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A’s acquire DH/1B Morales from Blue Jays

The Oakland Athletics have acquired designated hitter/first baseman Kendrys Morales in a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays, the teams announced Wednesday.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Morales, 35, is expected to play first base while Gold Glover Matt Olson recovers from a broken hamate bone in his right hand. Olson was injured Thursday in the second game of the team’s season-opening series against the Seattle Mariners in Japan. He had surgery the following day, and the team didn’t provide a timeline for his return, although he is expected to be out for at least a month or two.

The switch-hitting Morales hit .249 with 21 homers and 57 RBIs in 130 games last season for Toronto, his second with the Blue Jays, and he will help balance out the A’s lineup.5

“Kendrys has consistently mauled right-handed pitching throughout his career,” A’s general manager David Forst said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “There’s no doubt in our minds he can continue to do it.”cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Morales is in the final year of a three-year, $33 million contract. Toronto is responsible for more than $10 million of the $12 million left on the deal, the Chronicle reported.

The Blue Jays acquired minor league infielder Jesus Lopez and international signing bonus pool space in the deal. In addition to Morales, the A’s received cash considerations.

The A’s also transferred right-hander Jharel Cotton to the 60-day injured list to make room on the 40-man roster for Morales.

Rob Gronkowski’s greatest catches, including Tom Brady’s favorite

The New England Patriots tight end paused for a moment to give it some consideration.

“I like the one-handers. I remember all the one-handers — those are always memorable,” he said, noting a Week 16 touchdown grab against the Buffalo Bills in the 2017 season and a 10-yard score against the Denver Broncos in the divisional round of the playoffs following the 2011 season.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“It’s tough to make one-handers,” he said. “You’re always practicing two [hands] and you don’t want to make one-handers. But you only make them when it’s really necessary and you can only reach the ball. You remember those because it’s rare.”

Indeed, degree of difficulty is one criterion when putting together a list of Gronkowski’s greatest grabs.5

So, too, are the clutch catches.

“He’s had so many big catches for us. He just shows up at the biggest moments,” quarterback Tom Brady said before picking one of his favorites, from Super Bowl XLIX. “In 2014, he catches the touchdown on [Seahawks linebacker] K.J. Wright. Then we beat him on a crossing route under pressure, but only Gronk makes that play with his length and speed. Then I threw him another, call it a deep stop route, on K.J. Wright again. So I’ve thrown a lot to him over the years. He’s been so dependable, consistent.”china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Then there’s what Gronkowski, 29, does after the catch that also warrants consideration, with defenders sometimes bouncing off him, or hanging on as he lunges forward with force. Those catches often turn into memorable plays, too.

Virgil van Dijk is Player of the Year even if Liverpool don’t win the Premier League

The Premier League drama has yet to reach its final reel, but the stars of the show are already campaigning for the individual awards. Who are the leading nominees for football’s version of the Oscars?

It seems ridiculous, but no defender has won the prestigious Footballer of the Year title, as decided by the writers, since Liverpool’s Steve Nicol in 1989. That run could be ended by another Anfield man, Virgil van Dijk. His vital goal in their Champions League defeat of Bayern Munich only underlined how much of a colossus he has become for Jurgen Klopp’s team, the rock on which the whole edifice is built.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Liverpool were probably a little more exciting last season, but van Dijk is the main reason they are far more effective this time around, thanks to his sense of calm, his authority in defence and his leadership skills. From being watchable also-rans in the league, van Dijk has made them serious contenders.5

Manchester City, of course, deserve to be represented among the nominations. From their winning machine this term, you would pick Sergio Aguero — on course for his best City goal return — and Fernandinho, who might be the fittest and most savvy 33-year-old out there.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Like Van Dijk at Anfield, Fernandinho provides the vital steel to blend with all that silk around him. But there might be an even stronger case for the vastly improved Raheem Sterling, who has hit 19 goals and provided so much threat. I don’t buy into the accusations that the media don’t give Sterling fair coverage; his excellence this season has been well-documented.

Manchester United’s laboured pre-Christmas form rules out any of their players, despite the consistency of Luke Shaw and marked improvement of Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba in recent months. Meanwhile, Chelsea’s Eden Hazard might be the most talented player in the country, and this might be his farewell campaign in England since Real Madrid’s new (again) coach, Zinedine Zidane, is a big fan. Hazard can be enigmatic, but he has been a match-changer often enough to make the shortlist.

In Japan, Ichiro retires where career began

The 45-year-old Seattle Mariners star announced his retirement Thursday night, shortly after waving goodbye at the Tokyo Dome during a 5-4 win over Oakland in 12 innings. Ichiro went 0-for-4 and was pulled from right field in the eighth, saluting his adoring fans in the packed crowd. He drew hugs — some of them tearful — from teammates in a three-minute walk that signaled to all his great career had ended.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

The outfielder said in a statement after the game that he had “achieved so many of my dreams in baseball, both in my career in Japan and, since 2001, in Major League Baseball.”

