Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fear the Deer, No Really



I picked the Hawks to win the series but if the Bucks get eliminated, we have to wait until October to see this again.

That's too long.

Let's Go Bucks, baby.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

Separated at Birth?



Music icon Bret Michaels and actress Ellen Pompeo

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sleepers

Players Drafted on Day 3 That Will Make an Impact

Aaron Hernandez, TE, Florida - I wish there were a place you could bet on which player would have the better career. I would take the odds on Hernandez over first rounder Jermaine Gresham. A steal wherever he gets picked from here on out.

Joe McKnight, RB / Everson Griffen, DE, USC - Will Pete Carroll pick one or both of his former players in Round 4? They each make sense for Seattle.

Ricky Sapp, DE, Clemson - Explosive pass-rusher dealing with injury. He was in the first round discussion all year.

Dorin Dickerson, TE, Pitt - Physical freak. Look at these Combine numbers here, here, here, and here.

Jon Dwyer, RB, Georgia Tech - A lock for the first round entering 2009, Dwyer struggled a bit while playing second fiddle to Josh(ua) Nesbitt. A failed drug test did not help matters but certainly a chance worth taking on Day 3.

Dekoda Watson, LB, Florida State - A chiseled specimen, Watson figures to be a bankrupt man's Lawrence Timmons. Not bad for Round 5 or later.


Mr. Irrelevant: Jevan Snead - After a brutal junior campaign, he did little to impress at the Combine and individual workouts. Snead found himself atop the first 2010 mock draft I did back in April of 2009. It would only be fitting if he turned out to be the last pick of the draft.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Second Round Mock Draft

Second Round

33) St. Louis Rams - Sergio Kindle, DE/LB, Texas
34) Minnesota Vikings (from Detroit) - Nate Allen, S, South Florida
35) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Arrelious Benn, WR, Illinois
36) Kansas City Chiefs - Roger Saffold, OT, Indiana: Decided not to take an offensive lineman in Round 1. Get reprieve here.
37) Philadelphia Eagles (from Washington) - Taylor Mays, S, USC
38) Cleveland Browns - Colt McCoy, QB, Texas
39) Oakland Raiders - Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland: Rumors had Okland considering Campbell with the eight overall pick. They will be glad they waited.
40) Miami Dolphins (from Seattle via San Diego) - Jon Asamoah, OG, Illinois
41) Buffalo Bills - Jimmy Claussen, QB, Notre Dame
42) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (from Chicago) - Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame
43) Baltimore Ravens (from Miami via Denver) - Linval Joseph, DT, East Carolina
44) New England Patriots (from Jacksonville) - Daryl Washington, LB, TCU
45) Denver Broncos - Sean Lee, LB, Penn State
46) NY Giants - Navorro Bowman, LB, Penn State
47) New England Patriots (from Tennessee) - Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford
48) Carolina Panthers - Lamarr Houston, DT, Texas
49) San Francisco 49ers - Terrence Cody, DT, Alabama
50) Kansas City Chiefs (from Atlanta) - Brian Price, DT, UCLA
51) Houston Texans - Ben Tate, RB, Auburn
52) Pittsburgh Steelers - Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, CB, Indiana (Pa.)
53) New England Patriots - Rob Gronkowski TE Arizona
54) Cincinnati Bengals - Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida
55) Philadelphia Eagles - Charles Brown, OT, USC
56) Green Bay Packers - Jason Worilds, LB, Viginia Tech
57) Baltimore Ravens - Damian Williams, WR, USC
58) Arizona Cardinals - Eric Decker, WR, Minnesota
59) Dallas Cowboys - Jared Veldheer, OT, Hillsdale
60) Seattle Seahawks (from San Diego) - Everson Griffin, DE, USC
61) NY Jets - Ricky Sapp, DE / LB, Clemson
62) Minnesota Vikings - Dexter McCluster RB Mississippi
63) Indianapolis Colts - Chris Cook, CB, Virginia
64) New Orleans Saints - Corey Wooten, DE, Northwestern


How Did I Do?

