Sunday, October 31, 2010

CFB picture a little more clear...

Well, it was fun for a week thinking that Michigan State or Missouri may make a run at the BCS title. However, after everything has cleared, there are not many more "what-ifs?"

Oregon looks so strong, but will be tested against Arizona and Oregon State. However, the Ducks offense is so stout, it will take quite a performance to knock them off.

The SEC 1-loss champ or unbeaten Auburn will most likely play Oregon in the title game. I don't see how Boise or the Utah/TCU winner jumps that team, especially if it's Alabama and they avenge their only loss in the SECCG.

But, lets say South Carolina wins the SECCG. They will head to the Sugar Bowl, but will Boise or Utah/TCU play Oregon? Not likely...I think in this scenario Wisconsin would get the nod to play the Ducks.

Finally, if South Carolina wins the SECCG and Oregon loses to Zona or OSU? It will likely be a 1-loss Big 12 champ against Wisconsin.

If Boise wants their shot, they need South Carolina to win the SEC, Oregon to lose, and a 2 loss Big 12 champ.

Good luck...

1. Oregon
2. Auburn
3. Boise State
4. TCU
5. Alabama
6. Wisconsin
7. Stanford
8. Utah
9. Ohio St
10. Arizona
11. Nebraska
12. Missouri
13. Oklahoma
14. LSU
15. Michigan State
16. South Carolina
17. Arkansas
18. Virginia Tech
19. Mississippi St
20. Iowa
21. Baylor
22. Oklahoma St
23. NC State
24. Florida State
25. Florida

Sunday, October 24, 2010

RSM Poll

Not much time to write much this morning, but it's amazing #1 went down again. Watch out Ducks next week at USC. Cam Newton is now the clear favorite for the Heisman after shattering record after record before it is even November. Even if they lose to Bama and don't play in the SECCG, it's his award to lose.

1. Oregon
2. Boise State
3. Auburn
4. TCU
5. Michigan St
6. Missouri
7. Alabama
8. Utah
9. Wisconsin
10. Stanford
11. Ohio State
12. Arizona
13. Oklahoma
14. Florida State
15. LSU
16. Nebraska
17. South Carolina
18. Arkansas
19. Virginia Tech
20. Mississippi St
21. Oklahoma St
22. Iowa
23. USC
24. Baylor
25. Miami

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Wild Saturday...

For the second week in a row, the #1 team goes down on the road against a good team fueled by an electric crowd. South Carolina did what they always do, and failed to follow up a big victory with another. The Florida-MSU game was interesting too, with MSU running 20-something straight running plays and escaping with a road win.

Next week could be the week that the Big 12 and SEC push a team to the forefront of the national title hunt. Oklahoma goes to Missouri and Auburn hosts LSU in the games of the week.

Rankings for 10/17

1. Oregon
2. Boise State
3. TCU
4. Oklahoma
5. Auburn
6. Michigan State
7. LSU
8. Alabama
9. Stanford
10. Utah
11. Wisconsin
12. Ohio State
13. Missouri
14. Oklahoma State
15. Arizona
16. Iowa
17. Florida State
18. Nebraska
19. West Virginia
20. South Carolina
21. Arkansas
22. Virginia Tech
23. Mississippi State
24. Texas
25. USC

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A little stat comparison...

How good was Jason Heyward in his rookie season?

How about this comparison:

Heyward - AB (520) R (83) H (144) 2b (29) HR (18) BB (91) K (128) OBP (.393) OPS (.849)

Player B - AB (522) R (74) H (141) 2b (29) HR (30) BB (59) K (98) OBP (.341) OPS (.847)

Pretty dang close, with player B showing more power and Heyward with more strikeouts.

How good was Heyward and why is his 2010 season something special that will only lead to bigger and better seasons? Player B happens to be the highest paid player in MLB and one of the best players on the best team in the league, Alex Rodriguez.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Football Picks

New blog segment here, as the weekly football picks are made. Time to go on record before Saturday and make some predictions.

Plays O the week

Minnesota 28 Purdue 24

Minnesota has the offense to score on Purdue, which upset Northwestern last week. They are ripe for a good game after playing pretty well the last few weeks.

Army 28 Rutgers 27

Another upset pick here as Army has played extremely well this season. This will be the year they break the streak against Navy, and they pick up another upset tomorrow at Rutgers.

Arkansas 31 Auburn 30

In somewhat of a shootout, Arkansas comes up with the road win. Auburn has been quite fortunate to be undefeated (dropped pass against MSU, missed short kicks vs Clemson, etc) and the poor Auburn secondary should be exposed.

SMU 33 Navy 28

June Jones has the Mustangs playing well and after escaping against Wake Forest last week, Navy falls to SMU

Louisiana Tech 31 Idaho 25

Louisiana Tech gets the home win after playing really well last week on defense against Diondre Borel and Utah State.

Hawaii 41 Nevada 38

Nevada has always struggled at Hawaii, and the Rainbows smoked Fresno State last week. The offense under Bryant Moniz is rolling right now and they outscore the duo of Colin Kaepernick and Vai Taua.

