Assessing the Phillies Trading Chips

The Phillies are talking about trading some of their players.

Before we do this, let’s recall some of the Phillies great trades of great players:

1) 1918 – traded Grover Cleveland Alexander for several boxes of cashews and cash to the Cubs.  He went on to win 300 games and go to the Hall of Fame.  And win a World Series.  the Phillies finished last 10 straight years.

some old history stuff

some old history stuff

2)  1930s – traded Chuck Klein Dolph Camilli and Lefty O’Doul for Cash and some Cracker Jack.  Camilli became the MVP and led the Dodgers to the 1941 NL Pennants, Klein and O’Doul continued to hit for other clubs.  The Phillies started to finish last every year.

4) 1950s – release Curt Simmons “because he could not pitch anymore.” – Curt Simmons came back to torture them in 1964 as a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals when the Phillies collapsed down the stretch.  The Phillies could have used a third starter other than Bunning and Short–like Curt Simmons.

Sen & Mrs. John & Teresa Heinz prior to his untimely death in 1991

i think John Heinz was US Senatory back in the 1930s and 1940s

5) 1960s – traded Dick Allen for Curt Flood and three so so players – Curt Flood sued baseball and moved to some island in the Mediterranean rather than play in Philly, saying “he wasn’t a slave” and “Philly was racist”.  Tim McCarver reported.  Dick Allen went on to become MVP of the American League in 1972, and nearly led the Chisox to the AL West Divisional Title.  The Phillies fell to last place–behind the Montreal Expos, an expansion team.  Tim McCarver was traded for a used chevy and later re-signed with the Phils as a free agent.

6) 1980s – traded Ryne Sandberg, Larry Bowa and Gary Matthews to the Cubs for dog poop.  The Cubs won the division twice, Ryne Sandberg became the greatest 2d baseman since Rogers Hornsby, and it would take until 1993 for the Phils to win a division again.

OJ Simpson was a very popular football player and actor during the 1970s and 1980s.

OJ Simpson was a very popular football player and actor during the 1970s and 1980s.

7) 1990s – The Phils traded Curt Schilling to Arizona for some table cloths and Vincente Padilla, a mexican-american actor impersonating a starting pitcher.  Arizona immediately won the World Series. Later, Curt Schilling did the bloody sock thing with the Red Sox.   The Phils also traded Scott Rolen to the Cards for Placido Polanco, who the Phils then traded to the Tigers for some used napkins.  The Cardinals went on to win several pennants and two World Series, with Rolen as their 3d baseman.  The Phils won one world series and lost another–with Pedro Feliz at 3d base.  Basically, most of the 2000s was a highlight reel of Curt Schilling and Scott Rolen going to the World Series while the Phillies didn’t.  And yes, those two are probably going to get into the HOF too.

so there’s your Phillies trading history in a nutshell.

Let’s take a statistical look at the actual value of their players.

1) Cliff Lee – Cliff Lee has a JAWs rating in the top 100 of all pitchers lifetime.  He has achieved Pitcher WAR levels above 7.0 in several of his Phillies seasons, and has been the single best pitcher aside from Roy Halladay on the Phils’ staff the past few seasons.  He works quickly and can hit and field his position.  He and Cole Hamels were together worth more than 11 WAR last year collectively–which means, since the team won 70 games or so last year, that without Lee and Hamels, the team would have won around 59 games without them in 2013, and trading Lee and Hamels means the Phils will probably drop to around that level.  He is easily the most valuable piece the Phils have to trade.  He is is great shape, should pitch well for at least 3-5 years, and should fit well as a #1 on a contender.  Lee’s ERA+ this year is 117 and his career ERA+ is 119.  He is a great pitcher, 20% better than league at all times.   Lee has had three years in the past where he was 160 plus ERA or 60% better than league, which is to say virtually unhittable, including 2011.

The Phillies Win the Series 2008

The Phillies Win the Series 2008

2) Cole Hamels – Cole Hamels has a JAWS rating in the top 120 of all pitchers lifetime.  He’s five years younger than Lee, so he should get higher than Lee eventually.  His established WAR levels are around 5.0 but he’s been higher in some seasons.  He pitches 200 innings a year, and he’s a quality starter in the postseason.  He’s been a #1 in the past, as well as a #2 and a #3, and he’s shown he can pitch under pressure.  With the established WAR levels he has, he is a quality starter.  A very valuable trading chip.  Hamels is 131+ ERA this year, and his career ERA+ is 123, very similar to Lee, but slightly better.  He’s been a bit more inconsistent than Lee, but in his good years Hamels puts up 130 plus ERA marks, in his off years he’s around league average, so he’s actually usually 30% better than league.

Chuck Bednarik flattens Frank Gifford

Chuck Bednarik flattens Frank Gifford

 

3)  Chase Utley – Chase Utley is now #13 on the JAWS list alltime of 2d basemen, and has passed Roberto Alomar.  He was the starting All-Star 2d baseman at age 35, and is currently the top offensive Phillie in WAR.  With the renaissance he is having this season, he shows that he will continue to be an excellent hitter for some time to come.  If he were traded to the Yankees or another AL club, Utley could be used somewhat like Jeter–resting some days by DHing–and could last until age 40–and most certainly will go into the Hall of Fame.  He is a 10/5 player and has to waive those rights to be traded.  Utley is a leader, and a clubhouse force.  He’s exactly what the Yankees need as Jeter is on the brink of retirement.

ON MY MARK, UNLEASH HELL!  WAIT A MINUTE, THAT' RUSSELL CROWE'S LINE FROM GLADIATOR...TONITE MEN, WE DINE IN HELL!!!! WE ARE SPARTANS!!!

ON MY MARK, UNLEASH HELL! WAIT A MINUTE, THAT’ RUSSELL CROWE’S LINE FROM GLADIATOR…TONITE MEN, WE DINE IN HELL!!!! WE ARE SPARTANS!!!

 

4) Jonathan Papelbon – having a terrific season, nearly 2.4 WAR as a closer with 60 games to go.  despite the big contract, he has an established WAR of 1.0 plus per season, and despite his contract of $10 million a year, he is a known quantity closer.  Papelbon’s ERA+ this year is 317.   Valuable to a contender needing a closer, and the Phils are ready to move Giles or Diekman into the closer role for less money.  Moreover, Papelbon wants a trade.  The most valuable and most likely to be traded.

