Archive for April, 2012

NFL Draft Review

Posted: 04/29/2012 by levcohen in Football, Hockey

the 3 day draft is over, and there were plenty of surprising picks.

Reviewing the 1st round:

#1- Andrew Luck, Colts- A.. The Colts basically need every position, and they needed to start with a good QB.
#2- Robert Griffin III, Redskins- A+.. RG3 would have gone #1 in almost any other draft
#3- Trent Richardon, Browns (trade)- A-.. The Browns gave up their first round pick, and 3 later ones just to move up one pick. It was worth it though, as Richardson is going to be a great RB
#4- Matt Kalil, Vikings (trade)- A+… Great trade with the Browns by the Vikings. They picked up extra picks, and still got the guy they wanted
#5- Justin Blackmon, Jaguars (trade)- B… The Jaguars moved a later pick and #7 overall for Blackmon, who I think will bust. It wasn’t horrible though, because they needed a WR and got one
#6- Morris Claiborne, Cowboys (trade)- A.. The ‘Boys traded their mid first round pick plus their second round pick for the #6 pick and Morris Claiborne. That was a great move, because Claiborne is one of the four elite players in the draft, in my opinion
#7-  Mark Barron, Bucs (trade)- B-.. The Bucs traded back to the Jaguars spot. It looked like a great trade, but then they reached on Barron. Safties shouldn’t go this early, and Barron is no exception. They probably could have traded back to #12 and still gotten Barron.
#8- Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins- B.. The Dolphins needed a QB, and reached for Tannehill. He is a good talent, but will have to start right away. This is likely to be a bust, but who knows? Tannehill might end up better than Luck. The ‘Fins needed a QB
#9- Luke Kuechly, Panthers- B.. Maybe a little bit of a reach for a LB, but Kuechly is one of the safest players in this draft
#10- Stephon Gillmore, Bills- A-.. The Bills had a great draft, and this was no exception. They needed a CB and Gillmore is a great player.
#11- Dontari Poe, Chiefs- B-.. Poe had a great combine, but was still supposed to go later in the first round, as he hasn’t played well on the field. How well a player does in the combine doesn’t matter during real games. The Chiefs probably would have been better off with Fletcher Cox, who was great during the season and had a good combine showing.
#12- Fletcher Cox, Eagles (trade)- A.. The eagles traded their #15 overall pick, along with a 4th and 6th rounder to get Cox, who was by far the best player left. That was a great idea.
#13- Michael Floyd, Cardinals- B.. The Cardinals needed a WR to play with Larry Fitzgerald. However, they also needed O-Line help, and there was plenty at that point in the draft. They should’ve gone O-Line, but Floyd is a nice consolation prize.
#14- Michael Brockers, Rams (trade)- A-… This was the first pick they got in the trade with the Cowboys. Brockers is really good, and has great potential. Solid pick for a team that has a bright future.
#15- Bruce Ervin, Seahawks (trade)- D+… What were the Seahawks doing? They drafted a player in the first round who probably would’ve been available in the third or fourth round.
#16- Quinton Coples, Jets- B+… Coples was a solid pick, but Melvin Ingram probably would’ve been a better pick. Either way, they got a talented D-Lineman
#17- Dre Kirkpatrick, Bengals- A.. The Bengals needed a CB, and Kirkpatrick is ready for the pros. He will eventually be a good starting cornerback, and until then will be a solid #3 CB. Good pick for the Bengals, who had a great draft.
#18- Melvin Ingram, Chargers- A-.. The Chargers were probably thrilled that Ingram was still there. They needed a D-lineman, and got the best available.
#19- Shea McClellin, Bears- B+.. I thought the Bears would go Offensive Line, but picked one of the best available players instead, and they had a need at LB. Decent pick.
#20- Kendall Wright, Titans- B.. The Titans are going to be stacked at WR when everyone gets healthy, led by Kenny Brit, Nate Washington and Wright. Wright was the third best WR in the draft, so the pick here was fine.
#21- Chandler Jones, Patriots (trade)- A.. The Patriots didn’t really have very many team needs, so they traded some of their few picks to move up to pick the best available D-Lineman in Chandler Jones.
#22- Brandon Weeden, Browns- B-… This was a very interesting pick by the Browns. They already had someone who they said would be their franchise QB in Colt McCoy. Weeden is probably the third most NFL- ready QB in the draft, and at 29 years old (he played minor league baseball for a while), he will need to start immediately. Weeden wasn’t a horrible value at QB, but it is a semi-puzzling pick since they already had McCoy, who they spent a high pick on a few years ago.
#23- Reilly Reiff, Lions- A-… Reiff could have gone to the Cardinals at 13, so the fact that he fell this far was interesting. Lions QB Drew Stafford was sacked way too much, so investing a first rounder in an O-Lineman was a good idea.
#24- David DeCastro, Steelers- A.. Great pick by the Steelers, as DeCastro is a guy that many predicted would go as high as #11.
#25- Dont’a Hightower, Patriots (trade)- B.. The Patriots traded up again, nabbing a guy they love in Hightower. They went with defense in their first two picks, which is clearly a big need. Hightower and Jones will fit in well in New England.
#26- Whitney Mercilus, Texans- B+.. The Texans are another team that didn’t have a lot of needs, so they tried picking the best player available. Mercilus probably wasn’t the best, but he certainly was one of them.
#27- Kevin Zeitler, Bengal (trade)- A-.. The Bengals needed an offensive guard, and nabbed Zeitler. Their team is looking more and more like a super bowl contender in the AFC Central.
#28- Nick Perry, Packers- A-.. I think the Packers were probably targeting Nick Perry from before the draft started. He is a great fit for them, and they needed a defensive end to help pressure the QB.
#29- Harrison Smith, Vikings (trade)- B-… The Safety position was very shallow in this draft, so it was natural for the top ones to be taken a little early. In most drafts, Smith probably would’ve gone in the second round.
#30- AJ Jenkins, 49ers- C+.. The 49ers made a puzzling pick in AJ Jenkins. They had already added two WR’s in free agency (Mario Manningham, Randy Moss), so I don’t know why they picked another in the draft when they had more glaring needs.
#31- Doug Martin, Bucs- (trade) A… The Bucs made a good pick in Doug Martin, the RB from Boise State. Martin was considered the second or third best RB in the draft, and will probably be a solid starter sometime in the future. The Bucs needed a RB, and got one here.
#32- David Wilson, Giants- B+.. Decent pick by the Giants here. While they lost Brandon Jacobs in free agency, they still have Ahmad Bradshaw and now have a good backup (or co-starter) in Wilson.

