Brad Keselowski wins third race of the year, cements Cup cred

30 Jun

For a track already infamous for concrete-thick gridlock outside the grandstands, Kentucky gave us a race on Saturday night as wide open as rush hour on a holiday.

Brad Keselowski proved he's not just a legit Chase contender but a potential championship one, winning his third race of the year while driving a backup car and manipulating his fuel situation. With big guns like Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin suffering setbacks that kept them out of the lead, and with Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. unable to close the gap, Keselowski thoroughly dominated the final third of the race.

[Related: Results from the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway]

Hamlin wasn't able to build on what he'd hoped would be a marquee day, the announcement of the extension of his contract with Joe Gibbs Racing. "When you know you're locked in and know you're going to race where you're going to race for a really long time, and honest people at Joe Gibbs Racing and FedEx have your back a long time, it's a good feeling," he said. "We're really blessed to have the partnership that we have ... and a team that's capable of winning a championship.  That's all I can ask for.  So it's up to us to get that done from here on out." Hamlin now sits 5th in points, and appears a lock to make the Chase.

Kentucky spent untold amounts both in trying to rectify last year's disastrous parking nightmare and in trying to get out the word about all the changes. And indeed, there were no reports of problems getting into the track ... in part, at least, because attendance appeared to be far short of last year's total. Some of that dropoff is to be expected when you go from an inaugural race to a second one, some is attributable to the triple-degree heat, but some is certainly because of the problems from last year. Post-race, Twitter had no reports of drivers trapped in their vehicles or unable to leave the track.

The drivers didn't have a whole lot of trouble getting around Kentucky for the most part, either. Wide-open racing at the 1.5-mile track didn't produce a whole lot of drama; indeed, for much of the race it felt like a Formula 1-style "who makes the errors in the pits?" kind of race. Any driver able to find clean air could get distance on the field, and the drivers, like Busch and Keselowski, who could restart strong after one of the few cautions were able to grab and hold the lead ... and he did so in a backup car courtesy of the, in his words, "badasses" of his team.

[Related: Carl Edwards sounds off after another disappointing finish]

"They put together a back‑up car from last year in 100° heat in an hour's time ‑‑ not even an hour," Keselowski said. "It was like 40 minutes.  I wish I had a stopwatch for that.  Got it on the racetrack and got to run our laps for practice to make the adjustments we needed to be fast today.  And that's what badasses do, and that's what got us to victory lane today, and I'm proud of these guys for it.  I'm proud of them.  Damn proud of them.  I think that sums it up."

This sets up an interesting final nine races of the regular season for Keselowski. If he's able to stay in the top 10, and he's 34 points ahead of 11th right now, he'd get bonus points for the three wins. That at the moment would put him in the series lead. Fall out of the top 10, and he'll still surely make the Chase, but without the bonus points.

Either way, Keselowski showed he's now legitimate championship material. As Tony Stewart proved last year, a driver that can win at any time is more valuable than a consistent finisher, if only barely. And Keselowski now adds a 1.5-miler to his short track and his superspeedway victories this year. That's not a bad year's work, and we're not even halfway.

Other popular content on the Yahoo! network:
• Ranking the hot-seat meter for NFL head coaches
• Erin Andrews leaves ESPN as another network amps up its courtship
• Y! Travel: Best July 4th fireworks

Tags: , , , , , Joe Gibbs Racing, , Kentucky Speedway, , , Related, ,
No Comments Share Read More

Carl Edwards candid after late pit stop for fuel relegates him to 20th place finish

30 Jun

Sitting outside the top 10 in points without a win, every race that ticks by without a trip to victory lane decreases Carl Edwards' window of opportunity to make the 2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup. And after finishing 20th Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway, Edwards admitted that the team needed to pick up the pace.

After steadily working his way through the field, Edwards restarted in third with 48 laps to go after a lengthy caution for Ryan Newman's expired engine came out with many teams on the precipice of their fuel windows. Edwards was one of those on the edge.

Some cars chose to top off their fuel tanks while others stayed out. When Edwards got the call to come in to top off to make it safely to the end, he was already committed to the racetrack. He was going to need another caution to make it to the checkered flag on fuel. He never got it, and was forced to pit from fourth place with seven laps to go.

He finished 20th.

[Related: Brad Keselowski notches Sprint Cup-leading third win of the year]

"(Crew chief) Bob (Osborne) called me on to pit road, he knew we should have pitted that last time but I was already so far around the cone, I just didn't feel right cutting across traffic and slamming the splitter down and trying to make it to pit road," Edwards said. "So we were put in a box and we hoped that there would be a caution and there wasn't. But it's just time for us to get it in gear. We gotta go. I'm real frustrated, Bob's real frustrated. I know we can do this though — we ran as well as any Ford out here tonight and at the end with some fuel I think we would have had a chance to win it."

Edwards is now 11th in the points standings, 34 points behind Kentucky winner Brad Keselowski for 10th. But because he's winless so far this year -- his highest finish is fifth -- he's behind Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne and Joey Logano, drivers all with a win, in the Wild Card pecking order.

