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2010 Year-End Sports Review: What We Already Knew

Let’s be honest: Sports bloggers know everything. Just ask us. As part of our 2010 Year-End Sports Review, our list of things we already knew this year includes Brad Childress’ biggest fail, Wade Phillips’ demise in Dallas and John Calipari’s troubles. We also knew Kevin Durant was the next great superstar (who didn’t see that coming?), Roger Clemens is the ultimate windbag and that “Matty Ice” knows fourth-quarter comebacks. We should have gone to medical school…

Contributors: Anthony Stalter, John Paulsen, Paul Costanzo, Drew Ellis and Mike Farley

LeBron is a frontrunner.

We all were a little surprised that LeBron left Cleveland, but the writing was on the wall. Growing up, LeBron didn’t root for the local teams. He followed the Yankees, Bulls and Cowboys, which in the 1990s constituted the Holy Triumvirate of Frontrunning. He wore his Yankee cap to an Indians game and was seen hobnobbing on the Cowboy sidelines during a Browns game. He says he’s loyal, but he’s only loyal to winners…unless they only win in the regular season, of course.

July 08, 2010 - Greenwich, CONNECTICUT, United States - epa02241974 Handout photo from ESPN showing LaBron James (L), NBA's reigning two-time MVP, as he ends months of speculation and announces 08 July 2010 on ESPN 'The Decision' in Greenwich, Connecticut, USA, that he will go to the Miami Heat where he will play basketball next 2010-11 season. James said his decision was based on the fact that he wanted to play with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Brad Childress’ biggest flaw cost him his job in the end.

There were many reasons why the Vikings decided to fire head coach Brad Childress roughly a year after they signed him to a contract extension. One of the reasons was because he lost with a talented roster. Another was because he never quite figured out how to best utilize Adrian Peterson, which is a sin given how talented AP is. But the main reason “Chilly” was ousted in Minnesota was because he didn’t know how to manage NFL-caliber personalities. He didn’t know how to handle Brett Favre, which led to blowups on the sidelines and multiple face-to-face confrontations. He also didn’t have a clue how to deal with Randy Moss’ crass attitude, so he released him just four weeks after the team acquired him in a trade from New England. Childress was hired in part to help clean up the mess in Minnesota after the whole “Love Boat” scandal. But the problem with a disciplinarian that hasn’t first earned respect is that his demands fall on deaf ears. In the end, Childress’ inability to command respect from his players cost him his job. You know, on top of the fact that he was losing with a talented roster, he didn’t know how to best utilize Adrian Peterson, he…

Love him or hate him, George Steinbrenner will forever be one of baseball’s icons.

You may have hated his brash attitude, the way he ran his team or the way he conducted his business. You may even feel that he ruined baseball. But regardless of how you may have felt about him, there’s little denying that George Steinbrenner will forever be one of Major League Baseball’s icons. Steinbrenner passed away in July of this year. He will forever be a man known for helping revolutionize the business side of baseball by being the first owner to sell TV cable rights to the MSG Network. When things eventually went south with MSG, he created the YES Network, which is currently the Yankees’ very own TV station that generates millions in revenue. During his tenure, he took the Yankees from a $10 million franchise to a $1.2 billion juggernaut. In 2005, the Yankees became the first professional sports franchise to be worth an estimated one billion dollars. While many baseball fans came to despise the way he ran his team (mainly because he purchased high priced free agents with reckless abandon due to the fact that he could and others couldn’t), don’t miss the message he often made year in and year out: The Yankees are here to win. He didn’t line his pockets with extra revenue (albeit he generated a lot of extra revenue for his club) – he dumped his money back into the on-field product. Losing wasn’t acceptable and if the Bombers came up short one year, you could bet that Steinbrenner would go after the best talent in the offseason, regardless of what others thought of the approach. How many Pirates and Royals fans wish they had an owner with the same appetite for victory?

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Deal in place to send Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox

Aug. 03, 2010 - Los Angeles, California, United States of America - 3 August 2010: San Diego Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Red Sox and Padres have a greed to a deal that will send first baseman Adrian Goznalez to Boston in exchange for several top prospects.

The team flew in Gonzalez, who had surgery Oct. 20 on his right, non-throwing shoulder to clean up the labrum, for a physical examination Saturday. While there was no official word on the physical, a team source told ESPNBoston.com’s Joe McDonald that Gonzalez “looked good.”

The Red Sox continued Saturday night to work on a long-term contract with him, a source, who indicated that the negotiation window will close at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, told ESPNBoston.com’s Gordon Edes.

In exchange, the Padres would receive three prospects in pitcher Casey Kelly, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and outfielder Reymond Fuentes, according to a baseball source. The Padres also would receive a player to be named later, a source told Edes.

This deal works for all parties involved. The Padres couldn’t/wouldn’t pony up to pay Gonzalez, so they needed to get something for him before he hit the open market in 2012. The Red Sox desperately needed to add another middle-of-the-order bat and Gonzo fits the bill. He should love that short porch in right field at Fenway, although this guy can hit it out to all sides of the field. (He should love hitting in that wind tunnel that the Yankees call a ballpark, too.)

