Will the Blue Jays Be Busy Before the (Non-Waiver) Trade Deadline?

To say that this season of Blue Jays baseball has been “disappointing” would be an understatement. Looking at a team that managed to reach the ALCS two seasons in a row prior to 2017, many fans of the Boys In Blue are left scratching their heads and muttering to themselves, “Just what the hell is going on this year?”

Now, to be fair, every baseball team worth a damn has their “off-year.” Even some of the recent World Series champions. The Chicago Cubs, a prime example here, won the World Series last year and now they have a 51-46 record. That’s not a terrible record, but they have been a sub .500 team most of the season, and are on pace for a prorated 85-77 record. That prorated 162-game record doesn’t even compare to the 103-58 team that won it all in 2016. The same thing happened the year after the Kansas City Royals won the World Series in 2015. In between 2015 and 2016, the Royals went from winning it all to missing the playoffs. Case in point, a lot can change in baseball in just one year.

So here we are with the 2017 Toronto Blue Jays, a talented ball club that is having an off-year, but for several reasons. Under-performing batters, an inexperienced bullpen, and a quality starting pitcher that has been put on the DL several times (poor Sanchez) are all factors that have amounted to the team today that currently has a 44-54 record. Some of the newer fans are preaching, “All Atkins and Shapiro need to do is just blow the core up, trade all the veterans at the deadline, and start over.” While that is a popular opinion, it is also an unjustifiable one. And here is why the Blue Jays will stay put from big-name trades prior to the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline.

 

  1. DON’T LISTEN TO THE STROMAN TRADE RUMORS. HE’S STAYING.

Really? If you are Atkins or Shapiro, why on earth would you even think of giving away your most talented/valuable asset for some “rebuilding pieces?” His ERA is under 3.00 – the ERA of a legitimate Cy Young candidate. Despite the team being 10 games below .500 overall, Stro boasts a 9-5 record thus far. And his WHIP? 1.26. Perfectly fine. And some of you want to trade away this stud for a handful of minor-leaguers just to say “hey, we’re building for the future?” Stroman is only 26 years old. He is the future.

 

2. THE BULLPEN CAN’T BE FIXED OVERNIGHT.

Fixing the mess that is the Blue Jays’ bullpen is easier said than done. Just like it is for the seven or eight teams above them right now in the AL wild card race (that can still actually make the playoffs) who also have a bullpen worth jacks**t. Teams like Seattle, Kansas City, and Texas have some decent offensive talent and decent fielders, but really don’t have the bullpen with the same level of talent to close games. So heading into July 31st, you have a bullpen market that is high in demand but low in supply. With all those teams above the Jays looking to make a late playoff push, and without the Blue Jays “blowing up the core” for a quick fix in a dead-end season, the Jays will most likely have to wait until the offseason to fix their bullpen woes.

 

3. GIVE HAPP, LIRIANO, AND (MAYBE) ESTRADA ANOTHER CHANCE. 

It’s no surprise that every quality starter in the MLB – whether he’s an ace or your fifth guy in the rotation – has an off-year when you least expect it. A prime example of this is Yankees’ ace, Masahiro Tanaka. Prior to this season, Tanaka boasted an ERA around 3.00 in his first three seasons as an MLB ace and had a 39-16 record. This year, Tanaka has struggled mightily and has dropped to the bottom of the rotation with his 7-9 record and 5.37 ERA. And while Happ, Liriano, and Estrada (even combined) don’t nearly have the same level of elite talent as Tanaka does, the numbers above go to show how a pitcher’s numbers can drastically change from one year to the next if your “stuff” on the mound is no longer the stuff that is shutting down innings for the time being. That’s baseball.

Looking at Happ, Liriano, and Estrada specficially, you’re talking about three guys that have been the “fourth or fifth guy in the rotation” for most of their careers. As so, they have all been journeymen guys and have had their ups and downs in the majors. But despite all their brutal numbers this year in the mound, the starting-pitcher market right now – and probably this offseason too – is pretty slim pickin’s. So to trade any of these guys for spare parts or “future considerations” (that term makes me cringe, it’s like saying “hey, here’s a new laundry machine for your ball club” six months later), would not be the smartest decision right now.

