Friday, July 31, 2009

Weekend News and Links...

According to back in December, the Braves got "fleeced" by Ken Williams and the White Sox by giving up Tyler Flowers, Brent Lillibridge, and Jon Gilmore for Javy Vazquez and Boone Logan. The article says neither Vazquez or Logan can be described as dominant. Flowers is .289/14/44 and was recently promoted to AAA, Lillibridge struggled in the bigs like he did in Atlanta, and Gilmore is still many moons away from sniffing a big league promotion. My guess is that the Braves will get much more for Vazquez this off-season than they gave up last December...

It looks like the Braves have their version of Jack Cust/Adam Dunn/Jay Bruce with Cody Johnson. He leads the Carolina League in home runs by 9 with 26, playing in just 96 games (336 AB's). Check out the strikeouts, though!

Am I the only person who watches ESPN's new show SportsNation just for Michelle Beadle?

Hawaii coach Greg McMackin had some harsh words for Notre Dame players dancing...

Huge homer by McCann last night to avoid the sweep. I thought McCann hit a pretty good pitch out, but losing pitcher Luis Ayala said that he "made a mistake." Wait for the video to load to get another look, but I don't even think the pitch was a strike. Give Mac credit for hitting a tough pitch out.

Two things to watch for here, in case you missed the MLS All-Star game Wednesday. First, the opening PK by James Vaughan, possibly the worst in history - then, Never-Hesitating Howard stealing the show and preserving the Everton victory.

Nevermind on James Vaughan being the worst PK ever. Check out this dude.

Adios NL Central, the Tigers got the piece they needed to seperate from the Sox and Twins by adding another starting pitcher in Jarrod Washburn...

Under the radar pick up for the Falcons? Jamie Winborn, who had 99 tackles last season, was signed yesterday just before traning camp...

Thanks to Steve Lombardi of for posting the link to this box score, which included the worst save in baseball history by Dave Goltz. Also, be sure to scroll to the bottom and look at the attendance.

Jose Canseco says he now knows of a hall of famer that has used steroids. Any doubt this guy is Ricky Henderson??

Off to 1st Braves game of the year tonight, stay away rain!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The State of the Pirates...

While I would trade 17 straight losing Braves seasons for 2 Falcons Super Bowls in 5 years, it has got to be tough on the baseball fans in Pittsburgh. How did it get this bad? Other teams with limited payrolls like Kansas City have struggled as well, but Pittsburgh has never ever sniffed the playoffs since 1992. Now, another sale of their top level major league talent in the last year has put them back at ground zero again. You would think with the prospects acquired in these deals, along with top 10 picks virtually every year this decade, their chances of making some noise should be forthcoming.

They do have money to keep some of these guys, but seem to have gone into panic mode the last 2 seasons at the trade deadline. Lets take a quick look at these trades and who has been drafted recently to see exactly where this franchise is right now...

1) Jason Bay for Andy LaRoche, Craig Hansen, Brandon Moss, and Bryan Morris - Morris has a 5.70 ERA in class A ball, Hansen is on the 60 day DL and looks like a middle reliever, and LaRoche/Moss are currently playing every day. While LaRoche and Moss are still highly thought of, they are both 26 now and still hitting around .250 without a lot of power. Bay on the other hand is on pace for another 30 HR/100 RBI season.

2) Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte for Jose Tabata, Ross Ohlendorf, Jeff Karstens, and Daniel McCutchen - Nady and Marte have been injured all year for NY, and Pittsburgh looks like they got a good return for them. Ohlendorf throws gas and is already in the rotation, Karstens has had some success starting and relieving in the bigs, and McCutchen is a solid starter in AAA. Tabata is the Pirates #3 prospect and is hitting over .300 in AA. Great deal for the Bucs.

3) Nate McLouth for Gorkys Hernandez, Jeff Locke, and Charlie Morton - Curious deal that they would deal McLouth at the point in the season that they did, but Pittsburgh got a pretty good return. Morton has been solid in the rotation, Hernandez is still a good OF prospect, and Locke is good lower level lefty.

4) Adam LaRoche for Argenis Diaz and Hunter Strickland - LaRoche had to be dealt after the McLouth move and his contract, and they got a decent amount in return. Strickland has great upside as a RH starter and Diaz is a decent SS prospect. Not bad considering everyone knew LaRoche was going to be dealt.

5) Freddy Sanchez for Tim Alderson - Pittsburgh did a good job here, getting the Giants 1st round pick from 2007. Alderson is already pitching well in AA and projects as a front line starter in 2011. Sanchez is solid, but after not getting the contract done, they got a good amount back for him.

6) Jack Wilson and Ian Snell for Jeff Clement, Ronny Cedeno, Brett Lorin, Nathan Adcock, Aaron Pribanic - I this seven player deal, Cedeno gives Pitt a SS fill in for Wilson. Clement is major league ready, after being the M's top pick in 2005. He is currently .288/14/68 in AAA. The other 3 players are all Class A pitchers and decent prospects.

Now to the draft, which can be a crapshoot sometimes. Here is who Pittsburgh drafted in the 1st round the past 8 years, with the pick number in parentheses.

