Reid Fischer's World of Rants

Looking at the sports world through orange colored glasses

Week 2 Picks

Posted by mizzou1028 on September 17, 2010

Last Week: 9-7

Clearly we need to pick up the pace here to achieve our goal of 70 percent correct picks for the season.  My biggest misfires were the Chargers (who looked lost and confused at Arrowhead), the Cowboys (why didn’t they just take a knee on the last play of the half?), and the Colts (the run defense looks scary bad without Bob Sanders).  My biggest wins?  The Ravens (who looked just as dominant defensively as they ever have), the Patriots (Wes Welker is back with a vengeance), and the Saints (who did a phenomenal job shutting down the Vikings high powered offense).  I’m sure other surprises lie in store for us in week two.

Packers over Bills: This should be a popular eliminator selection this week.  While I am gambling and saving Green Bay for later in the season, this should be a gimmie win for the Packers.  They looked every bit like a Super Bowl contender last week against the Eagles, and even with the season ending injury to Ryan Grant, Brandon Jackson should more than be able to pick up the slack.  Aaron Rodgers and his receivers should have a field day carving up the Bills secondary, and I sense major problems for Trent Edwards and the Bills offense against what might be the best defense in the NFC.  Buffalo just isn’t very good, and a trip to Lambeau is the last thing they need right now.

Vikings over Dolphins: Minnesota has had plenty of time to regroup after their season opening loss to the defending champs.  It should give Brett Favre more time to get healthy and reacquainted with NFL game speed, and also give him more time to get a rhythm with Bernard Berrian and his other receivers in the absence of Sidney Rice.  Adrian Peterson should be able to run wild on the Metrodome carpet, and the Vikings defense should be in line for a few turnovers as they usually are at home.  Miami won in Buffalo last week, but they didn’t exactly look impressive in doing so.  Brandon Marshall will get his yards, but in the end lack of a running game will doom the Dolphins.

Patriots over Jets: I know the Jets are the trendy pick here, but the more I think about it the more I think they will find themselves in a 0-2 hole.  Darrelle Revis is obviously excellent, and I think he will contain Randy Moss, but I like Wes Welker in the slot against Antonio Cromartie or whoever the Jets have matching up there.  I also think Mark Sanchez struggled mightily against the Ravens, and I think he will do the same against New England.  The Patriots defense did what they had to do against a high powered offense last week, and I think the Jets have fewer weapons than the Bengals do.  The Jets offense could be explosive when Santonio Holmes returns from suspension in week five but until then they will have to make do with what they have.  The running game is only so so, and that won’t help them play keep away from Tom Brady.  I like New England on the road.

Ravens over Bengals: Cincinnati doesn’t seem like they should be an 0-2 team, but I just don’t like this matchup for them right now.  Baltimore’s brick wall defense is just as stingy as ever, and I think the Ravens’ secondary is up for the challenge of T.O. and Ochocinco.  Baltimore is also highly motivated knowing the Bengals swept them last season.  I think Joe Flacco has enough weapons at his disposal now that even if Cincinnati does score some points, the Ravens will be able to match them.  This will be a very physical game that should go down to the fourth quarter, but I think Baltimore has another road win in them.

Chiefs over Browns: I’m still not sure if Kansas City’s win last week had more to do with their young talent, or if it was more a case of San Diego losing the game.  I do think the Chiefs are crazy if they make Jamaal Charles anything other than the featured back.  He has got to get more than 11 carries, and for the life of me I have no clue why Coach Todd Haley is so obsessed with Thomas Jones when Charles is light years ahead of him.  Matt Cassel did not play well last week and I would say the Chiefs won in spite of him more than because of him last week, but I think the Browns secondary is bad enough that he might be able to find Dwayne Bowe for some big plays.  While I think the Browns will be able to run the ball and control the game, their chances are zero if Jake Delhomme doesn’t play.  In any case, a hunch says the Chiefs get the road win.

Titans over Steelers: Pittsburgh’s defense looked very impressive last week in their win over the Falcons, keeping it low scoring until Rashard Mendenhall broke through with his big run in overtime.  They will need a similar effort this week on the road, because you know the Titans’ defense is going to tee off on poor Dennis Dixon.  I don’t think the Steelers will have near the success running the ball this week, and I really don’t like Dixon’s ability to make big plays in the passing game.  I think Chris Johnson is a given to hit 100 yards rushing every week, plus Vince Young continues to show an ability to be a leader for the Tennessee offense.  This could be close, but I think Tennessee wins it.

Texans over Redskins: What we have here is two teams that were expected to be 0-1 but are both 1-0 heading into this one.  I would be really surprised if Arian Foster duplicated his monster performance from last week, but I think the Texans will be able to move the ball effectively.  Andre Johnson was fairly quiet last week given Foster’s eye popping effort, but I think he is in line for a big game on Sunday.  The biggest key for Houston is to avoid a letdown following arguably their biggest win in franchise history.  Washington showed an ability to stop the run last week, but offensively they were very inconsistent.  They are going to have to score more than 13 points to win this game, but unless Santana Moss can make some big plays in the passing game I don’t see that happening.

Chargers over Jaguars: San Diego perhaps was the biggest disappointment of week one, and they are really missing holdouts Vincent Jackson and Ryan McNeil.  What’s embarrassing for the Chargers is this game will be blacked out in San Diego due to a non-sellout.  Still, I think the home confines should be enough for Philip Rivers to get back to looking like his old self, but the Chargers will need Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles to show a lot more in the running game than they did Monday night.  Jacksonville got an impressive three TD performance from David Garrard last week, but long term they will need Maurice Jones-Drew to be the focal point of the offense.  I think Jones-Drew will get his yards, but the Chargers are desperate knowing they can’t afford to start 0-2.  While this could be interesting, I think San Diego finds a way at home.

– Broncos over Seahawks: Seattle blew out the 49ers last week, but it still somewhat puzzling how they did it.  They didn’t run the ball particularly well, and while Matt Hasselbeck threw two touchdown passes it wasn’t as if he lit up the sky with big plays.  Their defense was outstanding, but it will be interesting to see if they can keep that up on the road.  I thought the Broncos played reasonably well despite the loss last week, and I like their ability offensively at home in this one. They should be able to run more effectively and set up the play action for Kyle Orton.  As long as Denver cleans up the turnovers and penalties they will be fine.  Denver has not lost a home opener since 1999, and I don’t see that changing on Sunday.

