March 4, 2014
MLB Opening Day is just a couple weeks away which means it’s time for my yearly ritual of predicting the six division winners and ensuring that those teams don’t have the season they are hoping for. What can I say? It’s a gift. (I don’t think the Blue Jays would call it that after the 2013 season). So let’s get on with it.
Last season proved that anything can happen in this division. A year ago I wrote “The Red Sox aren’t going to make a 25-win improvement over 2012.” So now I say, “I told you so.” Of course they didn’t win 25 more games than 2012. They won 28 more games. Just like I suspected they would. I’d like to see them try to do that again. But I think they will have a tougher road this year. They won’t be the team of destiny anymore. The Yankees will be trying to give Derek Jeter one final postseason and the Blue Jays have to be better right? The Orioles and Rays will be very good, too. I say all five teams finish over .500 and it’s the Rays that claim the division crown.
It almost feels like cheating to pick the team that won it last year. But when the same team has won for the last three years, it just seems stupid not to pick them. Am I right? Especially when they haven’t won a title yet. The Tigers ought to be a hungry bunch. The may have the best hitter and pitcher in baseball with Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander. They won’t run away with it. But Detroit wins the Central again.
Once again, people seem to think the Angels are back. I don’t think so. There’s too much up in the air with Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols. I don’t see them returning to elite players. So that leaves the Rangers and the A’s to battle it out (with Seattle improving but not there yet). I’ve learned my lesson. I keep picking against Oakland and I keep getting it wrong. No more. Despite the Rangers adding Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo, I’m taking the A’s to work their magic again and defend their title. If you don’t believe me, watch Moneyball and you will.
I’d like a mulligan. (Does it count as a mulligan if you pick the same team as last year?) It seems like Washington is due to have some stuff go its way. Just a couple more wins than last year should be enough to get the job done. Especially when the Nationals are going to be rolling out Strasburg, Gonzalez, Zimmerman and Fister to the mound all season. The Braves will give them a run, but its about time something went right in Washington.
We know it won’t be the Cubs. The Brewers should be better than the 74-win team from last year and make it a four-team race for a while, but in the end it will come down to the three teams (Cardinals, Pirates and Reds) that all won at least 90 games last year. One of them won’t get there this year. Sadly, I think it might be the Pirates that drop off the pace. The Reds won the Central in 2010 and 2012 so obviously 2014 is going to be their year as well. I like their rotation the best and if they can get Billy Hamilton on base, their offense will be scary.
Question: How many division titles do you have to buy before you become hated like the Yankees? The Dodgers are determined to find this out. No team has more superstars right now. They ran away with the West last year and should win it easily again. The real question for this team is can it make a deep run in October.
February 25, 2014
A new MLB season is just about a month away. That means your fantasy drat is even closer than that. Are you ready? Me either. But I do know that you can’t win you fantasy league on draft day. That takes much more than one day of investment. But if you draft a few stars that don’t perform, that one day could take you out of the running. With that in mind, here’s a few guys you can be sure won’t end up on my roster on draft day.
His 2013 season was a big disappointment. Will Pujols be able to regain his form after all the injury problems? Maybe. But I don’t want to keep my fingers crossed all season. Besides, his numbers have dropped ever year since 2008. Let somebody else draft him for his name and you can snag somebody who will be more reliable (at 1B) like Freddie Freeman or Eric Hosmer.
Here’s another guy who had a nightmarish 2013 season. A thumb injury and a 65-game suspension will sure put a damper on your production. Braun’s probably going to put up some decent numbers, but don’t expect to draft him and get the MVP player from 2011. I’d take him with my fourth or fifth pick in the draft, but if you want that long he will probably end up on some other guy’s roster. I’m OK with that.
I actually love Posey. But I don’t see him re-creating his MVP season from a couple years ago and there are a few catchers that put up nice numbers last season and should do it again this year. I’m not going to tell you not to draft him. But I’d rather wait a few rounds to take a catcher than take him with one of my first couple of picks.
