Monday, May 30, 2011

Previewing the NBA Finals

For the first time in 4 years, the Finals will not be featuring Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. Instead we have a very intriguing match up between the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat. These two teams met each other in the 2006 Finals and the rematch promises to provide more drama and excitement. Of course the last time these two teams met in the Finals both Rosters looked very different especially the Miami Heat. Bye bye Shaq, Hello Lebron James and Chris Bosh. As for the Mavericks they are getting great production for the crafty veteran Jason Kidd, and his backup JJ Barea has been a spark off the bench. Tyson Chandler also gives them a very nice presence in the paint. Lets now do a position by position comparison between the Mavs and Heat.

No shortage of Superstar players in the 2011 NBA Finals, featuring the likes of Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and Chris Bosh.

Point Guard
Jason Kidd & JJ Barea vs Mike Bibby & Mario Chalmers - Advantage Dallas.

By the Roster Bibby and Chalmers are the official PG's, however, expect to see James and Wade take the point at times during the game. For the sake of this comparison, lets stick to Bibby and Chalmers. Kidd and Bibby are each teams veteran PG's, personally give me Kidd over Bibby any day. Kidd has been hitting 3's better than ever, is also the superior passer to Bibby, and he is excellent at drawing in defenders and then kicking out to a shooter. While I like the energy Chalmers brings to the Heat off the bench, Barea has just been so good and so effective in the playoffs that I'd also have to go with Dallas here. Barea can provide immediate scoring and mismatches. Advantage Dallas.

Shooting Guard
DeShawn Stevenson/Jason Terry vs Dwyane Wade - Advantage Miami.

I like what both Stevenson and Terry can do, especially if either can hit some early shots then they can get hot and seem like they will never miss a jumper, however, the decision here is pretty easy, Dwyane Wade is a game changer, an excellent defender, impossible to stop offensively and has won the Finals before. Wade is just too quick, strong and talented to be stopped. Even if he is not having his best shooting night he will get to the line a lot, draw a ton of fouls, play excellent defense, and pass the ball extremely well too. Dwyane Wade is capable of making plays that can demoralize a team. Advantage Miami.

Small Forward
Shawn Marion vs Lebron James - Advantage Miami.

While I love how Marion has been playing, and really accepted being a role player, this is a no brainer. James is just a far far superior player. No doubt James is the better player, will put up better numbers, play better defense and do just about everything well, the Mavs need a Herculean type performance from Marion. Look, you don't shut down Lebron James, you just try to contain him, and hope he doesn't go for a triple double with 30+ points on you. I think this matchup, while widely in favor of the Heat, will be a pivotal point in this Finals. How much can Marion slow down James? We will find out. Advantage Miami.

Power Forward
Dirk Nowitzki vs Chris Bosh - Advantage Dallas.

Dirk's fadeaway is almost impossible to stop, preview of things to come for Chris Bosh?

Now this matchup is going to be a lot of fun to watch. While Chris Bosh has definitely stepped up his game the last few weeks, you gotta give the advantage here to Nowitzki. Dirk has been playing out of his mind lately, and he is essentially unguardable. If Dirk starts hitting that fade-away jumper then all you can hope if you're the Heat is that Wade and Lebron are hitting their shots. Not only can Dirk hit that fade away, but he is excellent at drawing fouls and getting to the foul line in bunches, and he is an excellent Free Throw shooter. Oh and did I mention Dirk can hit a 3 about as good as anyone? While I understand Bosh is a good talent, and will have a good series, Dirk is just better. Advantage Dallas

Tyson Chandler & Brendan Haywood vs Udonis Haslem & Joel Anthony - Advantage Dallas.

Haslem had himself a nice series vs Chicago, definitely provided a presence that the Heat needed in order to get by the Bulls. Anthony while having almost no offensive game, is a better defender than you think, and is a high energy big man who gets the most out of his talent. While both Haslem and Anthony will play solid at worst, you gotta give the advantage to Chandler and Haywood. They are bigger and more athletic than their Miami counterparts, have a bigger impact on the offensive end, not only scoring more points but grabbing a healthy amounts of offensive rebounds too. Advantage Dallas.

So Dallas has the advantage in 3 of the 5 positions, and also at the 2 most important positions (PG and Center), I still gotta give the edge to Miami in this series. Wade and Lebron are just so dominating, and Bosh should be good too, that even if they can get mediocre performances from their other players that they will pull out the victory here. Dallas I feel will be relying way too much on players like DeShawn Stevenson and Shawn Marion to play out of their mind to take this series. I think it will be a lot of fun to watch, both teams play good all round basketball. My prediction is Miami in 7, with the big 3 getting a championship in their first year together. The question then will be, who can stop them in the East? (see previous post).