NHL Second Round Playoff Predictions

#1 New York Rangers OVER #7 Washington Capitals in 6 games
#5 Philadelphia Flyers OVER #6 Devils in 7 games

#2 St. Louis Blues OVER #8 Los Angeles Kings in 7 games
#3 Phoenix Coyotes OVER #4 Nashville Predators in 7 games


NFL News

Posted: 04/26/2012 by levcohen in Football

Today will be a football report..

The Pro Bowl is likely to be ended. I agree with this, as the pro bowl is a joke (especially since it is after the season)

The draft is tonight. The top 6 are already pretty well known, although not necessarily in this order (Luck, Griffin III, Kalil, Richardson, Claiborne, Blackmon). I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Vikings (picking third) pick Claiborne, a shut-down corner back. I also thing Blackmon is a bust candidate (not big, not too fast). He could be a good #2 or #3 WR in the right place, but he isn’t going to be a star. He does have great hands. I think that both QB’s (Luck and Griffin) are absolutely going to become great QB’s. Griffin has a little more upside, but Luck might be a safer pick at this point. Scouts say that Richardson is the best RB prospect since Adrian Peterson, which would be a great pick at #4 for the Browns. The middle of the draft will be interesting, with a lot of defensive players looking to be drafted. Guys like Mark Barron,  Fletcher Cox, Quentin Couples, Dartae Poe, Michael Brockers, Melvin Ingram, Courtney Upshaw should be taken from #7-20..

