Bowman, Quenneville & Player Development

Great piece, as usual, by Jen.

jenlc13

Stan Bowman took the reins as GM of the Chicago Blackhawks from Dale Tallon back in July of 2009. The team that Tallon had partially built went on to win the Stanley Cup that season. Due to the salary cap, many pieces of that team had to be traded the following summer. The supporting cast of the team was rebuilt and in the 2012-13 season won the Stanley Cup again. Last season the team lost in overtime of Game 7 of the Western Conference Final.

This season, despite being in a playoff position with just under 20 games left, the Blackhawks have been struggling a bit to play a complete game. Many rumors were swirling about trades prior to the deadline. On February 27th, Chicago traded picks for defenseman Kimmo Timonen of the Philadelphia Flyers. Chicago then acquired forward Antoine Vermette from the Arizona Coyotes for AHL defenseman…

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Carmelo stays in New York; Bulls getting Gasol

7327531After what seemed like a month of speculation, Carmelo Anthony finally confirmed today that he will be staying in New York to play with the Knicks. It would appear he’ll be signing a 5-year deal worth more than $122 million, but less than $129 million. As a result, the Bulls look to be close to acquiring Pau Gasol. They’ve been saying all along that Gasol is their “plan B” if they miss out on Anthony, but I’m not entirely sure why.

First, let’s get this Carmelo stuff out of the way. He had stated a while back that he simply “wants to win.” The Knicks and Bulls emerged over the past few days as the only possible destinations for Anthony to sign, with the Bulls being the clear-cut better team of the two. Yet Anthony chose to stay in New York. Maybe it was a decision he made based on his family and the fact that he is from New York, or maybe it was a decision based on money. Honestly, I’m going with the latter.

If he really wanted to win, he would be signing a contract with the Bulls today to team up alongside Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, and Taj Gibson. Instead, he’s re-signing in New York where he has no chance to win a title this year, and most likely for the next few years to come. If it was really going to come down to where he would make the most money like it would appear it did, then why was his decision dragged on for so long? I don’t get it. Moving on.

All reports indicate that the Bulls are finalizing a deal to acquire Pau Gasol sometime very soon. Whether it’s via a sign and trade with the Lakers or signing Gasol outright, they should have him within 24 hours. My questions is why are they doing this?

Gasol is a good offensive big man, but he is lackluster on defense and is getting up there in age (34). To me, he seems like a slight upgrade from Carlos Boozer and that’s it. This also makes me wonder exactly what the Bulls plan on doing with Taj Gibson now.

I was under the impression that the Bulls organization wanted Gibson to be their starting power forward this upcoming season. He certainly deserves to be. However, assuming Gasol is a Bull next season, he will most likely be the starting power forward, thus meaning Gibson will be back on the bench. It makes zero sense to me why the Bulls would want this scenario. Gibson is probably a step or two behind Gasol on offense, but his defensive game is one of the best of any big man in the league. Overall, Gibson is a better player today than Pau Gasol and I cannot understand why the Bulls seem to want Gibson back on the bench. Quite honestly, if I were Gibson, I’d be requesting a trade as soon as this Gasol deal becomes official.

So let’s assume the Bulls get Gasol. They’ll still be lacking a true number two scorer to go along with Derrick Rose. Maybe Doug McDermott can be that guy, but he’s just a rookie and you can’t count on a rookie to do too much for you. Maybe Nikola Mirotic can fill the role, but again, he’s never played a game in the NBA. The Bulls will no doubt be a better team than they were in 2013-14, but I question whether or not they’ll have the roster to make it by the second round of the playoffs, let alone the Conference Finals.

There are still some solid free agents available, and the Bulls presumably will have some money to spend now that they won’t be getting Carmelo. It’s possible they can still upgrade their roster, but I wouldn’t classify them as a serious threat to come out of the Eastern Conference next season just yet. Losing out on Carmelo really hurts, especially since LeBron James is back in the Central Division.

