Sports – Martinez Tribune https://martineztribune.com The website of the Martinez Tribune. Thu, 12 Mar 2020 19:58:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 NBA suspends season after Utah’s Gobert contacts virus https://martineztribune.com/2020/03/11/pgjhoh/ https://martineztribune.com/2020/03/11/pgjhoh/#respond Thu, 12 Mar 2020 06:59:26 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=14182 BY MASON BISSADA This developing story was updated at 12PM Pacific Time on March 12th. The National Basketball Association has suspended its season in response to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak on Wednesday, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowksi. After initially taking the precaution of not allowing fans into certain arenas for games, the league decided to …

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BY MASON BISSADA

This developing story was updated at 12PM Pacific Time on March 12th.

The National Basketball Association has suspended its season in response to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak on Wednesday, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowksi.

After initially taking the precaution of not allowing fans into certain arenas for games, the league decided to suspend the season entirely when Utah Jazz Center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the Coronavirus.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
The NBA announced an unprecedented immediate suspension of it’s season following the news that Utah Jazz All-Star center Rudy Gobert had test positive for the Coronavirus.

 

The two-time Defensive Player of the Year is supposedly doing well according to fellow NBA player and French national teammate Evan Fournier, who tweeted “Was just on the phone with Rudy. He is doing good. Lets not panic everyone. Love you all.”

The entire Jazz roster was tested for the virus. Rumors that Gobert’s teammate Emmanuel Mudiay had also tested positive for the virus were inaccurate, but fellow All-Star Donovan “Spider” Mitchell confirmed on Instagram that he had tested positive.  The NBA advised all the teams that have played the Jazz in the last 10 days to self-quarantine until they have been tested.

The last day of the 2019-20 season was scheduled for April 15th, with the Finals set to start on June 4th. As of now, the league is suspended “indefinitely,” leaving many to believe games will not resume any time soon.

22-year veteran Vince Carter, who was planning on finally retiring at the end of the season, came to terms with the idea that he’d just played in his final NBA game during his postgame press conference Wednesday following an overtime loss to the Knicks. “Game’s been good,” Carter said after what might have been his last game. “Basketball’s been good to me. I’ve enjoyed each and every moment of it. Good and bad. So if this is it, it’s all good.”

On Thursday morning the NHL followed suit by pausing their season effective immediately, and Major League Baseball has also cancelled all remaining exhibition games in both Arizona and Florida and announced that the start of the regular season will be delayed by at least two weeks.

 

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Clippers Blow Out Warriors 131-107 as Fan Lockout Looms https://martineztribune.com/2020/03/10/clippers-blow-out-warriors-as-fan-lockout-looms/ https://martineztribune.com/2020/03/10/clippers-blow-out-warriors-as-fan-lockout-looms/#respond Wed, 11 Mar 2020 06:19:05 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=14175 BY MASON BISSADA In what may turn out to be the final Warriors home game with fans in attendance at Chase Center for the foreseeable future, Golden State lost in demoralizing fashion to the Los Angeles Clippers, 131-107. After the Santa Clara Health Department ordered on Monday that all gatherings of one thousand people or …

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BY MASON BISSADA

In what may turn out to be the final Warriors home game with fans in attendance at Chase Center for the foreseeable future, Golden State lost in demoralizing fashion to the Los Angeles Clippers, 131-107.

After the Santa Clara Health Department ordered on Monday that all gatherings of one thousand people or more are effectively banned due to the Coronavirus outbreak, many are speculating that San Francisco county can’t be far behind with their own such ruling. Just as the San Jose Sharks will now play their games in an empty arena, so too may the Golden State Warriors in due time. The NBA is set to make a league-wide call on Wednesday addressing further measures, and games may be closed off to the public as soon as Thursday in certain cities.

“It’s absolutely a possibility,” Head Coach Steve Kerr said pregame when asked about potentially playing without fans in attendance. “I’ve played on a couple of teams where it felt like that was the case. We’re in uncharted waters here. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. We’re all just taking the approach that we have to do our jobs and come in and work.”

The Warriors organization has already taken the step of not allowing the media into team locker rooms before and after games, and setting up makeshift podiums for players and coaches outside the away locker room where scrums would usually take place.

“I mean it’s not disruptive much,” Clippers Head Coach Doc Rivers said from his podium when asked about the precautions the league is enforcing. “But it’s different, this is definitely different. This is very serious and our team is taking it very serious and the NBA is taking it very serious and so there are things that we are doing different.”

Some fans seem to have already taken it upon themselves to avoid large gatherings, as a noticeable amount of seats were empty on Tuesday at Chase Center for a game that would usually draw a huge crowd.

 If fans are indeed closed off to games in the future, the question remains of how this absence will affect the way teams play. “Obviously we want our fans to be there,” Eric Paschall said postgame. “We play for our fans, but I feel like as professional basketball players, we can adjust to it because we’ve played basketball our whole lives.”

In terms of the game itself, Golden State was clearly outmatched from the jump, giving up a 28-point deficit by halftime and allowing the Clippers to extend thieir lead to 34 at one point. The Clippers, who currently hold the #2 seed in the Western Conference, hit 20 of their 44 3-point attempts (good for 45.5%) and dominated Golden State in nearly every other statistical category as well. Seven Clips scored in double figures despite no player playing over 27 minutes (their starters sat for nearly all of the fourth quarter).

“We’re playing probably the deepest team in the NBA,” Kerr said postgame. “The Clippers are loaded. Big, strong, physical team and [they] took it to us right away. They were knocking down three’s left and right. If there was anything I was dissapointed in in the first half, it was our 3-point defense.”

All-Star Kawhi Leonard led the way for Los Angeles, dropping 23 points on 9-14 shooting in just 25 minutes of play. Leonard’s midrange jumpshooting was something to behold, knocking in shot after shot whether it was contested or not (more often not, as the Warriors perimeter defense was nearly nonexistent).

For Golden State, Dragan Bender led the way with 23 points on 8-12 shooting, tying his career-high as his second 10-day contract counts down. Though much of his scoring came after the game was essentially over, Bender’s ability to pass, shoot and set screens has proven useful for a depleted Warriors roster.

Andrew Wiggins contributed another 20+ point performance, scoring 21 points on 8-16 shooting and knocking down three of his eight 3-point attempts. Since joining the Warriors, Wiggins has hit 33% of his attempts from beyond the arc, a somewhat passable number given the difficulty of some of his attempts. The form of his jumpshot appears sound, and it isn’t too much to assume that he will get more wide-open looks next year playing next to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

The Warriors will welcome the Brooklyn Nets (and an injured Kevin Durant) to Chase Center on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. It is still undetermined if fans will be welcomed as well.

GAME NOTES:

Stephen Curry missed his second straight game after being diagnosed with the flu. Kerr is optimistic that he’ll be ready for Thursday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.

Juan Toscano-Anderson left Tuesday’s game early in the first quarter after spraining his ankle. His timetable for a return is unclear.

Ky Bowman returned after missing five games with a sprained ankle, scoring 11 points on 5-6 shooting in 24 minutes of play.

Coming into Tuesday’s game, Golden State leads the league in points per game scored by rookies with 28.9 points per game. This is the highest Warriors rookie scoring average for any Warriors team in the last 23 seasons.

 

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Astros, Yankees and Twins favored to fight it out for AL Pennant https://martineztribune.com/2020/03/10/astros-yankees-and-twins-favored-to-fight-it-out-for-al-pennant/ https://martineztribune.com/2020/03/10/astros-yankees-and-twins-favored-to-fight-it-out-for-al-pennant/#respond Tue, 10 Mar 2020 07:01:58 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=14125 BY J.A. SCHWARTZ For nearly 100 years, a majority of American League fans have been able to agree upon a common archenemy: the deep-pocketed and wildly successful New York Yankees. The Yankees have won the World Series 27 times, more than twice as many as their closest competitors in St. Louis, where the Cardinals hold …

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BY J.A. SCHWARTZ

For nearly 100 years, a majority of American League fans have been able to agree upon a common archenemy: the deep-pocketed and wildly successful New York Yankees. The Yankees have won the World Series 27 times, more than twice as many as their closest competitors in St. Louis, where the Cardinals hold 11 titles. That kind of dominance inspires both grudging respect and utter disdain among baseball partisans, regardless of their individual allegiances among the other American League franchises. In 2020, perhaps for the first time in nearly a century, the title of “Most Disliked Team in Baseball” might finally pass from the Bronx Bombers to a new villain: the Houston Astros.

