Yuniesky Betancourt’s agent misjudged his market just a little bit

Yuniesky Betancourt’s agent misjudged his market just a little bit

Last month Yuniesky Betancourt‘s agent, Alex Esteban of Miami Sports Management, said the following to MLB Trade Rumors: I can assure you that Yuni will be signing a major league contract. Currently, there are four teams we are in conversations with and we expect to be finalizing a deal shortly after the holidays. Couple things.…

Patrick Ewing in mix for Sacramento Kings coaching job

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Patrick Ewing in mix for Sacramento Kings coaching job

Unlike the Washington Wizards' laser focused head coaching search, the Sacramento Kings are playing the field.

One of the NBA's most dysfunctional franchises is in the process of interviewing several candidates for the head coaching job now open since George Karl's departure.

Some of the names are familiar with regards to such openings. One of the names is the most famous of the bunch, but new-ish to such discussions.

That would be Patrick Ewing, currently an assistant with the Charlotte Hornets.

You may remember Ewing from his Hall of Fame playing career with Georgetown on the college level and primarily the New York Knicks in the pros. The "remember" part is obviously an attempt at humor because Ewing is one of the most inconic players of all-time. Yet despite his on-court prowess, despite paying his dues for years as an assistant -- four teams over 13 seasons - he hasn't landed a coveted head coaching job. 

Ewing spent the last three seasons as an associate head coach with the Hornets, who were knocked out the playoffs with a Game 7 loss at the Miami Heat. 

Who knows what Sacramento truly desires in a head coach these days.

What's clear is that any new hire must figure out a way to deal with talented, but frustrating center DeMarcus Cousins. An All-Star big man, Cousins has the skill set of an elite player, but the attitude of a perennial malcontent. 

Other candidates mentioned above and some others not like for Kings forward Carliss Williamson, are interesting. If the goal is to find someone who can literally look the 6-foot-10 Cousins in the eye while providing true guidance, the line should start and likely end with the imposing Ewing. 

Sacramento hasn't made the playoffs since 2006 and yet the current vintage might be the most LOL part of the last decade.

From ownership on down, nobody can seemingly get the franchise out of the ditch. This job won't be easy for coach, especially one without any previous head coaching experience. Yet the circumstances are interesting for a coach with Ewing's resume.

If he truly wants, here's hoping he at least gets a long look. 

Nationals keep rolling against Royals, win fourth straight

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Nationals keep rolling against Royals, win fourth straight

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 2-0 win over the Kansas City Royals on Monday night at Kauffman Stadium: 

How it happened: After getting swept by the Phillies to close their most recent homestand, Nationals manager Dusty Baker called this Midwest road trip a good barometer for where they stand in the early part of this season. He, and many of his players, saw this road swing as a test, knowing they had yet to face one of baseball's best teams.

Four days later and the bar may need to be raised a little higher for these Nationals, as after sweeping the Cardinals in St. Louis, they opened their series at the defending champion Kansas City Royals with a convincing 2-0 victory on Monday night. Their brand of score early and let their pitching staff take it from there worked wonders once again.

Gio Gonzalez continued his career-best start to a season with six scoreless frames, Ryan Zimmerman and Daniel Murphy notched first-inning RBI and the Nats' bullpen held on to push the Nats to club record 18-7 on the season through 25 games.

What it means: The 'they haven't beaten anyone' knock on the 2016 Nats can officially be put to rest. The Nationals are now 4-0 on this road trip, having first swept a 100-win team from a year ago in the Cardinals, to now opening this series against the reigning champs with a win. 

Gio keeps on rolling: Gonzalez battled a high pitch count early, but recovered to give the Nats six scoreless innings on four hits and two walks. Gio now has a 1.15 ERA through five starts this season, going at least six innings in each of those outings. The Nats rotation as a whole has held a 0.92 mark with 34 strikeouts and 10 walks in their last six starts as a group. 

Zim comes up big: Zimmerman has been in quite the skid lately, finishing the month of April hitting .219/.301/.301 with just one hit in his last four games (13 ABs). Zimmerman had been showing positive signs, including the highest average exit velocity on the Nats through the weekend. And on Monday, he came through with a big hit in the first inning, an RBI double to right field to give the Nats an early lead. It was Zim's first RBI since April 26. The Nats have now scored 32 of their 101 total runs this season in the first inning. Zimmerman also smacked a ground-rule double in the ninth inning for just his fourth multi-hit game in 20 games this season.

