Looks like all of our Cinderella's are gone in the tournament, as the heavyweights took care of business on Thursday and Friday. Take a look at the teams and coaches that survived to Elite 8 weekend...
1) Florida vs Louisville - Both coaches with National championships in the last 15 years
2) Ohio State vs Syracuse - National champion coach against one with 3 Elite 8 appearances and a national runner-up
3) Baylor vs Kentucky - Coach with 3 Final Fours and numerous Elite 8's against an an upstart coach making his 2nd elite 8 appearance in 3 years
4) Kansas vs UNC - 2 more coaches with titles battling it out on Sunday in a super-heavyweight match-up of programs and coaches
Prediction: Same one I had at the start of the tourney, Kentucky over Ohio State
I know folks have read tons of Chipper stuff the past few days, but I came across a few numbers that were rather significant. Needless to say, I think he should go in the HOF in 2017...
Chip's OPS (on base + slugging), which is considered the best stat for overall offensive production, puts him #31 all-time. Guys who he is just ahead of on the all-time list?
In 11 of his 17 seasons, he walked more than he struck out and never had a 100+ K season. It's a shame he missed that 1994 season with a torn ACL, he would have probably hit 20+ home runs and had an outside shot at 500 this year...
Speaking of baseball, I don't know what Fredi G (who the more I read is absolutely on the hot seat in April/May) wants to do with the lineup. If it were up to me, Chip would have to slide down this year to break up all the lefty sticks that need to be in the top of the order.
Bourn - CF
Prado - LF
Prado - LF
McCann - C
Uggla - 2B
Freeman - 1B
Freeman - 1B
Jones - 3B
Heyward - RF
Pastornicky - SS
As for the pitching staff, I think they have the right idea with Medlen as he can go 2-4 innings a couple times a week to help preserve O'Ventral. I think the team is hoping Medlen's 2012 numbers are something like - 7-3, 8 saves, 3.00 ERA, 110 IP
The rotation is the key as Fredi has to figure out how to keep all his strong arms happy and healthy. To start the season, it should look something like:
When Hudson returns, I am not sure what will happen. I think Frank Wren hopes Jurrjens starts strong and he can move him for some offensive help. If not, he will likely be on the DL and Hudson will slide into his spot.
As for predictions, here is what I see...
NL East - Atlanta (Philly is getting old and banged up, not buying Miami/Wash yet)
NL Central - Cincy (Milwaukee lost a bit too much but has best pitching, Latos helps rotation)
NL West - Arizona (Solid lineup and starting pitching wins weak division)
WC - Philly/Miami battle out to the last week
AL East - Yankees (Sox continue to struggle with injuries)
AL Central - Tigers (Easiest pick on the board)
AL West - Rangers (Darvish is legit and Hamilton playing for contract)
WC - Angels
Fantasy stuff - If you pick in the top 4 in the 1st round you have to go Cabrera, Kemp, Braun, or Pujols...after that, there is some risk. I'm not comfortable taking Cano, Verlander, Upton, Bautista, or Ellsbury in the 1st, but as long as he doesn't get his urine checked, Mike Stanton looks the part of a 1st rounder.
I've got some NFL draft thoughts that should be up here in the next few days so keep checking in here for some draft nuggets...