– Raiders over Rams: Another game that will be blacked out in the home market, but that’s fairly typical these days in Oakland.  The Raiders really looked awful last week in Tennessee, but it’s not as if the Rams looked much better in their loss to Arizona.  Sam Bradford threw an astounding 55 passes last week, so the Rams at some point are going to have to get Steven Jackson the ball more.  The Raiders still on paper should be improved over last season, so if that is the case they will find a way to win this one at home.  This pick really has more to do with St. Louis being just as bad than anything else, so really I’m picking the home team by default.  Nothing would surprise me though when it comes to the Raiders.

– Cowboys over Bears: Dallas clearly laid an egg in Washington between their stupidity on the last play of the first half and their holding penalty that wiped out what would have been the game winning touchdown.  With nowhere to go but up, they should be delighted to see Jay Cutler in their home opener.  The Bears were very fortunate not to lose at home to Detroit thanks to one of the worst calls in NFL history (it was technically correct by the rule, but in this case common sense should have won the day).  Cutler’s propensity for interceptions plus the pressure he’s sure to get from DeMarcus Ware is a very dangerous combo for the Chicago offense.  I also think Tony Romo gets it together and the Cowboys will be able to run the football.  This one may not be close.

– Eagles over Lions: Michael Vick will get the start at QB for the Eagles, which as we saw last week may be an improvement over Kevin Kolb.  Philadelphia has enough weapons to score points, and they should be able to get it done considering the Lions will be without Matthew Stafford and will resort to starting Shaun Hill.  I do think Detroit has a lot of good young talent, and they will win some games before the season is over, but I don’t see this being one of them.  The Eagles will be highly motivated coming off a home loss and this a club that won’t stand for being 0-2.  In fact I am taking this for my eliminator selection this week, which means I am probably dooming the Eagles.

– Falcons over Cardinals: While I think this should be a relatively easy win for the Falcons, I’m not sure I agree with most who say this is a guaranteed blowout.  I do think the Falcons will pile up points with Roddy White having a monster game, but I also think the Cardinals will put up their share of points.  There is too much talent in the receiving core with Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston for Derek Anderson to not find them eventually.  Beanie Wells is also a talented back, so I think Arizona has the potential to score points in this one as well.  I do like the Falcons to win the game, but this could be one of the more entertaining contests of the week.

– Panthers over Buccaneers: This has the potential to be one of the more boring games of the week.  I don’t think either team is very good, although I think the Panthers should have a strong running game with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.  If Steve Smith shows up and plays to his capability, Carolina should be able to score more than enough points to win this one at home.  Tampa Bay escaped last week against a terrible Browns team, but they can’t expect to do that on the road.

– Colts over Giants: The Sunday nighter is a big one because of the Manning brothers playing against each other, but to me the more interesting storyline is the Colts’ run defense.  I am highly tempted to move Ahmad Bradshaw to the top of my list of fantasy tailback options simply on the basis that he is facing Indy this week.  While I don’t think the Colts will allow him 250 yards, I think the Giants will run effectively enough to make this game interesting.  I think in the end, it’s very difficult to pick against Peyton Manning at home, especially when the Colts are motivated after a loss.  I think Peyton finds Dallas Clark early and often, and the Colts win a high scoring game.

– 49ers over Saints: Upset alert in the Monday night game.  The Saints are the defending champs and looking very impressive defensively in their season opening win over the Vikings, but as defending champs they are going to get everyone’s best effort this season.  San Francisco was humiliated last week, to the point where Mike Singletary called a team meeting on a tarmac once the plane landed in San Francisco.  I think the Monday night atmosphere combined with the defending champs coming to town is a recipe that will give the 49ers a lot of juice for this contest.  San Francisco’s defense is better than people realize, and I think Frank Gore runs enough to give the Niners the upset victory.

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Evaluating the Maroney trade

Posted by mizzou1028 on September 15, 2010

I’ve been saying ever since the end of last season that biggest priority for the Broncos offense needs to be running the football consistently.  For the talk I hear about the quarterback position or the receivers or a dislike for Josh McDaniels’ way of doing things, people keep ignoring the most basic thing that makes any offense successful at any level of football.  There were too many times last year (and before as well under Mike Shanahan) where the Broncos were simply not effective in short yardage or goal to go situations.  The Broncos have made attempts to address this situation, making a point to draft several offensive lineman in addition to using a first round pick on Knowshon Moreno last season.  I still think Moreno has the tools to be an elite back once he can stay healthy, and I like Correll Buckhalter’s ability to be a change of pace back. The Broncos this week added another back to mix in Laurence Maroney, and it might be a low risk move that pays off.

In acquiring Maroney, the Broncos sent to New England what essentially amounts as a sack of footballs in exchange.  All Denver had to surrender was a fourth round pick in 2011, and the Broncos received a sixth round pick in addition to Maroney.  Not a bad move to acquire a player who was a first round pick in 2007, and at times has shown an ability to be an elusive back.  Maroney had five 100-yard games as a rookie in 2007, which is exactly five more than Moreno had as a rookie last year for the Broncos.  Maroney wasn’t as effective last season, and battled a few injuries, and eventually fell out of favor with Bill Belichick.  The Broncos are hoping that reuniting Maroney with Josh McDaniels, who was Maroney’s offensive coordinator with the Patriots in 2007 and 2008, will result in a revival of sorts for the beleaguered running back.

The question is how will this affect the Broncos’ backfield?  It will be interesting to see how the Broncos work Maroney into the mix given that they currently rely heavily on Moreno and Buckhalter.  Moreno ran for 60 yards last week and looked healed from his preseason hamstring injury.  Buckhalter was less effective, with perhaps the lowlight of the day being his lost fumble in the second quarter that negated a Broncos drive where they had eaten up eight minutes of the clock.  I have a feeling the Broncos will not rush Maroney into the mix, but as the season goes along it wouldn’t surprise me if he was as involved as the other two.  Plenty of teams are operating on a running back by committee system (which makes fantasy decisions very stressful on game day), so a three man mix in the backfield wouldn’t be unprecedented.

It seems at least in the short that Maroney was brought in to be a backup.  Considering the Broncos invested a first round pick in Moreno, I would think his status as the starter is safe.  However, it wouldn’t surprise me if Buckhalter’s untimely fumble last week played some role in this.  While I think at the end of year Moreno will still be the team leader in rushing, but it could end up that Maroney has his share of yards as well.  The bottom line is this is a very low risk move for the Broncos being that they gave up virtually nothing.  even if Maroney provides depth as a backup, it could be enough to help the Broncos be able to run the football, which more than anything else will allow them to win more games.

