Every week my e-mail ([email protected]), gets flooded with readers from our site asking me questions about various Philadelphia sports topics. Normally they are topics that I either already am planning to answer in one of my daily pieces, or I try to work into our sites’ content. Unfortunately, some questions go unanswered, which lead me to the idea of doing a weekly mailbag, where I answer some of the best questions that I get sent over the course of the week. And now that football season has come to a close, and the only big Sunday sporting event until baseball season will be the Sunday NBA Showcase (which we won’t be seeing the Sixers on anytime soon), I figured Sunday would be as good as any day to do the mailbag.
John from Upper Darby: Are you going to be watching the Daytona 500 this afternoon?
Tim: I’m sure at some point, I’ll tune in. I’m not a NASCAR hater by any means, but I certainly am not going to sit down for five hours and watch a race. I’ll likely watch the first 50 laps, and last 50 or 100, which usually gives you a pretty good idea of what went on in the race.
Just to throw this in, if you are a sports fan, and you have never been to a NASCAR race, you are really missing out. I got free tickets to one of the races at Pocono a few years ago, and it was a really cool experience. Sure, listening to drunk people scream about Dale Jr. for five hours isn’t exactly my idea of a good time, but watching the cars go at 200 miles per hour (at least) in person, never gets old.
Christian from the Lehigh Valley: Given that Nelson Cruz signed with the Orioles last night for one-year and eight million, while the Phillies signed Marlon Byrd for the same annual amount, but guaranteed him two years, should they have waited out the market better and signed Cruz?
Tim: This is the classic case of Ruben Amaro playing things too safely. He got Marlon Byrd fairly early in free-agency, but had he waited out the market, it’s possible that he could have gotten Byrd on a one-year deal, or signed a guy like Cruz for just a year, who still very well could hit 30 homeruns this season.
Then again, we all said the same thing about Amaro giving Jonathan Papelbon a four-year deal prior to the 2012 season, while Ryan Madson ended up taking a one-year deal with the Reds. The problem is, for as much trouble as Papelbon can be at times, Madson hasn’t pitched since that time because of arm injuries. So maybe, the Phillies knew something we didn’t. Or maybe they just got lucky.
Anyway, I don’t like Cruz’s PED connection, but he was suspended last year, because he bought “a product” from Biogenisis in 2012. As far as we know, there was no PED connection for Cruz in 2013, and yet, Cruz hit .266 with 27 homeruns and 76 RBI’s, putting him on pace for the best season of his career. And he did that in only 109 games, so assuming he didn’t play dirty in 2013 (we really have no idea either way), then you would have to think he is still capable of putting up at least 30 homeruns this year.
Byrd is going to give you a higher average, but he is more likely to hit .282 than the .291 that he hit last year. Other than that, he isn’t going to drive in more runs or hit more homeruns than Cruz, and the on-base percentage and slugging percentage will be nearly identical.
So if I was Ruben I would have waited out the market, because the only thing that really scares me about Cruz, isn’t his PED connection, but rather his poor fielding. Then again, Byrd isn’t a gold-glove caliber fielder either. Frankly, I’m not sure I wouldn’t have gone with the much-younger and non-PED connected Darin Ruf over both of them. But given the choice, there is no doubt that I would rather have Nelson Cruz in Philly.
Gabe from Hoboken: If you were Danny Granger, would you have any interest in coming to Philadelphia?
Tim: I really wouldn’t. Granger is 30 years-old, and has had some health problems, which should give him some more urgency to try to win a title.
Beyond that, he was the Pacers longest tenured player, and right before a playoff run, the Pacers decided to use him as a throw-in piece for a trade. If that doesn’t motivate him to try to sign and Miami and beat the Pacers in the playoffs, I’m not sure what does.
If the Heat decide to go in the direction of signing Caron Butler (likely to be bought-out by the Bucks) over Granger, then the options of teams like the Spurs, Clippers, Blazers, Thunder, or Rockets open up. Still, the idea of signing with the team who has a chance to directly eliminate the Pacers before the NBA Finals (the Heat), sounds like the number one option Granger should be considering, if it is offered to him.
No matter where he goes, Philadelphia really doesn’t offer him much. Sure, he could put up 17 or 18 points a game (assuming he stays healthy), but what does that change? Is there going to be a competitive team that sees Granger put up big numbers on a lottery team and decides to sign him to a longterm deal and can give him enough touches to the point where he returns to his previous all-star form? Most likely not.
If you wish to have your sports questions answered in the Section 215 Sunday mailbag, e-mail me at [email protected], leaving your first name, where you are from and your question.