From the expression on Edwards' face and his meaningful delivery of his post-race comments, you could tell that the (relative) struggles of his race team were very real. Just last year he was tied with Tony Stewart for the championship, only to lose that tiebreaker five to one on wins. Now, crazily enough, he's a driver in badly need of a win on a 50(!) race winless streak.

And perhaps he's cognizant of the second place slump that's haunted himself and other drivers recently. After finishing second to Jimmie Johnson and leading the circuit in wins in 2008, Edwards went winless and finished 11th in 2009. Mark Martin, who finished second that year, was 13th in 2010. And Denny Hamlin, who was second in 10 and, like Edwards in 2008, led the series in wins, finished 9th in 2011.

[Related: Complete results from Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway]

Hamlin and crew chief Mike Ford parted ways at the end of 2011. Edwards was quick to shoot down any thoughts of parting ways with Osborne, or any other popular theory that's been floated as a reason for the team's struggles. (Edwards and Osborne have been together since the beginning of Edwards' Sprint Cup career, save for 27 races in the middle of 2006.)

"We have to stick together as a team," Edwards said. "That's what Bob and I talked about last week I mean — I hear it all, I hear everything — 'Oh, he's focused on the booth,' 'He's tore up over Tony's deal last year,' 'He needs a new crew chief' — all these things. None of that's true. We're having some bad luck and we're having some bad communication here. And we can do this together. So we could divide right now or we could come together. I've got the best crew chief in the business, he proved it at the end of the year last year. We got beat on a crazy call by (former Tony Stewart crew chief) Darian (Grubb) and those guys (when Stewart stayed out longer than Edwards and others at Homestead). But we just need to go and keep going and get this Ford in victory lane for Fastenal and all the people who support us."

Other popular content on the Yahoo! network:
• Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield joke on Twitter about infamous 'Bite Fight'
• Erin Andrews leaves ESPN as another network amps up its courtship
• Y! Finance: What do you eat with a $168,000 bottle of wine?

Tags: , , carl edwards, caution, , Kentucky Speedway, , Ryan Newman, , Tony Stewart, ,
No Comments Share Read More

The user’s guide to two-start pitchers, Week 14

30 Jun
by in General

In the aftermath of last week's Eovaldi-Archer-Grimm debacle (17 earned runs and counting), and in consideration of my pathological inability to bench Hector Noesi in A.L.-only, I'm currently serving a five-day suspension from pitching analysis. Self-imposed. No appeals. Have to sit myself down, watch video, make some adjustments. If you need pitching pick-ups, go here. I'm not going to hype anyone in today's introduction, because I'd hate to damage yet another young pitcher's career.

I will, however, arrange all of next week's two-start pitchers according to their relative safety and usefulness. Because someone has to do it. Please continue after the jump for ranks and tiers. Let's all just remember that I am not exactly riding a hot streak right now, kids. If you own me in a fantasy experts fantasy league, you gotta consider benching.



Zack Greinke — MIA (Sanchez), at HOU (Lyles)
Jordan Zimmermann — SF (Lincecum), SD (Friedrich)
Johnny Cueto — at LAD (Capuano), at SD (Cashner)
Tommy Hanson — CHC (Samardzija), at PHI (Blanton)
Chris Capuano — CIN (Cueto), at ARI (Bauer)
James McDonald — HOU (Lyles), SF (Vogelsong)
AJ Burnett — HOU (Harrell), SF (Lincecum)

Contested layups

Anibal Sanchez — at MIL (Greinke), at STL (Kelly)
Jonathon Niese — PHI (Worley), CHC (---)
Vance Worley — at NYM (Niese), ATL (Jurrjens)
Tim Lincecum — at WAS (Zimmermann), at PIT (Burnett)
Kyle Lohse — COL (Outman), MIA (Zambrano)
Andrew Cashner — at ARI (Bauer), CIN (Cueto)
Trevor Bauer — SD (Cashner), LAD (Capuano)


Trevor Cahill — SD (Richard), LAD (Billingsley)
Chad Billingsley — CIN (Bailey), at ARI (Cahill)
Marco Estrada — MIA (Zambrano), at HOU (Rodriguez)
Joe Kelly — COL (Francis), MIA (Sanchez)

Deep threes

Jeff Samardzija — at ATL (Hanson), at NYM (Gee)
Carlos Zambrano — at MIL (Estrada), at STL (Lohse)
Jeff Francis — at STL (Kelly), at WAS (Gonzalez)
Clayton Richard — at ARI (Cahill), CIN (Bailey)
Homer Bailey — at LAD (Billingsley), at SD (Richard)
Jair Jurrjens — CHC (---), at PHI (Worley)
Jordan Lyles — at PIT (McDonald), MIL (Greinke)

And then there's this crazy slop from Colorado...

Josh Outman — at STL (Lohse), at WAS (Strasburg)
Christian Friedrich — at STL (Wainwright), at WAS (Zimmermann)


No hesitation

Jered Weaver — at CLE (Jimenez), BAL (Hammel)
Chris Sale — TEX (Oswalt), TOR (Cecil)

Slight hesitation, but not so much

Jarrod Parker — BOS (Matsuzaka), SEA (Millwood)
Jason Hammel — at SEA (Millwood), at LAA (Weaver)
Max Scherzer — MIN (Blackburn), KC (Teaford)
Dan Haren — at CLE (McAllister), BAL (Chen)

Fine...OK. Sure. Do whatever you need to do.