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Week 1 Loss Doesn’t Mean Disaster

Posted by mizzou1028 on September 13, 2010

First of all, let’s get the Tebow garbage out of the way.  He had 2 carries for 2 yards.  He was a complete non-factor.  He is not the story of this game, contrary to seemingly every other recap of this game that I have read.  I realize he was back in Florida, but come on people, let’s talk about the folks that actually were a factor in this game.

-For whatever reason, David Garrard always has great games against the Broncos.  He tied a career high with three touchdown passes and completed 76 percent of his throws.  He didn’t make a single mistake during the contest.  Naturally this was because I benched him in my fantasy keeper league this week.  The Broncos pass defense for whatever reason couldn’t contain Garrard or get much pressure on him.

– On the flip side the Broncos’ run defense actually did a decent job against Maurice Jones-Drew, who rushed for 98 yards but needed 23 carries to get it.  The Broncos also stuffed him on a big 4th and 1 play in the third quarter.

– Offensively the Broncos showed a lot of positive flashes.  Kyle Orton threw for 295 yards and a touchdown.  There was an Eddie Royal sighting with 8 catches, which means he has already achieved more than 20 percent of his reception total from last year.  Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney and Daniel Graham all came through with big receptions.  Unfortunately for the Broncos Orton threw an interception at the worst time in the final minute, but other than that play the passing game looked solid for the most part.

– The running game still needs some improvement.  Knowshon Moreno actually played fairly well considering he missed the entire preseason with a hamstring injury, rushing for 60 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown.  Correll Buckhalter however only finished with 15 yards and had a costly lost fumble that ended a drive where the Broncos had controlled the ball for more than eight minutes.  I will acknowledge that some patience is needed with two rookies (J.D Walton and Zane Beadles) starting in the middle of the offensive line.  The bottom line though is the Broncos must run the football with more consistency if they want any opportunity to win in this league.

Overall I thought the Broncos actually showed well on the road with the exception of the final score.  Of course the turnovers need to be cleaned up and so do the penalties (the Broncos had seven of them for 70 yards, including two personal foul penalties on Jacksonville’s go ahead touchdown drive).  It remains to be seen how good the Jaguars will be this season, but it looks as though the Broncos may not be the last team that David Garrard has a good game against this year.  Give the Jaguars some credit, they made some defensive plays when they had to (Aaron Kampman’s sack of Orton on Denver’s first drive was very critical, knocking Denver out of scoring range), and they also were able to move the football effectively.  In many ways this can be looked at as a game the Jaguars won as much as or more than a game the Broncos lost.

I think ultimately this is a game Denver could have won, but a week one loss does not necessarily mean disaster.  It does mean the Broncos have less margin for error next week when they host Seattle, but it’s not like a 1-0 start has done them much good in recent years.  I think this has the look of a team that has potential to improve as they progress through the season, especially with so much youth along the offensive line.  The Broncos have some talent in place, and I’m certainly not ready to give up on them after one game. They certainly didn’t embarrass themselves the way the CU Buffs did in California, and I think there is something this team can build on.  Are they a playoff team?  Probably not right now, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be in the race by the end of the season.

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Week 1 & Season Picks

Posted by mizzou1028 on September 9, 2010

Well clearly the first week of the NFL season somehow snuck up on me.  Here we go for a quick hit preview.  Think of it as quick hit thoughts on each team, a gut reaction if you will.  Teams are listed in predicted order of finish.  An asterisk indicates a wild card team.  Playoff predictions as well as selections for the week one matchups can be found at the end. 

AFC EAST:

1. New England Patriots (11-5) – I know better than to pick against them.  Tom Brady is in a contract year and there is a new infusion of youth.  Bottom line is this team wins more often than they don’t.  This is the safe pick.

2. New York Jets (10-6)* – The Jets made a lot of sexy additions to build off last season’s AFC title game appearance.  It’ll be interesting to see if Mark Sanchez can continue to improve and be an offensive leader. 

3. Miami Dolphins (9-7) – Miami’s offense got better with Brandon Marshall.  The question is will his attitude cost them?  Defense isn’t quite up to par with other division contenders.

4. Buffalo Bills (3-13) – Lack of offensive weapons and a mediocre defense equal a terrible combination.  I hope C.J. Spiller’s confidence isn’t destroyed running behind a terrible offensive line.

AFC NORTH:

1. Baltimore Ravens (13-3) – I don’t see why everyone is so down on the Ravens defense.  It’s the same guys that have dominated for years.  Now they have a scary good offense to go with it.  Look out AFC.

2. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) – Cincy is here more because of their defense than because of the offense with all the egos.  I still somehow think T.O. and Ochocinco will co-exist and Carson Palmer will have a bounce back season, but they will miss the playoffs by a hair.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) – I somehow feel like I know this is wrong, but I don’t like their prospects in the four games without Ben Roethlisberger and their defense is aging.  If Rashard Mendenhall can’t stay healthy they’re done.

4. Cleveland Browns (4-12) – Jake Delhomme is way past his prime.  There is a complete lack of talent at virtually every position.  They’d better hope they can groom Colt McCoy in time to start next season.

AFC SOUTH:

1. Indianapolis Colts (14-2) – Come on, do you really think I’m foolish enough to pick against Peyton Manning?  He has all the old weapons at this disposal and the Colts are nearly unbeatable indoors. 

2. Houston Texans (11-5)* – It seems like this my annual surprise pick, but this time I think they’ll finally get into the playoffs.  There is too much talent on both sides of the ball for them not to.  If they’re 8-8 again this year, Gary Kubiak should be in trouble.

3. Tennessee Titans (8-8) – Chris Johnson is amazing, but he can’t do it all by himself.  The Titans are the epitome of a class organization, but they don’t quite have the goods to be a playoff team this year. 

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11) – The Jaguars have Maurice Jones-Drew and, well, ummmm….  Jack Del Rio will be gone after this season.

AFC WEST:

1. San Diego Chargers (9-7) – Yes, this division will be mediocre enough that the Chargers can win it with this record.  They need to get Vincent Jackson and their other holdouts back in short order.  Fortunately Philip Rivers and their running game can carry them.

2. Denver Broncos (8-8) – I don’t know what to expect from my home team.  Frankly anything between 6-10 and 10-6 wouldn’t surprise me.  We’ll go in the middle.  They’ve already been beset by injuries and the schedule is very rocky.  Kyle Orton will have a very good season, but if the running game can’t get healthy, it won’t matter if Orton plays well.