As for Gasol, I suppose only time will tell how that move pays off. Personally, I think it’s a mistake and simply a knee-jerk reaction to not getting Carmelo Anthony. In the minds of the Bulls’ management, I think they saw Gasol as an opportunity to get the next biggest name available, and it may come back to haunt them.

Yankee Stadium review

DSC00638“The Cathedral” as it’s often called, is baseball’s mecca. It seems that every baseball player wants to one day play a game at Yankee Stadium. While the old stadium that watched Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, and many other legends take its field no longer exists, the new and current Yankee Stadium still possesses that certain “aura.” Recently, I was able to take in a Red Sox-Yankees game at the new stadium, and while there’s no doubt it is a nice stadium, nothing about it really stood out to me.

DSC00610The outside of the stadium is all white/tan cement, similar to the old park. It is very “neat” looking and has somewhat of an old-fashioned feel to it. As for the area surrounding the park, don’t go touring it. I spoke with a New York City police officer outside the stadium before the game and was told to not hang around the “immediate” ares following the game. That’s not always the most pleasing thing to hear when attending a ballgame.

Depending on which entrance you go through to get into the park, you may enter into the “Great Hall.” This is somewhat of an exterior concourse to the stadium. There are different DSC00645souvenir and food stands set up in the hall, as well as massive banners displaying the legends that once called Yankee Stadium their home. Definitely worth checking out. The only downside to this is that the “Great Hall” is completely blocked of the field of play.

The actual concourses at Yankee Stadium were very clean, but could probably have been made a bit wider. Near the ceiling in certain areas, there are pictures of some of the great players that once played for the Yankees, as well as some of the better events to take place in Yankees history. This was a a nice touch.

If you’re a food lover, you’ll probably enjoy Yankee Stadium. There is a wide variety of food available at the park. Everything from burgers and hot dogs, to cheesesteaks and Brother Jimmy’s BBQ (a local favorite) are available around the park, along with other items.

DSC00622One of the stadium’s best and most famous features is Monument Park. This is an area just beyond the center field wall that fans can walk through and look at the plaques of the Yankees’ greatest players in history. I would have loved to have seen this, however I was unaware that the park closes 45 minutes prior to the start of the game. Something to make note of if you plan on going to a Yankee game. The Yankees also have a museum at the stadium, which is sort of like a Yankees Hall of Fame.

As for the playing field itself and its surroundings, there’s nothing too unique about it. They tried to build this stadium similarly to the old one, and I have to admit the two do look a little alike. The outfield consists of a back drop of big advertisements and a couple of video boards. That’s about it. In centerfield, there is a big party room or restaurant that people and corporations can rent out each game. However, that leads me to my biggest complaint about this stadium.

DSC00629The big party room/restaurant that I just mentioned was built in such a way that it prevents fans sitting in left and right field from seeing half the field. If you’re sitting in the right field bleachers, you cannot see the entire left side of the field. If you’re in left field, you cannot see the right side of the field. How on earth a brand new, billion dollar stadium could be built with a major flaw like this just blows my mind. This really lost Yankee Stadium some points in my book.

Other than the outfield bleachers, there’s not a bad seat in the house. The upper deck is way the heck up there, but none of its views are obstructed. I will say this though. Yankee Stadium is huge, so the seats are not real close to the field like they are in some other new DSC00640parks. I’d say that of the parks I’ve been to, Yankee Stadium and Busch Stadium in St. Louis are the two biggest. The seats at both stadiums are ways away from the field, especially the higher up you get. I’m not criticizing either stadium for that, I’m just pointing it out.

All in all, Yankee Stadium is a very nice and modern stadium. They did a good job of preserving a lot of the Yankee history in this new park, which I was hoping would be the case. There’s a lot at Yankee Stadium that you simply just have to see. Writing about it here won’t do a whole lot of good.

For my MLB stadium rankings, click here.

