Posted on: January 10, 2013 6:52 pm
Hello again, everyone!<br /><br /><br />My participation in online baseball chat tailed off significantly last year due to changing jobs, buying a house, and raising a kid. Now I'm back. <br /><br /><br />The following are my pre-season projections for Reds</a> players for the 2012 season, along with their actual numbers. Let's see how I did.<br /><br /><br /><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Catcher<br /><br /></span>Ryan Hanigan<br />Projected</strong>: .280/.370/.380 | 5 HR | 0 SB<br /><strong>Actual</strong>: .274/.365/. | 2 HR | 0 SB<br /><br /><strong>Devin Mesoraco<br />Projected: </strong>.245/.330/.400 | 13 HR | 0 SB<strong><br />Actual</strong>: .212/.288/.352 | 5 HR | 1 SB<br /><br /><br />Pretty decent on Hanigan. Mesoraco was disappointing.<br /><br /><br /><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">1st Base<br /><br /></span>Joey Votto<br />Projected: </strong>.315/.420/.540 | 32 HR | 10 SB<strong><br />Actual</strong>: .337/.474/.567 | 14 HR | 5 SB<br /><br /><br />He was better than expected, but missed some time.<br /><br /><br /><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">2nd Base<br /><br /></span>Brandon Phillips<br />Projected: </strong>.280/.340/.445 | 17 HR | 10 SB<strong><br />Actual</strong>: .281/.321/.429 | 18 HR | 15 SB<br /><br /><br />Close....<br /><br /><br /><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Shortstop</span><br /><br />Zack Cozart<br />Projected: </strong>.250/.320/410 | 14 HR | 16 SB<strong><br />Actual</strong>: .246/.288/.399 | 15 HR | 4 SB<br /><br /><br />Over-estimated OBP and SB a bit... <br /><br /><br /><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">3rd Base<br /><br /></span>Scott Rolen<br />Projected: </strong>.255/.310/.400 | 8 HR | 1 SB<strong><br />Actual</strong>: .245/.318/.398 | 8 HR | 2 SB<br /><br /><br /><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Left Field<br /><br /></span></strong>I projected Chris Heisey</a> to win this position and hit 24 HR. He didn't. And he didn't. I had nothing for Ryan Ludwick</a> in my projections.<br /><br /><br /><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Center Field<br /><br /></span>Drew Stubbs<br />Projected: </strong>.250/.330/.390 | 17 HR | 36 SB<strong><br />Actual</strong>: .213/.277/.333 | 14 HR | 30 SB<br /><br /><br />You just don't realize how bad he was until you put it on paper. Enjoy him, Cleveland!<br /><br /><br /><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Right Field<br /><br /></span>Jay Bruce<br />Projected: </strong>.275/.355/.495 | 34 HR | 6 SB<strong><br />Actual</strong>: .252/.327/.513 | 34 HR | 9 SB<br /><br /><br />Nailed the HR total.<br /><br /><br /><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Pitchers<br /><br /></span>Johnny Cueto<br />Projected: </strong>14-8 | 3.25 ERA | 1.17 WHIP | 190 IP<strong><br />Actual</strong>: 19-9 | 2.78 ERA | 1.17 WHIP | 217 IP<br /><br /><strong>Mat Latos<br />Projected: </strong>14-10 | 3.55 ERA | 1.18 WHIP | 200 IP<strong><br />Actual</strong>: 14-4 | 3.48 ERA | 1.16 WHIP | 209.1 IP<br /><br /><strong>Mike Leake<br />Projected: </strong>12-11 | 3.80 ERA | 1.20 WHIP | 175 IP<strong><br />Actual</strong>: 8-9 | 4.58 ERA | 1.35 WHIP | 179 IP<br /><br /><strong>Bronson Arroyo<br />Projected: </strong>8-11 | 4.90 ERA | 1.35 WHIP | 180 IP<strong><br />Actual</strong>: 12-10 | 3.74 ERA | 1.21 WHIP | 202 IP<br /><br /><strong>Homer Bailey<br />Projected: </strong>6-6 | 4.40 ERA | 1.27 WHIP | 110 IP<strong><br />Actual</strong>: 13-10 | 3.68 ERA | 1.24 WHIP | 208 IP<br /><br /><strong>Aroldis Chapman<br />Projected: </strong>2-4 | 3.75 ERA | 1.40 WHIP | 90 IP<strong><br />Actual</strong>: 5-5 | 1.51 ERA | 0.81 WHIP | 71.2 IP<br /><br /><br />So way too high on Leake, too low on Bronson, Homer, Cueto, and Chapman, and just right on Latos.<br /><br /><br />I'll post 2013 projections for Reds players sometime in the next week or so.