3. Oakland Raiders (6-10) – The Raiders believe Jason Campbell is the answer at quarterback.  I still have reservations as long as this team is owned by Al Davis.  That said, they should be improved over last season.

4. Kansas City Chiefs (5-11) – The running game should be very solid with Jamaal Charles leading the way, but I’m still not a Matt Cassel fan.  Plus the defense doesn’t appear as though it’s going to be very good.

NFC EAST:

1. Dallas Cowboys (12-4) – This could be a huge season for the Cowboys since they are hosting the Super Bowl this year.  They’ll have enough to at least win the division, for it seems as though Tony Romo has finally figured out how to win.

2. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) – Eagles fans may quickly regret running Donovan McNabb out of town.  Kevin Kolb is good, but he’s no McNabb.  Brian Westbrook could be missed even more. 

3. Washington Redskins (7-9) – Mike Shanahan will very much be in transition mode during his first season.  McNabb is an upgrade at QB, but do any of his running backs have anything left in the tank?  Plus the Albert Haynesworth saga has the making of a dark cloud over the defense.

4. New York Giants (6-10) – The Giants fell to Earth last season and don’t seem to have done much to change their personnel.  I like Ahmad Bradshaw in the running game and Eli Manning is capable, but something still doesn’t seem right.

NFC NORTH

1. Green Bay Packers (14-2) – I sense a big breakout year for the pack, highlighted by Aaron Rodgers who is without question the real deal.  The offensive talent is solid at every position and the defense overall might be the best in the league.

2. Minnesota Vikings (11-5)* – The Vikings are still a playoff team, but it remains to be seen if Brett Favre can stay upright for the entire season.  The loss of Sidney Rice to injury is significant, but the running game and defense are still among the best in the league.  If Tarvaris Jackson comes in, the record obviously goes south quickly.

3. Chicago Bears (6-10) – I sense major disaster with the Jay Cutler-Mike Martz marriage offensively.  Given Cutler’s league leading 26 picks last year, an offensive designed on throwing all the time doesn’t seem like a good idea.  The running game is only so so, but the defense may keep them in games. 

4. Detroit Lions (5-11) – Detroit seems like they are improving, but it still appears 2011 is their target.  They are developing young talent, and they may exceed expectations.  If fans are patient, the team is moving in the right direction.

NFC SOUTH

1. New Orleans Saints (12-4) – The Saints appear to have all the pieces necessary to have a shot at repeating.  The same cast of characters as last year can’t be bad thing in any way.  The only question is how will they handle the pressure of repeating?

2. Atlanta Falcons (10-6)* – I think the Falcons will return to the playoffs this year.  Matt Ryan is an excellent quarterback and the running game and receivers are in place.  This team is capable of winning the division if breaks go their way.

3. Carolina Panthers (7-9) – The Panthers are in transition with Matt Moore at QB.  I think it’s almost certain Jimmy Clausen will start before the year is over.  The defense is not as good as it was but the running game will help win them some games. 

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12) – A young Josh Freeman still has a lot to learn about playing quarterback in the NFL, but he has talent.  This is a young team that simply doesn’t look like it’s going to be very good. 

NFC WEST

1. San Francisco 49ers (9-7) – Both west divisions will be highly mediocre, but San Francisco looks like they might finally be able to break through.  There is immense talent at the skills positions on offense, the question is if Alex Smith will finally be ready to take advantage of all of it.  The defense is as solid as they come. 

2. Arizona Cardinals (8-8) – They lost a lot of talent (Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin, and several defensive players).  Derek Anderson is no Kurt Warner, but he still has talent around him.  Still, a drop off is inevitable.

3. Seattle Seahawks (6-10) – Pete Carroll is inheriting an odd team.  Matt Hasselbeck has been very injury prone at QB, and frankly the overall talent level leaves a lot to be desired.  It’s hard to respect Carroll after he left USC in such a mess.

4. St. Louis Rams (4-12) – Sam Bradford is the real deal.  The problem is he has no help.  Steven Jackson is still a terrific back, but he’s bound to get worn down if he’s asked to do too much.  The defense is very young. 

Playoff Picks:

AFC:

Wild Card games: (6) Texans over (3) Patriots, (5) Jets over (4) Chargers

Divisional games: (1) Colts over (6) Texans, (2) Ravens over (5) Jets

AFC Championship: (2) Ravens over (1) Colts – Baltimore’s defense figures out Manning

NFC

Wild Card games: (3) Saints over (6) Falcons, (5) Vikings over (4) 49ers

Divisional games: (1) Packers over (5) Vikings, (2) Cowboys over (3) Saints

NFC Championship Game: (1) Packers over (2) Cowboys – Lambeau advantage too much for Cowboys

Super Bowl Pick: Ravens over Packers.  I like Baltimore’s complete team, they have the passing game, the running game, and the defense.  This is in every way a complete team, and I like them to take the whole thing this year.

Now for quickie week one selections:

– Saints over Vikings: This is a fantastic way to kick off the season tonight.  I like the Saints largely because of the emotion of the home crowd, but this will be very close and entertaining.

– Dolphins over Bills: Miami’s new weapons are enough to beat a struggling Bills team in a tight division contest

– Bears over Lions:  An upset by the visitors wouldn’t surprise me, but a hunch says the host Bears pull this off.

– Titans over Raiders: Complete mismatch, Tennessee rolls at home behind Chris Johnson

– Patriots over Bengals: I almost went with the visitors here in a mini-upset, but picking against New England is usually a bad idea in Foxboro

– Panthers over Giants: This is a coin flip game.  I don’t think either team is very good, but I’ll go with the Panthers in a mini-upset

– Falcons over Steelers: Dennis Dixon is under center for the Steelers.  This presents a huge problem.  Matt Ryan and Roddy White lead Atlanta to the road win.

– Buccaneers over Browns: My sympathies if you’re stuck with the dud game of the week.  Tampa Bay wins a boring game at home.

– Broncos over Jaguars: Maurice Jones-Drew will get his yards, but I think Kyle Orton is in line for a nice year.  This one won’t be pretty either, but I think Denver takes it.

