FC Porto: Forming a Starting XI of Players Sold Over the Past Five Years

Portuguese giants Porto are the model of a “feeder club.” They churn out wildly productive players and sell them to other clubs for massive profits. All this while maintaining their status of being one of the more consistently winning clubs in Europe.

FC Porto have even supplied coaches to some of top teams on the continent as Andre Villas-Boas and Jose Mourinho have left The Estádio do Dragão for new pastures.

Here is a starting XI of the best players to leave the Portuguese club in the last five years-

Goalkeeper: Rafael Bracalli

This is the toughest one on the list, mainly because Porto has employed Helton at the club since 2005. The Brazilian has been team captain since 2009, so all the goalkeepers to leave in the last five years have been a stream of back-ups. Rafael gets the nod due to his move to the Greek League, a higher level league than the other departed keepers.

Left Back: Ally Cissokho

The current Liverpool player (on loan from Valencia) was only at the club for a brief spell, but helped them push a Ronaldo-led Manchester United to the edge in the Champions League while also achieving the Portuguese double. After a failed transfer to AC Milan, Cissokho moved to Lyon.

 Center Back: Bruno Alves

Portuguese national team mainstay Bruno Alves spent nine years at Porto, highlighted by a Primeira Liga Player of the Year honor in 2009. He would later move to Zenit St. Petersburg in 2010. He now plays for Fenerbahce in Turkey.

Center Back: Nicolas Otamendi

Argentine international Otamendi is the most recent player to leave Porto on this list. Valencia bought him at the beginning of February and loaned him to Brazilian side Atletico Mineiro. He’ll likely feature for Argentina at this summer’s World Cup.

Right Back: Miguel Lopes

Lopes spent loan spells with European clubs such as Braga and Real Betis before moving permanently to fellow Portuguese giant Sporting CP in a swap for Russian midfielder Marat Izmailov. He’s currently on loan at Cissokho’s former club, Lyon.

Center Midfield: Joao Moutinho

Moutinho is one of the better box-to-box midfielders in the world. Along with Cristiano Ronaldo, he headlines the Portuguese national team’s attacking force. Along with another player on this list, attacker James Rodriguez, he moved to AS Monaco last summer.

Central Midfield: Fredy Guarin

Columbian international Fredy Guarin is another supremely talented box-to-box midfielder to leave Porto recently. Currently plying his trade with Serie A giant Inter Milan, who he initially joined on loan in 2012, he will by vital to Columbia’s hopes at the World Cup.

Central Midfield:  Lucho Gonzalez

Gonzalez gets the nod over Diego and Raul Meireles based purely on the higher fee he fetched when he left the club. The current Al Rayyan player spent two different spells at Porto, winning numerous trophies in the process. He moved to Marseille in 2009 before returning to Portugal in 2012.

Left Forward: James Rodriguez

Rodriguez moved to Monaco with Moutinho for an obnoxious amount of cash, reportedly 70 million euros combined. The principality-based club brought in the two, along with ex-Porto star Radamel Falcao, in their pursuit of Champions League football.

Center Forward: Radamel Falcao

Lissandro Lopez was also in consideration for this spot on the list, but Falcao’s goal scoring prowess gives him the edge. He left Portugal for Atletico Madrid before moving to Ligue 1 this past offseason. Like Guarin and Rodriguez, if healthy, he’ll be a key player for Columbia at the World Cup.

Right Forward: Hulk

The only player on this list to share a name with one of the Avengers, Brazilian international Hulk moved to Zenit, where he currently plays. He is a starter for Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Brazilian squad.

These players represent what could have been for Porto. While they may be missed at the Portuguese club, they were sold for tons of money. And everybody likes money.

MLB Trade Rumors: Non-Tender Bargain Bin Free Agent Finds

Lost in the shuffle of the numerous (and I mean numerous, with italics) trades that occurred on Tuesday were the equally numerous number of quality players to hit the market after not being tendered contracts by their teams. They may have gotten a late start on the market, but there are many non-tendered players who could be quality pieces on a contending team. Here are some of the better buys.

