Archive for January, 2011

Top 50 MLB Prospects

ACCORDING TO MLB NETWORK

 1. Mike Trout, Angels |
  2. Jeremy Hellickson, Rays |
  3. Bryce Harper, Nationals |
  4. Domonic Brown, Phillies |
  5. Dustin Ackley, Mariners |
  6. Aroldis Chapman, Reds |
  7. Mike Moustakas, Royals |
  8. Eric Hosmer, Royals |
  9. Jesus Montero, Yankees |
10. Julio Teheran, Braves |
11. Desmond Jennings, Rays |
12. Kyle Drabek, Blue Jays |
13. Michael Pineda, Mariners |
14. Mike Montgomery, Royals |
15. Jacob Turner, Tigers |
16. Wil Myers, Royals |
17. Freddie Freeman, Braves |
18. Jameson Taillon, Pirates |
19. Zach Britton, Orioles |
20. Shelby Miller, Cardinals |
21. Mike Minor, Braves |
22. Casey Kelly, Padres |
23. Martin Perez, Rangers |
24. Manny Machado, Orioles |
25. Chris Sale, White Sox |
26. Brandon Belt, Giants |
27. Matt Moore, Rays |
28. Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays |
29. Jarrod Parker, D-backs |
30. Jonathan Singleton, Phillies |
31. Jordan Lyles, Astros |
32. Gary Sanchez, Yankees |
33. Tyler Matzek, Rockies |
34. John Lamb, Royals |
35. Manny Banuelos, Yankees |
36. Lonnie Chisenhall, Indians |
37. Jake Odorizzi, Royals |
38. Nick Franklin, Mariners |
39. Aaron Hicks, Twins |
40. Kyle Gibson, Twins |
41. Wilin Rosario, Rockies |
42. Jose Iglesias, Red Sox |
43. Tanner Scheppers, Rangers |
44. Dee Gordon, Dodgers |
45. Devin Mesoraco, Reds |
46. Brett Jackson, Cubs |
47. Chris Archer, Rays |
48. J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays |
49. Yonder Alonso, Reds |
50. Christian Friedrich, Rockies |

“PHOUR LOCO” : Power Ranking the Philadelphia Phillies Starting Rotation

The Phillies free-agent signing of starting pitcher Cliff Lee sent shockwaves throughout the country.  Lee was supposed to bolt to the Yankees or stay with the Rangers.  In the biggest swerve of the offseason, Lee decided to return to the City of Brotherly Love.

Philadelphia already had the Big Three of Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt.  Now it’s the Big Four, or whatever moniker you desire, with the addition of Lee. 

So now, the expectations are through the roof.  Many questions have been proposed.  Can each individual pitcher win 20-plus games?  Who’s better, Lee or Halladay?   

Only three pitchers in baseball had over 20 wins last year: Roy Halladay (21-10), CC Sabathia (21-7) and Adam Wainright (20-11).  In 1969, the “Year of the Pitcher,” 15 pitchers had 20-plus wins. 

It’s a different era now.  Roy Halladay led baseball with 250.2 innings pitched in the regular season.  In 1969, Gaylord Perry led baseball with 325.1 innings pitched.

Can they be one the greatest staffs of all time? Up there with the Braves trio of Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz of the 90s.  The Jim Palmer lead Orioles of the late 60’s and into the 70s. Sandy Koufax and
Don Drysdale on the Dodger staffs of the 1960s. The Mets duo of Dwight Gooden and Ron Darling led the way for the Mets in the 1980s.

Another tidbit to put out there.  The top three WHIP leaders from last season are in the “Big Four”: Cliff Lee (1.00), Roy Oswalt (1.03) and Roy Halladay (1.04).  Cole Hamels, the other entity of the “Big Four,” had a 1.18 WHIP. 

It’ll be interesting to see how this staff gets recognized from a statistical standpoint in the all-time ranks as the season progresses.

Now it’s time to see what this potentially, all-time, dominant staff can do out on the field.  That’s the biggest question of them all.  Can they bring home another World Series crown?

5. Vance Worley

2011 Projection—9-8  4.53 ERA  1.39 WHIP

Last Year—1-1 1.38 ERA .92 WHIP

This has been the most interesting Phillies question during the offseason: Who’s going to be the fifth starter?

As of Jan. 24, Joe Blanton is still a Phillie.  He’s the x-factor to the answer of this question.  After the enormous financial signing of Lee, the Phightins are looking for some salary relief.  Blanton is owed $8.5 million dollars in each of his next two years.

