Kings Win after OT on Opening Day

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Michael Peterson –  Image result for twitter logo
September 5th, 2018

The Sacramento Kings opened the 2018-19 NBA season at home in the Golden 1 Center against the Utah Jazz, last year’s 5th seed in the Western Conference. The Jazz had made a few additions and losses over the offseason – drafting guard Grayson Allen from Duke – but by and large, this was the same Jazz lineup that lost to the Houston Rockets in the Conference Semis. The Kings came in after an offseason where the front office made it clear that they would build from within, and continued to focus on their young players. Coach Joerger put a starting lineup on the floor of:

PG: De’Aaron Fox; SG: Buddy Hield; SF: Harrison Barnes; PF: Nemanja Bjelica; C: Marvin Bagley III

Which drew a few interesting reactions from the press in attendance, particularly the use of Bagley at Center, with Willie Cauley-Stein coming off the bench – albeit in significant minutes. Many expected Bagley to play at Power Forward this season, eventually transitioning to the five. Other than that it was a lineup that looked to provide variety, pace, and shooting to the Sacramento offense.

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The Kings: Done Waiting?

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Michael Peterson –  Image result for twitter logo
August 27th, 2018

As August draws to a close, it’s time to begin looking at the coming NBA season for our Sacramento Kings, and what to expect from them in 2018-19. Coming off yet another poor season where the Kings failed to make the playoffs with a 27-55 record, good enough for 12th in the Western Conference, it’s clear that improvement is badly needed in Sac-town, and it’s time for Head Coach Dave Joerger and GM Vlade Divac to begin to show improvements this season. There is a young core in this team, and it’s now down to the Kings to ensure that it doesn’t go the same way as previous Kings teams since the franchise’s heyday in the early 2000’s. It must be time for the promise that the Kings so often show fans – and flatter to deceive – to begin to translate to wins on the court and playoff appearances. Regarding this season, this is what GM Vlade Divac has had to say to our reporters:

I’m feeling positive about this season. We know that the fans have been demanding improvements for a long time now, and I think the product we will put on the court this season will show that. We have a group of young players that we believe in, and we expect them to grow and improve throughout the season. We have a clear philosophy that we’re moving forward with. We’re going to build from within, and we’re happy with the direction we’re taking.

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Pitcher Analysis: Jorge Garcia (Part 2)

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Alex Thomas –  Image result for twitter logo
July 12th, 2021

After my previous pitcher analysis on Jorge Garcia back in 2019, many of you contacted me, wanting me to keep a track on his performance, and come back to him at a later date to see whether my assessment of him – as one of the most unique and varied relief pitchers in all of baseball – was correct. Well, I continued to track Garcia’s performance through the Minor Leagues, and now in 2021, it’s time to re-visit Jorge Garcia, and see how he’s performed up until now, just before the All-Star Break. Now, as you well know, he’s on the Major League roster for the Cincinnati Reds, so I don’t have to project and predict performance for the MLB this time, I can accurately depict his ability at the MLB level.

For anyone that didn’t read the previous analysis on Garcia, I predicted him to be one of the best young relievers in all of baseball – high praise. I focused on his very low walk-rate and his excellent ability to strikeout batters at the AA level – particularly with his main weapon, his slider. Garcia was drafted in the 25th round back in 2018, but has quickly exceeded expectations within the Reds organisation, to the point where he only spent 12 games in AAA ball last year before joining the Reds in Spring Training this Spring. When I spoke to Reds GM Nick Krall, this is how he explained the decision:

Well, it was clear that he was Major League ready. We kept him in AA for a while, but when he seamlessly made the transition to the AAA level with the Bats, it was clear that keeping him in the Minors wasn’t necessarily going to do anything for him, and we felt he would more than add to our bullpen this season. Obviously we had to wait and see how he would perform in Spring Training, but we were confident that he’d make the step up. Clearly, he did.

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Pitcher Analysis: Jorge Garcia

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Alex Thomas –  Image result for twitter logo
August 4th, 2019

After my previous pitcher analysis in my series, looking at the current standing of MLB Closer Craig Kimbrel, a fair few of you have been asking for me to look at another reliever, but one from the Minor Leagues in order to project performance moving forward. So this edition of the Pitcher Analysis will be looking at 19 year old reliever Jorge Garcia, who’s just ended his second season in AA ball. This analysis will demonstrate why I’m predicting Garcia to be one of the most interesting and varied relievers in baseball in a few years’ time.