What I will be watching today:
San Francisco Giants (Madison Bumgarner) vs St. Louis Cardinals (Kyle McClellan).

MLB Power Rankings will be up on Wednesday. Lots of changes, so check back for that too.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

NBA - What Next?

While the NBA is not my strongest sport, I do wanna touch on it now and again. The Finals are approaching and I for one am very excited for it. However, with this post I want to take a look in to the future of the NBA and make predictions and give my views on what I expect to happen. Lets start from the bottom and work our way up. 
You can't get much lower than the Cleveland Cavaliers and as everyone knows, last summer Lebron James left Cleveland for South Beach and surprise surprise the Cavs end up with an awful record. Well Lady Luck (or David Stern) has come to the Cavs help and gave them the 1st and 4th overall pick. While this draft is not that strong, this is a good place to start building for the future. According to sources the Cavaliers are attempting to make a trade to hold the #2 pick as well, here is the link: Possible Trade . Despite this draft being considered weak, the Cavs would be able to acquire the far and away top 2 prospects in Point Guard Kyrie Irving and Forward Derrick Williams. This would be a great building block for the future. 

Cavs owner Dan Gilbert finally had a reason to smile at the outcome of the 2011 NBA Draft Lottery

It is difficult for the Cavs to attract free agent talent, but I'm thinking if they throw enough money at either Marc Gasol or Nene, one of them may bite. Another option, is Greg Oden, the oft injured Center for the Trail Blazers. Trading for Oden would be a gamble for sure, but it's one that if it pays off (and I know its probably a long shot) could be huge for the Cavs going forward. I'm thinking even with Irving and Williams, and a possible addition at Center, that relying on 2 rookies will require a steep learning curve. Maybe the Cavs get another high pick next year, add another quality player and are back in playoff contention. 

Who can seriously challenge the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference going forward? It's gonna come down to Chicago or New York, while Boston have maybe a 1 or 2 year window for being a highly competitive team. 
Chicago is the best competition for Miami, one thing which became painfully obvious in their recent playoff series was how much they needed another scorer at the SG position. Lucky for the Bulls there are going to be quite a few options for them, including guys like Jason Richardson and Aaron Afflalo. Personally I like Afflalo, as he provides the better defense, which is stressed by the Tom Thibedeau coached Bulls. I think the player that would fit them perfectly however would be Monta Ellis. If they can swing a trade to get Monta from the Warriors, they would be impossible to defend. Also while Monta's defense isn't great, Rose is big enough to take on the opponents SG, while Ellis can take on the smaller PG. By adding another scorer, along with their talented big men (Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Taj Gibson and Asik), that would be Miami's biggest competition.

                      Which team will be the Kryptonite to Miami's Supermen? 

The New York Knicks are a team which will have to be respected going forward. When you have 2 superstar players (Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire) your team is gonna be in good shape. The Knicks seem on a mission to do whatever it takes to become a championship caliber team. There are already rumors of Chris Paul landing in New York eventually. A team that has the best pure PG in Paul, a top scorer in Carmelo and an excellent post presence in Stoudemire will be a tough out for anyone and even for the likes of the Heat. 
The Boston Celtics cannot be discounted even at their age, just when you think they are done they always seem to bounce back. Obviously they will have Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett anchoring the team, however one thing which held them back this postseason was their big men. You have to assume they are gonna do better than Jermaine O'Neal, Shaq and Nenad Krstic at Center.
The other notable teams in the East like the Magic and the Hawks will provide some competition but won't really pose much of a realistic threat to the Heat in my opinion.

What I will be watching tomorrow:
MLB - San Francisco Giants (Matt Cain) vs Milwaukee Brewers (Gallardo)

Friday, May 27, 2011

From Worst to First - NFL Edition

The great thing about the NFL is how a team can go from bottom 5 to playoff contender in 1 season. Recent examples of this include: Miami going from 1-15 with Cam Cameron at HC to 11-5 and winning the division the very next year with Tony Sparano, also the Buccaneers having the 3rd overall pick in the 2010 draft to going 10-6 later that year and just missing out on getting a playoff spot.

So lets turn our attention to which team is most likely to be the next example of this, I had planned to do both an NFC and AFC example, but the top teams in the AFC are just too good for this to happen. Denver, Tennessee and Cincinnati are going through Head Coaching and/or QB changes, with a shortened offseason that is just a recipe for disaster. While Buffalo are just simply not good enough to compete with the likes of the Patriots and Jets.