  • J.P. Arencibia, C

The former Blue Jay hits the market with lots to offer as a catcher. He wasn’t the best to offer from a defensive standpoint. He led the league in passed balls last season and wasn’t necessarily the best in terms of caught stealing percentage, or the success at which runners stole on him last year. Only three “qualified” catchers finished with a worse percentage. Arencibia did provide some value with his bat. Despite a .194 batting average, the formerly highly-touted prospect amassed 21 home runs. Only Matt Wieters had more in terms of catchers across Major League Baseball. The now ex-Toronto player may have his deficiencies as a player, but as a bench bat with pop/backup catcher there is definite value. Teams like the Tigers, Rockies and Cubs could be fits.

  • Francisco Peguero, OF

Another formerly well-regarded prospect, Peguero failed to stick in the Bay Area and will look to latch on elsewhere. He was one of the Giants’ top prospects, but as stated couldn’t stay with the big league club. He has the potential to hit for average in the big leagues, but at this point a flier from someone is all he’s likely to get.

  • Sandy Rosario, RP

Rosario, the second Giant on the list, is a quality relief pitcher. Or at least that’s what his numbers suggested last season. The ex-Marlin posted a 3.02 ERA in 43 appearances while allowing a singular homerun. His strikeout-to-walk ratio wasn’t amazing with 24 punch-outs to 20 free passes, but he’s got the talent. It’s surprising that San Francisco would non-tender him after such a fine season, but if you go through the Giants’ depth chart, their entire bullpen is composed of quality relievers. Almost all of them have ridiculous numbers, so maybe they felt Rosario was surplus. Regardless, he’d be a cheap seventh inning option on most teams. Anyone with bullpen needs could target him.

  • Christian Martinez, RP

Martinez, like Rosario, didn’t work out in Florida/Miami and moved elsewhere to display his talents. That “elsewhere” was Atlanta. After an ok year 2010, Martinez was in fine form from 2011 to 2012. Over that span he compiled a 3.63 ERA over 100 appearances. His strikeout-to-walk ratio in that span was a whopping 123 to 38. The now former Brave didn’t appear much this season, making two appearances and posting a 7.71 ERA in that span. Should his form from 2011 and 2012 return, Martinez could be an electric strike thrower for a contending club. Also like Rosario, any bullpen-needy club could come calling. Bias aside, Detroit could be a nice fit.

  • Mitchell Boggs, RP

No, the next player isn’t a former Marlin or top prospect or ex-Giant. He’s Mitchell Boggs. Folks will remember him from his days as a Cardinal when he helped the team to a World Series triumph. He posted ERAs of 3.61, 3.56 and 2.21 over three years, totaling out to a combined ERA of 3.08 in a little over 200 innings pitched. The Georgia native struggled in 18 games in St. Louis this season, seeing his ERA balloon to an unhealthy 11.05. He soon moved on to Colorado where he posted a much more respectable 3.12 ERA in nine appearances. It seems 2013 may have been a fluke. If so, teams in need of pitching will, and should, come calling.

  • Ronald Belisario, RP

Everyone is apparently non tendering decent relief pitchers. For whatever reason, the Dodgers have decided to move on from Belisario. Outside of a fluky-looking 2010 season, the career LA pitcher seems to be a solid pitcher. He compiled a 2.04 ERA in his rookie year in 2009, a 2.54 ERA last season and a decent 3.97 ERA this past season. He’s probably good for anywhere from 60 to 70 appearances in a season. That being said, in the right situation, Belisario could be a devastating pitcher. Let’s all hope Oakland doesn’t sign him, or anyone on this list. Goodness knows Billy Beane doesn’t need the relievers.

  • Chris Coghlan, OF

See here gang, someone who isn’t a relief pitcher! Former Rookie of the Year Coghlan was non-tendered by the Fish after failing to re-create the promise he showed when he won the award. After hitting .321 in his inaugural season, he regressed to .268 the next year before dipping to .230 and .140 the next two years. Last season wasn’t horrible as he posted a .256 line, but it wasn’t enough for the Marlins to keep him around. A rebuilding team like the Astros could be ideal for Coghlan. If he regains something near his ROY numbers he could be moved to a contender mid-season.