Ivan Nova — at TB (Shields), at BOS (---)
Matt Moore — NYY (Garcia), at CLE (Jimenez)
Ricky Romero — KC (Teaford), at CWS (Floyd)
James Shields — NYY (Nova), at CLE (McAllister)
Doug Fister — MIN (Hendriks), KC (Chen)
Wei-Yin Chen — at SEA (Hernandez), at LAA (Haren)
Ubaldo Jimenez — LAA (Weaver), TB (Moore)
Daisuke Matsuzaka — at OAK (Parker), NYY (---)
Kevin Millwood — BAL (Hammel), at OAK (Parker)
Roy Oswalt — at CHW (Sale), MIN (Blackburn)
Zach McAllister — LAA (Haren), TB (Shields)

Request denied

Freddy Garcia — at TB (Moore), at BOS (---)
Brett Cecil — KC (Mendoza), at CWS (Sale)
Nick Blackburn — at DET (Scherzer), at TEX (Oswalt)
Everett Teaford — at TOR (Romero), at DET (Scherzer)
Liam Hendriks — at DET (Fister), at TEX (---)

No Comments Share Read More

Montana’s Will Cherry hopes to follow in Damian Lillard’s footsteps

30 Jun

For most of his adult life, Montana guard Will Cherry never viewed making the NBA as an attainable goal.

Only after watching longtime friend Damian Lillard rocket up draft boards this month and get taken No. 6 by Portland on Thursday night did Cherry begin to believe he too could hear his name called this time next year.

Like Lillard, Cherry grew up in a rough part of Oakland. Like Lillard, Cherry received minimal interest from high-profile West Coast programs. Like Lillard, Cherry ultimately accepted a scholarship from a Big Sky program few of his peers even knew existed.

"That man right there, he's a role model for me," Cherry said. "As kids growing up, you always have a dream, but now that you see someone from Oakland who you played against since high school become a lottery pick, that makes it more realistic. You've seen the path he took, you played against him and you know what it takes to get to where he's going."

It will be difficult for Cherry to rise from lightly regarded recruit to small-conference star to lottery pick the way Lillard did, but the Montana guard is certainly on the NBA radar entering his senior season.

Cherry earned first-team all-Big Sky honors and the league's defensive player of the year award as a junior after averaging 15.8 points per game and leading Montana to a 25-7 record and a No. 13 seed in the NCAA tournament. He parlayed that into an invitation to last weekend's prestigious Deron Williams camp in Las Vegas, where he fared well against 16 of the top collegiate guards in the nation.

"Playing in the Big Sky, a lot of guys don't get the recognition, but on the heels of Damian's success that seems to be changing," Montana coach Wayne Tinkle said. "For Will to compete at that level and have the word spread, that's a great thing for him. He's going to be watched and scouted next year because of what he has been able to do."

Attention from NBA scouts is a startling phenomenon for Cherry because it wasn't long ago that he struggled to catch the eye of college coaches.

Despite scoring a team-high 19 points in McClymonds High's memorable upset of nationally ranked Dominguez in California's Division I state championship game his junior year, Cherry still had no scholarship offers the summer before his senior year. SMU, San Francisco and Santa Clara were the most interested in Cherry before Tinkle and his staff spotted him and encouraged him to take a visit to Montana.

To say Cherry was skeptical about the idea of leaving his big city comfort zone for small-town Montana would be a massive understatement. Cherry's coaches had to persuade him to accept the offer to even visit Missoula because he envisioned a scene right out of the Old West.

"Me being from the city, I stereotyped it," Cherry said. "I thought there were a bunch of cowboys and horses. I thought it would be the middle of nowhere. I didn't think they'd have a mall. I was like, 'I need a city around me to feel like I'm home.'"

What Cherry found instead was an environment more similar to McClymonds than he expected. While Montana's second largest city has not even one-sixth the population of Cherry's hometown, it supports University of Montana athletics the same way West Oakland embraces McClymonds' storied basketball program.

Cherry returned home from his visit and told his mom soon afterward that he wanted to commit to Montana. She encouraged him to sleep on the decision for a night, but the next morning they called Tinkle from the highway on the way to school to give him the good news.

Word of Cherry's decision inspired puzzled looks from most of his friends. Many of them asked him where Montana was.

"I was like, 'It's a state.' It's up north, by Idaho," Cherry said with a chuckle. "You won't believe how many times I got that question. Every time, I'd laugh and I'd look at them puzzled like, 'It's a state.' That was the most hilarious question I've ever been asked, and I got asked that over 50 times my senior year."

Cherry has made strides toward putting Montana on the basketball map, taking the Grizz to two NCAA tournaments in three years for the first time in school history. Along the way, he has benefited from leaving his comfort zone, overcoming early homesickness to become a more well-rounded person, a more vocal leader and an even more tireless worker.

