Monday, June 26, 2017

Matt Adams Excels - Freddie Freeman to Third Base?

Matt Adams
In May the Atlanta Braves traded for Matt Adams giving up a low level prospect.  Adams is filling in for Freddie Freeman while he is on the disabled list.  All indications were that Adams would be traded at the deadline once Freeman was available to return.  Adams has outperformed his past numbers putting up a .299/.354/.634 stat line in 34 games for the Braves.  You couldn’t ask for much more.  That said, this team is still not that good and will celebrate if they can hold on to second place in the division but they aren’t even looking like a .500 team yet.  I would think they’ll still be in “sell” mode come the trading deadline adding players who can provide help at need positions.     

But there are now rumors that Freddie Freeman may move to third base to allow Adams to stay in Atlanta and in the starting lineup.  This is where I get worried.  While Adams’ play is a big surprise, moving Freddie Freeman to third base seems like a huge risk.  He is a stud  on a long term contract and the face of the franchise.  Moving him to a position that is more difficult defensively makes me worry that any struggles he may have in the field would bleed over to his appearances at the plate.  He played the position in high school but that was some time ago. 

Atlanta really needs to think this through.  Is Matt Adams really the Braves have seen in limited time
Freddie Freeman
or is he the guy St. Louis traded away due to a .271/.315/.453 stat line while striking out every 4.3 plate appearances in 486 games with St. Louis?  It obviously puts the Braves in a bind.  You don’t want to get rid of a guy playing this well but I think they need to look at the possible consequence.  I have nothing against Matt Adams but I’d rather have Freeman at first and hitting well and use Adams as a nice trade chip.  There are plenty of needs on this team so there is no reason to keep him if he won’t start.  For now I’ll hope he keeps hitting and Atlanta can find a team needing a 1B or DH come the trade deadline. 




Friday, June 23, 2017

Skillet's New Album Unleashed is a Great Listen

I’m still a CD guy and purchased Skillet’s Unleashed album after getting hooked on their single Feel Invincible.  Whether online or in the car I’ve listened to Feel Invincible over and over -  a lot.  I’ve listened to the entire album many times now and I’m really enjoying it.  This takes me back to their Awake album with how easy it is to listen to the entire CD.  Feel Invincible made it to #1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, their first ever to chart at #1.  It has also been used by some of the major sports leagues as part of promos and advertising.  The single Back from the Dead is featured as part of Marvel Comics’ ad campaign for their Monster’s Unleashed comic book series while the song Stars is featured on the soundtrack for the movie “The Shack”.  I missed an opportunity to see Skillet live earlier this year and I’m really kicking myself.        

I describe Skillet’s sound as driving rock –energy willing you forward with a head banging enthusiasm.  They’ve had big albums in the past with Comatose and Awake though their last album Rise didn’t have quite the same success.  Comatose brought Skillet to prominence in the rock scene with the help of singles Whispers in the Dark, Rebirthing, and Comatose leading the way.  The album Awake had their biggest hits prior to this album in Hero, Monster and Awake and Alive.  I can’t get into technical nuances of music but I know what I like and this album is very good.  If you like this album definitely check out Comatose and Awake.  Skillet is a Christian rock band but don’t let that scare you away.  This is an excellent album that should be listened to if you enjoy rock. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Atlanta Hawks Trade Dwight Howard

The Atlanta Hawks traded Dwight Howard and the number 31 pick to the Charlotte Hornets for Miles Plumlee, Marco Belinelli and the number 41 pick.  The Dwight Howard signing didn’t look good before last season and it didn’t look any better after the season.  Howard never seemed a fit for their offense and his signing contributed to the loss of Al Horford in free agency and Horford was a much better fit.  Howard finished the year with a 13.5 PPG, 12.7 RPG, 1.2 BPG stat line while logging just under 30 minutes per game.   

 I like Dwight Howard and he deserves tons of praise for a great career.  But if you don’t have a team of shooters around him, his offense which consists of playing around the rim is very limiting.  He’s still a very efficient scorer shooting 63% from the field but he works better with a spread offense.  A movement oriented offense needing a big that can shoot is not his thing.  Howard is only 31 and I hope he can find success in Charlotte.

I hope Plumlee can give Atlanta something, anything.  He is making $12M per year but his stats are not anywhere near what you’d expect for someone making that much money – 2.5 PPG, 2.1 RPG in 10 minutes per game last year.  Belinelli is a shooting guard who should at least be a nice bench asset.  He can shoot the three and give you ten points per game.  He has one year left on his $6M deal. 

