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2007 NBA Draft Diary
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Posted by jaygross
Comments: 4

So we are 30 minutes away from the beginning of the ’07 NBA Draft, so that’s what I have been obsessing about all week. This is one of my favorite events of the year and have done way too many mock drafts every year since 1985. I anticipate this will be a very long post.

 

I have to warn everyone, I am totally biased as my Celtics have the #5 pick and I have no idea what they are going to do (I apologize in advance for what is about to happen). I have spent way too much time trash talking and surfing NBA rumor sites/blogs, just with the hope that something good will happen (like they fire Doc Rivers).

 

Way back in 2001, my buddy Darrin and I took the day off and went to the draft the MSG. I have never seen so many girls dressed scantily trying to meet players (it'd put most in person autograph seekers to shame). That was the year Michael Jordan proved great players aren’t always good execs with his #1 pick of Kwame Brown. About 30 minutes later, this poor guy in an Elton Brand Bulls jersey in front of us was screaming in pain when it was announced Brand was traded to the Clips for Tyson Chandler.

 

That year my Celtics had #10, #11, and #21. We needed another scorer to go with Walker and Pierce, a point guard, and center. The decent centers all went too early, so getting Joe Johnson was not terrible (too bad he got traded for Rodney Rogers a few months later). Then we went junior college scrub Kedrick Brown next – possibly the biggest reach of my lifetime. We get to #21 and we don’t have a point guard. I am sitting there screaming for Jamaal Tinsley, Tony Parker, or Gilbert Arenas…. People thought I was out of my mind, and I probably was. So of course we take Joe Forte. No question, one of the worst drafts I can remember.

 

So let’s get back to tonight’s festivities. The rumor mill all week has had big names moving – like Kobe, Garnett, Marion, etc. Now I am hearing Boston gets Ray Allen for #5, Theo Ratliff’s contract, and Sebastian Telfair’s contract. I could not possibly be more against this deal – as Allen would be such a bad fit. But on the bright side, we could have Ray Allen and Allan Ray in the same backcourt at the same time. It would priceless to see Tommy Heinsohn getting so confused and start remiding everyone how he loves Walter McCartey (even though Walter hasn't been on the team in 5+ years).

 

So it looks like Oden will be #1, Durant #2, Horford #3, and Conley #4 – all make decent sense. But #5 is where it will get interesting. Earlier in the week I campaigned for Corey Brewer, as he is NBA ready and a defensive terror. I will be happy if we keep the pick and take him, but I see the Celts having a logjam at the 2 and 3 positions (Pierce, Green, Wally, and Tony Allen). I am starting to buy into the Yi Jianlian hype and thinking he has the upside we need, and could put him next to Al Jefferson. I just hope not to get Noah, Hawes, or Jeff Green.

 

Now I am excited for this year’s announcing team – Stephen A Smith, Mark Jackson, Jay Bilas, and Mike Tirico. So much better than past years with Hubie Brown and John Thompson on the TNT telecasts. I can’t wait for Stephen A. to freak out and talk crazy trash.

 

7:30  - Portland is on the clock and Greg Oden is such a no brainer. The guy is an absolute beast, and he totally dominated Florida’s big line in the title game. He is the best college center since Tim Duncan left Wake Forest as a senior in 1997.

 

I have heard all sorts of comparisons for Oden – everyone from Moses Malone toRobert Parish to Bill Russell (not bad company). I think he is freakishly athletically dominant like Patrick Ewing was when leaving G-twon (raw, no jumper, amazing defense, strong on the boards, ran the floor). I also like the Robert Parish comparison, as he won’t be the #1 superstar but can do really work well with some other stars.

 

Now one of my favorite parts of the draft is the player interviews. It is always fun to hear them talk and see the level of literacy, to go along with the tacky suits. I remember how smooth Eddie Jones sounded in his interview when the Lakers took him. Roy Rogers Jr. really seemed to have it together, totally took me by surprise – Alabama does have some really smart guys.

 

7:41 – NOOOOOOO!!!!!!! It was just announced that the Ray Allen trade to Boston happened – Ray along with #35 for #5, Wally Sczerbiak, and Delonte West. I am denial, there’s no way Ainge can be that stupid, oh wait he did trade Brandon Roy for Telfair last year. So I guess it must be true.

