What Are the Houston Astros Thinking?

The Houston Astros’ pillars used to consist of the following- Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt, Hunter Pence, Michael Bourn, Carlos Lee, Brett Myers and Wandy Rodriguez. Of those guys, the ones you’d want to hold onto are probably the first four. The next three are on somewhat bloated contracts and aren’t going to bring in a ton.

So naturally the ‘Stros (which is stupid to say, because it isn’t if you’re saving time by shortening it, you’re only cutting off one letter.) kept the latter three and moved the first four. This is all and well if you can get returns for the others and come away with oodles of youth that make the talking heads and pundits giggle.

But it’s not, at least not to me. I’m no top prospect aficionado by any stretch, but Houston seems short of them. They aren’t short on former top prospects though. Brett Wallace is one, Jed Lowrie, Matt Downs , Jason Castro and Jordan Schafer are others. The Astros really don’t have a big youth movement to be honest, and a lot of that has to do with the puzzling roster spots held by Lee, Rodriguez and Myers.

Now, all three players still being on the roster is explainable. Rodriguez and Lee’s respective contracts are albatrosses to sugar coat it. And they could be simply waiting out the closer market to get a good return on Myers.

This piece is completely irrelevant if Houston moves all three at the deadline, but very prominent otherwise. Lee could end up being dealt out of the blue to a team who needs a bat. Let’s be honest, did any of us think Alex Rios was going to be dealt, with his monster contract in tow, when Toronto moved him to Chicago?

Rodriguez is a slightly different case seeing as his deal isn’t as bad as Lee’s, still bad nonetheless, but not as bad. A squad in dire need of pitching might come calling. (Emphasize might.)

Myers, on the imaginary third hand, will probably be traded. There’s always a healthy demand for good closers and Myers is just that, a good closer.

So what are the Houston Astros thinking? Nobody knows.

NBA Off-Season “Hot Topics”

(Never thought I’d write “Hot Topics”….moving on.)

Is it too early to discuss the NBA offseason?

Is it premature to speculate about the goings on in the offseason?

Yes and yes. But I’m delving into it anyways. And don’t think I’m giving up on the playoffs yet, I’m pouring all my energy into jumping on the Spurs bandwagon. I’m not saying this because I’m heavily opposed to the Raiders, which I am by the way.  I’m saying it because San Antonio is the most complete and best team left in the playoffs. There, I said it Heat fans.

Enough about San Antonio, let’s get on to the offseason:

Uncertainty: When I say uncertainty I’m aiming right at Sacramento. David Stern needs to do something right for the first time in a of couple decades. He (and I’m sorry King fans, I feel your pain, I really do) needs to move the Kings north to Seattle. I’d like it done quickly, but honestly just the promise in writing that a team is coming at some point is fine. And no one gives a rat’s whatever about my opinion. Case-in-point-but-not-really-just-wanted-to-say-the-words-case-in-point.

It’s also that time of year when the time-old tradition of imploding-playoff-teams-if-they-can’t-work happens. The Lakers are a sure candidate for this after being bludgeoned out of the playoffs by the Raiders.  Pau Gasol is a likely trade possibility, as is Andrew Bynum if the right return presents itself (read Dwight Howard). The Boston Celtics are probably next in line at the blowing-up establishment. The Big 3 are obviously in their twilight years and even if they win a title, change could be in order. Atlanta has gone through a lot of one-and-done as well as second-round exits in the last couple years. The underlying-theme-spoiler-alert-WRITTEN-IN-ALL-CAPS theme is that the current group isn’t doing it. Joe Johnson is good, but not good to the point of warranting his contract. Josh Smith supposedly wants out, Marvin Williams is an amnesty option and Kirk Hinrich’s contract is up. Al Horford is the one sure thing on the roster. He’s backed up by a solid Zaza Pachulia and will likely be joined by the potentially-potent Jeff Teague. After those guys, and I’m not kidding you, the rest of the roster is one-year, minimum contract guys. That’s how low the Hawks are on cap space. So now that I’m done rambling about them I’ll give you the short version of the story on all the other possible roster-dynamite-lighters. Utah was a surprise playoff team and could move some of their vets toward a larger youth movement. Dallas might blow it up to get under the cap, and Orlando has the whole Dwight Howard conundrum.

