What If?

Would you rather have Chone Figgins and Adrian Beltre for the last five years or have A-Rod for that span?

How about Jason Varetik over Guillermo Quiroz, Jeff Clement and Rene Rivera?

Or Derek Lowe over Jeff Weaver and Cha Seung Baek?

Maybe even Adam Jones over Franklin Gutierrez?

Ok, maybe take back a couple of those. Varetik was blocked by Dan Wilson, and Jones over a healthy Gutierrez is a small upgrade if that.

But Lowe over those two and the countless other starters the M’s have rolled out? A-Rod over Figgins and Beltre? Granted Beltre was decent on the Mariners, but A-Rod is one of the better third baseman in the league.

Think about all the talent lost. That’s the underlying theme here. A-Rod is gone. So is Raul Ibanez, Rafael Soriano and Michael Pineda. And that’s just the Yankees to start.

Pineda can be kind of in another category from the standpoint that the M’s got Jesus Montero back, but then there are the questionable deals that at the time look OK and then look bad-to-downright-terrible down the road.

We’re talking the Asdrubal Cabrera for Eduardo Perez swap and Shin-Soo Choo for Ben Broussard. Then there’s the revered Michael Morse for Ryan Langerhans deal.

To be clear, none of the three guys Seattle got back are with the team. Perez is the hitting coach in Miami, Broussard is a musician and Langerhans is in Anaheim.

So think about Cabrera instead of Brendan Ryan (not saying Ryan is bad, but Cabrera is an upgrade offensively), Morse at first and Choo in left? That’s maybe a 10 game improvement. Who knows? Maybe Montero stays in New York and you get to keep Pineda. You’re talking about an actual decent offensive team. Maybe the Montero thing goes down, that’s a lot of offensive firepower from a Mariners standpoint.

Then there is the travesty that is Erik Bedard. George Sherrill and Adam Jones headlined a package to Baltimore. Both have made All-Star teams as members of the Orioles. Bedard made this many with Seattle. (Cue hand signaling a big 0).

Jones would probably be the best outfielder in Seattle at this point (barring an Ichiro rejuvenation). Sherrill is actually back in Seattle’s bullpen though.

Bedard was moved to Boston for some prospects that probably won’t add up to Jones, Sherrill and the gang.

So here is the thing. And again, this is all hypothetical, what if Bedard stays an Oriole? Or what if those Indians trades don’t happen? Maybe Morse stays. Maybe even A-Rod stays.  Maybe the other guys aren’t traded. If all that happens then maybe they get some combination of Ichiro, Montero, Ackley, Jones, Cabrera, A-Rod, Choo, Morse and Varitek. That’s just the hitting.

Cliff Lee, Doug Fister, Freddy Garcia, Joel Pinero and Pineda are a possible rotation that might make the playoffs with a decent offense. And they are all former M’s. JJ Putz, Derek Lowe and Rafael Soriano are a possibly playoff-worthy back end of a bullpen.

The M’s got decent returns for Lee and Fister. Ditto Putz.

But Lowe and Soriano were the Morse-for-Langerhans equivalents of the pitchers here. Soriano went to Atlanta for Horacio Ramirez. Lowe went to Boston with Jason Varitek FOR HEATHCLIFF SLOCUMB.

It’s mind-boggling to see these trades. Obviously no one can see the future and see the end results. But Boston maybe doesn’t win as much without The Captain and Lowe.

So maybe these trades don’t happen and the M’s are not one of the answers to the trivia question-

“Which Major League Baseball Franchises have never been to the World Series?” (Alex Trebek voice).

So maybe the Mariners win a title at some point and we aren’t complaining about losing our only championship team in Seattle. (Ha, take that Stern! Even in an MLB piece I’m still after you.)

The Lakers Search For a Point Guard

Derek Fisher is a veteran point guard. It’s probably safe to say that he is past his prime. That being said, the Lakers need a boost at the point. Steve Blake is currently nursing an injury and will be out for a while. Here are some trades that the Lakers could make to help themselves at the backcourt position not manned by Kobe Bryant.