 

Then Seattle picks Durant, no shock there. I question his strength and don’t see him posting up on the block, but this guy has amazing skills. With a 7’5 winspan, he’ll get more garbage points than folks think. His momma is crying as she is being interviewed, it really is sweet.

 

7:48 – Horford to Atlanta. They have taken forwards 5 straight years in the first round. But I like the pick. Much better than the Marvin and Shelden Williams reaches.

 

Darrin is now on the phone (form a restaurant in NJ), proclaiming Horford comes on stage with the white tie on white shirt – sporting the Colonel Sanders look. Truly priceless. He is taunting me about the proposed Ray Allen deal and taunting me that Ainge will add in Pierce and Jefferson for the 7 foot Jay Grossman (named Robert Swift).

 

7:51 – The Griz take Conley. I like the pick, but I have heard so many mixed reviews about him. He can take over at the end, but Darring thinks NBA guards will beat him up like a Mike Tyson did to Micth “Blood” Green.

 

The Joakim Noah – Sideshow Bob comparison has been brought up. Corey Brewer keeps looking at Noah and laughing.

 

They show the Mike Conley senior free throw dunk from back in the day. That was sick. He’ll be rolling in dough as his kid’s and Odom’s agent.

 

7:56 – I hate you Andy Katz. He just reported the Celts will do the trade mentioned earlier and they select Jeff Green for Seattle.  It could not have more of a letdown for me. Ray Allen is about 300 years old (actually 32) and will never stay healthy. Couldn’t we have gotten Rashard Lewis in a sign and trade if we wanted to trade with Seattle. I think I just vomited in my mouth. At least they moved Wally’s $24 million remaining, and still have Theo Ratliff left with a very valuable expiring contract left to trade – but Ainge still sucks.

 

Jeff Green is a reach at #5, and Green and Durant are both small forwards. So I don’t understand the thought process, but trading an over-the-hill ballhog superchucker like Ray Allen just made them a lot better. Delonte West is also a nice complimentary player behind Luke Ridnour. Can’t wait to see Suns-Sonics run until you drop games next year.

 

That second round pick for my team better be good. Please let every GM lose their minds and let someone good drop to #32. OK, now I am completely delusional.

 

8:03 – So Milwaukee is on the clock, they want Yi, and he doesn’t want to go there. So what happens, they take Yi. Lots of boos in the crowd, and the guy is not smiling.

 

Fran Friscilla talks up Yi and likes the pick, but thinks Yi is the 3rd most skilled player in this draft. His biggest adjustment will be strength in the NBA, and Del Harris (Bucks exec Larry Harris’s father) coached him on Chinese national team and loved him.

 

Yi, Bogut, and Villenueva could be a nice frontline for a long time – all big, young, and pretty skilled.We'll see if he actually ever wears a Bucks uniform.

 

8:08 – The Minnesota “Garnetts for now” are on the clock. Kevin McHale was such a great player and sucks as a GM, so there’s no telling where this could go.

 

8:11 – Great pick in taking Corey Brewer. Wow does his momma look scary with the blond weave. The camera pans around the green room, but no one looks as scary as Noah – as he doesn’t look too happy. Looks like 3 Florida guys could go in the top 10.

 

Dick Vitale adds in how Seattle totally fleeced Boston and how well Seattle has done in this draft, thanks Dick. I can always count on you to kill me. It is taking all my strength not to launch my laptop through my TV.

 

8:15 – Really stupid NBA Live 2008 commercial with Gilbert Arenas and Kevin Durant.

 

So it’s time for Michael Jordan to butcher another pick, rumor is he wants to move this pick for a veteran. They had 26 wins, and he thinks they will make the playoffs.

 

So Jordan takes UNC’s Brandan Wright, a project with some big time talent. I don’t hate the pick for #8, but I thought they would have taken someone more NBA ready. He is 6’10 and 200 pounds, so I think this guy better visit Vince McMahon for a little while to bulk up.

 

8:20 – Chicago is on the clock (thank you Isiah for the Eddy Curry trade, swapping first rounders 2 straight years that brought Tyrus Thomas last year). They need a big guy and they need another scorer, and Spencer Hawes is a stiff and is the only legit center with any offense out there.

