Tim Lincecum has essentially been benched

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Tim Lincecum has essentially been benched

From Comcast SportsNet
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Left-hander Barry Zito will start Game 4 for the San Francisco Giants if they can extend their NL division series against the Cincinnati Reds.Two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum? He's staying in the bullpen.San Francisco flew in from the West Coast on Monday trailing 2-0 in the best-of-five series. The Reds can finish it off Tuesday night when Homer Bailey (13-10) goes against the Giants' Ryan Vogelsong (14-9).Manager Bruce Bochy wanted to see how the first two games of the series played out before deciding his Game 4 starter. The Reds won 5-2 and 9-0, with Lincecum pitching two innings in relief on Sunday night.Bochy chose Zito (15-8) because of his strong finish to the season. The left-hander won his last five starts and seven straight decisions. The Giants won the last 11 games that he started."He's been really on top of his game, and I think he's earned this," Bochy said. "We all do. I'm glad to be able to tell Barry that he's getting the start. When you win your last 11 games that a pitcher starts, it's a pretty good thing."It was a touchy decision for the Giants. Lincecum pitched their Game 5 World Series clincher at Texas in 2010, but has struggled this season. He lost a career-high 15 games, had a 5.18 ERA and tied his career high with 17 wild pitches.Bochy considered starting Matt Cain, who lost the opening game of the series on Saturday night, if San Francisco gets to a Game 4."Sure, we put thought in it, but this is more a case with rewarding Zito with how he's been pitching and the job he's done, and I think he's earned this," Bochy said. "Instead of pushing a starter back on short rest -- there is a history of that not working too well. And this would have been the first time that we have asked Matt to do it this year."The Reds are unsure whether right-hander Johnny Cueto will be available if there's a Game 4. He started the series opener but left in the first inning with back spasms. If he's unavailable, the Reds could start Mat Latos, who relieved Cueto on Saturday night.Cueto's uncertain status isn't much of an issue with the Reds."Everybody is staying calm, not worrying if Johnny is able to pitch in the future," right-hander Bronson Arroyo said Monday. "We don't even know now, and I don't think anybody is panicked about it because we feel we're deep enough to compete regardless."

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First Redskins player cracks top half of 2017 NFL Top 100 list

First Redskins player cracks top half of 2017 NFL Top 100 list

Watch a lot of football and few would argue Trent Williams is the best player on the Redskins. As a tackle, his position does not lend itself to many statistics, but listen to players inside and outside of the Redskins locker room and it's easy to understand just how good Williams is.

The proof came when Williams landed 47 on the NFL's Top 100 list, as voted by NFL players.

Named to the Pro Bowl the last five seasons, Williams missed four games due to suspension in 2016 but was rated as the best left tackle in football by Pro Football Focus. 

Williams joins Kirk Cousins, Jordan Reed and Josh Norman on the Top 100 list. Cousins landed 70th on the list, Reed at 65 and Norman at 59.

Last week, Jay Gruden explained that Williams was not present at Redskins OTAs but the head coach expected his tackle was working out on his own.

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20 offseason Caps questions: Should the Capitals re-sign Karl Alzner?

20 offseason Caps questions: Should the Capitals re-sign Karl Alzner?

Another playoff disappointment—as well as a host of expiring player contracts—has left the Capitals with a ton of questions to answer this offseason. Over the next month, Jill Sorenson, JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir will take a close look at the 20 biggest issues facing the team as the business of hockey kicks into high gear.

Karl Alzner has been a rock on the Capitals’ blue line since 2010, appearing in a franchise record 540 consecutive regular season games. He’s been a good player and a good soldier, often suiting up despite injuries that might have sidelined someone else because, well, he knew his steady presence on the blue line was needed that night. And now, after everything he’s been through in Washington, the Caps’ fifth overall pick in 2007 is set to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time. And although he recently said that he’d like to stay, he also acknowledged that he’s not sure what outcome to expect. Which brings us to today’s debate: Is there a deal to be had? Or do both sides need a fresh start?

Today’s question: Should the Caps re-sign Karl Alzner?

Sorenson: I think this question really depends on money. I would absolutely want to sign him to return to Washington. The problem is, how high are the Capitals willing to go, and how low is Karl Alzner willing to go?  If there is a way to make re-signing Alzner work within the confines of building around a core, then the Caps should make this a priority. I believe Alzner will get more than a few offers with some good money, and the potential of being a part of a shutdown top pair. As evidenced by his Ironman streak, his overall attitude, his winning of the media’s “Good Guy Dave Fay” award last year, and his stability on defense, Alzner is a no-brainer for any roster. He is open to growing his game and we saw some increased offensive output from him, especially two years ago, and I believe he has not reached his ceiling in that regard. I don’t think the question is whether or not the Caps should sign Alzner- I believe they should. I believe the question is, whether or not Alzner would be willing to take less money to stay for the possibility of winning a Cup with the Caps.

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El-Bashir: Like most tough business decisions, it’s important to separate what the heart wants and what the head knows is necessary. The heart wants Alzner to finish his career as a Capital. The head knows that No. 27 will be able to get more money and term on the open market. Let’s look at the pros and cons of what figures to be another difficult decision for GM Brian MacLellan and Co. First, the pros: Alzner is a pro’s pro. He logged top-4 minutes on the NHL’s stingiest team this season, anchored the league’s seventh best penalty kill and blocked more shots than any other Cap. Now, the cons: Alzner acknowledged that he’s still working his way back to full health from the groin and sport hernia injuries that plagued him at the end of the 2015-16 season. The negative effects of that protracted recovery were, at times, evident in his play this year. That, to me, is a bigger red flag than the subpar analytics. You’ve also got to consider fit vs. cost. If the top-four next season is, as some expect, Matt Niskanen, Dmitry Orlov, John Carlson and Nate Schmidt, where does Alzner factor into that equation? That fit becomes even harder to find when you consider the fact that he’s likely to command significantly more than the $2.8 million he earned this season and potentially a long-term commitment, as well. My take: I never expect players to take less than market value, and I don’t expect Alzner to do so, either, no matter how much he likes it here. I suspect he’ll find his fit (and significant payday) elsewhere and the cap-strapped Caps will use the space saved to retain other free agents who are in need of raises.

Regan: The reality of today’s NHL means the Caps can’t sign Karl Alzner to a big money deal, it means they can no longer give him a top-four role and it means they can’t bring him back unless they move Brooks Orpik. Alzner is a stay at home defenseman and great shot blocker, but in today’s NHL puck moving defensemen are more important. Alzner will be 29 at the start of next season, the age when players look for their “big deal,” but Alzner was frank at breakdown day saying he was not looking forward to free agency. Maybe he saw what happened to Kris Russell, another stay at home defenseman who wanted to get his big deal last summer. Instead of cashing in, Russell had to settle for a one-year contract for $3.1 million from the Edmonton Oilers. Maybe Alzner would be willing to sign for cheap to stay in Washington. That brings us to the second sticking point. If you want to have a stay at home defenseman on your team, fine, but I am not comfortable going into next season with two spots in the top six committed to Alzner and Orpik. I also am not comfortable with Alzner taking playing time away from players more suited to today’s NHL like Dmitry Orlov and Nate Schmidt. I am only considering re-signing Alzner if two things happen: First, he would have to take a very team friendly contract and second, the team would have to move Orpik.

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