2009 - Tony Sanchez (4) - Hitting .337 in his 1st 20 minor league games.
2008 - Pedro Alvarez (2) - Bucs #1 prospect, is .258/20/75 in A/AA this year.
2007 - Daniel Moskos (4) - 7-8 3.90 LHP has been underwhelming at best.
2006 - Brad Lincoln (4) - 2.99 ERA in 19 starts in AA this year, good curve and Bucs #4 prospect.
2005 - Andrew McCutchen (11) - Already made a splash in the bigs, McCutchen looks like the leadoff man/CF of the future.
2004 - Neil Walker (11) - Walker is in AAA and still projects as an everyday player in the bigs.
2003 - Paul Maholm (8) - Maholm has been steady in the rotation this year, and looks like a middle line starter for years to come.
2002 - Bryan Bullington (1) - The one the Bucs really blew - Bullington has been a bust, and is now trying to make it up as a reliever for the Jays. Immeditely after Bullington, Zack Greinke, Prince Fielder, and BJ Upton were selected.

If you go back another five years, none of the Bucs 1st rounders even sniffed success in the big leagues. So, where does that leave the franchise? Actually, in 2 years, the rotation looks pretty strong. The key will be the Moss/LaRoche combo turning into good, middle of the order hitters.


1) Zach Duke
2) Brad Lincoln
3) Tim Alderson
4) Paul Maholm
5) Charlie Morton/Ohlendorf/Karstens/Morris


A. McCutchen - CF
J. Tabata/G. Hernandez - RF
P. Alvarez - 3B
A. LaRoche - 1B
T. Sanchez - C
B. Moss/D. Young - LF
N. Walker - 2B
A. Diaz - SS

A pretty good core, but probably not a winner until 2012 at the earliest. They will also have great depth at SP, and could trade a starter or 2 to acquire more help at middle infield.

Hopefully, for Pirates fans, there is not another sell-fest before this team can show what they have...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Quick update on the Braves/Majors top prospect...

It has been noted on here how big of a prospect Jason Heyward has become. Well, the dude is still blowing up, and is on a streak now that is making everyone take a second look. Most guys make the jump from advanced A ball to AA and take a little while to adjust. Not our guy Heyward.

He has now been in AA Mississippi for 20 games and is currently hitting .443 with 3 HR's and 16 RBI. Through last night, Heyward is 16 for his last 33 a couple HR's. His overall minor league numbers for the year are now .336/13/47 in just 69 games. That projects to better than .330/30/100 for 150-155 games. The leagues top prospect is looking like Atlanta's RF next season.

And he is turning just 20 years old in 2 weeks...

Time to focus on the Wild Card...

What a difference a Ross Gload home run and a Wednesday afternoon trade can do to a teams outlook. It appears the Phillies acquired Ben Francisco and Cliff Lee for Jason Knapp, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald and Lou Marson. Toronto wanted too much for Halladay, and Philly was able to get Lee and another bat while not giving up Drabek, Haap, or Dominic Brown. Now, Phillie fans see a future rotation of Lee, Hamels, Haap, and Drabek - pretty sporty...

The deal is similar to the Braves-Rangers deal from two years ago in that the Braves got a piece they thought would put them over the top without giving up all of their top prospects. The Braves did, however, give up all top-tier prospects and the deal does not look so good in hindsight. The difference with the Phils-Tribe trade is that Philly is more likely to lock-down Lee than the Braves were Teixeira.

So, who did Philly give up? We know they kept Brown(.318/11/43), their #1 prospect (all according to Baseball America). They also kept Haap, their #9 prospect, and one of the big keys to their better play as of late. And, of course, the untouchable Drabek, their #5 prospect (11-2 2.78 in A/AA). But they did give up prospects ranked #2 (Carlos Carrasco),#3 (Lou Marson),#4 (Jason Donald), and #10 (Jason Knapp).

The most interesting guy is Marson, because he is one of the top rated catching prospects in the minors and paves the way for a Victor Martinez deal later in the week. Marson is hitting .294 in AAA and is about ready to make the jump to the bigs.

Carrasco is a big-time starting pitching prospect and will be in the Indians rotation very soon. He is a big guy at 6'3 and throws hard.

Donald is a slick fielding SS who has struggled a bit in his transition to AAA. After hitting .307/14/54 last year, his bat hasn't been there in 09. A top prospect nonetheless.

Knapp was a 2nd round pick last year and is a 6'5 RHP. He projects very well and was very good after signing last summer.

We likely won't know who got the better of this for several years, that is, unless Lee is WS MVP. I think that if any club knew they would win it all by having to give up 4 or even 5 of their top prospects, they would pull the trigger immediately.

Time to scoreboard watch the Cubs, Rockies, and Giants...

SEC picks...

Lets keep the predictions coming for 2009. In the SEC...

1) Florida goes 12-0
2) Georgia keeps winning in opponents stadiums, but slips up at home vs LSU
3) Tennessee gets back to a bowl and .500 in the conference
4) Spurrier keeps getting frustrated in Columbia, finishes 6-6
5) Vanderbilt is competitive again, but not enough to make another bowl
6) Kentucky comes close to an upset or 2, but only wins 1 conference game
7) Bama avoids UGA and UF from the East and their toughest road conference game is Auburn. There season will come down to LSU and VT games
8) LSU remains inconsistent, looking dominant at times but losing 2 games with a tough conference schedule
9) Mississippi will be pretty good again, but not top 10 good
10) Arkansas gets back to a bowl but gets blown out at LSU
11) Auburn also rebounds and gets back to a bowl, but fans are still not happy with 5 L's
12) Mississippi State looks better on offense under Mullen, but still a year or 2 away.