 

So they take Sideshow Joakim, and he can barely get the Bulls hat over the hair. Ew…. I just realized the cheeseball bow-tie he has on – don’t these kids have agents that advise them how to dress for these things.

 

Now I like him as a player and he can outrun most forwards, but they just drafted a freak raw athlete in Thomas last year. Isn’t this the same kind of player – to go with another $60 million for defense/rebound specialist in Ben Wallace. John Paxson is a smart man, smarter than his brother Jim (who let Carlos Boozer out of his contract), so maybe it will work out.

 

8:32 – The Maloofs take the obligatory big white guy in Spencer Hawes. Is this going to be the next Todd Fuller? He’s 7’0, but doesn’t rebound or block any shots as he is not athletic at all. Brad Miller will be a good mentor for him, another slow ass white boy.

 

8:35 – So Paxson comes on and is looking pretty slick with about a gallon of gel in his hair. He needs to lend some to Noah. PJ Brown and Noccioni may not be able to be resigned, so the Bulls need size. They really like his energy and that he is a winner. Paxson is obviously smarter than I am.

 

Stephen A. Smith hates the pick, as they didn’t need him as they had plenty of high energy guys on the roster. Bilas likes the pick.

 

8:38 – Hawks have needed a point guard ever since they traded Jason Terry to Dallas, and every year they pass on one (including Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and Conley earlier tonight). Now they take A.C. Law, which has been slotted for this spot for over a month. He’s not a great point, he’s not a great shooter (44% from the field), but this guy comes up big at the end of games. Mark Jackson loves the pick, as he says “they will no longer have a midget running the team” – sorry Tyron Lue. Stu Scott calls him Acie Earl (1993 Celts 1st round pick), and I am having depressing mid 90’s flashbacks – especially since I saw a success on this site from him today.

 

They show the new Hawks jerseys, they look worse than teal Nets ones from the early 90’s. Bring back the tacky red and yellow Dominique Wilkins - Spud Webb version.

 

8:43 – Sixers on the clock with #12, #21, #30. They supposedly tried to trade up to take Yi at #6 with Milwaukee. They finished 17-9 to win 30 games, way more they should have. Now this is Billy King’s first pick without Iverson and they need big guys. Right now they Joe Smith slotted as power forward as he is a free agent.

 

They take Ga. Tech Thaddeus Young. This is a good athlete who can shoot, but not a good rebounder or defender at 6’7. I’d have taken Al Thornton from FSU.

 

8:50 - I call Darrin back, as I am still depressed how stupid Danny Ainge is. I then go on to tell him I understand now what it feels like to be an Orioles fan feels like – since he is an Os fan and they suck.

 

New Orleans wasted early picks on Cedric Simmons and Hilton Armstrong last year, so they go Julian Wright at #13. They need to replace Desmond Mason, and Julian Wright is solid another than his complete lac of an outside shot.

 

Vitale thinks there will be 10 rookies averaging double figures this year (there were 5 last year), I think Dick is losing his mind from too many frat parties.

 

Wright is a good bowler. His bowling skills are far better than his elocution, MushMouth from Fat Albert would be proud. Just wait until this guy hits Mardi Gras, he’ll be totally unintelligible.

 

8:58 – Clips on the clock, they need bigs and Shawn Livingston’s horrific injury leaves a hole. They take Thornton, and I really like the pick to finish up the lottery. They took the best available talent and he will be to make plays – high motor and explosive. He’s 24 years old, so he should be ready to play now.

 

Rodney Stuckey and Nick Young look depressed as the lottery is over and they are in the green room.

 

9:05Detroit is up from the Darko trade. They take Rodney Stuckey from Eastern Washington (big time scorer who couldn’t get grades to go to a D1 school). Bilas calls him a poor man’s D-Wade, but needs to improve his man defense.

 

Stu Scott asks him who is Rodney Stuckey because no one knows him - I have to give this guy credit, he says he didn’t qualify out of high school and has done the best he can. This guy could have Julian Wright’d the response, but he was well spoken and I will now be a Stuckey fan.

 

9:10 – Nobody beats the Wiz (except Lebron did in the playoffs). They take USC guard Nick Young, who chose to leave town before OJ Mayo comes in. All scoring, no defense – perfect pick for the Wizards.  The bigs that are left must be awful, as no one needs size as bad as they do. Another year of that stellar Brendan Haywood - Etan Thomas combo.