Here is my first round Mock Draft (including trades):

#1- Andrew Luck, Indy

#2- Robert Griffin III, Washington

#3- Trent Richardson, Cleveland (trade)

#4- Matt Kalil, Minnesota (trade)

#5- Morris Claiborne, Tampa Bay

#6- Justin Blackmon, St. Louis

#7- Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia (trade)

#8- Ryan Tannehill, Miami

#9- Michael Floyd, Carolina

#10- Stephon Gillmore, Buffalo

#11- Luke Keuchly, Kansas City

#12- Mark Barron, New York Jets (trade)

#13- Reilly Reiff, Arizona

#14-Dre Kirkpatrick, Dallas

#15- Melvin Ingram, Jacksonville (trade)

#16-  Courtney Upshaw, Seattle (trade)

#17- David DeCastro, Cincinatti

#18- Whitney Mercilus, San Diego

#19- Devon Still, Chicago

#20- Dontari Poe, Tennessee

#21- Stephen Hill, Cincy

#22- Kendall Wright, Cleveland

#23- Jonathan Martin, Detroit

#24- Dont’a Hightower, Pittsburgh

#25- Andre Branch, Denver

#26- Janoris Jenkins, Houston

#27- Peter Konz, New England

#28- David Wilson, Green Bay

#29- Cordy Glenn, Baltimore

#30- David Wilson, San Francisco

#31- Nick Perry- New England

#32- Harrison Smith, New York Giants

Trades: Cleveland trades pick #4 and a 4th round pick for the #3 pick (to Minnesota). Philadelphia trades pick #15 and a third round pick for pick #7 and a 6th round pick (to Jacksonville). New York Jets trade pick #16, a fifth round pick and a 6th round pick for pick #12 (to Seattle)



Western Conference Playoff Predictions

Posted: 04/22/2012 by levcohen in Basketball

Today will be my predictions for the western conference playoffs, assuming the playoff seedings don’t change by the end of the year:

#1 Spurs vs. #8 Jazz

The Starting Lineups:

PG: Tony Parker (SAS) and Devin Harris (UTA).. Advantage San Antonio
SG: Daniel Green (SAS) and Gordon Hayward (UTA)… Advantage Utah
SF: Kawhi Leonard (SAS) and DeMarre Carroll (UTA).. Advantage San Antonio
PF: DeJuan Blair (SAS) and  Paul Millsap (UTA)… Advantage Utah
C: Tim Duncan (SAS) and Al Jefferson (UTA)… Advantage Utah
Bench: Boris Diaw, Manu Ginobli, Stephen Jackson, Tiago Splitter, Patrick Mills, Matt Bonner vs. Jamaal Tinsley, Derrick Favors, Raja Bell, Josh Howard, Alec Burks, Enes Kanter  (UTA)… Advantage San Antonio
Coaching: San Antonio
Injury Risks: Many Ginobli and Al Jefferson… Advantage San Antonio
Momentum:  San Antonio 8-2 last 10, Utah 6-4 last 10

The 8 seed in the west is going to be very dangerous. The Jazz have a very talented team, and they actually match up pretty well with the Spurs, with a great forward combo of Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson. Those guys will probably shut down Tim Duncan. However, I think Gordon Hayward is the X Factor. He is very talented, but still inexperienced. Also, Devin Harris needs to play well. Otherwise, All Star Tony Parker will lead the experienced Spurs to an easy playoff victory.

Series: Spurs win in 6 games

#2 Thunder vs. #7 Mavericks

The Starting Lineups:

PG: Russell Westbrook (OKC) and Rodrigue Beaubois (DAL).. Advantage Oklahoma City
SG: Thabo Sefolosha (OKC) and Delonte West (DAL).. Even
SF: Kevin Durant (OKC) and  Shawn Marion (DAL)… Advantage Oklahoma City
PF: Serge Ibaka (OKC) and Dirk Nowitzki (DAL)… Advantage Oklahoma City
C: Kendrick Perkins (OKC) and Brendan Haywood (DAL)… Advantage Oklahoma City
Bench: James Harden and a bunch of scrubs (OKC) vs. Jason Terry and a bunch of scrubs (DAL)… Advantage Dallas (The mavs scrubs are better than the Thunder scrubs)
Coaching: Even
Injury Risks: Jason Kidd, Rodrigue Beaubois (DAL)… Advantage Oklahoma City
Momentum: Oklahoma City last 10: 6-4.. Dallas last 10: 5-5

#3 Lakers vs. #6 Nuggets

The Starting Lineups:

