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09/04/2015 02:30 PM
Scott Boras at odds with Mets over Matt Harvey's innings limit
(Getty Images)

How many innings should New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey be allowed to throw this season? If you know the answer to that question, you could probably solve the team's latest feud with super-agent Scott Boras.

[Roundtable: Which pitchers are poised for a Jake Arrieta-like breakout?]

Boras took the Mets to task recently, saying the club needs to shut down their star pitcher once he hits 180 innings, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports. Harvey had Tommy John surgery in 2013, and this is his first full season pitching following the injury. Doctors have recommended a 180 innings cap for Harvey, and that seems to be the impetus behind Boras' opinion.

"This is not a club's decision. This is a doctor's decision," Boras said. "Any club that chooses to defy a surgeon's wishes is putting the player in peril."

The Mets, meanwhile, have said Harvey's innings limit has always been "soft." While doctors recommended 180 innings, general manager Sandy Alderson said they'll monitor Harvey on a "case-by-case basis."

Alderson's position seems to be that he intends to keep pitching Harvey, except for one more missed start, and that they would watch him closely and take it on a "case-by-case basis" should the Mets get deep into October. Alderson said it has been his understanding that they mostly need to avoid "fatigue" or a loss of "rhythm" (that means he can't be expected to pick up and pitch after a lengthy layoff).

It's easy to see both sides of the issue here. Harvey is already at 166 1/3 innings this season, so he would have about two more starts before he would be shut down for the season. With the Mets at the top of the division, the club obviously wants Harvey to be available for a possible playoff series. 

Boras, on the other hand, doesn't want his client to be abused so that the Mets can win a few more games. For Boras, it's all about keeping Harvey healthy in the long-term. He believes the best way to do that is to listen to the doctors.  

"These are doctors' opinions," Boras said. "And club officials are not determining how many innings he can pitch. Matt Harvey would love to pitch. But the surgeon who saved his career and other surgeons consulted have said that for maximum safety he is not to exceed 180 innings for the year."

Alderson admitted Harvey would likely be at a "slightly enhanced" risk by throwing so many innings, but added that he "doesn't need a medical degree to say that."

The situation is eerily similar to the one the Washington Nationals went through with Stephen Strasburg in 2012. Strasburg was shut down coming off Tommy John surgery, and did not pitch in the playoffs. The club was criticized for the move, though it should be noted that Strasburg has not suffered a significant injury since. 

If possible, Harvey would like to be available for the playoffs.

[On this week's StewPod: Listen to our September MLB predictions.]

The Mets now face the same dilemma. The popular saying is "flags fly forever," but what if it comes at the expense of losing one of your young, exciting stars? The Mets are going to be forced to make that choice soon.

More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

 

09/04/2015 02:52 PM
Darnell Dockett, IK Enemkpali among the early NFL cuts

With the preseason over, each team needs to cut down to 53 players by Saturday afternoon, but many teams started the process Friday.

Among the notable names who were reportedly cut on Friday include San Francisco defensive lineman Darnell Dockett, Buffalo Bills pass rusher IK Enemkpali, New York Giants punter Steve Weatherford, Houston Texans defensive tackle Louis Nix, Philadelphia Eagles guard John Moffitt and Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive lineman Da'Quan Bowers and kicker Connor Barth.

Dockett is a three-time Pro Bowler who never missed a game his first 10 seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. Then he missed 2014 with a knee injury, signed with the 49ers but couldn't crack the roster according to Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league todayl]

Enemkpali became infamous for punching New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith this preseason and breaking his jaw. His old Jets coach Rex Ryan picked him up in Buffalo, but he was unable to make the team. 

The Giants decided to swap out punters. Weatherford (known for being in insanely good shape) was let go. To replace him the team sent a conditional seventh-round pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers for punter Brad Wing, ESPN reported.

Nix's release is another sign that the Texans' 2014 draft could be historically bad unless Jadeveon Clowney gets healthy and saves it. Nix was a third-round pick and he's already gone. The team, which needs a quarterback, somehow didn't land Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater or Derek Carr in the 2014 draft. They passed on Carr to pick guard Xavier Su'a-Filo in the second round. Su'a-Filo started one game as a rookie.

