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Posted on: April 3, 2012 10:53 am
 

MLB Predictions 2012

For what it's worth...here is how I see it playing out.

American League

AL-East
Yankees
Red Sox
Blue Jays
Rays
Orioles

AL-Central
Tigers
Royals
Twins
Indians
White Sox

AL-West
Rangers
Angels
Mariners
Athletics

Wild-cards: Angels and Royals (yes, I am predicting the Royals claim the first expanded wild-card in the AL)

National League

NL-East
Phillies
Braves
Marlins
Nationals
Mets

NL-Central
Reds
Brewers
Cardinals
Pirates
Cubs
Astros

NL-West 
Dodgers
Diamondbacks
Rockies
Giants
Padres

Wild-cards: Diamondbacks and Braves

ALDS
Yankees over the Angels
Rangers over the Tigers

ALCS
Rangers over the Yankees

NLDS
Phillies over the Diamondbacks
Dodgers over the Reds

NLCS
Phillies over the Dodgers

World Series
Rangers over the Phillies. 

AL MVP- Eric Hosmer
NL MVP- Justin Upton

AL Cy Young- Justin Verlander
NL Cy Young- Cliff Lee

AL Rookie of the Year- Lorenzo Cain
NL Rookie of the Year- Zack Cozart 
Category: MLB
Posted on: February 22, 2012 3:54 pm
 

Fixing the BCS...

Why do we make this harder then it really is?  This is and always will be about money.  Money is provided by sponsors and fans.  The current BCS system isn't at all fair and awards/punishes teams that win or lose late in the season respectively.  In order to get it right, everyone is going to have to make concessions.  There are too many complaints from either side to list them out but a few of note is southern teams playing in colder climates, excessive travel and loss of big teams in big name bowl games.  

This is my proposal on fixing the BCS and there are some things that need to happen for my proposal to work out.  

1. Notre Dame and the rest of the independents need to pony up and pick a conference.  Conferences will take them even with their TV deal with NBC because they are Notre Dame and carry with them a fan base.

2. Consolodation/Formation of super conferences.  Every conference needs to have a championship game to name one true champion from their respective leagues.  I have a plan for the current landscape but the elimination of a couple of conferences only enhances this proposal.

3. Conference Championship games need to happen the first week of December at the latest.

I am going to use this past year's dates and championship teams to illustrate my point.

Dec 3rd- Conference Championship Games 

Dec 4th- Seeding

1. LSU (SEC)
2. Oklahoma State (B12)
3. Oregon (P12)
4. Wisconsin (B10)
5. Virginia Tech (ACC)
6. TCU (MWC)
7. Houston (CUSA)
8. WVU (BE)

The Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, ACC, Big East, PAC-12 would always have a team in the playoffs.  The final two spots would be the two highest ranked champions from the WAC, MAC, CUSA and MWC.  It is unfortunate but true that these are notoriously weaker conferences and they will not always be represented in the playoffs.  

Dec 24th- Round 1 BCS Playoffs:

1.LSU vs. 8.WVU 
2.OSU vs. 7. Houston 
3. Oregon vs. 6. TCU
4. WIS vs. 5. VT
(games would be assigned regional neutral fields ex- New Orleans, Atlanta, Indianapolis, St. Louis, San Diego, Phoenix etc.)

Dec 31st- Round 2 BCS Playoffs: (assuming highest seed wins)

LSU vs. WIS
OR vs. OSU 
(these two games would be rotated between two of the current BCS games ex- Fiesta, Rose, Sugar, Cotton and Orange)

Jan 6th- BCS Championship Game

LSU vs OR 
(just as it is now rotated between the BCS city stadiums)

