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Ranking pro franchises in Southern California

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

By Ryan Decker of Now On Deck.

Southern California is a sports paradise. Great weather, tons of teams to chose from, lots of sports history, and one of the largest cities in the country.

Within the last year, southern California has added a franchise with the Rams leaving St. Louis to return to the City of Angels, a place they called home for nearly 50 years. The region has also had a team – the Chargers – agree move up the road in order to get a new home.

Nine teams currently call the southern part of the Golden State home, and here’s how they stack up from worst to first.

9) San Diego Padres

They may be the best team in their city (link) but they are the worst team in southern California.

The Padres have played to a losing record each of the last six seasons, and haven’t won the NL West division since 2006. Since that time, the team’s best finish in the division is a lone second-place finish in 2010.

San Diego has had a trio of managers since the start of the 2015 season, and despite recently signing first baseman Wil Myers to a team-friendly six-year deal that doesn’t reach maturity until 2020, it doesn’t look like they’re going to be much better than their recent records anytime soon.

8) Los Angeles Rams

It’s been a rough go of it over the last decade for the Rams.

The franchise hasn’t finished a season with a record at or above .500 since 2006, and hasn’t appeared in the NFL’s postseason since going back-to-back seasons in 2003 and ’04.

Since then the Rams have averaged five wins per season, including a season with three wins, a pair of two-win campaigns, and the dreadful 2009 season in which the team only one game.

If there’s a bright spot for the Rams, it’s Jared Goff and the shining new stadium that will be built and scheduled to be ready to play in in time for the 2019-2020 season.

Other than that, there’s not much going on for the Rams.

7) Los Angeles Lakers

The Post-Kobe era hasn’t been exactly the most ideal time in the world for Laker fans.

The NBA’s second-most successful franchise has certainly struggled since winning its most recent championship in 2010. When making the playoffs the Lakers haven’t past the second round, and they’ve missed out on the postseason entirely each of the last three years.

Not only that, but the team’s win total has gone down dramatically over the last three years as well, winning a franchise-low 17 games a season ago.

On the bright side, though, young players like D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle certainly should give Laker fans hope for the future.

6) Los Angeles Angels

By now you should see a theme with a lot of these So. Cal teams. They have one or two things going for them but they’re still struggling in the win column at the moment.

Anaheim’s baseball team also fits into this category.

The Angels have two things going for them: Mike Trout and Mike Scioscia.

Trout is the best player in baseball and the face of the MLB. Scioscia, a former player in his own right, is widely considered one of the smartest managers in the league, and possibly due to his team’s lack of recent success, is currently one of the MLB’s most under appreciated managers, as well.

With that said, you can only do so much with so little.

While the Astros, Rangers and Mariners have all improved as of late, the Angels have stayed in virtually the same place, even to the point where there is widespread speculation as to whether or not the Halos will shop Trout.

5) Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles’ newest franchise is the team that bucks the trend of the first four teams.

Despite winning just five games this season, the Chargers have multiple things going their way.

The Chargers have a pro’s pro at QB in Philip Rivers, along with talented players around him such as Keenan Allen on the outside, along with Melvin Gordon in the backfield and Mr. Reliable himself, Antonio Gates, still catching passes at the tight end position. On defense, San Diego’s former football franchise has Joey Bosa, who has the ability to become a real star in this league.

If this team doesn’t have another injury-ridden season next year, it’s not out of the question that the Chargers could be a contender in the AFC playoff picture in what’s already an extremely competitive AFC West.

4) Anaheim Ducks

Anaheim’s professional hockey team, formerly known as the Mighty Ducks, have been at least somewhat mighty as of late.

Although it’s been 10 years since the team won it’s lone Stanley Cup, the Ducks have been a constant fixture in the NHL playoffs, qualifying each of the last four seasons, and would be the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference this year if the playoffs started today.

The Ducks reached the conference finals two seasons ago, and GM Bobby Murray was named NFL GM of the Year a few years back.

Captain Ryan Getzlaf is one of the franchise leaders in a number of stats.

All this tells me that the Ducks could be a piece or two away from getting back to the prominence they achieved a decade ago.

3) Los Angeles Clippers

Right off the bat I still believe the Clippers are the high-seed posers of the NBA’s Western Conference. Until they win a title they will still be the other team in the Staples Center.

In saying that, though, they’ve been a consistent top four seed in the playoffs since Doc Rivers and the Big 3 of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan got together. Consistency in the regular season paired with consistent exits from the playoffs prior to the Western Conference Finals.

