Monday, June 30, 2008

Getting Through July...

We are now entering the dullest of months in the sports world. NFL, NBA, and the NHL are all on hiatus. The Bigs are just getting to the halfway pole of its 162 game season. The Euro football tournament is done. Even the College World Series is wrapped up. So what better way to pass the time than to prognosticate. And if there's one thing I've found that gets the comment boards rolling, it's college football. So, without further delay, here's my take on the 3 Florida schools 2008 season.

First up, the Florida State Seminoles. Another disappointing finish in 2007, the 'Noles will be hoping on a relatively easy schedule to begin 2008 to get off to a quick start. FSU starts off with home games against Western Carolina, Chattanooga, Wake Forest, and than a "neutral site" game against Colorado in Jacksonville. Then comes the Miami game, and the Noles will travel south to face the 'Canes for what should be their first real test. Miami will already have played a couple tough ones, but we'll come to that later. The rest of the season actually shapes up pretty well for FSU. They get VA Tech, Clemson, BC, and Florida all at home. While wins in those games will be tough, this should be a step in the right direction for FSU.
Prediction: 8-4 (Miami, Clemson, BC, Florida losses)

Let's look at FSU's fellow ACC'ers, the Miami Hurricanes. Miami's 2007 season, much like FSU's, was one that should be forgotten. A 7-6 record that included an embarrassing end to the Orange Bowl is not what 'Canes fans are looking forward to in '08. A top recruiting class should also lend itself to a step forward after last year. If possible, Miami's schedule is even more favorable then Florida State's. The 'Canes avoid Clemson and Boston College, and get Virgina Tech at home. Miami does have 2 tough out-of-conference games on the road, first in the Swamp against the Gators. The following week, they head to College Station to play Texas A&M. A 3-1 start heading to the FSU game is not out of the question. A win against the 'Noles, and the Canes should be in contention in the ACC late into October.
Prediction: 9-3 (Florida, Virginia, VA Tech losses)

Now the Gators. Pre-season ranked #5 by ESPN's Mark Schlabach, the Gators will also be looking for an improvement on the 2007 season. A disappointing 5-3 SEC record, accompanied with a 41-35 shootout loss to Michigan in the Capital One Bowl should have the Gators more than focused heading into 2008. Many prognosticators, such as myself, believe this year's Gators to be a class above last years. Heisman winner Tim Tebow will actually have help in the backfield with newcomers Emmanuel Moody and Chris Rainey, along with returners Brandon Jacobs, Percy Harvin, and Louis Murphy. This could easily be the fastest offense college football has seen in decades. If the defense grows up even a little over last year, watch out. The Gators start the season with a couple of intriguing out-of-conference games, against Hawaii and Miami. Barring a major upset, the Gators then head to the annual 3rd week rivalry with the Tennessee Volunteers, which will be played in Knoxville. Since 1992, Florida or Tennessee has won the SEC East 13 times. The SEC schedule then gets a little easier, with games against Mississippi, Arkansas, and Kentucky making up 3 of the next 4. A weaker LSU comes to Gainesville in week 7. Then comes what should be the game of the year. Florida vs. Georgia. With the Bulldogs expected to make a serious run at the BCS title, this game will go miles to determine who's Orange Bowl dreams are kept alive. Georgia, also, only has Tennessee and LSU on the schedule to provide any sort of bumps on the road to Jacksonville. However, last year's Bulldog win will be in the heads of the Gators, similar to when Auburn came to the Swamp last year, and there will be no lack of power in red and black. But should the Gators get past the Dawgs, only Vanderbilt, South Carolina, the Citadel, and Florida State stand in the way of the Gators and possible title hopes.
Prediction: 11-1 (Georgia loss)

So maybe my orange and blue blood is showing. But the amount of talent and pure speed Florida will be able to put on the field is scary good. Mix that with a more experienced, talented defense, and they shouldn't have to rely on 49-35 wins this year. Florida State and Miami, both, should have improved seasons as well. I don't think its a stretch to see these to fighting for the ACC for much of the season. Game 1 is only 61 days away...

Rusty Olesz Signs 6 Year Contract!

The Florida Panthers have signed forward Rostislav Olesz to a multi-year contract.
Sources says it's a six-year, $18.75 million deal with an annual salary cap hit of $3.125 million.
He was scheduled to be a restricted free agent.
Olesz, picked 7th overall in the 2004 draft by the Panthers, was on the verge of a breakout season but was hampered by a hand injury most of the year. He ended up with 14 goals, 12 assists and 26 points in 56 games.
Olesz had surgery after injuring his hand early in the season and missed 14 games. He missed 12 more games due to the hand later in the season , but returned to score 7 goals in his next 15 games before struggling down the stretch.
In 190 NHL games, all with the Panthers, Olesz has 33 goals and 44 assists for 77 points. He also has a +1 rating despite never playing on a playoff team.

Love the length, Hate the cost. I think they overpaid but oh well he is here for 6 years, lets hope he turns out to be a bargin!

Ricky Williams is Ready...So He Claims

If the Dolphins are to be successful, some of it will depend on - yes - Ricky Williams. Depending on perhaps the most undependable NFL player sounds like a risky affair, and it is, but I like what I'm hearing.

PhinFever gives us reason for optimism with this piece on Ricky's current mindset. Here's a bit:

"What I like about this version of Ricky is that he is coming out and talking to media and fans once again. I miss the Ricky Williams that had a web site for the fans, answered fan letters, and met you online to play Madden. Let's face it though, this is a one year Rent-a-Ricky and I am pulling for him to succeed."

I'm pulling for him too. Behind all his eccentricities, he's really a good guy.

Spain Plays Beautiful Soccer, Beats Germany

We've had a little coverage of the Euro 2008 Tournament, so it seems proper to add a few final thoughts.

I made it no secret that I was pulling for Spain throughout the contests, so I was delighted to watch them win yesterday. With all due apologies to Stanley C. and his German nationalism, there was no doubt who the better team was. Spain was head and shoulders above the rest of the competition, never losing and executing with a healthy combination of grit and finesse.

And how can you not be happy for the Spanish? They've endured disappointment after disappointment, heartbreaking losses and major choke jobs. Now they can call themselves champions, and do they ever deserve it!

If watching Spain was a treat, it was an even greater pleasure to hear the absolutely brilliant announcing of Adrian Healey and Andy Gray. Joe Buck should be taking notes.

Marlins Will Be Buyers

That's what I'm hearing. With just 1 game separating the Marlins and Phillies, indications are that Larry Beinfest wants to make a run.

Before you skeptics doubt the Marlins' willingness to trade for immediate talent, let me remind you of 2003 and 2004. In those years, Beinfest made bold moves at the deadline, acquiring Ugueth Urbina and Paul Lo Duca/Guillermo Mota respectively. When he feels the Marlins can contend, he GOES FOR IT.

Marlins Today gives a nice report on the direction the Marlins might go. Catcher seems to be the prevailing position of choice, with Mike Redmond's name in discussion.

As an added thought, why not join the C.C. Sabathia sweepstakes? The Marlins certainly have the necessary farm hands to make the deal, and Sabathia will merit not one but two compensatory draft selections when he walks as a free agent. I'm not suggesting that they overpay, but he could equate to five more wins. Just a thought, not an endorsement.

What a GREAT Marlins Win

This has certainly been a roller coaster season for the Marlins. So many close games, many of them heartbreaking and many of them astonishingly wonderful. Yesterday's game fit the latter category, and boy did it ever.

The Marlins rallied back to win in the 9th, despite being without Dan Uggla (reports say until Thursday...we'll have more on that later today). Hanley finally started earning his $70 million, blasting a game-tying home run into left field. Then Hermida doubled, advanced on a wild pitch, and was singled in by Jorge Cantu. All this on a day where Dan Haren was throwing some truly dominant stuff.

The win puts the Marlins at 42-39 through the halfway point and on pace for an 84-78 record. They trail the Phillies by just 1 game in the division race.

And best of all, I LOVE rooting for this team. As Fish Stripes describes here, the Marlins engaged in an all-out celebration. You have to like this quote from Hanley: "It's more like school. It's more like family," Ramirez said. I don't know how serious Hanley was about his schooling, but it sounds like he enjoyed recess.

What's Next for the Heat

If you have been a Heat fan long enough, or have followed Pat Riley long enough, you would know that Pat Riley does not like to go through re-building phases. Miami is just not the place to spend seasons rebuilding (ask the Florida Marlins and their fluctuating attendance rates). That is why there was all this trade talk surrounding Michael Beasley. He wanted to plug all the holes in the Heat lineup instead of just one, as well as open up some cap room. This guy knows what he’s doing. Can anyone remember the last time the Miami Heat kept a 2nd round pick around? Not me. So giving away two 2nd round picks for Mario Chalmers was gold, as Chalmers was projected to go mid-first round. Mario Chalmers was a huge addition at the point guard position, but with Jason Williams hitting the free agency and Marcus Banks never proving to be a legitimate contributor off the bench, expect Riley back in the office the morning after the draft.

As far as the amount of all-stars and absolute studs available in this year’s Free Agency, 2008 is awful, but there are some helpful additions out there. There has been speculation surrounding Beno Udrih, starting point guard for the Sacramento Kings. Problem with that is that Riley has never been a fan of international players. Raymond Felton’s name is starting to surface as the Charlotte Bobcats drafted D.J. Augustin in the top 10, maybe indicating future plans to move Felton. Kirk Hinrich is also in the mix as the Chicago Bulls now have Derrick Rose, but a deal with them might have to be much bigger then Riley would hope for.

At of pure speculation, keep an eye on what Joe Dumars does with Chauncey Billups. It is clear Dumars wants to shake up with the team with the repeated results they’ve been getting in the playoffs with the same team, except older each year. There was talk of a Baron Davis trade with Chauncey Billups that also involved Rasheed Wallace, but Dumars is just getting started. Billups name has come up before with the Heat and don’t be surprised if his name comes up in a trade rumor soon.

Baron Davis also looks like he’s on the trading block. Jannero Pargo and Chris Duhon are both unrestricted free agents that could split time with Chalmers easily at the point. Jarvis Hayes, Mickael Pietrus, or Maurice Evans are currently free agents who would also be nice additions coming off the bench.