Miss St.(0-8)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

NFL Standings Predictions

For those that don't want to read through the explanations, here are the NFL picks for 2009...

NFC East

NY Giants......12-4

NFC West

San Francisco..4-12
St Louis.......3-13

NFC North

Green Bay......7-9

NFC West

New Orleans....11-5
Tampa Bay......4-12

AFC East

New England....12-4
NY Jets........5-11

AFC West

San Diego......10-6
Kansas City....3-13

AFC South


AFC North


Wild Card

Atlanta over Seattle
Philadelphia over New Orleans

Indy over Cincinnati
San Diego over Houston

Best NFL Weekend of the year

Atlanta over NY Giants
Bears over Eagles

Pittsburgh over San Diego
New England over Indy

Championship Weekend

Bears over Falcons
Pittsburgh over New England

Super Bowl

Pittsburgh over Bears

More NFL pre-season talk...

Lets keep it going...

The Redskins are an intriguing team for 2009. They could be pretty good on offense with an improved line and their rookie receivers from last year (Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly) coming off injuries. The D-line should be much improved with Albert Haynesworth pushing up the middle. There are some concerns in the secondary, but Washington is good enough to win 10+ this year. Prediction - 10-6

It is hard to pick New Orleans to win a bunch of games because they look so vulnerable on defense. However, they seem to be as healthy as ever and have upgraded the secondary with Jabari Greer, Darren Sharper, and Malcolm Jenkins. The offense should be top 3 again if not #1 like last season. Prediction - 11-5

San Diego made a real strong push at the end of last season. They get Shawn Merriman back and are strong in the secondary with Jammer and Cromartie. However, Tomlinson and Gates have been injury plagued the past few seasons and it is hard to see them back in the 10-12 win frame. Prediction - 10-6

Houston should have one of the better offenses in the league this year. Matt Schaub has 3 strong weapons in the passing game and Steve Slaton looks to be a top-tier RB this season. The defense keeps improving and if healthy, could be in the top 15. Prediction - 10-6

Denver really overhauled their roster under new coach Josh McDaniels. Their offense won't be as explosive as last year due to the Cutler-Orton swap, and the defense won't be much better either. McDaniels may have some success down the road, but it doesn't look good for this year. Prediction - 5-11

The Jets look to start Mark Sanchez, but he will be without their top target in Coles from last year. Under a new coach, the defense is also switching schemes and while it won't be bad, won't be good enough to offset the offense. Prediction - 5-11.

Arizona all of a sudden learned how to play defense in the playoffs and almost became Super Bowl champs. Kurt Warner is back with a new deal and still has his weapons in the passing game and added Beanie Wells. If Warner and Wells are healthy for 14+ games, Arizona might be playoff bound again. I am not counting on it. Prediction - 7-9

Tampa Bay also went under some re-tooling this off-season. They don't have a NFL level starter at QB on the roster which is a shame because Winslow and Bryant are very good in the passing game. Graham and Ward are a solid 1-2 punch at RB and the OL is still pretty good. However, the defense was completely overhauled and doesn't have much left. Jermaine Phillips is now a LB and Gaines Adams is now the man on the DL. Prediction - 4-12

Dallas will still be pretty potent on offense with Romo, Roy Williams, Witten, and the Jones/Barber/Choice backfield. But, the defense will struggle to stop people. They lost several starters and are replacing them with rookies and a veteran or 2 including Keith Brooking. Uh-oh. Prediction - 8-8

Chicago will no longer have to depend on their D to win gams for them. Getting Jay Cutler to run the offense will give them many more options. His passing skills will also make Matt Forte better. If a WR or 2 step up, they have a shot at having a 1st round bye. Prediction - 12-4

Philadelphia is really depending on Brian Westbrook to play in most of their games this season. They did draft McCoy to back him up, but the need Westbrook if they are going to contend. The defense is good as always and they now have more game-breakers with Jackson and Maclin at WR and KR. Prediction - 10-6

Minnesota will be pretty close to the team they were last season. Issues at QB, great RB, solid OL, and great front 7. Stopping the run won't be a problem, and if they can be strong against the pass, they could be one of the leagues best D's. However, the QB issue is pretty tough to overcome. Prediction - 8-8

Baltimore could be a 10+ win team this year if they can get their issues at WR solved. Derrick Mason unexpectedly retired and then Drew Bennett was signed to replace Mason and he retired. The OL is strong and they have good depth at RB, but need some WR for Flacco. The D should be dominant and will always have them in the game. Prediction - 10-6

Now that New England has Tom Brady healthy, they should become a top-tier team again. The offense will be very good and their D is good enough to keep them in most games. Prediction - 12-4

Miami was unexpectedly an 11 win team last year, but don't look for a repeat. The schedule should be tougher and they have some glaring weaknesses on D. Prediction - 7-9

