Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Weekly A to Z - From Albert Pujols to Zak Whitbread

Here's a rundown on the last couple days from A to Z.

A is for Albert Pujols. One of the greatest players in St. Louis Cardinal history has moved on. Albert Pujols will be an Angel next season having signed a 10 year deal worth a staggering $254M. A lot is being made of this deal as Pujols will be 32 before the start of the season meaning he'll still be bringing in close $25M a year after his 40th birthday. Logic would dictate that he won't be worth that at that point in his career since most players start to see their physical skills decline at that point. And sure, maybe in the out years of this deal, Pujols won't be worth what he's making. But in the short term, there is no better hitter in baseball. And you could argue that Pujols is worth well over $30M a year right now and for the next 5 or 6 seasons provided he stays healthy. Plus, as an American Leaguer, Pujols won't have to play the field as he gets older. I understand that there is substantial risk that comes with this deal, but the bottom line is the Angels got Albert Pujols out of it. If they can afford his salary and it's not going to financially cripple the club to give it to him (which obviously it didn't since they also dropped about $80M on C.J. Wilson), why not do whatever it takes to get him? My only beef with this deal is that one of the bright spots of Houston moving to the AL West is that we wouldn't have to face Pujols 15-18 games a year. So of course, Albert decides to make a move to the AL West as well. Thanks a lot, Albert.
Photo Credit: zimbio.com
B is for Billy Beane. So I just finished reading Moneyball the other day (I'm a little behind the times when it comes to reading books) and fittingly the Oakland A's GM made another deal this weekend sending starting pitcher Trevor Cahill and reliever Craig Breslow to the Arizona Diamondbacks for starting pitcher Jarrod Parker, outfielder Collin Cowgill and reliever Ryan Cook. The 25 year old Cowgill hit .354 in AAA last year with almost as many walks (51) as strikeouts (63), 13 home runs, 30 stolen bases and a .430 on base percentage. Cook allowed just 41 hits in 61 innings between AA and AAA while fanning better than a batter an inning and allowing just 2 home runs. The real prize in the deal though is Parker who was ranked 29th among the top 50 prospects in Major League Baseball by mlb.com before the start of the 2011 season. A former first round pick in 2007, Parker was 11-8 in 26 starts in AA last year. Already espn.com's Andy Katz his criticized the deal saying Oakland didn't get enough, but Cowgill seems like exactly the time of player Beane covets because he gets on base at a high level and Cook and Parker both have plus arms. Is this another case of Beane seeing value where others don't? Or am I just biased because I just read the book? We'll see what happens. Regardless of how it works of for Oakland, Arizona is getting a stud in Cahill.
Photo Credit: insider.espn.go.com
C is for Chris Paul. CP3 is still a Hornet. For now. After a proposed 3-team trade that would have sent him to the Lakers while yielding Kevin Martin, Lamar Odom, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic, and a first round pick was deemed to be insufficient, the Hornets are now in talks with the Clippers although with the other L.A. just picking up Chauncey Billups, it seems unlikely that the Clips will meet New Orleans' asking price. It'll be interesting to see how all of this plays out because I'd say there's almost no way Paul stays in New Orleans after this season, especially when you look at the pieces that surround him right now. David West is gone leaving Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza, Jarrett Jack and Quincy Pondexter as the only complimentary pieces currently on the roster due to make over $1M this season. I would've taken the deal for Martin, Odom and company because now the Hornets could wind up in the same boat the Cavs were in with LeBron James. Anyhow, honestly as a Rockets fan I'm glad it didn't happen, because that seemed like an awful lot to give up just to get Pau Gasol. I highly doubt this will be the last time we talk about Chris Paul's future this season so stay tuned.
Photo Credit: sports.popcrunch.com
D is for DeMarco Murray. The Cowboys lost more than just a game and their division lead on Sunday night when they dropped a 37-34 thriller to the New York Giants. Star rookie running back DeMarco Murray, also the anchor on my fantasy football team, broke his ankle in the first quarter and is now done for the season. With Felix Jones the only remaining healthy tailback on the Cowboys 53 man roster Dallas was forced to go out and sign veteran Sammy Morris this week. Morris, 34, spent the past 4 seasons in New England, but hasn't played at all this season.
Photo Credit: rantsports.com
E is El Clasico. Chalk another one up for Barcelona. After conceding the quickest goal in the history of the rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona (23 seconds in by Karim Benzema), Barcelona stormed back getting goals from 22 year old Chilean Alexis Sánchez, Xavi and Cesc Fábregas as Barca took the match 3-1. With the win Barcelona moves ahead of Real Madrid on goal differential in the standings although Real Madrid has played one less match so they will likely move back into the top spot when they take on Sevilla this coming Saturday.
Photo Credit: zimbio.com
Fis for Fabian Johnson. Johnson, who made his U.S. National Team debut last month against France, had a pair of assists in TSG Hoffenheim's 2-0 win over Nurnberg in Bundesliga action this weekend. Johnson, born in Germany, had played on German youth national teams at the U-19, U-20 and U-21 level amassing 20 appearances before changing allegiances this summer. Fellow American Timothy Chandler, who plays for Nurnberg, was sent off in the match late in the first half.
Photo Credit: spox.com
G is for Green Bay. The Packers moved another step closer to an undefeated regular season as they blew out the Oakland Raiders 46-16 on Sunday. Aaron Rodgers threw for 281 yards and 2 more touchdowns giving him 39 on the season as Green Bay improved to 13-0 with just a trip to Kansas City to take on the  struggling Chiefs and home games against the Bears and Lions remaining on the schedule. Not all the news was good though as wide receiver Greg Jennings suffered a sprained left knee that will likely keep him out the rest of the regular season. The Packers do remain optimistic that he'll be back for their first playoff game in mid-January.
Photo Credit: detnews.com
H is for the Houston Texans. The Texans are going to the postseason for the first time in franchise history following their last second win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. Kevin Walter's 6 yard touchdown reception with 2 seconds remaining gave the Texans a 20-19 win that coupled with a Tennessee Titans loss clinched the AFC South for the Texans. With that Houston ends what was the third longest active postseason drought entering play this year. Only the Lions and Bills have longer streaks with neither one having been in the postseason since 1999.
Photo Credit: hosted2.ap.org
I is for the Idaho Potato Bowl. Seriously, who comes up with the names of these things? Anyhow, the "Famous Idaho Potato Bowl" is one three bowl games this Saturday that will kick off this year's bowl season. First, Temple (8-4) will battle Wyoming (8-4) in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. Then Ohio (9-4) will take on Utah State (7-5) in the Potato Bowl. And finally San Diego State (8-4) and the University of Louisana-Lafayette (8-4) will face off in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. I was actually thinking about going to the New Orleans Bowl this year since I haven't been to it yet in the 3+ years I've lived down here. Then I saw who was playing and I was reminded why that is.
Photo Credit: usustats.com
J for Jose Juan Barea. The Puerto Rican born sparkplug who helped lead the Mavericks to their first NBA Championship this year reportedly has a new home. After spending the first five years of his NBA career in Dallas, Barea signed a 4 year $19M dollar deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Wolves went just 17-65 last season, last place in the Northwest Division, and Minnesota is hopeful that Barea along with Spanish rookie Ricky Rubio will provide a spark in their backcourt propelling them back into contention in the tough Western Conference.
Photo Credit: mirosport.net
K is for Kentucky. The Kentucky Wildcats dropped their first game of the year on Saturday night when Christian Watford drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Indiana Hoosiers a 73-72 upset win over the then-top ranked Cats. The unbeaten Hoosiers improved to 9-0 on the year with the win and jumped to number 18 in the AP polls. Kentucky meanwhile drops to number 3 while Syracuse, despite all of the controversy surrounding their program this year, is the new number one.