Once Riley can free up some cap space, watch the master at his best. Easier said then done however (Thanks Mark Blount). Riley wants to be in the playoffs next year. There will be new players coming in, and they will make sense, maybe not immediately, but eventually (Antoine Walker during the regular season, and then in the playoffs during the championship run. Tag Gary Payton in that sentence too.)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

How to Win in the NHL

Spend money.

Philly, from last to playoffs and eastern conference final
Tampa, from last to probably the favorite now in the SE division. They just got Roberts and Malone today. They are def not done since FA is coming up. These franchises know what they are doing.

The Panthers on the other hand have been "rebuilding" their youth through the draft and they rarely spend the money in FA. Why do you think they have the same year each and every season.

If they actually got some quality guys on this team and spent the money, this team would be at least 4th or 5th best in the East.

Cohen needs to sell or just give up.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Nolasco a Pleasure to Watch

I just got back from the Marlins game, which I begrudgingly attended after four straight gruesome losses. Then I remembered Ricky Nolasco was on the mound...perfect!

For whatever reason, the Marlins seem to play well against the Nationals, Brewers, and Diamondbacks, while sucking against the Reds and Rays. Go figure. Fortunately, the Diamondbacks are in town, so this means wins over Owings, Webb, and Haren again?

So far, the Fish are 1 for 3. Tonight's win was not only wonderful in that it stopped the bleeding, but it was truly a quality win. Nolasco was superb, baffling hitters with alternating speeds and pinpoint control. He went 8 innings, surrendering only 1 run.

Yes, the Marlins have been sliding, but 41-38 is still pretty good. The better news? The Phillies are still just 1 game ahead.

Gatorade Presents Kyle Skipworth

We've been quite magnanimous in our opinion of Kyle Skipworth, and it seems we have every reason to be. Beyond our praise (and that of Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America), Skipworth seems to have garnered attention from other words, he's a rising star.

Gatorade put together a nice little video on Skipworth the person. It's well worth the watch:

Seriously, I can't wait for Skipworth to climb his way up to the Majors. It's not like the Marlins need a catcher or anything...

Miami New Times on the Heat Draft

Our good friend from FinsNation also happens to write for the Miami New Times (and excellently, we should add). Today, he put forth a brilliant take on the Heat's Draft last night. I encourage all of you to read it.

Here's an excerpt:

"After weeks and days and hours of the gut-wrenching, edge of your seat, puke in somebody’s Cup-O-Noodles, bite your fingernails to the nub, can’t stand the suspense so I’ll just punch a random stranger in the gonads tension that Heat President Pat Riley put us through, he eventually eased all the useless anxiety and did the right thing by drafting our man Beasley. Yes, Riley had himself a serious man-crush on one OJ Mayo. But just as he almost inexplicably drafted Chris Kaman over Dwyane Wade in 2003 but ultimately made the right decision, Riley eventually came to his senses and took the right guy again last night. Why he chooses to do this to us is beyond me."

What a beautifully-crafted description of the angst we all felt, that then subsided into relief. Chris Joseph is always a delight to read, and we look forward to referencing him in the future.

Heat Draft an A+

Yes, the Heat's performance in last night's draft merited an A+ from TSFF favorite/non-favorite Chad Ford. He pretty much fluctuates in our esteem.

Here were his words:

"I hate to break it to what looked like a very sober, perhaps disappointed Pat Riley, but the Heat won this draft. They walked away with arguably the best player in the draft and then got a second-round steal at point guard, a position at which Miami really needed help.

Beasley has a chance to be a superstar. With him and Dwyane Wade, the Heat have a terrific future. On top of that, Miami got a player at No. 34 who I had ranked as a potential mid-first-round pick. Chalmers is perfect for Riley: He is tough, plays defense, can shoot the lights out and is a winner. Once the Heat find a way to trade Shawn Marion, they'll be in great shape to make a big run at a young free agent next summer.

And according to John Hollinger's statistical formula, Jackson is one the biggest sleepers in the draft."

Right on, Chad Ford! I completely agree with him. I am THRILLED with this draft. I never imagined getting Mario Chalmers, and if Darnell Jackson materializes into something, watch out. The Heat should be a playoff team next year, and I personally can't wait to watch them in action.

Rousing Draft Success For Heat

After the many seemingly endless weeks of speculation about what Pat Riley would do in the 2008 NBA Draft, he made the biggest possible splash he could by just playing it safe. The Heat is now a viable contender to be a high playoff seed next season, if it remains healthy. A nucleus of Dwyane Wade, Michael Beasley, and Sean Marion is a force to be reckoned with. Flash is the tried-and-tested superstar, Marion is a tried-and-tested double-double machine and all around energetic pogo stick, and Beasley outshone Kevin Durant's Big XII numbers as a freshman in every way last season and there's no reason not to think he'll make every bit the impact or more as Durant made in his first NBA Rookie of the Year season.

But as many people suspected that the Heat would go with Beasley as that they would not. What WAS surprising was Riley's masterful 2nd Round moves. The Heat traded for the rights to Kansas national championship legend Mario Chalmers, the Most Outstanding Player of the 2008 Final Four. Chalmers was deeply impressive the past couple of seasons at Kansas. He is as smooth a shooter as they come, and we know that he won't shrink from clutch situations - you will remember that he was the ice-vein who hit the 3-pointer that sent the national championship game against Derrick Rose's Memphis Tigers into overtime with time expiring. The Heat weren't done, deciding to pick another Kansas player, Darnell Jackson, but then trading him to Cleveland for their second round pick in 2009.

In the end, Riley, master psychologist, played us all. The talk about Beasley being an immature prankster and about Miami's overwhelming infatuation with O.J. Mayo was all a smokescreen. Riley said, "I don't think there was any question on our part. We love Michael." New coach Erik Spoelstra described the rampant speculation the last few weeks as "a little humorous." You can play me like a fiddle anytime you want Pat, if you can deliver studs like Beasley and Chalmers.

NBA Draft Notes

A couple quick hits on tonight's draft.

The Heat did not trade their 2nd pick, and selected (surprise!) K-State frosh Michael Beasley. For some reason, Miami seemed reluctant to take the most-NBA-ready-looking player in the draft, and thoughts are that they still may seek a trade. Their 2nd round pick was "the other Jayhawk" Darnell Jackson.

The Orlando Magic (you know, the other Florida team?) used their 22nd pick to select Hilltopper Courtney Lee. Lee is a solid guard (what the J.J. Reddick pick was supposed to bring Orlando) and could be a good option off the bench. A little curious that the Magic didn't go bigger.

Marreese Speights of the University of Florida (the lone Florida schooled player taken in the draft), went 16th overall to the Philadelphia 76ers. While I thought Speights could have benefited from another year in school, enough fortune tellers told him he had a good chance to be drafted. And lo and behold, he was. As a Gator alum, I wish he would have stayed. But it's not quite the same feeling I had when Christian Drejer or Matt Walsh left. I actually wish Speights all the best.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Latest: Heat Will Take Beasley

According to some source (how credible, I have no idea), the Heat told Memphis they weren't trading the pick. That means they should be selecting Michael Beasley at #2.

Of course, this could all be a smokescreen. I have no idea if there's any truth to it either. Stay tuned.

Spain vs. Russia at 2:30 EST

It's an extraordinarily busy day in the South Florida sports scene. The Marlins are currently playing (and losing), the NBA Draft is tonight, and there are rumors swirling everywhere.

If you want a welcome distraction, I strongly encourage you to give Spain vs. Russia a look today. The winner will battle Germany for the Euro 2008 Cup.

Spain comes in as the favorite, but the Russians have been awfully good. Spain also has a reputation for choking in big other words, don't count out the Russians.

Either way, we should have a great finals matchup. Germany vs. Spain would be a scintillating contest between giants (with some lingering resentment from the Spanish Civil War...see Orwell's Homage to Catalonia). Even better, how about the explosive history between Germany and Russia (do I need to go into details?) Take a break from NBA Draft talk and watch Spain take on Russia.

Wade and O.J. Mayo "Good Friends"

Now here's something that can put a wrench in the Beasley-to-Miami talk. I'm not sure what Mayo and Wade have been talking about, but apparently they've been working out together and they really like each other.

This is not something to take lightly. It's no secret that Riley covets Mayo...could Wade be quietly campaigning for his new buddy?

I still maintain that Beasley is the far better selection, but a strong Wade-Mayo chemistry could make a Mayo selection a little easier to stomach.

We'll have updates on the latest rumors throughout the day.

What Will the Heat Do?

I don't know. Seriously, I don't know, and apparently neither does anyone outside of Pat Riley. The prevailing report today is (and this comes from several papers) that...nobody knows what Riley will do!

So let's step inside Riley's head for a moment. He's relishing all the attention, and he sees this as an opportunity to make gold out of what previously appeared a dismal situation.

I think he REALLY wants Elton Brand, but I'm guessing against the deal happening. Will he pass on Beasley and take O.J. Mayo? I say no. When all is said and done, I suspect the Heat will follow form and take Michael Beasley (unless Derrick Rose is available, of course).

NOTE: The Heat are not done if they take Beasley. In fact, they would probably take him and trade him if a trade is to be done, so don't flip off the television.

Marlins Signing Their Draft Picks

As I casually observe the Marlins down 3-0 at the moment, I suddenly find myself more interested in the future of the team. The good news for the teal and black is that they've been signing their draft picks.

Here's an excerpt from the informative report of Future Fish:

"The Fish have signed first pick Kyle Skipworth for $2.3mil and he’s already in camp. Big win right there for the Marlins to already have him signed and ready. RHP Pete Andrelczyk signed for $185,000. 3B Paul Gran signed for $40,000. LHP Daniel Jennings signed for $145,000 out of Nebraska. The other signees have been RHP Bryan Evans, RHP Johnny Dorn, LHP Andy Loomis, RHP Thomas Koehler, OF Kenneth Bass, LHP Wade Korpi, 2B Lonnie Lechelt, C Robert Taylor, OF Kevin Mattison, 3B Richard Orton, RHP Wayman Gooch, OF Brian Schultz, RHP Drew Clothier, OF Jeremy Synan, and 3B Joel Staples."

By the way, it's now 5-0 and Hendrickson is chased from the game. The Rays look all-world while the Marlins are really struggling. Bad, bad times.