Posted on: May 7, 2012 11:53 pm
A few years ago, while on the ESPN Reds board, I started making annual projections for Reds players. Generally, I'm way off on all but a few, but I did have some pretty remarkable success in 2010 (probably because I'm an unrepentant homer). I project offensive stats by using the "slash line," which is AVG/OBP/SLUG% for those familiar. The only counting stats I'll project are HR and SB, because it's pointless to try to predict runs and RBI. Generally, I assume good health in my projections, unless a player has a chronic injury history or is on the DL at the time of the post. I'll have analysis of each player, but since most of you probably don't want to waste your time with that, I'll put the actually projections in bold. By choosing to do this in January, there is a possibility that the roster for 2012 is not yet complete, but that's a chance I'm willing to take. Here goes...
Category: Olympic Games
Posted on: February 2, 2012 7:29 pm
Edited on: February 2, 2012 7:30 pm
Even though there are a handful of unsigned players and potential trades to come, I think I can safely make some predictions about what we're going to see in 2012 in the ol' MLB. I'm going to project the end-of-season standings for every division, as well as playoff results and award winners over two or three posts. I'll start with the NL. It's all a crapshoot, but these are my best guesses...
1. Washington Nationals - Might as well start off crazy. This is going to be an insanely competitive division that features expanding payrolls and some of the best young players in the game. So why Washington? Well, it starts with the pitching. They finished 6th in the NL in ERA last year, and that included 75 starts by Livan Hernandez, Tom Gorzelanny, Chien-Ming Wang, and Jason Marquis. This year, those starts will be made by Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Edwin Jackson. Gonzalez posted a 3.12 ERA in the DH league last year, and #5 starter John Lannan has made 30 starts with a sub-4.00 ERA in three of his last four years. Oh, and Jordan Zimmermann (a former top prospect in his own right), put up a 3.18 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in his first full season after an injury. In the bullpen, they have talented younsters like Drew Storen, Henry Rodriguez, and Tyler Clippard, not to mention Sean Burnett and Brad Lidge. Offensively, they're not as attractive, but remember that Ryan Zimmerman missed a lot of time last season and was never really 100%. Jayson Werth isn't as bad as he played last year, and middle-infielders Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa have plus-potential. Michael Morse played like a star last year, and recently freed Wilson Ramos is a fine young catcher. And then there's Bryce Harper, who may also appear at some point in the coming season. They won 80 games last year without a healthy Zimmerman, and they'll be adding Strasburg, Jackson, Gonzalez, and maybe Harper. The future is now.
2. Philadelphia Phillies - Again, it's all about the pitching. Roy Halladay is a future Hall of Famer. He's followed by two of the top 3 lefties in the NL in Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. Vance Worley surprised some people last year, but he was a 3rd round pick a couple of years ago, so it's not as though he's just a fluke. They overspent on Jonathon Papelbon, and I find their bullpen as a whole to be decent, but fairly pedestrian. On offense, they have exactly two projected regulars that are under 31: 28-year-old John Mayberry and soon-to-be 29-year-old Hunter Pence. This is an offense on the decline, and they'll be without Ryan Howard until at least May. I'm sure Ty Wiggington will be just as good. The fact is, these guys don't scare opposing pitchers like they used to. The crazy thing is, if they get to the playoffs, even as a Wild Card, they'll probably be the favorites to win the pennant when you consider the starting pitchers at the top.
3. Atlanta Braves - I'm sure I'll catch some flak for this one. A lot of people think this team will win the division and maybe even the pennant, and that shows how strong this division is. On paper, they seem to have assembled an almost Tampa-like collection of talented young starting pitchers. Still, despite being 4th in the NL in ERA last year, I think they have some questions: Can Jair Jurrjens and Tonny Hanson stay healthy? How good is Mike Minor? Can Tim Hudson continue his mid-30's rennaisance? I have a tough time really believing in a staff with so many guys who are either very young or chronically injured. If everything goes according to plan, they could very well win it all, but I'll have to settle them at 3rd for now. Please don't tell anyone in my fantasy league about Brandon Beachy, though. Offensively, they're just kind of "bleh." Jason Heyward doesn't have it together yet, and while Freddie Freeman is a fine young player, it's not like he's even average offensively for a 1B at this point. Dan Uggle is very good at hitting homers and making errors, Michael Bourne is one-dimensional, and Chipper Jones is 746 years old. I still like Brian McCann and, hey, maybe Tyler Pastornicky can give them a boost.