What’s next:  How hard will the Hawks pursue free agents Paul Milsap and Tim Hardaway Jr. this offseason?  Where do they see the team moving forward?  Dennis Shroder is the PG and face of the franchise if those two aren’t re-signed but there won’t be much else left around him.  I’d hate to see Atlanta starting over but that may well be what they are doing. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Golden State Warrior Win NBA Championship

The Golden State Warriors won their second NBA championship in two yeas winning the NBA Finals four games to one over the Cleveland Cavaliers.  First and foremost this shouldn’t have been a surprise.  The Warriors are stacked.  They have four star players with good depth.  Even in the game they lost I wasn’t concerned.  They had one horrible quarter defensively but they did score 33 in that same quarter.  And this was with Curry, Thompson and especially Draymond Green not shooting at their normal high standards during the series.  It is fun watching them when they are clicking.  This is a team for the ages with Kevin Durant added to the mix.  I’m not sure what team could challenge them in the future aside from a LeBron led team.     

Series MVP Kevin Durant deserves all the accolades he is getting. Cleveland had no answer for him – 35 PPG, 8 RPG, 5 APG, 1 SPG, 1 BPG, 55%/47%/92%.  That is a crazy stat line playing against an excellent Cleveland Cavaliers team and he played good defense.  We knew he was special and probably the number two guy behind LeBron but there is no doubt now.  Amazing how we knew he was great but was still able to put an exclamation point on it with this series. 

Cleveland has to be disappointed even if they believe they weren’t the better team.  Sans a late game meltdown in game three who knows?  Maybe that, coupled with a game four win, would have put more pressure on Golden State and given them an opportunity to steal the series.  As is they aren’t as good.  I personally think they need to move Kevin Love and get more scoring.  Love hasn’t played a good Finals yet and while I like him, they can do better.  Moving him wouldn’t be easy with his big contract but you never know what might happen.  LeBron once again showed the world how great he is and Kyrie shined for most of the series.  They just really have nothing else to offer.  J.R. Smith was absent at times, Tristan Thompson wasn’t a factor, and the bench was lackluster at best.  We’ll see if this offseason they can give themselves a better shot at beating a stacked Warriors team who isn’t going anywhere. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

2016-17 Panini Threads

First time I had seen the 2016-2-17 Panini Threads basketball cards so I had to grab some.  I have to say it was a bit of a letdown.  The packs contain 20 cards for $4.99 so I'm looking for some bang for my buck.  The inserts in this pack included a wood rookie Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics and Patrick Ewing Board of Directors.  The wood card is a nice looking card and is pretty thick.  The design on the base cards themselves is a good one.  The backs also have plenty of color which is a big plus.
  The pack didn't have a ton of star quality.  Obviously it is only one pack so I can't say this is indicative of other packs but I would have liked to have seen a few more stars. 
So while the pull was a disappointment overall I like these cards and I'm sure I'll pick up another pack.  The price point might mean I don't grab too many but I'll still role the dice on at least one more pack.  
13 - Base Cards
  -- 3 of those were RC
1 - Wood Rookies
1 - Board of Directors

Saturday, June 10, 2017

2017 Topps Archives

I've really enjoyed Topps Archives in the past so it was a no brainer to grab a blaster when the 2017 Topps Archives cards came out this year.  This year's set is a 300 card set with current and former players on cards based on the 1960, 1982 and 1992 Topps card sets.  I'm very happy I did.  I enjoyed these cards as much as last years.  My favorite cards were the Pedro '82, Rob Manfred '82, Tony LaRussa '92 and Johnny Damon '60. 
My big pulls were the two Aaron Judge cards (base and 1960 Rookie Star).  He is obviously a huge player in the eyes of collectors today so that is was fun to see these in the first couple of packs.
No huge inserts like an autograph.  Did grab the Judge 1960 Rookie Star, the Corey Seager Bazooka Baseball card, and a Derek Jeter retrospective card though.  Not a fan of the odd sized cards and the blasters also contain coins which don't do anything for me but one was a Mike Trout so that is a win.  I won't complain as those are personal preferences.  I pulled a redemption card (Kyle Schwarber) last year so I had my hopes up for similar success this year.  Still this was a fun box.
None of these cards are high on my lists of set designs but again I really like them. I think the fact that there are plenty of stars including retired players and three different designs with a new twist make this set standout to me.  Plenty of these cards will go into my personal collection and at some point I'll pick up more.  Too much fun to pass up.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Harold Baines Autographed 1981 Topps Card

Harold Baines is another favorite player of mine whom I've gotten an autograph.  This was on his 1981 Topps rookie card.  I believe I tried getting more autographs through the mail but it wasn't always successful so the Baines and Zane Smith cards are the only autographed cards I have.  This card is cool.  It is his rookie card and to have his autograph on it makes it one of my favorite cards. 
Baines was a great hitter and has been brought up in Hall of Fame discussions but I can't say myself that he deserves induction.  I did think he deserve more votes than the 6.1% he topped out at in Hall of Fame voting. There is no denying he was great with the bat.  He finished with 2866 hits, a .289 batting average and was a six time all-star. He also batted .324 in eight post season series to include a World Series appearance with the Oakland A's.  He never excelled at defense and ended up playing DH a good part of his career.  Those two things definitely work against him when looking at his overall career in a hall of fame discusson.  Still 2866 hits!