What is WAR good for, anyway?

As it turns out, evaluating player value and comparing production among MLB players.

No, I’m not talking about the violence and weapons kind of WAR, I’m talking about Wins Above Replacement.

“I can tell you, I’m going to work hard, and I’m just going to keep playing hard. My goal is to finish in the majors,” Jimenez told Sporting News. “If I’m a star, I know I’m going to finish in the majors.”

Asked when Jimenez might get his first crack at the majors, Hahn acknowledges that, despite being 21 and having made only 73 plate appearances above High-A, he could very well force his way into the White Sox outfield this summer.

“The good ones have a way of changing your timeline,” Hahn said. “And it’s not going to shock me if at some point over the summer if Eloy forces our hand, and we’re going to have to wind up being a little more aggressive.”

In a small sample size vacuum, Cousins doesn’t *look* eight figures better than Keenum was last season. The former Vikings quarterback completed more of his passes, had a lower turnover rate, and provided a higher approximate value (according to Pro Football Reference) than his replacement.

While Cousins worked with a lesser supporting cast, he was forced into a more conservative game plan last fall. His average yards per pass was just 7.6, barely higher than the 7.4 Keenum recorded in a season that began, like with Bradford before him, by focusing on short, accurate passes to help build his momentum as a starter. But in 2016, that figure was up to 8.1 yards more accurately reflecting the value Cousins provides with the right tools.

The Chiefs didn’t wait until the offseason to make their move, agreeing to a deal to trade Smith to Washington for a third-round pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller. ravens_149



Malcolm Butler finally weighs in about Super Bowl benching

Now, Butler felt it was time to speak on the Super Bowl he barely played in.
Now that Malcolm Butler is no longer with the Patriots, he’s no longer obliged to stay quiet about why he was forced to miss out on the action in Super Bowl LII.

Butler played only one snap in the game — on special teams — and there was a lot of rumors swirling as to why. Well, now that he’s a member of the Titans, he was able to explain why he thought he was benched during the game. The veteran cornerback did take the high road for the most part, though, and said that he was feeling ill in the days leading up to the game.

Austin was set to carry a cap number of $8 million into 2018 — more than $6 million less than last season’s figure, per Over The Cap — but will instead redo his deal to preserve his standing with the Rams after his worst statistical season of his career.

The NFL offseason has provided no shortage of excitement. Teams have released old players and agreed to contracts with new ones. Several players have been traded.

His focus turned to putting the ball on the ground after then-manager Dusty Baker noticed he was popping out too often, and it paid off for those two months. Difo does not make a lot of hard contact and his home run/fly ball percentage is not great, so the change probably better suits him. He has a good plate approach otherwise and keeps his strikeout rate low, so Difo has a lot of the right skills to be a boon to the Nationals lineup.

The biggest question is simply whether he will ever get sufficient or consistent enough playing time, but perhaps even if he doesn’t, Difo has already demonstrated that he can be successful as the super-utility player.

The Astros boasted a sterling bullpen on their way to becoming World Series champions, and though he struggled in the postseason Devenski was a key member of Houston’s reliever corps. His 24 regular season holds were good enough to put him among the top late-inning relievers in the league last year, and Devenski stepped in for four saves as well.

With new GM Dave Gettleman coming over from a Panthers organization that built its defense around Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly, it’s no surprise that he might want to address inside linebacker this offseason. ravens_023



Report: Rams to keep Tavon Austin on restructured deal

The Los Angeles Rams are keeping receiver Tavon Austin on a restructured contract after reportedly deciding to move on from him in February, reports Vincent Bonsignore of Los Angeles Daily News.

The future is uncertain. The tumors could be gone again soon and may never return. Or they could return. As he gets older, the risk goes down.

I cry so much more now, Solder told the Globe. Solder comes to the Giants knowing he’s come to the right city for his son, he has a quarterback who will show him more compassion than he knew was possible and he’s getting paid an awful lot of money. One day, he’s going to win the Man of the Year Award, too. The Giants hope he helps them win another Super Bowl. If Solder gets beat for a sack, well, that happens and he can handle it. The bigger battle is his little boy trying to beat cancer.

And what I mean by patience, that does not mean we will not be competitive. We will be competitive. Every single person that takes the field for this organization is going to be playing like they’re playing to keep their job. That’s the attitude I had when I played and that’s the attitude everyone will have to have in the organization.”

Jeter knows he has to give fans a reason to come to the stadium and hopes young players like Lewis Brinson, a Florida native acquired from Milwaukee in the Yelich trade, can do that. While Jeter promised the Marlins could be competitive this season, he also recognizes the uphill climb facing the team in 2018. He said Miami’s new expansion MLS team is in a better position to win sooner than the Marlins.

