got Durant or Oden they would have seemingly had their star.

I can't tell you how many times talking to a GM I have heard how one of his players is really going to be fantastic in a few years so we can't move him now. Every now and again a Rashard Lewis comes around who actually develops, but more often than not it never happens. Which means teams hold onto potential that never develops.

It is refreshing to see someone do the opposite. A tip of the hat to Danny Ainge and the Celtics.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Pacers and Sonics face truth on the cycle

It is obvious that the Pacers are looking to trade Jermaine O'Neal and start a rebuilding process. What jumps out at me is that the Pacers and the Sonics are at the same point. Both of these franchises were at the top of their games in the mid 90's. Each got one trip to the NBA Finals.

However, after their single trip to the NBA Finals parts of their roster started tpo fall apart. For the Sonics, Shawn Kemp went off the deep end simultaneously the core of Det, Perkins (thanks for the correction) the Hawk, etc all started aging. For the Pacers Rik Smits called it quits and the rest of their crew namely Reggie Miller started to age.

Neither team was willing to un-load and rebuild at that moment. Instead, they both tried to re-gain the magic and avoid the inevitable cycle that is the NBA. We all know the Sonics path trying everything from Patrick Ewing to resurrecting Vin to trading GP for Ray. The Pacers gambled with Ron Artest, ran out the string with Reggie and gambled on Peja.

The point is that neither franchise was willing to coincide that the NBA goes in cycles and your time on the top is limited and the fall is unceremonious. The Spurs are the only team to avoid the fall and that is because they hit the jackpot with Duncan. Had they not gotten Duncan when David Robinson retired they would have the same place that the Knicks, Boston, Houston, Chicago and the rest ended up.

It is inevitable in the NBA.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

And then their is today

After feeling so good last night -- today's Mariners performance has to make you shake your head. However, big picture they have won 3 of the last 4 series against very good teams.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Another sign of a good baseball team

I know they left 11 on the bags tonight and had numerous chances that didn't come together tonight, but my sign of a good team is when you leave a one run lose and still like the way your team approached the game. That is how I look at tonight.

Who is the bigger loser?

Vote on the pool question -- Bud Selig or Barry Bonds?

Selig's reaction tonight on sitting on his hands and then not be available for interviews tells me he thinks he is the show. He decided to turn this whole thing into being about him. If that was going to be his reaction then be a no-show. This man actually believes he is bigger than the game. As I have said before, Selig knew about the steroids (he has lied about this) and he decided that he would let it go because the game needed it. This is what you get for letting it happen and then to shun it --- you Mr. Selig are the biggest loser.

My vote is Selig.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Betting Scandal in Tennis

This from the AP in London

In an unprecedented move, British online gambling company Betfair voided all bets Friday placed on Thursday's second-round match at the Prokom Open in Sopot between the defending champion and No. 4-ranked Davydenko and No. 87-ranked Martin Vassallo Arguello of Argentina.

Betfair said it received about $7 million in bets on the match — 10 times the usual amount — and most of the money was on Arguello to win, even after Davydenko won the first set 6-2.

Baseball hypocrisy on Bonds

I don't disagree with anyone who talks about Bonds as petulant ass.

However, I find the way baseball is treating his quest for the home run record despicable. The fact is Bonds has never failed a test for steroids by Major League Baseball. Why, because baseball didn't test. Why, because baseball had no steroid policy. Why, because Bud Selig and baseball conscientiously put their head in the sand about an obvious steroid issue. Why, because baseball was in such desperate need of a pulse that it was willing to allow performance enhancing drugs to bring the fans back.

Therefore, for Bud Selig and the baseball world to stand on some ethical plateau on the issue of Bonds breaking the home run record is one of the greatest acts of hypocrisy that the game has even seen.

Remember when .....

Yuniskey Betancourt was an all defensive too weak to hit shortstop and Jeremy Reed was going to be the all everything offensive player. Sometimes numbers aren't the answer. Instead what mattered was that no matter how bad his pitch selection was when Betancourt hits the ball the bat wins the battle and when Reed hits the ball the ball beats the bat.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Bonds road to 755

My guess is this takes forever. Considering how terrible Bonds has been in every pressure situation his entire career I assume it is going to take him a while to hit the next two home runs.

Wouldn't it be a pity if the nation lost the last little bit of its waning interest because he can't connect over the next 10 days.

Passing of the First Genius

Everyone remembers their first team. They recall the first player they loved. They remember the first jersey they ever had. I vividly remember my first coach.

