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With the baseball season reaching its annual All-Star break, things aren’t exactly ginger-peachy in the Motor City. The win-now Detroit Tigers own a .500 record at 44-44 and are nine games out of first place. Given the Tigers’ recent track record and desire to win, you’d expect them to be major buyers at the trade deadline. Here are some of the players Detroit and general manager Dave Dombrowski should target at the trade deadline.
Since leaving the New York Yankees in an ill-fated trade for Jonathan Albaladejo, Clippard has long since established himself as one of the premier relievers in the league. Since 2009, his accomplishments include two All-Star appearances, a 32 save season (2012) and another season in which he won 11 contests without starting a game.
Clippard’s ERA since ’09 is a sparkling 2.62 over a whopping 490.2 innings. Over that span, he’s struck out 557 batters. The reliever is now in Oakland following an offseason trade, and has predictably thrived in the cavernous confines of the O.co Coliseum. He’s solidified himself as the team’s closer with 17 saves on the campaign.
Adding the reliever would do a number of things for Detroit’s bullpen. Not only would the addition of Clippard improve the group, it would also ease pressure on the other pitchers. Clippard set-up Joakim Soria in the eighth, therefore allowing Alex Wilson, Blaine Hardy, Al Alburquerque, Neftali Feliz and Bruce Rondon to pitch the seventh inning or earlier in situations with more margin for error and less pressure.
While Clippard would help stabilize the bullpen, Scott Kazmir would bring much needed help to a rotation that is practically begging for it.
David Price has been everything and more in terms of being the team’s ace, while Anibal Sanchez has rebound as of late (5-0 record, .182 batting average against and a 2.84 ERA over his last six starts). Outside of those two and a seemingly rebounding Justin Verlander, there are major question marks in the Detroit rotation. Alfredo Simon and Shane Greene both started out pitching superbly. The key words there are “started out”. Both have been horrible lately, and Kyle Ryan and Buck Farmer haven’t been much better.
If healthy, Kazmir would fix some of those issues. He can’t clone himself, but he’d be a massive upgrade.
The former Tampa Bay ace hasn’t been racking up the wins like last season when he posted 15. Still, Kazmir has lowered his ERA by nearly an entire run, going from 3.55 last season to 2.49 this year. His walks are up slightly (2.4 last season, 3.0 per nine innings this season), but so are his strikeouts— 7.8 in 2014, 8.5 in 2015.
With only five wins on the season, Kazmir could follow a similar route to Doug Fister in terms of winning significantly more games in Detroit thanks to much-improved run support. He may not be an ace, but he’d fit in well in Motown as the Tigers’ second or third starter.
The A’s farm system is not what it once was, specifically in the pitching department. Six of Oakland’s top eight prospects (including their top four overall, according to MLB.com) are position players. Going on that, a number of Tigers pitching prospects could interest Billy Beane and company. Angel Nesbitt showed flashes of potential, as well as a blazing fastball, during his stint in Detroit earlier this season. He may benefit a stint pitching in the O.co Coliseum. Tigers’ Futures Game representative Joe Jimenez could also interest Oakland.
The Tigers’ rotation struggles have been well documented, but one thing they have brought to light is the number of starters who are near big-league ready. Any one of Farmer, Ryan or Drew VerHagen could thrive in spacious Oakland. Detroit could also dangle infield prospect Dixon Machado.
While both players are rentals, but they might be the difference in the Tigers making or missing the playoffs. Beane will likely sell high on two of his better assets, but Detroit should at the very least kick the tires on both, if not acquire them outright.
All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.
The number of runs allowed by Tigers starter Shane Greene in only three innings pitched. Greene was also tagged for seven hits, a walk and a home run. He struck out three, but that didn’t help him much in the start. Greene was sent to Triple-A after a prolonged stretch of struggling.
The number of runs allowed by the Detroit bullpen. An unusually bad day for the relievers, Blaine Hardy was the only relief pitcher to escape without allowing a runner to cross home plate. Kyle Ryan was solid, allowing only one run (unearned) in three innings, but the rest of the team failed to deliver. Angel Nesbitt allowed three runs while only recording one out, which was slightly better than Tom Gorzelanny, who gave up two without getting a single out. Al Alburquerque also let a run in.
