Monthly Archives: February, 2015

What the Jagr Trade Means for the Bruins

Yesterday, Jaromir Jagr was traded to Florida Panthers for a 2015 2nd round pick and a 2016 3rd rounder. Considering that I was rooting for the Bruins to trade for Jagr at the trade deadline since the day after Game 7 vs. the Canadiens, this trade obviously stung me a little bit. But when looking at his season, where he was traded to, and the Bruins’ current cap situation, this trade had a few ripple effects. Let’s take a look at everything this trade signifies.

The Bruins don’t get Jaromir Jagr.
This one falls in the “no shit” category, because generally you can’t trade for Jagr from a team like the Devils when they’ve already traded him. But Jagr may have been the answer that the Bruins were looking for in the Top 9 forwards. He is a hard guy to play with just because of how quirky his style of play can be, but he already performed really well 2 years ago on the Bergeron-Marchand line. Given that Reilly Smith has slightly regressed this year, albeit less than most people think, it would be totally reasonable for Jagr to take Smith’s spot and bump him to the Krejci-Lucic line. That would give Krejci and Lucic a reliable passer and scorer, who plays really differently than guys like Horton or Iginla, but could have the right kind of skills for that spot. That would leave Loui Eriksson at the 3RW spot with his Swedish BFF Soderberg, and everything looks good. The problem would be finding a spot for David Pastrnak, who is already guaranteed a spot on the team because the Bruins are using a year off of his ELC. While I’d love a lightning fast 4th line of Spooner-Paille-Pastrnak (or maybe substitute another trade acquisition for Spooner or Paille), I don’t think Claude Julien and Peter Chiarelli want anything other than a grinding 4th line of penalty killers. They like their muckers.

Either way, Jagr would have been a good fit on the Bruins. He also could have played with Krejci and Lucic and maybe capitalize on whatever chemistry he has with Krejci from Olympic teams. (After all, it’s a known fact that athletes play better when they can speak a different language to the guy that they’re playing with. That’s why David Ortiz became what he is when he started playing with Pedro and Manny. Spanish!) Jagr might be able to fit with the Bruins better than other teams, which is part of the reason that I wanted the Bruins to trade for him, maybe getting better value on the trade than other teams would.

Jagr might not be as good as we think.
And I am 100% including myself in the “we” category, because I didn’t realize until looking at his fancy stats recently that Jagr isn’t the Top 10 MVP candidate that he was last year in his early forties. His numbers have dropped since his 2014 with the Devils and his time in 2013 with the Bruins, and that can be expected for a guy who turned 43 almost 2 weeks ago. On behindthenet.ca, his corsirel is down from 13.5 to 10.9, and even more noticeable, his corsi overall is down from 17.21 to 2.71. Some of that is to be explained by his team being suckier, but definitely not all of it – not when his corsi relative quality of competition has dropped from .94 to -.15, and not when his offensive zone starts percentage is roughly the same. Lastly, he has 29 points in 57 games this year, just over half a game, while tallying 67 in 82 games last year.

So maybe passing over Jagr is a good idea, despite everything I’ve said this year. And when you really think about it, if Johnny Boychuk gets a trade of a pair of 2nd rounders, then is Jagr really worth a 2nd and 3rd? Probably not. So, in a vacuum, I’m ok with the Bruins letting Jagr go elsewhere. But they need to get someone else, in part because…

The Panthers are gunning for the Bruins’ 8 seed.
…Because the Florida is nipping at Boston’s heels. Given David Krejci’s injury and the team’s determination this season to occasionally suck for no good reason, the B’s might not get out of their slump until it’s too late. Bruins fans can no longer hang their hat on the fact that Florida may be overachieving and the Bruins are definitely underachieving, because all that crap doesn’t matter with about 20 games left. It’s been automatic for awhile that this season will break the Bruins’ 6 year streak of having home ice advantage in the 1st round of the playoffs, but what really needs to settle in our minds is that it’s time to check the standings for the previous night’s results for a lowly team like the Panthers. Thanks to the Blackhawks for winning last night without Kane, by the way. That was a huge win, because it was probably the last game the Panthers won’t have Jagr.

Peter Chiarelli now has even less of an excuse not to make a big trade.
It was pretty clear a few days ago that the Bruins need a big trade at the deadline. But you could still use the logic of, “This team will probably make the playoffs anyway, they have no chance of getting higher than an 8 seed, and this core does have potential. So a minor tweak here or there is probably all they need, and giving up a future asset for 20 games probably isn’t worth it.”

