Talking Points: Should the Rangers Sign Brad Richards?

– The Lebron James of the 2011 NHL free agency class is undoubtedly Brad Richards.  That’s an absolutely atrocious comparison for various reasons, but it gets across the point for all you basketball fans.  I’d say there is about a 91% chance (that’s his number, get it?) Richards will sign with the Rangers and reunite with John Tortorella.

– There’s two things Rangers fans want to know tomorrow.  First, how much money is this signing going to cost the Blueshirts per year?  Second, how many years is this contract going to be for?  I think Rangers fans unanimously agree that it would be better for the Rangers to overpay in dollars rather than in years.  In other words, we don’t want a 40-year-old Richards playing for us at the end of this decade.  It’s as simple as that.

– We all know Sather has made mistakes before.  From Holik, to Drury, to Gomez, to Redden.  It’s no secret.

– The question is if we should look at those mistakes and base our opinion on Richards off of Sather’s past errors.  Will Richards end up like Drury and Gomez?  That is the question Rangers fans want to know.  While Richards’ statistics have been better than those two centers throughout their careers, Brad is 31-years-old.  How much longer will he be productive?  It’s anyone’s guess, but I wouldn’t give Richards more than six years.  He’s going to want eight years, while the ideal deal is four years.  Six is a reasonable compromise.

– To repeat myself, I don’t want Richards if it’s more than a six-year deal.  If you can talk him down to a five-year deal with a higher salary, that would be perfect.  However, I think Brad wants to make this his last NHL contract.  The question is if he’ll give some sort of a discount to play in New York.  And I think we all know the answer to that is no.

– There are great arguments that support not signing Richards all together.  These arguments make plenty of logical sense.  Why waste money when the team isn’t ready to compete yet?  Why spend money on someone who will decline when the team finally starts to get good?  And does Richards fill a need?

– While those first two questions are reasonable, I disagree with them because I feel Richards has a chance to make the Rangers contenders right now.  It will take a few more pieces, but the Rangers could definitely be a high-seeded playoff team if everything falls their way.

– As for filling a need, Richards definitely does that.  Besides being that impact first line center the Rangers have dreamed about, he can also quarterback the powerplay.  If he works out, you can kiss Michael Del Zotto goodbye without being heartbroken.  If Richards can anchor the powerplay, why not trade Del Zotto for a scoring winger?  It’s not like the Rangers are in desperate need of young defensive prospects.

– In conclusion, I believe Brad Richards would fit in great with this team.  He’s played under John Tortorella before, so the transition period won’t be an issue.  At the right price, Richards can be a great signing.  If Glen Sather gives him an eight-year, $56 million deal, I will be furious.  But if it’s more along the lines of six-years, 39 million, I will be thrilled out of my mind.

Let's hope Sather doesn't screw this up again.

BREAKING NEWS: NBA LOCKOUT IS ON

According to ESPN and other sports media outlets, the NBA has officially locked out their players.

This was an expected move, but it was made official today.  CBA negotiations will likely drag on for months, leaving NBA fans hopeless at times.  Free agency will obviously not start any time soon, as we don’t even know if there will be a season or not this year.

This is bad news, but everyone should have saw it coming.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more on the lockout and it’s impact.

Daily Briefing: June 30, 2011

– The NBA lockout seems inevitable.  Quite frankly, anyone who thought a deal would be reached before July 1 is an imbecile.  The only question now is if this lockout will cause a cancellation or shortening of the 2011-2012 season.  I wouldn’t rule it out.  We saw what happened when the NHL wanted massive changes to their system.

– Yesterday we reported on the Knicks possibly showing interest in Kurt Thomas.  But as we all know, free agency is a very long time away.  Today we learned that Nene will opt out and become a free agent, but he will be an expensive option for the Knicks.

– In this article, Jesse Spector points out how the Rangers will not have any cap issues heading into tomorrow’s free agency madness.  I’ve been saying the same thing for the past few weeks.  Chris Drury’s buyout yesterday gives the Blueshirts even more money to spend.

– Paul Kariya announced his retirement today.  The left winger had a fantastic career, scoring almost 1000 points.  We hope to see him back with the NHL in some capacity soon.

– According to to Fox Sports, Santonio Holmes wants to finish his career as a Jet.  Well that’s all nice, but I refuse to believe anything until he signs an extension.  It’s as simple as that.  I’ve heard this story too many times before.  Edwards, Holmes, and Cromartie have all said that they want to be Jets.  So in a perfect world, they all would take discounts and re-sign.  However, that’s not going to happen.  In conclusion, talk is cheap.  If Santonio wants to be a Jet, sit down with the front office and work together on a deal that is good for both sides.