Marlins Lucky to Have Jacobs

As the Marlins attempt to bounce back today from their most embarrassing loss of the season, I think we, the depressed fans of the slumping Fish, should look on the bright side of things.

The Marlins have Mike Jacobs: The best .240 hitter in the National League.

Where else can you find a guy like this but on the 2008 Marlins?

Jacobs plays consistent defense (well, consistently awful, but hey consistency is consistency, lets not be picky).

He hits big home runs (for instance he got the Marlins on the board last night vs those devilish Rays. So what if we were down 15-0 when we did it?)

He hits for a high average. (Um, higher than Nick Swisher and Adrian Beltre! How 'bout that?)

Jacobs gets more value per hit than anybody except maybe Cody Ross. Jake has 55 hits, 18 of them homers, with 57 strikeouts and a robust .270 OBP.

In all seriousness, I'd rather have Jake at the plate more than any other .240 hitter except Oakland's Jack Cust. Almost nobody hitting around .240 can rake like Jake. I realize he isn't the player we saw pre-annual injury, but he is really this bad? Is Jorge Cantu really THAT much better defensively than Jacobs?

This Citrus Series is really putting me in a bad mood. Rant over.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Stumpel Placed on Waivers!

The Florida Panthers placed veteran centre Jozef Stumpel on waivers on Wednesday, making him a buyout candidate if he clears at Noon et/9am pt on Thursday.
Stumpel is entering the last season of a two-year contract extension that will pay him $2.25 million. The 35-year-old had seven goals and 20 points in 52 games last season.
A second-round pick of the Boston Bruins in 1991, the native of Czechoslovakia has 196 goals and 677 points in 957 games with the Bruins, Panthers and Los Angeles Kings.

This will free up more cap space for FA wingers/Centers and the contracts for Bouwmeester and Olesz.

JM get these deals done, good job on waiving Stump!

ESPN's Chad Ford Thinks Mayo to Miami Likely

According to ESPN's Chad "Take Anything I Say With A Grain Of Salt" Ford, the Heat are in discussions with a number of teams to trade the #2 pick away and want to draft USC's O.J. Mayo or Arizona's Jerryd Bayless (and get additional assets from the team they make the trade deal with). Sources even supposedly told Ford that Mayo has been notified that even if the Heat cannot find a suitable trade offer, the Heat would strongly consider drafting him outright at #2.

I honestly don't know why Riley is so put off by Michael Beasley. I have heard that he can be a "prankster". Well, here are only a couple of facts involving Mayo: (1) His senior year of high school he was ejected for allegedly making physical contact with a referee and (2) He was accepting payments from a sports agency to go to USC and leave after his freshman season. How is Beasley any worse, Pat?

I get the feeling that if we don't take Beasley, it will be for stupid reasons and we'll be watching him tear it up for some other team for years to come, and feel a similar lingering pang of regret that the Blazers felt and continue to feel for having picked Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan in 1984.

Take a deep breath, Pat. Beasley is not so bad, and if he likes to have too much fun, just discipline him. But don't pass up a potential scoring and rebounding machine that could be a dominant superstar in the league for a dozen years.

Marlins and Phillies in Freefall Mode

I've been observing the struggling Mets and Braves with considerable trepidation all season, and it's now getting more frightening. The only team playing worse than the Marlins right now? The NL East-leading Phillies.

Yes, the Marlins have caught a break, still trailing the division by just 1 game. Still, this is no recipe for long-term success, especially when you lose games by walking in 2 runs like last night (AWFUL!).

The Mets and Braves are right back in it, and the Brewers now join the Cardinals as Wild Card teams ahead of the Fish. Simply put, it's time to start winning. The Phillies won't lose forever, and neither will the Mets and/or Braves.

Conley to Heat Deal Losing Steam?

The latest rumor is that the potential Heat-Grizzlies deal involving Mike Conley and the exchange of the 2nd and 5th picks is on the rocks because...wait for it...the Grizzlies don't want to include Mike Conley!

Is this a joke? Why are they even talking in the first place? Wasn't the whole purpose of a "Mike Conley" deal to get Mike Conley?

You pretty much can't put any stock in NBA trade rumors these days, especially ones that surface on the Internet. I still think this deal could get done, but the Grizzlies would have to include the actual player!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Rabelo Sent Down, Hoover Up

We at The South Florida Fan haven't exactly been the biggest fans of Mike Rabelo. Unfortunately for Rabelo, it had little to do with him. I was frustrated with the Marlins' insistence on asserting Rabelo as a marquee member of the Cabrera-Willis trade, despite no evidence to prove he was worth anything.

It's been a steep descent for Rabelo. He went from having the starting job, to becoming Treanor's backup, to now starting for AAA Albuquerque. To make matters worse, this comes on the heels of a mind-numbing bungle in his last Major League game (he forgot to tag the runner at home, thinking there was a force). For the sake of his career and his confidence, I hope that doesn't stand as his last day in the Majors.

In the meantime, Paul Hoover comes up to take his place. This not only solidifies Treanor's role as the lead catcher, but also gives him a greater share of the starts. Hoover is in tonight, but expect Treanor in nearly every game from tomorrow onwards.

More Brand, Conley to Heat Trade Talk

The possibilities of the Heat acquiring Elton Brand and/or Mike Conley are very much in existence today. Here are the latest rumors:

1. Miami sends Shawn Marion and the #2 pick to the Clippers for Elton Brand and the #7 pick. Additional inclusions could be Mark Blount from Miami's side and Cuttino Mobley from the Clippers.

2. Miami sends Udonis Haslem, Daequan Cook, and the the #2 pick to Memphis for Mike Conley, Mike Miller, and the #5 pick.

I happen to like both of those deals from Miami's side. I just can't stop salivating at the idea of an inside-outside, Brand-Wade scoring punch. People tend to forget just how superb a player Elton Brand really is. Of course, if Beasley becomes an absolute stud, it's a bad deal.

The second deal is also enticing. You only drop three spots to get a supremely talented PG in Conley and a perfect Wade complement in Mike Miller. I hate to give up fan favorite Udonis Haslem, but something has to go. Haslem was a much more valuable player when he shared the frontcourt with Shaq. Now, he's a role player in the wrong system.

I wish the Heat could find a way to pull off both of these trades. Imagine a Mike Conley-Dwyane Wade-Mike Miller-Elton Brand-Alonzo Mourning starting five, with Dorell Wright and the 7th overall pick there as well. That's a championship contender with a little depth. Agreed?

Vote Hanley, Uggla to All-Star Game

At this point, it's fairly evident that both Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla should and will be All-Stars. Hanley actually led the voting for shortstops at one point, until Miguel Tejada surpassed him. Dan Uggla is in 4th place, which is a complete joke.

Marlins fans have a reputation for fizzling in times of need. Let's prove them wrong!

Go HERE to vote Hanley and Uggla, and feel free to throw Jorge Cantu a vote too if you'd like (yes, Chipper is batting close to .400, but Cantu could use some love).


I'm Still With Team Shaq, But Not His Rap

Earlier today, E.J. composed a well-crafted piece on why he has shifted from Team Shaq to Team Kobe. You can read his articulate verbiage here.

Lots of fuss (far too much) has been made over Shaq's freestyling escapades in a New York night club. Personally, I thought his rapping was awful, as usual, and I didn't take him seriously. I understand why E.J. and many others found it childish and idiotic, but I couldn't help cracking up.

And if we're really going back to the Shaq vs. Kobe debate, I think it's time to put Kobe in his place again. He deserves a lot of credit for playing through a pinky injury, leading the Lakers through the West, and restoring his image. That being said, he CHOKED in the Finals. He played like garbage, when even a decent performance by his standards could have tipped the scales.

What irks me is how Kobe and LeBron are referred to as "the best players in the game" when they've each crashed in the Finals of late. This, while Dwyane Wade put forth the finest performance in NBA Finals history. Wade didn't have the luxury of a good Shaq in the Heat's Finals fact, Shaq stunk in that series.

For an enlightening take on the current status of Kobe, by the way, I strongly encourage you to read this wonderful piece from Phil Wallace of SoCal Sports Observed. If you haven't heard of Phil Wallace yet, you surely will. He's a rising star in the L.A. sports scene.

I'm On Team Kobe Now

It's amazing the effect that time, experience, and perhaps a little sour grapes can have on one's opinions. This time last year, I was a huge Shaquille O'Neal fan. Despite being bludgeoned by the Chicago Bulls in Rd. 1 of the 2007 NBA Playoffs, memories of the glorious 2006 championship run still filled my heart with contentment. Although Dwyane Wade was the undisputed king of that run (according to ESPN, the best Finals performance ever), Shaq was an important piece of the championship puzzle. He was big, brash, and a delight to watch in post-game press conferences, the "big Aristotle".

I'd always taken Shaq's side in the feud he had with Kobe, even before Shaq donned a Heat uniform. Kobe is, after all, a narcissist malcontent. No longer. I'm on Team Kobe now. For those that haven't heard, Shaq (not Kobe) decided to rip open old wounds at a New York nightclub on Sunday night while performing a freestyle rap. Here are some of the lowlights:

* "You know how I be...Last week, Kobe couldn't do without me."

* "Kobe...tell me how my a$@ tastes." (this one he got the mesmerized crowd to chant repeatedly)

* He took another, more subtle swipe at the Heat, saying that he was "the difference between first and last place." (someone should remind him that the Heat was in last place on the day he left for Phoenix)

Shaq is an immature dolt. He is trying to play it off as a frivolous thing that rappers do all of the time. But don't believe it. Ever since he left the Heat, he's made public infantile tomfoolery a personal mission. Remember his uncalled-for shots at Ron Culp, Ricky Davis, and Chris Quinn of all people? Besides, while it is true that rappers blast others in freestyle rap, they do it to people they have genuine beefs with.

I think this latest episode illustrates at least two things: (1) That boyish quality that we loved about him while he was down here is the same thing that he uses to stab us in the back when he is out of here; and (2) Pat Riley was an enormously positive influence on him while he was down here - without Riley's sage words and discipline, Shaq is reverting to the lost child he was before he arrived in Miami. Pitiful.

Shawn Marion Does NOT Opt Out, Gets $17.8 Million

This comes as no surprise at all. The only way Marion would have opted out is if he had come to an extension agreement, say for three years, $40 million. This puts the Heat on the hook for $17.8 million for one final season.

