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D-backs GM eyes changes after disappointing season

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D-backs GM eyes changes after disappointing season

PHOENIX (AP) The Arizona Diamondbacks tumbled from their 2011 NL West title with a thud this season, and that means changes are in store for 2013.

General manager Kevin Towers said the top priority is upgrading the left side of the infield, particularly at shortstop, a position that is thin in the team's otherwise outstanding minor league system. He indicated that third base is another target.

He characterized the free agent market as ``not real strong.''

``So probably those moves to upgrade those positions more than likely will have to come via the trade,'' Towers said.

The Diamondbacks, he said, would like to ``add another power arm'' as a late-inning reliever along with setup man David Hernandez and closer J.J. Putz and ``definitely'' need a left-handed specialist. Towers said the team expects to pick up Putz's option for next season.

Towers also will be looking for a veteran pitcher to add to the team's young rotation, especially when right-hander Daniel Hudson is not expected to be back from Tommy John elbow surgery until August at the earliest, manager Kirk Gibson said.

Towers said it's highly unlikely the team will trade right fielder Justin Upton. But center fielder Chris Young could well have played his final game for Arizona, potentially losing his job to young Adam Eaton. Eaton is aggressive and extremely fast, and has shown a knack for drawing walks.

Towers effusively praised Eaton, who is recovering from a broken hand after being hit by a pitch last Saturday, as the bona fide leadoff batter the franchise has lacked since Tony Womack held the job for the 2001 world championship team.

``It's been something we've been looking for. It's very tough to find,'' Towers said. `` ... He brings that swagger, that little bit of edge, cockiness. However you want to put it. That's the way he played in the minor leagues, too. He's an exciting player and he's only going to get better with time.''

With A.J. Pollock also in the mix in the outfield, Young could be the odd man out. Arizona's center fielder for six seasons and a superb defender, Young is just a .239 career hitter. He came on strong to start this season, then was sidelined with a shoulder injury and never regained that fleeting form at the plate. He is due to make $8.5 million next season, the final year of his contract.

``I have no idea, not even the slightest clue, what's going to happen,'' Young said. ``Players rarely know anything that's going to go on in the offseason, or what the offseason plan is. Only time will tell really.''

Upton, who injured a thumb early in the season and struggled to regain his 2011 form until a late-season charge, got a vote of confidence from owner Ken Kendrick in a radio interview and a big voice of support from Gibson, who benched the slugger for three games earlier in the season. Not all of Upton's numbers were off. He raised his average to .280 with his late performance and his 107 runs tied Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen for second-most in the NL, one fewer than Milwaukee's Ryan Braun.

``I'm going to be optimistic about the situation,'' Upton said. ``This is where I played my entire career. I enjoy playing here, so we'll see.''

The Diamondbacks were the definition of an average team, finishing at 81-81. They never were more than five games below .500 or four games above it.

``We kept searching and searching and searching,'' catcher Miguel Montero said, ``have a good series, a good game, and then it just kind of disappeared. We kept searching to get it back again. That's the difference in us going home early and some other teams are still playing.''

While there were plenty of negatives, one undisputed positive was the play of Aaron Hill, whose season arguably was better than any other second baseman in the league. Hill batted .302 with 26 home runs, 44 doubles and 85 RBIs.

``Numbers-wise I don't think anybody matches up,'' Gibson said. ``The numbers in themselves are an indicator of who you have, but the intangibles are really what I look for. I think that's where your impact comes in. ... I think you could call Aaron Hill relentless. He likes baseball. He enjoys the game. We're very, very excited about Aaron on our team.''

Jason Kubel had a big early season in left field but tailed off badly at the plate in recent weeks. His average dipped to .253 but he still led the team in homers (30) and RBIs (90). First baseman Paul Goldschmidt (.286, 20 home runs, 82 RBIs) had a strong first full season, as did rookie left-hander Wade Miley (16-11, 3.33 ERA). Montero, who got a big new contract before the season began, batted .286 with 82 RBIs. Ian Kennedy, a 21-game winner in 2011, recovered from a slow start to finish 15-12.

But it didn't add up to the kind of long winning streaks the Diamondbacks needed to make a playoff run.

``We didn't execute like we did last year but people made adjustments to us,'' Gibson said. ``So it's on us to make adjustments to them.''

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Follow Bob Baum at www.twitter.com/Thebaumerphx

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Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

In what is perhaps the most unexpected Stanley Cup Final pairing in recent memory, the Washington Capitals and the Las Vegas Golden Knights are going to make history this year.

Either it is going to be the first expansion team to win a title in their first season, or it will be a team looking to end a 27-year title drought for one of the biggest cities in the United States.

But what it will not be is the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup.

Going even farther back than the Capitals last Stanley Cup appearance (1998), the Georgetown Hoyas and UNLV Rebels met in the 1991 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Sin City took the first, and up until now, the only postseason bout between these two cities. The Larry Johnson-led University of Las Vegas squad powered right past the Hoyas in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament.

[D.C. sports and Second Rounds, I know right?]

Coming fresh off the NCAA title in 1990, UNLV waltzed right to the Final Four before meeting their demise against Duke. It also ended up being the last game for Dikembe Mutombo in a Georgetown uniform.

While in all likely-hood this will not be the final game/ series for Alex Ovechkin rocking the red, it may be his last and only chance for him to play this far into a postseason.

In the past two seasons, Vegas has gone from zero professional teams to having a Stanley Cup contender, a WNBA franchise, and lined up to take over the Oakland Raiders in 2020. 

Now time for the Golden Knights' Cinderella story to come up a little bit short. 

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Bradley Beal receives zero All-NBA votes, which itself is a snub

Bradley Beal receives zero All-NBA votes, which itself is a snub

On Thursday the NBA revealed the All-NBA teams for the 2017-18 season.

Not surprisingly, Bradley Beal and John Wall did not make it to one of the three five-player teams. Of the two superstars, only Wall has been recognized once in his career.

What is surprising is that neither Beal nor Wall received a single vote in the whole process, especially Beal.

The 2017-18 season was without question the best in Beal’s career. He played in all 82 games, coming right off of the heals of his All-Star recognition. Beal seems to agree in his snubbing, tweeting this minutes after the teams were announced:

Looking at the list of players who made the top three teams, it shouldn’t be an issue, but these three guys got more votes than the Wizards' duo combined: Steven Adams, Trevor Ariza, and Dwight Howard. It is not surprising that Beal and Wall did not make an All-NBA team. It is odd that Beal didn’t receive a vote.

Here is a list of the full All-NBA Teams:

ALL-NBA FIRST TEAM: 

LeBron James (Cavaliers), James Harden (Rockets), Anthony Davis (Pelicans), Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers), Kevin Durant (Warriors)

ALL-NBA SECOND TEAM:

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks), Russell Westbrook (Thunder), Joel Embiid (76ers), LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs), DeMar DeRozan (Raptors)

ALL-NBA THIRD TEAM:

Stephen Curry (Warriors), Victor Oladipo (Pacers), Karl-Anthony Towns (Timberwolves), Jimmy Butler (Timberwolves), Paul George (Thunder)

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