I am a sports and music fanatic from Farmington, CT, currently attending Saint Joseph's University in Connecticut. I am mainly interested in College Basketball, CIAC High School Basketball, and Major League Baseball, though I follow just about all sports closely.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Rewriting the Draft: Major League Baseball 1998
I have decided to do a series that will "re-write" different draft classes from certain major league sports. Baseball, to me, is the most interesting because it is the most difficult to pick. I will be rearranging the picks of the 1st round (including the compensation picks) of the somewhat unspectacular 1998 draft. I will only be looking at those players chosen in the 1st round, although there are definately some more deserving picks later in the draft. The players who did not sign, will be placed at the end of the draft.

1. Philadelphia Phillies
Who They Picked: 1B Pat Burrell- Miami (FL)
Who They Should Have Picked: SP C.C Sabathia- Vallejo High School (CA)
Why: Burrell was far from being a bad pick, or a draft "bust" with the #1 overall. He was a superstar for Miami in College and was the obvious pick. C.C., on the other hand, was a highly touted high school pitcher, who had already signed to play Tight End at Hawaii. That being said, while Burrell has turned in a solid career for the Phillies and Rays, Sabathia has developed in to the most dominant (and expensive) pitchers in baseball.

2. Oakland Athletics
Who They Picked: SP Mark Mulder- Michigan State
Who They Should Have Picked: SP Mark Mulder- Michigan State
Why: Mulder's career was short, during his prime with the Oakland Athletics he was a dominant part of their "Big 3". Mark finished 2nd in the 2001 Cy Young after winning 21 games, and made it to two all-star games in his injury-shortened career.

3. Chicago Cubs
Who They Picked:  CF Corey Patterson- Harrison HS (GA)
Who They Should Have Picked: 1B Carlos Peña- Northeastern
Why: Patterson was an incredibly talented centerfielder, who, despite underachieving throughout his career, was still a reliable player at times for the Cubs and Orioles. Peña, though, has developed into one of baseball's premier sluggers, after struggling to live up to his bigtime prospect status early in his career.

4. Kansas City Royals
Who They Picked: SP Jeff Austin- Stanford
Who They Should Have Picked: RF J.D Drew- Florida State
Why: Drew's character and passion for the game have been questioned ever since he failed to come to terms with the Phillies after the 1997 draft. But despite that, he has turned in quite a solid career while managing to get both the cities of Boston and Philadelphia to despise him. Jeff Austin was a bust, playing just parts of three seasons in the big leagues, with little success.

5. St. Louis Cardinals
Who They Picked: RF J.D. Drew- Florida State
Who They Should Have Picked: CF Aaron Rowand- Cal State Fullerton
Why: Aaron Rowand has been the ultimate dirt-dog for all three teams he's played for so far in his career. Despite running into injury problems because of his hard play, Rowand has had a quality career, especially during his years with the White Sox and Phillies.

6. Minnesota Twins
Who They Picked: SP Ryan Mills- Arizona State
Who They Should Have Picked: LF Pat Burrell- Miami (FL)
Why: First player picked that did not ever play in the majors, Mills can be described as a "bust". As mentioned before, Burrell has turned in a solid, but unspectacular career.

7. Cincinnati Reds
Who They Picked: OF Austin Kearns- Lafayette HS (KY)
Who They Should Have Picked: RP Brad Lidge- Notre Dame
Why: Kearns was a big-time high school prospect for the Reds, that made his way to a few solid big league season, but never fully lived up to his complete potential. Lidge on the other hand, has been the most inconsistent reliever in baseball, but has been an all-star and helped win a World Series for the Phillies.

8. Toronto Blue Jays
Who They Picked: SS Felipe Lopez- Lake Brantley HS (FL)
Who They Should Have Picked: SS Felipe Lopez- Lake Brantley HS (FL)
Why: Felipe has been a very reliable, and underappreciated infielder in the majors for the last decade or so. He had an all-star appearance in 2005, and has over 1,000 career hits. He is by no means a superstar, but definately a quality big leaguer.

9. San Diego Padres
Who They Picked: 3B Sean Burroughs- Woodrow Wilson HS (CA)
Who They Should Have Picked: OF Austin Kearns- Lafayette HS (KY)
Why: Burroughs, similar to Kearns, was a big high school position player who looked to be a future star. While neither really panned out, Kearns hit 107 HR's to Burrough's 11.

10. Texas Rangers
Who They Picked: 1B Carlos Peña- Northeastern
Who They Should Have Picked: SP Jeff Weaver- Fresno State
Why: Jeff Weaver, though the weaker of two brothers, has been in and out of major league rotations since being called up in 1999. He should win his 100th game this year, and while he's been shaky at times, he has had a long, solid career.

11. Montreal Expos
Who They Picked: SS Josh McKinley- Malvern Prep (PA)
Who They Should Have Picked: CF Corey Patterson- Harrison HS (GA)
Why: McKinley was the 2nd player drafted who never reached the big show. Patterson, as mentioned before, turned in a few solid seasons with the Cubs despite never reaching his true potential.

12. Boston Red Sox
Who They Picked: SS Adam Everett- South Carolina
Who They Should Have Picked: RP Matt Thornton- Grand Valley State (MI)
Why: Thornton didn't get the call to the big leagues until he was 27 years old with Seattle, but has developed into a very solid reliever for the White Sox.

