Spring Winds of Sports by Bob Ryan

The Spring winds  of sports come blowin in ….with the temp breaking into the 60’s-70’s comfortably, sun shining, winds blowing in from across the sea (thank You Francis Albert Sinatra)…man…it’s like spring….and Spring has also blown in all kinds of stuff for the sports world…

….OK…I’m eating my crow pie….the Blues DO look like a different team…and they are! Coach Yeo changed to zone defense, brought up an entire line from the Wolves (Blues minor league team)-this line made us quicker, fresher legs and we have a real 3rd line now, he wants more puck possession, seemed to “reach” the vets about doing all the little things that make you a winner..bravo!! Keep it up and treat us to another long post-season.

…Cards loss of Alex Reyes to Tommy John surgery is significant. The 22 year old was named the best right-handed prospect in Major League Baseball heading into 2017 per MLB.com… the Cards have tried downplaying the year that he’ll miss due to the injury….but on Oct 4th , 2016 in the post-season review—Mo said, “Clearly people like Reyes and Martinez are exciting. They have a chance to be top-of-rotation starters so that’s reassuring”….with a pitching staff  that wallowed through the pitching waters like they were pulling along the Admiral in 2016 (in last 6 weeks of the season, all of the Cards starters had ERA’s over 5.00;  for the season, the starting rotation’s ERA ballooned 44.8 percent to 4.33 and the runs allowed elevated 35.6 percent from 525) the Cards were counting heavily on Reyes with Martinez at the top of the rotations…despite their denials…

So…why or how did this UCL (Ulnar Collateral Ligament)  injury occur to Reyes. Research on the subject according to FanGraphs —there were 6 risk factors that could be used to predict UCL reconstruction surgery. These risk factors were 1) Fewer days between consecutive games, 2) smaller repertoire of pitches, 3) a less pronounced horizontal release location, 4) smaller stature, 5) greater mean pitch speed, and 6) greater mean pitch counts per game. How did Alex Reyes measure up in these risk factors? In  #1-4 listed above, Reyes was well within the parameters of safety.  However, he was above average in mean pitch speed but in recent studies of the UCL revealed that off-speed pitches thrown at a higher speed (Reyes threw an 88 mph change up) could represent significant stress on the UCL…remember Reyes’ first words, “ I had just thrown an off speed pitch”…..does it matter…not really …but it may help pitchers in the future follow a different set of parameters to help their arms remain sound…I’ll take over my MD jacket now 

So ….how serious is the Surgery named after the former Dodger pitcher?  NONE…not one of the last 10 Cy Young Award Winners  had Tommy John (Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, Jake Arrieta, Dallas Keuchel, Clayton Kershaw, Corey Kluber, R.A. Dickey, Justin Verlander, Roy Halladay and Felix Hernandez.)..several other significant pitchers with dominant seasons during the same time frame like Madison Bumgarner, Zack Greinke, Cliff Lee, Chris Sale and Cole Hamels –were also “Tommy John Free” . Some experienced starters who had the surgery in or after mid-career ..have come back  with good seasons ( John Smoltz, David Wells, Tim Hudson, John Lackey and our very own Chris Carpenter)…but… here’s the scary part….the result is mixed for young starters who had this surgery…..some came all the way back…some most of the way..some part of the way…some had shorter, undistinguished careers.. make your own evaluations—Darren Dreifort (1994)-top prospect who became a trivia answer, Eric Gagne (1996)—converted to reliever after surgery, Odalis Perez (1999)-who?,Kerry Wood (1999)-shorter, up & down career; Anibal Sanchez—not a super level but has been good for a long time (245 starts); Dustin McGowan – bust: Jaime Garcia—no comment needed; Jordan Zimmerman (2009)—has come back and been very successful…and the list goes on further…. but you have the idea.