HOOSIERS - THE GREATEST SPORTS FILM EVER MADE - ABOUT INDIANA HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL - BUTLERS' KIDS PLAY HOOPS THE WAY COACH'S KIDS PLAY HOOPS IN HOOSIERS!

HOOSIERS – THE GREATEST SPORTS FILM EVER MADE – ABOUT INDIANA HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL – BUTLERS’ KIDS PLAY HOOPS THE WAY COACH’S KIDS PLAY HOOPS IN HOOSIERS!

 

5)  Jimmy Rollins – right behind Utley in offensive WAR this year, having a great season.  His defensive range has diminished, but he can still hit and run effectively, and among available shortstops, he is 2.5 WAR with 60 games to go.  He currently is 34th on the JAWS list of Shortstops, and can move up still.  Shortstops above and below him on the list are in the Hall of Fame, and he has done things sufficient to get to the Hall.  An interesting fact is that Rollins plays 92% of the games each year, and has an established hit level of 150 hits a year, and is only 738 hits away from 3000.  At his established hit level, he will reach 3,000 hits in just under five more seasons from now, at around age 40.  The odds that he will continue to be productive and hit and field as a shortstop are fairly great; and he could also move over to second base and continue to hit and field and play until age 45 conceivably.  He has home run power, alley power and is excellent from the left side.  He would be a marquee addition to a contending ballclub.  Rollins is a 10/5 player and would have to waive his no trade clause in order to be traded.  The Yankees would be wise to trade for Rollins and Utley as a package to replace the retiring Jeter and whatever 2d baseman they have.  Rolllins would hit 20 homers a year in the new Yankee Stadium, and Utley and Rollins would give tremendous leadership to the existing Yankees along with speed and veteran leadership.

PLACIDO POLANCO - only Phillies to win Gold Gloves at two different positions - second base and third base.  Defense has been a problem for the current Phillies.

PLACIDO POLANCO – only Phillies to win Gold Gloves at two different positions – second base and third base. Defense has been a problem for the current Phillies.

6) Marlon Byrd – currently has WAR of 2.2 with 60 games to go.  Ranks fairly high career wise on the all time CF list, in the top 120 JAWS list.  has an established WAR of nearly 2.0 over 13 seasons.  He can field, he can hit, and he can hit for power.  He had a 4.0 WAR last year and is on pace for a 3.67 WAR this year at age 36.  Normally a team should not trade for a guy this age, but Marlon Byrd is having his best years every right now, and he is a proven veteran.  Watching him day in day out, he seems like a proven professional ballplayer.  He seems very different than the rookie I say play here in the early part of the 2000s.  Marlon Byrd gets good cuts on every at bat, always has a plan when he’s up, and seems to drive the ball, whether its into the alley or over the wall.  He has a fairly inexpensive contract.  An excellent trade piece for a team looking for a corner OF bat.  Very likely to be traded, and will do an excellent job for any team that gets him.  Helped the Pirates last year on their way to the playoffs.

 

Big Ed Delahanty - Left Fielder who once hit four homers in a game and hit .400 in consecutive seasons for the 1890s Phillies.  In the Hall of Fame.

Big Ed Delahanty – Left Fielder who once hit four homers in a game and hit .400 in consecutive seasons for the 1890s Phillies. In the Hall of Fame.

7)  AJ Burnett – even though the stats and peripherals don’t look impressive, Burnett has accumulated 1.0 WAR as a pitcher thus far, and that is with 60 games to go, so he’s on pace for about 1.4 WAR for the year.  Not great, but not shabby.  AJ Burnett has a lot of post season experience, and was helpful for the Pirates last year.  He’s had some good outings this year, and for the right club with run support, he can go 5-7 innings.  Significantly, he’s thrown by far the most innings of any Phillies starter, has 113 Ks in 136 IP, and even though the walks are high (as they are with him), he has allowed fewer hits than innings pitched, with a WHIP of 1.361.  His numbers are a bit off, but his established WAR level in 16 seasons is 1.75–he’s had a couple seasons where he went 4.0 plus, but basically this is what he is, an innings eater who strikes out a lot of guys, but can also be a bit wild.  He’s led the league in strikeouts, but also led the league in walks twice and wild pitches three times and batters hit by pitch once–he’s a classic hard thrower who has trouble locating.  but his career ERA+ is 104+ and he can go out and give you a gem one game, and then blow up the next, as he did in 2009 with the Yankees in the World Series v the Phils, where he blew the Phils away in one Series game, but got torched in the other.  He had a 4.4 WAR season for the Yanks that year, btw.  AJ Burnett should be a great trade piece for the Phils to move.  He’s a big game pitcher, a fastball pitcher who can throw hard and long, and a guy with World Series and playoff experience.  He is the very definition of wily veteran.

 

NATE THE GREAT THURMOND TANGLING IT UP WITH WILT THE STILT CHAMBERLAIN - THOSE AREN'T AIR JORDANS THEY'RE WEARING

NATE THE GREAT THURMOND TANGLING IT UP WITH WILT THE STILT CHAMBERLAIN – THOSE AREN’T AIR JORDANS THEY’RE WEARING

Conclusion

This is about it for players of real value.  The Phils essentially have three wily veteran pitchers – Lee, Hamels and Burnett–all of whom could make a huge difference in the pennant races.  They have an established keystone combo in Rollins and Utley, which they should move as a unit, probably to the Yankees.  And they have a power hitting slugging corner OF in Byrd, who can make a difference to a contender looking for a RH power bat.

The rest of the team is valueless.  People may say Ryan Howard, but in fact, he has no value at all.  At best, the Phils should move him to an AL club, but the better play would be for the Phils to lobby for a change in the rules so the NL gets a DH, so they can keep Howard and use him as a DH themselves, since they will pay his contract in any event.

