Garth Snow: the Real Problem for the New York Islanders

Written by :
Published on : December 28, 2016

 

 

The New York Islanders are currently having a “decent” season. The team had a rough start in the beginning of the year with the loss of Kyle Okposo, Matt Martin, and Frans Nielsen. However, it seems that the team is getting more used to the new setup. But for a team that has so much potential, and has made the playoffs two years in a row, why hasn’t the team made it any further? Many fans blame the coaching done by Jack Capuano. Many other fans blame the managing of former Islanders’ goalie, Garth Snow.

 

Personally, I would have to agree with the fans who believe it is Garth that is preventing the team from winning a Stanley Cup. It has been ten years for Garth Snow as the GM and I feel that he has made some contributions that have helped but he’s also made a lot of stupid choices. Now, lets take a step back and look at Garth’s history with the Islanders and what he has done wrong ever since he was hired.

 

 Garth Snow the goaltender in net for team USA

 

Garth Snow was originally a New York Islanders goalie, as the back up goalie for Chris Osgood and Rick DiPietro. However in 2006 when Garth retired, he was named General Manager of the team, replacing Neil Smith (who has actually won a Stanley Cup as a GM). Through those years as GM, Garth has had his highs and lows. His lows as GM have truly prevented the team from growing.

 

For instance, in the 2008 Entry Draft, Garth Snow and the Islanders selected Josh Bailey. Yeah, you know Josh Bailey, famous for his sloppy performances and lack of scoring. Josh Bailey has even earned himself a song made by Islander fans who sat at the former Moe’s Section at the Nassau Coliseum. The lyrics of the song is a parody of the song “Hey Baby” by Bruce Channel and it goes like this, “Hey! Josh Bailey, I want to know, if you’ll score a goal”. And to make matters worse, Erik Karlsson (two time James Norris Memorial Trophy Winner) and Jordan Eberle (All Star and led Oilers in goals in 2012) were also available in the same round of the draft.

 

Another example of Garth’s many bad decisions would be the 2011 draft pick of Ryan Strome. Ryan Strome hasn’t been a very impressive player ever since the team drafted him. What makes this pick even worse is that like the 2008 draft, there were far more impressive players available, such as Jonas Brodin and Mark Scheifele.

 

 Garth Snow plotting his next draft disaster

 

My third example is going away from draft picks and more into trading. In 2013, the Islanders and Garth Snow traded Matt Moulson for Thomas Vanek. Now this specific scenario still bothers me to this day. Matt Moulson and John Tavares had such fantastic chemistry on their line and for some reason Garth decided, “Hey, let’s get rid of one of our best players who also works well with our other best player so we can get Thomas Vanek, who doesn’t even want to play for us.” Thomas Vanek didn’t even stay on the Islanders for more than one year. What a complete waste of a trade and it led the Islanders to a horrible season (also due to John Tavares’s injury at the Sochi Olympics).

 

Finally, the last decision that Garth Snow made that I felt was ridiculous was allowing Matt Martin and Kyle Okposo to leave the team. We all know that Frans Nielsen wanted to leave the Islanders to go to Detroit and Garth even offered an identical contract like Detroit’s. But he seriously did not try at all to keep Okposo and Martin on the roster. He just let them leave. And to make this situation even worse, Garth offered Casey Cizikas a $16.75 million contract. Cizikas is a good player but he is not worth $16.75 million. He decided to offer Cizikas a huge contract instead of offering to either Okposo or Martin? You’ve got to be kidding me. With Okposo and Martin, the Islanders made the playoffs two years in a row. The team was actually growing from 2012 to 2016. But for some reason, Garth wanted to do what he does best and prevent the team from succeeding.

 

It’s like he has it out for the Islanders for not starting him in net while he was a goalie for them, but lets not make this into a whole conspiracy. In all honesty, Garth has made some really good decisions like picking up Tavares and Pulock. But I feel like he has made more mistakes in his ten years of being GM than contributions to the team. I hope we eventually get back to where we were last year but for now it’s still too early in the season to tell. If the Islanders blow it this year, I wouldn’t be shocked if Garth loses his job.

 

 


The integrity of Pro Basketball is worth about $100 Million a year

Written by :
Published on : April 16, 2016

 

 

Here in the United States, our team sports are pretty badass. The uniforms are, for the most part, well designed and sleek. Kids look up to our modern day gladiators and dream of donning the jersey of their favorite team in front of thousands of adoring fans. The clean style of our pro sports apparel is part of the allure. Sure, there’s the occasional Jaguars or old-time Astros uniforms, but they are the exceptions to the rule.