PG: Ramon Sessions (LA) and Ty Lawson (DEN)… Advantage Denver
SG: Kobe Bryant (LA) and Aaron Afflalo (DEN)… Advantage Los Angeles
SF: Metta World Peace (LA) and Danilo Gallinari (DEN)… Advantage Denver
PF: Pau Gasol (LA) and Kenneth Faried (DEN)… Advantage Los Angeles
C: Andrew Bynum (LA) and Javale McGee (DEN)… Advantage Los Angeles
Bench: Matt Barnes, Steve Blake, Jordan Hill, Devin Ebanks, Troy Murphy (LA) vs. Al Harrington, Corey Brewer, Andre Miller, Wilson Chandler, Rudy Fernandez (DEN)… Advantage Denver
Coaching: Advantage Denver
Injury Risks: K. Bryant, A. Bynum and D. Gallinari, A. Harrington.. Advantage Denver
Momentum: LA last 10: 6-4.. Denver last 10: 6-4

This is an interesting matchup between two completely different teams. The Lakers are experienced and have 3 stars (Bryant, Gasol, Bynum). The Nuggets have no stars, and have a lot of young talented players. They are also very deep. I think this is a matchup that could be very exciting.

Series: Nuggets in 7

#4 Clippers vs. #5 Grizzlies

The Starting Lineups:

PG: Chris Paul (LA) and Mike Conley (MEM).. Advantage Los Angeles
SG: Randy Foye (LA) and Tony Allen (MEM).. Even
SF: Caron Butler (LA) and Rudy Gay (MEM).. Advantage Memphis
PF: Blake Griffin (LA) and Zach Randolph (MEM)… Even (assuming Randolph is at full strength)
C: DeAndre Jordan (LA) and Mark Gasol (MEM).. Advantage Memphis
Bench: Eric Bledsoe, Mo Williams, Nick Young, Ryan Gomes, Kenyon Martin (LA) vs. Marreese Speights, Gilbert Arenas, OJ Mayo, Dante Cunningham, Quincy Pondexter (MEM)… Advantage Los Angeles
Coaching: Even
Injury Risks: C. Butler and Z. Randolph.. Advantage Los Angeles
Momentum: Clippers last 10: 7-3. Grizzlies last 10: 8-2

This will be another very exciting series. The Lob City Clips are very talented, but so are the Grizzlies, who shocked people last year. While he isn’t anything compared to Chris Paul, Mike Conley is a good PG, a terrific ball handler and defender. Tony Allen is another great defender. Gay, Randolph and Gasol provide a ton of scoring and rebounding punch. On the other side, the Clippers are fantastic. Chris Paul is the best PG in the NBA, and Blake Griffin is the best dunker. Add in a DeAndre Jordan (he is tremendous at blocking shots) and a good bench, and you have a great team. I like the Grizzlies a little more in this series, assuming Randolph is back and healthy. Either way, it’ll be a great series

Series with Randolph 100%: Grizzlies in 7
Series without Randolph at 100%: Clippers in 7

So overall, I have:

Bulls, Heat, Pacers, Celtics from the East making it to the next round and Spurs, Thunder, Nuggets, Grizzlies from the West.


Eastern Conference Playoffs Predictions

Posted: 04/21/2012 by levcohen in Basketball

With the season about to end and most of the playoffs spots secured, I’m going to give my first round predictions (assuming the current seedings hold):

Eastern Conference:
#1 Bulls vs. #8 Sixers

The starting lineups:
PG: Derrick Rose (CHI) and Jrue Holliday (PHI)… Advantage Chicago
SG: Richard Hamilton (CHI) and Jodie Meeks (PHI).. Advantage Chicago
SF: Luol Deng (CHI) and Andre Iguodala (PHI)… Even
PF: Carlos Boozer (CHI) and Elton Brand (PHI).. Advantage Chicago
C: Joakim Noah (CHI) and Nikola Vucevic (PHI)… Advantage Chicago
Bench: CJ Watson, Ronnie Brewer, Taj Gibson, Omer Asik (CHI) vs. Lou Williams, Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes (PHI).. Advantage Philadelphia
Coaching: Advantage Chicago
Health Risks: D. Rose, R. Hamilton, L. Deng and S. Hawes.. Advantage Philadelphia
Momentum: Bulls 5-5 last 10, Philadelphia 3-7 last 10.