Florida 28 Mississippi State 17

Florida avoids their 1st 3 game losing streak in 22 years by beating down the Bulldogs. They simply have too much talent and "Time to Die" Rainey should produce some big plays.

North Carolina State 46 East Carolina 31

Russell Wilson has a field day against one of the leakiest defenses in the country. ECU can score, but can they stop anyone?

Michigan State 27 Illinois 17

The Spartans stay hot behind a rookie runner, crafty veteran passer, and stiff defense. Illinois is much improved, but are running into a really strong MSU team.

UTEP 31 UAB 28

Trevor Vittatoe has a big day and UAB loses another conference game. While both teams struggle on defense, UTEP simply has the better offense and quarterback.

Braves off-season

Well, it is unfortunate that the Braves season and Bobby Cox's career had to come to an end the way it did, but that's sports. As I was once told and often tell my players, you can never blame losses on officials or injuries, because everyone has injuries...and refs suck.

Now to the off-season. There is a solid core of players that are under contract or team control for 2011 that will fill up a good portion of the roster. They are as follows:

Gonzalez (widely assumed they pick up his 2.75 million option)

That is 23 guys, with the obvious needs being a right-handed power hitting outfielder and some experience in back of the bullpen. There should be some cash to spend with Wagner retiring and a few more salaries going off the books (Glaus, Cabrera, etc), but not enough to go after Werth or Crawford.

They could, however, use some of their pitching surplus to try and acquire an outfielder. The reliever that would command the most would be Venters, and the most likely starter to be moved would be Jurrjens.

I know they would likely command a major-league ready outfielder in return, but I am very intrigued by BJ Upton. He is about to be free agency eligible and is about to enter his prime. Maybe TB is ready for a complete over-haul knowing they are losing Crawford and will be interested in Jurrjens/Venters plus some of our prospects. Any chance they are interested in Jurrjens/Delgado/Salcedo package for Upton?

It is also interesting that Georgia native Colby Rasmus also may made available after some disagreements with the Cardinals. His main downside is that he is left handed, and the Braves already have McCann, Heyward, and Freeman penciled in the order.

Upton is 26 and just entering his prime. He is eligible for arbitration this year and then will likely command a 5+ year deal at around 8-11 million per year. If he could be acquired, the Braves could buy out the last arbitration year and sign him to an extension of something like 6 years, 60 million. He has a 162 game average of .260-16-68 with 40 steals and 35 doubles. He would bring defense, speed, and right handed power to the lineup. And the upside doesn't hurt either.

Rasmus is 24 and has 162 game averages of .263-22-74. He has tremendous power and is a terrific athlete. He is pretty much everything Rick Ankiel was supposed to be.

It's certainly something to consider as the team moves forward. Trade for an outfielder and maybe sign a veteran closer to help bridge the gap to the Venters or Kimbrel era. Brian Fuentes is available and may fit that role at a reasonable price.

The nucleus is there to make a run at a title in 2011. Lets start the Fredi Gonzalez era with a bang...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

College football shake-up...

Les Miles must have sold his soul. He runs the no-look fake field goal flip again and somehow gets it to work again. Most people in the stadium had to be thinking fake, and even with a bad throw, they still picked up the 1st down. Between the UNC last minute incomplete pass, the Tennessee 7-3-3 defensive mistake, and the play that wasn't executed at all but still worked, LSU has been hanging on for dear life. But, they are still unbeaten. For now. After McNeese State next week, they get the at Auburn/vs Bama combo that will be huge in determining the SEC West.

That was easily the game of the day. It was an electric environment and the last 15 minutes had a ton of drama. Michigan State was way too physical on both sides of the ball for Michigan and Florida State showed some life in Miami.

Too bad there isn't a Big 10 championship game this year. The last 2 un-beatens, MSU/OSU, do not play each other.

What a year it is for the dual-threat quarterback. Taylor Martinez put on a show Thursday, Cam Newton is still truckin, and Denard Robinson leads the nation in rushing. Colin Kaepernick is also in the top 15 in the nation in rushing, giving QB's 4 of the top 15.

Heisman Ballot for 10/10

1. LaMichael James - RB, Oregon
2. Denard Robinson - QB, Michigan
3. Andrew Luck - QB, Stanford
4. Taylor Martinez - QB, Nebraska
5. Cameron Newton - QB, Auburn

The Oregon State win over Arizona last night is good news for Boise State and TCU. The computers will like their wins over them much more if the Beavers continue to win. How interesting would it be if the Oregon-Oregon State game is a chance for Boise State to get in the big game?

Un-beaten top teams that could be in trouble next week? Ohio State heads to Madison, Wisconsin, Auburn hosts Arkansas, and Nebraska gets their biggest test with Texas.

Biggest jump this week is Oregon State. After winning at Arizona and going to 2-0 in the Pac-10, it is time to recognize losing at Boise State and at Cowboys Stadium vs TCU is nothing to be ashamed about.