 

9:14 – Rick Bucher comes on – Knicks are trading Channing Frye and Steve Francis to Portland for Zach Randolph, Dan Dickau, and Fred Jones. Spike Lee is going to break a bone in his hand he is clapping so hard. Knicks forward David Lee has the stupidest grin I have seen on anyone's  face I have seen since the one Ben Affleck had when he realized he could get with Jennifer Garner as his rebound after J-Lo. Stephen A. Smith says hallejuh, Randolph is 23 and 10 and got rid of Francis’s contract. I hate to say it, but this is Isiah’s best move. Not sure if the block is big enough for Curry and Randolph, but I like the move.

 

The Nets take Sean Williams from BC. He got kicked out of school and was arrested for being a pothead multiple times. He went to work with John Lucas, and it looks like they trust it is not a problem. Bilas describes him as high risk and high reward – as he is 6’10 and a sick shot blocker and big time rebounder. Looks somewhat similar to Josh Boone to me, but more athletic. This kid supposedly got 1210 SATs and is bright, so we’ll see. I’m rooting for them, as they coming to Brooklyn soon and I’ll be going to games (it’ll be a 15 minute walk from my place).

 

9:22 – Warriors take Marco Belinelli from Italy, as he is randomly in the crowd (similar to how Dalembert was in 2001). He is 21 years old, but has been a pro for 5 years and dropped 25 on the US in the World Championships in 2006. Fraschilla thinks he is a combo of Vinny Del Negro and Brent Barry – big scoring guard perfect for Nellie’s system.

 

9:30 Lakers take Crittendon – can’t believe we are at 2 hours into this draft. I think I am taking a break from this blog post for a while. Going to take a cold shower and hope I wake up and that the Ray Allen thing didn’t happen. Up until Boston is up at #32 and #35, I’ll be checking in and out.

 

9:52 – Knicks are up and take Wilson Chandler, as he is in the crowd and the crowd boos mercilessly. Not as bad as the Renaldo Balkman pick last year, but I feel for him. I wish I could dog Isiah, but I actually like this pick and the trade he made earlier. He is a good athlete, not an egomaniac Marbury-Crawford-Francis type ballhog, and not a loose cannon like Nate Robinson.

 

9:58 – Paul Allen pays off Phoenix for #24 and Portland snags 21 year old Rudy Fernandez from Spain. He’s a year away (big buyout), but he’s supposed to be really athletic and polished for his age. Must be nice ride Bill’s coat tails and buy some sports teams (I only I could be so lucky and smart, but not likely).

 

10:14 – Bucher comes on and says Seattle wants Rashard Lewis back now that the Celts were stupid enough to take Allen. Sam Presti (Sonics 30 year old GM), wants to play Jeff Green, Kevin Durant, and Lewis all at once. Now they just need to get a coach, Dwayne Casey here we go.

 

10:27 – Boy am I jealous of Spurs fans. It must be such a nice feeling to know your team is well run as well as well coached. Haven’t know that feeling since the 80’s when Red was at the Celtics’s helm.

 

With Oberto a free agent, I love the pick of Tiago Splitter. He’s 22 and has been a projected lottery pick in 2005 and 2006 before he pulled his name out. This guy is a seasoned 7 footer playing in Spain for years. He will start immediately when we walks into the NBA for the 2008-2009 (has to stay overseas this year) and be better than half the centers in the NBA. I was hoping and praying Splitter would fall to Boston, either at #32 or the would trade up.

 

10:39 – The first round is over and it looks like the Blazers, Sonics, and Knicks look like are the winners.

 

458 players in the NBA, 20% of the NBA are 2nd round picks and 23% are undrafted. Lots of foreign guys seem to go in round 2 and then become contributors. There are guys still on the board still pretty good ( * denotes underclassmen declared early):

 

Derrick Byars - Vandy *
Tarean Green – Florida *

Nick Fazekas – Nevada

Josh McRoberts – Duke *

Glen Davis – LSU *

Ramon Sessions – Nevada *

Marcus Williams – Arizona *

Marc Gasol – Spain (Pau’s 7’1 brother)
Aaron Gray - Pittsburgh

 

10:45 – Adam Silver takes over announcing picks in the second round (Russ Granik’s former spot), and this guy is a skinny bald mess. I hate to bag on him, but Granik was the man. BRING BACK RUSS.