– Colts over Texans: I do think Houston is line for a breakthrough season, but I decided I’m not picking against Indy unless they give me a compelling reason to do so

– Cardinals over Rams: Arizona may be down this year, but they’ll have enough to beat one of the worst teams in the league

– Packers over Eagles: Aaron Rodgers begins what should be an outstanding season.  I think Kevin Kolb will struggle in his real action as the starting QB

– 49ers over Seahawks: Seattle has one of the loudest crowds in the league, but I think the Niners’ running game will carry the day

– Cowboys over Redskins: Washington will be fired up for Mike Shanahan’s first game, but the Cowboys are much better. 

– Ravens over Jets: I think the Jets will be good, but as you saw above I think Baltimore is winning the Super Bowl.  They are going to open with a bang.

– Chargers over Chiefs: Arrowhead hasn’t hosted a Monday night game in years so it will be rocking, but the Chargers will want to show they are still the class of division. 

 

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Ubaldo the Magnificent

Posted by mizzou1028 on September 7, 2010

Photo courtesy Matt York - Associated Press

I will admit right up front that I am biased, but I don’t think there has been any question who the best pitcher in Major League Baseball has been this season.  I am aware that C.C. Sabathia has posted more wins, Adam Wainwright has a better ERA, and two other pitchers have duplicated Jimenez’ feat of a no hitter while yet two others exceeded it with a perfect game this season, but Jimenez has done something no one thought would ever be possible.  He has managed to be a true, legitimate staff ace while pitching at altitude and in the bandbox of Coors Field.  Even with the humidor, people still discount the numbers of Rockies’ hitters on account of Coors Field.  While I think this is absurd given that there are numerous ballparks that generate more offense than Coors, I will turn the national pundits’ argument back on themselves and say that pitching numbers in Denver should be rewarded when they are even remotely good.  In the case of Ubaldo Jimenez, his numbers should be labeled as absolutely spectacular.

To say that Ubaldo Jimenez is the best pitcher in Rockies history is like saying Manute Bol would be the tallest person at his high school reunion. No disrespect intended to Jeff Francis or the likes of Pedro Astacio, but Jimenez is so clearly the best pitcher to wear a Rockies uniform that no one else is even worthy of being in the discussion.  Today Jimenez posted a franchise best 18th victory of the season.  He still has roughly five starts remaining this season to try and notch 20 wins.  He would already be there if not for awful run support in several losses this season (Jimenez has been on the wrong end of a 2-0 loss to the Dodgers, a 1-0 loss to the Mets, and a 2-1 loss to the Giants).  Over a two month stretch during April and May, Jimenez was as dominant as pitcher in the history of the game.  At the end of May, Jimenez posted a 0.78 ERA and a 10-1 record.  Jimenez had given up just seven runs over his first 11 starts.  Sure the Rockies were 27-24 after two months, but take out the games Jimenez started, and they were just 16-23 in the other games.  It’s safe to say that he was carrying the club on his back.

In many ways he still is.  It seems as though every time Jimenez takes the mound, he is doing so the day after a Rockies’ loss.  Given the lack of run support he has often been saddled with, he has had to win games by himself much of the time.  It seems ironic today then, that Jimenez picked up a win on a day when he wasn’t his best.  It should say something that I say he wasn’t at his best when he struck out eight hitters on a first place Reds team over six innings.  The bottom line with Jimenez is that even when he is “not at his best” he is still usually better than whoever is starting for the other team that day.  When he is at his best, he is virtually unhittable.

I am always the eternal optimist, and as such when I look at the standings and see that the Rockies find themselves just four and a half games out of the playoffs in spite of a topsy turvy season, I think they can make up that deficit.  Ubaldo Jimenez is a big reason, because I know the Rockies have a legitimate shot to win no matter what lineup he is facing.  If the Rockies can manage to sneak into the playoffs, Jimenez is exactly the type of staff ace that can swing a short playoff series in a hurry.  He could be to opponents what Cliff Lee was to the Rockies in the division series last year.  I know the national media with their east coast bias will probably give the Cy Young to Wainwright or Josh Johnson or someone that’s on national tv every week, but it would be a real crime not to give it to Jimenez.  Something tells me if he pitched for the Mets he would be a lock.

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Bad news for Broncos backfield

Posted by mizzou1028 on September 3, 2010

The Broncos received some really bad news today regarding their running game. Adam Schefter reports that LenDale White is out for the season after tearing his Achilles. This is devastating for the Broncos, who are still waiting for Knowshon Moreno to get healthy and just getting Correll Buckhalter back. White was going to miss the first four games of the season due to suspension anyway, but now the Broncos won’t have him at all this year. White was expected to be the goal line back and help shore up some of the team’s red zone deficiencies. Now the Broncos will have to rely on Moreno and Buckhalter to carry the running game this year.

This is why I hate preseason. White got hurt in a completely meaningless scrimmage on artificial turf. Of course injuries can happen at any time, but this one occurred in a game that didn’t count and now the Broncos are without one of their key signings for the year.

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Football is back baby!

Posted by mizzou1028 on September 2, 2010

Today all feels right with the world again.  Tonight is the start of the college football season.  After a month of useless NFL preseason scrimmages, we finally get to see some real football that means something.  I am actually somewhat disappointed that I am stuck watching the Broncos and Vikings backups tonight when I could be watching actual college football.   At least I’ll be able to do that on Saturday, and we will be treated to an excellent slate of games during the first weekend.  I will be at Invesco Field at Mile High for the Rocky Mountain Showdown between Colorado and Colorado State, but I will also be keeping an eye on a number of other great games.  In fact I have Monday night blocked out to watch what should be a dandy between Boise State and Virginia Tech.  If Boise State has any hope of crashing the national championship party, they must win this game, a tough task to be sure in Washington D.C., which makes this a de facto home game for the Hokies.  As always there are a lot of college storylines to keep an eye on:

The last season before realignment: This will be the final season for Utah and Brigham Young in the Mountain West Conference.  The former is headed to the Pac 10 next year and the latter is going independent in football while joining the West Coast Conference in basketball.  The MWC will fill their shoes in 2011 with Boise State, Nevada and Fresno State (all leaving the WAC).  This will also be Nebraska’s final salvo in the Big 12 (headed to the Big 10), and probably the last Big 12 hurrah for Colorado as well (the Buffaloes are trying to head to the Pac 10 in 2011 but may have to wait until 2012 for financial reasons).  Will this year be the final time we see the storied rivalries of Utah-BYU and CU-Nebraska?  I would say Utah and BYU would be nuts to not schedule each other in a non-conference game after this year, but something tells me this might be last we see of the Huskers and Buffs for awhile.  While the changes coming in 2011 are not as bad as they could have been, it will still be significant, so enjoy this year’s conference setup while it still lasts.

