You vs Him

By Stefan Anderson

As the summer begins to wind down and the fall is set to begin shortly, in comes a lot of excitement. Especially with the upcoming NFL season beginning on September 7th.

Hardcore fans, “Hardcore” in my best Steve Ballmer fans are ready to see their favorite teams line, casual fans are happy to see their sport return for wings and celebration and fantasy lovers are doing their pre-drafts in preparation for the upcoming fantasy draft season.

But fans are not the only one making the adjustments for the opening weekend, teams are also. With the half of the preseason played for most team, many are still having their position battles weekly through practice and the live action of the games. Questions are being answered about personnel and position are being filled but there a few teams that are still asking a major question; Who is our starting QB ?

The Jets, Browns and Vikings are some teams will that are searching for that answer for that question for the following weeks.


New York Jets:  Drafting Geno Smith and losing Mark Sanchez to injury it appeared that the franchise would be heading in a forward direction with Smith at the helm. But during his rookie season, Smith often struggled as most rookies do with recognizing the defense and all with a lack of a receiving core to catch passes that project failed.

Gang Green, who is speculated to be under its last year(s) with the charismatic Rex Ryan, looks to put together a contending team bringing some offense weapons that include Michael Vick, who was brought in to give Geno Smith the blueprint to run  Marty Mornhinweg’s offense, after Vick flourished in the past years. With one quarterback trying to write the last pages in his book and another looking to make his first page, Smith and Vick are in a quarterback duel to see who will win New York’s starting position.

Throughout the preseason, Smith has seen more action as the starter with the first offense and has more stats but both him and Vick have looked equally successful in their limited time.

Who Starts Week 1: Vick will be the starter based on experience, but look of Geno to earn back his starting spot mid-season because of Vick inability to stay healthy.

Johnny Manziel

Cleveland Browns: A franchise that quarterback situation is a prime example of what direction they are heading. Cleveland has been in a tough division, AFC North, but the brass of the team has not made the right steps for their franchise to receive the success they need. Coach after coach, losing season after losing and not to mention quarterback after quarterback, Cleveland continues to search for their answers.

The Browns under Mike Pettine now look to go forward with their first round draft choice Johnny Manziel and last year starter Brian Hoyer. During the preseason both QB’s look inconsistent with their check downs and reads with the first offense. Hoyer who has only seen 18 starts in five season including the three starts with the Browns last season, doesn’t have much more experience than Manziel and one of the reasons this quarterback competition will continue until the end of preseason.

Who Starts Week 1: Hoyer wins the job based on his reps with first team, Cleveland who hold some of the roughest fans will dethrone Hoyer out of the job and Manziel will be praised whether he wins or ultimately loses as they do often in Cleveland.


Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings are amongst new stadium relocating from their dome, and now will face the exterior facts that reside in Minneapolis. Adrian Peterson continues to be a reliable source of offense but cannot continue to be the only offense provided for the Vikings this season. Defense begin to lock in more and more on Peterson to shut down their run offense and with the inconsistent quarterback play it makes it easier for defenses.

The Vikings seen over three quarterbacks behind the center last season, and attempt to fix that dilemma.  With newest draftee Teddy Bridgewater and former starter Christian Ponder sparring each other for the starting position in Minnesota.

Who Starts Week 1: Bridgewater becomes the starters and withholds the job based on the mobility and the added dimension he can bring possibly running an  read option offense and bring a sense of youth to the outdated offense in Minnesota.

The quarterback controversies are just some of the story lines to look forward to for the upcoming 2014-2015 season. These teams are in search of postseason luck and the ability to contend once again.  Should be interesting to see how everything pans out.