The Obvious Choice- Steve Nash

Steve Nash to this day is still one of the better point guards in the league and is an obvious trade candidate.  Here’s how it could go down-

  • Steve Nash to the Los Angeles Lakers for Luke Walton, Darius Morris and Fisher. Fisher isn’t the player he once was. The Suns aren’t going to get a player to replace Nash in return. At least here the Suns get two manageable contracts that could very well be bought out (Walton and Fisher) plus a rookie who could have some upside for them (Morris).
  • Steve Nash to the Los Angeles Lakers with Hakim Warrick for Walton, Fisher and Metta World Peace. The Suns get three buy out options as well as getting out of Hakim Warrick’s contract. This saves the Suns some serious money.

The Under-the-Radar Choice- Jarrett Jack

Jarrett Jack is a good point guard despite playing for the lonely Hornets. He is a solid all-around point guard who can score, rebound and dish it.

  • Jarrett Jack to the Los Angeles Lakers for Luke Walton and a future first round pick. Jack makes a whole lot of sense in LA. The Hornets do take on a little money with Walton and lose a lot of production, but they are going to have a down year this year. They basically swap out Jack’s playing time for younger guys with a smidgen of Walton. It should also be noted that Walton and Jack’s  contracts are almost exactly the same. The Hornets (read:   David Stern and his band of team-stealing-buddies) gain another first-round pick to add to their likely growing stash of picks, which, for most GMs of young, bad teams is what you would like. If the Lakers are hell-bent on winning another ring (honestly, what contending team isn’t?) then this first rounder probably will hold as much value as an early second round pick. If not, this might be a pick around number 20 overall. Or if some key players get injured (read Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum) this might be, gasp, a late lottery pick.

The Guy From Cleveland- (Not Kyrie Irving, cool it Cavs fans) Ramon Sessions

  • Ramon Sessions to the Los Angeles Lakers for Derek Fisher and a second round pick. Sessions also makes sense in LA as does Jarrett Jack. He is a guy who can rebound and dish it. His contract is not obnoxious or ridiculous in any sense of either word. He is a solid player who will help LA a lot. There is also the likelihood that Fisher might be bought out and return to LA. So you have Sessions for a late second round pick, and you give Derek Fisher a week off. Sounds good, lock it up Lakers.

Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and the Lakers all Wrapped Up Into One (and the defending champs, ho hum, note the sarcasm)

Disclaimer: This is all just a proposition. Just a made-up idea, it probably won’t happen. Don’t get too worked up Suns and Magic fans.

The proposed deal- (emphasize proposed)

Orlando Magic Acquire- PF/C Pau Gasol, C Andrew Bynum and G Darius Morris

Phoenix Suns Acquire- G Rodrigue Beaubois, PF/C Daniel Orton and SG Dominique Jones

Dallas Mavericks Acquire PG Steve Nash

Los Angeles Lakers Acquire C Dwight Howard, F Hedo Turkoglu and PG Jason Kidd

(Phoenix and Orlando also get everyone’s favorite trade fodder: draft picks)

Why it makes some sense- We’ll start at the top for this one (or by the list shown above).  Orlando gets two quality big guys (probably better than quality, more like All-Star, but we’re moving on) to replace another All-Star, Dwight Howard, who is leaving anyways at the end of the season. Just to be clear, this isn’t an even swap. Gasol and Bynum are good, but it takes a lot to replace Howard with one or even two players. Morris has been losing minutes in LA and the Magic could use some youth. Orlando also gets the aforementioned, terribly exciting to write about, draft picks! (Note the heavy, heavy, heavy sarcasm.)

Phoenix is the next team listed, so naturally we will talk about them. That’s not a ridiculous idea right? Back to Phoenix. The Suns return isn’t going to jump out at you. This is Beaubois, Jones and Daniel Orton. The latter being a young big with upside, a guy who Orlando sat on the bench for all of last season. Maybe they were looking for an Aaron Rodgers effect with Orton and Howard. Who knows? But Orton’s contract option was declined (if I’m not up to date in contract-speak, then insert correct term here). He’s going to be a free agent after the season. Phoenix could find some upside in him. After all Steve Nash did turn Marcin Gortat into a legitimate center. (That’s completely contradicting since I have Nash leaving Arizona, but it sounds good.)  Beaubois and Jones give the Suns some infusion of youth in a backcourt that includes Sebastian Telfair, Ronnie Price and Michael Redd. By the way, I toiled away at this on ESPN’s trade machine and Phoenix saves somewhere in the neighborhood of 9 or 10 million. And don’t-forget-about-the-picks.

