Sudden structural changes work in South Africa’s favour

first_imgPRETORIA, (Reuters) – Drastic structural changes in South African cricket over the last month contributed significantly to the test side turning around their fortunes and starting the four-match series against England with a win, says captain Faf du Plessis. The hosts ended a run of five straight test defeats with a 107-run win over England at Centurion Park yesterday and the skipper hailed the new coaching structures and fresh personnel in Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) administration.“Now we can trust the system a little bit more and just focus on playing cricket,” said Du Plessis. “There is a lot more confidence in the structures, going from the top down.“Obviously there were plans in place before, but right now I feel there are better plans in place. “We have got the right people in the right jobs, we’ve got the right people at the top of Cricket South Africa, which is really important.”CSA suspended chief executive Thabang Moroe on Dec. 6 following allegations of misconduct and just hours after their major sponsor said it would not renew its contract in protest at poor governance in the organisation.Former captain Graeme Smith was appointed acting director of cricket five days later and he quickly chose ex-team mates Mark Boucher as coach and Jacques Kallis as batting consultant. Enoch Nkwe, who as acting coach took the team on a three-test tour to India in November where they were soundly thrashed, stayed on as assistant coach.“Leadership always comes from the top and filters down and so I feel like, by starting that, it sets the tone for the way that we are playing now,” Du Plessis added.“You have to put those things in place for the things underneath to work in your favour.” South Africa’s test side have struggled since iconic players like Smith, Boucher, Kallis, Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn retired but also have had to deal with the tricky issue of balancing team selection with the need for racial transformation.Off the field CSA clashed with the powerful Indian cricket board (BCCI), who had a testy relationship with previous CSA CEO Haroon Lorgat, and lost millions when India reduced the number of money-spinning matches they played in South Africa.More recently, the botched launch of a Twenty20 league also hit CSA’s coffers hard and they are still at loggerheads with the players’ association, who are demanding that the entire CSA executive resign.last_img read more

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Management of young talent crucial for Windies, says Mitchell

first_imgBRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell believes Cricket West Indies should review how it manages young players like Nicholas Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer, in order to get the most out of their talent. The veteran leader said he was worried that picking such players in all formats of the game – especially in Twenty20s – could result in “spoiling a talent” that could be of benefit to West Indies, especially in the longer formats.Hetmyer, 23, currently plays all three formats while fellow left-hander Pooran, 24, is involved only in the white-ball formats. Stylish right-hander Shai Hope, along with 21-year-old all-rounder, Keemo Paul, have also featured recently in all formats. “We have some talented players, the Poorans and Hetmyers and so on. I’m not sure that the right thing is to play these young people in all formats of the game at this point in time,” said Mitchell, a former chairman of CARICOM’s Prime Ministerial sub-committee on cricket.“You have talent in Pooran and Hetmyer – these guys on the 50-over and on the Test team, we’d be moulding these guys. But when a guy gets used to sixes and sixes and hitting the ball in the air in the 20-over game which they must do, I think the mindset if they’re not well-developed yet … you can be spoiling a talent that is there for the [longest] version of the game and the 50-over game. “That’s my opinion; I might be wrong … but in watching it from the sidelines, I think it is something [CWI] and selectors must look at – do you need to play these young players in all versions of the game? I’m not sure that’s the right thing to do.” West Indies are coming off a mixed tour of the subcontinent where they whitewashed minnows Afghanistan in a three-match one-day series before losing the subsequent T20 series.In the first ever Test between the two sides, the Jason Holder-led Windies registered a crushing nine-wicket victory inside three days.The Caribbean side then suffered 2-1 defeats in to India in both the three-match T20 and one-day series, despite showing flashes of brilliance throughout. Mitchell said while there was obvious development taking place in the shorter formats, the Test format still required attention.“We have three forms of the game in cricket and I’ve giving my own personal opinion as someone who has watched the game a lot and is interested,” he said.“I honestly believe the shorter version, I see us having made movement there. I’m not sure yet about our Test team – maybe there needs to be some movement and changes there too but I can’t say I feel that confident yet.” West Indies, ranked eighth in Tests, ninth in ODIs and 10th in T20s, face a difficult year ahead which includes the defence of their T20 World Cup title in Australia.They also defend the Wisden Trophy in a three-Test series in England before playing hosts to New Zealand and South Africa.Mitchell said while he did not anticipate overwhelming success going forward, he expected a progressive improvement in results.“I don’t expect to see them winning every game or even beating some of the best teams but [I expect to see them] competing well, and I won’t be surprised if they’re able to beat those teams,” he stressed. “But I’m looking for the improvement and I’ve started seeing it already, so hopefully in Twenty20 we’ll see more successes.”(Caption)last_img read more