4. Miami Marlins - You see, Jose Reyes's game is entrely predicated on his legs. His power comes from stretching singles into doubles, and his defensive value is tied to his range. He's known mostly for being a great base-stealer. His legs are also frequently injured and he's getting close to 30. I don't understand paying that much money for him. Hanley Ramirez was horrible last year, and now they're making him change positions. Mike Stanton could really go either way this year, but you can't deny that his power is legit. I've always liked Logan Morrison, but he had some problems in 2011. Gaby Sanchez is okay, but nothng more than average at his position. Whether or not this team can compete comes down to the right arm of Josh Johnson. Mark Buehrle, Annibal Sanchez, and Ricky Nolasco are okay, but without the ace in front of them, the rotation is average. This is going to be a project and I don't think that Ozzie has it in him. Carlos Zambrano?
5. New York Mets - This is going to be a tough year. The Metsies have slashed payroll while the rest of the division has drastically improved. Jason Bay, Lucas Duda, and Andres Torres is the starting outfield. Their starting 2B is a utility player, and while Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada have potential, their not ready for their primes just yet. They still have David Wright, but his power has dropped off the table since the move to Citi Field. I guess we'll have a chance to see if Johan Santana can still pitch. The rest of the rotation is below-average, especially relative to the teams in the East and their bullpen is mediocre at best. Frank Francisco? Wow. They should DL him now to save the trouble later. It's gonna get ugly. Well, uglier.
1. Cincinnati Reds - They had a busy offseason, bringing in Mat Latos, Sean Marshall, and Ryan Madson. The rotation is still somewhat sketchy when you consider Johnny Cueto's health issues last year (started and ended 2011 on the DL). Mike Leake is okay, but not what most would consider "above-average," and Bronson Arroyo is coming off of his worst season. That said, they have talent in the bullpen and a pretty solid wild card in Aroldis Chapman. Offensively, they are among the best in the business. Joey Votto is officially the best 1B in the NL now, and Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, and Drew Stubbs provide a variety of offesnsive skills. Youngsters like Devin Mesoraco and Zack Cozart will need to develop in a hurry. It's not very often that a team goes to the postseason with rookies at SS and C. This is a flawed team with flawed manager, but in a down year for the Central, they're the favorites.
2. Milwaukee Brewers - Everyone is down on the Brewers, but I don't really see why. They still have Zack Greinke (2.59 ERA in the 2nd half last year), Yovani Gallardo, Shawn Marcum, and Randy Wolf. They still have John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez closing it out. Corey Hart, Ricky Weeks, and Nyger Morgan are solid offensive roll players, and Ryan Braun will be back in May. Aramis Ramirez is getting older and he still can't field, but he should provide some stability in the lineup. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with Norichika Aoki. He can hit. I know Mat Gamel is no Prince Fielder, but he has a solid pedigree. This team will contend.
3. St. Louis Cardinals - This team features pretty much the entire roster from the 2006 NL All-Star Team. Unfortunately for them, it's 2012. They've effectively replaced Albert Pujols with Carlos Beltran, with the corresponding move of Lance Berkman back to 1st. Can Matt Holliday be the big-time slugger in this lineup? You have to figure Berkman and Beltran will regress from comeback years in 2011. Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, and Jaime Garcia have combined for an awful lot of arm surgeries. What will happen to Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook without Dave Duncan? Can a veteran team win with a young manager? Too many questions here. In the interest of full disclosure, I had them 3rd last season too...
4. Pittsburgh Pirates - After a hot start last year, they reached a new level of horrible in the 2nd half. They have some nice young talent on offense. Jose Tabata, Neil Walker, and Pedro Alvarez have loads of potential, even though each is coming off of a fairly disappointing season. Andrew McCutchen collapsed in the 2nd half too after an All-Star beginning, but I'd have to say he's the most promising and exciting young player in this division. As for the pitching, Jeff Karstens, Charlie Morton, and James McDonald all seem like solid candidates for regression. Erik Bedard is in town now, so I hope the Bucs have saved room on their DL. I like the bullpen, led by Evan Meek and Joel Hanrahan. I don't know, this team is pretty bad. I only have them in 4th because they have more hope and talent than the other two trainwrecks in this division.