So there you have it.  A playoff system.  All of the match-ups would feature teams that won their respective conference which puts the pressure on teams to win and doesn't diminish the in-season football on the way to a champion.  Is it possible that the number two ranked BCS team isn't in the playoffs?  Yes, it is incredibly possible.  Just like this past year Alabama would be missing.  They would be missing because not only didn't they win their division but they didn't win their conference.  The Super Bowl isn't always the best two teams in the league and it seems to work out just fine for them.  There would still be the big BCS games where teams like Alabama could be featured versus similar teams and the games would still do really well.  The BCS needs to change and this is my take on it.  It would make more money and finally name a true champion in college football.  Just think about some of the great match-ups that this layout could produce.  Make it happen. 
Category: NCAAF
Tags: BCS, Bowl Games
 
Posted on: November 1, 2011 11:08 am
 

Armchair GM

I do this every year.  I look through the Free Agents for baseball and come up with my dream scenario of where I think my team should go.  I understand there is a lot more that goes into building these teams then the drag and drop method I am going to lay out here but I am a fan and I am going to think like a fan.  With that being said, I will not be ridiculous and have Pujols manning the hot corner and Prince chasing balls down in CF.  I do realize there is a slotting in baseball and that money does end up making a lot of decisions.  

My team is the Phillies.  I was heart broken as Howard collapsed to the ground and the entire Cardinals team was dancing around the infield at the bank a few weeks back.  Although I still believe the best team was the Phillies I have to hand it to the hot team in the Cardinals for beating a daunting team like the Phillies.  I do believe that the Phillies beat themselves though.  They beat themselves because they had a few major flaws.  Flaws I am going to attempt to sew up in my post here...

Free agency is not light on star power at the top but seriously lacks depth at the bottom.  Fortunately the major defeciency this year's class of free agents has is a major strength already for the Phillies...Pitching.  There are some potential game changers out there though and that is what I am going to attempt to find...so here...we...go...

CATCHER- Carlos Ruiz is a lock as a starter.  He is one of the best at calling a game and even his offensive numbers are respectable.  With Sebastian Valle still a season or two away from making an impact at the MLB level the Phillies need to find a reliable back up to Ruiz.  With the exception of a few they all look the same...mid 30's, not offensively impressive in any way.  

FIRST BASE- Ryan Howard-The 25 million dollar man!  Actually he doesn't reach that peak until next season but at a cool 20 million he is due to miss significant time this season barring a miracle like rehab of his achillies.  Think what you want about him...there are about two million arguements out there as to why he is not elite but he continues to rack up 100+ RBI and 35+ HR seasons despite his anemic batting average and left handed pitching prowess.  Simply put...you win ball games by driving in runs and Howard is one of the best in the league at doing it.  He is servicable defensively and for the way this team is built is worth the money.  The big question is going to be how to replace him...

SECOND BASE- Chase Utley- If he isn't the best second baseman in baseball anymore he is still top 3.  Chase will be back and healthy for the first time in a few seasons.  Look for a BIG year.

SHORTSTOP- Jimmy Rollins?  I don't know.  By far one of the best defensive SS's in the league.  Offensively offensive the past couple of years.  He did have a decent season but not the kind of season that gets you 5 years at the age of 33 at the rate of money he is expecting.  He is the heart and soul of this team but hasn't been the vocal leader that we are used to seeing the past 2 years.  I would inquire on the price of Reyes if I were the Phillies...if you are going to spend money on the SS position then I would spend it on him.  I know the contract will need to be huge and he was a Met...and he has injury history...but he would be a real lead-off hitter.  If the price is too high then I would go back to Rollins...offer a 3 year contract worth 36 million dollars with a player option for the 4th and a mutual option for a 5th.  That is the closest he is going to get to a five year deal.  The last option?  Sign a stop gap SS for a year and hope that Freddy Galvis is everything we think he might be.

Third Base- Placido Polanco.  I feel like there has been a severe drop off in support of Polanco for no reason really.  He has been playing hurt all year.  If you have never had a sports hernia then you won't understand how hard it is to do anything let alone play 3B for a full season.  I expect a healthy Placido back.  

Right Field- Hunter Pence.  Need I say more?

Center Field- Shane Victorino.  Had his best season of his career in 2011...look for him to take on the leadership role for this team.