“We are starting from a deeper hole than he is,” Jeter said. “He is starting from scratch. We had some things that we need to fix.”

Wilson has also dropped 4.6 percent of the passes thrown in his direction, worse than the league average of 3.6 percent over that timeframe.

The rosiest scenario for Wilson was that some team would see him as this year’s Robert Woods, a wideout with solid blocking skills whose talents would play up in a better offense.

Come on down, Miami Dolphins ! Miami was already $3 million over the salary cap after trading Landry, but as part of the Dolphins’ move to fix the team culture, they’re going to cut Ndamukong Suh and use some of the savings to lock up Wilson on a three-year, $24 million deal that truly seems beyond any possible expectations of what Wilson might have been offered elsewhere. canucks_036



Jimmy Graham chooses to join the Packers over a reunion with the Saints

The exact framework of the deal hasn’t been released yet, but there was competition for Graham and he presumably got more than the $8 million per average the Chicago Bears plan to give Trey Burton.

Graham is 6’7 and 265 pounds, which makes him virtually impossible for most defenders to effectively cover, especially in the close quarters of a red zone situation. As long as he stays healthy, he should be a weapon for the Packers in the end zone this season.

Luke Willson is a free agent. The Seahawks have two younger tight ends on the roster, Nick Vannett and Tyrone Swoopes. Vannett was a third-round pick out of Ohio State in 2016. Swoopes was a quarterback at Texas who went undrafted in 2017 and converted to tight end. Vannett had 15 catches for 124 yards and a touchdown last season. Swoopes started on the practice squad and landed on the active roster in late December, but didn’t play.

But that $15-plus million a year it would have cost to keep him was impossible for the Seahawks to justify with their limited cap space and sweeping changes on defense. Now Graham will try to make a difference for Green Bay.

Incognito has had some run-ins with other players and the league.

He was investigated in 2014 by the NFL for harassing former teammate Jonathan Martin when both were with the Miami Dolphins.

The NFL launched another investigation this postseason when Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue alleged that Incognito directed racist slurs at him during the wild card matchup between the Bills and Jaguars.

But the league will not punish Incognito for that inciden t, and it didn’t impact Incognito’s standing with the Bills.

He’s been reliable for them and his play hasn’t declined with age.

Replacing one veteran offensive lineman, with the unexpected retirement of center Eric Wood due to health concerns surrounding a neck injury, is enough for the team to manage this offseason. packers_100



MLB Network’s Braves documentary hits right notes, but skips one big question

In the 1991 World Series, the Braves had a 3-2 lead in the series, only to fall to the Twins in seven games. (Not to mention Lonnie Smith’s famous base running gaffe in Game 7 and that the team still failed to score off Jack Morris despite having runners on second and third with nobody out in the eighth.)

In the 1992 World Series, the Braves were two outs away from taking a 2-0 series lead against the Blue Jays, only to have Ed Sprague ruin everything with a two-run homer.

If the Rams finish 20th in the draft order next year and we don’t depreciate the pick’s value for time (both of which are perhaps conservative estimates), the Chase Stuart suggests the Chiefs picked up the 33rd selection in a typical draft for a 25-year-old former All-Pro cornerback on a below-market deal for the next two seasons.

While Kansas City clearly wanted to trade Peters, this is a price point at which the Chiefs probably needed to trust their ability to rehabilitate Peters and bring him back into the fold.

The Rams, meanwhile, get a B+ for their end of the bargain.

They probably need to start holding onto their draft picks after sending high selections out in the trades for Peters, Jared Goff, and Sammy Watkins, but they’re not incurring an enormous amount of risk in trading for Peters.

They can go year-to-year and pay the Washington product just $27.5 million over the next three seasons, which is less than inferior cornerbacks like Dre Kirkpatrick and Logan Ryan got in their free-agent deals last offseason.

Is it a feature or a bug? The jury is still out. Still, as a context-neutral stat, WAR is one of the best available to be used in evaluating players and player performance. Given its current trajectory, it might not long before WAR completely dominates MVP and Hall of Fame discussions.

But in the words of Bertrand Russell, “WAR does not determine who is right…” so don’t think that WAR is the be all end all to every statistical discussion.

(OK, Russell was talking about the shooty-shooty war, the point still stands.)

L.A. will have $6.5 million in dead money on its cap for Ogletree this year, but with $47.3 million in space, the Rams can use the savings to bring back receiver Sammy Watkins, who would otherwise be an unrestricted free agent.

Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has helped develop unheralded inside linebackers such as Todd Davis and Brandon Marshall in years past, so the Rams might be able to get by without big-money players on the interior.packers_004



Beckham was in Spain on Friday visiting with soccer superstar and fellow Nike endorser Cristiano Ronaldo.