In case you’ve been transfixed by political debates, pandemic fears or stock market volatility, you are aware of the scandal that revolves around the Houston franchise and their 2017 World Series title. An MLB investigation found the team guilty of cheating during that 2017 season and postseason, using video replay monitors to decode opposing catchers signals in real time, and relaying that information to the batter at the plate by banging on a trash can behind the dugout. As a result, in January the team was fined $5 million (the maximum allowed by the MLB constitution), GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were suspended for a full season-and almost immediately fired by team owner Jim Crane-and the team was ordered to forfeit their first and second round draft picks in both the 2020 and 2021 drafts.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
The first pick in the 2011 MLB draft, Gerrit Cole’s free agent departure from Houston to the Yankees could tip the balance of power atop the American League. Cole has gone 35-10 the past two seasons with the Astros, and is coming off a career year in 2019 where he went 20-5 with 326 strikeouts and a 2.50 ERA.

 

Having had over a month to develop a strategy to address the issue before the team arrived in Florida for spring training, the Astros figured to express appropriate levels of contrition, regret and remorse about the scandal, and ask their fellow players for forgiveness. Suffice to say the “apologies” issued by Crane and players such as Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, George Springer and Justin Verlander did little to quell the rising tide of acrimony and contempt expressed by opposing players and managers. If anything, the Astros managed to throw additional gas on a fire they could have helped douse by handling the situation more adroitly.

Crane’s televised press conference was enough to inspire vitriol directed towards the franchise as well as the individual Astros players, with stars such as Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer and the Angels Mike Trout making strongly worded public statements about their displeasure over Houston’s brazen scheme. Thinly veiled threats of retribution were bandied about, causing MLB commissioner Rob Manfred to issue proactive warnings about opponents attempting to mete out frontier justice on Houston hitters via beanballs. “I hope I made it extremely clear that retaliation in-game by throwing at a batter intentionally will not be tolerated-whether it’s at Houston or anybody else,” Manfred said. The bad blood that is (and has been, for the better part of two seasons) brewing will not be easily mitigated.

It’s obvious that the Yankees will have company atop the most disliked franchise list among AL fans, and a formal poll attempting to answer the question definitively would almost certainly see the Astros finish comfortably ahead of New York.  That being said, those franchises still figure to be the two best teams in the league in 2020, and it will require significant effort to unseat them from their positions as division favorites.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
22 year old flamethrower Jesús Luzardo was highly impressive during his brief debut in 2019 and is expecting to begin the season in the A’s starting rotation.

 

The Astros, now managed by Dusty Baker,  have won the AL West for three straight seasons, and enter 2020 as the odds-on favorite to do so again. According to Fangraphs playoff odds for this season, the Astros are projected to win 98 games, nearly 10 more than the A’s, who sit second by that site’s estimation. With those 88 wins, however, the A’s figure to be in the mix for a Wild Card berth, and if their young talent takes another step forward in 2020, and both lefthanded prospects Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk live up to their billings, the A’s could well outperform their projections and catch Houston for the AL West title.

The Astros appear vulnerable on the mound, especially after Gerrit Cole signed a $234 million deal with the Yankees. Verlander, the defending Cy Young Award winner, appears to have plenty left in the tank, but Father Time eventually takes his toll on all athletes. At 37, it is reasonable to imagine Verlander losing some effectiveness, something that #2 starter Zack Greinke, 36, might also encounter. The depth behind those two veteran aces is questionable, and while the Astros figure to score plenty of runs again in 2020, a sub-par season from their starters might just open the door for other AL West challengers.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
If Shohei Ohtani can return to the mound following Tommy John surgery and help stabilize the Angels pitching rotation, it would go a long way towards helping them compete for a playoff spot in the highly competitive American League. Ohtani played in 106 games in 2019 batting .286 with 18 home runs and 62 RBIs, but hasn’t thrown a pitch since early in his 2018 rookie season.

 

Oakland seems to be the most threatening challenger to Houston’s dynasty, but the Angels, with Joe Madden now at the helm and fresh off the seven-year, $245 million deal that secured third baseman Anthony Rendon to play alongside Trout, the best player in the game, might also rise. The Angels remain without a dominant starting pitcher, and while Trout, Rendon and OF/DH/RHP Shohei Ohtani comprise arguably the best 2-3-4 batting order in baseball, they will have to overcome their lack of pitching to succeed. Seattle and Texas, in various stages of rebuilding their rosters, don’t figure to impact the division race this season.

In the AL Central, Cleveland’s three year run atop the division was abruptly ended last season by the upstart Minnesota Twins, who won 101 games and bumped the 93-win Tribe out of the playoffs entirely.  Those two franchises figure to battle for division supremacy again in 2020, though the Indians arguably took a huge step backwards this offseason, trading staff ace and two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber to Texas in return for journeyman Delino DeShields and relief pitching prospect Emmanuel Clase in a cost cutting measure. Clase, who is armed with a 100 MPH cutter, will miss up to three months with a strained upper back muscle, making the trade appear even less sanguine to Tribe partisans.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Things are looking up for Nelson Cruz and the Twins. In his first season in Minnesota, he smashed 41 home runs in just 120 games to go along with 108 RBI’s and a .311 average.

 

In contrast, the Twins added former AL MVP (and A’s third baseman) Josh Donaldson on a four-year, $92 million deal, moving slugger Miguel Sano to first base full time. The Twins also tried to address needs in their rotation by re-signing Jake Odorizzi, adding free agent lefty Rich Hill, and trading for Kenta Maeda from the Dodgers. Fresh off a season where they set the MLB record for home runs in a season, the Twins offense is again formidable, and Fangraphs pegs them for 91 wins in 2020, four games ahead of Cleveland’s projected 87.

The White Sox are finally emerging from their lengthy rebuilding effort, and figure to take a step towards contention this season after adding free agent catcher Yasmani Grandal and lefthanded starters Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez to their young core of intriguing talent. Luis Robert is the best prospect in the American League, and after the White Sox signed him to a six-year $50 million deal before he ever played a single major league game, they see him as their centerfielder on Opening Day, and the likely odds-on favorite to claim the Rookie of the Year Award. Chicago might be a year away from menacing the Indians or Twins atop the division, but if their young talent develops quickly, they could be in the Wild Card mix. The Tigers and Royals are the bottom feeders in the Central, and neither figures to factor into the playoff picture this season.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
In his first season in the Bronx, DJ LeMahieu was the Yankees MVP and nearly won a batting title, setting career highs with 109 runs scored and 197 hits on the way to a .327 average.

 

The AL East arguably produces three playoff teams in 2020. Fangraphs forecasts the Yankees at 95 wins, the Rays at 91 and the Red Sox at 88, with each of those squads given at least a 50% chance of earning a playoff position. The Yankees addressed arguably their biggest need by luring Cole away from the Astros, strengthening their own team while damaging their chief competitors for the AL pennant. Their lineup is still formidable at nearly every position, anchored by home grown stars Aaron Judge and catcher Gary Sanchez, who will be supported by shortstop Gleyber Torres to form the heart of an offense that fell a single HR shy of the Twins record for most dingers in a season last year. Each of those players is 27 or younger, and don’t figure to suffer any age related decline.

The injury bug, however, does seem to have an affinity for New York. After losing several key players for huge chunks of the 2019 season (yet finding replacements in third baseman Gio Urshela and outfielder Mike Tauchman who helped ease the pain of those injuries), the Yankees had to be planning on better health for their players this year. Perhaps they had better revise that notion. Luis Severino, who made only three starts last year with a variety of ailments, underwent Tommy John surgery in late February, and will miss all of 2020 and most of 2021. He was being counted on to be the #2 starter behind new ace Cole, in front of #3 starter LHP James Paxton. Paxton underwent back surgery in February, and could be out until June, leaving the Yankees vulnerable in the starting pitching department. Sluggers Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are also expected to miss extended stretches at the start of the season.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Rays ace Charlie Morton continues to get better with age, posting career highs in wins each of the past three seasons. In 2019 he went 16-6 without missing a start while also setting personal bests with 240 strikeouts and a 3.05 ERA in 194 innings. He also won both of his starts in the postseason.

