Dexter Fowler and Adam Eaton bring similar, notable value

It has been a busy couple of days for top-of-the-order hitters moving to NL contenders, with the St. Louis Cardinals reportedly signing free agent Dexter Fowler away from the Cubs and the Washington Nationals trading for Adam Eaton. Each ranked as a high-end outfielder in 2016. Fowler had the first 4-WAR season of his career. Eaton, playing right field, turned in a 6-WAR season with the help of some outstanding defensive play.

The Fowler move was a counterpunch for the Cardinals in a couple of respects. With Eaton off the board, it reduced their number of outfield options. And getting Fowler meant helping themselves while taking away a key player from a division rival.
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And though there are many difference between the two players, there are a number of ways in which the Cardinals basically got a match for Eaton (contracts notwithstanding).

But much like the guys behind Door No. 5, when it comes to the dudes behind Door No. 6, there are flaws abound. Treinen¡¯s never done it before, so it remains to be seen whether he has closer DNA. Shawn Kelley had trouble keeping the ball in the park to the tune of a 4 percent home run rate, the eighth highest among NL relievers (min. 50 innings pitched). And Glover has a five-plus ERA in all of 19 2/3 career innings.
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So where does that leave the Nationals? Well, they¡¯re no stranger to closer issues. In 2012 and 2014, they got bounced from the NLDS thanks largely to heartbreaking, late-game meltdowns by the back end of the bullpen. In 2015, they went big and acquired Jonathan Papelbon, but that didn¡¯t work out so well either. Last season, they traded for Melancon at the deadline, and although he was solid as advertised, they still got jacked up by the Dodgers in the division series.

Heading into 2017, their roster says they¡¯re the presumptive favorites to repeat as NL East champs. But for that to happen, and more importantly for them to go deep into the playoffs, they¡¯ll need a guy that can consistently close the door. But first they¡¯ll need to open the door. Only time will tell which door that is.

Bosa said he believes the Chargers can turn things around in the final four games

While Bosa, who missed the first four games of the regular season with a hamstring issue, has exceeded expectations on the field, his impressive performances have not always led to wins, as they did at Ohio State in college.

¡°You can¡¯t expect to win games when you throw them away like that,¡± Bosa said after San Diego¡¯s latest loss. ¡°On both sides of the ball we didn¡¯t make plays when we had to.¡±

While frustrated, Bosa said he believes the Chargers can turn things around in the final four games.

Game Youth Thomas Vanek Jersey ON SUNDAY NIGHTS, Thomas goes home, lies down with his wife and three kids and watches the late football games. He is happy that his children are all under the age of 4 and don’t know whether he’s won or lost. They kiss his wounds and take his mind off of the sacks and the scoreboard and the large bags of ice wrapped around his knees.

“I hope that someday the kids will think what he did for a living was pretty cool,” Annie says in an email. “But for right now they just think he wears a funny helmet and tights.”

Maybe someday, they’ll know why Thomas did this, why he kept pushing that boulder up even though it kept crashing down on him.
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“I’m hired to do a job,” he says. “They expect me to do a job, and that job requires me to get my butt up and get back to the huddle, get the play and go do it another time. And until I can’t physically get up, I’m going to do that.

“Until they pull me out of the game and say, ‘You’re not doing it well enough,’ I’m going to just keep getting up.”

Packers vs. Washington 2016 picks and predictions: Experts mainly favor Washington in Wild Card game

The Green Bay Packers fell to the Minnesota Vikings in the regular season finale and therefore made it into the postseason as a wild card team as opposed to a third seed. This means they don’t get to host a game at Lambeau Field in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, but many would argue they’re better off.

A victory over the Vikings would have forced them into playing host to the Vikings again a week later in the Wild Card round, while many believe the team they will play instead, Washington, isn’t nearly that strong. Losing to Minnesota also has the added benefit of avoiding a third game between the two this season, especially if the tough Seattle Seahawks can down Minnesota on Sunday.

Game Womens Zach Bogosian Jersey Despite those two disastrous quarters, the Texans were somehow still in the game going coming out of the half, but it was just more of the same from there on out. Houston couldn’t mount much of a fight –Hoyer added another pick for good measure — and Kansas City ran away with it with a Chris Conley touchdown catch and a Spencer Ware touchdown run.

The night game, well, it was not boring. The Steelers completely dominated a rain-soaked and sloppy first three quarters and took a 15-0 lead into the final frame, and for a while there, it looked pretty possible that neither home team in Saturday’s action would come out with any points on the board.

