Sunday, June 3, 2007

Media foolishness, young Denver stars

Denver wouldn't be so stupid, would it?

Even think of sending board hog and shot swatting Marcus Camby to the Lakers for...

underachieving, who-cares, do-I-have-to-go-to-work-today Kwame Brown?

All over money?

How stupid would that be.

Unless owner Stan Kroenke is ordering such madness then someone in the front office should be fired on the spot if such a idiotic deal were even presented to SK.

Camby is not an elite center but he is in that next tier of talent, one of the best centers in club history and currently around the Association.

Brown is an everyday scrub you can find on any corner or in any discounted merchandise bin.

He stinks.

Make such a deal and see what happens with season tickets and at the gate next season.

Go ahead, outsmart yourself and see what happens.

It says here that in a city in which the Broncos draft poorly most years and the Rockies make crippling trades most times that the Nuggets will not send Camby packing for crackers.

You don't trade in your dependable Honda for a Ford Escort. You just don't.

If you can bring home a package of future draft picks or a shooting guard, scoring small forward off the bench or another interior presence on the defensive end, great. Otherwise, you better not be selling low.

The Rockies Jeff Francis continues to dominate like a no. 1 pitcher. His dismantling of the Reds on Sunday continues his hot streak (4-0, 1.64 ERA over his last six starts). Arguably, this rotation, at the top, could turn out to be the best in club history. Aaron Cook is highly competitive most nights, Francis is rollin' and newcomer Jason Hirsh has shown rock-solid upside. Add one more quality pitcher and a veteran bat and presence and this team could take off to greater heights.

The catcher position was a weakness last season and due to Chris Iannetta's unexpected flop so far, it is still a black hole position in the lineup. Kaz Matsui has solved the problems at second base, Troy Tulowitzki is good at shortstop and Willy Taveras is an improvement in centerfield. Now, if the club can just fix Garrett Atkins at third base.

So how good is Jay Cutler going to be in 2007 and how much long-term potential does he have? The sample of work is small to this point but the prognosis is good, if one's expectations are kept in check. Cutler has size, arm strength, intelligence and improved talent around him. The offensive line is a big question mark but if it proves effective, Cutler should pump up the offense.

That said, this will be his first full season as a starter so forgetting there are going to be growing pains would be a major mistake. Long term, he should develop into a winning quarterback. He is not John Elway, won't be anything close but he could be better than Craig Morton and Jake Plummer if he stays healthy and has playmakers around him. Know who he reminds the WSN of, physically speaking? He's more a mix of Kerry Collins, with a better head, and Steve McNair than the Broncos in-house comparison of Cutler to Brett Favre.

WSN Rockies Prospects Hot List

  1. Joe Koshansky, 1B -- AAA -- power is MIA but hitting a ton
  2. Michael Paulk, 1B -- A -- Mark Grace of the organization
  3. Dan Mayora, 2B -- A -- can hit & can run
  1. Brandon Hynick -- A -- Greg Maddux-of-old-type season
  2. Greg Reynolds -- AA -- was dominant before being injured
  3. Franklin Morales -- AA -- finally coming around; high upside
  4. Keith Weiser -- A -- hittable but highly intriguing; a winner

On the record -- hitters Ian Stewart and Seth Smith, both in Colorado Springs, have been disappointments but in the case of Stewart he just might be bored. He has a lot of similarities to Matt Holliday, who struggled in the minors before busting out in the majors.

The above rankings are derived from something called production, not potential. No strokes for being a high-paid high draft pick alone. Show the goods and get the love.

WSN Word -- The Rockies are developing their own pitching -- Aaron Cook, Jeff Francis, Manny Corpas and the names above. Fair is fair, the organization is doing a very good job. Grade A.

The hitters have surprisingly been sluggish. Yes, Troy Tulowitzki is in Denver now and playing well but Chris Iannetta isn't, Stewart and Smith and Chris Nelson are not dominating and Koshansky is not hitting the long ball. Grade C-.

