Sunday, April 20, 2008

2008 Preseason All-NL Central Team

National League Central

First Team

C: Yadier Moline (STL)
Molina headlines the weakest position in the division. I don't know if I'll be able to find someone for second team…

1B: Prince Fielder (MIL)
I do not think the vegetarian diet will hurt Prince that much. He has become one of the most feared hitters in the game, hands down.

2B: Brandon Phillips (CIN)
Phillips has 30+ HR power to go along with a decent average (.288). Phillips is fast becoming one of the best second basemen in the National League.

3B: Aramis Ramirez (CHC)
Ramirez can hit the cover off of the ball with the best of him and batted over .300 last year. The only real question is his fielding ability.

SS: J.J. Hardy (MIL)
Hardy fell off after a strong start last year, but remains the class of a weakened position.

LF: Alfonso Soriano (CHC)
Hitting at the top of the lineup, Soriano does not get the gaudy RBI numbers, but his home run total (33) speaks for itself. He is a force to be reckoned with.

CF: Michael Bourn (HOU)
Yes, he is unproven, but he has plenty of potential. He is a base stealing threat the moment he gets on and should score plenty in Houston's lineup.

RF: Ken Griffey, Jr. (CIN)
Sure, he's old, but Junior did hit 30 home runs in 2007 and should be able to be good for at least another 25 in 2008.

SP: Carlos Zambrano (CHC)
Zambrano's best year will be 2008; his contract issues are behind him.

SP: Ben Sheets (MIL)
Sheets has a devastating curve, although there are health issues. If he is on though, he is one of the best.

SP: Roy Oswalt (HOU)
Oswalt appears to be falling off, but he will win 15+ games this year. He's too good of a pitcher to stay down for long.

RP: Francisco Cordero (CIN)
Milwaukee let him go after a 44 save season, so I in no way expect him to duplicate his numbers. He is still solid of the bullpen.

RP: Jose Valverde (HOU)
The former Diamondback saved 47 games last year. With Houston not expecting to win that many, Valverde will not reach that mark again, but can be lights out on any night.

Second Team

C: J.R. Towles (HOU)

1B: Albert Pujols (STL)

2B: Freddy Sanchez (PIT)

3B: Bill Hall (MIL)

SS: Ryan Theriot (CHC)

LF: Adam Dunn (CIN)

CF: Rick Ankiel (STL)

RF: Hunter Pence (HOU)

SP: Aaron Harang (CIN)

SP: Yovani Gallardo (MIL)

SP: Adam Wainwright (STL)

RP: Jason Isringhausen (STL)

RP: Carlos Marmol (CHC)

Boom.

Action-Reaction: April 20, 2008

We all know what today is. Therefore, I am foregoing the usual Action-Reaction and instead I am going to give you some suggestions on who the best people to celebrate today with are! Enjoy!
Well for starters, if you're in the Cleveland area, there is Kenny Wright....
...and if you prefer no-name defensive backs, Willie Andrews is another option...

...or for NBA players, Keon Clark seems to know what he is doing...

...and Quincy Carter has a bit of a history...



...Kellen Tillman from Texas Tech seems to enjoy the same thing...

...Damon Stoudemire and Rasheed Wallace are some notable names...


...ah, Jerramy Stevens, you're such a cool dude...


...Theo Davis and Josh Heytvelt like the stuff as well...




...the Bengals and Jonathon Joseph are involved with a little something-something...


...and of course, the grandaddy of them all, Mr. Ricky Williams...



Thanks to TheSportsCritics for this info...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

2008 Preseason All-NL East Team

My first jaunt into the National League.

First Team

C: Brian McCann (ATL)
McCann headlines a weak catching class in the NL East. He is still a complete catcher and his job his safe with the exit of Jared Saltalamacchia.

1B: Ryan Howard (PHI)
The 2006 NL MVP recovered from a slow start to finish with 47 home runs. He just needs to cut down on strikeouts.

2B: Chase Utley (PHI)
Utley is looking to make up for time he lost last August after suffering a broken wrist. Utley helps the middle of this lineup go.

3B: David Wright (NYM)
Wright is a complete young player. He definitely deserves this spot.

SS: Hanley Ramirez (FLA)
A tough choice over Rollins, but Ramirez will definitely have a great season.

LF: Pat Burrell (PHI)
Look for a strong second half from Pat the Bat. One of the most maddening players from a Phillies fan's perspective.

CF: Carlos Beltran (NYM)
Beltran can still hit, run, and cover ground in New York.

RF: Jeff Francoeur (ATL)
Francoeur has been somewhat inconsistent throughout his career, but looks to stay steady for 2008.

SP: Johan Santana (NYM)
The early favorite for the NL Cy Young Award.

SP: Cole Hamels (PHI)
Hamels headlines a weak rotation and will be called on to deliver by the Phillies.

SP: John Smoltz (ATL)
The ageless Smoltz teams with Hudson for a strong top-two starters in Atlanta.

RP: Billy Wagner (NYM)
Wagner was hit hard at times last year, but still remains a feared closer.

RP: Chad Cordero (WSH)
How many games will Cordero actually get to save? That aside, he remains one of the best relievers out there.

