Nationals

David Shaw building his own legacy at Stanford

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David Shaw building his own legacy at Stanford

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) The day David Shaw became Stanford's head coach almost two years ago, he said he never wanted to interview for another football job again. He walked out of his first news conference and up to his new office, where he spent about 90 minutes reflecting with his father, Willie Shaw, who had lost out on the same position to Bill Walsh two decades prior.

``There was a tear or two shed in there,'' Willie Shaw said.

At the rate his son is going, job security no longer seems to be an issue. Instead, Shaw will likely have suitors calling from all over soon - though he still insists he's not going anywhere.

The former Cardinal wide receiver and assistant has not only kept his alma mater a national power, he has started to build his own legacy on The Farm. Shaw won the Pac-12 Conference's Coach of the Year award for the second straight season Monday, becoming only the fifth coach in league history to take home the honor in consecutive years.

Shaw also has a chance to do something even his more prominent predecessor, Jim Harbaugh, never could: win the league title and secure a Rose Bowl berth when eighth-ranked Stanford (10-2, 8-1) hosts No. 17 UCLA (9-3, 6-3) in the league championship game Friday.

``Very seldom do you get to see somebody live their dream, whether they're your son or not,'' Willie Shaw said. ``He's living that dream.''

While Harbaugh turned Stanford into a surprising contender, Shaw's steady hand has kept the program going strong since the San Francisco 49ers hired Harbaugh away in January 2011.

Shaw led the Cardinal to an 11-1 record before a 41-38 overtime loss to Oklahoma State in last season's Fiesta Bowl. This year has perhaps been even more impressive: Shaw helped Stanford overcome the departure of No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Luck, seamlessly made a midseason quarterback change from Josh Nunes to redshirt freshman Kevin Hogan and overtook Oregon to win the league's North Division crown.

Even still, when asked after Monday night's practice what he thought of winning the award in his first two seasons, Shaw said, ``Crazy, isn't it?''

``I was surprised,'' Shaw said. ``To be honest, I didn't even think about it. I'm very appreciative. Very grateful. There are a lot of guys in this conference that I respect very, very highly. And for those guys to vote for me, it's humbling.''

Shaw's relentless recruiting also has put Stanford in position to contend in the Pac-12 - and perhaps even more - for the next several years with a roster stacked with underclassmen who are already key contributors. So much so that Shaw figures to be the latest in a long line of Cardinal coaches whose name begins to gain traction for even bigger jobs in the offseason.

New Stanford athletic director Bernard Muir takes that as a compliment. While he won't publicly discuss whether he plans to extend Shaw's four-year contract after two years this offseason, Muir said he knows that Shaw ``wants to be here for quite some time, and we've got to be here to support him.''

``It's just been so impressive to watch him work and do his craft and do it so well,'' said Muir, who took over in mid-August after Bob Bowlsby left to become the Big 12 Conference commissioner. ``I'm just so impressed by his demeanor, just taking everything in stride and being able to execute his plan and his vision for the program.''

That vision has started to become clearer.

All of 40 years old, Shaw has showed the ability to bond with players in ways even Harbaugh couldn't, understanding as he does the intricacies of a rigorous academics university that practically raised him: as a coach's son, student, player, assistant coach, husband and father - he even proposed to his wife, Kori, outside of Stanford's Memorial Church, then convinced her to wait more than a year ``because it takes that long to get married in the Stanford church.''

``He came here, he played here, he knows what the type of players who go here are like,'' said fifth-year linebacker Chase Thomas, who was recruited by Harbaugh. ``The strenuous activities of school and athletics. He knows what Stanford is about, and he definitely shows that.''

Shaw has emerged from the shadow of the man who rebuilt Stanford and put his own stamp on the program.

He doesn't sleep in his office, work 20-hour days or show emotion the way Harbaugh often did. He avoids scheduling early morning meetings so assistant coaches can have breakfast with their kids and take them to school.

Often times his wife and their three children - Keegan, Carter and Gavin - are waiting after practice. On Tuesday nights, the coaches and their families meet for dinner in the athletic offices before late-night meetings, and Thursday nights he usually lets his staff take off so they can come in fresh Friday morning.

All the while taking time to appreciate, as he has said since he was hired, ``the job I always knew that I wanted.''

``I can remember Dave telling me that in Pocatello, Idaho, close to 13 years ago,'' said Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason, whose name is also sure to generate attention for head coaching vacancies. ``All he ever wanted to do was get back to Stanford. So to say that then, and he's always been a man of his word, so I truly believe that whatever he says goes.''

Shaw's coaching background has been well documented: he was an assistant in the NFL for Philadelphia, Oakland and Baltimore before joining Harbaugh as an assistant at the University of San Diego. He joined Harbaugh at Stanford in 2007 and coached receivers and running backs while also serving as offensive coordinator for four years.

Shaw often credits coaching mentors Jon Gruden, Brian Billick, Ray Rhodes, Dennis Green, Tyrone Willingham, Harbaugh and Walsh, among others. Nobody, though, has had a greater impact on his life and career than his father, a retired NFL and college assistant who had two stints as a Stanford position coach and was a finalist for the Cardinal head coaching job in 1992 before Walsh decided to return at the last minute.

Watching his son take hold of the Stanford program the last two years - and often helping out as a keen observer during practices - has only made it more special since that first conversation in the head coach's office, when Willie Shaw remembers how the two talked about ``his goals, his dreams, how he has become an extension of my dreams and taking it a step further.''

``At Stanford,'' Willie Shaw said, ``he's at home.''

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Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP

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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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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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