Amaro is looking for a trading suitor that would be willing to take on a substantial amount of what’s left of Blanton’s contract.  There are plenty of teams interested in Blanton.

So, now we turn to Kyle Kendrick and Vance Worley.

4. Roy Oswalt 

2011 Projection—15-9 3.33 ERA 1.19 WHIP

Last Year—13-13 2.76 ERA 1.03 WHIP

When you think of the 15-win plateau, the name that immediately comes to mind is Greg Maddux.  He had 17 consecutive seasons of 15-plus wins.

I think of Roy Oswalt as a “poor man’s” Greg Maddux.  You know what you’re going to get from Oswalt year in and year out; he’s just a fiery competitor.

Oswalt simply wanted out of Houston last year as the team was clearly in rebuilding mode.  He was a measly 14-18 in his final 50 starts as an Astro.

After coming over from the trade from Houston Oswalt dominated, finishing 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA and .89 WHIP. 

The competitive fire of Oswalt came out during the Phillies playoff run.

The former 2005 NLCS MVP added a nice changeup to his bevy of pitches.  He throws it with a claw grip.

He’ll bend your knees back with a slow, 12-to-6, 69-70 mile-per-hour curveball.

He locates his fastball well and keeps the ball down.

3. Cole Hamels

2011 Projection— 18-9 2.97 ERA 1.14 WHIP

Last Year—12-11 3.06 ERA 1.18 WHIP

At 27 years old, Hamels is the only one under the age of 30 out of the big four.

I look for him to emerge this season.  He’s hitting the prime of his career and should have the best year of his career.

This is an article I wrote back on Sep. 15

Cole Hamels is no longer a two-pitch pitcher.  Cole has one of the most devestating changeups in the game.  He’s added a cut fastball and curveball to his repertoire.

The 2008 World Series MVP has gotten stronger.  He’s added velocity to his fastball, now approximately 92-96 MPH.  Before it was about 90-92.

The most underrated aspect in Hamels’ rise has been his maturity.  Before, he used to have those “blowup” innings.  His emotions used to get the best of him.

We’ll see if he can keep those emotions in tact throughout the season.

2. Cliff Lee 

2011 Projections— 20-10 3.06 ERA 1.12 WHIP

 Last year— 12-9 3.18 ERA 1.00 WHIP

It took a five-year, $120 million dollar contract to get him. 

Cliff Lee’s sole purpose is to help the Phillies win another ring.

And he’s been the hottest postseason pitcher for two consecutive seasons.

In 2009, Lee is predominantly recognized by Phillies fans for his amazing Game 1 World Series performance against the New York Yankees. He threw a complete game, allowing six hits and throwing 10 strikeouts in a 6-1 Phillies win. 

Last year, Lee guided the Rangers all the way to the World Series before falling to San Francisco in the World Series. 

So, in two years of postseason play, Lee is 7-2 with a 2.13 ERA, a .82 WHIP and three complete games.  He’s racked up 80 strikeouts as opposed to only eight walks. 

1. Roy Halladay

2011 Projections— 22-9 2.61 ERA 1.06 WHIP

Last Year— 21-10 2.44 ERA 1.04 WHIP

The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner terrorized the National League last season.  

Not only did the man throw two no-hitters, Halladay’s name stood atop many of the pitching categories in the National League.  

He led the senior circuit in wins (21-10), complete games (nine), shutouts (four) and innings pitched (250.2).  He finished second in strikeouts (219) and WHIP (1.04) and third in ERA (2.44).

The guy throws everything at you. 

The accuracy and late movement on his sinker and cutter on both sides of the plate is extraordinary.  He doesn’t walk anybody.  Halladay can also throw a tight curveball with plenty of tilt at any point in the count. 

He is simply a workhorse.

Talking Jets Football

Test run of a radio show I did with my longtime buddy Charlie Nobile.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/psb-baseball/2011/01/18/pilot-test-run-jets-football

NCAA Basketball Preview for 1/17/11- MLK Day

Game of the Night

(3) Syracuse 18-0 (5-0) at (4) Pittsburgh 17-1 (5-0)

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12:  Head coach Jamie Dixon of the Pittsburgh Panthers looks on during a college basketball game against the Georgetown Hoyas on January 12, 2011 at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC.  The Panthers won 72-57.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

(Jamie Dixon)

This will be a brawl.

