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Archives for: March 30, 2018

To add insult to literal injury, he suffered a minor fracture in his back in 2017.

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It would be easy for a baseball player to gain an inflated ego when Hall of Famer Chipper Jones proclaims that you remind him of arguably the best defensive outfielder of all time: Andruw Jones. It would be even easier when nearly every baseball publication has called you its top prospect.

However, Braves phenom Ronald Acuna doesn’t seem to be acting that way. The 20-year-old arrived to spring training four days ahead of schedule with a goal in mind.

Crabtree’s pay just didn’t align with his production this season, but he was great in 2016.

He led the team in receptions and surely made some Cooper fantasy owners mad when he hauled in eight scores compared to Cooper’s five.

And to be completely fair, it wasn’t just a down year for Crabtree.

Derek Carr looked like a totally different player after returning from an injury that cut short his 2016 MVP campaign.
That didn’t help.

Cooper didn’t surpass 1,000 yards for the first time in his three-year career, and Carr said Cooper was fighting through an injury.

Seattle won 86 games in Dipoto’s first full season, and then fell to 78 wins. The 2017 Mariners dealt with injuries galore, but were ill-equipped to deal with even just some of them. Ariel Miranda logged a 5.12 ERA and led the team in innings.

Again, two years isn’t a lot of time to assemble a playoff team out of the wreckage of one of the game’s most notoriously dysfunctional franchises. There were positives in the 2017 season, including the acquisition of Jean Segura, even if it meant watching Taijuan Walker blossom in Arizona. James Paxton broke out in his limited time. Zunino started to hit. Ben Gamel and James Pazos looked like solid contributors.

How much of that will carry over into this season remains to be seen, as well as whether the newly acquired Dee Gordon can play center field, and whether Ryon Healy can give enough help with his bat.

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In 2017, three different teams traded up to select passers among the first 12 picks.

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There will be a useful quarterback prospect available at the No. 12 pick this year, but it’s unlikely it will be anyone in the Sam Darnold/Josh Allen/Baker Mayfield/Josh Rosen tier.

Among the top 11 picks, four teams the Browns, Giants, Jets, Broncos, and Dolphins could all use varying degrees of quarterback help. The Browns acquired Taylor, but he’s likely just a bridge to whomever they select at No. 1 or No. 4 this year. The Broncos signed Case Keenum, but that’s only a two-year deal that will allow him to mentor a young, non-Paxton Lynch quarterback. The Jets are signing Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater, but the former’s age and the latter’s injury history mean they’re only getting one-year deals.

Grade for Browns: C+ Landry is an upgrade at receiver for the Browns, but it’s hard to see him returning much value on the massive extension he’s likely to sign to stick around in Cleveland.

Grade for Panthers: C It’s difficult to believe that the Panthers sent an actual asset to the Eagles for Smith, given that Philadelphia was virtually guaranteed to decline the former Ravens star’s $5 million option for 2018.

Smith’s impact was underrated by his final numbers (36 catches for 420 yards and two touchdowns) — he got open downfield far more frequently than it seemed, but was let down by some subpar deep throws by Carson Wentz and Nick Foles.

Linebacker Tahir Whitehead, safety Marcus Gilchrist and defensive end Tank Carradine all visited the Raiders on Thursday, sources said.

Of the three defenders, Gilchrist has agreed to a contract with the Raiders, a source confirmed. NFL Media first reported the deal, adding it’s for one year.

Gilchrist, 29, gained early NFL experience at cornerback but is projected to start opposite safety Karl Joseph. He spent the first four years of his career in the AFC West for the Chargers. The Raiders would mark his fourth team in as many seasons, following San Diego with two years on the New York Jets and last year on the Houston Texans.

The two most common words used to describe Baker Mayfield’s pro day? Poorly timed. That’s not a critique of Mayfield; Oklahoma held their annual showcase of outgoing football talent on Wednesday, the day free agency officially began in the NFL, meaning most front offices and coaching staffs were hunkered in team facilities, hosting free agents or building out 2018 rosters over the phone.ravens_039

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McCourty was arguably the team’s best corner last season, appearing in 14 games and grading as the league’s 17th best player at his position.