He added that he was “honored to end my big league career where it started, with Seattle, and think it is fitting that my last games as a professional were played in my home country of Japan.”6

Ichiro was a 10-time All-Star in the majors. He had 3,089 hits over a 19-year career in the big leagues after having 1,278 while starring in Japan. His combined total of 4,367 is a professional record.

After the Mariners took the field in the bottom of the eighth, all the players except Suzuki left for the dugout. Ichiro then waved to the crowd before leaving right field for defensive replacement Braden Bishop, who was making his major league debut. Ichiro received a standing ovation from the crowd and hugs from his Seattle teammates.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Japanese fans had been hoping it would not be the end of his career, but they knew it was likely. In Japan, many had thought his 2012 appearance with Seattle, when he had four hits in a game against Oakland, would be the last time they saw him play.

“Seven years ago, it appeared he had played for the last time in Japan,” Fumihiro Fujisawa, head of the Japanese Association of Baseball Research, told The Associated Press. “I don’t think anybody believed he would be active now.”

Brewers reliever Knebel to get elbow exam

Milwaukee Brewers reliever Corey Knebel will have his elbow examined by a specialist on Thursday, manager Craig Counsell said.

“There’s reason for concern,” Counsell said. Knebel will have a visit with team doctor William Raasch, according to the manager.cheap nfl jerseys china nike5

Knebel signed a one-year, $5.25 million contract in January after pitching well in the last month of the season and the postseason. In September, he gave up five hits in 16 1/3 innings and had 33 strikeouts with three walks. In nine postseason games, he held opposing hitters to a .090 average, with 14 strikeouts and three walks in 10 innings.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

With Knebel and Jeremy Jeffress (shoulder) fighting injuries, Josh Hader may start the season as the Brewers closer.

Fantasy basketball – Key players and positions to focus on in next year’s draft

Every season, the top 150 players in the player pool carry about 2,000 points of Player Rater value.

The distribution of those points fuels the dynamics of everything we discuss within this space.

In the end? We’re plumbing for scarcity.

Which categories and positions contained the most uneven distribution of value. It’s all Moneyball. If we roster players, positions and categories that were undervalued on draft day… we win. If our draft was governed by sources of overvaluation… we lose.

In fantasy, there are two basic ways to break down scarcity: by category and by position. Let’s examine positional scarcity, and where it’s headed going into the 2019-2020 campaign.

When I first began playing fantasy basketball (at the turn of the century) it was a simpler statistical time. Valuation by position was more regimented. There were far fewer players who qualified at multiple positions. Certain statistics were more weighted by position.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Today, the lines demarking positions have been blurred. Take a look at the top 50 players on the Player Rater: 17 players qualify at multiple positions.5

When you add up overall valuation by position? Across the top 150 players? Scarcity becomes harder to detect. Across the top 150 players, the prevalence of so many multipositional players has led to little to no differentiation in available Player Rater value by position.

When you add up the top 40 players at each position? There’s only about an 18-point swing between the positions in terms of Player Rater value (from small forward: 307 PR points to center: 325 PR points).

Once you get out of the top 40? The first four or so rounds of your draft? Positional scarcity disappears.

Conclusion: at that point, you can draft almost purely based on upside. Post-round four, look for the player at a position of need that has the most opportunity to outperform his ADP.

But if you’re drafting in the first four rounds? Pronounced scarcity still exists.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

The first four rounds are (naturally) the most important, because that’s where the lion’s share of Player Rater value is weighted. And the higher you go in the draft, the more weighted the positional scarcity. (If you really want to get technical about it, the majority of overall Player Rater value is concentrated in the top-32.)

Carson Wentz’s deep-ball stats might explode with DeSean Jackson’s addition

When speaking about his new quarterback, Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson was quick to highlight his arm strength.

“Obviously he has an arm out of this world, he can throw the deep ball,” Jackson said during his (re)introductory media conference last week following a trade that sent him from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back to the Eagles. “Very smart, very agile. He’s a good quarterback and I just can’t wait to get with him and work out with him in the offseason.”nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Wentz’s deep-ball production hasn’t been otherworldly, even if his cannon of an arm is. He ranks 23rd in completion percentage (34 percent) and is tied for 26th in touchdown-to-interception ratio (1.0) on passes of 20-plus yards since 2016 when he came into the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

History shows Wentz’s numbers are in for a significant spike, however, now that Jackson is in the fold.5

On average, the quarterbacks experienced a completion rate increase of 7 percent, an additional 3 yards per attempt and an improvement of .65 to their touchdown-to-interception ratios when playing alongside Jackson.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

The outlier is Jameis Winston, whose numbers fell just about across the board. The fact that Ryan Fitzpatrick experienced a solid bump when teamed up with Jackson during the same time period pokes a hole in the theory that Jackson’s impact is diminishing. Jackson, 32, remains one of the fastest players in the game, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. He reached 20-plus mph on eight of his 52 touches (15.4 percent) last season, the highest rate in the league, and had the highest average target depth in 2018 at 19.1 yards, according to ESPN Stats & Info research. For whatever reason, he and Winston were just oil and water on the field.

Odds are the chemistry will be better between Jackson and Wentz, who is ripe for an uptick in deep-ball production.

