Sunday column is some of the best of the week in sports. Starting with baseball, then basketball and finally some NFL.
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
There has been a lot of movement this week in major league baseball. Pretty much all the contenders in both leagues have made a move to strengthen themselves for a down the stretch run at the playoffs.
The Milwaukee Brewers added 3B Mike Moustakas finally getting the big bat they wanted. Outfielder Brett Phillips and righty Jorge Lopez are going to Kansas City in return. Travis Shaw will move to play 2B, as the long-time 3B will apparently make way for his new teammate. Not sure Shaw can do it but if it works for manager Craig Counsel the Brewers can stay in contention.
The Houston Astros have officially struck a deal to acquire reliever Ryan Pressly from the Minnesota Twins. Prospects Jorge Alcala and Gilberto Celestino are going to Minnesota in the deal. Pressly, 29, has taken a big step forward this year after showing solid peripherals but generating only a 4.70 ERA in his 61 1/3 innings last year. Through 47 2/3 innings in the present campaign, the right-hander is sporting a 3.40 ERA with an eye-opening 13.0 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9. Better still, Pressly is earning just $1.6MM this year with another season of arbitration eligibility left to go. Another arm like Pressly can’t hurt the already stacked World Champions pitching staff.
Philadelphia Phillies acquired 2B Asdrubal Cabrera, Franklyn Kilome is heading to New York in return. The switch-hitting Cabrera destroyed opposing righties in 2018, posting a .285/.345/.535 slash. He hasn’t been as productive when facing southpaws this year, but had greater success against them in the prior campaign. Another veteran will help the young Phillies roster as they make a playoff run.
Arizona Diamondbacks added RHP Matt Andriese and 3B Eduardo Escobar. In the Escobar deal righty Jhoan Duran and outfielders Ernie De La Trinidad and Gabriel Maciel are all going to the Minnesota Twins. Escobar will reach free agency at season’s end, making him an obvious trade piece for the Twins.
Escobar arguably rated as the top infielder available before the July 31st deadline. He is earning just $4.8MM this year, so his salary was rather easy to absorb for most contenders. Escobar was at the top of the top 75 trade deadline candidates.
Newly-acquired righty Matt Andriese will give the DBacks a spot starter but more important long innings in the mid. The Rays will receive two minor leaguers in return catcher Michael Perez and and righty Brian Shaffer Despite the ever-shifting roles, Andriese has been largely successful in Tampa, including a 4.07 ERA, 8.9 K/9, 50.6% grounder rate, and 3.28 K/BB rate this season over 59 2/3 innings, plus a career-best 11.4% swinging strike rate. It represents a nice rebound from an injury-filled 2017, as Andriese was limited to 86 innings (starting 17 of his 18 games) due to hip and groin problems.
New York Yankees added LHP J.A.Happ fro the Toronto Blue Jays and LHP Zach Britton from the Baltimore Orioles. The Yankees also have acquired first baseman Luke Voit and international signing bonus pool money from the St. Louis Cardinals for relievers Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos.
Happ, 35 is in the final season of a three-year, $36MM contract and is still owed $4.75MM of that sum through the end of the season. He’ll step into a Yankees rotation that currently features Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia and Sonny Gray.
Through 114 1/3 frames, Happ has registered a 4.18 ERA with more impressive marks in FIP (3.84), xFIP (3.63) and SIERA (3.51). Happ has averaged a career-high 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings pitched against just 2.8 walks per nine, and he’s kept the ball on the ground at a 44.6 percent clip.
Zack Britton was acquired to boost an already overpowering Yankees relief corps that features the likes of Aroldis Chapman, David Robertson, Dellin Betances, Chad Green and Jonathan Holder. Each of those relievers has thrown at least 40 innings in 2018, and each has an ERA of 3.05 or better. All but Holder (7.9 K/9) have averaged 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings or better. The rich get richer!
Colorado Rockies haven’t been a big spender nearing the trade deadline. They spent over 100 MM in the offseason to sure up their bull pen. The traded for Seunghwan Oh will help lift a struggling staff, which gets bailed out most nights form their potent offense.
NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki signed for his 21st season with the team, surpassing the record he once shared with Kobe Bryant.
The Houston Rockets and restricted free agent Clint Capela have agreed to a deal on a 5-year, $90m extension. This could be the most important signing in the whole off season. Thats right even bigger then the LeBron James move the Los Angeles. This will give the Rockets the athletic big man inside that can go with a Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and James Harden.
Free-agent guard Dwyane Wade, who forced wife, Gabrielle Union, to leave Miami for Chicago and Cleveland the past two years, could be moving to the balmy temperatures of Zhejiang, China, after a club in the Chinese Basketball Association offered Wade a $25 million contract.
Kevin Love, the third wheel of Cleveland’s former Big Three, was awarded a four-year, $120 million extension by virtue of being the sole good player left on the roster. The Cleveland roster looks bleak without LeBron James name on it.
Forty-one-year-old NBA guard Vince Carter, choosing the bag over the (championship) band once again, agreed to a one-year, $2.4 million deal with the Atlanta Hawks.
Kevin Durant, graduating from arguing with strangers through burner accounts on Twitter and with teenagers on Instagram, is now feuding with Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum on a podcast.
Jimmy Butler who was among 35 NBA players on the USA Basketball roster, underwent an elective surgical procedure on his right hand. The team said Butler has returned to offseason activities. Remember he and Kyrie Irving want to team up next season.
USA Basketball head coach Gregg Popovich has made it a point to groom up-and-comers like Myles Turner and Devin Booker for potential roles on the senior roster. Players like Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum who made huge impressions on playoff teams last season as rookies will continue the pipeline for Basketball USA.
NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
Who will be the starting QB in Week 1 for the Arizona Cardinals? Sam Bradford should be the Week 1 starter if healthy, but injuries have hampered Bradford for most of his career. Josh Rosen could be the league’s most pro-ready rookie QB and it might only take one small slip in Bradford’s health for the Cardinals to fast-forward to the future.
Wentz was excited to see Foles win the Super Bowl and MVP award. Foles has also excepted the back up role this season know the Wentz is the future for the Eagles. Both together mayb e the best one two punch at QB in NFL history.
Antonio Brown wants Dez Bryant to play in Pittsburgh. Behind Brown on Pittsburgh’s WR depth chart is JuJu Smith-Schuster, who is now #2 now that new Oakland Raiders receiver Martavis Bryant is gone. After JuJu, it’s a mixed bag; Eli Rogers, Darrius Heyward-Bey and rookie James Washington figure to see the most snaps.
Duane Brown signed a multi-year contract extension with the Seattle Seahawks , the extension is worth $36.5 million, which had taken a while to get done. Turning 33-years-old next month, Brown remains one of the better blind-side blockers in a league, protecting Russell Wilson‘s back.
Hue Jackson‘s 1-31 mark over two seasons in Cleveland Browns is awful, however with a stock of new talent the pressure is on to make improvement on that record.