New Coaches: I have to admit that while I am rapidly starting to despise Lane Kiffin, I am still curious to see how he’ll do at USC.  He inherits the mess left behind by Pete Carroll, including a hefty probation.  They still have top 15 talent so they should be fun to watch.  I hope that Tennessee rebounds from the mess that Kiffin left there after just one year.  A large part of me hopes that they succeed while USC falters, because I think Kiffin did not treat Tennessee fairly in any way.  We also of course have Brian Kelly taking over at Notre Dame, and again I think he did his former program (Cincinnati) absolutely wrong.  I don’t blame him for taking the ND job, but he should have at least stuck around at Cincy to coach them in the Sugar Bowl last year against Florida.  They way he left his players hung out to dry before that game is absolutely despicable.  For that reason, it makes Notre Dame very difficult to root for as long as Kelly is the coach.  Here’s hoping Butch Jones can keep things going in Cincy for those fans.

Other notable coaching changes include new Big 12 coaches in Kansas (Turner Gill) and Texas Tech (Tommy Tuberville).  As much as I hate KU being a Mizzou alum, I think Gill is a great coach and will make KU really good in a few years.  It will also be weird to see Florida State without Bobby Bowden roaming the sideline.  Bowden was forced out, ahem, excuse me, retired, and now Jimbo Fisher takes over the program.  Other coaching changes in BCS conferences took place at Virginia (Mike London now in) and Vanderbilt (Robbie Caldwell).

Who will win the Heisman Trophy: While it is not stated so, it is obvious that only quarterbacks, running backs and receivers are eligible for this award.  Otherwise, Ndamukong Suh should have been a landslide winner last year.  When I saw him person last season I was blown away by his ability to dominate the line and control the game defensively for Nebraska.  Alabama running back Mark Ingram won it last year, but he will have a hard time repeating this year because it’s almost impossible to win it twice.  He will also miss the first part of the season due to injury.  This year’s race appears to be as wide open as ever but the favorite in my mind is Jake Locker, quarterback for Washington.  My darkhorse candidate is Noel Devine, running back for West Virginia.  Another possibility?  Boise State QB Kellen Moore.  This would be the ultimate sign of respect for non-BCS programs if he were to win it.

Who will win it all? The trendy pick seems to be Alabama to repeat, and they are certainly up there with the top contenders.  I think Florida is always dangerous in the SEC as well.  I think Ohio State appears to be easily the best team in the Big 10 on paper (no disrespect intended to Iowa, but last year was a clear fluke and they’re going to fall hard), while of course Texas and Oklahoma are always there in the Big 12.  I also think Nebraska is a darkhorse there to make a challenge for the BCS berth.  Oregon and Virginia Tech are the best teams in their respective conferences, but I don’t see either challenging for the national title.  Boise State and TCU certainly believe their names should be in the hat, and if either or both go undefeated like last year, they will have a strong case.  In the end I think Oklahoma is going to have a bounce back season from last year’s injury riddled campaign, and I think the Sooners will square off against Ohio State in the title game.  I think Boise State loses to Virginia Tech this weekend, and that will knock them out.  I think TCU could go undefeated, but if they do the BCS will once again work against them.  In the end I’m a Big 12 guy, so I’m taking Oklahoma to win it all.

College football is back, enjoy the season folks!

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Best Catch Ever

Posted by mizzou1028 on August 30, 2010

I’ve certainly seen some amazing baseball catches in my time, but nothing I’ve ever seen rivals this grab by Masato Akamatsu of the Hiroshima Toyo Carps.  You’ve probably figured out by the names that this isn’t a catch from a Major League game.  This is from Japan.

There are no words that do this catch justice.  The video says it all.

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18 game season? Why not?

Posted by mizzou1028 on August 26, 2010

You’ve probably heard by now that the NFL is targeting 2012 for an expansion of the regular season from 16 to 18 games.  I think ultimately I am on board with the owners on this one, although there are plenty of reasons to hesitate. I so agree with some of the reasons from folks that think this is a bad idea, but I don’t think any of them are a deal breaker.  I think this is a case where the benefits end up outweighing the negatives.

I think the single biggest reason to do it is it would cut down on preseason football.  I don’t think there is any question that preseason football is the biggest rip off in sports.  Season ticket holders across the league are forced into paying full price to attend these useless scrimmages.  No one can say with a straight face that preseason NFL even closely resembles the regular season product.  I’m a football nut, and the only reason I watch every play of the Broncos’ preseason games is because I’m being paid to as part of my job.  An 18-game regular season would also mean a reduction in preseason from four to two games.  This seems like a no brainer that most fans would want to see two more meaningful games as opposed to two extra scrimmages that don’t count and feature many players who ultimately won’t make the team.

Fewer preseason games would also include the benefit for teams and players of less training camp.  Football has evolved considerably from even 15 years ago, for players are now keeping in shape year round, and thus don’t need lengthy training camps to get ready.  This is also another argument for reducing the preseason.  Four games are simply not necessary to get ready.  They don’t play any preseason games in college, and that has never seemed to be a problem in regards to the quality of play in week one.  I’d much rather see more games that count and reflect the true nature of the product as opposed to scrimmages where both teams are openly attempting not to win.

Now, I do acknowledge the problems with this.  The biggest one would be increased risk of injury given two extra regular season games, but to me this argument is voided completely by the removal of two preseason games and a shorter training camp.  Teams can lose guys to injury at any time; preseason, regular season or practice.  Just ask the Broncos about losing Elvis Dumervil for the season in a one on one drill.  It is unavoidable that these things happen, but I don’t believe there is any increased risk with a regular season game over a preseason game for any particular player.

One concern might be that some of the later games could be rendered meaningless if a team clinches too early and elects to rest players.  We’ve already seen cases where teams have sat guys for the last week of the year or even the final two weeks after clinching a division title or home field advantage.  While this is possible, it’s something that’s already a problem now anyway.  It is also equally possible that we could see even more fantastic races down the stretch for playoff positioning.  I think there would be enough excitement down the stretch that this wouldn’t be any bigger deal than it is now.

