Sunday, November 13, 2011

Week 10 NFL picks

Coming in a bit late, here are my weekly picks to win straight-up based on my confidence level of 1-16, with 16 being the highest:

Raiders at Chargers: I bit it on this one.  I figured the Chargers would have the upper hand at home and were a near lock to break their losing streak.  I failed, however, to account for teh Raiders defense and the Chargers horrible run defense.  I picked the Chargers with a confidence level of 14.

Lions at Bears: tough one, I took the Bears with a confidence level of 6 based on how well Chicago's offensive line has been playing of late.

Jaguars at Colts: Jacksonville has an excellent defense and should find a way to score against the Colts.  Jaguars with a con level of 15.

Broncos at Chiefs: I figure the KC had all week to figure out how to slow down Denver's option.  The Chiefs do have a sufficient run defense and should find a way to squaek a win at home.  KC with a con level of 2.

Steelers at Bengals: Tough game and I'm still on the Cincy bandwagon.  The Bengals with a con level of 1.

Bills at Cowboys: The Bills have too many holes and their offensive should hit another wall in what I think is still a good Dallas defense.  The Cowboys with a con level of 11.

Saints at Falcons: This game is a coin-flip.  I'm going with Atlanta at home with a con level of 3.

Rams at Browns: Cleveland's defense should give them the edge.  Browns with a con level of 8.

Redskins at Dolphins: I think Shanahan is still going to press his players enough to get this win.  The Redskins still have a good pass defense and should bring Matt Moore back down to earth.  Skins with a con level of 4.

Texans at Buccaneers:  Houston is for real.  I like the defense and their offensive line has been solid.  The Bucs can be tough at home but I'm still giving the edge to Houston, con level of 10.

Titans at Panthers:  two horrible defenses going up against each other, but I'm giving teh edge to the Panthers offense.  Carolina with a con level of 5.

Cardinals at Eagles: Despite which Philadelphia team shows up I still think it'll be enough to beat the Cards.  Eagles with a con level of 16.

Ravens at Seahawks:  No, I don't think the Ravens offense has turned a corner but their defense should be enough to make them victorious.  Ravens with a con level of 9.

Giants at 49ers:  This was tough and I'm probably not giving the Giants enough credit.  What can I say?  I love the 49ers this season.  SF with a con level of 12.

Patriots at Jets: Amazing what two weeks can do.  I'm officially a Jets believer.  At home, I'm taking NYJ with a con level of 7.

Vikings at Packers:  This should be a high-scoring affair, but the rivalry should be enough to keep the Packers from napping.  I'm going with Green Bay with a con level of 13.  Total score (as tiebreaker) is set at 56.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Week 9 NFL picks

Since this is my first post on the matter, let me explain: currently I am knee-deep in a football pool with some friends who work at Antigua.  Nothing special, the buy-in is a mere $10 per week and you are then given an excel spreadsheet to fill out before the Thursday evening deadline.

I haven't shared my previous picks, but I thought I would start here with week 9 and quickly jot down my reasons why.

Here are the rules.  You are given a sheet listing each matchup with home teams on the right-hand column and visitors on the left.  Simply mark an X next to the box of the team you think will win (no point spreads, everything is straight up) and signify your confidence with each pick by placing a number from 1-14 (sometimes 16, depending if it's early in the season and no bye weeks are given out). 

The higher the number, the more confident you are and the person with the most points wins the buy-ins... in case of a tie, each person must record the total score for the Monday Night game.  Hopefully the people who are tied gave different scores, if not - the money is shared.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

AFL notes: 10/21/11 (Scottsdale at Surprise)

Scottsdale Surprise
Gary Brown (SF) CF CF Kevin Mattison (FLA)
Jean Segura (LAA) SS SS Leury Garcia (TEX)
Will Middlebrooks (BOS) 3B DH Wil Myers (KC)
Bryce Harper (WAS) LF 3B Mike Olt (TEX)
Alex Hanssan (BOS) DH 1B Joe Terdoslavich (ATL)
Cody Overbeck (PHI) 1B C Kyle Skipworth (FLA)
Joe Panik (SF) 2B LF Todd Cunningham (ATL)
Dan Butler (BOS) C RF Ryan Strausborger (TEX)
Tyson Gillies (PHI) RF 2B Tyler Bortnick (TBR)
Matt Purke (WAS) LHP RHP Shane Dyer (TBR)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Arizona Fall League notes

With some free time my plan is to catch a few extra AFL games this season.  I'm hoping to catch every team and try to throw out some amateur (very amateur, mind you) scouting reports as a way to record my initial thoughts and reactions on a few players.  Please be advised.

