Brett Anderson prevents A's from early elimination

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Brett Anderson prevents A's from early elimination

From Comcast SportsNet
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- The Oakland Athletics will play another day in this improbable season full of remarkable rallies.These A's never count themselves out -- down and doubted is their dogma.Brett Anderson outdueled fellow postseason first-timer Anibal Sanchez and the upstart Athletics showed off stellar defense all over the diamond, avoiding another playoff sweep by Detroit by beating the Tigers 2-0 Tuesday night in their AL division series.The A's cut their deficit in the best-of-five matchup to 2-1.Coco Crisp, whose misplay dearly cost Oakland in Game 2, saved a likely home run by Prince Fielder with a leaping catch at the top of the center-field wall in the second inning."You see him hit it and you just kind of put your head down a little bit because you think you just gave up a homer," Anderson said. "Then you see him plow through there and catch the ball and it kind of kick starts you to go out there and make pitches."Yoenis Cespedes hit an RBI single in the first inning and Seth Smith homered in the fifth. That was plenty on a night Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, Fielder and the Tigers' high-priced offense were shut down by the low-budget A's.Tigers 16-game winner Max Scherzer will try to close out the series in Game 4 Wednesday night against A's rookie A.J. Griffin. Detroit swept the A's in the 2006 AL championship series.Fielder was the biggest victim of Oakland's spot-on defense, robbed three times. First by Crisp, Oakland's most experienced player whose blunder on Cabrera's fly allowed two runs to score in a 5-4 loss Sunday in Detroit."Not to be all over-confident or anything, I think I'm going to catch everything out there," Crisp said. "Obviously it doesn't happen that way -- duh Detroit, right?"Crisp let out a big "Whoo!" after raising his arm to signal he'd made the grab."Coco's catch, the ball was out of the ballpark and it came back," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "The key to that play was he was playing deep and that enabled him to get into a spot to get up and make the catch. And it was a great catch, no doubt about it."A's shortstop Stephen Drew made a tough play running to his left to stop Fielder's grounder in the fourth and then threw to first while still off balance and in motion.Then, in the seventh, Cespedes cut over to make a diving catch on Fielder's liner to left field.That delighted the yellow towel-waving sellout crowd of 37,090 in this blue-collar city."It's frustrating. But it's a good team you're playing," Fielder said. "They're going to make those plays, that's why they're here."After Cabrera singled with one out in the ninth, Fielder grounded into a game-ending double play.The A's own the lowest payroll in baseball at 59.5 million. Fielder is getting big money in Motown: 214 million over nine years.Anderson, back on the mound for the first time since straining a muscle in his right side Sept. 19 at Detroit, worked quickly and showed no signs of a layoff or jitters in his first postseason start.That's just not the way the A's have operated this year.Last week, Oakland entered its final three-game series of the regular season needing to sweep the two-time reigning AL champion Rangers to capture the AL West -- and the A's did it, sending a stunned Texas team to the one-game wild card, which it lost to Baltimore.A club with a majors-best 14 walkoff wins and countless whipped cream pie celebrations snapped the longest postseason skid in franchise history at six games. All of those against the Tigers, too.The Tigers are trying to reach second straight AL championship series after losing last year's ALCS in six games to the Rangers.Detroit captured the AL Central in Oakland last year and is hoping for another clinching party as soon as possible.Anderson did his job to delay it.He insisted he was healthy and ready to go -- and manager Bob Melvin took his pitcher at his word and gave him a shot in his biggest start yet. Anderson had shown plenty when he returned in August following a 14-month absence recovering from elbow-ligament replacement surgery and made six impressive starts.Not feeling quite 100 percent, he allowed two hits, struck out six and walked two in six innings. He was on a pitch count of 80 and was done at exactly that, though was never told about it beforehand."I don't know how you could expect more than we got out of him tonight," Melvin said.Next, the reliable bullpen took over.Ryan Cook pitched the seventh, Sean Doolittle struck out the side in order in the eighth and closer Grant Balfour finished the four-hitter for a save. The A's staff pitched the 11th postseason shutout by the franchise, while the Tigers were blanked for the 13th time in the postseason.The A's had lost five straight while facing elimination in the postseason, one shy of the longest active streak by the Twins.But this group has defied expectations ever since the first full workout at spring training back in February when the A's lost third baseman Scott Sizemore to a season-ending knee injury. Opening day starter Brandon McCarthy took a line drive to the head Sept. 5 and needed brain surgery. Starter Bartolo Colon was suspended for 50 games in August for a positive testosterone test.Oakland became the first team in major league history to win the division or pennant after trailing by five or more games with fewer than 10 to go. The A's were five back of the Rangers with nine left, then won their final six all at home with sweeps of Seattle and Texas.Smith hit a towering drive to the deepest part of center field in the fifth for yet another timely home run for the A's, whose 112 longballs after the All-Star break led the majors."That's how you win postseason baseball games, with pitching and defense and timely hitting," Smith said. "We had that. We got two runs and that's all we needed. Anderson was great and our defense was, too."Sanchez gave up five hits and two runs in 6 1-3 innings, struck out three and walked two.NOTES:Smith hit his first postseason homer and third lifetime against Sanchez in 15 at-bats. ... At 24 years, 251 days, Anderson became the fifth-youngest pitcher in Oakland history to make his first career postseason start. ... Both Bay Area teams avoided elimination after the NL West champion San Francisco Giants won at Cincinnati earlier in the night. ... Oakland sold out for the eighth time this year and second straight -- the regular-season finale vs. Texas drew 36,067 -- including 1,000 standing-room only tickets and extra suite sales. It was the biggest crowd at the Coliseum since drawing 43,974 against the Yankees on Sept. 4, 2005, before the upper decks were tarped.