What does this mean? The Heat now have a maximum-contract player with an expiring contract. For those of you who don't know, expiring contracts are highly coveted in the NBA, since it frees up cap room at the end of the season. The Heat can elect to let Marion walk and use that money on a prized free agent, attempt to resign him, or trade him this year.

The real question, then, hinges on whether Pat Riley believes a Wade-Marion-Rose/Beasley nucleus is the recipe for success.

If I had to speculate, I'd guess that Marion will be gone after this year and likely before the season ends. In fact, he might even be traded before the season in, on draft night.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Crap Crap Crap Just Take Beasley and Go Home

After reading about and listening to all the rumors about the NBA draft and possible trades. I think the Joker had it right.

I've watched all the Heat players who played with effort and heart. It's time to go get some big time talent. Who beat Kansas with no help. Who went for 40 plus 5 times. Beasley!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My biggest fear is that the Bulls figure this out before Thursday. Lets look at the Heat after picking Beasley




The center that isn't starting and Haslem backing up at the 4

You can't fix all the problems of the world or an NBA team overnight. Use the 5 million exemption to find a point guard (Portland and Memphis have 3 each) and see how this roster looks in January. I think Marion fits well with Beasley because he can guard the other teams best scoring forward on defense and doesn't need the ball on offense.

Try playing a little defense this year and if things need more work, Marion's expiring contract will have even more trade value then it does today.

Heat Trade Thoughts, Possibilities, Rumors, Speculation

I've stated in previous posts how I want the Heat to keep the 2nd overall pick and take the remainder of Derrick Rose or Michael Beasley. That still applies, except for one slight alteration: if the Heat can package Marion with the pick for a legitimate superstar, then it's something to consider. There are also some offers too good to pass up.

Current rumors:

1. Dwyane Wade to the Bulls for the #1 pick and possibly Tyrus Thomas, Joakim Noah, Thebo Sefalosha. That's complete garbage, it's not happening, and I hope we never hear of it again.

2. The Grizzlies may want to deal Mike Conley and the 5th pick for the 2nd pick, as they're known to covet Beasley. This falls into the "too good to pass up category." Imagine having Conley-Wade-5th pick-Marion-Haslem. That's not only a good team, but a young one with considerable upside.

3. Shawn Marion/? for Elton Brand. I'm a big fan of this deal, but the Clippers probably won't go for it.

4. Shawn Marion/? for Lamar Odom/?. This could really happen, with the Heat likely getting something extra (Jordan Farmar maybe?). As much as I enjoyed Odom's 2004 season in Miami, I wouldn't make this move unless Odom comes coupled with something else.

Now take #3 and #4 and combine it with #2. How about this team?

Odom Trade:
PG Mike Conley/Jordan Farmar
SG Dwyane Wade
F Udonis Haslem
F Lamar Odom
C Alonzo Mourning

Brand Trade:
PG Mike Conley
SG Dwyane Wade
F Udonis Haslem
F Elton Brand
C Alonzo Mourning

Then add the 5th overall pick and improved versions of Dorell Wright and Daequan Cook. That's some talented athleticism right there.

And now for my own speculation. This is completely of my own design, based on no real evidence. Everyone got that?

Shawn Marion and the pick for Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith. The Nuggets want to break things up, 'Melo could use a new start, and Dwyane Wade would have a truly dominant scorer to tag-team with him. The Nuggets would then get Michael Beasley and an all-star (known for rebounding) in Shawn Marion to put with Allen Iverson, Marcus Camby, and Nene. Am I crazy, or does that make sense?

Willingham Healed. The Hammer is Back!

How long have we been awaiting Josh Willingham's return? Since the ides of April, practically, which would be the appropriate month for a baseball soothsayer (see Caesar, Julius and Shakespeare, William for more details). Okay, it's really been since April 27th...only 12 days off.

Just how good was Willingham before back trouble sent him to the sidelines?

He was hitting .341/.406/.627 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 6 HRs, 16 RBI, and 16 runs scored. Imagine what those numbers could do for the Marlins offense now.

The bigger question, of course, is how his return will affect the playing time of others. Luis Gonzalez will assuredly be the one who suffers most, but expect Luis to still get a fair share of playing time. Willingham will probably rest every few days to lower strain on his back, and Gonzalez could get some starts in right field over Jeremy Hermida (what a great defensive alignment that is...Willingham-Ross-Gonzalez...easily the worst in baseball).

Should Gonzalez be given the starts over Hermida? Let's break down their numbers:

Gonzalez: .274/.357/.415, 5 HRs, 29 RBI. Of note: With runners in scoring position, he's batting .357.

Hermida: .272/.330/.434, 8 HRs, 37 RBI.

Their numbers are basically about even, with Hermida the better defensive player and the one with more upside. As much as I've enjoyed Gonzo, he's the odd man out.

Rose or Beasley? Hmmm.

I've given this more and more thought over the last few days, and I've come to only one conclusion:

They're both about even. How's that for taking a stand! I know somewhere in our readership, an AP English teacher is thinking: "When you make a persuasive argument, pick a side!" Yes, yes, I know. And yet, I'm hopelessly straddling the fence. They have a number of pros and cons, and it just seems to break out evenly right now. Before the draft takes place, though, I promise to endorse one.

I should add, however, that in their evenness, they both dwarf O.J. Mayo in my estimation. I don't want the Heat to trade the pick, and I certainly don't want them taking Mayo. There, that's a stand!

Melrose To Be Named Lightning Coach

While the past week or so on this blog has been dedicated to the Florida Panthers, there is now hockey news to report from across the state. ESPN Analyst Barry Melrose will be named head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning today.

Melrose has been out of coaching since 1995, when he joined up with ESPN. His only stint in the NHL came behind the bench of the L.A. Kings, and led the Kings to the Stanley Cup Finals in his debut season. He also led 2 minor league teams to championships, the '87 Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL), and the Adirondack Red Wings (AHL) in '91.

The Lightning ended last season in last place in the eastern conference, and were recently sold to new owners, Palace Sports. In the recently completed entry draft, the Bolts had the #1 overall pick, which they used to select consensus #1 Steve Stamkos. Stamkos led the Sarnia Sting of the OHL with 58 goals and 105 points in 61 games. He joins former #1 overall Vincent Lecavalier in Tampa.

While this choice has the stench of a publicity stunt on the surface, it's much deeper than that. Melrose has been in the booth since 1995. But when ESPN chose not to cover hockey post-lockout, Melrose was left with little to do but give a semi-regular 2 minute segments on SportsCenter. He's made it known he wants to get back to coaching. Now he has his chance. There's no question that few have more knowledge of the game. It will just be interesting to see how he makes the transition back into coaching.

It's Official: Wade to Play in Olympics

Surprise! Shocker! Amazing! I couldn't believe my eyes when I read it!...

are things that won't be written seriously in this blog. This bit of news has been suspected for at least a week, but today it became official as Team USA basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo revealed the 12 man roster for the Beijing Olympics beginning in August. It's going to be nice to see Flash play for the first time in seemingly forever. He needs the to get his sea legs going in anticipation of the 2008-2009 season.

I'm geeked to see Wade play with guys like Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Carlos Boozer, Deron Williams, Michael Redd, Tayshaun Prince (who receives a temporary reprieve from my unmitigated hatred of him and his Pistons for the duration of the Olympics), and Jason Kidd.

I think this is the year that USA Basketball returns to dominance in international play. Besides Kidd, everyone on this team is in their prime. The talent is probably the best that's been assembled on an Olympic roster since 2000. Just say that the team contains Wade, Paul, Bryant, James, Anthony, and Howard, and visions of gold can't help but dance in your head. Most importantly, however, it is a hungry group who hasn't tasted meaningful success in international competition in nearly a decade. Look up and down the roster it is rife with players that are fiercely competitive almost to a fault. We'll see if they can mesh their talents appropriately and adjust to the vastly different international style of play to bring home the Gold this summer.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Alfredo Amezaga's Amazing Play in the Mexican League

There was a lot of hype about Amazin' Amezaga's famous play in the Mexican League two years ago. The hype, of course, was perpetrated by staunch advocates Rich Waltz and Tommy Hutton. I expected something underwhelming, disappointing even.

Then I saw it. Wow! For your enjoyment, here is the play (it's a little hard to see, but I think you can make it out):

Was that incredible or what?

A Little Euro 2008 Chatter

The semifinals are set in the Euro 2008 battle of wills. What an incredibly dramatic quarterfinal round, featuring three OT games and two penalty kick scenarios. Let's preview the upcoming matches:

Germany vs. Turkey - The Germans come in heavy favorites, with Ballack and Podolski both looking strong. Turkey just seems to defy the odds, though. They got here by shocking Croatia with a game-tying goal in the final minute of 2OT, then winning in penalties. I doubt Germany ever thought they'd be playing the Turks...still, they'll be prepared.

Prediction: Germany 2, Turkey 0

Russia vs. Spain - Russia joins Turkey as the other unlikely semifinalist. Apparently, their placement over England in the qualifying rounds was no fluke. Spain has showed the strongest in the tournament so far, but will their history of chokes and disappointments catch up to them? They JUST snuck by Italy in a scoreless penalty bout, even though they dominated the run of play (Italy's notorious defense lived up to its billing). I say this is the year Spain performs up to snuff.

Prediction: Spain 2, Russia 1

More interestingly, which side does South Florida support? Based on the large Spanish population and common Miami-Madrid flight routes, I'll go with Spain. I'm pulling for them too.

What Was His Name Again? DAN UGGLA!

Just when Phillies fans were gloating about how Chase Utley had pulled ahead again of Uggla in the NL second-baseman sweepstakes, that Uggla was in his return-to-Earth descent to normalcy, that he was a flash in the pan, incapable of sustaining success...well they've been proven wrong again.

If we've learned anything, it's that you should NEVER count out Dan Uggla, the player most deserving of the NL MVP award if it were handed out today. Here's a look at what's happening in his life of late:

1. Greg Cote openly campaigns for Uggla to get some All-Star votes. Please, EVERYONE GO VOTE 25 TIMES FOR DAN UGGLA (and throw in a nod for Hanley while you're at it).