Premier League Preview III

Cardiff City v Manchester City - Premier League

By Greg Hudson


Nickname: The Red Devils
Kit Colors: Red/White/Black; White
Home: Old Trafford
The Red Devils have been the dominant force in English football in the past quarter century, but when legendary boss Sir Alex Ferguson retired at the end of the 2012-13 season, United’s fortunes took a turn for the worse. David Moyes took the helm last season, but seemed to immediately run into trouble getting results from the team considered by many to be the most fearsome in England.
So it was of little surprise when David Moyes was sacked towards the end of last season, when United finished a lowly 7th. He was replaced by Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal, who guided the Dutch to the World Cup Final in 2010 and to a third place finish this past summer in Brazil. Van Gaal comes in with a highly touted tactical understanding of the game, something which cannot always be said of his predecessor, and with some money to spend on new players.
But that money has been invested in attacking midfielder Ander Herrera and left back Luke Shaw, a 20-year-old phenom who impressed last season with Southampton. It isn’t to say that these are bad signings, but the departures of Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, and captain Nemanja Vidic have left an already shaky defense even more vulnerable. Their attack looks strong, so they shouldn’t struggle to score against the lesser clubs, but they’ll struggle to keep the likes of City, Liverpool, and Arsenal out of the net, and that will hurt their finish in the end. But make no mistake, United are a Champions’ League calibre side.
Predicted Finish: 4th
Nickname: The Magpies
Kit Colors: Black/White; Grey
Home: St. James’ Park
Newcastle are a unusual outfit. A side comprised mostly by French players or African players from French-speaking countries, the Magpies have had a volatile combination of intensity and class, but a tendency towards inconsistent play has kept them from reaching their full potential, as they lost 19 of their 38 matches last season en route to a 10th place finish. 
Looking to improve their inconsistent attack, Alan Pardew has made several additions to his side this summer. After the departure of fullback Matthew Debuchy to Arsenal, defenders Jack Colback and Daryl Janmaat have moved to St. James’ Park, while new attacking midfielders Remy Cabella and Emmanuel Riviere and strikers Ayoze Perez and Siem de Jong will help the Magpies score the goals they need to convert narrow defeats into draws, and turn close matches into wins.
They aren’t a top team, not yet, but the signings they’ve made this summer show intent to develop young up-and-comers into star talents who can challenge the top teams for a place in Europe in the coming years.
Predicted Finish: 8th
Nickname: The Hoops
Kit Colors: Blue/White; Red/Black
Home: Loftus Road
Rangers make their return to the Premier League after a year in the Championship, having won the playoff final with a last-gasp goal over favourites Derby County. The Hoops had spent the previous two seasons in the top flight, and their squad leaves little doubt why. They’ve got several Premier League regulars in their ranks, and while they have no star power, the likes of Loic Remy, Junior Hoilett and Adel Taarabt all have potential to become household names throughout English football as top attacking options.
But it was QPR’s porous defense which doomed them to relegation in 2012-13 and with that in mind, two of the three new additions to the Hoop’s back line are defenders Rio Ferdinand and Steven Caulker. Ferdinand, the 34-year-old veteran who won several titles with Manchester United, will no doubt serve largely as a mentor and advisor to the young Caulker and the other Rangers defenders as they look to keep opponents off the score sheet and give their club the best opportunity to survive. Should they succeed in tightening the defense, they should survive comfortably, but if they remain a porous unit, they’ll struggle to stay afloat in a league where you either sink or swim.