Daniel Alfredsson Game Jersey Looking to run the clock out, Jeremy Hill fumbled on the next play from scrimmage, and Ben Roethlisberger returned to the game to become the savior for the city of Pittsburgh. He proceeded to lead the Steelers on a 9-play, 74 yard drive (while barely throwing beyond the line of scrimmage) that culminated in a game winning field goal by Chris Boswell. This game-winner was aided by two straight personal foul penalties by the Bengals — a hit to the head by Vontaze Burfict and an incident in the ensuing scrum by Pacman Jones — and it was a chaotic ending to an ugly, insanely strange game.

If you can¡¯t stop Dontari Poe, you can¡¯t stop the Chiefs

As I was re-watching the TV copy of all the wild card games with the NFL GamePass app (shitty on all devices except … my Microsoft Surface tablet, you know, the official tablet of all the NFL) before the all-22 was posted, I considered coming up with a Hoss Of The Week recipient for the first week of the playoffs. Then, I noticed that a lot of the teams that lost had defensive lineman who had big days (Whitney Mercilus, I’m looking at you). For the teams that won, several of the best performances were right around the same amount of outstanding. That made it untenable for me to try to choose just one.
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Meanwhile, the ground game succeeded early on due to the resurgent efforts of free agent addition Chris Johnson. After some disappointing years in Tennessee and New York — not to mention a scary offseason drive-by shooting that took the life of one of his friends — Johnson found the fountain of youth in the desert. In 11 games, he ran for 814 yards at a 4.2 clip, his best numbers on a per game basis since 2012.

But before the issue was resolved, Jones, suffering from bad effects of a synthetic drug and seeking assistance from the police, was on his knees, with his hands behind his head, facing towards the ground, as they came towards him. And when they got closer, when they began to run towards him, he laid flat on his stomach, spread his arms wide out and calmly told the officers: “I’m Chandler Jones.”
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Then Tuesday morning a light bulb came on … I woke up and turned on the light like I always do so I can find my Surface and get to watching the all-22. A while after that, another light bulb came on! Well, this one was more of an idea rather than an actual light bulb.

What I noticed was that in each game one guy on each of the teams that didn’t have to clean out their lockers this week not only had a good game, but they also had a specific play or plays that made a huge impact on the outcome of game, plays that likely won’t even show their name on most standard stat sheets.

Still, while the Packers have just now rediscovered their mojo, the Cardinals never lost theirs. Quarterback Carson Palmer enjoyed the best season of his career, completing 63.7 percent of his passes for a whopping 4,671 yards, 31 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The main beneficiary of his success was veteran wideout Larry Fitzgerald, who led the team with 1,215 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. It was Fitzgerald’s first season with over 1,000 yards receiving since 2011.

Bulls’ Gibson putting in work, staying focused in contract year

The media played it for all the laughs and clicks it could get, LeBron James was a good sport and Dwyane Wade had a blast teasing his blue-pinstriped BFF from the Cleveland Cavaliers as James paid off a World Series bet Friday evening.
But Taj Gibson was not amused. Nothing against the frivolity per se, but Gibson wasn¡¯t going to let himself get drawn in, lest he drop his guard.

“LeBron, he’s that dude, man,” Gibson told reporters after Chicago¡¯s unexpected 111-105 victory at the United Center. “I’m happy to be able to say that for most of my career I was able to play big games against him. Playoffs, regular games, rivalries, whatever you want to call it, because he’s the man.

It’s impossible to know what these Celtics truly are or what they might become. Boston has rarely put together a full 48-minute effort and sweats out wins against subpar competition as emphasized during this weekend’s back-to-back wins against the Sacramento Kings and Philadelphia 76ers without Joel Embiid.

Elite Brent Celek Jersey Boston’s schedule is about to crank into overdrive. The Celtics play nine of their next 14 games on the road, including visits to four of the current top six teams in the West over the next two weeks. A return trip to Cleveland, where Boston lost in early November, looms at the end of the month.

The Celtics are going to have to play better than they have lately to keep their heads above water. Despite winning six of their last eight, Boston’s play hasn’t inspired much confidence. The Celtics have won five straight away from TD Garden, but the combined records of those five teams entering Sunday’s action was 33-67 (.330 winning percentage).
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On Monday, the Celtics drop in on a Rockets team that went 4-1 on a recent five-game road trip that included a double-overtime victory over Golden State. The Rockets own the third-best offensive rating in the league and sit seventh in net rating (plus-3.3). For sake of comparison, Boston is 12th in the league in net rating at plus-2.0 (but has the potential to elevate higher as its defensive rating stabilizes).