Bill Walsh was my first coach. He walked the sidelines with silver hair of a fox and the smarts to match. When Walsh walked your sideline you knew you were ahead before the game started.

As a seven year old I watched him when he lead the Stanford Cardinal to back to back bowl games. First it was the Bluebonnet Bowl and next the Sun Bowl. He was magical. He had the answer to every situation and was a step ahead of the game.

My memory tells me he used to bring Darin Nelson out of the backfield in motion to the sideline and then send him on a streak down the sideline. At that stage defenses weren't ready for those type of moves and mismatches were exposed all over the field. After playing for Walsh, Nelson left Stanford as the all time NCAA total yardage gainer. Walsh believed that a 5 yard gain on a pass to the running back was as important as the 5 yard run by the back and Nelson was the recipient.

He took his magic to the sidelines of the despondent San Fransisco 49ers. He quickly took a culture less franchise that was 2-14 and brought them to life. He gave them the edge. Where some coaches have brought a toughness with their persona, Walsh brought a genius. Roger Craig was his piece that he figured out how to use better than anyone before him. Craig a powerful fullback/running back from Nebraska, would play the fullback for Walsh and one year lead the NFL in receptions.

Walsh made you believe the guy on your sideline was truly smarter than their guy.

To understand what Walsh did to the game of football simply look into Seattle. Mike Holmgren is a disciple of Walsh. Tyrone Willingham is a product of the minority coaching program that Walsh built and Willingham learned under Walsh and Dennis Green, another Walsh disciple.

Walsh's influence changed how the game was played, how coaches were taught, how coaches were viewed and what people expected.

My first coach was the best that ever coached.

Fans love the kids but .....

Tonight's performance by Miguel Batista is why you sign a veteran. Tonight's game sets the tone for the entire marquee series against the Angels. Batista has the rings around the tree to understand the importance of tonight's game. He brought his best performance of the year to the table.

With John Lackey against Jeff Weaver tomorrow Batista had a huge burden of carrying the Mariners into the series. He needed to keep the bullpen fresh and most of all he needed to get this team in a position to win.

Fans always love the guy in AAA. They always want the youngster to come up. However, young kids don't have the experience to have the appearance that Batista did tonight.

Key stat and a huge sign of experience by Batista was 0 walks.

When you plead not guilty .....

You better hope your co-defendant do the same. It is not a good day to be Mike Vick when your co-defendant pleads guilty and decides to "fully cooperate" with the auhtorities.

I guess when he decided to change his name to Mike from Michael so he wouldn't be like Jordan, he knew what he was doing.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Next stage in Donaghy scandal

The next stage of the Donaghy scandal has begun. We moved from the story itself, to the view of odds makers and now we have arrived at each city looking at specific games. In today's paper the Houston Chronicle and the Indianapolis's Star breakdown games that Donaghy officiated.

Whenever you go micro in this fashion the result seems a bit more intense.

From the Chronicle ....

"The big trend with him in particular is that the first 15 games last season he refereed where we saw line movement of at least 1 1/2 points were a perfect 15-of-15 for the big-money people betting," said Matty O'Shea, general manager of content at and a handicapper. "The odds of that happening randomly are only 33,000-to-1."

"He led the NBA in calling fouls, in free-throw attempts the last two seasons. That's kind of a red flag. He's a whistle-happy ref. There's a game (between) Miami and New York, the free-throw differential was 39-8. A four-point favorite won by six, and the total went over by a half-point.

"Last season, 13 games he did fell within a single point of the point spread. We found in the last two seasons, 14 games were decided by two points or less."

However, when you really get into the specific game it is hard to find the play or plays that convince you the game was on the take.

with 1:50 left and the Suns leading 96-89, Donaghy called John Lucas III for a blocking foul while official Gary Zielinski called a charge against Leandro Barbosa of the Suns.

"This could tell us a lot," Whitworth said.

Instead, it seemed to indicate Donaghy was not trying to influence the result. With the score close to pregame lines, he quickly deferred to Zielinski, who changed the call to favor the Rockets.

"If Donaghy was trying to keep the Rockets under the spread, he likely would not have made the call against Lucas. If he was trying to favor the Suns, he would seem unlikely to so quickly defer to another official, particularly given Donaghy's very assertive officiating style.

"Even knowing what we know, I see zero, absolutely zero (suspicious). There were a couple ticky-tack calls, but we have those in every game. There was one play, with the wrong number (called), but there was no pattern. If I said we're looking at these referees being corrupt, you would have no idea which one it would be. And if I told you which one, you could not say which (team) he was favoring."

From the Star ......

Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs on Feb. 12, 2006.
The Pacers had just taken an 86-81 lead on Stephen Jackson's 3-pointer in the final 90 seconds. With the fans at Conseco Fieldhouse buzzing in anticipation of an upset, a shrill, staccato whistle stopped the proceedings. Donaghy had called a defensive three seconds violation on Anthony Johnson.

The spread for that game was five points. The Spurs failed to cover, winning by four, but was Donaghy trying to aid their cause? Replays show the defensive three seconds call on Johnson was a quick whistle, and it was questionable whether he had both feet in the foul lane.

I think we are at a point where we can convince ourselves of anything. The intergrity is comprimised without question. How much we may never know and that is what is terrible. It forever allows us and anyone else to believe whatever they would like.

Sonics building their staff

According to the Denver Post, the Sonics are hiring Bill Branch from the Denver Nuggets. Inside the circle of basketball Branch is very highly respected. His work ethic is marvelous and his eye for the game is fantastic.

Branch will be the Director of Pro Personnel. Branch is recognized as one of the best advanced scouts in the NBA. This is a strong move by the Sonics.

See the Mariners were right

Randy Johnson is out for the season needing back surgery. See the Mariners were right this whole time. Johnson's back was never an going to hold up long term. Their is no way you can pay that guy big money with a back like that.

Mariners were right again.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Point Shaving in College

I wrote earlier that if this can happen to an NBA ref than what about a college player.

Here is a study out of Wharton that breaks down statistical evidence of point shaving in college.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Point Shaving and Game Fixing

Here is what I believe should terrify the sports fan about the Tim Donaghy gambling scandal.
Donaghy makes somewhere near $200,000 a year. He has been in the league for 13 years. He has two homes. He is living the life with a house on a Florida golf course.

And he got caught upside down. Think about this. He has it all. He is risking everything and he got caught upside down. What does it take for a guy with that many assets to get caught into the hands of the seedy side of the gambling world?

In contrast, think about your college athlete. He and few buddies are watching games on a Saturday and he lays down a few bucks on a few games. What does it take for a college kid to get upside down? If you are a college kid and you fall back $200 to $400 it is going to be hard to make that back. Moreso, if you are a college athlete and restricted on how much you can work even just became impossible. Maybe you go for one lucky game where you are sure you will be right. Opps now you are done $400 to $800 and the only way out is to alter a game for your booky.

That scenario is much more likely than I guy with it all going for him risking his life and $200,000 a year job.

That is what terrifies me. If an official making a good living is willing to risk it all what is taking place elsewhere.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Wild what if .....

This is way out of the box and I get that but just in the food for thought category.

Bill Simmons of ESPN writes about how badly officiated Game 3 of the Spurs v. Suns was in the Western Conference Playoffs.

We now know that Tim Donaghy was one of the officials of that mysteriously officiated game.

So what if .......
What if Donaghy did alter the outcome of the game and thus altered the outcome of the series.
What if the Suns would have defeated the Spurs, thus meaning the Spurs were not the World Champions instead the Suns or the Jazz would have gone to the Finals.

Would have ....
Would the Sonics still have followed the Spurs model or would the Suns have been the more in vogue team to follow
Would the Sonics hired David Griffin from Phoenix instead of Sam Presti.
Would the Sonics still hired PJ or would they have been hotter for Ivaranoi?

Is it possible Tim Donaghy influenced things all the way into the Sonics re-structuring of their organization.

Yes, this is a stretch and the Sonics hired good people to turn the organization around but I thought it was an interesting exercise.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Poll Results

Where will the Mariners finish?

52% said second place
46% said first place

the other 2% disappeared into the HoZone. (Does anyone else recall Snigglets?)


Choking is the most evil of phrases for an athlete. Yet, it is undeniable. In the simplest form when the ones body no longer functions as precisely as one wants to due to the pressure of the moment it is choking. It can be physical or it can be mental decision making. It is real. The mind body connection makes it is close to inevitable.

Sunday's British Open final round glorified choking. It was in abundance. Sergio Garcia suddenly couldn't make the same putts he had made all week. Pradig Harrington' display on 18 in regulation was a complete melt down.

Honestly, I watch golf for the choke. How will the pressure impact these athletes as they attempt to avoid the slightest imperfections. It is like watching Nascar for a car crash. Almost without fail every Sunday on the golf course showcases the choke.

The isolation of a golfer makes it easily visible. The PGA Tour slogan is "these guys are good" and then all of a sudden they look like us spraying it everywhere.