Predicted Finish: 17th
Nickname: The Saints
Kit Colors: Red/White; Navy
Home: St. Mary’s Stadium
Saints exceeded expectations in 2013-14, sitting in the top five for much of the season in just their second season since promotion in 2012-13. But with time Mauricio Pochettino’s men returned to earth and settled for and eighth place finish, which is still well above their fans’ expectations. 
But as is often the case, a mid-table side with standout players often has trouble keeping them, and most of Saints’ side from last season have left for pastures new. Defenders Luke Shaw, Callum Chambers, and Dejan Lovren have all left the club, as have midfielder Adam Lallana and strikers Rickie Lambert and Dani Osvaldo. These big-name sales left Saints fans feeling broken and many pundits have picked them to be sent down.
But new manager Ronald Koeman has dipped into the transfer market with the hopes of finding players capable of saving Saints, and he’s done quite well. New ‘keeper Fraser Forster and new defender Ryan Bertrand, both highly underrated players, will look to keep what remains of the Southampton defense in good shape to keep opponents off the sheet, while Dusan Tadic will attempt to fill the shoes vacated by Lallana. But this shouldn’t be as difficult as one might think; last season for FC Twente, Tadic created over 120 goal-scoring opportunities – over fifty more than the next man behind him. Meanwhile, bargain-priced Shane Long replaces Lambert, and when Jay Rodriguez returns from knee injury, these two should help the Saints produce the goals they’ll need to survive. It won’t be a comfortable ordeal and there will be hard moments, but Saints remain a Premiership-quality side.
Predicted Finish: 16th
Nickname: The Potters
Kit Colors: Red/White; SkyBlue/Navy
Home: The Brittania Stadium
In their sixth season in the top flight since their promotion in 2008, the Potters secured their first top-half finish last year when they ended the season ninth. But it was also a season of transformation for Stoke, who had earned a reputation as a side that did everything except play football during their time under Tony Pulis, when they were known more for a hard-tackling, foul-committing side that played simply to disrupt opponents’ strategy and win the game with physical play and expert set piece work. But last season under new manager Mark Hughes, the Potters showed that they can do more than just tackle, clear, and head the ball – they are a legitimate footballing side that can entertain crowds like the best teams in England.
While the quality of the squad at Stoke is below that of the elite teams, the Potters are a solid mid-table side with a variety of attacking options with slight and spry striker Peter Odemwingie offering an entirely different skillset of his giant strike partner, the 6-foot 8-inch Peter Crouch. But the two Peters represent what makes Stoke who they are – a unique blend of physical muscle and finesse that can both bully an opponent and create quality scoring chances.
New acquisitions reflect this unique combination. Phil Bardsley and Steve Sidwell represent the physical side of the Stoke way, while highly-rated young attacker Bojan Krkic is the embodiment of style and flair. This combination certainly isn’t typical of a side capable of winning silverware, but it’s effective, certainly enough so to earn the Potters another mid-table finish and perhaps a decent run in one of the domestic cups.
Predicted Finish: 11th

