The Reds need a shortstop.
The Reds need a leftfielder.
The Reds need a third baseman.
The Reds need another starting pitcher.
Throughout the first half of the season, at one time or another, every one of these wishes have been uttered by Reds fans. Chances are, there are a good number of Reds fans crying out for all of these things right now.
While I wouldn’t complain if Jose Reyes, Ryan Braun, Kevin Youkilis and Cliff Lee suddenly showed up in the Reds’ locker room, I think there is somebody the Reds need even more:
While I have no knowledge of whether P-Pat has any baseball skills (though I think we can all be certain that he could throw out a better first pitch than John Wall), there is no doubt that he was a model of consistency throughout his Wildcat career. Every Single Night you could write it down that he was going to get double digit points and around eight rebounds. He didn’t get his career averages of 16.5 and 8 by going off for 30 and 15 one night and then struggling for 4 and 2 the next. You knew what you were getting from Patterson every game.
Outside of King Votto and (to a lesser extent) Ramon Hernandez, the Reds simply don’t have anyone that provides this level of consistency. (Well, other than the shortstop platoon ofJanish/Renteria, and that ain’t the good kind of consistency.) Look no further than NL Player of the Month Jay Bruce. He batted .342 with 12 HRs and 33 RBI in the second month of the season. In April he was .228, 4 and 11, and he wrapped up June with .217, 2 and 7. It all averages out to .270, 18 and 51. Solid numbers, but the truth of the matter is for two thirds of the season he has played well below this standard.
Jonny Gomes is hitting .320 this month. Problem is, his other months have been so horrible his batting average on the season is .225. Even Brandon Phillips, in the middle of what may be a career year, batted 100 points lower in May than he did in the other two months. And while Rolen and Stubbs have maintained consistent batting averages throughout the season, neither have provided day in and day out what the Reds really need from them: power from Rolen and on-base percentage from Stubbs.
The Reds season has so far been a roller coaster because too many of the Reds players have been roller coasters. Nonetheless, they showed some signs of life by taking 2 of 3 from the Rays, and they need to do the same against the Tribe this weekend in Cincy. If they can do that, they can control their destiny into the All-Star break with three against the Cardinals and four against the Brewers.
A little less than a week ago, the University of Kentucky Wildcats saw 4 more players get drafted into the NBA; although only two were 1st round selections, it was still a good night for John Calipari and the UK basketball program. Now given the state of the draft, it was a given that Enes Kanter and Brandon Knight would be 1st round selections, if not “lottery picks”. However, it was hard to predict whether or not Josh Harrellson and DeAndre Liggins would be chosen at all. While Kanter was chosen with the 3rd overall pick by the Utah Jazz, Brandon Knight actually watched his stock slide just a bit as he was the 8th selection, made by the Detroit Pistons. Knight spent much of the draft process being labeled a “Top5 pick” and he actually never had a formal workout for the Pistons.
Nonetheless, the night became much more special as with the 15th pick of the 2nd round (45th overall), the New Orleans Hornets selected Josh Harrellson. Now that same night, it was announced that this pick would be moved to the New York Knicks so his time as a Hornet was short-lived. It would be 8 picks later (23rd in the 2nd round and 53rd overall) that DeAndre Liggins would be selected by the Orlando Magic. So the fact that all four at least were NBA draft picks is a good thing; the question is regardless of where they were selected, which player landed on a team that is the best fit for him?
I will start with Enes Kanter and his selection by the Jazz. Kanter of course projects as a big-man with a good back-to-basket game as well as progressing face-up game. With Tyrone Corbin at the helm for a full season, it will be interesting to see how he works out his front-court rotation. The Jazz currently have veterans Paul Milsap at PF and Mehmet Okur at C. There is also C Al Jefferson and then the youngster, Derrick Favors at PF coming off the bench. So the front-court situation in Utah would appear to be a little crowded at this moment. If Jerry Sloan was still at the helm for the Jazz, I think the worries would be diminished as to handle the over-crowdedness and how Kanter would be developed. But for a young head coach like Corbin, I believe there is reason to be concerned for not only Kanter, but also Favors as well. Milsap and Okur and Jefferson are all veterans but Okur is expendable. The question is how much value and interest does Okur command if the Jazz try and move him via a trade situation. Jefferson or Milsap would have the more trade value but each is more valuable to the Jazz for the present, at least until Kanter and Favors can get themselves established. So the question is how much playing time can Kanter count on seeing with the front-court clearly having some capable veterans already on it?
As for Brandon Knight, I don’t believe he ever thought he would still be on the board for the Detroit Pistons to select at the eighth position but he was and they did. Most experts believed that at some point after that pick, Knight might have heard his name involved in some sort of trade but that simply did not occur. So now Knight is on a roster that currently lists just two PGs, Rodney Stuckey (teams leading scorer and assist man) and back-up Will Bynum. This would have to be the position they want to use Knight at because the other option, SG already has a log-jam of players led by the disgruntled veteran, Richard “RIP” Hamilton as well as veteran Tracy McGrady. The Pistons were absolutely a team in disarray for most of last season including what some deemed as a player’s protest when several players all “called in” to miss a practice / shoot-around on the same day roughly within an hour or two of each other. This was said to have occurred in protest over some of the coaching decisions being made; that job is currently vacant and GM Joe Dumars is starting to feel some heat. So the climate in which Brandon Knight is stepping into is not very favorable off the court, his on-court situation doesn’t look to be much better.
Most fans felt like a move to get another front-court player, preferably someone to man the center position as the only listed center is the offensively challenged Ben Wallace. With that being said, I am not sure of what the Pistons actually want to do or plan on doing with Stuckey and Knight (Bynum is expendable at this point). Neither of these guys is your typical PG as both are better scorers than distributors but they are both competitors and they play hard. Stuckey makes a littler short of $3 million per and it is hard me to imagine both of these players staying on the same roster for more than a season.