Rankings for 10/10

1. Ohio State
2. Oregon
3. Boise State
4. TCU
5. Nebraska
6. Oklahoma
7. Auburn
8. Michigan State
9. LSU
10. South Carolina
11. Alabama
12. Stanford
13. Utah
14. Arkansas
15. Nevada
16. Oklahoma State
17. Florida
18. Florida State
19. Oregon State
20. Arizona
21. Iowa
22. Wisconsin
23. Missouri
24. Air Force
25. Michigan

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Braves did it....

Some Braves facts after clinching the franchises first wild card today...

1) The Braves are 0-4 in their last 4 playoff series, including a 2002 NLDS loss to the Giants.

2) The Braves are 7-15 in their last 22 postseason games

3) The last 2 Braves to pitch in a postseason game for the franchise are Joey Devine and Jim Brower. Most recall the Chris Burke walk-off in 2005 off Devine.

4) Braves from the 2005 team that lost to Houston that will be on the 2010 roster? Brian McCann, Tim Hudson, and Kyle Farnsworth

5) This years wild card team had one more regular season win (91) than the 2005 division champs.

6) The last time the Braves won a playoff series (2001), the clinching game 3 against Houston was won by John Burkett, who was given plenty of support from Julio Franco and Paul Bako home runs.

7) Tim Hudson has 1 career playoff win in the 9 career postseason games he has appeared in.

8) Derek Lowe has recorded the win in half of his 10 career postseason starts.

9) Billy Wagner's career postseason ERA? 10.32

10) The Giants have very little postseason experience on their roster. The only pitcher likely to make an impact in the series with any innings in the postseason is Zito, and he may not see much action after his poor September.

For the record, here is how I would set up the rotation:

Game 1 - Lowe
Game 2 - Hudson
Game 3 - Hanson
Game 4 - Lowe
Game 5 - Hudson

Lowe and Hudson have done fine on short rest their last couple of starts and Hanson has the stuff to shut down SF when we get back to Atlanta. Hopefully, the vets get us a split in SF and Hanson can give us a shot to win the series with a gem in Game 3.

Prediction...Giants in 4. I am scared to death of Andres Torres and the pitching SF has. Bumgarner, Cain, Lincecum, Sanchez, and Wilson are dominant and that should be enough in a short series. The Braves best hope is that Lowe stays hot and the 5-8 spots in the order provide some run production.

CFB Thoughts...

Thoughts from Saturday...

Both of the top 10 match-ups ended in blowouts and along with Ohio St being underwhelming against Illinois, will put Bama and Oregon as the top teams in this weeks poll.

Deja-vu anyone for the USC-Washington game. Gutty performance by Jake Locker, I don't know how the Huskies lost to BYU.

Virginia Tech and Miami will have a pretty good race in the ACC Coastal. Both teams are playing well right now and their November 20 game should be for the division.

UNC got a solid win over East Carolina after getting some players back. They have been so decimated by those suspensions it has been remarkable how well they have competed without so many future NFL players.

Oklahoma has beaten Utah St, Cincy, Texas, and Air Force by an average of 5 points. The rest of the schedule doesn't look to tough and could set up a huge Big 12 title game against Nebraska.

We will get a better reading on how good Denard Robinson is the next 2 weeks as they play MSU and Iowa, 2 of the best defenses in the Big 10.

Finally, a brutal loss for UT yesterday. That has to be one of the worst ways to lose a game. They do play hard for Dooley and won't be in the bottom half of the SEC for many more years.

RSM Poll for 10/3

1. Alabama
2. Oregon
3. Ohio St
4. Boise St
5. TCU
6. Nebraska
7. Oklahoma
8. Auburn
9. Michigan
10. Arkansas
11. Arizona
12. Stanford
13. Utah
14. Michigan St
15. Florida
16. LSU
17. Miami
18. South Carolina
19. Nevada
20. Iowa
21. Oklahoma St
22. Wisconsin
23. Air Force
24. Missouri
25. Northwestern

Matt Ryan...

So, the chic thing to discuss when the debate of how good the Falcons are this year is whether or not Matt Ryan is an elite quarterback. The defense is better, Roddy is a stud, the running game is solid, but can they get to a Super Bowl with Matt Ryan?

I think it is unfair to compare Matty with Brady/Peyton Manning/Brees and those guys. He does not have a really strong arm or have above average feet/pocket awareness. What he does have is toughness, the ability to lead, and confidence of the organization and his teammates.

While Matty may not be a Pro Bowler, he is certainly better than Rex Grossman, Jake Delhomme, Trent and Dilfer. Those guys all led teams to Super Bowls in the past 10 years.

Riding the momentum of the win at NO last week, things could get really interesting for the Birds if they win their next two games vs SF and at Cleveland. They will be favored in both by about a touchdown, and if they can hold serve and be 4-1, the outlook for the season looks pretty dang good.

Two games with the Panthers and Bucs look like wins and add to that the Rams and Seahawks, and this team could be in great shape in December.

Philly at Atlanta for the NFC anyone? Would there be hype for that game?