According to Pro Football Focus, Wentz ranks seventh in deep accuracy percentage (45 percent) over the past two years, while Winston rates fifth-worst (35 percent). So, Wentz is more accurate on his deep throws than his completion rate suggests.

How can Walker Buehler top his debut season in Year 2?

It was either the World Series or the postseason round before that. Walker Buehler is fuzzy on the details. All he knows is that the stakes were high and that it was the second or third inning, and that all of a sudden he had forgotten how to throw his curveball. He yelled at whoever was within earshot to fetch Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill because they needed to reteach him the grip they showed him a week earlier. He needed to feel it again, and so Kershaw and Hill rushed over to help.

It showed a few important things about Buehler — that he isn’t afraid to be vulnerable, that he is always open to tinkering, even in the middle of a critical start, and that, as a 24-year-old rookie, he had already commanded the respect of the two most seasoned members of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ rotation.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Buehler carried a 2.62 ERA, a 0.96 WHIP and a 4.1 strikeout-to-walk ratio through 137⅓ innings during the regular season in 2018. Through August and September, he held opponents to a .500 OPS (287 points below the major league average). With the National League West on the line at the start of October, Buehler twirled 6⅔ scoreless innings. In Game 7 of the NL Championship Series, he recorded 14 outs and allowed only one run. In Game 3 of the World Series, he blanked the mighty Boston Red Sox through the first seven frames.6

Buehler finished third in NL Rookie of the Year voting, an award he would have captured had Ronald Acuna Jr. and Juan Soto not been so impressive on a daily basis.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Buehler’s assessment: “I don’t think I was really good.

“To me, what Kersh does is really good, when he does it for 10 years. I had a good year. If my fastball ticks down 4 miles an hour, or if I can’t command it the way I want to, I’ve given up big runs. I’ve given up a lot of runs in games. That’s the stuff that’s limiting.”

On any given night, Buehler can effectively command up to five pitches, six if you include the changeup he is resolved to improve. But it all plays off his mid- to upper-90s four-seam fastball. If the positioning of his hand and the tempo of his delivery are sound enough to throw that pitch effectively, everything else flows naturally.

Joel Embiid is back to make everything work for the Sixers

As the Philadelphia 76ers have navigated major roster turnover and accelerated playoff goals, coach Brett Brown has returned to his mantra: “It all comes down to how the plane lands on April 15.”

The health of Joel Embiid will dictate what Philadelphia’s playoff path will be.

Less ubiquitous than “all is well that ends well,” Brown has used this saying as an anchor. The ups and downs of individual regular-season games are trivial, the saying goes, so long as the Sixers are a healthy, well-oiled machine come the postseason.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

“You’re going to hear this a lot,” Brown said. “It’s all about landing the plane. Healthy, spirit, me figuring out the best way to substitute, the group playing for each other. It is still and always will be about a team. I mean this sincerely: That rules my world.”6

The Sixers have had their fair share of trials over the course of the season. Brown has worked to integrate fiery Jimmy Butler and sharpshooter Tobias Harris — both new to the team this season — into Philadelphia’s system. The team just had to fight through eight games without their dominant and emotional franchise center in Embiid, who was sidelined with a sore left knee.

The Sixers looked one step closer to playoff form on Sunday afternoon. Embiid returned for his first game since the All-Star break and the Sixers defeated the Indiana Pacers 106-89. The 76ers moved into third place in the Eastern Conference with the win over the Pacers, who dropped to fourth place.

Philadelphia now has 15 regular-season games remaining the get fully healthy, iron out their chemistry kinks and find a rhythm.

“There is enough time, I believe, to figure out proper rotations and how to integrate Joel back into this mix,” Brown said. “There are many pieces that equal we are ready to go play in the NBA playoffs. And right now we are cramming.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Before Sunday’s game, Brown said he expected to play Embiid in four-minute spurts because the big man’s conditioning level was a “C”. In the first half, Embiid was on the floor for short stints, but as the game went on and Embiid found his footing, Brown left him in for longer and longer stretches.

Agents: RT James to sign $51M deal with Denver

James, 26, was arguably the top right tackle on the free-agent market after starting 62 games for the Dolphins the past five seasons.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

The 2014 first-round pick (19th overall) out of Tennessee is coming off his best season as a pro. James, who was the highest-paid right tackle in the NFL last season while playing out his fifth-year option for $9.341 million, helped form one of the best offensive tackle duos in the NFL opposite Laremy Tunsil.6

One of James’ showcase performances came against the Chicago Bears in Week 5, when he held Khalil Mack to zero sacks and just one tackle as he was matched up with him for much of the game.

The 6-foot-6, 312-pound James is a strong athlete, which allowed him to pull effectively throughout the season, a task not many tackles willingly and successfully accept.

The previous Dolphins staff had a lukewarm relationship with James, but the new staff was vocal about a desire to re-sign him.

“We sure hope he does [stay],” new offensive line coach Pat Flaherty said Feb. 14. “He’s a good football player.”china nike nfl jerseys cheap

But Miami is undergoing a rebuild, and the price to re-sign James exceeded what it wanted to spend. The Dolphins plan to rebuild their offensive line through the draft.