I think the most likely team to go from bottom of the division to the top is the Arizona Cardinals. I fully expect them to trade for a QB (Palmer, Kolb or Orton) and lets face it, the NFC West is easily the worst division in football.
The 49ers are definitely in a transition year, new coach (LOVE the Jim Harbaugh hiring by my Niners) and new QB. The 49ers are gonna be good........but in 2012. The Seahawks had by far the worst draft of all the NFC West teams. I don't expect any impact players this year, from their draft class and Matt Hasselbeck is another year older and even more likely to get hurt. I see them being a 7-9 team again. The Rams are interesting, they got their franchise QB in Sam Bradford, however they are changing offensive systems and we all know about the sophomore slump. The Rams are not sneaking up on anyone this year like they did last season.

              The Cardinals and Larry Fitzgerald would thrive again with a new QB

Now back to the Cardinals and why they should be better (Assuming they do trade to acquire a QB). They could not possibly do worse at QB then they had last year. QB is by far the most important position in the game and any one of the three QB's mentioned would be a massive upgrade. They added maybe the best prospect in Patrick Peterson CB from LSU. Peterson, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes headline an extremely talented secondary.
The Cardinals have a talented defense especially if they can add some pass rush help when ever Free Agency does start. Add that defense with impressive RB depth and huge obvious upgrade at QB and an easier schedule, as they play against the bottom teams from the NFC South (Panthers) and NFC North (Vikings).

The Seahawks and 49ers are a transition team this year and the Rams have sophomore slump written all over them. The Cardinals and Ken Whisenhunt are in win now mode, they will get a QB, and for a good bet, I suggest putting some money down on the Cards.

Just for fun, if I HAD to choose which AFC team was capable of doing this then I'd have to go with the Titans. I think they will also be another team acquiring a veteran QB. While Jake Locker has huge potential, he is very raw and will need at least a year on the bench. I think a guy like Kyle Orton would fit perfectly with them. Good defense, Excellent run game and improvement at the QB position with less off field drama. Sounds like the AFC version of the Cardinals, Jags and Texans are likely .500ish teams. Manning is coming off another neck surgery and he looked like his age a lot more than ever before.

             Jake Locker is the future for the Titans but he is just not ready yet.

San Francisco Giants Update
Would like to finish off by saying that was a huge win for the San Francisco Giants today, and to send my congratulations to the local product Brandon Crawford from Mountain View, CA. His first career hit was a Grand Slam, which ended up being the winning hit as Tim Lincecum earned his 5th win of the season while the Giants took the series opener 5-4. Big come from behind win, to not only end the 3 game skid but maybe help mend the emotions and raise the spirits of Giants players, coaches and fans after the Buster Posey incident. Look forward to seeing a whole lot more of Crawford and also how prized prospect Brandon Belt will do in his return to the Majors. Tomorrow we have the matchup of:
Jonathan Sanchez (3-3, 3.47 ERA) vs Randy Wolf (4-4, 3.70 ERA) at 1:10PM Pacific Time.

The Steroid Era and The Hall of Fame

This is gonna be an age old question, do players who have tested positive for steroids or have overwhelming evidence of doing so, belong in the Hall of Fame? The answer has to be Y-E-S yes! Look I completely understand the argument of the more traditional baseball enthusiast, that steroid era players should not get voted in, that their numbers are inflated, etc etc. But let me give you my side of the argument as to why, in my opinion, players from the steroid era do belong in the Hall of Fame.

The Steroid Era happened. Nothing we will ever do or say will erase that fact. I get the feeling that a lot of people who don't want the players from this era in, is that eventually the era itself will be forgotten. That is simply never going to happen. There are just too many Hall of Fame caliber players from this era to just simply flat out ignore it. Place an '*' beside their name, in Cooperstown have a special section dedicated to this era, do what ever you want to them, but first they must be voted in. How can you seriously have a Baseball Hall of Fame which doesn't include the likes of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez etc etc.

382 HR's, 1451 RBI, .298 AVG, .352 OBP and 1 MVP
762 HR's, 1996 RBI, .298 AVG, .444 OBP and 6 MVP's

The 1st stat line is that of recent Hall of Fame inductee Jim Rice of the Boston Red Sox. An excellent player in his time and in my opinion, just about deserving of induction. The 2nd line contains the career numbers of Barry Lamar Bonds. Odds are if you are not a fan of the San Francisco Giants you probably flat out hate the guy, you probably hate the fact he holds arguably the most coveted record in American Sports, hitting 762 Home Runs. But don't tell me this guy doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame. His numbers are way too ridiculous to even have to think twice about it.

