Archive | December 2013

BREAKING: ROBINSON CANO REPORTEDLY AGREES WITH MARINERS

By Brett Malamud

Multiple sources have reported that Robinson Cano has agreed to a 10 year, $240M contract pending a physical to take place on Monday. The deal was first reported by ESPN’s Enrique Rojas

The deal marks the end of Cano’s tenure in pinstripes. Meanwhile, the Yankees just wrapped up a contract for one year, $16M with Hiroki Kuroda, and according to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, have turned their attention to Shin Soo Choo and Carlos Beltran. Don’t be surprised if they make a run for Omar Infante as well, as they now have freed up the $175M that they offered to Cano.
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Brett Malamud is a Computer Science Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy

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Mariota Will Return to Oregon, 2014 Heisman Impact

By Nick Vespasiano

Yesterday, Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota elected to return to Eugene next season. The redshirt sophomore was considered one of the top quarterback prospects in the 2014 NFL draft. He entered the 2013 season a Heisman hopeful but saw it slip away with losses to Stanford and Arizona.

Despite being out of the Heisman race for 2013, Mariota has completed 63.1 percent of his passes for 3,412 yards, 30 touchdowns and four picks. He also has 582 yards on the ground and nine scores. Those are Heisman numbers but his team’s two losses are keeping him out of contention.

Marcus Mariota will return next season to the Oregon Ducks (Via ESPN)

Marcus Mariota will return next season to the Oregon Ducks (Via ESPN)

This decision comes as a surprise to me. Running back De’Anthony Thomas is likely entering the draft, number one receiver Josh Huff is a senior, and last season Chip Kelly abruptly bolted for the Philadelphia Eagles. Mariota could be vying for a better draft position. The upcoming NFL draft will feature quarterbacks like Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Clemson’s Tajh Boyd, Alabama’s A.J, McCarron, and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel. Despite the competition he would have faced in the next draft, he was widely considered a potential first round pick. Perhaps he’s just loyal to his Ducks.

Mariota should be an early Heisman favorite yet again heading into the 2014 season. Other players who are ineligible for the 2013 draft with legitimate 2014 Heisman ambitions include Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, Georgia running back Todd Gurley, Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon, and my favorite, UCLA linebacker/running back Myles Jack.

Draft eligible but returning next season is Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty who should be on the short pre-season Heisman list. UCLA’s star quarterback Brett Hundley and Ohio State’s Braxton Miller have yet to make decisions on next year’s draft.

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Nick Vespasiano is a senior English major at St. Olaf College and aspiring sports writer. He was raised in Minnesota, favorite teams are the Vikings, Wild, and Twins. Favorite athletes are Randy Moss and Jaromír Jágr.

Reaction to the Ellsbury Signing

By Sam Breiter

If you did not get the chance to hear yet, Jacoby Ellsbury signed a multi million-dollar contract last night. No, he won’t go for a second straight title with the Boston Red Sox, but rather he has decided to sign with their number one rival. Yes, Ellsbury is a member of the Evil Empire and will be wearing pinstripes next year, and with the money he now making, I think he will survive shaving off his beard. Ellsbury over the next seven years will be making $153-million and will be making well over $20-million per season. This was after he denied Boston’s $14.1-million qualifying offer, so he obviously made a good financial choice. So the question lies, was he worth the deal? Ellsbury, who is now 30 years old, will be playing in the Bronx most likely until he is 37. Ellsbury is known for his quickness, great fielding ability, and contact at the plate. Although, his power, and on base percentage has been inconsistent. Some people may call Ellsbury a five-tool player, but besides 2011, he has never really been known for hitting the long ball. Ellsbury, who has been playing for seven seasons, has found himself getting substantial injuries in two seasons. In 2013, Ellsbury was healthy for much of the season, and had a batting average of .298, with 52 stolen bases.