Since Cherry and Lillard both had similar experiences leaving Oakland for Big Sky country, the two former high school opponents and AAU teammates forged an even stronger friendship in college. They texted or chatted as often as a few times a week, discussing life away from home or sharing scouting reports on conference opponents.

What Cherry has taken from Lillard's success story is the value of an insatiable work ethic.

Each day during the offseason, Lillard lifted weights, did an hour of game-speed drills and shot up to 400 3-pointers. The Weber State star returned better than ever from a broken foot suffered in Dec. 2010 as a result of his laser focus, even spending his 21st birthday shooting hoops and preaching the importance of education to kids at a local YMCA.

Cherry's dedication is just as legendary in Missoula as Lillard's is in Ogden.

He transformed his 3-point stroke from weakness to strength via hours in the gym, shooting 37.2 percent last season compared to 22.5 percent the previous year. This offseason, he hopes to keep improving his jump shot and become a more consistent playmaker off the dribble.

"My jump shot got a lot better, but I want to be to the point where it goes in every time I'm open," Cherry said. "My handles are good but I need them to be great. My playmaking ability is good but I need that to be great. Every element of my game, I need to take that to the next level."

Cherry planned to send a text or tweet congratulating Lillard as soon as the Weber State guard heard his name called Thursday night. And come this time next year, it could be Cherry whose phone is buzzing on draft night.

Tags: , lottery, , scholarship, sky, ,
No Comments Share Read More

Closing Time: Catching up with Derek Norris and Yasmani Grandal

30 Jun
by in General

I've always been somewhat sympathetic to catchers — maybe it's the Johnny Bench Effect, a result of watching The Baseball Bunch during my formative years. With that in mind, our opening bullets will be tied to the catcher position, and then we'll eventually meander our way around the rest of the diamond.

On the surface Derek Norris didn't do anything special Friday at Arlington: 2-for-4, one strikeout. Both of his hits were singles. But I love how Norris was in the lineup at DH — this shows the Athletics realize his offensive potential and are looking for creative ways to keep him in the lineup. Norris caught Thursday's game and went 2-for-3 with a homer and a walk. Although Norris is best known for his on-base skills and his power — he's still a work in progress behind the plate — it's only a matter of time before he shoves Kurt Suzuki out of the way.

Watch the rest of the Arlington series, see what you make of the kid. Norris is a great name to know for two-catcher leagues and he might eventually be worth grabbing in one-backstop pools. He's also unowned in 99 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

We've already been through the Yasmani Grandal business once, but this time the Padres appear serious. The highly-regarded catching prospect will join the team Saturday and he's obviously slated to play a lot because Nick Hundley is going to Triple-A. Grandal posted a nifty .330/.438/.515 slash at Triple-A, with six homers over 194 at-bats. And you always love seeing a player who has more walks than strikeouts. In deeper leagues, you might want to take a flier with Grandal as your second catcher.

Petco Park is no fun for hitters, sure, but Grandal's first hacks will come in Coors Field this weekend. While it's not clear if he'll play in both games, there might be deep-league streaming potential here. Grandal, like Norris, is ready to go in 99 percent of Yahoo! leagues. (Saturday Update: Grandal homered twice at Coors, once from each side of the plate, as the Friars dispatched the Rockies. Well done, rookie.)

• Salvador Perez has never been a patient man at the plate — see the ball, hit the ball — but his approach has worked nicely in the majors. He quietly posted a .331 average through his 39-game trial last year, and he's off to a 7-for-20 start with a couple of homers this season, rebounding nicely from his knee surgery. Perez would be a Top 10 catcher if I were shuffling the position at this moment, and he's still unclaimed freight (it's great) in 86 percent of the Yahoo! world. Maybe the Royals can really hang in this AL Central race after all.

Thirty-five year old catchers aren't supposed to stumble into career years, but apparently A.J. Pierzynski didn't get the memo. AJP slugged a couple of homers in Friday's rout at Yankee Stadium, and for the year he's posted a terrific .285-36-14-45 line. Pierzynski is currently slugging .517, easily a career high and 91 points better than his career average. The thicker part of his production has come against right-handed pitching and at home, but he hasn't been worthless on the flip side of things.

Generally it's impossible to sell high on this type of player — your opponents are unlikely to buy into this binge in any way — so Pierzynski becomes a forced hold for most of his owners. With a warm Chicago summer on the way, that's not the worst thing in the world.

If you were ever going to predict a no-hitter, R.A. Dickey's turn against the Dodgers on Friday was the place to call your shot. The hapless LA lineup had no chance against the butterfly ball, managing just three hits (one of them an outfield miscommunication) through eight scoreless innings. Dickey walked one, struck out 10. The Dodgers lineup is such a mess right now, Carlos Lee is viewed as a potential solution. Is El Caballo willing to go to the City of Angels?

Underrated Dillon Gee becomes a legitimate streaming target against this scuffling club, though he has to face Clayton Kershaw on Sunday night. Surging Mike Leake is a definite go Wednesday in LA, and maybe some of us will fall into the Homer Bailey trap on Monday. Take +EV wherever and whenever you find it.