Syracuse is looking to get off to their best start since the 1999-2000 season where they sizzled to a 19-0 start before losing to Seton Hall.  That squad finished 26-6, and lost to Michigan State in the Sweet Sixteen.

Pittsburgh comes off a win over Seton Hall.

SYRACUSE

The Orange overhauled their frontcourt, but like last year, they’re tough and physical inside.  Arinze Onuaku and Wes Johnson have been replaced by Fab Melo and Kris Joseph.  They will be Kris Joseph tonight due to a head injury.  He’s Cuse’ leading scorer.  He’s Jim Boeheim’s typical starting small forward; long and athletic. 

James Southerland will start for Joseph tonight.

Freshman center Fab Melo has a tough task on his hands trying to keep Pittsburgh off the glass.  It’s his first true test against a big, physical player in the paint so far this season.

Rick Jackson is a pounder inside.  He has 11 double-doubles so far this season.

I’m curious to see which of these two goes up against Pitt’s Gary McGhee.

Scoope Jardine and Brandon Triche make up the backcourt. 

Jardine has solid vision, but is susceptible to ball pressure.  He’s recorded 16 turnovers in his last three games.  The Panthers put defensive pressure on the opposing guards and force giveaways. 

Triche has improved his jumpshot.

PITTSBURGH

It’s going to come down to the offensive glass in my opinion.  Gary McGhee is such an underrated asset for Pittsburgh.  He’s like an NFL nose-tackle who occupies a lot of space using his large frame.

Nasir Robinson is a small four who’s scrappy and hits the boards.

Pittsburgh is second in the country in rebounding.

Brad Wannamaker, Ashton Gibbs and Gilbert Brown provide the scoring, and guys like McGhee give these three great offensive threats second possessions by getting the offensive rebound.

All three shoot the three ball over 40-percent.

Wannamaker protects the ball, Gibbs has a nice mid-range game and Brown is a superb athlete.

PREDICTION- Pitt- 66-56

Pitt’s at home and the Orange don’t have Kris Joseph.

The Panthers backcourt is better, and without Joseph, their frontcourt is better.

THE BEST OF THE REST

(Andrew Goudelock)

So some games have already been played, and St. John’s won again.  This time upsetting a suddenly struggling Notre Dame team at home.

  • B12- (2) Kansas 17-0 (2-0) at Baylor 12-4 (2-1)

Baylor’s at home, and they need this win.  After starting the season in the top ten, the Bears have dropped out of the polls.  I think Baylor’s LaceDarius Dunn has a ball game.

Bay- 81-79

  • B12- (24) Kansas State 13-6 (1-2) at (14) Missouri 15-3 (1-2)

We’re really starting to see what Denis Clemente meant to the Wildcats last season.

Mizz- 78-66

  • MAAC- Fairfield 12-4 (5-1) at Rider 12-6 (4-2)

Huge game in terms of the pecking order of the conference.

Rid- 69-67

  • South- Charleston 12-5 (5-0) at Chattanooga 10-8 (6-0)

Watch this game just to see Charleston’s Andrew Goudelock play, he’s special.

Charl- 71-67

YOOOAdrian’s AFC Divisional Preview- NY Jets at New England

It’s Round Three of this tussle between these two bitter rivals.

The Jets handed the Patriots their first loss of the season in week two 28-14.

In a much anticipated week 13 Monday Night confrontation, the Patriots embarrassed the Jets 45-3 in Foxborough.

The Jets continue to squawk, and the Patriots continue to keep to themselves as we are now just hours away from kickoff.

Jets Pass Offense vs. Patriots Pass Defense

NYJ 202.6 (22) vs. NE 258.5 (30)

(Mark Sanchez)

Bill Belichick keeps finding talent in the draft.  27th overall pick Devin McCourty is a Pro-Bowler as a rookie.  He possesses very good ball skills and finished the NFL with seven interceptions.

Like McCourty, the rest of the secondary is rather young and feisty, especially safeties Brandon Meriweather and Patrick Chung.

The Patriots are 30th in pass defense, but that statistic doesn’t tell the whole story.  Their opponents have to throw the ball because they’re always behind.

Against a young secondary, let’s see if veteran Jet wide receivers Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards can expose their youth.

Also, will Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez be able to lead New York back in the game if they fall down early.