With the help of his agent Scott Boras, Jacoby Ellsbury joined the Evil Empire, and signed a seven year deal with the Yankees (Via Red Sox Nation)

With the help of his agent Scott Boras, Jacoby Ellsbury joined the Evil Empire, and signed a seven year deal with the Yankees (Via Sox Nation)

Even though he has proved to still have potential to be an MVP candidate, I don’t not believe this was a smart contract. By the middle of his contract, it’s doubtful Ellsbury will be able to steal 50 plus bases, as he does so well. Additionally, he has proven to be an injury threat, and it just isn’t worth it to pay a guy $20 million in a season who has battled injuries, and is running out of his prime. The Yankees signed Ellsbury to make a statement, they wanted to prove to the fan that we have money, and we will spend it. They already made a statement signing McCann to his overpriced deal, and it is no surprise that Ellsbury got equal treatment. Congratulations Yankees, you have achieved what you have always done best, spending money for current talent. In four years from now when Ellsbury is 34, batting .270, and stealing 15 bases at most, all were going to hear about is what a terrible deal this was. These big $100 million dollar deals for veteran stars always ends in terrible fashion especially when they come from another team. Don’t forget A.J Burnett, and Carl Pavano, and Alex Rodriguez. The Yankees have a history of these disastrous contracts, and Ellsbury will soon be added to this list.

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Sam Breiter is a high school senior at Plainview- Old Bethpage JFK High School. Sam is looking to major in sports management, with a minor in communications next year.  He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite teams are the Mets, Giants, and Knicks. You can follow him on twitter at @baseballbreiter

MLB Hot Stove Roundup: What’s Happened Since the Fielder-Kinsler Trade?

By Ben Ozur

With the exception of an eventual Robinson Cano signing, this blockbuster trade will most likely end up being the headline of the offseason. But other moves have since been made. Here are the other miscellaneous moves that have been made since the trade (in chronological order):

The Royals sign LHP Jason Vargas. Though many believe this was an overpay (as we will see with other signings later), this was a good move for the Royals. It adds depth to a rotation that already has James Shields and Jeremy Guthrie, and it fills the void of the probably-departing Ervin Santana. He is a solid three-or-four-starter who will give the Royals a veteran who can give innings – something that the Royals find pretty valuable. I think this will set the tone for other KC offseason moves that will allow them to be a real threat for a Wild Card spot this year.

The Mets sign OF Chris Young. See article here.

The Cardinals trade 3B David Freese to the Angels for OF Peter Bourjos. These two guys are both coming off tough years, but these two guys have both showed promise in the past. Also, it fills holes for both teams. The Angels desperately needed a third baseman, after getting the worst third base production in the MLB. However, David Freese was only a league average hitter last year, so it wasn’t a huge improvement. With Peter Bourjos, he brings extra depth to centerfield already occupied by Jon Jay (I assume they will platoon, or maybe Bourjos will get the larger share). They can both afford to part ways with their old players; the Angels have JB Shuck to use in leftfield, and the Cardinals now have room for top prospect Kolten Wong to start at second base (Matt Carpenter will move to third base). This is a close call, but I give the edge to the Cardinals in this trade.

The Yankees sign C Brian McCann. By signing the clear-cut best catcher on the free agent market (and one of the top catchers in the league in general), this was easily the biggest move of the offseason for the Yankees (with no disrespect to the trading of Chris Stewart). He is one of the best offensive catchers in the league, and he has been said to be a good guy to have behind the plate. However, his production, albeit potentially due to injury, has faltered over the past two seasons. Though he is definitely a top catcher in the league, it may be because of the weakness of the position as a whole. He is being paid this much because he is one of the best at what he does, but I don’t think he’s worth that money. Also consider that he will probably be a DH by the end of this deal, which decreases his value even more. Short-term, this deal will probably work out for the Yankees. In two years, I believe it will be a regret.

Brian McCann made headlines last week, signing with the Yankees (Via Bronx Baseball Daily)

Brian McCann made headlines last week, signing with the Yankees (Via Bronx Baseball Daily)

The Cardinals sign SS Jhonny Peralta. Aside from the controversy due to the PED usage, it’s hard to deny the great deal the Cardinals got. Peralta is a well above average offensive shortstop (he has shown that throughout his career, even before his suspension-filled 2013 season) and arguably the best shortstop on the market (close with Stephen Drew). It also fills a gaping hole for the Cardinals, as thy received the worst production from their shortstops in the MLB in 2013 (primarily Pete Kozma). This was clearly a good signing, but of course, there’s the controversy. Though you may not like the rule of how short the suspension is, you have to deal with it. He was told to sit out for 50 games and he did. He served his punishment, and that should be the end of it. Anyway, why should the Cardinals be criticized for the signing? It’s not like they’re condoning his decision to take PEDs. I get that people are still peeved about this, but in terms of this signing, it shouldn’t be seen as a factor of how good it truly was.