 

Given the quality of Tampa’s rotation, featuring 2018 Cy Young Award winning lefty Blake Snell, veteran Charlie Morton (16-6, 3.05 ERA) and 6’8” fireballer Tyler Glasnow (6-1, 1.78 ERA in an injury marred season), any slippage by the Yankees could open the door for the small payroll ($59 million vs. the Yankees $246 million) Rays to play David to the Yankees Goliath.

Boston made headlines this offseason primarily because they traded outfielder Mookie Betts, 27, to the Dodgers. Betts, who is a free agent after 2020, is perhaps the second best player in baseball behind Trout, but he was steadfast in his insistence that he’d test the market instead of signing a contract extension, and that led the Red Sox to ship him and David Price to the Dodgers for a package that included outfielder Alex Verdugo. That decision was perceived by Boston fans to be motivated by strictly financial concerns, and has led to great unrest among the New England faithful.

Despite losing Betts and Price, the Red Sox still feature a roster of star caliber talent, including leftys Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez, and middle-of-the-order mashers Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and DH J.D. Martinez, each of whom hit .300 or better with 30 HRs and on base percentages north of .360. Still, it would require significant steps forward by their rotation and supporting cast to propel Boston back to the playoffs, but considering that the core of the 2018 World Series winners remains largely intact, counting them out entirely would be foolhardy.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
The son of a Baseball Hall of Famer, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. wasted little time serving notice of his arrival in the Majors after a May call-up, blasting 15 home runs with 69 RBI’s and a .272 average in his first taste of big league pitching.

 

The Blue Jays have an enviable collection of young position player talent, led by infielders Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio, each of whom is the son of a former major league star. They added Hyun-Jin Ryu from the Dodgers as a free-agent acquisition to front their staff, and could be joined in Toronto by flame throwing right-handed pitching prospect Nate Pearson, who has touched 104 MPH on the radar gun with his fastball, but figures to start the season at AAA. The Orioles don’t figure to have much to look forward to as they attempt to climb from the ashes of three straight last-place AL East finishes, losing at least 108 games the past two seasons. They will not be counted upon to gain much ground in the rugged division in 2020.

Here are my predictions for the American League in 2020:

West: Houston Astros

Central: Minnesota Twins

East: New York Yankees

Wild Cards: Oakland A’s, Boston Red Sox

Pennant: Minnesota Twins

MVP: Mike Trout

Cy Young: Gerrit Cole

Rookie of the Year: Luis Robert

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Steph out with flu, but Warriors storm back to beat 76ers https://martineztribune.com/2020/03/07/steph-out-with-flu-but-warriors-storm-back-to-beat-76ers/ https://martineztribune.com/2020/03/07/steph-out-with-flu-but-warriors-storm-back-to-beat-76ers/#respond Sun, 08 Mar 2020 07:24:54 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=14138 BY MASON BISSADA  The Golden State Warriors narrowly defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 118-114 in what was one of the most thrilling games of the season despite a myriad of injuries to star players on both teams. Entering the fourth quarter down eight, the Warriors (once again without Stephen Curry and Draymond Green) clawed their way …

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BY MASON BISSADA

 The Golden State Warriors narrowly defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 118-114 in what was one of the most thrilling games of the season despite a myriad of injuries to star players on both teams.

Entering the fourth quarter down eight, the Warriors (once again without Stephen Curry and Draymond Green) clawed their way back to tie the game with just under four minutes to go in regulation, thanks in large part to Damion Lee and Eric Paschall’s shot-making. Down the stretch, rookie Mychal Mulder hit the biggest shot of his young career, knocking down a deep three to claim the lead for Golden State as Chase Center erupted with applause, possibly the loudest it’s ever been for a non-Curry game this season. With seconds left, Marquese Chriss swatted away Mike Scott’s layup attempt that would’ve given the Sixers the lead. Philadelphia was forced to foul Mulder to extend the game, and the rookie hit two clutch free throws with just seven seconds left to ice the game and give his team the win. Mulder (career-high 18 points, 5-10 FG) was a team-high +15 for the Warriors, and the fact that Steve Kerr had him on the court in the final minutes of a close game speaks to how much he’s impressed on just a 10-day contract.

“A couple games ago, I asked [Mulder], “do you ever get butterflies ?” Damion Lee recalled postgame when asked about Mulder’s play in the clutch. “He’s like ‘nah, never.’ He’s stone-cold and not bashful. Having him out there, being able to space the floor, defend, he’s a high IQ guy as well. He had the highest plus-minus. That’s huge for a ‘10-day’ guy” (Lee put ‘10-day’ in air-quotes, implying that Mulder will inevitably be brought back on another contract).

Lee was once again the team’s offensive engine, scoring a team-high 24 points on 10-17 shooting. He’s been without a doubt Golden State’s best offensive player this season. His offensive rating of 105.2 is the highest for any player on the team who has played 20 games or more. He hit a clutch and-one layup to put his team ahead down the stretch, proving his struggles at the end of Thursday’s game against the Raptors didn’t affect his confidence in the slightest.

Eric Paschall has settled into his sixth-man role, scoring 23 points off the bench on an efficient 8-12 shooting. His midrange isolation game is deadly, and he’s become crafty at drawing fouls in those situations (7-7 from the line on Saturday, including two in the clutch). Paschall’s playmaking has also improved as of late (six assists on Saturday) and his ability to handle the ball allows him to find his teammates in transition or in halfcourt sets.

Marquese Chriss put up one of his most impressive stat lines of the season, filling the box score with 13 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Chriss near triple-double showcased his excellent playmaking skills with passes out of the post.

“One of the first things we noticed in training camp was (Chriss) ability in the high-post,” Head Coach Steve Kerr said postgame when asked about Chriss passing. ”When he would catch the ball, he was always really good with the dribble-handoff stuff. We’ve always had a guy in that role, whether it was Andrew Bogut or David Lee or Draymond Green. You need a good passer in that spot given the shooting that we have and the way we like to play. Marquese showed that ability right away.”

If Chriss can carry this kind of passing skill into next season when he has two elite jumpshooters (Curry and Klay Thompson) flanking him, he’ll make for an excellent backup center if not a starter.

As a team, Golden State did an excellent job of limiting their turnovers (a season low seven) while still moving the ball, as they assisted on 30 of their 44 made field goals. Though the personnel has changed drastically in the last year, Kerr’s “beautiful game” offense reveals itself every now and then.

The 76ers entered Saturday’s matchup without either of their All-Stars, as Ben Simmons (nerve impingement in his lower back) and Joel Embiid (left shoulder sprain) both sat. They were also without their starting shooting guard, Josh Richardson, who was out while going through concussion protocol. Being shorthanded, it was up to their other notable names, Tobias Harris (24 points) and Al Horford (22 points 10 rebounds, seven assists), to carry the load. The duo did just that, taking advantage of Golden State’s lack of size and punishing them in the post. It’s a luxury for Philadelphia to have those two as secondary options to their franchise cornerstones, although the fit has been less than perfect this season.

After an exciting return game against the Raptors, Stephen Curry was once again sidelined, this time due to the flu. The Warriors organization made it very clear that this was just a normal influenza virus and not COVID-19 (coronavirus). Draymond Green also sat with left knee soreness.

Golden State will next welcome their in-state rival Los Angeles Clippers to Chase Center on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

GAME NOTES:

Golden State snapped their season-high losing streak of ten games with the victory. It was the third longest in franchise history.

The Warriors field goal percentage of 55% marks a season-high.

Golden State has won seven of their last eight home games against Philadelphia.

Exactly three years ago on this date, the Warriors set the record for the longest regular-season home winning streak in NBA history, winning their 45th consecutive home game by defeating the Orlando Magic. Golden State would go on to extend the streak to 54 games.

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2020 likely to be a full-blown rebuild for San Francisco’s Giants https://martineztribune.com/2020/02/25/2020-likely-to-be-a-full-blown-rebuild-for-san-franciscos-giants/ https://martineztribune.com/2020/02/25/2020-likely-to-be-a-full-blown-rebuild-for-san-franciscos-giants/#respond Tue, 25 Feb 2020 08:00:59 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=14041 BY J.A. SCHWARTZ The San Francisco Giants enter 2020 in the earliest stages of a reimagining of their roster. In 2019, they eschewed the chance to trade free agents-to-be reliever Will Smith and franchise icon Madison Bumgarner because of their position in the standings in late July, a justifiable decision that paid homage to the …

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BY J.A. SCHWARTZ

The San Francisco Giants enter 2020 in the earliest stages of a reimagining of their roster. In 2019, they eschewed the chance to trade free agents-to-be reliever Will Smith and franchise icon Madison Bumgarner because of their position in the standings in late July, a justifiable decision that paid homage to the core of a team-and their fans-who had won three championships during the decade. The team faded badly down the stretch, finishing at 77-85, third in the NL West but 29 games behind the division champion Dodgers, and a full 12 games behind the second Wild Card spot.