Dallas gets an upgrade at the point, plain and simple. If Nash doesn’t work out, they can let him walk like they might let Kidd walk. Dallas might lose some picks in this situation, but to get Nash, I think they’ll take that risk.

Here is the one problem with this. If Dallas is intent on pursing Howard in free agency, or even in another trade this doesn’t make a lot of sense. But if the Magic and Lakers agree on a deal, Dallas could still gain from it. And to be honest, the Lakers probably have better trade pieces (cough, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, cough) than the Mavericks do (cough,  Sean Williams and whatever Shawn Marion used to dye his hair, cough).

The Lake Show finally gets Dwight Howard. They also absorb Turkoglu’s contract as well as picking up Kidd to run the offense. This isn’t Howard and some throw ins. Turkoglu will help the Lakers’ instability on the wing next to Kobe. They also get a potential HOF point guard to distribute the ball. A good trade all around for the Lakers even though they didn’t get to unload Luke Walton or the player-formerly-known-as-Ron-Artest’s-contracts.

More trades for teams who aren’t making the playoffs.

Charlotte Bobcats- The Bobcats are bad. The team needs some kind of size. Byron Mullens has been nice, but they need more size, whether they’re contending or not (read not). The rest of their frontline consists of Tyrus Thomas, Mullens, DJ White, Boris Diaw and the rookie-name-sensation Bismack Biyombo. Mullens is 7 feet tall, Thomas is 6-10. But outside of that the rest of the guys are 6-9 and shorter. We also should mention that Michael Jordan’s team has DeSanga Diop. Problem is that the Bobcats don’t have a ton of assets. Someone might want Corey Maggette’s contract. Boris Diaw could be a nice rental. I’m assuming they would like to get out of Matt Carroll, Diop and Maggette’s contracts. DJ White could be another cheapish rental. Unless they want to unload DJ Augustin because they’re fully committed to Kemba (it’s plausible) there aren’t a whole lot of assets here.

Potential Deals-

F Boris Diaw to Miami for Whoever. Miami could certainly use another big, whether that be a more finesse option like Diaw remains to be seen. Miami could have troubling dealing for anyone, let alone the former Sun, because the only non-Big-3 players who didn’t sign this offseason (making them trade-able only after two months or March 1st) are Norris Cole, Dexter Pittman, Joel Anthony, Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem. Haslem and Anthony aren’t being dealt for other bigs. Neither is Cole or Miller. Pittman’s salary isn’t going to match up.

F Corey Maggettee and PF DJ White to Boston for C Jermaine O’Neal, PF Chris Wilcox and G Keyon Dooling. Maggette gives Boston a big boost on the wing. A boost that is sorely needed in Boston. Sasha Pavlovic and Mickael Pietrus are nice back up options, but the Celtics need some bench scoring. Maggette immediately becomes the best scoring option on the second unit. He also becomes the fifth best player on the team. Yes, this is no screw up. Boston dealing one of their better big men (yikes) in O’Neal. White is younger and cheaper. White can play the four with KG at the five. White can play five with Brandon Bass at the four. Greg Stiemsma has been serviceable. This isn’t a complete loss. Granted this doesn’t help Boston at all for the future seeing as they have to pay Maggette next year, but it certainly would help this year.

The Detroit Pistons have some nice pieces. (Read: Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe). They also have some overpaid ones. (Read: Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon.) It should be noted that Charlie V and Ben Gordon aren’t bad options, they just cost a lot.

How about this-

G Ben Gordon, F Charlie Villanueva and F Austin Daye to…….(fake, corny drum roll please…..) Atlanta for G Joe Johnson. Yes, this is terrible for the Hawks and the trade machine spits it out as their projected wins going down by five, but what if they trade their contractual albatross (Johnson) to Detroit for two contractual crows, so to speak. They also get a young guy with some upside (Austin Daye) who is a tweener in every since of the word.