I've been a Carlos Beltran fan from way back and his surprise season with the Cardinals (.311, 20 homers) has been a blast to watch. And here's a tip of the cap to Beltran for collecting his 2,000th hit, a single against the Pirates on Friday. But I can't help but be concerned about where the story might be headed; Beltran was gingerly meandering through the outfield for most of Friday's game, and he didn't seem to run full-out during an infield grounder that turned into a close play at first.

It's not my knee and I'm no one's doctor, but I can't help but wonder if Beltran's knee is still bothering him. He's passed on stolen-base attempts in 25 of his last 26 games, and he only has two successful swipes since April. Maybe it won't affect his batting, but I'd be careful here. Beltran is 35, of course, and he's been a regular injury concern since 2009.

Good lord, how big are the offensive problems in Seattle? We talked about the Safeco Effect a little bit in Friday's Closing Time, but I don't think anyone expected journeyman Aaron Cook to throw a two-hit shutout at the M's. The Mariners have a .197/.275/.291 slash at home, with just 101 runs over 36 dates (all four of those stats are worst in the majors). Again, I pose the question: anyone feel like a Felix Doubront start for Sunday?

Speed Round: I'll be honest, The Cycle does nothing for me. I love seeing a player produce, but fitting it into a 1-2-3-4 box doesn't produce a chill moment. Anyway, tip of the cap to Aaron Hill for his second cycle of 2012, though what roto owners really care about is the 5-2-4-3 line, with a homer and a steal. Something's working for Hill in the desert; he's rocking a .306/.370/.511 line since joining the Snakes late last year. … Everyone will have to share the pine tar going forward, as Joel Peralta has rejoined the Rays bullpen. It's all about setting up Fernando Rodney under the catwalk; Joe Maddon made it clear a few days ago that Kyle Farnsworth will have to accept a non-closing role when he returns. … Michael Morse homered at the end of the Colorado series and he backed that up with another clout in Friday's win over Atlanta. Here it comes. … Lonnie Chisenhall needs forearm surgery, so scrap him for a couple of months. … The Cardinals haven't ruled out potential surgery on Chris Carpenter's shoulder. … It's possible Quintin Berry might stick in the Detroit lineup even when Andy Dirks returns. It's a moot point for now, as Dirks's rehab is progressing at a snail's pace. … Evan Longoria (hamstring) has been cleared for baseball activities. Anyone for a game of Pepper? … Desmond Jennings clocked a couple of homers off Justin Verlander, and he also made two excellent defensive plays in left field. So much for that buy-low window. … Terry Collins says Frank Francisco (oblique) will get the closing role back when he's activated. In the meantime, Bobby Parnell is your Handshake Huckleberry. … I'm not eager to forgive Adam Lind for past transgressions, but he did knock a couple of homers in Toronto's win. He'll have to settle for a low slot in the order, as the top half is raking. … I welcome your theories on Cliff Lee's puzzling slump. We're all searching on this one. … Happy 39th birthday, Chan Ho Park. You crushed me in 1999, but I'm over it now.

Tags: , , , , Derek Norris, , Grandal, , , , Yasmani, Yasmani Grandal
No Comments Share Read More

Brad Keselowski and Juan Pablo Montoya get together twice during practices at Kentucky

29 Jun

It'd be too easy to say that the tempers of Brad Keselowski and Juan Pablo Montoya were hot just like the weather on Friday at Kentucky, so we'll avoid any bad puns. Promise.

Keselowski and Montoya got together on the opening lap of Friday's first practice at Kentucky Speedway. Because of that contact, Keselowski's car hit the wall in turn 3 hard enough to force the team to bring out its backup.

Keselowski felt that the contact was Montoya's fault. As you can see his reply in the video above, Montoya said he wasn't sure what happened. In Friday's final practice, Keselowski then gave Montoya a tap on the rear bumper.

After practice, Keselowski then went to the NASCAR hauler on his own accord, and declined to comment on what was discussed inside.

Will this carry over into Saturday's Quaker State 400? We'll find out.

Tags: , , contact, fault, juan pablo montoya, , Kentucky Speedway, Keselowski, Montoya, , ,
No Comments Share Read More

The Fantasy Freak Show Podcast: Adrian, Bauer and pole-dancing

29 Jun
by in General

Over the past week, no player has been scrutinized more than Adrian Peterson. On Roto Arcade, hundreds of anti and pro-AD words were authored presenting owners with both sides of the intense "To draft or not to draft" debate.

On this week's Freak Show, Brandon Funston threw his hat into the ring explaining his side in the matter. Additional fireworks on the running back carousel in Washington, Jeremy Maclin, Randy Moss, among other controversies, were also discussed.

Meanwhile in hour two, our fanalysts reacted to Trevor Bauer's debut and the resurrection of Chase Utley. And we also tossed in our two cents on the NBA draft.

Too busy waxing your chest for "Magic Mike?" No problem. Listen to the replays below:




Tags: , anti, Arcade, Brandon Funston, , Fantasy Freak Show Podcast, Freak Show, Jeremy Maclin, , , Podcast, ring, Trevor Bauer
No Comments Share Read More

Hits and misses from Thursday night’s NBA draft

29 Jun

A collection of thoughts, musings and opinions on Thursday night's NBA draft from a college hoops perspective ...

