Lawson response

First of all, it is WAY too early to see whether or not King Felix is King, or if he is, what he is KING of….I liked what I saw of the tape, but he’s still so young and who the hell knows what road the injury bug is going to fly on…but certainly, the potential doesnt’ lie…it just is a question of health and as important, the development of a pitcher’s IQ. Hopefully, he will learn from Moyer and in that regard, I think it is nearly tragic that Borders is not on the roster…I know we need youth, but I watched him in person work with Soriano, and we saw the results when Soriano came up…Lights out…

Sean says: Due to a virus scare at home, we deleted our entire e-mail inbox clean. It’s all good now, so send it again?
Dude, the King is the real deal in every way. Yes, he will struggle with his command at times. He throws hard with amazing movement, and gets ground ball after ground ball after ground ball, but he is prone to wildness, sure. USSMariner had a big write-up of how power pitchers that get lots of K’s, walks and ground balls are big-time winners, and Felix is right there. Not only does Felix pass the eye test, but he also has a stack of scouting reports calling him the best prospect in 20 years. They all can’t be wrong, can they? I seriously haven’t seen a single report on him that isn’t off the charts positive. Everything from stuff to maturity to physical stature, he’s a top of the rotation thoroughbred that we are lucky as hell to have.

Of course it’s early, but as Champoux says, that arm aint’ gettin’ any younger! The King also was leading the PCL in ERA, and that ain’t no fluke. Not to suggest the PCL is the bigs, but there are some very good players down there in hitters ballparks, and to see that Felix was leading the league as the youngest player in AAA is pretty huge.

This team, though, I have to admit that I’m interested again in what they are doing. It’s exciting that they are going young with prospects that you know are going to contribute in the future. That was the big difference from last year, really. Think back, and last year we saw Dobbs, Leone, Bucky, guys that were in their mid/late -20’s and really fringe prospects playing out the string. The only true prospects that played last year were Reed only in September, and Lopez, who at 21 is just too overmatched at the big-league level (and showed as much this year). Meanwhile, you know that Snelling is going to be around as long as his health allows. You know guys like Betancourt, the AAA Futures game starting shortstop who is just dynamite defensively, will be the man at short for a long time (that goes into why Morse is seeing more bench time, along with Wee Willie and his only hot streak of his entire career).

I like the plan, though, it’s better than last year. Cut veterans like Boone, Sele, Borders (I know, he’s crash Davis, but he’s also too old and no longer productive enough to take a 25-man spot), etc. Bring up your true prospects and see what you’ve got heading into an offseason where you’ll have about $25 million of salary to throw around (sans Boone, Moyer and Cirillo’s contract – FINALLY). Not only do you find out what they can do, but you can showcase their experience to the big-league clubs and see who’s interested. Wouldn’t you think Morse will be on the radar of some teams now after this experience this season vs. had he stayed in the minors all year had Pokey Reese been healthy? It would have been a waste of time. Now, you know what the kid is somewhat capable of, and you’ve shown him off to other clubs. Actually I wouldn’t be surprised to see him rotate around among short, left and DH to keep getting AB’s the rest of the year.

For the offseason, I don’t see them landing a big free-agent pitcher, mainly because there aren’t any T.O.R. starters that will be on the market this winter. There are a lot of Pavano-types, guys who have been somewhat productive but have serious questions, so I bet the M’s stay away from that. What you’ll probably see is at least an attempt at a big trade to get a pitcher going into the last year of his deal, something like the Cubs with Carlos Zambrano or the Giants and Schmidt. The Cubs are loaded with starting pitching but their position prospects aren’t great, so you might see a package centered around Morse, Rene Rivera and another player for a guy like Zambrano. Of course, you have to have the right combinations of players and have that match with another club, or else it’s all fantasy.

You look to the future, though, and it is bright. And, the King’s start on Tuesday night will be something to see. I’m sure they’ll get one of their best weekday attendance games in a long time!

Saw that Wilkins went to Minnesota, or so the reports say…let me give you a name: Maurice Evans…Kings back-up at 2 or 3 who came on at the end of last year…not in the Kings plans anymore because of the Wells acquisition as well as draft picks, but he would be GREAT (he’s 6ft 8)! Good defender…

Sean says: I heard late yesterday and it’s reported today that Wilkins has NOT been given an offer sheet, and further, sources told Locke that the Sonics told Wilkins agent they plan on matching Wilkins offer sheet, whoever it is that signs him. Plus, teams are aware of this, and they don’t want to tie up their cap money for 7 days while the Sonics sit there and take their time before ultimately matching. That’s probably the same reason you haven’t seen Vladi, Reggie or Flip sign anywhere, either, these offer-sheet things are scary for some teams. 7 days in the “hot stove” of the NBA is an eternity, and if you have any doubts that the home team will match, you look elsewhere until said team is either capped out or you make such a great deal that it would be absolute insanity for that home team to match. Otherwise you are locking up your ability to do anything for a week, and that’s too much a deterrent.