The new Giants brass — coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Dave Gettleman — have been open-minded about the top playmaker since their arrivals.

“It’s a clean slate,” Gettleman said last week at the NFL scouting combine. “I’m not worrying about what happened in the past. You want to know the why. You always have to get to the why. Eventually we’ll get to that. If you don’t get to the why, you can’t figure it out. You can’t fix it. So we’ll get to the why, and we’ll move forward.”

Requests for comment from Beckham’s camp have not been returned as of Saturday afternoon.

The video comes at an inopportune time for Beckham, who is looking for a lucrative long-term contract this offseason. He is set to play on the fifth-year option of his rookie deal worth $8.5 million.

On the acquisition of Landry, Thomas said: “This is really going to be one of the feathers in the cap of the offseason that John Dorsey’s having so far. To be able to acquire the top receiver who could be out there and available — and I think he did it for a fourth-round pick this year and they’re giving him like a seventh-round pick in 2019 — this is peanuts, baby.”

The Giants still want to see that Beckham has fully recovered from a broken ankle that ruined his 2017 season and were hoping he was past some of the incidents that marred the early part of his career. The enigmatic wide receiver was suspended for an on-field incident with cornerback Josh Norman in 2015 and has been fined numerous times by the league for his actions and behavior.

Mara said publicly that he was “unhappy” with Beckham after he pretended to urinate on the field like a dog after scoring a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles last season. Beckham kept a low profile after that Week 3 incident.

With Chancellor’s football future in jeopardy because of a career-threatening neck injury, the Seahawks have approached Shead about possibly playing strong safety next season.buccaneers_091



Reliever Andrew Bailey, 2009 AL Rookie of the Year, retires at 33

Andrew Bailey is calling it a career.

The 2009 AL Rookie of the Year on Monday took to Instagram to announce his retirement from MLB at age 33.

“Thank you to the fans for always cheering and demanding the best out of me. Thank you to my wife and family for the unwavering support over the last 12 years! I am looking forward to new challenges, new memories and hopefully many championships as I am excited to announce I will be joining the Los Angeles Angels MLB staff.”

Bailey had stints with the Athletics, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies and Angels before a recurring shoulder issue kept him sidelined for much of the 2017 season and limited him to just four games for Los Angeles. He finishes his eight-season career with 95 saves, a 3.12 ERA and 276 strikeouts in 274 1/3 innings over 265 games.

The right-hander struck out the first and the last batter he faced in the first inning, but labored in between. He fell behind leadoff hitter Jonathan Villar, 3-1, who then smashed a line drive to deep center that bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double.

After striking out the next batter, Nate Orf, on a splitter, Ohtani walked Ji-Man Choi. With clean-up batter Manny Pi?a up, Ohtani threw a wild pitch in the dirt. Catcher Martín Maldonado’s wild throw to second in a bid to catch the advancing Choi allowed a run to score.

Pi?a fouled out, and Ohtani then struck out Brett Phillips on four pitches to end the inning with 26 pitches. After lead-off hitter Keon Broxton homered off Ohtani to begin the second inning, the pitcher retired Nick Franklin on a fly out before getting the hook.buccaneers_025



Yankees open to playing Russell Wilson in Grapefruit League game

Russell Wilson could soon be getting in on the spring training action.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman on Tuesday said he’s open to the Seahawks quarterback getting the opportunity to play and take a couple swings in a Grapefruit League game.

Basically, owners decided they were determined to stop soaring free-agent costs, which meant that free agents received either zero interest from other teams or were only offered contracts at or below their previous salaries. Under the rules at the time, if a free agent didn’t re-sign with his previous team by Jan. 8, he couldn’t negotiate with that team again until April ended.

With no options, free agents reacted in a wide variety of ways. Bob Horner, at 29 years old and coming off back-to-back 27-homer seasons, went to play in Japan. Andre Dawson famously gave the Cubs a blank check and let them write in his 1987 salary (the Cubs gave him less than half of his 1986 salary). Lance Parrish took $400,000 less than the Tigers were offering in arbitration to sign with the Phillies. Jack Morris was considered maybe baseball’s best pitcher, but he received zero offers outside of returning to Detroit and re-upped with the Tigers a couple days before Christmas 1986.

In his second MLB season, Gurriel, 33, slashed .299/.332/.486 with 18 home runs and 75 RBIs. Gurriel broke into the majors in 2016 after defecting from Cuba that year, but played in just 36 games. Last season, however, he appeared in 139 games while becoming an integral part of the Astros lineup.