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Griffith strokes second fifty

first_imgGuyanese pair Trevon Griffith and Joshua Persaud who are keen to use their participation in the 2020 season of the Trinidad and Tobago (TT) Cricket Board National League Premiership three–day competition to find favour with the local national selectors, struck half-centuries in the recent weekend round matches. Joshua Persaud recorded his maiden fifty for Comets at the weekend in the Trinidad league. Griffith, who turns out for Central Sports, struck a second-innings half-century – 64 – his second of the season in his side’s drawn encounter against Preysal. Persaud, on the other hand, was once again the most prosperous figure for Alescon Comets with the bat, scoring his maiden fifty (56) for the club as they went down against PowerGen by an innings and 13 runs.The tournament continues this weekend.last_img read more

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Gayle lashes out at Sarwan, past players and Jamaica Tallawahs management

first_imgKINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC – West Indies legend Chris Gayle pulled no punches as he tore into former teammate Ramnaresh Sarwan in a three-part video on YouTube on Monday, blaming him for his fallout with the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) outfit Jamaica Tallawahs. In a scathing attack on Sarwan, Gayle accused the Tallawahs’ 39-year-old assistant coach of being vindictive and also charged that management of the franchise was “playing games” with him before his departure.“What transpired with the Tallahwahs, you had a big part to play in this,” the big hitter charged in part two of the ‘Breakdown of Release From Jamaica Tallawahs’ videos as he directed his comments to Sarwan. “You want the franchise, have it. There’s no Gayle. You run the show.”Last week, St. Lucia Zouks announced the big hitter as a marquee player for the CPL – the start of which is still in the air because of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak – on the heels of him being released by the Tallawahs before the end of his three-year contract. Gayle, 40, played his first four seasons of the T20 tournament with Tallawahs, which he led to the title in 2013 and 2016, before turning out for St. Kitts and Nevis Patriots in the 2017 and 2018 seasons. He returned to his home franchise in 2019 when the team finished bottom of the table.Speaking publicly for the first time about parting ways with the Tallawahs, the leading run-scorer in T20I history said: “When I came back to the Tallawahs, Sarwan was assistant coach. Myself and Sarwan had a discussion; he wanted to be the head coach…. So, I’m talking to Sarwan and he was saying he is going to be the head coach and Donovan Miller gonna be the assistant coach. But I’m not going to beat around the bush or go behind him back…. I told Sarawn directly ‘you have no experience being a head coach, it’s not an easy job’. He said ‘ok, whatever you want, you’re the captain, no problem, we’ll leave it at that’.”Gayle claimed that Sarwan was upset by his assessment and the fact Miller was selected head coach, and held that against him. “Sarwan, you were the one, my last birthday party here in Jamaica, on the platform giving a big speech about how far we have come. Sarwan, you are a snake…You are so vindictive, you are still immature.… When are you going to change, Sarwan? When are you planning to change?” he charged.The Jamaican also indicated that he had issues with the Guyanese cricketer from as far back as 1996, when they were youth cricketers.“We shared the same room in the West Indian Under-19s. You allowed the management staff to send me home from Barbados. I will never forget that, you know. I forgive but I’ll never forget that,” he said. “You told the management team…that you can’t sleep [because] Chris Gayle was watching TV too late in the night. That’s what I got sent home for.” In his rant, Gayle also claimed that people were jealous of him and his success.“Out of that era – 1996 – I’m the only one active, playing. Everyone else retired. I’m the last man standing within that era…and I’m still going strong. So it kind of hurt them to see Chris Gayle still playing and still being successful. I’m talking about past and present players,” he said.The management of the Tallawahs did not escape Gayle’s ire, although he made it clear he had no problem with franchise owner Kris Persaud whom he described as a good man. “No love lost, you still have my respect,” he said in a message to Persaud.However, he was critical of CEO Jeff Miller.Gayle claimed that before the March 31 retention submission deadline, he had a conversation with Miller who told him the franchise was struggling financially and asked him to take a pay cut, which he said he agreed to, although his contract stated that his pay would increase with each year.Another request was subsequently made, the T20 specialist said, and he eventually agreed to an even lower fee. However, Gayle said, there was a third request for him to go even lower, on the deadline date, which he refused, and after promising to get back to him, Miller submitted the team members to CPL officials without his name. He said he only knew about the omission because people at CPL called to ask him why they were not seeing his name.“Jeff didn’t contact me to say ‘Chris, we’re not signing you’, or ‘we’re not retaining you’. He hasn’t come back to me to say anything,” Gayle charged.last_img read more