Golfers aren't weaker mentally than another athlete. Hitting a golf ball is no more difficult than what a hitter in baseball is doing or a quarterback in football. Therefore, the choking we see on Sunday on a golf course must be happening everywhere else in sports, but isn't as isolated and thus a bit harder to see.

Go back to the 2001 Seattle Mariners. A team that was flawless all season until they suddenly lost their ability to function against the New York Yankees in the ALCS. At the time guys talk about leaving sawdust at the plate from holding the bats so tight. They choked. Collectively or individually that group changed due to the pressure of the moment.

Barry Bonds has been a terrible playoff player his entire career. Is it a coincidence, was he really pitched that much tougher or are the playoffs his Sunday round of golf?

In hoops it is harder to see because 5 guys are working together. However, go back to the 1996 NBA Western Conference Series between the Sonics and the Jazz. On the biggest play of the game the Jazz defenders Karl Malone and Greg Foster switched leaving Foster on Shawn Kemp despite the fact the Jazz hadn't switched defensively all game. Was this the equivalent of thew wrong club selection on a Sunday?

What took place at the British Open highlighted how fragile the mental psyche is for the greatest of the world's golfers. The same is taking place in every high pressure sporting event, some times it is not as obvious.

Cool the Jets on Felix

The old saying in talk radio is that it is never as good as it seems and never as bad as it seems. Though in recent times with the NBA fixing scandal, Mike Vick, Barry Bonds and the Sonics possible move it is hard to believe that saying to be true.

However, in the case of Felix it is most defintely the case. The crew at USSMariners have once again done fantastic work.

the following is a list of performances by the 10 best pitchers in baseball
today, as determined by me, during their age 21 seasons:

Johan Santana, Minnesota - 86 IP, 6.49 ERA 102 H, 54 BB, 64 K, 11 HR

Brandon Webb, U. Of Kentucky - 112 IP, 4.58 ERA, 123 H, 41 BB, 123 K, 14 HR

Roy Halladay, Syracuse (AAA) - 116 IP, 3.79 ERA, 107 H, 53 BB, 71 K, 11 HR

Jake Peavy, San Diego - 98 IP, 4.52 ERA, 106 H, 33 BB, 90 K, 11 HR

Ben Sheets, Stockton (A+) - 28 IP, 3.58 ERA, 23 HH, 14 BB, 28 K, 1 HR

Erik Bedard, Delmarva (A-) - 111 IP, 3.57 ERA, 98 H, 35 BB, 131 K, 2 HR

CC Sabathia, Cleveland - 180 IP, 4.39 ERA, 149 H, 95 BB, 171 K, 19 HR

Josh Beckett, Portland (AA) - 74 IP, 1.82 ERA, 50 H, 19 BB, 102 K, 8 HR

John Lackey, Lake Elsinore (A+) - 101 IP, 3.40 ERA, 94 H, 42 BB, 74 K, 9 HR

John Smoltz, Atlanta - 64 IP, 5.48 ERA, 74 H, 33 BB, 37 K, 10 HR

So Felix is not going to have the Dwight Gooden MVP year and win the Cy Young, but maybe that will be a long term good thing.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Sonics get 2 first rounders from the Suns and Thomas

Today the Sonics acquired Kurt Thomas and 2 first round picks from the Suns.

This really just makes the Rashard Lewis deal a three way trade with Phoenix.

The Sonics needed to get something in exchange for Lewis and the trade exception has allowed this. However, the value sounds and feels better than the likely reality.

As we have already talked about on the blog today, the lower first round picks are very unlikely to amount to anything formative in your line-up. Yet, more kicks at the can is always a good thing. In other words, while the chances are limited the more attempts the better chance you have of hitting and the Sonics just got two more shots.

Bottom line, the Sonics got something for Lewis and used the trade exception correctly. The likely scenario has these as late first round picks, but there is always the chance that Nash or Amare gets hurt and then the Sonics pulled off a coup.

Kurt Thomas is a nice veteran and plays the game correctly. His best value is an expiring contract at the end of the season.

From a Suns perspective it is about money and staying away from the luxury tax. However, Thomas was one of their few defensive players. Thomas inability to stay healthy may have prevented the Suns from winning a championship.

Really this was a necessary evil for both teams and they both did the best considering the circumstances.

Why the Mariners will win the West.

The poll question to the right is will the Mariner's win the west? Watching them the last few nights I am beginning to believe they will. Here are a few reasons.

1) They are able to wait games out. In other words the longer the game goes the better the team gets with its bullpen and its clutch hitting. This is the sign of a good team.