Second Team

C: Paul LoDuca (WSH)

1B: Mark Teixiera (ATL)

2B: Dan Uggla (FLA)

3B: Chipper Jones (ATL)

SS: Jimmy Rollins (PHI)

LF: Elijah Dukes (WSH)

CF: Shane Victorino (PHI)

RF: Jeremy Hermida (FLA)

SP: Oliver Perez (NYM)

SP: John Maine (NYM)

SP: Tim Hudson (ATL)

RP: Brad Lidge (PHI)

RP: Rafael Soriano (ATL)

How does this one stack up?

Top 100 Songs: 100-91

You hear that? That's the sound of music. That sound means that my Top 100 is here. Yeah, I'm actually doing it. But doing it seems rather pointless, as this list is totally inaccurate now. Whatever. I'll do it anyway. In increments of ten, to make you want it more.

100. Coconut Records – "West Coast"
This song is nice and relaxing. Jason Schwartzman does a masterful job in it, and it is a love song that is not too "lovey-duvey." Or something like that.

99. Nada Surf – "Hi-Speed Soul"
This song starts with a cutting riff, but the mood changes throughout the song. The vocals do a great job of mellowing the song out and making it have a better feel overall.

98. Weezer – "My Name Is Jonas"
I liked this song before it was on guitar hero. It is still a great song, even though its commercialization has knocked it down a few pegs in my mind. Not really, but I recently rediscovered Weezer, throwing this song onto this list at this spot.

97. T.I. – "What You Know"
This is plainly the most addictive song I have ever heard. I love it. I am hard-pressed to find a more addictive rap/hip-hop song (even though there are higher ones on this list).

96. Jay-Z – "99 Problems"
Yet another rap song. This one is a gem. And I can almost sing along with it word-for-word.

95. Shellac – "Prayer to God"
An angry song written by an angry man (Steve Albini) performed by an angry band. Keep the kids away for this song folks. Rather explicit.

94. The Jimi Hendrix Experience – "Purple Haze"
I figured there would a mob of angry Balkan villagers at my door if I did not have at least one classic rock song up on here, so here it is. I still like it, even though it is not quite the holy grail it was in middle school.

93. The White Stripes – "A Martyr For My Love For You"
I just really like this song. This is my favorite song of Icky Thump and it is very addictive. I get it stuck in my head a lot, even though it is interesting to try to figure what Jack White is singing about. Was he in love with a 16-year-old?

92. Flight of the Conchords – "Business Time"
And when I'm down to my socks….

91. Sonic Youth – "Death Valley '69"
Hey look, it's Sonic Youth! Get used to them folks. They are going to make their presence known on this list. Unfortunately for all of you.

So there are the first ten. This was totally worth your time. The next ten will come out whenever. Enjoy.

The 4: 4.13.2008-4.19.2008

So again, this comes to you on a Saturday instead of during the week when I really want to do it. That is one of the problems with having a life I guess.

Songs
1. "Leader" – Phantom Planet
2. "Black Hole" – Be Your Own Pet
3. "Hi-Speed Soul" – Nada Surf
4. "I Am A Scientist" – Guided By Voices

Albums
1. The Body, The Blood, The Machine – The Thermals
2. Our Love to Admire – Interpol
3. More Songs About Buildings and Food – Talking Heads
4. Icky Thump – White Stripes

Teams
1. New Orleans Hornets
2. Washington Capitals
3. Philadelphia Phillies
4. Philadelphia Flyers

Players
1. Alexander Ovechkin
2. Adam Jones (baseball player)
3. Troy Tulowitzki
4. Chris Long

I'm going to have to revamp this and make this longer…

2008 Preseason All-AL West Team

First Team

C: Kenji Johjima (SEA)
Although there is speculation on whether or not Johjima will have his job at the end of the season (Jeff Clement is waiting in the minors), he remains the best option at catcher in the West. His defense is adequate while he hits more for average than power.

1B: Casey Kotchman (LAA)
Kotchman has yet to reach his potential, but compared to all of the other first baseman in the division, he is the best option. With the strength of the top of this lineup, I expect him to get more opportunities to hit and hopefully have a break out year.

2B: Howie Kendrick (LAA)
Kendrick is young and inexperienced, but he can hit (.322 in limited action last year). With a full season under his belt, he should be able to reach his potential and become a superstar.

3B: Hank Blalock
(TEX)
Yes, the man only had 10 HRs and 33 RBIs in 2007, but he can definitely rebound from an injury-plagued season. He is still relatively young and has 30+ HR power, a plateau he should be able to reach in the hitters paradise that is in Texas.

SS: Michael Yong (TEX)
Young hit .315 last year, as he continued his great hitting. He is one of the best hitters in the league that gets absolutely no exposure or credit. He hits .300 again in 2008.

LF: Jack Cust (OAK)
Left field is very weak in the AL West. That is why Cust makes this team. He cannot hit for average at all, but he hits for power which has to be worth something. Time will tell if last year was a fluke for him or not.

CF: Ichiro Suzuki (SEA)
Ichiro is still one of the best all around players in baseball. He hit .351 last year and still stole 37 bases. The Mariners are relying on him to provide a spark for their lineup, something he is willing and able to do.

RF: Vladimir Guerrero (LAA)
Vlad can still hit. Although his home run totals dipped below 30 in 2007, he still hit .324. The powerful lineup can pick up the home run slack, but all Vlad needs to do is get hits with runners on and get driven in by a strong lineup.

DH: Milton Bradley (TEX)
Torn ACL and uncontrollable temper aside, this man will tear the cover off baseballs in Texas.