13. Milwaukee Brewers
Who They Picked: SP J.M. Gold- Toms River North HS (NJ)
Who They Should Have Picked: SS Adam Everett- South Carolina
Why: J.M. Gold was a promising young pitcher who fell victim to arm injuries, therefore losing all of his stuff and struggling in his minor league career. Everett has been a big league shortstop with three teams, and while unspectacular offensively, he has played solid enough baseball to stay at the big leagues.

14. Detroit Tigers
Who They Picked: SP Jeff Weaver- Fresno State
Who They Should Have Picked SP Kip Wells- Baylor
Why: Wells had a decent career bumping between the rotation and bullpen of a number of different teams. His best year probably came in 2003 with Pittsburgh, when he finished 10-9 with a 3.28 ERA.

15. Pittsburgh Pirates
Who They Picked: 1B Clint Johnston- Vanderbilt
Who They Should Have Picked: LF/1B Brad Wilkerson- Florida
Why: The Pirates never seem to make very good decisions on draft days, and Johnston was one of those mistakes. Wilkerson had some good years as a power hitter for the Montreal Expos in the early 21st century years.

16. Chicago White Sox
Who They Picked: SP Kip Wells- Baylor
Who They Should Have Picked: CF Jason Tyner- Texas A&M
Why: Tyner made things happen throughout his career despite displaying absolutely no power. He only had one career home run in 1358 at-bats, but was a key member of the speedy "piranhas" on the Twins in 2006-2007.

17. Houston Astros
Who They Picked: RP Brad Lidge- Notre Dame
Who They Should Have Picked: 3B Sean Burroughs- Woodrow Wilson HS (CA)
Why: Burroughs was a bust for the Padres because of his lack of power, but put up a solid average during his two years as the starter.

18. Anaheim Angels
Who They Picked: SP Seth Etherton- Southern California
Who They Should Have Picked: SP Seth Etherton- Southern California
Why: Etherton was never very good, but made starts for four different teams in four different years from 2000-2006.

19. San Francisco Giants
Who They Picked: OF Tony Torcato- Woodland HS (CA)
Who They Should Have Picked: RP Nate Bump- Penn State University
Why: Well, Bump would still be picked by the Giants later in the 1st round, but his three average seasons as a major league reliever bump him up to their first pick.

20. Cleveland Indians
Who They Picked: SP C.C. Sabathia- Vallejo HS (CA)
Who They Should Have Picked: SP Nate Cornejo- Wellington HS (KS)
Why: I think Cleveland is happy about how their 1998 draft went. Sabathia looks a bit better than Cornejo right now.

21. New York Mets
Who They Picked: OF Jason Tyner- Texas A&M
Who They Should Have Picked: OF Bubba Crosby- Rice
Why: Crosby was a solid bench player for the Yankees for a few years, but didn't do much afterwards.

22. Seattle Marines
Who They Picked: RP Matt Thornton- Grand Valley State (MI)
Who They Should Have Picked: OF Choo Freeman- Dallas Christian School (TX)
Why: Not only does Raphael Freeman have an awesome nickname, he also played three seasons as a speedster off the bench for Colorado.

23. Los Angeles Dodgers
Who They Picked: OF Bubba Crosby- Rice
Who They Should Have Picked: OF Eric Valent- UCLA
Why: Valent himself admitted that his college success was in large part due to the aluminum bats used, but still managed to become a solid pinch hitter for the Phillies and Mets.

24. New York Yankees
Who They Picked: OF Andy Brown- Richmond HS (IN)
Who They Should Have Picked: SP Chris George- Klein HS (TX)
Why: Andy Brown was a high school prospect that bombed for the Yankees, hitting .228 in 8 minor league seasons. George made it to the major leagues, but struggled as a member of the Royals rotation, and hasn't been back to the big show since.

25. San Francisco Giants
Who They Picked: RP Nate Bump- Penn State
Who They Should Have Picked: RP Matt Roney- Edmond North HS (OK)
Why: Roney made it to the major leagues on a few different occations, but never did enough to cement his spot there, and spent most of his time dominating in AAA.

26. Baltimore Orioles
Who They Picked: 1B/OF Rick Elder- Sprayberry HS (GA)
Who They Should Have Picked: SP Jeff Austin- Stanford
Why: Elder bombed as a prospect for the Orioles, never making it past A+, but Austin at least hit the big leagues.

27. Florida Marlins
Who They Picked: OF Chip Ambres- West Brook HS (TX)-----DID NOT SIGN
Who They Should Have Picked: OF Tony Torcato- Woodland HS (CA)
Why: Torcato was the last available player who made it to the major leagues. He spent parts of four seasons on the Giants bench.

28. Colorado Rockies
Who They Picked: RP Matt Roney- Edmond North HS (OK)
Who They Should Have Picked: SP Mike Nannini- Green Valley HS (NV)
Why: Nannini had a long career in the minor leagues with a number of organizations, but never cracked the majors.

29. San Francisco Giants
Who They Picked: OF Arturo McDowell- Forest Hill Community HS (CA)
Who They Should Have Picked: SP Jeff Urban- Ball State
Why: The 6'8" Urban was a top prospect for the Giants, but never got the call to the big leagues after two years in AAA.

30. Kansas City Royals
Who They Picked: P Matt Burch- Virginia Commonwealth
Who They Should Have Picked: SP Ryan Mills- Arizona State
Why: Mills, the #6 overall pick, was the last available to even play at the AAA level.