          Whether you love or hate him, Barry Bonds belongs in the Hall of Fame

So I'm guessing many responses would be "Oh you are a Giants fan! Of course you'd say that about Bonds!" Well I will save you some time, guys like Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, all belong in there too. I hate Roger Clemens and I hate A-Rod, but they along with every other deserving player from this era, need to be in the Hall of Fame when it's all said and done.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Is the 2011 Giants Season Over?

Short answer? No, but for fun, lets give a longer more in-depth answer.

First of all I want to touch on Home Plate collisions in Baseball. Watching Sports Science on ESPN, the hit a catcher takes on a Home Plate collision comes at a force a QB takes on a blind side hit. In football, QB's wear pads that can absorb up to 40% of the hit, in Baseball? Nothing even close to that. This is something MLB should have corrected a LONG time ago.

Mychael Urban of CSN Bay Area tweeted "@MUrbanCSN: Oh my god. Enuf sniveling about the hit! It was clean! Change the rules? What, make them wear a tutu? Stop it. It's big-league ball. W/ risks" Really? There isn't a better way to do it then to say, "OK baserunner, collide with him as hard as you can to hopefully jar the ball loose". Come on now, this thought process is dumb and dangerous. Sometimes it takes a superstar player getting hurt to get a rule changed (Tom Brady come to mind?) Well now is Baseballs chance to do something about Home Plate collisions. I'm open to suggestions, I hope Bud Selig is too.

                Are Home Plate collisions really a necessary part of the game?

Now to the Giants, my team. Based on my tweets and facebook comments immediately after Posey's injury, you'd have thoughts the world crashed down on the Giants and that they may as well forfeit the season. I've had time to think it over and calm down. This season is far from over. Lets take a look at the reasons why the Giants should still be in the race for the NL West.

  1. The Giants own a 2 game lead in the NL West after 49 games, and they got this lead with a team with the following hitting rankings; Runs 29th, Average 21st, OBP 24th and Slugging 23rd. Point is, the hitting can't get much worse then it has already been this year. While Posey's presence in the lineup will definitely be missed, guys like Aubrey Huff, Miguel Tejada and Cody Ross are due to get hot.
  2. The Giants are getting their best hitter back very soon. Pablo Sandoval has missed the last week of April, will miss all of this month, and should be back around the 2nd week of June. The switch hitter, who was batting over .310 who even after all this time missed is tied on the team for most Home Runs. The Giants also called up prized young hitter Brandon Belt from the Minors again. Belt struggled his first time up, but having gotten more seasoning at San Jose, he is expected to have more of an impact this time around. Hitting under .200 his last time up, I'd expect him to hit between .260-.270 this time up with decent power numbers.
  3. The Trade Deadline. There are 2 ways the Giants can trade for more offense, the first would be to send some prospects off to acquire a bat. Now the Giants shouldn't have a kneejerk reaction and make a panic trade. If Sabean plans to ship off top prospects, he simply cannot get a one year rental, make a smart trade and proceed from there. The second would be to trade one of the Starting Pitchers. Maybe the biggest surprise this season has been how well Ryen Vogelsong has done. Today against the Florida Marlins was another perfect example of how good a job he has done, pitching 8 innings with only 1 earned run allowed. Should he continue to be this impressive, the Giants now have some nice flexibility in their pitchers. I would then look to feel out what teams are willing to offer for the services of either Vogelsong or Jonathan Sanchez. Starting Pitchers always have huge value in the trading market and should be able to net a solid young hitter for a guy like Jonathan Sanchez.
  4. Players Waived/Released CAN make a difference. The Giants may not even need to make a trade in order to add some help to the hitting. Last year they traded for Jose Guillen, but got Pat Burrell and Cody Ross for nothing. How did this work out? Burrell and Ross were much more productive and are still with the team. Is Guillen even in the Majors this year?  
  5. Finally, the Giants play in the NL West, and there is just simply no team that will run away with this division. The Padres are bad, the Dodgers are a .500 team, the Diamondbacks have been playing well lately, but I don't think they can sustain this level, and are maybe an 80-85 win team. The Rockies are the biggest competition for the Giants, but they just lost their most consistent starting pitcher in Jorge De La Rosa for the season and it seems like Troy Tulowitzki is proving that he is human after all. With the pitching staff that the Giants have, even a below average type offense can be enough to win this division. 
  Cody Ross has been a solid hitter and fan favorite since being acquired off waivers

