How Greg Oden can Impact the Heat

 By: Rahul

Courtesy of Bleacher Report
Courtesy of Bleacher Report

Yesterday, the Miami Heat announced that they had signed Greg Oden, former Trail Blazer and overall #1 draft pick in 2007, to a two year contract to the league minimum, approximately worth 1 million the first year and 1.1 million with a player option for the second year. Some people consider this a bad move by the Heat because Oden has not played a game since the 2009-2010 season due to his knee injuries, causing him to have microfracture surgeries on both knees. However, here are three reasons how Oden is a great candidate to help the Heat:

1. Efficiency

Yes, we know that Greg Oden has serious knee problems that have limited him to playing 82 games since he got drafted back in 2007. But, let us discard that for a moment and look over his performance for the games that he did play. Oden maintained an 18.1 PER during the 2008-09 season and jumped to a 23.1 PER during the 2009-10 season. For those unfamiliar with PER (Player Efficiency Rating), it is a measurement of per minute production that is standardized in such a way that the league average is 15 (basketball-reference.com). Although Oden has missed many games, he has proven that he can be an above average, efficient basketball player. Even though the Heat will start out by giving him limited minutes during the next year, he will serve as a valuable addition to their bench.

Courtesy of Top Buzz
Courtesy of Top Buzz

2. Rebounding

This is the main worry of Heat fans. Although the Heat have arguably the best defense in the league and plenty of offensive support from the Big 3, nothing frustrates Heat fans more than when they give up second chance opportunities due to the lack of rebounds and then cannot give themselves any second chances when they are on offense. Oden averaged a 15.7% ORB (Offensive rebound rate) during the games he played from 2008-10. For those who are not familiar, the offensive rebound rate is an estimate of the percentage of available offensive rebounds a player grabbed while he was on the floor. If one was to compare Oden’s career rate to all centers during the 2012-2013 season, Oden would be the 2nd highest, above Roy Hibbert, Tyson Chandler, and Andre Drummond before falling to Anderson Varejao with a 16.9% ORB, the highest in the NBA this past year. However, one may say that players like Hibbert and Chandler played over 28 minutes a game this season, while Oden averaged only 22 minutes a game through his two seasons. While this is true, Oden still played more minutes and averaged a better ORB in both 2008-09 and 2009-10 then Andre Drummond, Enes Kanter, and Kosta Koufos during the 2012-13 season. If Oden manages to come back as strong as he played before, then he will become a key component to the Miami Heat.

Greg Oden Courtesy of NBC Sports
Courtesy of NBC Sports

3. Motivation

A player’s mentality can define their performance throughout the whole season. According to Mark Stein of ESPN, the Heat had been trying to recruit Oden since before the end of the last season. Oden himself didn’t think a comeback was possible until October. Even after all the injuries and expectations Oden has blown, the fact that the Heat, a championship team, found him as a “useful piece to add to their mix,” really strengthened Oden’s desire to come back and play with the Heat. Stein also acknowledged that the Heat will work him back slowly into the game, loosening his expectations and allowing him to ease back into becoming a fairly dominant center. Oden will not be making a big impact right away, but he will be guided into becoming a more and more useful addition to the current NBA champions, the Miami Heat.

The fact that the Miami Heat are getting a newly motivated Greg Oden, who was 6th in field goal percentage, tied for 11th in blocks, 11th in rebounds, and 13th in PPG among centers during the 2008-09 season, as a key bench option strikes as a good solution to Miami’s rebounding worries, while providing an efficient offensive boost and a shot blocking presence. One can see that it was a pretty good offseason move, especially while only having to pay a minimum contract. This is key because the Heat don’t have to be concerned about making too big of an investment on an injury riddled former lottery pick. His yearly salary constitutes a very small fraction of the team’s payroll, which stands at $79,400,797 for next season.

Signing Grade: A-

Sources: ESPN and basketball-reference.com

How the MLB suspensions will affect the MLB playoff race

By: Jon

Tomorrow, August 5, 2013, will be remembered as one of the best and worst days in MLB history. Bud Selig suspended twelve players for 50 games and one player for 211 games, I bet you could not guess this player. Although it will always be remembered because so many talented players were suspended for such a long time. Some of the influences already occurred during the trade deadline. However, some of these repercussions will affect future outcomes like free agency, teams chances of making the playoffs, and teams chances of winning the World Series.