31. Kansas City Royals
Who They Picked: SP Chris George- Klein HS (TX)
Who They Should Have Picked: SP/1B Clint Johnson- Vanderbilt

32. St. Louis Cardinals
Who They Picked: P Ben Diggins- Bradshaw Mountain HS (AZ)- DID NOT SIGN
Who They Should Have Picked: SS Josh McKinley- Malvern Prep (PA)

33. Montreal Expos
Who They Picked: 1B/OF Brad Wilkerson- Florida
Who They Should Have Picked: SP Matt Burch- Virginia Commonwealth

34. Detroit Tigers
Who They Picked: SP Nate Cornejo- Wellington HS (KS)
Who They Should Have Picked: OF Mamon Tucker- Stephen F. Austin HS (TX)

35. Chicago White Sox
Who They Picked: CF Aaron Rowand- Cal State Fullerton
Who They Should Have Picked: RP Chris Jones- Mecklenberg HS (NC)

36. Colorado Rockies
Who They Picked: CF Choo Freeman- Dallas Christian School (TX)
Who They Should Have Picked: OF Andy Brown- Richmond HS (IN)

37. Houston Astros
Who They Picked: SP Mike Nannini- Green Valley HS (NV)
Who They Should Have Picked: C Jeff Winchester- Archbiship Rummell HS (LA)

38. San Francisco Giants
Who They Picked: RP Chris Jones- Mecklenberg HS (NC)
Who They Should Have Picked: SP J.M. Gold- Toms River North HS (NJ)

39. Baltimore Orioles
Who They Picked: OF Mamon Tucker- Stephen F. Austin HS (TX)

Who They Should Have Picked: 1B/OF Rick Elder- Spraysberry HS (GA)

40. Colorado Rockies
Who They Picked: C Jeff Winchester- Archbishop Rummell HS (LA)
Who They Should Have Picked: OF Arturo McDonnell- Forest Hill Community HS (FL)

41. San Francisco Giants
Who They Picked: SP Jeff Urban- Ball State
Who They Should Have Picked: SP Mark Prior- University HS (CA)- DID NOT SIGN

42. Philadelphia Phillies
Who They Picked: OF Eric Valent- UCLA
Who They Should Have Picked: OF Chip Ambres- West Brook HS (TX)- DID NOT SIGN

43. New York Yankees
Who They Picked: SP Mark Prior- University HS (CA)- DID NOT SIGN
Who They Should Have Picked: P Ben Diggins- Bradshaw Mountain HS (AZ)- DID NOT SIGN    


Monday, April 26, 2010

MLB Power Rankings: 4/26/2010

Week #4 Power Rankings:

1. Minnesota Twins (13-6)- Most people probably have Tampa Bay here, but I love everything Minnesota does. The already strong fan base is rejuvenated by the superb new stadium, and there's Joe Mauer. LW: 3

2. Tampa Bay Rays (14-5)- Tampa's absolutely loaded, both with their lineup and pitching staff. Unfortunately for my Red Sox, there's no reason why they should choke again and not make the playoffs. LW: 5

3. New York Yankees (12-6)- It's seriously getting kind of late in the season for Mark Teixiera to be hitting .119, and Javier Vazquez looks shaky at best. LW: 1

4. St. Louis Cardinals (11-7)- Pujols is in a bit of a mini-slump, but finally came out of it with a homer on Sunday. On another note, where the heck was this last year Brad Penny? LW: 4

5. Philadelphia Phillies (11-7)- Somebody besides Halladay is going to need to step up as a #2 pitcher, or else this team may not be playing in October. Their offense isn't THAT good. LW: 2

6. Colorado Rockies (10-9)- Jimenez followed up his no-hit bid with another gem and is cementing himself as an all-star, and possibly Cy Young quality pitcher. Things are looking up in Colorado. LW: 7

7. San Francisco Giants (10-8)- No excuse for getting shut out by Brad Penny, but even with Cain struggling a bit they have arguably the best pitching rotation in baseball. Barry Zito looks close to his Cy Young form from 2001. LW: 6

8. Oakland Athletics (12-8)- I'm starting to think that this team has a chance to do something special. For a team so young, they play really smart, winning quality of baseball, led by 22 year old ace Brett Anderson. LW: 10

9. Florida Marlins (10-9)- Florida had a bit of a tough time in Colorado, but look poised to have a big series at home against San Diego. LW: 8

10. Los Angeles Angels (10-10)- I always like it when a team brings the Yankees back down to Earth by winning 2-out-of-3. Kendry Morales can flat out rake. LW: 17

11. Boston Red Sox (8-11)- Terrible loss against the Orioles on Sunday, but things are starting to look a little better in beantown. They are still going to need to make a big change to compete in the AL East. LW: 12

12. Detroit Tigers (10-9)- Maybe the Tigers knew something didn't when they swapped center fielders with the Yankees. Austin Jackson looks better (and younger) than Curtis Granderson right now. LW: 11

13. San Diego Padres (11-7)- The only reason their so high up is because they've won 8 out of the last 10. I would be shocked if they kept a winning record up for much longer. LW: 26

14. New York Mets (10-9)- Maybe they aren't as bad as I've been giving them credit for. Mike Pelfrey is emerging as an ace to compliment Santana. LW: 25