– The Yankees and Mets both won yesterday.  There is no doubt that both teams are red hot.  They will meet this weekend at Citi Field.

– John Harper opines that the Yankees should look into acquiring Prince Fielder this offseason.  I’ve been saying for months now that this is the way to go.  He’d be the perfect DH for the next 5-10 years.

As always, feel free to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest breaking news on all things New York sports.

Let's hope that tomorrow's Brad Richards signing will work out better than this did.

Deadline Pitching Targets: Yankees

The Major League Baseball trading deadline is roughly a month away, and we all know the Yankees would love to add another arm to their rotation for the stretch run. The Yankees currently sit atop the AL East with a record of 46 wins and 31 losses. They are 1.5 games above the second place Red Sox and 3.0 games above the third place Tampa Bay Rays. Surly the Yanks would love to widen their lead over their division rivals.

Here is a list of some pitchers the Yankees may target in order to have them slot behind CC Sabathia in the starting rotation:

Hiroki Kuroda
Pros: Kuroda has had a stellar career since coming over from Japan for the 2008 season, and this year has been no different. Kuroda has a 3.10 ERA in over 100 innings for the struggling Dodgers; moreover, he has only walked 2.17 batters per nine innings. Kuroda would fit perfectly behind Sabathia as the team’s number 2 starter.
Cons: Kuroda has a full no-trade clause, and he seems to be quite comfortable with the Dodgers despite their struggles.

Mark Buehrle
Pros: Buehrle has been a consistent pitcher throughout his career. Buehrle has a 3.87 ERA in roughly 100 innings in 2011, which is a solid line. Like Kuroda, Buerhle does not walk batters. He has walked just 2.09 per nine innings this year.
Cons:  Buerhle has a limited no-trade clause; furthermore, Buerhle’s 2012 option, which is worth 15 million, automatically vests if he is traded. It is also possible that the Yankees may be able to find a cheaper option, who can pitch just as effectivly.

Francisco Liriano
Pros: Liriano has shown ace like stuff throughout his career. For his career, he has struck out 9.10 batters per nine innings. His stuff is just plain filthy.
Cons: Despite throwing a no-hitter earlier this year, Liriano has struggled this year. He has a 4.98 ERA this year 72.1 innings pitched; however, his 4.22 FIP may suggest he has been better than his ERA indicates.

Carlos Zambrano
Pros: Zambrano has shown flashes of brilliance throughout his career. He is a guy who can dominate opposing lineups. So far this year he has a 4.38 ERA and a 3.83 FIP in 111 innings pitched. I believe that a change of scenery could do Zambrano well. I think that if Zambrano is traded to the Yankees, he will react well to being thrown in the midst of a pennant race.
Cons: Zmbrano is a head case. He has the potential to destroy the chemistry in any clubhouse. He has fought with managers and battery mates alike. He is also due 18 million dollars in 2012. Although the Yanks can afford that price tag, it could prove costly if it doesn’t work out for the Big Z in New York.

Wandy Rodriguez
Pros: Rodriguez has been very good the last few seasons. So far this year he has a 3.21 ERA in 84 innings pitched. He could slot nicely in the Yankees rotation. He is also signed through 2013 which gives the Yankees a possible long-term solution in the rotation.
Cons: Rodriguez has been a victim of the long ball this year. He has given up 11 homers in 13 starts. Those numbers would surely increase if he pitched half of his games at Yankee Stadium.

Rangers Free Agency Preview

In less than 48 hours (July 1st), free agency will begin for the NHL . For the Rangers, this could mean the beginning of a promising next step towards hoisting the Stanley Cup. In my opinion, the Rangers are not that far from being legit Stanley Cup contenders; as they posted 93 points last season (8th seed), while only scoring 2.73 goals per game and a below average 16.9% on the PP. A standout goalie (arguably top 3 in the league), a young and tough Defense core, and a team willing to out work their opponents night in and night out were the main reasons for the team’s success last season.

However, hard work can only go so far, as the Rangers need to add some talent within the grinders to make this team more of a contender. Glen Sather has put the Rangers into a very good position to do that by having roughly $23 mil available to add talent. Sather also realizes that he needs to sign his own RFA (Anisimov, Dubinsky, Callahan, Sauer, Boyle),  which he has already or will in the near future.

With the recent release of Chris Drury and most likely Sean Avery, the Rangers are taking the next steps to have much of their home-grown prospects lead the way. As reported, the Rangers main prize in the UFA is Brad Richards; a talented center who could team up with Marion Gaborik and give the Rangers a serious 1st line threats. Many of the reports I have read indicate that Richards is looking for a contract (8 years/$50-55mil) that will take him to his retirement.