The Tigers were able to put 11 runners on base, but failed to do much thanks to 11 punch outs. Yoenis Cespedes was the only Detroit starter without a strikeout.
In Saturday’s Champions League Final between Juventus and Barcelona, the center of the pitch, and specifically the midfielders who make their living there, will decide the final. While legendary luminaries like Gianluigi Buffon and Lionel Messi will play their part, it’s the midfielders who will decide the match.
The center of the pitch is the one area where the two teams are the most comparable.
Juve’s defense, organized and led by Buffon, is Europe’s best goal-preventing unit. The Bianconeri held Borussia Dortmund, Monaco and Real Madrid to three goals, one of which was a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty, while another came off a rare defensive error.
Similarly, Barcelona may boast Europe’s best goal-scoring unit with Messi leading an offensive unit that includes the likes of Neymar, Pedro and Luis Suarez.
When Juventus’ defense and Barcelona’s offense collide, the midfielders will be responsible for breaking the inevitable cancelling-out of the defense and offense.
The Juventus Midfield:
The Starters: Andrea Pirlo, Paul Pogba, Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vidal
The Key Reserves: Roberto Pereyra and Stefano Sturaro
The Old Lady’s starting quartet of midfielders are the secret to the team’s success. Much has been made of Juve being a defensive juggernaut, which they are. However, the midfield might be Juventus best group of players (which is significant because you have Buffon in goal and Carlos Tevez leading the attack).
The four generally line up with Pirlo sitting deep, dictating play and providing killer long balls. Two of the remaining three flank the midfield maestro while the fourth plays in a more advanced position, supporting the strikers. All three have found success in the advanced role, with Vidal getting the nod in both of Juve’s matchups with Madrid.
Off the bench, the two most likely names to be called are Roberto Pereyra and Stefano Sturaro. Pereyra is one of Max Allegri’s most called-upon reserves and earned minutes in both legs against Los Blancos. The Udinese-loanee provides a spark off the bench and generally comes on to provide fresh, relentless legs to run at the defense. While Pereyra operates higher up the pitch, Sturaro is more centrally located, combative and defensive presence. His deflection of James Rodriguez header ended up putting Juve through to the final.
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) May 6, 2015
The Barcelona Midfield:
The Starters: Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic
The Key Reserves: Xavi, Rafinha
Barcelona continues to use their patented 4-3-3 system with Sergio Busquets operating as both a passing outlet and a last-line of defense. His defensive ability lets Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic do damage offensively, with the former often playing much higher up the pitch than his two midfield teammates.
Coming off a summer transfer from Sevilla, Rakitic has moved into Xavi’s place in the starting eleven, providing seven goals and eight assists across all competitions. Rakitic possess great technical skill, maybe not on the level of the man he replaced in midfield, but good nonetheless.
Coming off the bench, Xavi has been severely limited this season, but has still managed to hand out eight assists while scoring two goals as a deep-lying playmaker. In what will be his final game in a Barcelona shirt, Xavi will likely start on the bench. Given the number of appearances (seventh most on the team in La Liga, ninth most in the Champions League) despite the lack of starts, you’d think he would get into the match at some point.
Joining him on the bench is Rafinha, the brother of Bayern Munich’s Thiago. Similar to his brother and most all Barcelona midfielders/players, Rafinha is adept on the ball. At 22, he’s also developing as a contributor on defense. He has one goal and three assists in 30 appearances in all caps, generally playing in the center of the park.
Playing the game is a completely different story, but on paper, Juventus would seem to have the advantage. They have perhaps the best deep-lying playmaker in the world surrounded by a trio of excellent two-way midfielders who are world class on both sides of the ball. This is a stark contrast to Barcelona, who very much rely on Busquets to do the dirty work on defense so Iniesta and the other attackers can run free.
For more Soccer/Football, click here. For more Juventus, click here. For more from the world of Serie A, click here. To see Vine videos, (including Champions League highlights and Europa League highlights) click here.
For highlights of Barcelona’s triumph over Bayern Munich, click here.
All stats courtesy of http://www.whoscored.com/ unless otherwise noted.
Before they match up with Real Madrid in Tuesday’s first leg of the Champions League Semi-Finals, Juve were given the opportunity to celebrate their fourth consecutive Scudetto. Their success in the league has been tremendous for the club, and has helped vault the Old Lady to their current position in Europe.