5. Houston Astros - I actually think this team is a due for a decent-sized improvement in their last year in the NL. Then again, when you lose 106 games, it's hard not to improve. They have Major League caliber talent at most positions, including interesting young players Jose Altuve, J.D. Martinez, and Jimmy Paredes. Unfortunately, mediocre roster-fillers like Jed Lowrie, Chris Snyder, and Livan Hernandez will likely be playing major roles for this team. Bud Norris is coming off a breakout year of sorts, as he posted a 3.77 ERA and K'd nearly a batter per inning in his 3rd Major League season. Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers are solid middle-of-the rotation guys, but I think it's likely that one of them will be moved soon to make room for the much cheaper (and maybe someday better) Jordan Lyles. Here's hoping that young catcher Jason Castro can make it on the field at some point. He's got some potential and his injury last year was heart-breaking. This team could win 65-70 games.
6. Chicago Cubs - As a fan of a small-market team, it's going to do my heart good to see the Cubs and Mets combine for 200 losses this year. There's nothing but mediocrity on this team. Anthony Rizzo gives them some hope, along with Starlin Castro (between alleged assaults), but the rest of the offensive roster is either old, or bad, or both. Matt Garza is solid at the top of the rotation, but it's looking doubtful that he'll be a Cub for much longer. Ryan Dempster is old and coming off of a bad year. Randy Wells, Pat Maholm, Travis Wood, Chris Volstad, and Andy Sonnastine will compete in the least exciting roster battle of all time this year at the back end of the Cubs rotation. Like Ma always said: "If you don't have anything nice to say..." It's going to be a trainwreck, but one of a train filled with Cubs fans, so you won't feel too bad...
1. San Francisco Giants - I picked the winner of this division by throwing darts blindfolded. To that end, I'd like to apologize to my wife, who thankfully, should make a full recovery. What it comes down to, for me, is Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Madison Bumgarner at the top of the rotation, and a dominant bullpen. I don't expect much offensively. Buster Posey will be back, but it's hard to imagine him showing up after a year off and raking like it's 2010. Pablo Sandoval is a nice player, but he's not good enough to build a lineup around. They'll need contributions from young Brandon Belt and newcomer Melky Cabrera. Aburey Huff and Freddy Sanchez might be done being productive. The balance of power towards the American League and the NL East this year is staggering. The Giants win this division by default.
2. Arizona Diamondbacks - You could argue that they have more balance than the Giants do. After all, with Justin Upton, Chris Young, Aaron Hill, and Miguel Montero, they certainly have more on offense. I don't get replacing Gerardo Parra with Jason Kubel. I guess they liked Parra's mediocre offense, but go tired of him playing such good defense, so they brought in someone to fix that. Mark Reynolds, ahem, I mean Paul Goldschmidt has scary power, and even scarier strikeout totals. The starting staff is okay, even though I think Ian Kennedy will regress a bit. I like Daniel Hudson and Travor Cahill, and there ate worse starters than Joe Saunders. By the way, CBS has Trevor Cahill listed as the #3 and #5 starter for this team. He's going to be pretty tired at the end of this year. Is that... that Henry Blanco? Wow.
3. Los Angelas Dodgers - They are here because of Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw. Dee Gordon can play a little too. Andre Ethier and James Loney are a walking injury and a walking below-average baseball player respectivelly. I should be careful. I wouldn't want to drive Loney to drink... and drive... and face no criminal charges. Their rotation is full of 3s and 4s with Ted Lilly, Chad Billingsly, Aaron Harang, and Chris Capuano. The Dodgers will start Jerry Sands in the minors, presumably because Tony Gwynn Jr. has a famous dad. Meh.
4. Colorado Rockies - I've been high on this team for a long time and all they ever do is let me down. As a punishment, I'm demoting them to 4th. An unpaid low-life moved you down in his projections! Take that multi-millionaire athletes! Blah, blah, blah, Carlos Gonzalez, blah, blah, blah, Troy Tulowitzki, blah, blah Dexter Fowler. This team is pretty okay on offense, but the pitching is going to be an awful, though somewhat talented, disaster. Jhoulys Chacin is going to break out one of these days. He'll have to learn to throw strikes first. I can see why they brought in Jamie Moyer. They don't want incredibly talented future stars Drew Pomeranz and Alex White coming up and... uhh... winning? They got rid of talented, but flawed Ian Stewart to bring in a just flawed Casey Blake. Whatever.
