Matthews: The Answer Man Chimes In

THE ANSWER MAN CHIMES IN ON THE NFL DRAFT, NBA, NHL, ETC.

Question – What is your best-case scenario for the Buffalo Bills in Thursday night’s first round of the NFL college draft?

Answer – I’d like to see the Bills trade up for one of two quarterbacks – preferably Baker Mayfield or Sam Darnold.  I’d give up as much as much as two first-round picks, a second-round pick and a third-round pick if necessary to make that happen. I would not surrender a boatload of picks for Josh Allen or Josh Rosen. They’re too risky for my blood.

I don’t think “failing” to bag a QB for multiple picks would be a disaster. I wouldn’t gripe if Buffalo used the No. 12 and No. 22 overall picks this year on two instant starters for the depleted defensive front seven. The two picks in the second round and two picks in the third round might include a wide receiver, a quarterback and a lineman or two.

I don’t think the Bills will be very good this season – and that might not be a bad thing. Assuming Buffalo doesn’t include next year’s first-round pick in a deal Thursday, that pick could be used be used to select the top QB prospect in 2019.

Question -- Which matchup do you most want to see in the NHL Stanley Cup Finals?

Answer – The Toronto Maple Leafs versus the Winnipeg Jets would be an all-Canada showdown. The Jets have advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals. Our neighbors to the north have waited too long for that.

The Maple Leafs play at Boston Wednesday night in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference first-round series. Winnipeg has advanced to the Western Conference semifinals.

The most recent all-Canadian Final was in 1989 (Calgary beat Montreal 4-2).The last Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup was Montreal in 1993. Four Canadian teams have reached a Finals since and lost a total of five times (Vancouver in 1994 and 2011; Calgary in 2004; Edmonton in 2006; and Ottawa in 2007).

Question – Are you sticking with the Golden State Warriors to repeat as NBA champions?

Answer – Yes, assuming Stephen Curry can play in time for a possible Western Conference Finals series against Houston. The current NBA is dominated by perimeter shooters and no team has three sharpshooters to match Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.

I believe the Warriors would beat Houston in a maximum of six games in the Western Conference Finals and knock off the Toronto Raptors in five or six games in the NBA Finals.

Question – Do you think LeBron James will win another NBA championship?

Answer – Sure, at least one more and probably more – but not with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He needs a better supporting cast and he’s likely to find one. He’s got plenty left but he shouldn’t need to keep playing 40 minutes per game at his age.

Question – Are the promotions of top prospects Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres premature panic moves by the Yankees?

Answer – No. The Yankees have enough veterans to take the pressure off Andujar and Torres and the kids figure to see more pitches in the strike zone in the majors than would being pitched around at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Andujar is on a tear (in his last seven games entering Tuesday night, he was 15-for-29, with 8 doubles, 1 triple, 3 HRs and 8 RBI). Torres logged his first MLB hit Monday night.

TREVOR PLOUFFE COULD BE RETURNING TO FRONTIER FIELD

Trveor Plouffe, a popular and productive infielder for the Red Wings in portions of seven seasons from 2008 through 2016, signed with the Philadelphia Phillies Monday and was assigned to the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. He could return to Frontier Field for a four-game series against the Wings May 3 through 6.

Plouffe, 31, was a first-round pick (No. 20 overall) by the Twins in the 2004 June amateur draft. In seven seasons with Minnesota, he hit .242, with 651 hits, 96 HRs and 357 RBI.

He ranks high on the career lists in several categories for Rochester in the Minnesota era (2003 through present):

Games – 348 (5th)

Hits – 345 (5th)

Total bases – 594 (2nd)

Runs – 180 (4th)

Home runs – 48 (2nd to Garrett Jones’ 81)

Runs-batted-in – 186 (3rd behind Garrett Jones 326 and Dustin Martin 189).

THE RED WINGS COULD USE A BOOST ON OFFENSE...LIKE MAYBE NICK GORDON

The Rochester Red Wings entered Wednesday with a 6-9 record through 15 games thanks mainly to decent pitching and no thanks to weak hitting.

Entering Wednesday, Rochester ranked fifth in the 14-team International League in earned-run average (3.09) and first in WHIP: walks+hits allowed per inning (1.20).

But the Wings ranked last in batting average (.208), runs (52), slugging percentage (.298) and OPS: on-base percentage+slugging percentage (.603).

Eight regulars or semi-regulars had sub-.200 batting averages. Some of them figure to heat up soon.

But meanwhile, the presence of Minnesota’s top infield prospect Nick Gordon at Double-A Chattanooga instead of Rochester is increasingly puzzling. He’s tearing up the Southern League: .382 (26-for-68), 3 doubles, 3 triples, 2 HRs, 11 RBI, .960 OPS in 18 games. He’s only 22 years old but hit a solid .270 in 122 games at Chattanooga last season.

SHORT SHOTS

Cheers to Daniel Palka, the 26-year-old left-handed slugger who hit a combined 24 HRs for the Red Wings in 138 games in 2016 and 2017, for his promotion from Charlotte (IL) to the Chicago White Sox. He is expected to make his MLB debut soon. The White Sox claimed him off Minnesota’s waiver wire in the offseason.

Tim Tebow update with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies (AA Eastern League): .250 (12-for-48), 4 doubles, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 3 walks, 21 strikeouts (the most telling stat) in 14 games.

Amazing factoid from ESPN: Of the 64 expansion teams in the four major U.S. sports since 1960, no team had posted a winning record in its first season – until the NHL Vegas Golden Knights this season.

Buffalo Sabres budding superstar Jack Eichel had the 13th best-selling jersey in the NHL this season. Not bad for a player on the 31st-place team. I wonder what percent of those jerseys were purchased in Western New York.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...

Wednesday, April 25

Luis Cessa (26)...Jordan Poyer (28)...Danny Espinosa (31)...DeAngelo Williams (35)...Tim Duncan (42)...Jacque Jones (43)...Joe Buck (49)...Travis Fryman (49)...Darren Woodson (49)...Adam Silver (56)...Art Schlicter (58)...Vladislav Tretiak (66). Renee Zellweger (49) and Al Pacino (78) are invited to the birthday party.

Thursday, April 26

Nomar Mazara (23)...Dion Dawkins (24)...Aaron Judge (26)...Cole Beasley (29)...John Isner (33)...Vaclav Varada (42)...WWE’s Kane (51)...Robb Riddick (61)...Mike Scott (63)...Mosi Tatupu (63)...Amos Otis (71). Channing Tatum (38), Melania Trump (48) and Carol Burnett (85) are invited to the birthday party.

ON THIS DATE IN SPORTS...

Wednesday, April 25

142 years ago (1876), the Chicago Cubs beat Louisville 4-0 in the first National League game...117 years ago (1901), the Detroit tigers scored 10 runs in the bottom of the ninth inning in a 14-13 victory...25 years ago (1993), the New England Patriots selected Drew Bledsoe No. 1 overall in the NFL college draft.

Thursday, April 26

57 years ago (1961), Roger Maris hit the first of his 61 home runs for the season...52 years ago (1966), Red Auerbach retired as coach of the Boston Celtics...29 years ago (1989), Mike Tyson received a speeding ticket in Albany for drag racing in his Lamborghini...28 years ago (1990), Nolan Ryan pitched his 12th no-hitter.

 

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