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Today, McCourty goes from a team that failed to win a game in 2017 to a bona fide Super Bowl contender housing a family member on the roster. Not a bad deal.

What Nelson’s ceiling is in Oakland is anyone’s guess, because while the wideout had an excellent 2016 season (earning Comeback Player of the Year), it became clear in 2017 he was no longer the team’s best wideout. At 32 years old (he turns 33 in May) and entering his second season after an ACL injury, his expected contribution lands somewhere between 2017 Crabtree and bordering on a 1,000-yard season in a best-case scenario.

But once he officially hit the free agent market earlier this week, Cousins was able to cash in on a historic deal while receiving the stability and long-term security he never felt he had in Washington.

“The expectations from both sides is that we will raise our kids here, and be here for a long, long time,” Cousins said.

They signed deep threat receiver Marquise Goodwin to a three-year extension. And San Francisco didn’t forget about the trenches either, as they are expected to sign center Weston Richburg to a five-year deal.

Their offense seems like it should be pretty well set, but the 49ers also made a big splash on defense by agreeing to a deal with Richard Sherman. The contract is team-friendly, loaded with incentives, and Sherman should be plenty motivated to prove he can bounce back from a torn Achilles. Keeping him in the same division as the Seahawks is huge and should only add more fuel to the fire. Related slideshow: 2018 NFL first-round mock draft (Provided by Yardbarker)?

The Patriots added defensive tackle Danny Shelton in a trade from the Browns. The Bills flipped quarterback Tyrod Taylor and offensive tackle Cordy Glenn to get them better positioned in the draft and also landed defensive tackle Star Lotulelei. The Jets, after rebounding cheaply at QB with Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgwater, got busy all over the place with running back Isaiah Crowell and center Spencer Long for the offense, plus cornerback Trumaine Johnson and inside linebacker Avery Williamson for the defense.canucks_005

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Now Mayfield is widely regarded as a first-round talent, with a strong possibility of being drafted early in the first round.

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Most mock drafts peg him within the top 10 picks (Sporting News has him going 11th overall).

“You hear things, but you never know the truth,” Mayfield said. “All I can do is focus on my game and focus on handling myself and putting myself in position in those meetings to show what I’m capable of mentally.”

With free agency arriving Wednesday, the NFL’s offseason quarterback derby is evolving daily; that may ultimately impact Mayfield’s draft fate.

But the 32 teams in attendance for Mayfield’s throwing session included some high-level decision-makers, such as Broncos general manager John Elway and coach Vance Joseph; Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan; and Bengals coach Marvin Lewis. Denver sent the largest contingent with seven representatives, including senior personnel adviser Gary Kubiak. The Giants sent five.

Coming from a 2014 first-round draft pick who was a key piece in a trade for Chris Sale, a bigger ego would be expected but that’s not the case with Kopech. This is the White Sox culture that has been instilled in all players. Patience is invaluable both at the macro and micro levels.

Though he came from the Red Sox, an organization rich with history and tradition in its own right, Kopech said learning what it means to wear the White Sox uniform has made the strongest impression on him. After a 2017 season with a 2.88 ERA and 30 percent strikeout rate in Double- and Triple-A, his patience is likely to be rewarded soon. And Kopech isn’t alone among those poised to hit Guaranteed Rate Field in 2018.

Jimenez came to the White Sox in the trade that sent Jose Quintana to the Cubs, a deal that Hahn said most outside of the two organizations never thought possible. Once a prized piece of the Cubs farm system, Jimenez felt embraced by his new organization almost immediately.

“I feel like they know me already, and that’s the feeling you want when you get traded,” Jimenez said.