Derek Jeter’s name alone will probably get him drafted higher than he should be. Somebody in your league will expect him to be the leader of a high-powered Yankees lineup and think that they got a steal with a mid-round pick. Maybe. But he’s old. And he only played 17 games last year. I doubt he’ll make it through this season without getting hurt. Only a true Yankee fan should consider owning him. That’s not me. No thanks. You can have him.
Somebody is going to pile up a lot of saves. Jim Johnson and Craig Kimbrel had 50 last year. Five other guys had at least 40. If one of them falls into my lap then that’s great. If not, that’s OK too. No stat is easier to find during the season than saves. Closers come and go so unless you know something I don’t, then let someone else waste a higher pick on the top rated closers and find somebody lat
February 19, 2014
The NBA’s All Star break is officially in the rear view mirror and the trade deadline is just a couple days away. So now seems like a good time to take a look at what lies ahead this season.
Once again, the trade deadline will be a lot of talk and a lot of disappointment for the fans hoping their team will make a big splash. Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo, Kevin Love, Pau Gasol and other big names have been rumored as possible trades. But they aren’t going anywhere. As always, we’ll have a few solid players finding new homes but nothing that is franchise altering. Everyone is waiting for that to happen in the draft.
Milwaukee is well on its way to having the most balls in the draft lottery. The real “battle” will be between Philadelphia, Orlando, Sacramento, Boston, Utah and the Lakers so make sure they get the second or third best chance to win the first pick in the draft.
Indiana will finish with the best record and home court advantage in the Eastern Conference. Miami will not care. The Pacers want to play at home. Miami wants to be healthy for the playoffs. Both teams will get their wish, setting up a tremendous Eastern Conference Finals.
Miami will not pull off the three-peat. Sooner or later their ability to turn it on and off at will will be over. They are next-to-last in allowing a 51.6 effective field goal percentage. Defense wins championships right? There is no D in Miami right now and it will come back to haunt them in the playoffs.
The other stroll (I can’t call it a race when all the teams are under .500) to watch is whether Michael Jordan’s Bobcats can hold off the Knicks and Cavs to make the playoffs. These teams have been unintentionally terrible and need to reach the postseason as they try to gain some much needed respect (Bobcats), try to keep Carmelo (Knicks) and lure LeBron James (Cavs).
In the Western Conference the Thunder have been the best team and are about to get Westbrook back. They’ll be the top seed. But the Spurs, Rockets, Clippers and Blazers are going to be in a fight for the 2-5 seeds. Meanwhile, Dallas, Golden State, Phoenix and Memphis are all playing well, but someone’s going to be left out.
Kevin Durant will be the MVP. He’s led the Thunder to the best record in the league – and done it without Russell Westbrook for just about the whole season. Durant is having a career best season in scoring, assists, and shooting. He is on a mission.
In the NBA Finals, I’m seeing the Indiana Pacers taking on Oklahoma City and as long as Westbrook is healthy and returns to his old form, the Thunder winning the title.
February 11, 2014
The NBA trade deadline is just a few days away. The trade deadline in your fantasy league is probably pretty close too. Now is the time to look over your roster and make the deal that will get you into the playoffs and hopefully make a run to the title. Fortunately for me, I am in second place at the moment, so I am just looking at what will help me when the playoffs start. But if you’re team is in the middle of the pack or worse, you need to make a move. I’ve got a few suggestions.
Deron Williams for D.J. Augustin or Randy Foye
DWill is still a much bigger star than Augustin or Foye but they are outproducing him and its not that close. Augustin is getting plenty of minutes in Chicago thanks to another devastating injury to Derrick Rose. Foye is also seeing plenty of action in Denver. Williams is shooting just 72 percent on free throws while Augustin and Foye are hitting 85 and 88 percent. Williams is averaging 12.5 points while Augustin and Foye are putting up 17 and 16 over the last month. Both guys are hitting twice as many 3’s as Williams.
