Saturday, December 20, 2014

Bearcats Coach Mick Cronin Sits Out With Aneurysm

University of Cincinnati's head basketball coach Mick Cronin missed his teams game on Saturday and is likely to miss a few more while being treated at the school's hospital for what was termed an "Unruptured Aneurysm".

The 43-year old Cronin had been complaining the past few weeks about headaches and got a series of tests early in the week.

That's when doctors noticed the Aneurysm. Thankfully, it had not yet done anything other than cause discomfort. Cronin is resting comfortably at the hospital and is keeping track of his team.

He also tweeted out his thanks to Bearcat fans and other for their support.



BASTA: Brian Sabean Quietly Having A Solid Offseason

((HT: BASTA/Ben Leonard))

Clearly, the Giants have not had the most flashy off-season. They missed out on re-signing Pablo Sandoval and picking up Yasmany Tomas and Jon Lester, while the Padres went out and acquired practically every outfielder on the market. However, standing relatively pat may not be the worst thing for the Giants. They have made three financially sound moves this winter, the first being re-signing reliever Sergio Romo to a two-year, fifteen million dollar contract. Sabean followed by signing Jake Peavy to a two-year, twenty-four million dollar deal, and then went out and acquired Casey McGehee from Miami to man the hot corner. In acquiring McGehee, the Giants gave up merely pitching prospects Kendry Flores and Luis Castillo, who apparently play baseball. Giants fans may bemoan Sabean’s seeming lack of action, but his moves may prove to be shrewd when it is all said and done.

First and foremost, McGehee will never replace Sandoval in the clubhouse or on the field. He does have a very similar portly frame, but has much less power. He was about an average major league hitter in 2014, becoming the National League’s Comeback Player of the Year and posting a wRC+ of 102. For those looking for a masher, McGehee has never been one in any resemblance, although he did launch twenty-three homers in 2011, albeit fueled in part by relatively hitter-neutral Miller Park. He also brings championship experience to the table, as he won a title in Japan with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in 2013. Perhaps Sabean values his experience winning in odd years.

Lacking power, his success is fueled by average, a statistic that can largely be dictated by luck, as hit placement fluctuates from season to season. However, despite his inflated .335 BABIP, way above his career averages, McGehee’s line drive rate spiked almost three percent in 2014. Harder contact makes it easier for hits to fall in. Hence, McGehee’s increase in hard hits balls was likely due to an adjustment he successfully made, not luck.

In addition, McGehee has proven to be an slightly-below average defender at the big league level. He has lost twenty-four DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) in his six years in the big leagues, a serviceable number. He is no Manny Machado, but he certainly isn’t the Matt Kemp of the infield. Once more, McGehee comes at virtually no cost in prospects or money, and likewise risk, commanding a salary of just over one million dollars in 2015. He is under club control for just one year, and is likely a stop-gap type piece until Sabean can find a free agent or trading partner to solidify the position for good. Essentially, the Giants gave up next to nothing for a reliable rental at third base, a player who posted a sold 2.0 WAR in 2014.

The Giants didn’t just save money at third base: they also bought from the bargain bin at starting pitcher in signing Peavy. Peavy pitched very well with the Giants in 2014, posting a 2.17 ERA after coming to the Bay Area from Boston. However, this success was largely fueled by an insanely low 3.2 HR/FB%, well below his career average of 9.5%. For this reason, Steamer pegs Peavy for a 3.67 ERA in 2015, a solid number for a bottom-of-the-rotation starter, about market value for twelve million. Bochy has a special bond with Peavy that started in their days in San Diego; he just pitches better under Bochy.

For these reasons, Peavy likely represents insurance for the Giants if they don’t sign James Shields or Max Scherzer, and could fit in nicely in the fourth spot in the rotation behind Bumgarner, Cain, and Hudson. If they do sign Shields or Scherzer, Tim Lincecum would be forced out of the rotation, leaving the Giants with considerable depth at starting pitcher, coupled with Yusmiero Petit. In either scenario, the Giants are set for 2015 with their rotation; Shields or Scherzer would just be icing on the cake. Economic savings on Peavy and McGehee give the Giants the flexibility to win a bidding war with any team competing for Scherzer or Shields’ services, namely the Detroit Tigers. The Giants are currently the favorites for Shields, with no other team clearly in the running. Shields would be markedly cheaper, and is much more likely to sign with San Francisco.

Sergio Romo’s deal was probably the worst financially for the Giants, but fifteen million over two years isn’t much of a risk in this era of baseball. However, as I mentioned in my offseason preview, Romo has been in decline every year since 2011.

Year/xFIP/WAR

2011 1.49/2.0
2012 2.61/1.0
2013 3.20/1/1
2014 3.40/-.3

Romo’s slider didn’t break as tightly in 2014, especially during a rough June stretch. However, he picked it up as the season dragged on in the setup role. Hitters seem to have adjusted to his increasingly hittable slider. However, with righty reliever Pat Neshek signing a very similar deal with Houston, the Giants did not over-spend, at least too much. Romo projects to be somewhat better in 2015, as Steamer sees him posting a 2.95 ERA.