The Dodgers sign RHP Dan Haren. A $10M deal for a pitcher who hasn’t had even a league average season for a pitcher since 2011? I get it; he’ll probably be the fourth starter for the Dodgers, and they have all the money in the world to spend. But that doesn’t mean they should just throw it away. They should’ve been more resourceful with that money. There are better pitchers on the market, and they’re probably going to make less (i.e. Bartolo Colon, Paul Maholm, and others on the trade market). Not too good of a signing in my opinion, but still, there’s no such thing as a bad one-year deal.

The Twins sign RHPs Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes. This was certainly a forced issue. Ricky Nolasco – okay, solid pitcher, good fit for the Twins in that ballpark, but for over $11M AAV (average annual value)? Phil Hughes – there is no justification in this signing. He has never posted an ERA under 4 in a season as a full-time starter, and he’s making $8M a year? I get it – the Twins are desperate for pitcher, coming off a year where their starting staff collected a cumulative ERA over 5, easily the worth in the MLB. But the last few times they’ve tried to get pitchers (Vance Worley and Mike Pelfrey, namely), they’ve been disasters. I understand it’s a huge park in Minnesota, but then why are all of their pitchers doing so poorly? Finally, signing two guys to big contracts when they aren’t anywhere close to competing is far beyond me. These signings make no sense whatsoever.

The Athletics sign LHP Scott Kazmir. Nice comeback story for Kazmir last year with Cleveland, after pitching the previous season with the Sugarland Skeeters of the Independent League. His ERA hovered around 4 last year, which is respectable, and he posted nice strikeout numbers for a starter. But can he do it again? The A’s surely think so, considering the $22M contract they gave him. This was a risky signing, but a good risk in my opinion.

(UPDATE: The Athletics have also traded INF Jemile Weeks and a player to be named to the Orioles in exchange for AL saves leader Jim Johnson)

The Tigers trade RHP Doug Fister to the Nationals. There were rumors that it would be Max Scherzer being traded by Detroit, but they chose Fister instead. Fister was arguably the best fourth starter in the MLB (pitching behind Scherzer, the Cy Young award winner; Justin Verlander, a former Cy Young award winner and MVP, and Anibal Sanchez, the ERA champion in the AL). Since coming over to the Tigers, Fister has shown much consistency, maintaining a very respectable ERA of about 3.50 in each of his years there. This will prove to be a major upgrade to an already great Nationals rotation, clearly. The Tigers will not reap the benefits of this trade immediately, as the three players they got back in return (Steve Lombardozzi, Ian Krol, and Robbie Ray) are all fairly young. At least for now, it clears a space for Drew Smyly, and they still have minor league pitching depth; so this wasn’t as big of a loss for the Tigers as it is a gain for the Nats.

Other worth-mentioning notes. The Royals extend GM Dayton Moore for two years. Ted Lilly, the 15-year veteran of 7 MLB teams, has retired. The Mets continue to show interest in Bronson Arroyo and Curtis Granderson. And Finally, the Yankees and Robinson Cano remain $80M apart in contract negotiations.

(UPDATE: The Boston Red Sox have signed catcher AJ Pierzynski to a one year, $8.25 million contract)

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Ben Ozur is an absolute baseball guru. He is a huge Mets, Jets, Knicks and Islanders fan whose life revolves around fantasy sports.

NHL Power Rankings

 By Mike Basile

1)    Chicago Blackhawks (20-4-4, 44 points) Currently on a six game win streak, this team continues to get hotter and hotter and are a sure pick for number one on the power rankings.

The Blackhawks lead the league in goals per game, led by Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews (Via Sports Talk Florida)

The Blackhawks lead the league in goals per game, led by Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews (Via Sports Talk Florida)

2)    San Jose Sharks (18-3-5, 41 points) Also on a nice win streak, the Sharks have won five in a row. With only three regulation losses, they are a very dangerous team.

3)    St Louis Blues (18-5-3, 39 points) With one of the top goal scores in the league (Alexander Steen) and a great goaltending duo, this team rounds out the top three.

4)    Colorado Avalanche (19-6-0, 38 points) Still a surprise team to many but with great young talent, this team’s hot start does not come as a surprise to me.

5)    Boston Bruins (18-7-2, 38 points) They are the most consistent team in the league in my opinion. They come to play every night and with great goaltending, are usually in the win column.