Now Smith closes games for the Braves, while Bumgarner will front the rotation in Arizona after signing a 5-year, $85 million deal, leaving the only team he’s ever known as a professional. Given that their rivals in Los Angeles added talent to an already dynastic roster (seven straight division titles), acquiring superstar outfielder Mookie Betts and starter David Price from Boston, the Giants certainly aren’t entertaining visions of a division title in 2020. They likely have their sights set on more modest goals, though President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi will be ever vigilant for new avenues to improve his franchise.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Gabe Kapler has some big shoes to fill as Giants manager after Bruce Bochy’s 13 year run yielded the first three World Series titles in San Francisco history.

 

Bruce Bochy, who managed the Giants for 13 seasons, retired after the 2019 campaign with 2003 wins over 25 years as skipper. He brought three championships to San Francisco, and is widely considered a lock for Hall of Fame induction. Bochy was able to coax the best out of his charges, and leaned heavily on Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval to lead the team to World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014.

Gabe Kapler was tapped to take over the managerial duties from Bochy, and he’ll enter 2020 with a 161-163 record (a .497 winning percentage that is ironically identical to that of his predecessor Bochy) amassed during two years in Philadelphia. Kapler will also inherit Posey and Sandoval, both 33 by late March, as the veteran leaders on a team that figures to be indoctrinating their best young prospects onto the roster over the next several seasons.

With the MLB roster limit expanded to 26 players for the 2020 season, here is a look at how the Giants might deploy their assets in late March.

Catcher: This job belongs to Posey, who is coming off his worst year as a professional. He hit .257/.320/.368, career low marks in every category. His .368 slugging percentage was his second year in a row below .382, with his offensive productivity dropping below the league average for the first time in his stellar career. Signed through 2021, Posey will try to reverse his downward trend with the bat.

He figures to be backed up by 30 year-old journeyman Rob Brantly, or switch hitting Tyler Heineman, 28, who was signed as a free agent in January. Heineman might possess some latent upside, coming off a year where he broke out offensively at AAA for both Arizona and Miami (.336/.400/.590, 13 HR). Neither backup likely factors into the Giants long term solution at the position. Top prospect and 2018 second overall draft pick Joey Bart, 23, finished 2019 at AA, and may well end up seeing the majors at some point in 2020. He is the heir apparent to Posey behind the plate.

1B: Brandon Belt, 32 in April, will again anchor first base. He also struggled in 2019, hitting .234/.339/.403 with 17 HR and 57 RBI. Coming off his poorest offensive effort in his nine years in San Francisco, Belt, who is under contract through 2021, will hope to bounce back in 2020.

2B: With incumbent second baseman Joe Panik having been released in August after six largely effective seasons with the team, the Giants will turn to prospect Mauricio Dubon to hold down the position. Dubon, 25, was acquired from Milwaukee in July in the trade that sent pitchers Ray Black and Drew Pomeranz to the Brewers, and hit .300 with 20 HR at AAA last year before appearing in 28 games with the Giants at the end of the year. Should he stumble, 28-year-old Wilmer Flores, a free agent signee who spent 2019 in Arizona, is on the roster ready to step in. Flores had his best offensive season last year, hitting .317/.361/.487 over 89 games, and will help push rookie Dubon for the starting job.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
A three time Gold Glove winner, Brandon Crawford begins his tenth season with the Giants as the anchor of their infield, and with Mauricio Dubon as his new double play partner following the release of Joe Panik last summer.

 

SS: Brandon Crawford, 33, will continue to hold down the starting shortstop job which has been his since 2012. Crawford has proven capable defensively and remarkably durable during his time with the team, never appearing in fewer than 143 games over his eight full seasons in San Francisco. Like many of his teammates, Crawford struggled through one of his weakest offensive seasons in 2019, hitting .228/.304/.350, his least effective effort at bat since 2012. Signed through 2021, Crawford will be given every opportunity to regain his stroke at the plate. Donavon Solano, 32, figures to fill in at short when Crawford requires a rare day off.

3B: Veteran Evan Longoria, 34, figures to hold down the hot corner for the Giants again in 2020. Longoria is signed through 2022, and is coming off his best season since joining the team in 2018, hitting .254/.325/.437 with 20 HR and 69 RBI. He also continues to play defense at a high level, and the five-time Gold Glove winner will be relied upon to pair with Crawford to keep the left side of the infield safe from ground balls seeking outfield grass. Both Flores and Solano can slide over to third to spell Longoria if the need arises.

CF: 26 year-old OF Stephen Duggar will enter the season as the likely every day centerfielder for the Giants. A sixth round pick of the Giants in 2015, Duggar will be entrusted with the role coming off a season where he hit .234/.278/.341 in the Majors after a scorching start at AAA.

LF: The primary left field job figures to belong to Alex Dickerson, 29. Acquired in June of 2019 from the Padres, Dickerson hit .290/.351/.529 with six homers and 26 RBI in 56 games with San Francisco and brings a veteran lefty bat to the lineup. He may well find himself in a platoon situation with 36 year-old Hunter Pence, who resurrected his career in Texas last year, mashing at a .297/.358/.552 clip with 18 HR and 59 RBI. Pence, who was a starter for the Giants during their 2012 and 2014 playoff runs that led to World Series titles, changed his swing before the 2019 season and had his best year at the plate since 2011.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
A career minor leaguer, Mike Yastrzemski made the most of his first shot at the Majors last season, batting .271 and leading the Giants with 21 home runs in just 107 games.

 

RF: Right field will belong to Mike Yastrzemski, 29. The Giants traded to acquire Yastrzemski from Baltimore on the eve of the 2019 campaign, and he seized the opportunity to play on a regular basis, hitting .272/.334/518 with 21 HR and 55 RBI in 107 games as a rookie. Austin Slater, 27, figures to perform in a utility role.

Starting Pitching: The 2020 Giants will be looking for an ace to front their rotation now that Bumgarner has joined the competition in Arizona. Johnny Cueto, 34, may well get the Opening Day nod for the team. Signed to a six-year, $130 million contract before the 2016 season, Cueto has struggled with injuries over the past two seasons, making a total of only 13 starts. Cueto underwent Tommy John surgery in August of 2018, and will be counted on to provide innings for a Giants staff that lacks a true #1 starter.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
The Giants are hoping that Johnny Cueto’s comeback from Tommy John surgery is complete as he’s being counted on to eat innings as the staff’s new ace. Since going 18-5 with a 2.79 ERA during his first year with San Francisco in 2016, injuries have limited the right-hander to a total of 38 games in the past three seasons.

 

Jeff Samardzija, 35, enters his final year under contract with the team after signing a five-year, $90 million dollar deal before the 2016 season, and starts the year as the #2 starter. Samardzija went 11-12 with a 3.52 in 181 innings for the team in 2019 during his 32 starts. 29 year-old Kevin Gausman, who split last year between Atlanta and Cincinnati, will be the presumptive third starter. He struggled last year, going 3-9 with a 5.72 ERA in 102 innings, but had pitched significantly better from 2014 through the 2018 seasons. The Giants are hoping to recapture his effectiveness in his first season with the team.

Lefty Drew Smyly, 30, figures to hold down the fourth slot in the rotation. Smyly emerged as a dominant young starter in Detroit and Tampa Bay between 2012 and 2016, but then missed all of the next two seasons with shoulder issues. He finally returned to the Majors last year, going 4-7 with a 6.24 ERA over 21 starts and 114 innings in Texas and Philadelphia. The final rotation job is likely to go to 2014 first round draft pick Tyler Beede. Now 26, Beede battled to a 5-10 record with a 5.08 ERA, making 22 starts and throwing 117 innings for the Giants in 2019, who hope he can continue his development and emerge as a young anchor to the staff going forward.

Relief pitching: 2019 closer Will Smith left as a free agent to join Atlanta, leaving the stopper’s job this year in a state of flux. Lefty Tony Watson, 34, figures to have the first crack at claiming the role, and has 30 saves over his nine year career to date, though none as a Giant. Shaun Anderson, 25, and Jandel Gustave, 27, might be next in line for saves should Watson falter.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
After nine years in the Majors, Tony Watson figures to get his first shot as a closer for the 2020 Giants following the departures of Mark Melancon and Will Smith.