If you haven’t heard (because whenever you Google “NBA free agency” you get a load of pick-your-expletive  on the Miami Heat and what not) free agency is almost upon us. That’s right, no LeBrons or Chris Boshs, but very good players none the less. Steve Nash is an option for teams looking for point guard help (just realized that might be the worst lead in on a topic ever). After Nash there’s a guy you might have heard of that kind of took the world by storm and then couldn’t make the tail end of Sportcenter: Jeremy Lin. Not because he played bad, but because he just wasn’t playing at a ridiculous level. In the rest of the free agent pool there are a lot of guys wading (pun intended… eh… not my best) for a big payday. Roy Hibbert could cash in big time after a nice bout of postseason play. Ditto JaVale McGee. Other guys waiting in line for a bigger pay check include Lavoy Allen, Omer Asik, Lopez’s Brook and Robin, Landry Fields, Ersan Ilyasova, Kris Humphries as well as Eric Gordon. Let the speculations begin.

There’s also this little thing where guys get to represent their country called the Olympics coming up, again, not sure if you’ve heard of it. There are plenty of spots available now that Dwight Howard and Derek Rose were lost to injuries. Just thought I’d mention that so you could run to the Y and practice before you try out. Anyways, the loss of Howard is a real blow to the Americans. With a daunting Spanish frontline consisting of the Gasols and Serge Ibalka, it might be a problem without one of the better rim defenders in the league. But the options after him are quite good. Tyson Chandler might be second in everything that Dwight Howard is first in defensively and Kevin Love is a rebounding monster. And I write this as I look at the roster of finalists, you thought Beijing was good? Listen to the potential here, you’ve got almost everybody from ’08. Which means Kobe, LeBron, D-Wade, Chris Paul, Deron Williams. Then there’s the “new guys” Blake Griffin, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Andre Iguodala and Russell Westbrook. This is going to be a really good team and a fun one to watch too.

So there it is, enjoy your off-season folks. Well, enjoy it after the finals, but enjoy it none the less. And let’s bring the NBA back to Seattle while we’re at it. (Looking at you Stern.)

The Problem With Adam Dunn

Adam Dunn is having a fine bounce-back year. The Chicago White Sox, however, aren’t. Yes, they are technically in second place in the division, but there isn’t a lot of staying power to be had on the South Side. Which brings us to our next point. Do they trade off some pieces to continue their “rebuilding”? (cough cute attempt at “reloading” cough)

Dunn already has 14 bombs after tallying a mere 11 last campaign. This all fine and dandy, but what real value does Dunn have?

He can hit, we know that. We also know he isn’t the best defender by any stretch. Which is why he’s listed as the starting DH for the Sox.

Because of the defensive, ah… inconsistency, Dunn is going to scare off some NL teams looking for a first baseman. So for all intents and purposes let’s cross off all NL teams from Dunn’s “Trade Possibility List”.

The number of teams shrink again when you look at the AL. In the East, Toronto doesn’t need him, though they might take a flier if Adam Lind struggles. Tampa probably doesn’t want to shell out the cash to get him (Dunn). New York and Boston are set. Baltimore though is the one possibility in the division, and maybe the league. The Orioles are currently employing Wilson Betemit and Nick Johnson at DH. Not exactly a World Series winner’s platoon there, but funnier things have happened. The point is that the Orioles make sense for Dunn when not many teams do.

Other teams that don’t make a lick of sense (not necessarily in this order, well maybe… You know what, forget I even said the order thing…)

Detroit:  Though if Delmon Young continues to struggle… Nah.

Kansas City:  No room whatsoever. Unless it’s a straight-up swap for Billy Butler.

Minnesota:  Sellers-R-US.

Texas:  Wouldn’t put it past them to get another bat. But probably not.

Oakland:  Billy Beane isn’t moving his prospects for Dunn. No way.

Los Angeles Angels of Wherever:  Nope.

And last, but probably least, of teams that make no sense, Seattle:  Least only because I don’t think Dunn wants to join the ranks of Richie Sexson, Milton Bradley and Brad Wilkerson. (Which, if you haven’t guessed, is the line of tombstones for their careers. Safeco Field is death row for hitters.)

