Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A's Sign Ben Sheets

In an un-expected move, and one that could drastically improve their rotation, health impending, the A's inked free-agent right-handed starting pitcher, Ben Sheets. The deal guarantees the former Brewer's ace $10 million in 2010.

This move really surprised me just in the simple fact that I didn't expect to see the A's throw $10 million at any one player, let alone a starting pitcher coming off an injury wipe-out season. Don't get me wrong, Ben Sheets has the potential to justify that salary, I just don't think there were many other teams that would have given him that much after missing a full season of play. In fact, I was thinking Sheets would get right around 5-6 million guaranteed, with incentives that could make the deal reach $10 million, but the A's went ahead and gave him the $10 mill guaranteed anyway. Sheets sounds confident in his health though, judging by his press-conference. And like I said, if he is indeed healthy and ready to contribute 30 starts atop the A's rotation, he'll be well worth $10 million, especially to the A's. I really like how Sheets fits in there, as he can lead some of their younger arms like Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson. If Justin Duchsherer gets healthy and on track, the A's have the potential for a top rotation. The way I'd line them up if I were Bob Geren and Billy Beane is: Sheets-Braden-Duchsherer-Anderson-Cahill. It's tough to find a brighter set of five throughout the American League and that is a rotation that would rival their cross-bay rival Giants' as one of the better rotations in baseball.

The A's aren't quite done yet either. Billy Beane made mention that the A's were still pursuing a utility infielder and possibly a veteran reliever. There has also been whisper of the A's bringing back Johnny Damon, who had his worst season of his career in Oakland in 2001. I think an add of Ben Sheets now makes the A's relevant in the AL West, but an add of Johnny Damon could make a good A's offseason even better. Just look at what the A's have accomplished this winter. They've added some much needed right-handed power and a couple of young starting positional players in Kevin Kouzmanoff and Jake Fox without giving up a whole lot. Not too mention, they got themselves a potential 5-tool outfielder in Michael Taylor. They also signed Coco Crisp to a 1 year deal to shore up their outfield defense and add some speed to their lineup. Add the re-signing of Duchsherer and the addition of Sheets and the A's have had themselves an event-full offseason. I don't know that they're quite up to pace with the Mariners, after what they've done, and the Angels, but they look like a .500+ team who are keeping pace with an improving division.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Raiders Seeking New Coach

Although Tom Cable is still officially holding the head coaching job on the Oakland Raiders, it appears it's only a matter of time before Al Davis and Co. go in a different direction.

The Raiders reportedly reached out to Stanford head coach Jim Harbough, although Harbough has made it pretty clear that he wants to stick around Palo Alto for a few more years. At least that's the stance that Harbough is taking publicly. Other than the guy who's brought the Cardinal back to relevance, the Raiders have shown apparent interest in former Giants' head coach Jim Fassel, and former Niner and Raider offensive coordinator, Mark Trestman. Fassel was recently coaching in the UFL, while Trestman has spent the last couple of years in the Canadian Football League. Amidst all the speculation, Cable is still keeping his confidence that it'll be his job and that he believes he's the right man for the job. I just think it's a matter of time before a move is made, but unfortunately for the Raiders, there in a position where they need to find someone willing to come to them because they obviously aren't going to land their top choice in Harbough. The Oakland Raider head coaching job has to be one of the least desirable jobs in the NFL, as it's basically a position to be Al Davis' puppet, which is the reason why they always have a tough time finding a candidate with good credentials who actually wants to coach for them.

Whether it's an NFL retread like Fossil or Trestman, or a newer, younger guy like Tom Cable and Lane Kiffin were, I think it's only a matter of time before a move is made. Davis wouldn't have this much public interest in other candidates if he didn't indeed have a plan in mind, but what has me scratching my head, is why hasn't he made the move to officially release Cable yet? I just can't see a situation where Cable returns to Oakland after the circus year they had in 2009. Davis wants someone who will come in and work JaMarcus Russell into being an NFL QB, and I think that's why he's showing so much interest in those offensive guys like Trestman and Fossil, and of course former NFL QB, Jim Harbough. I highly doubt he'd except the role, but a guy who could really fit well in Oakland I think would be Steve Mariucci. He is an offensive mind who's had a hand in developing a few very good quarterbacks, including Brett Favre. "Mooch" is no fool though, and the Raiders would have to throw a whole truckload of money at him to have him even consider coming into this mess.... More on this situation as it comes!