Howard as a DH would be useful.  Moving the entire NL to a DH would be useful, and the Phils have the votes.  The cubs want a DH, as do several other NL clubs, and only a majority, e.g. 8 clubs, are needed.  The Dodgers now have too many OFs, so they will vote for a DH.  So Cubs, Phils, Dodgers.  Then you have Brewers–they have lots of potential DH’s.  They will go DH.  They were in the AL before anyway.  That’s four.  The Mets get no offense, so they will vote DH.  that’s five.  The Marlins don’t care one way or the others, so that’s six.  The Giants will want to play their MVP catcher Buster Posey at DH, so that’s seven.  Cincinnati will definitely want to play Joey Votto at DH, so that’s eight.  St Louis will want to play Allen Craig at DH, so thats nine.  Colorado will want nine hitters period, so that’s ten.  Arizona and the Padres can’t care so that’s 12.  why Washington would object is beyond me, so that’s 13.  that leaves the Pirates and the Braves, who might object, but who might not.

a big argument for going over to the DH is the fact that there is currently interleague play all the time, and the fact that all teams have a 25 man roster and need a lot of relievers.  a DH means less pinch hitters, and thus you can keep 12-13 pitchers on your 25 man roster, and keep only 12 position players–you only need to sub out if a player is hurt, tired or you need to pinch hit in a specific situation.  What you want in a DH lineup is nine regulars who can go every day, maybe with a platoon a one or two positions.  You don’t pinch-hit, except maybe for poor hitting SS.  So you can carry a lot of pitchers, and bring in relievers early.

Once you do this, you keep Ryan Howard around as a career DH, and just bring up Franco as your 1B, or 2B if you move Utley, and put Galvis at SS, and Ruf on 1B or Mayberry on 1B.  Grady Sizemore can play RF, and Brown and Revere CF and LF.  and you wait for all those new prospects to develop.

 

Perry Mason & Della Street

I rest my case: let’s go get dinner, Della!

http://arthurjohnkyriazisgoogleblog.blogspot.com/2012/03/ncaa-bracketology-2012.html

NCAA BRACKETOLOGY FOR 2012.

Jeremy Lin doing his thing for Hahvahd Hoops 2006-2010

Jeremy Lin doing his thing for Hahvahd Hoops 2006-2010

Jeremy Lin is only the 3d player from Harvard to play in the NBA.

He was a terrific player not only at Harvard, but in the Ivies.  He established a line of records unmatched in Ivy League history, and along the way, the Harvard basketball team, which had never amounted to a bucket of warm spit until Lin and Coach Amaker arrived, found its way to the Ivy League title and the NCAA tournament.

My sons and I watched these guys, led by Lin, play a ferocious contest in the Palestra against their arch-rivals Penn in 2010, which was a double overtime contest, and as Harvard finally won, largely due to the intensity and refusal to lose of Lin, who kept penetrating, dishing off, shooting jumpers, and doing whatever it took to win, it seemed like a passing of the guard.

DP made pun of Lin's name back in 2009 at Penn

The Daily Pennsylvanian made pun of Lin's name back in 2009 at Penn, showing once again Philly was three years ahead of NYC media.

So it’s no secret why Lin is the 2d best player on the knicks in win shares per 48 minutes at .187 after Tyson Chandler’s .248; or why his PER approaching 25 leads the team.  Lin plays defense, doesn’t turnover the ball, and is efficient both on offense and defense.  Also, he hustles.  In the Ivy League, he led across a large number of categories, including points, steals, rebounds, assists, assist to turnover ration, etc. and established benchmarks for a guard across many such categories–in fact, all time records for a guard to have such all-around abilities.

What we saw, watching him two years ago, was a guy who refused to lose.  He could penetrate and score; penetrate and dish out to the three line; penetrate and dish to the man beside him after drawing the double-team;  penetrate and dish to the open man; had amazing peripheral vision; could drop the three or the jumper if left unattended; always could run the ball and locate the open man on the run; could play defense; could steal the ball; could rebound and start the break the other way; in short, he was a complete player.

And Lin never stopped to breath.  He was always in continuous motion.  Harvard had a lot of talented players, but they looked kind of confused unless Lin got them the ball and he was coordinating the offense.  He was, in short, a terrific and talented point guard who had game.

A lot of Penn players have played in the NBA, but not so much Harvard.  Hockey has always been the winter sport at Harvard, along with playing the stock market and inventing new financial instruments the SEC can’t regulate.

Three players including Lin played in the NBA:

http://www.basketball-reference.com/friv/colleges.cgi?college=harvard#stats::none

first was

Saul Mariaschin

http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/m/mariasa01.html

who was a 5 foot 11 inch player on the 1947-48 Boston Celtics.  The Celtics were in a predecessor league to the NBA, but who cares?

Here were Saul Mariaschin’s teammates on the Boston Celtics of 1947-48:

riebe_spector_sadowski_garfinkel_mariaschin_1948

riebe, spector, sadowski, garfinkel with Saul Mariaschin Harvard Grad on 1948 Boston Celtics

http://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/BOS/1948.html

Here’s another of his teammates from that legendary Celts team:

CHUCK CONNORS.  Yes, the guy who later played the RIFLEMAN on TV.  Lucas McCain himself.  And a 6’5″ grad of Seton Hall, which in 1947-48 would have made him a giant player.  And he was a CELTIC.  You can look it up.

http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/c/connoch01.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuck_Connors

Chuck Connors was a Celtic and played with Harvard Grad Saul Mariaschin in 1947-48

Chuck Connors was a Celtic and played with Harvard Grad Saul Mariaschin in 1947-48

Chuck Connors also played baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers!

And he was a TV Star!

Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain the Rifleman

Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain the Rifleman

Chuck Connors was a Boston Celtic and and Brooklyn Dodger

Chuck Connors was a Boston Celtic and and Brooklyn Dodger

The second player that went to Harvard and played in the NBA was

Ed Smith

Edward Bernard Smith (Ed)

Ed Smith was a New York Knick in 1953-54.  On that Knicks team, Ed played with Vince “Moose” Boryla, Nate “Sweetwater” Clifton, Al McGuire and Dick McGuire, and the famous Ernie Vandeweghe, and others well-noted.

That 1953-54 Knicks team finished 1st in the Eastern Division, going 44-28 under the helm of the legendary Joe Lapchick.  And they played in the old Madison Square Garden, which many hold in as high esteem as the old Boston Garden.