Gronkowski already has missed three games this year and played a limited role in two others

Eric Karabell’s Week 13 watch list includes Rob Gronkowski’s intriguing position and his thriving team, each in search of aid
The strength of the Patriots’ offense, especially over the past decade under the on-again, off-again stewardship of Josh McDaniels, has been its ability to change its shape. Having Tom Brady helps, of course, but we saw how effective the offense could be during the first three weeks of the season, with Garoppolo at quarterback and Gronkowski either out or a shell of his usual self. The Patriots have managed to transition from a spread attack with Randy Moss and Wes Welker to the two-tight-end sets of Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez to an offense that incorporates both. They’ve overcome subpar offensive lines and managed to get the most out of players other teams weren’t interested in, such as Julian Edelman, Dion Lewis and Martellus Bennett.
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Bennett looms large in how the Patriots will handle the Gronkowski mess. The goal for this year was to build an offense around the twin terrors of Gronkowski and Bennett, who would be able to stay on the field and dictate mismatches regardless of the defense’s personnel choices. Injuries have prevented them from ever really pulling that off. By the time Gronkowski made it back from his hamstring injury, Bennett got hurt, suffering an ankle injury in a three-touchdown performance over the Browns.

What’s next for Gronk?

Gilbert Perreault Elite Jersey This is the thorniest question of them all, and the one that is toughest to answer. Gronkowski has made critical decisions in his professional career with his back in mind. In 2009, Gronkowski missed his junior season at Arizona and underwent his first back surgery. He subsequently decided to go pro instead of returning to school to rebuild his stock, which almost never happens. Organizations passed on Gronkowski out of concerns about his back and the missing year of tape, which is how a Hall of Fame tight end gets taken 17 picks after Tim Tebow and falls to the Patriots in the second round.

While the tight end emerged as a star and was mostly injury-free before suffering a high ankle sprain during the 2011 playoffs, it became clear that Gronk (or his representation) was concerned about his long-term ability to stay on the field. It’s hard to otherwise explain the deal he chose to sign before the 2012 season, just two years after entering the league. While reports at the time suggested that the six-year, $54 million deal was the biggest contract ever handed out to a tight end, the structure was incredibly team-friendly and contained just $12.9 million in guaranteed money.

Texans star J.J. Watt donates $10K to help high schooler

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt donated $10,000 to a Houston area high school football player who is in a coma after he was injured in a game last weekend.

Grant Milton, a senior at The Woodlands High School, suffered an injury in a playoff game on Saturday that required emergency surgery.

A GoFundMe page was started to accept donations toward medical costs and living expenses while the family is dealing with the injury. Watt included a note with his donation, saying, “If there’s anything that I can do to help, please let me know. Sending my best wishes to Grant and the entire Milton family.”

Maybe this was Manning’s way of making sure the silent game doesn’t send the rookie into a funk. Or maybe he really did feel badly about how it all went down.

Either way, the Giants are going to need Shepard moving forward. He’s second on the team with 44 catches, 476 receiving yards and five touchdowns.

Manning is going to need his No. 2 target to produce down the stretch, beginning this Sunday when they play a difficult game on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Shepard is confident it will happen.

Limited Womens Richard Hamilton Jersey Brees said he sees frustration bubble up in a teammate every week or two since he’s been in New Orleans.

“Listen, there’s not a guy who works harder in here than Brandin Cooks and expects more out of himself and wants to be a part of what we’re doing and our success,” Brees said. “That was just one of those games where there was opportunities called for him and the coverage kind of rolled his way or whatever it was and the ball ended up going elsewhere. And it was just one of those bad luck things for him personally, I guess.

Limited Womens Nick Foles Jersey “But obviously as a team we were rolling. And that just opens up opportunities for other people. And I think Brandin recognizes that, we talked about it after the game. And, listen, if we can go out and score 49 points and play like that and win every week, then I think everybody would be OK with it.”

Adrian Peterson ‘hasn’t closed the door’ on staying with the Vikings

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is not happy. Peterson, who is currently serving a suspension for hitting his 4-year-old son with a switch, reportedly is disillusioned with the Vikings, according to Chris Tomasson and Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

The tension between Peterson’s camp and the Vikings boiled Jermaine Jones Authentic Womens Jersey over at the NFL Combine, when agent Ben Dogra and Minnesota’s vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski began yelling at each other at an Indianapolis restaurant on Friday night, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports.

Despite this, Nelson Peterson, Adrian’s father, claims that his son is still willing to play for the Vikings, contrary to what Dogra was asserting:

This preference for help in the trenches also comes despite the fact that the Cowboys have used their first-round pick on an offensive lineman in three of the last four drafts — Tyron Smith (2011), Travis Frederick (2013) and Zack Martin (2014). With the 27th overall pick, Dallas likely won’t be able to snag one of the top offensive linemen, but this year’s class is considered deep and there is a good chance the team would be able to find another gem late in the first round.

The New York Giants released defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka on Tuesday afternoon, reports NFL.com’s Kimberly Jones. The veteran has spent his entire nine-season career with Big Blue, winning two Super Bowls during that time.