Four Bold Predictions

1) Jimmy Clausen will be fourth QB taken - Verdict: Still alive

2) Bruce Campbell will not be selected in Round 1 - Verdict: Correct

3) The state of Oklahoma will never be prouder about their football players than they will be on April 29th. As many as six players from Oklahoma or Oklahoma State figure to be selected in the first round. In all likelihood, four of the top five overall selections in my mock draft will be from these two schools - Verdict: Correct

4) The big uglies will dominate round one. As many as eighteen offensive and defensive linemen might hear their names called on Thursday night. I also think half of the first 50 picks will be linemen - Verdict: Still alive


Mock Draft

-Hit 6 out of 32 on the nose.

-Picked Anthony Davis to San Francisco although I did not predict they would trade up to get him.

-Had 28 of 32 first rounders, including all of the first 22 picks.

-Did not have but were selected: Tyson Alualu, Jahvid Best, Dermaryius Thomas, Patrick Robinson (two Cal Bears)

-Had but were not selected: Colt McCoy, Sergio Kindle, Taylor Mays, Charles Brown (two Longhorns and two Trojans)



*Sleepers (my favorite players not drafted through Round 3) will be published tomorrow.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Final First Round Mock Draft

First Round

1. Rams: Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
2. Lions: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
3. Bucs: Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma
4. Redskins: Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma
5. Chiefs: Russell Okung, OL, Oklahoma State
6. Seahawks: CJ Spiller, RB, Clemson - Spiller won't set any marks for his academic prowess, but he just might be the best player in this year's class.
7. Browns: Eric Berry, S, Tennessee
8. Raiders: Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho - Nothing will surprise me with Oakland.
9. Bills: Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa
10. Jaguars: Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida - Surprisingly (at least to me), the Jags had very good success in the draft. JPP seems like the hottest name right now and will find himself in the Top 10. This seems like the most likely destination.
11. Broncos#: Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama
12. Dolphins: Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee
13. 49ers: Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State
14. Seahawks^: Earl Thomas, S, Texas
15. Giants: Jerry Hughes, DE/LB, TCU - Another fast-riser, Hughes has the measurables and in this scenario, he is the best hybrid DE / LB available.
16. Titans: Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech
17. 49ers&: Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers
18. Steelers: Joe Haden, CB, Florida
19. Falcons: Maurkice Pouncey, C/G, Florida
20. Texans: Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers
21. Bengals: Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State - Off-field trouble? Check. He'll be a perfect fit.
22. Patriots: Jared Odrick, DT, Penn State
23. Packers: Charles Brown, OT, USC
24. Eagles: Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan
25. Ravens: Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma
26. Cardinals: The Amazon Freak, LB/DE, Texas
27. Browns+: Colt McCoy, QB, Texas
28. Chargers: Ryan Matthews, RB, Fresno State
29. Jets: Taylor Mays, S, USC
30. Vikings: Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
31. Colts: Kareem Jackson, CB, Alabama
32. Saints: Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri

# Acquired from Bears
^ Acquired from Broncos
& Acquired from Panthers
+ Proposed trade with the Browns and Cowboys
$ Acquired from Redskins
* Acquired from Seahawks


Notes

-If this scenario unfolds, a team that finished fourth in the Big 12 South Division will have three of its players selected in the top four picks. Amazing.


-I feel better about this mock than I have any of my mocks in previous years. Don't know if that's a good thing or not.


-The one trade I project would look something like Cleveland's second and fourth rounders for Dallas' first rounder.


-As soon as we go to print here, Big Ben will get traded and turn this thing on its head.


-Remember not to ask Greg Middleton for any homework help.


-On November 25th, Carlos Dunalp found himself at #3 on Mel Kiper's "Big Board." Now, he's almost entitrely forgotten. You will see him tomorrow.