  • Ryan Webb, RP

Just as quickly as we left relief pitcher behind we’re back, this time with former Padre Ryan Webb. The one-time New Orleans Zephyr is no stranger to being moved around. San Diego acquired him from Oakland as part of a package of prospects for outfielder Scott Hairston. After flourishing in the NL West for two years, he was traded again, this time with fellow reliever and current free agent Edward Mujica for Cameron Maybin. With Mujica gone and Webb being dealt for Maybin, he (Webb) is the one of the last remaining links to the Miguel Cabrera trade. He and a .200 hitter in AAA sum up all that’s left in South Beach. Take that back, a .200 AAA hitter is all that’s left from Miguel Cabrera. Well done Marlins’ front office! Webb posted a 2.91 ERA last season over 80 innings. There will be takers out there. It’s only a matter of who those takers are.

  • Garrett Jones, 1B/OF

Another non-reliever! (Fireworks go off simultaneously in the background.) Jones is the latest reclamation project on this list. He isn’t without his warts, but for someone who is a solid bet to hit 15-20+ homeruns in a season, he’ll likely find work. He was slightly below average at first base in terms of runs saved, but run saving ability in the outfield was horrendous. A first base/DH job in the AL could apply to him. Like Coghlan, he could find work on a struggling team before being flipped to a contender midseason. Worst case scenario, he’s a powerful bench bat that occasionally platoons in the field, think Jonny Gomes or Mike Carp. A team looking for this kind of platoon would be ideal. Jones hits righties to a tune of .271 compared to the .193, showing he displays against southpaws. Like Webb, he’ll have a gig next year. The question becomes where?

  • Tommy Hanson, SP

Another pitcher on the list… but at least he’s not a reliever! Hanson showed ace-like potential when he burst onto the scene with the Braves in 2009, but after seemingly plateauing as a quality middle-of-the-order starter the next two years, he struggled in 2012. Posting a career high (and not in a good way) ERA of 4.48. After that, he was shipped to Anaheim where the Angels thought he could fix their rotation issues. That didn’t pan out as the ex-Atlanta starter went 4-3 with a 5.42 ERA. LAA (as acronym happy or lazy folks call them) has moved on. Hanson still has the potential to be a quality big league starter; he just needs the right fit.

Daniel Hudson, former frontline starter for Arizona, was non-tendered and could have been a hot commodity on the market in the same vein as Hanson, but it looks like he’ll be back in the desert.

  • Lou Marson, C

Like Webb, Marson was one of the last parts of a major trade left with his team. Carlos Carrasco is the only player left in Cleveland from the Cliff Lee trade. Offensively, Marson isn’t amazing. One can tell by his career .219 batting average. What the ex-Indian does bring is solid defense. In 2010 and 2011 he threw out a respectable 38 percent of runners attempting to steal. That rate plummeted to 14 percent in 2012. The plummeting rate and waning offense led to only three games with Terry Francona’s squad this past year. A team looking for a defensive-first backstop could find value in Marson.

  • Chris Getz, 2B

Getz has a pretty wonky stat line. He has driven in 111 runs over the course of his career. During the same time he has exactly three home runs. Regardless, the former White Sox player would provide a solid bench bat on most teams. After failing to successfully hold down the Royals’ second base job, KC saw it fit to non-tender Getz. The Mark Teahen trade brought Getz to KC in 2009 after a few years in Chicago. Teams looking for infield depth could take a flier on the veteran second baseman. He has little experience playing third and short, but will predominately play second.

Check back later for more non-tendered players with value.

All stats courtesy of http://www.baseball-reference.com/ unless otherwise noted.