Left Field- John Mayberry.  He is a potential .280 hitter with 30+ HR power in an everyday role.  He is Jayson Werth of 2008 and 2009.  I have been on this guys side since they acquired him and I think he deserves a chance to be the guy in LF for the Phillies.  Dominic Brown needs a full year in AAA in LF before he can even be considered for the Phillies.  

BENCH-  Two guys enter this conversation and only one should make the roster out of spring training.  The Phillies need to decide whether the infield utility role goes to Martinez or Valdez.  I give Valdez the edge here since he can also pitch in the late innings (joking).  The truth is the Phillies wasted a bench spot carrying both.  I know for most of the year they needed both but there are guys available as free agents that could fill the defensive role and even offer a little offense off the bench.  Wilson Betemit would be a great fit here.  He would be a decent stop gap starter should any of the infielders get hurt and would offer a switch hitter bat off the bench for the Phillies.  I believe the smartest thing the Phillies could do is grap Ryan Doumit.  He would be able to spell Ruiz at catcher as needed and would offer yet another switch bat off the bench with a little pop.  Not to mention he can also play 1B and the OF...something that may come in handy with Howard on the DL.  Other guys I would like to see added in a bench role would be Conor Jackson, Juan Rivera and or Grady Sizemore.  Conor Jackson plays 1B and OF and had the ability to offer power off of the bench.  He once was a great prospect and I think he could regain form in Philadelphia.  I really don't see Rivera spending too much time in the OF but could serve as a decent bench bat and a solution at 1B until Howard returns.  Lastly, Sizemore could be had and may be a potential steal.  This guy was an absolute beast and at one point was a top 10 guy in all of baseball.  He is just hurt.  He would take an incentive laden contract with a team that has legit chances at the post-season.  How do you get him over the other teams?  A multi-year deal.  This is just a chance you take with a guy like this and hope he can make it pay off for you.  Sizemore would allow Mayberry to man 1B until Howard returns.

There is a lot of contingencies here...but in the end a bench of Valdez, Betemit, Doumit, Jackson and Sizemore seems decent right?  Sizemore is a nice insurance policy for the OF and potential trade chip should he return to form.  Sound better than Valdez, Martinez, Francisco, Gload and Bowker?  I think so.

PITCHING- Halladay-Lee-Hamels-Worley-Blanton-
Blanton's health is the concern here...if he is not healthy do they turn to Kendrick?  I think bringing in another SP would be smart but they can't spend too much on it.  

RELIEF- Stutes-Contreras-Kendrick-DeFratus-
Savery
There is a lot of young talent available for relief in Philadelphia.  If a FA is added it should be of the lefty variety.  Kendrick is a long guy and has the potential to move into the rotation...Contreras's health is a concern...Stutes ran out of gas toward the end the year.  All big questions...I do think DeFratus and Savery are ready to play a role in 2012.  Other guys in house are Mathieson and Schwimmer.

SET UP- Antonio Bastardo- He will be elite.  I can just feel it.

CLOSER- In a perfect world this remains Mad Dog Madson but insert any closer available and the back end should still be pretty formidable.  Papelbon would look nice in red pinstripes too. 
Category: MLB
Tags: Phillies
 
Posted on: August 16, 2011 5:25 pm
 

Life after Joe...

As a Penn State fan, I may burst into flames if I ever muttered the words "Joe must go."  This is not a Joe Paterno needs to retire post, and in no way am I saying Joe must retire.  However, no one lives forever.  Something we all have to come to terms with is that Joe will not be the head coach of Penn State for much longer and preparation must be made.  The biggest question to ask is: Is Penn State a coveted coaching position?  The quick answer is yes; but the answer is complicated in so many ways.  Does Penn State already have a coach in waiting?  Tom Bradley turned down several head coaching positions to remain with Penn State as the defensive coordinator.  Larry Johnson Sr. has turned down several jobs to become a coordinator at big schools and head coaching positions at smaller ones.  Not to mention former Florida head coach and current offensive coordinator Galen Hall.  Then there is always that fairly remote possibility that Jay Paterno inherits the job from his dad.