Nate "Nat" "Sweetwater" Clifton of the 1953-54 NY Knicks played with Harvard's Ed Smith

Nate "Nat" "Sweetwater" Clifton of the 1953-54 NY Knicks played with Harvard's Ed Smith

and here’s ernie vandewege v bob cousy:

Bob Cousy and Ernie Vandeweghe Reaching For Ball

Bob Cousy and Ernie Vandeweghe Reaching For Ball

Of course, Ernie has some bloodlines. Kiki Vanderweghe was a great NBA player, and now his granddaughter is a professional tennis player:

CoCo Vandeweghe professional tennis player and granddaugher of Ernie Vandeweghe who played on the NY Knicks with Ed Smith in 1953-54.  Ed was the last Harvard alum to play for the NY Knicks, nearly fifty years ago

CoCo Vandeweghe professional tennis player and granddaugher of Ernie Vandeweghe who played on the NY Knicks with Ed Smith in 1953-54. Ed was the last Harvard alum to play for the NY Knicks, nearly fifty years ago

The Madness Begins

March 15, 2010

I can’t believe Temple got the #5 seed while Nova got a #2. Georgetown played really well down the stretch, by the way. That was a great Big East final.

I took my boys to the penn-cornell ivy league championship game in november. that was fun, at franklin field. i still can’t believe penn won at harvard.

cornell won the ivy over harvard barely, but they have to play temple in the first round, and temple is very, very good this year, that’s a bad draw for cornell. temple almost never loses in the first round of the ncaa. coming out of the bracket, temple has uphill all the way, but texas might actually beat kentucky, although john calipari has to be the best coach on the planet, he used to torture temple when he was at umass, he drove john chaney crazy.

also, i like richmond to win their first round game, and then upset villanova in the 2d round. richmond has a really good team and nova never plays well in the tournament. jay wright is a horrible tournament coach. richmond gave temple all they could handle inthe a10 final and richmond beat temple in the regular season. richmond is a great team this year, much better than a #7 seed. that’s a 2-7 matchup that’s bad for nova.

i was watching spike lee on 30-30 on espn on that reggie miller thing and 3 points.

first, reggie miller has to be the most overrated player in NBA history.  he could only do one thing, the three point jumper, and that was it.  He did it well, but he couldn’t pass, penetrate, dunk, rebound, run, steal or do any of the other things that an NBA Hall of Fame guy does.

second, Patrick Ewing, for all his greatness, came up short in two of the biggest games of his life, game 7 against Hakeem in the NBA finals, and the NCAA title game against Villanova in 1985, of which this is the 25th anniversary of Nova upsetting Georgetown, or Patrick Ewing choking unbelievably, depending on how you look at it.  Based on how awful Ewing was in his NBA finals against Hakeem, i’d bet Nova could have beaten Georgetown in a 7 game series, and, in fact, Nova did handle Georgetown if not outright beat them pretty well that season in Big East play.

Third, Spike Lee claimed “New York is the cradle of basketball.”

Uh, Spike, New York is the cradle of incredible wealth and incredible poverty, a lot of models and caviar and restaurants, and some good hoops players, but PHILLY is the cradle of liberty and hoops, pal.

ALL the great hoops players (and jazz players) have been from philly, not NY.  Earl the Pearl Monroe, Wilt the Stilt Chamberlain, Rasheed Wallace, Tyreke Evans, Kobe Bryant, the list is endless.

John Coltrane is from Philly.  Dizzy Gillespie grew up here.  Lee Morgan was from Philly.  Philly Jo Jones.  Hank Mobley, McCoy Tyner, Archie Shepp, Byard Lancaster, Mickey Roker, Bill Harris, Calvin Massey.  Are You Kidding Me?????

Philly is like the Jazz/Hoops capital of the earth.  Doesn’t anyone remember Grover Washington Jr playing the national anthem at Sixers games? and he was like the WORST sax guy ever to come out of philly!  and he was great!  but hey, he was no JOHN COLTRANE soloing for hours on soprano sax!

Dr. J played here for TWELVE YEARS.  He played in New York for four years.  New Yorkers like to remember that it was longer, but hey, too bad.

We were at the Palestra the other week and there were no less than several HUNDRED NBA all stars who played their high school ball in philly pasted on the walls there.  Maybe a thousand.  Maybe more.  I couldn’t count them all.  That doesn’t count the guys who were kept out of the league for gambling, or who blew out their knees, or just didn’t have the grades to go to college.

It’s not even close–Philly v. NY in hoops is like PROS V JOES–NY being the JOES.

Oh, and by the way, Alex Rodriguez took steroids and needed an instant replay to win the world series last year.

And I didn’t see him tying Reggie “Reggie Bar” Jackson’ HR record of 5 dingers in a World Series like Chase Utley did–and Chase being about 1/2 the size of Reggie, by the way, who was enormously strong and had arms like a bricklayer.

Hey, the Yankees are great.  But Philly’s got the Hoops.  Even the guys at Sports Center know it’s Philly when it comes to Hoops.

And when was the last time a NY university made it into the NCAA exactly?

Columbia never gets in.  NYU doesn’t have a team.  St. Johns has fallen off dramatically.  Syracuse is way upstate.  CCNY had its glory days when the court was surrounded by caged wire fences.

In all the years, NY had exactly one great player–Kareem Abdul Jabbar, aka Lew Alcindor.  But he hates NY.  He changed his name, became a Muslim, and never goes back to NY.  He’s become such an LA/Cali guy, you’d never know he was a NY guy to begin with.

But i loved the guy in Enter the Dragon with Bruce Lee, doing kung fu and all.  Now that was awesome–way better than Wilt in that Conan movie.

–art k, philly

The Sixers have finally addressed the glaring issue of three point shooting, which this blogger-columnist has hammered them on repeatedly (see earlier posts regarding this issue), by trading defensive rebounder and shot blocker Reggie Evans to Toronto for three point shooter Jason Kapono.

Kapono has excellent three point shooting numbers. He’s a career 45.4% three point FG shooter in the NBA and his free throw percentage for career is 84.7%. In addition, he’s 6 foot 8, and averages about 2 rebounds, one assist and half a steal a game, and less than one turnover. He scores about 13 points per 36 minutes, and that’s been about his career norm. He’s 29 years old and he went to college at UCLA, not too shabby.

