Sports Roundup — April 29, 2010

April 29th, 2010 by Lee Eldridge

Lots of little things going on with our local teams. So let’s dig in.

High School Star Terrance JonesJones to Announce College on Friday
The Jayhawks appear to be in the middle of the Terrence Jones sweepstakes. Jones, the 13th ranked high school basketball player by Rivals.com, plans to announce his college choice on Friday. Jones is friends with KU’s other recent recruit Josh Selby, Rival.com’s 4th rated high school player. Selby was openly recruiting Jones a couple weeks ago at the Jordon Brand Classic. Jones made his official recruiting trip to Lawrence this last weekend. A commitment from Jones would give the Jayhawks a top five recruiting class, and likely launch them back into the preseason top ten.

Henderson to Visit Chiefs, Then Not So Much
John Henderson, the huge defensive tackle who was recently released by the Jacksonville Jaguars, announced on 610 Sports the other day that he was planning a visit to the Chiefs this week. The news was picked up by other media outlets, only later to be proclaimed inaccurate. It appears that Henderson is not headed to KC at this point in time. Makes you wonder how these things happen, though we’ll never know for sure.

Kansas City ChiefsChiefs Draft
Now having had a week to reflect on what the Chiefs accomplished in the draft, I think it’s clear they drafted some needs that were not the same needs the experts expected. But needs nonetheless.

1. Safety was one area of need that everybody agreed the Chiefs needed to fill, and they did so with Eric Berry. Opinions differ on whether or not you should ever draft a safety this high. But if Berry becomes a ten year starter for the Chiefs, I don’t think anybody will be complaining. Personally, I think this was a pretty safe pick. At worst he’ll be an improvement over what we’ve had. And at best he’ll be a star.

2. The Chiefs had no legitimate candidates for kickoff and punt returns. You can’t risk your starting running back, Jamaal Charles, in the return game. Now they have two legitimate return threats with Dexter McCluster and Javier Arenas. Todd Haley referred to their need for a returner as a “must” and not a “need”. Second hole in roster filled.

3. Haley said they had McCluster rated as one of the top running backs AND one of the top wide receivers in the draft. Reports out of Philadelphia were that the Eagles were planning to draft McCluster high in the second round. The Chiefs had no clear option for a slot receiver, and badly needed to infuse some speed into their receiving corp. Accomplished.The Chiefs will find creative ways to get McCluster on the field. I expect him to play a lot.

4. Pioli talked about the number of plays that the defense lines up in the nickel, and that league wide the average is around 55%. Last year our nickel corners were awful. Arenas will project to play in the nickel, and has a good skill set to cover in the slot. Another hole filled.

And in general, Pioli and Haley both talked about the the Chiefs lack of team speed. These three guys improve our speed considerably. So the top three picks filled what the Chiefs believed to be their four biggest holes in their roster.

Kansas City RoyalsRoyals
The Royals are tough to watch right now. They’ve stumbled out of the shoot with an 8-13 record, and now will be playing the Rays in a four game series. The Rays are one of the hottest teams in baseball with a record of 16-5.

What’s amazing is that the Royals have played well offensively, their defense is improved, and other than Gil Meche, the starting pitching has been consistently good. But their bullpen is the WORST in the league. The Royals have already amassed eight blown saves from their bullpen, and only one of those was from the closer, Joakim Soria. If the Royals pitch a bit better out of the pen, and blow only half of those games, they’re now 12-9, and KC is feeling good about themselves. Instead, we all cringe every time a reliever enters the game.

How do you fix this? I’m not sure it’s fixable right now. Hopefully a couple guys will come around and pitch better. But if this continues, the Royals will need to decide if they want to call up some of their younger players in the minors who may not be ready for the big leagues. At least then you’d be developing your younger pitchers instead of watching this group of veterans undermine everything else this team is doing right.

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