That logic is dead now, because the Bruins may be letting the Panthers walk right past them if they don’t make a trade now, especially coming off of Krejci’s injury. And I’m not talking about the unfortunate but seemingly inevitable trade of Chris Stewart, either. I’m talking a solid, Top 4 defenseman at worst and hopefully a defenseman even better than that and a forward better than Stewart. I’ve been hoping for defenseman Andrej Sekera from Carolina, but I’m gonna post every possible target for the Bruins within the next day or 2 in anticipation of the deadline. But this has to be the Jaromir Jagr type of trade deadline of 2013, not the Greg Zanon or Andrej Meszaros type of deadline of 2012 and 2014.

The Bruins can manipulate the cap for someone significant with Krejci’s injury.
Joe McDonald wrote about this one. The Bruins immediately put David Krejci on long term injury reserve, opening up his salary for extra cap space this year. That’s a good sign for a trade, because the Bruins didn’t put Chara on LTIR for a few weeks after his injury earlier in the season, even though it was well known that he’d be out at least 5 weeks and the threshold for LTIR is 24 days and 10 games.

McDonald explained the possible maneuver through the use of full team salaries, but I’d prefer to use the actual amount left on a contract, because that’s the way that the team looks at the cap throughout the season. Putting David Krejci’s $5.25 million and Kevan Miller’s $800k on LTIR for 20 games, or about 25% of the season, saves the team about $1.3 million for Krejci and $200k for Miller, or about $1.5 million total. But again, that’s prorated. That means that any player the Bruins could trade for would have to have about $1.5 million due to him for about the rest of the season. That means that the B’s could acquire a guy with actually about a $6 million salary, which would translate into a pretty good player, you’d think.

Here’s the problem, though. That would probably mean that David Krejci would have to be on the shelf for the rest of the regular season, as the team may not have the space for both of them if he’s gone. Exactly how much space the Bruins have that can be prorated is so hard to determine that it’s probably unknown to anyone except Peter Chiarelli and the now defunct but amazing capgeek.com, but the team may not be able to have both Krejci and an expensive trade acquisition until the playoffs, when there’s no cap. So, if the B’s spend to the last dollar and then bring Krejci back for Game 1 of the playoffs, that’s some serious, Bill Belichick type manipulation of the cap.

I’m fully in support of that if it’s what needs to happen. Because, if there’s one thing that the Jagr trade teaches us, it’s the Peter Chiarelli needs to light a fire under the team’s ass by doing something. Hopefully he gets enough of a fire lit under his own ass to make the move.

Red Sox Sign Yoan Moncada

As if we didn’t need another reason to feel good about the Red Sox offseason, minus letting Lester go to Chicago, the Sox just signed a player who might go with the 1st overall pick if he was in the draft this June. Yoan Moncada, 19, is reportedly signing with the Red Sox for what’s expected to be a $30 million signing bonus, although the contract hasn’t been officially signed yet.

This is obviously a huge move for the Sox, in part because it cuts the Yankees off at the knees. The Bronx Bombers have a farm system that is nowhere close to that of the Sox right now, and Moncada could have been a huge equalizer. But he’ll be in Boston for the next few years, because Ben Cherrington always feels like he can’t have a deep enough minor league system. Cherrington, and his predecessor, Theo Epstein, have started to adopt a foundation of stockpiling position players and then finding a few of the abundant pitching options on the market. Spending $88 million for Hanley Ramirez, $100 million for Pablo Sandoval, and $30 million for Yoan Moncada while passing up Jon Lester for around $150 million perfectly illustrates that point.

Moncada may very well end up being the everyday 3rd baseman in a few years for the Sox when Ortiz retires and Sandoval conceivably moves away from the hot corner because his 30+ year old body is getting older and fatter. That’s likely where he’ll end up, but the important part of this move is that positional availability is not the key concern. If the Red Sox felt that positional availability and not having too many cooks in the kitchen was even in the same zip code as a top concern, they wouldn’t have developed an outfield that might consist of Hanley Ramirez, Rusney Castillo, Shane Victorino, Brock Holt, Daniel Nava, Allen Craig, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Mookie Betts. Get good baseball players and worry about the rest later. That’s how the Sox thought of this one, and that’s why I love it. Fuck the Yankees.