SP: John Lackey (LAA)
I know he is currently injured, but he is still one of the best pitchers in baseball. He did win 19 games last year.

SP: Erik Bedard (SEA)
Another injured pitcher. When Bedard is on though, he can strike you out with the best of them, and teamed with Felix Hernandez, he becomes lethal. Bedard also has an offense. Something he did not have in Baltimore.

SP: Joe Blanton (OAK)
Blanton could be on his way out in Oakland soon, but he is still their best pitcher.

RP: Francisco Rodriguez (LAA)
Injured, I know. K-Rod is still the guy you want for your team on the mound in the ninth inning in a close game.

RP: J.J. Putz (SEA)
Another injured pitcher in the AL West, but last year he was amazing. If he was healthy, he would definitely repeat those numbers.

Second Team

C: Gerald Laird (TEX)

1B: Richie Sexson (SEA)

2B: Ian Kinsler (TEX)

3B: Chone Figgins (LAA)

SS: Bobby Crosby (OAK)

LF: Gary Matthews, Jr. (LAA)

CF: Josh Hamilton (TEX)

RF: Travis Buck (OAK)

DH: Mike Sweeney (OAK)

SP: Felix Hernandez (SEA)

SP: Kelvim Escobar (LAA)

SP: Jered Weaver (LAA)

RP: Huston Street (OAK)

RP: Scot Shields (LAA)

The Preseason All-AL West First & Second Teams.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Action-Reaction: April 13, 2008

So this is coming out a little bit later than normal, but there are definitely some extraordinary circumstances behind this one.

Last night we had a "jazz band lock-in" at my school, where we all got together and practiced from 7 PM to 5 AM. Granted, we only practiced for about four of those hours, but getting to bed at 5:45 AM and waking up at 12:30 PM is not that much fun. Especially with still having an English essay about Holden Caulfield to write. So here's an abbreviated Action-Reaction.

Action: Gavin Floyd nearly no-hits the struggling Detroit Tigers.
Reaction: It's great to see Floyd finally do something great. This guy is from the Baltimore area and went to one of the local prep schools. As a Phillies fan, I really wanted him to succeed with the Phillies, but I feel he can reach his projected potential eventually with the White Sox. Hopefully, he will continue to get better and live up to all of his potential.

Action: The Yankees have unearthed the Red Sox jersey a worker buried under the new Yankee Stadium.
Reaction: It would have all worked if he had just kept his mouth shut. Those Red Sox fans and their big mouths....

Action: The Arizone Diamondbacks have won eight straight games.
Reaction: Arizona has to be the most underrated, disrespected, not talked about team out there. So much talent on one team that gets no publicity or press. The Rockies became media darlings last year on their run, while the Diamondbacks were just kind of "that team that won that one division out there." So start respecting those Diamondbacks.

Action: Bill Self has agreed to a new deal at Kansas.
Reaction: I think he'll stick around for a few more years and have Kansas back in the Final Four in the next four years.

Action: Tyler Hansbrough has swept all major awards.
Reaction: Great player. Should be able to repeat his performance if he stays for his senior season.

Boom.

2008 Preseason All-AL Central Team

So I've already done the Preseason All-AL East Team. Time for the AL Central, which is one of the most talented divisions in baseball.

All AL-Central First Team

C: Victor Martinez (CLE)
Martinez earns the nod over Joe Mauer, as Mauer had some injury issues last season that caused him to miss a lot of time. Martinez is still one of the best run producers in baseball, a consistent .280+, 20+, 100+ guy that helps boost the middle of Cleveland's order.

1B: Justin Morneau
(MIN)
The former AL-MVP had 30+ and 100+ last year and should be able to repeat those results again this year. Though he lost protection in Torii Hunter, Morneau gains Delmon Young, a blossoming young power hitter to help him. Morneau will be the best first basemen in the division in 2008.

2B: Placido Polanco (DET)
A weak position in the division, Polanco earns the nod with his high average (.341). If Polanco continues to hit for high average, the lineup for the Tigers will receive a huge boost.

3B: Miguel Cabrera (DET)
Although Cabrera has not spent much time in the AL (about two weeks), he is still the best third baseman in the division. He should be able to set a career high with 120+ RBIs this season in a deep Tigers lineup.

SS: Jhonny Peralta (CLE)
I'm talking Peralta over Edgar Renteria based on Renteria's horrible 2005 season with Boston. Peralta hits for better power than Renteria and means more to the Cleveland lineup than Renteria means to the Tigers.

LF: Nick Swisher (CWS)
Swisher is an ideal fit for the White Sox as he can get on base often and provide a power boost to a lineup that includes Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, and Jermaine Dye.

CF:
Curtis Granderson (DET)
Granderson barely gets the nod over Grady Sizemore, as Granderson hit for a higher average than Sizemore. Granderson can do it all and is probably one of the best all-around outfielders in the game.

RF: Magglio Ordonez (DET)
It is hard to match Maggs' .363 batting average last season. Add 28 home runs and 139 RBIs to the equation, then you have a great player. Ordonez will be just as good or better than last year, as the addition of Cabrera makes him harder to pitch around.

DH: Travis Hafner (CLE)
Although he had an off-season last year, Hafner will rebound this year. I expect him to get back up to 35+ homers and 110+ RBIs. The Indians lineup is still very potent with him in the middle.