Atlanta should boast one of the leagues best offenses with a solid OL, stud RB, franchise QB, and stud WR. Throw in Tony Gonzalez and the Birds should average 25+ points a game this year. The D needs to be decent for Atlanta to have a chance for their 1st back-to-back winning seasons in franchise history. I will bet that Abe stays healthy, a corner steps up, and either Decoud or Moore is strong at the safety spot. Prediction - 10-6

Carolina will only be as good as Jake Delhomme lets them be. If he is on, with his weapons at RB and WR and a solid OL, the Panther offense will be very good. If he is 7-27, they will struggle. They still have the same problems on D, and in a division with Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush, Michael Turner, Jerious Norwood, Derrick Ward, and Ernest Graham - that can't be good. That puts lots of pressure on Jon Beason and the LB's. Prediction - 8-8

The NY Giants will boast a top 3 defense and still have weapons on offense. Their OL is very good, and as long as Eli is not terrible, he has enough weapons to win a bunch of games. Prediction - 12-4

Indy upgraded their D in the draft and Peyton is still one of the leagues top QB's. If they can get a running game and can stop the run, they are a contender again. Prediction - 12-4

Pittsburgh will again be very good on D and with Big Ben healthy, could be better on offense. If their running game comes around, they will be back in the hunt again in 2009. Prediction - 13-3

Tennessee took a huge hit when they lost Albert Haynesworth. Their D will still be solid, but won't be good enough to win them as many games as it did last year. Still not a lot to work with on offense for Collins. Chris Johnson is a stud, but the WR's are weak. Prediction - 8-8

Early look at the NFL Season...

Less than 2 weeks from the Hall of Fame game, lets take a quick look at the divisions and see who may be our playoff teams in 2009.

First, the teams who finished with double digit losses last season...

Detroit should definitely get some W's this year. I like the veterans they got on their lines (Big Grady/Jansen), picked up Stafford and Pettigrew in the draft, and re-hauled their receivers and signed Phillip Buchanan. Prediction - 5-11

St Louis did little to improve themselves and now all of a sudden don't have a #1 receiver (Donnie Avery?). Their OL is still atrocious and they will waste another year of having a stud like Steven Jackson. Prediction - 3-13

Kansas City is still several years away and will soon find out Matt Cassel is not the answer. Their defense should be one of the league's worst and that should net them the top pick in next year's draft. Prediction - 3-13

Cleveland has a new coach and still has not figured out what QB they should go with. Look for Quinn to be the guy, but he lacks a running game or a receiving core to be very effective. The D has added some depth at LB, but Cleveland will continue to struggle. Prediction - 5-11

Seattle finally has a healthy Hasselbeck and has given him TJ Housh as help. Struggling mightily with offensive injuries last year, Seattle looks to have improved. Aaron Curry at LB and signing Ken Lucas to shore up the secondary were excellent moves. Look for them to contend in a weak division. Prediction - 9-7

Cincinnati also looks better on both sides of the ball. Their top 4 draft picks should all contribute (Andre Smith, Rey Maualuga, Michael Johnson, Chase Coffman) and Laveraneus Coles will help offset the loss of TJ. Roy Williams will improve the secondary and if Carson Palmer is healthy, they could have a winning record. Prediction - 10-6.

Oakland's franchise is in the tank. They whiffed in the draft and brought in Jeff Garcia when they already have one of the leagues highest paid players at the same position. They have some players on D and need Heyward-Bay to be electric right away. If Russell plays well, they could win 6 or 7. Prediction - 4-12.

Jacksonville learned what UGA learned last season. It is very hard to be consistent when your OL is decimated by injuries. The Jags have revamped their OL and signed Torry Holt as another receiving option for Garrard. They need to be great on D to sniff a winning season. Prediction - 8-8.

Green Bay should be better on D this year by adding Dom Capers to run the show. They also drafted BJ Raji to help the transition to a 3-4 defense. Clay Matthews could also help at LB. This team could surprise and win 10+, but I think there are still too many issues. Prediction - 7-9.

The two 7-9 teams...

San Francisco will continue to struggle to get back to the playoffs until they get consistent work from a QB. Alex Smith has one more shot to get it done, but Shaun Hill helped Mike Singletary get his job, so he may be loyal to him first. They have some good weapons in the passing game with Mike Crabtree now on board. But, both lines are still an issue. Prediction - 4-12.

Buffalo has some nice pieces on D and added TO to line up with Lee Evans at WR. If they can stop people and get to the QB, they may be improved. Hard to depend on Marshawn Lynch, though. Prediction - 8-8.

Coming up later today, the .500 teams and winning squads from last season...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thursday morning links...

Off to Maryland this weekend, here are some interesting stories as we had into the weekend...

Stephen Strasburg may not sign with Washington after all. What a disaster this would be for Nats fans. They finally have a stud prospect to be jacked about, and the front office has only offered a standard minor league contract of $1,000 per month? Wow. I know they are probably playing hard ball with Boras, knowing nothing will be done until August 15-17th, but for your fans sake at least look professional.

Good news for Braves fans, it looks like the Mets will be buyers at this years trade deadline. At 10 games back in the division and 6.5 in the Wild Card with 7 teams in front of them, the Mets should be looking towards next year. I guess that is New York for you.

Looks like Landon Donovan will get another shot at playing overseas. Maybe he needs a break from his boy Becks.

