Archives for: 2010, week 12

03/27/10

2010 National League Baseball Predictions

Permalink 06:30:00 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

National League
East

Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves*
Florida Marlins
Washington Nationals
New York Mets

Reigning back to back NL Champs Phillies take aim for their third consecutive World Series appearance. They bulked up by getting Roy Halladay and Placido Polanco. Bullpen problems still linger and could cost the Phils a shot at repeating in NL East. Look out for the Braves. It's Bobby Cox final season at the helm. Atlanta is healthy, wealthy and wise. Will it translate into diamond victories? Florida continues to amaze but don't have enough guns to win a title. Washington will play their first inspired brand of baseball since long before leaving Montreal. The Mets? Their pitching is terrible. Starters (minus Santana) will have trouble getting to the 5th. Middle inning bullpen still shaky. Lineup is mostly all right handed, Beltran injured again, Reyes new health concerns, no bonified big league 1B and a home park which helps everyone but Mets players. Watch out for 100+ loss season as all Mets personnel gets run out of town.

Central
Cincinnati Reds
Chicago Cubs
St. Louis Cardinals
Milwaukee Brewers
Houston Astros
Pittsburgh Pirates

Toughest division in baseball to handicap. There's no pure powerhouse club. All have two solid starters (minus Pittsburgh). All have similar style lineups, defense and bullpens. Reds handicap is their ill conceived home park which plays like a glorified little league field. Milwaukee's sporting 2 lefty starters which could get walloped vs predominant right handed power lineups. Cubs are 100 years plus without a championship are no closer. Cards 2009 success was a big surprise to most. NL Central is up for grabs.

West
Colorado Rockies
Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Diego Padres

It's time for Colorado to begin winning in April instead of waiting for late August. Rockies young hurlers and heavy lumber will nail down the West. LA has heavy lumber in OF but rotation doesn't strike fear into rivals. Giants are just the opposite. Rotation shreds bats but hitters don't match up well with most other MLB teams. Arizona could be a sleeper team so don't turn your back too quickly. They have pitching & hitting. Defense needs to step it up or it could be a long season. San Diego has quickly transformed into one of NL's worst after near misses only 3 years ago.

NL Champs: Philadelphia Phillies
Batting: Placido Polanco (.333)
HR: Ryan Howard (46)
RBI: Ryan Howard (144)
SB: Michael Bourn (53)
Wins: Roy Halladay (25)
ERA: Tim Hudson (2.38)
Saves: Jonathan Broxton (40)
MVP: Hanley Ramirez
Cy Young: Tim Hudson
Rookie: Jayson Heywood

03/26/10

2010 American League Baseball Predictions

Permalink 10:23:24 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

2010 will treat us to another thrilling baseball season. A handful of teams were very busy this off season refining their rosters in an attempt to dethrone the champion Yankees. Many teams should be considered contenders to win their respective leagues. Time to fast forward and gaze into my crystal ball. Here's my final predictions for 2010...

American League
East
New York Yankees
Boston Red Sox*
Tampa Bay Rays
Baltimore Orioles
Toronto Blue Jays

Yanks and Red Sox will battle wire to wire. Yanks 1-4 rotation their best of the decade. Lineup has 2 new faces (Granderson, Nick Johnson). Bench depth, which was always a NY strength, is now missing. Sox lineup missing big time power hitters but these guys will continue scoring runs in bunches behind a sharp rotation and deep bench. Don't be surprised to see them as division chams. Pitching was key to Tampa's World Series run and has been missing since. Great young team with competitive rotation might get snake bit again by faultering pen. Baltimore is beginning to make great strides attempting return to respectability. Toronto is a team in reverse. One time future stars have gone bust and pitching staff is one of AL's weakest.

Central
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Cleveland Indians

Chicago has what it takes on paper. Question is, can they stay healthy enough to reach the promised land? Everyone in their lineup will contribute and pitching staff has never been better. There will be plenty of excitement in Minnesota as the Twins open their new outdoor stadium. The loss of closer Joe Nathan to season ending injury essentially derails division title dreams. Detroit choked last season and changed a few faces for 2010. Pitching and lack of power might keep them stiffled in the middle of the pack. Kansas City's strength is pitching. Difference between winning and losing is run production which has been lacking from Royals hitters for years. Cleveland has potential future talent but this franchise was mortgaged years ago. A one time AL powerhouse gave away most of their talent and will have a hard time filling seats.