SP: C.C Sabathia (CLE)
Sabathia is in the last year of his contract and will be gunning again for good stats (19 wins in 2007). We have seen players in the last years of their contract do horribly (see: Jones, Andruw; 2007), but I think C.C. will be able to reach 15+ wins and under 10 losses with a sub-3.50 ERA.

SP: Justin Verlander (DET)
Verlander is right on Sabathia's heels for best pitcher in the Central. If Verlander can lower his ERA and WHIP, he will be the best pitcher in the Central, especially if Sabathia stumbles.

SP: Fausto Carmona (CLE)
I am not expecting Carmona to totally duplicate the stats of 2007, but he should come close. Gets the nod over the White Sox' Mark Buehrle.

RP: Bobby Jenks (CWS)
The big man is a reliable closer and barely walks opposing batters.

RP: Joe Nathan (MIN)
Nathan has just been one of the best over the past few seasons, plain and simple.

All-AL Central Second Team
C: Joe Mauer (MIN)
1B: Paul Konerko (CWS)
2B: Asdrubal Cabrera (CLE)
3B: Alex Gordon (KC)
SS: Edgar Renteria (DET)
LF: Delmon Young (MIN)
CF: Grady Sizemore (CLE)
RF:
Jermaine Dye (CWS)
DH: Jim Thome (CWS)
SP: Mark Buehrle (CWS)
SP:

Jeremy Bonderman (DET)
SP: Javier Vazquez (CWS)
RP: Rafael Betancourt (CLE)
RP: Joe Borowski (CLE)

There they are.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Friday Burn: April 11, 2008

So this is coming out on Saturday, due to the fact I had a track meet that went WAY too long last night.

On Monday, the Kansas Jayhawks knocked off the Memphis Tigers for the NCAA Basketball Championship. Memphis essentially had the game won before collapsing in the final minute and losing in overtime. Chris Douglas-Roberts and Derrick Rose each missed key free throws before Mario Chalmers sank a game-tying three-pointer with about 2.1 seconds left. Kansas dominated overtime for the win. This game kicked off a sleepless week for me and a week where I isolated myself from major sports media outlets, which basically means I changed the channel whenever ESPN started to talk about the game or read any articles or blogs about the game online.

I really hate watching or reading sports news after a major championship game. I knew that all ESPN and everyone would be talking about was the fact that Memphis lost the game, not the fact that Kansas won it. Well I watched that game, and Kansas won it. They buckled down at the end and took advantage of all the breaks Memphis gave them. But all everyone could talk about was how Rose could not sink the free throws and how Douglas-Roberts could not either. Not the fact that Kansas hung tough in the game.

They talked about the fact that Memphis lost the game. Not the fact that Kansas won it.

That was a short burn. But I am busy.

The 4: 4.6.08-4.12.08

So I'm back after another week of listening to music and seeing what is going on in the world. It was a decent week. Extremely busy. But lots of time for music. Woot.

Songs
1. "Returning to the Fold" - The Thermals
2. "Break" - Fugazi
3. "Out at the Pictures" - Hot Chip
4. "99 Problems" - Jay-Z

Bands
1. LCD Soundsystem
2. Pixies
3. Minus The Bear
4. Cold War Kids

Albums
1. Highly Refined Pirates - Minus The Bear
2. The Body, The Blood, The Machine - The Thermals
3. The Cool - Lupe Fiasco
4. Get Awkward - Be Your Own Pet

Movies
Did not watch any this week. Hah.

Teams
1. Philadelphia Phillies
2. Green Bay Packers
3. New Orleans Hornets
4. Baltimore Orioles

Players
1. Nick Marakakis
2. Chase Utley
3. Chris Paul
4. Matt Stover


The 4: April 6, 2008-April 12, 2008

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Action-Reaction: April 6, 2008

Well I am back. For SIFS. Again. Woot.

Action: The Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles are atop first place in the AL East.
Reaction: I love early season baseball.

Action: Nick Markakis is my new mancrush.
Reaction: He definitely is, and deservedly so.

Action: The Boston Celtics have clinched home court advantage in the playoffs and set the record for largest single season turnaround, a 37-game swing from last year.
Reaction: Of course you are going to have a turnaround when you trade for three of the top players in the game your team is going to be good. This reminds, in a way, of the Yankees. Bostonians, are you fine with that identity? Being Yankee-like?

Action: Texas and Wyoming are starting a college football series that will meet three times in 2009, 2010, and 2012. The Wyoming athletic director said that it would be the biggest game in the history of Wyoming's stadium.
Reaction: Yeah, bring out a big team so your home fans can get your butts kicked. One thing is for sure, I will be rooting for Wyoming in these games.

Action: Memphis and Kansas have clinched spots in the NCAA title game.
Reaction: For all the talk of the top four seeds giving the best games, I was not exactly blown away by either game. The first half of Memphis-UCLA was the best part of any game. Memphis just took it to them in the second half, and North Carolina and Kansas were playing way too out of control. That Kansas-North Carolina game was almost painful to watch actually.

Action: I can't stand Billy Packer as an announcer.
Reaction: He sounded like a pompous, arrogant jerk during the Kansas-UNC game, criticizing every little thing. There was one play most notably where Wayne Ellington got a rebound, ran the length of the court and sank three. Packer started gushing all over him about how that was a great play and great decision. Fact is, if Ellington misses that shot, Packer is all over him for making a bad decision. I'm sure that's the case for all announcers, but Packer really bothered me last night. Really bothered me a lot.