I think the one major thing the Giants have to remember is to not panic, you don't have to rush Pablo Sandoval back, you don't have to make a panic trade or do anything crazy. Sit back, remain calm and analyse the situation the team is in. This season is far from over.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The NFC West - Trades That Should Happen

The NFC West is easily the worst division in football, after the draft not much has changed in that regard. Why is the NFC West the weakest division? Lets take a look at the projected starting QB's for the teams in the NFC West as it stands right now:
Arizona - John Skelton, San Francisco - Alex Smith, Seattle - Matt Hasselbeck and St.Louis - Sam Bradford. Besides for Bradford, the rest of the projected starters leave a lot to be desired. However, once the lockout is over and trades can happen, I can see the NFC West being extremely active in acquiring QB's. So these are my projected trade ideas.

Trade 1
Kevin Kolb to Seattle for two 2nd rounders and Matt Hasselbeck (essentially do a sign and trade). Lets look in to the reasoning of each team in this trade, and why it makes sense.
For Seattle - They need a new QB, the fact that they didn't draft any in April is telling to me. In this trade Seattle would get a young potentially franchise QB. Not only this, but they get a QB who is familiar with the West Coast Offense, so even in a shortened offseason, the transition to Seattle won't be too difficult for Kolb.
                Kevin Kolb would be a welcome addition to the Seattle Seahawks

For Philadelphia - I'm thinking behind the scenes in Philly that Kolb has been hinting at wanting out. He feels he deserves a starting job and he won't get that in Philly. So in this scenario, Philly gets two 2nd rounders and they get an excellent veteran in Hasselbeck. Should Vick go down during the season Hasselbeck would be an ideal back up for Andy Reid.

Trade 2
Carson Palmer to Arizona for 1st and 3rd round picks.
For Arizona - I keep reading on ESPN how the Cardinals will go get Kolb, but the better fit is definitely Carson Palmer. Now of course you guys reading will quickly think, "oh but the Bengals won't trade Palmer!" well I say read my post titled "The Carson Palmer Dilemma". Now the price is quite steep from a Cardinals perspective, but they showed how good they can be with an established veteran QB. Palmer has more years in him than Warner did when he took over the starting gig in Arizona. You know Fitzgerald is pushing for a big move to get a QB and not drafting a QB tells me they are looking at trade options. Ken Whisenhunt cannot afford another season like last year. They go with the big splash, and something tells me this move will keep him in Arizona for some time.

For Cincinnati - Andy Dalton is the QB of the future in Cincy, there is way too much bad blood between Carson Palmer and the Bengals organization to stay together. Eventually the Bengals will wise up and trade him. In this scenario they get some nice picks to build their franchise from. Odds are Cincy won't be too competitive starting the rookie Dalton. So having two 1st round picks, two 2nd round picks (explained later) and two 3rd round picks should go a long way to getting them back in playoff contention.

Now, not all the trades in this division will involve QB's, lets take a look at what else I think should happen.

Trade 3
Chad OchoCinco and 4th round pick to St. Louis for a 2nd round pick.
For St. Louis - Lets face it Sam Bradford needs weapons. He did a solid job with some not so spectacular options at WR. OchoCinco would instantly become the best WR on the team, would provide a reliable productive target for the young Sam Bradford and honestly, he would bring some media attention to the Rams. They have almost become forgotten after so many awful seasons. Now they are ready to take the leap in to the big stage.
                   How good would OchoCinco look in a St. Louis Rams uniform?

For Cincinnati - Its rebuilding time in Cincinnati, and they need a fresh start. They need to move on from Palmer and OchoCinco. Opposite to St. Louis, Cincinnati needs less unnecessary attention in the media while they get this team rebuilt. I can't imagine OchoCinco being too happy to get passes from a rookie with little to no workouts in the offseason. This trade helps give Cincy 2 picks in each of the first 3 rounds.

As for San Francisco, I don't project any major trades to occur for them and I don't think they should be looking for a big trade. Their future at QB is Colin Kaepernick, and they have a nice surrounding cast for him on offense with Gore, Vernon Davis and Crabtree. I do see them looking in Free Agency at a CB like Ike Taylor or Jonathan Joseph.

