Sunday, July 8, 2012

Nats: Desmond, Harper, Davey talk All-Star game

Since I don't post often about the Nats and since I happened to be covering the team's newsy 4-1 win over Colorado on Saturday, thought I'd at least share some postgame quotes. Ian Desmond compared the All-Star game to steak, the youngest All-Star ever Bryce Harper on seeing Davey Johnson talking to Mike Rizzo and the Nats manager compares his current 19-year-old to his previous fabled teenager...

Ian Desmond, selected as an All-Star, but now not going due to his ongoing oblique injury...

Disappointment at not playing in All-Star game...
It’s definitely a tough decision. It’s one that we spent quite a few days kind of mulling over. But in the end I think it’s best for the team and best for myself to take the rest. I would hate to be two, three weeks down the road and something happened and I didn’t take the four days to rest my body and put the team first.
How is the oblique…
It’s crazy the way that your body and your mind play a part in this game. There’s days where I come out and it feels terrible, but I get a couple knocks – like today. It felt pretty sore and I had a good offensive day. It’s just tough. It’s not something that you want to do, withdraw your name from the All-Star game. As tough as it sounds it’s harder to do, especially when you were selected by Tony LaRussa personally. It’s just a hard decision to make period.
Did you wrestle with the decision to step away…
Yeah, the doctors, the training staff, myself, Davey – I called Tony LaRussa personally not only to thank him, but to kind of run it by him and see what his opinion would be. And this is just the decision that we came up with. I don’t think that risking something for the All-Star game that could possibly down the road playing in the playoffs or in meaningful baseball towards the end of the season the cons just outweighed the pros.
Are you going to Kansas City anyway…
I’m just going to go back to Sarasota and rest my body. I think going to the All-Star game and hanging that piece of steak in front of your face and not being able to eat it just would add insult to injury.
Bryce Harper, after being named to his first All-Star game and at 19 becoming the youngest All-Star position player in history (more from @acomak)
What was your reaction…
I don’t get to go home. No, I’m just excited to get there and just have a good time, try to enjoy it, take it all in and really just try to enjoy myself. Definitely.
Roller coaster...
Yeah. I don’t know. Words can’t explain it right now. I think it’s exciting to go and I’m excited to get there and be around all the top guys in the country, of course, top guys in baseball. So I’m just going to take it all in, try to enjoy it with the family and try to just be as mellow and calm as I can.
You’ve been looking forward to that mental break. Can you still get that even going to KC…
I doubt it. Of course it’s all for the fans. It’s an exciting time for them. I’m just going to try to take it all in as much as I can, enjoy it as much as I can. It’s all for the fans. So you try to go in there and really try to enjoy yourself with them and really try to put on a show for them.
You aren’t going to take Stanton’s spot in the HR Derby are you…
I have no clue. I don’t see that happening. I don’t know if I can take his spot. I think him being able to hit home runs like that is pretty impressive. So if I get a call from Kemp – if it happens, it happens and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.
Initial reaction…
When Davey called me over there it was either I was thinking I was going down because Rizzo and everybody was over there or the All-Star game.  Good thing it was the All-Star game. I’m happy. I am.
Davey Johnson on Harper...
The big news is that Tony LaRussa picked Bryce Harper to replace Stanton. And I told him just a few minutes ago, and he was all excited. Told him the vacation’s over. So that’s a great honor for him.”
Mental break
“Yeah. Well the good news about that is a mental break from the pennant race. So you still get a mental break from that and you get to enjoy the fact that you’re representing the National League and it’s a great honor and you’re with a lot of talented players. So I’m happy for him and proud of him.”
Rest him after the All-Star break?
Probably not. He’s also strong as a bull.

Gooden vs Bryce
I mean I don't look at them as being young. I look at the talent and, you know, when Dwight was 17 he looked like a big leaguer except he just didn't have the innings to pitch in the big leagues. I mean Harp, he does everything a little bit better than average and I don't know which one is younger (Dwight barely) but that's what happens when you've been around a while, you get the youngest guys making the team.
Who's better?
Well I'll say this. Doc was the best pitcher I ever had at that age and Harper's the best position player I ever had at that age. But they're both very special. It's fun to watch them go out there and watch them express their talent. It's just really fun from my viewpoint. You never know quite what you're going to expect but you know it's going to be special. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

FFToolbox - The podcast links

Not gonna lie, the number of downloads for the FFToolbox fantasy football podcast have been off the hook recently. Many thanks to you and yours for listening - or at least dowloading the show out of pity. Regardless, gracias. Just in case you missed any of the recent footbal podcasts, links are below. Cheers...