Detroit gets a star player and All-Star to pair with Monroe, Knight and Jonas Jerebko. They also get a ticket-draw, so to speak, in Johnson. One that they desperately need. Think about that nucleus for Detroit, Johnson, Monroe, Knight and Jerebko, plus a likely lottery pick in a deep draft (probably another big man). Sounds pretty good right? Atlanta meanwhile moves to more of a Portland like blue-print. One lead scoring option who’s a good player ,not a superstar yet, (Josh Smith) and a flurry of secondary options that can contribute 10-20 points on a given night (Jeff Teague, Tracey McGrady, Ben Gordon, Kirk Hinrich, Charlie V and Marvin Williams). That’s not too bad, right? Probably still good enough to make the playoffs in the East. Did I mention Atlanta saves like a bajillion dollars?

Next up is the Hornets. Did anyone think that they would be this bad without Chris Paul? They aren’t short of good players. Eric Gordon is a very good two. Chris Kaman is solid. So are Jarret Jack and Emeka Okafor. Point is New Orleans has pieces that some teams might be interested in.

Proposed trade numero uno-

C Chris Kaman to Indiana for …. picks. Indiana has the cap room and is supposedly looking for another center to play behind Roy Hibbert. Kaman provides a more than quality option for Indiana. If it is picks, then  they are TBD. I’m not sure what the asking price for a potential All-Star Center is in the NBA these days.

Or….

C Chris Kaman to Houston for PG Johnny Flynn, C Hasheem Thabeet and G/F Terrence Williams. All three lottery picks who could use a change of scenery. All are also buried on the depth chart by well, depth. New Orleans gets three young pieces with a lot of potential for a guy who is a rental for them at best.

SF Trevor Ariza to Boston for F/C Chris Wilcox, G Keyon Dooling , G E’twaun Moore and a second round pick. Ariza doesn’t have a bad contract by any stretch, but I’m sure the New Orleans management (read David Stern) will want to shed some cash. The Hornets get two guys on expiring contracts who are potential buy-out guys as well as some youth infusion of Moore and another pick. I still can’t stress Boston’s need for perimeter help. Ariza is a bit like James Posey, so maybe that will help the Celtics.

The Washington Wizards. What can be said about the Wizards. They play in Washington, they’re called the Wizards. No, but seriously, the Wizards aren’t very good. They have some cap room, which is a plus, but something probably has to be done about Rashard Lewis and his 21 million dollar salary. That is way too much for a player that isn’t a part of Washington’s future, let alone worth that much. John Wall is a great building block. JaVale McGee can dunk it home. Jordan Crawford and Nick Young can both score. There’s upside, they just need more players with that kind of upside. Plus they could use my favorite thing to write about… Picks.

Deals that might work (just a heads up, I’m running out of synonyms for that phrase)-

PF/C Andray Blatche and a 2012 first-round pick to Sacramento for PF/C DaMarcus Cousins. It’s somewhat of a swap of headaches. Yes,the Wizards give up a likely lottery pick and a potential number one pick. But think of the potential of John Wall and Cousins playing together again. Those two with the rest of their young nucleus, not to mention Jan Vesley. Yikes. Blatche still has some potential. Even though he’s injured now, it still could be there for Blatche.

Jimmer mania has moved to Sacramento. Sacramento is also on their second coach of the season. The Kings have a good nucleus with guys like Cousins, Tyreke Evans, Jimmer, guys like that. The Kings have a lot of cap space, so money isn’t an issue. Here’s what I would do if I ran the Kings-

Trade SG Francisco Garcia and C Jason Thompson to Boston for C Jermaine O’Neal, PF/C Chris Wilcox and G Keyon Dooling. As you can tell I think the C’s could make some moves to help their bench and these guy’s expiring contracts are currently the best assets that Boston can move. Thompson helps them a lot in the frontcourt, and if he doesn’t work out, his contract expires after the season too. Garcia gives Boston their overstated boost on the wing. Sacramento gets out of Garcia’s contract and saves even more money.

So, don’t lose it thinking these deals are going to happen. Some of them might and some of them have absolutely no chance.