Action: Jake Peavy two-hits the Dodgers in a 4-1 complete game win.
Reaction: Once they start breaking out the complete games, you know baseball has arrived. And baseball has arrived. Peavy will again be top five in Cy Young voting.

Action: Arizona freshman guard Jerryd Bayless is leaving Arizona early for the NBA Draft.
Reaction: Bayless is just clearing space for my boy, Brandon Jennings.

Action: Eric Gordon will enter the NBA Draft.
Reaction: Yeah, get out of Indiana as fast as you can. I do not blame you.

Action: The Denver Nuggets have fallen into an eighth place tie with the Golden State Warriors.
Reaction: When these two teams meet Thursday, that's going to be a good game.

Action: The Washington Capitals have clinched the Southeast Division in the NHL.
Reaction: Alex Ovechkin is the MVP. No question about it. If he does not win, it is robbery.

BAM.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

2008 Preseason All-AL East Team

I was originally going to do predictions for each division, but all the divisions are too close for me to call. So instead I have decided to go and create Preseason All-Star Teams for each division (First & Second teams). At the end of the series, there will be a vote on which team is the best. Please note I am factoring in last year's performance and this year's projected performance.

All-AL East First Team

C: Jorge Posada (NYY)
Posada's numbers from his career year last season trump all the other numbers of the other catchers in the East. I do not expect Posada to duplicate those numbers, but I definitely think he will still be the most productive catcher in the division.

1B: Carlos Pena (TB)
Like Posada, I do not think Pena will duplicate his numbers. That would be pretty cool if he did, but I do not expect him to hit 46 home runs again. Maybe 30, but not 46.

2B: Robinson Cano (NYY)
Cano had the best average and the most HRs and RBIs of any second basemen. He struggled in the field at times last season, but remains the top second baseman in the division. I expect him to only get better this season.

3B: Alex Rodriguez (NYY)
Need I say more?

SS: Derek Jeter (NYY)
Jeter is not the same player he was three or four years ago, but that does not mean he is not skilled. A .300 hitter, he comes through when needed and is adequately skilled in the field. Who cares if a study says he is the worst shortstop in baseball? I'm taking him over Julio Lugo, David Eckstein, Jason Bartlett, and Luis Hernandez.

LF: Hideki Matsui (NYY)
I originally had Manny Ramirez here because he is, well, Manny Ramirez. However, after looking at their numbers, Matsui hit more home runs and had more RBIs than Ramirez. Manny has adjusted his game away from being a power hitter a little bit, so he will not rake in the numbers we are accustomed to. However, I think Manny is in more of a decline than Hideki, so Hideki gets the nod.

CF: B.J. Upton (TB)
Upton will be a shining star in this league. He has 30+ home run power and batted .300 last year as a 22-year-old. I predict he will duplicate this performance.

RF: Nick Markakis (BAL)
Markakis is my newly christened mancrush, part of the reason he gets this spot. But love aside, I think he will have a better year than all of the other right fielders in the division. As a left-handed hitter, he has a short right field line in Camden Yards that he can exploit to his hearts delight.

DH: David Ortiz (BOS)
Ortiz was actually more productive last season even though he hit less home runs than he did in 2006. With no other team having a DH that can perform to Big Papi's level, he gets the nod.

SP: Scott Kazmir (TB)
Kazmir was the strikeout king for the American League last year and is only getting better. He should definitely be a 15-game winner behind his rising young offense. Kazmir will be one of the keys to the Rays projected success.

SP: Roy Halladay (TOR)
Halladay is only a few years removed from his Cy Young-winning season. He has declined recently, but can still hold his own against competition. He is still one of the best pitchers in the game on any given day.

SP: Josh Beckett (BOS)
There is not much to say about Beckett. He is a sure bet to win 17+ games and have an ERA under 3.50.

RP: Jonathon Papelbon (BOS)
The relief corps in the rest of the East pale in comparison to the staffs of the Red Sox and Yankees. Papelbon averaged a fantastic 13.0 K/9 and is still one of the most feared closers in the game.

RP: Mariano Rivera (NYY)
Rivera is most definitely on the decline, but he is still one of the better relievers in the East.

All-AL East Second Team


C: Jason Varitek (BOS)
This was a narrow choice over Baltimore's Ramon Hernandez, but with better offensive numbers and more able to handle pitching staffs, Tek gets the nod.


1B: Kevin Youkilis (BOS)
Youk gets the nod over Giambi, who is aging and has not showed anything recently. Youk is still Euclis, the Greek god of walks.


2B: Brian Roberts (BAL)
This was another close one, with Roberts getting the nod over Dustin Pedroia. Although Pedroia hit .317 to B-Rob's .290, I think that Pedroia will hit a sophomore slump as reigning AL Rookie of the Year.


3B: Mike Lowell (BOS)
Lowell will in no way repeat last year's numbers, but the Red Sox are betting on him to be a consistent presence in the order.


SS: David Eckstein (TOR)
See Jeter, Derek. Eckstein is the most proven and best fielder out the rest.


LF: Manny Ramirez (BOS)
I almost took Carl Crawford over Manny, but I expect Manny to rebound to 25+ HRs and 90+ RBIs this season.