 

Anderson collected two saves for the 2019 Giants in his rookie season as he transitioned from a starting role to the pen towards the end of the season. Gustave showed well in his debut with the team last year, pitching to a 2.96 ERA over 24 innings of relief. Sam Coonrod, 27, will continue his development in the majors, hoping to improve on a promising rookie campaign that saw him go 5-1, 3.58 in 27 innings for the team. Tyler Rogers, 29, will bring his heavy sinker to the pen again in 2020. Rogers went 2-0, 1.02 over 17 IP last year, generating an elite 69% ground ball rate as batters struggled to lift his best pitch.

Jarlin Garcia, 27, will be the top lefty behind Watson in Gabe Kapler’s bullpen after being claimed off waivers from the Marlins earlier this month. Garcia went 4-2, 3.02 in 50 IP in Florida in 2019. The final two pen jobs will be contested between righties Trevor Gott, 27, and Dany Jimenez, 26. Jimenez was a Rule 5 selection from the Toronto organization, and must be kept on the active roster in 2020 or be offered back to the Blue Jays. The Giants are hoping that his elite minor league strikeout figures (93 in 59 IP between A and AA last year) make him an appealing option as the season unfurls.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Joey Bart was the second overall pick in the 2018 MLB draft. Groomed as Buster Posey’s heir apparent, he’s likely destined for more seasoning at the Minor League level before being added to the Giants 26-man roster.

 

The Giants will transition from a team led by Bochy and Bumgarner into a new era of baseball under the leadership of manager Gabe Kapler and the veteran guidance of Posey, Belt and Crawford. The next wave of future core franchise cornerstones may well arrive later this year when Bart (#32 on Baseball America’s top 100 prospects for 2020), makes his debut. 2017 first round pick outfielder Heliot Ramos, 20,(# 63 on BA’s top 100 list) might be next in line to break in, though he figures to begin the year at AA Richmond with Bart.  2019 first round pick outfielder Hunter Bishop profiles to one day join Ramos in the Giants outfield, and will begin the year at Augusta, the Giants low A affiliate.

The top prospect in the system, and the #19 overall prospect in the game by BA’s list, is shortstop Marco Luciano, a 2018 international signee from the Dominican Republic.  He could accompany Bishop to Augusta to begin 2020. The top pitching prospect in the system might be 21 year-old lefty Seth Corry, the Giants third round pick in the 2017 draft out of Lone Peak High in Highland, Utah. Corry dominated at Augusta in 2019, going 9-3, 1.76 with 172 strikeouts in only 122 innings. By 2022, each of these young players should be contributing to the team at the major league level, and may represent the nucleus of the next generation of franchise leaders. It would be unrealistic to expect the team, as currently comprised, to challenge for a playoff berth in 2020, but Zaidi is laying the groundwork for the next championship Giants team.

 

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Shorthanded Warriors Fall to Zion and the Pelicans 115-101 https://martineztribune.com/2020/02/23/shorthanded-warriors-fall-to-zion-and-the-pelicans-115-101/ https://martineztribune.com/2020/02/23/shorthanded-warriors-fall-to-zion-and-the-pelicans-115-101/#respond Mon, 24 Feb 2020 06:09:27 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=14033 BY MASON BISSADA The yet-again shorthanded Golden State Warriors put up a tough fight on Sunday night against one of the league’s most exciting young teams, the New Orleans Pelicans, falling short by a score of 115-101 at the Chase Center. Despite holding a double-digit lead at halftime, Golden State (who only had nine available …

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BY MASON BISSADA

The yet-again shorthanded Golden State Warriors put up a tough fight on Sunday night against one of the league’s most exciting young teams, the New Orleans Pelicans, falling short by a score of 115-101 at the Chase Center.

Despite holding a double-digit lead at halftime, Golden State (who only had nine available players) allowed the Pelicans to chip away at the deficit in the third quarter before essentially surrendering in the fourth. New Orleans outscored Golden State 69-45 in the second half, cutting down on their turnovers (nine in the first half as opposed to four in the second) and taking advantage of the Warriors negligible rim protection.

Top overall pick Zion Williamson continues to live up to the hype, putting on a show for Warriors fans who have been deprived of highlights for the majority of the season. Williamson seemed to be dunking on every other possession, flying over the top of defenders like Eric Paschall and Andrew Wiggins with trampoline-like explosiveness. Williamson scored 28 points on 13-20 shooting, showing off his skillset beyond athleticism with a soft touch around the basket and impressive footwork.

“He’s explosive, strong and he knows how to play,” Head Coach Steve Kerr said of Williamson postgame. “He makes really good passes out there, recognizes double teams and scores so easily around the rim because of his power. He’s a really great, young player without much experience at all. He’s only going to get better.”

Finding Williamson for a majority of his alley-oop slams was Jrue Holiday, who dropped a season-high 15 assists to go along with his 23 points. Holiday’s ability to play alongside other playmakers like Lonzo Ball (nine assists) and Brandon Ingram (17 points, five assists) make him a dynamic all-around guard. In addition to Williamson, Holiday often found rookie Nicolo Melli (20 points off the bench) who hit six of his seven 3-point attempts. With three ball-handlers in their starting lineup and the Warriors lack of a true perimeter stopper (Draymond Green sat with a right pelvic contusion), it’s no surprise that the Pelicans had 34 assists on 46 made baskets.

Damion Lee was once again Golden State’s go-to offensive weapon, dropping yet another 20+ point game with 22 points on 9-15 shooting and 4-8 from downtown. 15 of those points came in the first quarter, in which Lee scored 13 of the Warriors first 15 points. Lee’s jumpshot and energy in transition make him an excellent offball guard. He rarely forces bad shots, even when he’s made a few jumpers in a row. Ideally, he’ll be an excellent backup shooting guard to Klay Thompson next season.

Jordan Poole continues to impress with his late-season resurgence, scoring 19 points on 8-14 shooting to go along with five assists. Poole’s passing has become a real asset for him, and gives Kerr a reason to keep him on the court even when his shots aren’t falling. His passing has also allowed him to surpass Ky Bowman as the team’s starting point guard until Steph Curry returns.

“Just try to get your teammates into good positions, get them where they want the ball,” Poole said when asked about his role as a lead ball-handler. “Be smart when you got the ball in your hands and you kind of got to control the tempo and it’s small things like that. Try to get a good shot, don’t go too many possessions without getting up good looks. It’s a lot of stuff that goes into it.”

Juan Toscano-Anderson had one of his more impressive games as a Warrior, scoring a career-high 16 points on 6-10 shooting and hitting three of his five three-pointers. Toscano-Anderson had multiple dunks, showing off his hidden athleticism and often playing the stretch-4 role due to a short-handed roster. His combination of size and shooting ability make him a very-poor-man’s three-and-D wing, something teams can never have enough of in today’s NBA.

In his first game with the Warriors after signing a 10-day contract with the team earlier in the day, former lottery pick Dragan Bender (six points, five rebounds and three assists in 20 minutes) showed flashes of what drew scouts eyes back in 2016. His passing instincts are solid for a big man, and his floor spacing is desirable in theory (though it has never been fully realized throughout the first four years of his career). His rim defense is underwhelming, but the Warriors will have to make due while Marquese Chriss is out with left calf soreness. 

“It’s fun to be out there,” Bender said postgame. “It’s a really good system. Just watching those guys play the last couple years, and playing against them, it’s a fun place to be.”

Andrew Wiggins (who turned 25 years old today) had one of his worst offensive games as a Warrior, shooting just 3-16 from the field for eight total points in 34 minutes of play. Wiggins jumpshot wasn’t falling, but he found other ways to be effective, grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking two shots. Wiggins will begin to see easier looks once he is surrounded by more experienced offensive players, but until that time he may continue to force up difficult attempts out of necessity.

Golden State simply had no defensive answer for Williamson, and this was likely the key factor in tonight’s loss. It would have been intriguing to see how Draymond Green would’ve approached the defensive assignment of Williamson, seeing as he is one of the few players in the league that is big enough to contain him in the paint while also mobile enough to slow him down on drives.

Golden State next welcomes the Kings to the Chase Center on Tuesday, facing off against Sacramento at 7:30 p.m.

