Friday, June 29, 2007

Smith's travel plans change; Fazekas smiling

What a few minutes for CSU's Jason Smith. Looking like he has a job offer for Miami, F-L-A, and not only that but he was set up to work with the amazing Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning and being able to soak up all that winning aura. Then, like that, poof, he's going to Philly to earn a living.

The good news is that Smith will play for the 76ers. They need any big man that can play. Smith will have to get stronger and accept the challenge of the Association but he should be a longtime pro.

Fazekas a lucky man

Ralston Valley High School and University of Nevada big man Nick Fazekas has already scored in the NBA.

Getting picked by Dallas, even if in the second round (expected), is like chasing the hot girl of your dreams, missing out on her and somehow ending up with someone even better. Yes, he'll make less money to begin with but going to a championship-level team that plays a finesse game with Dirk Nowitzki to learn from, well how perfect is all that!

This is a great set up for Fazekas and the WSN expects him to develop into a solid contributor for the Mavericks.

Nuggets Noise

Chirp, chirp.

Chirp, chirp.

Oh, just so you know, Von Wafer is the answer to Denver's hoop dreams.

Von Wafer.

NBA notes

By the way, love what Portland did, getting an defensive presence who is also a high-character guy in Greg Oden, an athletic wing and shooter in Rudy Fernandez, dumping selfish, immature Zach Randolph, picking Duke's Josh McRoberts, an athletic, explosive talent who can also block shots and shoot a little but still one giant enigma, in the second round, which will make him work to stick in the league, and finding Derrick Byars, another scorer, also in the second go-around.

Not a bad night's work for a scrub team starting the evening in the poll position.

Throw in that the Blazers already have Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge on the roster and Portland might again be a power and soon.

A +.

Seattle getting the sports car of the draft, Texas' Kevin Durant -- maybe one of the best consolation prizes in league history. Milwaukee bagging Yi Jianlian was a fantastic gift. Remember it. Now if they can just convince or brainwash him into loving Wisconsin. Forget all the slams against Yi. Yao Ming was supposedly a stiff when it came to athleticism, and weak to boot but last I checked he's not a punk, right? Remember this, as well -- Don Nelson and Golden State tried to trade up to get Yi. It was Nelson who pulled off the trade to get that big German some years ago, name of Nowitki. Know him? Nelson knows talent.

Other smart teams -- Atlanta for picking Al Horford and Acie Law IV; the Lakers for grabbing Javaris Crittenton to play the point; Utah for finding a shooter/scorer in Morris Almond (the Jazz are going to remain a factor in the West); Memphis making Mike Conley, Jr. it's floor leader; Charlotte, for being smart enough to cough up the rights to no. 8 overall selection Brandan Wright for Jason Richardson; Golden State for getting more size on the roster with Wright and also picking Italian Marco Belinelli, a shooter with other flaws that will likely be minimized in the Warriors running approach; the Clippers scoring point guard Jared Jordan in round 2; Chicago scoring wide-body Aaron Gray in round 2; and Detroit deciding on Rodney Stuckey, a physical scoring guard.

Personally, I'd swap Ray Allen (now a Celtic) for Allen Iverson right here, right now. Allen is what the Nuggets need and Danny Ainge long lusted after Iverson for Boston.

Milestone 2007

It's a season for record breaking in Major League Baseball and on Thursday two WSN Iron Dogs showed well as Craig Biggio collected career hit 3,000 in Houston's victory over the again hapless Rockies and Frank Thomas smoked home run numero 500 for his career. To be great you have to be very good for a long, long time. These two have done that and should be recognized for consistency and durability in a day when many get sidelined often.

Biggio is a Hall of Fame player and so is Thomas. They both did it the old fashioned way -- they worked for it. They also played for more than loaded paychecks.

Lost in translation

Biggio was the story in the Astros victory but there were other notes of interest. Aaron Cook showed up to pitch (one run over seven innings), showing his often-missing capability; Chris Iannetta reminded us he's still on the team (homered), Troy Tulowitzki continues his recent display of power (homered again); Ryan Spilborghs showed he has a place on this team (the sparkplug homered) and Brian Fuentes blew yet another save (what up, homey!). The Rockies -- this just in -- are schizophrenic. Fire manager Clint Hurdle and hire Dr. Phil.

Bad year farming

For those who are awaiting the next big thing out of the Rockies farm system in the coming months, primarily Triple-A Colorado Springs, don't expect anything much from the usual suspect -- Ian Stewart or many others. Fact is the organization's top prospects are stuck in the mud in 2007.

Stewart, a former no. 1 draft pick, isn't embarrassing himself but he hardly looks like the next great power source for Colorado either. Regardless of what some experts are writing, Stewart is not going to be ready for Coors Field this season. The best approach is to leave him in Colorado Springs now, bring him back to spring training and hope that the light goes on and his average rises and his bat starts crushing balls off fences and over walls.

Stewart isn't the only one not living up to the hype.

Outfielder Seth Smith, who was expected to have a big year, has been a disappointment as has pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, a star that is burning out. Infielder Jayson Nix is showing life but is still nothing more than hardly adequate with the bat. He's not ready offensively and may never be.

The one man who gets an above-average grade is first baseman Joe Koshansky, who is a little older than most for Triple A. He's not homering at the same pace as the past (10 through June 27) but his average (.325) and acceptable strike zone-judgment make him attractive for a team not locked down with Todd Helton's contract.

The good news is that Double-A Tulsa is again producing talent. On the mound, starter Greg Reynolds, relievers Juan Morillo, Sam Deduno and Jarrett Grube and even Ryan Mattheus and Franklin Morales, two more starters, are showing real promise. If only a few of them register on the ricter scale then Colorado will be in much better shape at the big league level.

Here's how we have them rated at WSN, with the starters running like this: Reynolds, Mattheus, and Morales; the relievers hierarchy goes: Grube, Morillo, and Deduno. Remember we don't grade on "tools" and potential. We want and love production.

The breakdown? Reynolds knows how to pitch and will make the "bigs." Mattheus is smart and that goes a long way. He is not a top prospect but could be an end-of-the-rotation guy. Morales is one of the many teases in the organization -- million dollar arm but one that is too much for him to control. With a little restraint, he could become a force. Grube is the most developed reliever, a solid bet to reach Denver while Morillo and Deduno are big arms who don't live up to potential. Both could excel in The Show but could also end up being Joe Who's?

The only hitter of note is a graybeard, third baseman Christian Colonel, a 25-year old who was a fifth-round pick in the 2003 draft. Colonel isn't dominating (.310, 9 HRs, 47 RBI) but has been surprisingly productive. He's a longshot for Denver but could reach the majors elsewhere.

Final Salvo

Woodrow Paige, say it ain't so. You know what we mean. Don't tell us you went stupid as a big name at ESPN and thought you were bulletproof with women. I'd like to believe its' all a lie but not sure I can. That said, you are innocent before being proven guilty. You are innocent, aren't you? Or was that butt simply too good to pass up for a famous ESPN staffer?

Air Force AD Hans Mueh still has not forgiven Jeff Bzdelik for dumping the Falcons for CU. Who knows what the agreement was when Bzdelik was hired but this is the culture of athletics in this country. You prep for a better opportunity. Mueh should be happy for the shining moments that Bzdelik provided and try to take advantage of them. Privately, I think Mueh is raging and will not be satiated until Bzdelik "fails." That, I'm afraid, sir, is not going to happen.

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