MLB Power Rankings - Top 5 & Bottom 5

Each week I plan to update the top 5 and the bottom 5 teams in Baseball. Doing all 30 teams is just too time consuming and do you really care who is 13th or 17th or 23rd? Thought not. So lets get this going and we shall start with the teams playing the best Baseball right now.

        Cleveland Indians are all smiles with how their 2011 season is going.

Top 5
1 - Cleveland Indians 30-16 - Cleveland needed this, they needed something, anything to root for. Lebron bolts for Miami, the Browns are well...the Browns. I'm glad for the city of Cleveland that the Indians are playing lights out Baseball. They have the best run differential in Baseball (+65), the only knock I can make on them is that they are 11-11 on the road, but even that is not bad considering the way they play at home.

2 - St. Louis Cardinals 30-20 - The hottest team in Baseball, scoring a bunch of runs, starting pitching has been excellent. They have been this good and take in to account that no doubt Pujols is gonna hit a lot better than .267 and they don't have Adam Wainwright. Question marks in the bullpen and closer but I expect them to make a serious play for Heath Bell at the trade deadline.

3 - Philadelphia Phillies 29-19 - They have had their struggles on the offensive front, however, getting Chase Utley back is huge, and they will soon be getting Shane Victorino back too. These 2 guys fuel the Phillies offense, we know Ryan Howard will hit, but Utley and Victorino get this team moving. Pitching on this team will carry them despite offensive struggles.

4 - San Francisco Giants 27-20 - I may have to switch up the Giants and Marlins after the series they are currently playing. However, the Giants have been racking up the W's lately, they are now 7 games above .500. Keep in mind this is without their best hitter in Pablo Sandoval and Aubrey Huff, Buster Posey, Miguel Tejada and Pat Burrell all underachieving so far at the plate. When they start to hit, watch out!

5 - Florida Marlins 27-19 - They have just been winning, and getting key hits when needed. They have an excellent road record so far (13-7). Will have to check back in on them in a week or two, with their ace and Cy Young candidate Josh Johnson on the DL. One thing to note is that Hanley Ramirez WILL hit better than he has been. This team will challenge Philly all through the season.

Bottom 5
26 - Washington Nationals 21-27 - They have lost 4 in a row and have lost 7 of their last 10 games. Big Money Free Agent Jayson Werth hasn't lived up to the money yet, .247 AVG 8 HR's with only 18 RBI. I do like the Nationals going forward though. Next year or so when they get Strasburg back, and Bryce Harper will be ready to take on Major League pitching. Harper, Zimmerman and Werth projects to be a nice trio of hitters.

27 - Kansas City Royals - 22-25 - As a whole their season hasn't been awful, but they are 2-8 in their last 10 games, Royals Pitcher Vin Mazzaro's 14 Earned Run performance has summed up how they've been playing lately. While the Home Record is solid, their road record of 5-12 leaves a lot to be desired. Royals do have a bright future with some stars moving through the Minor Leagues.

28 - San Diego Padres 19-30 - Was last year just an blip on the radar? Certainly looks like it, trading away Adrian Gonzalez and the pitching struggling this team has gone from borderline playoff team to bottom feeder. I hope Padre fans soaked in last year cause they won't be getting that close to playoffs for a while.

29 - Houston Astros 18-31 - This team just doesn't have much talent, they need to trade Hunter Pence and try and trade Carlos Lee, build through the farm system. Once they have some promising prospects, they have the money to spend in Free Agency. Honestly I don't expect much from this team in the next 3-5 years.

30 - Minnesota Twins 16-31 - Yikes, what happened? Worst run differential BY FAR (-85), just awful at home (5-12) and their star hitters Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer have a combined 2 HR's 17 RBI and just a pathetic .230 AVG and .288 OBP. They better turn it around.

Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has a lot to be upset about with how their season has gone

Check back next week while I update my Top 5 and Bottom 5 Teams in MLB. Lots of action today, my games to watch are:
AL - Red Sox @ Indians (Lester 6-1, 3.68 ERA vs Talbot 1-0, 1.46 ERA) 9:05AM Pacific Time
NL - Cardinals @ Padres (Carpenter 1-4, 4.88 ERA vs Latos 1-6, 4.60 ERA) 3:35PM Pacific Time

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Alex Smith and the 49ers in 2011

So all signs are pointing to Alex Smith returning to San Francisco for the upcoming 2011 season. Under any normal offseason I'd bet my money on there being no chance of seeing Alex Smith in a 49ers uniform again, however this has not been a normal offseason. Unless you have been living under a rock, you'll know the NFL is locked out, and thus, no free agency period has happened or will likely happen before preseason.

