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Sorry, Mets fans, Nationals are considerably better

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The New York Mets were a do-nothing team at the winter meetings, which wasn¡¯t that surprising given the current state of the team and the state of the payroll. There is still a move (or two) to be made, but that will likely be dumping an outfielder to replenish the farm system and perhaps adding a middle reliever of marginal value.

By FanGraphs¡¯ projections, the Nationals have a six-game edge on the Mets heading into 2017. The Nationals are one of five teams projected to win 90 games, along with the Cubs, Red Sox, Dodgers and Astros. The Mets are slotted for 84, one of eight teams pegged for between 82 and 84.

Given Cashman’s past stance on paying closers big money, this seems like a strange move for him to make. Owner Hal Steinbrenner was “all-in” on wanting Chapman, so Cashman might have had a little nudge.

The money and the years matter if the Yankees are truly committed to having real budgets going forward. The only other reliever to receive a five-year deal in MLB history was B.J. Ryan in 2005 for $47.5 million. Ryan was released in the middle of his fourth season.

Here is another thing that might worry you if you are a Yankees fan: The Cubs’ Theo Epstein is arguably the best baseball executive in the game, manning a team poised to be a dynasty. Epstein never even tried to re-sign Chapman. What does that tell you?

Jerry Crasnick’s take: A lot of people were surprised to see the Mariners considering Trumbo, given that Seattle general manager Jerry Dipoto traded him twice (from the Angels to the Diamondbacks in 2013 and from the Mariners to the Orioles in 2015).

Game Kids Vladimir Tarasenko Jersey As it turns out, the dalliance was short-lived. The Mariners did, indeed, check in on Trumbo, but at the moment, they’re planning to stand pat and go with a Danny Valencia-Dan Vogelbach platoon at first base. Fellow free agents Mike Napoli and Chris Carter aren’t on Seattle’s radar, either. Barring a shift in direction, the Mariners will devote the bulk of their energy to improving the starting rotation.

Non-NHL Olympic rosters for USA, Canada

Our NFL Insiders predict Colin Kaepernick’s employer in 2017. Plus: The Ravens’ chances of upsetting the Patriots, the NFC’s No. 6 seed, the effect of Earl Thomas’ injury and more.

Who will Colin Kaepernick be playing for next season?

Matt Bowen, NFL writer: 49ers. Even after Kaepernick’s dismal performance this past Sunday in the loss to the Bears, Chip Kelly’s system is still the best fit for the quarterback. Given the designed run schemes and the route tree in San Francisco, Kaepernick has shown the ability to produce under Kelly’s coaching. And although he should draw some interest on the market, re-signing with the 49ers is the best option here.

To read NFL insiders’ predictions on Raiders-Chiefs, Seahawks-Packers, Broncos-Titans, Cowboys-Giants and Ravens-Patriots, become an ESPN Insider today.

San Diego was special for Rivera. His time there propelled him to the head coaching job at Carolina.

He still respects players like Rivers and what they mean to the game.

“His competitive fire. His spirit. His will to want to win. The verbiage he used . . . gosh, golly, doggone,’’ Rivera said. “Pretty impressive.’’
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This also is a homecoming for Rivers, who played at NC State in Raleigh, North Carolina, from 2000 to 2003 before becoming a five-time Pro Bowl selection for the Chargers.

“I was married and had our first daughter there, so Raleigh and the experience playing there, will always be a special place,” Rivers said.
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“Time flies, I can’t believe it’s been since 2004 that I have played at Carolina. It just flies by. This is Year 13. It goes in a hurry as everybody always tells you.”

But the memories, as Rivera made clear, always are there.

Landry Jones was picked off by Vontaze Burfict

After a failed two-point conversion, the Bengals held a 16-15 lead with 1:50 to go. Filling in for an injured Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones was picked off by Vontaze Burfict. This could’ve iced the game, but Jeremy Hill fumbled the ball back to the Steelers on the next play.

Los Angeles Dodgers Womens Jersey Kelce, meanwhile, looked like a mini Rob Gronkowski out there. The third-year tight end finished with 8 catches for 128 yards — a career high — after not catching more than 6 passes in any regular season game all year. One of his catches was this beastly grab and run for 48 yards.
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Washington and Houston finished with 9-7 records, though for most of the season, it seemed likely that the winner of either division would end up at or under .500. And it wouldn’t have been the first time.

Unfortunately, both teams sustained significant injuries in the third, as the Texans lost J.J. Watt and the Chiefs lost Jeremy Maclin. Maclin seems to have sustained a potentially serious injury, while Watt just looked like all of the smaller injuries from earlier in the season started to build up and take a toll on him.

The Giants still have rights to Coughlin because he technically was not fired and instead stepped down from the position. Therefore, teams that hope to interview Coughlin must first request permission from the Giants, as the Eagles did.

This is all despite massive issues at the quarterback position. Brian Hoyer started the first game of the season, was benched for Ryan Mallett, and then eventually replaced Mallett after a couple games. Mallett was released and Hoyer led the Texans to some good wins before he sustained an injury and had to be replaced by T.J. Yates. Then he got hurt too, and Brandon Weeden had to be signed.

The Baltimore Ravens appear to be in a mixed zone-man coverage

Elite Youth Marquess Wilson Jersey This throw by Palmer from a muddied pocket is impressive as well.

I really like this concept shown below. The Baltimore Ravens appear to be in a mixed zone-man coverage, where on the defensive left, the two corners up toward the line are in man, and the deep safeties and corner to the other side are in zone.

As Brown and Floyd release on the offense right, the defensive backs in coverage stick with their original matchups. As Brown heads upfield and Floyd widens out, he’s got his cornerback on his hip and a lot of green toward the sideline.

Washington wanted the Packers to believe they were running the football to start that drive, so they put an extra offensive linemen, Tom Compton, in the game as a tight end and went with a play action fake to running back Alfred Morris. The fake was so good it got both Packers safeties to bite up on the run leaving absolutely no one covering the deep area of the field.

Womens Chicago White Sox Jersey I can’t be sure if it was Packers safety Morgan Burnett or his amigo on the back end Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or both, who fucked up on that play. What I can tell you is that if Cousins had any time at all to get the ball to Jackson, you could have struck up the band before the ball even left his hand. Hell, I could have made that throw with no pressure and I feel like a senior citizen most days at this point in my life.

Only problem was there wasn’t any time to get a pass off, not even with Washington leaving Compton in to help pass block. Not when the guy they asked Compton to block one-on-one is also the guy who is currently tied with Jared Allen for the lead in career sacks among active players.

Unfortunately for the Steelers, they are hurting bad after a very physical and chippy game against the Bengals. Starting wide receiver Antonio Brown, possibly the best receiver in the league today, took a huge hit from Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict and was ruled out for Sunday’s game with a concussion.

Winter meetings shopping guide: Let’s make a deal in D.C.

So now that we’ve got that pesky little labor snafu out of the way, let baseball’s real offseason fun begin. And by that, of course, we mean:

Bring on the winter meetings!

They will come roaring at us from the shores of the Potomac River, starting Sunday. And when you consider all the offseason activity that got shoved in the back of the freezer as teams awaited further developments on the labor front, these meetings have a chance to be crazy.

Yanks both rebuilding and reloading this winter. Wait … what?

You know that youth movement in the Bronx that began at the trade deadline? It’s still on. But so is a possible spending spree at the winter meetings.

“If you want a prediction, I would expect a lot of action,” one AL executive said. “I think there’s a lot of stuff out there that people have arranged and want to do and have had a lot of substantive talks about. And they were left like, ‘Once we know all the rules [in the labor deal], let’s get moving on this.'”
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OK, so what happens now that those folks finally know all the rules — or know most of them, anyway? Let the transactions begin. That’s what.

First off, there are many, many free agents left to sign, in a world in which 19 of Keith Law’s top 23 free agents remain on the board. And some of them — say, Edwin Encarnacion, Carlos Beltran and Rich Hill, to name three — could go quickly.

But what really will make these winter meetings an awesome Rumor Central attraction is that, for once, those free agents aren’t going to be headliners in this show. It’s going to be a week in which a bunch of five-star, bright-lights players are going to turn up in, like, a dozen trade rumors a day — because, as long as they’re not a closer or a first baseman/DH, they’re potentially much bigger difference-makers than anyone on the free-agent market.

“It’s one of the worst free-agent groups I can remember,” said one longtime NL exec. “So I think people are saying, ‘Let’s go make a trade.'”

And if that’s what they’re saying, it could be one action-packed week. So if anyone needs help out there as they steer their shopping cart through the aisles, we’re here to offer our “expert” assistance — by presenting this handy-dandy buyer’s guide to the winter meetings:

If you’re in the market for starting pitching this winter, you’d better have more than a shopping cart full of baseballs to barter. AP Photo/Morry Gash
Starting pitching

The good news: There are three dozen available free-agent starters. The bad news: Exactly one of them is coming off a season in which he worked more than 100 innings, had an ERA under 3.70 and had an ERA+ more than 23 percent above the league average. That would be Rich Hill, naturally. And even though he’ll turn 37 next March, Hill is poised to sign the contract of a lifetime. (Our prediction: He goes back to the Dodgers.)

Joe Carter Limited Jersey So for teams looking for top-of-the-rotation arms, the only real route is the Trade Rumor section of this market. And luckily for them, there are some intriguing starters on those shelves.

Carroll asked Chancellor to take over as starting safety and as vocal leader of the defense

He never took a play off, even in practice. He jumped over linemen to block extra points. He roamed the field with a physical recklessness that teammates admired and opposing receivers feared. After just one NFL season, Carroll asked Chancellor to take over as starting safety and as vocal leader of the defense. But Chancellor demurred. “I told him I wasn’t ready for that second part,” he says. “I needed to prove myself on the field first and do it by example. You can’t force leadership. It has to be natural.”

For the next several moments, he’s the only guy on the field moving at a rate faster than a dreary jog. One moment everybody’s lying around stretching, and the next this huge person is running as fast as he can for no apparent reason. His head tilted back, his arms pumping, his Doric-column legs churning — it’s like something out of a nature show. After about 30 yards of max effort — he moves faster than you would expect, given the surrounding torpor — Incognito looks over his left shoulder to see a football thrown by quarterback Tyrod Taylor descending into his thick, heavily wrapped hands. He catches it in full stride — “I have great hands,” he says — and decelerates like a downshifting big rig.

It is Chancellor whom teammates credit for uniting the locker room on the way to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances. It is Chancellor who now blames himself for disrupting that chemistry last season with his two-game contract holdout, a situation that he says damaged relationships with teammates and compelled him to apologize.

And now, on this Monday night, it is Chancellor who Carroll believes is most capable of igniting the Seahawks for the season’s stretch run — even if he’s still hobbled on the sideline in street clothes, about to miss his fourth consecutive game with a groin injury.

Elite Mens Moses Malone Jersey “You should speak to the guys before the game tonight,” Chancellor would later recall Carroll telling him.
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Why? I’m not even playing, Chancellor thought to himself.

Before he can say anything, though, Carroll says: “Doesn’t matter. They want to hear you anyway.”

Hoyer went on to say that baseball front offices do a good job of looking into their future

“He cut us a break last year, came back to us on a one-year deal,” Hoyer said. “He put his money where his mouth is. It’s a good lesson for everyone. He bet on himself and bet on being involved in something special. Something he can be really proud of.”

Hoyer went on to say that baseball Britton Colquitt Womens Jersey front offices do a good job of looking into their future, as everyone knows years ahead of time when players will become free agents. That works for players, as well — Fowler bet on himself knowing that a weak free-agent class was coming, and he was right.

One longtime agent thinks Fowler will get a minimum of four years and $60 million, while ESPN’s Jim Bowden estimates Fowler cashing in for upward of five years and $80 million. The Washington Nationals, St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets have shown interest in the 30-year-old, according to league sources.

Should the Cubs do what it takes to keep him? Let’s examine both options.

This year’s free-agent class is light on top-tier talent and depth, but there’s plenty of power to go around, including a few 40-homer guys.

If the Cubs ante up for Fowler, they’ll have to open up space in an outfield with too many bodies, especially with the return of Kyle Schwarber and the emergence of Baez at second base. Jason Heyward has seven years remaining on his deal, Ben Zobrist Cam Johnson Womens Jersey is signed for three more years, while Jorge Soler is also locked up and Almora appears ready for more playing time.

This kind of depth would be a good problem to have, though, and with Fowler in the fold, others would become expendable. Perhaps Almora becomes a centerpiece in a deal for young pitching. Or maybe it’s Baez. At this point, Soler would be a complementary piece, but it’s safe to assume he can be had in the right trade.

A commitment to Fowler would tie up the Cubs’ payroll and bank on him being productive into his mid-30s. The Cubs are already doing that with Zobrist and will eventually do so with Heyward, but outside of the core young players, was there anyone more valuable than Fowler in 2016?

Le’Veon Bell won’t apologize for patient running: ‘I’m controlling the pace’

Watching Ezekiel Elliott and Le’Veon Bell get after it in Week 10 was a love letter to rock-toting aficionados everywhere. Bell is the smooth, versatile rusher/receiver, while Elliott is wildly explosive through the hole on his way to an MVP campaign (thanks in part to the Steelers’ defense).

But Bell’s rushing style can be difficult to figure Vaughn Martin Authentic Womens Jersey out. Even the men blocking for him find it a unique experience. Bell waits, and waits, and waits some more, slow-cooking his runs until his rushing lanes have the right seasoning.

It’s hard to complain about the results after Bell recently became the fastest player in NFL history to reach 3,000 rushing yards and 1,500 receiving yards.

Le’Veon Bell says he has “perfected” being patient and waiting for his running lanes to develop. Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
On short gains, it looks to the common fan like he waited too long. But to Bell, the process is way more complicated than that.

We’re talking third-dimension stuff.

“Some people would think that because it doesn’t look like I’m hitting the hole right now,” said Bell, who has 433 rushing yards on 100 carries and 45 catches for 360 yards through six games this season. “But essentially the hole is still going to be there. I’m just trying to make it bigger.”

Bell explains.

Which wide receivers have the easiest and toughest matchups in Week 11? Check out the downloadable PDF cheat sheet listing every matchup to help with your fantasy football decisions.

Keep that in mind as you set your fantasy lineups this week, and be sure to take advantage Ziggy Ansah Authentic Womens Jersey of our Roster Advisor tool to get an edge on your opponents. And for those taking part in the Eliminator Challenge, you can get an edge here, too, with the Survivor Guide.

Our weekly ESPN Insider cheat sheet provides a rundown of the greatest hits from all of our Insider fantasy football content. In this file, you’ll find answers to the top questions of the week, along with injury updates, matchup advantages and wild-card plays from Eric Karabell, Tristan H. Cockcroft, Matt Bowen, Scott Kacsmar, Mike Clay and Al Zeidenfeld. It’s all the best tips, distilled into one handy file.

Thompson wasn’t alone in rallying around James

As if the Cavs needed reminders of the special player they have in James. On Tuesday, a fan was shown on the Jumbotron holding a sign that read, “I flew in from Taiwan to see LeBron.” Security guards line the tunnel from the locker room out to the court, and they all hold up a single fist when James makes his way through. He’s the only Cavs’ player who elicits that heightened awareness, because, well, he is the man everyone is there to see.

If anything though, James tries to share the shine — whether that be empowering his childhood friends Rich Paul, Maverick Carter and Randy Mims to Authentic Quincy Enunwa Jersey become business partners or spreading the wealth with a simple gesture like putting a pair of Beats headphones in every teammate’s locker before the Toronto game.

“He’s always been like that,” Tristan Thompson told ESPN.com. “He’s all about team and family so you got to be very appreciative and always say ‘thank you’ because I’ve been on other teams where we haven’t got s—, so he always looks out for us and makes sure everyone is well taken care of бн

“I’ve never met a human being at that level that Authentic Robby Anderson Jersey cares so much about others. So Phil Jackson’s got his comments, it is what it is, but бн I’m rolling with him. I’m rolling with ‘Bron.”

Phil Jackson’s comments about the “special treatment” of LeBron James and his “posse” bounced from New York, to Los Angeles, to Cleveland, back to New York again. And James was left sitting in a half-empty locker room at Quicken Loans Arena trying to piece together what just happened.

“What does that mean?” James asked ESPN, referring to Jackson’s assertion that the 14-year veteran receives special treatment. “I want to know what that means, though.”

“I never liked standing out, LeBron James said. “I’m an only child. I always wanted like brothers around me all the way from when I started playing ball.”

James’ coach, Tyronn Lue, had a hard time figuring it out, too. Before the Cavs’ 121-117 win over the Toronto Raptors extended Cleveland’s record to an East-best 9-1 on Tuesday, Lue shot down Jackson’s notion.

“He hasn’t asked for special treatment,” Lue said. “We treat everyone the same around here. Everyone grown men, we treat everyone the same, and LeBron has never come to me and asked for special treatment or to do anything different.”

Lue had no plans to broker a meeting between Jackson and James, even though Lue played for Jackson with the Los Angeles Lakers and won two championships under his tutelage. Lue has repeatedly likened that experience with the Lakers as a “blood transfusion” among all the team members who accomplished it together. Apparently that blood wasn’t so thick between Lue and Jackson, or else he would have easily sorted it out between his former coach and current player.

Thompson wasn’t alone in rallying around James.

Phil Jackson: ‘I’m going to follow the plan, and if it doesn’t work out, it will be evident’

Phil Jackson says he hasn’t voted for a president since 1980. After campaigning vigorously on behalf of losing democrats George McGovern and Jimmy Carter, Jackson determined the political system was flawed, perhaps even broken, so he ceased participating.

He watched last Tuesday’s presidential Sean Weatherspoon Authentic Womens Jersey outcome at the New York abode of his friend and former teammate Bill Bradley, the one-time U.S. senator from New Jersey who ran for president in 2000.

“He has earned the right to be our quarterback,” Romo said in his statement. “As hard as that is for me to say, he’s guided our team to an 8-1 record, and that’s hard to do.

“I think we all know something magical is happening with our team. I’m not going to allow this situation to negatively affect Dak or this football team by becoming a constant distraction. I think Dak knows I have his back and I think that I know Steve Bartkowski Authentic Womens Jersey he has mine.”

Some will criticize Romo for reading a statement; others will criticize him for not taking questions. The reality is he was going to be criticized no matter what he did or said.

The television cameras at Sunday’s game against Baltimore will be trained on him the moment he takes the field. Every time, Prescott makes a play — good or bad — the cameras will focus on his reactions.

Body language experts and lip readers will reap the benefits just in time for Black Friday.

“I feel like we have two battles going on — one is with the man across from you and the second is with the man inside of you,” Romo said. “Once you control the one inside of you, the one across from you doesn’t matter. I think that’s what we’re all trying to do.”

Long did not get up after the play as trainers and doctors rushed onto the field. Chicago’s medical staff eventually put a brace on Long’s right leg before placing him on the cart. Several of Long’s teammates attempted to encourage and console him before he went back to the locker room.

“We ordered out — Greek,” Jackson reveals. The senator and Knicks president did what most American did that night — obsess over the turnout in Broward or Wayne County and try to make sense of one surprise after another. Then, for Jackson, thoughts of his day job intervened: “We had it on for a while, but I wanted to watch the Minnesota-Brooklyn Nets game because we were playing the Nets the next night, so I flipped the channel.