6)    Anaheim Ducks (18-7-4, 40 points) After a hot start, Anaheim hit a little cold spell, but I am not worried that they will be stuck in it long.

7)    Los Angeles Kings (17-7-4, 38 points) They are still playing good hockey even with their all-star goalie out until Christmas. Dustin Brown has shown true leadership with this team.

8)    Pittsburgh Penguins (18-9-1, 37 points) Usually you would expect to see this team around the top three, but with some inconsistency this season they have dropped to number eight.

9)    Phoenix Coyotes (15-7-4, 34 points) This team fights hard for wins and is backed by some very solid goaltending.

10) Tampa Bay Lightning (16-9-1, 33 points) In my opinion one of the most impressive teams this year. Without Stamkos and still way over .500 is a nice surprise and so they finish the top ten.

11) Detroit Red Wings (14-7-7, 35 points) They’re on a four game win streak right now and beat the Islanders for the first time since 2003 this week. With play like this, they can shoot up the rankings quickly.

12) Vancouver Canucks (14-10-5, 33 points) It’s been an up and down season so far for the Canucks. If they do not find consistency, they will not find any success.

13) Minnesota Wild (16-8-5, 37 points) With a rough end to the month a top ten team in points will be found out of my top ten.

14)  Montreal Canadiens (16-9-3, 35 points) 7-1-2 in their last 10 and quickly rising in the standings. They can crack the top ten soon if they continue to perform at this rate.

15) Washington Capitals (14-11-2, 30 points) With a big comeback win against the division rival Islanders this weekend, the Capitals won two straight and improve to .500 on the road.

16) Dallas Stars (12-9-4, 28 points) A team that I thought would be a playoff threat with great goaltending has been disappointing thus far.

17) Nashville Predators (13-11-3, 29 points) A -13 goals against is not beneficial for any team, but especially not a team that prides itself on defense.

18) Toronto Maple Leafs (14-10-3, 31 points) Toronto is considerably low on my rankings because I expected a lot from this team and quite frankly am disappointed in their overall play.

19) Philadelphia Flyers (12-12-2, 26 points) The team still has some pieces to connect, but Steve Mason is the biggest piece and he is in place.

20) New York Rangers (14-14-0, 28 points) A team that can usually have Lundqvist as a backbone did not start him for the second straight game last night in favor of Cam Talbot, who has been good in net. If Henrik gets going, they could have a scary two-headed monster.

21) Winnipeg Jets (13-12-4, 30 points) I usually do not like to call out one player, but the Jets expected big things from Ondrej Pavelec and have got pretty much nothing from him.

22) New Jersey Devils (11-12-5, 27 points) Win one lose one is not a good attitude to have in the NHL and it seems like the Devils have been playing like that all year so far.

23) Ottawa Senators (10-13-4, 24 points) It seems like their offense and defense can never click on the same night and that has resulted in a poor start for the Sens.

24) Columbus Blue Jackets (10-14-3, 23 points) A team that just missed the playoffs last season that had high expectations has struggled to say the least to begin this season.

25) Carolina Hurricanes (10-12-5, 25 points) Carolina has too many questions and no answers on the blue line. 57 goals for also does not help a struggling team.

26) Edmonton Oilers (9-17-2, 20 points) The best of the worst! They begin my bottom five in the league and this young team will NOT win games with poor defense and weak goaltending.

27) Calgary Flames- (9-13-4, 22 points) As expected, Calgary is in the bottom tier of the league. 3-5-2 in their last ten is not making matters any better.

28) New York Islanders (8-15-4, 20 points) After a good start to the season, everything went downhill after an injury to Lubomir Visnovsky. The team has lost six straight now and is treading water to stay alive.

29) Florida Panthers (7-15-5, 19 points) A team that is still in rebuild mode has Tim Thomas leading the way but is trying to pave the way for goaltender Jacob Markstrom. If there is a bright spot for this team, Aleksander Barkov looks great!

30) Buffalo Sabres (6-20-2, 14 points) Not much has to be said when your goal differential is -37. Actually there is one thing, DRAFT PARTY!