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Hercules lauds quality of Sports Psychology course

first_imgGuyana Amateur Basketball Federation (GABF) Men’s Senior Head-coach Junior Hercules, has lauded the quality and overall importance of the recently staged Sports Psychology Course, which was hosted by the regional entity the Panam Sports Organization. This sentiment was shared during an exclusive interview yesterday with Stabroek Sport. According to the Hercules, the forum which was sponsored by the Guyana Olympic Association, offered the ideal platform to assess the mental aspects that are related to the performances of athletes.He added, “This program allowed me to examine the inner working for the reason behind an athlete’s mentality and performance. Most of the content targeted high-performance athletes with professional aspirations. Guyana needs to consider providing sports psychology to their national sports program.” The course which lasted for the duration of four days and was also conducted in Spanish, was staged on July 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th.According to Hercules, the course highlighted the limitations of what a coach can achieve by himself in the attempt to improve the overall quality of the country’s ability. He further stated that insight was also provided in understanding the importance subjects of stress and motivation and their direct correlation to quality performance. Hercules divulged that awareness was also provided into the subject matter of mental optimization and how this process relates to and affects and influences other factors that have a direct impact on performance.He further revealed, “(1) the course suggests a coach cannot do everything and will need help to deal with the players especially if one country is serious about performing at the Olympic level. (2) The course helps me to understand the usefulness of stress and motivation and its connection to high performance. (3) Mental optimization is a process and this process with connected objectives, objectives have Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.”According to Hercules, an altered or reinvented approach has to be employed by the respective national player selection committee of the GABF, disclosing that emphasis and overall selection should also factor in the topic of mental fortitude of the prospective players. He added, “Guyana Basketball recruitment not only has to look at the physical talent we have to reexamine selection to include players with a strong mentality.”last_img read more

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Conquerors’ MacArthur completes transfer to Santos Football Club

first_imgGolden Jaguars U20 Captain and former Fruta Conquerors winger Nicholas MacArthur has  confirmed his transfer to Elite League rival Santos FC following the conclusion of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) June-July Transfer Period. This was confirmed by MacArthur during an exclusive interview with Stabroek Sport yesterday.According to MacArthur, 19, the decision to swap the two-time defending national champions for Santos was done as an avenue to secure a different challenge and a change of scenery.He added, “I moved on my own. I wanted to try a different club to see how things go and if their style is similar to mine. I wanted to try a new style. I have played for Fruta Conquerors for seven years and wanted to try something new and see what they (Santos) can bring to the table. It’s the same level, nothing doesn’t change because both clubs are the same in the competitive sense so it’s not step back or a step forward.” The wily attacker has been capped twice at the senior international level with appearances against Antigua and Barbuda and Jamaica. He has also featured three times for the U17 setup, and has made seven appearances with the U20 programme.MacArthur revealed that he chose Santos because the club was similar in nature to his previous team, as they emphasize and place a strong prominence on youth development and emerging players. He added, “Santos is mostly a youth club just like Conquerors. It’s me staying with my age group again. It’s just the same and at least I could play with the seniors and play with the juniors. It’s a competitive move.”Asked if he believes that his current club can compete for the Elite League title he answered in the affirmative. “I think we can compete, that will happen, everything is about hard work, determination and dedication as well as discipline both on and off the field. We have the quality, once the coach does his work, we will do our work.”MacArthur revealed that he is looking forward to locking horns with his former team, adding, “It will happen, and I have to play against them because we are in the same league and could also play them at the same junior level. I have to beat them.”Guyana’s first transfer window, based on the official FIFA Worldwide Registration Periods Calendar, transpired between the dates of June 1st 2020-July 31st 2020. This applies to all three aspects of the Season which are the Men, Women and Amateur categories.  Meanwhile, the second transfer or registration date will ensue from January 1st 2021-January 31st 2021. This also relates to all three categories.last_img read more