CF: Vernon Wells (TOR)
Melky Cabrera almost got the nod here, but I Wells is a lot better than his stat line last year (.245/16/80) indicated. He should rebound to hit 30+ HRs with 100+ RBIs and bat over .270.


RF: Alex Rios (TOR)
Almost took Bobby Abreu here, but Rios continues to improve and should be a 30+ home run guy around the second or third spot in the order.


DH: Frank Thomas (TOR)
The Big Hurt can still hurt, as his 26 HRs last show. He will still impact the lineup, but not as much as in the past.


SP: Chien-Ming Wang (NYY)
It was tough to leave Wang off of the first team, but I think that Kazmir will have better year. Wang will still anchor the Yankees rotation, but he is liable to get knocked around a bit.


SP: James Shields (TB)
Shields is my sleeper for the year. I predict 15+ wins for him and a sub-3.60 ERA.


SP: Jeremy Guthrie (BAL)
Guthrie over Daisuke Matsuzaka? Just a wild guess. Dice-K was not really as productive as he seemed. Guthrie should win 13+ for the hapless O's this year.


RP: Joba Chamberlain (NYY)
No other relievers really.


RP: Hideki Okajima (BOS)
See above. Okajima will not be as dominate as last season thought…


All-American League East First & Second Teams.

Fantasy Baseball ’08: Volume I

I know, I tried this before with fantasy football last fall, but back then I had four teams. I only have one baseball team this spring, however, so this should be a heck of a lot easier.

First off, I am playing in the Atroo Grou League with FanNationers and members of the Atroo. The league is run by the one and only Coletrain, and is rounded out with Nomar, chrono, redskinhater, Cardsox, thehemogoblin, hiya, Esco, DetroitFan, League of Shadows and Mac. My team is called The Dunder-Mifflins. I would like to say I have a pretty good team.

We conducted a live draft a few weeks ago, and this is the team I ended up with:

C: Jarrod Saltalamacchia
1B: Travis Hafner
2B: Brandon Phillips
3B: Alex Rodriguez
SS: Derek Jeter
OF: Vladimir Guerrero
OF: Corey Hart
OF: Shane Victorino
UTIL: Aaron Rowand
BN: Pat Burrell
BN: Troy Glaus
BN: Adam LaRoche
SP: Carlos Zambrano
SP: Tim Lincecum
RP: Chad Billingsley
RP: Chad Cordero
P: John Maine
P: Ian Snell
P: Joe Blanton
BN: Curt Schilling
BN: Matt Capps

Now, that is a pretty solid team, in my opinion. However, that viewpoint changed a little bit, and I had to move fast.

Schilling is on the DL until probably around August. So I dropped him and added Jeremy Guthrie to my roster. Then, (I didn't notice this until today, shame on me) I realized that Saltalamacchia is in the minors to start the season. So I added the hot Ryan Doumit, who probably will not be able to keep his hot streak up, but hopefully will be productive until Salty can make it back to the majors.

So there it is. Hopefully every Saturday I will be able to update all you readers on the progress of my team.

Loyalty Issues

If I were a fan of the Baltimore Orioles or Milwaukee Brewers, I would count on hating the current front office crew in about five years. That's right, I am willing to predict that Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis and Brewers first basemen Prince Fielder will not be with their current team in five-to-seven years.

These predictions are from the controversy stemming from their contract disputes in the off season. With the numbers both of them put up last year they deserved to get paid this offseason. But they did not. Instead they had their contracts renewed for one year each and they are both being paid less than $1 million. The teams need to show loyalty to their players. To quote my dad, both of these players were "low-balled."

Let's look at each of these cases individually.

I am beginning to think I have a mancrush on Nick Markakis. Actually, I would like to take this opportunity to officially announce that I, DJ, have a mancrush on Nick Markakis. There.

Anyway, I have been watching Markakis steadily move up through the Orioles organization. I always being this up, but I saw him play Single-A ball and even then he was amazing. When he was placed in right field on Opening Day 2006 by Sam Perlozzo, I knew the future had arrived. Markakis was the Orioles lineup at some points this year and he is one of Major League Baseball's rising young stars. The Orioles need to keep him. Renewing his contract for one-year, $455,000 does not show that they want to keep him. I hope the Orioles realize that they are playing in the same division has the Yankees and Red Sox. I would hate to see Markakis patrolling the Pesky Pole in Fenway next to Jacoby Ellsbury or in right field at the new Yankee Stadium next to Melky Cabrera. I want to see him next to Adam Jones in Camden Yards. Playing these two teams many times during the season adds intrigue into Markakis to the potential of playing there.

So kill that potential, pay the man.

Here are Markakis' stats from last year:

G: 161
AB: 637
R: 97
H: 191
2B: 43
3B: 3
HR: 23
RBI: 112
SB: 18
CS: 6
BB: 61
SO: 112
BA: .300
OBP: .362
SLG: .485
OPS+: 121
TB: 309

They compare favorably to J.D. Drew:

G: 140
AB: 466
R: 84
H: 126
2B: 30
3B: 4
HR: 11
RBI: 64
SB: 4
CS: 2
BB: 79
SO: 100
BA: .270
OBP: .373
SLG: .423
OPS+: 105
TB: 197

J.D. Drew is making $14 million.

Markakis is making $455,000.

That ain't right.