He transitioned beautifully too, swapping High-A uniforms in a series between Myrtle Beach, his old club, and Winston-Salem, his new one. In his first game in the White Sox organization, Jimenez hit a two-run single to push across what would prove to be the winning runs against his old team. He went on to hit .345 with eight home runs in 29 games for Winston-Salem before being promoted to Double-A on Aug. 15.packers_093

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Reported lawsuit threatens to take MLB back down old PED path

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Is Major League Baseball headed for another PED scandal in the wake of a report Monday by FanRag’s Jon Heyman? No, or at least not until new names and details emerge. Right now there’s no such evidence.

“It’s a ruthless business. We know what we signed up for; however, it still doesn’t make it easier.”

He gets to make serious money coming off a lost season — his $14 million average is just below the $14.5 million Davante Adams got from the Packers in December — and he gets to hit free agency again at age 27, which could keep Robinson in line for two more upper-echelon contracts if he continues to play at a high level into his late-20s.

With $25 million in guarantees, this is likely a two-year deal for the Bears before they have to worry about renegotiating or if Robinson flames out.

This is a win-win.

WR Sammy Watkins, Chiefs Grade: D+ The problem in evaluating Watkins is that every analysis starts with the reference point of 2014, when the Bills used two first-round picks and passed on Odell Beckham Jr. to move up and grab Watkins at No.

Since then, Watkins has only shown flashes of the guy whose ceiling seemed to be Julio Jones -esque at Clemson.

In 2015, Watkins finished the year by generating 679 yards and six touchdowns over the final six weeks of the year, which seemed to portend superstardom to come.

They won’t be underdogs this season after almost knocking off the Astros. But if New York sports fans are looking for a championship contender, the Yankees might be the only game in town.

With the Mets, Giants, Jets, Knicks and Nets in rebuilding mode, the Baby Bombers should draw even more fan and media attention this season, especially if Judge and Stanton go head to head in the home run race the way Mantle and Maris did in 1961.

Sorry Yankees-haters. Just when you thought the Evil Empire was finished, it is back from the dead and poised to take over New York again.

“Advertisers are lining up. They’re paying higher rates. They’re giving us bigger shares of their business. And we are going to capitalize,” Levinson said.

Throw in the low-cost addition of cornerback Sam Shields, who sat out in 2017 as he recovered from a concussion, and the Rams probably have the best set of corners in the game. packers_011

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The 49ers and Sherman agreed to a three-year contract that was officially announced by the team Sunday.

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Terms of the contract were not disclosed, but Sherman told ESPN’s Josina Anderson on Saturday that the incentive-laden deal is worth up to $39.15 million.

“Once I make a Pro Bowl, $8 million the next year is guaranteed for me. It gives me the ability to control my destiny. The 49ers have skin in the game. I have skin in the game. In my former contract, no matter what I did this year, nothing would be guaranteed to me next year. I couldn’t feel secure in my contract. Now, if I play the way I know I’m capable of playing, I know I’m going to get paid.”

Sherman said he called the Seahawks to gauge their interest on matching the 49ers’ offer but was turned down based on the incentives. He also reached out to the Oakland Raiders and Detroit Lions before finalizing the deal in San Francisco.

The returns here are hardly insignificant. The Browns sent the first pick of the third round to the Bills for Taylor, a selection which has delivered a pair of All-Pros in Travis Kelce and Kevin Byard in recent years. That pick gives the Bills five of the top 65 selections in this year’s draft, and after trading their former starting signal-caller, it seems incredibly likely that general manager Brandon Beane will move up to target his quarterback of the future early in the first round.

Trading up might also be easier if the Browns are out of the quarterback market. There was certainly scuttlebutt going around the NFL combine last week that Dorsey and the Browns were not overly enthused with any of the passer options available in this year’s draft, although I’d be hesitant to buy into that, given how much more of the draft process there is still to go and how wary teams are to play their hand with their interest in quarterbacks.

Taylor also has 283 carries for 1,575 yards and 14 touchdowns during that span, trailing only Cam Newton in all three categories. Taylor sits 20th in passing yards during those three seasons, but the low turnover rate and rushing numbers have made him a sneaky fantasy option. He ranked sixth at the position in fantasy points per game in 2015 and seventh in 2016, before plummeting to 19th during a disappointing 2017 campaign.