5. San Diego Padres - Carlos Quentin, Cameron Maybin, Yonder Alonso, and Cory Luebke are all talented players. If you add them all up, they almost equal Adrian Gonzalez. If they can fix Edinson Volquez, I'll be a believer. I'm sure the city of San Diego is brimming with anticipation for the upcoming year.
So that's the NL. I'll do the AL in a few days...
Posted on: January 31, 2012 3:16 pm
1. Miami Heat - Since a surprising home loss to Milwaukee, the Heat have won five straight, with four of the wins coming against weaklings, and one coming against Chicago. Dwyane Wade is healthy and looks dominant, and LeBron James has been the best player in the NBA so far this season. It's amazing what can happen when you develop a post game. They play their next 11 games against Eastern Conference opponents, with eight of those coming on the road. If this is the team to beat, we'll know for sure in a couple of weeks.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder - It's looking more and more like losing on the road to the Clippers is nothing to be embarrassed about. It still sort of feels like this team hasn't really been tested. They play seven of their next nine against teams at or above .500, with five of those seven coming on the road. It's a shame that a team playing at an .800 clip will have to endure seeing Kendrick Perkins getting poster-ized on a continuous highlight loop for the rest of eternity. James Harden finally got a start and went 2 for 10 with 7 points. Go figure.
3. Chicago Bulls - The defense seems to have let up a bit of late, giving up 95 points/game over their last five. Derrick Rose can't wait to face the Pacers again, but he should be careful what he wishes for: the last time the Bulls beat an opponent with a winning record was January 6th, when they beat Orlando. Kudos for winning the games their supposed to. After tomorrow night's game in Philly, they won't face another winning opponent until February 20th, when Atlanta comes to town. It's entirely possible that this team could go six weeks without beating a playoff team. You have to wonder if they'll atrophy a bit, or if they'll just gain more confidence.
4. Philadelphia 76ers - I feel bad about moving the Sixers down two spots, but it had to be done to accomodate the Heat and Thunder. Doug Collins has done a fine job with this bunch. They're solid in every way. Younger guys like Thaddeus Young, Jrue Holiday, and Evan Turner provide a solid young core, while Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala are strong veterans looking for a Title. They're talented. They're deep. They play great defense. If someone is going to upset Miami or Chicago in the East Semis, you're looking at them.
5. Denver Nuggets - It's not hard to imagine this team making a deep playoff run. They are a veteran team with a great coach, and they have perhaps the deepest rotation in the NBA. But until they start playing defense, they'll be limited against teams like Dallas and Oklahoma City that they might not be able to outscore. Hold on tight, because the schedule is about to become very unfriendly.
6. Atlanta Hawks - As a team, they're shooting better than 40% on their 3s. That's no fluke. After all, Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, and Vladimir Radmanovic are legit shooters. Jeff Teague might be the league's most improved player, and Zaza Pachulia has stepped up nicely since becomming a starter, averaging 10 and 8 over his last five games. Despite all of that and a pretty good defense, they're bottom 10 in attendance and no is talking about them. Such is life.
7. Dallas Mavericks - Since January 7th, they've gone 11-3 and started looking like the defending world champs. They won the Greatest Game Ever Played against the Spurs in OT, boarded a plane, and crushed the Suns in Phoenix the next night. Dirk Nowitzki still doesn't have it going, but you have to figure that he will soon. They're as dangerous as ever, and not they've added defense to their repertoire.
8. LA Clippers - After a tough "road" loss the the Lakers, the Clips proceded to beat three straight West foes, including the top two teams in the Conference. They are deep and talented at the guard position, and if they had one more post guy in the rotation, they might just be a legit title contender. Kudos to Blake Griffin for appealing to our baser instincts, dunking the NBA from a complex and nuanced sport into a Monster Truck Rally.
9. Indiana Pacers - This team is all over the map. They lose at home to Orlando by 19, then go to Chicago and beat the Bulls. Two days later, they can't handle the aging Celtics, but then they beat the same Magic team on the road by 21. Your guess is as good as mine (and probably better). I figure they'll lose at home to the Nets tonight, then go on the road and beat Minnesota and Dallas by a combined 80 points. They've come out of what basically amounts to a season-long road trip at 13-6, and they've beaten the Bulls in Chicago, so I guess you have to put them in the top 10.
10. Portland Trail Blazers - What can you say? They're capable of winning in Oklahoma City and losing in Dertoit. The fact is, they are 3-8 on the raod. That shouldn't happen on a team with this many veterans, especially on one that's 9-1 at home. If you want to make the playoffs in the West, you have to be competitive on the road. I can't stress this enough. 36-30 might not get you in.