Now let's look at Fielder. Now, Fielder is not the physical specimen of say, Mark McGwire or Barry Bonds, but the man can hit the ball. Far. When I first heard of young Prince Fielder, it was in Michael Lewis' Moneyball, where Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane painted an unflattering picture of him. Because of that, I did not have the best thoughts about Fielder when I first started seeing him play. After seeing him play multiple times however, my viewpoint is totally changed. The man can play. David Ortiz is aging. The Red Sox are going to be in the market for a DH in the next few years. Teams and general managers know that Fielder is the ideal choice an American League DH in the future. What is there to stop the Red Sox, Yankees, or even Angels from signing him to a huge deal the small market Brewers cannot match? I know the Brewers are a low budget team, but if they were to sign Fielder to a long-term deal now, they would be able to negotiate a shorter deal later in time so they will be able to keep him for his prime. The Brewers need to pay Fielder if they want to contend.

Pay him.

Fielder's stats from last year:

G: 158
AB: 573
R: 109
H: 165
2B: 35
3B: 2
HR: 50
RBI: 119
SB: 2
CS: 2
BB: 90
SO: 121
BA: .288
OBP: .395
SLG: .618
OPS+: 156
TB: 354

They compare to Paul Konerko.

G: 151
AB: 549
R: 71
H: 142
2B: 34
3B: 0
HR: 31
RBI: 90
SB: 0
CS: 1
BB: 78
SO: 102
BA: .259
OBP: .351
SLG: .490
OPS+: 116
TB: 269

Konerko makes $12 million.

Fielder makes $670,000.

Yeahhhhhhhh.

To me, the Orioles and Brewers need to follow the lead of the Colorado Rockies who signed young Troy Tulowitzki to a six-year, $31-million contract with the same or less service time as Markakis and Fielder. For both of those guys to see someone with less time than them make more money than them, that has to hurt. The Orioles are committed to rebuilding (or at least trying to be). Lock up Markakis. Put him next to Jones in the outfield. Markakis needs to be the centerpiece of the Orioles rebuilding process. I have heard talk of the Orioles contending in four-to-five years, which would put Markakis in his prime. Markakis is necessary for the Orioles to win. Peter Angelos, be loyal to your team and players. Sign the man.

As for Fielder, the Brewers need him for the future too. Put him in the lineup with Ryan Braun, J.J. Hardy, and Rickie Weeks, and you have something special. If the Brewers want to be able to outplay the Cubs for the NL Central crown, they will need Fielder anchoring their lineup, the Red Sox or Yankees lineup.

Sign these men.

Friday, April 4, 2008

BAM! Bracket Thoughts!

And I am back with some more bracket thoughts. Due to personal obligations (band practice, homework, spring break) I was not able to post my thoughts about the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight rounds in a timely fashion, so I will give them to you now.

Pregame

  • Candace Parker put on one of the gutsiest performances I have seen against Texas A&M. That just had to hurt.
  • The Sweet Sixteen had three double-digit seeded teams. Props to these small schools for their performance.

Charlotte Region

  • Tyler Hansbrough continued his phenomenal postseason play in wins over Washington State and Louisville. I don't watch a lot of college basketball, and I really hope I do not get scorned for his, but he may be the best college basketball player I have seen this decade/century/millennium.
  • Louisville beat Tennessee to help my bracket out. I always feel Tennessee is a bit overrated. I do not know what it is, but they always seem overrated to me in (men's) basketball and football.
  • The last minute of the Louisville-North Carolina game was so painful. The game is over. Please stop fouling. You are not going to get back into it. Thanks.
  • The higher seed won every game of the Charlotte Region except for No. 9 Arkansas over No. 8 Indiana and No. 3 Louisville over No. 2 Tennessee.

Detroit Region

  • I was not digging the raised court deal in Detroit. It just seemed way too dangerous for my liking.
  • Kansas is in the Final Four after beating Davidson. I do not think a lot of people would expect to write that sentence this year.
  • I have not read anything about this, but should Stephen Curry have taken the last shot of Davidson's 59-57 loss to Kansas? I personally think that Davidson could have tried to get him open better, but then again Kansas was playing tenacious defense.
  • I have had four scenarios running through my head regarding the last bullet:
    • Curry takes the last shot, sinks it, and Davidson wins. Curry is regarded as a clutch hero.
    • Curry takes the shot, but misses it. He is regarded as a valiant hero going down.
    • Curry passes the shot to a teammate who sinks the winning basket. Curry is applauded as being unselfish.
    • Curry passes the shot to a teammate who misses. Curry is regarded as trying to be too unselfish (see: James, LeBron; 2007 NBA Playoffs).
  • I have not heard anyone utter any of the above phrases, but they are in my mind, so I figured I would write them down.
  • Wisconsin was really a silent team this year, even in losing to Davidson. They are perennial homegrown contenders. I would not count them out next year.
  • Villanova was great in getting to the Sweet Sixteen. Even though I had Clemson in it instead of them.

Houston Region

  • Memphis ended Michigan State's Drew Neitzel's career. I enjoyed watching Neitzel throughout his entire career. Bravo.
  • Even though they beat Stanford, Texas just looked absolutely horrendous against Memphis. Horrendous.
  • Memphis has a definite shot at beating UCLA. Just as long as Joey Dorsey can stay out of foul trouble.
  • The higher seed won only one game in the Houston Region, No. 5 Michigan State over No. 4 Pittsburgh.