Cleveland makes some sense on the list of potential suitors, but there isn’t a chance in a blue moon that Kenny Williams moves him in division. Unless the Indians are boneheads again and give up almost every good prospect they have to get a decent player. (cough Ubaldo Jimenez cough)

Sorry about my constant cough throughout this piece. It seems to come up when talking about mediocre teams (cough Cleveland cough White Sox cough)

Wrap-up point here, Dunn’s bounce-back season is nice, but Chicago can’t really capitalize on it and move him due to the lack of buyers.

Thanks David Stern (sarcasm, sarcasm, a little passive aggressiveness and, wait for it … sarcasm)

Have you been watching the NBA playoffs? Have you seen the Oklahoma City Raiders, as the politically correct people call them? Have you seen how good Kevin Durant is? Have you seen Russell Westbrook go bananas? Have you seen James Harden’s beard? And have you seen Seattle?

I cringe at the fact that the Raiders are so good. Actually, take that back, I do think they are a decent NBA team, it’s just the constant feeling that they could have been in Seattle. Coulda, shoulda, woulda. They could be the talk of Seattle now, instead the talk of Seattle probably includes the word Robbed.

Take that word and flip it into whatever synonym you see fit, because we were robbed.

It continually kills me to see the Raiders succeed. Yes, that’s right; I’m to the point of not mentioning their name.

It’s not as if this is a city like New York, or Dallas where all of the sports teams generally succeed. The Yankees seemingly always make the playoffs. The Giants won the whole thing last year, and the Jets aren’t too bad either. And in Dallas, the Mavericks went from perennial playoff squad to title winners last year. The Rangers have won the last two AL pennants.

The point with that last blip is that the pill is easier to swallow if a team leaves, and if the other professional teams in and around the area are playing at a high level.

Which brings us to our next point. Where have the big playoff moments been in Seattle? The Storm won a title in the WNBA and the Sounders are a really good side, but our last big-nationally-talked-about-you’ll-remember-where-you-where-when-it-happened-moment was when Marshawn Lynch unleashed the beast and went on a smash-and-dash 67 yard run to clinch the win over the defending champion Saints in the playoffs. And that’s coming up on two years ago. Before that it was a Seahawks Super Bowl should-have-been-win that was botched by officiating, and before that we have to go back to “the Double” by Edgar Martinez. And that’s going back a ways.

But to get back on topic, Stern and his joined-at-the-hip buddy Clay Bennett have robbed us of a successful, Big 4 (that’s MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL) team. One that would have taken the city to a whole new level of sports pandemonium. Instead we are forced to sit and watch the Raiders succeed.

Stern and Bennett not only took away our team, they took away a team that is pretty darn good. And one that might be that good for a while.

One of my favorite moments in Sonicgate is when they flash to a kid showing a sign that reads: “Clay Bennett Ruined My Childhood.”

What we should remember here is that it isn’t just Bennett’s fault. The blame falls on others shoulders as well, people like Greg Nickles and Howard Schultz. But the main culprit not named Bennett is Stern.

Isn’t it funny that when we had the Sonics situation on our hands, David Stern barely lifted a finger? And then when we see Sacramento’s arena deal and team security thrown into uncertainty, Stern does almost everything godly possible to keep the team in Sacramento. He practically got them another year in Sacramento. And that’s the problem. He is in love with small markets.

I know everyone and their dog are rooting for the Raiders in the playoffs in and around the Oklahoma area, and the revenue off that is great and all, but wouldn’t you look a lot better if that were in say, Seattle?

Anyways, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Bennett ruined my childhood. You see, my childhood has been great to this point. But I was in middle school when the Sonics left. I even wrote an essay on it for English class, saying why the Sonics should stay and all that. But that one year in middle school was also the year I really got into basketball. I mean I played it at every waking hour at school when I didn’t have classes. I was, and still am, obsessed with it. And that’s the sad thing. I never got to go to see the Sonics in person and barely saw them on TV. I’ve gone the last Andre-the-Giant-sized handful of years without an NBA team. Because the Sonics left I shifted my attention to the college ranks to get my winter basketball fill. Washington wasn’t amazing at the time so I watched a lot of Gonzaga and Washington State, seeing them both make the NCAA tourney.