Sweeping the Nation

The WSN recently proposed free agency for all college athletes without sitting out a season as long as their grades were in good standing. Now that Billy Donovan has become the latest coach to dump his job and his players for a new gig, tell me why the recruits and current roster shouldn't be able to transfer out if they so desire?

Sure, worst case scenario, the Gators or any other school could be left without a team but that is something the administration and departing coach should be accountable for, not the athletes. Most players choose a school for the coach who makes the program or for proximity reasons. They deserve to have freedom if an important reason for their decision is no longer valid. Maybe players need attorneys to start writing letter of intent documents that serve their needs too, not just the NCAA's.

This is what happens
when power schools load up on elite talent -- someone is going to fail to achieve and then has to decide to climb a mountain they didn't expect to have to climb or transfer. Kid could have gone elsewhere and been in the two-deep early.

O.K., a warrior tries to be valiant in defeat, keeping his honor so I will say I was, mmmm -- wrong. Very wrong, you say? O.K., let's go with that. The Cavaliers simply punched the Pistons in the nose and did it with composure, winning the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, the real deal in the superlative LeBron James and his Robin, the just-add-water-rookie-from- no where named Daniel Gibson, who probably just had his career highlight. Cleveland is becoming someone in the NBA and James has, despite rumors to the contrary, definitely living up to his enormous hype. That said, game over, Cavs -- Spurs in 6. That result means Carmelo Anthony will breathe easier because he won't have to deal with both James and Dwyane Wade's championship trophies.

Will say it right now -- James will be better than Kobe Bryant, achieve more, be more respected and more well liked. It does remain to be seen, however, if James can rise to the level of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Now that he is getting a taste of playoff satisfaction, James hunger will only be more ravenous. If the Cavs can amp up their roster with astute moves in coming seasons, Cleveland could take off, even playing in a conference with Chicago, Detroit, Toronto and Donovan's Orlando Magic.

Hate to say it because the WSN loves him but Denver boy Chauncey Billups was horrible against the Cavs. Atrocious. The man is Big Money in the playoffs, has the skins to prove it but produced four clunkers in a six-game series and defensively, he looked like a Nugget.

Will still be the first one at the airport to welcome Billups to Denver in a trade dream of mine.

Lakers fans, are you enjoying the soap opera that is your team? Kobe asking for a trade, saying he didn't ask for a trade, Marcus Camby's name being floated as a possibility and now this rumor -- Jermaine O'Neal coming to town for Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum. Love O'Neal's game but giving up on a developing center in Bynum when Chris Mihm is your alternative and also saying goodbye to the now underrated all-around talent of Odom is simply giving up too much for O'Neal. Get some draft picks or another solid player and then think about it.

Don't know what to say -- Alex Rodriguez cheating on his wife is one thing, a big thing but then to risk it all (and his bank account) for a woman, who well, is a stripper and looks like (well, just read here) -- caution, nude pics were the only ones found. Not quite the type of girl you'd imagine the young, rich, famous and attractive Rodriguez to be relegated to chasing. Maybe he needs to hang out with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, another dog, or teammate Derek Jeter. Think A-Rod's cost-benefit analysis on this whole dalliance was f***ed up. This is going to prove one emotionally and financially expensive sex vacation for him after humiliating and hurting his wife's feelings. She will never forget and the punishment will be cruel and unusual. He would have been better off buying a car or boat without telling her -- would have been less painful.

How many of us would lay ourselves out for a co-worker, or their spouse? Here's one cat who did just that -- wow. That's amore.

Note -- looking for anyone who wishes to shoot pictures for the upcoming football season for CU, CSU, and Air Force. Get them published here with your name on them. Will take game shots, tailgating, anything of interest. Have Rockies pictures? Same deal.

Note II...want to be a guest writer, send in a story or interview idea. Want to simply be a columnist, then send your draft this way and if it is tight and quality, it gets printed.

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