L is for Lamar Odom. What a week for Lamar. First he was almost traded to the Hornets in a 3-team blockbuster deal that would've sent Chris Paul to the Lakers and Pau Gasol to the Rockets. Then, after that deal was nixed by the commissioner David Stern, Odom requested a trade and was dealt to Dallas for an $8.9M trade exception and a first round pick. Odom joins a Mavs team looking to replace Tyson Chandler, JJ Barea and Caron Butler who will not be back to help the Mavericks defend their NBA Championship. The 32 year old Odom is an extremely versatile big man who averaged 14.4 points and 8.6 rebounds for the Lakers last year and was the winner of the Sixth Man of the Year Award.
Photo Credit: rumorsandrants.com
M is for Manchester. Both Manchester City and Manchester United, the two top teams in the English Premier League this year were eliminated from the Champions League this week. City finished a point behind Napoli in Group A after failing to beat the Italian side and were eliminated despite rounding out group play with a 2-0 win over group winner Bayern Munich. United's performance was slightly less forgivable as they dropped their final match 2-1 to Swiss club FC Basel. In two matches against Basel, United conceded 5 goals and ultimately that was enough to keep them out of the Round of 16. So while no one from Manchester is advancing, here's your participants in the next round: Bayern Munich, Napoli, Inter Milan, CSKA Moscow, Benfica, FC Basel, Real Madrid, Lyon, Chelsea, Bayer Leverkusen, Arsenal, Marseille, Apoel Nicosia (Cyprus), Zenit St Petersburg, Barcelona, AC Milan.
Photo Credit: zimbio.com
N is for the New Jersey Nets. The Nets owner, Russian bajillionaire Mikhail Prokhorov is apparently going to run for Russia's presidency this spring. I'm not even sure how to respond to that. Can you imagine Mark Cuban running for president in the United States?
Photo Credit: inflexwetrust.com
O is for Oguchi Onyewu. The 29 year old American defender helped lead Sporting Lisbon to a 1-0 win over CD Nacional de Madeira on Saturday scoring the game's only goal in 22nd minute. It was the second goal of the season for the 6'4" center back. Onyewu is in the first year of a three year deal with Sporting that he signed back in June.
Photo Credit: mlssoccer.com
P is for PEDs. National League MVP Ryan Braun has tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug and faces a 50-game suspension if upheld. To say this is disappointing would be an understatement. One can only hope at this point that the positive test was a mistake, which it still very well may turn out to be, because this would be a huge black eye to one of the game's most exciting young players.
Photo Credit: fantasyknuckleheads.com
Q is for Quarterbacks. Quarterbacks Drew Brees and Tom Brady remain on track through 13 games to break Dan Marino's regular season record of 5084 passing yards. Brees currently sits at 4368 yards (on pace for 5376) while Brady is right behind him at 4273 yards (on pace for 5259). Aaron Rodgers fell off the pace a little bit this week getting subbed out in the 3rd quarter in Green Bay's rout of Oakland (on pace for 5077) while a fourth quarterback has now eclipsed 4000 yards this year and finds himself within striking distance of Marino as well as Eli Manning is now on pace to finish with 5052 yards. Prior to this season, only two quarterbacks had ever eclipsed 5000 yards in a single season - Marino in '84 and Brees in 2008.
Photo Credit: sportsillustrated.cnn.com
R is for RGIII. The Big 12 may have been slighted when it came to picking teams for BCS bowls, but not during the Heisman voting. Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III beat out Andrew Luck, Trent Richardson, Montee Ball and Tyrann Mathieu to win the award while leading Baylor to a 9-3 season and a berth in the Alamo Bowl. RGIII threw for 3998 yards and 36 touchdowns this year while throwing just 6 interceptions. He also ran for 644 yards and 9 more touchdowns. 4 times this season he threw for at least 400 yards (including 479 yards in an upset of Oklahoma) and he had three 5 touchdown games during the year. Griffin becomes the first Baylor player to win the Heisman having no player ever finish better than 4th in the voting prior to this year.