Dwyane Wade for Trevor Ariza
If someone offered you Wade in return for Ariza, normally that would be a no-brainer. But this year, Wade has been extremely frustrating to own. It seems like every time I need him to produce, he sits out. You can’t produce from the bench and Ariza doesn’t spend much time there. He’s on the floor for 38 minutes a game right now. I just don’t trust Wade to play consistently. Miami is obviously trying to save him for a playoff run. You might even get somebody to give you two players for Wade.
Chris Bosh for Paul Millsap
Bosh has been on fire lately. So its a good time to try and sell high on him. Paul Millsap is quietly have a great season. Especially with Al Horford going down for Atlanta. My problem with Bosh is that as the fantasy playoffs begin, the Heat probably won’t have anything to play for and will have the big three getting ready for the playoffs. (If they wanted the No. 1 seed, they’d have found a way to beat the Jazz the other night) Meanwhile, the Hawks will be in a battle for home-court advantage and need all the Millsap they can get.
Pau Gasol for Zach Randolph
If you make this trade now, you can get a few extra games from Randolph while Gasol recovers from his groin injury. But even when Gasol returns, I’d rather have Randolph. Gasol is about to be traded and when he gets to a new team, he’s not going to get the ball and produce as much a he is in L.A. And even if he stays in L.A., Kobe Bryant will be back pretty soon and take a lot of those shots that Gasol has been getting. I’m actually proposing this trade in my league today. I hope “Fear the Beard” isn’t reading this.
Dwight Howard for Andre Drummond
Every team in the NBA would jump at the chance to get Dwight Howard. Some guys in your fantasy league will too. Hopefully one of them has Andre Drummond. If Howard is on your team, you are probably getting killed in free throw shooting. So why not go all in and trade Howard for another big man who is even worse from the charity stripe? You aren’t getting anything out of that stat anyway and Drummond will bring up your field goal percentage and rebounds while cutting down on your turnovers.
February 4, 2014
One year ago today, I predicted that the Denver Broncos would be Super Bowl XLVIII champions. They almost proved me right. Congratulations to Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks for becoming world champions in New York on Sunday. But enough about that. Now, by process of elimination, let’s figure out who is going to win the next one in Arizona.
Only the New England Patriots have been to back-to-back Super Bowls since 1999. It won’t happen next year either. Count out Denver and Seattle.
No team has reached the Super Bowl when it was played on its home field. That eliminates the Arizona Cardinals.
It is widely known that if you are on the cover of the new Madden football game, you are destined for a poor season. I’m predicting they go with another fan vote that leads to a player from Indianapolis on the cover. Now that’s just bad Luck. Goodbye Colts.
A new curse?
Emmitt Smith, Hines Ward and Donald Driver are the three NFL players who have won Dancing With The Stars. All three played for teams who have made a habit of playing in Super Bowls. However, the Steelers, Cowboys and Packers have all failed to reach a Super Bowl since their player won the ballroom dancing competition. Curse or coincidence? I say curse. Goodbye Pittsburgh, Dallas and Green Bay.
It’s nearly impossible to have a team that hasn’t experienced a few wins in the playoffs run the table and bring home the Lombardi trophy. Carolina (last playoff win was in 2005), Cincinnati (last playoff win was in 1990), Kansas City (last playoff win was in 1993), and the New York Jets (last playoff win was in 2010) are off the list.
So that leaves the Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints, San Diego Chargers, and San Francisco 49ers. The Ravens are trending in the wrong direction since they won the Super Bowl last year and the Chargers got hot and lucky at the end of this year but do not look like a true contender (finishing third in their own division). So will it be New Orleans or San Francisco? The NFC is too strong and too balanced for one team (the 49ers) to reach the conference championship game four years in a row. So I’m going with New Orleans to win Super Bowl XLIX. Place your bets now.