What if there isn't a deal in place for the next coach at Penn State?  What if Graham Spanier posts the position on Monster.com?  What caliber of coach can Penn State expect interest from?  Truth is, the university has a lot going for it in that favor, and recent struggles seem to overshadow the true glory that is Penn State.  It is a perennial top 25 team.  It has some of the most storied tradition in all of college football.  The facilities are next to none.  Not to mention you would be sitting in the same office of a legendary coach battling for a Big Ten Championship Trophy in his very name.  Sounds great right?  Well, not so fast.  Penn State also comes with extremely high expectations off the field.  They play in the Big 10 conference that hasn't exactly been the star it once was.  And to top it all off, you are being asked to fill the shoes of a legend.

This whole question came to me while reading an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer by ESPN 950 The Fanatic afternoon talk guy Mike Missanelli.  Missanelli, a former Penn Stater himself wrote an article on why Joe Paterno should make this season his last at the helm of the Nittany Lions.  Why?  Well because Urban Meyer is job hunting.  Joe Paterno rarely gets into the discussions about other coaches and other teams, but when it comes to Urban Meyer...JoePa has a soft spot.  Perhaps because they are very similar.  Their values are very similar and Joe Paterno would respect that he could leave this program in able hands.  Truth is, there is no one better for the job.  There have been many a name thrown out from Bill Cowher to Greg Schiano but Urban Myer fits so well you could almost see it happen.  Now, I am speaking as a fan when I say all of this.  I admire what Meyer has done with Florida.  I admire his fire, and his passion for the game.  I admire he is willing to do the right thing for himself and his family; even if that means stepping down.  The big question?  Would he accept?  I want to believe so.  He would be tremendous for recruiting because he is a household name, and has ties to the talent rich south.  The Big Ten will continue to flounder until either the northern kids can catch up, or we start luring them out of the south for a little yankee football action.  Urban Meyer is the talent that could do it.  Not to mention the fact that he grew up in the Ohio Valley and could relate to the current recruiting base.  

So, if Urban is ever up late at night and decides to google his name, I hope that he stumbles upon my lowly blog post as insignificant as it seems and sees how much sense it makes for him to be the next coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions.  I believe he can bring the National Championship back to Happy Valley and put Penn State back on top...making himself a legend in his own rite.  

So, what if it did happen?  Would Urban bring in a whole new coaching staff?  No doubt.  Galen Hall will most likely retire.  Jay Paterno would take an office job at the university.  Tom Bradley will take a head coaching position and Larry Johnson will most likely follow him as a defensive coordinator.  Meyer will not doubt lean on his past staff and hopefully bring some in to run the offense and defense for his team.  However, he would be wise to look into the rich talent base of former Nittany Lions to become assistants at Penn State.  I have no idea if any of them would be interested, nor do I know if any of them can coach...but it would be nice to see an actual quartberback coaching the quarterbacks...right?  Paging Kerry Collins.  Collins brings NFL experience to the table and would be an excellent presence in the recruiting game.  LaVar...you busy?  Arrington is another imposing presence that has long mentored players including the late Sean Taylor.  

We Are.