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Morning tip: Wizards consistent with firm stance on Porter, trade deadline posture

Morning tip: Wizards consistent with firm stance on Porter, trade deadline posture

Otto Porter is in the final year of his rookie scale contract, and while players in his situation tend to be trade chips the Wizards aren't floating him with Thursday's deadline approaching. 

He's never been available, though everyone in the league is available pending what's being offered in return. Every team in need of a small forward is going to have Porter, who is in the midst of a career season as the NBA's top three-point shooter, 

Like Bradley Beal a year ago when he wasn't given an extension to his rookie deal, Porter is in a similar position making $5.9 million this season.The Wizards will have to tender him a qualifying offer ($125%) at the end of June to make him officially a restricted free agent which gives them first right of refusal to mach an offer sheet to retain him. Or they can immediately come to terms with Porter as they did with Beal.

 

Why isn't Porter considered expendable?

The Wizards have one of the best starting fives in basketball. In the East, especially with the Cavs missing Kevin Love, it could be argued that they're the best in the conference. With John Wall and Bradley Beal able to dominate possession and create for others, Porter is content and most effective playing off the ball. He's shooting 46.5% from three-point range. Unless the Wizards are getting a Paul George caliber player in return, they're not putting the cart before the horse by gutting this starting five for a role player for the bench.

With the need for bench scoring, why didn't they trade for Lou Williams who was available from the Lakers?

He's on a good contract at $7 million per through 2017-18, but the Rockets gave up a wing defender in  Corey Brewer and a 2017 first-round draft pick for the short-term. At 40-18, they could grab the No. 2 spot from the Spurs by season's end. The Wizards gave up a 2016 first-round pick for Markieff Morris which made sense because they had a hole in the starting lineup and stretch players at his position are more difficult to find that high-volume shooting guards. Plus 2016 was a weak draft. The 2017 draft is much better therefore a first-round pick is more valuable. All draft picks aren't created equal. The Wizards need bench help. A second-round pick is a fair swap to fill such a void, unless the trade partner is also willing to take a bad contract.

Why hasn't anything happened yet?

Every year, the flurry happens in the last 24 hours leading up to the deadline  (Thursday, 3 p.m. ET). This is why makes the Sacramento Kings making a decision so early in the process on DeMarcus Cousins more head-scratching. There are a lot of contingency plans and dominoes that will fall. It's hard to determine what the Wizards will do. A player who isn't available now might end up on the market. A "no" from an earlier conversation can become a "yes." President Ernie Grunfeld likes to put a lot of irons in the fire and let things simmer.

Who is selling?

The Lakers, Timberwolves, Nuggets, Kings, etc. See a pattern? Teams that aren't winning and willing to part with pieces to rebuild with draft picks from playoff-bound teams or teams with playoff aspirations. Mavs owner Mark Cuban recently made it public that he'd be willing to take on a bad contract for draft picks. Of course, those picks are only as valuable as they're used correctly. Draft badly and picks are a burden.

 

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Need to Know: Why can't the Redskins sign Garcon and Jackson?

Need to Know: Why can't the Redskins sign Garcon and Jackson?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, February 22, 15 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

—NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 7
—NFL Combine (3/2) 8
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 54
—NFL Draft (4/27) 64
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 200

Why not both Garçon and DJax?

Today's question is from my Facebook page. 

Thanks for the good words, Dennis. There are a few reasons why the Redskins are unlikely to bring back both Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson and why it’s possible that neither wide receiver will be back for the 2017 season.

One factor is age. Garçon will be 31 early in training camp and Jackson will turn the same age on December 1. While both are in great shape, investing fairly big money (more on that in a moment) in even one aging receiver is risky. Investing it in two is asking for major cap problems in a year or two.

Both receivers will get substantial contracts. In a market that is thin at the position, each player will get three- or four-year deals worth around $10 million per year. While either one could be cut prior to the end of the deal, the contracts likely will be structured so that if they are released after a year or two the team letting the player go will have to absorb an uncomfortable salary cap hit.

Having that much money tied up in two aging players at one position is dicey in and of itself. But a complicating factor here is Jamison Crowder. He is the team’s future at the position. This year he will complete the third year of his rookie deal making him eligible for a contract extension. If he continues to improve he will want something in that $10 million per year neighborhood. He might not get that much but he’ll get at least $8 million.

So, looking at 2018, if they signed both Garçon and Jackson this year and extend Crowder next season the Redskins would have three receivers taking up close to $30 million in cap space. That is too much. The Redskins were second in the league in spending on WR’s last year with “only” $23.5 million. The organization would be squeezed when it came to paying players at other positions.

I’ll hit on one more thing quickly, since I’m going to write a full post about it soon. Assuming the Redskins tag Kirk Cousins, they suddenly don’t have a whole lot of cap space. Their $64 million available would shrink to around $40 million. That’s still a pretty good chunk of money but they also must get 1-2 defensive linemen and perhaps a safety in free agency, and be prepared to handle possible extensions for Morgan Moses, Spencer Long, Trent Murphy, and Bashaud Breeland.

They could still squeeze one or both receivers in under the cap this year. That would mean some short-term gain for some long-term (as in the next two or three seasons) pain.

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.