Jets Rush Offense vs. Patriots Rush Defense

NYJ 148.4 (4) vs. NE 108.0 (11)

LaDainian Tomlinson LaDainian Tomlinson #21 of the New York Jets looks on before the game against the Washington Redskins on August 27, 2010 at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

The Jets are a power, smash mouth running team with two solid running backs in Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson.  Greene has gotten the bulk of the carries down the stretch, but this is postseason play.

The Jets have to do what they did last week against Indianapolis, limit the possessions and keep Patriots quarterback Tom Brady off the field.

The Jets had 169 yards on the ground last week on 38 carries.

The inside linebacker tandem of Brandon Spikes and Jerod Mayo are great downhill players.  Vince Wilfork continues to play at an All-Pro level at nose tackle.

Patriots Pass Offense vs. Jets Pass Defense

NYJ 200.6 (6) vs. NE 240.4 (11)

(Tom Brady)

Tom Brady is so good at slowly matriculating the football down the field.  He finds the one on one matchups and gets the open receiver the football.

Each of New England’s receivers bring something different to the table.  Wide receivers Wes Welker and Julian Edelman are great in the screen game.  They make people miss in space.  Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski are a fine pair of rookie tight ends.  Gronkowski is great in the red-zone, while Hernandez is a guy who moves the sticks on third downs.  Deion Branch does a little bit of everything and Brandon Tate is strictly a vertical threat.

The depth of the Jets secondary will be tested.  Darrelle Revis is the best secondary in the league, and Antonio Cromartie is a decent starter, but the Patriots have so many weapons.

Kyle Wilson, Dwight Coleman, Brodney Pool and Eric Smith must be excellent.

Yes, the Jets have to blitz Brady relentlessly, but he gets rid of the ball so quickly that it can be tough to get to him.

Patriots Rush Offense vs. Jets Rush Defense

NYJ- 90.9 (3) vs. NE 123.3 (9)

(Danny Woodhead, the former Jet)

New England runs the ball strictly to keep the defenses honest.  The Patriots can be tricky.  They’ll line running back Danny Woodhead as a receiver and then bring him into the backfield and run the ball.  He was cut by the Jets on September 14th.

The Patriots offensive line gets good push up front.

Their screen game is a de facto running game.

We know how good the Jets are against the run.

Jets Three X-Factors

1. LaDainian Tomlinson
2. Mark Sanchez
3. Santonio Holmes

Patriots Three X-Factors

1. Tom Brady

2. Jerod Mayo

3. Devin McCourty

Prediction: New England 31 New York 20

It’ll be closer than the week 13 game in Foxborough, but I just don’t see Mark Sanchez being able to get the job done in the fourth quarter when he’ll be needed most.

NFC Divisional Preview- Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears

 

The Seahawks picked up one of the biggest upset wins in playoff history last week against Seattle.  But, they don’t get the benefit of playing at home this week.

Seahawks Rush Offense vs. Bears Rush Defense

Sea— 89.0 (31) vs. Chi— 90.1 (2)

For the first time all season a Seattle Seahawk rusher went over 100 yards.  Marshawn Lynch had 131 yards on 19 carries.

Here’s the thing.

Chicago can tackle. People are categorizing Lynch’s 67-yard touchdown run last week against theSaints as one of the best in NFL history.  New Orleans missed eight-to-nine tackles on the play.

I’ll be shocked if the Seahawks can get a running game going against the Bears.

Seahawks Pass Offense vs. Bears Pass Defense

Sea—208.8 (19) vs. Chi—224.2 (20)

In my preview for last week’s Seahawks/Saints game I stated that Hasselbeck’s playoff experience was the ex-factor.

He’s very smart at the line of scrimmage and gets rid of the ball quickly.

Seattle left tackle Russell Okung must play respectable against Bear defensive end Julius Peppers.

Bears Rush Offense vs. Seahawks Rush Defense

Chi—101.0 (22) vs. Sea—118.9 (21)

Bears running back Matt Forte doesn’t have a great yards per carry average, but his effectiveness as a receiver in Mike Martz’s offense.

The Seahawks have a great trio of linebackers in Aaron Curry, Lofa Tatupu and David Hawthorne.  The key for Seattle will be the play of the defensive tackles on the defensive line.  The defensive tackle tandem of Colin Cole and Brandon MeBane are just average.

Bears Pass Offense vs. Seahawks Pass Defense

Chi—188.4 (28) vs. Sea— 249.6 (21)

Since the week six game, the Bears have tightened their formations, different than the offense that Mike Martz is used to running.

The Bears still run a lot of quick routes, which forces Bears quarterback Jay Cutler to get rid of the ball quickly.

