NCAA & NFL Notes and Baseball Trade Rumors
OUR JIM SEZ MID-WEEK UPDATE DIGS DEEP FOR THE LATEST MLB, NFL AND NCAA FOOTBALL NEWS & NOTES AS WE TACKLE THE BASEBALL TRADE RUMORS PLUS LOTS MORE!
By Jim Hurley:
Start the clock: The Major-League Baseball Trade Deadline is now just 10 days away and - save for last week's multi-player deal that basically was a swap of shortstops between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Atlanta Braves and that Cliff Lee from Seattle-to-Texas move the Friday before the All-Star break - it's been pretty quiet on the home front.
But folks, that could be about ready to change - and in a big way.
Consider that there is a true "domino effect" in Baseball (and in all team sports, for that matter) meaning when an injury happens right before Trade Deadline time it often sparks a move by the team with the injured player and then competing teams are ultra-quick to get into the trade mix just to "keep up with the Joneses".
If you haven't already figured it out, the New York Yankees - yes, the defending World Series champions and the 27-time champs - suddenly find them in the market for a starting pitcher after last Sunday's groin injury suffered by All-Star LHP Andy Pettitte.
Remember that the Yanks were oh-so-close to gobbling up the lefty Lee a couple of weeks back before the American League West-leading Rangers swooped down and pulled off that deal with the Mariners but now you can bet your proverbial bottom dollar that Yanks GM Brian Cashman will be super-aggressive in his attempts to land a top-flight hurler.
Where will he turn for help?
The conventional wisdom is that Cashman will either acquire Chicago Cubs lefthander Ted Lilly - a one-time Yankee who was run out of Gotham City by the late owner George Steinbrenner when Lilly was beaten by the cross-town Mets years ago - but don't discount the idea that Cashman will swing a deal for either Houston RHP Roy Oswalt (despite his apparent pleas to steer clear of New York City) or else Arizona righty Dan Haren.
P.S., if the Yankees get either one of these National League stars and then get Pettitte back in working order prior to the start of September than we'd make 'em overwhelming favorites to win it all again (call it a 1-to-2 shot, if you will) and the folks in Baseball that are always crying about "competitive balance" really would be making a whole lot of noise.
We'll get to a few other trade rumors in a moment but first this important message:
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MORE BASEBALL TRADE TALK
Great point made Monday night by New York Mets color commentator Ron Darling during the team's brutal 13-2 loss at the Arizona Diamondbacks: Darling said there are always MLB teams that get caught believing that they are "in the race" for a playoff spot based on how far back they are either in their own division or in the wild card race but the broadcaster said teams have to know who they really are and whether it's realistic to "go for it" with a big-time trade.
The fact of the matter is the Mets did just that back in 2004 when they sent then-promising LHP Scott Kazmir to the Tampa Bay Rays as part of a deal that saw NYM acquire RHP Victor Zambrano - one of the biggest busts in Mets history. The Queens club thought they were in the hunt in the NL East/Wild Card but were your basic .500 team and the trade blew up in their faces and now should be a lesson for everyone else out there.
Still, count on someone that's at/about the .500 mark right now to pull the trigger and deal off some key prospects and/or MLB-ready players - and then regretting it sooner rather than later.
Here's a couple of teams that we see fitting this description and what they might be up to in the next week-plus:
FLORIDA - No question that the Marlins (45-48 following Tuesday's 10-0 home loss to the Colorado Rockies) fancy themselves a playoff-type team (at least their owner is of that opinion!) and so look for the Fish to get aggressive in the coming days while looking to make up a bunch of games in the standings.
True, Florida has some stars-in-the-making in its minor-league system and could send a couple of Triple-A or Double-A types to acquire an elite starting pitcher and don't necessarily be shocked if up-and-down 2B Dan Uggla also gets tossed into a deal that might bring the NL East team back either the aforementioned Oswalt or possibly Cleveland righty Fausto Carmona.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS - Okay, so Mike Scioscia's club sat just five full games back of American league West leader Texas while exiting Tuesday's action but the Halos are only 51-45 and simply don't have that look of a winner (while it's appearing more and more evident that this really could be a special season for the Rangers). Consider that the Angels likely won't be good enough to snatch up the wild card what with the Yankees, Tampa Bay and Boston in a fierce battle in the AL East these days and so LA's thinking here might be to get another bat and maybe some bullpen help too in order to track down the Rangers.