Commissioner Bud Selig Courtesy of NY Daily News
Commissioner Bud Selig
Courtesy of NY Daily News

The Detroit Tigers were one of the teams affected by the Biogenesis saga because their starting shortstop, Jhonny Peralta, was suspended for the rest of the season. Although the loss of Peralta would not have affected their chances of making the playoffs, the Tigers will not have a solid bat at shortstop during their playoff run. The Detroit Tigers are 65-45 and hold a four game lead over the Cleveland Indians. ESPN predicts that the Tigers have a 95.1% chance of making the playoffs and I agree with the prediction. Jhonny Peralta was having a great year for the Detroit Tigers. Peralta is batting .309 with 11 HR and 54 RBI and was voted to his first All-Star Game this season. Since the Tigers are a win now team and have spent millions on their current team. The Tigers cold not go into the postseason with a bad shortstop, who has little talent. Since the Tigers did not have a replacement for Peralta, the Tigers were forced to give up one of their best prospects for Peralta’s replacement, Jose Iglesias. In a trade that netted the Red Sox Jake Peavy, the Tigers were forced to trade Avisail Garcia, a possible future All-Star. Besides for having to play a worse player on offense, the Tigers needed to forfeit one of their best prospects for Peralta’s replacement. The Tigers can blame Jhonny Perlta and the White Sox should thank Jhonny Peralta if Avisail Garcia fulfills his talent and becomes a future star for the next decade.

Jhonny Peralta
Jhonny Peralta

The Texas Rangers are another team that will be greatly affected by the Biogenesis suspensions.  Besides for the Yankees, the Rangers are the team most affected by the suspensions. The Rangers lost Nelson Cruz, their starting right fielder, for the rest of the season. The loss of Nelson Cruz will be a huge loss for the Texas Rangers because he is a good hitter and a leader of the team. Nelson Cruz is the second best hitter on the team and the best power hitter on the Texas Rangers. The Rangers are two games behind the Oakland A’s and a half a game ahead of the Cleveland Indians for the second Wild Card position. However, unlike the Detroit Tigers, the Texas Rangers did not acquire a back up for the All-Star left fielder. The Texas Rangers will be forced to start Daniel Murphy at right field for the rest of the playoff race. Although Daniel Murphy is a solid fourth outfielder and a good pinch hitter, Murphy cannot be the starter at the corner outfield position for the playoff team. Daniel is currently batting .227 with 12 home runs and 34 RBI. Many people did not think favorably of the Rangers trade deadline activity because they did not acquire a solid outfielder who could play when Cruz was suspended. The Rangers have one of the deepest farm systems in MLB and could have spared a few prospects for a half a year rental. The Rangers could have traded for Hunter Pence and Alex Rios.

Texas Rangers
Texas Rangers

Nelson Cruz was one of the three All-Stars from this year to be suspended for the rest of the season. Unlike the other players, Cruz will be a free agent by the end of the season. The free agent class for the upcoming winter is abnormally weak, which will be great for the few good All-Stars. Nelson Cruz is one of the few All-Stars and was inline for a huge contract. Cruz is having the best season of his career. This year, Cruz is batting .269 with 27 HR and 76 RBI. Nelson Cruz could have received a deal for about $15 million per season over about three or four years. However, the recent steroid news will drop Cruz’s value during the offseason. Many owners and managers would not want to disrupt their team’s clubhouse. Many players have spoken out against steroid users and cheaters, which would create an awkward situation in the clubhouse with Nelson Cruz. Also, GMs and managers will wonder if Cruz can reestablish himself as a player without steroids. As seen in the case of Melky Cabrera, Cruz will probably not be given a long term deal because of the question marks and controversy that follows him.

Nelson Cruz
Nelson Cruz

The team that was and will be most effected by the Biogenesis suspensions was the New York Yankees. Besides for having the most players suspended, the media has been zeroed on the Yankees over the past months because of Alex Rodriguez. The Yankees future is largely uncertain because Alex Rodriguez will appeal his suspension. Although Alex Rodriguez’s suspension will probably be reduced, his suspension will probably last long into next season. As I wrote in my other piece, the Yankees will be given a lot of flexibility and they can sign new players this offseason. (If you are interested in that article just search my name in the search window) The Yankees will continue to be heavily covered by the media as long as Alex Rodriguez is on the field. During Rodriguez’s first game, the Yankees had the best rating of the season because everyone wanted to see A-Rod play. Continue reading our articles and keeping up with the situation because it will become increasingly juicy and capitative.