And that’s just the thing today. For folks to get their local basketball fix their options are UW, WSU, Gonzaga and Seattle U. That’s it in the state. Seattle U is making the transition back to D1, and WSU and Gonzaga are on the other side of the Cascade Mountains. Not too many people are going to make that trek 2-3 times a week from the Puget Sound area to see basketball. Which leaves us with the Huskies. This is the first team in NCAA history not to make the tourney after winning the regular season championship in a power conference. They lost to South Dakota State by 19…

Let me say that again. They lost to South Dakota State by nineteen whole points!

I tend to get caught up in baseball over the summer, so that makes it a bit hard to follow the Storm intensely.

So, thanks to Stern and his little buddy Bennett (and some others) the biggest basketball draw in the Pacific Northwest over the winter and spring is a team that lost to South Dakota State by 19 points. Did I mention it was at home? Maybe if the Raiders win a ring and the NBA doesn’t come back to Seattle soon you very well may have ruined my childhood, Bennett and Stern.

Going About Replacing Lance Berkman

So Albert Pujols is gone. Just thought I’d point that out, and truthfully, the Cardinals seem like they are better off without him. That’s partly because they pinch themselves every day for not spending north of 200 million on him. But also because they have a solid, if not very good, 3-6 spots in the batting order. Those spots are filled by Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, Postseason Hero David Freese and the last one used to be Lance Berkman’s.

Now, Berkman might have torn his ACL. He might not have. He’s getting another opinion. The point here is that he’s probably going to be out for a very long time.

So who do the Cardinals turn to until the Big Puma comes back?

Kevin Youkilis seems like a really good fit. He can start at first while Berkman is out and also occasionally shift to third to give Freese the day off. He also gives St. Louis another high quality bat to pair with the other three hitters previously mentioned. Plus, given Boston’s apparent desire to move him, it would make sense.

Justin Morneau is another guy who I think could, and should, be moved. Minnesota needs all the pieces it can get to solve their puzzle. Which I might add is still sealed in the box. They need pieces, and Morneau is one of the few guys on the roster who can get those kinds of pieces.

Bryan LaHair is a huge long shot. The Cubs aren’t going to deal him in division. Though I do think the Cubs should sell high on him at some point to make room for Anthony Rizzo.

Mark Trumbo or Kendrys Morales are dark horse candidates should the Angels choose to move forward without one of the two.

Recently demoted Gaby Sanchez is a low buy option if he struggles whenever Miami calls him up. Hence he’d be out of their long term plans, yadda yadda yadda.

The point is there are options for the Cardinals. I haven’t even mentioned the in-house guys, but they are there. Look for this thing to be resolved in one way or another.

Solutions for the Brewers Infield Woes

Just to gloat, Prince Fielder is hitting well for my Detroit Tigers… Moving on, anyways, if you haven’t noticed, the Brewers infield situation is a bit different from last year and a bit different from a couple weeks ago. Fielder for one is obviously gone. So is shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt. Casey McGehee has been moved to the should-be-sponsored-by-McDonalds-Pittsburgh-Pirates-due-to-the-number-of-players-whose-name-starts-with-“Mc”. New additions have arrived. Travis Ishikawa is starting at first after getting the position when Mat Gamel went down with a season-ending injury who in turn inherited it from Fielder. Aramis Ramirez is over at the hot corner after coming over from the Cubs in free agency. And last but not least Cesar Izturis is at shortstop due to Alex Gonzalez’s injury. These moves have prompted the addition of journeyman Edwin Maysonet as well.

That’s probably too much turnover for four positions if we’re speaking frankly.  The Brewers need the face of consistency in the infield. Not the wishy-washy-injury-ridden maladies that have befallen them.

All in all the Brew Crew needs new blood. They are buried in the standings behind the Pirates and Astros and could use some more production. Or at least an upgrade over what they’ve been getting.