 

But the supremacy of American pro sports fashion on the world stage may now be in jeopardy. After threatening fans with the prospect for the past few years, the NBA owners have agreed to a deal to become the first of the four major U.S. sports to allow advertisements on jerseys. The “NASCAR-ificiation” of pro basketball begins with the 2017-2018 season, and will be the first of a three year pilot program. Teams around the NBA will be allowed to sell a single 2.5-inch-by-2.5-inch patch to companies, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said that the program should generate an extra $100 million for the league.

 

 The guilty party.

 

Is that all the aesthetic integrity of the NBA, and really American pro sports as a whole, is worth? And are we really to believe that it’s going to stop here? I think not. Once the league gets a taste of the cash that can be generated by a single small patch, what’s to stop them from turning our source of pride in our respective cities into something resembling soccer jerseys in Europe, or heaven forbid, the jumpsuits and cars that characterize NASCAR?

 

Perhaps I don’t represent the vast majority of NBA fans, or sports fans in general, but I have the sneaking suspicion that I do. Most people I’ve spoken with HATE the idea of seeing our sports heroes covered in the trademarked logos of our corporate overlords. I remember the first time I saw a European soccer jersey and thought that “Fly Emirates” was an actual team name. When I finally found out that it was just a sponsor I was dumbfounded as to why on earth the corporate funding would take precedence over the club itself. Who wants to be a fan of the McDonald’s Knicks or the Whole Foods Lakers or the GM Pistons. Sure as hell, not me.

 

 “Hey, what’s the name of that really talented pretty boy who plays for Fly Emirates?”

 

The whole prospect seems totally bush league if you ask me, and I hope that it’s not here to stay, but I’m a realist before anything, and we should probably get used to the idea. In a league where revenues are estimated to be $7 billion during the 2017-2018, it’s nice to know that they are willing to whore out their teams and go against the wishes of fans and pundits for a few extra dollars.

 

I just hope that this trend doesn’t spread to other sports, because it has a chance to disenfranchise not only the fans, but the players too. How long is the players union going to allow the teams to make money off the advertisements that the players themselves have to wear, without rightly wanting a piece for the players. And as we already know, ownership isn’t eager to give more money to the players who make the sport possible. Sounds like perfect fodder for a new players strike.

 

Let’s all just hope it doesn’t actually come to that. Instead, let’s do a rain dance or get a voodoo doll of Adam Silver or sacrifice a lamb, and pray to the gods that our pro team jerseys don’t end up looking like this.

 

 Gross

 

 

 

 

 


Earning His Stripes: How Al Avila Won Big in His First Off-Season as GM

Written by :
Published on : January 23, 2016

 

After winning four consecutive American League Central Division titles from 2011-2014, the Detroit Tigers had high hopes entering last season as they again looked to contend for the division crown. After a 6-0 start and eventually winning as many as 11 of their first 13 games, everything seemed to be on the right track.

 

While sweeping the Minnesota Twins to start the season, the Tigers outscored their opponent 22-1 over the course of three games, setting an American League record of 24 scoreless innings to start a season. An unearned run in the 7th inning of the final game in the series ended Detroit’s string of pitching dominance.

 

 

On the mound, David Price looked locked in to have a Cy Young season, heck with the starts Alfredo Simon and Shawn Green got off to early on, it appeared his own teammates may be his toughest competition. With former Cy Young winner and league MVP Justin Verlander out until June or July, it was a very promising start from the new look rotation.

 

At the plate, things looked just as good through the first couple weeks as Miguel Cabrera was in his usual groove showcasing Ted Williams like numbers, and unlikely heroes José Iglesias and newcomer Anthony Gose were spraying the ball all over the outfield while flashing some leather in the field. For a team that hadn’t won the World Series since 1984, it had the feeling early on that this just may be the year. After four consecutive division titles, fans hoped that the third time was the charm, considering the Tigers made it to the World Series twice in the past decade only to come up short both times.

 

 

But how quickly things can change in this cruel game. Just a month or so later, the Tigers would drop eight consecutive games and fall to .500 for the first time all season. The Tigers would hang around the .500 mark for the next few months before deciding to unload at the July trade deadline. David Price, Yoenis Cespedes and closer Joakim Soria packed their bags late in July as Detroit cut its losses and began to carve out a plan for a quick “reboot” according to then President/General Manager Dave Dombrowski. Vowing this team wouldn’t endure another 15+ year rebuilding process that I witnessed during the bulk of my childhood and early teen years, but instead that this “reboot” would have us back next season.