Moffitt was an interesting preseason story. He abruptly retired in 2013, then battled drug and alcohol issues before attempting a comeback with the Eagles. CSN Philly and other outlets reported he was released.

[Yahoo Daily Fantasy Football: Enter our $1 Million Week 1 contest]

The Buccaneers cut Bowers, a high-profile second-round pick in 2011 who finishes his Buccaneers career with seven sacks. Rookie Kyle Brindza will be the Buccaneers' kicker after they cut Barth, according to Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune.

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

 

 

 

 

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09/04/2015 02:28 PM
Ball Don't Five: The Top Five Retired Players That Never Made an All-Star Team

As we continue to work our way through the endless summer between the Finals and Opening Night, we'll pause each Friday to briefly consider and count down some NBA-related topic of note. We like starting lineups and round numbers, so we'll run through a handful of items each week. With a nod to our friends at Dr. Saturday, welcome to Ball Don't Five.

This week's installment: The Top Five Retired Players That Never Made an All-Star Team.

5. Lamar Odom. It’s arguable that Odom never truly had an All-Star season, so his placement on this list is more of a career honor than a knock at, say, the assistant coaches in the East during the 2003-04 season. Those coaches were likely still considering Odom, who averaged over 17 points, nearly ten rebounds, 4.1 assists and a block per game with the playoff-bound Miami Heat that year, a flighty ne’er-do-well who hadn’t paid his dues. In opposition to, say, Jamaal Magliore – who made the damned All-Star team that season.

[Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

4. Rod Strickland. Like Odom, Strickland struggled with image issues throughout his career, which likely (needlessly) cost him votes as a reserve. He dealt with academic problems at DePaul, immediately entered a point guard controversy (which was not his fault) upon entering the league with the Knicks, and after being traded to San Antonio in his second season he infamously decided a behind-the-head pass late in a Game 7 loss would be the right move (it sailed out of bounds). Strickland played killer basketball throughout the 1990s, but he could never crack the roster.

Derek Harper runs the show. (Getty Images)

3. Derek Harper. Derek Harper also had to live down an early career postseason boner. As a rookie, thinking that his Mavericks were up one on the Los Angeles Lakers, he dribbled clock out late in Game 4 of the team’s semifinal series. The Mavs went on to lose that game and the series, and Harper’s early reputation took a hit that he may not have recovered from in the eyes of the voters. Too bad, because he averaged about 18 points and six and a half assists for seven seasons with the Mavs in his prime, alongside two steals a contest.

2. Marcus Camby. As with all the others, Camby struggled due to his reputation. Considered a disappointment initially, then an injury-prone bit player, voters never seemed to realize that Marcus was one of the more dominant centers of his era in New York and (especially) Denver. It’s true that Camby played just 29 games in his last season with the Knicks and 29 games in his next season (his first with Denver), while in his prime; but he responded with a 10-point, 11-rebound, three block and 2.5-assist career with the Nuggets in the five seasons that followed.

1. Ron Harper. Harp easily had the most satisfying career of anyone on this list, which is a good thing because his All-Star chances were cruelly denied in the seasons prior to his five NBA championships. He averaged 19.4 points, a combined 9.8 assists/rebounds and 2.3 steals a contest in Cleveland, but was left off of several All-Star teams due to the East’s depth at guard. His best season was his rookie year in 1986-87, which saw him average 22.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists alongside 2.5 steals and a block, but voters apparently felt Maurice Cheeks’ sage veteran wisdom was preferable in an All-Star Game setting. Hollywood also averaged 19.3 points, a combined 10.3 rebounds/assists and two steals with the Clippers, but Los Angeles’ dodgy record likely kept him out of the All-Star lineup.

(Ron Harper is also my favorite player, ever. It’s September, and I don’t have to be objective.)

Squad goals. (Getty Images)

Would it blow your mind to learn that Cedric Maxwell never made an All-Star team?