What about the record books?  This is a problem that baseball experienced when it went from 154 to 162 games.  When Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs in 1927, he had eight fewer games than when Roger Maris hit 61 in 1961.  Football could have similar issues with records for yards, touchdowns, etc.  For example, a running back would only need to average 59 yards a game to crack the 1,000 yard barrier for the season if it were 18 games.  The flip side of that is that this milestone is already less impressive than it was even 10 years ago.  More and more backs are already hitting that barrier now anyway, so what if more hit it over 18 games?  I say make 1,500 yards the new rushing milestone and this isn’t a big deal.

Of course there is the issue of player salaries.  The players of course would want to get paid for the two extra regular season games.  Their salaries are based on a 16-game schedule, and thus they do not get paid for preseason games.  This would also mean the owners lose one of two preseason home dates where they get full gate receipts and the players don’t see a dime of it.  It is perhaps fitting that the collective bargaining agreement is a really hot topic right now with a lockout perhaps looming in 2011.  If the owners want to push this through, the players are going to sign off on it as part of this agreement.

Despite the issues that come up with an 18-game season, I think more football is never a bad thing.  Two more games that count at the expense of two that don’t is not going to dilute the product.  If you were talking about making it  a year round operation or something like that, then dilution would be a valid argument, but this is a modest enough increase in real games not to be the case.  I think the extra meaningful games will only enhance pro football.  Are you really going to watch every play of your team’s fourth preseason game when all of your key players are going to see little to no action?  Unless you really want to see the guys that are about to get cut, you’re not missing much there.  Will you watch two extra regular season games?  Of course you will.

I think this will ultimately happen, and I think it will ultimately benefit the NFL.

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Updated MLB Power Rankings

Posted by mizzou1028 on August 23, 2010

Back in May, I put a list of MLB power rankings together.  Needless to say, I had some of the teams placed correctly, and some, well…..not so much.  My most egregious errors were putting the Padres and Braves way too low, and I had teams such as the Tigers and Nationals placed too high.  Here is how I see the teams ranked 1-30 as we sit now in late August, and just for fun the ranking from May is in parentheses.

1. (5)  New York Yankeees – The Yankees seem to always have the talent to be up toward the top.  Certainly their payroll has a lot to do with that, but they certainly have the tools to be a major factor in the playoffs as they try to repeat.  The rotation is solid in all five spots, and the bullpen is as good as it gets.  They have to be concerned about the injuries to A-Rod and Lance Berkman, but the rest of the veteran lineup is doing more than enough to pick up the slack.  The team should be money in a short playoff series against virtually anyone.

2. (17)  San Diego Padres – This is without the question the team I misfired most on early in the year.  I thought for sure they would go away.  They haven’t.  Their rotation has been dominant, led by guys many casual fans haven’t heard of.  Even die hard fans are just getting to know Mat Latos, Clayton Richard and Wade LeBlanc.  The offense gets the job done with solid fundamentals, and they made a statement that they’re going for it this year by acquiring Miguel Tejada and Ryan Ludwick at the trade deadline.  This team is for real, and they are not going away.  They may just win the whole thing.

3. (9) Texas Rangers – The Rangers have the ability to light up the scoreboard offensively on any night.  That ability will get even better once Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler return from the DL.  Their starting pitching has improved greatly over the course of the season, and at the trade deadline they added a true ace in Cliff Lee to anchor it.  There is still a lot of youth on this team, and that could be their downfall against a team with experience, but the talent is definitely there.

4. (1) – Tampa Bay Rays – Tampa Bay is right there with the Yankees at the top of the AL East.  They have more than enough ability offensively with a potent lineup, but their hitting has been very streaky.  While it has been good enough to produce a ton of runs, they have also been no hit on two occasions this season and were one out away from getting no hit a third time.  Fortunately, the starting pitching, especially David Price, and bullpen are terrific.  That is enough most nights, but the Rays had better the lineup doesn’t hit a low streak in the playoffs.

5. (2) Philadelphia Phillies – The Phillies’ biggest problem has been injuries, but they are starting to get guys healthy.  They added Roy Oswalt at the trade deadline to join an already potent rotation, and their lineup can score runs like just about anyone.  Their bullpen is very inconsistent, and while I think it won’t be bad enough to prevent them from winning the NL East, it might be bad enough to allow the Braves to catch them.

6. (6) San Francisco Giants – San Francisco has the pitching (Lincecum, Zito and Cain) to win a playoff series just on that.  They also have really beefed up their lineup, thanks to the additions of Buster Posey, Pat Burrell and Jose Guillen.  This team does have the talent to be a real player in the playoffs, but they may still have a hard time catching the Padres, so they may need to get the wild card to make it.

7. (20) Atlanta Braves – Another team that I really underestimated.  The starting rotation is among the best in the league, and so is their bullpen.  The offense took a big blow with the season ending injury to Chipper Jones, but the Braves added Derrek Lee via trade to compensate.  Atlanta has a good mix of young and veteran talent, and they will need to keep overachieving to hold off the Phillies in the east.

8. (3) St. Louis Cardinals – The Cardinals suddenly find themselves in a dogfight for the NL Central after they had a big lead early in the year.  Albert Pujols has certainly done his thing with 33 home runs, but he hasn’t had a lot of help.  Matt Holliday is not playing to his contract level, and the rest of the lineup has struggled to score runs consistently.  The pitching is very good (Adam Wainwright is an easy Cy Young candidate), and that has kept them afloat.  They need to step up the offense though going forward.

9. (14) Cincinnati Reds – I thought in May that the Reds were putting a nice team together that might be able to make a run next year.  They have sped up the timetable with clutch hitting and a rotation that rarely falters with a really bad game.  If St. Louis doesn’t get its hitting together soon, the Reds may just find themselves in the playoffs.  They must however get better outings from Edinson Volquez, who has been terrible since coming off the DL last month.

10. (4) Minnesota Twins – The drop in the rankings isn’t really due to anything the Twins have done, it’s more of a reflection of other teams playing better than expected.  Minnesota has plenty of good hitting, and the bullpen has overcome the loss of closer Joe Nathan at the start of the season.  The biggest issue I see for the Twins is their starting pitching doesn’t quite stack up to the other top teams in the American League.  They have a really good shot to hold the White Sox off for the division title, but I don’t think this team is set up well to win in the playoffs.

11. (21) Chicago White Sox – Chicago has actually done a nice job overcoming a terrible start, and while they still trial the Twins by five games in the central, they have managed to put themselves in contention after middling in last place in late May.  The White Sox have managed to get their starting rotation in good shape thanks to major improvement from Edwin Jackson and Gavin Floyd, and their lineup can score.  The problem is the bullpen, which currently has no suitable closer.  This will be their downfall and why they probably won’t win the division ultimately.