 

Just a week later, Dombrowski was gone. Said to be a mutual decision between he and owner Mike Ilitch, Dombrowski resigned, handing the reigns to his assistant Al Avila after nearly 14 years with the team. Some two weeks later, the Boston Red Sox hired Dave Dombrowski to the same role and a few months later kicked off the off-season with some blockbuster moves, highlighted in a piece I wrote last month. But what about Dombrowski’s former team? How would the Detroit Tigers do with their offseason? With Dombrowski no longer apart of the organization, were the Tigers still in a “reboot” and ready to make a splash of their own during the offseason with new General Manager Al Avila? The answer, Detroit fans would come to find out, was yes.

 

 

Heading into the offseason, the Tigers had three glaring holes to fill if they had any dream of contending for a world championship, let alone the American League Central. Some of those holes required more than one player to fill them. First and foremost, the starting pitching needed to be addressed. With David Price dealt away at the deadline and Anibal Sánchez having a less than stellar 2015 season, Detroit needed a guy that had ace like stuff. They got that with Jordan Zimmermann, who had been with the Nationals. While some may worry about the decline on his fastball and the fact that he has had Tommy John surgery in the past, Zimmermann can flat out pitch and has a great strikeout to walk ratio. As a backend of the rotation type guy or potentially even a long relief bullpen arm, the Tigers also signed veteran Mike Pelfrey, most recently with the Minnesota Twins. This one was by no means a no-brainer like with Zimmermann and potentially a head scratcher at $8 million per, but these days signing a starting pitcher for less is rare.

 

Sticking with pitching, the Tigers also needed to add a couple quality arms to their bullpen. While the starting rotation didn’t have its best year in 2015, the bullpen didn’t fare any better. Aside from Joakim Soria, who was dealt away in July and maybe Alex Wilson too, the bullpen didn’t give Tiger fans much confidence in the later innings of ballgames. Al Avila made what appears to be a fantastic move by acquiring Francisco Rodríguez, or K-Rod, from Milwaukee for a prospect who many don’t see making it beyond AAA for any extended period of time. So the Tigers scoop Major League Baseball’s active saves leader for the next two seasons for just under $12 million? Yes, please. Avila, also added two more relievers in RHP Mark Lowe and LHP Justin Wilson.

 

The third and final major hole the Tigers needed to fill came after the trade of Yoenis Cespedes. When the Cuban Centipede was dealt away at the deadline, Tiger’s fans knew an outfield of JD Martinez, Anthony Gose, and Rajai Davis was not the answer for 162 games. Very early into free agency, the Tigers brought back a familiar face in an attempt to upgrade the outfield by acquiring Cameron Maybin from Atlanta in exchange for Ian Karol and a LHP prospect. With Atlanta covering $2.5 million of Maybin’s 2016 salary, this move was a low risk, but potentially also low reward. Over the next couple months, fans saw guys like Jason Heyward sign with the Cubs, Alex Gordon re-sign with Kansas City, and hoped that the Tigers would go out and splurge by bringing back Cespedes or another left fielder high on many GM’s lists, Justin Upton. While the familiarity of Cespedes probably had most fans preferring the highly touted 5-tool Cuban, Upton had the potential to add a wide variety of talents to a contending team. Then, late Monday night, the Tigers and Justin Upton had agreed on a 6-year deal.

 

 

Things moved really quick with the Upton deal. It was barely considered a legitimate rumor around much of Major League Baseball, but Al Avila got the final word from Mike Ilitch to go ahead and make the move even though it places them well above the luxury tax range. But as Mr I has always said, “Scared money don’t make money.” He said that right? Well, at any rate, Upton could be the final piece to the Tigers contending in 2016 and beyond. While Upton does have an opt-out clause after year two of the deal, both parties seem to be interested in keeping Justin here for the long haul. Upton brings a bat with great extra base power, a decent walk rate, and can steal you 15-20 bags a year to go along with solid defense in left field.

 

At first glance, Al Avila’s first full off-season as the head man in the front office for the Tigers probably couldn’t have been much better. He addressed every need, even going as far as to get multiple guys at each of the positions, and adding a few other backup spots elsewhere on the diamond as well. What Tigers fans need to understand is they were never in on guys like David Price, Zack Greinke, or Jason Heyward. So to come out with Jordan Zimmermann, Justin Upton and Francisco Rodriguez to fill your biggest voids grades out at a solid A in my book. With the 2016 season just around the corner, the Tiger’s “reboot” appears to be complete and while Rome wasn’t built in a day, Detroit hopes it’s beloved baseball team has been rebuilt in just one offseason.

 

 

 


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