The offense in Cleveland will — believe it or not — be better than what Taylor had in Buffalo. He’ll be behind one of the league’s best offensive lines (Joe Thomas, Joel Bitonio, JC Tretter, Kevin Zeitler, Shon Coleman), with Duke Johnson Jr. (and a rookie — perhaps Saquon Barkley) in the backfield, rising star David Njoku at tight end and Landry, Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman at wide receiver. At least out of the gate, Taylor is best-viewed as a solid QB2 option, though if the team drafts a rookie in the top five, he may simply be keeping the seat warm for a few months.buccaneers_092

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MLB free agent rumors: Carlos Gomez signs one-year deal with Rays

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Carlos Gomez has signed a one-year deal worth $4 million with the Tampa Bay Rays, according to

This comes one day after the Rays traded right fielder Steven Souza to the Diamondbacks in a three-team trade involving the Yankees which returned second baseman Nick Solak and left-handed pitcher Anthony Banda to Tampa Bay.

The Yankees received infielder Brandon Drury in return.

The Angels could also use Ohtani on the basepaths.

“I think that if he is going to play baseball, he’s going to play baseball,” Scioscia said. “Like any player, you want him to go out there and play as aggressively as they can. So if he’s running the bases, just like the rest of our guys on the team, you want him to you know the bases aggressively and he does have very, very good speed.

“What situations come up where you might be able to utilize his speed, that remains to be seen, but if he’s playing baseball and he’s DHing and he’s on the bases, he’s a runner. He’s not a pitcher, not a hitter, he’s a runner. So we want to apply that.”

According to, players will then autograph the hats and they will go on the auction block to raise money for he Broward Education Foundation, which will benefit the official Stoneman Douglas Victims’ Fund.

The #Reds will join the rest of MLB in honoring victims of last week’s shooting in Florida by wearing Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School hats at Friday’s opening spring training game.

“It’s a tragedy. It was a tragedy that hit the state of Florida, where we have two teams, but obviously has very specific baseball connections,” commissioner Rob Manfred said. “Really a very strong sentiment among the clubs that this was the appropriate thing to do immediately.”

Originally, members of the Grapefruit League asked if they could don caps to honor the victims. The sentiment gained steam across training camps, and soon all 30 MLB teams were on board with the idea.buccaneers_034

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MLB free agent news: Royals add Lucas Duda to take over 1B

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The Royals added a much-needed power bat Wednesday by agreeing to terms with free agent first baseman Lucas Duda, the team announced.

FanRag Sports reported the contract is for one year at $3.5 million. Duda launched 30 home runs last season playing for the Mets and Rays, but he batted just .217.

Duda, a lifetime .242 hitter, has hit at least 27 home runs in three of the last four seasons. But he has only played 150-plus games once (2014) during his seven-year career.

Well, it depends on how much you believe what Brady and Alex Guerrero say. The regimen focuses on flexibility and building up small muscles rather than heavy lifting. Brady preaches a diet filled with the most health-intuitive stuff you can find, a good portion of which is oh-so-conveniently available from his website. Lots of water infused with the TB12 electrolyte mixture, lots of protein shakes with the TB12 protein powder, lots of TB12 snacks, and so on.

Brady himself is clearly a paragon of athleticism maintained well beyond the shelf life of a usual athlete, but it’s probably safer to attribute that to his natural gifts than to his cottage industry. You don’t need multiple paragraphs running down how Brady was a freak athlete before the TB12 craze took off. You know how good he was, and still is.

Giants: This is mostly speculation, but here’s the thing: This is a franchise dead-set on completely reversing last summer’s injury-plagued debacle, and there isn’t much certainly past the top three spots in the rotation. Archer would fit nicely into the rotation behind Madison Bumgarner, but logic says if the teams were going to find a way to get Archer to San Francisco, they would have done that as part of the deal that sent Evan Longoria to the Bay Area.

Padres: They brought Eric Hosmer in to be a leader for their young team. Archer fits that same bill, too, and maybe they’re ready to contend by Archer’s two option years.

Rockies: The Rockies have plenty of young, talented starting pitchers who could be very good. Archer, though, would bring a lot more certainty to a franchise that wants to have a playoff experience that lasts longer than one game in 2018. seahawks_117_327518212f9164ec-180x180

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The Chargers announced Sunday the contract extension of cornerback Casey Hayward.

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While you’re asking questions about “what went wrong” last year, here are some things you may want to read up on, since you clearly missed out on past events: The Atkins diet, “The Dark Knight,” Furby dolls and the Harry Potter series.

Nicknamed the “Throwin’ Swannanoan,” Stewart played a key role in the Orioles’ last World Series championship in 1983, pitching five scoreless innings in the series. In all, Stewart pitched 12 scoreless postseason innings between 1979 and 1983.

The right-hander finished his career with a season apiece in Boston and Cleveland. He retired after the 1987 season with a mark of 59-48 and a 3.59 ERA.

After his career, however, Stewart ran into trouble. According to the Baltimore Sun, he started using crack cocaine shortly after he retired, and ended up serving almost seven years in a North Carolina prison. But Stewart turned his life around after his release in early 2013.

In 2016, Stewart joined the Orioles broadcast to talk about his career.

If Witten is interested, he?would join former Cowboys quarterbacks Tony Romo (CBS) and Troy Aikman (Fox) behind the microphone on NFL game telecasts this season. The list of former Cowboys stars who’ve moved from America’s Team to the?booth is impressive, starting with “Dandy” Don Meredith on?”MNF” with Howard Cosell and Keith Jackson/Frank Gifford.

Executives from Fox are intrigued by the possibility the popular, square-jawed Witten could replicate the rookie TV success of Romo, his close friend and former road roommate. He’d?have the advantage, like Romo and Aikman, of broadcasting to a built-in,?national fan base that loves the Cowboys.?

But persuading?Witten, who’s coming off a Pro Bowl season,?won’t be easy. After the Cowboys’ regular-season finale,he told the Dallas Morning News he plans to play again in 2018 for what would be his 16th season.

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NBA trade rumors: Cavaliers, Kings still working on deal for George Hill

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George Hill isn’t thrilled with his situation in Sacramento and the Cavaliers are in the midst of a tense losing streak. Something needs to change for each party and it appears Cleveland is trying to address their problems with the addition of Hill.

Following nearly a decade as a player, Griffin has served as an assistant coach in Milwaukee, Chicago, Orlando and currently Oklahoma City. He has a habit of building relationships with those around him. He’s a guy who has made an impact at every stop but doesn’t need to take credit for individual or team success. Griffin is also a defensive-minded coach, having spent time under Tom Thibodeau with the Bulls, and that’s absolutely something the Bucks could use, as they own the sixth-worst defensive rating in the NBA.

Boylen has been coaching for more than three decades now, starting back in 1987 as an assistant with Michigan State and currently serving as the associate head coach for the Bulls. Boylen knows what it takes to win, having been part of title teams with both the Rockets in 1994 and 1995 and the Spurs in 2014. The young Bucks could use some championship experience.

James’ eight triple-doubles are already his second-most in a season in his 15-year career. It’s also the most he’s ever had before the All-Star break. James’ career high for triple-doubles is 13, done last season.

Kevin Love, who was singled out as a target by players in the locker room, scored 10 points with 13 rebounds in 33 minutes. Love has already said he will not ask for a trade, and coach Tyronn Lue remained faithful to his forward by keeping him in the starting lineup amid the shakeup.

All-Star Victor Oladipo led the Pacers with 25 points, seven assists and six rebounds. He has scored at least 20 points in all but four games this month.

The Cavs entered the game losers in six of seven games, but they got back on track to remain third in the Eastern Conference standings, six games behind the Celtics.lions_017

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