Angels “not expected to be players on” righty Kyle Lohse

Angels “not expected to be players on” righty Kyle Lohse

The Angels have been mentioned at different times this winter as a potential landing spot for free agent right-hander Kyle Lohse. But it doesn’t sound like they are even going to make an offer to him. According to MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez, the Halos are “not expected to be players on Lohse” no matter how low…

A cautionary tale about Andrew Bynum (and possibly Hassan Whiteside)

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A cautionary tale about Andrew Bynum (and possibly Hassan Whiteside)

Andrew Bynum had is fully guaranteed multimillions. He’d made an All-Star Game and soon after he checked -- maybe cashed is the better word -- out. Now, he’s making headlines for looking like Wesley Snipes in Demolition Man and makes me wonder about this offseason with so much cash flooding the market who’ll be the next Bynum.

Bynum, 28, is a cautionary tale for NBA teams especially when it comes to doling out max money to free agents with character questions.

Hassan Whiteside, 26, immediately comes to mind. He will command it from somehwere, but given his personality and tendency to care more about himself than the team (currently Miami Heat) he comes with risk. When a player with character questions with no job security is hungry, literally, he can suppress those flaws that made them a former NBA player. But what happens when Whiteside goes from earning $981,000 in the final year of a two-year deal vs. $93 million-plus over four years which is his max salary calcuations?

Whiteside was drafted by the Sacramento Kings in 2010 and after two uneventful seasons played in Lebanon and China. He even had an altercation with DeMarcus Cousins in practice and went to the D-League. He had a remarkable 2015-16, averaging17.6 points, 14.7 rebounds and 4.6 blocks With him injured, the Heat fell to the Toronto Raptors in seven games of the East semifinals.

What's the Bynum parallel? Bynum had great numbers too and actually won something. He spent his first seven seasons with the L.A. Lakers and averaged 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds in 2011-12. He won two NBA championships. In that final year in L.A., he finally made the All-Star Game.

Rather than being grateful for being at the event, he was bitter. He repeatedly responded, “I don’t care" and "I really don't want to be here." His posture was worse. He refused to put on a good face at the fan showcase considering the league made him a millionaire out of high school. 

While most players appreciate the gesture from fans who vote for the starters or the league’s coaches who vote in reserves, the 7-footer truly was aloof. That was the same season that Bynum was benched by then-coach Mike Brown for shooting an ill-advised three-pointer in a game and then he defiantly told media afterwards if he felt like doing it again he would.

This was the same Bynum who delivered a vicious cheap shot to under-6-foot guard J.J. Barea as the Dallas Mavericks swept them out of the second round of the 2011 playoffs. It was a forearm under the outstretched arm of Barea as he drove to the basket from a 285-pound man. Bynum was angry as his Lakers trailed by 30 in the fourth of a close-out game. Then he took off his jersey as he headed for the exit after the ejection and walked into the tunnel bare-chested with Metta World Peace (the voice of reason, apparently) escorting him.

Bynum, who made $1.8 million as a rookie made $15 million that final year in L.A., was shipped in a four-team trade to the Philadelphia 76ers who picked up his $17 million 2013-14 season though Bynum never played for them. Why? Despite already dealing with knee issues, he made them worse by bowling. He hadn't been heard from since.

Maybe Whiteside doesn't fall into this cycle (and he doesn't have Bynum's knees). He's too good to let walk on by, especially if you're the bottom-dwelling Lakers of today or the Houston Rockets who'll part ways with Dwight Howard. But a team must have the right culture for him to propser which is why the Rockets probably wouldn't be the best fit.

Heat President Pat Riley has no choice but to attempt to keep Whiteside in the fold. If there were better free agents out there available at the position instead of the 30-and-over likes of Chris Kaman, Al Jefferson, Joakim Noah, Zaza Pachulia, Ian Mahinmi he might be more inclined to let him walk. Like with the oft-injured Bradley Beal getting a max offer from the Wizards, supply vs. demand creates the backdrop for all of this. The scarcity of assets causes value soar.

Teams take risks on younger players with questionable attitudes and even health. They play the "what if" game and hope year-by-year progression bears fruit. Maybe Whiteside has reformed, but for most of his career he has been a malcontent. What happens when he no longer has to toe the line to stay in the NBA? What happens when he knows no matter what he does or says, $93 million will eventually show up in his bank account? 

If he continues to get better, Whiteside will then be a bargain. Or, like the Indiana Pacers found out after they gave Roy Hibbert a $60 million deal (when the cap was $58 million), that team will have buyer's remorse. Perhaps Whiteside won't be the player who fails to hold up his end of the bargain, but it'll be someone in this free-agent class. Just give it a year or two.

 

 

Hunter faces Orioles for first time since July trade

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Hunter faces Orioles for first time since July trade

CLEVELAND—There was a most unusual sight for Orioles fans on Saturday. Tommy Hunter was trotting in to pitch, and he was pitching against the Orioles for the first time since he was traded to the Chicago Cubs last July. 

Hunter, who signed with Cleveland in February, allowed two runs in the seventh inning against his old team. 

“It’s terrible. You want to strike everybody out…I talked to a couple of them after the game. It was like, man just take three groundballs and let me be on my way, so and then hanging a pitch to [Adam Jones], I just started laughing, not really laughing. I was really…upset,” Hunter said. 

“I was like, ‘Man, I should just put this ball on the grass, and he’s going to go swing at it.’ But, of course, Jonesy takes care of hanging breaking balls. It was kind of hard, you just don’t look up, just try and keep your head down and go. It was some pretty good friends, but you never want to give up two runs.”

Hunter is 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA in 10 games with Cleveland. 

After the Orioles traded him to the Cubs, he got to reunite with Jake Arrieta, and seeing a different pitcher than he had before was exciting. 

“Man, watching Jake throw was pretty incredible. One of the best pitching experiences I’ve ever seen. Maybe some other people will argue it was the best in the history of the game. Being able to witness that, and somebody that went through as many hardships and struggles as he did, come out on top and be the guy he is today, what kids are looking up to, it was fun to watch and be there in person and see him blossom like the young little tulip he is,” Hunter said. 

Manager Buck Showalter didn’t have a chance to connect with Hunter this weekend, but he is very fond of him.

“Tommy is easy to like. He plays hard. He pitches hard and he’s a great teammate,” Showalter said. 

“Tommy, you pull for him. It’s easy to pull for him. I wasn’t pulling for him last night, but Chris [Davis] and him are real close, but Chris is trying to get a hit and he trying to get Chris out. You pull for him, but not against you. Tommy is easy to pull for. His teammates pull for him. He’s not just some funny guy.”
 

Orioles scratch McFarland from Norfolk start

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Orioles scratch McFarland from Norfolk start

CLEVELAND—T.J. McFarland was scheduled to start for Norfolk on Sunday against Scranton. However, he was scratched from the start in case he’s needed by the Orioles. 

McFarland injured his left knee last weekend and has been on the minor league disabled list.

Manager Buck Showalter said that McFarland’s knee was fine. Andy Oliver was named to replace McFarland, but the game was postponed. The Orioles did contemplate adding McFarland for Sunday’s game because they had no fresh long reliever since Vance Worley pitched 4 ½ innings on Saturday. 

“Just to be on the safe side. He still could pitch an inning there if he had to. Just want to make sure we’re covered. There was some thought about today, but it didn’t happen,” Showalter said.