Nationals

Cowboys' Brent attends memorial with team support

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Cowboys' Brent attends memorial with team support

DALLAS (AP) Jason Garrett gave the Dallas Cowboys a day off after his players somehow pulled off a win in Cincinnati while reeling from a one-car accident that killed one teammate and landed another in jail.

Many players showed up at team headquarters anyway and there was Josh Brent, the hulking defensive tackle who missed the trip after police say he was driving drunk and caused the wreck that killed practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown, his close friend and roommate.

And Brent was back with his teammates again Tuesday for a private memorial honoring Brown. Players and team officials left without talking to reporters after the hour-long service on a chilly afternoon at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, but Garrett had made it clear that Brent was still a part of the Cowboys family.

``We're going to support Josh 100 percent in every way that we can,'' Garrett said Monday, a day after the Cowboys beat the Bengals 20-19 with a field goal on the final play to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Brent arrived at the service earlier than most of the Cowboys players, team executives and staff members. He was in a van with several other people and could be seen hugging Brown's mother before walking into the building. Brent was one of the last to leave, too. He grew close to Brown during three seasons together at the University of Illinois, and took in Brown when the Cowboys added the 25-year-old to the roster in October.

``It's a really, really difficult situation for him,'' Garrett said. ``We want to make him feel that there are people around him who can help him get through this thing day by day.''

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league had ``no issues'' with Brent being at team facilities while the manslaughter case against him works its way through the courts. Pittsburgh visits Dallas on Sunday in another game with playoff implications for both teams.

Police in suburban Irving say Brent was speeding when his vehicle struck a curb and flipped early Saturday, hours before Brent was supposed to be on the team flight to Cincinnati. Brown was taken to a Dallas hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The Dallas County medical examiner said he died after suffering blunt force trauma to his head and neck.

Officers who arrived at the accident scene found Brent pulling Brown from the wreck, according to an arrest affidavit. However, a woman who arrived moments after the accident said Brent didn't try to save his friend's life until she begged him.

``Jerry was alive,'' Stacee McWilliams of Irving told The Dallas Morning News. ``He was hurt. He was calling out, and his own friend walked away.''

McWilliams, a 40-year-old insurance company employee, said she was on her way home from her birthday party when she noticed the wreck and stopped. She told the newspaper Monday she could no longer talk about the case on the instruction of Irving police, and she did not respond to a message from The Associated Press seeking an interview Tuesday.

Brent's attorney, George Milner, told the AP that an investigating officer told him the woman's story didn't match the circumstances surrounding Brown's death. Milner said he was told that Brown ``wasn't talking to anyone. He wasn't moaning. He was dead.''

Milner said the woman also told police that Irving fire personnel weren't at the scene - another fact that isn't consistent with what really occurred.

``Not one person in the Irving Police Department has said one thing that is consistent'' with the woman's story, Milner said.

Police spokesman John Argumaniz declined to comment on the account, saying only that investigators are interviewing ``numerous'' witnesses.

A club where Brent and Brown reportedly spent at least part of Friday evening, Privae Dallas, has issued a statement saying it's ``deeply saddened by the events of the weekend'' and that it's cooperating with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and police.

``Privae Dallas is a club that offers its guests a special level of privacy and often caters to celebrities,'' according to the statement, attributed to the club's human resources manager. ``The safety of our guests is very important to us, and our staff is trained to follow the regulations set forth by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.''

Comedian Shawn Wayans was at the club last Friday night, and a club promoter tweeted that a dozen unnamed Cowboys players were there ordering numerous bottles of a popular champagne. In Texas, the sale of alcohol with criminal negligence to an intoxicated person is a misdemeanor punishable with a fine of as much as $500 and up to a year in jail.

The TABC, which enforces the state's liquor laws, also can suspend or cancel the license of an establishment found to have served an intoxicated customer.

TABC spokeswoman Carolyn Beck said the agency is investigating the accident, as it does all alcohol-related fatalities that come to its attention. She said the agency has been told the players were drinking at more than one location but she declined to be specific.

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Associated Press Writer Danny Robbins in Dallas contributed to this report.

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5 things you should know about new Nationals' pitcher Kelvin Herrera

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USA TODAY Sports

5 things you should know about new Nationals' pitcher Kelvin Herrera

The Nationals traded for Royals' pitcher Kelvin Herrera this evening. 

Not only did the Nationals trade for Kelvin Herrera, but they did so without losing Juan Soto, Victor Robles, or Andrew Stevenson. The first two were never in any real danger of being traded for a relief pitcher who will be a free agent at year's end, but the Nats escaped only giving up their 10th and 11th ranked prospects:

On the surface, this deal looks exceptional for the Nationals. Herrera is another back-of-the-bullpen type that only further deepens the Nats' options in that department. Here are a handful of things you should know about the Nationals' newest pitcher:

1. Herrera's strikeout "issue" is complicated 

Herrera, like many other closers over the last half-decade, has made his name in strikeouts. He topped out at a 30.4 percent strikeout rate in 2016, and has a 23.4 percent clip for his career. His K% this season sits at 23.2 percent, which is both higher than last season and lower than his career average. 

People will look at his dramatic K/9 drop as a red flag, but "per/9" stats are flawed and not generally a worthwhile stat to build an argument around. A pitcher who gets knocked around for five runs in an inning -- but gets three strikeouts -- can have the same K/9 of a different (much more efficient) pitcher who strikes out the side in order. 