2. As first reported on the radio, Dan Uggla will be featured in a Sports Illustrated piece. Wow.

3. Uggla now leads the Major Leagues in home runs with 23. Yes, that from a second baseman!

4. Uggla's defense continues to improve.

5. After hitting the game-tying HR off A's closer Huston Street Friday, Uggla launches a 3-run double the next day to win the game. Not only are his numbers astronomical, but they've been in clutch situations.

If you haven't given Dan Uggla his due yet, it's time to stop smoking the Philly crack and wake up.

Possible Adam Sandler sequel: You Don't Mess With The Uggla!

Rose Does, In Fact, Work Out for Heat

There had been some speculation that Derrick Rose was so determined to be the Bulls' #1 pick that he wouldn't bother working out for the Heat. While his loyalties may be leaning heavily towards Chicago, he finally made an appearance for Miami.

As ESPN reports here, the session took place NOT in Miami but in Santa Monica, CA. Here's a good excerpt:

"Armstrong said there was no intent to slight the Heat but the tight scheduling window of wanting to wait until after the Bulls scheduled workout prevented Rose from going to Miami this weekend. Rose will be in New York late Monday night for the draft and they didn't want Rose having to crisscross the country multiple times back to his L.A. base where he has been working out during the draft process."

While I'm hardly impressed with Rose's dedication, I don't think we should come down too hard on the guy. You can't blame him for wanting to play in his home town, and I'd wager he'd be especially motivated to beat the Bulls if they pass on him. Either way, Rose should be fine.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Panthers Outlook

If there’s one thing the Panthers have made clear this offseason, it is that defense is going to come first. These third period meltdowns led by nervous defenders are going to become a thing of the past. Although Florida doesn’t have much in terms of scoring depth at the moment, it appears as though the Cats are going to try a different strategy this season. One that hopefully will pay off.

It’s no secret that the Eastern Conference is full of speedy teams with scoring machines, especially in the Panthers very own Southeast Division. With Eric Staal leading the Hurricanes, Alex Ovechkin heading the Capitals attack, Ilya Kovalchuk taking the reigns for Atlanta, and now Steven Stamkos joining the ranks of Martin St. Louis and lifetime Lightning man himself Vinny Lecavalier in Tampa Bay, the Panthers have a virtual mine field in their path. Plus, the Panthers only borderline star is now on his way to Phoenix.

So how in the world can the Panthers compete come October? Florida is going to come out next season with a very different style; one reminiscent to the Western Conference. With a strong defensive core anchored by Bryan Allen, a product of a Western Canadian team, and now joined by two more western players, Florida should have the top defense in the division, and one of the best in the conference. The Panthers already have the best goaltender in the division, and it is clear the Panthers are building from the net, outwards.

While the Hurricanes will try to get by with Joe Corvo and Tim Gleason, Washington will try to contain forwards with Mike Green and Tom Poti. While Atlanta hopes draft pick Zach Bogosian can join Tobias Enstrom, Tampa Bay will keep the scoreboards lit with the 32 year olds Dan Boyle and Filip Kuba leading the way.

The Panthers defense looks so formidable right now, that losing potential stud Jay Bouwmeester would still leave the Cats with three pairings that could shut down any team. So while the Panthers are going to have to bank on young guns Shawn Matthias and Michael Frolik putting up decent numbers, they will bring a physical, Western Conference feeling to games next season.

Yes, we all hope that the Panthers will sign a couple of scoring threats during free agency, but it’s going to be defense first in Florida next season. No more 5-4 games on a nightly basis. Hopefully the Panthers can grind their way to a playoff appearance for the first time since the turn of the century.

Panthers' Draft Day Wraps Up

What began as an optimistic draft day for me has turned into cautious, albeit doubtful hope that we made the right decions in this year's draft. Heading into the draft, we learned we had traded away our leading goal gettter and captain for two stalwart defenseman. OK, makes sense. Our defense has been lacking, at best, for the better part of 3 seasons. We needed a change. But knowing this, you would think the actual draft would bring in some new scoring talent to replace the kids we will have to bring up next season (Matthias and Frolik).

Instead, the Panthers drafted a goaltender (#31 overall Jacob Markstrom), 3 defensemen (#46 Colby Robak, #80 Adam Comrie, #190 Matthew Bartkowski), and 1 winger (#100 A.J. Janks). No centers, no offensive threats that will develop in Rochester. Our new netminder, Swedish phenom Jacob Markstrom, will spend the next 2 seasons in the Swedish Elite League, where he's played the last 2 seasons. He will be a #1 goaltender in the NHL in sooner rather than later. The lone forward we drafted came with our 4th pick in the draft. Janks actually sounds like a promising prospect. He played in the Ontario Hockey League last year with the Plymouth Whalers, where he tallied 26 goals-29 assists-55 points playing in 66 games. In the All-Star skills competition, he registered the 2nd hardest shot at 94 mph. He also played for Team USA's U-18 team at the international Hlinka tournament.

The best things that can be said about Janks comes from his coach in Plymouth. "He’s got good size and probably has one of the best shots in the league, from a wrist shot or snap-shot perspective. He needs to work on his lateral movement and stops and starts, but that will come with experience."

Now if only we had drafted another one (or two) of these types instead of 3 more defenseman that likely will spend most of their Panthers career struggling to make the roster. While draftees Rob Belak and Adam Comrie sound like they could become NHL defensemen, they probably will stay in the minors for awhile. I mean we just traded for 2 starting blueliners, why draft 3 more?

So here's what I'm thinking. Our depth at the forward position is all youth. With that much youth on our NHL team, you would think we'd be set for at least a couple seasons with the talent we have. Our affiliate in Rochester may suffer to score goals, but let's face it, who cares? At defense, our youth is a little more suspect. Beyond Bouwmeester, there isn't much in the way of prospects on the blueline. Now there are. Maybe JM knows something we don't, maybe they have something brewing in the free agency. Until the market opens up, we'll just have to sit on our hands and try to digest today's events.

Marlins Suffer Bitter Bitter Loss. Familiar?

There are now about five games that have played out similarly. They're all on the road, they all involve see-saw games that go into extra innings, and they usually include some kind of terrible play in the field.

Last night, the Marlins completely blew the game away. Hanley Ramirez and Luis Gonzalez both dropped extremely playable balls in the worst of situations. This, coming despite Dan Uggla's two home runs (one to tie the game), Jeremy Hermida's two-run blast, and a long ball from Hanley. Even Mark Hendrickson pitched moderately well. What a shame.

If the Marlins end up losing the division by 1 game, mark down 6/20/08 on your calendar. This was just brutal.

Olli Speaks

Apologies for flooding the board with Panthers stories, but beyond NBA draft rumors and Jason Taylor rumors and the dog days of Summer with the Marlins, there isn't much going on. posted a conversation with former Panther Olli Jokinen. A few things caught my eye. First, Jacques Martin called Olli himself to break the news, and the conversation was, as to be expected, "very short." But what wasn't expected was what Jokinen said about his 8 years in South Florida; "I was lucky enough to stay here for eight years — that's a long time. I would have liked to stay, but as a player, too, how long can you take it? Since Mike [Keenan] left — I think he was the guy who really wanted me here — so when he was gone, at that time I thought, 'It's just a matter of time before I'll have to leave.'"

Mike Keenan left 4 years ago. Now I know the relationship between Jokinen and Martin was strained, but has Olli really been waiting to leave since 2004? At times, he's played like it. He only scored 5 goals after February 10 (the final 24 games) last season, during the heat of the playoff push. Maybe his part in the Zednik accident had something to do with that... maybe it didn't.

When asked about reports that he had asked to be traded: "I was saying if they really want to get rid of me, I'm not going to say, 'I want to stay, I want to stay.... It's his [Martin's] team now so [Martin] can do whatever he wants."

Bitter much? To Olli's defense, the past month has been filled with talks about trading him. I can see how that might get under one's skin. He even had to find out about Panthers' new coach Pete DeBoer through the team's PR guy. If that isn't a bad sign, I don't know what is. But in the big picture, it was his play that packed his bags. A major dropoff in production from the '06-'07 season and a disappointing stretch run gave Martin all the reasons he needed to look elsewhere.

Read the full conversation with the Sun-Sentinal here

And the Panthers Pick...

With the first pick in the 2nd round, the Florida Panthers select goaltender Jacob Markstrom, from the Swedish Elite League. The 6 foot 3 inch, 18 year old is ranked #1 among European goalies, and led Sweden's U-18 team to a gold medal in the 2007 Ivan Hlinka Memorial. He beat Sweden in the final, and even denied #1 overall draft pick Steve Stamkos in overtime. Said Scott Luce, the Panthers' director of amateur scouting, "We got a guy projected as a franchise elite, No. 1 goalie... For him to slip to No. 31? It’s a good day for us."

Then, the Panthers traded their newly acquired 49th pick plus a 4th round pick in next year's draft to Nashville, and in return moved up to the #46 spot. The Cats used that pick to select defenseman Colby Robak. Robak, who was ranked #13 by Central Scouting, goes 6'3", 195 lbs, and spent last season in the Western Hockey League. Playing for the Brandon Wheat Kings, he played in 71 games and scored 30 points (6 goals).

It looks like the Panthers are gung-ho on solidfying their blueline. With plenty of young talent up front, with the likes of Frolik, Matthias, Booth, Weiss, Horton... the Cats are shoring up the goal stoppers as opposed to the goal scorers. We'll see how much of a chance Robak actually has to make the roster, considering the trades we made yesterday. The 'tender, however, sounds like a sure-fire backup plan to Vokoun in the coming seasons. With the success of Marc Andre Fleury in Pittsburgh (and even Ty Conklin backing him up), young netminders are definately moving up in the world. Markstrom even went 2-0 against Ol' Eddie Belfour in the Swedish Elite League last year. That's gotta be a good sign, right?

As of now, we don't pick again until #80, but moves are being made left and right, so stay tuned.

One Last Note Before the Panthers Actually Make a Draft Pick

Check out interviews with Martin and newest Cat Keith Ballard here

Some pretty interesting stuff from Jacques regarding filling needs at defense and addressing the lack of a veteran center.

NHL 1st Round thoughts...

This isn't Panthers related (since we didn't have a first round pick, but we do pick first tomorrow morning in the 2nd round), but I just gotta get your thoughts on this.