Mike Vick could meet with Roger Goodell soon and talk of his reinstatement. Does it matter? Is anyone going to sign Vick for this season? He is probably a backup/wildcat guy now and the would the negative publicity be worth it? I think he goes UFL one year and then gets a shot in 2010.

Even though lots of people are saying Roy Halladay will not be traded, I still think some team will give up the motherload to acquire Doc before July 31st. He is just too good to pass on when he is available if you think he can put your team over the top. There are several teams that could get Halladay and be World Series favorites (Phillies, Dodgers, Red Sox, Yankees, LAA, and maybe St Louis. Other teams would become great bets to at least have a chance to make a run in the postseason (Milwaukee, Tampa, both Chicago teams, and Texas). Some GM will pull the trigger in the next week.

In case you missed it, fantasy guru Matthew Berry of picked Michael Turner with the 1st pick in the magazine fantasy draft. I love Turner, but his workload has to decrease this year. His 2008 season was the 20th highest in terms of number of carries in NFL history. We have learned from others (T. Davis, B. Foster, J. Lewis, J. Anderson, L. Johnson, etc) that heavy work loads usually lead to washed up running backs in just a few years.

Turns out Lebron James and his buddies drank booze and smoked week while in high school. Anyone surprised?

There have been a lot of college athlete DUI's this summer, as usual. However, there must be absolutely nothing to do in North Dakota. They recently had their fourth player get charged with DUI in 6 months.

Looks like the Bruce Pearl honeymoon is over in Knoxville. He just had another top recruit decommit. Maybe his antics have worn off a bit...

Finally, a thought. Lets take a moment and praise the off-season work of Braves GM Frank Wren. He didn't overpay for Peavy, traded for the right guys, and held on to Tommy Hanson. What if he traded Hanson, like SD wanted, and acquired the wrong free agents to fill out the rotation? Would this team be in contention if the rotation was as follows?


Kudos to Frankie Boy...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Great seasons...

Most of us know the great stat lines in baseball history, Gibson's 1.12 ERA, Bonds 73 HR, Cy Young 511 wins, etc. However, there are some lines that have been lost in the mix, whether it was a season that was overshadowed by another player, a college season, or a minor league stat. Here is a look at a few seasons that may be overlooked...

1) Tim Lincecum's career Minor League stats - 6-0 - 1.01 ERA - 7 ER in 62 IP with 104 K's. Not a real surprise because of how dominant he has been at the major league level, but still pretty daggum impressive.

2) Lance Berkman (1997 at Rice University) - .431 with 41 HRs and 134 RBI - Helped turn the corner at Rice in this season playing with Matt Anderson and Jose Cruz. Paved the way for one of the best moments in Rice sports history, the 2003 CWS Title.

3) Charley "Ole Hoss" Radbourn's 1884 season - 59 wins, 12 losses, and 73 complete games. Pitching for the Providence Grays, Radbourn was really a "hoss", starting and finishing the Grays last 29 games down the stretch and a victory in the 1st World Series. Charley's 59 wins are still a record, but according to wikipedia, he may have won 60.

4) Rod Carew in 1977 (.388/14/100) - Rod did win the MVP in '77, but his .388 average is somewhat overlooked since George Brett hit .390 just 3 years later. Carew set career highs with 14 HR and 100 RBI this year as well.

5) Rico Carty in 1970 (.366/25/101) - Probably the most overlooked season in Atlanta Braves history, Rico won the batting title and in only 136 games posted over 100 RBI for the only time in his career.

6) Freddy Garcia 2001 - Freddy went 18-6 with a league best 3.05 ERA in 238 innings. Probably overlooked due to Pedro and Randy being so dominant, but in the steriod era Freddy was pretty darn good in 2001.

7) Rickie Weeks 2002 @ Southern University (.495/20/96) - Rickie backed up this season by hitting .483 in 2003 before becoming a top pick of the Brewers.

Anyone else have any to add?

Football Schedules...

Lets take a quick look at some college football schedules as we try and determine who will be ranked 1 and 2 in the final BCS rankings. The schedules will be ordered from projected toughest game to projected easiest game to see what schedules look the toughest. Some schools, like Penn State, look like they only need to win 2-3 games to be unbeaten...


1. at LSU------------------1. Texas (Dallas)-------1. at Ohio St
2. Georgia (Jax)-----------2. Oklahoma St----------2. at Cal
3. at So Carolina----------3. at Nebraska----------3. at Oregon
4. FSU---------------------4. at Miami-------------4. at Notre Dame
5. UT----------------------5. BYU------------------5. Oregon St
6. Arkansas----------------6. at Texas Tech--------6. UCLA
7. at Kentucky-------------7. at Kansas------------7. Arizona
8. Vandy-------------------8. Tulsa----------------8. Arizona St
9. at Miss St--------------9. Texas A&M------------9. Stanford
10. Troy-------------------10. Kansas St-----------10. San Jose St
11. Fla I'ntl--------------11. Baylor--------------11. Washington
12. Chas Southern----------12. Idaho St------------12. Washington St

