Sunday, June 29, 2008
#1 - Derrick Rose - 19.1--7.2--3.1 - Will establish himself as a top 10 pg in the NBA by the end of year 1 - Career will resemble Stephon Marbury.
#2 - Michael Beasley - 20.2--8.1--1.2 - Should be able to become a pretty good scorer and decent rebounder, but I wouldn't count on him being an important piece on any team that thinks they are going to win anything - Career will resemble Zach Randolph.
#3 - OJ Mayo - 24.2--6.1--3.9 - Will become a better NBA player than college player due to his ability to slash and finish in the paint as a physical guard. Career will resemble Jerry Stackhouse.
#4 - Russell Westbrook - 9.3--5.4--3.2 - Should stay in the league a while because of his defensive ability but will struggle trying to become a pg. Career will resemble Antonio Daniels.
#5 - Kevin Love - 14.3--6.8--2.2 - Will become a pretty reliable big guy that can knock down jump shots. For some reason, I think he will have health issues. Career will resemble Donyell Marshall
#7 - Eric Gordon - 12.2--4.1--2.0 - Shaky ball handling will prevent Gordon from ever being a starting pg, but good shooting touch will allow him to get into an 8 man rotation for several years. Career will resemble JR Smith.
#8 - Joe Alexander - 7.2--4.6--1.3 - Doesn't this guy have "bust" written all over him? He is indeed a super athlete, but aren't most in the NBA? I think he will have a hard time adjusting to the NBA game. Career will resemble Jared Jeffries.
#10 - Brook Lopez - 5.9--4.0--0.9 - Has good size but lacks the scoring ability to be a quality starting center in the NBA. Career will resemble Jason Collins.
#11 - Jerryd Bayless - 23.8--5.1--3.2 - Super quick guard with a knack for scoring. May take 2-3 years before he comes on the scene (similar to Monta Ellis), but I think he will be a steal at #11. Career will resemble Gilbert Arenas.
#13 - Brandon Rush - 17.2--4.2--4.0 - Will eventually be a very good NBA player. Shooting ability will improve and has the body to take a few shots in the paint. Career will resemble Derek Anderson.
#14 - Anthony Randolph - 5.6--3.2--1.0 - Was very impressive in college, dominating on the glass and even handling the ball extremely well. He is too light, however, to translate that to the NBA anytime soon. Pardon the LSU comparison, but career will resemble Tyrus Thomas.
#19 - JJ Hickson - 14.2--6.2--1.2 - Good, strong post player that is very good with his back to the basket. Should be a good NBA player in 3-4 years. Career will resemble Kenny Thomas.
#21 - Ryan Anderson - 3.3--2.1--0.5 - Ryan was awesome in the Pac-10 last year nearly averaging a double-double. However, he really needed to stay 2 more years to even have a chance to succeed in the NBA. At least he has some money because he went in Round 1. Career will resemble Rodney White.
#29 Donte Greene - Greene too should have stayed as he would have likely been a lottery pick next year. He will be a 3 point threat at 6'9 and after developing a little more, should make a NBA rotation. Career will resemble Travis Outlaw.
There you go, some predictions to look back on in a few years and see the "hits" and "misses." Any predictions from readers? Am I wrong on somebody or is there a player I didn't list you feel strongly about? Post your comments and Go Espagne!!
Friday, June 27, 2008
It appears the front office's plan for this year is to ride Hudson, Jurrjens, Glavine (when healthy), and Reyes in the rotation. Gonzalez looks good so far as closer and when Soriano gets better, Boyer and Ohman can get a little more rest - so the bullpen looks decent. Since it doesn't look like Frank Wren will acquire a pitcher before July 31 (they cost too much in a deal anyway) I think the team is going to go after an outfield bat. A guy that would make perfect sense is Raul Ibanez - a left handed hitting left fielder that still swings a pretty good bat. He would be a huge upgrade over the B. Jones/Norton/Blanco/Diaz combination. Although 36, Ibanez comes without a huge contract (pro-rated portion of 5.5 million) and is a perfect 2 hole hitter.
We are all reminded of how much better Kelly Johnson is hitting lower in the order every night by Joe Simpson, so the benefits of getting a left fielder that is also a 2 hole hitter are even greater. So, what will it take to land Ibanez (currently .277-9-47)? First, lets take a look at what I think are the Braves top 10 prospects...
1) Jordan Schafer - Probably the starting center fielder for 2009, Schafer spent the first 50 games of the season suspended for taking a banned substance. It has taken him a while to get going once coming back, but he is hitting .433 over his last 8 games. He can cover a lot of ground in center, hits for average, has good speed, and has a good eye at the plate.
2) Jason Heyward - Schuerholz hit a home run with his final 1st round pick with the 19 year old outfielder. Heyward is playing in Rome (a tough ballpark to hit a bunch of homers) and is currently .333-7-33 and is 12 for 13 in stolen bases. Another home grown player from Henry County, Heyward may be a replacement for Francoeur in 2 years if we decide not to give him a long term deal (maybe a good idea).
3) Brandon Jones - We have seen a good bit of Jones lately, and if we tank it the next month I would like to see him out there every day in left. He has really come on the last 2-3 years and is almost ready to be an everyday player. He plays above average left field, hits for pretty good power, and seems to have good at bats.
4) Gorkys Hernandez - If we started a "Best and Worst of the Frank Wren Era," the Edgar Renteria for Jair Jurrjens and Gorkys Hernandez would be a solid #1. Hernandez was recently selected to play in the Future's Game All-Star Game Weekend, posting a .318 average this year and an OBP of .379.
5) Cole Rohrbough - Cole is a 21 year old LHP that I really like. He has struggled a bit in Rome this year, but he gets some slack after striking out 96 batters in 61 innings last season at Danville and Rome. He projects as a 2-3 starter in a few years.
6) Cody Johnson - Cody was the Braves 1st round pick in 2006 out of Panama City, FL. A 6'4 left handed hitting outfielder, Cody struggled his first season adjusting from high school ball. Since then, however, he has shown the type of power that Braves scouts saw when they drafted him. Last season at Danville he went .305-17-57 and already has 10 HR's this year at Rome.
7) Thomas Hanson - After starting the year at Myrtle Beach and going 3-1 with a 0.90 ERA in 7 starts, Hanson was promoted to Mississippi. He has been good there as well, going 4-3 with a 4.32 ERA so far with as many strikeouts as innings pitched. Hanson is 6'6 and while he does not throw extremely hard, is very efficient. The right hander could compete for a spot in the rotation next season.
8) Jon Gilmore - This 19 year old 3rd baseman is still adjusting to pro ball but has tremendous upside. He has great hands and once he figures out pro pitching and wooden bats, I see him as a big leaguer.
9) Brent Lillbridge - Lillbridge may not be more than a utility/fill in starter guy, but I think he can be one of the better ones in the game. Extremely versatile, I see Lillbridge becoming a Mark DeRosa type player.
10) Steve Evarts - Evarts started off great in Rome this year, posting a 1.50 ERA in his first 3 starts, but has run into the injury bug. Once he gets healthy, Evarts, a 6'3 LHP will be on the fast track to Atlanta.
Now, which of these guys might be trade bait for Ibanez? Shafer is penciled in next year as a starter and Heyward is close to untouchable, so probably not either of those guys. Brandon Jones is a guy that is close to starting and would be coveted by Seattle, but unless Wren thinks he can sign Ibanez to an extension, Jones will probably stay. Hernandez is a likely trade option because he is a center fielder Shafer is ahead of him. Rohrbough and Evarts are lefty pitchers which teams always want.
I could see an Ibanez for Hernandez/Evarts/other prospect deal going through. Seattle just gave up their best outfield prospect, Adam Jones, in the Erik Bedard trade so an outfielder in return is probably a must. If the Braves can get Raul, take a look at the lineup they can put out there when everyone is healthy:
A bit lefty heavy, but late inning match-ups can be countered with former starters Omar Infante and Matt Diaz being available off the bench.
Pull the trigger Frank! The last 2 post-seasons have been tough to watch on TV and the National League is there to be won! Long live the Curse of the Billy Goat!!!!
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Equestrian – National Champion
Women’s Gymnastics – National Champion
Men’s Tennis – National Champion
Baseball – National Runner Up
Football – 3rd
Men’s Swimming – 7th
Women’s Swimming – 7th
Men’s Golf – 8th
Women’s Tennis – 9th
Softball – 9th
Women’s Golf – 10thThrow in a SEC Tournament Championship in Men's Basketball (won on GT's court), two Rhodes Scholars and even more state of the art facilities being completed, the Dawgs athletic programs have never been in better shape. Damon Evans has done a spectacular job of hiring and keeping world class coaching staffs that recruit extremely talented athletes in an environment that keeps getting tougher academically. There are even instances now where high school seniors settle for Georgia Tech because they couldn't get into UGA - No, seriously - I have proof.
The Dawgs should be pretty good on the gridiron this season where they are just that one national title away from having the same resume over the past decade as the USC's, Florida's, Oklahoma's, etc. And, being a Falcons fan, I sure hope they make a run because I will need something to root for this fall.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
However, now the ASG has me worried. Rumors are rampant that Philly is maneuvering to open up enough cap space to offer a deal that starts at 11 million and escalates from there. Word out of Atlanta's camp is that they will not go over 11 million a year for any year of the deal (5 years 55 million is rumored to be the deal ASG wants Smith to sign). Smith is going to sign with whoever gives him the most money, and rightfully so, but the idea of not paying up for this guy baffles me.
Smith is 22 and has not reached his peak in the NBA. He has shown flashes of brilliance, and more often each season. He was a 1st round pick the 1st year the ASG owned the team and is an extremely important piece in the Hawks puzzle. There have been rumors of a sign and trade with Detroit and others, but if Philly opens up enough space to afford a huge deal, I think they might chance us not matching the deal.
When the Hawks traded for Joe Johnson, Phoenix was able to get Boris Diaw and 2 1st round picks from us because we believed they would match the deal. If word out of our camp is that we won't go over 11 million per, and Philly can offer significantly more - they might take their chances and not have to give up anything in a sign and trade.
I wish there was something I could go on that would make me feel better about this, but it is the ASG and I never feel comfortable when it comes to them and making sound decisions. Don't screw this one up - the last thing the Hawks need after taking eventual champion Boston to 7 games in round 1 is to take a step backwards - which is what losing Smith would be.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
One of the main stories I will be following is the medal count. The USA has been on top of the medal count since the bootleg "Unified Team" in 1992. While we are the favorites again, I think we are inching closer to Chinese domination in the Summer Olympics. They just keep getting better and with the games being in Beijing, it could be a close down the stretch.
I am not going to comment on the men's basketball because I still refuse to believe we will ever lose to another country no matter how many times we do it (cough, Puerto Rico, cough). The August 16th game against Spain will be the only test of the group stages.
This will be the last time baseball will be an Olympic event, so I have high expectations for USA in this event. We open up with South Korea, which is scary, and then get Cuba in Game #3. Week 2 of the games will feature a ton of baseball so enjoy it because it will be gone after this year unless later reinstated.
One guy to root for if you are a boxing fan is Deontay Wilder, a 22 year old Heavyweight and reigning US Amateur Heavyweight Champion. Wilder is 6'7 and a southern boy from Alabama with a huge right hand and recently upset Rakhim Chakhkeiv, the Silver medalist at the 2007 World Boxing Championships. On top of the Olympic Gold, you can root for Deontay in hopes that a good, young heavyweight will FINALLY emerge in the pro ranks.
For the Track and Field fans, a guy to follow is Tyson Gay. Gay won the 100m and 200m gold medal at the 2007 World Championships. He is also on the 4x100 relay team that will be favored to win gold. Gay will have to deal with newly crowned "fastest man in the world" Usain Bolt, but is the top American sprinter and will be a huge threat.
Defending gold medalist in the 110m hurdles, Liu Xiang, will have quite the task in repeating. Although once again the favorite for the gold, Cuban Dayron Robles set a new world record just 2 weeks ago and 2-time Olympic silver medalist and SW Dekalb graduate Terrance Trammell is also in top form. David Oliver, another American, should also compete for a medal in this event.
The biggest story of the games in the US has a chance to be one of the biggest stories in Olympic history - the saga of Michael Phelps. After winning 8 medals including 6 golds in 2004, Phelps will enter 9 events in Beijing and attempt to match Mark Spitz's record of 7 golds. Currently a world record holder in 23 events, the idea of Phelps winning 7 or more is a very distinct possibility. He has been killing folks lately, doing some of his best swimming in 2007.
Get your alarm clocks ready - a 12 hour time difference means early events will start around midnight and prime time starts will be around 7:30 am EST. You can always watch tape-delayed stuff, but what fun is that?
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Team Seasons Championships
Hawks 40 0
Falcons 41 0
Braves 41 1
Thrashers 9 0
Total 131 1
Now lets look at Boston...
Celtics 61 17
Bruins 84 5
Red Sox 107 7
Patriots 38 3
Totals 290 32
On top of this, during my peak sports viewing (1995-2008), the Patriots have been to 5 Super Bowls, the Red Sox have won 2 World Series, and we all saw what the Celtics did Tuesday. How dare they ever talk about any curse. If there is a curse, it is in Atlanta...or Cleveland.
Cavaliers 37 0
Browns 62 4
Indians 107 2
Totals 206 6
The reason Cleveland gets consideration is that when their last title took place (1964 NFL Championship), Atlanta did not have any teams yet. The Browns have 0 Super Bowls and the Indians last WS win was 1948.
However, the award for worst title town is going to Seattle...
Sonics 41 1
Mariners 30 0
Seahawks 31 0
Total 102 1
The reason Seattle gets the nod over Atlanta is that the Sonics are on the verge of leaving town, the Mariners have the worst record in baseball, and anytime the Seahawks are what you are hanging your hat on - even the Atlanta fan can feel for you.
Friday, June 20, 2008
I guess this has to be the expectation considering the previous coach, Chan Gailey, was fired after winning 7 games 5 times and 9 games once. The idea is Paul Johnson will take them up another notch - 9-10 wins consistently. While I believe there is a good chance that Johnson's offense will become successful and Tech will win games with him as coach, I just don't see him ever living up to fan expectations of 9-10 wins a year. I think this, coupled with the arsenal of talent Mark Richt has up in Athens, could be what takes him from King to Jester in his career as Tech coach.
Initially, I think the idea of Tech winning 7-8 games this year is the most absurd. Johnson's system will take quite a bit of adjustment, especially against the level of competition they will face once the season starts. Johnson's first team at Navy finished 2-10 - I don't think Tech will be that bad thanks to Jacksonville St, Gardner-Webb, and Duke. But, I do think the rest of the schedule is tough enough that 2 more wins is probably about all they will be able to get for a 5-7 finish.
Now comes the real question - can the Johnson offensive system be productive in major college football? There is no way to tell until they play the games and going off how Johnson did at Navy is probably not a good barometer. His second season at Navy - a 10-2 season that ended with an Emerald Bowl victory, saw the season's biggest victories against Air Force, Rice, and Rutgers. That season also included a 42-10 loss to Tulane. The level of competition was no where near what it will be at Tech. I know he will have better athletes at Tech, but the idea of the system being successful against ACC defenses is still an unknown. The point being, if only twice in 6 years at Navy did he win more than 8 games, why the expectation that he is going to do it at Tech?
I think it is much easier to win with an unusual offense if you are playing teams without exceptional talent. At Navy, the only team they played each year with exceptional talent was Notre Dame, who Johnson never beat. Take the uncertainty of the effectiveness of the offense with the loss of Jon Tenuta on the defensive side and the Jackets could be in more trouble than they are willing to believe.
As for former I-AA national championship coaches who venture into I-A, I see Johnson's career at Tech more comparable to Jim Donnan's than Jim Tressel's. But that's the great thing about June and July, everyone is undefeated and expectations can be whatever a fan base is willing to dream up.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
You may remember Nick Esasky, who in 1989 hit 30 HR's and had 108 RBI for the Rex Sox. He fought off a case of vertigo after signing with the Braves the next year, had 35 at bats and did not record a RBI or extra base hit. I contend that he is the only player in major league history to have a 30+ HR and 100+ RBI season and go on to play at least a portion of another season and never record another RBI or extra base hit. If someone has, I am sure they did not have more than 35 at bats in that final season.
Our next player finished 7th in the 2003 NL Rookie of the Year voting - Jeriome Robertson of the Houston Astros. Robertson won 15 games in 2003 pitching 160 innings, but only pitched 184 innings in his entire career. I challenge anyone to find a pitcher that won 15 or more games in a season, but did not pitch more than 25 more innings combined the rest of his career. Robertson also only recorded one other win in the majors - he did, however go 5-5 for the Newark Bears last season.
The last guy I came across had the best single game career of all time (with apologies to Moonlight Graham) - John Paciorek (no relation to Tom) appeared in a game in 1963 for the Houston Colt 45's. John went 3 for 3 with 2 walks, 4 runs scored, and 3 RBI - and never appeared in another game in the big leagues in his career! He played in the minors for several more years after his initial call up but never made it back. I believe the story has something to do with Houston starting an all-rookie lineup for some promotion or something. But after a day like that, didn't Johnny Boy deserve another shot?
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Taking Boston to 7 games is sure looking more impressive now that the Celts are on the brink of championship #17.
Woody got himself a 2 year deal - seems about right to me - give the guy a chance to show the Boston series was no fluke and if the team struggles next season, he is will go into Willie Randolph mode...
There isn't much more for new GM Rick Sund to do since the Hawks have no draft picks in the upcoming draft. I would imagine both Josh's are re-signed and the opening day roster will look something like this: Johnson, Law, Childress, Smith, Williams, Horford, Pachulia, Jones, Bibby, West, FA Guard, FA Center.
Holland and Italy survived the "Group of Death" in Euro 2008 and advance to the quarterfinals. From what I have seen, look for the Spain/Holland winner to meet the Portugal/Germany winner in the final on June 29th.
Georgia is 2-0 in Omaha and are in terrific shape to advance to the championship series. But for the love of God, can ESPN stop with the Bryce Massanari/Austin Yount/Blah Blah side stories and focus on the game.
Speaking of Willie Randolph, did you ever think that the Mets front office needs to look at Omar Minaya's job performance? He got so much hype for signing Pedro and Beltran to lucritive, higher-than-market-vaule deals in his first offseason and has done mostly harm since - the Billy Wagner acquisition and the Kris Benson for John Maine and Jorge Julio notwithstanding.
Carlos Delgado has been decent, but not great during his time in NY, but Met fans were still getting over the Mo Vaughn debacle so anything was an upgrade. Other moves have been average, like bringing in Duanar Sanchez trading for Oliver Perez (sending PIT Xavier Nady), but there have been just as many shaky-at-best moves.
Minaya basically gave one of the best setup men in baseball, Heath Bell to the Padres. He signed Moises Alou to a ridiculous deal at age 40 to spend half the season on the DL. Brian Bannister is one of the top young starters in baseball and he was traded away be Minaya for a career minor leaguer.
Maybe Randolph wasn't the problem. Throw in the 3:15 am firing and Fred Wilpon may be scratching his head today wondering if the right guy is currently unemployed.
It won't matter much in the NL East this year, though. The Phillies are the best team in the division and with Atlanta fading and Florida close behind, this division may be wrapped up in August.
Speaking of the Braves - what are they going to do with Texieira? Unless they are interested in signing him to a 7 year, 130+ million dollar deal they have to deal him by July 31st, right? They don't look like they are winning anything this year, and Big Tex should bring back a hefty sum from somebody.
The Falcons released Jimmy Williams? Good riddance.
How about my new boy DJ Trahan? He stayed in contention all day Sunday and has found a new fan as he starts his career on the PGA Tour. Hopefully another top 10 in the PGA will officially put him on the map.
Tiger got another one - fourteen down, five to go to pass Nicklaus...
Monday, June 16, 2008
Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, and Danny Green are all returning to UNC along with 1st team All-American Tyler Hansbrough. This means the entire roster for the Heels this past year excluding Quentin Thomas will be back for next season. A 36-4 team that was probably the most talented in the country will have another crack at a national title.
I said some of the fun may have been eliminated - I have already filled in 6 games in my 2009 NCAA Tournament Bracket. But the fun may not be in the champion, but the Heels run at perfection. They not only return a great point guard in Lawson, the player of the year in Hansbrough, a lights out shooter in Ellington and a Hall of Fame Coach - this team will get Bobby Frasor back from a knee injury and get 2 big time recruits to give them some needed depth inside - Tyler Zeller and Ed Davis. And, with the ACC not having another top 10 team (Duke will still have the same problems they had last year) I think UNC can make a decent run at the first undefeated season since Indiana in 1976...
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Where is the next young phenom American golfer? I am tired of waiting on the class of the new millenium (Charles Howell III, Matt Kuchar, Bubba Watson, Boo Weekley), as they have yet to step up on the big stage after several major championship appearances. Maybe we need to look to the guys at the top of the leaderboard after day 1.
Rickie Fowler, a 19 year old from Oklahoma St is -1 and tied for 7th after day one. Kyle Stanley is a 20 year old rookie from Clemson tied for 19th at +1. Casey Wittenburg and DJ Trahan also are under 23 years of age and are in the top 20 after the 1st round was completed. Maybe one of these guys will step up and be in contention Sunday.
We saw a run of young Americans winning the Open in the 90's but all of them ended up being one hit wonders for one reason or another. Corey Pavin and Steve Jones were never a threat to be multi-major winners. Lee Janzen won two but injury issues kept him from winning much else. Finally, the late, great Payne Stewart won his only major in the US Open in 1999.
Wouldn't it make a great story if a smooth, young American made a run in the 2008 US Open and built of that success to become a staple on the leaderboard in 2 or 3 majors each year? For my money, DJ Trahan looks the part. Hopefully he can keep playing well and earn a solid finish in 2008.
Off to Macon this weekend, see everyone on Monday...
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
It's amazing to me that since Seattle won the NBA title in 1979 that only 8 franchises have won NBA titles. That's 8 different teams in almost 30 years and the Lakers, Celtics, Pistons, and Spurs all look strong for the next few years as well. Almost all of them have 2 or more players from the 50 greatest list.
Boston had Bird, McHale, and Parrish
LA had Magic, Worthy, and Kareem
Philly had Dr. J and Moses
Chicago and Michael and Scotty
Houston had Drexler and Olajuwon
Even the champs of the new millenium, had Shaq and Kobe (on the 60 greatest). Seems like that is the key to winning an NBA title - Boston certainly did it before this season - get 2 or 3 Hall of Famers and let it ride with a few role players. Maybe that is why all the NBA experts instantly put Boston at the top of their power rankings after the KG trade.
Only the Pistons seem to be able to get away with just all-stars and role players - and they did it that way in the 80's and in 04 when they won it all.
The fact that LA and Boston met so much in the 80's is what made that rivalry so much fun to follow. There were so many all-time players in the series that were so good and talented, but they were all "smart guys" as well. That's a lot of what made that series so fun - it was great basketball played at the highest level. Look at all the guys that played for Boston and LA in the 1980's that ended up with General Manager or Coaching gigs after their playing career:
Magic Johnson - Head Coach of the Lakers 93-94
Michael Cooper - Head Coach LA Sparks 99-04
Kurt Rambis - Head Coach of the Lakers 1999
Eddie Jordan - Head Coach SAC/Was 1996-present
Kareem Adbul Jabaar - Asst Coach Seattle/LAC
Mitch Kupchak - Current GM of the Lakers
Byron Scott - Current Head Coach of NO Hornets
Larry Bird - Head Coach Indiana Pacers 1998-2000
Kevin McHale - Head Coach Minnesota 2004-2005
Sam Vincent - Head Coach Charlotte 2007-2008
Rick Carlisle - Head Coach Indiana/Detroit 1997-2007
Dennis Johnson - Head Coach LAC
Danny Ainge - Head Coach Phoenix Suns 1996-1999
ML Carr - Head Coach Boston Celtics 1995-1997
Quinn Buckner - Head Coach Dallas 1993-1994
Chris Ford - Head Coach Bos/Phi/LAC/Mil 1990-2004
Looking at some of the past NBA Finals also produced another nomination for the "Jaren Jackson Award." Phoenix's own Richard Dumas - averaged 16 pts and 5 rebounds on the Western Conference Champion Phoenix Suns. Remember him?
Monday, June 9, 2008
Before getting run out of Boston for leaving Pedro in too long in the 2003 playoffs, Grady Little did have a title in his managing career - the 1992 Southern League Championship he won while managing the G-Braves. Grady was a minor league manager in the Braves system from 1985-1996 before getting big league managing gigs with the Red Sox and Dodgers.
But what made this team so dominant? Was is Chipper Jones and his .346 batting average? Was it Javy Lopez's 142 hits? Or maybe Mike Kelly's 25 HR's or Tony Tarasco's 33 stolen bases? Well, these guys all had solid seasons but the offense only managed 4.95 runs per game.
The 1992 G-Braves won 100 games in 1992 because of their outstanding pitching staff. Want to guess some of the guys on that staff that posted a team ERA of 2.62 in 1992?? Don't worry, I'll wait...
The ace of the staff was Nate Minchey (13-6 2.30). He got the call up in 1993 but not with the Braves. Minchey made a total of 15 career appearances in his big league career (93-97). Other studs on the staff Dennis Burlingame (9-9 3.08) and Andy Nezelek (9-2 2.25) never even sniffed the big leagues.
The only names on the G-Braves staff that ever made any sort of contribution to the Atlanta Braves - relievers Pedro Borbon and Greg McMichael.
Now if the team up in Atlanta can start to get things going - a road trip is about to start for the worst road team against the team with the best record in the major leagues? Sounds like a disaster waiting to happen...
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Isn't it about time FSU wins a national title? They hold the record for most CWS wins (25) and appearances (19) without winning the title. Clemson is 2nd in appearances without a title (11), but when you consider the ACC hasn't won a CWS title since Wake Forest in 1955 - you expect them to be on the list. The school with the 3rd most CWS appearances without a title is Northern Colorado with 10. They were the Gonzaga of college baseball from 1952-1962 crashing the party 9 times but never winning it all.
The SEC has had a pretty good recent history in the CWS, sending 8 different schools to Omaha since 1996 - including 4 in 1997 - however, the only 2 that have ever won it all are the 2 remaining schools in this year's tournament, LSU and UGA.
What a site it was at Foley Field today that culminated in a 17-8 UGA victory - but it was not without fireworks. Lyle Allen was plunked after Starr's Mill's own Joey Lewis hit his 2nd homer of the series. Both sides were warned, but throwing at batters (especially close to the head) is not part of the college game. Professional baseball sees a lot of this (see CoCo Crisp and friends) but they (for the most part) know how to do it without it being dangerous. What if Drew Taylor's pitch hit Allen in the head and caused terminal damage? These are student athletes and all the NCSU fans that think the beaning was deserved and that the Wolfpack should have hit other players (Beckham) as well are insane.
It is good, though to see UGA make the CWS again - this makes 4 times in the last 8 years. I don't think the Dawgs are good enough to win in all (my $$$ is on the ASU/UNC winner), but making it to Omaha is something you can never take away.
An interesting story that will probably be told time and time again this week on ESPN as they preview the CWS is the national home run chase. Right now the standings look like this:
1) Michael Harrington - CofC 26
2) Buster Posey - FSU 26
3) Gordon Beckham - UGA 26
4) Jeremy Tice - CofC 25
5) Matt Clark - LSU 25
Clark has Game 3 of his super regional tomorrow and can tie or pass the leaders, but at least 2 of the leaders will be playing at least 2 more games in Omaha. If LSU can advance, we could have quite the race. But even if LSU qualifies, none of these guys will have a chance at the all-time record of home runs in a season in which your team made it to the CWS.
The year was 1985, and Pete Incaviglia hit 48 HR's in 75 games for Oklahoma State. I think Pete's record is safe for this year. What a stud he was in college...
However, there was a year - even more so than this year - where some big time HR hitters all made it to the CWS. The year was 1997 - and Rice was just beginning to emerge as a national power and had Lance Berkman and his 41 homers leading the way for the Owls. LSU had Brandon Larson and his 40 HR's and Pac-10 power UCLA boasted future MLB all-star Troy Glaus and his 37 HR's. All 3 of these guys seasons rank in the top 7 all-time in homers in a season - and all played in the CWS that year.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Now for today's "stump your friends with this because there is one guy nobody will ever get - and I mean ever" trivia question - AKA "the Snuffy Stirnweiss question"
The last 25 years, there are only 10 players that have led the entire NBA in scoring in the playoffs - Here they are in order of most to least obvious:
Jordan, Bird, Shaq, Olajuwon, Kobe, Duncan, Iverson, Wade, Lebron, and...Latrell Sprewell??? A total of 407 points in 20 games gave Latrell and his repo'd boat the title for the 99 playoffs.
Another nugget about the 99 playoffs I found interesting...you know how some guys are in the spotlight and then fade away and you forget about them? Travis Fryman and Barry Foster are 2 right off the top of my head. How about Jaren Jackson? Went for 17 in game 1 of the finals for SA and played an average of about 18-20 minutes in each game of the finals. Less than 10 years later, even big-time hoops fans have no idea who he is.
Lets name an award for him - the "Jaren Jackson Award" - given weekly to an athlete whose name is never mentioned anymore in any situation, yet had a career that warrants recognition. I will go ahead and lay down a few rules - 1) If any reader of this blog has heard a nominees name in the last 4-6 months, he is DQ'd. 2) Must be a modern day athelete - no 1960's crap. 3) At least 3 readers must say to themselves - "Oh yeah, I forgot about that guy!"
I will go ahead and give nomination #1 -Phil Plantier - played in the big leagues from 1990-1997 for Boston, San Diego, and Oakland. Had 34 HR's and 100 RBI in 1993 for San Diego finishing in the top 10 in the NL in HR's and RBI. Big, powerful lefty that was probably roided out like crazy.
Let the nominations begin...
Friday, June 6, 2008
The Arizona St Sun Devils - take a look at the lineup they can boast.
1) 2B - Fernando Vina - prototypical leadoff hitter with 2 190+ hit seasons
2) CF - Mike Devereaux - NLCS MVP in 95, excellent defensive CF with a good stick
3) LF - Barry Bonds - 762 HR's and 4,945 shots of HGH
4) RF - Reggie Jackson - Mr. October and his power in the clean up spot
5) 1B - Rick Monday - #1 overall pick in 1965 hit 241 career HR's
6) SS - Sal Bando - 4 all star games and several top 10 MVP's for the great OAK teams of the 70's
7) 3B - Bob Horner - another #1 overall pick who once hit 4 HR in a game
8) DH - Alvin Davis - 1984 AL ROY hit 160 career HR's
9) C - Paul Loduca - 4 time all star has had solid career
SP - Floyd Bannister - 134 career wins and an all star game for ASU's starting pitcher
If you wanted to argue a full 25 man roster, though - Southern Cal and its 100 players it has produced has a pretty good argument. I couldn't give them the best starting 9 because they have too many steriod users that would make the team (Bret Boone, Mark McGwire, Geoff Jenkins). But if you count them and throw in Fred Lynn, Roy Smalley, Dave Kingman, and Ron Fairly they have a decent argument.
Their 25 man roster would have a starting rotation of Randy Johnson, Tom Seaver, Barry Zito, Jim Barr, and Bill Lee. Could have been even better if Mark Prior didn't have an arm like Captain Crunch.
Southern Cal does have the distinction of not only the most CWS titles, but also the most big leaguers produced (100). Texas is 2nd at 95 and ASU has 88.
The most interesting school on the list? Holy Cross - not only did they produce Bob Cousy and Tom Heinsohn, but 77 major league players! None that were any good, but still impressive.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Most scouts concurred that he could be as good as Molina in 2-3 years - quite a rise through a minor league system for a position player - especially a catcher. But what is the problem with using a 1st round pick on a guy that you can plug into your lineup every day as the #5 or #6 hitter and be productive? The baseball draft is so hit and miss, you would think a team with the top pick would take the most certain "hit".
If you look back on the draft of 10 years ago, the number of picks that never made it to the big leagues is not as alarming as the number of below average players that it produced. Of the 30 players that were 1st round picks that year, 8 never made a big league debut (including 4 of the top 15). There were 8 more that barely sniffed the big leagues, making 16 of the 30 1st round picks big time busts.
Five position players had slightly below average careers and were never able to consistently perform in an everyday lineup (Felipe Lopez, Corey Patterson, Jason Tyner, Sean Burroughs, and Adam Everett).
That leaves 9 players that turned into consistent everyday players that you could plug into your lineup everyday or send to the mound with no worries.
Three guys are position players: Pat Burrell (#1), JD Drew (#5), and Austin Kearns (#6). All 3 have had somewhat similar career - solid power numbers, but never made an all star team or been the "superstar" calibur player he was projected to be. Kearns and Drew had some injury problems and all 3 have had 1 or 2 big time seasons, but not much other than that.
Three pitchers have had pretty solid careers: Mark Mulder (#2), Kip Wells (#16), and Jeff Weaver (#14). This is essentially 3 #3 starters taken in the 1st round with only Mulder having a season or two of pitching at what is considered necessary for 1st round selection (Cy Young runner up and 2 AS games).
So, our 3 best players to come out of the 1998 draft: CC Sabathia (#20), Brad Lidge (#17), and Carlos Pena (#10). Sabathia came out of Vallejo HS and blossomed into an ace for the Tribe and is the reigning Cy Young award winner in the AL. Lidge is a front line closer out of Notre Dame and has been dominant. Pena took a while to develop as an everyday player but knocked 50 HR's in 2007. That makes 3 players, or 10% of the 1st round that developed into the all-star calibur players that clubs look for early in the draft.
That takes us then to Posey, who was deemed not having a "high ceiling" and not worthy of a #1 pick. If he is indeed a Molina type player in 2 years and has seasons similar to Bengie (averaged .284 - 18 HR - 70 RBI the last 3 seasons), why not take that guy #1? Plus, catcher is a premium position and Posey is projected to be solid defensively.
Not to mention Posey is currrenly .468 - 24 HR - 86 RBI while playing in a very competitive ACC this season. It just seems strange to me that Tampa Bay would roll the dice with a HS shortstop when a much more polished, less risky Posey is there as a catcher.
Remember the #1 pick just 4 drafts ago, Matt Bush? He was a shortstop out of Mission Bay HS and is currently out of baseball. Posey doesn't have a high enough ceiling? I'd be more worried about a high school shortstop with a floor too low.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
10) Kevin Brown - Had some unbelieveable years and deserved more than his 211 career victories. Gets a bad rap for the mega-contract he received from the Dodgers at the end of his career but you can't forget some great years in the mid 90's (17-11 1.89 in '96). Made 6 all-star teams and dominated in the 1998 post season.
9) David Cone - Was outstanding for most of his career posting 2,668 strikeouts (22nd all-time). Consistently put up 200 innings seasons, got himself a no-no, and finished in the top 6 in Cy Young voting 5 times.
8) Mike Mussina -Another power pitcher who is just ahead (21st) of Cone on the all-time K list. He is just 2 wins away from his 17th straight season with double digit wins. Also on his resume are 5 All Star games and 8 top 6 Cy Young finishes - 258 career wins is phenomenal considering his entire career was in the 5 man rotation era.
7) Orel Hershiser - Finished just ahead of Mussina because of his post season accolades. His post season stats include a 8-3 record with a 2.59 era in 132 innings. Add this with over 200 career wins, the 59 straight scoreless innings streak, and the 1988 Cy Young award and you have quite the career.
6) Tom Glavine - Incredible career that just recently saw trip #1 to the DL. Has a great track record of post season dominance (1995 WS MVP) with 14 wins and a 3.42 era in a whopping 218 innings. The 2007 season saw Glavine top the 300 win mark and he has made 10 all star games and won the Cy Young in 1991 and 1998.
5) Curt Schilling - Another power pitcher that dominated the post season. Arguably the best post season pitcher of all time with a career 11-2 record with a 2.23 era. He also was Co-MVP of the 2001 WS and had a case for another in 1993 in the Phils had won it. 200+ wins, 14th all time in K's, and although he never won a Cy Young, he was runner up 3 times.
4) John Smoltz - Sure fire Hall of Famer and the only guy ever with 200+ wins and 150+ saves. Ranks 1st all-time in postseason wins and strikeouts. 1996 Cy Young season was his best and has 3000+ K's. Not another guy in his prime you would want in a big game.
3) Randy Johnson - 288 wins and 4700 K's make Randy one of the best ever. I've always liked to break careers down to a 10 year stretch of dominance and Randy's is pretty incredible (1993-2002). In this stretch, The Big Unit went 175-58. As a starting pitcher, he finished in the top 25 in MVP voting 9 times, won 5 Cy Youngs and was runner up 3 other times, and made 10 All Star games. Not to mention a 2001 Co-MVP in the WS.
2) Pedro Martinez - His career .693 winning percentage (210-93) is off the charts. He was virtually unhittable from 1997-2003 posting era's of 1.90, 2.07, 1.74, 2.22, 2.26, and 2.32. Pedro has 3 Cy Young's, an unforgettable All Star game MVP in 1999 (2 IP 0 hits 5 K's), an MVP runner up, and 3034 K's in only 2683 innings. Pedro is also 6-2 career in the postseason and his most impressive stat - a 2.82 career era - 0.3 better than #2 among actives.
1) Greg Maddux - Easy choice for #1 can always tell folks he went 17 straight seasons with 15+ wins - only Cy Young could match that - and speaking of Cy, Greg is the only player ever to win 4 in a row. Unreal stretch in 94-95 saw season era's of 1.56 and 1.63. His 350 career wins is 9th all time and he pitched his entire career in a 5 man rotation. Also boasts 2 top 5 MVP finishes and 11 post season victories.
Jack Morris barely missed the list - a good part of his career was pre-1985 and Dave Stewart had a great run in the late 80's-early 90's but just didn't do enough. Younger (2000-present)guys were considered (Webb, Peavy, Oswalt) but they weren't enough to crack my top 10.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Dominated all 9 years he played - 1,000 yds every year in 12-14 games - 5.2 ypc highest in history
2) Barry Sanders
Pro Bowler all 10 years in league - 2,000 yard season and played on teams with poor OL's - could have reached 20,000 yds if he played past 30
3) Emmitt Smith
164 rushing TD's - 41 more than anyone else
4) OJ Simpson
6 - 200 Yard games including a 2,000 yard season (14 games) while playing on awful teams (Bills won 43 games his in 9 yrs)
5) Walter Payton
Tough, bruiser that dominated the 80's - caught 492 passes and was best blocking rb of all-time
6) LaDainian Tomlinson
Already with 115 rushing TD's in 7 seasons - never misses a game - top rec threat out of backfield of all-time - over 2300 yds from scrimmage twice
7) Gale Sayers
Limited to 6 seasons by injury - All-Pro each time, 2 rushing titles and avg 5.0 ypc - also the NFL career leader for kickoff return avg 30.56
8) Marshall Faulk
Was best player in league from 1998-2001 - 1999 MVP
9) Eric Dickerson
Underrated runner - 3 rushing titles & 3 200 yard games - also put up 248 in a playoff game - 1984 season one of the best all-time
10) Tony Dorsett
Only member of college and pro football HOF's that won Heisman, Super Bowl MVP, and an NCAA Title - 12 yrs with 12,000+ yds - top 5 in big play ability
Who have I snubbed? Marcus Allen, Bo Jackson, Jerome Bettis?? Lets hear your arguments!
1) 1996 - Marquis Grissom and Dave Justice to CLE for Alan Embree and Kenny Lofton
a. Grissom averaged 140 hits a season until 2004 and while hitting for even more power than he did up until the trade
b. Justice hit 186 Home Runs in 6 seasons (31 per) after the trade and won another World Series in 2000 with the NYY
c. Lofton played 1 season for the Braves and, while productive, pissed off everyone and convinced every Braves fan he did not want to be here.
d. Embree is a journeyman lefty that throws gas – was decent in ATL
2) 2000 - Bret Boone and Ryan Klesko to the SDG for Quilvio Veras, Wally Joyner, and Reggie Sanders
a. The steroid infested Boone averaged 27.8 HR’s per season from 2000-2004 including a 2001 season in SEA where he finished 3rd in MVP
b. Klesko hit 20+ HR’s and averaged over 80 RBI in his 1st 4 seasons after the trade for SDG
c. Veras, acquired to provide stability at the leadoff spot, played in only 156 more games in his career and had only 33 SB’s.
d. Joyner, always a stiff, hit .281 with 5 HR in 119 games for the Braves in his only season.
e. Sanders, also a bum, had the worst year of his career in 2000 with the Braves and left a bitter taste in the mouth of all Braves fans
3) 1997 - Jermaine Dye to KC for Keith Lockhart and Michael Tucker
a. Tucker hit the 1st HR in Turner Field history and sucked the rest of the time besides the HR off Kevin Brown in the 1998 NLCS
b. Lockhart was a solid pinch hitter and played some 2nd base but was never good enough to be a regular
c. Dye was 2005 WS MVP, has hit 248 HR’s and been an All-Star twice since the trade
4) 2004 - Adam Wainwright, Jason Marquis, and Ray King to STL for JD Drew and Eli Marrero
a. Wainwright has become a solid starter and was a dominant closer on the STL 2006 WS Champion team
b. Marquis had a rough time the end of his STL career but has been solid for the Cubs
c. Drew was good in his 1 year in ATL but no trip to the NLCS
d. Ditto for Marrero
5) 2006 - Wilson Betemit to LAD for Danys Baez and Willy Aybar
a. Shows how good JS has been that this is 5th worst
b. Betemit has been decent, but not great for LAD and NYY
c. Aybar was decent last year but turned to the bottle too often
d. Baez was bad, but we got 2 draft picks for him
1) 1993 - Melvin Nieves, Donnie Elliott, and Vince Moore to SDG for Fred McGriff
a. Nieves was the key to the deal, hit .230 for career with 63 HR
b. Elliott pitched 35 career innings
c. McGriff hit in the middle of the order from 93-97 and was a key to the 95 WS Championship – All Star 1st 3 years as a Brave
2) 2005 - Dan Meyer, Charles Thomas, and Juan Cruz to OAK for Tim Hudson
a. Braves acquire front line starter in prime for bootleg reliever, minor league level OF, and gimpy elbowed minor league pitcher
3) 1995 - Andre King to CHW for Mike Devereaux
a. King never played in majors while Devereaux was 1995 NLCS MVP the year the Braves won the WS
4) 2003 - Damian Moss to SF for Russ Ortiz
a. Ortiz went 36-16 in 2 years in ATL and pitched over 200 innings both seasons - #1 starter on NL East Champions both seasons
5) 2002 - Brian Jordan and Odalis Perez to LAD for Gary Sheffield
a. Sheff hit 66 HR’s and hit over .300 in 2 seasons including 3rd place MVP in 2003
b. Perez never developed into front line starter
c. Jordan was washed up before the trade
6) 2006 - Andy Marte to BOS for Edgar Renteria
a. Marte still may blow up, but Renteria was outstanding in his time here and BOS paid some of his contract
7) 1994 - Jimmy Kremers and Keith Morrison to MTL for Marquis Grissom
a. Grissom was vital to the 95 WS title and Kremers and Morrison are losers
8) 2000 - Bruce Chen and Jimmy Osting to PHI for Andy Ashby
a. Ashby was solid in 2000 winning 8 games in Aug and Sep
b. Chen is a former phenom turned bum
9) Ricardo Rodriguez to KC for Matt Diaz
a. Diaz mashes and Rodriguez is a scrub
10) Tim Spooneybarger and Ryan Baker to FLA for Mike Hampton
a. Spooneybarger was a walking injury and Baker never played in the majors
b. Hampton won 27 games his 1st two years in ATL and then succumbed to the injury bug – FLA paid part of his salary which puts this on the good list
Now to the next group - our point guards - Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, and Gary Payton. All 3 have put up 10+ years of all star calibur seasons with Payton having had the most illustrious career. All 3 will also end up with better numbers than current members Isaiah Thomas and Tiny Archibald.
Finally, if Shaq can get in after 4 years in the league, surely Lebron James needs to be added as well. He has done more than enough in his 1st 5 years (10,000+ pts), carrying that crappy Cavs team to the finals, etc to warrant inclusion.
I don't think any other current players have done enough yet so like the Baseball Hall of Fame we will have some "old-timey" nominees/original snubs. No doubt Dominique will be added as he was the original snub. For the final spot, I like a couple of scorers but I will choose Reggie Miller over Alex English and others for his clutch performances.
The NBA 60 Greatest presented by Mastercard would have certainly drawn an audience at halftime of Game 4 of the finals. Where you at David Stern?