So…as the spring winds blow in…which MLB team did the best in the dreary winter days?  According to FanGraphs.com … the White Sox did the best at reshaping their team….of course…they were a last place team…so they can only go in one direction..anyway.. …the ChiSox were actually listed as #1 and #10 team since they completed two major trades… when they traded super starter Chris Sale they received in return RHP Michael Kopech & Inf Yoan Moncada + two others..days later they acquired RHP Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning for Adam Eaton. Derek Holland was added for additional pitching…so this last place team won’t win the series this year but …it seems that they’ve “gone all in” for starting pitching (like the Mets did a couple years ago)…at #2 for the off season–the Rays trade for Jose DeLeon from LA bolsters their staff with a guy who appears to be with them for the full 6 years prior to “big money time”…sending Logan Forsythe to the Dodgers was losing a good-solid – but not superstar player who hits free agency in 2 years….free agency to the Tampa Bay franchise is code word for “bye-bye” since they don’t have the payroll to keep their stars…further down the list at #8 is the Cubs as they acquired Wade Davis to be their closer…after renting  Chapman for 3 months and having a bare, nervous bullpen, Davis’ 1 year deal makes him important but not a long term payroll albatross. Several other “reshaping” numbers revolved around teams resigning their own players….I don’t  get how that is “RE-shaping” a team…it seems more like keeping them together.

Spring winds of sports have also blown in some debris too…

….Janoris Jenkins…you remember him…took him 5 years of inept Ram play before he stopped getting fooled by the double moves….he’s become an Unofficial GM now….self appointed… GM Jenkins is now advising the NYG during the Super Bowl events to keep together the entire defense…resign all the free agents and “we’ll make something happen”. He continues with the idea that not signing back your free agents  makes it tougher as he says, “Keep everybody together. That’s why teams don’t ever go back to back. Or back to back to back.” ..no that’s not a typing misprint, Mr. Jenkins talks like that 

….I had the chance to cover Sophie Cunningham when she starred @ Rock Bridge HS(Columbia, MO)  in the Girls Championships. It was a very, very  good team (4 starters went on to play college basketball) but she was the “go-to” person at crunch time. She’s moved just slightly down the road to Mizzou.  She is really a terrific basketball player….most women sports don’t get anyway near as much coverage as the men so few may know of her.  She’s been the leader of the outstanding Mizzou women’s program that drew over 5000 fans last night…congrats to her and the Lady Mizzou Tigers!

….Apparently Nick Saban was auditioning Steve Sarkisian for Off Coordinator while Lane Kiffin was still around…when Kiffin was shoved off to Atlantic Coast College…or some other name close to that…Saban actually talked with Sakisian…after the talks..it was clear that they weren’t on the same Bama page…so Sarkisian…hoping to keep his head attached prior to Saban pulling the guillotine on him like he did to Kiffin…bolted for Atlanta Falcons..Saban has put forth the idea that the relationship between the two of them had deteriorated amid disagreements of ‘system philosophy’ .Does it really matter who calls the plays at Alabama ?

…for the most part, the NBA is dead around the Lou…so little..if any NBA news appears here…but Draymond Green made NBA history…he was the 1st player to  EVER have a triple double with fewer than 10 points! He scored but 4 points but had 12 rebounds, 10 assists, 10 steals…btw his Golden State Warrior team defeated the Grizzlies 122-107..now YOU are really ready for the Sports Trivia question next year 

….you figure it….Brandon Phillips turned down trade offers all last year….now he agrees to go to the Atlanta Braves…the woeful Atlanta Braves…why would he do that? The only reason that I can think of has two parts—1) Reds had told him that they were cutting back his time; 2) Atlanta is the only team that would take him ?

…we all know that Kevin Shattenkirk won’t be with the Blues next year…he’s a Free Agent at the end of the year and they can’t afford the price that he’s demanding….so….the Blues haven’t hidden the fact that they would like to trade him….only a contender would want him…but those contenders don’t’ want to give up other quality players (since they are all hoping to go deep in playoffs)…so Blues should expect a high draft pick and a “top prospect” or 2 in return..

….good, quality MLB catchers are hard to find….yet free agent Matt Wieters (Balt) is still on the market…He’s 30 years old, hit .243 (so-so) with 17 HR,66 rbis, was an All-Star….now he is coming off of a hefty $18mil contract but…sign him for 1 year …even at that salary….he’s gone like the wind after 2017..it could end up being NY Mets, Tampa Bay or Florida

…I’m excited that Mizzou has hired Steve Bieser as their Head Baseball Coach….I met and observed his baseball coaching skills from 2004-2009 @ Vianney….he then moved to SEMO and had 3 consecutive conference championships there…he is using newer, modern techniques to advance the skill levels of his players….it’ll be fun to watch this year.