The Bears don’t have many outside threats at the wide receiver position, but the Seahawk cornerbacks aren’t exactly great either.

 

Seahawks Three X-Factors

  1. Matt Hasselbeck
  2. Lofa Tatupu
  3. Chris Clemons

 

Bears Three X-Factors

  1. Julius Peppers
  2. Devin Hester
  3. Jay Cutler

 

PREDICTION: Bears 27 Seahawks 17

Matt Hasselbeck needs to be magical once again if Seattle wants to pull off another miracle.

I just don’t see it.

YOOOAdrian’s NFC Divsional Playoff Preview- Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons

Green Bay and Atlanta met at the Georgia Dome in week 12 with the Falcons narrowly prevailing 20-17 on a game-winning 47-yard field goal by Matt Bryant with nine seconds left.

Atlanta has the Georgia Dome factor, they were 7-1 there this year.

The Packers beat the Eagles 21-16 last week in the Wildcard Playoff.

Packers Rush Offense vs. Falcons Rush Defense

GB— 100.4 (24th) vs. Atl— 105.9 (10th)

(Curtis Lofton)

I think the Packers finally found a running back in James Starks.  He carried the ball 23 times for 123 yards.

Mike McCarthy likes to keep a balanced offensive attack 50/50.  With balance in the running game, this allows Rodgers to convert on managable third down situations.

Starks, the rookie from Buffalo, just follows his blocks and runs hard; nothing fancy in Green Bay’s full-house backfield.  John Kuhn is a huge asset because of his blocking, running and pass catching skills.

The Packers always seem to find a back, average, but productive by the end of the season.  Here’s a couple names over the last couple of years; Samkon Gado (06), Ryan Grant (07), and now James Starks.

The Falcons have an underrated rushing defense.

Curtis Lofton is one of the most underrated middle linebackers in football.  He plays with great insticts, and possesses great tackling ability. 

Packers Pass Offense vs. Falcons Pass Defense

GB—257.8 (5) vs. Atl—226.6 (22)

(Aaron Rodgers)

Let’s face it, the Green Bay running backs aren’t pro-bowlers, but with a guy like Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, you’re using the running game to set up those managable third down situations that Rodgers is so good at.  He has a quick release, throws a tight spiral, and is extremely accurate on those hitch routes the Packers like to run.

Atlanta though, is third best in the NFL in third-down conversion percentage.

Atlanta’s depth in the secondary is a problem.  The Packers have four talented receivers in Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson and James Jones. 

Falcons Rush Offense vs. Packers Rush Defense

Atl—118.2 (12) vs. GB—114.9 (18)

(B.J. Raji)

Atlanta uses a lot of 22 personel (two backs, two tight ends) with Michael Turner, one of the most powerful runners in the game.  He has such great leg strength with his mammoth, tree trunk sized thighs.

Green Bay nose tackle B.J. Raji is huge in this game.  He needs to occupy two to three blockers to free up space for the linebackers to make tackles.

Charles Woodson plays the run well when he lines up as a slot corner.

Falcons Pass Offense vs. Packers Pass Defense

Atl—222.9 (15) vs. GB— 194.2 (21)

(Matt Ryan)

Atlanta though, is third best in the NFL in third-down conversion percentage.

Green Bay and Atlanta both have the same philosophies, run the ball and move the chains with third down conversions.

They both run the ball in different ways, but the game-plan is the same.

Matt Ryan is an Aaron Rodgers clone.  That’s all that needs to be said.

The Green Bay secondary is better than Atlanta’s.  Cornerback Charles Woodson and free safety Nick Collins are in the Pro-Bowl every year.  Tramon Williams is an underrated corner.

The Packers generate tons of pressure led by 3-4 outside linebacker Clay Matthews.  He’s my Defensive Player of the Year.

Packers’ Three X-Factors

  1. Aaron Rodgers   
  2. B.J. Raji 
  3. Clay Matthews

 

Falcons Three X-Factors

  1. Matt Ryan
  2. Curtis Lofton
  3. Michael Turner

 

PREDICTION: Packers 24 Falcons 19

To me it comes down to who converts more third downs.  Atlanta is third in the NFL on third down, while Green Bay is eighth.  Aaron Rodgers vs Matt Ryan, who’s going to make more conversions?

Roddy White vs Greg Jennings; who picks up more third down receptions?

The Falcons must run the ball extremely well, because I like the Packers chances in pass rush situations against Atlanta.