West
Los Angeles Angels
Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers
Oakland A's

The West will be wild. It's a three team race. Seattle has an improved rotation, lineup and defense. Angels changed a few faces and parted with former playoff heroes (Lacky, Vlad). Staying healthy is key #1 for LA to win. Seattle will be hot on the trail and could end up on top. The secret to success in Texas is pitching. Why haven't they figured it out? Rotation is weaker than '09 (Millwood gone) which is a crying shame considering their explosive offense. Oakland has never looked weaker and will lose 100+.

AL Champ: Boston Red Sox
Leaders
Batting: Ichiro (.360)
HR: Alex Rodriguez (44)
RBI: Miguel Cabrera (130)
SB: Jacoby Ellsbury (65)
Wins: CC Sabathia (23)
ERA: Felix Hernandez (2.45)
Saves: Mariano Rivera (44)
MVP: Kevin Youkilis
Cy Young: CC Sabathia
Rookie: Austin Jackson

03/24/10

2010 MLB Players to Watch

Permalink 05:00:00 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

2010 baseball season begins in 12 days. Teams are ready to make final cuts in preparation for another thrilling year of wire to wire action. I've assembled a short list of players to watch based on players in contract years, young talent, players who had off years in '09 and players who might have a hard time reproducing last years success. My players to watch.....

On the Rise?
1B - Kendry Morales (LAA) Lit up AL pitching in his first full season (.306, 34 HR). He's the main man heading into '10 and is currently tearing up Cactus League pitchers.
2B- Martin Prado (ATL) - .307 career hitter in 258 games appears to get better every step of the way. Could be a breakout season on the way?
3B (2) - Brandon Wood (LAA) - Gets first crack at everyday 3B duties for Scioscia's Angels. He needs to produce at the plate to remain a starter. Has struggled with big league pitching in 224 career AB's. Gordon Beckham (CWS) - The future is now for ChiSox promising young 3B. He had a fine showing last year and should put up pretty solid numbers on the South Side.
SS (2)- Alcides Escobar (MIL) - He's been recipient of rave reviews and all seem convinced he's ready to handle the rigors of 162. Great upside if he lives up to hype. Ian Desmond (WAS) - Look out. He's on the verge of winning the starting nod over veteran Guzman. This guy has serious range and can hit. It won't be long before he's Washington's full time starting SS.
LF- Nelson Cruz (TEX) - Might open up in RF over LF but for purposes of this post he's in left. Tearing up Cactus pitchers (1.283 OPS) after rocking 33 HR's in only 128 '09 games. Hitters friendly Texas offers room for tremendous numbers in '10.
CF- Austin Jackson (DET) - The Yankees will soon regret trading Jackson. He's a future star. New York has been famous for developing star CF's (Dimaggio, Mantle, Williams). They really goofed trading him for Granderson. Grandy's dandy but Jackson is a 5 tool real deal.
RF- Jayson Heywood (ATL) - Reminds me of Dave Parker. Imposing figure. Big time hitter hasn't had any problems with his first dose of major league pitching. Braves RF job is his. Rookie of the Year candidate.
C- Matt Wieters (BAL) - A huge load has been placed Baltimore's future star and he'll be learning on the job. Don't expect much this year in fantasy value. If he can settle down an erratic O's staff then good days are coming.
SP- JA Happ (PHI) - 12-4, 2.83 in '09 during his first full campaign. He looks locked and loaded early this spring. Potential 20 game winner should nail down no less than 15 this year.