GAME NOTES:

Dragan Bender, the #4 overall pick in the 2016 draft, averaged 5.2 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 20 minutes per game over the first four seasons of his career.

Prior to tonight’s matchup, Golden State had won 13 of their last 14 home games against New Orleans and 25 of their last 28 overall.

Golden State will split the season series with New Orleans, going 2-2 against the Pelicans this year.

Damion Lee has scored 20+ points in all three of his matchups against New Orleans this season, averaging 21.7 points per game.

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A’s looking to extend October playoff run in 2020 https://martineztribune.com/2020/02/20/as-preview-2020/ https://martineztribune.com/2020/02/20/as-preview-2020/#respond Thu, 20 Feb 2020 08:00:36 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=13959 BY J.A. SCHWARTZ The 2020 Oakland A’s roster is geared towards making another run at postseason glory after being defeated in the Wild Card game last season by the Tampa Bay Rays. The core of the talented group that has gone 97-65 in two consecutive seasons remains intact. It’s the hope of the Oakland’s front …

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BY J.A. SCHWARTZ

The 2020 Oakland A’s roster is geared towards making another run at postseason glory after being defeated in the Wild Card game last season by the Tampa Bay Rays. The core of the talented group that has gone 97-65 in two consecutive seasons remains intact. It’s the hope of the Oakland’s front office, led by Executive VP of Baseball Operations Billy Beane and GM David Forst that their offseason efforts will result in another chance for an elusive World Series berth that has eluded the franchise since 1990. The A’s have made the playoffs 11 times from 1991-2019, but have not advanced beyond the American League Championship Series during any of those runs. Manager Bob Melvin, who has won 94 or more games in four of his eight seasons, has reason to believe that his 2020 club could finally break through that glass ceiling and reach the Fall Classic.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Another MVP caliber season from Marcus Semien would be instrumental in the A’s returning to the post-season and challenging the Astros for the AL West title.

The 2019 A’s were led by a core of young position players who all saw their levels of performance improve from the year before. 1B Matt Olson, 25, and 3B Matt Chapman, 26, brought offensive productivity at the infield corners while also providing Gold Glove defense. Both Olson and Chapman ranked among the top ten players in the AL by the Defensive Runs Saved metric. SS Marcus Semien, 29, had a breakout season at the plate and in the field, and CF Ramon Laureano, 25, used his howitzer of an arm to tie for the 3rd most outfield assists with ten.  Those players will be expected to lead the 2020 A’s at the plate and in the field.

Major League Baseball has expanded the daily Active Roster limit to 26 players for 2020. Here is how the 26-man Opening Day roster might look for the Oakland A’s:

Catcher: Top prospect Sean Murphy, 25, grabbed this position late in 2019 and enters spring training as the likely starter. After missing the early part of the season with an injury, he destroyed AAA pitching .308/.386/.625, and acquitted himself favorably with the big club, hitting .245/.333/.566 over 60 plate appearances. He underwent offseason left knee surgery, but is expected to be ready for the start of spring training, and could provide the A’s with much needed offensive production at a position at which they’ve struggled to find a long term solution. Lefty swinging Austin Allen, a prospect acquired from San Diego in the Jurickson Profar trade, figures to back up Murphy behind the dish.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Rookie catcher Sean Murphy looks to have earned the A’s starting catcher position entering spring training.

1B: Matt Olson will bring his Gold Glove defense every day, and could continue to develop power as he matures. He set career highs with 36 home runs and 91 RBI’s last season. He should be a fixture at first base for years to come, as he isn’t eligible for free agency until 2024.

2B: Jurickson Profar was dealt to the Padres in December, leaving this position somewhat uncertain as the A’s head to Arizona. As of this writing, a likely platoon of lefty Tony Kemp, 28 (acquired from the Cubs in January 2020), and righty Chad Pinder, 27, figures to get the bulk of the time at the keystone. It would surprise nobody if the A’s were active in the free agent or trade market during spring training to attempt to upgrade at this position.

SS: At the start of his career, SS Marcus Semien was considered a very long shot to remain at the position because of significant defensive shortcomings. In 2019, Semien rated among the best defensive shortstops in the game, and he augmented his value by being durable, appearing in all 162 games. He also set career bests in every offensive category, hitting .285/.369/.522, with 33 HR and 92 RBI. Semien’s 2019 season earned him a third place finish in AL MVP voting behind only winner Mike Trout and Astros 3B Alex Bregman. Franklin Baretto, 24, figures to back up Semien, and will have a chance to finally fulfill some of his minor league promise at the big league level. Baretto is out of options, and the A’s will give him every chance to establish himself as a major league asset.

3B: This position has belonged to Matt Chapman since his debut in 2017, and the best fielder at the hot corner in the AL will be back in 2020. Chapman finished sixth in the AL MVP voting, and may well show gains at the plate as he enters his prime. Some combination of Pinder and Barreto figure to spell Chapman when he requires a day off, which isn’t often. Like Semien, Chapman prides himself on being available to play every day, and he appeared in a career best 156 games in 2019.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Third baseman Matt Chapman won his second straight Platinum Glove award as the best defensive player in all of the American League last season. His bat was also exceptional as he had 96 RBI’s while belting 36 home runs

LF: Mark Canha, 30, had the best season of his career in 2019, hitting .273/.396/.517 with 26 HR’s while appearing at all three outfield positions. His .396 on base percentage easily led the team, and Melvin will want his bat in the lineup most days.

CF: Laureano made several highlight reel plays in 2019, and he was blistering hot in the second half. Despite missing all of August with a stress reaction in his right lower leg, Laureano hit .358/.411/679 in nearly 150 plate appearances after the All-Star break. He’ll be counted on to provide stellar defense in center while continuing his development as a potent offensive threat.

RF: Right field figures to be the primary responsibility of Stephen Piscotty, 29. He battled right knee and ankle injuries last year that limited him to 93 games, and was underwhelming at the plate when he was healthy. The A’s hope that an offseason of rest will allow him to approach his 2018 season: .267/.331/.491 with 27 HRs.

Robbie Grossman, 30, figures to be the primary back up for the OF positions. The switch hitter appeared in 138 games for the A’s in 2019, providing solid defense and contact oriented offensive skills.

DH: The A’s have to hope that Khris Davis, 32, still has something left in the tank. As the highest paid player on the club ($16.75 million in 2020 and 2021), Davis comprises nearly 20% of the entire team payroll (currently at $85.6 million, 24thamong MLB franchises). While playing in 133 games last year, Davis did hit 23 HRs, but struggled with a .220/.293/.387 batting line, a far cry from his 2018 season (a league leading 48 HRs and 123 RBI) when he finished 8th in the AL MVP voting. The A’s will look for a bounce back season from Davis, or will seek to upgrade that lineup slot with a bat from the minors or outside the organization.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
A’s ace Mike Fiers went 15-4 with a 3.90 ERA last season, including throwing his second career no-hitter along the way.

Starting Pitching: The A’s rotation will likely be led by RH Mike Fiers, 34, coming off a season that saw him go 15-4 with a 3.90 ERA in 185 IP. LH Sean Manaea, 28, made a brilliant return in September from a left shoulder injury, going 4-0 with a 1.21 ERA in five starts down the stretch, and will be counted on to be the A’s #2 starter. 26-year-old RH Frankie Montas was off to a dazzling start last year, going 9-2 with a 2.63 ERA before being hit with an 80 game PED suspension in late June that cost him all but one game for the rest of the season. Armed with his new pitch, a split-fingered fastball, Montas emerged as a potential ace and will slot into the #3 position in the A’s rotation.

The top prospect in the Oakland system is LH Jesus Luzardo, 22, who will likely be the A’s #4 starter in late March. He is ranked as the ninth overall prospect in all of baseball entering 2020 by Baseball America. Luzardo threw just 43 minor league innings at three levels in 2019, and was sidelined by a pair of injuries during the season –a strained rotator cuff muscle in March, and a strained latissimus dorsi muscle in July. Both injuries limited his innings, but didn’t dim the promise he demonstrated when he was healthy, nor did it seem to be a factor during his September call up. Luzardo struck out 16 major leaguers in 12 innings during his debut, pitching to a 1.50 ERA. He also appeared in the Wild Card loss to Tampa Bay, stringing together three scoreless innings in his first postseason game. He’s a potential ace in the making, and if his injury woes are truly behind him, he will make the A’s rotation as formidable as any in the American League.