Bruins Dominate Blackhawks… Really???

Yesterday, the Bruins destroyed the Blackhawks 6-2 behind a solid performance from just about everyone on B’s and a terrible performance from anyone wearing goalie pads for Chicago.

Patrice Bergeron, Loui Eriksson, Milan Lucic, Gregory Campbell, Dougie Hamilton, and Reilly Smith all netted goals, with Bergy’s, Lucic’s, Dougie’s, and Reilly’s all coming from awesome individual plays by the goal scorers themselves. Just about everyone on the Bruins looked good, even the new 4th line of Caron, Campbell, and Ferlin, and also Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid. Now that’s how you know that everything went right for the Bruins on Sunday.

There is a lot of danger in yesterday’s game for the Bruins. My main concern is that Peter Chiarelli might convince himself that this team is still a Cup contender as it’s currently constructed, paving the way for another small trade deadline for the Bruins with an Andrej Meszaros or Greg Zanon type trade only. Brian Ferlin’s presence on at the 4RW spot seems to signal that Chris Stewart will be taking that spot soon, as Ferlin is just a placeholder. Cunningham didn’t make the cut for the 4RW spot for the rest of the season, and I’m more than happy with replacing him. But if Stewart is the only acquisition, the team is in trouble.

But we should embrace this win a little bit more, at least until the hated Canucks play in Boston tomorrow night. Tuukka Rask looked like the Vezina Trophy winner yet again, with his 26/28 save percentage not representing the quality of so many shots that he stopped yesterday. I’ll say it again, he’s still the most underrated X factor for the Bruins going forward. The difference between how he played in the 2013 playoffs and how he’s played throughout this season is worth somewhere between half a goal and a full goal per game, and yesterday’s Tuukka was a throwback to 2 springs ago.

And let’s give more credit to Patrice Bergeron, the only Bruin who has looked to have a full sense of urgency the past few weeks, and the Bruin who played the best of anyone on the ice yesterday.

The next few games, we’ll see if the Bruins can build anything off of beating one of the best teams in the league. They play Vancouver, New Jersey, Arizona, Calgary, and Philadelphia next. Either 8 or 9 points in those 5 games should be expected, and if that happens, we may look back on the Blackhawks game as the one that turned the season around.

New Pace of Play MLB Rules Won’t Mean Anything

Yesterday, MLB announced rules to have players keep 1 foot in the batter’s box at all times, make managers stay in the dugout on replay challenges, quicker returns to action after TV commercials, and timed pitching changes. I support all of these rules, and so does any baseball fan who isn’t 86 years old and sitting in a nursing home wondering if they’re gonna serve anything other than cottage cheese that week.

But the new MLB rules to speed up the game won’t be nearly as helpful as you were hoping. When you read further into that ESPN article, you’ll notice that there are 2 drawbacks to the rules. The first is that the rules won’t take effect until May, as Spring Training and April are a “phase in” period, which may as well be a flashing neon sign saying “These rules are not to be taken seriously.” The other thing, which might be even more of a red flag (and that’s saying something), is that the punishment goes all the way up from a first time warning to a whopping fine of $5000. Five thousand. That’s nothing to an MLB player… and you wanna know something even more ridiculous. I lied with that $5000 figure. It’s actually $500. Alex Rodriguez makes somewhere between $30 and $40k per at bat depending on how many he gets per year, so that means that he makes the number I lied to you about, $5000, for about every pitch he sees.

You know how jaywalking is illegal but everyone and their mother does it, even if it’s right in front of a cop? You do it because it’s not worth it to follow the rules, there’s like a 1 in 100 chance that a cop will actually give you a ticket if they see it, and the ticket of $25 isn’t even worth being scared of. As a matter of fact, I have no idea what the cost of a jaywalking ticket is. I just guessed because I’ve never heard of anyone I know getting one, which is pretty telling right there.

That’s what these rules are – the jaywalking of MLB. Major League Baseball showed its resistance to change again, even as Bud “I will never send an email” Selig is out as commish. Even when the league tries to change something for the better that every fan wants, their resistance to altering anything about the game radiates through every big league ballpark.

Celtics’ Cap Sheet Looks Great for the Future

(Right here is my recap of the Celtics trade deadline from a roster perspective.  This is about how the trade sets them up beautifully for the future in terms of the cap.)