2. Herrera has basically stopped walking batters 

His career BB% sits at 7.1 percent. His highest clip is nine percent (2014, 2015) and his lowest was a shade over four percent (2016). 

This season, he's walking batters at a two percent  rate. In 27 games this season, he's walked two batters. Two! 

3. The jury seems to still be out on how good of a year he's had so far

Analytics are frustrating. On one hand, they can serve wonderfully as tools to help peel back the curtains and tell a deeper story - or dispel lazy narratives. On the other hand, they can be contradictory, confusing, and at times downright misleading. 

Take, for instance, Herrera's baseline pitching stats. His ERA sits at 1.05, while his FIP sits at 2.62. On their own, both numbers are impressive. On their own, both numbers are All-Star level stats. 

When you stack them against each other, however, the picture turns negative. While ERA is the more common stat, it's widely accepted that FIP more accurately represents a pitcher's true value (ERA's calculation makes the same per/9 mistakes that were mentioned above). 

More often than not, when a pitcher's ERA is lower than his FIP, that indicates said pitcher has benefited from luck. 

Throw in a 3.51 xFIP (which is the same as FIP, but park-adjusted) and we suddenly have a real mess on our hands. Is he the pitcher with the great ERA, the pitcher with the Very Good FIP, or the pitcher with the medicore xFIP? 

4. He was a fastball pitcher, and then he wasn't, and now he is again

Take a look at Herrera's pitch usage over his career in Kansas City:

In only three years, he's gone from throwing a sinker 31 percent of the time to completely giving up on the pitch. That's pretty wild. 

Since 2014, he's gone to the slider more and more in every year. 

His current fastball usage would be the highest of his career. He only appeared in two games during the 2011 season, so those numbers aren't reliable. Going away from the sinker probably helps explain why his Ground Ball rate has dropped 10 percentage points, too. 

5. The Nats finally have the bullpen they've been dreaming about for years

Doolittle, Herrera, Kintzler, and Madson is about as deep and talented as any bullpen in baseball.

Justin Miller, Sammy Solis, and Wander Suero all have flashed serious potential at points throughout the year. Austin Voth is waiting for roster expansion in September. 

The Nats have been trying to build this type of bullpen for the better part of the last decade. Health obviously remains an important factor, but Rizzo's got the deepest pen of his time in D.C. 

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MacLellan: Reirden will get the first crack at replacing Trotz

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USA TODAY Sports

MacLellan: Reirden will get the first crack at replacing Trotz

Will Todd Reirden replace Barry Trotz as head coach of the Washington Capitals?

Based on what GM Brian MacLellan said Monday, it certainly sounds like it’s Reirden’s job to lose.

“We’re going to start with Todd here,” MacLellan said. “I think we’ve been grooming him to be a head coach, whether for us or someone else.”

“We’ll see how the talk goes with him and we’ll make a decision based on that,” MacLellan added. “If it goes well, we’ll pursue Todd. And if it doesn’t, we’ll open it up a little bit.”

MacLellan said he isn’t sure exactly when the interview with Reirden will take place. The front office needs a few days to regroup. It’s also a busy stretch in hockey’s offseason. In the coming two weeks, MacLellan will direct the NHL draft in Dallas, monitor development camp in Arlington and then call the shots when free agency begins on July 1.  

“We need to take a breather here but I think Todd is a good candidate for it,” MacLellan said. “I’d like to sit down with Todd and have a normal interview, head coaching interview. I think most of our discussions are just casual. It’s about hockey in general. But I’d like to do a formal interview with him and just see if there’s differences or how we’re seeing things the same and if he’s a possibility for the head coach.”

Reirden, 46, spent the past four seasons on Trotz’s bench. He was elevated to associate coach prior to the 2016-17 season after coming up just short in his pursuit of the head coaching position in Calgary.

Reirden’s primary responsibility on Trotz’s staff was overseeing the defense and Washington’s perennially potent power play.

Prior to joining the Capitals in 2014, he was an assistant coach for four seasons with the Penguins. And before that, he spent a couple of seasons as the head coach of AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, the Penguins’ top minor league affiliate.

A native of Deerfield, Ill., Reirden also had a lengthy professional career that included 183 NHL games with the Oilers, Blues, Thrashers and Coyotes.

Asked what he’s looking for in the Caps’ next head coach, MacLellan said he’s looking for a forward-thinker, a strong communicator and a players’ coach.

Reirden is all of those things.

“Someone that's up to date on the modern game,” MacLellan said. “Someone that's progressive, looking to try different things. Someone that has a good relationship with players. They communicate, can teach, make players better. It's becoming a developmental league where guys are coming in not fully developed products and we need a guy that can bring young players along because more and more we're going to use young players as the higher end guys make more money.”

One of the side benefits of elevating Reirden is the fact he already has a strong relationship with many of the current players, meaning there won’t be much upheaval as the Caps look to defend their championship.

“It could be a natural transition,” MacLellan said. “But once we sit down and talk face to face about all the little small details in the team, I'll have a better feel for it.”

MacLellan said a decision on the other assistant coaches—Lane Lambert, Blaine Forsythe, Scott Murray, Brett Leonhardt and Tim Ohashi—will be made after the next head coach is named.

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