Georgia--------------------Penn State-------------Georgia Tech

1. Florida (Jax)-----------1. Ohio St-------------1. VT
2. LSU---------------------2. at Michigan St------2. UGA
3. at Oklahoma St----------3. at Illinois---------3. at FSU
4. at GT-------------------4. at Michigan---------4. at Miami
5. at UT-------------------5. Iowa----------------5. UNC
6. at Arkansas-------------6. Minnesota-----------6. Clemson
7. Auburn------------------7. Temple--------------7. Wake
8. South Carolina----------8. Indiana-------------8. at Vandy
9. Arizona St--------------9. at Northwestern-----9. at Miss St
10. at Vandy---------------10. Syracuse------------10. at Virginia
11. Kentucky---------------11. Akron---------------11. at Duke
12. Tenn Tech--------------12. Eastern Illinois----12. Jax St


1. Oklahoma (Dallas)------1. Florida-------------1. LSU
2. at Oklahoma St---------2. at Alabama----------2. at Ole Miss
3. at Mizzou--------------3. at UGA--------------3. VT (ATL)
4. Kansas-----------------4. at Ole Miss---------4. at Auburn
5. Texas Tech-------------5. Arkansas------------5. Tennessee
6. Colorado---------------6. Auburn--------------6. Arkansas
7. at Texas A&M-----------7. Vandy---------------7. South Carolina
8. at Wyoming-------------8. at Miss St----------8. at Kentucky
9. at Baylor--------------9. La Tech-------------9. at Miss St
10. UCF-------------------10. at Washington-------10. Fla I'ntl
11. UTEP------------------11. Tulane--------------11. North Texas
12. ULM-------------------12. Louisiana-----------12. Chattanooga

What do we take from this? Well, it gives a little bit of insight into what games teams need to win in order to be undefeated and all but place them in the BCS Title Game. For Florida, if they can get by LSU, they don't have much else to worry about. The only other games on their schedule that may even be close are UGA, at USC, FSU,and UT. Only 1 road game there...

If Penn State can beat Ohio State, they should be undefeated headed into East Lansing in the final week. The USC/Ohio State winner will probably only need 1 or 2 other big wins to run the table. LSU's schedule is very top heavy, with 3 brutal road games plus Florida. The VT/Bama winner should be in pretty good shape as well.

Another brutal schedule for UGA. Only 1 of their top 6 toughest games is at home. However, they seem to play well in other teams stadiums...

The Oklahoma/Texas winner will be a strong player in the final BCS standings as long as they can get by Oklahoma St. Georgia Tech's schedule is not bad either, with 2 only 2 of their 7 toughest games away from home. USC's 4 toughest games are on the road, and with a new QB, I don't see them running the table.

Early prediction? Florida vs Texas
Sneaky Title Game Teams? Penn State, Cal, Bama

Also an interesting note, if Colt McCoy wins the Heisman, there could be 3 Heisman winners selected in the 1st round of next years NFL draft...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Premier League thoughts...

A look at the top 4...

With Christiano Ronaldo leaving Manchester United without a solid replacement, the Reds are certainly vulnerable in the 09/10 Premier League table. Scholes, Carrick, and Giggs are still solid in midfield, but there is not a gamechanger anymore. Berbatov was good last year at striker, but he will need a fit Rooney and Owen to be the force he needs to be for ManU to retain their title.

Chelsea took a step backwords last year, even though they won the FA. They still have the best midfield in the world (Deco, Essien, Ballack, Lampard) and a good backline, but are not overwhelming at the forward spot. Anelka was good last year but Drogba battled lots of injuries. The youngster Scott Sinclair looked good yesterday, but at 20 is probably not ready to be a focal point of the club.

Liverpool look pretty solid and if they add Ashley Young they will be my pick to win the league this season. If not, they are still good enough to stay in the top 4 without much pressure. Gerrard is still in top form, and he has plenty of help up front with Kuyt and Torres.

Arsenal look the most vulnerable in the top 4, especially after losing Adebayor to Man City. They will be really young and need a strong season from veteran Robin Van Persie.

Look for Man City to be the biggest threat to the top 4 this season. While the clubs mentioned have some issues at the striker spot, City has plenty of great options. After adding Adebayor to join Robinho and Carlos Tevez, the top 3 strikers for City are better than any club. Steven Ireland really came on as a creative midfielder last season, and he played well alongside Wright-Phillips. If they add John Terry, City may even be a favorite to win a spot in the Champions League next season.

Tottenham are in the running for Ashley Young as well and could be in the mix after the dissapointment of last season. Pavlyuchenko is going to be a star and should be more comfortable in year 2.

Everton will again be very good but have some of the same fitness issues at forward as some of the top clubs. Saha, Vaughan, Yakubu all had injury issues last season as did midfielders Arteta and Cahill. When fit, this club is as good as any. But, with limited funds do not have the depth of some of the other top clubs. Look for them to battle for the top 4 early, then finish 5th or 6th.

Complete table predictions will be up in a few weeks, until then, GO ON USA!!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

As Chuck Barkley would say, "Turreble"

Most of you know that OPS is the new era standard for excellence at the plate. Just look at the leaders in the majors and you will see all-stars all over the top 10 (Pujols, Mauer, Ibanez, Fielder, etc). It calculates OBP (how often you get on base) and SLG (how many total bases you produce). What is interesting, though, is looking at the bottom 20 and seeing how many big-time names are there (top 10 round fantasy type players).