Lottery pick likely to be a bust: Andre Drummond (Detroit)

Comment: Drummond has the body, wingspan and athleticism of a potential elite NBA center. He also has the unpolished offensive repertoire and suspect motor of Kwame Brown. Hailed as the recruit who could make UConn a contender for back-to-back championships, Drummond instead struggled to make a consistent impact during his lone erratic season with the Huskies. He lacks a back-to-the-basket game. He disappears for stretches of the game. And he doesn't work hard enough to consistently get good position against players he should dominate physically. In a league that rewards teams who draft players that outperform their contracts, Drummond is highly unlikely to do that. Best-case scenario for the Pistons, he pulls a DeAndre Jordan and shows just enough promise to earn a bloated second contract.

Second-round steal: Will Barton (Portland Trail Blazers)

Comment: There are probably 10 first-round picks who won't be as successful in the NBA as Barton will be, including several shooting guards taken ahead of him. The 6-foot-6 former Memphis star slipped all the way to No. 40 despite averaging 18 points per game as a sophomore and showcasing an efficient mid-range game, effective rebounding ability and good defensive promise. Yes, he needs to get stronger and develop a more consistent 3-point shot, but you could say that for many of his peers in this draft, including Jeremy Lamb, who went No. 12.

Undrafted player likely to make a roster: Drew Gordon

Comment: It's surprising that the 6-foot-9 New Mexico forward didn't get a sniff in the second round because he has the tools needed to be a quality energy player off the bench in the NBA. He's a defensive presence in the paint. He consistently plays hard. And he's an explosive enough rebounder that he averaged a double-double the past two seasons. There's no doubt that his back-to-the-basket game and perimeter jump shot aren't NBA caliber yet, but he does enough other things well to carve out a niche in the league as a role player.

Should have stayed in school: Quincy Miller (Denver Nuggets)

Comment: Had Miller returned for his sophomore year at Baylor, he might have regained the explosiveness he had before a torn ACL cost him his senior season in high school and emerged as a potential lottery pick in 2013. Instead, the former top-five Class of 2011 recruit left after an unspectacular freshman season in which he averaged 10.6 points and 4.9 rebounds and relied far too much on his jump shot. He has an opportunity to make Denver's roster and become a productive pro, but sliding until the 38th pick cost him a guaranteed contract. 

Should have left school a year earlier: Perry Jones (Oklahoma City Thunder)

Comment: Plenty of guys have returned to school only to see their stock drop, but few have fallen further than Jones. The Baylor forward who likely would have gone in the top five as a freshman instead almost slid out of the first round Thursday night until Oklahoma City ended his free fall with the third-to-last pick. Why the fall for Jones despite his enviable length and athleticism? Concerns about a knee issue didn't help, nor did his tendency to shy away from contact or his insistence that he's a small forward rather than a power forward in the NBA despite plenty of evidence to the contrary.

Program that had the best night: Kentucky

Comment: Even though North Carolina had four picks in the first 17 selections, this title still belongs to Kentucky. The Wildcats became the first program ever to produce the No. 1 and No. 2 pick in the same draft and the first to have six players taken in the same year. Since John Calipari recruits with the premise that he can get kids to the NBA faster than any coach in the nation, a draft night like this can only help his future efforts.

Program that had the worst night: Villanova

Comment: Georgetown, Alabama and Villanova each had multiple prospects go undrafted, but it had to sting most for the Wildcats since both Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek left as underclassmen. Neither Wayns nor Cheek realistically had much chance of being taken when they both announced they were leaving school early in April. Wayns is an undersized combo guard whose decision making and shot selection probably scared teams off, while Cheek simply doesn't possess the strength, athleticism or ability to get to the rim of an NBA guard.

Tags: Andre Drummond, athleticism, Drummond, , , Perry Jones
No Comments Share Read More

Closing Time: Brett Myers, staying or leaving?

29 Jun
by in General

In my view of the world, Brett Myers should stay in Houston. That's where ZZ Top is from (and surely he wants into the band, look at the facial hair). The Astros could use a veteran presence. And our fantasy teams could use a few more handshakes.

His blown save from Thursday was a mess, sure — four hits, six runs. But if you take a broader view of everything, it's not really the worst thing in the world. Only one of the runs was earned, and outings like this might actually enhance (or at least protect) Myers's fantasy value.

Myers certainly made some bad pitches against the Padres: John Baker missed a home run by about two feet and light-hitting Alexi Amarista crushed a game-sealing grand slam into the right field seats. Myers also plunked Carlos Quentin on a two-strike pitch, forcing home a run. But the H-Town closer had some bad luck in this appearance, too. Chris Johnson botched a sharply-hit grounder that looked like an easy 5-4-3 double play (it would have ended the game), and Chase Headley's single was a dying quail that barely made it into the outfield.