The fifth starter position figures to be filled by RH Chris Bassitt, 31. He went 10-5 with a 3.81 ERA in 144 innings last year, and will provide veteran stability to the back end of the pitching staff. Bassitt’s rotation job may well be challenged by LH A.J. Puk, 24, before the midpoint of the season-if not sooner. Puk is the A’s #2 organizational prospect, and is ranked as the 21st overall young talent in the league by Baseball America. He underwent UCL reconstructive surgery in April 2018, and spent much of the past two seasons rehabilitating that injury before making his long awaited debut late last season. In ten bullpen outings covering 11 innings, Puk struck out 13 while going 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA. The A’s may see Puk’s most valuable role on the team as a multi-inning relief pitcher, though Melvin stated that Puk will work as a starter during spring training.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Liam Hendricks became a first time All-Star in 2019 after inheriting the closers role, saving 25 games with an ERA of 1.80.

Relief Pitching: The A’s bullpen was consistently effective in 2019, and will return most of the same pitchers for the 2020 campaign. Closer RH Liam Hendriks, who went 4-4 with a 1.80 ERA with 25 saves over 85 dominant innings, will once again be tasked with finishing games. He’ll be set up by veteran 35-year-old RH’s Yusmeiro Petit and Joakim Soria, who combined to throw 152 innings of solid relief last year. Lefties Jake Diekman, 33 and T.J. McFarland, 30, will provide balance, though Puk might emerge in a relief role to change that dynamic. RH’s Lou Trivino, 28, J.B. Wendelken, 26 and Paul Blackburn, 26, figure to round out the relief corps.

 

 

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Warriors Lose to the Heat In Iguodala’s Return to the Bay Area https://martineztribune.com/2020/02/10/warriors-lose-to-heat-in-iguodalas-return-to-the-bay-area/ https://martineztribune.com/2020/02/10/warriors-lose-to-heat-in-iguodalas-return-to-the-bay-area/#respond Tue, 11 Feb 2020 07:50:22 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=13947 BY MASON BISSADA Despite a disheartening 113-101 loss to the Miami Heat on Monday night, Warriors fans at Chase Center were all smiles as they welcomed home former Warrior Andre Iguodala in his first matchup against Golden State in nearly seven years. Iguodala, who was recently traded to the Miami Heat after sitting out half …

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BY MASON BISSADA

Despite a disheartening 113-101 loss to the Miami Heat on Monday night, Warriors fans at Chase Center were all smiles as they welcomed home former Warrior Andre Iguodala in his first matchup against Golden State in nearly seven years.

Iguodala, who was recently traded to the Miami Heat after sitting out half the season as an inactive member of the Memphis Grizzlies, was given a touching video tribute before tipoff that celebrated his time in the Bay Area. He was then welcomed to center court by former teammate Klay Thompson, who showed nothing but love for the 2015 Finals MVP.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Miami’s Andre Iguodala goes up for a block in his first game against his former teammates Monday night at Chase Center. Iguodala only took one shot, making it, but the Heat was +25 in the 16 minutes he was on the floor.

 

“It’s good to have you back ‘Dre,” Thompson said to mass applause. “And I can’t wait to see your jersey in the rafters one of these days.”

Iguodala returned the compliment, promising fans that “my brothers [Thompson and Steph Curry] will be back in action, full throttle next year to wreak havoc on the league for 80 games” (excluding the two in which the Warriors play the Heat). When Iguodala checked into the game midway through the first quarter, Chase Center showered him with the loudest applause of the night.

As for the game itself, Golden State’s short lived resilience was no match for the Heat, who were in desperate need of a win after losing their last three games in a row. After Golden State’s bench gave up a 16-0 run in the second quarter, the Warriors starters responded with a third quarter run of their own to cut the deficit to four points. This run was led largely by Andrew Wiggins, who scored 14 points in the third quarter alone and had 18 points on the night in his second game as a Warrior.

“I thought his play reflected ours,” Steve Kerr said postgame. “We got nothing going in the first half and then in the third quarter, when we started really competing and playing with pace, that’s when Andrew got going.”

Just as it did in the second quarter, Golden State’s bench (consisting of G-League call-ups) negated the progress that the starters made in the fourth quarter. Miami’s depth (or Golden State’s lack thereof) proved to be the difference in the end. Iguodala, despite playing just 16 minutes, was a +25 on the night, while Juan Toscano-Anderson was a game-low -18. All of Golden State’s starters (besides Ky Bowman) were actually net-positives for the game.

Damion Lee was a bright spot for the Warriors, scoring a career-high 26 points on 7-12 shooting and hitting five of his seven 3-point attempts. Lee’s floor spacing is essential, particularly when Draymond Green is running in transition and playing point-forward. Green, who grabbed nine rebounds and dished out nine assists, was looking for corner shooters off of every Heat miss. When Lee is feeling it from deep, he and Green make a nice pairing.

 Marquese Chriss continues to shine after securing a multi-year contract, scoring a solid 17 points (including a nasty dunk on Miami’s Duncan Robinson) to go along with nine rebounds. Though his rim protection is shaky (Miami scored 50 points in the paint) he has some offensive ability as a lob threat and even an occasional post-up option.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Miami’s Jimmy Butler goes up for a shot over the Warriors Andrew Wiggins during the Heat’s 113-101 win over Golden State Monday night. Butler had 21 points and 10 rebounds in the game.

 

Jimmy Butler led the way for the Heat, tallying a 21-point, 10-rebound double-double. The five-time All-Star didn’t even need to attempt a 3-pointer to be effective. When he wasn’t driving towards the rim, Butler went to work in the midrange going 9-15 from the field.

Jae Crowder, who was packaged with Iguodala in the trade from Memphis, also scored 21 points off the bench, hitting four of his eight 3-pointers. Bam Adebayo also left his mark, logging a 13-point, 11-rebound double-double. What was equally impressive was Adebayo’s passing ability. He dropped seven dimes, either finding teammates in transition or off of backdoor cuts in the post. He even found teammate Derrick Jones Jr. for a ridiculous lob dunk. Adebayo’s court vision may remind Warriors fans of another passing big: Draymond Green.

“Well, I think the similarity is the playmaking,” Steve Kerr said when comparing the two players. “It’s rare to have a combination of playmaking big and a guy that can defend the paint. It’s not something you see very often. Bam has had a fantastic season and I think Miami is playing quite a bit like we have played over the last five years and Bam is at the center of that offense like Draymond has been. It’s a good comparison.”

Golden State must once again retool and relearn their offensive and defensive schemes with the addition of so many new players (particularly Wiggins). This is difficult to do on the fly while facing teams like the Heat who have a clear identity and are fighting for homecourt advantage in the playoffs. Every game from here on out is a learning process, but the Warriors may accumulate quite a few losses along the way.

The Warriors will next take the short flight to Phoenix to face off against the Suns on Wednesday at 6 p.m. in their last game before the All-Star break.

GAME NOTES:

The Warriors tied their season-low mark for field goals made with just 30 (30-77, 39%).

 Tonight’s loss insures that the Warriors will have a losing record for the first time since the 2011-12 season, when they went 23-43 in a lockout year.

Prior to tonight’s matchup, Golden State had won five consecutive home games against the Miami Heat, along with eight of their last 11 matchups overall.

Tonight marks the first time Miami has swept the season series against the Warriors since the 2010-11 season.

Exactly three years ago, Draymond Green made history by becoming the first player in league history to record a triple-double without scoring double-digit points. Green recorded 10 steals (a franchise record) 10 assists and 11 rebounds. In that same game, Green was just one point away from a five-by-five (five or more in five box score categories) as he also recorded four points and five blocks. Green was the first player to record double digit steals and at least five blocks since the NBA began tracking steals and blocks in 1973-74.

 

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Retooled Warriors put up a fight, but fall to Lakers 125-120 https://martineztribune.com/2020/02/08/retooled-warriors-put-up-a-fight-but-fall-to-lakers-125-120/ https://martineztribune.com/2020/02/08/retooled-warriors-put-up-a-fight-but-fall-to-lakers-125-120/#respond Sun, 09 Feb 2020 06:46:40 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=13931 BY MASON BISSADA Though the Golden State Warriors roster looked noticeably different after their various trade deadline moves, the results of Saturday night’s game against Los Angeles were fairly similar to most games this season, as they lost a close game to the Lakers 125 -120 at Chase Center. Andrew Wiggins, the most notable addition …

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BY MASON BISSADA

Though the Golden State Warriors roster looked noticeably different after their various trade deadline moves, the results of Saturday night’s game against Los Angeles were fairly similar to most games this season, as they lost a close game to the Lakers 125 -120 at Chase Center.