 
Posted on: July 27, 2011 9:03 am
 

Changing Fandom

I have always been hypercritical of people that change their fandom.  Meaning anyone that changes their "favorite" team based off of a variety of reasons.  One such person I have always been critical of has been my brother who seems to switch his favorite teams as often as Rita's changes their water ice flavors.  We grew up in a small town outside of Scranton Pennsylvania where there no major sports franchises.  It was just as easy to meet a fan of New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Boston or even San Diego.  There really is no geographical allegence to a particular area.  In Scranton as I was growing up, there was the Red Barons which at the time was the AAA affiliate to the Philadelphia Phillies.  I was fascinated with the Phillies around their magical 1993 World Series appearence and instantly became a fan.  However, the first team I ever fell in love with was the Buffalo Bills.  I started out as a fan of Jim Kelly, the shotgun quarterback that lead the Bills to 4 straight disappointing Super Bowls.  I eventually claimed allegence to the Bills and have followed them since I was about 8 years old.  My father wasn't much of a sports fan, but was a fan of the Chicago Bears, which growing up in North Jersey really made no sense at all.  Later on in life he would learn to love the Phillies as much as I did right before his passing from cancer.  My oldest brother can be considered the front-runner.  When choosing teams as a kid he decided to like all of the most successful teams.  He was a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers, the Boston Red Sox and San Francisco 49ers.  My other brother who I like to call the band-wagon fan grew up as a Yankee, Rangers, Celtics and Raider fan.  He has since changed his allegence several times before landing on the city of Pittsburgh where he now lives.  I always said you can't change your favorites, it is ok to follow other teams but not to change your favorite teams.  

Well, I was wrong.  The ongoing chain of poor decisions by the Buffalo Bills with regards to players and coaches means I will no longer be identifying them as my "favorite" team.  The moves that they make and their lack of competition is a slap in the face to the fans and shows that you can own an NFL franchise and not know what the hell you are doing.  Ralph Wilson is the worst owner in all of football.  Yes, even worse then Al Davis.  Why?  Because Al Davis at least spends money to try to make his team better.  Chan Gailey was the worst of a crop of coaches that the Bills interviewed (in my opinion) that had a proven record of mediocrity and the Bills hired him.  They have been making poor draft choices and free agency choices for several years now.  There is a comparison I would like to make which lead me to ultimately disbanding from the Buffalo Bills and moving on.  Compare the Cleveland Browns to the Buffalo Bills.  Neither town is particularly enticing to free agents.  They are both very cold.  They have also had a relatively comparable winning percentage since the inception of free agency.  The comparison that I like to refer to however is the one that makes my blood boil.  The Cleveland Browns have bad luck, while the Buffalo Bills create bad luck.  The Browns are trying to become a winning franchise, but the Bills seem to be comfortable being average or just below average every year.  Why?  Well unlike the Browns, the Bills make money saving moves and poor draft choices year in and out because they know their fans will show up on Sundays.  They will show up because they love the Bills.  But the Bills have not been a product worth paying to see since 1999.  Similarly, the Browns know their fans will show up, however they try to make good selections in the draft and attempt to sign impact free agents every single year.  It is my opinion that they are just on an incredible run of bad luck.  Their picks are highly regarded but never seem to pan out quite like they had planned.  And by the time they do it is time for them to leave through free agency and sign with a team that has a chance.  It isn't their fault, but it is the Bills fault that they have the same track record.  

So, I am committing what I deemed to be the cardinal sin of fandom.  I am changing my allegence.  I am apologizing to my brother for criticizing the way he chose his teams in the past.  I am being reborn to where my fandom should have been anyway.  I am officially a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles.  I live here, it is all they talk about and I am jumping on board.  I may just order my Vick jersey this afternoon. 
Posted on: July 12, 2011 3:49 pm
 

MLB Realignment...an unconventional approach.

With potential playoff expansion looming in Major League Baseball, the never ending question of interleague play and the debate over the DH advantage I have come to find that baseball has the weirdest set up of all sports.  First, baseball plays by two sets of rules and expects that when the two leagues meet that there is going to be a fair game either way.  I have read too many articles that claim one is better then the other and it all matters where your favorite team resides as to the flavor of baseball you prefer.  It is stupid.  There shouldn't be two styles and two sets of rules.  There should be one way to play the game.  So please take off your AL or NL colored goggles and think about this for one moment...what if the divisions looked like this????