Friday, January 15, 2010

BASJ'S NBA All-Star Selection Post

With the NBA season right at it's official halfway point, I thought now would be a good time to post our picks for both the Eastern and Western Conference rosters for next months NBA all-star game. So here is my un-biased view on how I think each conference's 15-man roster would break down if the game were to be played this weekend:

Western Conference Roster


PG: Steve Nash (Edges out Paul because he's played more, both having very similar years)
SG: Kobe Bryant (Pretty much a shoe in for this spot each year as continues figuring out different ways to beat you)
SF: Kevin Durant (Barely edges out Melo, but Durant is tremendous scorer and just keeps getting better)
PF: Dirk Nowitzki (Having another Dirk-type year, 25/8/3 per night with solid 3-pt shooting)
C: Tim Duncan (In order to start the best 5, they'll have to play Duncan at center, another 20/10 year from Duncan)


G Chris Paul-NO (Having another MVP type season, but has missed a few games)
F Carmelo Anthony-Den.(Melo's on pace for a career year, Leads NBA in scoring)
G/F Brandon Roye-Por. (Keeps getting better each year, very Lebron-esque)
F/C Carlos Boozer-Uta. (Healthy and averaging a double-double with 19/10.5)
F/C Zach Randolph-Mem. (Underrated big is a consistent double-double, 20/11)
G Monta Ellis-GS (Ellis stepping up big time, career year and a leader for Warriors)
G Deron Williams-Uta (Another underrated, doing his best CP3 impression in Utah)
F/C Amare Stoudemire-Pho. (Not having his best year, but still at 21 and 9)
F Rudy Gay-Mem (Very solid all-around player can score, rebound and defend)
G Baron Davis-LAC (Having nice rebound year, leading to Clips back to relevance)

Eastern Conference


PG Dwayne Wade (More suited for 2, but east lacks a true point worthy of starting)
SG Joe Johnson (Quietly has become one of the NBA's best all-around talents)
SF LeBron James (Mr. Amazing might be in his last AS game as a Cav, carries the Eastern Conference)
PF Chris Bosh (Putting up career year with 24 and 11, top PF in game right now in my opinion)
C Dwight Howard (Isn't having his best scoring season, but still dominating in every sense of the term)


C Brook Lopez-NJ (Former Stanford great having breakout year for NJ)
PF/C David Lee-NY (Rare talent that plays about 6 inches bigger than his size)
G/F Andre Iguodala-Phi (Very good player that hasn't reached potential)
G/F Paul Pierce-Bos (Having another typical Paul Pierce season, 18/5/4)
G Rajon Rondo-Bos (Stepping up his assists and scoring this year for Boston)
F Gerald Wallace-Cha (The super-athletic Wallace is having a huge year)
G Derrick Rose-Chi (Started slowly, but 20 ppg and 7 apg last month)
F Antwan Jamison-Was (Big scorer and rebounder doing both well again)
G Stephen Jackson-Cha (Averaging 21 ppg, 5 rpg and 1.5 spg since trade)
F Danny Granger-Ind (One of best 3-point shooters in league scoring 25 ppg)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Spring Training Right Around the Corner

Spring Training is right around the corner, and the A's and Giants both have some finishing up to do regarding finalizing their respective rosters before the mid-February reporting dates.

The A's have actually been a little more active than the Giants this off-season, as they both search for ways to improve their offense's. We've been discussing the Giants in-depth all winter long over at one of our partner sites, The Giants Baseball Blog, and encourage our readers to visit there for more in-depth Giants analysis, but we've only had the chance to discuss the A's a few times here this off-season, and I wanted to take a look at what their roster is setting up to look like in the spring. Just a couple days ago, the A's announced a new contract for their DH/RF'er over the last couple of years, Jack Cust. The 31 year-old Cust has been a guy the A's can count on for upwards of 25 homers, 75 RBI and an above average OBP, even though he doesn't hit for a particularly high average. The only knock on Cust besides the low average is his knack for striking out. He's whiffed 546 times in 1389 at-bats with Oakland, which is rate of more than 1 k for every 3 at-bats.

Cust's return, along with the signing of Coco Crisp and the trade for Jake Fox should help Oakland's offense out a bit, but they're still lacking that big middle of the order bat that Eric Chavez was supposed to provide. Jake Fox could very well become a 30 hr-a-year guy with full-time at-bats, but he's going to be learning a brand new league and is still a pretty raw ballplayer in terms of major league experience. Crisp needs to rebound from a sub-par, injury riddled season in Kansas City and try to regain that form he had in Cleveland, and I think playing with the low-pressure Oakland A's might be a good setting for him to do just that. The A's will also have a full season of Scott Hariston who, like Fox, has 30+ home run potential if given a full-load of at-bats.