-I will have a second round mock draft posted on Friday morning (along with my favorite sleepers), but here are the best available on my board right now:

1) Jimmy Claussen, QB, Notre Dame
2) Demaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech
3) Arrelious Benn, WR, Illinois
4) Everson Griffin, DE, USC
5) Jahvid Best, RB, California
6) Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida
7) Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame
8) Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford
9) Terrence Cody, DT, Alabama
10) Roger Saffold, OT, Indiana
11) Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland
12) Brian Price, DT, UCLA


-I will be tweet-blogging the Draft tonight. If interested, follow me on Twitter @mspici

Burning Up the Bases - April 22, 2010

Five to Watch



Elvis Andrus, SS, Texas: After stealing only one base through the season's first two weeks, Elvis stole three on Tuesday night against Boston. Plus, it looks like he will bat atop the Texas lineup at least in the short term. Acquire him while you can.







Andrus ready to catch fire?




Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh: McCutchen leads the league in stolen bases with seven. When trying to convince another owner to trade him to you, make sure you stress that McCutchen only has one RBI this year.





Evereth Cabrera, SS, San Diego: Like Andrus, Cabrera has minimal pop so he should be viewed as a three-category max guy. Be on the lookout for him on your waiver wire as I have seen him dropped for players like Edgar Renteria. If he's available snatch him up as he is really the only option the Padres have at the position.





Matt Kemp, OF, Los Angeles: Kemp, the most expensive option of these five, leads the league in one important stat: caught stealing. That means he is trying to steal often and his manager keeps giving him the green light. The more you try, the more you'll succeed (and likely, the more you will get caught).





Mike McCoy, 2B, Toronto: A short-term option until Aaron Hill returns, McCoy stole 40 bases in AAA last year. In leagues with one-game eligibility, he can start at shortstop as well.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mock Drafts

First Round Mock: will be published Thursday morning around 9am.

Second Round Mock: will be published Friday morning around 9am.

Friday, April 16, 2010

NFL Draft - Bold Predictions

My final NFL Mock Draft will be out next week, but here are four bold predictions to hold you over until then:

1) Jimmy Claussen will be the fourth quarterback taken. Bradford goes #1 overall, then a team will trade into the late first to take Colt McCoy (Cleveland?), and then the Vikings will nab Tebow with the #30 selection. Claussen will come off the board early in the second round.

2) Bruce Campbell will not be selected in Round 1. Everyone knows by now, this guy is a workout warrior. However, a little game film study reveals a number of red flags. Incredible stat: Campbell garnered ZERO votes from ACC coaches for the All-Conference team.

3) The state of Oklahoma will never be prouder about their football players than they will be on April 29th. As many as six players from Oklahoma or Oklahoma State figure to be selected in the first round. In all likelihood, four of the top five overall selections in my mock draft will be from these two schools.

4) The big uglies will dominate round one. As many as eighteen offensive and defensive linemen might hear their names called on Thursday night. I also think half of the first 50 picks will be linemen.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Burning Up the Bases - April 15, 2010

There are only two certainties in life: your income taxes are due today and you are on your way to winning your league's stolen base crown.

I can only help with the latter.

Three to Target

Chone Figgins, 3B, Mariners: A notoriously slow starter, Figgins has not stolen a bag since Opening Day. So, why target him? In most leagues, he will gain eligibility at second base and/or middle infield this week. His lack of power can be hidden a lot more easily when he mans second than when he plays third. Act fast.

Denard Span, OF, Twins: Despite hitting below the Mendoza line, Span has a solid hold on the leadoff spot in Minnesota and has already swiped three bags this season. Might a rash owner be frustrated enough to deal him now? You'll never know unless you ask.

Rajai Davis, OF, Oakland: I'm all aboard the Davis train right now. Like Span in Minnesota, Davis has a solid grasp on the 1-hole in Oakland. He has swiped five bags to date, Oakland is winning, and there's no reason both of these trends cannot continue.


Two to Deal

Rafael Furcal, SS, Dodgers: Raffy has stolen three bags thus far while hitting over .300 and looks healthy. I have my doubts about whether both those things can last much longer. Deal him while he's hot.

Ryan Theriot, SS, Cubs: See below for the main reason I would consider dealing Theriot. Although, the .185 average does not help things. Coming off back-to-back 20+ steal seasons, you can still get a decent return for him.