11. Utah Jazz - They've played a light schedule and only six road games, but they're 12-7, so here's the props. If they're really going to make the playoffs, they'll need a youngster like Gordon Heyward or Derrick Favors to become a star pretty soon. Paul Millsap is 5th in the NBA in Player Efficiency Rating. Paul Millsap. I'm waiting for the fall, but they just keep on truckin'.
12. San Antonio Spurs - Recent losses at Minnesota and Dallas really don't really make them look bad. At this point, they seem to be treading water until Manu Ginobili gets back. His return will have a drastic impact on this teams playoff hopes. It's possible that they could get a home series in the 1st round, or finish 10th in the West. Too early to tell.
13. Houston Rockets - They needed three wins on their homestand and they got two. Now they'll have a stretch of 12 games in 20 days to start February, and while it's not necessarily a murderer's row of opponents, they'll have a lot of tough games. If they come out of that 7-5, you'll have to buy them as playoff contenders. If they get crushed, you'll start seeing Luis Scola and Kevin Martin in more trade rumors.
14. LA Lakers - Kobe Bryant is pitching in 30/game and Pau Gasol has looked better lately. Still, they lack depth, and as a team, they're scoring at a Mike Brown pace. You have to figure they'll make a move, but for who? Deron Williams? I don't think they have the pieces to get Dwight Howard unless they involve a 3rd party.
15. Orlando Magic - Even though they've lost four in a row and 6 of 8, I can't just ignore the fact that they're 12-9. That's why they're in the top half. Still, they seem to be in complete self-destruct mode at this point. If they don't right the ship by the All-Star Game, Howard will be on his way out of town.
16. Minnesota Timberwolves - Rick Adelman's group is sending a message to the rest of the West that they won't go quietly into that good night. Their last seven games have come against West opponents that are above .500. They are 4-3 in those games. You're looking at the future, and the future is now. I wouldn't be stunned if they crept up on the playoff picture.
17. Boston Celtics - Yeah, I know they crushed Orlando twice recently. I also know they've looked much better this last week or so. Maybe suggesting a Big-3 Breakup was just Danny Ainge trying to be motivational? It sure looks like Rajon Rondo is going to lead this team back to the postseason. It's hard to imagine them winning a series though.
18. Milwaukee Bucks - They've won 5 of 7 against a stretch that included wins over the Heat, Rockets, and Lakers. Brandon Jennings is a legit star, and this is a surprisingly deep team. They're also playing better defense lately. The loss of Andrew Bogut certainly hurts, but given the landscape in the East, I think this team goes to the playoffs.
19. Memphis Grizzlies - Sooo streaky. Bad Grizzlies have taken over. They let their 7-game winning streak end in Portland, and now they've lost 4 straight. They need Zach Randolph back right now. When tou consider their recent struggles, along with the competive level of the West, and the fact that Randolph probably won't be at 100% at any point this year, you have to wonder if Rudy Gay will become available. You never know when they'll rip off 7 in a row again, and be back to a 3-seed.
20. Cleveland Cavaliers - Closing out Boston with a 12-0 run is something that only a legitimate group of professional basketball players could do. That alone is an improvement on last year. Kyrie Irving seems to get better every night, and with apologies to Ricky Rubio, is the Rookie of the Year. They might not make the playoffs, but they'll be a tough out the rest of the way.
21. New Jersey Nets - The Nets have quietly won 3 out of 5 to sneak back into the East playoff picture. That's a sad statement since they're still just 7-14. MarShon Brooks should get some ROY votes too, as he's doing Providence proud by averaging nearly 15 PPG on 46% from the field. I wonder if they'd be close to a .500 team if Brook Lopez was healthy.
22. Toronto Raptors - They've won 3 of 4 since breaking their 8-game losing streak. I mentioned last week that they could be competitive with Andrea Bargnani healthy, and that lasted about 14 minutes. Still, anything can happen in the East. This is a very poor offesive team. For this and other understatements, please subscribe to this blog.
23. Golden State Warriors - Once you get to 20, these teams are pretty much interchangeable fluff. Monta Ellis is legit, but he is to defense as ESPN is to fair, unbiased coverage of Midwestern sports teams. There's talent here, but they've got a lot of quit in them.
24. Phoenix Suns - Losers of 4 of 5, they're officially changing their name to the "red dwarfs." Where my Science Channel viewers at? There's not even any young players to develop here. I guess Markieff Morris has a future as a rotation player. I'm starting the "trade Steve Nash" movement. I don't want to remember him like this. Hey, thanks to a solid run by Jared Dudley, they now have three players averaging in double figures. Progress, people.