In the playoffs with Toronto in 2007-08, Kapono in five games averaged better than 15 points per game, illustrating that the half court game of the playoffs favors his three point shooting skills. This would be of considerable interest to the sixers should they reach again the playoffs. If they have a healthy elton brand (i know that sounds weird) they actually could alternate between brand and kapono, inside and outside, and have a half court game.

So, is Kapono better than Kyle Korver, the three point guy the Sixers unloaded last year for nothing to Utah in a dumb move that created a black hole at the three point shooting position? Well, oddly enough, the answer is yes, Kapono is a BETTER three point man than Korver. Korver is about a 38.9% three point FG % lifetime; while Korver scores 13 ppg per 36 minutes played, Korver is not as efficient as Kapono. Korver needs more shots and misses more shots to get the same number of points. Kapono is an inch taller and has played much better in the playoffs than Korver.

So, in a word, while it took Eddie Stefanski a year and a half, he finished by upgrading the Sixers roster at the three point shooting end with Kapono. If Stefanski could add another perimeter shooter like Kapono, that would be terrific. Someone like a Rashard Lewis type would be ideal.

Mareese Speights made Reggie Evans expendable–Evans played half the minutes this past season he did in 2007-08–however, the Sixers should beware. Reggie Evans and Theo Ratliff, together, earned 2.5 defensive win shares together–a not insignificant figure–and they played 1700 minutes overall during the season–minutes that some other two players or one player will have to play.

No one here is suggesting that Jason Kapono can play defense or block shots like Reggie Evans or Theo Ratliff, so presumably Elton Brand will actually have to play some defense alongside Dalembert and Speights or Young.

At any rate, this is an early Christmas present for new coach Eddie Jordan.

I haven’t commented on Eddie Jordan. He had a good record in Washington, so let’s give him a chance. The hire is a bit suspicious, since Washington is still paying his salary for the most part, so it looks as if Jordan was the CHEAPEST coach with actual skills available, important since the sixers are still paying mo cheeks to sit at home, but maybe it was a choice based on merit.

then again, maybe the moon is made of cheese, and bank executives will gladly welcome government limits on their bonuses and compensation, and maybe we can re-outlaw alcohol and re-impose prohibition after we’re done nationalizing health care and the automotive industry.

Seriously, this is a good first move by Stefanski after hiring Jordan.

–art kyriazis, philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies

Detroit was embarrassingly bad against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, by far the worst performance of any playoff team.

Not only that, but the games were boring.

There was one player who might have at least made the games entertaining, and here I refer to ALLEN IVERSON who for some odd reason was sitting down by order of Detroit management.

AI has the second highest career playoff scoring average in NBA history—second only to Michael Jordan—and YOU SIT HIM DOWN FOR THE PLAYOFFS?

I should think that AI would have been a bit revved up to play LeBron James, only the best player in the league.

Even if Detroit went down in flames, I think we could have seen AI go off for 40 points in at least one of those playoff games.

He’s Allen Iverson, that’s what he does.

I’m not totally sure what narcotics or drugs Detroit is on, but sitting down your best scorer against the NBA’s best team in the playoffs is crazy.

I might note, Detroit had trouble scoring even 80 points most every game in the series—they had point totals like 78, 79, and so forth. Again, an Allen Iverson would have helped that tremendously.

Over and over, even hurt, Allen Iverson has always shown up for the playoffs and played big.

Commissioner David Stern should have stepped in here and required Detroit to produced Allen Iverson for the playoffs.

It’s embarrassing for the league and for the fans that we were denied the opportunity to see an Allen Iverson-LeBron James playoff series.

This is an insult to our intelligence and to us as fans.

No other matchup in the playoffs would have been as interesting or intriguing, except possibly watching Kobe Bryant against LeBron James in the finals.

Whenever AI went against LeBron James this winter in the regular season, he had an extraordinary game on a nationally televised Sunday afternoon game, he scored 30 or 40 points, I can’t recall how many.

But it’s easy enough to look up the game logs from the regular season:

November 19, 2008: Detroit 96, Cleveland 89. Iverson leading scorer for Detroit with 23 points, followed by Rasheed Wallace with 21 points. LeBron James and Mo Williams each with 25 points. Detroit outscores Cleveland 30-21 in the 4th quarter.

February 1, 2009: Cleveland 90, Detroit 80. Iverson leading scorer for Detroit with 22 points, followed by Rick Hamilton with 16 points. LeBron James goes off for 33 points in this game, Mo Williams scores 22. Detroit is winning after three quarters, but Cleveland takes Detroit down in the 4th quarter 32-14, coming from eight back to win by ten at the end. This was actually a great game where Iverson and James were dueling, and James just came up huge in the 4th quarter. This is what the playoffs might have been like between them.

February 22, 2009: Cleveland 99, Detroit 78. Iverson leading scorer for Detroit with 14 points, followed by Walter Hermann. It’s pretty clear AI is injured in this game. He only played about 26 minutes. Surprisingly, Delonte West (of St. Joe’s Philly fame) led Cleveland with 25 points, followed by LeBron James with 25. This game was a blowout. Cleveland broke out 31-17 in the first quarter and never looked back.

March 31, 2009: Cleveland 79, Detroit 73. Rick Hamilton leads Detroit with 13 points, playing almost 35 minutes, Iverson scores 11 points playing about 18 minutes. This is a weird game due to the low score. LeBron scores 25 for Cleveland, but no one else on the Cavs gets more than a dozen. A close game, but the Cavs win. Here, again, Iverson is hurt, plays limited minutes, but contributes offensively and keeps Detroit in the game.

SUMMARY: In four regular season games, Detroit won once, had two close games, and was only blown out once. Iverson was their leading scorer in three of those games, and was their second leading scorer in the fourth game, and in every game except perhaps the blowout game, made a huge impact on the game. It’s fair to infer, from the box scores, that if you took Iverson away from the Detroit Pistons, in a direct Cleveland-Detroit Playoff matchup, that Detroit would probably get blown out.