We all know the woes of Jeff Francoeur (4th worst at .626 or almost half of Pujols), but what about Jimmy Rollins at .642? Jimmy is well under .100 points of his career OPS, and that includes the 1st 2-3 years of his career where he was below average at the plate. In the bottom tier, you usually see 1 trick pony's like base stealers, catchers, or defensive wizards. But to see what were considered top-tier shortstops like Rollins, Furcal, Cabrera, Hardy, and Eckstein all in the bottom 20 is pretty wild. Also included are all-or-nothing hitters like Chris Davis, Adrien Beltre, Chris Young, and Kevin Kouzmanoff. Former all-stars Magglio Ordonez and Russell Martin are also in the bottom 20.

Number 1 (or last) on the list? Willy Tavares with a .579 OPS and a .031 point lead over Jason Kendall. Turreble.

Thoughts on Prado...

What a season so far for Martin Prado. It is just a shame it took Bobby this long to realize he had an ideal #2 hitter on his bench. Prado has been outstanding since taking over for Kelly Johnson and established himself as the 2-hole hitter. Only 3 players in the majors this season have 200+ plate appearances and fewer than 20 strikeouts (Prado, L.Castillo, Y.Betancourt). Prado is the only one of these 3 with a batting average over .285 (.330 thru Friday). He puts the ball in play, doesn't swing at bad pitches, and has some pop. He reminds me of Placido Polanco of about 4 years ago with more power. If eligible (Prado is currently 61 AB's shy) for the batting average lead, he would be 5th in the NL.

The key to this season may be the emergence of a solid all-around hitter at the top of the Braves order. How many times in the first 2 months of the season did the Braves lose a close game because of an ill-timed strikeout or bad at bat (cough, Francoeur, cough, KJ)? The pitching has been consistent all year (for my money, Jurrjens has been the best) and 1/2 to 1 run more per game would really make this a pretty good team.

I just hope it isn't too late...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Weekend Stuff...

As I watch Tiger's meltdown...

The Phillis are pretty hot right now, if they get Halladay it is game over in the NL East...

With every top-tier team in the East improving, the Heat are looking to upgrade as well at the frontcourt spots. With their already being talks of Boozer headed to Miami as well, they could have a pretty good first 5 (if healthy, big if) - Chalmers/Wade/Odom/Boozer/O'Neal

Finally, a video of Pacman Jones "Makin it Rain"

Thomas Brown being healthy in Falcons camp could lead to their already good special teams becoming even better...

According to, Antoine Walker made $99,287,540 in his career - how bad of gambling problem do you have if you are almost a million down in the casinos after making that kind of money over a 14 year NBA career?

Speaking of gambling problems, Charles Barkley isn't the only person with a bad swing. Take a look at some of the swings on this site..

Sekou Smith of the AJC tweeted about the Hawks and says they are in the mix for some veteran bigs...can't say the names yet, but good to know they are looking...

It will be interesting to see how the Dolphins use Pat White this year, considering they took him much earlier than most people expected (44th)...

We are a month away from the deadline for MLB draft picks to sign or enroll in school. Stephen Strasburg is getting most of the pub, but lots of top picks have yet to sign, including the Braves top pick Mike Minor. For a list of all picks in the top 10 rounds and who has signed and for how much, click here...

In case you missed, Baseball America released their midseason top 25 prospects in all of the minor leagues. Number 1 on the list? The recently promoted Jason Heyward. Jason is hitting .417 at Mississippi his 1st 10 games there and is .316/11/41 with a .942 OPS this season. Teammate Freddie Freeman checks in at number 11 on the list. Maybe this inept offense won't last too long after all. Pretty good offensive core the next 5-7 years with Heyward, Freeman, Escobar, McLouth, McCann, Prado...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

College Football Talk...

Looks like the concensus is that Florida will win their 3rd title in 4 years. Hard to believe that just 2 years ago, no team had won 2 BCS titles and now UF may be looking at 3. Their schedule sure works out, with them only MSU, ARK, and LSU from the West and avoiding Bama and Auburn. The LSU game is on the road and their most likely loss. I would like to think UGA has a shot in Jax, but it will take a '97 type performance to knock off the powerful Gators.

Just take a quick look at the talent UF has. Now, I think the Percy Harvin loss will hurt more than people think. However, with 3 potential top 15 players on defense (Dunlap, Spikes, Haden), Tebow, the speedsters in the backfield (Demps, Rainey), and depth/experience, UF looks like a clear favorite. The only thing that could potentially derail UF, just like the past 2 years, is a Tebow injury. When he was hurt in 2007, the Gators went 9-4. When healthy, they look pretty dang unstoppable. Tebow's backup is John Brantley, who has little experience, and the 3rd stringer is punter Chas Henry.

The most likely contenders besides UF are the Red-River Shootout winner, USC, and the Ohio St/Penn St winner. Virginia Tech may be a sleeper pick if Taylor becomes a better all-around QB and another team I like is Cal. If they can beat USC, Cal has a chance to be in the mix in December. They have the best QB in the Pac-10 (Riley), the best RB in the Pac-10 (Best), and a solid D with playmakers (Mike Mohamed and Syd'Quan Thompson).

The weekly top 25 polls will start September 6th, but as for pre-season polls, the 1st edition will be on here by August 15. As for now, an early look at who I like to win Conference Championships.

