Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday's Singles

Curse the middle of the baseball season. We had ## semi-interesting occurrences yesterday, but yet again found ourselves without any mind-blowing fantasy news. So, today, we combine basketball and baseball in a mostly comprehensive list of quick hits.
  • Shaquille O'Neal was traded to the Cavaliers for paper clips and cash. Even if Shaq only plays in the 3-10 games against the Magic, it will be a good trade for Cleveland. Lebron got his wish of acquiring a player that can take some of the pressure off of him (and box out Dwight Howard), and Shaq, like most aging veterans, is on a team with a shot at a title. On the flip side, the Suns got some financial wiggle room, with Sasha Pavlovic sure to get bought out, and Ben Wallace pondering retirement.
  • The New Jersey Nets shipped off Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson to the Magic for Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee, and Tony Battie. The initial reaction of Magic fans was to lament the loss of Courtney Lee, who was indeed turning into a nice little wing player, but when you can get a player of Carter's calibur for, basically, one unproven man in a plastic mask, you take him. With Jameer Nelson healthy, Rafer Alston is expendable, and anyone that thinks Tony Battie did anything of note has been utterly lost.
  • The Hawks snagged Jamal Crawford from the Warriors for Acie Law and Speedy Claxton. The Warriors then drafted Stephen Curry, so this trade appeared to mostly be about clearing out room at SG for Curry. The Hawks got a nice scorer in the deal - they can bring him off the bench for some quick firepower, or start him, move Josh Smith to the 4 and Joe Johnson to the 3.
  • Maybe the biggest trade that didn't happen...ESPN reported that there is a swap in the works that would send Amar'e Stoudemire to the Warriors for Andris Biedrins, Marco Belinelli, and Brandan Wright. This trade could not be completed until the free agent signing period begins in early July, but it's certainly something to keep an eye on.
  • In baseball, John Smoltz made his season debut for the Red Sox and was less than inspiring. He pitched well in his rehab starts in the Minors, but got in trouble early and never really got on track. He's one of the most competitive players to ever toe the rubber, so my guess is he'll bounce back, but it's way too early to put him on a fantasy team.
  • Casey McGehee has stepped up for Milwaukee in a big way. The loss of Rickie Weeks should have hurt the lineup more than it has, thanks in large part to McGehee. If you need a replacement at second base, he might do the trick.
  • On a similar note, Jose Lopez is back from bereavement. He was just starting to heat up prior to leaving the Mariners, so hopefully his swing didn't regress, but note that he is indeed back with the team, and playing.
  • The Tigers have won 7 in a row. It's tough to call them the hottest team in baseball, but I suppose they are. They haven't really overwhelmed the competition, but over the course of the 6-game homestand sweep, they have fought back from early deficits, pushed a few runs across late, and just generally found a way to win. Today, they begin a series with the Astros, and Justin Verlander's cannon should give them another good chance to win. On the offensive side, Magglio Ordonez hit a home run yesterday, and a child laughed. Marcus Thames is back in the Tigers lineup, as well. He's never going to be a high-average guy, but is one of the most powerful players in the league, and when he gets hot, he can hit about 7 homers in 3 games.
  • Don't look now, but the Giants are the NL Wild Card team right now, narrowly eclipsing the Brewers for that honor. This is a team with enough offensive firepower to outscore MAYBE the Padres, but thanks to Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum, they have one of the most feared collection of aces in the League. This is a team that no one wants to play in a best of 5 series. They also desperately need to learn how to win on the road, where they're just 15-20.
  • The Rockies lost a series! Tough to say if this will cool them off. Might as well go out on a limb and make a prediction: this team is going to contend the rest of the way. They have 2-3 starters that can win games, and a couple other serviceable pitchers that can keep a potent offensive club in ballgames. They probably won't win 95% of their remaining games, but slightly over .500 is pretty reasonable. Suddenly, the NL West doesn't look like the worst division in the League. It may sound crazy, but the Dodgers, Giants and Rockies are easily among the top-5 or 6 NL teams right now.
  • The Marlins are 7-3 in their last 10 games, and have quietly moved within 1.0 game of the NL East lead. We'll see how the injury to "closer" Matt Lindstrom alters the bullpen. With the way he was pitching, they might actually get better...
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