The Celtics are sitting pretty with their salary cap sheet, and the Isaiah Thomas trade makes them look even prettier.
A brilliant point that Bill Simmons made in Grantland’s aadfasdfasdfsda of Deadline Day was that the Celtics now have Marcus Smart, James Young, Avery Bradley, and Isaiah Thomas locked up through 2018 for a combined $22 million. That’s insane.
After 2016, the cap will rise considerably, and $22 million may be about a quarter of the total cap at that point. Also, Gerald Wallace comes off the books after 2016, as does Evan Turner’s $3.4 million sum.  (What the Celtics do with Turner will be very intriguing.  Do they use him for next year as an acceptable placeholder on a good team, then let him go into free agency, do they try to roll with him in the future despite having a clogged backcourt now, or do they try to trade him this summer to get an asset for him and valuable minutes for Smart, Young, Thomas, and Bradley?  Smart money is on the 3rd option.  That’s also the right call.)

Also in 2016, Sullinger and Zeller’s rookie deals end, and they’ll be restricted free agents, and Olynyk will have 1 year left.  The Celtics’ situation in 2016 is incredibly fascinating.  They’ll owe about $22 million to 4 great options at guard and small forward if Young can play at the 3, and then no other spots on the team are set.  Olynyk is the only non guard on the team who runs after 2016, meaning that the Celtics are going to be at the ultimate crossroads — but only with about half the positions on the floor.  The other half is completely solidified unless Ainge wants to use the current guards as assets for better ones, which we can’t rule out.  Then they’ll have only about $25 million committed when the salary cap could be as much as $90 million, which is a number that I’ve seen many times but is a ballpark estimate at best.

Many teams with huge cap space in 2016 are going to realize that their space means less than they expected because cap space is going to be so plentiful leaguewide.  Cap space is also an asset, and an asset’s worth decreases if everyone has it.

But the Celtics are not going to have that problem, because they’ll better be able to put that cap space to use.  They probably won’t get Kevin Durant or Al Horford, the best unrestricted free agents in 2016 by a long shot (next on the list would be a 31 year old Joakim Noah or Mike Conley, and the Celtics very likely won’t be in the point guard market).  But they could use the cap space and assets they have to go on a trading spree, maybe somewhat similar to 2007 with Garnett and Allen.  The difference here would be the ages of the core of the team.  Back in 2007, Paul Pierce was 30, so it made just as much sense to go for aging stars with some game left in the tank than it would have to go for younger guys, because that core wouldn’t have lasted so long anyway.

If such a spree were to happen in 2016, the Celtics would have the luxury of having a younger core.  Let’s say that Smart is really the only untouchable for the team at that point.  They could offer Brooklyn’s 2016 1st rounder, which could be Top 10 or even Top 5.  They could sign and trade Sullinger or Zeller, or maybe trade them at the 2016 trade deadline if they see that as the best time to get a star or superstar.  Or, if a team wants NBA ready players for whatever superstar the Celtics get (a type of trade that rarely seems to work out for NBA teams), the C’s could trade Bradley and/or Thomas.

Just for fun, I went looking for guys who could be potential trade targets in the summer of 2016, either for contract or team reasons.  The obvious leader of the list is Demarcus Cousins, who I’m praying daily will be a Celtic within 18 months.  The dude is an absolute beast and will only be turning 26 that summer.  His contract runs through 2018, which would be perfect for the Celtics, who would get 2 more guaranteed years, and is short enough that the Kings might realize that they can’t make it work with his remaining window in the city. Sullinger, Young, Brooklyn’s 2016 1st rounder and a Celtics 1st rounder?  That’s a high price, but I think it’d be worth it.

Other possibilities are Greg Monroe if the Pistons resign him and then fail to keep improving as they have since the Josh Smith trade, meaning he’d want out; Paul George if he’s at close to what he was this time a year ago but the Pacers are going nowhere; Zach Randolph, who would be on a 1 year, $10 million deal at that point and may be able to be acquired rather easily; Serge Ibaka, who would be on a 1 year, $12.5 million deal which would be incredibly reasonable after the cap rises, and Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors, who I’m including on this list simply because Utah is bound to screw something up.

But no matter what the Celtics do, they will have a ton of options in the near future.  As for the immediate future, I’m hoping for the young core to get playoff experience this year, and then a Greg Monroe signing in the summer.  But Danny Ainge always likes having flexbility, and now he has a ton of it.  I’m feeling pretty good about the Celtics right now, and that’s saying something considering they’re out of the playoffs.