 

Patience is the key here, Blue Jays fans. You just have to ride the tides for now, and see how things change (or not change) in the offseason. But it’s safe to say that if any major changes are going to happen to this ball club, it’s not going to happen in the next week.

 

A Look at the Odds: Mayweather vs. McGregor After Their North American Tour

With the Mayweather-McGregor North American tour coming to end tonight in London, England, it seems that all the hype and trash-talking that was compiled over their four-cities-in-four days tour (including Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, and London, U.K.) have significantly altered the odds come their real face-to-face matchup in August.

Let’s be honest, these boxer matchups thrive on pre-game trash-talking to heat things up. Conor McGregor somehow managed to defend his racism by being even more racist towards Floyd Mayweather, and also rips on Mayweather’s sense of fashion for wearing a track jacket to one of the conferences by expressing that “he can’t even afford a suit anymore”. Then Mayweather storms up to the stage and claims he can “line [McGregor] up like a bowling pin,” octagon or no octagon – then of course, McGregor cuts him off from the other side of the stage (no chill) and says “bulls**t, you need that octagon!” … and all of that was just the L.A. conference alone.

The boys at Oddsshark look at all the odds pertaining to the Mayweather-McGregor matchup after their North American tour.

 

Odds Before vs. After The Tour

 

Odds and Numbers After The Tour

odds mayweather-mcgregor

 

Before you fully develop your own prediction/odds/bets on this matchup, consider these facts. Mayweather is one heck of a boxer. McGregor is an MMA specialist who has his own boxing skillset. Mayweather is a true champ in the octagon, but doesn’t have much experience outside of it – which will be one of the biggest tests for him in this fight. Despite McGregor’s rants and comments about how Mayweather is supposedly ‘toast’ without the octagon, I’m sure a quality boxer like Floyd will adapt to that change of fighting environment much quicker than Conor thinks. Conor McGregor is a legend in the making. Floyd Mayweather has proven that he’s already a legend – just in the tail-end of his lights-out career (pun intended).

 

Who takes it all? We’ll find out on August 26. Ciao for now, 6Side.

 

Toronto Maple Leafs 2017 Free Agency Preview: Who Do They Get?

If you live in Leafland, the day before Canada Day is usually when every fan of the Blue and White plays “armchair GM” and tells you what Lou and Shanny should do to ‘better’ the team the following day.

Well, to save yourself some time from extensive Leafs bro-talks in the next 24 hours trying to figure out “what the hell are the Leafs actually going to do?” we made this article explaining our insight and predictions on Who The Leafs Will Pick Up In 2017 Free Agency Opening Day.

 

condon

SIGN A BACKUP GOALIE: MIKE CONDON.

After putting his name on the map over the last couple NHL seasons as a reliable backup, Condon might be looking for a big raise and a potential spot as a team’s starter in net. However, most teams in the NHL today already have a number-one goalie, so Condon must just settle for 15-20 starts next year with a team that can give him decent money and term on a two or three-year contract. The Leafs are a team that fit that criteria perfectly, as they are most likely looking for a No. 2 upgrade over Curtis McElhinney (yes, he made that one great save against Crosby in a crucial game. Allow me to present the two-finger clap).

Leafs’ management could look at either Garrett Sparks or Antoine Bibeau as “Plan C” if they can’t sign a decent NHL backup in today’s market and don’t want to re-sign McElhinney. The only problem is neither one of those 23-year-old RFAs have proven themselves to be consistent, reliable goalies even in the AHL.

 

stone

GET A TOP-FOUR, RIGHT-HANDED D-MAN: MICHAEL STONE.

They don’t need Kevin Shattenkirk. Sure, Shattenkirk is a power-play specialist that can make plays on the blueline. But what’s his weaknesses? Playing defence. What is the weakness with the Leafs’ current blueline squad that currently needs to be addressed? Playing defence. Dropping big bucks and giving a David Clarkson-type contract to a guy like that wouldn’t make sense.

You also have to consider some more affordable alternatives that could still benefit the Leafs’ top-four, which has that fourth hole that needs to be filled with the likes of Morgan Rielly, Jake Gardiner, and Nikita Zaitsev. Michael Stone is a physical defensive defensemen that could bring a more competitive edge to the blueline and shove some bodies around, especially in front of the net. So signing someone like Stone would be a big help come next season.