Indeed, Juve’s success has been a boom for the club. They’ll receive a financial windfall for reaching this late stage in the competition while also standing a good bet to advance vs Real thanks to their role as extremely-overlooked underdogs.
While the success has been wonderful for Juve (they’ve outlasted comparables in Ligue 1 as well as every club representing the mighty, mighty Premier League), the same cannot be said for the rest of Serie A.
Italian football is not what it once was. This much is true. Players are no longer flocking to the peninsula, in fact, players are staying away from it. Top level players at least. Elite talent tends to seek out teams in England, Germany or atop La Liga as opposed to playing in Italy. This makes the fact that Juve out-lasted every English, financial powerhouse (and PSG) all the more outstanding.
While the Bianconeri are clearly the best team in Serie A, their quick assent to the title this year has been aided by poor play from the rest of the league, at least comparative to past years. It seems Juve will continue to carry the banner for Italian football in Europe. They may be alone in this duty.
After Juventus, the two most historically successful Italian teams are the Milan clubs. Inter and A.C. Milan. Sadly, as Serie A has fallen, so to have the Milan clubs. Inter won the treble in 2010 under Jose Mourinho, but haven’t been the same since. Their core players from the Mourinho days have grown old, and suitable replacements are yet to be found. Inter currently sit in eighth place in the standings with 49 points, thirty behind champions Juve with 79.
Inter’s Milanese counterparts have also fallen victim to losing their core. Like Inter, Milan’s nucleus consisting of the likes of Gennaro Gattuso, Clarence Seedorf and Alessandro Nesta, grew old. Also like Inter, the team is still searching for worthy replacements.
Additionally, Milan has lost its contingent of star players, namely Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Andrea Pirlo and Thiago Silva. These losses, coupled with the departures of Antonio Cassano and Alexandre Pato, have left the cupboard bare in Milan. The club has attempted to replace their former stars with the likes of Cristian Zapata and Nigel de Jong, as such they haven’t been able to reach the same heights. A.C. Milan are actually fairing worse than Inter. The Rossoneri are eleventh in Serie A with 43 points. If they had lost two more games they’d be in fourteenth place on goal differential.
Over the past few years, Roma and Napoli have replaced the Milan clubs as challengers to Juve’s throne. Both have spent heavily in order to upset their rivals in Turin and both found moderate success (stress moderate) before struggling.
Roma have swung and miss with some acquisitions (Juan Iturbe, Ashley Cole) while Napoli simply haven’t been able to make up ground despite their numerous investments.
Thanks to a lack of domestic success, non-Juve Italian teams have struggled in making major strides in Europe. Napoli failed to qualify for the Champions League for this season and have been stuck in the Europa League. The Naples-based club deserves props for destroying Wolfsburg (who currently sit second in the Bundesliga), but Napoli’s other competition has been Anderlecht and Dynamo Moscow. They play Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in the Semi-Finals. Hardly the stuff of legends.
Roma has an entirely different story to tell. The Romans were placed in an admittedly tough Champions League group with Bayern and Manchester City. The finished third, but were only relegated to the Europa League on goal differential thanks to finishing even on points with CSKA Moscow, a team thirteen points off of first place in the Russian Premier League.
A.S. Roma barely got by Feyenoord in the Europa League Round of 32 before losing to Fiorentina, a team they are currently 12 points ahead of in Serie A, by an aggregate score of 4-1. They were embarrassed by the Tuscans 3-0 in Rome. In two European matches (in Rome) against Bayern and Fiorentina, Roma lost by a combined score of 10-1.
Outside of Napoli and Roma, the closest team to Juve in the standings is plucky Lazio. The other Roman club is one point behind their archrivals in the standings. They’ve played well this season, but could have issues moving forward. Lazio were extremely frugal in the last transfer window and are staring at the prospect of losing Miroslav Klose.
Juventus won Serie A, and for the fourth consecutive time I might add, but the Turin-based club could use more help domestically. Serie A’s reputation is slipping if it hasn’t already slipped. For Juve to continue their success in Europe and domestically, they need the league to start performing better. This will draw better players to the league, which will in turn make the league more competitive in Europe. The added competition should help Juve greatly.