Celtics Get Isaiah Thomas in an Awesome Trade

You know how Danny Ainge fully believes in the Daryl Morey/Sam Hinkie mindset of just collecting assets in order to put together a winning basketball team over a process of multiple years? Well, Ainge just cashed in one of his assets for a MUCH better one, and I couldn’t be happier.

The Celtics traded Marcus Thornton, who is an expiring contract and only served to take minutes away from young guys in the final 31 games of the season, and the Cavaliers’ 1st round pick in 2016 for Isaiah Thomas, point guard for the Suns. Thomas just turned 26, and averaged 20.3 ppg and 6.3 apg on .45.3% shooting last year before Phoenix signed him as their 3rd (!??!) point guard before the season for unexplained reasons. Phoenix now traded 2 of their 3 points guards, Thomas and Goran Dragic, leaving only Eric Bledsoe at point guard for the team.

For Phoenix, the trade makes sense simply because they had to get what they could get, and anyone who has attended 1 economics class can tell you that it’s important to ignore sunk costs. So for right now, the trade of Isaiah Thomas isn’t bad for Phoenix, as they get a 1st rounder for a guy that wouldn’t have much of a future in the desert and seems to rub teammates the wrong way. They might have been able to get more for him if they tried to hold out for a time when his value wasn’t at a relative low point, but they clearly had to move on, so you can’t hate on the Suns for trading him now. But it’s impossible to look at the trade and wonder why in the world they signed him last summer. Although, I guess that signing a guy for a few months and then flipping him for a 1st rounder is a net positive gain, so you can look at it that way.

But enough about Phoenix – we care about the Celtics. The C’s made out like bandits in this one, getting a point guard who can handle the ball offensively, which is one of their biggest holes at that end of the floor. Thomas’ ability to create his own shot will come in very handy for the C’s, especially as Smart continues to grow. Now, Smart can play off the ball, and Brad Stevens will have an easier time getting the offense to focus on Smart’s strengths when he’s on the floor.

I’m going to write about that this does for the Celtics going forward from a strictly salary cap perspective, because I think that’s so important that it deserves its own post. But from a basketball standpoint or a draft pick standpoint, this trade was a no-brainer. The Celtics are gonna have so many young players coming onto the roster between 2012 and about 2017 or 2018 that a pick in the 20s, like the one from the Cavs that the Suns got, loses its luster a little bit simply because there are a limited number of roster spots. At some point, Ainge was gonna have to cash in some of those 1sr rounders, and cashing in one of the lowest ones that they have for a guy who fits what they need so well is an awesome move.

Remember the days were Danny Ainge should have been fired, according to just about anyone you asked in Boston? Well, his strategy of cashing in assets got them Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, and now it is going real well in the current state of the team. There’s still a long way to go, but I’m pretty happy with Ainge as the GM right now, a point that I’ll make further when I dissect the trade from a salary standpoint.
P.S. Thanks Billy King.

Bruins Lose to Canucks After an Incredibly Lethargic Effort

If there was ever a game that would indicate that stats, especially shot differential or corsi, are not the be all and end all in hockey, it was this one.  The Bruins only lost the shot battle 25-23, and were only trailing 19-14 after 2 periods, but you’d think the Canucks outshot the Bruins by at least 12 or 15 last night.  The Bruins played really badly overall and beyond horrendously in the 2nd period, at times looking where they didn’t even care.  Billy Jaffe, Dale Arnold and Jack Edwards were going off on the team and rightfully so, and given how all 3 of them watch each and every Bruins game, that should tell you something.  The Bruins just didn’t seem to want it in a pivotal game, and this is one of the few times where that cliche about a team “not wanting it” really did seem to ring true.

Something is off with the team.  Hopefully the core of the team, which has played 15 playoff series in the past 6 years and 11 in the past 4, is just tired of the regular season and can turn it on in the playoffs, a la the 2010 Celtics.  Hopefully.  But there were ridiculous defensive breakdowns on all 4 of the Canucks’ non-empty net goals, and the B’s seemed content to keep giving up those opportunities.

