The Mets are finally acting like a big-market team | Will the Texans ever hit rock bottom?

Create: 2021-01-08
Update: 2021-01-12
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Friday, January 8, 2021
This has certainly been a week, but I'm happy to report that it's finally Friday, and now us sports fans have some treats to look forward to this weekend. Get your couch prepared and put aside your comfiest pair of sweatpants because the NFL Playoffs begin tomorrow and the action will carry almost nonstop through Sunday. It's go time. 
Before we get too excited about what's to come, we do have plenty of news to cover from the last 24 hours, including a blockbuster baseball trade, a possible blockbuster NFL trade and more. For better and for worse, 2021 has stayed pretty busy through the first week and change. 
Let's finish off this week strong, and as an important reminder for this weekend ... there's no such thing as calories during the playoffs. Buffalo chicken dip, here we come. 

📰 What you need to know
1. Why the Mets trading for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco is a big deal ⚾
The Mets must have heard me talking smack about how slow baseball's offseason has been this winter because they decided to throw a little gasoline on the fire with a blockbuster trade yesterday. The Mets landed superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor and starter Carlos Carrasco from Cleveland, for Andres Gimenez, Amed Rosario and a pair of prospects.
Let's bring in my trusty baseball pal Mike Axisa to help break down the winners and losers in this one:
  • Winner: Mets -- Pretty obvious, right? They wanted to make a splash and they did just that. They get a superstar shortstop and an above-average starter while subtracting minimally from their MLB roster and keeping their top prospects
  • Loser: Cleveland -- Also pretty obvious. Not only does the team lose as a result of trading a superstar for spare parts, but the city and fans also lose. Lindor was the team's best and most beloved player and there's not a whole lot to show for his tenure. Now the team has a payroll of around $40 million, which is straight-up embarrassing  
  • Winner: Lindor -- He no longer has trade rumors swirling around him and he gets to join an exciting team that's actually trying to compete and accomplish something, not to mention one that's probably going to try to extend him long-term
  • Loser: Trevor Bauer -- Carrasco going to New York might take the Mets out of the running for Bauer's services, which means that Bauer -- a free agent -- has one less suitor and one less big-market team he can use as leverage in contract talks
You can find a few more winners and losers from Axisa right here, but I think the reactions from people around baseball will tell you all you need to know about this deal -- aka the Mets are putting together something exciting and Cleveland ... well, Cleveland is depressing.
We figured that the Mets would be looking to make a big splash now that Steve Cohen is at the helm and willing to spend money to compete, and now we're seeing the wheels begin to spin. They're probably not done just yet (nor should they be), but it's pretty nice to see the Mets start acting like a big market team with deep pockets. 
The icing on the cake? The Mets' aggression this offseason seems to be making Yankees fans furious because things remain very quiet in the Bronx.
2. Possible trade destinations for Deshaun Watson 🏈
The Houston Texans haven't done Deshaun Watson many favors over the past couple of years. Bill O'Brien did a phenomenal job running the team into the ground -- including inexplicably trading Watson's favorite target in DeAndre Hopkins -- and wasting prime years of their star quarterback's career. And while O'Brien is out of a job (*jobs, considering he was GM and coach) in Houston, it seems that Watson isn't thrilled about the idea of sticking around after another disappointing season.
  • Reports surfaced yesterday that Watson is unhappy with the team and ignoring phone calls from Texans executives
  • Watson met with team owner Cal McNair to discuss potential GM candidates and asked leadership to consult players before coming to a decision. McNair then hired Nick Caserio as the team's new GM without talking to Watson or other players first2
  • Watson also reportedly advocated for Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy to become the team's next head coach but Houston didn't even extend an interview to Bieniemy
So, with Watson disgruntled and on the verge of potentially demanding a trade, let's discuss a few of the most logical destinations for the QB:
  • Patriots: This makes too much sense. After spending years with the Patriots, Caserio is now GM in Houston and it seems likely that Bill Belichick will call him about Watson. New England badly needs a QB and has capital and cap space to make a trade work