12. (16) Boston Red Sox – The Red Sox have been riddled with injuries all season.  Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia probably won’t be back, and that will hurt their lineup.  The rotation has been very up and down despite all the big names, and even Jonathan Papelbon has blown several saves.  Boston is trying to get Johnny Damon back to help make a late run, but the Yankees and Rays are too good to get caught.

13. (8) Toronto Blue Jays – It really seems unfair to drop the Blue Jays because they have done better this year than anyone expected.  The rotation has been very good even without Roy Halladay, and the lineup has been blasting home runs left and right.  So why the drop?  They just don’t quite have enough to compete in the AL East, and they are too far back in the standings to have a shot at the playoffs.  This however is a team to watch in 2011.

14. (12) Colorado Rockies – I’m sure I have my hometown team ranked too high, but the middle of the pack seems appropriate for them.  The Rockies have had a lot of good (Ubaldo Jimenez, Carlos Gonzalez), but they have a lot of bad to go with it (the now released Brad Hawpe and horrible pitching from Aaron Cook).  The Rockies are just way too inconsistent offensively, especially on the road.  They also will need to cut down the defensive errors next season.  They’ve made late runs before to make the playoffs, but it seems there is too much ground to make up this time.

15. (25) Los Angeles Dodgers – You can’t say they aren’t trying to make a playoff run.  It seemed they brought in everybody at the trade deadline, getting Ryan Theriot, Octavio Dotel and Scott Podsednik.  The problem has been the pitching, usually a strength for this team.  The bullpen has been especially bad with Jonathan Broxton getting removed as the closer for a time.  They’re playing better but are just too far behind to catch the Padres and Giants.

16. (15) Florida Marlins – The Marlins are another team that has way much talent to be hovering around .500.  Josh Johnson is an elite pitcher anchoring the rotation and Hanely Ramirez is an elite player leading the lineup, and while both have been very good most of the season, they haven’t gotten help when they’ve needed it.  This team looks like it’s about to tail off.

17. (11) Oakland Athletics – The A’s don’t have what you would call a sexy lineup, but they have enough to be competitive most nights.  The problem is while they’re competitive, they haven’t been winning consistently enough.  If I could pick a team to finish 81-81, it would be this one.  There is a lot of young talent here, but they seem like they’re going to finish right around .500.

18. (7) Detroit Tigers – I am somewhat at a loss to explain what happened to the Tigers, who nearly made the playoffs last year.  The rotation has really underachieved, and the lineup has been even worse when it comes to run production.  This is mostly the same cast from last year, so it is hard to say why they’ve struggled. Perhaps next year might be different if they keep the team together.

19. (22) Los Angeles Angels – The Angels made a big splash at the deadline acquiring Dan Haren to anchor the rotation, but that hasn’t worked out.  Their lineup has not hit consistently despite being loaded with talent, although losing Kendry Morales to injury was devastating.  This team should rebound next year as well, and could play spoiler to a lot of teams in September.

20. (19) Milwaukee Brewers – The Brewers are another team that is not playing near to the level of their talent.  The bullpen has been a big problem, particularly Trevor Hoffman, who may never get to 600 career saves if he keeps blowing opportunities.  The lineup needs to start producing like their talent if this team wants success going forward in future seasons.

21. (27) Houston Astros – Houston strangely enough has played much better since dealing away Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman at the deadline.  It appears that there is enough youth here that the rebuilding is well underway.  If Houston fans are patient, the future could be bright down in Texas.

22. (30) Baltimore Orioles – There isn’t much talent here, but they are playing really hard for new manager Buck Showalter.  They have managed to climb out of the cellar in terms of worst record in baseball, and they have beaten several contending teams in recent weeks.  I sense a good September for them, and a bright outlook for 2011.

23. (28) Seattle Mariners – The Cliff Lee acquisition didn’t work out, but now that he’s gone it seems as if this team is pointed at the future.  There are some good hitters in their lineup (I really like Justin Smoak, acquired in the Lee trade to Texas), and there is a lot of potential in the starting pitching.  They’ve got to get better next year or there is something wrong.

24. (13) Washington Nationals – I had them ranked high in May because they were winning a lot of games.  Obviously that’s tailed off, but there still have some talented hitters.  The future also looks really bright with Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper.  I’ll be curious to see if Adam Dunn is still with the club in 2011.

25. (18) Arizona Diamondbacks – Arizona has a lot of talent.  They also don’t have any consistency.  The lineup is potent at times with numerous hitters capable of mashing home runs, but they also strike out a lot.  The bullpen is terrible, and that alone has cost them numerous games.  The prospects acquired in the Dan Haren and Edwin Jackson deals should help going forward.

26. (10) – New York Mets – This ranking has as much to do with what has happened off the field as on it.  Closer Francisco Rodriguez is a complete embarrassment for punching his father in law, and the Mets were right to terminate his contract.  They also have a lot of money tied up in Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay with nothing to show for it.  Even ace Johan Santana has been really up and down.  This team has too many veteran guys who are past their window of opportunity, and they need to blow it up and start over.

27. (24) Chicago Cubs – The rebuilding is well underway.  Gone are Derrek Lee, Ryan Theriot, and even manager Lou Pinella, who retired.  They would like to unload Aramis Ramirez’ large contract as well, but he is refusing to waive his no trade clause. They will spend September taking a good look at young talent.  Cubs fans have a century’s worth of patience under their belt, and they’ll need it for a few more years before they are good again.

28. (26) – Cleveland Indians – Cleveland is a team that appears to be lacking any kind of direction.  They don’t any names that jump off the page at any position, save for Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore, both of whom are so injury riddled they might not have anything left.  They had better hope that help is coming from the farm system soon.

29. (23) – Pittsburgh Pirates – As always, this team has the feel and look of a Triple A club.  They have young talent, but it seems inevitable that all the good players will be traded when ownership can’t afford them or doesn’t want to pay for them.  They have endured 17 consecutive losing seasons.  To put it another way, they have not had a winning season the Rockies and Marlins came into existence in 1993.

30. (29) – Kansas City Royals – I feel really bad for Kansas City fans as well.  The Royals, like Pittsburgh, trade away their best players year after year, and even when they try to keep good talent (Zack Grienke, Joakim Soria), it doesn’t seem to help them.  They have the combined problem of cheap ownership with management that doesn’t know what they’re doing.  Improvement doesn’t seem to be coming soon in either area.

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