 

Bucher on again – Jason Richardson for Brandan Wright. Stephen A. Smith goes crazy saying “Jordan can’t do this trade and it is stupid”. Mark Jackson echoes this sentiment, in a calmer tone. Mark is great.

 

Darrin has called back and is totally convinced Ainge would go McRoberts and is taunting now worse than Yankee fans after the Boone homer.

 

Gabe Pruitt from USC goes to my Celts at #32. This is another chucker and I just don’t get it. Danny is really trying to get me to commit Harry Cary tonight. I think I may have to re-enact Celtic Pride, but kidnap Danny instead of an opposing player – so he can’t screw up my team any worse.


And once again the Spurs get it, Marcus Williams from Arizona at #33. A lot of skill and has time to develop to fit into their system (and possibly learn to play a little defense).

 

Dallas takes Nick Fazekas at #34, what a tremendous value. This guy is a matchup nightmare and is the best 6’11 shooter in the NBA. He can play the role that KeithVan Horn played 2 years ago, outside shooting big man. I think Phoenix should have taken him at #29 (instead of Alando Tucker - a power forward in a shooting guard's body with outside shot).

 

And to end my night, my boys get Glen “Big Baby” Davis with #35. I was hoping for Gasol, but at least we didn’t take McRoberts (the quintessential tall white stiff in the mold of our 1990 first rounder Michael Smith from BYU). Jay Bilas compares Davis to Oprah, as he can’t keep the weight off – he’s 6’9 (maybe) and down to 289. As I now officially depressed and it 11pm, I think I am giving up.

 

11:03 - Bucher on again - Paul Allen strikes again and buys the #30 pick Koponen from Finland. Then his Blazers take McRoberts at #37 about 30 seconds later. I have to give them credit, Portland's facelift is amazing.

 

Now I have a tough decision, finish watching this draft or Justice League Unlimited on the Boomerang channel. Cartoon superheroes or second round longshots, what a tough call. Wish I sprung for picture in picture, will have to show off my super powers of using the remote control to switch back and forth.

 

Philly drafts a 7'1 Russian kid Fesenko who looks athletic and dunks like crazy - and boy do they need a big guy. Then Miami took a 7'2 unathletic outside shooter Barac - this pick went to Indiana.

 

Minnesota takes Chris Richard from Flordia at #41. He's solid and won titles, but was a backup in college as a senior, can't believe he got drafted. Hopefully he can follow the Ed Horton or Jevon Crudup thug role.

 

11:18 - Adam Silver comes out and announces a trade - Jarmareo Davidson (#36 pick shotblocker from Bama) and Jason Richardson go to the Bobcats and Brandan Wright goes to Warriors. I really like this trade for Wright, his athleticism and length makes him dangerous in that system. Richardson has 4 years and $48 million left on his deal, MJ must lost a bet and got forced into making this deal.

 

11:30 - Jared Jordan (his father is named Michael, but not the same Bobcats GM) goes to the Clips at #45. 6'1, slow white boy from Marist who led the NCAA in assists 2 straight years. He savvy, but way too slow for the NBA. With Livingston's status uncertan, I say "why not" take a gamble on him.

 

11:35 - Lakers take Marc Gasol and I really like the move. Big body, legit 7'1, good feet, and can rebound. Wish my Celtics took him.

 

And then the Bulls take Aaron Gray #49, which is even a better pick that perfectly fits thier needs. He's not the fastest and can't jump, but he is tough big body and fundamentally sound. Very good compliment to their other bigs.

 

11:58 - I can't believe I am still watching, I am just a glutton for punishment. The place has completely cleared out as the Spurs take a 6'9 Greek kid #58 who hung around in the crowd. I think he is dressed better than the Florida first rounders. But I really have to question - If you get drafted this late, what is the point to coming up the stage? Then again, I tried to go up there and most certainly didn't get drafted.

 

Phoenix picks DJ Strawberry (just too tired to make the obligatory jokes by this point) and Dallas picks a Serbian bruiser center to finish it off. 