…when Travis Ford reloads his roster next year with several outstanding recruits and transfers and the ability of this team to move up in the standings despite limited ability…I’m looking for a top 3 finish in the Atlantic 10 (which has 14 teams)  for the Bills in 2017-18

…It’s nothing really new….but maybe the most overlooked attribute of Nick Saban is his ability to recruit….according to Scout.com…his signings have been ranked in the following way:  2008-#1; 2009-#2; 2010-#4; 2011-#7;  2012-#2;  2013-#4; 2014-#1, 2015-#2; 2016-#1 and this year-2017#1. Winning big..very big….. makes it much easier to sell….like this…  every recruiting class since 2008 has played in a national championship game AND Bama has seen more of its players drafted over the last 6 years than any school in the nation—44 players!

 

Well…. the spring winds are blowing me out now…

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Joe Parisi says:

    As always, enjoyable, interesting read.
    A few thoughts…

    The better play by the Blues is a strong player endorsement of the coaching change by the players. Hitch did a fine job bringing the Blues back to post season, however, a new, more contemporary ” voice” was probably in order. GM let go too many key pieces of roster, which the players may have resented.

    Brandon Phillips is a Georgia native. Reds aren’t going to be competitive, so why not finish your career ” at home”.

    Reyes/Tommy John… he really shined late last season, but for the Birds to depend so much on such an unproven rookie is somewhat alarming.
    The Dexter FOWLER Clubhouse savior acquisition…just reinforces current rumors that not much fun in Cards locker room…. not dissension…. just ” dull”. A roster full of young (mid 20’s) players need to be able to loosen up on occasion. Not that the Joe Maddon method is recommended, but he takes the ” temperature ” of his group and tailors his approach. 162 games… February- October is a long time to be successful without some occasional ” fun/ games”, whether it’s music in clubhouse, travel dress code , days off, etc. If they return to fundamentals, improve defense, generate runs without home runs, and get innings from starters, they can contend for wild card. Wong/ Grichuk…. time to be regular major leaguers!

  2. James Baer says:

    The Billikens won’t be a top three next year. I love Travis Ford, but keep in my, four of the six new players are junior transfers. There’s a reason why they transferred. They were underperforming at their schools, and expendable to transfer. I hope they become big stars, but the jury is out on them.

    Hahsan French of Boston and Jordan Goodwin of Belleville Althoff are both first team all staters and 4 star prospects. Goodwin had major shoulder surgery and don’t even know if he will have to redshirt next year.

    The difference makers are Cart’Tare Gordon of Webster Groves and Fred Thack of Sikeston. Gordon is a 6-9, 255 center who can defend, dribble up the floor and clean the boards. But he hasn’t signed yet, and I pray he does. He gives the Billikens exactly what they need. Thack scored 39 points in one game and is a prolific shooting guard.

    The Billikens lose Reggie Agbeko and Mike Crawford, two players who played major roles in their few wins this season.

    I’d say shooting for the middle of the pack will be more realistic in the A10 next year. They will probably win almost all of their early games, but the going will be much tougher in the conference. Ford needs to add a few more big players and coach up what he has. He WILL do that.

  3. Jim Pleimann says:

    Interesting stat on the last ten Cy Young winners with none having Tommy John.
    I never understood why Phillips turned down trade before this one. He could have gone to a few contenders. I think now he is going home.
    It is good to see Blues playing a more spirited style. Defense or I should say “goal prevention” has improved. Will they make it to the post-season. Stay tuned. They HAVE to get something for #22.
    Reyes hurts, but not a deal breaker. I think we have a little depth to be used from the pitching staff more so than any other position. (That is as of Feb 21)
    Hey, wasn’t that NBA all-star game a joke of all jokes??????

  4. John Rocco says:

    Bob,

    You are on your game with this article. Good
    stuff.
    I’m not sure how good a recruiter Nick
    Saban is. People want to be on a
    winner. So he gets to pick who he wants
    in my opinion. And he sure knows how to win.
    Thanks.
    John

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