25. New York Knicks - Ugh. Sorry New Yorkers, but 10 healthy Baron Davises couldn't save this bunch. They've now lost 9 of 10, with the one win coming against the Charlotte Franchise Relocation Project. The more I think about it, the more plausible it seems that Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony are just losing players. I guess you could get a little excited about Iman Shumpert. This team is about to be melted down and sold to the highest bidder.
26. New Orleans Hornets - Hey, Jarrett Jack is averaging 16 points, 7 assists, and 4 boards. No one knows when we'll see Eric Gordon again. Still, this team competes.
27. Washington Wizards - They're 2-2 since Randy Wittman took over. That's a decisive move in the right direction. There's a ton of young talent on this team. John Wall could be a superstar and guys like JaVale McGee, Nick Young, and Andray Blatche are solid. With better leadership and some experience, they could be a threat. Until then, they're awful to watch.
28. Sacramento Kings - Another team with young talent. Their top 5 scorers are all 25 or younger. Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins could be stars, but you have to wonder for which team Cousins will become one.
29. Detroit Pistons - They've won twice in a month, they can't score, and no one shows up to watch them play. Other than that, they're fine.
30. Charlotte Bobcats - Michael Jordan is as good at team ownership as he is at humility.
Posted on: January 25, 2012 2:42 pm
All I know about the NBA is that the players are obnoxious and the fans are fickle. Oh, and also that this is the order of NBA teams, from strongest to weakest.
1. Chicago Bulls - It's hard to argue. They boast the League's best record, and they've done without ever really being at full strength. Losing Luol Deng will hurt, but this is by far the best defense in the NBA.
2. Philadelphia 76ers - Speaking of defense, these guys play it too. They also have the best point differential in the NBA. They may not have a superstar, but they boast eight players averaging at least 9 PPG. That's tough to defend.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder - They're 14-3, yet it somehow feels like they're not reaching their potential. That's pretty scary. It would be nice if Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka would have more impact on offense. Thabo Sefolosha is shooting 55% on his 3s.
4. Miami Heat - At some point, Dwyane Wade will come back and the Heat will resume bludgeoning people to death. LeBron is the MVP of the first three quarters, and that's usually enough for the defense to hold 'em off in the 4th. Miami v. Chicago will be a fun rematch in the Eastern Conference Finals.
5. Denver Nuggets - Their offense is explosive. Danilo Gallinari has been tremendous, and he'll start hitting his 3s soon too. Al Harrington would be the League's best 6th man if not for James Harden. The problem: Only the Kings and Bobcats give up more points per contest.
6. Atlanta Hawks - They have the 3rd best record in the NBA, and they're solid at both ends of the court. This year's 2nd round playoff exit might be even more painful than usual.
7. Portland Trail Blazers - They're 8-1 at home, but they'll need to improve on their 3-6 road mark. LaMarcus Aldridge belongs in the discussion for best power forward. Imagine this team with Greg Oden and Brandon Roy.
8. Memphis Grizzlies - Pretty frustrating team. At times, they look like omnipotent supermen capable of conquering the world. Other times, they look like they did last night in Portland. It's an immensely talented group and if Zach Randolph was healthy, I'd have them in the Western Conference Finals.
9. Orlando Magic - Another solid defensive group. Dwight Howard might be the MVP so far this season. Hedo Turkoglu and Ryan Anderson have had solid shooting years. Jameer Nelson on the other hand is under 40% from the field. They're solid on the road and that will make them dangerous in the playoffs (assuming Howard is still here by then).
10. Dallas Mavericks - Don't look now, but they've won 8 of 10. They're playing great defense, they're deep, and Dirk should be back soon. I think they'll be fine.
11. Indiana Pacers - They've fattened up on a pretty weak schedule, but they're certainly on their way to the playoffs. They have a deep rotation, they rebound, and they play solid defense. You'd like to see them score a little more.
12. Utah Jazz - I have no idea how they're playing this well. It's certainly incentive for the Nets to try the "trade Deron Williams" strategy. Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are having nice seasons in the paint. I just don't see how they hang around, though.
13. Houston Rockets - Pay attention to Kyle Lowry. He's a budding superstar. They can score, but until they can play better defense on a regular basis, they won't be able to hang with the big boys. Samuel Dalembert has been a great addition.