July 3 - 49ers' receivers; Steelers' runners; Doug Martin, Stevan Ridley, Jake Locker, Michael Turner and wishing certain players would be granted independence from their current frustrating situation.

June 26 - The Broncos passing game and the divisive pick that is Jacob Tamme; where RGIII fits in the QB hierarchy; Percy Harvin's sneaky second half production; fantasy QB strategy...Crossed the 10K download mark with this one, most ever for a FFT podcast. Who knew Tamme was podcast gold!

June 19 - NFC West; expert league mock draft discussion; drafting Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham in the second round?

The final countdown: picking Team USA ( CSNwashington)

Back in April when the first wave of defections off the USA Basketball roster took place, I took a stab at projecting the final men's basketball Olympic roster.

Now that Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Derrick Rose have joined Dwight Howard and LaMarcus Aldridge on the sidelines, another projection is required. Since the actual 12-man roster will be revealed during a televised announcement on Saturday night, said final projection comes now.

For starters, here's the way I saw things nearly three months ago..
Forward: Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Kevin Durant, LeBron James
Guard: Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams
Center: Tyson Chandler, Kevin Love
Scratch Rose (knee) and Wade (upcoming knee surgery) from the roster along with Bosh, who suffered an abdominal injury during the Miami Heat's run to the NBA title. Everyone else is good to go. Team USA is therefore loaded in the backcourt and on the wings, but light inside and could use another perimeter shooter.
The final three spots come down to six players: Blake Griffin, Andre Iguodala, Rudy Gay, Eric Gordon, James Harden and Anthony Davis, the last two added to the main core after the spate of bumps and bruises (and worse). Though any combination headed to London would not be surprising, let's break it down into the likely position battles...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Final NBA Mock, 1-32 (plus bonus picks) (CSNwashington)

What's the point of having a draft if you don't mock it. This is my second - and perhaps - final version...

1) New Orleans: Anthony Davis, PF, Kentucky – Obviously. Let’s move on.

2 – Charlotte: Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas – If the Bobcats keep the pick, the athletically gifted double-double machine is probably the only option that makes sense for a team lacking, um, a lot.

3 – Washington: Bradley Beal, SG, Florida – No need to be coy about this one, Beal is the only option that makes positional and need sense based on the current depth chart. Add his textbook jumper and court awareness to an offense that made efficient strides late last season and the success rate goes up, especially from long range.

4 – Cleveland: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky – Players can develop their shot in the pro ranks. If MKG does and maintains the rest of his high-energy, intangible-heavy game, he forms a scary perimeter combo with his high school teammate, some guy named Kyrie Irving. Late draft chatter has Syracuse’s Dion Waiters gaining steam with this pick.

5 – Sacramento: Harrison Barnes, SF, Cleveland – Like the Wizards and Bobcats, the Kings came way up short last season in the make 3-pointers consistently category. Say what you want about Barnes’ ability to create his own scoring opportunities, but he can knock down perimeter looks and his athleticism is truly off the charts.

6 – Portland: Damian Lillard, PG, Weber State – If the Blazers want the highest upside player remaining, Andre Drummond is the obvious call. However, Portland is lacking at the point guard slot and Lillard is impressing more and more. He might not be available when the Blazers pick again at 11.

7 – Golden State: Andre Drummond, PF, Connecticut – The Warriors need small forward help and therefore are probably hoping Barnes falls to them. Waiters is a much-rumored option. At this point, taking a shot on Drummond’s power-packed physique – and truly raw skill set – is a relative no-brainer.

8 – Toronto: Austin Rivers, SG, Duke – Waiters may have offer a more intrigue as a scorer and Jeremy Lamb has better size and athleticism, but Doc’s kid has that Kobe Bryant-like confidence teams fall in love with.

9 – Detroit: John Henson, PF, North Carolina – I’ve had Meyers Leonard in this spot, but far too many folk have the Pistons tabbing the slender but athletic shot blocker for me to ignore. Regardless, Greg Monroe gets some help inside.

