Quick Hits: All-Star Game, NBA Free Agency and More.

Some thoughts on a variety of sports topics:

  1. Last night’s Home Run Derby was incredible. I wasn’t thrilled with the rule changes at first and midway through Anthony Rizzo’s at bat, I thought four minutes wasn’t going to be enough time for the batters to find their sweet spot. But, boy was I wrong. Four minutes was more than enough time and Joc Pederson and Todd Frazier among others, put on a show. The MLB revolutionized the Home Run Derby with these rule changes and the NBA needs to find away to do the same with the Slam Dunk Contest. My first suggestion? Allow judges to give ratings below 6. 50’s should be reserved for only the most spectacular dunks and not handed out like candy.
  2. My MLB Award Picks at the halfway point:
    • AL MVP: Mike Trout, OF, Angels
    • NL MVP: Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals
    • AL Cy Young: Chris Sale, SP, White Sox
    • NL Cy Young: Max Scherzer, SP, Nationals
    • AL Rookie of the Year: Carlos Correa, SS, Astros
    • NL Rookie of the Year: Kris Bryant, 3B, Cubs
    • Updated World Series Pick: Cardinals over Blue Jays
  3. Corey Kluber should have been an All-Star. It’s utterly ridiculous to leave out, for the second straight year, one of the top pitchers in the AL. He’s third in the MLB among pitchers with a 3.7 fWAR and his 2.51 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) ranks fourth in the MLB. He’s gotten awful run support leading to a 4-10 record, but wins and losses are an awful statistic for evaluating pitchers. He should have been an All-Star, plain and simple.
  4. The Indians are going to have to make a move for a hitter if they want to remain competitive in August and September. 3 games under .500 and 10 games behind the AL Central leading Kansas City Royals, the Indians Fangraphs playoffs odds have dropped to 26.1 percent. With their starting rotation (3.46 FIP), they’re still in it, but nobody is able to put up anything consistent at the plate besides Jason Kipnis (.383 wOBA). They need another hitter and it’s not going to come from their minor league system.
  5. Francisco Lindor and Giovanni Urshela have improved the Indians defense tremendously and it’s helping the Indians pitching staff. Last season, the Indians had -75 Defensive Runs Saved, this season just -11 through the All-Star break. It’s still not great, but an improved infield defense could yield dividends to the Indians pitching in the second half.
  6. I’m not sure it makes sense for the Cleveland Cavaliers to re-sign Matthew Dellavedova. Yes it wouldn’t sit well with the fans, but to pay him $2-3 million a year plus the ensuring luxury tax, I don’t think it’s worth it. He played well for a few games in the playoffs, but he’s replaceable, -0.2 Value over Replacement last season, and the Cavs just signed Mo Williams. They probably will re-sign him but I’m just not sure it makes sense with his expected price.
  7. As for J.R. Smith, I think he returns to the Cavaliers for less than his $6 million option. It seems nobody else is willing to offer Smith a deal as of yet, and while that may change, the best place for him is back in Cleveland. While he faltered in the NBA Finals, he single-handedly brought the Cavs back in Game 4 vs. the Bulls and helped knock out the Hawks in Game 1. He’ll be great as the second or third guy off the bench for the Cavs, rather than the No. 2 or 3 option as he had to be in the NBA Finals.
  8. Johnny Manziel should start the majority of the games under center for the Cleveland Browns this season. Yes, Josh McCown is probably the better quarterback right now, but the Browns aren’t contending until they find their franchise quarterback. There’s no point of going 7-9 with Josh McCown and ending up with the No. 15 draft pick. The Browns need to find out if Johnny can be their guy, and this is the year. There’s no denying he has talent, so maybe he can figure it out. If not the Browns will have a high draft pick next year to take another possible franchise QB.
  9. I contend, and have probably been saying this for the past 2-3 years, the Cleveland Browns are a QB and WR away from contention. Unfortunately, finding a franchise quarterback is the hardest thing in football and the Browns are really bad at finding one. The defense and offensive line is there, they just need someone to run the offense.
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