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Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 Ravens for Week 13

first_imgBelow are our Tuesday Top 7 Ravens players in the 24-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns in Week 13. We’ll track our rankings throughout the 2011 season using the following point system:No. 1 – 7 pointsNo. 2 – 6 pointsNo. 3 – 5 pointsNo. 4 – 4 pointsNo. 5 – 3 pointsNo. 6 – 2 pointsNo. 7 – 1 pointTo hear our full explanation for our respective lists, click HERE.Luke Jones’ Top 7 …7) Ricky Williams6) Lardarius Webb5) Dannell Ellerbe4) Pernell McPhee3) Vonta Leach2) Marshal Yanda1) Ray RiceDrew Forrester’s Top 7 …7) Lardarius Webb6) Pernell McPhee5) Ricky Williams4) Dannell Ellerbe3) Michael Oher2) Bryant McKinnie1) Ray RiceSEASON TO DATE: Luke Jones:1. Ray Rice (43 points)2. Terrell Suggs (36 points)3. Joe Flacco (35 points)4. Haloti Ngata (30 points)5. Anquan Boldin (20 points)6. Lardarius Webb (19 points)7. Torrey Smith (18 points)8. Bernard Pollard (13 points)9. Cary Williams (10 points)9. Bryant McKinnie (10 points)11. Ed Reed (9 points)11. Cory Redding (9 points)13. Ray Lewis (8 points)13. Terrence Cody (8 points)13. Billy Cundiff (8 points)13. Dennis Pitta (8 points)17. Ed Dickson (7 points)18. David Reed (6 points)18. Marshal Yanda (6 points)18. Pernell McPhee (6 points)21. Jarret Johnson (5 points)21. Vonta Leach (5 points)23. Sam Koch (4 points)24. Jameel McClain (3 points)24. Paul Kruger (3 points)24. Dannell Ellerbe (3 points)27. Matt Birk (1 point)27. Ben Grubbs (1 point)27. Ricky Williams (1 point)Drew Forrester:1. Joe Flacco (37 points)2. Ray Rice (33 points)3. Terrell Suggs (29 points)4. Haloti Ngata (22 points)5. Lardarius Webb (21 points)6. Bryant McKinnie (19 points)7. Bernard Pollard (18 points)7. Torrey Smith (18 points)9. Anquan Boldin (17 points)9. Ed Reed (17 points)11. Dennis Pitta (14 points)11. Cary Williams (14 points)13. Ed Dickson (13 points)14. Ray Lewis (12 points)15. Billy Cundiff (9 points)16. Cory Redding (7 points)16. Sam Koch (7 points)18. Paul Kruger (6 points)19. Jarret Johnson (5 points)19. Michael Oher (5 points)21. Dannell Ellerbe (4 points)21. Jameel McClain (4 points)21. Marshal Yanda (4 points)24. Ricky Williams (3 points)25. Andre Gurode (2 points)25. Pernell McPhee (2 points)last_img read more