Regardless, Juve will continue to be the favorite in Serie A, but they could use some help in raising the league’s profile from the rest of the peninsula.
The NBA trade deadline has always played second fiddle to Major League Baseball’s trade deadline. While it will always trump the NFL’s generally underwhelming trade deadline, it lived up to the annual precedence set by baseball with a bevy of moves that shocked not only based on volume in terms of but also because of the prominent players being moved like Isaiah Thomas and Goran Dragic.
(That’s three “trade deadline mentions! If this article gets six, everyone gets a free haircut at Supercuts and beef jerky from 7-Eleven!).
On the surface, Philly’s deadline deals are bizarre. They took on JaVale McGee’s $12 million salary for next season while essentially dealing cornerstone Michael Carter-Williams and promising rotation player K.J. McDaniels for Isaiah Canaan, a first-round pick and a second-round pick.
However, upon closer examination, the deals aren’t that crazy. The Sixers had the salary-cap space to absorb McGee, and essentially got him free along with a protected first-round pick in this year’s draft. If the former Denver center can regain any of the form he’s shown when full-strength, then some team might take a flier on him, leading to further assets. The fact that his contract expires after next year makes him even more appealing in a trade, possibly at some point next season. Plus, they get a first-round pick out of the deal. It’s likely a pick somewhere in the early twenties, but still… they received all this for the rights to draft-and-stash pick Cenk Akyol, a 27-year-old who’s held the “draft and stash” distinction for 11 years.
While McGee’s acquisition seemed somewhat logical, the loss of Carter-Williams and McDaniels can seem little puzzling. After all, Carter-Williams was still on his rookie deal and averaged 16 points, 6.7 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game in a season and a half in Philadelphia. McDaniels was a former second-round pick averaging 9.2 points off the bench.
So why is this a win for the Sixers if they dealt a promising young point guard and a potential long-term rotation player?
Even with Carter-Williams, the Sixers were going to stink for a while before they got better. The reality is that if he stayed in Philly he’d probably be pretty expensive salary wise by the time the team was contending again. Trading him for a first-round pick (originally the Lakers’ pick, which is top-five protected this year) allows the team draft a potential impact player, similar to what Carter-Williams would have been, only they get to paying him after his rookie contract later rather than sooner—when the Sixers will likely be contenders.
There’s also the question of how good the young point guard real is. Sure, his per-game numbers look good on paper, but how much of that had to do with how bad Philadelphia is? The tanking Sixers’ lack of comparative talent has turned Evan Turner and Tony Wroten into 17 points-per-game scorers. Both are good players, but 17 points a night? Probably not on a better team where they’d play fewer minutes. Case in point, Turner averaged only seven points a contest after being dealt to Indiana halfway through last season. That’s not to say Carter-Williams is going to be limited to seven points per outing with Milwaukee, but the extra minutes and shots garnered by Carter-Williams in Philly make it hard to truly gage his talent.
The last part of Philadelphia’s deadline dealings was shipping McDaniels to Houston for Isaiah Canaan and a second-round pick.
Again, why deal McDaniels?
Firstly because he only signed a one-year deal as his rookie contract, turning down a multi-year offer to gamble on himself in order to garner a larger contract in free agency. So far, the gamble has paid off. McDaniels averaged 9.2 points and 3.8 rebounds a game, not bad production for a second-round pick in his rookie season. He’ll likely garner a multi-million dollar, multi-year deal in the offseason, something Sixers’ GM Sam Hinkie apparently wasn’t willing to pay.
The same logic used with Carter-Williams can likely be used here. McDaniels was likely going to be somewhat costly (not as much as Carter-Williams, but still much more than what he’s making now) by the time the Sixers are in a position to contend. By dealing him now, they are able to take a flier on Canaan as Carter-Williams’ replacement while also recouping a second-round pick. That pick will come from either Minnesota or Denver, two of the worst teams in the league. Because of that, the Sixers could be looking at an early-second round draft choice. Due to the pick’s proximity to the first-round in terms of talent level, and lack of comparative financial commitment, they can be very appealing to teams.
Check back for more winners and losers of the trade deadline, including thoughts on what Phoenix and Milwaukee did, plus the lack of action on the Lakers part.
All stats courtesy of http://www.basketball-reference.com/ unless otherwise noted.