The guy played for the Celtics, he was an NBA Finals MVP in 1981 and a ubiquitous presence on CBS throughout the 1980s. He only averaged around 14 points and six and a half rebounds with the team, however, sharing time with Kevin McHale at 30 minutes a game, which makes his absence understandable.

Mike Bibby may not have been the most exciting player to watch, but he was a 17.6-point 5.4-point guard for a series of top-notch Sacramento Kings teams over seven seasons, so you’d think he’d at least get a legacy nod from the assistant coaches that vote on reserves.

It was an absolute crime that Al Jefferson, averaging 21 points, 11 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game, did not make the All-Star team in 2007-08. He was probably on his way toward a make-up appearance the next season, but a torn ACL cut those hopes short, sadly. Happy Hairston was a double-double machine with some very good Laker squads, but somehow he missed out. Kevin Martin has averaged over 20 points in a season six times in his career, and yet you rarely see his name on fringe voting lists. Mock Josh Smith’s shot selection all you want, but he was a 15 and eight-rebound (with 3.4 steals/blocks) presence on several Atlanta Hawks teams that made the postseason, and he never made the cut.

Andre Miller clears the defender. (Getty Images)

Then there is the case of Andre Miller. The man led the NBA in assists in 2002 (while averaging 16.5 points per game) and yet failed to make the All-Star lineup (Michael Jordan’s return to action pushed everyone down a peg or two). He’ll enter 2015-16 as the NBA’s ninth all-time assist man, but Dre could never turn the corner enough to convince voters to ease him into an All-Star Game. Miller probably didn’t mind. That’s four more days off to work on finishing off his Andrea Doria replicate, made out of balsawood.

Previous entries: Top Five Players Who Have Never Made the Playoffs. Top Five Teams With Five or Fewer National Television Appearances. Top Five Players Entering a Make or Break Season.

- - - - - - -

Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

 

09/04/2015 02:46 PM
How much does losing Patrik Berglund hurt the Blues? (Trending Topics)

Last week the first major injury news of the season landed in St. Louis and the outlook was not good.

Patrik Berglund out four months following a shoulder surgery in late August, meaning that he should be back around Christmas or so if all goes as planned. But that's a long time to go without any player, and Berglund is ostensibly one that St. Louis relies upon somewhat heavily. 

He carries a cap hit of $3.7 million (giving him a cap hit that's currently fifth among Blues forwards), and has been a pretty good scorer for the team for some time. Over the last three seasons, his goals and points per 60 at 5-on-5 rank fifth and eighth on the team among forwards, respectively. The goals number actually puts him ahead of captain David Backes and the now-departed T.J. Oshie.

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

Losing a guy who, over the course of three seasons scored 0.68 goals per 60 minutes at full strength seems quite worrisome, doesn't it? Especially for a team that doesn't exactly score goals by the barrel. That's a solidly second-line level of performance by any measure, but it comes with a huge caveat: Ken Hitchcock doesn't seem to trust him very much.

Berglund is a natural center, but plays there very rarely, and for a guy who posts second-line goalscoring numbers, he's pretty solidly middle of the pack in terms of how he's deployed relative to the other forwards on the team. He's used more like a Vladimir Sobotka — middling competition, middling zone starts — than a Jaden Schwarz — better competition but easier zone starts — or in a first-line role against the real toughs and often deep in their own zone, along the lines of Backes or Oshie. And in fact, he's been trending toward easier treatment for some time now.

Below is a breakdown of how Berglund was used prior to Hitchcock's hiring (in yellow) and after (in blue).

As you can see, he gave Berglund a the heaviest load of his career in 2011-12, and he got manhandled in a way that had never happened to him before. He finished negative in terms of relative possession, chance generation, scoring, and so on. Which led to his even more easier usage in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign. We know that Hitchcock is a guy who uses these kinds of numbers to figure out whether what he sees on the ice matches what shows up in the data, so doing a better job of controlling these things is probably a pretty good indicator that Hitchcock did not like what he saw. The results actually got worse the next season.