Travis Ishikawa has been solid, but not spectacular at first base. He should be fine if Milwaukee’s brass can’t find a suitable replacement and/or platoon partner for him. If the brass decides to get another first baseman to split duties with or simply take them away from Ishikawa, then guys like Bryan LaHair, Ty Wigginton, John Mayberry Jr and possibly Justin Morneau could come up.

Over at shortstop however, there is a definite need for offensive help. Cesar Izturis is a good defender when he gets on the field. On the flip side, when he gets to the batter’s box, well let’s just say the ball doesn’t leave the yard and they don’t start blaring “We Want the Funk” with big writing that says “Funk Blast”. (My favorite ballpark “crowd energizer”, for lack of a better term, of all time). To give you an idea, his career high in homeruns is four, and that was in 2004. Since 2008, incidentally, he has hit, you guessed it, four homeruns. If that doesn’t scream offensive superstar, I’m really not sure what does.

So, if you haven’t guessed, Milwaukee needs another shortstop in lieu of Gonzalez’s injury and Izturis’ lack of “Funk Blasts”. If they stay in contention, expect names like Jason Bartlett, Betancourt, Jamey Carroll and Clint Barmes to come into play.

And after all that, if that screams “the Brewers need better infielders” to you, then… the screaming is right.

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.


The Rockies Options as It Stands

The Colorado Rockies generally get off to slow-to-slowish starts. Then there is their tendency to get hot and win oodles of games down the stretch. We’ve seen this work to a point that it gets them into the playoffs. And we have also seen it get them the “You’re a Little Late for the Party” award. The Rockies are off to a slow start. A very slow one. I mean we’re talking hovering-around-or-below-the-Padres-in-the-standings slow.

So do they deal off their trade-able assets or keep them? Here’s what they should be doing:

Trade-able Assets:

  • OF/INF Michael Cuddyer
  • 1B/PH Jason Giambi
  • C Ramon Hernandez
  • 2B Marco Scutaro
  • P Jamie Moyer
  • P Jeremy Guthrie
  • RP Esmil Rogers
  • P Josh Outman
  • P Guillermo Moscoso

Assets That Are Trade-able, but will Likely Stay in Colorado:

  • SS Troy Tulowitzki
  • OF Carlos Gonzalez
  • P Alex White

Asset That is Trade-able, but Won’t be Dealt:

  • 1B Todd Helton

Everyone Else:

  • C Wilin Rosario
  •  OF Tyler Colvin
  • OF/INF Eric Young Jr
  • 2B Tommy Field
  • P Christian Friedrich
  • P Juan Nicasio
  • 3B Jonathan Herrera
  • 3B Jordan Pacheco
  • INF Chris Nelson
  • RP Rafael Betancourt
  • RP Matt Belisle
  • P Matt Reynolds
  • P Josh Roenicke
  • P Carlos Torres
  • P Adam Ottavion

First off, the rotation is a mess. And that might be putting it nicely. Juan Nicasio and Jamie Moyer have been serviceable. Alex White is experiencing the normal struggles of a young pitcher. Christian Friedrich has been the lone bright spot, and Jeremy Guthrie has made the Orioles look smart for once.

Guthrie was picked up by Colorado at the price of Matt Lindstrom and Jason Hammel. Hammel has been very good in Baltimore, and Lindstrom has been solid out of the bullpen. Furthermore Guthrie has been shaky in Colorado. While with the Orioles he pitched well in a loaded AL East. The thinking would be that because of that he could make it pitching in Colorado. That theory has since been thrown out the window. In three home starts Guthrie has allowed six runs per start. That’s a little easier to swallow if you’re pitching in Colorado, however not when it’s against the Padres, Giants and get this, Mariners. You know you’re struggling when you get tagged for six runs against Seattle. Not to mention two of the other three worst offensive teams in the league.

So, now that we’ve established that Jeremy Guthrie is expendable, let’s pile it on even more. The Rockies have slathered on the young pitching in the last year or two. White was picked up in the ill-fated (for Cleveland) Ubaldo Jimenez deal along with potential frontline starter Drew Pomeranz. They also acquired young arm Tyler Chatwood from the Angels and already had guys like Nicasio and Freiedrich. Those five right there leave little no room for the current rotation guys in the next couple years. Hence Guthrie is even more expendable. We should also throw in the fact that Jamie Moyer isn’t going to pitch forever (well maybe…) and that… well, yeah.