The A's lineup seems to be taking shape, and with the return of Justin Duchscherer, their pitching staff is rounding into shape as well. There was some whisper earlier in the off-season that had the A's as one of the teams interested in 21 year-old Cuban phenom, Aroldis Chapman. The dominant 21 year-old lefty is drawing interest from a lot of teams with bigger checkbooks than the A's, so I don't necessarily like their chances of signing him, but I can't help but think of the capabilities of that young staff if they did. The same could be said for the Giants. Think of that potential of a Lincecum-Cain-Chapman-Bumgarner-Sanchez five-some could be! The A's don't have themselves a true number one starter like the Giants do though, and Chapman could eventually become that guy. I really like Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson Dallas Braden and Duchscherer, and adding Chapman into that mix could eventually give the A's a dominant young rotation.

The number I've been hearing as far as contract offers being thrown at Chapman has been in the 5 year, $25 million range, which is obviously a lot for a 21 year-old arm without much of a track record. It would basically be like giving a college junior drafted in the amateur draft a 25 million dollar contract. That's a pretty big number when you consider that guys like Tim Lincecum only got around 2-3 million guaranteed when drafted. Left-handed starting pitchers who throw 100 mph and have the stuff that Chapman has just don't come around very often, and I think this kid is going to be something special. Here is a video from the 2007 World Baseball Cup of Chapman and and you can get a pretty good look at just what kind of stuff this kid brings to the table. Billy Beane, and too a lesser extent, Brian Sabean, should do whatever they realistically can to get this guy in the Bay Area.

Warriors Talk: We haven't quite gotten into as much Golden State Warriors talk here as I'd like to, but I did want to make sure our readers are checking out The Warriors Rundown regularly for updated Warriors analysis and chatter and the strength of their NBA Basketball Schedule this year.

Monday, January 4, 2010

49ers Finish Up 8-8

The NFL regular season came to an end after Sunday's games, and the Niners ended up right were a lot of people picked them to finish at the beginning of the season, at 8-8.

Alex Smith and Frank Gore once again paced the Niners offense, as they went into St. Louis and handed the Rams a sound beating. It took the first half for the Niners to get their offense in sync, but once they did, they started rolling. Alex Smith connected with Vernon Davis for the 49ers longest touchdown pass of the season, a 73-yard catch and run in the 4th quarter that helped put the game away. Frank Gore also had a huge second half, rushing for 2 touchdowns and the majority of his 107 rushing yards. The performance gave Gore 1120 rushing yards on the year along (2nd best in his career) with a career high 10 rushing td's. He also pitched in 406 receiving yards and 3 td receptions as well. Pretty impressive numbers when you take into account the 3 full games he missed at the beginning of the season. And keep in mind, the Niners offensive line was far from a dominant unit. I can't wait to see what Gore can do next year with an improved O-line in front of him and finally a legit passing attack to run off of.

Smith was once again solid, yet unspectacular as he threw for 222 yards and a score, good for a passer rating of 97.6. After a rough 2 games vs. Arizona and Philly in weeks 14 and 15, it was good to see Smith finish out the year in strong fashion. He avoided turning the ball over in the final two games and carried a combined QB rating of 97.6. The Niners haven't yet officially named Smith the starting quarterback for the 2010 season, but don't think there's any question as to whether or not he'll be back under center for them when training camp starts in July. I really believe a full set of mini-camps and a full training camp, working with Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree and Josh Morgan, not to mention the same offensive coordinator for the first time in a while, will work wonders for the Niners passing game. These guys really started to get in sync wit Smith towards the end of the year, and the more time they get with each other in the offseason, the better off they'll be once the season starts. Smith's final line for the 2009 season wasn't too bad, but his win/loss record has to improved next year. He finished with 2350 yards passing in 10.5 games, good for an average of about 225 ypg passing. He threw for 18 scores and 12 picks and a 81.5 passer rating. The touchdown ratio (18 TD's in 10.5 games) is a solid stat, but he needs to drop the interception ratio a bit. But it's his 4-4 record as a starter that the Niners are going to want to see improve. In order to make the playoffs, they need to be better than a .500 team, and if they all develop accordingly, and add the pieces they need to add during the offseason, then they'll be right there with Arizona as far as the favorites in the NFC West. With the playoffs right around the corner, we wanted to encourage you to check out Doc's for all your NFL playoff betting, including NFL Playoff Brackets and NFL Playoff Schedules.

*Note: For more in-depth coverage on the surging Golden State Warriors and the impressive play by Correy Maggette and Monta Ellis, check out our partner site over at The Warriors Rundown. Brian has been providing analysis, basketball odds and in-depth game reviews 3-4 times a week and is doing a tereffic job. Make sure you drop by and get his take on the GSW's.