All of which led to last year, when Berglund was used more or less exclusively as a defensive player in a checking role against other checking lines. His time on ice per game has remained more or less constant over the last three seasons at just 12.4 or 12.5 minutes a night — which is basically high-end third-line stuff — and it's pretty clear that this is all Hitchcock would be willing to give him anyway.

Moreover, even as the 5-on-5 ice time has stayed relatively consistent over the last few years, Berglund has effectively seen his special teams play wiped out almost entirely. He now plays only about 50 seconds per night on both the power play and penalty kill. And along with his stalled-out 5-on-5 usage, it doesn't really paint much of a pretty picture.

So the question becomes one of whether Hitchcock is right to do this. The reduction of his ice time by about a minute a night at 5-on-5 and the near-total elimination of his special teams play indicates to me that Hitchcock has learned — or thinks he's learned — that Berglund is not to be trusted in situations that are very likely to influence the outcome of a game. That is, he doesn't put him out against tough competition in any situations, and tough competition is the most likely to both score on you, and potentially be scored upon as well.

However, that's not reflected in the quality of his linemates, which has materially improved in recent years. Last year he most often played with Dmitrij Jaskin and Paul Stastny, but the year before that, it was Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz. In the lockout year, it was Chris Stewart and David Perron. You'd rather skate with any two of the first four than the latter pair, and I think that's a partly testament to St. Louis's apparent realization that the forward group needs to be improved.

But apart from Stastny, who likewise found himself playing away from top competition last year despite the dollar value of his contract, it looks like Berglund's being used to shepherd along kids with high ceilings. Schwartz, Tarasenko, and Jaskin are all considered to be pretty high-level prospects (well, not so much Tarasenko any more, given his coming-out party last year), and these are kids you want to put in a position to succeed; which is why Berglund, who clearly has some offensive skill, seems like a decent guy to put with them. He doesn't do so well himself against top competition, and if he can get the puck to these high-test talents, or bury chances they give him, then all the better; goals count just as much when scored against grinders as they do against first- and second-line players.

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

But with all that having been said, it's tough to find evidence that Berglund has a significant positive influence on his linemates' ability to either score or prevent goals even against these weaker players. In a lot of ways, it feels that this is just Hitchcock putting him in that part of the lineup because there aren't other options left. Let's put it this way, once Tarasenko and Schwartz “graduated” from third-line duty — and it seems Jaskin will do the same this season — Berglund didn't get a diploma too. And that's for a reason.

Those guys were going to score with or without his help, and that stuff Hitchcock said about this surgery happening far enough out from the start of the season that he's not super-worried about finding a guy to fill that role instead is pretty telling. None of this is to say that Berglund won't be missed, because again he can score some goals and not in any way hinder the performance younger, developing players.

But this is a guy who clearly doesn't have a lot of favor with the coaching staff, and it appears as though he's earned that standing.

Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

(All stats via War on Ice unless otherwise stated.)

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Enjoy a Motor Race Properly
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It is undeniable that we all get excited to attend any sports event. But it is also true that a proper knowledge of the game makes it even more interesting. Motor races are not any exception. You can get the most of it only when you know what is happening. So check out for some proper strategies.

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09/04/2015 02:46 PM
How much does losing Patrik Berglund hurt the Blues? (Trending Topics)

Last week the first major injury news of the season landed in St. Louis and the outlook was not good.

Patrik Berglund out four months following a shoulder surgery in late August, meaning that he should be back around Christmas or so if all goes as planned. But that's a long time to go without any player, and Berglund is ostensibly one that St. Louis relies upon somewhat heavily. 

He carries a cap hit of $3.7 million (giving him a cap hit that's currently fifth among Blues forwards), and has been a pretty good scorer for the team for some time. Over the last three seasons, his goals and points per 60 at 5-on-5 rank fifth and eighth on the team among forwards, respectively. The goals number actually puts him ahead of captain David Backes and the now-departed T.J. Oshie.

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

Losing a guy who, over the course of three seasons scored 0.68 goals per 60 minutes at full strength seems quite worrisome, doesn't it? Especially for a team that doesn't exactly score goals by the barrel. That's a solidly second-line level of performance by any measure, but it comes with a huge caveat: Ken Hitchcock doesn't seem to trust him very much.