Premier League Preview Part II


By Greg Hudson


Nickmame: The Toffees
Kit Colors: Blue; Black
Home: Goodison Park
Everton impressed last season under Roberto Martinez, and the manager looks to continue his side’s new-found success in 2014-15. Romelu Lukaku, who scored 14 goals for them last term on loan from Chelsea, joins the team on a permanent move this season, while Gareth Barry rejoins his old club from champions Manchester City.
Make no mistake, Everton are capable of beating the best. But their young talent still needs time to develop, with players like Ross Barkley, John Stones, and Lukaku still a few years from their peak of performance, while their veterans like Barry, Phil Jagielka, and keeper Tim Howard are past their peak. So don’t expect the Toffees to finish above their Merseyside rivals Liverpool, let alone challenge for the title. But beware, don’t bet against Everton to play spoiler in the title race by taking points from the big fish.
Predicted Finish: 7th
Nickname: The Tigers
Kit Colors: Gold/Black; Black
Home: The KC Stadium
The Tigers surprised a few last season with a fearless approach to football, as they characterized their first season of their return to the Premier League by taking games to their opponent, especially at home, where they recorded seven wins and an additional four draws. But their road form was less than stellar, as they lost 13 of their 19 fixtures. But while their goal tally wasn’t exceptional, they found the goals they needed to win games against teams around them in the bottom half of the table, and among their victories was a shock 3-1 triumph over Liverpool at the KC Stadium.
To strengthen the squad, manager Steve Bruce brought in some new names, most notably highly-rated young winger Tom Ince from Blackpool on a free transfer and Robert Snodgrass, the standout of a Norwich City team that was relegated at the end of last season. Holding midfielder Jake Livermore, who spent 2013-14 on loan with the Tigers, joined on a permanent deal, while defender Andrew Robertson joins a five-man back line that includes up-and-coming defenders Alex Bruce and James Chester.
Don’t expect the Tigers to finish in the top half of the table, but you can certainly expect this stay in the top flight to last longer than their one previous stay in the top flight, which lasted only two seasons.
Predicted Finish: 13th
Nickname: The Foxes
Kit Colors: Blue/Gold; Gold/Black
Home: The King Power Stadium
The Foxes make their return to the Premiership in 2014-15 after an 11-season absence since their relegation in 2002-03. Manager Nigel Pearson saw his side to the championship of the League Championship last season, and the Foxes certainly have quality. Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, son of legendary Manchester United ‘keeper Peter Schmeichel, helps lead the way, while defender Wes Morgan wears the armband.
But the gulf in class between the Premier League and the Championship is massive, and Pearson has made several additions to his squad in the hopes of bolstering it enough to survive their first season in the Premiership. Matthew Upson and Marc Albrighton, veterans of the top flight, join the side, while striker Leonardo Ulloa will look to contribute the goals the Foxes need to survive.
But the simple fact is that while they will play good football on more than few occasions, without making more signings and getting help from the teams around them, the Foxes aren’t likely to produce the results needed to survive the season. But they’re certain to be entertaining as they’re bound to go down fighting.
Predicted Finish: 18th
Nickname: The Reds
Kit Colors: Red; Yellow/Red
Home: Anfield
Liverpool were both the Premier League’s top entertainers last season, and the league’s biggest surprise. The Reds had finished seventh the season before, but they developed into a fearsome offensive juggernaut over the course of the season, as strikers Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez, known simply as SAS, finished the season as the league’s two highest scorers and teen phenoms Raheem Sterling and John Flanagan both became regular fixtures in the starting eleven. But defensive weaknesses let them down in the late stages of the season and they came up two points short of their first league title in 24 years, finishing as runners-up to Manchester City.
Manager Brendan Rodgers knew that to become a championship-calibre side Liverpool would need new players, but his hopes for becoming title favourites ended when Suarez left the club in disgrace after biting Italian defender Georgio Chiellini while representing Uruguay in the World Cup. But Rodgers cashed in on his troublesome striker, profiting to the tune of 75 million pounds, and he put that cash to work, adding several new players to the side. Attacking midfielder Adam Lallana and striker Rickie Lambert join the club from Southampton, as does highly-touted defender Dejan Lovren, brought in to help shore up the Reds’ too-often porous defense. Joining him in the back line are fullbacks Alberto Moreno from Sevilla and Javier Manquillo, a loanee from Atletico Madrid. Meanwhile the Reds continue to look for goals by adding young prospect Lazar Markovic and holding midfield up-and-comer Emre Can.
If the Reds’ defense can avoid the costly mistakes that plagued them last season, while continuing to find goals from players all across the lineup, they can challenge for the title. But as Tottenham Hotspur proved last season, replacing a superstar with several new additions can take time to produce results. Don’t expect them to win it this season, but expect them to be there right on the heels of the title favorites ready to pounce if they slip up.
Predicted Finish: 3rd
Nickname: The Citizens
Kit Colors: SkyBlue/Navy; Navy/SkyBlue
Home: The City of Manchester Stadium
The Citizens captured their second title in two years last season, and the holders look stronger than ever. Manager Manuel Pellegrini had few moves to make this summer, as there are few ways to realistically improve this squad. Strikers Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko, and Alvaro Negredo all scored 20 or more goals across all competitions last season, while their defense was the best in the league, especially at home, where they were beaten just once all season.
While they were somewhat fortunate to win the title as Liverpool faltered in the final fixtures of the season, there is no squad as deep or as talented in all departments as City’s. The only department they moved to strengthen was the defense, with fullback Bacary Sagna joining from Arsenal and centre-half Eliaquim Mangala arriving from FC Porto along with teammate Fernando, acquired to fill the hole between the back line and the midfield.
There’s no team with better players, and only Brendan Rodgers and Jose Mourinho could claim to be tactically better managers than Pellegrini, so there’s little doubt that the title holders are the odds-on favourites to retain their silverware, but they need to beware: they’re there to be shot at, and they can’t let their approach be changed by their good fortunes last season. That being said, this is a hungry outfit that isn’t likely to be satisfied by anything other than a second title in as many years.
Predicted Finish: 1st 