MLB Trade Rumors: Non-Tender Bargain Bin Free Agent Finds – Chris Getz

Getz has a pretty wonky stat line. He has driven in 111 runs over the course of his career. During the same time he has exactly three home runs. Regardless, the former White Sox player would provide a solid bench bat on most teams. After failing to successfully hold down the Royals’ second base job, KC saw it fit to non-tender Getz. The Mark Teahen trade brought Getz to KC in 2009 after a few years in Chicago. Teams looking for infield depth could take a flier on the veteran second baseman. He has little experience playing third and short, but will predominately play second.

 

Check back later for more non-tendered players with value.

All stats courtesy of http://www.baseball-reference.com/ unless otherwise noted.

What We Learned From the Seahawks 58-0 Win Besides the Fact that Arizona is Pitiful

It just kept going and going and going and going…the score traveling north for the Seattle Seahawks when they used the Arizona Cardinals as a doormat in route to a 58-0 win on Sunday. This comes as perfect timing for Seattle as it gives them the ultimate confidence booster (cliché, but true) going into their last “road” game of the season as well as their final three games overall, which will be split between Buffalo (in Toronto) and the Clink (the 49ers and Rams come to town) respectively.

But, this is what we learned from the game-

  • Russell Wilson deserves due consideration for Rookie of the Year. Yes, Andrew Luck is great and RGIII lights up teams with his arm and legs, but that was expected out of the top two picks in the NFL Draft. I don’t think anyone outside of the Puget Sound expected this out of a quarterback who didn’t even have his name in the starting quarterback battle “hat,” if you will. (Remember Matt Flynn and Tavaris Jackson? Flynn got his first snaps of the year in mop-up duty and Jackson is in Buffalo.)
  • More Wilson praise.  According to Pro Football Reference, Wilson has the same number of touchdown passes as Dan Marino had in his first full season. That number would be 20. That’s also more than Troy Aikman, Joe Montana, John Elway, Steve Young and Joe Namath had in their respective first full seasons.
  • The team is finally legitimate. The Seahawks were the laughing stock of the league when they qualified for the playoffs with a losing record at 7-9. But we took it to the league and the Saints in the wild-card round by stunning the defending Super Bowl champs at home. Nonetheless, the “laughing stock” talk is nonexistent as Seattle sits at 8-5 and will likely make the playoffs as either a wild-card team or as a division winner.
  • Quality Wins. Back in 2010, during the 7-9 season, Seattle beat one singular playoff team in the regular season, the Chicago Bears. Their only other out of conference win was against the pre-Cam Newton era Panthers. This season is loads different. The team walloped contenders such as the Cowboys, Jets and Vikings as well as securing close wins over Super Bowl hopefuls Green Bay, New England and Chicago.
  • Home Field Advantage. Seattle is really good at home. 6-0 in fact. Part of that has to do with Russell Wilson being phenomenal at home. He’s only thrown one interception there all season (Eli Manning had two picks at home last week alone.) And the other part has to do with the team being so good and the crowd being so loud. The Seahawks beat Green Bay, New England, Arizona, Dallas, New York and Vikings at home. I’d be cautious if I were an opposing team thinking they could come in to the Clink and get a win, especially in the playoffs.

So what do you think? Are the Seahawks Super Bowl worthy?

(Hint: I think they are.)

The Best in World of Sports: An Atlas of Atlases

In Greek mythology there is a Titan named Atlas who held up the world, or held up the sky so that it didn’t crash down on the Earth.

In the world of sports, each team has its own “Atlas” who keeps the team from falling flat.