The Bulls should love this matchup, and they should dominate the Sixers, if they are healthy. Derrick Rose is the reigning MVP, but he’s had trouble being healthy this year. If they are totally healthy, they will win. If not, they’ll still probably win, but it might be close.

Series with Rose: Bulls in 5
Series without Rose: Bulls in 7

 #2 Heat vs. #7 Knicks

The starting lineups:

PG: Mario Chalmers (MIA) and Iman Shumpret (NYK).. Even
SG: Dwayne Wade (MIA) and JR Smith (NYK).. Advantage Miami
SF: LeBron James (MIA) and Carmelo Anthony (NYK).. Advantage Miami
PF: Chris Bosh (MIA) and Amare Stoudemire (NYK).. Even
C: Joel Anthony (MIA) and Tyson Chandler (NYK).. Advantage New York
Bench: Udonis Haslem, James Jones, Mike Miller, Shane Battier, Norris Cole (MIA) vs. Steve Novak, Mike Bibby, Landry Fields, Toney Douglas, Baron Davis (NYK)… Advantage New York
Coaching: Even
Health Risks: D. Wade, M. Miller  and A. Stoudemire.. Advantage New York
Momentum: Heat 7-3 last 10, Knicks 6-4 last 10.

I don’t think the Heat love this matchup. The Knicks are just finding their stride, even without Jeremy Lin. Now, they are getting Stoudemire back from injury and have a few games to get him to the top of his game. Suddenly, the Knicks will become a threat.

Series: Heat in 6

#3 Pacers vs. #6 Magic

PG: Darren Collison (IND) and Jameer Nelson (ORL).. Advantage Orlando
SG: Paul George (IND)  and JJ Redick (ORL).. Advantage Indiana
SF: Danny Granger (IND) and Jason Richardon (ORL).. Advantage Indiana
PF: David West (IND) and Ryan Anderson (ORL).. Advantage Orlando
C: Roy Hibbert (IND) and Glen Davis (ORL)… Advantage Indiana
Bench: George Hill, Leandro Barbosa, Tyler Hansbrough (IND) vs. Chris Duhon, Quentin Richardon, Von Wafer (ORL).. Advantage Indiana
Coaching: Advantage Indiana
Health Risks: D. Collison, D. West and J. Nelson, J. Richardson… Even
Momentum:  Indiana 9-1 last 10, Magic 4-6 last 10

The Pacers have to be feeling lucky right now. This was supposed to be a close matchup… but then Dwight Howard got injured. Without Howard, the Magic are a small team and a big defensive liability. They transform from a top 4 Eastern conference team to a team that wouldn’t put up a fight against any playoff team..

Series: Pacers in 5

#4 Celtics vs. #5 Hawks

PG: Rajon Rondo (BOS) Jeff Teague (ATL)… Advantage Boston
SG: Ray Allen (BOS) and Kirk Hinrich (ATL).. Advantage Boston
SF: Paul Pierce (BOS) and Joe Johnson (ATL).. Advantage Atlanta
PF: Brandon Bass (BOS) and Josh Smith (ATL).. Advantage Atlanta
C: Kevin Garnett (BOS) and Jason Collins (ATL).. Advantage Boston
Bench: Avery Bradley, Greg Stiemsma,  Keyon Dooling, Marquis Daniels, Sasha Pavlovic (BOS) vs. Willie Green, Tracy McGrady, Marvin Williams, Ivan Johnson, Jannero Pargo (ATL) … Advantage Atlanta
Coaching: Advantage Boston
Health Risks: R. Allen, R. Rondo and T. McGrady.. Advantage Atlanta
Momentum:  Boston 7-3 last 10, Indiana 7-3 last 10

This should be a close matchup talent wise. The Hawks would have a clear advantage if they had Al Horford, but he was lost for the year early on. Now, they still match up pretty well with Boston, the Atlantic division champs. I think this series is going down to the wire, with the Celtics winning (their experience pushes them over the top).