Premier League Preview

TOPIC Barclays Premiership trophy at the JJB Stadium

By Greg Hudson 

Saturday marks the Opening Day of the 2014-15 Barclay’s Premier League season, and the world’s premier league has added some of the world’s premier players to its ranks as the 20 clubs made moves looking to strengthen their squads. But whether a club is fighting for Premier League glory or simply for its Premier League survival, it looks to be an explosive and exciting season in England. The Starting Point’s Greg Hudson takes a look at the 20 clubs and looks at how each one should fare this season.

Nickname: The Gunners
Kit Colors: Red/White; Blue/Yellow
Home: The Emirates Stadium
Arsenal come into this season on the heels of a 4th place finish last campaign, and while they’ll be disappointed to have fallen short of a series title challenge after sitting atop the league for more than half of the season, they’ll take comfort in securing another season of Champions’ League football with their 4th place finish, and claiming their first piece of silverware in nearly a decade by winning the F.A. Cup, and they’ll look to mount a series challenge this term.
They have the exciting addition of Alexis Sanchez to assist in that effort, having signed the Chilean forward from Barcelona after he lead his country to the quarterfinals of the World Cup in Brazil. This will bolster an attack that at times seemed to lack grit last season. Conversely, Arsenal’s rock-solid defense last term looks to be slightly less impenetrable this season after the departures of fullback Bacary Sagna to Manchester City and captain Thomas Vermaelen to Barcelona. This isn’t to say they’ll struggle defensively, but teams may look at Arsenal and go in with more of a belief that they can come out and score goals against the Gunners.
Predicted Finish: 5th
Nickname: The Villans
Kit Colors: Claret/Sky; White
Home: Villa Park
The Villans were a top-half side just a few years ago, but the almost-mighty have fallen into the clutches of relegation fights each of the past two seasons, with the West Midlands side salvaging a 15th place finish last season, five points above the drop. But while some of their more notable players in the past five seasons are long gone, namely Ashley Young and Stewart Downing, the gap they left has been filled by younger players eager to prove themselves, and this explains their dip in performance.
But in 2014-15, look for their younger players like Christian Benteke and Andy Weimann to really step up their play. They’ve both got two full seasons of Premiership football underneath them now, and they’re developing the maturity that fully-fledged footballers need. That being said, they’ve also looked to add experience to the side by adding Joe Cole and Kieran Richardson.
But this team is not full of the kind of talent that will lead them to the top of the table, or, in fairness, even the top half of the table. Look for them to settle into a comfortable spot in the bottom half of the table, well clear of the drop zone.
Predicted Finish: 12th
Nickname: The Clarets
Kit Colors: Claret/Blue; Black
Home: Turf Moor
The Clarets make their return to top-flight football for the first time in four years, but a successful season in the Championship is no sure sign of success in the Premiership a year later, because the level of competition is so much higher in this league. For many teams, a stay in Premier League often lasts one season, a lesson Crystal Palace took several attempts to learn.
Burnley have dipped into the transfer market to add proven Permier-League-calibre players to the squad, and among the signings are Michael Kightly and Matty Taylor, Premiership veterans both. But the blunt truth is that this is not a Premier League team, and they won’t be here for very long.
Predicted Finish: 20th
Nickname: The Blues
Kit Colors: Blue; Yellow/Blue
Home: Stamford Bridge
Chelsea were title favourites last season after the return of Jose Mourinho and the addition of several major signings, but they often failed to live up to the potential they have, especially from an attacking perspective. Mourinho’s defense-first mentality limited the action of world-class attackers like Juan Mata, who left in January for Manchester United, but his tactics proved effective, if not infuriating. Their 2-0 defeat of Liverpool at Anfield in April was the Reds’ ultimate undoing, and while Chelsea can hardly be adjudged to have played football on that day, when they do come out to play football, there are few teams that do it better.
To add to their chances, standout midfielder Cesc Fabregas joined the ranks from Barcelona, and La Liga superstar Diego Costa signed on from Atletico Madrid. Costa will likely prove the more essential to their success, as Chelsea strikers scored just nine goals all season last term.
But it was Chelsea’s defense that saw them to their 3rd place finish last season, and that defensive unit has been weakened, somewhat significantly, by the departures of David Luiz and Ashley Cole. So it will be interesting to see how the Blues fare this season with what will almost certainly require a re-working of tactics. But don’t expect it to mean a drop in their finish.
Predicted Finish: 2nd
Nickname: The Eagles
Kit Colors: Blue/Red; Yellow
Home: Selhurst Park
Palace were last season’s shockers. After tallying just four points by the beginning of November and sitting at the bottom of the table, Tony Pulis was appointed manager and the club’s fortunes reversed. The Eagles not only surprised fans by beating the drop for the first time in the club’s history, but they finished an incredible 11th, gaining wins against high-fliers Chelsea, Everton, and Arsenal, and rallying from 3-0 to take a point from Liverpool in May. 
But while Pulis was able to get the most out of his players, his departure from the club in the summer could be construed as a minor cataclysm. But it isn’t as bad as it might seem. Progress cannot be undone, and the confidence and quality in this side suggests they can continue their mid-table success. Their additions of Brede Hangeland and Martin Kelly will only help to shore up a defense that on occasions looked thoroughly amateur. A solid defense and a confident attack spells a good season for the Eagles.
Predicted Finish: 10th