15. Seattle Mariners (9-10)- Cliff Lee looks to be with the Big club soon, which should propel this team back into conention in the AL West. LW: 14

16. Atlanta Braves (8-10)- The Braves are struggling, Jason Heyward is proving he's human, but I still see this team making a strong push for the playoffs. LW: 9

17. Toronto Blue Jays (10-9)- What a huge series coming up this week for Toronto as they host the struggling Red Sox, as both try to make a case for being team #3 in the AL East. LW: 15

18. Texas Rangers (8-10)- Scott Feldman struggling could be a big downfall for this team. He was one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball last year. LW: 14

19. Chicago Cubs (9-10)- Name to Watch: OF Tyler Colvin. The #13 overall pick in the 2006 draft is hitting the ball real well so far in his first full season in the majors. Could challenge Heyward for ROTY. On another note, the 2006 class is looking real strong so far (Lincecum, Longoria, Bard, Kershaw, Scherzer, Coghlan). Too bad the Rockies took Greg Reynolds with the #2 overall pick.

20. Los Angeles Dodgers (8-10)- The team just can't the ball on the road. No reason why any team should get shut out by Scott Olsen, Tyler Clippard and Matt Capps. LW: 13

21. Arizona Diamondbacks (8-10)- Kelly Johnson lighted up the Phillies, and is adding his name to the list of elite second baseman, a position that has become more and more about offense, thanks to Chase Utley, Robinson Cano, and Dustin Pedroia. LW: 19

22. Washington Nationals (10-9)- Hey, they still have a winning record, and have Strasburg coming up soon.
Former Yankee great Tyler Clippard looks like a stud in the bullpen. LW: 23

23. Cleveland Indians (8-10)- I really, really like Shin Soo Choo, but Cleveland may not have enough talent to compete right now. It's coming though, they did trade away their whole team for prospects last year. LW: 21

24. Houston Astros (8-10)- Wouldn't it be quite a story if the Astros climbed out of an 0-8 whole to make the playoffs. They look real good now, but you still can't ignore the start. LW: 27

25. Milwaukee Brewers (8-10)- The Beermakers, especially Ryan Braun, are hitting the ball pretty well, but their pitching staff has looked mediocre at best. LW:  20

26. Chicago White Sox (8-11). I'm not a big fan of Ozzie Guillen. Hopefully you know that by now. At least Paul Konerko is scoring big for my fantasy team. LW: 28

27. Cincinnati Reds (8-11)- It's really sad but unfortunately the Reds really have nowhere to put their best pitcher (Aroldis Chapman) into the rotation. Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo, and Homer Bailey are all stuck in the big leagues, while Mike Leake has been by far their most consistent starter. Their fifth guy, Johnny Cueto, has been their 2nd best despite his 5.73 ERA. I wouldn't be suprised to see Harang, Arroyo, or Bailey to head to the 'pen soon, like Zambrano and Suppan. LW: 24

28. Kansas City Royals (7-11)- They were able to squeeze out a win from Minnesota on Sunday, but don't expect much more from the Royals. Just another year in the cellar for them. LW: 29

29. Pittsburgh Pirates (7-11)- Boy, did the Pirates look bad this week. That is all. LW: 18

30. Baltimore Orioles (3-16)- I think the record speaks for itself. LW: 30

Sunday, April 18, 2010

MLB Power Rankings: 4/19/2010

It's been a bad week for the Red Sox. Enough said. Anyways, here are the power rankings for Week #3

MLB Power Rankings: Week 3

1. New York Yankees (9-3)- They're an excellent baseball team, it's as simple as that. The Yankees have no holes in they're lineup, rotation and bullpen, and without injuries there's no reason this team doesn't win 100 games. LW: 1

2. Philadelphia Phillies (8-4)- The offense kind of disappeared the last two days against Florida, but there's no doubt it will be back. Hamels start today, despite being a loss, was very encouraging. LW: 2

3. Minnesota Twins (9-4)- Minnesota is the clear favorite in the AL Central, and has the pieces to be a serious World Series contender this year. Joe Mauer is one of the best in the game today. LW: 5

4. St. Louis Cardinals (8-4)- Adam Wainwright's a flat-out horse, and is establishing himself as one of the best in the National League. LW: 4

5. Tampa Bay Rays (9-3)- Tampa may have the most pure talent out of any team in baseball, and is making Boston look like a Minor league team. LW: 9

6. San Francisco Giants (8-4)- Timmy Lince showed it off both with his arm and his bat in his last start and is very close to an automatic W every time he goes out. LW: 6

7. Colorado Rockies (6-6)- The Rockies continued to look a bit shaky this week, but I still believe they have the pieces to be a playoff team. Ubaldo Jimenez may have some of the best stuff in baseball. LW: 7

8. Florida Marlins (8-5)- Anytime you take 2 out of 3 in Philly, you've got something good going on. Florida has looked like real contenders so far. LW: 12

9. Atlanta Braves (7-5)- Jason Heyward's walk-off hit just adds to his already legendary story. Next will be leading the ATL to a playoff birth. LW: 10

10. Oakland Athletics (9-5)- It's hard to ignore Oakland's early success so far. Despite the lack of big names, the A's have cemented themselves as the favorites in the fairly weak AL west. LW: 15