 

thornton

ADD SOME VETERAN PRESENCE: SIGN JOE THORNTON OR MIKE FISHER OR (RE-SIGN) BRIAN BOYLE.

With a promising, young team like the Maple Leafs, it was great to see them accomplish all they did last season, with most fans predicting a last-place finish and the team actually making the playoffs and taking the Capitals to six games. But there is no question that this young team will need some veteran leadership – whether it be a forward or D-man – to help them take the next step in the playoffs and potentially win their first playoff round since 2004. And with the future of Tyler Bozak in question as he enters the final year of his contract whilst making $4.2 million on the third line, the Leafs have a few veteran-leader options they can look at acquiring on July 1st.

Joe Thornton is the biggest name on the Free Agency list that the Leafs can sign on a short-term deal that will have an immediate impact on the roster, both on and off the ice. Sure, he’s not the same player that used to score 60-70 points a year but he’s still a reliable scorer, a natural competitor, and overall a great leader by example to have for the young guys. He also played under coach Mike Babcock for a ton of tournaments and trophies in the past, too. If the Leafs can get a decent right-handed defenseman for Bozak in the offseason, I don’t see why not. Mike Fisher and Brian Boyle aren’t exactly clones of Joe Thornton – Joe is considered one of the best players in this league to never win anything – but Fisher or Boyle could be good backup plans as a third-line centre if another team snags Joe first.

 

Honestly guys, who knows what will really happen? There are some bold predictions out there and some made in this article, but at the end of the day, we’re all going to wake up at noon and tune into TSN’s or Sportsnet’s “Free Agency Frenzy” program to see how everything actually boils down. But it’s safe to say that this July 1st will be a much more interesting and eventful one than last year’s July 1st for the Leafs. That’s it for now. Ciao.

A Look at the (Real) Vegas Golden Knights

It happened: Marc-Andre Fleury, three-time Stanley Cup champ and probably one of the best goaltenders in the league, is the face of the NHL’s brand-new Vegas Golden Knights franchise. (If you look closely at the video below, you will see that Sidney Crosby was slightly pissed about losing his long-time roommate and clutch teammate. Can’t blame him.)

 

But looking at the bigger picture, there will actually be solid Vegas Golden Knights team next season, with the likes of James Neal, Reilly Smith, Trevor van Riemsdyk, and Marc Methot. Today, we give you a one-sentence-per-player analysis of the (real) Vegas Golden Knights:

Just for fun, I put a (*) beside the players that were correctly picked in our Vegas Expansion Draft Preview article (https://6sidesports.net/2017/06/20/expansion-draft-preview-who-goes-to-vegas/) released on Tuesday.

Calvin Pickard – A steady backup goaltender with a ton of upside and some NHL experience between the pipes.

Luca Sbisa – A solid top-4 D-man that can defend well and get some points too.

Teemu Pulkkinen – He hasn’t produced the points yet, but he could be a decent third-line winger in the near future.

Jon Merrill – A depth defenseman.

William Carrier – A prospect power forward.

Tomas Nosek – A prospect left-winger with a big frame.

Cody Eakin – An experienced, reliable bottom-six forward.

Jonathan Marchessault – A rising goal scorer with elite potential – a 30 goal scorer last season.

Brayden McNabb* – A solid fifth or sixth man on your blueline.

Connor Brickley – 5 points in 23 career NHL games for a 25-year old forward is a bit underwhelming.

Chris Thorburn – A Don Cherry favourite, Vegas has their rock ’em-sock ’em goon.

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – A bottom-six filler in the forward unit.

Jason Garrison – You can put him anywhere in your top six D-man unit.

Jean-Francois Berube – A minor-league goalie who can maybe be an NHL backup in the future.

James Neal* – A top-line winger with one crazy shot and a big frame.

Deryk Engelland – A third-line defenseman with a knack for throwing bodies around.

Brendan Leipsic – A minor-league goal scorer who killed juniors but has yet to snipe cellies in the big league.

Colin Miller* – A steady, two-way defenseman that could be put on the second or third line.

Marc Methot – He is a top-four defenseman on any NHL team that is known for his energy, smarts, and physicality.

David Perron* – He’s had his ups and downs, but it’s safe to say that Perron can consistently contribute and play both ends of the ice on the third line.

Oscar Lindberg – A big, skilled third liner who hasn’t hit his ceiling quite yet.

Griffin Reinhart – A highly sought-after defensive prospect back in 2012 who is starting to reach his top-six potential.

Alexei Emelin – A big-body, hard-hitting defenseman that comes at a hefty price for a second/third-line blueliner.

Clayton Stoner – A solid sixth or seventh defenseman, depending on injuries.

Marc-Andre Fleury* – I really don’t have to tell you how great he is.

Erik Haula – A small, skilled forward who can put up third-line numbers.

William Karlsson – Started to peak at the NHL last year as a third-line contributor, so we’ll see if he’s able to stay in the big club for a full season.

Trevor van Riemsdyk* – A skilled top-four blueliner who still has yet to reach his ceiling.

Nate Schmidt – A solid fourth or fifth guy on the blueline.

 

You know what… this team already looks better than the Vancouver Canucks.

Image result for alain vigneault angry face

Expansion Draft Preview: Who Goes to Vegas?

The clock is ticking, and tomorrow night, we will have the full roster of the NHL’s much anticipated, spankin’-new franchise south of the border: The Vegas Golden Knights.

But before the actual roster is revealed, us here at 6Side Sports have put together the most realistic Vegas Golden Knights roster possible through a state-of-the-art expansion draft simulation presented by CapFriendly.com. To make this roster as feasible as possible to the real-life Vegas management group, CapFriendly has already defaulted all the terms and conditions that apply to this expansion draft, including the protected players, min. cap space, max. cap space, the number of 2017-18 contracts required, etc.

 

Ladies and gents, I present you the 6Side’s Vegas Golden Knights’ full roster:

Vegas expansion 1Vegas expansion 2

 

Now, here would be the 2017-18 Vegas Golden Knights lineup, with all of the players currently signed with contracts:

Forwards

James Neal – Eric Staal – Bobby Ryan

Matt Moulson – Carl Soderberg – Michael Grabner

Benoit Pouliot – Marko Dano – Reilly Smith

David Perron – Brendan Gaunce*/Seth Griffith* – Dale Weise

Healthy Scratch: Lee Stempniak          

 

Defensemen

Jack Johnson – Sami Vatanen

Thomas Hickey – Trevor van Riemsdyk

Kevin Connauton – Brayden McNabb

Healthy Scratch:  Jamie Oleksiak*

 

Goalies

Marc- Andre Fleury

Phillip Grubauer* (backup)

Aaron Dell (minor callup)

*RFA

 

 

Now that we’ve laid out next year’s potential roster for the Golden Knights, we might as well give you a one-sentence analysis of each player selected:

Bobby Ryan – A top-six forward with an elite skillset that eats a huge chunk of cap.

James Neal – A top-line winger with one crazy shot and a big frame.

Reilly Smith –  A well-rounded top-six forward with a knack for scoring goals.

Matt Moulson – A dependable power forward on the second line.

Carl Soderberg – A big, skilled centre that hasn’t yet reached his top-six ceiling.

Benoit Pouliot – An experienced scorer that can rotated around your top nine.

David Perron – He’s had his ups and downs, but it’s safe to say that Perron can consistently contribute and play both ends of the ice on the third line.

Eric Staal – After having a hell of a comeback last season, he can definitely produce as a first-line centre for Vegas next season (or at least as a second-line centre).

Lee Stempniak – Sometimes, you don’t know which Stempniak you’re going to get, but he will be in the lineup if he pushes himself at both ends of the ice.

Dale Weise – That tough-as-nails grinder you need in the bottom-six.

Michael Grabner – He gets like six breakaways a game, so if he can actually score every now and then on those six breakaways a game, Grabner will be a steal.

Marko Dano – I honestly don’t get why Winnipeg left him unprotected, but this kid has got some top-six potential with his skillset.

Brendan Gaunce – If signed, he could be a solid fourth-line centre with some previous NHL experience in that role.

Seth Griffith – If he puts his best foot forward on every shift, he won’t be juggled around by management like he was with his previous three teams.

Sami Vatanen – An elite defenseman who is still on the rise, and would probably be the biggest steal in this draft.

Jack Johnson – An offensive defenseman who can quarterback the power play and eat up minutes on the first line.