Garcia was drafted in the 25th round by the Cincinnati Reds, and is currently ending his second season in AA Ball, with his Minor League team, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. The Wahoos are scheduled to be in the playoffs for the second season in succession, and Garcia’s play without a doubt has played a role in this success for the team. The team tried Garcia out as a starter during his early games for the team, but that experiment was quickly abandoned in favour of keeping Garcia as a reliever, a role he played throughout his time at high school, performing well for lesser known Cordale High School. Those that I spoke to from the Blue Wahoos spoke extremely favourably of Garcia, especially Pitching Coach Cibney Bello:

Jorge has become a very valuable member of our bullpen, and someone we trust in those high leverage innings to hold and maintain our lead. He’s been used in the 8th and the 9th over the last two seasons, and has performed excellently either as a Setup Man or a Closer. Obviously he’s performed well in terms of saves, but we really look at his other stats in order to assess his performance. The way he pitches just messes with batters’ heads.

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Pitcher Report: David Cohen

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Alex Thomas –  Image result for twitter logo
August 3rd, 2018

I’ll be honest, when I was asked by Bleacher Report to do this latest pitcher scouting evaluation, I’d never remotely heard of David Cohen before, save a few mentions from those that eagerly follow AA and AAA ball. However, this scout report will cover a right handed pitcher who, in my esteemed opinion, could go on to become one of the best young pitchers in baseball, and is well on his way to the major leagues, and I expect him to be called up within the next year or so.

Drafted way down in the 25th round of last year’s MLB Draft by the Texas Rangers as a Relief Pitcher, Cohen has made the rare transition from reliever to starter in a relatively short amount of time. Cohen began his AA career earning 9 saves in 9 opportunities, but what showed his skill level more was his 8 Goose Eggs – a stat that evaluates closers far better than saves – in 8 opportunities with no broken eggs whatsoever. After around a month or so of relief appearances, the Rangers’ AA affiliate the Roughriders decided to try him out as a starter. When I spoke to Roughriders manager Joe Mikulik, this was how he explained the decision:

Well, firstly it was simply just to see how he would handle further innings, but we also had a feeling that his stuff would translate into starting and getting batters out early. Obviously he still has much to work on in that area, but it was clear to us, and those working with us at the Rangers, that he had the potential to make the switch.

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A New Adventure…

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Welcome back to the blog everyone. Well, as I mentioned on Twitter around a week ago, I’ve decided to shelve the Moneyball on Football Manager 2019 series for a while. I was still enjoying it, but I was starting to get the itch for something different – usually a sign that I’m losing interest in a save – and I was struggling to find the time to play the save, ending up playing only a couple of games per week. The Moneyball save is extremely time consuming, as so much time is spent scouting, and as a result I just wasn’t able to play the game how I’d like at the moment. The save will certainly return before FM20, but for now I need something relatively quick and easy to play, with few restrictions. However, I still wanted a challenge, and something that would feel a little fresh in comparison to my recent saves on Football Manager.

As a result, I’ve gone back to my Football Manager home, Italy Image result for italy flag gif. Italy is a familiar stomping ground for many people around my age that regularly play FM, largely as a result of the importance of Serie A in the 1990’s when I was a kid, and the wonderfully brilliant Gazzetta Football Italiatrust me, click that link as you read – program on Channel 4 throughout the 90’s, presented by the hilarious genius that is James Richardson. I’ve always loved Italian football, for its history, passion, tactical intelligence, and great players. However, apart from one infuriating season with Napoli on FM16, I haven’t actually played in Italy properly since my Parma save I wrote on The Dugout for FM14. Cassano and Biabiany. ❤

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Moneyball in Football Manager 2019: IV

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Right, we’re back with the 4th update of the Moneyball in Football Manager 2019 series with Glasgow Rangers, and we’re at the end of the Summer transfer window, and partway through the beginning of the league season. Once again I want to thank everyone for the support so far, and in case anyone has missed any of the updates so far, they are here, here and here. In the third update, we ended the first season with Rangers, winning the league title by eleven points from Celtic, and making the First Knockout Round of the Europa League. Of course, this time we would have the opportunity to qualify for the Champions League group stages. We also assessed the Moneyball transfers I’d made throughout the first season, and on the whole, they were a success. However, we now have a second season of data to analyse, and one of the key tenets of Moneyball is to trust long-term trends more than anything as a way to evaluate true performance, and therefore value.

As a reminder, the conditions or rules that I’ve applied to my save come largely from the concepts outlined in Moneyball, but also from the excellent football economy books Soccernomics by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski, and The Numbers Game by Chris Anderson and David Sally. If you need a reminder, below are the rules I’m using.

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