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#pounditWednesday, August 10, 2022

Stories by Grey Papke:

Giants GM makes admission about his Juan Soto trade offer

The San Francisco Giants were interested in a Juan Soto trade, but clearly never got close to an agreement with the Washington Nationals. General manager Farhan Zaidi thinks he knows why, at least in part.

In an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area’s “Giants Talk” podcast, Zaidi admitted it was hard to sell the Nationals on the prospects the team was offering in light of their current minor league performances.

“We all see these prospect rankings and a lot of them are done in the offseason. Certain prospect rankings update during the season, but current year performance matters a lot in how the industry views these players,” Zaidi said, via Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area. “Health or underperformance — which the reality is, we’ve seen with a few of our players — can really impact their short-term value even if you are still very bullish on their long-term prospects.

“Even from a PR standpoint, I think when you’re talking about trading away a star player, a franchise player, you don’t want to say the second- or third-best player you got is hitting .175 in a-ball. That represents a little bit of a challenge in situations like we found ourselves in this trade deadline but it doesn’t impact our view of our system in the long run.”

The player Zaidi is referring to is likely outfielder Luis Matos, who is rated by MLB.com as the No. 3 prospect in the Giants’ system. Matos was hitting .177 at High-A at the time of the trade, likely limiting his appeal in talks no matter how high the Giants may still be on him.

The Padres gave up a huge package for Soto, and it’s easy to see why Washington preferred theirs. C.J. Abrams and MacKenzie Gore are basically MLB-ready, and the Padres were able to add on more top prospects on top of that. Things just did not fall in the Giants’ favor here, and they may have to pay for it with Soto in the division for two more seasons.

Cubs parting ways with notable core player at end of season

Mar 10, 2020; Scottsdale, Arizona, USA; Chicago Cubs manager David Ross looks on during a spring training game against the San Francisco Giants at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Cubs have largely moved on from the core of players who won the World Series in 2016. On Monday, the team announced that another big part of that team will be departing at the end of the season.

Cubs GM Jed Hoyer announced that the team will mutually part ways with outfielder Jason Heyward at the end of the season. Heyward, who is unlikely to play again in 2022 due to a knee issue, wants to play in 2023. The Cubs will give him an entire offseason to find a new club.

Heyward is due $22 million next season, the final year of the eight-year deal he signed with the team prior to the 2016 campaign. The Cubs will apparently just pay that off and let Heyward walk.

Heyward’s offensive numbers were middling during his Cubs tenure, but he was renowned as an excellent leader and defender. Players credited one of his major off-field actions as a key part of the Cubs’ win in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series.

With Heyward on the way out and Willson Contreras facing free agency, pitcher Kyle Hendricks may be the only remaining piece of that 2016 on the team’s roster in 2023.

Patriots’ offense getting awful reviews over scheme change

Aug 12, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones 10) throws the ball during a game against the Washington Football Team at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots have consistently been running the same basic offensive scheme for two decades. That may be changing this season, and that change is apparently proving to be quite a difficult one.

The Patriots have begun to implement zone-blocking schemes in their offense this year, a departure from their gap-heavy rushing attack of years past. Whether this is used in games remains to be seen, but Patriots team reporter Evan Lazar suggested that the offense is “struggling to execute” the new zone schemes.

The reviews got even more scathing on Monday. Phil A. Perry of NBC Sports Boston said the offense looked “broken.” Colleague Tom E. Curran concurred, calling the offense “distressingly bad” and singling out the offensive line as a major problem spot.

Poor blocking has consistently been a theme of reports from Patriots camp. Only a few days ago, the issue seemed to be impacting quarterback Mac Jones’ ability to operate.

The Patriots have declined to formally name an offensive coordinator this year. Instead, the job appears to be a collaboration between trusted Bill Belichick lieutenants Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, neither of whom comes from an offensive coaching background. Between that and the apparent scheme tweak, things could be quite rocky for New England’s offense this season.

Marshawn Lynch has new role with Seahawks

Aug 30, 2018; Seattle, WA, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch (24) during a preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Marshawn Lynch is back with the Seattle Seahawks — sort of, at least.

The Seahawks announced their broadcasting and media plans for the season, including local preseason telecast information. The release included one notable bit of information at the end, however: Lynch will be serving as a “special correspondent” later in the season and will “produce creative content” for the team.

What does this mean? Even the Seahawks might not know. The strategy seems to be to let Lynch be Lynch, which has certainly produced broadcast magic before.

Lynch last played in the NFL in 2019, when he went out with a brief cameo as a member of the Seahawks. He’s been linked to other broadcasting gigs as well, so the former running back seems ready and willing to cover the NFL in some capacity.

Josh McDaniels responds to trade rumors surrounding key player

Mar 2, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels talks to the media during the 2022 NFL Combine. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Whether he meant to or not, Las Vegas Raiders coach Josh McDaniels sparked trade rumors around one of his key players in the team’s first preseason game. On Monday, he tried to quiet that speculation.

McDaniels was scrutinized for playing running back Josh Jacobs in Thursday’s Hall of Fame Game, especially since no other Raiders starters took part. The decision led some to wonder if the Raiders were trying to showcase Jacobs as a trade chip. McDaniels denied that was the case.

“”JJ’s a guy we know what he’s done. We have a lot of confidence in JJ. He did well with his opportunities. We have no desire to do that (trade) at all,” McDaniels said.

McDaniels had previously said he likes to make sure running backs get to see some game action in the preseason. That reasoning did not necessarily put an end to speculation that Jacobs, who is headed into the final year of his contract, might be on the market.

Jacobs is just 24 and has two 1,000-yard seasons to his name. Plus, McDaniels apparently made him a centerpiece of his recruiting pitch when seeking the Raiders job. Perhaps we can take McDaniels at his word.