Love Is Stronger Than Pride


By Stefan Anderson

In 1992, when FIBA allowed professional players to participate in the Olympic competition the United States have always decided to assemble the greatest rosters known to man on their Men’s National Team. The United States later seen their fate in the 2004 Olympics, where the roster they put together looked inferior to its international competitors. Ultimately the Men’s national team left Greece with a bronze medal, walking away with an Olympic gold medal for the 3rd time in their illustrious history.

The bronze medal affected the stars of the NBA and brought their attention back to international competition as Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, LeBron James and company all signed to compete in the 2008 Olympics to help “redeem” the United States pride and bring the gold back to their native country.  They did just so and with the opportunity to play along the best competition in the NBA and under legendary Coach K, players are honored to join the national team again.

In a friendly, Blue versus White competition between the USA’s prospects, the attitude for the Men’s national team changes. One of the rising stars and premier players of the NBA, Paul George suffered a tragic injury, shown above.  Not only players, but the brass of each organization are now speculating if they are going to let their star and prized franchise players continue to compete in international games in the future.

George’s injury could be a freak accident and could happen anytime you step on a court; it still makes many conscious about the situation. Mark Cuban, one of the most outspoken people in the NBA, of course has his opinion about what he thinks about international competition and NBA players in it. Cuban takes his jabs at the IOC and NBA by stating “The (International Olympic Committee) is playing the NBA. The IOC is an organization that has been rife with corruption, to the point where a member was accused of trying to fix an Olympic event in Salt Lake. The IOC (pulls in) billions of dollars.”

The Mavericks also went on talk on why he believes there should be a separate World Cup and went on to add “The pros in multiple sports are smart enough to not play when they are eligible free agents. But teams take on huge financial risk so that the IOC committee members can line their pockets. The greatest trick ever played was the IOC convincing the world that the Olympics were about patriotism and national pride instead of money.”

Also, The NBA’s MVP and the proclaimed leader of this summer’s World Cup team, Kevin Durant, withdrew himself from the competition. Stating that he would rather take the time to focus and prepare himself for the upcoming season.

Based on speculation, many believe that the George’s incident can be a cause especially because the injury could taint the young superstar career forever. Also with superstars not willing sacrifice their career for a game that only happens once every 3 to 4 years makes no sense to some. Kobe Bryant never played in international competition until “The Redeem Team” came about so it’s not unusual to see that happen.