Series: Celtics in 7

Western Conference will be tomorrow

Antique Arms

Posted: 04/19/2012 by levcohen in Baseball

In honor of Jamie Moyer’s record breaking Tuesday night win at age 49, fivetool has turned the keyboard over to me for a guest blog gig.  While throwing seven innings of our major league ball to earn a win at such an advanced age is impressive enough, doing so fewer than 16.5 months after having Tommy John surgery is even moreso.  As anyone older than most professional athletes can attest to, the body takes longer and longer to heal, and healing often means getting back to 80 or 90 percent.  Admittedly, Jamie never threw all that hard so he didn’t have much velocity to lose.  While I have enjoyed reading all the warm fuzzy commentary about this victory and how it will never be eclipsed by an older pitcher (except, perhaps Mr. Moyer in his next start), I don’t really agree.  It seems fairly likely, particularly given the diluted MLB talent pool, that some other crafty junkballer will come along and hang around long enough to knock Jamie Moyer off his decrepit perch.  As proof, note that while I assumed that his 103 wins in his forties must be a record, he is well short of Phil Niekro’s record of 121.  (If Moyer makes it into next season, or really deep into a weather delayed world series—his birthday is November 18—he could establish a record for pitchers in their fifties.)  Knuckleball pitchers seem custom built for this record, the only problem being their scarcity.  Baseball aside, my guess is that Moyer may hold the record among current major leaguers for parenting eight children, all with the same wife.  That is even more old school than his pitching style.  Never a hard thrower, his fastball now only approaches 80 from below, which points out another unbelievable piece of trivia about an older pitcher.  One of the more improbable pitchers to last more than halfway through his forties was Nolan Ryan.  At age 46-1/2 his fastball was supposedly still clocked at 98 MPH in his last start at Seattle, scene of many of Jamie Moyer’s victories.  If true, this strikes me as far less likely to be surpassed than Moyer’s record.  Perhaps the most impressive of records related to senior pitchers is Satchell Paige’s appearance at age 59 in a game for Charlie Finley’s Oakland A’s.  The temptation is to analogize this outing to Bill Veeck’s use of the midget Eddie Gaedel for one four-pitch at bat in 1951.  However, Paige worked three innings, giving up one hit to Carl Yastrzemski, and no runs.  Interestingly, Veeck had signed Paige to a minor league contract with the Phillies’ triple affiliate, the Miami Marlins (sound familiar?) in 1956 at age 50.  He flourished not only that season, but the following one as well, and even in 1958 won ten games, presumably a record for 52 year old triple-A pitchers.


5 Least Likable teams in sports

Posted: 04/16/2012 by levcohen in Hockey

Today I’m doing the 5 least likable teams in the 4 major sports. I got this idea by watching the Penguins.

#1: Los Angeles Lakers- They have so much drama in fights with the coach, the media, between players.. etc… Some recent examples have been Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum getting benched by Mike Brown- the coach-. Afterwards, the star player’s reactions weren’t “I’m sorry.” Instead, they were “Why did he bench me?” It’s hard to like that kind of drama in the locker room. They are also a winning franchise so it is easy to hate them.

#2: New York Yankees- The Yankees are unbearable, but only because they go on spending sprees and often get all the good FA. Their fans are also a bit cocky. It is hard to like a team that has won 27 World Series. I honestly don’t have much of a problem with the current players (outside of A-Roid), but their winning ways are hated.

#3: Pittsburgh Penguins- Ugh. The Penguins are a bunch of whining hypocrites. Their star Sidney Crosby was out for a year with a concussion, and throughout that year promoted the end of fighting in the NHL. In this playoff series with the Flyers, he started a huge fight and got in on the fighting himself. First, he started pounding at the goalie’s glove, a no-no in hockey. Then, he kicked a forward’s glove away from him, right when the forward (Jake Voracek) was trying to pick it up. Crosby then started a fight. I think that nobody on this current Penguins team is likable.

#4: Dallas Cowboys- The Cowboys have long been considered “America’s team”. This makes no sense now, as they haven’t won a playoff game in forever. Some of their coaches are also loudmouths (notably defensive coordinator Rob Ryan). On top of that, they just got the best new stadium in sports.