Predicted Final National League Standings

NATIONAL LEAGUE

East Division

1.

They’ve won their division 5 straight seasons. With that pitching staff, I don’t see anything changing.

2.

Next to the Red Sox, the Braves suffered the biggest collapse in baseball last year by losing their lead in the Wild Card standings to the Cardinals. This year, I think they’ll lock up one of the Wild Card spots and hold onto it.

3.

The most surprising team this off-season was the Miami Marlins. Big signings such as Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle should move this team up in their division.

4.

Honestly, I think the 3rd spot in this division is a toss-up between the Marlins and Nationals. Washington acquired Gio Gonzalez this off-season to help add depth to their pitching rotation, and they have Stephen Strasburg back and healthy to start the season. I would also expect a bounce-back season from Jayson Werth.

5.

Not much has gone right for the Mets in recent years. They have been lacking pitching lately, but now they are lacking offense. They traded away Carlos Beltran last year, and they lost Jose Reyes to the Marlins this off-season.

Central Division

1.

Yes, I know they lost Pujols, but this team is still loaded with talent. They have Adam Wainwright back to start the season (who was arguably the best pitcher in baseball when he got hurt last spring), and they signed Carlos Beltran this past winter to add to their offense. It’ll be a close race between the Cardinals and Brewers, but in the end I think St. Louis prevails for the division crown.

2.

Like the Cardinals, they lost a huge piece of their offense in Prince Fielder this off-season. In his place, they signed Aramis Ramirez to try and get back some of the offense that they lost. If they are going to make a run at winning the division again this year, they need their pitching to stay strong and healthy the entire season. I feel like they have the offense to get it done, but how will their pitching compare to the Cardinals’? With that said, I think the team that finishes second in this division will get one of the two Wild Card spots.

3.

They just inked Joey Votto to a huge, multi-year deal. So they have that going for them. Their offense is decent, and they play in a definite hitter’s park. Their pitching, however, is what will hold them back in the division. The addition of Matt Latos will help, but it’s not enough.

4.

They had a great first half to the season last year, but then reality sunk back in for the Pirates. They have some good players on their roster, led by Andrew McCutchen, but I still don’t think they will finish over .500 this season.

5.

The Cubs are in the re-building phase right now. They traded away Carlos Zambrano and Sean Marshall this off-season, among others, and they lost Aramis Ramirez to free agency. This year is going to be a year for guys like Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney to grow into better players and gain more experience at the Major League level.

6.

There’s not a whole lot going on down in Houston. It’ll be a year full of bringing up minor league players to try and get them some MLB experience, much like the Cubs.

West Division

1.

If Ian Kennedy can have another strong season on the mound for these guys, and if Trevor Cahill can have a good season, I think they have a really good shot as repeating as division champions. I am predicting that Justin Upton hits over 40 home runs this year.

2.

Pitching is the biggest question mark for the Rockies this season. Every year we say that Colorado has a shot at winning the division, but their pitching always lets us down. If they can get quality innings out of 4 of their 5 starters throughout the entirety of the season, they will challenge the D-Backs for the division championship.

3.

Unlike the Rockies, pitching is not what the Giants are concerned about. It’s their offense. They brought in Carlos Beltran at the trade deadline last year to try and produce more runs down the final stretch of the season, but that didn’t work. They will be getting Buster Posey back to start the season, which is definitely a positive, but they just don’t have a comparable offense to either Arizona or Colorado.

4.

This could be my most underrated team in the National League. They have the reigning Cy Young winner, and the MVP runner-up. For whatever reason, the Dodgers just haven’t been able to play up to their potential the past few years. If Chad Billingsley can find a way to get back to his 2008 form, and if Aaron Harang can provide some quality innings and get 10 wins this year, we could be talking about the Dodgers possibly winning this division come late September.

5.

There are too many question marks surrounding the Padres this year. In recent years, they have been able to put together a couple strong seasons seemingly out of the blue. I don’t see that happening this year, however.