All sides have a valid point and make clear arguments but what the Olympic games does for certain superstars are unparalleled because it has a lot more pros then cons. Players like Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant, are great examples of that, when went and played in FIBA world championship games and then returned to the NBA, you seen the great impact on their games it had. Many players on the 2008 team refer to playing with true professional like Jason Kidd and Kobe Bryant have shaped their NBA careers in a great direction.

Of course the cons that can happen like injury can happen but it is ultimately apart the NBA and playing basketball in general.  Seeing the greatest athletes compete with and against each other makes a great sight for viewers and gives the players their best chance to succeed as well. So NBA owners and GM’s should continue their star players and franchise players continue to compete and solely leave that reasonability on the players themselves who rave for the opportunity in most cases.

MLB Trade Deadline: WInners and Losers

mlb trade deadlineBy Greg Hudson
July 31, 2014 was one of the craziest days in recent baseball history, and that was BEFORE the teams took to the field for play. On a day that saw several major moves, the Starting Point weighs in on the winners and losers of the trade deadline.
Detroit Tigers
The Tigers are already one of the elite teams in baseball, but their deadline day move for David Price cemented their status, and gives them perhaps the single most fearsome starting rotation in the majors, with Verlander, Scherzer, and Price leading the way, making the Tigers the first team in baseball history to have the last three Cy Young winners on the roster at the same time.
Boston Red Sox
Yes, the Sox unloaded two of their starters in Lester and Lackey. But make no mistake, the Red Sox aren’t giving up on their future. They made a smart move. Lester is a free agent in the off-season, and his move to Oakland is almost certain to last only that long. Then he will most likely return to Fenway, and who did the Red Sox gain for this essentially loan to the A’s? Yoenis Cespedes. They also gained Allen Craig from St. Louis in exchange for Lackey, but while Craig is playing below his standard this season, his standard is very high. Look for him to bounce back with the Sox.
Seattle Mariners
The Mariners played a minor part in deadline day, but came out the better for it. They gave up a prospect in Nick Franklin, but gained a talented and speedy outfielder in Austin Jackson in part of a three way deal with Tampa Bay and Detroit. Solid pitching and a new bat in the lineup gives Seattle a good chance to make the playoffs, despite coming from the division with arguably the two best teams in baseball: the A’s and the Halos.
Oakland Athletics
The A’s pulled a Brian Cashman. They made a big move on deadline day, for sure, when they traded for John Lester. But they made a big move that will do them almost no good past this season. Lester’s contract expires in the off-season, and it’s almost certain that the Moneyball A’s won’t be willing to pay him fair value for his arm and he will take his services elsewhere. Meanwhile, once he’s gone, the departure of super slugger Yoenis Cespedes will be a noticeable loss. It seems like A’s ownership felt such pressure to bring home a World Series title this season that they are willing to sacrifice the team’s future in order to obtain it (Brian Cashman, anyone?). It isn’t a bad move, per se – not yet, anyway – but make no mistake, if the A’s don’t go on to win the World Series this year, this will go down as one of the biggest flop moves in recent memory.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays went through a torrid May and June as injuries to some of their best players hurt them both on the mound and at the plate. But they recovered and are legitimately in the hunt for a playoff spot in the AL East. This is thanks to the return of key players like pitcher Alex Cobb, and the ever-reliable David Price. But the Rays lost Price to Detroit on deadline day. While they acquired two young and high-potential prospects in the deal, they really hurt their playoff chances this year with the deal. That being said should new acquisition Drew Smyly develop into the kind of pitcher he’s capable of becoming, the Rays have a chance not only this year, but in years to come.
Philadelphia Phillies
The biggest losers on deadline day were the Phils. The perennial playoff contenders have been through a rough period for the past few seasons, and things were supposed to be better this year with Marlon Byrd and Cliff Lee. But the team is still underperforming and there were a lot of rumors that Byrd and others might be on their way out to make way for players who might deliver the goods the Philly fans demand. But come deadline day, the the Phils didn’t make a single move. In so doing, they’ve condemned themselves to a sub-.500 season and will have to work hard in the off-season to make themselves contenders again instead of the pretenders they are this season.