Big 12 - Texas
Big 10 - Penn St
Big East - USF
Pac-10 - Cal
WAC - Boise St
MAC - Akron
Sun Belt - Troy

British Open pick - Ian Poulter

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tuesday Observations...

Strange number to start you off with...How many pitchers that have started an All-Star Game have also pitched in a major league game this year (not including this year's starters)?


Doesn't that seem a little low? Injuries have gotten a few (Schmidt, Sheets, Mulder, Pedro), age a few more (Clemens, Glavine, Maddux, Schilling, Rodgers, Wells), and 1 is just so friggin random (Loaiza). Feel free to use this as a trivia question...The 9 are Lowe, Carpenter, Buehrle, Haren, Lee, Penny, Peavy, R. Johnson, Smoltz)

Speaking of Mulder, who could have seen his career go up in smoke the way it did? After being the #2 overall pick out of Michigan State, he soared up to the bigs and went 81-42 with Oakland in 5 years before being traded for Dan Haren. Then, a 16-8 season with St Louis showed he was in his prime. His numbers since that 16-8 season in 2005? 6-10, 106 IP, 150 Hits, 91 ER, 44 BB, 55 K - an ERA of 8.15...

More trivia for today...The 5 players who have won a Home Run Derby and an All-Star game MVP? Answer below...

Is the stolen base making a minor comeback? After hearing for years that stolen bases were declining due to the hundreds of home runs teams were hitting, there is a bit of running going on this year. In fact, Carl Crawford's 44 at the ASB is 3 more than Alfonso Soriano had in 2002 when he led the league for the entire year.

Crawford is on pace for 81, Ellsbury for 76, and Bourn/Upton for 60. In this decade, the only players to eclipse 65 in a season are Podsednik (70 in 2004), Reyes (78 in 2007), and Tavaras (68 in 2008). After 3 in 10 years, there could be 4 in 2009...

Where will Ichiro rank on the greatest hitters of all-time list? He should reach 2000 hits by September, which would also give him his 9th straight 200 hit season. His .332 career average is 30th all-time, but 3rd in the last 50 years (Gwynn .338 and Pujols .334). An all-star every year and an MVP as a rookie. My guess is he will be viewed as a better version of Wade Boggs with speed.

Hawks have had a decent off-season and Marvin Williams looks to be close to re-signing. J-Chillz is headed back to Greece, so nothing will be happening with him for at least another year. I think the Hawks are a solid big man away from being a 50 win team. I think McDyess would have been a good fit, but as a consolation prize I would take Joe Smith. A 6'10 34 year old veteran that can still score and rebound while blocking a shot or 2 would be a good fit.

Is this a 50 win team and can they get to the Eastern Conference Finals (franchise has never been to this point, not getting greedy yet)?

Josh Smith/Joe Smith

We should have a good idea of what the Braves are going to do in the next 10 days. Trim their defecit from 6 to 3, and look for them to acquire a reliever and/or hitter. Go from 6 to 9, say bye to Gonzo/Soriano/Vazquez...

HRD and ASG MVP's? Dave Parker, Garrett Anderson, Ken Griffey Jr, Cal Ripken Jr, and Miguel Tejada

Monday, July 6, 2009

Quick Braves Update...

Now, according to, Yunel Escobar is unlikely to be moved. I understand why, considering his talent and salary. I am sure Cox and company are frustrated like I am with Escobar's antics and egocentric attitudes. However, it will be hard to move him and get equal value in return when considering he makes under 500K per year and we are a bit cash strapped.

Now, the trade that seems most likely to move the Braves into the NL's elite would be Vazquez-for-Outfielder. So, who would fit the bill? A team with pitching needs and an outfielder (preferrably a right handed hitter) that they could do without. I keep going back to Matt Holliday as the guy, but I think Javy is worth more than him. Maybe Atlanta can get Holliday and Brad Ziegler for Vazquez? Ziegler is a right-handed reliever with a 3.22 ERA in 33 games so far this year and 6 saves. Wouldn't hurt to have another solid reliever in the bullpen.

Braves Rumors...

Buster Olney has a new blog up about the Braves and mentions some possible trading partners. The Red Sox really like Escobar, but would Jacoby Ellsbury and Julio Lugo be enough? I am not buying...The A's like Yunel too and could give Cabrera and Matt Holliday for just Escobar or maybe a prospect or 2...Intriguing. Another suitor for Escobar according to Olney and the AJC is the Royals. Mark Teahan would be interesting in return, but the Royals would have to give more and there is not a SS replacement that fits.

Dangling Vazquez is something I think the Braves will have to do if they are serious about making a run this year. The only assets that Atlanta has a surplus of is starting pitching, and Jurrjens and Hanson are untouchable. Kawakami and Lowe, in the 1st year of their contracts, are unlikely to move. Hudson is coming off Tommy John Surgery and would not command as much as Vazquez would. I am not interested in Corey Hart in Milwaukee. To move Javy, the Braves would have to get a big-time bat in return. I say trade Yunel for an outfielder, like Ellsbury. Then, trade Vazquez for a SS, like Miguel Tejada. Only if Hudson is ready to go, of course. How about this lineup?



Stay tuned...