Look for LAA to make inquiries involving both OF Josh Willingham and 1B Adam Dunn from Washington where the Angels might also be able to pry away a reliever (possibly Tyler Clippard).
One other possible scenario here: The Angels could deal prospects to Houston for a combo of players that might include closer Matt Lindstrom (22 saves) and OF Carlos Lee.
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NFL NEWS & NOTES: WHAT WILL THE VIKINGS DO IF FAVRE JUST SAYS NO?
Hey, it's a fact of NFL life that this whole Brett Favre Saga - will he or won't he play this year? - only will go away the day the now 40-year-old Favre is unable to pick himself up off the ground on some Sunday afternoon.
It almost happened in last year's thrilling overtime loss at New Orleans in the NFC Championship Game where Favre was battered like a piñata at a children's birthday party but all signs point to #4 making it back again in time for the 2010 season ... but what if he says no to annoying head coach Brad Childress and the Vikes organization?
Well, let us remind you that the current depth chart for Minnesota includes Tavaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels - neither of whom will be having a bust made for them in the Hall of Fame in Canton - and we wonder why Minny didn't spend at least one draft pick on a quarterback this past April.
The Vikings did draft eight players this year - okay, so the team's first pick came at #34 (see DB Chris Cook, Virginia) and so the likes of Sam Bradford (St. Louis) and Tim Tebow (Denver) already were gone by then but they could have tabbed Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen (pick #48 to Carolina) - overall there were 13 quarterbacks taken in this latest draft and the Vikes saw fit to draft none of 'em. Will that be a regret if/when Favre just says no in the next few days? Stay tuned.
In other NFL News & Notes ...
In case you were wondering, the earliest reporting dates for NFL Training Camps are this Friday (July 23) and this Saturday (July 24) with the Cleveland Browns and the Dallas Cowboys welcoming in players at those times, respectively, while the latest reporting date is August 1st when both the Indianapolis Colts and the New York Giants open up camp.
The defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints will open up camp on July 29th in Metairie (La.) - and let's just hope that head coach Sean Payton is finished "making the rounds" on the book-hawking circuit. Hey, no offense to Payton but in a six- or seven-day period recently he was splashed across every media outlet in the land and - we kid you not - when we spun around the TV channels one day there was Payton doing interviews (not all of 'em live, of course) on ESPN, espn2 and ESPN News. Really! ...
Speaking of training camps, maybe the most wide-open and competitive camp will be the one run by the Seattle Seahawks.
Maybe by the July 29th start-up date the team's first-year head coach Pete Carroll will have answered all those USC-related questions and he can sort through what he has on this pro team that's won a grand total of nine games the past two years and now is working on its third head coach in as many years (see Mike Holmgren back in 2008 and one-year-not-so-wonder Jim Mora in 2009).
If you wish to look down the road some, then note the Seahawks have some rough away games including stops in Denver (Week 2), in Chicago (Week 6) and in New Orleans (Week 11).
COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT: IS HEELS' DAVIS IN HOT WATER?
Word came down late last week that the NCAA is investigating the football program at the University of North Carolina - and that means the spotlight is focused on fourth-year head coach Butch Davis.
The fact that the investigation likely has to do with inappropriate player/agent relationships might well be out of Davis' hands but you know the deal: Whoever heads up a major-college team is really responsible for everything that happens with that team and so don't be surprised if this so-called "witch hunt" winds up costing Davis his job sooner rather than later.
The ironic twist here is that Davis has been very much front-and-center on University of Michigan internet blogs lately as talk continues to swirl regarding just who would replace the under-siege Rich Rodriguez in Ann Arbor should that Big 10 team fail to make it to a post-season bowl game for a third consecutive season. Davis has been mentioned prominently for this potential vacancy but would Michigan want to touch a guy with "dirty hands" if indeed the maize-and-blue rid themselves of Rodriguez?
The answer ... not likely!
Davis is just 20-18 in his three seasons at North Carolina and that includes bowl losses by 1 and 2 points the past two years (versus West Virginia and Pittsburgh, respectively) and the running joke the past few days in/around Chapel Hill is that if the Tar Heels are "cheating" than it's not helping all that much when you consider this Atlantic Coast Conference crew has yet to play in a conference title tilt and has lost to (among others) 13 ½-point underdog Virginia last year and 11-point pup N.C. State back in 2008.
NOTE: There's plenty more Football News & Notes in the next edition of Jim Sez - so don't miss out!
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