Contracts, Comebacks or Tough to Repeat:
1B- Troy Glaus (ATL) - Comeback Player of the Year candidate. Can Glaus chip in and give the Braves a good year offensively? It'll be his first in Atlanta and first as a full time 1B. If he can contribute then look out for the Braves.
2B (2)- Rickie Weeks (MIL) This is probably Weeks' last shot to prove he's in Milwaukee to stay. Injuries, lack of consistency has haunted Rickie's career. In a lineup of big bats all he has to do is get on base.
2B- Howie Kendrick (LAA) Add Kendrick to the list. Can he finally stay healthy? He's yet to play more than 105 games in 4 big league seasons. He's a .302 career hitter. Big things are expected from him in '10.
3B- David Wright (NYM) Wright's .307 2009 batting average is deceiving. He was basically horrific in clutch situations and struck out 140 times. Complete power meltdown (10 HR) no thanks to new home stadium that no one seems to like. CF walls have been lowered. Might not help with 15 footers in LF.
SS- Derek Jeter (NYY) - The Yankees captain plays in his final contract season. Most players in contract years put up tremendous numbers. DJ's concentration will be in tip top shape. Another 200 hit performance with added power numbers are well within reach.
LF (2) - Brett Gardner (NYY) - Yanks should have tried unloading Gardner in the Granderson deal instead of Austin Jackson. Or, keeping Melky? Gardner will not come close to duplicating Damon type numbers. Maybe experience is all this kid needs? Talk about a kid who needs to mature on the diamond in a hurry before Bronx boo-birds let him have it. Anything less than .275 and big time defense will have the front office looking for a trade deadline replacement. Raul Ibanez (PHI) - Began '09 as odds on favorite for NL MVP after wrecking pitching in April/May. It was a steady decline the rest of the way including .189 August. Yet he finished with 34 HR in 134 games. Stuggles continuing early in spring training. Fantasy owners beware.
CF- Jason Hamilton (TEX) Hammy wowed fans in 2008 leading the AL with 130 RBI and putting on a memorable home run smash brigade during the Home Run Hitting Contest at Yankee Stadium. Beseiged by injuries in '09, Jason is slated to shift from CF to LF. Injury bug keeps popping up. Needs to stay healthy or he could be another one hit wonder.
RF- Jason Werth (PHI) - I'm thinking he's already a potential NL MVP candidate. Bashed 36 HR's in a breakout season last year. Then went on to hit 7 more in post-season competition. Werth has arrived, plays in a hitters park and in the middle of NL's most potent lineup.
DH (2) - Ken Griffey, Jr (SEA) - Seattle fans really hope Junior can be a major force in 2010. It could be his last year. Griff's career was robbed by a variety of injuries. He'll always be regarded as one of baseball's best ever CF. Relegated to DH duties he will have plenty of opportunities to shine in M's new look lineup. As a baseball fan it would be sensational to watch Griff shine just one more time. Jason Kubel (MIN) - New expectations. New ball park. Jim Thome waiting in the wings. Had a very solid year average (.300) and power (28 HR). Balls flew off his bat last year. He'll face tougher pitching in '10.
C (2) - Joe Mauer (MIN) - 2009 AL MVP has been getting better every season. It'll be hard to top leading AL in batting average (.365), on base percentage (.444), slugging (.587) and OPS (1.031). Don't be surprised to see him challenge .400 in the not too distant future. Ryan Doumit (PIT) - It would be nice to see what kind of production Doumit can post by way of one full healthy season.
SP- Tim Lincecom (SF) - Back to back NL Cy Young having a rough spring. What's next for this young phenom? 33-12, 526 K's in past two years. Expectations are higher than ever for San Fran's ace hurler. Warning, keep an eye on his mechanics. They've been off so far this spring.

03/23/10

Going Soft on the Gridiron - NFL Changes OT Rules

Permalink 05:35:54 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

The NFL is getting softer and softer. The rules committee often recommends amendments to how the game is played from penalties to tackles. Today we learn a new change to playoff overtime rules. Here they are:

1. Both teams must have the opportunity to possess the ball once during the extra period, unless the team that receives the opening kickoff scores a touchdown on its initial possession, in which case it is the winner.

2. If the team that possesses the ball first scores a field goal on its initial possession, the other team shall have the opportunity to possess the ball. If [that team] scores a touchdown on its possession, it is the winner. If the score is tied after [both teams have a] possession, the team next scoring by any method shall be the winner.