To do this right, my objective is to sit directly behind home plate in an effort to eavesdrop on a few scouts... this will be difficult since many of them are spread out and tend to not loudly verbalize their notes (my loss).  But my goal is to become friendly with a few within my earshot and possibly see what kind of relationship develops.  (Not promising anything.)

On to the notes:

The game I attended was the October 18 game at the Peoria Sports Complex between the Peoria Javelinas hosting the Surprise Saguaros. Below is the starting lineup:

Surprise Peoria J.
Kevin Mattison (FLA) CF CF Logan Schafer (MIL)
Tim Beckham (TBR) SS SS Nick Franklin (SEA)
Wil Myers (KC) RF 3B Jedd Gyorko (SD)
Mike Olt (TEX) 3B 1B Matt Adams (STL)
Matt Dominguez (FLA) DH DH Ryan Jackson (STL)
Joe Terdoslavich (ATL) 1B LF Jaff Decker (SD)
Mikie Mahtook (TBR) LF C Adam Moore (SEA)
Kyle Skipworth (FLA) C RF Chih-Hsien Chiang (SEA)
Leury Garcia (TEX) 2B 2B Wilfred Tovar (NYM)
Miguel De Los Santos (TEX) LHP RHP Anthony Bass (SD)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Notes on the 2011 MLB Trade Deadline: NL East edition

As expected, this is forming into a two-team race between the Phillies and the Braves with the latter expected to be named as the league's wild card.  The Mets have installed a talented front office and should be competitive in the next few seasons but no one expected them to hover around .500.  The Marlins are a mess and will be unpredictable while Jeffrey Loria is in charge.  Meanwhile, in the nation's capital, I like to believe that GM Mike Rizzo has a plan since I do trust the direction they are heading.

NL East

Looking at BP's projections, both favorites in this division should easily crack 90 wins with the Phillies coming in at 96-97 and the Braves settling for 92-93.

2011 Payroll 2012 FA's 2012 Arbs.
Phillies $166 M 8 7
Braves $91 M 6 6
Mets $142.8 M 9 5
Marlins $57.7 M 5 11
Nationals $68 M 10 7

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Notes on the 2011 MLB Trade Deadline: NL Central edition

Looking over the NL Central things are looking rather interesting at the top of the standings.  So far, with one week of games played in the second half, we have a mere four and a half games that separate the Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds.

Obviously, the Pirates are a huge surprise and have played .500 baseball since the first few weeks of June.  Many expected them to fade away but they have gained ground and briefly had their time in first place as recently as July 19th.


Going over the playoff odds report at Baseball Prospectus, the Brewers are the favorite but it should be very, very close as it could take as few as 87 wins to wrap up this division.

2011 Payroll 2012 FA's 2012 Arbs.
Brewers $83.5 M 6 9
Pirates $42 M 6 12
Cardinals $109 M 8 6
Reds $80.8 M 6 8
Cubs $134 M 7 6
Astros $77 M 2 7

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Notes on the 2011 MLB Trade Deadline: NL West edition

With this season's trade deadline set to expire at the end of July, most news coming out of the sport seems wrought with rumors, speculation and trade advice.  Below is a quick rundown of all the divisions along with each team's probable status, names involved, measured opinions by author, etc.

*note: all stats and team standings were taken prior to July 20, 2011


According to the playoff odds report at Baseball Prospectus, the Giants are expected to easily win the division with 93 expected wins while the DBacks (82.2) and Rockies (80.1) fighting it out for a distant second.  Recently, the Giants have won eight out of ten and sit on top of the division with a, somewhat, comfortable 4 1/2 game lead over the DBacks.  The Rockies are still struggling to play .500 ball and are 10 1/2 behind.

Below is a quick breakdown of each team's 2011 payroll and the number of free agents (club options were included) and arbitration eligibles in 2012:

2011 Payroll 2012 FA's 2012 Arbs.
Giants $118.2 M 7 12
Dbacks $56.5 M 4 5
Rockies $82.3 M 3 4
Dodgers $119.7 M 12 6
Padres $45.8 M 4 14

Monday, July 18, 2011

2011 NFL Team Preview: the Raiders of Oakland

In an effort to expand this blog to cover all major American sports, I will periodically turn my attention to the NFL to break down a handful of teams possibly due for a breakout this upcoming season.  With talks between the league and the players association looking optimistic - my goal is to have this done sometime before the end of August.  This first entry will look at the Oakland Raiders.