Individually, there are tons of question marks.  Patrice Bergeron is still playing with fire and still producing, because he’s Patrice Bergeron.  And Chara is still a great no. 1 blueliner.  After that, Marchand hasn’t been able to break his streaks of bad hockey with a good streak that we all love him for, Reilly Smith looks to have taken a major step back from last year with the eye test (although his possession stats are still comparable), David Krejci and Milan Lucic aren’t the same, David Pastrnak has cooled off, and the 3rd line, which carried the Bruins for parts of the 1st half of the season, isn’t looking much better recently.

And everyone on defense after Dougie is playing either 1 or 2 depth chart spots above their current abilities.  Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid were paired up last night…  I don’t know if that meant that Claude Julien was paid by the Canucks to throw the game by putting them together, or if each guy was individually bought off, but it sure seemed like the 1919 Black Sox put more effort into the World Series than Seidenberg and McQuaid did to last night’s game.  Kevan Miller and Torey Krug seem like they have to be the 3rd and 4th best defensemen on the team at this point, and that’s such a recipe for disaster that I threw up when I typed the sentence.

The team needs a shakeup, and that’s a huge understatement.  The worry here is that the team will get desperate and convince themselves that a guy like Chris Stewart will be the answer because of the toughness that he brings.  Truthfully, this team needs a lot more than that.  They need 2 players, either 2 defensemen or 1 forward and 1 defenseman, who won’t take a night off and will slide some of the overmatched guys down the depth chart back to where they belong.

But, more importantly, the Bruins need to actually wake up.  Their biggest threat to themselves during the Claude Julien era has been to fall asleep randomly.  But we’ve never seen a season like this which has had 3 or 4 spurts where you wonder, “What the hell is going on?  Where’s the urgency?”  Or, as Jack and Brick would say, “Where’s the compete level?” That’s the question that we all want answered, but we can only get an answer if the Bruins demonstrate the fire that we know they’re capable of.

Charles Barkley Goes on a Rant Again… This One’s Bad

Charles Barkley fired shots at Daryl Morey, the stathead Houston Rockets GM, calling him and anyone who uses a great deal of analytics and sabermetrics an “idiot.”  Once again, we have the old school “eye test only” vs. the new school stathead and numbers showdown.

To me, it seems pretty clear that in basketball, stats are not everything.  As Bill Simmons always reminds us about Isiah Thomas, Isiah thought that the “secret” to success in the NBA was that it wasn’t about basketball.  It was about how the individual guys on a team all clicked.  Anything that intangible, whether confidence, chemistry, or whatever a guy ate for breakfast that morning, should theoretically show up in the stats when measuring how a team plays together, but obviously stats can’t measure everything when determining player moves.  It’s nearly impossible to accurately gauge how a guy on one team will play when he’s on another surrounded by different guys, so clearly stats are not the be all end all.

That being said, the fact that Chuck just dismissed stats is ri-dik-a-luss.  Just turrable.  He pointed out that the Houston Rockets are the definition of a team who was built entirely around stats, meaning that they’ll win a round or 2 in the playoffs but then not be a real contender.  That’s fair, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Rockets failed, even when looking from a purely old school perspective.  Dwight Howard has everyone around the league thinking he’s a pussy and trying to punk him, and James Harden sometimes tries to guard his man on the court about as much as I try to guard the guy from my couch.  I could definitely see that team failing when the going gets tough in the playoffs.

But what about last year’s champs, the San Antonio Spurs?  While the Houston Rockets are good but not elite in John Hollinger’s advanced team stats, at 12th in offensive efficiency but 7th in defensive efficiency, last year’s Spurs actually were elite in those same stats.  In offensive efficiency, defensive efficiency, and assist ratio, they were 6th, 4th, and 1st, respectively.  In effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage, they were 2nd and tied for 2nd.

So yeah, stats suck.  I can understand Sir Charles’ apprehension to stats when trying to build a team and making all the puzzle pieces fit, but he went way too far with his criticism of all stats and anyone who focuses a lot on statistics.  There’s a reason that Barkley is incredibly entertaining and very enlightening on the way that players think, what NBA life is like, and the mentality that a team needs to have, but he should not be the primary voice of reason for the finer details of how to measure an NBA team.

Evander Kane Traded to Buffalo Sabres

Well, this one is pretty interesting.  The Winnipeg Jets have traded troubled forward Evander Kane to Buffalo along with Zach Bogosian and goalie prospect Jason Kasdoff to the Sabres for a 1st round pick (not the one that could be number 1 overall in a few months), Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford (whose salary Buffalo will pay half of), and prospects Joel Armia and Brendan Lemieux.  There is a lot to break down, but all in all, the Sabres and their fans should be pretty happy with this one.  That being said, the Jets and their fans should feel pretty good about how their team did given the circumstances.