At 31, Richards is still a top line centermen and has the ability to be productive into his mid 30’s (36). Now if you are doing the math, Richards would be 39 into his final year (8th), so paying a player from age 37-39 might seem foolish, as we’ve seen the Rangers do this before. I am not too quick to offer Richards a contract beyond 6 years, however; if it means an opportunity to challenge for the Cup in the next 3-4 seasons, perhaps it’s worth it.

The Rangers could front load the contract, which will have the final 2-3 years only be roughly $4 mil. Richards will have other suitors interested in his service (Toronto and Tampa) have been rumored as the main two competitors for the Rangers. I can not see the Flyers or the Kings involved, simply because the Flyers do not have much cap space ($8mil and still need to re-sign a handful of their own RFA/UFA) and the Kings just acquired a center in Mike Richards on draft day.

If the Rangers are successful in signing Richards, they shouldn’t stop there. I still believe they need an additional scoring forward along with Richards to give the Rangers that edge. There’s a couple of forwards I like to see the Rangers show interest in and they are:

David Jones: A big forward (6’2/220lbs) who scored 27 goals (45 point) in Colorado playing mostly on the 2nd and 3rd lines. Jones only made $850k last season, so it wouldn’t cost the Rangers any compensation or too much money to sign him.

Ville Leino: A gifted LW who played mostly on the Flyers 3rd line and managed to score 52 points last season. Leino made $825k last season and would be an excellent value if the Rangers should choose to go with him.

Another thing I would like to see the Rangers do is sign an veteran defensemen to help the young core of defensemen on the Rangers. Staal, Girardi, Sauer and McDonagh are slated as their top 4, while newly acquired Erixon, Del Zotto and possibly Valentenko could push for the 2 final spots. There are many UFA defensemen available who could provide leadership to this team. However, many of them come with a high price tag and wouldn’t fit into the Rangers cap space.

If the Rangers could convince one of these defensemen to take less money, then perhaps the Rangers could make it happen. The Rangers could also look to acquire a forward via the trade route, but I believe Glen Sather might be leaning towards UFA as his first option. Regardless, I am looking forward to free agency as many of you are and hope the Rangers can acquire the missing pieces that will make them legit contenders.

New York Rangers

No Way Jose, Jose, Jose

The New York Mets have been playing inspired baseball the last couple months under Terry Collins. The player most responsible for the season the Mets are having has been Jose Reyes. After trying to discuss an extension with Reyes, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson has created a list of possible ways for the Mets to re-sign the all-star shortstop. Lucky for you I’ve managed to obtain this list.

  • Alderson has hinted that Mets head trainer Ray Ramirez will be left alone in a room with Reyes. In my opinion this is a terrifying thought. If Ramirez gets his hands on Reyes I’d expect Jose to miss about 2 to 9 weeks.
  • Bernie Maddoff will negotiate Reyes’ contract this offseason.
  • Alderson has told Reyes to stop hitting the ball  hard many times this year and it hasn’t worked thus far. Alderson believes if he switches Reyes’ bat with Jason Bay’s bat his batting average will plummet.
  • The ghosts of Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo will haunt Reyes’ dreams infinitely.
  • Fred Wilpon has decided to spring for complimentary microfracture surgeries for the entire organization. Well It’s about time, now Reyes can finally fix his healthy knee.
  • The  Mets can do the unthinkable and give the MVP candidate the contract he deserves.
    Jose has no clue what the Mets organization will do to save some cash.

Blast from the Past

The average Knick fan will have a hard time remembering the success that took place in the late 90s and early 2000s due to the cloud of smoke left by Isaiah Thomas.While few players from the good old days remain in the league there is one that comes to mind. Kurt Thomas. There have been talks of big Kurt returning to the orange and blue and I think it makes perfect sense.

Thomas, while on his last legs, can still help in multiple ways on the court. When Thomas came out of TCU he had the title of a double-double machine and he was outstanding for the Knicks during the Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell days. Thomas will bring back a 90s toughness and intensity defensively that the Knicks certainly need down low.

Thomas has made a living for his ability to defend the post. The Knicks biggest weakness has been defending the post. Makes sense to me. Thomas possesses the type of toughness that the role players the Knicks acquire should have. While Thomas should not get big minutes hes the type of guy who will only help you when hes on the floor. Is this going to put the Knicks over the edge? No. Is it a useful acquisition? I’d say so.

The Knicks could definitely use Kurt's toughness.