11. Detroit Tigers (7-5)- Starting pitching from guys like Verlander and Bonderman is going to need to improve for this team to make the playoffs. LW: 8

12. Boston Red Sox (4-8)- In order to justify this I'd like to point out that they've played the three best teams in the AL so far. That being said, the Sox look like a little league time right now. LW: 3

13. Los Angeles Dodgers (6-6)- Looked impressive taking two out of three from a very good San Francsico team. LW: 17

14. Texas Rangers (5-7)- Getting swept by the Yankees really doesn't mean all that much. Texas will head into a huge series with the Red Sox, another team trying to break out of a slump. LW: 11

15. Toronto Blue Jays (7-6)- They've fallen off a bit, but there's a lot of promise to be seen in Toronto. Ricky Romero and Shaun Marcum anchor a very solid rotation. LW: 21

16. Seattle Mariners (6-7)- Without Cliff Lee, as I've said before, this rotation is nowhere near good enough to make the playoffs, and it's shown. LW: 14

17. Los Angeles Angels (6-7)- The Angels are still not as good as they've been in the past, but Mike Scioscia may still pull some magic with this team. LW: 18

18. Pittsburgh Pirates (7-5)- Suprise team of the year, maybe? I don't know, but the Bucs are finding ways to win games, something they aren't quite accustomed to. LW: 23

19. Arizona Diamondbacks (5-7)- I still like this team, but they strike out way too much right now. Brandon Webb's gonna need to come back strong to get back in the race. LW: 13

20. Milwaukee Brewers (5-7)- I'm quite confused by there offense, as they failed to score a run off of Livan Hernandez just one day before Jason Marquis failed to get an out against them. LW: 16

21. Cleveland Indians (6-6)- Nobody expected this team to be at .500 this late into the season. They actually looked quite good against division rival Chicago. I think Choo heard me call him out. LW: 25

22. Chicago Cubs (5-7)- Ew, losing two in a row to Houston is never a great way to end the week. That being said, they did take 2 out of 3 from Milwaukee. LW: 19

23. Washington Nationals (6-6)- I'm not jumping on the bandwagon too soon, but this team's got the lineup to contend. They do not, though, have the pitching staff.....yet (Strasburg). LW: 26

24. Cincinnati Reds (5-8)- They need to call up Aroldis Chapman. The guy's a flat-out stud, no questions asked. LW: 20

25. New York Mets (4-8)- It's really quite sad that they needed to use Francisco Rodriguez and Mike Pelfrey to beat the Cardinals when Joe Mather was pitching. LW: 24

26. San Diego Padres (6-6)- They're doing quite the job shutting me up. The Pads aren't making the playoffs, but they probably aren't the worst team in baseball either. LW: 30

27. Houston Astros (3-9)- Anyone with a baseball brain knew this team wasn't as bad as their 0-8 star seemed, and they seem to be headed in the right direction. LW: 28

28. Chicago White Sox (4-9)- It's amazing how a team can get so bad, so quick. I may be underrating them a bit considering the weapons the do have in their lineup, but right now they're right there with the worst in the MLB. LW: 22

29. Kansas City Royals (5-7)- Impressive that they took 2 out of 3 in Detroit, but I still don't see enough talent to get out of the cellar.

30. Baltimore Orioles (2-11)- They look like nothing more than a slump buster for the Red Sox this weekend.  LW: 29

Sunday, April 11, 2010

MLB Power Rankings: 4/12/2010

Power Rankings for Week #2. Impressive weeks for Oakland and Toronto, not so good for Seattle and the Los Angeles teams, but I'm not jumping on any bandwagons quite yet.

1. New York Yankees (4-2)- Looked very impressive winning 2 out of 3 from division rivals Boston and Tampa Bay, even with Mark Teixiera struggling.  LW: 3

2. Philadelphia Phillies (5-1)- Roy Halladay is the best pitcher in baseball, but they need someone to step up as a #2 in order to support their impressive offense. LW: 1

3. Boston Red Sox (3-3)- The Sox offense began to come around, but it was only against Kansas City. They need to have a good series in Minnesota this week to get some momentum. LW: 2

4. St. Louis Cardinals (4-2)- This team is loaded both with pitching and offense. Carpenter hasn't looked particularly sharp though. LW: 4

5. Minnesota Twins (5-2)- Not a bad record heading into their debut at Target Field. If they can take 2 from Boston at home, they'll look like true contenders. LW: 7

6. San Francisco Giants (6-1)- Sweeping the Astros was really not much of an accomplisment, but the Giants proved themselves as a contender against the Braves. LW: 10

7. Colorado Rockies (3-3)- Jorge De La Rosa looked like an absolute stud against San Diego, but the Rockies looked a bit shaky otherwise. LW: 5

8. Detroit Tigers (5-1)- Okay, so they only played Kansas City and Cleveland, but the Tigers took care of business. Ordonez and Cabrera look to be a dominant 3,4 in the lineup. LW: 12

9. Tampa Bay Rays (3-3)- Looked completely overmatched in their series with the Yankees. David Price was about the only bright spot. LW: 8

10. Atlanta Braves (3-3)- Jason Heyward proved he was human, but bounced right back the next day. They need Chipper Jones in the line-up to help arguably the deepest rotation in the league. LW: 6

11. Texas Rangers (3-3)- Their powerful offense seemed to break out a bit Sunday against Seattle. Scott Feldman keeps proving he's a solid top of the rotation guy. LW: 11