Obviously if the Big 3 stays together – and stays healthy, which currently is a problem for CP3 – there will always be the chance for the Clips to win their first title.

Same narrative as the Ducks, though, it appears LAC is a player or two away from achieving the ultimate goal.

In both cases though, they’re simply in the wrong division or conference to really make it to the next level.

2) Los Angeles Kings

The LA Kings have arguably been the class of the NHL’s Western Conference.

Kings fans watched their team win a pair of championship trophies at the start of the decade, and have seen consistent winning throughout the last seven seasons.

LA has finished with an above .500 record every year since the 2009-2010 campaign.

If the season ended today, the Kings may only be an eight seed. But recent history shows that’s not the worse thing for this franchise, as the Kings were a lower seed in the West in each of their two Stanley Cup runs.

1) Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers haven’t appeared in, or won, a World Series since 1988. “The Bums” are currently in their longest title drought (28 years) since they won their first in 1955.

Despite that, the Dodger’s have stayed fairly consistent in being at least a .500 team in the mean time.

With players such as Clayton Kershaw, Adrian Gonzalez, Corey Seager, and Justin Turner, the Dodgers should continue their winning ways for the foreseeable future.

Another positive surrounding LAD is that the club is trying to get younger, instead of continuing to go after players past their prime like they have in year’s past, such as Chase Utley and Howie Kendrick.

With Kershaw getting over his playoff hump this past season, maybe the time is looming to when the Dodgers will once again reign supreme.

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Can Los Angeles support two NFL teams?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, the San Diego Chargers announced that they intend to move to Los Angeles, California where the Los Angeles Rams moved to one year ago yesterday. In two years Los Angeles. went from not having a NFL franchise to having two in 2017.

This in not the first time there has been two NFL franchises in Los Angeles. From 1982-1995 the Rams and Raiders both called Los Angeles home. However, in 1995 both teams left the city to leave it without an NFL franchise. After spending 20 years without NFL teams in Los Angeles, is it really a good idea to put two teams there now?

In 2016, the Rams played their games at the Los Angeles Memorial Stadium, which first hosted games in 1946 and seats 93,607. The Rams had an average attendance of 74,121 (seventh in the NFL), but with 90% of the stadium filled (28th in the NFL). They averaged 16,000 empty seats with a population of 3.4 million. With an NFL team finally returning after 20 years, shouldn't every seat in that stadium be full?

Then the Chargers come to Los Angeles and plan to play at StubHub Stadium, a soccer stadium, which holds 30,000. If that stadium is not filled every game, it would be an embarrassment to the league.

The average NFL attendance is over double 30,000 and would put the Chargers last in attendance by far. Without a large attendance, they could be in financial trouble for the two years in the small stadium. Then since they are only going to be able to play in front of 30,000 fans, most NFL fans will cheer for the Rams since they can get tickets. This will hurt the chargers moving forward by not having a large and strong fan base.

In 2019, both teams will move to the Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park. This stadium is going to be a state-of-the-art facility that holds 75,000 seats and can be expanded to 100,000 for special events.

The Raiders ultimately left in 1995 because they did not receive funding for a new stadium and the Rams left because they were not selling out the Coliseum. Even back then, there was not enough interest in the NFL to have two franchises so why would there be enough interest now?

New York is the only other city with two NFL franchises, the Jets and Giants (technically the stadium is in New Jersey). They are both in the top five of attendance and just about sell Gillette Stadium out every Sunday. Therefore, it can be done, but New York is a unique circumstance. They have a population of 8.4 million people and some of the most die-hard sports fans.

Los Angeles has never been known for their fans and having 75,000 fans show up every Sunday for football is tough to do. The NFL tried having two teams in Los Angeles once and it failed so why do they think it will work now?

Just because Los Angeles is such a big city, does not mean they will be able to draw fans. The NFL has blossomed into the most popular pro organization in America, but without an NFL team for 20 years Los Angeles has lost a generation of football fans. The Rams were not able to sell out their stadium in their first year back, so it does not bode well for future fan support.

The Chargers might have needed to move to a new city, but Los Angeles is not big enough for two NFL teams. Once the new stadium is built both teams will struggle to fill the seats and one of the teams will move by 2030.

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A three step plan for the Pirates offseason

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ offseason has been a roller coaster. Josh Harrison, Andrew McCutchen, and Tony Watson are all key contributors that have come up in trade conversations for the Pirates.