In all, Sabean spent around twenty million on three players. Giants fans may decry Sabean as frugal, but his strategy of signing his homegrown players has certainly paid off in the last five years. Sabean has shown he was willing to spend big in offering competitive deals to Lester and Sandoval, and these smaller deals allow him to spend big on a right-handed horse. Casey McGehee and Jake Peavy aren’t quite Sandoval and Lester, but they aren’t quite Joaquin Arias and Tim Lincecum, either. This mid-tier moves may not seem significant, but they solidify two very shaky spots on the Giants’ roster. Whether Sabean uses his surplus money on a left fielder AND a top-of-the-line starter remains to be seen, but the Giants would be fine starting off 2015 with Lincecum in the fifth starter role and Blanco in left. Blanco is a perfectly competent major league left fielder, one who can handle cavernous AT&T Park very well. As I alluded to in my off-season preview in November:

Unless Sabean becomes infatuated with another veteran outfielder (See Derosa, Mark), there is no reason to believe that anyone but Gregor Blanco will be the Opening Day left fielder.

Blanco is cheap and reliable, and can handle the bat more than well enough, posting a 107 wRC+ in 2014. Sabean quietly has had a great offseason, although not moving at quite the same pace as the A’s or the Padres. His apparent frugality allows him to spend big on those who deserve the big bucks, Nick Markakis not being one of them.

Morning Wrap: Wisconsin-Whitewater Wins D-III Title Again

((ht: espn.com))

Six Division 3 Football titles eight years for Wisconsin-Whitewater. Yes, six.

Friday night the Warhawks beat long time rival Mount Union 43-34 to win that 6th title and sent coach Lance Leipold to his new job at Buffalo with the teams 32nd straight win.

The win was their 6th in the last 7 games with Mount Union, all games played in the Amos Alonzo Stagg bowl. All in the last 7 years.

Impressive, isn't it....

Warhawks QB and game MVP Matt Behrendt threw for 365 yards and 4 TD's. WR Jake Kumerow caught 8 passes for 130 yards and a TD while RB Dennis Moore ran for 74 yards and caught 2 passes for 108 yards and a score.

Leipold finished his 8th season at Whitewater after accepting the Buffalo job a couple of weeks ago. He finished his coaching career with the Warhawks with a 109-6 record.

Yes, he's won as many titles as he lost games in 8 years.

Pretty impressive stuff.

Here are the highlights from ESPN.com:



Morning Wrap: Pittsburgh Penguins Produce Christmas Vacation Video

((ht: cbssports.com))

Hey, it is after all the holiday season is it not? And doesn't everyone appreciate the classic National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation movie?

It's always good for a laugh...

Even for the talented acting troupe known as the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins.

Props to the video team for producing the skit, a Christmas Card to their fans where various players including star Sidney Crosby, broadcaster Mike Lange and team G.M Jim Rutherford worked on their acting chops.

The all took turns with the Clark Griswold, Cousin Eddie and other roles.

Enjoy the holiday fun:

Morning Wrap: E.Kentucky Destroys #18 Miami in Hoops

((ht: espn.com))

Geez...what happened here? Eastern Kentucky...to quote the Rock "Laid the Smackdown" on the University of Miami basketball team Friday night beating the 'Canes 72-44.

Yes, the Colonels from the Ohio Valley Conference beat the Hurricanes from the mighty ACC by 28. And it wasn't that close.

Ok..it was. Eastern had a 2-point lead at the half. But a 22-2 run coming out of the blocks in the 2nd half did the trick.

And created one of the early seasons bigger surprises. Not that Miami would have been an ACC title contender, but they are supposedly pretty good. However on Friday night Eastern Kentucky handed them their worst home loss since 1997.

Corey Walden led the Colonels with 18 points on the night.

Your highlights from ESPN.com:

Friday, December 19, 2014

Now Former UAB Coach Bill Clark is Conference USC Coach of the Year

((ht: al.com))

Congratulations to Bill Clark who got one season to coach the University of Alabama-Birmingham and had begun the process of turning the program around.

A 6-6 record and the 1st Bowl Eligible Blazer team in 10-years was enough to get Clark Coach of the Year honors in Conference USA.

And the vote wasn't close. He won in a landslide.

Clark now finds himself out of work and hopefully he'll land a gig. He deserves it for what he did at UAB.

Many of Clark's assistants and several players have already found new homes as the Blazers have shut down the football operation.

Clark has not.

But the award recognizes the good work he did and in the cyclical world of College Football it should be enough to warrant a job. Even if it's as an assistant.

Let's hope that happens.


Morning Wrap: Longhorn Network to Show 5 Hours of Bevo for Christmas

Bevo at Home
((ht: sbnation.com))

No, the headline does not have a typo in it.

While WPIX-TV in New York City may have been the first TV station to show the "Yule Log" for Christmas. It's now been topped.

And yes, people actually turn on their TV's and just have the shot of a fireplace log on it.

Uh...anyway....

The Longhorn Network will take the "Yule Log" and put a Texas twist on it. Or so to speak.

The all Texas Longhorns TV channel will show five hours of commercial free video of the Longhorns mascot, Bevo the Bull, roaming on his ranch.

Yes, really.

Supposedly the network will pipe in Christmas music as background. And hey, it just might work.

Heck, we're guessing if the Alabama Crimson Tide had their own network, they could show five hours of a Nick Saban photo with a Christmas sweater, put music behind it and it would be the highest rated show in the state.

But we could be wrong....