12. Florida Marlins (4-2)- Maybe the most impressive week in the league for a team I thought would be mediocre, proving they could challenge for a playoff spot. LW: 20

13. Arizona Diamondbacks (4-2)- My sleeper team of the year is proving that they have quite the potent offense. Wait until they get Brandon Webb back, they're a legit contender. LW: 14

14. Seattle Mariners (2-5)- Seattle needs Cliff Lee to come back ASAP, or their rotation is actually quite weak. Franklin Gutierrez may be an all-star this year though. LW: 9

15. Oakland Athletics (5-2)- Not sure if I'm buying it quite yet, but they were very impressive this week. Brett Anderson is about as good of a young pitcher as there is in the league. LW: 26

16. Milwaukee Brewers (3-3)- Looked impressive as they held their own against two of the best teams in the National League. Need to get some momentum this week on the road in Chicago and Washington LW: 22

17. Los Angeles Dodgers (2-4)- It only get's harder this week as the Dodgers get to host division rivals Arizona and San Francisco. Never good to start off your season losing 2-of-3 to the Pirates LW: 13

18. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (2-4)- May just be too old to compete this year, especially after losing Guerrero, Lackey, and Figgins. LW: 17

19. Chicago Cubs (2-4)- Things are not looking good in the South Side about now. Theriot, A. Ramirez, Soriano and Byrd all hitting under .200 through the first week, and Zambrano doesn't look too hot. LW: 16

20. Cincinnati Reds (3-3)- Mike Leake and Aroldis Chapman are going to make a dominant 1,2 punch in about two or three years. Things are definately only looking up in Cincinnati. LW: 19

21. Toronto Blue Jays (5-1)- Yeah, I'm just not quite buying it yet. Wait til they have to play the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays, and find themselves right back in 4th place. LW: 24

22. Chicago White Sox (2-4)- Ozzie Guillen needs to go. Oh yeah and somebody needs to step up and hit the ball. That too. LW: 18

23. Pittsburgh Pirates (3-3)- Alright, something's telling me that Daniel McCutchen isn't quite a reliable ML pitcher, but Andrew McCutchen is a flat out stud. LW: 29

24. New York Mets (2-4)- When Johan Santana is giving up grand slams to the Washington Nationals in the first innings, you know things aren't going well in Queens. LW: 15

25.Cleveland Indians (2-4)- You never want to go up 5-0 in the first inning against a division rival and lose. Shin Soo Choo needs to start to hit like he did last year. LW: 28

26. Washington Nationals (3-3)- Somehow they managed to escape the week with a .500 record. I still wouldn't be too optimistic in the nation's capital. John Lannan's their #1. LW: 27

27. Kansas City Royals (2-4)- They can't afford to lose any of Grienke's starts even if it is against the Sox, but they got encouraging performances from Hochevar and Davies. LW: 25

28. Houston Astros (0-6)- I really like Brad Mills, but he's probably be better off back on the Red Sox bench. Not a very good start in Houston, to say the least. LW: 21

29. Baltimore Orioles (1-5)- They're this far low because they got swept by the Blue Jays, and I'm not buying the Jays yet. Where's the promising offense we saw at points last year? LW: 23

30. San Diego Padres (2-4)- Good for the Pads, they won two games. That's about two more than I expected, but not enough to get pushed up past the 30 spot. LW: 30

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

These guys have some decisions to make...

Last nights NCAA championship game was an instant classic, there's absolutely no denying that. It was just about as well played of a basketball game as I've seen in a long time, and as crazy as the tournament's been this season, it was obvious that the two teams in the championship both deserved to be there.

In an age of one and done's dominating college basketball, the thing that made this match-up so intriguing was that there is most likely not a single future lottery pick in the NBA draft on either roster. While the top of this year's draft is clogged with Kentucky, Kansas, and Syracuse players, neither Duke or Butler has a player ranked that high. They were able to advance by playing good defense and smart basketball, proving that good team-oriented basketball hasn't quite died yet. It was truly an encouraging sight for the game.

That being said, if you were to ask an NBA scout who they believe are the best NBA prospects that played in the championship game this year, most likely three names are going to come up. All three are underclassman who may or may not return to campus for the 2010-2011 season, in which both Duke and Butler may be national players again. Those three players are Kyle Singler, Gordon Hayward and Nolan Smith.

Kyle Singler proved throughout the course of the tournament that he is an incredibly versatile player, who at 6'9" can do so many things well. He makes up for his somewhat limited athletic ability with an off the charts intangible package and basketball IQ, as well as his good size for the small forward position. He can play multiple positions, and most likely could become a very good spot up three-point shooter in the NBA. ESPN compares his skill set to former Duke great Mike Dunleavy Jr., with a little bit of Adam Morrison, and projects him as a late first-round or early second-round pick in the draft. Kyle hasn't really said much about what he's going to do so far, and after winning a championship he may be ready to leap to the next level. But if he's not going to be a guaranteed first-rounder, it's quite possible he will return to lead Duke to their 2nd straight.

His teammate Nolan Smith has already said he's staying, though his draft stock skyrocketed during the tournament in which he showed exactly how dynamic of a scorer he is. Nolan still lacks the ideal size for a two-guard in the NBA, which is probably factoring into his decision to stay. But if he has a chance to go in the 1st round, and Singler decides to leave could Nolan follow him out the door? We'll see.

