The only 2014-15 Chicago Bulls preview you need to read

The Chicago Bulls’ reward for surviving a grueling 82-game regular season schedule — assuming they do so with full health — is a small window of opportunity.

A window of hope.

A window to achieve basketball supremacy.

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Preseason aside, Jimmy Butler has much to prove

Never has a 3-pointer that mattered so little, meant so much to so many.

In case you missed it (and judging by Twitter’s reaction, you didn’t) Bulls guard Jimmy Butler hit a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired against the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday. Check out the video, below.

That’s a lot of excitement from fans and the color analyst (Stacey King) for a preseason game for a franchise that won six championships in an eight year stretch not too long ago. Titles aside, the Bulls are coming into the season with expectations of competing for an Eastern Conference crown and have rattled off four straight winning years — two of which came mostly with their best (and most highly paid) player sidelined.

This isn’t the best basketball you’ll see all year, so why act like it?

I digress, in an attempt to make a more important point.

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NLCS In Review: Black magic, bullpens, money ball, dummy managers and rap music

Cash Rules Everything Around Me
C.R.E.A.M.
Get the money
Dollar, dollar bill y’all
-Method Man, Wu-Tang Clan

Five teams who opened the season in the top 10 in Opening Day payroll didn’t make the playoffs.

I see you Yankees (No. 2 at $203.8 million; $2.4M per regular season win), Phillies (No. 3 at $180.1M; $2.5M per win); Red Sox (No. 4 at $162.8M; $2.3M per win), Rangers (No. 9 at $136M, $2.03M per win) and Blue Jays (No. 10 at $132.6M; $1.6M per win).

Now, with the American and National League Division Series concluded, you can add the Nos. 1, 5, 6 and 9 payrolls to that list as the Dodgers ($235.3M; $2.5M per win); Tigers ($162.2M; $1.8M per win); Angels ($155.7M; $1.58M per win) and Nationals ($134.7M; $1.40M per win) are no longer with us.

That also means four of the five most winningest teams in 2014 (Angels, Nationals, Dodgers and Tigers) are no longer part of the postseason fray.

Furthermore, with the elimination of the Dodgers and Nationals on Tuesday, the players with the highest WAR in the AL (Mike Trout, 7.87) and NL (Clayton Kershaw, 7.54) are also done for the season.

In fact, the only players in the top-20 of WAR still alive in postseason play are Royals LF Alex Gordon (6.57) and Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright (6.09).

So much for stars shining come October.

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Money Ain’t A Thang: ALDS In Review

Using to Cot’s Baseball Contracts as my source, let the record show that $318,182,000 worth of payroll was bounced from the postseason on Sunday.

The Angels opened up the season with a payroll of $154,546,500, won 98 games and came up empty in the postseason.

Did I mention that the Angels are paying approximately $26 million to outfielder Vernon Wells and pitcher Joe Blanton to not play for them in 2014?

Remember when Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton were free agent additions the Cubs could have used to accelerate The Process? They combined to go 2-for-25 as Pujols went 2-for-12 and Hamilton went 0-for-13.

Sometimes, you’ll see those kinds of numbers when faced with a small sample size of games. But if you’re an Angels fan, you cringe when you see those numbers, considering Pujols is (34) and slated to make $189 million over the next seven years, while Hamilton will make $83 million over the next three seasons — which will take him through ages 34, 35 and 36.

The whole point of backloading contracts is making good on the front end of those contracts. The championship window is small for the Angels, and if they can’t win soon, they would have poured in a lot of money for nothing.

Detroit entered the season with a $164,635,500 payroll and also ended up going winless in October.

Think you can buy a bullpen? Buyer beware. The Tigers’ bullpen allowed 11 runs (10 earned runs) in 4.2 innings. Detroit relievers owned a 2.36 WHIP and allowed opponents to hit .348.

“Proven closer” Joe Nathan made $9 million in 2014 (which accounted for approximately half of the $18 million spent on Detroit’s bullpen in 2014) and was a -0.2 WAR pitche in the same season in which the Royals spent approximately $10 million on their late inning trio of Kelvin Herrera ($522.5K), Wade Davis ($4.8M) and Greg Holland ($4.675M)

Al Alburquerque was the Tigers’ most valuable reliever (1.9 WAR) and was paid $837,500.

This is why I have trust issues.

But rookie manager (and Dartmouth grad) Brad Ausmus wouldn’t use him because it wasn’t his inning.

Oops.

And to think. that’s just the beginning of the Tigers’ problems.

Max Scherzer (6.0 WAR) and Victor Martinez (5.3 WAR) are free agents at the conclusion of the World Series, as is Torii Hunter, who will be 39 in 2015. Meanwhile, pitchers David Price (4.6 WAR) and Rick Porcello (4.0 WAR) are a year away from free agency. The bullpen is still a mess. Their center field options leave much to be desired. And Miguel Cabrera isn’t getting any younger…

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE WINNERS?

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