How does a blown save help fantasy value? Simple: it potentially scares away real-life trading partners. Myers is still firmly entrenched in Houston's closing chair, but it's just about impossible to find a contending club that would view him as a ninth-inning man. If Myers packs his bags later this summer, he's probably leaving his fantasy value in Houston. If you own Myers, you don't want him going anywhere. Maybe Thursday's mess will help in that regard. Trade eliminator.

It looks like the Red Sox might have done a nifty recycling job with Franklin Morales. Although the lefty had to take a no-decision at Seattle, we'll all welcome his tasty line (seven scoreless innings, seven strikeouts). He's collected 18 innings since joining the rotation in the middle of the month, stacking up this way: 14 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 24 K. Anyone with a K/BB ratio in that area jumps off the page; I'm assuming Boston will keep him in the rotation for a turn at Oakland next week (now confirmed: Morales sticks).

The latest Morales effort brings up a second point: Safeco Park, more than ever, is suffocating offense this season. Everyone knew into 2012 that Seattle was a favorable place for pitchers, but it's been extreme through three months of the year. For a deeper look into the story, check out Dave Cameron's piece on Fangraphs. And let's be aggressive as we stream against the Mariners (or in some cases, with the Mariners); anyone want to try Felix Doubront on Sunday?

The Trevor Bauer debut wasn't anything special (4 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 3 K), though he was still fun to watch. And he might have pitched better than the box score indicates: he seemed to be squeezed on some tight pitches in the third inning, and Justin Upton didn't have a great day in right field, turning a couple of potential outs into gift hits. With better defense, Bauer doesn't allow any runs.

The fantasy scouting report on Bauer hasn't really changed, at least for 2012. He's going to strike out his share of batters and he's going to walk a fair amount too. Because of those facts, it will be hard for him to routinely last more than 5-6 innings. He probably was limited to four innings and 74 pitches Thursday because he threw 50 pitches back on Sunday in Triple-A. It was odd to see him work on partial rest here, but it's not my team to run. I'll slotted Bauer at $10 in the current starting pitcher Shuffle Up.

Maybe we should have run a Thursday night blog devoted to Andrew Cashner, not Bauer. The San Diego righty was Straight Cash, Homey at Houston (6.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 9 K) and obviously he'll get the benefit of expansive Petco Park for his home starts. The Astros didn't even have a hit off Cashner until the righty started to tire a bit in the seventh inning.

I'm concerned about Cashner's control going forward (he does have 19 walks in 34.2 innings this year, after all) but he's also capable of missing bats (43 strikeouts for the year). He also has a very easy delivery; his fastball jumps into the high-90s with modest effort. There's certainly a plausible upside here, which is all we need to see in deeper leagues. Give him a look at Arizona next week, even in that hitter-friendly environment.

Although it took him 17 pitches, Bobby Parnell's first save conversion was a smooth 1-2-3 landing. Ground out, ground out, fly out, handshake line. My gut feel is that a healthy Frank Francisco would get his job back in the ninth inning, but maybe Parnell can make enough of an impression to complicate the equation. Parnell is still free to take in 72 percent of Yahoo! leagues, which seems low for someone who has the ninth all to himself for the moment.

Clip and save this note on Jim Thome: he might be in an American League uniform at some point in the second half. The Phillies are apparently willing to discuss moving Thome (why wouldn't they be?), and this is an intriguing left-handed bat that could help some teams. Maybe Detroit would consider a two-month rental, or Cleveland, or Tampa Bay. Thome would be fun to watch in Arlington or Baltimore. And as we saw during his DH tour earlier this month, he can still hit.

Speed Round: There's no new tale to tell about aces like Felix Hernandez (13 K) and Madison Bumgarner (one-hit wonder). Keep enjoying them as you normally do. … Same goes for A.J. Burnett, who's now won eight games in a row. If you take the Hurdleism Start at St. Louis out of the mix (no pitcher should be asked to absorb a 12-run shellacking), Burnett has a 2.05 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP. As we've been saying all season, let go of the past, gamer. Accept today's reality. … Max Scherzer had a smooth six innings at Tampa (4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 7 K) while James Shields threw batting practice (7.2 IP, 14 H, 4 R). I've been burned too many times on Mad Max, it's hard to trust. Jose Valverde had a smooth nine-pitch save, but I can't tell you anything about it: I've promised myself I won't watch him the rest of the year. We'll see how long that vow lasts. … Rafael Soriano needed a day off, so David Robertson handed away a game against Chicago (page me when the Dayan Viciedo homer lands). It spoiled a terrific outing from underrated Ivan Nova (7.1 IP, 1 R, 3 BB, 5 K). Start Nova next week under the catwalk. … At this point, let's give Mike Trout the MVP, the Cy Young, and maybe a Golden Globe or two. Utterly ridiculous. … Major thumbs down to Davey Johnson, who couldn't realize the upside of using Tyler Clippard in a tie game at Colorado. Clippard last worked on June 23, skip. Stop letting the save rule run your life. … Dan Uggla is in a .156 /.330 /.312 funk this month and might get a day off over the weekend. Those high-strikeout, high-fly hitters tend to be streaky commodities. … The Astros are taking it slow with Jose Altuve and his hamstring injury.