Despite losing three key veteran leaders in Jon Scheyer, Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek, Duke will come into next season as a top 5 team if Singler and Smith stay. With the Plumlee brothers adding a year of experience, and the arrival of the best point guard to come to Durham since Jay Williams in Kyrie Irving, there is no doubt that Duke could repeat next year. But without Singler it's going to be very hard for this Blue Devils team to repeat.

In the eyes of most scouts, though, the best NBA prospect in this game was probably Butler sophomore Gordon Hayward. Hayward is a 6'9" shooting guard with an incredibly versatile skill set. He's been mentioned as even a possible lottery pick by many after his excellent NCAA tournament. But as seen from many of the post-game interviews, Hayward is obviously a very competitive young man, and it wouldn't surprise me if he decides to come back to try and win a Championship next season. With Shelvin Mack, Matt Howard, and Ronald Nored all returning as well, it's not out of the question that they will once again be even better than this year.

All I can guarantee about these three young men is that they will end up making the right decisions. Unlike Tommy Mason-Griffin, Eric Devendorf, or Paul Harris, these guys should be able to properly gauge their draft status and make an educated decision. All three of these guys are phenomenal young people, and are great for the college game. When they decide to take it to the next level, they will be great for the NBA as well.

Monday, April 5, 2010

MLB Power Rankings: 4/5/2010

After just about every team playing in the past two days I think I have a grip on my preliminary power rankings. What a great opening day it was in baseball. Dominant pitchers looked dominant (Lincecum, Halladay, Santana, Bueherle), while dominant hitters looked dominant (Howard, Pujolks, Youkilis). Mark Buehrle also made a play that should go down as one of the best of the year when everything's all said and done.

Not only all of that, but the Sox won. That's always a plus.

Here we go:

1. Philadelphia Phillies
I don't think many people realize just how good Roy Halladay is. He is not on the same level as Cliff Lee. His is about two levels ahead of Cliff Lee, and every other pitcher in baseball. He has been the best pitcher in baseball for more than half a decade, pitching for a crappy team in the best offensive division in baseball. Now with the best team in the National League, there's nothing stopping Halladay from a 25 win season.

2. Boston Red Sox
Okay, maybe it's a little premature to put them ahead of the 2009 World Series Champion New York Yankees, but the Sox are definately improved from last year. Mike Cameron, Adrian Beltre and Marco Scutaro are all plus defensive players, who proved last night they could hit a little as well. Not only that but Cameron should work wonders on the already solid clubhouse.

3. New York Yankees
Sure, I don't think the Yankees really improved much from last year, but they didn't get any worse either. Javier Vazquez will be a huge pick-up in the back of the rotation, while Curtis Granderson has potential to be a star. Moving Phil Hughes to the bullpen, though, may turn out to be a bad decision unless Joba returns to the form he had as a set-up man back when he was a rookie.
Alright, so there you have it. My first edition of the 2010 MLB power rankings. Oh wait, there's more teams in the league. I completely forgot about that. In all honesty though, the top three are miles away from the pack. No one else throws all-stars around at every position like Boston, Philadelphia and the bombers. That being said, you can't count out the other teams quite yet seeing as the season has barely started. Here are "the rest"
4. St. Louis Cardinals
It's always a good sign when you have the best hitter in baseball and two of the better pitchers in your league, 
and that's just what the Cardinals have. Albert Pujols is unstoppable, and Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina, Ryan Ludwick and Colby Rasmus should surround him well. Losing Joel Piniero could be a roadblock for the pitching staff, but they still retain 2009 Cy Young candidates Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter.

5. Colorado Rockies
There's just something about this club that's been magical the past couple of years, and despite the fact they've been to the playoffs two of the past three years they still may slip under some people's radar. But this offense is dynamic, led by modern day stars like Troy Tulowitzki and Brad Hawpe, as well as veteran presences like Todd Helton and Jason Giambi. Newcomer Greg Smith who hasn't pitched in the majors since 2008, needs to show that he can be a solid back of the rotation starter.

6. Atlanta Braves
If Jason Heyward is as good as people say he is, there's no saying just how good Atlanta could be this year. Already in a line-up with proven hitters like Chipper Jones and Brian McCann, Heyward could be a key piece in bringing the Braves to the next level. They already have a loaded rotation with Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson, and Derek Lowe, but it would be very key for them if someone steps up as a bonafide ace.

7. Minnesota Twins
I don't think (with the exception of MAYBE Pujols), you can associate one player with a franchise as well as you do Joe Mauer with the Twins, and this could be his year to try and get a title. Unless playing in the Metrodome really was that big of a home-field advantage, there's no reason why Minnesota doesn't win more games this year at Target Field, especially with the additions of J.J. Hardy, Orlando Hudson and Jim Thome.

8. Tampa Bay Rays
I know, I know. Three teams in the same division, before some divisions even have one. But the Rays really are an excellent young baseball team. The Sox and Yankees aren't necessarily guaranteed the playoffs because of the boys from Tampa lurking behind them. Evan Longoria is a superstar, while Ben Zobrist and Jason Bartlett are two of the most underrated players in baseball. Zobrist deserved serious MVP consideration last year.