 

Doc Rivers is on now. The first we have heard from Celtics camp, guess Ainge isn't available beacuse he must be signing up for witness protection. Doc thinks Ray Allen and Pierce will fit well together (not sure how, as these two guys who shoot too much and demand the ball). He says he has 3 terrific guys with them and Al Jefferson. He wanted a vet and needed scoring when Pierce is out. This guy thinks this a playoff team. I wish I had some of that Kool Aid he handed out right before he convinced the management to extend his contract.

 

Mark Jackson says Sonics are winners and Celtics are losers.

Stephen A. Smith says Knicks are winners and Charlotte are losers.

Jay Bilas says Portland are winners.

 

Side note, Congrats to Frank Thomas for the 500th homer and to Craig Biggio for his 3000th hit. Both of these milestones deserve their own blog posts, but it's past midnight and I am spent.

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Update on June 29, 2007 6:55 AM:

 

So I am listening to Chad Ford on "Mike and Mike" on ESPN about the draft. He loved the Spurs and Blazers drafts. He put the Celtics and Knicks trades in perspective that I thought was worth sharing:

 

The Knicks getting Randolph is just like when Isiah got Steve Francis. Randolph and Curry can't be on the floor together, they are just too similar and both demand the ball too much. Randolph's contract is absolutely crushing and will stop them from being a player in free agency until 2011 - so no cash left for Kobe, Lebron, D-Wade, Garnett, etc. 

 

Isiah once again proves his worth as the GM with the worst understanding of the finances of the NBA (as he bankrupted the CBA). Dolan should finally fire Isiah, as the Pacers went to the Finals (after a first round exit) as soon as Isiah was fired and Larry Bird took over.

 

Chad goes on to say the problem with stockpiling young talent in the NBA (like Danny Ainge has done), the young guys never learn how to win. So the idea is that the Celts will win a little bit more with Ray Allen to go with the current group (even though they clearly aren't really competing in the East, and the East stinks), and it will be great learning experience as they move toward a squad focusing on Al Jefferson, Rajon Rondo, and Gerald Green.

 

I don't buy it, but that's why I am a fantasy GM and will never run a pro basketball organization. Allen is 32 and in season 12, and every shooting guard other than Reggie Miller drops off significantly at that time. It does, however, make me feel less depressed that he could rationalize such a universally despised move. Ford also thought Glen Davis has a chance to be a good sleeper pick if he can find a good dietician.



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RIP Rod Beck
Monday, June 25, 2007
Posted by jaygross
Comments: 0

Rod Beck  1968-2007

Yesterday's new about Rod Beck being found dead in his AZ home was awful news. Ever since I first saw the "Shooter" (with his shaggy stache,  his David Wells like physique, and the super mullet) pitching for the Giants, I loved watching him pitch. Few guys were as animated on the mound and loved winning as much. He and Roberto Hernandez together in 1997 was a nasty combination.

I was really psyched when he came to my Red Sox for the playoff push in 1999 for Jimy Williams. That team had so many characters in the pen, it was so much fun to watch. Derek Lowe, Tim Wakefield, and Tom Gordon all had 10 or more saves, to go with El Guapo's (Rich Garces) big season (5-1 1.55 ERA). Rod fit in perfectly in the mix and pitched well down the stretch. The Sox beat Cleveland in the playoffs (Pedro was unhittable and had his best season), but lost to the evil empire.

Beck had 2 more solid seasons with Boston even though we didn't make the playoffs in either one. I was psyched when he got a called up by the Padres in 2003  (after ESPN did the story about him entertaining fans at his trailer after minor league games) and looked so great with 20 saves filling in for Trevor Hoffman.

Rod was a really good signer and always a fan favorite. I was lucky enough to get an autograph from him during his Giants days.

All the best to his wife, children, remaining family, and friends.



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Would you take Willie Mays or Sandy Koufax?
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Posted by jaygross
Comments: 8

There's a classic baseball argument of who is more important, the hitter or the pitcher. I have heard this one debated on sports talk radio over and over, and still no one has made a really convincing argument (where are you Bill James when I need you).

Tonight I am watching ESPN's telecast to the Braves vs. the Tigers, when an interesting conversation ensues between comentators Joe Morgan, Jon Miller, and Braves GM John Schuerholz. In 1993 offseason, the Braves had the option to go after Greg Maddux or Barry Bonds - but did not have the money to go after both. Before I weigh in on who I would have went for, let's provide some background:

The Braves had gotten to and lost 1991 and 1992 World Series, so they were looking for someone to put them over the top. Their strength was their rotation with Smoltz, Glavine, and Avery at that time. Their lineup had Pendelton, Justice, Otis Nixon, and Ron Gant.