Actual results:

Game 1 April 18 Detroit Pistons 84 Cleveland Cavaliers 102
Game 2 April 21 Detroit Pistons 82 Cleveland Cavaliers 94
Game 3 April 24 Cleveland Cavaliers 79 Detroit Pistons 68
Game 4 April 26 Cleveland Cavaliers 99 Detroit Pistons 78

As you can see, Detroit not only lost four in a row, but they scored 84, 82, 68 and 78 points in those games, which is an average offensive output of only 78 points a game. That’s pretty horrible, especially when you’re giving up 102, 94, 79 and 99 points to the opposition.

Even though Detroit would have lost with AI, the playoffs would have been the LeBron-AI show instead of a pathetic rollover. Detroit should be ashamed of themselves.

Art Kyriazis
Philly/South Jersey
Home of the Philadelphia Phillies

Well, no matter that Boston won in 7 incredible games, this has turned into a pleasant surprise, and a rivalry at that.

I remember well the old Michael Jordan-Larry Bird Chicago-Boston series of the 1980s, which were insane, with Jordan scoring infinity points, but Boston having a better team and winning anyway, and these games have been a lot like that.

Without Garnett, Boston has come down to earth, and Chicago has great young players, especially DERRICK ROSE the SUPER ROOKIE who’s really come to play. He only dropped 36 on Boston his first playoff game—Iverson-like intensity in the playoff cauldron. Watching Rose square off against Paul Pierce and Ray Allen was really something.

Chicago has at least six championship banners from the Jordan years, and a lot of titles, and Boston has at least thirteen from the Russell year, another five from the Bird years, and one from last year, so between them these two franchises have about half of the all the NBA championships of the last fifty years. It’s a lot of history and pride on the line.

I know Philly-Boston used to be something, and Boston-LA is always something, but Chicago-Boston is surely something too, and this year’s playoff series between the two was SOMETHING.

Chicago was assisted by at least three ex-Sixers this year—Larry Hughes, Tim Thomas and John Salmons—for different portions of the year. Hughes helped Chicago in the first half of the season, before he was moved to the NY Knicks, while Salmons was a late season acquisition from the Sacramento Kings. Thomas was over the hill, but helped them all year, including during the playoffs.

Everyone will remember the awful trade of Salmons, Kenny Thomas and Corliss Williamson a couple of years back for an over the hill, injured and not so productive Chris Webber—well, to be fair, in 2005-06, Webber’s only full season with the Sixers, he did average 20 ppg, balancing scoring duties with Iverson, and the Sixers won 38 games—and missed the last playoff spot in the east by 2 games. Such is the difference between success and failure in the NBA. Everyone thought that pairing would last forever.

That is until the two of them missed fan appreciation day the next to last day of the season. All the old fat white guys on sports radio suddenly went nuts and demanded they both be traded. Are you kidding me?

By the very next season, Webber played only 18 games, Iverson was back to scoring 30 plus ppg, but the Sixers panicked and traded Iverson after only 15 games, regressed to 35 wins, again missing the playoffs by five wins. Webber’s contract was bought out and I’m not even sure he ever played again.

In the meantime, John Salmons by this past season had developed into a very fine player with Sacramento—at 6 foot seven he was a good defensive player, and he finally had learned the offensive game, pouring in twenty points a game for the lowly Kings.

Chicago, in need of a scoring guard, took notice and picked Salmons up for a song during midseason (where was Eddie Stefanski during all this?) and Salmons helped drive Chicago into the playoffs and the final seed during a late season run.

Watching a guy like Salmons who played his high school ball at Plymouth-Whitemarsh, and who spent his first four years in a Sixers uniform, help drive the Chicago Bulls to a playoff spot, was kind of annoying to me this year. It only got worse during the legendary Game Six of this years Chicago-Boston series, the triple-overtime game in which Salmons dropped 35 points on the Celtics. Now that was showing off.

Does anyone doubt that Salmons could have been helpful at the two guard position this year for the Sixers? I think the case is closed on that one. Salmons is tall, he plays good defense and he can score.

This past year Salmons earned 5.7 win shares, one of those defensive, and averaged close to 19 ppg. His field goal average was .473, very efficient, and his three point average was .415, also excellent, and he averaged 2 assists and only 1.7 turnovers a game. That goes along with 4.3 rebounds a game. Throw in a steal a game and a block a game, and you’ve got a really good player who can do a lot of good things. It’s true Salmons is now thirty years old, but so what? He might be a late bloomer, but if he’s learned to play the game, he’s learned to play the game. And he can play.

Ray Allen is what, a hundred? He was playing for Milwaukee back when the amphibians and the reptiles first walked on dry land. He’s so old that some of the cave paintings in France are attributed to him. I’m not saying Ray Allen is old, but he has grandchildren playing ball in college right now. It’s not that Ray Allen is old, but he’s the only NBA player I know who get’s Social Security checks delivered next to his NBA paychecks.

Seriously, though, Ray Allen is the ageless wonder, a beautiful player who can still play the game beautifully, and for those who think Allen Iverson is washed up or too old, I offer as exhibit one, Ray Allen. Small shooting guards who are pure shooters can play a long time in the NBA—I think here of the wondrous Hal Greer of the Sixers—a Hall of Famer—who played of course with Wilt on the 1967 team that won 68 teams and dethroned the Celtics for the title—and we should be mindful of this fact.

In short, Boston-Chicago was a wonderful, marvelous series, a beautiful thing to witness, pure basketball at its best, overtime game upon overtime game, each with its own storyline. Neither time yielded or gave quarter. It’s nice to see pro athletes play that hard and that long and give effort on that scale. Again, it’s reminiscent of the days of Jordan and Bird and when they first met in the late 1980s—those playoff series were wars between Chicago and Boston. This latest series was no less.