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Reed officially reports to training camp on Wednesday

first_imgOWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens coach John Harbaugh never received a phone call or text message from Ed Reed when the safety failed to report for a mandatory minicamp last month.But after a long offseason in which the All-Pro defensive back sent mixed messages about his desire to play this season while also hinting at wanting a long-term contract, Reed reported to the team’s Owings Mills training facility on Wednesday.“Ed Reed plans on being here,” Harbaugh said. “I talked with Ed, had a great conversation. I’m looking forward to seeing him.”Reed is entering the final year of a six-year contract that will pay him $7.2 million this season. The mercurial defensive star hinted that he could hold out during training camp but has backed off that talk in recent interviews.Steinbach updateHarbaugh confirmed veteran guard Eric Steinbach tried out for the Ravens on Tuesday, but there was no confirmation of a potential deal as of Tuesday evening.Coming off back surgery that forced him to miss the entire 2011 season, Steinbach was cut by the Browns in March and will need to prove to potential suitors that he’s fully recovered from the injury.The Ravens signed 35-year-old guard Bobbie Williams in early June, but the former Bengals lineman suffered a fractured ankle at the end of last season. Williams is supposed to be competing with Kelechi Osemele and Jah Reid, but both players are currently sidelined with injuries and Steinbach provides a more impressive pedigree in a potential battle for the left guard position.“If we can create even better competition and put more good players in the mix with the kind of financial resources that we have, we always want to do that,” said Harbaugh, who revealed the Ravens also worked out some outside linebackers recently. “Eric Steinbach’s a heck of a player. I don’t know where we stand, but we’re going to look for any good player we can at any time.”Infirmary reportThe Ravens placed four players on the active physically unable to perform list at the start of training camp as Osemele, Reid, Pernell McPhee, and David Reed are being held out of practice due to injuries.Osemele appears to be recovered from the leg injury that hampered him during organized team activities, but the rookie lineman is now dealing with back spasms. However, Harbaugh expects the 335-pounder to return to practice in the next day or two.After being carted off the field with a calf injury on the final day of mandatory minicamp, Reid suffered a setback a couple weeks ago and continues to work through the injury.Harbaugh confirmed that McPhee underwent arthroscopic knee surgery during OTAs and walked with a slight limp as he watched Tuesday’s practice from the sidelines.“Just had a little thing cleaned up in his knee, nothing major on his knee,” Harbaugh said. “He had a little personal issue, so he missed about a week of rehab, so we are easing him in slow right now. He should be practicing very, very soon.”The third-year return specialist Reed is progress more slowly as he continues to recover from the torn ACL he suffered last December. Of the four players on the active PUP list, Reed appears to be the only candidate to begin the year on the reserve PUP, which would force him to miss the first six weeks of the regular season.“We’re talking about an ACL that was toward the mid-to-late season last year,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve got hopes for David Reed, but if [he] gets back in training camp, I think that’d be a huge upset. Although he actually is looking really good, but let’s just take it slow with an ACL.”Linebacker Terrell Suggs was placed on the non-football injury list as he continues to rehab after undergoing surgery to repair a partially-torn Achilles tendon.Linebacker Courtney Upshaw and tight end Bruce Figgins initially joined Suggs on the list after both rookies failed the conditioning test, but each player passed it and practiced on Tuesday.“A couple guys will learn their lesson the hard way,” Harbaugh said, “as far as the conditioning test and getting out and practicing at our pace, but that’s a good thing, too.”Center Matt Birk (varicose vein surgery) and cornerback Cary Williams (hip) practiced without any visible limitations on Tuesday as they were both recovering from surgical procedures. Williams told WNST.net earlier this month he would be ready to start training camp after undergoing hip surgery early in the offseason and being limited during organized team activities.Defensive tackle Terrence Cody also reported early and took part in Tuesday’s practice.New-look HarbaughBeginning his fifth training camp as head coach of the Ravens, Harbaugh was sporting a new goatee as he stepped to the podium to meet with reporters following the first workout open to media.He doesn’t anticipate keeping the facial hair, but Harbaugh hoped to keep reporters distracted with the new look.“Fun statement, you know?” Harbaugh said. “I just thought I’d get somebody’s attention. I wanted to divert you guys. It’s like the car wreck; divert you guys away from some issues, right?”Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from John Harbaugh, Matt Birk, and Bernard Pierce HERE.last_img read more

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Fingerprints of Duquette all over Orioles’ Game 3 clincher

first_imgDan Duquette and Buck Showalter would be the first to tell you much of the foundation of the Orioles’ run to their first American League Championship Series since 1997 was in place before they arrived in Baltimore several years ago.Others may have been responsible for bringing the likes of Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, J.J. Hardy, and Zach Britton to Baltimore years ago, but it was Duquette’s fingerprints all over the Orioles’ 2-1 victory to complete the three-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers on Sunday. In fact, a trio of acquisitions made over the last 15 months — winning pitcher Bud Norris, slugger Nelson Cruz, and lefty reliever Andrew Miller — played a critical part in Baltimore sweeping its first postseason series since 1971 and sending the big-name Tigers home for the offseason.Acquired in exchange for unspectacular outfield prospect L.J. Hoes, 19-year-old pitching prospect Josh Hader, and a draft pick in late July of last season, Norris may not have made the difference in 2013 as the Orioles fell short of the postseason, but the reasonable asking price as well as two extra years of club control made the former Houston Astros pitcher more attractive to Duquette than other seasoned pitchers with expensive or expiring contracts on the trade market.Making his postseason debut after Miguel Gonzalez was initially slated to pitch in Game 3, Norris pitched 6 1/3 shutout innings while striking out six and allowing two hits to shut down a formidable Detroit lineup that had given him plenty of trouble in two starts earlier this season. Commanding his four-seam fastball and keeping the Tigers scoreless as the Orioles faced 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner David Price, Norris offered a gutsy performance to build on a strong campaign that included a 15-8 record with a 3.65 ERA in 28 starts this season.It was Cruz who provided Norris with just enough run support as he homered inside the right-field foul pole in the top of the sixth to give the Orioles a 2-0 lead. It was the 34-year-old’s second homer of the series and 16th career postseason homer to pass Babe Ruth on the all-time list, which came after a 40-homer season that resulted in him being named the club’s most valuable player in late September.No, Cruz wasn’t a diamond in the rough despite no club being willing to invest a long-contract in a player tainted and suspended due to last year’s Biogenesis scandal, but Duquette saw the opportunity to add a slugger on the cheap for a lineup that needed another middle-of-the-order bat. A one-year, $8 million investment made during spring training has never worked out better for the Orioles as Cruz responded with the best season of his 10-year career.After carrying the Orioles through the first 2 1/2 months of the season and heating up once again over the final few weeks of September, Cruz once again was the offensive hero as the Orioles faced a third straight Cy Young Award winner on Sunday at Comerica Park. His flick of the bat on a high and outside pitch from Price put the Orioles ahead and further depressed what was already a subdued crowd watching their Tigers try to climb out of an 0-2 hole.The heroics of Norris and Cruz paved the way for Miller, the acquisition that most of baseball ignored while Oakland acquired Jon Lester and the Tigers traded for Price. Those high-profile trades for aces were viewed by many experts as the moves that would automatically send the Athletics and Detroit to a meeting in the ALCSMiller retired all five hitters he faced in Game 3, including the top three hitters in the Tigers lineup in the bottom of the eighth inning. While many criticized — or at least questioned — the Orioles’ inability to land a top-of-the-rotation starter at the trade deadline, Duquette dealt pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez to the Boston Red Sox for the tall left-hander, who’s dominance has transformed the Orioles bullpen from good to great over the last two months.Pitching to a 1.35 ERA and averaging 15.3 strikeouts per nine innings in 23 regular-season appearances for Baltimore, Miller’s 32-pitch performance in Game 1 matched his highest total of the year and he allowed only one runner in 3 1/3 innings in the ALDS.No, it wasn’t the sexy move and it’s not as though Lester or Price pitched poorly in their new homes, but Duquette and Showalter have constantly preached the desire to acquire players that are the right fit for their club — not necessarily the biggest or most expensive names. Miller certainly fit the bill as a reliever with great strikeout ability and excellent numbers against hitters from both sides of the plate.And it’s a move that’s been an integral part of the Orioles continuing to play in October while the Tigers and Athletics have already been eliminated.The Orioles’ executive vice president of baseball operations has often been teased by outsiders for his decade-long absence from the majors as well as his off-the-wall moves that many have even labeled dumpster diving. Not every move has turned to gold — he did sign high-priced free agent Ubaldo Jimenez, after all — but you couldn’t help but tip your cap to Duquette in watching Sunday’s game play out with the Orioles earning the series win.A one-year contract and two deadline trades that appeared solid but unspectacular couldn’t have paid off any better in Game 3. And while Duquette may not have built the entire core of the current club from the ground up, the pieces he’s added in recent months have helped put the Orioles four wins away from an American League pennant.last_img read more