Harper finally gets a hit: Harper's slump recent slump continued through his first two plate appearances on Monday, as Harper struck out and flew out to make it 16 at-bats without a hit dating back to last Thursday. Harper would finally get one, though, on a bloop single to left field to lead off the top of the sixth inning. Harper broke his slump, but he was quickly thrown out trying to steal second by Royals catcher Lorenzo Cain. He also now has only two hits in his last six games.

Murphy gets No. 1000: Murphy had another solid day at the plate on Monday with three hits and an RBI on a groundout in the first inning. His second hit was No. 1000 for his career. It was a double to center field in the sixth inning and it gave Murphy his 12th multi-hit game in 24 total appearances this season. Only three times this year has he been held hitless. Murphy, by the way, is the 10th player ever to record their 1000th career hit in a Nats uniform. Denard Span was the last in September of 2014.

Up next: The Nats continue their series at the Royals with another 8:15 p.m. start on Tuesday night. Tanner Roark (2-2, 2.03) and former Nats minor leaguer Chris Young (1-4, 6.12) are the starters.

Caps flurry falls short in 3-2 Game 3 loss

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Caps flurry falls short in 3-2 Game 3 loss

PITTSBURGH – The Capitals’ quest for their first trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in the Alex Ovechkin era took a step backwards Monday night with a 3-2 loss to the Penguins in Game 3 of their second-round playoff series.

The Capitals outshot the Penguins 49-23 overall and 21-9 in the final period, but could not completely solve 21-year-old rookie goaltender Matt Murray, who made 47 saves.

The Caps’ offense came late, with goals from Alex Ovechkin with just under 12 minutes left in the final period and another from Justin Williams, his first of the playoffs, with 54 seconds remaining. 

How it happened: The Capitals outshot the Penguins 28-14 in the opening two periods but managed to get little traffic in front of Penguins goalie Matt Murray and fell behind 3-0 on first-period goals by patric Hornqvist and Tom Kuhnhackl and a third-period goal by Carl Hagelin. In fact, the Penguins put two goals past Braden Holtby on their first four shots. Hornqvist got things started just 6:37 into the game when he redirected a point shot by defenseman Trevor Daley past Holtby for his first goal of the series and fourth of the playoffs. Kuhnhackl made it 2-0 exactly 1  minute later with his first goal of the series and second of the playoffs when Matt Cullen’s centering pass went off the back of his jersey and behind Holtby. Murray made glove saves on T.J. Oshie and Marcus Johansson and kicked out a point shot through traffic from John Carlson, allowing the Penguins to build their lead. The Caps threw the hammer down in the third period with 20 shots and finally broke through when Alex Ovechkin netted his first goal of the series, using defenseman Kris Letang as a screen and rifling a rising wrist shot over the catching glove of Murray with 11:58 remaining in regulation. Justin Williams made it 3-2 with Holtby pulled for an extra attacker, jamming home an Ovechkin rebound for his first of the post-season. The Caps hounded the Pens in the final 50 seconds but could not get a shot on net.

What it means: In Stanley Cup playoff history, the team that has won Game 3 in a series tied 1-1 has gone on to win the series 67 percent of the time.

Special teams: The Penguins also did a masterful job on the Capitals’ power play, holding it scoreless on five attempts. The Caps have just one power-play goal on 10 advantages in the series. The Caps remained perfect on the penalty kill in the series, holding the Pens off the board on three man-advantages to improve to 10-for-10. Taylor Chorney filled in for Brooks Orpik on the man-advantage, playing alongside John Carlson.

Free Willy: Justin Williams took two more minor penalties that resulted in Pittsburgh power plays. He’s now taken 12 minutes in penalties that have left the Caps shorthanded six times.    

Suspension for Letang?: Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan spoke with a league supervisor during the first intermission after seeing forward Marcus Johansson leave the game with 4:19 remaining in the opening period after taking a hit to the head from Penguins defenseman Kris Letang.

Letang was given a minor penalty for interference but the fact his hit came after Johansson had released a pass and his head was the primary point of contact could result in supplementary discipline. Unlike Game 2, when Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta did not return from an upper body injury after a late hit from Caps defenseman Brooks Orpik, Johansson returned for the second period and showed no ill effects from the hit. Orpik received a three-game suspension for his late hit on Maatta, so it will be interesting to see if Letang is suspended for his hit, which did not result in an injury.

What’s next: The Capitals are scheduled to practice at Consol Energy Center on Tuesday, with Game 4 slated for Wednesday night at 8.

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