This has lead many teams, like the 49ers, who have gaping holes at the QB position to go to desperate measures, whether its drafting Jake Locker 8th overall (Titans) or Christian Ponder 11th overall (Vikings) or in this case, the 49ers bringing back Alex Smith. New 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh and 49ers GM Trent Baalke recognized that they needed some kind of veteran solution to allow their rookie QB Colin Kaepernick time to develop. Which has lead to Harbaugh saying all the right things about Alex, and doing whatever he can to get the former 1st overall pick to come back to the 49ers for what I assume will be 1 more year.

As bad and as frustrating as Alex Smith has been his career, his last 2 seasons have been somewhat respectable, compiling a stat line of: 4720 yards, 32 TD's 22 INT's and a 60% completion rate.

                                     Alex Smith, QB of the San Francisco 49ers

 So while many 49er fans will cringe at the thought of watching more games with Alex Smith under center, understand that the 49ers could do a lot worse. I mean, who else could you get in a realistic scenario? Kaepernick is the teams future QB, so it doesn't make sense to trade a bunch of picks to pick up Kevin Kolb or Carson Palmer. Donovan McNabb you say? The guy who refused to wear an arm band with the play calls on it for offensive guru Mike Shanahan in Washington, the guy who had a notable lack of work ethic in the offseason and who honestly just looked downright awful, do you really wanna give up picks for that, when you can have Alex Smith? I don't.

So now we have established why the 49ers want Alex Smith back, but why does Alex Smith wanna come back to the 49ers? Despite being booed multiple times in Candlestick Park by 49er fans, reasons I came up with as to why Smith would wanna come back were as follows:
First of all, he knows he will be the starter here in 2011, thus giving him a chance to play and maybe driving up his market value for the 2012 offseason and earn a decent contract and maybe even get a starting gig somewhere else.
Secondly, he knows and is familiar with the personnel in San Francisco, guys like Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree etc.

Finally, I think Alex is much more of a competitor then people believe and I'm thinking he may feel like he has unfinished business in San Francisco. Had Alex Smith decided to not come back here next season, he leaves himself way too many question marks, such as, where will I be next season? When will I know where I will be? Will I go somewhere with a realistic chance to start? How will I cope with a whole new offensive personnel in a shortened offseason?

         The future in 49er land - HC Jim Harbaugh and QB Colin Kaepernick

While I think from a personal and professional standpoint that Alex Smith really needs to get out of San Francisco and the 49ers also needing to move on from Alex, the lockout has created an unusual circumstance, where oddly enough, the best situation for both the 49ers and Alex Smith is to come together for 1 more year.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Carson Palmer Dilemma

Carson Palmer, was once thought of as the 3rd best QB in the NFL behind Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, then Kimo von Oelhoffen shredded Palmers knee in a 2006 Playoff Matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers. Since then he has never been the same player, however in this QB driven league, a guy like Palmer will always have very high value.

                                    Carson Palmer, QB of the Cincinnati Bengals

Since the onset of the 2011 offseason, Palmer has stated that he has no intention of playing another down for the Bengals. So how have the Bengals reacted to this situation? They have stated that they refuse to trade their franchise QB under any circumstance. What do I think of this stance? I think up to this point, the Bengals have played their cards perfectly. And now I will tell you why.

What the Bengals have is a huge asset, there are a number of teams which would love to have the services of Carson Palmer (Arizona, Seattle, Washington, San Francisco, Miami, Oakland). The stance the Bengals have taken has given them the best leverage they can possibly get. Why should the Bengals say anything but "We will not trade him", even if they wanted to trade him they can't with the lockout. Assuming the lockout ends sometime in the summer, I'd imagine teams will come calling Cincy. Now if the Bengals had been saying things along the lines of "We will consider a trade" or "We will listen to offers" that gives the impression he can be had, and thus drives down the possible value they can get.

What the Bengals have done, is made other teams considering Palmer, now having to initiate talks and have to immediately come in with a big offer. I take everything the Bengals have said with a grain of salt, I am going by the assumption that they are bluffing and that with the right offer they would go ahead and trade Palmer. If they just let him retire and get nothing in return? Well that quickly turns them from geniuses to idiots.

MLB Power Rankings coming later today.

Recap of the Weekends Action

Well being the bay area fan that I am, it was a weekend with some good and bad. First my San Francisco Giants sweep the Oakland A's. Scoring I believe 10 total runs to complete a 3 game sweep. That just goes to show you how elite the Giants pitching is. From Vogelsong to Lincecum and Affeldt to Wilson. Giants now have won 5 in a row and 14 of 18. All without their hottest hitter in Pablo Sandoval. Very impressive, definitely a team no one wants to face.

