The potential season-ending Achilles injury to Michael Crabtree could have a huge effect on the NFC West race this season. Crabtree, who had 85 catches for 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns last season, was clearly Colin Kaepernick's favorite target and was turning into one of the better receivers in the NFL. The 49ers do have the talent to overcome the loss. They added Anquan Boldin to the receiving corps this offseason. They have an offensive line built around three first-round picks and a dominant runner in Frank Gore, so they could easily adjust to running the ball more. And they have a great tight end in Vernon Davis, who could become more of a focal point of the offense again. But not having their top receiver will hurt.
The one team that may benefit most from Crabtree's absence is the Cardinals. In two games vs. Arizona, Crabtree had 13 catches for 244 yards and four touchdowns. In the 49ers' 24-3 win in Week 8 with Alex Smith as the quarterback, he had five receptions for 72 yards and two touchdowns. Playing with Kaepernick in the final game of the regular season, Crabtree torched the Cardinals for eight receptions for 172 yards and two more touchdowns in a 27-13 victory, and in the process became the first 49er to go over 1,000 yards receiving since 2003.
So if Crabtree does indeed miss the entire season, Arizona will be one of many teams who won't miss him.
Read an interesting sabermetrics-type article on Paul Goldschmidt by Scott Spratt of ESPN the other day. His article was about how Goldschmidt was "Setting the MVP Pace".
Now for anyone who listens to the show, they know I am the furthest thing from a sabermetrics geek. I'm just not that interested in some of those crazy numbers. I prefer the eye test and your basic average, home runs, runs batted in, doubles and steals numbers. I was intrigued by the facts in the article that Goldschmidt was the 11th first baseman selected in that 2009 draft, the 246th player and the 13th D-back selected.
So I decided to do some homework as to why Goldschmidt wasn't picked higher, why there were so many players at his position picked ahead of him. I picked the brain of former D-backs skipper and director of Minor League operations A.J. Hinch, who now is in San Diego with the Padres. In a nutshell, he said the report on Goldschmidt at the time they drafted him was that he was a pretty good offensive player with legitimate power, plus make up who was solid defensively. The concerns on Goldy were competition in college (Texas State) and questions as to whether he could hit enough to get to his power.
It was D-backs scout Tom Allison who was big on drafting Goldschmidt and thought he would be a good Major Leaguer. But no one in the organization could have seen this coming.
Goldschmidt is an MVP candidate and a Triple Crown threat. Goldy is second in the National League in home runs with 12, third in runs batted in with 36 and seventh in batting at .323. He has become a player that can carry a team. And his defense, while not at the Keith Hernandez/Don Mattingly level, is awfully good.
Just for fun here are the players Arizona drafted before Goldschmidt that year.
Gambo and I didn't win the Powerball. The Suns didn't win the lottery.
Life goes on.
In the end, the result is something you can certainly live with. Gambo and I couldn't retire, but we still have a pretty cool gig. And the Suns have the fifth pick in the draft. While it's always preferable to improve your lot in life, Ryan McDonough will have plenty of decent options to sift through:
It would be wrong to assume there are no impact players in this year's draft. Just ask Golden State. A combined 22 players went off the board before they selected Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes. They're out there and now it's up to McDonough to take his reputation for a test spin and find them. Maybe it's one of those players. Maybe it's Trey Burke, Alex Len, C.J. McCollum or Shabazz Muhammad.
On an unrelated note, if you're a conspiracy theorist (I'm looking right at you, Doug Franz), it's pretty easy to decipher why the top pick landed in Cleveland. Clearly David Stern knows LeBron is going back to the Cavs in a year, so he's doing his best to make sure LBJ has a talent crew around him.
I've found that the best source of movie reviews is the kid working behind the popcorn counter. They've seen everything that's out; you won't get any movie-critic-artsy-fartsy nonsense -- just a good, common-people review of what's at the multiplex.
Wednesday night, I'm waiting to see Star Trek, and the popcorn kid tells me that what I should be seeing is Mud with Mathew McConaughey, which is funny because he's now the third person to share this with me. In a summer movie season filled with blockbusters like Iron Man, Star Trek and the upcoming Hangover 3 and Man of Steel, it's Mathew freakin' McConaughey claiming scoreboard with his 98% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The author's premise, in this case NFL writer Chris Burke, is to praise the Cardinals for their work this offseason while acknowledging reality; they play in the NFC West. The 49ers are loaded. The Seahawks are loaded. They are not only the two best teams in the division but perhaps the conference, heck maybe in the NFL. Oh yeah, and St. Louis kinda killed it in the draft and look to be trending upwards.
Burke suggests that the Cardinals could be vastly improved in 2013 with nary an extra win to show for it. I agree with the premise but with one caveat I'll get to in a second.
I agree the Cardinals have had a good great offseason. There are question marks that can't be glossed over -- Daryl Washington's dicey status and the selection of Tyrann Mathieu in particular -- but between the draft, free agency and the acquisition of Carson Palmer, I think Keim and company nailed it.
I agree with the notion that it might not matter in this division. Box office is all that matters in Hollywood and I'm pretty sure Mud ain't gettin' any.
What if something happens to Colin Kaepernick or Russell Wilson? What if NFL defensive coordinators, with a year's worth of tape as reference, figure out a way to slow their attacks? What if one of those teams is besieged by injuries? It's the NFL, it happens.
I understand the "what if" argument isn't the most sound one, but all you have to do is go back and look at preseason predictions from any year to understand that very little in this league goes according to script. You have to be prepared when they don't and I believe the Cardinals are prepared.
The 49ers are Iron Man. The Seahawks are Star Trek. The Cardinals are Mud, and I mean that in the nicest way.
By now the Justin Upton trade has been evaluated every which way possible. And unfortunately for Martin Prado, he will always be compared to the former D-backs' top overall pick, and there is not much he can do about it.
But while I am a big believer that in every trade there is a winner and loser, I do think there is an angle to this trade that hasn't been discussed but needs to be. And that is that Prado, while traded for Upton, did not replace him. Prado, in essence, replaced Chris Johnson. It's Cody Ross who actually replaced Upton.
So it's a better indicator to look at how Prado compares to Diamondback third basemen from last year and how Ross compares to Upton. Now Ross missed the first 10 games of the season with a bum calf, but since coming off the disabled list, he is hitting .290 with a homer and 10 RBIs. Not comparable to Upton's 13 homers, 23 runs batted in and .285 average, but numbers that aren't bad.
It's easier to compare player for player when they play the same position, ala Jarrod Parker for Trevor Cahill.
Now history shows that the team that gets the best player almost always wins the trade, so I do expect history when all is said and done will show the Braves got the better of the deal.
But if you compare Prado to D-backs third basemen and Ross to Upton, it's a more fair comparison.