This past season the 31-year-old had a career-low 2.5 sacks and 28 tackles in 11 games before John Brooks Authentic Womens Jersey a knee injury ended his campaign in late November. The advanced metrics were not kind to Kiwanuka the past two years. According to Pro Football Focus, he rated as the second-worst 4-3 defensive end in 2013 and the third-worst in 2014.

Kiwanuka was supposed to count $7.45 million against the salary cap next season, the fourth-highest cap charge on the team. The Giants will gain $4.825 million in cap space by cutting him, per Over the Cap.

In general, the balance between Anthony, Porzingis and Rose has worked well in the past three games

Carlisle on Nowitzki’s health:

“This is a guy who’s given everything to this franchise and right now, as tough as it is for us, we’ve got to be mindful of the big picture. We’ve got to make sure that Dirk’s last year or two or three, or whatever it is, come down the right way. I want him to be able to play in his last game, whenever that is. You don’t want to see a situation where a great warrior like him, who’s close to 30,000 Tyreek Hill Authentic Womens Jersey points and is possible to get to top five in all-time scoring, can’t get through the last few games of his career. That’s not what you want to see.”

Forget the rebounding differential or the free throw disparity, a highly entertaining Black Friday matinee between the Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs essentially boiled down to this: On maybe the game’s most crucial possession, the veteran Spurs confidently ran a simple action that generated a wide-open look, while the young Celtics endured a monster communication lapse that spelled their demise.

He’s 26-for-56 (46.4 percent) from beyond the arc when sharing the floor with Anthony and 8-for-29 (27.6 percent) when he’s on the court without him.

In general, the balance between Anthony, Porzingis and Rose has worked well in the past three games. The Knicks have beaten three teams (Portland, Atlanta, Charlotte) that entered the week with a combined record of 23-10. And Rose, Anthony and Porzingis have all played prominent roles.

Nerlens Noel: Nothing has changed here. Noel has yet to appear in a game this season after Zach Fulton Authentic Womens Jersey electing to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery last month, but word is he’d still prefer to be shipped to a new address with so many big men to battle for playing time in Philly. Count on the Sixers to accommodate him eventually.

Donatas Motiejunas: This isn’t a trade story, but it counts nonetheless as one of those aforementioned ?fascinating situations. Our story from late Wednesday night, co-scribed here with Calvin Watkins, details all the latest twists and turns, but here’s an important footnote: One source close to the talks expressed confidence that Motiejunas isn’t as far away from advertised when it comes to landing a contract.

A quick follow-up to our recent note about the NBA Development League and its expected salary jump into the range of $50,000 to $75,000.

The case for (and against) the Cubs bringing back Dexter Fowler

Only the Chicago Cubs could potentially let a catalyst like center fielder Dexter Fowler leave via free agency and still be considered a favorite to repeat as world champions.

That’s a testament to how deep they’ve Derek Anderson Authentic Jersey become now that Albert Almora Jr. and Willson Contreras have taken the next steps in their careers, not to mention the improvement of co-NLCS MVP Javier Baez. “Freaky” is how one longtime National League Central scout labeled the Cubs’ depth.

But that doesn’t mean that if Fowler left, it wouldn’t be a tough loss to stomach at the top of Chicago’s lineup.

“One might assume.” One might assume that, if Martin Perez’s WARs are 1.8, 1.8 and 1.9 (as they were in 2016), that Martin Perez is a 1.8- or 1.9-win pitcher. But we’ve already seen, with Ray, that one model of WAR can be wildly misleading. We’ve seen, in fact, that two can be. It’s not much of a leap to think even three could be, all at once, and in all the same ways, especially for unique players such as Zach Britton or Yadier Molina or David Ross or for players on the extremes.

Last week, Justin Verlander finished second in the AL Cy Young voting, as he was left off two five-person ballots entirely. I would’ve voted for him. His WARs were fairly tightly bunched, all at or near the top of his league: 6.8, 6.6 and 5.2 wins. The internet did what it does: It went after the two voters, tweeting at them that they were classless, clueless, hacks, morons, should have their voting privileges taken away, etc. It threw around slurs. “I hope you and everyone you love dies,” one person, predictably, tweeted (now deleted) at one of the voters. If you ever want an argument Devin Funchess Authentic Jersey against certainty, pick any well-traveled tweet and read the replies.

Those WARs for Verlander are compelling, and WAR as a framework is clearly the best, most comprehensive, most objective way for most of us to assess players. But baseball is not something we’ve cracked, and Robbie Ray is a good reminder that, until we do, we’re all still staggering, out of the darkness but blinded by too many lights. It isn’t a matter of whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing; it’s just a thing. Be grateful you aren’t the general manager of a team that has to make hundred-million-dollar decisions in this era.

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