Saturday, October 1, 2022

Braves get yet another great deal on young star, plus help is coming at perfect time for Mets

Happy Wednesday all. Hope you’re well.

Let’s get right to it.

Good morning to everyone but especially to…

MLB: MAR 19 Spring Training - Mets at Nationals

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BRETT BATY…

Brett Baty, the Mets‘ No. 2 prospect, is being called up to join the team in Atlanta in the midst of a key series against the Braves.

Baty joins the Mets at a crucial time: Their division lead over the Braves is down to 3.5 games after dropping the first two games of their current series. The Mets have scored one or zero runs in four of their last five games and have had starting pitchers injured on consecutive days: Taijuan Walker on Tuesday and Carlos Carrasco on Monday.

… AND ALSO A GOOD MORNING TO THE ATLANTA BRAVES

Not only are the Braves winning on the field, but they picked up a massive win off the field, signing rookie outfielder Michael Harris II to an eight-year, $72-million extension. The deal includes a two-year club option and could be worth up to $102 million.

  • Harris II — who jumped straight from Double-A to MLB in late May — is slashing .287/.325/.500 with 12 home runs. He’s also a perfect 13/13 on steals.
  • It’s the third-richest guarantee for a player with less than one full year of service time, trailing only the Rays Wander Franco and Harris II’s teammate Ronald Acuña Jr.

The Braves have made it a habit to lock up talented youngsters early, and it’s paid off big time. Acuña Jr. received $100 million guaranteed and Ozzie Albies got $35 million guaranteed before their rookie contracts were up. Those deals involve significantly more money than what the players would be earning when they signed them — but it’s also a massive discount for what the team would have to pay in arbitration or to retain them as a free agent.

If the players in these situations flame out, it’s a major overpay, but if they perform, they’re ridiculously good deals for the club.

Atlanta now has Harris II, Acuña Jr., Albies, Matt Olson and Austin Riley — among others — under contract through 2025 or later. Oh, and stud pitcher Mike Soroka is nearing a return from injury as the Braves look toward defending their World Series crown this postseason.

Honorable mention

Not so honorable mentions

Welcome to the WNBA playoffs 🏀

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The WNBA playoffs are here! Two first-round series begin tonight with Liberty-Sky and the Mercury-Aces. Tomorrow night, the other two series — Wings-Sun and Mystics-Storm — begin.

The Aces are the top seed, and they’re also atop WNBA expert Jack Maloney’s Power Rankings.

  • Maloney: “Sunday’s comeback win over the Storm to secure the No. 1 seed capped off a tremendous close to the season for the Aces. They won four straight, including a win over the Sky and two over the Storm. … During their mid-season slump there was concern that the Aces had peaked too early, but they’re back on track and the title favorite.”

One interesting change to this year’s playoff format is that the first round series is two home games for the higher-seeded team, and then the third game (if necessary) would be at the lower-seeded team. James Wade — head coach of the No. 2 Sky — and Sue Bird — star guard for the No. 4 Storm — are none too happy about the new format.

Make sure to check out Jack’s excellent previews of both series that begin tonight, and make sure you know how to watch as well.

What does the future hold for Bronny James? 👀

Sierra Canyon v Glenbard West

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In case you missed it, Bronny James absolutely posterized an opponent in France earlier this week. It’s not the first poster he’s produced, and it certainly won’t be the last. But where he’ll produce those posters is a topic of great debate.

  • James is entering his senior year of high school at Sierra Canyon and is the No. 49 prospect in the 2023 class, according to 247Sports.
  • James debuted in the top 20 of the class rankings back in September 2020, but has fallen off a bit and gone from a five-star recruit to a four-star recruit.
  • James posted a strong summer on the Nike EYBL circuit to regain some momentum, though.

Despite being, you know, the son of LeBron James, Bronny’s recruitment is shrouded in mystery, writes college basketball reporter Kyle Boone.

  • Boone:  “There was a time when Bronny reportedly had standing offers from both Duke and Kentucky. That time, though, was more than six years ago. A lot, including his circumstances, has changed since then. Nowadays, his recruitment — or lack thereof — is among the more mysterious topics in college hoops recruiting circles. He’s easily one of the most famous and intriguing top-50 prospects to come through the sport in the last decade, and yet, there’s surprisingly very little information available about his recruitment and even less about his opportunities.”

James’ 247Sports page lists him with no offers but plenty of top programs with “interest.” Reports have also linked him to the G-League and the Australian NBL.

Kyle’s look into Bronny James is full of awesome analysis from the industry’s top experts, and I definitely encourage you to read about one of the truly unique prospects in the history of college basketball recruiting.

What we learned about each team in preseason Week 1, plus rookie grades 🏈

Green Bay Packers v San Francisco 49ers

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With Week 2 of the NFL preseason beginning tomorrow, it’s time to look at one thing we’ve learned from every team so far. We’ve already discussed the rookie quarterbacks’ impressive debuts, but it’s a second-year signal-caller who left a strong impression on our NFL expert Jordan Dajani.

  • Dajani: Trey Lance is ready — There are some people out there that believe the 49ers are making a mistake ditching Jimmy Garoppolo for Lance, but the former No. 3 overall pick looks ready to take over. Lance played a total of two drives vs. the Packers, and led the offense to 10 points scored. … There are still some learning curves ahead for Lance, but his passing ability may be something that takes this team to another level.”

For Jordan’s big takeaway on every team, you can check out his story here.

Meanwhile, all of the first-round rookies now have one professional game under their belt, and while there’s obviously a long, long way to go, we can grade their first impressions. NFL scribe Chris Trapasso handed out six “A-” marks:

  • Travon Walker (Jaguars)
  • Ikem Ekwonu (Panthers)
  • Charles Cross (Seahawks)
  • Zion Johnson (Chargers)
  • Tyler Smith (Cowboys)

  • George Karlaftis (Chiefs)

You can see all of the first-rounders’ grades here.

Zach Wilson undergoes surgery; Week 1 status in doubt 🤕

NFL: AUG 12 Preseason - Jets at Eagles

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Jets quarterback Zach Wilson underwent successful arthroscopic knee surgery to trim his meniscus. There were reportedly no other injuries to the knee other than a bone bruise and meniscus tear, which is regarded as good news for the Jets, especially in light of offensive tackle Mekhi Becton‘s season-ending knee injury that was initially not believed to be serious.

  • Wilson suffered the injury against the Eagles in Week 1 of the preseason, and the initial timeline was 2-4 weeks, but as of now it’s unknown how much time he could miss.
  • The recovery process is complicated because a bone bruise requires significant rest and time off your feet. The Jets reportedly won’t put Wilson back on the field until he’s 100% healthy.
  • The Jets’ regular-season opener against the Ravens is roughly three-and-a-half weeks away.

Joe Flacco is in line to start should Wilson not be ready in time, and the Jets reportedly are not interested in adding Jimmy Garoppolo. Jets head coach Robert Saleh has praised Flacco throughout training camp. Flacco appeared in two games — one start — for New York last year and threw three touchdowns and zero interceptions. 

What we’re watching Wednesday 📺

The WNBA playoffs open tonight. Here’s how to watch.

And also…

Dodgers at Brewers, 8:10 p.m. on FS1

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