One to Watch

Starlin Castro, SS, Tennessee Smokies (Cubs AA Affiliate): Manager Lou Piniella debated whether or not he should keep Castro coming out of sprint training despite the fact Castro is only 20 years old. Cooler heads prevailed and SC was shipped to Tennessee. However, Castro has raked (.364/.391/.545 including two triples) in his first five games. As an added bonus, Castro has stolen three bases so far, a year after swiping 53 across two levels of the minors last year.

Don't be surprised to see Castro get the call to the big club if either Ryan Theriot or Mike Fontenot struggle in Chicago. ETA: June/July

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Is Daryl Morey Overrated?

As the Rockets' season comes to yet another disappointing close tonight, I am left asking myself a potentially blasphemous question: is Daryl Morey overrated?

On a personal level, I am enamored with Morey. I have met him twice while attending his MIT Sports Analytics Conference (each of the last two years) and came away extremely impressed both times. He's approachable, well-spoken, and genuinely likeable in a Seth Rogen kind of way. Bill Simmons christened him "Dork Elvis" for his popularity among statheads.

Professionally, Morey is credited with revolutionizing player analysis by using quantitative analysis to greatly supplement his and his scouts' views. Many in the industry believe him to be one of the game's brightest managerial stars.

In a recent edition of his "NBA Future Power Rankings Column" (Insider access required), ESPN's Chad Ford ranked the Rockets 10th, based largely on the team's "management." In fact, of all 30 teams, he rated Houston second best in this category. Granted, this category takes into account more than just the GM, but Morey clearly steers this ship.

So, where's the problem?

Simple. The performance of a GM's team, not his academic credentials (Morey received his MBA from MIT), should do the talking, and in this case, I am not wowed. Despite inheriting a 52-win team, Morey's teams have won only one playoff series in his three years.

Let's look at Morey's history.

Less than two weeks into his new role as front office boss in Houston, Morey fired head coach Jeff Van Gundy on May 18, 2007 (after the team's third first-round exit in four seasons under JVG) and replaced him with Rick Adelman. Aside from JVG's disastrous 2005-6 season, these two coaches have had virtually identical success in Houston. A lateral move for the most part - although ESPN greatly benefited since JVG has proven to be a great TV commentator.

Under Adelman, in the 2007-8 season, the Rockets finished with the sixth best record in the Western Conference and lost to the Jazz in the first round of the playoffs.

In the 2008-9 season, they finished with the fifth best record in the Western Conference and beat the Blazers in the first round of the playoffs before succumbing to the Lakers in the second round.

This year, they will not make the playoffs.

Morey might not have an open checkbook, but over the last three years, Houston has been in the top half of the NBA in terms of dollars spent on salary. Now, I understand injuries have played a role as Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady have missed significant time over the last three years for a variety of ailments. But again, the mark of success in the NBA lies in a team's performance, namely its playoff performance, and Morey's squads have failed in this regard.

Has he made good moves (his draft history includes the likes of Aaron Brooks and Carl Landry)? Yes.

Has he made great moves (ripping off the Knicks and Kings at the 2010 trade deadline)? Absolutely.

In the end though, just because a General Manager uses numbers in an innovative way, hires a dozen interns, and gets a nickname from a famous sportswriter, it does not make him great at his job.

Bottom Line: Morey might turn out to be one of the game's all-time greats. Unfortunately, thus far, the team has not markedly improved since he took over three years ago. Until that happens and the team makes at least one deep run in the postseason, I believe it is premature to call him one of the game's best.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Burning Up the Bases - April 9, 2010

I love stolen bases. I think they are incredibly exciting, and I think they are the easiest category in fantasy baseball to win. (It's also the easiest category in which to make up ground.)

This year, I'm here to help you win your league's stolen base crown.


Four That Will Disappoint / Underachieve

Ichiro, OF, Mariners: Just a wild guess here, but I have a feeling Ichiro will make a concerted effort to hit for more power in this weak lineup. This team might set a record for fewest homers in a season.