2) Depth. John McLaren is using the bench far better than Hargrove and the team should stay fresh unlike a year ago when Hargrove emptied the tanks to get into contention briefly.

3) The saying in baseball is guys will do what is on the back of their baseball card. In other words, over a season players will get to their yearly average. This means the middle of the Mariners line-up should pick up.

4) Starting pitching has to be more consistent.

Sonics Draft History

I didn't feel the work done by the hoopsvibe had enough depth so I thought I would look into two teams, the Sonics and the Jazz, that I have very closely.

2006 -- #10 - Sene - looks like he will be a roster player - looks to be a bad pick but still very few players in that draft making an impact). Call it a D in a really tough course.
2005 -- #25 -- Johan Petro (he is a rotation/roster player which is a good pick at #25 of the first round. If he improves and becomes a rotation player this is an A pick, if he doesn't and is on the roster then it is in the B range). Call it B+
2005 (Second Round) - Bonus points for Mickael Gelabale.
2004 -- #12 Robert Swift -- Hard to evaluate. If he becomes a middle of the road starting center it is an A+ pick to get a center at #12. If he is a rotation center that gives you 25 minutes it is a B+ pick at 12. That is the most likely scenario. Give it a B based on conservative projection really an Inc.
2003 -- #12 Nick Collison -- This is an B+ pick. Collison will be a 12 year pro and play 25 minutes a night either as a starter or a rotation player. This is a perfect example of what I am talking about. If you pick #12 it is not a guarantee. Mike Sweetney went before Nick and is a roster player.
2003 -- #14 Luke Ridnour -- Perspective is key here. Luke is a disappointment in the minds of most Sonics fans. However, he was the #14 pick. That is more than likely a player that is on the cusp of starter v. rotation and that is exactly what Luke is. Call it a B+ pick.
2002 -- No pick
2001 -- #12 Vladimir Radmanovic -- This is a C. He never was more than a rotation player and at #12 a player should be knocking on the door of starting rather than being a specialist.
2000 -- #17 Desmond Mason -- This is a A pick. Mason has started and been a consistent rotation player his entire career. Moreover, the Sonics used him as an asset to get a Franchise player, Ray Allen.

Overall Report Card: D, B+,B,B+,B+,C,A and one set of bonus points
GPA: 3.2 with the bonus points added.

That really is very strong drafting for the Sonics considering where they were picking.

I will do the Jazz in a later update.

Rating the GM's - Via the Draft

Hoopsvibe has written a piece that evaluates the GM's on their drafts.

I think a much larger analysis needs to go into this. For example, he gives Atlanta's Billy Knight a b+ and Danny Ferry a C+ and Donnie Nelson a C. Also, too many picks are made by one team officially, but really are coming from another and the author doesn't differentiate. (Example: Seattle not Boston took Jeff Green)

The problem is that Knight has been drafting every year in a position to make a difference to his team whereas Ferry and Nelson have been drafting in the 20's and most of those players are non-impact players.

When scouting college players you need to break them into 5 categories: Franchise Changer, All-Star, Starter, Rotation, Roster.

The last draft was one of the best we have had in a long time and I would argue that it had the following breakdown. (Note the this means 14 starters).

2- Franchise Changers
2 - All-Stars
10 - starters (which is incredibly high for a draft)
8 to 10 - rotation (again very high)
? - roster

The point is this is one of the best and deepest drafts because of all the kids that had to go to college for a year and this is how the draft projected. Therefore, if you are picking in the 20's and get a player who plays you should be getting an A. If you are drafting in the high impact zone and you get a starter or a rotation player instead of an all-star you should get a C.

Any player who is taken in the second round and becomes a rotation player should be huge bonus points.

Off Topic -- A children's mind

Last night my son looked outside and saw a rainbow. He promptly asked, "what could we take to the top of the rainbow so we could slide down." I asked which color he wanted to slide down and he said, "It looks like yellow might be the bumpiest."

I just thought it was a wonderful moment to take us out of our daily routine of being an adult.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Evaluating the NBA Off-Season Moves - Part 1

Using a four step methodology I will give you an evaluation of the off-season NBA movement.

Step 1: The Locke offensive rating. The league average is 10.8. The top 40 players in the NBA rate over 20. A little over 150 players or an average of 5 per team rate as above average offensive players.

Step 2: Was the players team better with the them on the floor than when he was off the floor. Credit for these numbers. Two things are hard to evaluate on traditional numbers, if a player helps his team win and if he plays defense. I believe this is a start. However, it has some flaws. It is best at recognizing a high profile player who has flaws and thus hurts his team or at finding bench players who really give a boost.