Andrew Wiggins, the most notable addition to the roster, looked comfortable in a Golden State uniform, going for 24 points on 8-12 shooting and 3-4 from beyond the arc. Wiggins also pitched in a bit of defense to a team that desperately needed it, grabbing five steals (one shy of his career-high) in his 31 minutes. Wiggins spent a significant portion of his time playing off the ball, something he’ll have to adjust to, particularly when Steph Curry returns in a few weeks.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
New acquired Andrew Wiggins looks to pass the ball during Golden State’s 125-120 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers at Chase Center Saturday evening. Wiggins finished with 24 points in his Warriors debut.

 

It was encouraging to see Wiggins connecting on his spot-up jumpers and running the floor in transition. Defensively, Kerr assigned Wiggins the unenviable task of slowing LeBron James, who dropped 22 points and 11 assists on the former top pick in the draft by the Timberwolves. Though his body type would suggest he’d be a lockdown perimeter defender, he still has a ways to go in terms of strength and decision-making.

“It’s just great to have a player who we can put on LeBron and at least match up physically,” Head Coach Steve Kerr said postgame. “It’s the hardest position to guard these days in the NBA. So to have a guy who’s 6’8 and athletic and knows the league well and understands how to play, it’s great.”

“I just felt good on the court,” Wiggins said of his Warriors debut. “Let the game come to me. The whole team, we were all unselfish tonight. We moved the ball and we competed. That’s the most important thing.”

Wiggins encouraging offensive play was not enough to keep the Warriors alive against the #1 seed in the Western Conference. Despite cutting what was a 20-point deficit to five points with under a minute to go in regulation, half of the Chase Center (the other half were Laker fans) had their spirits crushed by James, who hit a tough, contested stepback 3-pointer to seal the victory for his Lakers. To paint a picture, the shot seemed eerily similar to the one he made against the Warriors back in 2014 when he was a member of the Miami Heat.

The Lakers, known for their front court size and athleticism, outrebounded the Warriors 47-33. Anthony Davis led the charge with 10 rebounds of his own to go along with 27 points on 9-14 shooting. Defensively, Golden State’s bigs were no match for the seven-time all-star. Davis was dunking over the top of the likes of Alen Smailagic when he wasn’t hitting turnaround jumpshots out of the post.

Newly signed Warrior Marquese Chriss had one of the best nights of his career, going for 26 points and nine rebounds on an extremely efficient 12-15 shooting. Chriss was dunking all over the arena, catching countless lobs from Ky Bowman, who had a career-high 10 assists. Bowman and Chriss pick-and-roll chemistry was electric, and the Lakers often had no answer for it despite their superior size.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Newly signed Warrior Marquese Chriss slams down a basket on the way to a team-high 26 points during the Warriors loss to the Lakers Saturday night at Chase Center.

 

“I like playing with Ky,” Chriss said postgame. I think we have a good understanding of what each other’s strengths are and he likes to get downhill so I just kind of sit and dunk it for him.”

Jordan Poole had one of his better nights as a Warrior, scoring 19 points on 8-12 shooting and hitting three of his seven three-point attempts. Surprisingly, Poole was the Warriors go-to option down the stretch, delivering clutch jumpers off of dribble-handoffs or off his own dribble. Poole has shown signs of life over the last 10 games after having one of worst first half’s of the year of any rookie this season. Time will tell if he can continue to shoot the ball efficiently.

G-League call-ups Jeremy Pargo, Juan Toscano-Anderson and Zach Norvell Jr. each had small moments of glory on the night and proved that they can hold their own against NBA-level competition. Rotating 10-day contracts will continue to be the norm for the Warriors for the rest of the season, after trading away six of their players at the deadline and needing to fill roster spots on a nightly basis.

The Warriors continue to surprise more-talented teams with their resilience and willingness to fight a losing battle until the bitter end. The Lakers may not have known the names of half the players on Golden State’s roster, but that didn’t stop them from hanging around until the final buzzer.

Golden State will welcome Miami to the Chase Center on Monday, where former Warrior Andre Iguodala may make his season-debut after being traded to the Heat just a few days ago.

 GAME NOTES:

After opening up roster spots through various trades at the deadline, Golden State was able to sign two-way call-ups Ky Bowman and Marquese Chriss to multi-year contracts.

Golden State made 51.7 percent of their shots from the field, losing their first game of the season when shooting 50 percent-or-better (2-1).

Wiggins 24 points were the most in a Warriors debut since Kevin Durant scored 27 points in 2016 against San Antonio.

Prior to tonight’s loss, the Warriors had won 12 of their last 13 home games against the Lakers.

The game marked the first time in his career that LeBron James played a NBA game in San Francisco.

Alen Smailagić matched his career-high with 10 points off the bench.

Kevon Looney had five fouls in 14 minutes of play.

Saturday was Klay Thompson’s 30th birthday.

 

 

 

 

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Warriors add Wiggins from Wolves as Russell, two others depart https://martineztribune.com/2020/02/06/warriors-add-wiggins-from-wolves-as-dar-burks-robinson-depart/ https://martineztribune.com/2020/02/06/warriors-add-wiggins-from-wolves-as-dar-burks-robinson-depart/#respond Fri, 07 Feb 2020 05:24:06 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=13919 BY MASON BISSADA In the final hours before the NBA’s annual trade deadline, the Golden State Warriors agreed to trade point guard D’Angelo Russell to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for forward Andrew Wiggins and the Wolves 2021 first-round pick and 2021 second-round pick. In addition to Russell, Golden State will also send guard Jacob …

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BY MASON BISSADA

In the final hours before the NBA’s annual trade deadline, the Golden State Warriors agreed to trade point guard D’Angelo Russell to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for forward Andrew Wiggins and the Wolves 2021 first-round pick and 2021 second-round pick. In addition to Russell, Golden State will also send guard Jacob Evans and forward Omari Spellman to Minnesota.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Andrew Wiggins goes up for a shot during a game against the Warriors in this file photo. He’ll now suit up for Golden State following Thursday’s trade with Minnesota for D’Angelo Russell.

 

The Timberwolves, who are currently the 14th seed in the Western Conference ahead of only the Warriors, have top-3 protected the 2021 first-round pick, meaning it will only transfer to Golden State if it falls between #4 and #30. If it does not convey in 2021, the Warriors will receive the Wolves 2022 first-round pick completely unprotected.

By making the move, combined with yesterday’s trade of Glenn Robinson III and Alec Burks to Philadelphia in exchange for three second-round picks, the Warriors have officially fallen under the luxury tax line and avoided the dreaded repeater tax–something ownership clearly prioritized in what is otherwise a lost season. Golden State now only has nine players on their roster, and must fill out the remainder of it while avoiding the luxury tax line.

Wiggins is still owed $94.7 million dollars over the next three seasons. Though he is still just 24 years old, he has shown little improvement in his skillset since winning Rookie of the Year back in 2015. His career averages of 19.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists leave something to be desired from a former #1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft who was once heralded as “Maple Jordan” as a native of Toronto.

This trade illuminates two of the Golden State front office’s opinions: 1) They believe Wiggins still has untapped potential that their coaching and player-development staffs can unearth. Whether it be his shaky jumpshot (33% from three for his career), his unwillingness to pass the ball or his underwhelming defensive effort, they believe they can mask his deficiencies and highlight his athletic strengths. Playing alongside elite shooters like Steph Curry and Klay Thompson and a brilliant passer like Draymond Green should help as well. And 2) They believed D’Angelo Russell was not a good fit next to the above Big 3. Despite putting up some flashy numbers on the score sheet, Russell’s play did not translate to wins for Golden State through 33 games played. Though he never shared the floor with Thompson and barely did with Curry, something clearly did not sit right with the front office.

With the addition of Wiggins, Curry’s return looming and six players gone from the opening night roster, the Warriors are going to look a lot different for the remainder of the season. It remains to be seen whether or not these differences will mean a more uplifting ending to what has been a depressing year.

Golden State returns to Chase Center for a nationally televised game against the Lakers Saturday night followed by a visit from the Miami Heat on Monday, a game that will likely feature the return to the Bay Area of Andre Iguodala.

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