Josh “Jorts” Harrellson appeared to be headed to the “Big Easy” of New Orleans after his mid 2nd round selection but instead he will be headed to the “Big City of Dreams” and a chance to play his hone games in the famed Madison Square Garden. One look at the Knicks current roster and it is clear to see that Harrellson has a realistic chance of making this club. The only current listed center on the team is veteran Ronny Turiaf and the only other listed PF (with any sort of vital stats) beyond the household name of Amare Stoudamire is journeyman Jared Jefferies. The other listed players are PFs Renaldo Balkman and Shelden Williams but the obvious is that if Harrellson is going to make and play, it will be at the C position. If Mike D’Antoni remains the coach (their have been rumors he will not be by the time the season begins) then Harrellson could really take advantage of the wide-open offense he employs. He will not be just limited to posting up but he will also be able to step outside and shoot it with Stoudamire working in the paint most of the time. If “Jorts” can find his stroke, opposing big men would have to go out on the floor to guard him, thereby giving Amare more of the lane to work with. If the critics can stay off D’Antoni’s back and the Knicks can find the right chemistry on the court, this could turn out to be a great spot for Harrellson to begin his pro career at.
For DeAndre Liggins, the Orlando Magic saw a player that is gritty and tough, who likes to play it on the defensive end of the court. Liggins is not going to be an offensive threat but he can make his mark pestering opponents like Dewayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Joe Johnson, etc…in the Eastern Conference. Liggins is in a pretty good spot as the only listed SF currently on the roster is Hedo Turkoglu who is more of an offensive threat but because size 6’10” and lack of mobility, he cannot guard other SF in the league. Now the SG spot has J.J. Reddick, Jason Richardson and Quentin Richardson but Reddick is primarily a shooter who is a liability on defense. J. Richardson is a good offensive and defensive player but the fact is he is a free-agent to be and his return to Orlando is not a given. Quentin Richardson has seen his role on any NBA team diminish over the last 3 seasons so his role on this club is not guaranteed. Liggins can make this club and earn his minutes by being tough, physical and a hustler on the court. He needs to be able to improve his shooting enough that he can knock down open jumpers and be able to finish strong when in transition. If he can do that and eliminate turnovers and mistakes, he can become a Bruce Bowen (San Antonio Spurs) type of player for the Magic.
So with all of this being said, who do you think landed in the best spot when you take into account the current roster, team chemistry / style and coaching situation? Let me hear what you think.
- Word from UK camp is that new football uniforms will be released on Thursday. Images of the changes have already hit the internet via twitter (above). Look for Nike to introduce a “new technology” as well, whatever that means. Not much has changed honestly, stripe added to the helmet, tighter numbers, that’s about it.
- Coach Cal and his wife are learning Spanish using Rosetta Stone to get ready for Coaching the Dominican National team this summer. Too bad they speak Dominican right? Ha, I would love Cal to speak to the media in Spanish. That would be hilarious.
- Keeping it all things Coach Cal, we wouldn’t be working in the summer if it weren’t for him, he mentioned on Radio New York that UK merchandise licensing revenue has doubled over the last 2 years and is currently at its highest level ever. “Our licensing revenue doubled last year and half of that double goes back to the general fund on our campus, $4.5 million in licensing. The other thing is we had 14,000 applicants for 4,000 positions for the freshmen, which is the highest in the history of the school. What you hope is you’ve added value … for everybody, not just me.”
- Ramon Harris scored 51 points in a game in China, Ramon Harris scored 51 points in a game in China. Yeah, it happened.
- South Carolina beat Florida with a 2 game sweep to win it’s second consecutive College World Series. SEC.
This morning Coach Cal received the details on his much anticipated raise from Mitch Barnhart and UK Athletics. According to the new deal Coach will be around until 2018 with an eight-year contract worth a total of $36.5 (or close to $120,000 per game) million. Sprinkle in the performance-based incentives along the way and Cal could increase that number.
And you thought they weren’t friends, here’s Mitch Barnhart on Cal’s extension:
“What John Calipari has done on and off the court in the past two years to reunite and rejuvenate this fan base has been magical… He understands the responsibility that goes along with this position and there is no other coach out there that is a better fit for the best basketball program in the country. Cal and I are the same age and share some of the same thoughts on our careers and I wanted to align his contract with my current eight-year deal. He worked with us during this process and clearly demonstrated that he wants to be at Kentucky for a long time. We evened out his yearly compensation without adding to his base salary. We were able to move some longevity bonuses around that were already in the contract, and added some longevity bonuses in the later years of his contract to demonstrate that we want him here for a long time. We also agreed to restructure the bonus money in a fair format where success dictates the bonuses. If we reach the levels of success for Cal to receive these bonuses, we will certainly generate the revenue necessary to allocate these funds.”
Here’s Cal on padding his pockets :
“I’d like to thank Dr. Todd and Mitch for this great opportunity and the Big Blue Nation for their unbelievable support. Ellen and I have tried to be good stewards with the blessings we have received and will continue to invest in the Commonwealth and the Lexington community. The people of Kentucky have embraced our family as one of their own and we love being here and there is no other place we’d rather be. Our fans are the best in all of sports and even though you’re crazy, we love it.”
“I think you want to let everyone know that I’m happy here. We all understand our state and our university. We wanted to work with them and be fiscally responsible, yet Mitch wanted me to know that, ‘Hey, we appreciate what you’re doing and I want you know that I want to extend your contract and we’ll add some stuff at the end.’ I was fine with that.”
The Cat Scratches Blog has some good quotes regarding the extension and how Cal envisions he can retire at UK under the new agreement.