Step 3: Whose minutes is he taking.

Step 4: The eye test. We all have an eye for a player that goes beyond numbers.

Using this 4 part test. Here are the evaluations of some of the NBA’s off-season moves.

Rashard Lewis to the Orlando Magic

Step 1: Lewis ranks 20th in the NBA offensively. He is #2 as a small forward. He rates as a 22.7.

Step 2: Lewis had the best on floor/off floo +/- on the Sonics last season.

Step 3: Lewis will take the 31 minutes a night that Grant Hill played and cut into the minutes of Hedo Turkoglu. Hill had a terrible on floor/off floor last year for the Magic (-4.8) whereas Turkoglu seemed to be the opposite for the Magic. Hill was a very effective offensive player at 17.9 and Turkoglu was slightly below average at 9.4. Lewis will be a huge up grade for both.

Step 4: Lewis dramatically changes the Magic at the 3 position. His outside presence will compliment Howard perfectly. He will fulfill the primary scorer allowing Howard to play with less pressure and the other Magic players to be the compliments they are.

Steve Blake to Portland
Step 1: Blake is a dreadful offensive player. He rates at 2.1. A zero rating is designed to be equal to a D-League player entering the NBA. Blake only goes to the free throw line 4.2% of the possessions that end in his hand one of the worst rates in the NBA.

Step 2: Denver was a better team when Blake was on the floor than when he was off the floor. This credits Blake for doing somethings the correct way to help his team.

Step 3: He will take minutes from Jarrett Jack who rates as a 12.7 offensively. However, the Blazers were considerably less good when Jack was on the floor than they were when he was on the bench (nearly 4 points per 48 minutes).

Step 4: Blake plays hard and plays the game correctly. The Blazers aren't sold on Jack so you can see why they signed Blake. However on a team without Zach Randolph they will need some offense out of Blake and he is not capable.

Matt Carroll re-signs with Charlotte

Step 1: Carroll rates a 17.5 one of the better guards in the NBA. The top 40 in the NBA are over 20 and then he is in the next tier.

Step 2: Charlotte was a better team with Carroll on the floor.

Step 3: This is the key because the Bobcats went and acquired Jason Richardson from the Warriors in a bizarre draft day trade. Richardson rates as a 7.9 offensively player, below league average. He is high volume to get his results and Carroll is the opposite. Why the Bobcats would take Carroll's minutes with the acquisition of Richardson is surprising.

Step 4: Carroll plays the game the correct way and would be a brilliant complimentary on a good team.

Grant Hill to the Phoenix Suns
Step 1: Hill rates offensively as a 17.9 and I can only imagine what will happen when he plays with Steve Nash

Step 2: For Orlando Hill didn't work. The Magic were far better when he was on the bench. This is a disturbing trend for an aging player.

Step 3: James Jones played 18 minutes a night for Phoenix last year and had a terrible season. Also, the Suns struggled badly when Boris Diaw was on the floor last season.

Step 4: Hill is a signing that might help the Suns win a championship.

Morris Peterson to the New Orleans Hornets
Step 1: Mo Pet rates as a 12.8 offensively which is nice for a player coming off the bench

Step 2: Mo was an awful fit for Toronto. The Raptors were 8 points better per 48 minutes with Mo on the bench than on the floor. This should be worrisome for the Hornets.

Step 3: Rasual Butler and Desmond Mason played these minutes for the Hornets and both were very poor offensively and the team struggled with both on the floor.

Step 4: This might be a subtle move but it may make a considerable difference for the Hornets.

Darko Millic to Memphis

Step 1: Darko rates as a 3.0 offensively which puts him near the D-League offensively.

Step 2: Orlando was a less good team with Millic on the floor than on the bench.

Step 3: Who does he replace? Memphis had no big man. If Darko takes the minutes of Stromile Swift or rookie Alexander Johnson he can only help but be an upgrade.

Step 4: Seeing Darko last year at times he impacted the game, but in other sequences he was the worst player on the floor.

More to come .........

This I have never understood

I just don't get it. If you are earning in the range of $12 million a year why do you need the following. These are some the clauses in Ichiro's new contract.

In addition, he gets a housing allowance of $32,000 next year, an increase
of $1,000 from this season, and the amount will rise by $1,000 each year. He
also will be provided with either a new jeep or Mercedes SUV by the team, which
also gives him four first-class round trip tickets from Japan each year for his
family. Provisions for the Mariners to give him a personal trainer and an
interpreter were continued.