The only thing that’s unfortunate is that the Padres’ offense was about as explosive as wet tuna last year and now they just traded away their best hitter. This is a club that relied heavily on pitching last year and they’ll have to do it again this season because their lineup is the definition of weak.

Of course, maybe management knew that their success last year was more fluke than anything and decided that it was now or never when it came to trading Gonzalez. They didn’t want to hang onto him just to finish fifth next year (I’m not saying they would have – I’m just delving into the thought process of San Diego’s brass) and lose out on the chance to acquire Rizzo, Kelly and Fuentes. So they made the trade and will now deal with the fan outcry.

Report: Mariners’ nixed three-way deal involving Hernandez and Gonzo

According to a report by the Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker, the Mariners declined an offer from the Red Sox that would have sent starter Felix Hernandez to Boston in exchange for five prospects.

After the Mariners squashed that deal, the Red Sox got the Padres involved and the three clubs discussed a trade that would have sent slugger Adrian Gonzalez to Seattle, King Felix to Boston and Brandon Marrow, Phillippe Aumont and Carlos Triunfel to San Diego. But in the end, the Mariners backed out of that trade proposal as well.

…The Mariners apparently nixed it, feeling it would not benefit them in the long-term. Boston then turned around and dealt Masterson and Hagadone to the Indians for catcher Victor Martinez.

From what I’m hearing, the Mariners didn’t think any of the packages they were being offered would go down much in substance over the next 12 months, when they’d only have another year-plus of Hernandez under control. Why give up the extra year, their reasoning went, if they could still get a similar offer at the 2010 deadline?

Getting Gonzo would have been outstanding for an offensively challenged club like the Mariners, but in the end I think Seattle would have given up too much.

Losing Hernandez (a top 5 pitcher) would have been crippling enough, but throwing in Aumont (a pitcher with front-of-the rotation stuff) and Triunfel (a top 50 infield prospect) in addition would have definitely taken a big chunk out of the M’s future. (One could debate whether or not trading Morrow would be a significant loss in the end.)

While adding Gonzo to their lineup would have been excellent, I think Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik made the right decision in passing on this deal.

Red Sox, Padres discussing deal for Gonzalez

According to a report by the Boston Globe, the Red Sox and Padres are in discussions about a deal that would send slugger Adrian Gonzalez to Beantown.

Padres GM Kevin Towers was said to be asking for “a ton” for Gonzalez according to one major league source familiar with the Padres’ thinking. Some of the names being discussed included Clay Buchholz, Lars Anderson, Jed Lowrie, Ryan Westmoreland, Justin Masterson and others, but no word on whether the Red Sox had offered a package for Gonzalez.

Less was known about the status of talks between Cleveland and Boston for Victor Martinez. The teams have been discussing Martinez for quite some time, but the Red Sox have been reluctant to deliver Buchholz for the catcher/first baseman.

Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi remained pessimistic about trading Roy Halladay, but as one team’s top advisor said last night, “where there’s a huge pitcher available some teams don’t show their best hand until the final moments of the deadline. You might see that with Boston at the end.”

I don’t know how Boston fans feel, but as an outsider, it seems like the Red Sox are lacking something offensively. They’re going to be in contention for either the AL East crown or the AL Wild Card no matter what. But adding a slugger like Gonzo would certainly add more pop to their lineup and give them some extra firepower against the Yankees and Rays in the division.

But is he worth the price? After a hot start, he’s only hitting .252 with 28 home runs. This is after racing out to 15 home runs and a .311 average in mid May. One would think that his numbers would rise in Boston’s lineup, but his average is death right now.

Will the Padres trade Adrian Gonzalez?

In a recent video blog for ESPN.com, Buster Olney broached the topic of whether or not the Padres will trade young star Adrian Gonzalez and said that if they do, it’ll be during the winter.

Olney says that the Padres have already alienated their fans by letting closer Trevor Hoffman leave via free agency and by trying to deal ace Jake Peavy, so they don’t want to disrupt their loyal followers even more by dangling Gonzo on the trade market. Olney also noted that the Red Sox would be interested in Gonzo if he were available now, although he also stated that the Pads would get more in exchange for the slugger if they wanted until the offseason.

Even the thought of trading away a young bat like Gonzalez would be enough to send most Padre fans to their nearest psych ward. He’s their only slugger in a weak offense and he’s locked up until 2012. Why would San Diego deal a young productive player like Gonzo when they’re trying to rebuild in the midst of an ownership change?

The answer is that if the Padres were able to unload Peavy and Gonzo, they wouldn’t only save money, but they could also completely retool their farm system. Both players are in their prime, they’ve been incredibly productive so far this season and their trade stock has never been hire. Could you imagine the haul San Diego could bring in if they dealt both of those players? Along with picking No. 3 in this year’s MLB draft, the Pads could build a core in their farm system and compete for years to come, rather than struggle in a weak NL West for the next couple of years with Peavy and Gonzo on the roster.

It’ll be interesting to see what the Padres do around the trade deadline when contending clubs are desperate. Maybe Onley is right and they won’t make a move until this offseason, but if the right trade comes along in the next couple months, it might be hard for SD to sit on their hands.

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