Maddux was 27 at the time and had just won his first Cy Young Award with the Cubs.

1988 -- 18-8,  249 innings, 3.18 ERA
1989 -- 19-12, 238.3 innings, 2.95 ERA
1990 -- 15-15, 237 innings, 3.46 ERA
1991 -- 15-11, 263 innings, 3.35 ERA
1992 --  20-11, 268 innings, 2.18 ERA, Cy Young Award

Bonds was 29 at the time and just won his 2nd MVP with the Pirates

1987 -- 551 ABs, 99 Runs, 25 HR, 59 RBI, 32 SB, .261 
1988 -- 538 ABs, 97 Runs, 24 HR, 58 RBI, 17 SB, .283
1989 -- 580 ABs, 96 Runs, 19 HR, 58 RBI, 32 SB, .248
1990 -- 519 ABs,104 Runs, 33 HR, 114 RBI, 52 SB, .301, MVP
1991 -- 510 ABs, 95 Runs, 25 HR,  116 RBI, 43 SB,.292, MVP Runner Up
1992 -- 473 ABs, 109 Runs, 34 HR, 103 RBI, 39 SB, .311, MVP

So both guys were entering their prime years (as Maddux won the Cy Young the next 3 years and Bonds won 5 more MVPs). Miller (one of my favorite announcers) went on to ask Schuerholz his mindset behind the decision to go get Maddux. Schuerholz said he had great respect for both guys, and had almost trade for Bonds in 1992 in a deal centered around Alejandro Pena, that got nixed by Jim Leyland.

Joe Morgan weighed in that he would have went for Bonds, as a hitter can play roughly 5 times as many games as a starter. I would expect Morgan to say this, being a hitter from a great lineup that won 2 rings with solid but not great pitching.

I'd say I would go with the pitcher over the hitter, if he is truly dominant (like Koufax, Randy Johnson, Pedro, Maddux, Clemens in their primes) and the team has a good chance to be in the playoffs. Pitching wins in the playoffs, and the Braves went from 94 in 1992 to 104 wins in 1993, and the won the World Series in 1994. Maddux just kept getting better and his ERA just kept dropping lower as he thrived under Leo Mazzone, and the Braves owned the NL East for another 10 years or so.

Since this is a team game, you have to look at the specific team we are talking about. If your team is a cellar dweller, then I can see going with the hitter. Most poor teams traditionally have weak pitching, and one stud starter probably won't be enough to make up for a deficient staff. Put Johan Santana on the '06 Royals, and they could win an extra 10 games. Put Albert Pujols or David Ortiz on the same team, and you have a chance for more.

So finally to the title of this post... I never saw either player in action, but I have heard people talk about them enough to make my ears bleed. Instead of going by the inidivdual stats, I'm looking at World Series performances as baseball is a team game.

Willie Mays teams in the World Series: (1-2)
1954 Giants - won
1962 Giants - lost
1973 Mets - lost

Sandy Koufax teams in the World Series: (4-1)
1955 Dodgers - won
1959 Dodgers - won
1963 Dodgers - won
1965 Dodgers - won
1966 Dodgers - lost

Koufax was as dominant as anyone during his 7 year run, and the Dodgers won 3 rings in that span on his arm (along with help from Drysdale, Podres, and Osteen). Just the fact that you have a really good feeling every forth game that you'd win, makes him more valuable than even the best hitter in my eyes.

I was lucky enough to feel this way when Pedro and Clemens took the mound for my team during their best seasons, having such a strong feeling they'd win. As good as David Ortiz, Albert Pujols, Bonds, or ARod can be, I never got that same warm and fuzzy feeling as they can be pitched around (although Bonds was pretty amazing in 2001-02). In a short playoff series, recent dominant performances from guys like Schilling and Beckett have been able to compensate when their lineups are overmatched by much better Yankee teams.

Please note that I did not use Babe Ruth as an entry for this conversation, as he was both a pitcher and hitter at a Hall of Fame level and won multiple championships as both. And when the conversation goes toward who is the greatest baseball player ever (which I am sure will be visited in a future blog), he is my vote.



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