Of the 30 selections in the first round of the NHL draft, only 12 were made by teams who were originally in that slot, and 7 of those were in the top 10 picks. That means that in picks 11-30, only 5 were made by the team that was assigned that pick. Is it just me, or is that a little ridiculous? I don't know any other time where something like this happened, in any sport.

Also, just about every player selected is 18 or 19, just coming out of either high school or some junior hockey program. Why is there no public outcry over these kids not going to school for a year? Because that rule is inane. The NBA deems it mandatory that a player attend a year of college before entering the NBA draft. Why? Do they really think that attending classes that you have no interest in, that just get in the way of a kid living his dream will somehow educate him? Change his mind and make him realize he'd rather be a political scientist or botanist or zoologist or any-ist? Just curious...

Clearly, the Panthers weren't the only ones busy on Draft Day.

Friday, June 20, 2008

More on the New Guys just released these quotes about the trade...

Jacques Martin: "I really felt we needed to improve our defense... I feel Keith Ballard is a No. 2 defenseman. He’s a tough player to play against, a real shutdown defenseman who can move the puck. He has good speed, a lot of grittiness, and he’s physical. Nick Boynton is another who can play on our top four. He’s a first-round pick, and (head coach) Peter (DeBoer) coached him in the World Championships."

Darren Pang (analyst for the Coyotes and Versus): “Keith Ballard is a very competitive kid; incredibly passionate... He skates like every shift is his last shift... Keith came out of college (University of Minnesota) as an offensive defenseman. I think if you give him the green light, he can go. Boynton is defensive minded. He keeps the game simple, but you could have Ballard and Boynton as you’re two shutdown guys."

If there's one thing the Panthers have been accused of in the past, it's laziness. What Panger said sounds like something the Panthers need desperately. Bringing in Wade Belak towards the end of last season started the change in mindset. These two D-men coming in looks like another step in the right direction.

Later in the same interview, Martin went on to say that he expects big things from prospects Matthias and Frolik. He also hinted at going out to find "more production, as well as other people." Just how much are the Cats willing to spend for that production? Hmmm...

Now I know the "Killer B's" of the Houston Astros are gone, so can we bring it back? Bouwmeester, Boynton, and Ballard? The B's on D? B's on the blueline? Someone help me out with this.

A Calmer Look at Jokinen Trade

It's finally happened, and it appears that Florida Panthers captain Olli Jokinen is headed west, to play for the Great One himself and the Phoenix Coyotes. In return, the Panthers received defensemen Keith Ballard and Nick Boynton, as well as the Coyotes 2nd round pick, 49th overall.

Jokinen holds many franchise records, including most goals (188), assists (231), points (419), and is 2nd in games played (567) to Robert Svehla (573). Olli has also captained for the past four seasons. During those 4 seasons, the Panthers finished 11th, 12th, 11th, and 12th in the Eastern Conference, and never higher than 3rd in the division. Jokinen also holds the dubious distinction of playing in 723 regular season games and 0 playoff games. That's 2nd all time in games played with out a postseason appearance (to Panthers assistant coach Guy Charron, none-the-less).

While Olli led the Cats on the score sheet, he's failed to lead them anywhere past that. It's not as though the Panthers, who have missed the playoffs every year since 2000, are scratching and fighting their way to the end of the season, pushing through for every point and coming up just short. They haven't even finished higher than 11th in the conference since that last playoff year.

So Olli's out, let's look at the 2 new guys coming. There were rumors flying everywhere about who the Panthers would receive for their captain. In the end, it was Wayne Gretzky and his Phoenix Coyotes who made the trade. They send defensemen Nick Boynton and Keith Ballard to the Cats, plus a 2nd round pick in tonight's draft (49th overall). Both Boynton and Ballard are former first round draft picks, and should be an immediate improvement to the Panthers blueline. Boynton, 29, will be entering his 6th season in the NHL. In his 437 career NHL games, he has 180 points and is +8. Ballard, 25, is going into his 4th year in the NHL. He most recently represented Team USA in the IIHF World Championships.

These 2, plus the draft choice TBA, are clearly not meant to fill the scoring void that will be left by Olli. Instead, this looks like a move to change the unfortunate trend of giving up 40+ shots a game that has crept into the Panthers style of play over the last few seasons. It appears as though GM Jacques Martin and new coach Pete DeBoer are confident in handing the scoring over to the teams' young core of players, such as 20+ goal scorers, 23 year olds David Booth and Nathan Horton, as well as a good mesh of veteran talent that missed much of last year with injuries. Brett McLean, Richard Zednik, and Rostislav Olesz all missed at least 15 games last season on the DL.

One last thing to consider is the money this should free up for the Panthers. With the new, post-lockout NHL, there is a salary cap. There are unrestricted free agents out there, many of whom have lit the lamp frequently. Is there a big name to be signed come August? We'll just have to wait and see. The Panthers now have 5 picks in this year's draft, it will be interesting to see who they will be, and the impact they may have on this team in the coming season(s). Stay tuned for draft pick prognostication.





Keith Ballard D
Nick Boynton D

49th pick

Thats what the Panthers got for their captian. Niether are puck moving D men and they did not get a 1st round pick. This team is heading in no direction. It looks like they rushed this when they didnt have to do a thing with Jokinen. HORRIBLE TRADE, WORST TRADE IN TEAM HISTORY, I DIDNT THINK THAT WAS POSSIBLE AFTER THE LUONGO DEAL. F ALREADY IN THIS YEARS DRAFT.



Warming to Beasley

It seems that I, along with many other South Florida sports pundits, decided that Derrick Rose was the best option for Miami. As rumors swirled of Rose not even trying out for the Heat and begging the Bulls to take him, I've been rethinnking a bit. Could Beasley be the better pick after all?

These words from ESPN's John Hollinger are pretty encouraging:

"Beasley's rating is the highest of any player going back to 2002, and it's the best by a pretty sizable margin. Obviously, this isn't new information -- nobody doubts this guy's talent level.

But he might be even better than people realize. His numbers were superior even to Kevin Durant's from a year ago, and Durant had everyone gaga over his performance as a college freshman.

Somehow Beasley didn't resonate quite as strongly, perhaps because of concerns over his character, but if he keeps his head on straight he's going to be insanely good."

For those of you who don't know Hollinger, he doesn't get caught up in media hype. He bases his assertions on pure statistical data, which often proves correct.

Remember Jay Williams? He was supposed to be the great guard in his draft. Could Micheael Beasley be the real gem? I'm starting to think so.

Marlins Infield Simply Unparalleled

I knew this Marlins infield was achieving some pretty significant numbers in the power department, but I had no idea it was of this magnitude.

As Fish Stripes brilliantly reports, the Marlins infield would set a Major League record as the first 1B-2B-SS-3B combo to all hit over 25 HRs in a season. This, from a team who plays in a pitcher's park, with a 3B scooped off the scrap heap in one of the toughest divisions. Take a deep breath and appreciate this.

Here's what Fish Stripes had to say:

"According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only six infield units ever -- none of them in the National League -- have had all four of its members smack as many as 20 home runs in one season.

The 1940 Boston Red Sox were the original. The 2005 Texas Rangers were the most recent and came closest to getting 25 home runs from each of their four infielders, with only shortstop Michael Young falling short at 24.

But the Marlins think they can carve out a new spot in the record books.


• Jacobs, the first baseman, has hit 17 home runs and is on track for 38.

• Uggla, the second baseman, has clubbed 21, which would give him a franchise-record 47 if he keeps it up.

• Ramirez, the shortstop, has knocked 15 out to put him on line for 33.

• Cantu, the third baseman, has 14 homers, a pace that would leave him with 31."

So in other words, the Marlins could actually have 30 HRs from all four infield positions. That's remarkable! The biggest threat to this happening is an injury risk. They could survive some scattered DL stints, but not a major injury.

We'll be tracking their home run totals much more closely now, as the Marlins pursue this spectacular record.

JT to the Packers?

All over the blogosphere the last two days, there has been report of a possible trade between the Packers and Dolphins, likely a 1st or 2nd rounder for Jason Taylor.

Why haven't I mentioned anything? Because I don't think it's remotely happening. All the rumors have originated from one story. Basically, the Packers called up and asked. That's it. See this amusing account from FinsNation for his eerily similar take.

And speaking of FinsNation, this has nothing to do with the Dolphins, but it's sure worth seeing. Go take a look at these pictures right now!

Latest Jokinen Rumor

MIAMI HERALD/SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL: both reports Panthers GM Jacques Martin could be shopping Olli Jokinen for players and a first round draft pick. The Panthers dealt away their first round pick in this year’s draft in acquiring Tomas Vokoun from the Predators last June. Rumors persist Jokinen might be dealt in the hours leading up to the first round.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teams are interested in Jokinen but the asking price is said to be expensive and that could kill off that interest or at least limit the number of teams willing to deal for him.

Today is def the day Jokinen is gone. It's sad but lets hope we get something good in return for once.

BTW, the big rumor is Jokinen to the Flames for their 1st (17th overall) and Tanguay. To be honest, that might be a worse trade than the Luongo trade. Tang is a UFA after next year so probably he would be here for only one year and bounce.

"I Hope The Bulls Pick Me," Says Rose

You heard it from the Memphis point guard himself. He and his brother say they will not visit Miami before the Draft. There is no need. Their minds are made up already. Rose has hired former Bulls guard B.J. Armstrong as his agent. I can't say that I'm stunned. Derrick Rose is from Chicago. The prestige of being the #1 overall selection would be quite alluring to anyone. And the Bulls, like it or not, are closer to a championship than the Heat.

That said, the future is still bright for Miami if they decide to select Kansas State forward Michael Beasley and be done with it. Remember that for most of the college basketball season, this guy was it. It isn't his fault that the fickle winds of sports opinion have swung wildly in favor of Rose recently. Beasley's amazing talents have not faded in recent months. He has not suffered serious injury. He is still universally projected to be an NBA all star by all reputable draft experts.

Drafting Beasley means the Heat will have a superfluity of power forwards. One of them needs to be let go to make room for the man-child. The Heat still need a point guard - badly. The Bulls now could use a power forward. If I were Riles, I'd propose a Udonis Haslem for Kirk Hinrich trade (maybe throw in a little Marcus Banks for them, since he's useless). We could have Hinrich and Chris Quinn at point guard (yes, I know Shaq would disagree with me here, but Quinn proved very suitable in last year's NBDL lineup we fielded). I'm not too unhappy with a starting lineup of Hinrich, Wade, Marion, Beasley, and Zo.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Real Picture

As Panther fans from all over South Florida wonder what will become of Olli Jokinen, new head coach Peter DeBoer, and the 2008-09 season, a larger problem once again looms., a Toronto based news website is reporting, "The union also agreed to form a committee to decide whether to opt out of its labour agreement next summer, two years before it's due to expire."