S is for the Southpaws. A couple of lefties made headlines last week signing with new clubs. Mark Buehrle signed a 4 year deal worth $58M to join his former manager Ozzie Guillen in Miami while C.J. Wilson signed a 5 year $77.5M deal to join Albert Pujols and the Angels. Apparently it's good to be left-handed.
Photo Credit: zimbio.com
T is for Tim Tebow. Same old same old for the Broncos. Down 10 in the 4th quarter. Win the game in overtime. Matt Prater hit a 59 yarder at the end of regulation and a 51 yarder in overtime as the Broncos improved to 7-1 under Tebow and are now a full game ahead of the Raiders atop the AFC West. This wasn't the typical Tebow performance where he wasn't required to throw the ball at all. In fact, Tebow put the ball up 40 times, completing 21 passes for 236 yards (a season high) and a touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas. It was Tebow's second straight 200+ yard game. The Bears meanwhile continue to struggle without Jay Cutler and with Matt Forte now sidelined as they drop to 7-6. Tebow and the Broncos get a serious test this weekend when Denver takes on Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Photo Credit: denverpost.com
U is for UNC. The Tarheels are your 2011 NCAA Men's Division I Soccer Champions following a 1-0 over the Charlotte 49ers. Ben Speas scored the game's only goal, his third of the tournament lifting North Carolina to their first title in a decade.