At least he doesn't have the absurd all-star bonus that A-Rod had in his
contract. Because let me say this one more time, if you are earning $25
million you shouldn't be getting an all-star bonus, instead you should be paying
people if you aren't an All-Star.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Willingham paid more than Weis at ND

This has to make you chuckle. If you agree with me that Willingham got screwed by Notre Dame this has to make you buckle over in laughter. If you have a general disdain for anything Notre Dame like I do (just because it is fun) then you might have just laughed so hard you peed. Of course, if you are a Notre Dame fan then you are really pissed off at me right now and this is why it is so fun to root against Notre Dame. By the way, Golden Domer how have you been doing in those bowl games recently?

Journal Gazette | 06/17/2007 | Weis is No. 3 on Irish payroll: "Weis was one of three coaches among Notre Dame’s top five highest-paid employees in 2005-06, but he’s not the highest-paid coach.

That distinction goes to Tyrone Willingham. The school paid the former football coach $650,000 as part of his contract settlement after firing him on Nov. 30, 2004. He also received $64 in other expenses. Willingham, who will enter his third season at the University of Washington in 2007, was the highest-paid employee – or former employee – at Notre Dame."

Saturday, July 14, 2007

San Antonio Model -- Is really the ......

Obviously we are hearing a lot about the San Antonio model. What if ....... Jason Kidd had accepted the offer to be the point guard and they had moved Tony Parker ...... would they still have won the titles (i think yes) ..... would the model be thought of differently? Would the model be get two max players and then surround them which is no different than what it was during the mid 90's?

Not to over simplify I think the San Antonio model is Tim Duncan. The way the Chicago model was MJ and the Celtics model was Bird. Duncan truly may be one of the top 5 to 10 players to ever play in the NBA. The guy has been all league 10 straight years and all defense 10 straight years and has won over 70% of the games he has played. He ranks awfully high.

The model most impressive to me has never won a championship. Utah was able to re-load after Stockton-Malone era with only one bad season and that was crippled by injuries. Every other franchise that was winning in the mid 90's is still in recovery or yet to win more than one playoff series. (see Boston, Houston, Seattle, Indiana, New York, Chicago, etc)


Friday, July 13, 2007

Ranking the Small Forwards in the NBA

This is totally objective and can be argued. However, the point of this is where does Rashard Lewis rank in small forwards in the NBA. In other words, how did Orlando decide to offer this guy the Max Contract. When we (Kevin Pelton and Francis Williams) did our Top 100 players in the NBA Rashard was in the 30's.

Update: Shawn Marion has been added to the list. I orginally had him as a power forward in Phoenix system.

Rank (Pts, Rebs, Ass) (EFG% - Locke Off Ranking)
1) LeBron James (27/7/6) (55% - 19.9)
2) Paul Pierce (25/6/4 ) (57% - 23.9)
3) Shaun Marion (18/10/2) (59% - 19.4)
4) Carmelo Anthony (29/6/4) (55% - 22.6)
5) Josh Howard (19/7/2) (55% - 15.4)
6) Rashard Lewis (22/7/2) (59% - 22.7)
7) Andre Iguodala (18/6/6) (56% - 14.8)
8) Luol Deng (19/7/3) (56% - 16.0)
9) Gerald Wallace (18/7/3) (57% - 17.0)
10) Richard Jefferson (16/4/3) (55% - 14.0)
11) Ron Artest (19/7/3) (54% - 12.6)
12) Caron Butler (19/7/3) (54% - 12.0)
13) Tayshawn Prince (14/5/3) (53% - 9.7)

I placed Rashard 6th and maybe he could be 4th, (Howard wins) but he also could be very easily somewhere around 9th depending how you weigh defense in the equation. I think Iguodala will be #4 on this list at this time next year he averaged 20/6/6 for the second half of the season plus two steals. After Feb 1st Wallace average 21/8/3 shooting over 50%. Finally, Deng averaged 22/9/2 in the playoffs. In many people's analysis these three could be ahead of Rashard making him 9th. For that matter, unless Lewis takes another step he could easily be somewhere from 7th to 9th at this position.

Does that mean Orlando made a mistake or does that mean the NBA model is such that a Top 5 player at his position gets Max money?

Reaction to Ichiro - The Comment Zone

I wrote that I didn't like the Ichiro signing. In response there have been some great comments in the comment zone.

From Brian ..... You make a good argument Locke, but I think the M's are almost forced to bring back Ichiro and overpay. The fan backlash if he were allowed to walk away would be astronomical. He puts fans in the seats. As bad as attendance has been the last couple of years, imagine what it would have been had Ichiro not been here.