Some of the best “Atlases” in recent sports memory:

  1. LeBron James- Cleveland Cavaliers. During LeBron’s tenure the Cavaliers were essentially James and a never-ending roll call of role players. Shaquille O’Neal and Ben Wallace were the only really good players who James played with in Cleveland. And at that point both were in the respective twilights of their careers, and Wallace wasn’t scoring much (as per usual). Cleveland was so bad without “King James” that they set an NBA record for the longest losing streak: 26 games after he made the decision to go to South Beach.
  2. Derrick Rose- Chicago Bulls. A small sample size, but while Rose dominated Game One of the first round of the playoffs versus Philly, he tore his ACL towards the end of the game. After holding on for the win in that game the Bulls went on to lose the series 4-2 to the eight-seeded 76ers. As a follow up, this year with Rose out for an extended amount of time, most pundits and talking heads have Chicago in the 6-8 seed range in the playoffs. Quite a drop-off for the team who had the best record in the East last season.
  3. Luis Suarez- Liverpool. If you take away Suarez’s fantastic production, the Reds would likely be in the relegation zone if not in last.
  4. Dwight Howard- Orlando Magic. Orlando is so bad without Howard it compelled me to write an entire piece on it, you can see that here. Orlando is going nowhere fast.
  5. Steve Nash- Phoenix Suns. Obviously earlier on in Nash’s career he had Amare Stoudamire and friends, so the team wouldn’t be that bad off without him. However, the Suns of the past couple years have needed Nash to help them stay out of the cellar. With him they were camped on the stairs going to the cellar; now they’re the cellar’s likely tenants.
  6. Mike Trout- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Trout supporters love overusing the stat about the visible improvement of the Angels’ record with him, as opposed to their record without him. Take away Trout and a lineup that includes Albert Pujols, Kendrys Morales, Torii Hunter and Vernon Wells goes nowhere offensively. Continue reading

The Madden Curse

With the exceptions of the “FIFA” franchise as well as the “Mario Brothers” Empire, “Madden” may be the most popular video game in the world. Hence, it would be an honor to be on the cover of it. And while it’s nice to be on the cover, there is a certain “curse” per say which follows it.

Which is why Lions fans are probably fretting over the season Calvin Johnson is going to have, or the fact that he’s probably being taken way too late in fantasy football drafts around the country.

And rightfully so, people have a right to be hesitant.

Dating back to 2001, when a single athlete graces the cover, it tends to impact their performance the next season. A lot of those declines are due to injury, however not all of them are. Continue reading

Trade Reaction: Tigers Acquire Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante for Jacob Turner and Prospects

I was surprised that this happened. Not necessarily in a good way.

It was noted, the Tigers’ production at second base has been horrendous this season. Throw all the ugly numbers out there that you want. They have been bad.

A possible starting pitcher was another need seeing as, again throw all your numbers out there, the Tigers’ back end starters, namely the fifth spot, have been inconsistent. Continue reading

1992 VS 2012: Which Olympic Team Wins?

Yes. If you haven’t figured it out, I was born in 1996. But even though that was four years before I was born this is a topical post that’s interesting to me so, moving on…

Who would win if the 1992 Dream Team squared off with the current chapter of the Men’s Olympic Basketball team?

We’ll never know of course. If we did know, then time machines would work and the magic of Back to the Future would be lost on us.

The one glaring difference between the teams is their respective post presences, or lack thereof. The Dream Team was stocked with Hall-of-Fame-worthy big men who dominated the paint: Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing and David Robinson led that elite group. While this year’s contingent is stocked with… Tyson Chandler. Similar, I know.

(The Secret Word is… Sarcasm)

While ’92 was more well rounded, with dominance at every position, the current team is more wing oriented and athletic. LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, James Harden and Andre Iguodala form a daunting group of wing players. They are fast, and athletic, they’ll run up the score and force turnovers on you at will. Plus, most of them are in their prime, or some stage of it. LeBron is probably at his best, if not nearing his best play. Kobe is coming off one of his better seasons. While Durant is just entering his prime years, and Harden and Iguodala are fresh off respective breakout years. Carmelo Anthony is pretty good too.

But can this team beat the Dream Team? One of the best, if not the best, team in sports history?

The wings would definitely cause the ’92 team a problem or two. Guys like Magic and Bird were at the tail end of their careers and might have issues guarding some of these guys. But the flipside to that is that Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were in their prime. Two of the best defenders ever, I would certainly take them defensively over most, if not all, of the current guys.