Alex Rodriguez
Alex Rodriguez

More pics and stats from ESPN.com

The Best but Cheapest team that money can buy

By: Jon

Although baseball is a great game, many players will choose to play other sports because the players are not paid the big bucks instantly. However, baseball players are able to make the most money over the longest period of time if the player is good. Unlike other major sports, baseball players are able to reel in huge pay checks until they are in their forties. The best bargain in sports is a young superstar baseball prospect. Since some players are significantly underpaid, it enables fans to create fake teams for as cheap as possible. There is such a great contract disparity in baseball that a World Series championship team could be had for under $13.5 million.

THE CHEAP TEAM

Catchers

Carlos Santana (27) and Jonathan Lucroy (27)

Cost: $1.3 million

Carlos Santana
Carlos Santana

Santana and Lucroy are two of the best bargain catchers in MLB. Both players are ranked in the top ten in WAR, HR, RBI, AVG, OBP, SLG, and OPS. Although both players are set for major pay raises, they are currently making less than $1.5 million combined for this season. Both players bat in the middle of the order and would be the starting catcher for more than 2/3 of the teams in MLB.

First Baseman

Paul Goldschmidt (25) and Freddie Freeman (23)

Cost: $1.06 million

Paul Goldschmidt
Paul Goldschmidt

Goldschmidt and Freeman were both All-Stars this season. Although they make under $750,000, they are some of the best first baseman in baseball. While Goldschmidt is an MVP candidate, Freddie Freeman is leading the NL East leading Atlanta Braves to a playoff position and a NL East division title. Goldschmidt and Freeman are ranked in the top six in R, RBI, AVG, OBP, SLG, OPS, and WAR. Although Paul Goldschmidt already signed a new contract that will start next season, Freddie Freeman should sign a long term contract like Paul Goldschmidt.

Second Base

Jason Kipnis (26)

Cost: $509,400

Jason Kipnis
Jason Kipnis

Jason Kipnis played in his first All-Star game this season. Jason Kipnis has experienced a break out season after a solid rookie season last year. Jason Kipnis is thought to be one of the best second baseman in the league because he is ranked in the top five in R, HR, RBI, SB, OBP, SLG, OPS, and WAR. Jason Kipnis is extremely under valued compared to the other second basemen in MLB. Jason Kipnis is part of the new brand of second basemen because he drives in runs and can hit the ball out of the ballpark

Shortstop

Jean Segura (23)

Cost: 492,000

Jean Segura
Jean Segura

The 23 year old shortstop has broken out for the Milwaukee Brewers after being acquired last season in the Zach Greinke deal. Like many of the players on the cheap team, Segura played in his first All-Star game this year for the NL. Jean Segura is ranked top four in almost every statistical category among shortstops. Sgura is ranked top four in R, 3B, HR, SB, AVG, OBP, SLG, OPS, and WAR. Segura has the rare ability to run and hit for power, which is especially rare for a shortstop. Segura is already a star and should improve over the next few seasons.

Third Base

Manny Machado (21)

Cost: $495,000

Manny Machado
Manny Machado

Manny Machado has burst onto the scene as one of the best defensive and offensive baseball player in the league. Although Manny Machado was on pace to break the record for most doubles in a season, he has slowed down, but has still been one of the best players in the league. Although third base is the deepest position in MLB, he has been one of the best because he has so much talent. Machado is top ten in every statistical category among third baseman and third in WAR. Machado has led the Orioles to a possible playoff position.

Outfield

Mike Trout (21), Starling Marte (24), Domonic Brown (25), Wil Myers (22), and Giancarlo Stanton (23)

Cost: $2.537 million

Mike Trout
Mike Trout

The outfield is probably the best part of the cheap team’s offensive attack. Mike Trout is the most underpaid player in MLB. He is the best all around player in the majors, but is only making $510,000. Compared to his peers, Trout should be paid 50 times his actual salary, based upon his play. The group also includes sluggers Domonic Brown and Giancarlo Stanton. When healthy, Brown and Stanton are two of the best power hitters in the game. Stanton probably has the most power of any player in the league, although he is only 23 and is paid less than $600,000. Starling Marte and Wil Myers are two of the brightest young players in the league. Over the last month, Myers has been on fire, 4 home runs and a .352 average. Although Marte could not sustain his early season success, he has been great for the MLB leading Pittsburgh Pirates. Marte has been a great defensive player and one of the fastest players in the league.