If all goes to according to plan, this will be the first of a five-part series. Next season, folks.


Last season the Raiders finished with a record of 8-8 including an impressive 6-0 within their division. Despite playing in the AFC West, this showing wasn’t enough to garner them a playoff spot but there were some positives compared to previous seasons. According to projections published in the previous Football Outsiders Almanac, the Raiders were expected to be no better than a 4 to 5 win team. Standard observation considering the fact that many questions and doubts lingered throughout almost every major position on the team; so, what caused them to perform much better than expected?


In 2009, the Raiders under first-time head coach Tom Cable turned in an offense that ranked almost last in total DVOA at -22.3%. In his second season, Cable decided to do things a bit differently. After struggling with injuries and under-performance from many key young players, the plan became to simplify this offensive unit with the signing of perpetual quarterback project, Jason Campbell, as well as bringing in first-time offensive coordinator Hue Jackson.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

2011 MLB Draft, day 2: rounds 2-30

In my opinion, the top five surprises from yesterday were:

1. Mariners skipping a bat and drafting Danny Hultzen 2nd overall.
2. Josh Bell fails to be drafted in day one (maybe Conor Glassey was right in his tweet regarding Bell's family and their comm. to education).
3. Dbacks going all-in and taking Archie Bradley at number 7 (very bold move and could be a good one).
4. The Mets taking a chance on Brandon Nimmo (only a surprise since everyone figured they were locked in on college pitching).
5. The Royals skipping their favorite bat in Anthony Rendon and taking Bubba Starling.

Other than that, nothing else was too surprising.  Daniel Norris not being drafted could qualify but I've heard that his delivery needs some cleaning and his bonus demands are reported to be high.  I guess I could say that I'm surprised the Yankees at number 51 didn't take a flyer out on him (or on Dillon Howard, for that matter).

Monday, June 6, 2011

Final few hours before the 2011 MLB draft: the Cole v. Rendon debate

According to Mayo, Pirates have finally made their decision regarding their top pick this draft (spoiler alert: Gerrit Cole will be called upon).

Arguments are flooding in against this selection - it's a viable argument but in a draft where the two top positional players have serious questions about health and projection and where a large number of potential aces or solid mid-rotation arms can be scooped up, nothing stands out as "can't miss" in this year's first-player draft.

I'm not going to defend or criticize the Pirates selection since Cole has shown first-round capabilities both out of high school and as a junior in college.  Cole has maintained his development as a potential major league pitcher and now it seems it's up to the Pirates development and health for him to fully succeed.  The former will be something the team can control.  I'm sure, depending on how quickly he signs, Cole could report to High-A Bradenton or he/they could elect to skip this summer and let him debut for about 40 innings in the Arizona Fall League.

Health is another matter for Cole and I haven't come across any reports declaring mechanical issues that would need to be cleaned up.  So, depending on the amount of innings and pitches Cole has thrown for UCLA the past few seasons it may be prudent for them shut him down until spring of 2012 - but nothing, in terms of overall health, is ever guaranteed.

According to a recent Fangraphs article by Dave Cameron, Cole has the highest ERA, HR's allowed, and opp. batting average on the 2011 Bruins team and, along with the shoddy track record of pitchers taken first overall, this could be a formula for disaster.  As further stated by Cameron, Cole's BABIP was high but with the engineering surrounding college bats (even the new and "approved" BBCOR bats) BABIP still has the potential to flucuate based on a.) small sample of innings (114 IP, which Cameron acknowledges) and b.) traditionally, college defenses are subpar and c.) even with the newly sanctioned BBCOR bats, the "sweet spot" has been dramatically reduced along with the removal of its "trampoline/bounce effect" but metal bats still don't break and this can reduce other possibilities of weak contact when a wooden bat breaks or shatters.

Like Quarterbacks being draft first in the NFL (or early in the first round) a lot of risk is always involved and money, esp. with football, regarding all pitchers but I still don't see Anthony Rendon with his questionable size and questionable health as being amunition for an agrument against the selection of Cole as first - even the next best positional prospect, Bubba Starling, has a lot of talent but just as many question marks since he is so raw.

If Rendon was healthy or if he agreed to release his medical report showing exactly what is ailing his shoulder then (based on this med. report being positive) I would argue that selecting the lesser of two evils (amatuer bat over amatuer pitcher) would be wise.

Until then, this draft is loaded with too many question marks on both ends and no clear conclusion regarding the Cole v. Rendon camp can or should be made until next season.