–art kyriazis, philly/south jersey
home of the world champion philadelphia phillies

1) Tom “Odysseus the Wise” Izzo is Italian, which means that he’s practically greek, which means he’s practically Spartan. On the way to the final four, in round two, the Spartans of Michigan State defeated the Trojans of USC. The Spartans defeated the Trojans. Funny how that battle always comes out the same, millennium after millennium. Michigan State baffled USC throughout with their famed “Trojan Horse” defense, with Raymar “Achilles” Morgan’s ally-oop, the Kalin “Ajax” Lucas’ give and go, the “Nestor” low post kickout and the “Odysseus” trick ball play. Magic “Homer Hercules Son of Zeus” Johnson sat on the coach’s side on the bench, singing their tale of triumph in fifteen syllable heroic poetic rap to all that would listen. Plus, their fans hectored the USC Trojans during the entire match, telling them to go back to Paris when they were from. Plus there was this blind guy Ty Reesias on the sideline predicting that USC would lose. Bottom Line: the Spartans could play the Trojans a thousand times, and the Spartans would always win. History is history. It’s not true that Brad Pitt was at the game doing research for his sequel to Troy, the movie. Besides which, Tom “Socrates Plato Aristotle” Izzo is one of the smartest and greatest coaches ever in NCAA history. Plus he probably has actual Spartan blood in him and he has the wisdom of a thousand greek philosophers, and can coach some ball.

2) East Lansing is a rocking college town. And Michigan State coeds are the most beautiful in all the land.

3) What in the world is a “Tar Heel”?

4) Most schools ban smoking in all buildings. At the University of North Carolina, smoking is required in all buildings. After all, tobacco pays for everything in North Carolina. In fact, babies are given their first cigarettes at age one in North Carolina per state custom. Also, cigarettes are given away at all UNC home games to undergrads.

5) “WE ARE SPARTANS!!!!”

6) Anyone who doesn’t believe the Spartans will win, is condemned to be thrown into the bottomless pit of King Leonidas.

7) Three hundred Spartans are worth two million Persians, and four millions UNC players.

8) Thermopylae save the Western World from Freedom, along with the Three Hundred Spartans, who obedient to their country’s laws, lie dead there. The Spartans of Michigan State will save the US from another Southern NCAA champion and give us a Big Ten Champion.

9) All Spartans are superior genetically, because the defective ones are thrown off the mountain at birth. This includes Michigan States hoops players.

10) The Spartans have a detailed conditioning program that starts from age four. You should see what the Michigan State Hoops players do.

11) The Spartans never lose a battle. This is well known. Michigan State hardly ever loses a ballgame that matters.

12) Michigan State is playing a home game. The Final Four and Championshiop Game are in Detroit.

13) Detroit has an immense Greek population, and many of them are Spartans. And they have a rocking Greektown. Spartans love to party after they kill their opponents.

14) East Lansing, Michigan is the coolest place on earth, and home of the Spartans of Michigan State.

15) Michigan is a sensible place full of sensible people.

16) Michigan gave us Bob Seger, Grand Funk Railroad, Kid Rock, Iggy Pop & the Stooges, and all of Motown.

17) North Carolina has given us nothing culturally, unless you want to count segregation as a cultural institution.

18) Izzo is very nearly Rizzo, Philly’s most beloved mayor ever. Frank Rizzo was cool. Tom Izzo is cool.

19) The Big Ten actually go to class and get degrees, unlike their brethren in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

20) Michigan State has beaten a series of excellent, higher ranked teams to get to the finals, including UConn, all of which are better than UNC.

21) Michigan State has a number of experienced seniors on its roster who have played together for a while. Again, this is a big advantage in this era of players leaving after a year or two for the pros.

22) This one is for King Leonidas, and also for the auto industry and the unemployed auto workers of Michigan.

23) Gov. Granholm of Michigan told the boys, come home victorious with your shields, or dead upon them.

24) The best reason the Spartans will win—they are unfraid to lose, unafraid of death, unafraid of anything, and totally playing with house money at this point.

25) Because this is America, and we root for the UNDERDOG. So what if the TAR HEELS have amassed an army of two million and the Spartans are but three hundred? What does this matter to the SPARTANS????? Did they not fight and win the moral battle at Thermopylae? Don’t they still make movies about those guys 3,000 years later?

My money’s on the SPARTANS!!!!!

P.S. What IS a Tar Heel?

–art kyriazis, philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies

PART ONE – VILLANOVA HAD A GREAT RUN – ANOTHER BIG FIVE WINNER FOR THE BOOKS

There is no denying Villanova had a great run in this year’s NCAA tournament, making it to the Final Four before losing to North Carolina last night. It was a hard loss to swallow, especially after watching the Spartans of Michigan State make such a statement game of upsetting UConn in the opening of the Final Four doubleheader, but Villanova shot very poorly from the three point line, and could not establish its inside game against UNC. Moreover, Villanova’s normally excellent defense failed them against UNC’s superb inside-outside attack of attacking at the low post but also kicking out to the three point line, and here, UNC shooting 50% or better from the three point arc sealed Villanova’s fate—if Villanova sagged to defense the low post, UNC simply killed them from the three point arc. When Villanova came out to play perimeter defense, UNC exploited the seams to get easy buckets inside. One final point is that UNC seemed to be taller overall than Villanova, and this seemed to make some difference on the defensive side of the ball; Villanova was not getting out in transition, and in the half-court offense, was having trouble shooting over, or matching up with, the taller UNC players.

Having said that, Villanova was by far the best Big East team in the tournament this year. They beat UCLA handily, they crushed a very good Duke team (with an RPI of one), they got past a Pitt team that had been ranked #1 at times this season, and got to the Final Four.

This year’s Villanova team was a team of seniors and juniors, experienced players who had played together a long time. I had them bracketed to get to the finals of the NCAA, not just the Final Four, because I felt that having three seniors who had played together as long as Villanova’s seniors had played together, was an incredible advantage in today’s college basketball.

In today’s college game, your best player usually leaves after one season to seek out pro contracts and a sneaker endorsement. It’s hard to find athletes who will commit to four years on campus.

But we all know why they stay at Villanova. Howie Long tells the story every week on that NFL pre-game show. It’s the nuns, the professors, the small campus atmosphere. Villanova feels like home. It’s the kind of place you don’t want to leave. For many of the kids who come to play basketball there, they will learn much more than basketball at Villanova, they will learn life skills and many other things.

Having said that, it should be pointed out that Villanova is now spending as much money on its basketball program, according to the Philly Daily News and other sources, as any other major Division I basketball program, around $5 million annually, which compares to $6 million annually spent by UConn or by UNC. And yet $5 million annually isn’t even close to the top in the Big East.