10 – New Orleans: Tyler Zeller, C, North Carolina – Though not an elite prospect, the polished 7-foot senior averaged 16.3 points and 9.6 rebounds in his ACC Player of the Year campaign. Taking Zeller is more about adding a piece to the puzzle rather than selecting a future top 3 player.

11- Portland: Dion Waiters, SG, Syracuse – If the buzz surrounding the legitimate two-way threat is sincere, Waiters might surpass Davis as the overall number one pick by Thursday night. Call it naivete or a hint of skepticism, I’ll leave the 6-foot-4 wing around for the Blazers. Waiters dramatically improved his 3-point shooting (36.3 percent) as a sophomore while swiping 1.8 steals per game.

12 – Houston: Jeremy Lamb, SG, Connecticut – Based on all their maneuvering, seems likely the Rockets move this pick, if not any or all of their three first rounders. If the silky-smooth guard with size and length proved to NBA decision makers there is a competitive rage behind the placid demeanor, he could hear his name called in the top 10.

13 – Phoenix Terrence Ross, SF/SG, Washington – Whichever wing guard is left, the Suns take. Ross knocked down 37 percent of his 3-point tries last season and he has the versatility to swing up to small forward. Would benefit greatly if Steve Nash returned. Who wouldn't.

14 – Milwaukee: Perry Jones, PF, Baylor – After trading down for center Samuel Dalembert, the Bucks shoot for the moon with the highly-athletic, but low-motor 6-foot-11 forward. Jones is one of those players whose future position remains in question.

15 – Philadelphia: Arnett Moultrie, PF, Mississippi State – The 76ers lose out in the scoring guard game of musical chairs, but the 6-foot-11 forward with crazy hops and double-double production last season is no mere consolation prize.

16 – Houston: Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois – Whether it’s the Rockets or another team drafting in this spot, the athletic 7-foot-1 center who can run the court and averaged 13.6 points and 8.2 rebounds as a sophomore will be tough to resist.

17 – Dallas: Kendall Marshall, PG, North Carolina – Because there is so much talk about Marshall’s lack of athleticism, we’re set for 10 future years worth of stories about how the entirety of the D.C. area native’s skill set can be measured in measurements alone. Jason Kidd replacement owns a Jason Kidd knack for finding open shooters. That is what the point guard’s job is about.

18 – Houston: Terrence Jones, SF, Kentucky – Draft range for the 6-foot-9 forward starts at No. 7. Would be clearer if teams felt confident he could transition from college power forward to NBA small forward.

19 – Orlando: Royce White, PF, Iowa State – I’m a sucker for big men that are effective passers, especially when said passing leads to the player being deemed a point-power forward. One of my faves in this entire draft.

20 – Denver: Moe Harkless, SF/PF, St. John’s – Only inexperience and the freshman transitioning to a small forward role keeps the talented 6-foot-9 forward away from the lottery. Harkless scored 30 points against Duke and averaged 21.5 in two games against Georgetown last season.

21 – Boston: Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio State – Has a pro skill set, a major league caboose, but amateurish athleticism, an under-the-rim game and apparently a faulty back. Boston has an opening for a wide-bodied forward after trading away Big Baby last year. Sullinger will be ready for key minutes for the annual title contender.

22 – Boston: Fab Melo, C, Syracuse – Celts have lacked an interior power player since Kendrick Perkins was shipped to the Thunder.

23 – Atlanta: Jeff Taylor, SF, Vanderbilt – Taylor is one of the top athletes in the draft and a position hedge should Josh Smith be dealt.

24 – Cleveland: Andrew Nicholson, PF, St. Bonaventure – The polished power forward averaged 16 and 8 last season while shooting 57 percent from the field. The Cavs could use a big man that can make shots away from the basket.

25 – Memphis: Evan Fournier, SG, France – The only international prospect receiving consistent first round love, Fournier’s high basketball IQ and knack for late game heroics eventually help the Grizzlies, either this year or next.

26 – Indiana: Marquis Teague, PG, Kentucky – George Hill is a free agent and should he return, Darren Collison’s trade bait status goes up a notch. Adding another ball handler works.

27 – Miami: Festus Ezeli, C, Vanderbilt – Play LeBron James wherever you want, but the reigning NBA champs need help in the middle regardless.

28 – Oklahoma City: Draymond Green, SF, Michigan State – The Big 10 Player of the Year may be a rookie, but he will bring grit to a youthful Thunder lineup.

29 – Chicago: John Jenkins, SG, Vanderbilt – The Bulls start setting the deck for Derrick Rose’s realistic return (2013-14) by adding a knockdown shooter.

30 – Golden State: Will Barton, SG, Memphis – With the final pick in the first round, the Warriors add an electric wing presence who shines in the open court.

31 – Charlotte: Tony Wroten, SG/PG, Washington – There are safer picks on the board, but the 6-foot-6 combo guards offers an assertive physical presence out of the backcourt. A potential lottery pick if he had stayed beyond his freshman season.

32 – Washington: Tyshawn Taylor, PG, Kansas - For my take on why the senior floor leader makes sense for the locals, click here.

Bonus local picks...No. 35, Golden State - Kyle O'Quinn (Norfolk State, PF)...No. 42, Milwaukee - Mike Scott (Virginia, PF)...No. 47, Utah - Henry Sims (Georgetown, C)...No. 54, Philadelphia - Hollis Thompson (Georgetown, SF)...No. 56, Toronto - Kris Joseph (Syracuse/Archbishop Carroll, SF)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wizards: second-round planning (CSNwashington)

Based on their current roster, the Wizards first round options can be broken down into three simple categories: right (Bradley Beal), wrong (Andre Drummond) or indifferent (just about anyone else). Barring a trade down or the team simply being all kinds of smitten for D.C.’s own Thomas Robinson, perimeter help is coming via the No. 3 overall pick.

The talk about what the Wizards should do in the second round is far less heated, but much more open for debate.

Right now, the Wizards depth chart is frontcourt heavy, backcourt light and shooting deprived. Some have a backup point guard as a high priority. Of course nobody will object to going with the “best available” approach.

With all that in mind, here’s a best guess look at whom the Wizards might select at No. 32.

Workout warriors: Looking at the prospects that visited the Verizon Center this month.’s mock draft projection in parenthesis.

Tyshawn Taylor (35) - Of the players checked out by the Wizards on their own turf, the Kansas point guard arguably stands out as the best combination of upside and roster need. The 6-foot-4 guard’s playmaking skills and defensive abilities outweigh his at times maddening decisions. Whereas Shelvin Mack was tasked with learning to play as a lead guard during his rookie season, Taylor had the ball in his hands during the Jayhawks run to the national title game and throughout his four years at Kansas.

Scott Machado (53) - Only Kendall Marshall arguably stands out as a purer point guard than the 6-foot-2 Iona product. Machado topped Marshall and every other Division I player last season with 9.9 assists per game while knocking down 40 percent of his 3-point attempts. There is fear his fast-paced style, which thrived at Iona, will suffer in translation to the NBA's half court sets. His vision won't and the Wizards could use a point guard who is first and foremost a distributor.

Darius Miller (37) – Crowded up front or not, the Wizards could use a small forward type who knocked down 40.7 percent of his shots from beyond the arc during his final two seasons at Kentucky. Another of those rare college seniors, Miller showed during his days at Lexington he understands what it means to be a role player. Don’t underestimate that trait when it comes to establishing a cohesive roster/bench.

Tomas Satoransky (50) – The Wizards are not exactly in a“draft-and-stash” position, but with Beal or Barnes at three, the team’s top 11 are arguably in place. Though possibly a reach early in the second and not the only international option projected in the second, the 6-foot-7 Czech is an intriguing point guard prospect. Rather than having the athletic 20-year-old sit and watch, the Wizards could let Satoransky continue his craft learning ways overseas for another season.

Others: Kris Joseph (SF, Syracuse), Henry Sims (C, Georgetown), Miles Plumlee (C, Duke)

Deep sleepers/summer League invites: Sticking with the need shooters theme, Georgetown’sHollis Thompson and Northwestern’s John Shurna drain 3-pointers with layup line ease. Neither player is currently in the DraftExpress mock, though their long-range accuracy is NBA-worthy.

Everybody else: Looking at those whose summer plans to date have not included a D.C. visit