Starting Pitching

Matt Harvey (24), Jose Fernandez (20), Patrick Corbin (24), Mike Minor (25), and Shelby Miller (22)

Cost: $2.47775 million

Matt Harvey
Matt Harvey

The starting pitching for this team is easily the best part of this fantasy team. All five starters have an ERA under 3 while having salaries that combine to be less than $2.5 million. Among the five starters, Matt Harvey is the best pitcher. Matt Harvey has been great this season and has been the second best pitcher, behind Clayton Kershaw. Besides for having the most strikeouts among NL starters, Harvey has the second lowest WHIP and ERA in MLB while garnering the third highest WAR among starters. However, Harvey is not the only great young pitcher on this team. Jose Fernandez has pitched great for the Marlins during his rookie season. Fernandez and Shelby Miller have more strikeouts than innings while maintaining an ERA under 3 and a WHIP just above 1. Like Fernandez and Miller, Minor has an ERA under 3 and a WHIP just above 1, but does not have the strikeout totals like Fernandez. Another great pitcher on the team is Patrick Corbin. Although Corbin is not a strikeout pitcher like Minor, he is extremely effective, compiling an ERA below 2.3, WHIP under 1, and 12 wins. This team would lose very few games because of their pitching.

Relief Pitching

Craig Kimbrel (25), Mark Melancon (28), Rex Brothers (25), Tanner Scheppers (26), Aaron Loup (25), Luis Avilan (24), Greg Holland (27), and Drew Smyly (24)

Craig Kimbrel
Craig Kimbrel

Cost: $4.18355 million

Relief pitching is one of the most important parts of a team and this bullpen will be great. Besides for having some of the best relievers in the league, every relief pitcher will have an ERA under 2. Along with having great ERAs, most of these pitchers have great strikeout numbers. Craig Kimbrel has been the best closer over the last two years. Craig has the most saves among NL relief pitchers. Kimbrel has 22 more strikeouts than innings pitch, an ERA under 1.35, and a WHIP under 0.95. Mark Melancon has been one of the best relievers in the league, although he had to switch his relief positions. Mark has the lowest ERA, 0.88, among relievers, who has pitched over 38 games. Along with a  great ERA, Mark does not allow batters to reach base, 0.86 WHIP. Rex Brothers and Luis Avilan are great relievers and each have an ERA under 1.25. Also, they are both left handed pitchers, which is important for any bullpen. Similar to Avilan and Brothers, Scheppers, Loup and Smyly have ERAs under 1.9 and WHIPs under 1.2. Similar to Craig Kimbrel, Greg Holland is a great reliever and has the ability to strikeout any hitter. Holland’s stats are great, 1.76 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and 24 more strikeouts than innings pitched. Batters will have a lot of problems scoring against this great pitching staff.

Total Cost: $13.0547 million

The total cost of this great team is less than half the cost of Alex Rodriguez and about the same as a player like Edwin Jackson/Dan Haren/ Josh Johnson. The pitcher with the lowest ERA is Edwin Jackson with an ERA of 4.65.

MOST EXPENSIVE TEAM

Catcher

Joe Mauer

$23 million

Joe mauer
Joe mauer

First Base

Mark Teixeira

$23.125 million

Mark Teixeira
Mark Teixeira

Second Base

Robinson Cano

$15 million

Robinson Cano
Robinson Cano

Third Base

Alex Rodriguez

$29 million

Alex Rodriguez
Alex Rodriguez

Shortstop

Derek Jeter

$17 million

Derek jeter
Derek jeter

Outfield

Vernon Wells, Carl Crawford, and Alfonso Soriano

$24 million, $21 million, $19 million

Vernon Wells
Vernon Wells

Starting Pitchers

Cliff Lee, Johan Santana, CC Sabathia, Tim Lincecum, and Zach Greinke

$25 million, $24.644 million, $24.285 million, $22.25 million, $21 million

Cliff Lee
Cliff Lee

Closer

Jonathan Papelbon

$13 million

Jonathan Papelbon
Jonathan Papelbon

Total Cost: $301.304 million

This astronomical number is only for 15. Thus, the average for eah player is 20 million, which is more than the whole team that I highlighted above. It is crazy how fast players can earn money in the MLB if they are talented. This “magnificent” has had a great year so far.

Pics and Stats from ESPN.com