V is for Villa. American Goalkeeper Brad Guzan earned his first ever English Premier League win this weeked in Aston Villa's 2-1 victory over Bolton Wanderers. Guzan, starting due to an injury to Shay Given, made six saves as 9th place Villa won for just the 4th time in 15 games this season. Guzan was a member of the 2010 U.S. World Cup Team playing behind Tim Howard.
Photo Credit: www1.skysports.com
W is for Wild. There have been a lot of stories in this year's young NHL season from the streaking Bruins to the return of Sidney Crosby to the struggles of Alex Ovechkin. One that's gone a little under the radar though, at least in the circles I run in, is that the team with the best record in the NHL is not from Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh, Washington, Detroit, Vancouver, Philadelphia, Dallas or Montreal. Instead it's the Minnesota Wild who have not made the playoffs since 2008 leading all teams with 43 points. Led by captain Mikko Koivu and offseason acquisition Dany Heatley, the Wild have quietly won seven in a row entering play tonight.
Photo Credit: zimbio.com
X is for Xavier-Cincinnati. By now you've probably all seen or at least heard about the melee that occurred in Saturday's Cincinnati-Xavier game that resulted in the game being called with 9.4 seconds remaining. The 8th ranked Musketeers 76-53 win was marred by an ugly brawl that saw multiple punches thrown and has subsequently led to numerous suspensions. Cincinnati suspended senior Yancy Gates, junior Cheikh Mbodj and freshman Octavius Ellis six games each and freshman Ge'Lawn Guyn for one game.
Xavier suspended freshman Dez Wells and walk-on Landen Amos for four games, junior guard Mark Lyons for two and senior guard Tu Holloway for one game. Now I'm a little torn about the length of the suspensions. Especially when you consider last year BYU suspended one of their best players for the season for violating their honor code in an off the court incident. Does six games seem like enough? I'm surprised it wasn't closer to ten, or even an indefinite suspension. It will be interesting to see if these two schools stick to their initial punishments or if they are extended. I watched Gates' apology today, and while I feel bad for him - he did start crying during the press conference - at the same time, he needs to be held accountable for his actions. I don't know if it's anger management he needs or what, but heated as things may have been during the game, there's no excuse for sucker punching a guy in the head.
Photo Credit: usatoday.com
Y is for Yates. Houston's rookie quarterback T.J. Yates helped the Texans bounce back from a 16-3 halftime deficit and a 19-10 deficit in the 4th quarter in leading them to a come-from-behind win over the Bengals and their first ever division title. Making just his second career start, the rookie from North Carolina threw for 300 yards and a pair of touchdowns including the game winner 6 yarder to Kevin Walter as time expired as the banged up Texans won WITHOUT their star wide receiver Andre Johnson. Yates is now 2-0 as the Texans starting quarterback and at 10-3, Houston continues to hold on to the top seed in the AFC.
Photo Credit: cincyjungle.com
Z is for Zak Whitbread. 27 year old American born Norwich City defender Zak Whitbread made his first start since August and helped the Canaries to a 4-2 victory over Newcastle United on Saturday. Norwich City is 5-6-4 and in 10th place in the Premier League following this weekend's matches. Whitbread has played in England since 2003, but after 5 matches with the U.S. U-20 squad, he has yet to play for the Senior National Team. Whitbread was in camp with the team back in March for matches against Argentina and Paraguay, but was unable to play due to injury.
Photo Credit: sportsillustrated.cnn.com

No comments:

Post a Comment