So, now that I’m done rambling about pitching I’ll actually suggest some trades:

Trade Michael Cuddyer, Guillermo Moscoso and a PTBNL to Boston for Kevin Youkilis.

Boston gets to move Youkilis, inevitably something that has come up, and they not only get rotation help (Moscoso), but a bat that can fill in at positions where they need the offense (corner outfield spots, possibly third base). Colorado meanwhile gets a fix at the hot corner as well as a first baseman for whenever Jason Giambi and Todd Helton retire. Plus, what slumping hitter wouldn’t want to play half their games in Colorado? The Rockies also get the opportunity to throw two young hitters (Eric Young Jr and Tyler Colvin) at the right field grass and see which one sticks.

Trade Guthrie and Esmil Rogers to the Yankees for for Phil Hughes, Ben Gamel and a PTBNL.

The Yankees certainly need some rotation help. Plus we’ve established that Guthrie can pitch well in the AL East, albeit with a terrible offense, but who knows what he’s capable of with a good offense. The Rockies get to try out Hughes while their other arms get close to joining the big boys. And not to mention Gamel is one of the Yankees top twenty prospects and can hit. Plus he’s a ways away, so time will take its toll on the current outfield to make room for Gamel. Rogers is out of options at the moment and certainly warrants a PTBNL if not more.

Trade Ramon Hernandez to the Rays for Cesar Ramos.

Hernandez has been all right. But while the Rockies loaded up on rotation arms, their bullpen took a hit. Huston Street was shipped off to the Padres and while Rafael Betancourt is a solid closing option, the Rockies could use another back-end arm. Incidentally Ramos is a former Padres. Plus it wouldn’t hurt to give the PT (that’s “playing time” as the kids say) to Wilin Rosario, a young catcher with a lot of pop. The Rays are almost a complete team when fully healthy. The only glaring hole is behind the dish where they could use an upgrade over Jose Molina.

So there are some trades that the Rockies should make. Obviously they are going to do them because, come on, who wouldn’t trust this exceedingly credible source.

(sarcasm, sarcasm and sarcasm)

Rashard Lewis: You See Contractual Albatross, I See Potential Gold Mine

If I asked you who the highest paid player in the entire NBA is you’d probably rattle off answers like LeBron, Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose or the ghost of Gilbert Arenas’ contract. But no, in fact it is former Seattle SuperSonic great Rashard Lewis.

Yes, Rashard Lewis is being paid 22.7 million dollars next year. What makes it even more perplexing is that he plays for the Washington Wizards, a team that doesn’t really need him and should be angling every asset on their roster towards youth.

Which is what they might be doing with Lewis.

Maybe Ernie Grunfeld and friends were being smart when they didn’t use the amnesty provision on Lewis. Maybe they’ll look like complete geniuses for not doing it. After all, he could turn into the next Tracy McGrady.

T-Mac was dealt in a three-team mess with the Knicks and Kings from the Rockets to New York. Houston also gave up Carl Landry and Joey Dorsey and in return picked up Jordan Hill, a couple first round picks and the right to pay Jared Jeffries checks.

Not too bad right?

Now if you’re Washington, you already have a star player and team “Atlas” of sorts in John Wall. He’s the star; he’s the present and future face of the franchise.  You already have a very good center in this league in Nene. And you have a bunch of youth, which is never bad. Some of it will pan out and some of it won’t, but it’s better than trotting out declining vets with bloated contracts.

Going on my theory of throwing almost a dozen young players at the court and seeing which ones stick, it wouldn’t be bad if Washington had more of them to throw at the court.

Now, McGrady was moved to New York for the sole intent of clearing cap space to bring in a max free agent(s). Which ended up being Amare and money to throw at Carmelo after they were robbed by the Nuggets and left with Anthony. The point here is that Tracy McGrady was moved so the team could get under the cap so they could go after a max-contract free agent. It’s not as if there aren’t any potential big-name free agents hitting the market soon. Well, except some guy named Dwight Howard. Maybe you’ve heard of him.