#5: New England Patriots- I despise their coach, Bill Bellichek. He was the leader of Spygate, which gave the Pats a big advantage and helped them go 16-0 in a season. They are cheaters. They also have “pretty boy” QB Tom Brady. Everyone loves him, and just because of that I hate him. Of course, this team has also been widely successful.

Now for the 5 least likable players in sports:

1. Sidney Crosby

2. Tiger Woods

3. Michael Vick

4.  James Harrison

5. Jonathan Vilma

30 MLB notes Part 3

Posted: 04/14/2012 by levcohen in Baseball

Now for the early notes for the final 10 teams

Philadelphia Phillies: 2-3 The Phillies problem is clear: they can’t hit. In their first series (against the Pirates), there were just 13 runs scored by the teams combined. They then went home and couldn’t solve the Marlins #5 starter, Anibal Sanchez. In four games, they had only scored 8 runs. Finally they decided to hit in their fifth game, scoring 7 runs. But without their two best hitters, we can be sure that they won’t score too many runs. The Phillies pitchers have been great overall. In 5 starts, they have 4 quality starts, and only Cole Hamels has an ERA above 1.50. Ace Roy Halladay has been fantastic. He has the Phillies only two wins, and in 15 innings he has a .60 ERA. The bullpen has been shaky at times. In the second game, Joe Blanton (usually the Phillies #5 starter) came into the game in the 10th inning, and gave up the game winning run. In the third game, the ‘pen gave up 4 runs in 2 and 2/3 innings, blowing a win for Vance Worley. Overall, this is still one of the best teams in the NL, if only because of their starting pitching. Moral: It isn’t time to panic, but the Phillies are obviously going to have a hard time scoring runs, at least until Ryan Howard and Chase Utley come back.

Pittsburgh Pirates: 2-3 After a promising start to the season, the Pirates look lost against the Dodgers. After taking 2 of 3 against the Phillies, they have scored only 2 runs in 2 games against LA. The Pirates have a lot of problems, but their main one so far this season is their inability to score runs. Through 5 games, they have just 9 runs and a .504 OPS, both last in the MLB. Let’s face it. The Pirates have a lot of scrapy hitters (Jose Tabata, Alex Presley, Matt Harrison), and they have guys who hit for power (Casey McGehee, Pedro Alvarez, Garrett Jones), but they don’t have enough that do a little of both. Their only player who hits for good power and average is Andrew McCutchen. Pitt’s pitching has been great, and they have a 2.05 team ERA. Their SP’s have combined to allow 7 earned runs in 30 innings. What’s depressing about the Pirates SP’s? The Pirates starting pitchers have 0 wins. Both wins have come from the bullpen. This shows how bad the Pirates hitting has been. Moral: The Pirates won’t have pitching this good all year, so they really need their hitting to step up.

San Diego Padres: 2-4 After losing their first 3 games, the Padres have rebounded by winning two of their last 3. They are another team that isn’t hitting well, as their team batting average (.183) is the worst in the NL. Every starting player is hitting .222 or lower, with the worst being catcher Nick Hundley, who doesn’t have a hit in 15 at bats. The pitching has been pretty good. Clayton Richard had a superb start, giving up only 2 hits (no runs) in 7 innings, and Edinson Volquez was decent. New closer Houston Street has thrown 3 scoreless innings, earning one save in the process. However, I think that the Padres will be a bottom 3 offense in the MLB this season, and their pitching can only do so much, even in PETCO Park (an extreme pitchers park). Help is on the way, as San Diego has a lot of good prospects. For now, they will have to suffer through a season without many bright spots. Moral: The pitching is average, so they will need support from the offense, and I don’t see that happening.

San Francisco Giants: 1-4 The Giants have not had a great start to the season. First, they were swept by the Diamondbacks, losing by just one run in each game. They went to Colorado and beat the Rockies 7-0, thanks to the first shutout of the year, by Barry Zito, who might have the worst contract in MLB history. However, whatever confidence they had gained was destroyed when they lost 17-8 to the Rockies. Surprisingly, the Giants problem this year has been pitching, which has always been their strong suit. Their 6.37 ERA is the worst mark in the NL, and it isn’t close. The Brewers are the next worst with a 4.67 mark. Their ace in Tim Lincecum (a two time cy young award winner) has been especially bad, with an ERA of nearly 13. The Giants have had pretty good hitting. Moral: I think this is too small of a sample size to count out the Giants and their pitching. Look for their hitting to stay decent, and their pitching to improve.