  • Bears: Chicago may have the opportunity to correct GM Ryan Pace's biggest error, one that has haunted them for years: Picking Mitch Trubisky over Watson. If they were actually able to land Watson in a trade, they'd immediately vault into a higher tier of legitimacy in the NFC
  • Saints: Drew Brees is nearing the end and the Saints would likely be aggressive if it meant they had a real shot at bringing Watson in to replace him in that offense. The issue is that New Orleans is tight against salary cap, but they've found ways to navigate around that obstacle in the past
Plenty more teams are going to be interested in Watson if he does eventually ask out, so you can read up on several more destinations that could make a lot of sense. Something that doesn't make a lot of sense: Exactly why the Texans insist on eating themselves to death from the inside out. They went from having a bright future to being one of the most dysfunctional, embarrassing organizations in the league pretty quickly. 
3. Predicting all of the NFL playoffs 🏈
The NFL Playoffs will kick off tomorrow with "Super Wild Card Weekend" and we should have a couple great days of high-stakes football in store, so that's exciting. The playoffs are always a bit unpredictable, especially so this year, but that won't stop us from trying to predict them anyway. And I'm not just talking about trying to predict this weekend's winners, either.
For some insane reason, our Jordan Dajani has decided to project the ENTIRE playoff bracket from this weekend all the way to the winner of the Super Bowl. That seems like a great way to get dunked on by @OldTakesExposed, but I respect Jordan's willingness to put himself out there. Let's highlight some takeaways from his projections:
  • Lamar Jackson will exact revenge and get his first career playoff win this weekend against the Titans
  • The Steelers will knock out the Bills in the divisional round next week
  • Tom Brady's Buccaneers will NOT make it to the NFC Championship
  • The Packers and Chiefs (both No. 1 seeds) will be the final two teams left standing in Super Bowl LV, but Kansas City will repeat
No offense to Jordan, who is a good dude and a strong football mind, but I think I'm gonna watch the games anyway just in case he's wrong.
4. 76ers to quarantine in New York after positive COVID-19 test 🏀
We expected the NBA to hit some COVID-19 roadblocks this season and one popped up Thursday in New York. It was reported last night that 76ers guard Seth Curry tested positive for coronavirus near the start of the Sixers' game against the Nets in Brooklyn. 
  • Curry, who was initially ruled out of the game due to a sore ankle, sat on the bench for the first quarter of the game before then being removed after his test came back positive
  • Philadelphia's entire team will now quarantine in New York as the NBA begins contact tracing
  • The Nets still traveled to Memphis to play a game against the Grizzlies tonight
There are a couple elements of concern here: Curry being on the bench and potentially exposing teammates, and then the Nets immediately flying to Memphis after sharing a court with a player who tested positive. Hopefully this stops at Curry, but there has to be some concern that someone on the Nets could be traveling after getting exposed. 
In other Nets news, Kyrie Irving didn't play last night due to personal reasons, and he didn't travel with the team to Memphis either. Nobody seems to know exactly what's going on with Kyrie, including Brooklyn coach Steve Nash. Whatever the reason for his absence, Brooklyn will be without Irving and Kevin Durant (who is out due to COVID-19 exposure) for at least tonight's game. 
📝 Odds & Ends
  • The mayor of Seattle is 'pretty optimistic' about the city getting an NBA team
  • Yep, it's time to take the Phoenix Suns seriously
  • The Boston Bruins named Patrice Bergeron their new captain yesterday, and they pranked him as part of the announcement
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster gave the Cleveland Browns some bulletin board material ahead of their matchup this weekend
📺 What to watch this weekend
Friday
🏀 Clippers vs. Warriors, 10 p.m. | GSW +5 | TV: ESPN
Saturday
🏈 Rams vs. Seahawks, 4:40 p.m. | SEA -3.5 | TV: FOX
Sunday
🏈 Browns vs. Steelers, 8:15 p.m. | PIT -6 | TV: NBC
📝 Top scores from last night
🏀 Mavericks 124, Nuggets 117 (OT)
Luka Doncic had a season-high 38 points plus 13 assists and nine rebounds in the OT win.
💵 Winning wagers: DAL +120, Over (222.5)
🏀 No. 8 Wisconsin 80, Indiana 73 (2OT)
Tyler Wahl made consecutive 3-pointers in 2OT to spark Wisconsin.
💵 Winning wagers: IU +9, Over (127.5)
 
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