This means that the NHL may be stupid enough to be heading towards another lockout as soon as the 2009-10 season. It goes without saying that if this happens, the NHL is finished for good.

The truth is no matter how the Panthers do, I still love hockey. I go to between 20 and 30 games a season at the BankAtlantic Center, and it's the source of many dates for myself as well as outings with friends. The thought of hockey disappearing again is really more than I can take.

My ultimate goal in the next few years of my life is to make hockey popular again in South Florida. I hope to turn my internship with ESPN Radio into an eventual chance to get a show, in which my goal would be to start the first all NHL show in South Florida radio. I know it's a long shot, but I feel I can be the driving force behind a revitalization in hockey awareness in South Florida. The only hitch? Hockey needs to be around for me to have any chance of this.

If the Panthers miss the playoffs again next season I will be upset, but not as upset as I would be if the ice never freezes again for the following season.


Vancouver trades the pick and Ryan Kesler to Florida for Olli Jokinen. Vancouver gets the offensive player it so desperately needs and Florida gets another young and promising player in Kyle “South” Beach. Beach has drawn comparisons to Owen Nolan, both in a positive and negative way.

Marlins Inching Closer to Division, Wild Card

Note: The Cardinals lost shortly thereafter, so the lead is 2 games each for division and Wild Card.

2 games behind the Phillies for the NL East lead. 2.5 games behind the Cardinals for the Wild Card.

Yes, if the playoffs started today, the Marlins - amazing as their season has been - would fall short of playoff contention. That's okay though. They've gained some steam over the last four days, taking 3 of 4 while the teams above them struggled.

So have the teams around them. The Fish remain 3.5 games ahead of both the Braves and Mets, despite losing their last 5 of 7 to them. The only other team challenging for the Wild Card are the Brewers, who sit .5 back of the Marlins (hmmm. maybe those early 5 of 6 from Milwaukee weren't so bad, were they?)

So overall, the teams to watch are Philadelphia, St. Louis, Atlanta, NY Mets, Milwaukee in that order. And root against them whenever you can.

Rumor Update - Florida Panthers

One rumor floating around has the Senators shipping Spezza and restricted free agent defenseman Andrej Meszaros to the Panthers for Jokinen and RFA blueliner Jay Bouwmeester.
Murray and Panthers GM Jacques Martin were unavailable for comment. btw

I would do this in a second! Spezza has a 7 year contract which makes this deal great! Hopefully JM can get it done!

Marreese Speights Gone for Good

This isn't a breaking news story. In fact, draft experts had already been counting Speights in mock drafts for months. Still, Speights has now positioned himself as yet another NCAA Basketball casualty in the never-ending drive for early dollar.

The good news for Speights is that he's being universally projected in the first round. I've seen him listed as high as the lottery, but also sinking towards the bottom of the first round. It would be a big surprise if he fell to the second round, but one never knows.

I don't like this decision for two reasons:

1. The once-green Gators were ready to make a serious tourney run this year, with Speights leading the way. It's a tough and unexpected (I think) blow to their hopes...but then, it's hard to feel sympathy for a school that just won two of the last three titles! (Yes, I like saying that). I wonder what Billy Donavan really thinks about this.

2. Marreese Speights, what are you doing? Look at the history of early mid-late first round picks! Odds are, you won't be playing serious minutes until at least 2010, possibly later. You may never even get off the pine, and your contract will be expendable. These aren't the great NFL riches that await you. Imagine if you had boosted your position with a great Gator run...sigh. These kids never learn.

Crushing Disappointment for Canes

They rolled through the regular season like a team possessed. Besides a couple of notable slip-ups against Sun Belt competition and UNC, it didn't matter which team they faced or where. They acquired the most victories in school history (53) since 2001. And when it all mattered, the Canes folded, and are now heading home without a College World Series title.

It was complete and utter domination by the Stanford Cardinal, who beat the Canes 8-3 on Wednesday to stay alive and meet Georgia to determine who advances in Omaha to the championship round. The Cardinal rocked UM starter Enrique Garcia for 5 runs on 8 hits in 4 1/3 innings. By the 6th inning, it was 8-1 and you could see the futile desperation in every Miami swing of the bat thereafter. The Canes, who had made a living off of scoring double digit runs in the regular season, suffered from a monumental offensive collapse that will have Canes baseball faithful scratching their heads for a long time. For a team that had typified offensive pyrotechnics throughout the season, it was quite dismaying to see their bats so loudly silent.

And so it ends for Miami. They spent most of the year firmly entrenched in the top spot in all relevant college baseball polls. They won the school's first ACC championship. They had 3 players picked in the first round for the first time ever. But none of that consoles players or fans. They wanted to bring the 5th national baseball title back home to Coral Gables, and in that most important of measures, they failed quite spectacularly. Baseball is a game of streaks, and the point is that they were at their coldest when it mattered most, which proves them unworthy of being called champions. This team, for all of its promise, will be known as one of the biggest disappointments/teases in school history.

Marlins Choose Patience in Win

It is beginning to look more and more like the young Marlins' affinity for carefree homer happy hacks is a conscious choice.

Small ball, manufacturing runs and smart baserunning are sooooo 2003. This latest generation of Marlins doesn't work the count, set up the pitcher or take the extra base. They just swing hard and drop head. I suspect that they hit that way because it's fun, and they are good at it.

But in last night's game, against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, the Fish actually played with an offensive strategy other than "mash ball with stick." They waited Dickey out, allowed his spin-less floaters to dance their way out of the strike zone, and peppered the middle of the field with line drives when they saw pitches they liked.

Being the Marlins, they still launched a couple of longballs, one against Dickey. However they walked 10 times and took an approach that they needed to take to be successful against a junk baller. (Beware Jamie Moyer, we'll get ya next time!)

Out of the familiar surroundings of the NL, the Fish played with their brains the whole Seattle series, nearly coming back against a dominating Felix Hernandez and taking care of business against Carlos Silva.

The point is: for all its perceived flaws, this team has players that can adapt to a situation when they need to. Despite mountains of evidence to the contrary, Dan Uggla can shorten up his swing, Mike Jacobs can take the first pitch, Hanley Ramirez can foul off fastballs on the outside corner. The Marlins can play differing styles of winning baseball if they choose to. And they can still drop some bombs while they do it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Friday NHL Doomsday for Panthers


58th overall pick (did not have a 1st round pick) - Vladimir Sapozhnikov He played in 0 NHL GMs.


4th overall pick - Stephen Weiss (C) 323 games 163 points
24th overall pick - Lukas Krajicek (D) (Traded along with Luongo to Van)
34th overall pick - Greg Watson - He played in 0 NHL GMs.


3rd overall pick - Jay Bouwmeester (D) 389 games 161 points
9th overall pick - Petr Taticek - Played in 3 NHL games 0 points.
40th overall pick - Rob Globke - Played in 46 NHL games 2 points.


3rd overall pick - Nathan Horton (RW) 290 games 193 points
25th overall pick - Anthony Stewart (RW) 46 games 5 points
38th overall pick - Kamil Kreps (C) 90 games 27 points


7th overall pick - Rostislav Olesz (C) 190 games 77 points
37th overall pick - David Shantz (G) - Played in 0 NHL games.


20th overall pick - Kenndall McArdle (LW) - Played in 0 NHL games
32nd overall pick - Tyler Plante (G) - Played in 0 NHL games.


10th overall pick - Michael Frolik (LW) - Played in 0 NHL games.


10th overall pick - Keaton Ellerby (D) - Played in 0 NHL games.


If hockey fans in South Florida want to know the reason why this team hasn't made the playoffs in 8 years, well just look at the above information and you will see that this franchise has a poor history of drafting players. This organization might be one of the worst in the NHL.

Take a look at the 2000, 2002, and 2005 NHL draft selections. Let me tell you a few things about those drafts.

2000 - There was a lot of talent in the 2000 NHL draft. The Panthers picked 8 players in that draft and out of the 8, only 18 games were played in the NHL with a total of 4 points from this draft.

2002 - 10 players were drafted by the Panthers. Besides Bouwmeester and Campbell, the other 8 guys totaled 49 games 2 points. Also, Semin and Higgins were selected later in the 1st round. So much for Petr Taticek.

2005 - Might be the worst overall draft. 0 games played by 8 players drafted. Besides Crosby, this draft was not strong at all. Better yet, 2005, 2006, and 2007 drafted players (22 players in total) 0 games played in the NHL.

So there are the reasons for why the Panthers system is a mess and there is basically no direction for this team in the near and distant future.

2008 draft will not be different from the others. There will be a horrible trade made for picks which will turn out to be just like the above history shows all of us.

This organization really needs to rethink how they operate their hockey operations.

Thoughts on Celtics Castration of Lakers

The Los Angeles Eunuchs lost last night in Gm. 6 of the NBA Finals to the hungrier and more experienced Boston Celtics, continuing New England's charmed sports existence. It was super exciting to watch, until the 2nd quarter, when the Lakers in unprecedented fashion began literally packing their bags to head back to LA on national television.

I cannot name a single Boston player that underperformed. It was that rarest of occasions in sport where an entire team seems to be playing in "the zone", and is simply incapable of doing anything wrong. I would say, "Player X led the way today with...", but I can't. To post such a shellacking in the championship clincher, you need the consummate complete team effort, which is why the Celts are hoisting a 17th championship banner to their rafters this year.

The Lakers, meanwhile, allowed themselves to get rattled early, and were too young and dumb to recover from large deficits in the same fashion that the Celtics did in Gms. 4 and 5. When Kobe Bryant's surrounding cast proved inept to the task of keeping LA in the game, it put more pressure on Kobe to shoulder the burden, and the Celtics, in true shark-like fashion, smelled the blood in the water and honed in on Kobe defensively, forcing him again to a miserable shooting night. It was clear all throughout this series which team had the better horses, the better poise, and, if only for this series, the better coaching.