However, they signed Ivan Nova to a three-year contract and have worked hard to acquire White Sox starter, Jose Quintana. There have been points where the Pirates looked like they were giving up on 2017 and others when they looked like they were trying to compete, keeping the fans confused.

The Pirates offseason is incomplete. If they do not make any more moves, it would be like watching the first half of an action thriller and not getting to see the climax of the movie. There is still a big move Pirates general manager Neal Huntington needs to make to finish out the Pirates’ offseason. The best move would be a two/three part move that would build the Pirates for the future and give them a great opportunity to compete in 2017.

First, trade for Quintana. He is the missing link in the rotation that would push them over the top. The prospects that the Pirates would give up in the deal, they could afford to lose. They are, starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow (Pirates top prospect), shortstop Kevin Newman (Pirates fourth-ranked prospect), and shortstop Will Craig (Pirates eighth-ranked prospect).

Glasnow is the eighth best prospect in MLB via and would be the centerpiece of the trade. The Pirates could get away with losing him because Quintana would easily replace his potential with four years of team control still left on his contract.

Newman has emerged as one of the top shortstop prospects in MLB. He has a plus bat that has the potential to be one of the best table-setters in the league and is a great base stealer. However, his range has been in question and a move to second or third could be in his future. The Pirates could easily replace him by extending current shortstop Jordy Mercer, who has done a satisfactory job. Then the Pirates also have shortstop Cole Tucker (seventh-ranked prospect) that could replace Mercer.

Lastly, Craig is expendable because of third baseman, Ke’Bryan Hayes (sixth-ranked prospect). This would be the perfect deal for the Pirates and the White Sox would receive two top-50 prospects.

Second, trade Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen has been the face of the franchise since his breakout season in 2011 and it would devastate Pirate fans to see him go. However, Huntington is convinced that he needs to get value for McCutchen and after acquiring Quintana, would be the best time to trade him.

The optimal trade partner for the Pirates would be the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have an outfielder that they are looking to trade as well; Yasiel Puig. Puig is signed through 2018, which would give outfielder Austin Meadows (second ranked prospect) ample time to develop in triple-A.

Puig broke into the majors in 2013 and had an OPS of .925 and steadily dropped until 2016 when he had an OPS of .740 and was demoted to triple-A in the middle of the season. The former Cuban defector has been known for his wild, aggressive play, and a scenery change could be good for the 26-year old.

There is a lot of pressure in Los Angeles, but there is much less in Pittsburgh and could give Puig a new start. Huntington has also asked other clubs for MLB-ready players in the deals for McCutchen and would receive some in this deal.

The Dodgers would also have to give up some prospects in the trade. Realistically, the Pirates would ask for starting pitcher Jose De Leon (Dodgers second-ranked prospect) and second baseman Willie Calhoun ( Dodgers fourth-ranked prospect). This would help rebuild the Pirates farm system with two top-100 prospects.

There are 30 other teams that the Pirates could trade McCutchen to and probably will not get a MLB-ready outfielder. The Pirates do not have anyone currently on their roster that can replace McCutchen so they would need to turn to the free agent market.

Lastly, sign Jose Bautista. Bautista was drafted by the Pirates and spent parts of five major league seasons with the organization before a trade to Toronto, and the Pirates would be wise to bring him back on a one-year contract. After leaving Pittsburgh, Bautista became one of best power hitters in the league. He has had four seasons of over 35 home runs and in his best year hit 54 home runs. After a down year in 2016, 22 home runs, .234 batting average, and 69 RBIs, Bautista has said he is willing to take a one-year contract to rebuild his stock.

Bautista would be ideal for the Pirates after a McCutchen trade. A power hitting, a one year contract, would fit perfectly into the Pirates plans. After losing Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker last offseason, the Pirates hit 153 home runs which as the fifth worst in MLB. A power hitting is the missing piece to the puzzle for the Pirates batting order. They were able to get a lot of men on base last season, .332 OPB which was 4th best in MLB, but only scored 729 runs which was 13th in MLB.

Then the one year contract would fill the hole in right field without McCutchen and would give Meadows a year in tripleA to develop into a better ball player. Overall, Bautista would be a great investment for the Pirates. After a down year, he would have a lot of motivation to have a bounceback year and get paid next offseason. A win-win for both parties.

Huntington has a lot of work to do in Pittsburgh. With these moves all being made would set the Pirates up for the present and the future. Pirates fans will never like seeing McCutchen leave, but if Huntingtin can make all of these moves, then the Pirates will be a better team. 

(All prospect rankings came via

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