Let’s start off with the fact that Evander Kane has loads of talent and is 23.  Generally speaking, those are the kinds of guys you wanna trade for — the kind who scored 30 goals at age 20 with just a 10.9% shooting percentage, meaning that he wasn’t just the beneficiary of awesome puck luck.  Kane’s corsi numbers are always positive, and that should continue to get a little better with age, although scoring forwards usually peak between about 23 and 28, so he doesn’t have a whole ton of room to grow.  But he’s still a 23 year old with talent who should only get better with a change of scenery.  A great get for Buffalo.

Zach Bogosian is definitely a serviceable defenseman, but his presence in the trade won’t turn any heads.  He’ll keep improving as he’s just 24, but he’ll never be a top pairing defenseman.  His place in the trade is probably to counteract the fact that Tyler Myers is also in the trade, so the teams are swapping blueliners.  But still, he’s an asset that Buffalo can use in a few years if they’re good, or they might be able to get a draft pick for him at some point.  Jason Kasdoff is unlikely to ever see significant NHL ice time.

Lemieux and Armia are both highly touted prospects, the former of whom is 19 and the latter of whom is 21.  Lemieux was drafted last year at number 31, and may make a few American Olympic teams in his day.  Armia killed if for Finland in the WJC last year, and he projects to be a great scorer for years to come.  No doubt, Buffalo had to give up a good deal to get Kane, as well as the 1st round pick.

But a great part of the trade for Buffalo was dumping Tyler Myers and his entire contract.  Myers will still be clocking in at $5.5 million on the salary cap for the next 4 years after this one.  Buffalo has some contracts that make me scratch my head, most notably Matt Moulson earning $5 million for the same time length, because it would make more sense for the Sabres to not have any money on their books long term.  But Myers was the worst of all those contracts, because his corsi stats are so bad that I thought about not posting a link to them because they might blind you.  Seriously, don’t look.  The fact that Buffalo cleared him from their cap sheet is awesome for them, but it definitely meant that they would have to give up just a pick and a single prospect.  The fact that both Armia and Lemieux are in the trade is probably due to Myers’ presence in the trade as well.

Winnipeg must really like the prospects, as well as the general idea of having young blood in the system for years to come, to take on Myers.  They probably saw how he played in his rookie year and hope that they can salvage some of his ability, although he’ll never be worth that horrendous cap hit.  But the Jets did a good job of getting 3 great future assets for a troubled forward who clearly had no time left in Winnipeg, and they only had to take on 1 liability for those 3 assets.  The Jets did the best they could do with the hand they were dealt, but Buffalo should be quite happy that they got a guy with tons of potential and also dumped their worst cap clogger on the team.

James Shields Actually Signs a Reasonable Contract

James Shields has signed a 4 year, $75 million deal with the San Diego Padres.  We all knew that he wouldn’t get Jon Lester money, but we didn’t know there would be this much of a difference, at least in the average yearly value.  Lester gets almost $26 million, while Shields gets a little under $19.  It seems like MLB GMs correctly realized that Shields is not even close to a guy like Lester.

The interesting thing about the Shields signing is that his numbers all came down to whether the Red Sox or Yankees wanted him.  Since they didn’t, his market fell, because very few teams were willing to shell out the kind of money that you give to a decent ace or great number 2 pitcher in today’s MLB.

The Padres are the beneficiary, though, because they get an ace for roughly the price of a 3 WAR player — and that number will decrease with time, inflation, and increased player salary spending in the league, and he’s a 3.5-4 WAR player right now.  Add in the facts that Shields has pitched in the AL East and is now moving to the NL West, he’s apparently a good clubhouse guy, and the Padres need an ace, and this deal is a no brainer for them.  In that division and in that ballpark, 2 years of 9 total WAR would not shock me in the slightest, and that would pretty much make the contract worthwhile by that time.  Shields is already 33, but 4 years isn’t too long that his age would be a reason not to do the deal.

San Diego is a pretty interesting team now, and the Shields contract is to thank for that one.  And good for the MLB GMs that they didn’t overpay for a guy like this, the way many, myself included, had thought they would because of the rising player salaries and the demand for pitching.