MLB Free Agent Predictions Revisited

(Just a fair warning, get ready for a bunch of bahooey)

Here is a condensed, explanation-less list of my free agent predictions in early November:

  1. Albert Pujols to St. Louis
  2. Prince Fielder to Chicago (Cubs)
  3. CJ Wilson to Washington
  4. Jose Reyes to the Mets
  5. Jimmy Rollins stays in Philly
  6. Michael Cuddyer staying in Minnesota
  7. Aramis Ramirez in Miami
  8. Mark Buehrle back with the White Sox
  9. Edwin Jackson with the Yankees
  10. Johnathan Paplebon with Boston
  11. Carlos Beltran in Bean Town
  12. David Ortiz in Oakland
  13. Hiroki Kuroda in LA with the Dodgers
  14. Heath Bell in San Diego
  15. Carlos Pena in Seattle
  16. Roy Oswalt in a Rangers uniform
  17. Coco Crisp back in Cleveland
  18. Kelly Johnson in Miami
  19. Grady Sizemore in the Emerald City
  20. Erik Bedard, ditto
  21. Paul Maholm in Toronto
  22. Chris Capuano in Pittsburgh
  23. Ramon Hernandez in Cleveland
  24. Jason Kubel in Chicago
  25. Ramon Santiago with the Tigers
  26. Jamey Carroll in Minnesota
  27. Clint Barmes in Queens
  28. Kerry Wood back with the Cubs
  29. Frank Francisco in Oakland
  30. Jason Marquis with Anaheim
  31. Joel Pinero in a Mets uniform
  32. Jonathan Broxton in Toronto
  33. Bruce Chen in Seattle
  34. Brad Penny in Cincinnati
  35. Rafael Furcal in St. Louis
  36. Aaron Harang in Baltimore
  37. David Dejesus in Cincinnati
  38. Jeff Francis in KC
  39. Jamie Moyer back with the M’s
  40. Casey Kotchman back with the Rays
  41. Josh Willingham in Colorado
  42. Bartolo Colon in Miami
  43. Ryan Madson in Philadelphia
  44. Francisco Rodriguez with the Marlins

I got six of the predictions correct. That’s seven percent of them right. I can count them on my two hands. Point is, look how smart I am!

Jimmy Rollins, Ramon Santiago, Jamey Carroll, Rafael Furcal and Jeff Francis were my only answers that warrant a “ding” noise on a game show.

Outside of that I had Albert Pujols back with the defending champs, the Prince in Chicago with the Cubs (to be honest I am perfectly OK with getting that one wrong, seeing as, you know, he’s  a Tiger now). I had Jose Reyes staying in New York as the Mets cornerstone. I stated that guys like Michael Cuddyer, Mark Buehrle, Heath Bell and Jonathan Paplebon would never leave the cities they have spent their careers in and that their teams would do everything they could to keep them. Well, turns out Paplebon is in Philadelphia, Buehrle and Bell are in South Beach and Cuddyer is a member of the Rockies.

I then had moves that were similar to what the teams did to address a need, it’s just they didn’t take my oozing-with-credibility advice.

See Edwin Jackson with the Yankees. The Yankees needed pitching and I thought Jackson was a decent investment. Turns out they went and got Michael Pineda and Kuroda instead.

I had David Ortiz going to Oakland. Turns out the A’s might be interested in Manny Ramirez. (Key word is might.)

I had the Cubs getting Jason Kubel to play a corner outfield spot for them when in fact they went out and got David DeJesus.

Brad Penny to the Reds was another failed prediction as reports are that he could be going to Japan.

I was also oblivious to the fact that the Rays and Phillies would find replacements for Ryan Madson and Casey Kotchman with free agents. Which screws up an eleventh of my predictions right there.

I did all right with middle infielders, which means nothing at all.

I also didn’t partake in the Yu Darvish predictions because of the fact that he might become a free agent due to the posting process.

Fielder’s signing completely blew me out of the water. As did the Bell and Buehrle going to South Beach. I thought the Marlins would overspend on some guys, just thought it would be Bartolo Colon and Aramis Ramirez.

So there you have it. I am terrible at picking where free agents will sign. Here’s to next year when I go for a big improvement at 9 for 50.