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Mike Basile is a sophomore at York College Of Pennsylvania. He is a huge sports fan, and when it comes to hockey maybe considered a little obsessive. Giving insight on the Islanders and all things hockey. You can follow him on twitter at @mikeybasile1

What’s Next for the New York Jets: Looking Ahead to 2014

By: Dan Lagnado

It pains me to say it as much as it pains you to read it but it’s probably about time to wave the playoffs goodbye for this season. The Jets have now lost three in a row and four of their last five games, and now sit at 5-7 on the season. “But wait”, those few remaining loyalists will say, “there’s still a chance to go 8-8 or even 9-7.” Mathematically that is correct, but is it realistic?

In this writer’s (and fan’s) opinion, no. I haven’t seen anything to make me believe that this team can beat even the lowliest teams in the NFL. The chunk of schedule after the bye was not considered to be the hardest of this season, yet the Bills, Ravens, and Dolphins have given the Jets fits. The same team that beat the Patriots and the Saints in three weeks now have lost to three straight teams who had come in to the game with losing records and lost embarrassingly. Geno Smith’s offense scored only three points against the Ravens, and the only points scored against Miami came on a drive led by Matt Simms. That offensive production is not going to get anyone into the postseason. I don’t think that the problem is only Geno Smith, as many people claim that it is, however it is true that the rookie’s performance has not been up-to-par of late. I believe that part of the issue lies in the wide receivers.

Geno Smith has not played like the first round pick he was projected to be (Via USA Today)

Geno Smith has not played like the first round pick he was projected to be (Via USA Today)

To begin the season, the Jets had Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley penciled in as starters and Kellen Winslow as the starting tight end with Jeff Cumberland as support. However, it’s never that easy. Holmes has been plagued by foot and hamstring injuries that have caused him to miss five games and rendered him ineffective in a few games as well. Hill has played quite the disappearing act. Despite being active in every game this season, Hill has been held without a catch four different times, most notably in three consecutive games against New Orleans, Buffalo and Baltimore. Since his 108-yard performance against Buffalo in week three, his stats have dropped drastically as he managed the same yardage in nine games combined. Jeremy Kerley is the Jets’ leading receiver this season, but he has missed time as well of late because of the injury he suffered against the Saints. Winslow missed games for both injuries and a suspension and even Cumberland was held out of a game due to a concussion. As a result the Jets have had to rotate other players in to fill the empty spots. And so for this season we have seen the likes of Clyde Gates, Greg Salas, Josh Cribbs, Zach Sudfeld, Konrad Reuland and David Nelson. Though David Nelson did provide a bit of a spark in a few games, this rotation of receivers could be reason for lack of chemistry between Geno and the wide receivers.

This is not an excuse for the poor play of the offense, nor is it an excuse for the poor decisions and play of the rookie quarterback. It is simply the idea that not all the blame belongs to Geno Smith.

Another issue that is facing the Jets is that of their secondary. The departure of Darrelle Revis certainly has been felt. Antonio Cromartie has been playing hurt most of the season and as a result has not played his best, despite leading the team with three of their six interceptions. Rookie Dee Milliner has now been benched three times and has not quite lived up to the expectations of a top-10 overall pick and there isn’t really anyone else in the secondary able to effectively cover a number two receiver. This has been an Achilles heel all season for what has been a very good defense otherwise and Ed Reed has not been the solution.

And while it is true that the Jets are only 2 games out of the final playoff spot, it is important to note the teams that are ahead or tied with them: Ravens, Dolphins, Chargers, Titans and the Steelers. Four out of those five teams own the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Jets. Basically, the Jets have to be alone in the 6th Wild Card spot to get to the playoffs.

But I will state again, unless something changes drastically with the offense, this team will be lucky to come away with two wins in their last four games.

So what comes next? It’s impossible to determine anything draft-related at this point in time. There are too many variables that would determine draft order or even who will be free agents at the end of the season. But we can consider the areas that most likely will be addressed in the offseason. In my personal opinion, I would expect to see a new coach first and foremost. John Idzik began his rebuilding of this team last season and surprised many by keeping Rex Ryan on as coach. However, Rex may not get a second chance again after this season. Look for Idzik to bring in a new face to lead the team to the future. With a new coach at the helm and a GM looking to be a contender look for the Jets to fill the holes right away this offseason. As for the quarterback situation…your guess is as good as mine.

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Dan Lagnado is studying communications, law economics and government at American University. He’s a fan of both the Mets and Jets and has been writing about sports for four years. You can follow him on twitter at @dlag1995