Berglund is a natural center, but plays there very rarely, and for a guy who posts second-line goalscoring numbers, he's pretty solidly middle of the pack in terms of how he's deployed relative to the other forwards on the team. He's used more like a Vladimir Sobotka — middling competition, middling zone starts — than a Jaden Schwarz — better competition but easier zone starts — or in a first-line role against the real toughs and often deep in their own zone, along the lines of Backes or Oshie. And in fact, he's been trending toward easier treatment for some time now.

Below is a breakdown of how Berglund was used prior to Hitchcock's hiring (in yellow) and after (in blue).

As you can see, he gave Berglund a the heaviest load of his career in 2011-12, and he got manhandled in a way that had never happened to him before. He finished negative in terms of relative possession, chance generation, scoring, and so on. Which led to his even more easier usage in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign. We know that Hitchcock is a guy who uses these kinds of numbers to figure out whether what he sees on the ice matches what shows up in the data, so doing a better job of controlling these things is probably a pretty good indicator that Hitchcock did not like what he saw. The results actually got worse the next season.

All of which led to last year, when Berglund was used more or less exclusively as a defensive player in a checking role against other checking lines. His time on ice per game has remained more or less constant over the last three seasons at just 12.4 or 12.5 minutes a night — which is basically high-end third-line stuff — and it's pretty clear that this is all Hitchcock would be willing to give him anyway.

Moreover, even as the 5-on-5 ice time has stayed relatively consistent over the last few years, Berglund has effectively seen his special teams play wiped out almost entirely. He now plays only about 50 seconds per night on both the power play and penalty kill. And along with his stalled-out 5-on-5 usage, it doesn't really paint much of a pretty picture.

So the question becomes one of whether Hitchcock is right to do this. The reduction of his ice time by about a minute a night at 5-on-5 and the near-total elimination of his special teams play indicates to me that Hitchcock has learned — or thinks he's learned — that Berglund is not to be trusted in situations that are very likely to influence the outcome of a game. That is, he doesn't put him out against tough competition in any situations, and tough competition is the most likely to both score on you, and potentially be scored upon as well.

However, that's not reflected in the quality of his linemates, which has materially improved in recent years. Last year he most often played with Dmitrij Jaskin and Paul Stastny, but the year before that, it was Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz. In the lockout year, it was Chris Stewart and David Perron. You'd rather skate with any two of the first four than the latter pair, and I think that's a partly testament to St. Louis's apparent realization that the forward group needs to be improved.

But apart from Stastny, who likewise found himself playing away from top competition last year despite the dollar value of his contract, it looks like Berglund's being used to shepherd along kids with high ceilings. Schwartz, Tarasenko, and Jaskin are all considered to be pretty high-level prospects (well, not so much Tarasenko any more, given his coming-out party last year), and these are kids you want to put in a position to succeed; which is why Berglund, who clearly has some offensive skill, seems like a decent guy to put with them. He doesn't do so well himself against top competition, and if he can get the puck to these high-test talents, or bury chances they give him, then all the better; goals count just as much when scored against grinders as they do against first- and second-line players.

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

But with all that having been said, it's tough to find evidence that Berglund has a significant positive influence on his linemates' ability to either score or prevent goals even against these weaker players. In a lot of ways, it feels that this is just Hitchcock putting him in that part of the lineup because there aren't other options left. Let's put it this way, once Tarasenko and Schwartz “graduated” from third-line duty — and it seems Jaskin will do the same this season — Berglund didn't get a diploma too. And that's for a reason.

Those guys were going to score with or without his help, and that stuff Hitchcock said about this surgery happening far enough out from the start of the season that he's not super-worried about finding a guy to fill that role instead is pretty telling. None of this is to say that Berglund won't be missed, because again he can score some goals and not in any way hinder the performance younger, developing players.

But this is a guy who clearly doesn't have a lot of favor with the coaching staff, and it appears as though he's earned that standing.

Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

(All stats via War on Ice unless otherwise stated.)

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