Some other observations:

* Have you ever seen a team have more fun in a championship game setting than the Celts last night? The game had the feel of an all-star game, with half court sets being optional if not obsolete completely, along with myriad highlight reel plays and smiles aplenty from the men in green.

* How good are the Celtics role players? Boston displayed its superior depth throughout the series, and could not have reached this point without the likes of James Posey, Eddie House, P.J. Brown (all former Heat players), Kendrick Perkins, Tony Allen, and Sam Cassell.

* I think Rajon Rondo just pick-pocketed another Lakers player.

* Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom played a Charmin-soft NBA Finals.

* How great was KG's emotion after the game - kissing the midcourt logo, screaming to the heavens, bumbling through a post-game interview, and hitting on Michelle Tafoya to boot.

* I'm happy for Celtics fans, but not necessarily New Englanders, who have been spoiled like no other region for the last several years now. Make way for the resurgence of South Florida! One can dream...

Marlins' Comeback Falls Short In Seattle

The Marlins finally broke Mariner's pitcher Felix Hernandez streak of 22 straight innings without allowing an earned run with Dan Uggla's 20th homer of the season in the 2nd inning, but ultimately the Marlins came up a run short.

Hernandez was the story early, allowing just 1 hit through 5 innings (the Uggla home run). The Marlins started to rally in the 6th, scoring 2 runs on 4 straight singles and a SAC fly by Jorge Cantu. They then tacked one more on in the 7th to chase Hernandez from the game. Felix's final tally was 7.1 IP, only giving up 6 hits and 4 earned runs, while amassing an impressive 9 strikeouts to only 1 walk. Even towards the end of Hernandez's start, he was throwing 97-98 mph heaters, then dropping vicious 86 mph curve balls off the charts.

The Marlins came up short against an impressive M's bullpen. 3 pitchers didn't allow a hit in the 'pens 1.2 innings of work, and with Mariners' closer J.J. Putz on the DL, Brandon Morrow came in and earned his 2nd save of the season, striking out 2 in the 9th with straight 99 mph heat.

The Marlins should bounce back tomorrow against 33 year old knuckler R.A. Dickey, who has been bouncing between the bullpen and the rotation with the Mariners all season (he'll be making only his 3rd start of the year tomorrow). The loss tonight against arguably one of the best young arms in the Bigs is nothing to hang your head about, especially seeing how they were almost able to rally back. I expect the Fish to come out swinging tomorrow to try to take the 3 game series against baseball's worst.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

More Panthers News!

"There's lots of interest," Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson told the Dispatch. "I'm taking as many calls as I'm making right now."
According to the paper, San Jose, Ottawa, Florida and Montreal are interested in one of the Blue Jackets' first two picks.
Howson indicated the only way he trades the sixth overall pick is if the Blue Jackets acquired a first-line center or a top-two defenseman.
Sources tell TFP the Blue Jackets remain interested in Sharks captain Patrick Marleau, while they are supposedly offering the sixth pick and Nikolai Zherdev to the Panthers for Olli Jokinen. btw

To be honests! I would do it in a second!

Florida Panthers 2008 NHL Entry Draft

The Florida Panthers will have the 1st pick in the 2nd round. I personally do not think that they need to trade away one of the core assets for a 1st round pick.

It has been rumored for months that Bouwmeester and or Jokinen (Rumored for YEARS) will be dealt during the draft. I will be watching the draft this coming Friday with knots in my stomach hoping neither are traded away.

The Panthers organization will sell it to us simple, Here is what I mean:

- If they trade Jokinen for Prospects and a top 10 pick; it will be obvious that this organization has no idea where it's headed and they are not committed to winning NOW.

- If they pull off a even trade, get a scorer, and a 1st round pick; then I would be the happiest person alive.

The above is basically a trade with someone sending Jokinen.

Bouwmeester is a different story:

- Trading Bouwmeester would be a much bigger deal to me. He is the most important person on the Panthers. He is the organizations best defensemen to ever wear the Panther uniform. He has such a great upside that if he were to be traded, no package can equal what we have in Bouwmeester.

- Trading Bouwmeester would make this team a 30 and below win team: This means no Playoffs 9 years running and so on.

So YEA, Friday is a huge day in Panther history!


Marlins to face the King

Felix Hernandez, aka King Felix, faces the Florida Marlins tonight. After easily cruising through the first game against the Mariners, the Marlins will face a much bigger challenge tonight. The 22-year old fireballer has been almost unhittable with his fastball consistently in the mid-upper 90's. In his last 3 starts, he has not allowed an earned run in 21 innings of work. In fact, in his last 10 starts, he has allowed over 7 hits only once.

It'll take a solid effort from Marlins hurler Scott Olsen tonight to keep the Mariners offense where they've been pretty much this whole season, in the cellar. Olsen has been equally impressive as of late, despite his 0-1 record through those 3 games. He's only allowed 4 runs on 14 hits in his last 19 innings of work.

It sets up to be a great pitcher's battle, and the added confines of pitcher-friendly Safeco Field plus the cooler temperatures in the upper 40's all add up to what should be a great duel.

Sometimes it's Good to be Poor

In this season more than almost any other, I have been amazed/confused/astonished/bewildered by the payroll disparities in Major League Baseball.

What is so confounding isn't that some teams have low payrolls and others have high ones, that is nothing new. The thing that gets me is the number of silly contracts that have been given out by some of these general managers.

Examining the Marlins' opponent last night demonstrates what I'm talking about.

The Mariners signed last night's starter Carlos Silva to a huge deal that pays him more than $8 million a year. Richie Sexson (who for a big man has the tiniest swing I've ever seen) makes $15 million this season! Miguel Batista makes almost $10 million! I haven't even mentioned the bloated contracts of Adrian Beltre, Jarrod Washburn or Jose Vidro. I don't think any of those guys could even earn a starting spot on the Marlins. No wonder GM Bill Bavasi was fired. Are you serious Bill?

People jump on the Marlins for being cheapskates and they undoubtedly are. But I think the Fish's thriftiness is a good thing. It makes them avoid stupid, costly mistakes like the Mariners, by all accounts a respected franchise. Just because a team has the revenue streams to spend a crap-load of money, doesn't mean they have to spend it stupidly.

The Marlins' big gaffe this season was signing Jacque Jones (it cost about 5o grand.) The Brewers' big gaffe was Eric Gagne's $10 million deal!

Larry Beinfest's and David Samson's mantra is to find players that out-perform their contracts. It is amazing that more teams don't subscribe to the same philosophy. I think other teams (aided by the success this season by the bottom three payroll teams: the Marlins, Rays and A's) are finally beginning to realize that high payrolls do not necessarily directly contribute to wins.

Hurricanes Still Alive at CWS; Noles Going Home

It was very nearly another catastrophic 9th inning collapse for closer Carlos Gutierrez and the Miami Hurricanes. After giving up four runs in the 9th on Friday to cost Miami it's opening round game versus Georgia, Gutierrez gave up another three runs in the 9th yesterday as the Canes beat rival FSU 7-5 in Omaha. The Seminoles finish the year 54-14, and have to be exceedingly disappointed at how they finished the year. The 4th-ranked team in the nation goes home without a single CWS win.

For the Canes, there were some heroes - Dannis Raben made a couple of outstanding defensive plays and had a couple of (crucial) RBI's. Eric Erickson played a marvelous game after coming in for injured starter David (please don't call me Carlos) Gutierrez. Erickson gave up one run in 5 innings of work. Jemile Weeks and Blake Tekotte added a couple of much-needed home runs ("blasts" would be more accurate). As for Carlos Gutierrez? One more closing effort like his past two and the Canes will be making expeditious flight arrangements back to Miami.

UM, now 53-10 on the season, plays another elimination game tomorrow night against Stanford. All the games the Canes play from now until the championship series will be win-or-go-home, and tomorrow's is no exception. I say the Canes beat the 40-23-2 Cardinal, though not if they don't get their closer's mind right. After all, remember what Stanford did in the 9th versus FSU last week.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Quick Notes

I'm going to try and do this once or twice a week. These are just a few observations:

-Jamie Moyer has become so bad late in his career, that he is good. If only Roger Clemens could have learned from him...

-The Braves have signed Jorge Julio. Did the Braves decide that this was cheaper than holding a press conference to concede the season?

-Uggla has looked Uggla since that Walk-Off Granny...(Of course, as I write this, he hits an RBI single.)

-I know it's still early, but looking at the division and Wild Card standings, it is going to be a real fight for the Fish to get a playoff spot.

-Is there anything more boring that off-season football discussion? I'm sorry, but it's the heart of baseball season, and the NBA finals have been extremely entertaining. Save the talk about the Bengals backup OT.

-This weekend's wild ride of a U.S. Open marked the first time I watched golf for more than 30 seconds in a row. I salute Tiger Woods.

-I realize that it is all about the money, but Staples Center turning into the Academy Awards has hurt the team, the "fans" don't even seem to know when to cheer.

-Back to the NBA and money. Is it a bad sign when scouting reports are now telling us how, and in favor of what team, will each game be officiated?

-One more time. How many people are going to have to sue Clay Bennett before people realize what an injustice the Sonics' situation is?

-What the hell, here's another. David Stern is slowly becoming one of the shadiest commissioners in the history of sports. I realize Donaghy is a scumbag, but these officiating rumors, joined with the Seattle situation, ave really got me wondering about this guy.

-Neither KG or Kobe has impressed me at all this series. Paul Pierce is the only "star" who is significantly adding to his legacy.

-Ricky Nolasco's Drug-Free commercial is nothing but high comedy.

-Forget it, I'm mad at the NBA. Oklahoma City? Really?

-I'm almost positive that one of Derek Fisher's three-pointers hit the roof of the Staples Center.

-Having Willingham for interleague play would've been nice. Maybe I just don't like Wes Helms...

-Ryan Tucker looks like he should be on the 90210 remake.

-What happened to Hendrickson? Do the effects of Lasik only last a couple of months?

-Most exciting game, in any sport, that I've watched all week? Turkey vs Cezch Republic in the Euro Cup.

-I've had no complaints with Fredi Gonzalez, but he needs to find a way to manage pitch count better. Every pitcher we have seems overworked.

-Was I the only one hoping for a "Yankees Wang Hurt" headline? I was? Oh well...