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Five young players the Ravens need more from in 2015

first_imgWith the Ravens coming off a 10-6 season that included a return to the playoffs after a one-year absence, the job this winter will be to augment a roster that has plenty of talent but clear deficiencies at several spots.However, with a poor salary-cap situation and only so many holes that can be filled through the draft, the Ravens will lean on a handful of young players already on the roster to emerge and make a difference with another year of experience under their belts.Below are five young players the Ravens will need more from in order to build on their 2014 campaign:1. S Matt ElamThrough two years, it’s no secret that Elam has looked like the worst defensive first-round pick in franchise history, but the Ravens aren’t going to give up on the University of Florida product as quickly as many fans would like. In fairness, the 5-foot-10 safety was asked to play out of position for a second straight year — playing extensively at the nickel due to injuries — but leading the team in missed tackles doesn’t make a good argument for him to be the starting strong safety, either. Elam needs to take advantage of this offseason to improve after admitting he didn’t handle his demotion well in terms of putting in good effort during practices. Baltimore won’t pencil him in as a starter, so Elam needs to take advantage of his opportunities this summer.2. TE Crockett GillmoreThe 2014 third-round pick had a solid rookie campaign considering he was supposed to be the No. 3 tight end entering the year, but the Ravens hope the signs he showed as a receiver late in the year will translate to more production in 2015. With Dennis Pitta’s future unclear and Owen Daniels scheduled to become a free agent, Gillmore is the most reliable option the Ravens currently have at the position. Even if those veterans return, Gillmore will be counted on more in the passing game after proving himself as a capable blocker. General manager Ozzie Newsome will likely look to address the tight end position this offseason, but Gillmore’s continued development would go a long way in helping quarterback Joe Flacco next season.3. DE Brent UrbanNormally, it’d be unfair to include a player on this list who’s coming off a season-ending knee injury suffered in his first training camp, but veteran Chris Canty may retire or be released and reserve Lawrence Guy is a free agent, meaning the Ravens will hope the fourth-round pick can be a factor at the 5-technique defensive end position in 2015. The organization loved Urban’s 6-foot-7, 295-pound frame coming out of Virginia, and the timing of his injury last summer would presumably allow him to be a full participant in training camp this summer. It’s unlikely that Urban will simply be penciled in as the starter with veteran DeAngelo Tyson still on the roster, but the Ravens drafted him last May with visions of him eventually replacing Canty.4. S Terrence BrooksThe season-ending knee injury the 2014 third-round pick suffered in December ended a disappointing first year for the Florida State product, who often looked unsure of himself in coverage and gave up big plays at a few critical junctures. The emergence of Will Hill in the second half of the season brought some stability to the position, but Hill’s off-field baggage is good reason for Brooks to be ready to seize opportunities when he’s healthy enough to get back on the field. Last May, the Ravens had to be hoping that Brooks and Elam would be their starting safety tandem for years to come, but both have much to prove going into the 2015 season. Unfortunately, getting healthy is the first item on the offseason agenda for the athletic Brooks.5. LB Arthur BrownWhen you’re active for only four games and can’t even get on the field as a special-teams contributor, what else needs to be said for a second-round pick after two seasons? It wasn’t surprising to see Brown’s defensive role diminish — he saw time as a nickel linebacker as a rookie — after C.J. Mosley was selected in the first round, but the Ravens regularly going with undrafted rookie Zachary Orr for special teams on game days didn’t speak well for Brown’s athleticism. So, why not simply admit he was a bust and move on? Mosley and Daryl Smith remained healthy enough to play over 1,000 snaps each in 2014. The odds suggest that’s unlikely to happen again, so it’d be nice to see Brown improve enough to at least become a solid backup in his third year.last_img read more

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