                     Tim Lincecum 5th career shutout on 5/21/11 against the A's

Meanwhile in the world of the NHL, my Sharks took a tough loss and are now on the brink of elimination from the Conference Finals. In the words of the annoying Justin Bieber, never say never. You can't help but feel even reaching the WCF would still be a disappointing season for the Sharkies. Oh well, can't wait to see how it plays out.

Both Miami and Dallas take commanding leads in the NBA Conference Finals. It feels like the Heat have figured out Derrick Rose, while Russell Westbrook of the Thunder is imploding and ruining all of the chemistry this young Thunder team have.

NFL News? Still locked out, and according to Ray Lewis, expect NFL players to start going on crime sprees, good times friends.

 That's it for tonight. Tomorrow will have my MLB Power Rankings, and thoughts on the NFL Lockout and how the San Francisco 49ers offseason has gone.

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Day So Far

Wow, well what a great start to this Saturday. Let's start it with the Bruins - Lightening game. Boston held a commanding lead 3-0 in the 1st period, only to let Tampa back in it in the 2nd period. 2 quick goals by Teddy Purcell and it was suddenly 3-2. From there on out the Lightening didn't let up and ended up winning this won 5-3. Who'd have seen that coming?

The other big happenings so far include the White Sox currently dominating the Dodgers 9-2 in Chicago (8th inning) and another huge day for Toronto Blue Jay Jose Bautista. If you have to take any hitter in the Majors it may have to be Bautista. Crushing 2 more HR's today, his total for the season is 18, also batting .364 Slugging .841.
                                          Jose Bautista RF Toronto Blue Jays

He is on pace for 60+ HR's, 100+ RBI and that ridiculous .364 Average. Many thought Jose's season last year was a fluke or just a once off, well obviously he is proving the contrary. This guy is for real and he may just be the best hitter in Baseball.

That's it so far. Can't wait for the rest of the days action.

Previewing the Day In Sports

What a great time of year, NBA Playoffs, NHL Playoffs, Baseball in full swing. So much sports, so little time. I will give my recommendations for the must see games. Here goes:

NHL - Boston Bruins vs Tampa Bay Lightening. In Tampa Bay, Florida. 10:30AM Pacific.
Sitting here watching this game. Real fast opening to this game. Back and forth action. Currently Boston up 3-0 in the 1st period. Even if you are not a hockey fan, Conference Final games are always worth watching.

MLB - Oakland Athletics vs San Francisco Giants. In San Francisco, California. 4:10PM Pacific.
For me Tim Lincecum is always a must see. What makes this even better? A great matchup against Brett Anderson who's having a stellar year so far. If you like pitching duels, this one is for you. Add to the fact that this is the always entertaining Bay Bridge Series, check this game out if you get the chance.

NBA - Dallas Mavericks vs Oklahoma City Thunder. In OKC. 6:00PM Pacific.
Dirk Nowitzki vs Kevin Durant, 2 of the premier scorers in the NBA. Both players always create huge mismatches and either can go for 35+ points on any given night. This game has excitement and offense written all over it.

Lots of good games on today, Interleague play in Baseball this weekend. Tomorrow we get Lebron James and the Heat vs Derrick Rose and the Bulls in the ECF, while in Hockey we get the Canucks vs Sharks. Enjoy friends.

Friday, May 20, 2011


Welcome to my 1st post of my 1st blog. Will give a short introduction about me and what I plan to talk about.

I'm Kalen, I live in San Francisco, CA. Have either lived here, or Ireland my whole life. Ever since I can remember I have always been a HUGE sports nut. From being a little kid watching my heroes Will Clark of the San Francisco Giants, or Jerry Rice and Steve Young of the 49ers to right now where I watch (admittedly) too much sports for my own good. I will start by saying my teams are, the previously mentioned SF Giants and 49ers. Also have been a fan of the Chicago Bulls ever since I first saw Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, and I root for the San Jose Sharks but have a soft spot for the Boston Bruins having seen them live in Boston and loving that experience.

I will be talking about any and all sports that come to mind, from the football lockout to tennis, from baseball to soccer. There will probably be more of a focus on the teams I root for but will cover as diverse a range of sports and teams as I can. 

So that sums that up, I will soon get started when I have all the settings and design the way I want it. Thanks for reading and can't wait to get started and get your guys thoughts.