Seattle Mariners: 4-4 The Mariners have started the season off pretty well, considering their preseason expectations. They are going to finish 3rd or 4th in the AL West, and are in a rebuilding year. They took 3 of 4 from Oakland (1 of 2 in Japan), before losing 3 out of 4 in a series against the Rangers. This is probably what we will see from the Mariners throughout the season. They can beat the bad teams, but shouldn’t be a match for any of the good teams in the AL (and there are a lot). The M’s hitters and pitchers have both been decent, but not fantastic. They have scored 31 runs, which is near the top of the MLB. However, they have played more games than any other team. Their team OPS is 20th, which is probably closer to the offense we will see from them. The M’s are near the bottom in team ERA, but that should get better. Moral: The Mariners are a mediocre team with a lot of talent in the minor leagues (Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker, Nick Franklin, James Paxton are all legit top 70 prospects)

St. Louis Cardinals: 5-2 The Cardinals are off to a great 5-2 start. They are hitting above .300 as a team, and lead the league in runs, OBP, SLG, OPS. They are second in average. Albert who? Last year’s world series hero David Freese has been especially good, hitting .429 with 3 homers and 10 RBI. Lance Berkman also has an unreal .565 OBP. They have also been pitching well, with a 2.93 ERA and WHIP under 1.00 Moral: Very impressive start for the World Series champs.

Tampa Bay Rays: 4-2 The Rays are off to a nice 4-2 start, especially considering they’ve played two of the top teams in MLB. After sweeping the division rival Yankees, the Rays lost 2 of 3 to the Tigers, but also gave the Tigers their only loss of the season. The Rays starting pitching has been good, as usual. However, their bullpen has been a cause for concern, as 4 of the 7 RP’s that have pitched have an ERA above 10.00. That is simply atrocious. While that is bad news, worse news is that their closer (Kyle Farnsworth), is on the DL and won’t be back for at least a month. Fernando Rodney is now closing, and he is a very, very, very bad pitcher. The Rays are going to need to get a lot of innings out of their SP, and that is something that is likely to happen, as their SP’s led the MLB in innings pitched last year. Their power hitting is about average, but they have gotten on base a lot. Two regulars have OBP’s over over .500. Moral: The Rays are a good team, but they need to get a ton of innings out of their SP. 

Texas Rangers: 5-2 The Rangers have gotten off to a nice start. Here is the best news so far:

  • Neftali Feliz, the closer last year, threw 7 scoreless innings in his first start.
  • Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis, and Derek Holland look like they are pitching much better than last year
  • 4 regulars are hitting over .300
  • David Murphy looks like he is breaking out
  • Ian Kinsler still has the power. He has 3 homers

And the worst news:

  • Nelson Cruz and Elvis Andrus are a combined 7/49
  • Yu Darvish had a shaky first start, but clearly rebounded in the later innings
  • Joe Nathan, the new closer, has 2 saves but has both Rangers losses and has a 9.00 ERA

Moral: The Rangers are a world series contender

Toronto Blue Jays: 4-3 The Blue Jays are a team that could surprise people and make the playoffs. So far, they have been carried by a few timely hits and superb pitching. The starting pitching has given up only 11 earned runs in 37 innings, good for a 2.97 ERA. Their hitting has been decent, and they have stepped up when they needed to. This is going to be a hard division to win, but the Jays have been really surprising. Moral: Don’t count out the Blue Jays.

Washington Nationals: 6-2 The Nats are another team that have gotten out to a great start. After starting the season 2-2, they have won four in a row, giving the Mets their only 2 losses and winning the first two in the series against the team that is favored to win the NL Central, the Reds. The Nats pitching has been fantastic, with a team ERA under 2.00. Their starting pitching have given up just 10 runs in 47.2 innings, a 2.10 ERA. Their bullpen has been even better, even without injured closer Drew Storen. Their hitting has been below average, but that has been the case with a lot of teams. Pitching has the edge over hitting in April and May, as they need less time to get their timing back, and aren’t bothered by the cold as much. Moral: The Nats could win the NL East.