Monday Morning Coffee

July 31st, 2023

Although we knew this was happening, we got confirmation of it last week: the Angels aren’t trading Shohei Ohtani by Tuesday’s trade deadline. They also confirmed the team is run by complete buffoons. They decided to be trade deadline buyers, and in the past few days have acquired pitcher Lucas Giolito, reliever Reynaldo Lopez, infielder CJ Cron, and outfielder Randal Grichuk. While I somewhat respect Arte Moreno for being a buyer and trying to make a playoff push now, Ohtani should have been traded a year ago. This is the worst trade deadline to be a buyer because all the players available are complete garbage. Giolito is probably the best pitcher available, and he’s so unbelievably average. Arte fooled himself and the team into thinking they were turning the corner, when they just played a couple of struggling and crummy teams, in the Yankees and Pirates. They lost 2 of 3 over the weekend to the Blue Jays, and now they are 4 games out of the wild card, and 5 games out of the division. They also have 3 teams to climb over just to get to the playoffs. The Halos might be the first team to be a buyer at the trade deadline, then finish double digit games out of a playoff spot. But hey, At least Arte can make some money in the last two months Ohtani is on the team.

Then there’s the Dodgers, who got bombed over the weekend by the Reds. The Boys in Blue still have a 2 game lead on the Giants for 1st place in the NL West, but they have some serious pitching problems, that just keep getting worse. Right now, there isn’t one reliable starter they can send to the mound. Even if Clayton Kershaw comes back in a week or two and looks good, that’s just one. Julio Urias looks nothing like the elite pitcher we’ve seen the last few years, and since he’s about to be a free agent, he’s losing money faster than spending a weekend at the Black Jack table in Vegas. Tony Gonsolin has been pretty mediocre as well. As I mentioned previously, this trade deadline is hot garbage, and there really isn’t one or two guys available that can help the Dodger pitching. Justin Verlander is old, expensive, and isn’t worth nearly the $40 million or so he’s getting paid this year and next. I also wonder how he would fit in the clubhouse since he was part of the 2017 Astros that cheated the Dodgers out of a World Series championship. Even the trades to get Kike and Ahmed Rosario don’t exactly move the needle much with both of them struggling for much of the year. I haven’t even mentioned the need for bullpen and outfield help either. That’s because there’s just too much for this team to overcome, and not enough help available to solve their issues.

You may have heard, last week Paul George criticized Stephen A Smith on his podcast, saying Stephen A shouldn’t be talking basketball because he never played the game. Whenever a pro athlete says this, that’s basically the only defense they have, because they know the criticism they are receiving is valid. Paul George is obviously just sticking up for Kawhi, and the reasons for all the games he’s missed. However, what George fails to realize is that it’s not about the games they are missing for injury. It’s about the games they are missing for load management. Games in which they are seemingly healthy, but sit out, and we know there are plenty of them. If George thinks Stephen A is wrong, as well as the rest of us, then he should listen to all the former NBA players that think this era is soft as well for their load management practices. Also, if he thinks none of us that played basketball at a high level should be talking basketball, then I’m not sure why he has Jackie Long on his podcast either.

To College Football, where USC is just weeks away from starting the season. The Trojans should easily be a top 10 team in the preseason rankings, a favorite to win the PAC 12, and a good shot at the College Football playoff. The least of the Trojan worries is quarterback Caleb Williams, who is one of the best players in College Football. However, the Trojans will only go as far as their defense takes them. Their defense has supposedly made improvements, on the defensive line in particular, but we’ll find out soon enough if that’s the case. The only problem with this theory is that Lincoln Riley’s teams have historically been terrible defensively.

As for the Bruins, they were predicted to finish 6th in the PAC-12 pre-season media poll. UCLA took advantage of a very soft schedule last year, and put together a halfway decent season. However, they lost a lot of talent in Dorian Thompson Robinson and Zach Charbonnet, among others. Dante Moore is a very promising quarterback, but he’s only projected as a 3rd stringer to begin the year. The PAC-12 is stacked with QB talent, so this last year in the conference just may not be the year for the Bruins.

Speaking of The PAC 12, this conference is toast. They have no media rights deal, Colorado just left, San Diego State isn’t coming, and the Trojans and Bruins have already declared they are leaving. Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff has inherited a mess left by Larry Scott, who should be working as a greeter at Costco instead of running an athletic conference. I don’t see how they survive without some form of consolidation of conferences in the sports. Why would anyone sign a media rights deal with them when teams are leaving the conference in droves? Total disaster for what was once a great conference.

I was really hoping the Rams would sign one of the big name veteran backs like ‘Zeke Elliott after Sony Michel announced his retirement. However, they settled for Royce Freeman. This tells me that veteran running backs are still seeking money that the Rams just don’t have, and that they are saving most of their cap space for next springs free agency.

And finally, Justin Herbert signed a massive contract extension with the Chargers last week. The contract is very well deserved, but the heat is now really on coach Brandon Staley. This guy is known for making terrible in-game decisions, blowing leads, and late-game implosions. It’s so bad, I don’t even know that the great Justin Herbert can overcome that. Nevertheless, the spotlight will really be on Staley now if the results aren’t there with all the talent this group has. Similar to the Clippers, we’ve been hearing about that talent for years, with nothing to show for it.

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