Ichiro does keep himself in tremendous shape so hopefully any dropoff in production towards the end of the contract would be minimal.

I agree on twofold. The city that has lost Randy, A-Rod and Griffey needs to have a superstar retire in Seattle. In addition, the organization needs to show commitment that has been lacking over the past seasons. Ichiro does keep himself in great shape, however so much of his game is speed and when he losses that step or two this is going to be an ugly contract.

From Courtsense ...... the occasional double or triple is nice, but pitchers have adjusted to Ichiro since 2001 - they know he'll swing at pitches in the dirt and way out of the zone, so they constantly feed him garbage. If he really wanted to impact the team, he'd walk more, steal more, and score more! I always have the feeling Ichiro is playing a mind game of trying to prove that "his" way of playing is somehow better - when what the team needs is less slap hits, more line drives, more runs, and more overall impact.

Bottom line: If I'm paying $20 million/year, I want a guy who I can count on for .325+, 40+ HR, 140 RBI, 100+ runs, and an OPS out of this world...Pujols, A-Rod, Griffey in his prime, etc.

Ahem. For 20 million a year I want more production. Again, I am nervous on production based on speed as a player ages. Ichiro has not always been the best team player and has not always done what the team needs to win so those are valid complaints.

From Peter ..... i think signing ichiro is only a bad move if you don't sign another stud to go with him. ichiro just got "superstar, carry the team on my back" money. i'm not sure he is that type of guy. but. he is definitely a phenomenial "i'll support the top guy" kind of guy.

so the money is justified to me IF Ichiro becomes the Manny Ramirez to the David Ortiz. However, if Ichiro is supposed to be THE GUY, then it is a bad move.

But my issue from a baseball sense is I don't believe Ichiro impacts a game the way a Manny Ramirez does. Ichiro might be a table setter to the big boys. Unless the clearance of steriods is bringing the game back to another era power is the name of the game not speed. Also, ro $20 million doesn't he have to be that guy.

From John S .... Very valid points David, but I have to disagree, I like the move. Who takes over the leadoff spot for the M's? Adam Jones is not a leadoff hitter of any sort. He strikes out too much to leadoff, plus you want his power in the middle of the order. You need someone defensively who can cover Safeco. How many more balls would have been outs in Safeco if Raul Ibanez was not in left field. Ichiro leads the outfield in putouts by a wide margin.

Ahem again .... this time going against me but I agree half the game is played on defense and if Ichiro makes 5 plays a game on offense how many does he make on defense. Yes, value the defense it is a great point. Under my philosophy you would use the money you save on Ichiro to fill the gap of a leadoff hitter.

Jeremy says ..... Dave over at USS Mariner has a very good defense of the trade. I happen to agree with his reasoning on this one.

I love USS Mariner. I think Dave Cameron and the guys do an amazing job. I give them the nod on their baseball knowledge over mine. I had one point of view they have another. If you are a baseball fan that is a site you should visit.

Anonymous (read: Gutless) says .... Geez Locked you've been spewing the same "garbage" about Ichiro for like the last 3 years, the M's are in the playoff hunt, Ichiro is a serious MVP candidate and he is peaking interest and putting fans in the seats, by that definition he is worth it, I'm wondering if you're worth it.............

Why is it no one has the balls to rip me with a name attached. All solid points even the one about me being garbage but it losses its umphf when you won't put a name on it.

Great work everyone. This is what this site is all about.

A Little (though just a little) Love for the Mariners

ESPN's Scout Inc has a little love for the M's.
Click here.

Some of the highlights ..
The Mariners' bullpen has been outstanding this year, posting the second-best ERA in the American League, thanks to an incredible record of keeping the ball in the park. Despite throwing 270 innings, fourth-most of any AL bullpen, Seattle relievers have allowed a league-low 14 homers.

They're last in the AL in both strikeouts (fine) and walks (not fine), and are just one single behind the league leaders in that category, the Angels. On the strength of the league's third-best batting average, the Mariners are currently eighth in the AL in runs scored, despite playing the majority of their games in pitcher's parks

Then the not so loving .....

The Mariners have been extremely lucky this year, and they're almost certainly not a "true" .581/94-win ballclub. That said, there are several factors working in their favor for the second half: The Mariners probably won't make the playoffs as currently constructed -- they're a .500 team that's played over its head.

In San Diego

I am with my family in San Diego doing the Legoland and Sea World thing. I will try to drop in some this afternoon. Sorry but I have some free time on my hands and we are taking advantage of it. :-)