So would the 2012 version of the Olympic Men’s National Basketball Team beat the 1992 version? No, they wouldn’t. I’m not even sure if 2012 could beat the 2008 version.

Why it Makes Sense For Steve Nash to Leave Phoenix

I’m not saying that Steve Nash isn’t going to be in a Suns uniform next year. I’m just saying that it makes sense for him to leave, because he probably wants that thing that a lot of guys have: a ring.

Here’s the first and rather glaring reason: contenders have needs at the point. Chicago has apparently expressed interest in him and another former Sun great, Jason Kidd. New York would make some sense not only because of Nash’s familiarity with Amar’e Stoudemire, but also because of the seriousness of injuries to Baron Davis and Iman Shumpert.  Nash could also find homes in places like Portland, Toronto, Dallas and to frankly any team who doesn’t get Deron Williams

But here is the interesting thing, if you leave Phoenix you tend to at least make the playoffs. Let me explain. If you look at every major contributor or role player on the Suns since the 2007-2008 season who are still in the league, you’ll see an interesting trend. Almost all of them made the playoffs this year.

You don’t believe me? Check it out-

Leandro Barbosa got in with the Pacers; ditto Louis Amundson; Raja Bell got knocked out in the first round with the Jazz; Boris Diaw is still alive with the Spurs. Be warned, there’s more. Amar’e is playing for the Knicks, so he got in. Matt Barnes made it to the Western Conference Semifinals with the Lakers. Vince Carter got ousted as a member of the Mavericks and finally Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu made the “tournament” on the Orlando Magic’s payroll. Heck, even Shaq made the playoffs as an analyst with TNT.

So, blippy and bullet-pointy as it was, it makes sense for Steve Nash to leave Phoenix.

If You Trade Kevin Youkilis: A Look at It From the Red Sox Point of View

If you trade Kevin Youkilis it might come back and bite you.

If you trade Kevin Youkilis you open yourself up to a lot of criticism.

Let me rephrase that, it will come back to bite you (looking at you, Red Sox brass). Will Middlebrooks has been everything the Red Sox wanted and more and all that sappy bahooey, but Middlebrooks is a rookie. Most rookies hit a wall. And, just a hypothetical thought here, what if that wall comes blaring into view at say the beginning of September? And so potential savior goes to potential goat in a matter of months. (That sounded better in my head, but we’ll go with it.) I’m not saying that the whole season falls on Middlebrooks, but if you look at that lineup, they need the offensive firepower. Adrian Gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz are great. But look at the rest of that lineup sans Middlebrooks and the previous three: Daniel Nava, Ryan Sweeney, Mike Aviles, Jared Saltalamacchia and the now-injured Cody Ross. Not exactly death row there. This has 2010 Detroit Tigers written all over it. The big bat(s) protection gets hurt- Detroit: Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen. Boston: Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, Youkilis- and as a result the big bat(s) intentional walk numbers swell, and they get pitched around to a point where it isn’t even funny. The moral of the story with the Tigers is that they never recovered and finished at .500.

The flipside is that if Middlebrooks hits a wall sooner, or doesn’t hit a wall at all (sorry, the rhyme was accidental) the offense is still lacking. And it’s not as if the pitching is the team’s calling card. Felix Doubront has been nice, but Daniel Bard really should be back in the bullpen, and Clay Buchholz has been horrendous. So if Youkilis is dealt, for say pitching, then you’ve got a potentially mondo-sized hole at third. If you’re following along at home you aren’t mistaken. The next third baseman in line, should Middlebrooks struggle and Youkilis be dealt, is Mike Avilies who is starting at shortstop. Either way you slice it, Nick Punto gets into the lineup regularly and that probably helps opposing managers gain sleep rather then lose it. (No offense to Punto, great defender, but not so great with the lumber.) To give you an idea, Punto hit one more homerun than I did for the champs last year. Which, after you count all the 500 foot bombs I hit, leaves Punto with one.

Ross’s injury makes it even more apparent. Don’t deal Youkilis. You (the Red Sox) need the offense. Not to mention the fact that he’s a proven commodity.