Willy Taveras, OF, Nationals / Willie Bloomquist, Util, Royals: I hope you weren't too high on these two Will(y)ies to begin with, but just in case you were, let me end those notions. Yes, they stole 25 bags each last year. But, one doesn't start anymore (Taveras) and one won't be starting for much longer.

Brian Roberts, 2B, Orioles: If you have him, trade him as soon as possible. His back is balky already. Hard for me to imagine a repeat of last season's 30-bag performance.


Three That Will Surprise / Overachieve

Alex Rios, OF, White Sox: I might be in the minority here, but I'm not ready to forget about Rios, who had a terrible 2009 campaign. He has stolen at least 14 bases in all six of his Major League seasons, and despite last season's struggles, he still stole 24 bags.

Evereth Cabrera, SS, Padres: He will put up better numbers (substantially better in stolen bases) than Stephen Drew, but because he does not have the "big name," he will come much cheaper.

Adam Kennedy, 2B, Nationals: When given playing time, Kennedy has proven to be a capable 20-bag guy. He's cheap and expectations are low. That's my kind of player to target.


Two On The Farm

Desmond Jennings, OF, Rays: Jennings, considered the heir apparent to Carl Crawford has stolen at least 50 bases in each of his last three minor league seasons (50, 52, 52). If your roster allows for a minor leaguer or if you have a deep bench, Jennings certainly warrants a spot.

Eric Young Jr, 2B, Rockies: Devoid of power (27 career homers in six professional seasons), Young might be the fastest man in baseball. He has averaged 67 stolen bases per season over the last four years. He also gets on base at an impressive clip meaning he would slot beautifully into the leadoff spot.


One to Target

Brett Gardner, OF, Yankees: The formula is pretty simple with Gardner - he will play against righties. That means daily-leaguers should slot him into the lineup as a cheap source of stolen bases anytime the Yankees face a right-handed starter. Also, his platoonmate, Marcus Thames, missed a month and a half of the 2009 season due to injury. If injury strikes again, Gardner could have the job to himself.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Trades That Make Sense: Broncos-Redskins

Broncos trade WR Brandon Marshall and their first round pick in 2010 (11th overall) to the Redskins for their first round pick in 2010 (4th overall) and their second round pick in 2011.

Why it makes sense?

*Denver wants a first rounder for Marshall. Getting a 2011 second rounder plus moving up seven slots in this year's first round would represent the same (if not better) value.

*With the fourth overall selection, Denver can select S Eric Berry from Tennessee. Broncos need an infusion of youth on the defensive side of the ball. Berry fits the bill as a game-changer in the secondary. He would make a great pair with Brian Dawkins who is on his way towards retirement.

*Washington can still get a great offensive tackle with the 11th pick, whether it be Russell Okung, Bryan Bulaga, Trent Williams or Anthony Davis.

*The two teams have made megadeals before (Champ Bailey for Clinton Portis).

*Mike Shannahan has worked with Marshall before so he knows what he is getting.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

MLB Postseason & Award Predictions

Postseason

AL
Yankees over Twins
Red Sox over Angels

Red Sox over Yankees


NL
Cardinals over Braves
Rockies over Phillies

Cardinals over Rockies


World Series
Cardinals over Red Sox: Pujols+Holliday+Carpenter+Wainwright = dominance.



Awards

MVP
NL: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies (Pujols is too easy)- The best player on a team that I see coasting to the division title.
AL: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers- Can he hit when he's sober? My guess is yes.


Cy Young
NL: Adam Wainwright, Cardinals
AL: CC Sabathia, Yankees


Rookie
NL: Aroldis Chapman, Reds (Jason Heyward is too easy)- Low-pressure situation in Cincy. Should thrive.
AL: Scott Sizemore, Tigers- He can handle the stick and will provide adequate defense. Pretty weak rookie class this year in the AL, too.


Manager
NL: Dusty Baker, Reds- It pains me to vote this way because I think Dusty is generally clueless, but if the Reds can stay competitive, he can win this.
AL: Ron Gardenhire, Twins- He'll ride the "We won without Nathan" card to this award.