Dan Campbell responds to Lions’ unusual retirements

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell on the field before action against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2021, at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirthmon F. Dozier/USA TODAY NETWORK

The Detroit Lions have been hit by a series of premature retirements during preseason, leading some to question what is going on within the organization.

Cornerback Jermaine Waller, nose tackle John Penisini, and receiver Corey Sutton are among the Lions players who announced their retirements in recent weeks. None of the three players are over the age of 24, which further raised eyebrows. A fourth player, Tyrell Crosby, accused the Lions of mishandling an injury and not caring about players. Crosby spent three seasons with Detroit before being released in August 2021.

On Monday, coach Dan Campbell was asked if there was a pattern to these early retirements. The coach said the decisions were not “just about football” and that the NFL is “not for everybody.”

Campbell’s comments probably won’t make the questions go away. That’s especially true after what Crosby said, particularly when the organization has been accused of mishandling injuries before.

Campbell has won a lot of plaudits for his style of coaching in Detroit, and has come across as people-oriented even when making tough decisions. This issue certainly raises doubts for some, even if there is ultimately nothing to it.

Roger Maris’ son reveals stance on Aaron Judge record chase

Aug 23, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge (99) runs to first base after hitting a single against the Atlanta Braves during the eighth inning at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Judge has a legitimate chance of breaking Roger Maris’ American League single-season home run record, but Maris’ son is not necessarily pulling for him.

In a recent interview with TMZ Sports, Kevin Maris said he would ultimately like to see his father’s record of 61 home runs stand for another season. However, that stance is not personal; Maris wishes Judge the best in his pursuit of the mark, and if the record must fall, he’s glad it will be broken by another New York Yankee.

“I don’t know if anybody likes their record broken at the end of the day,” Kevin Maris said. “But it’s nice to see him giving it a good run. Records are made to be broken at some point. If it happens to be this year, you’ve got to tip your hat to the guy.”

One has to applaud Maris for his candidness. The 61 home run mark remains quite revered, even though the MLB record has been broken by Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds. With both players linked to PED use, a lot of fans still view Maris’ 61 homers as the legitimate single-season mark, and it does remain the record on the books in the American League.

Judge has actually been on pace to best the record and has not showed much sign of slowing down. Judge has a league-best 43 home runs through 109 games this season (he’s played in 105 of them). He needs to hit 19 more in 53 games to break the record.

Judge’s pace has been a home run every 2.53 games this season. At that pace, he would finish the season with 20 more home runs for a total of 63.

Judge may pull off the feat, though he can’t afford to go cold for any period of time.

Report reveals early leader in Panthers’ QB competition

Aug 27, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule before the game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Panthers are holding an open competition for their starting quarterback job between Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield. However, there is some reason to believe one of the two players has a leg up in the competition.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo said Monday that the starting job is clearly Mayfield’s to lose. According to Garafolo, Mayfield has been making more big plays even as he is still getting familiar with the offense, and appears to have a higher ceiling than what Darnold has offered.

If the Panthers were comfortable with Darnold, they never would have traded for Mayfield in the first place. That alone suggests Mayfield has a good shot at winning the job. It helps that the former Cleveland Browns quarterback has some extra incentive to win the starting job for Week 1.

The Panthers still appear poised to keep Darnold around as insurance. That, however, is likely driven by the difficulty of finding a trade partner more than anything else.

Braves’ Spencer Strider makes bold statement about Mets

Jun 21, 2022; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Spencer Strider (65) pitches against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets beat the Atlanta Braves on Sunday for the fourth time in five games, but one Atlanta player certainly did not seem too impressed by the NL East leaders.

Braves rookie pitcher Spencer Strider, the losing pitcher in Sunday’s 5-2 Mets victory, chalked his opponent’s offensive output up to “a lot of luck” and “weird hits.” Strider concluded by suggesting the Mets’ luck could turn against them in October.

Strider is likely frustrated by Pete Alonso’s key RBI double in the third, which was a sharp ground ball down the third base line that hit the bag and deflected into the outfield. However, that inning was capped off by a line drive double up the gap by Mark Canha that was not lucky in any sense of the word.

This is a pretty bold thing to say about a Mets team that is 70-39 and sits 6.5 games in front of Atlanta after Sunday’s contest. It also looks a bit silly coming from Strider after he gave up six hits and four earned runs in just 2.2 innings of work in the series finale, no matter how they came. Teams that put the ball in play can sometimes get breaks, and the Mets were able to take advantage of some against Atlanta.

The other problem with Strider’s logic is simple. Even if the Mets offense cools off a bit, any team facing them in the playoffs will have to find a way past Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom at the top of the rotation. deGrom has barely pitched in 2022 and they still boast the second-best team ERA in the league. There is nothing lucky about that. If those two perform to their capabilities, their own ball boys might be the only ones capable of stopping them.

Report: 49ers prepared for long wait on Jimmy Garoppolo trade

Sep 26, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) walks on the field before the game against the Green Bay Packers at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers may not close to trading Jimmy Garoppolo, but the organization is not keen to rush into a panic move with their veteran quarterback.

The 49ers have not found any clear trade partners as they look for a Garoppolo move, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. However, the team is willing to wait until as late as the roster cutdown deadline to make a decision on Garoppolo. The Niners reportedly are hoping that another team decides to pursue an upgrade or has to cope with an injury.

For context, the deadline to cut rosters down to 53 for the regular season is Aug. 30. That essentially means the 49ers are prepared to keep Garoppolo throughout the entire preseason if that proves necessary.

Garoppolo is still linked to the occasional team, but they don’t necessarily make clear sense or offer a starting job for the veteran. If that does not change by the end of the month, the 49ers will have a difficult decision to make. They’re likely hoping it does not come to that.