Manager A.J. Hinch told reporters Wednesday that he wasn’t sure how long Gurriel would need to recover.

“I’m not sure, we don’t really know until he gets through the surgery and we get to meet with the doctors to find out what’s next for him, so I don’t have a timeline,” Hinch said (via MLB.com).

In Gurriel’s absence this spring, Tyler White, A.J. Reed and J.D. Davis will get time at first base, Hinch said. Utility player Marwin Gonzalez played 31 games at first last season.seahawks_107_7ca2290b1fa37517-180x180



Why Sherman would make sense: Ed Werder linked Marshawn Lynch to Sherman last year when the Seahawks were considering trading Sherman.

Richard Sherman ’s career in Seattle looks like it’s over . Unless he decides to return to the Seahawks with a new, cheaper contract , he’ll likely be playing for a new team next season. But which team would be the best fit for the veteran cornerback?

Lynch is under contract with the Raiders through the 2018 season, so there’s still a chance he reunites with Sherman in Oakland. Sherman could fill a legitimate need in Oakland.

Welcome to the first edition of Ask Jason, what may or may not be a recurring column in which I answer questions from readers about baseball or whatever other topics they choose.

I put the word out on Twitter and received what’s best described as a smattering of interest. But, hey, it’s a start. So let’s see how this goes. On to the questions …

I don’t think the Phillies are getting off easy. They’re in the middle of a rebuild, and though the end is in sight, there’s no need for them to spend big right now. They have some exciting young players to build around, most notably Rhys Hoskins and Maikel Franco, and most observers agree that things will be rockin’ in Philly by 2019 or 2020 (or maybe even sooner, according to SN contributor Jared Wyllys) with some strategic additions. Plus, there’s still talk that they’re after Jake Arrieta to help shore up their rotation, and they did sign Carlos Santana. So I don’t think they’ve done anything to warrant harsh criticism over spending.

Talib, however, is 32 years old. Parting ways with him saves the Broncos $11 million this year and $20 million in future salaries. It likely wasn’t a surprise for Talib, who tweeted “who’s coming to get me??” after an NFL.com report said the Broncos were looking to move him.

What does this mean for the Rams? It means that every quarterback who has to face Los Angeles this year ought to be worried. Talib paired with Marcus Peters and Lamarcus Joyner, who was just tagged by the Rams, makes that backfield awfully fierce.

The Rams defense was solid last year under Phillips. But this offseason has already seen several big moves from the Rams — trading with the Chiefs to acquire Peters , slapping the tag on Joyner , sending Robert Quinn to the Dolphins , bringing in Talib, signing Sam Shields , and shipping Alec Ogletree off to the Giants .seahawks_107_7ca2290b1fa37517-180x180



Kyrie Irving explains ‘bond that can’t be broken’ with LeBron James, Kevin Love

An intriguing storyline coming out of the NBA All-Star Game draft is the reunion of former teammates Kyrie Irving, LeBron James and Kevin Love.

It was an intentional move from James, who drafted his own team in the new All-Star format. He selected Irving as a starter and Love as a reserve, which marks the first time the three players will be together since Irving requested a trade away from the Cavaliers over the summer.

The trio played together for three seasons (2014-2017) in Cleveland, and made it to the NBA Finals each of those years. However, many wondered whether James would select Irving for his All-Star team.
I get asked a lot about how the game has changed for me under Brad Stevens compared to my time at Brose Bamberg. Both Stevens and my former coach Andrea Trinchieri are real perfectionists in terms of basketball. Both live the game to the fullest and think of seemingly nothing else, 24/7. Both have a very similar approach to the game, mainly considering ball movement.

Defensively, both are open to trying new things and cross-matches, like putting Al Horford on Ben Simmons and the like. Andrea tried similar things to cause problems for the opposing offense. Therefore, there hasn’t been that much change for myself. My role is very similar: play defense, provide energy, rebound, run the court, pick and roll, catch and shoot. I think I have done quite well in the NBA so far, and my goal is obviously to continue to get better in every single facet of the game!

Ball will be joined on the U.S. roster by teammates Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma along with 2017 Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon, Celtics forwards Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, Bulls guard Kris Dunn, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, Mavericks guard Dennis Smith Jr. and Hawks center John Collins.

Joining Simmons (Australia) and Embiid (Cameroon) on the World roster are fellow Sixer Dario Saric (Croatia), Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen (Finland), Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis (Lithuania), Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (Canada), Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina (France), Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks (Canada) and Kings guards Buddy Hield (Bahamas) and Bogdan Bogdanovic (Serbia).

On the other side of the ice, Anaheim has almost everyone back after skating through the season’s first half with a mixture of role players and guys who figured to be spending the winter playing for its AHL team in San Diego.lions_032