However, because Villanova does not have a Division I football program that earns a lot of money, Villanova’s sports programs run an annual deficit of around $16 million which have to be picked up by NCAA revenues, boosters, and the like. It’s hard to believe that Villanova has continued to stay committed at this level, given their size and endowment.

At the same time, we can now more easily see why Temple, St. Joes’s, LaSalle and Penn are not competing at the same level as they used to ten or twenty years ago vis-à-vis NCAA competition—it now takes $5 million annually to really ramp up a program to final four viability.

That St. Joe’s made the Final Four a few years back with Jameer Nelson and Delonte West for a fraction of that budget is a testament to the recruiting and coaching skills of Phil Martelli.

That Temple got to the elite eight so many times with John Chaney and almost to the Final Four for a fraction of that budget is likewise a testament to the recruiting and coaching skills of Chaney, a hall of fame coach.

A school that has a big time football program—like Penn State or Michigan State—should be able to afford to spend on their basketball program—and Michigan State has been successful in basketball, as has Penn State to a lesser degree (they’re doing well in the NIT this year after being a bubble team that didn’t get an at-large bid with the NCAA). Those schools don’t have to deficit spend on basketball, they can take plus side monies from football and invest them in basketball.

I think this explains why, for so many years, President Liacouras of Temple, who was instrumental in getting the Liacouras Center built in North Philadelphia where Temple Basketball now plays its home games, was so interested in putting together a Division I Temple Football program which would be a money maker. He wanted a football program that would make enough money that basketball would be able to share revenues from football, rather than having the university deficit spend on basketball.

Given today’s economics of big time NCAA basketball, this was a far-sighted view of the situation. Temple today remains in Division I football, though they’ve dropped down a conference, and can still be a profitable football team. That dream is still alive for them. Al Golden is doing a good job as football coach.

To summarize, Villanova had a magnificent run in the NCAA this year, capping off a four year run by these seniors that was nothing less than magical. Kudoes and cheers to Villanova and to coach Jay Wright. For a long time I was a Steve Lappas guy, and I always thought he got a bum deal from Villanova, and I was very slow to come around to Jay Wright, I will admit I have a bias there. At first I thought Wright was glib and not too bright, and that he couldn’t coach in tough games. He’s proven me completely wrong. He’s both a good recruiter and an excellent coach.

Art Kyriazis Philly/South Jersey
Home of the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies

Collectively, the Big Five of Temple, LaSalle, Penn, Villanova and St Joes have made more than a dozen final four appearances since the NCAAs began in 1939; Villanova was in the first NCAA tourney back in 1939, and in every decade of the NCAAs, one or more of the big Five has had an impact on the tournament each and every decade the Tournament has been running, whether it was Temple getting to the Final Four twice in the fifties, St. Joe’s to the Final Four in the sixties, Villanova and Penn to the Final Four in the seventies, Villanova winning the NCAA in the 80s, Temple dominating and getting #1 rankings and seedings in the 80s and 90s and getting to the elite 8 three times, and Villanova getting #1 seeds and reaching the elite 8 in recent years, and St. Joes getting to the final four in the last decade and getting a #1 seed.

Folks, we have the best college basketball in the country, bar none. Collectively, the Big Five does better in NCAA than almost any other region or school, excepting possibly Duke, UCLA, Kentucky and a handful of other such bigtime programs–and yet Duke has only won three NCAA titles in 14 Final Four trips, etc. The Big Five is not doing so badly.

I really like the underdogs of the NCAA–Marquette in 1977 with Al McGuire, the late Jimmy Valvano and North Caroline State (who can forget the triple overtime opening round win over Pepperdine?) in 1983, Rollie Massimino and the Villanova Wildcats upending Patrick Ewing and Georgetown in 1986, and so on.

My personal favorite big five upset of all time has to be St. Joe’s beating #1 seed and #1 in the country DePaul and Mark Aguire in 1981 in the first round of the NCAA (maybe it was the 2d round).

This brings us to 2009. Villanova and Temple are in. Villanova had a very good season, but lost to Louisville in the semis of the Big East tournament. Nova’ had a good RPI and a good strength of schedule, but still, they got a #3 seed, which I thought was pretty generous for a team that really hadn’t won anything–they were third or fourth in their conference, and finished third/fourth in the tournament of their conference. Even if it’s the best conference in basketball, does finishing fourth in that conference make you the 12th best team in all of college basketball? I think a #4 seed would have been more appropriate. The NCAA worships the big east a little too much.

Next, Temple. Temple got an #11 seed, which puts them against Arizona State, a #6 seed. Now Temple actually won something–they won the A-10 Tournament. Second year in a row, in fact. Also, best player in the conference, Dionte Christmas, plays for Temple. Also, Temple has by far the toughest non-conference schedule of any A-10 team. But they beat all of those teams too, except maybe Villanova, and they gave them a tough time. Maybe if Nova’ didn’t insist on playing at the Pavilion, but at the Palestra, it would be a fair game.

Temple’s RPI is very good, and their strength of schedule is very good. In fact, if you look at most of the teams seeded from around #7-#10, Temple’s RPI and strength of schedule are BETTER than most of those 7-10 seeds. Take Michigan for example, a team that didn’t win anything, lost 13, won only 20, and was an at-large from the big 10. Michigan has a higher seed than Temple but why? Michigan’s RPI is worse, their strength of schedule much worse, and they have a much worse record than Temple.

I could pick out many more examples (UCLA?) of this, but the point is that Temple plays a big-time schedule, has been in the elite eight in three of the last twenty years, and has been ranked #1 more than once in the last twenty years, including most of 1987-88. They’re a good ballclub, and deserved at least an 8-9 seed matchup in the first round.

Frankly, i would have given Temple about the same seeding as Xavier, and higher than Dayton, a team Temple dominated during the season.

I believe Temple and Villanova will both win. Arizona State is a fine team and that game could go either way, but Temple will win this year. Villanova has a ridiculously easy first round game. Their second round matchup will be much tougher

Also, I really like the fact that the new President offered his own “bracketology” on ESPN. that was pretty cool. I don’t think we’ve had this sports minded a president since Jack Kennedy, an old football player, was going to the harvard-yale and army-navy games. A lot like Teddy Roosevelt, too.

–art kyriazis philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies