Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Braves to sign 2 HOF'ers in 1 day?

With Griffey choosing Atlanta and Glavine about to sign, it looks like the Braves will add a couple of Hall of Famers to the club this week. Good move? I think so. Could a younger player do just as well? Maybe, but the clubhouse impact of these 2 will be tremendous. Also, Griffey will bring out crowds and hopefully keep the club operating in the black this year when lots of clubs probably won't be able to. Glavine will be solid as a #5 starter and due to the schedule will only need to make 2 starts the entire month of April while he gets healthy.

Now that the roster seems to be set...

McCann - C
Ross - C
Kotchman - 1B
Johnson - 2B
Prado - 2B/SS
Escobar - SS
Jones - 3B
Infante - 3B/OF
Diaz - OF
Griffey - OF
Anderson - OF
Francoeur - OF
Blanco/B.Jones - OF

Lowe - SP
Jurrjens - SP
Vazquez - SP
Kawakami - SP
Glavine - SP
Gonzo - RP
Soriano - RP
Moylan - RP
Logan - RP
Boyer - RP
Acosta - RP
Campillo/Carlyle/Bennett - RP

Lets look at what the potential weaknesses/strengths of the team might be.


My 1st guess at the lineup

Anderson - CF
Escobar - SS
Johnson - 2B
Jones - 3B
McCann - C
Griffey/Diaz - LF
Francoeur - RF
Kotchman - 1B

I think Anderson will win the CF job. Schafer will be given a chance, but is still a year away. Blanco was solid last year, but Anderson is better defensively and is more of a stolen base threat. Anderson could steal 50-60 bases with 500 AB's. Could Anderson hit .290 with an OBP of .370? If so, he will keep the job all year.

Escobar and Johnson are the key to the lineup this season. Both have shown signs of greatness but need to become more consistent. If both hit .300 with some power, this team should be in the top 6 in the NL in runs. You know what to expect from Chipper, 120-135 games and solid production. McCann will do what he has always done. The Griffey/Diaz combo should be pretty steady and Francoeur/Kotchman at the bottom need to be better. I would be happy with Francoeur at (.243-22-74) and Kotchman (.283-17-66). Both expectations seem reasonable to me.

The biggest weakness of this lineup is the number of lefties. Anderson, Johnson, McCann, Kotchman, and Griffey all hit left-handed. How will they produce against left-handed starters? Diaz will probably be in there, but that is still 4 lefties. Maybe Infante can be a starter against lefties and play center??


Lowe has shown he is pretty consistent in producing 14-16 wins with an ERA between 3 and 3.50. If Jurrjens can improve from last year, he will be fine as a #2 guy. Vazquez has the stuff to be the best #3 starter in the league, but that is about all we know. Kawakami is a big question mark as is Glavine. We all know who is next in line if those 2 can't produce (Morton, Reyes, Campillo). Hopefully, Kawakami is another Kuroda and Glavine can make 20 starts and go 8-5 with a 4.35.

The bullpen has a chance to be really strong if Gonzo returns to lights-out closer form and Soriano and Moylan come back strong from injuries. Boyer's arm should be better now that he won't have to pitch in 90 games and Acosta as the last option is pretty good. Boone Logan as the lefty is a little scary, but Ohman wanted too much cash to bring back.

Predictions? Right now, I think this team wins anywhere from 80-90 games. Depending on how some guys perform this year, (Francoeur, Kawakami, Soriano) this can be an 80-82 team that fades from Wild-Card contention in early September, or a 90-72 team that wins their division.

And don't forget the possible August pick up for the rotation - Tim Hudson...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Dunk Contest thoughts...

The days of the NBA's slam dunk contest being "must-see-TV" are gone and the format today is horrendous. Not as bad as H.O.R.S.E, but still bad. The Rudy Fernandez dunk last night is a perfect example. Great dunk, but after missing the dunk 7+ times, it isn't quite as dramatic. It all started going downhill when they instituted a point system and dunkers received a 8.3 instead of an 8 or 9. They did away with that after a while, but the clock and format with 4 contestants still doesn't seem right. Maybe having Lebron next year will help.

Alas, I still watched most of the dunk contest. It got me thinking about some of the best dunks from the dunk contest - not performances, but individual dunks. It led to the following, the top 10 best dunks from the NBA's slam dunk contest.

Note: Jumping from the free-throw line and short people do not impress me...

10. Tracy McGrady - 360 double pump in 2000

9. Michael Jordan - Kiss the rim

8. Dwight Howard - 2008

7. Jason Richardson - off backboard between legs

6. Dominique Wilkens - 2 handed windmill

5. Desmond Mason - 2003

4. Josh Smith - over Kenyon windmill

3. Vince Carter - between the legs

2. Vince Carter - 360 Windmill

1. Jason Richardson - Walk off winner