Division 1
Giants
A's
Angels
Dodgers
Padres

Division 2
Mariners
Diamondbacks
Rockies
Rangers
Astros

Division 3
Brewers
White Sox
Cubs
Twins
Tigers

Division 4
Nationals
Orioles
Pirates
Indians
Reds

Division 5
Marlins
Braves
Rays
Cardinals
Royals

Division 6
Red Sox
Yankees
Mets
Phillies
Blue Jays

Regional grouping of all 30 teams in MLB.  Go ahead and take a look at a map and you will see that the alignment follows a regional grouping.  I know that Division 2 and 5 have some more ground to cover then others but each one of their fan bases backs up to one another.  The biggest winner in this whole situation???  The fans.  Wouldn't it be nice in most cases to only be a few hours drive from each and every game within your division?  See inter-municipal teams like the Cubs and White Sox play more often?  Last the league would have to either adopt one set of rules or go by current interleague rules.  Thing is, over time it would be more fair because traditional NL clubs would have a reason to spend money on a DH type player.  

I know it sounds silly, and it still sounds silly to me...but when you map it out it makes the most sense geographically.
 
Category: MLB
Posted on: April 11, 2011 12:58 pm
 

Buffalo Bills and the NFL Draft

This has consistently been a dance that the Bills lost more than the Super Bowl over the past 10 years.  The first round has been a pretty huge miss in Orchard Park for as long as I can remember.  The Bills have had high picks and very few of them panned out.  This year the Bills sit at number three in the draft and this one seems like a no brainer.  The Bills have a lot of choices to make here but with a pretty shallow draft pool and nobody worth the 3rd overall pick at the Bills biggest need (Left Tackle) the Bills should either pick a quarterback or take Von Miller.  I would rank the 3 guys I am considering for this pick in this order 1. Blaine Gabbert-if he is there you take him...no questions.  2. Von Miller- I feel like he will be the best LB since Patrick Willis and worth the 3rd pick.  3. Cam Newton-Kid can play and is perfect for this offense.  
This is simple Buffalo...don't get fancy.
Posted on: March 30, 2011 4:34 pm
 

2011 MLB Predictions

Since everyone is throwing out their predictions...I thought I would do a few of my own.  
American League
EASTYankeesRed SoxBlue JaysRaysOrioles
The Red Sox are the most overhyped team of the last 10 years going into this season.  For that reason I am not picking them to win the division and I think the Yankees will fill their need for pitching by the deadline.
CENTRALWhite SoxTwinsTigersRoyals Indians
White Sox are clearly better then everyone in the division all around.  The Twins have more talent but their pitching will continue to hold them back.
WESTA'sRangersAngelsMariners
Pitching sets the A's apart...the Rangers will miss out due to young pitching and a prolonged injury to Hamilton and Beltre.
AL WILDCARD-Red Sox
NATIONAL LEAGUE
EASTPhilliesBravesMarlinsNationalsM
ets
Phillies rotation will carry them early, Utley will get healthy and some unsung heroes will step up just as Jayson Werth did before he became an overpaid National.  Braves will nip at them all year long but injury will cost them.
CENTRALBrewersRedsCardinalsCubsPira
tesAstros
Closest division in all of baseball.  I think the Brewers line-up plus all the acquired pitching will get them through.
WESTDodgersGiantsPadresRockiesDiamo
ndbacks
Another close division, but I think they get their heads on straight this year and actually make a run.
NL WILDCARD-Braves
ALCS- Red Sox over White SoxNLCS-Phillies over DodgersWorld Series- Phillies over Red Sox
In the end in a 7 game series with 4 aces, the Red Sox can't hit, and besides Lester they are hittable.  It will go 7 games with the Phillies taking the rubber match.
NL MVP- Carlos Gonzalez, Joey Votto, Ryan Howard, Buster Posey, Albert PujolsAL MVP- Adrian Gonzalez, Robinson Cano, Joe Mauer, Josh Hamilton, Adam Dunn
NL Cy Young- Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Josh Johnson, Zack GrienkeAL Cy Young- Jon Lester, CC Sabathia, Brett Anderson, Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez



Category: MLB
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com