3. If the score is tied at the end of a 15-minute overtime period, or if [the overtime period's] initial possession has not ended, another overtime period will begin, and play will continue until a score is made, regardless of how many 15-minute periods are necessary.

I was not a fan of NHL's recent OT changes to regular season play when the shootout was introduced. I'm not against the format but find it overwhelmingly ridiculous the losing team receives one point. Now, lets take a look at the first new NFL playoff overtime rule. If a team scores a field goal on its' opening drive they must let the coin flip loser have a possession? And, if a touchdown is scored the flip loser wins?

What is going on these days? Why not just give everyone a star sticker and pack it in? Don't bother playing games if the better team cannot reap rewards of winning. NFL owners approved the new rule by a vote of 28-4. Babies! Afraid their team will lose in overtime. Football is a rough sport. Survival of the fittest. If your teams loses the overtime coin flip then they'd better come out ready to play upbeat special teams and defense... PERIOD! If you want to win then stop your opposition. Isn't this how football was always played? I don't want to hear the word "progressive" pertaining to NFL. This is absurd.

OK, to all the supporters of this new rule. If you're ok with coin flip losers getting a chance on offense if defense surrenders three points... then, are you in favor of the first team scoring a touchdown wins (opposition will not receive a possession as stated in second amended rule)?

The league is getting soft. Players are over protected. Now, losers are too.

Random March Ramblings...

Permalink 02:02:54 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

Sports news never slows down. Not even a government showdown was big enough to calm down breaking sports news. NCAA Tourney upsets. Baseball spring training. Tiger talking (again). Where to begin?

NCAA Men's Tournament Sweet 16 begins Thursday (Regional Semi-Finals). One top dog has been eliminated (Kansas) essentially killing most of my pool entries. Knew I should have stayed with Kentucky. Keep an eye on a few Cinderella stories. South bracket has #10 St. Mary's taking out #2 Villanova. East warriors #11 Washington hammered #3 New Mexico & #12 Cornell out classed #4 Wisconsin. Syracuse vs Kentucky is now my Championship Game pick with UK taking home top prize.

Tiger Woods is talking again. "I cheated, I this, I that..." boo hoo, blah blah. Tired of Tiger? Yep. But, PGA tv ratings will soon skyrocket once again. Woods awaited return will take place at The Masters. I'm one of the curious viewers to hear how Tiger's return is received. No doubt fans will cheer like crazy. Probably a few choice geers from time to time.

Baseball news out of Minnesota is twofold. First, All Star catcher Joe Mauer landed a sweet 9 year $184M contract extension. Great move by a franchise normally unwilling to pay it's big stars big money. The Twins will be opening a new stadium in April. Revenues must be substantial with new revenue streams and luxury seating. Perhaps this is a sign of things to come? The Twins are poised to be a powerhouse club loaded with plenty of talent. Curious eyes are wondering hos they'll deal with the devastating loss of closer Joe Nathan? Will they experiment with who they have or go for a last minute spring deal? No way can they afford to give away games after division rivals Chicago and Detroit improved personnel.

What's up with Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger? Another woman comes forward with assault allegations. Public details are sketchy at best but Pittsburgh head coach Tomlin is "concerned" about Ben. NFL Commissioner is soon to weigh in after meeting with the two time Super Bowl champ. What's the deal with sports players? These guys put themselves in so many situations detrimental to their well being.

New York Rangers players heads are hanging low after losing a must win game vs Boston to save their season. Rangers offense rarely shows up after coming out of the gates with a promising 7-1 record to start the year. They're now on the verge of elimination with only a few games remaining. 23 games scoring 1 or none. It's amazing to think these guys have any chance whatsoever but it isn't over til it's over.

How about those Washington Capitals? They're destroying opponents with an explosive offense. Their 283 goals are 47 more than second best. 24 games scoring 5 or more goals. Washington is two wins shy of franchise best 50. Only 14 losses is by far their lowest team total in franchise history. They seem unstoppable. Is this the year Washington wins their first Stanley Cup? Only two teams on my radar have a legit shot at taking out the Capitals in a 7 game series (New Jersey & Pittsburgh). Smart money rides with Washington... for now.

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