Again the point is that normally teams wouldn’t go rushing out to get an overpaid player whose contract is north of 20 million as a rental, but that is something that might become a reality here.

The big, grand finale-ish, maybe-wrapping-up-point-but-probably-not is that the Wizards are in a prime position to move Lewis to a team who would like to clear cap space for Howard.

These would be teams like the Lakers, Mavericks and Nets.

LA isn’t going to do anything brash and dump Pau Gasol for Lewis, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see them pick him up for the sole purpose of clearing cap space. I’m sure LA would love to be rid of Metta World Peace, Josh “McBobs” McRoberts and Steve Blake’s collective contracts, however, the Wizards aren’t going to make that trade unless David Stern threatens to move them to Omaha. Again, a completely viable option. I would not put it past him. Next thing you know the Magic and Suns will be playing in the Dakotas. All because he likes “small markets”.

Dallas could conceivably deal Shawn Marion, Brendan Haywood and Vince Carter’s unguaranteed contract to Washington, though while Marion would help  Washington a lot at the 2 and 3 as well as providing… You know what? A John Wall, Nene, Marion, Jordan Crawford and Jan Vesely starting five would be pretty fun to watch.

The only thing that really prevents the previous trade from happening is Brendan Haywood’s supersized, bloated, terrible, overkill contract. Feel free to add any adjectives that I might have missed there. Maybe it could happen if the Wizards forced the Mavs to take Andray Blatche back. Not sure if Dallas would do that.

Another scenario, this assuming Lamar Odom’s contract isn’t bought out, sees Dallas moving Odom, Marion and Carter for Lewis. Not sure if the Mavs would sacrifice that much wing depth, but to Deron Williams or Dwight Howard, I’d do it.

The trade machine makes it a bit difficult to trade with the newly dubbed Brooklyn Nets seeing as almost all of their contracts are expiring.  Still, Lewis to New Jersey for anyone but Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Brook Lopez or Gerald Green makes sense. I realize that  I named almost half the roster there, still those guys are likely safe unless Howard comes to Brooklyn. In that case Lopez would be available.

The point here is that Rashard Lewis and his contract very well could be one of the more sought after commodities on the trade front. He’s gone from maybe the least desirable asset to maybe the most desirable one.

A Few Quick Thoughts on the All-Star Ballot

On my recent yearly pilgrimage to Safeco Field to see the Tigers play they were handing out All-Star Game Ballots. It goes something like this: You pick the roster right, you submit it and (key word obviously being “and”), you win something if you get it right. Seems to have escaped me. Octavio Dotel’s closing mishap must have done that to me………………………………. Moving on, anyways here are my thoughts on it.

Positional Mix and Mash-

Jesus Montero is officially listed at DH, which actually might be more difficult to make it into the game than behind the plate.

Andy Dirks and Delmon Young have flip flopped positions since the ballot came out. Young is the current DH and Dirks has taken his spot in left for Detroit.

Michael Young is listed at DH, but really can play everywhere around the infield for Texas.

Joe Mauer is actually listed at catcher despite attempts to keep him out of injuries’ way.


Third Base Just Got a Whole Lot More Crowded-

Miguel Cabrera joins an AL group that includes mainstays Evan Longoria, Alex Rodriguez and Kevin Youkilis.

In the NL, Hanley Ramirez joins a positional battle with the likes of Ryan Zimmerman, Chipper Jones, Scott Rolen and Pablo Sandoval. Not to mention last year’s All-Star Placido Polanco.


Other Things of Note-

Wilson Betemit is listed as the Oriole’s DH. A decent defender, seems like he’d be better defensively than Mark Reynolds and Chris Davis at first and third. Just a thought.

Ben Revere, one of the Twins outfielders listed, is currently in AAA.

Josh Donaldson, the A’s third base representative, was in AAA for a couple weeks before being called up.

Brandon Inge should at least be put in the running if he keeps going bananas.

Both Alex Gonzalez and Mat Gamel are out for the season and are presumably out of the running.

Franklin Gutierrez will have a tough time of it seeing as he hasn’t played yet. His teammate Ichiro could also have a tough time making it back to the Mid-Summer Classic.