9. Seattle Mariners
No one in baseball throws out a 1,2 punch as good as Cliff Lee and King Felix, but the Mariners are going to need a couple other things to click before they're a true playoff contender. Casey Kotchman was the back-up first baseman for the Red Sox last year, and is now the Mariners #3 hitter. David Aardsma was a scrub long reliever for the Sox a few years back and is now their closer. Are the Sox really that much better than everyone else?

10. San Francisco Giants
This may be biased because I've been hearing for the past few months about how good the Giants are going to be, but I'm not sure if that makes me have them higher or lower than they should be. Lincecum is a flat out stud, but like last year they're going to need some people to step up and get some runs. Aubrey Huff should at leaset help a bit with that.

11. Texas Rangers
It's almost scary just how much pure talent Texas has, it's just that they haven't really channeled all of it quite yet. This especially appies to their young pitching staff, with future studs like Derek Holland, Tommy Hunter, and Neftali Feliz. Holland and Hunter are starting in the minors, so look for them to be out to prove something when they get the call in a few months. Both are just oozing with raw talent.

12. Detroit Tigers
Jose Valverde joining the Tigers is one of the most underrated offseason acquisitions of the year. Detroit has been missing that go-to closer in the past, and Valverde is that option. Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera have proven themselves as stars and will lead the pitching and hitting respectively, but youngsters like Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello may be poised to join that all-star type category as well this year.

13. Los Angeles Dodgers
Joe Torre and his guys in blue were the best team in the National League for most of last year, but anytime Vincente Padilla is your opening day started you have to be a bit skeptical. Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley form a solid 1,2, but it's not as dominant as many of the other contenders, and that could be a problem down the line.

14. Arizona Diamondbacks
Arizona could be the surprise team of the year this year, especially if Brandon Webb can come back off the DL as effective as he usually is, although they do play in a very, very tough division. Dan Haren and Edwin Jackson are both dominant top of the rotation guys as it is, but adding Webb back should bring them to another level. Young superstars Mark Reynolds, Stephen Drew and Justin Upton need to improve on their solid 2009 campaigns for the D'Backs to hold a chance in the NL West.

15. New York Mets
God knows when Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes will be on the field together again, but when they both return the Mets will put out a pretty solid team. Until then, they're going to need to survive in a division with Atlanta and Philadelphia, but having Johan Santana at the top of the rotation will help.

16. Chicago Cubs
Ouch! Zambrano didn't look too hot today. Now usually you really shouldn't have to worry when your #1 struggles a bit on opening day (Ex. a, Josh Beckett), but 8 runs after not getting out of the 2nd is worth losing sleep over. I may be being a bit generous here, could be a tough season on the South Side.

17. Los Angeles Angels
I really do think the Angels will drop this far, and may not even finish over .500. Anytime you lose Chone Figgins, Vladimir Guerrero and John Lackey in the same year, you're bound to have an off season. But, Mike Scioscia's just too good of a manager, and the Angels front office has been steadily brilliant over the past decade and they should be back at the top in no time.

18. Chicago White Sox
Ozzie Guillen has to go, plain and simple. He gives absolutely nothing positive to this franchise, in my opinion. Except for the fact that they lack a true #1 starter (though Buehrle looked like one today, and Peavy has been one in the past), the White Sox have all the pieces to be a playoff team. I still don't see them challenging Minnesota or Detroit.

19. Cincinnati Reds
Reds fans have good reason to be optimistic. Aroldis Chapman is supposed to be a special talent, and by signing him Cincinnati puts themselves on the map as a contender. Reds fans just need to be patient. They won't make the playoffs this year, but they're on the right direction to go back to the glory days they had in the past.

20. Florida Marlins
Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson form a solid nucleus, but they may not have the other components to compete in a strong NL East division.

21. Houston Astros
With Lance Berkman on the DL to start the season, Houston's offense really is quite weak. They have a solid front of their rotation with Roy Oswalt and Wandy Rodriguez, but they may not have enough to get back to the playoffs.

22. Milwaukee Brewers
Ryan Braun's just about the only bright spot left after the CC Sabathia debacle of 2007 didn't quite pay off.

23. Baltimore Orioles
Good young offense led by Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, and Nick Markakis should lead the Orioles to some victories, but their pitching staff may be too inexpierenced to give them any shot in the toughest division in the MLB.

24. Kansas City Royals
Zach Grienke is one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball. End of story.

25. Oakland Athletics
Billy Beane's "Moneyball" technique either doesn't work, or isn't effective anymore because everybody knows about it, because Oakland now has very few encouraging pieces on their roster.

26. Toronto Blue Jays
They were below average with Roy Halladay. Now it should be an adventure without the best pitcher in baseball.

27. Washington Nationals
I don't care if Stephen Strasburg is as effective as Roy Halladay when he gets called up, the Nationals are still a bad team. But at least they're kind of headed in the right direction.

28. Cleveland Indians
They were so bad last year that they didn't even have a Cy Young winner to trade away midseason this year. Not much to be excited for in Cleveland this season.

29. Pittsburgh Pirates
When you trade away most of you're starting line-up in midseason of one year and you're already bad, you're probably not going to be too good the next season.

30. San Diego Padres
Worst major league team in baseball, worst minor league system in baseball. Good luck Jed Hoyer, it's gonna be a rough couple years!

There you have it. All 30 teams ranked in order, and it should be interesting to see how this pans out throughout the rest of the season. I'll be posting power rankings weekly throughout the season so keep reading!