Thomas Hickey – A reliable two-way defenseman to have in the top four.

Brayden McNabb – A solid fifth or sixth man on your blueline.

Kevin Connauton – Hypothetically speaking, if Vegas signed Jamie Oleksiak as an RFA, which would probably be the case, Connauton would be D #7.

Trevor van Riemsdyk – A skilled blueliner who has yet to reach his ceiling.

Jamie Oleksiak – He started to finally show his potential last season, but for now it’s safe to say he’s a top-six D with a big frame to push bodies around.

Marc-Andre Fleury – I really don’t have to tell you how great he is.

Philipp Grubauer – He would be signed as an RFA, and if so, would be a decent backup for Vegas next season.

Aaron Dell – Got some playing time with the Sharks last season, but for now, he’s still a minor-league call-up with a potential NHL future as a full-time backup.

 

And there you have it! A look at a pretty decent and feasible Vegas Golden Knights roster that could hit the ice in a couple months. Now, some of you might ask: Why so many veterans? Well, let’s be honest. Despite all hockey analysts out there saying that Vegas should pick up cheap players and load up on draft picks, that is a flawed managerial approach for two reasons: 1) The first thing you want to do in your first season in a league is FILL UP SEATS! And you need ACTUAL players with talent right now to do so. 2) There is no McDavid or Matthews type players lined up in this draft, and the 2017 draft has been critiqued as one of the weaker ones coming up in the last decade.

 

If you want to draft your very own Vegas team, click on this link:

https://capfriendly.com/expansion-draft

It’s a ton of fun to do this – if you got the time.

 

That’s it for now. Ciao.

 

Four Eye-Popping Stats from the 2017 NBA Finals

Yes, this series was lop-sided. Yes, the entire 2017 NBA playoffs was filled with lop-sided series (five of the 15 games ended in a sweep, and three lasted no more than five games). Yes, it didn’t make for the most entertaining basketball with a lack thereof critical, down-to-the-final-buzzer games – especially in this year’s NBA Finals match-up between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In fact, here are five eye-popping stats from the 2017 NBA Finals, most of them revolving around Golden State’s sheer dominance over the Cavs:

 

1) Kevin Durant had 30+ point nights in all five games. I mean, even if you only watched a few minutes of this entire series, you could easily notice that KD went FULL beast mode from beginning to end. He crushed those 3-pointers like every missed shot taken from there would cost him a year of mortality. He also becomes just the sixth player in NBA history to score 30+ points in every game in the NBA Finals – and Michael Jordan is not even on that list (that’s right, he only averaged 27.3 PPG in the 1996 Finals…sorry MJ).

 

2) Despite the loss, LeBron wrapped up Game 5 with 41 points, 13 rebounds, and eight assists. Say what you want about the Cavs, and the fact that they lost two Finals games by double digits, but LeBron James still played like a King. If Kevin Durant wasn’t the King at the three-point line this entire series, and if the Warriors as a team didn’t lace the Cavs the way they did, then LeBron would have easily been given the Finals MVP award.

3) LeBron James also becomes the first player in NBA history to ever average a triple-double in the NBA Finals. He’s getting the Michael Jordan 2.0 treatment by being the future star of Space Jam 2 for a reason – dammit, my Millennial nostalgia is distracting me from finishing this article!

4) Excluding Cleveland’s only win in Game 4, the combined score of the 2017 NBA Finals was 492-437. That’s in favour of Golden State, obviously. A 55-point difference in Golden State’s favour. That’s a huge point differential for four games, averaging out to a 14-point loss for Cleveland in each game. And those 492 points for the Warriors averages out to 123 points scored per game… doesn’t matter how good your offence is, you can’t give up that many points to win games, period. 

So there you have it. Four stats that basically sum up the sheer dominance that the Golden State Warriors (or maybe just Kevin Durant, single-handedly) had on the Cleveland Cavaliers, even with LeBron playing like LeBron. There’s no question that the Warriors’ off-season acquisition of KD last year was the distinguishing factor that prevented this 2017 NBA Finals showdown from stretching beyond five games. Who knows, maybe Cleveland will make a blockbuster move or acquisition like that one this summer to make the 2018 NBA Finals a tad more entertaining – let’s be honest, both these teams are coming back next June. That’s it for now. Ciao.