I think the Wilkins stuff is a signal that they might officially be choosing Wilkins over Flip? With the signing of Brunson (the next AD?) to back up Luke, you basically have one position for Flip to play. At least Wilkins can slide to the 2 and play it OK, not great but OK, and also the 3. I also love the idea of Maurice Evans, IF Wilkins is not brought back. I have heard that Evans is on a lot of teams radar right now, so it might be a long line to get him.

OH, and Bonzi Wells? He’s a punk. If Jerry West is giving him up, well, makes you wonder what’s going on. He has worn out his welcome in a huge way in the last two places he played, so to expect everything to be suddenly turn around in Sac is a stretch. A punk is a punk is a punk, and while at first everything might be fine, wait until things go south and see what he does. Meanwhile I’m sure the sports-dork radio nation down there is doing their best to spin it that Bonzi will make them a 4-seed at worst next year, but come on!

Finally, what’s up with the Dawgs getting 4 top 25 votes in the coaches poll? Publish those results right now…if its anyone besides the Airforce coach, they need to be shot…and us with only 7 votes? Am I missing something with all of this?i keep telling myself that in 97 we were picked sixth or seventh..but man!

Sean says: I COULDN’T BELIEVE they got 4 votes???!?! How??!?! This is a team that was just picked TENTH in the Pac-10!?!? What a joke. That means that 4 coaches put them in their top-25?!?! Amazing. Once they lose by 21 points at “home” to Air Force, I’m sure things will come splashing down to reality. Oh yeah, they’ve sold about 10,000 tickets for that game. Can you believe we’re going to outdraw them in their own town??? I wasn’t surprised by our votes, but for them to get 4 is a joke.

Only a month left and we see what happens…one things for sure, the @CAL @SC stretch looks like the tell tale for the season with ASU and others following up…Will it be a November to remember, or will October spoil us early? It will be a very interesting ride!Also, in terms of the Dawgs recruits, remember that they were going to get their guys no matter what…also remember that ASU and UCLA get top notch recruits ALWAYS…the key is development of those recruits + character + scheme….I am SSSSSOOOO doubtful about the latter…..and even if the Dawgs rise, we’ll still be good….and who’d have EVER thunk that they would be the underDAWG in comparison to us for even a few years????We okay, we okay, we okay…Also, I sent my e-mail to the reso address…didn’t want to put it here…

Sean says: Completely understand, UW coming off 1-10 can still get big names. The big difference, though, is that UW had in the recent past been whiffing on the biggest in-state guys, and getting the best of the 2nd tier guys like we were. Now they are back to landing the absolute top guys. Plus, Locker is really special. Probably going MLB, but if he doesn’t, they got themselves one hell of a kid and a great, talented player. Then again, there are no guarantees. Mike Lustyk was supposed to be the best player in the history of the state, while Steve Emtman was just another guy from the east side of the state that fell for Don James personal challenge, so anything can happen. As Doba says, again, “it’s not about the guys you don’t get, it’s all about the guys you DO get.”

I know the attitude is great for our Cougs right now, and rightly so, but my biggest concern?? Our DB’s are really thin on game experience, so we MUST get pressure on the passer!

Too many times last year we got killed deep, but a less-than-stellar pass rush was a big part of that. Sure, the articles are glowing that Bruce and Braidwood have been great this summer and they learned how to be every-down lineman last year, and Johnson and Ropati are both gigantic and ready to knock heads, and Davis, Derting and Dildine will be flying around, etc, but they MUST get to the QB. It’s the blueprint for our success on D, it all starts with forcing the action and getting pressure on the QB. It helps to have NFL DB’s back there (Trufant, David, Coleman, Paymah are all in the league right now) but without pressure, I don’t care how good your DB’s are, coverage can only do it’s job for so long. As good as that group was, without Acholonu, Isaac Brown, the DT’s like Tai Tupai, Jeremy Williams, Rien Long pushing up the middle, guys like Donnie Jackson and Derting coming from the outside, it was just chaos. In contrast, look at the tape of Oregon last year, of ASU, or even UW’s comeback, and not only was the pressure not there, the DB’s just weren’t good enough.

There is talent back there, Frampton, Abdullah, Dada are all well-regarded and all played in games last year, but we’ll see what happens. Willis is a great talent, one the coaches are off the charts about in terms of the physical tools. But, losing Brackenridge will hurt us this year, I’m convinced of that, especially when guys start getting bumps and bruises. We might have to burn a redshirt or two back there before it’s over, and that’s not good when you are forced to play overmatched frosh in Pac-10 games. Just ask Oregon what it feels like when you have no confidence in your secondary! Lots of 41-38 scores, that’s what. As much as I love what our offense can do this year, I’ve got a big pit of fear about the D. I’m worried we are too confident that they will be a lot better than they were last year. We shall see. Just get to 10/1 undefeated and we’ll see where we are!