Phoenix Region

  • This was probably the weakest bracket in the entire tournament.
  • UCLA was not thoroughly challenged, although I was hoping Xavier would give them a run for their money.
  • Western Kentucky, San Diego, and West Virginia get major props from this bracket.
  • The lower seed won four games in this bracket.

Overtime

  • I find it fascinating that Memphis point guard Derrick Rose has a phobia of needles.
  • Also, Memphis backup point guard Andre Allen was suspended for violating team rules. I wanted to see him play one more time and marvel at his short length.
  • I finally get what people mean when they say they are glad the four No. 1 seeds made it to the Final Four. The first three rounds of the NCAA Tournament are great to watch young teams no one has ever heard of win a few games and screw up your bracket. But once you get to the Final Four, you want to see good basketball. That's why you want to see the top four seeds make it in.

Peace.

Friday Burn: 4.4.2008

On the fifth anniversary of one of my finest moments (state geography bee appearance) and the fortieth anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's death, I am feeling a little agitated. I need a burn.

Bus Cook. I am really starting to hate the man. Shopping around the services of Brett Favre, allegedly without his knowledge? I do not like that one bit. Favre is done. There is no way he will play again in another uniform. If he does, that is a total public relations disaster for the Packers, the NFL, and Brett Favre. Throughout this whole retirement process, Cook has been there, planting the seed of doubt in everyone's mind about Favre's status. He talked about how Favre could play two or three more years and leaked his opinion that Favre was being forced out by the Packers so that Aaron Rodgers could take the reins. The real article (not that little stub) has quotes from Cook saying he did not know of Favre's desire to play, but this just clouds the waters. Bus Cook, please do not become Drew Rosenhaus or Scott Boras.

I originally heard the story last night on the intro to Sportscenter before seeing the above link this morning. The intro scared me a little bit and made it sound like he could be traded in the next week. Whoever covered the story for ESPN (I forget who it was) did a good job of reassuring me that this would most likely not happen.

A little clarification for those of you who think that Favre needs his retirement papers to be officially retired and for the Packers to clear cap space. Favre would only need to file the papers to collect is severance pay which is usually done by people who need the money right away. Favre seems set for life so it is unnecessary for him to collect that pay right away. For the Packers to collect the $11.2 million in cap space that would be given to them after Favre is taken off the payroll, all they need to do is put Favre on the reserve/retired list, and, BAM, $11.2 million in cap space.

Chris Henry is done. Bravo, young man. Derailing your life at the age of 24. But since you have a world of talent, you will probably get picked up by some team willing to take a flyer on you. So clean up your act.

West Virginia University has the reputation of being one of the biggest party schools in the country. I know people (not na├»ve people at that) who have transferred out of there because there was too much drug and alcohol use. Has anyone else noticed that both Henry AND Pacman Jones have both come out of there? Must be something in the water…

As an Eagles fans, it is comforting to know that Donovan McNabb will not be traded. The way the Eagles closed out the 2007 season is a good sign for the 2008 season (see: 2007 Green Bay Packers). If the Eagles want to win now, they must do it with McNabb at the helm. Kevin Kolb is not ready AT ALL, and God help the soul that thinks he is the future within the next two years. Kolb has potential, but he is at least three-to-four years away. Throwing him to the lions in Philadelphia would not be the smartest thing to do. He should at least see some garbage time this year though.

Billy Packer
may be calling it quits as announcer of the Final Four games. I've still got my hand on the mute button for those games though. I will remember Packer most notably for ranting on national TV two or three years ago about how the Missouri Valley Conference had too many berths in the NCAA Tournament. Then three or so of those teams made the Sweet 16. Oops. Packer always struck me as an arrogant know-it-all and I did not like his voice to begin with.

On Sunday, Seattle Mariners pitcher Erik Bedard will make his return to Baltimore and Camden Yards. As a Baltimore area person, I really liked Bedard. I did not want to see him go, but I really like Adam Jones. I am hoping Jones can team with Nick Markakis to give the Orioles a good outfield. Also, former Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo returns to Camden Yards as well.

Mike Hampton strained his pectoral muscle warming up for his first start since 2005. Well, at least he still got paid that contract.

So this seems mighty similar to Action-Reaction. Well it is not. Get used to this.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The 4: 3.30.2008-4.5.2008

Every week I am going to post a segment detailing my four favorite songs, bands, albums, movies, teams, and players. So here goes.

Songs
1. "West Coast" – Coconut Records
2. "Veni Vedi Vici" – Black Lips
3. "Michael" – Franz Ferdinand
4. "Geronimo" – Phantom Planet


Bands
1. Be Your Own Pet
2. Fugazi
3. Sonic Youth
4. Minus The Bear

Albums
1. Get Awkward, Be Your Own Pet
2. Murray Street, Sonic Youth
3. Highly Refined Pirates, Minus The Bear
4. Hip Hop Is Dead, Nas

Movies
1. The Life Aquatic
2. The Darjeeling Limited
3. Ocean's Eleven
4. Miracle


Teams
1. Green Bay Packers
2. Philadelphia Phillies
3. Davidson Wildcats
4. San Diego Toreros

Players
1. Stephen Curry
2. RobJones
3. Chase Utley
4. Chris Paul

Hah. That was easy. And interesting.