Tags: , Brett Myers, , , , , , , , Myers
No Comments Share Read More

Kevin Jones headlines list of eight best college players who went undrafted

29 Jun

To appreciate how little stock NBA franchises sometimes put in a draft prospect's college production, consider this example for a moment.

West Virginia's Kevin Jones earned second-team All-American honors last season, scoring 19.9 points per game, grabbing 10.9 rebounds and shooting 50.9 percent from the field in the rugged Big East. That still wasn't enough to get him drafted, however, as NBA teams apparently found 60 guys they thought had greater potential.

The only good news for Jones is he's far from the only highly successful college player not to be selected in this year's draft. Here's a look at a list of the top college players who were not drafted Thursday night the same way Notre Dame's Ben Hansbrough, Kansas State's Jacob Pullen and Georgetown's Austin Freeman weren't last year:

1. Kevin Jones, F, Sr., West Virginia

Comment: The 6-foot-8 forward did everything possible as a senior to earn a second-round look, carrying an otherwise uninspiring West Virginia team to the NCAA tournament. Unfortunately for Jones, that apparently wasn't enough to change NBA scouts' opinion he's unlikely to thrive in the league as a result of a lack of size and outside shooting combined with a game that is decidedly below the rim

2. J'Covan Brown, G, Jr., Texas

Comment: It's already difficult for an undersized 6-foot-2 shooting guard to win over NBA scouts, but Brown did himself no favors at the pre-draft combine in Chicago. He had the highest body fat of any NBA prospect at 12.5 percent, not a great sign for a player whose shot selection and ability to get along with his teammates were already issues.

3. John Shurna, F, Sr., Northwestern

Comment: Shurna's phenomenal outside shooting evidently wasn't enough to outweigh the other deficiencies in his game. The 6-foot-9 senior shot 43.4 percent from 3-point range as a junior and 44.0 percent as a senior, but he rebounds poorly for someone of his size and he lacks the strength, athleticism or quickness most NBA forwards possess.

4. Jordan Taylor, G, Sr., Wisconsin

Comment: NBA scouts weren't sold on Taylor's ability to thrive at the next level when he was a preseason national player of the year candidate, so of course it didn't help his stock that his senior year was a bit underwhelming compared to the brilliance of his previous season. Taylor's shooting percentage and assist-to-turnover ratio dropped off as a senior and he still lacks prototypical size or ability to get to the rim for an NBA point guard.

5. Scott Machado, G, Sr., Iona

Comment: It's hard to believe there's not a place on an NBA bench for a point guard with Machado's court vision, but the Iona senior went undrafted despite averaging 13.6 points, 9.9 assists and 40.4 percent 3-point shooting last season. NBA teams are apparently doubtful that the flimsy 6-foot-2 has the explosive speed or athleticism typically needed to survive in the league at his size.

6. Terrell Stoglin, G, So., Maryland

Comment: If the NBA draft has taught us anything over the years, it's that teams believe there's no place in the league for an undersized shooting guard. The 6-foot-1 Stoglin averaged 21.6 points per game and reportedly outplayed several first-round prospects during workouts the past month, but he went undrafted because he lacks the vision and passing skills to play point guard and the size and wingspan to play off the ball.

7. Tu Holloway, G, Sr., Xavier

Comment: It's Holloway's size that likely prevented him from getting a second-round look. He followed up a brilliant sophomore campaign by averaging 17.5 points and 4.9 assists as a junior, but the NBA rarely has a place for a 5-11 combo guard who's more of a scorer than a facilitator, especially one who's outside shot remains inconsistent at best.

8. Drew Gordon, F, Sr., New Mexico

Comment: Why would the NBA not have a place for an explosive 6-foot-9 rebounding machine who averaged a double-double both his junior and senior seasons at New Mexico? That's surely what Gordon is wondering today. Questions about his character from his UCLA days may have played a role, as may his lack of a perimeter jumper or back-to-the-basket game.

Other college stars who went undrafted: William Buford (Ohio State), Jorge Gutierrez (Cal), Jason Clark (Georgetown), Casper Ware (Long Beach State), JaMychal Green (Alabama)

Related NBA draft video from Yahoo! Sports:

Tags: Kevin Jones, , NBA draft, , shooting guard, West Virginia
No Comments Share Read More
1 2 3 5 6 Next »

Recent Posts

  • Felix Jones dealt with a bruised knee Sunday – Felix Jones | DAL
    Felix Jones dealt with a bruised knee Su...
    October 22, 2012No Comments
  • Steelers grab extra timeout with unconvincing injury
    Steelers grab extra timeout with unconvi...
    October 22, 2012No Comments
  • Holliday (back) unlikely to play in NLCS Gm 7 – Matt Holliday | STL
    Holliday (back) unlikely to play in NLCS...
    October 22, 2012No Comments
  • Contact! Ryan Vogelsong ‘slashes’ and burns Cards with bat and arm
    Contact! Ryan Vogelsong ‘slashes’ an...
    October 22, 2012No Comments
  • Spanish king set video for Ryder drama: Garcia (Reuters)
    Spanish king set video for Ryder drama: ...
    October 22, 2012No Comments