14. Los Angelas Clippers - Blake Show, CP3, and the LA Hype Machine are off an running. DeAndre Jordan is averaging 3 blocks per game. That's pretty good. Clips are certainly capable of making the playoffs, and maybe even making a run once Chris Paul gets healthy.
15. San Antonio Spurs - They look unbeatable at home, but unfortuanately, there will be a lot more road games going forward. They don't play very well on defense and the offense isn't the same without Manu Ginobili. It sounds sacreligious, but this could be the odd team out in the West.
16. Los Angelas Lakers - In the interest of full disclosure, I hate the Lakers, and I'm happy to see them struggling. That said, they've played the NBA's toughest schedule and come out of it looking okay. Pau Gasol looks terrible. They're 1-6 on the road. Ouch. I still think they're a playoff team.
17. Boston Celtics - Through it all, they're still playing solid defense. Of course, they have by far the worst offense among the contenders. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen are too old and apart from Rajon Rondo and Brandon Bass, there's really not much talent here. That's good enough for a 7-seed in the East.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves - The future is coming for this group. Kevin Love is a superstar, and Ricky Rubio and Derek Williams will join him soon enough. They've looked really good against a decent schedule. Rick Adelman has really done a nice job. They might be in the playoffs next season.
19. New York Knicks - If the season ended today, they would be in the postseason. That's how bad the East is. Melo strikes me as the type that would rather go for 40 in a loss than go for 1 in a win. Has there been a bigger disappointment this season than Amar'e Stoudemire?
20. Milwaukee Bucks - They've shown some signs of life lately on the road. They've struggles mightily shooting the ball this year. If they can correct that, I think they get in the playoffs. Someone needs to tell Stephen Jackson to stop shooting.
21. Golden State Warriors - Question: What's the record for 4th-quarter turnovers in a season? Follow-up question: Can the Warriors challenge that record in 66 games? Hey, they've had a tough schedule, and they've looked really strong at times. Their defense is still embarassing, but with guys like Monta Ellis, David Lee, and Steph Curry, they can sure score it.
22. Phoenix Suns - They're not only bad, they're old too. Only two players are in double figures, and the defense is average. Only Steve Nash stands between them and the bottom 5.
23. Cleveland Caveliers - They are no longer a pushover, and Kyrie Irving looks like a star in the making. Still, they're missing several pieces and they've lost 4 in a row. They're moving in the right direction. Another lottery pick next year could land them in the back end of the East Playoffs in 2012-2013.
24. Toronto Raptors - With Andrea Bargnani, they can be competitive. DeMar DeRozan looked like he was on the verge of a breakout last season, but he's gone ice cold so far this year. If that is corrected, and Bargnani stays healthy, they could have meaningful games ahead.
25. New Jersey Nets - Proof that you don't have to play solid defense to have a terrible offense. You know who's enjoying this? Jerry Sloan. The focus now is on getting Dwight Howard and beating Vladmir Putin.
26. New Orleans Hornets - Yes, I know the record is horrible, but they've been competitive against an absolutely brutal schedule without Eric Gordon. There's enough talent here to avoid being the worst in the West. Guys like Trevor Ariza, Carl Landry, and Emeka Okafor have too much pride to let that happen.
27. Sacramento Kings - I can't figure out how this team has 6 wins. It seems like they get crushed every night. Nice job stubbornly holding on the DeMarcus Cousins. I'm sure that's going to work out for the better. Jimmer is shooting 35%. Fear that.
28. Detroit Pistons - Watching a Pistons game is like watching Drake take on Evansville in the Missouri Valley Conference. They can play some defense, but there's no offense anywhere. It's brutal.
29. Charlotte Bobcats - Guess it wasn't Larry Brown's fault after all.
30. Washington Wizards - John Wall is playing better lately. Flip Saunders is out. It's a team full of stupid punks so 2-15 is about what you'd expect.
Posted on: January 24, 2012 6:24 pm
First of all, I'm totally shocked by this deal. Every time I'm ready to suggest that Scott Boras is overrated and overhyped, something like this happens. Nine years and $214MM for an overweight and somewhat one-dimensional player. Don't get me wrong, Fielder is an offensive force at this stage in his career. He's surprisingly durable considering his frame, and has missed only 13 games in six years as a full-timer (only one in the last three years). Over the last five years, he's averaged 40 homers, 113 RBI, and a 151 OPS+, which makes him an elite offensive player, capable of batting 3rd or 4th in any lineup. The problem (as with most deals like this), will come down the line, when an aging and much less durable Fielder will be making $23MM+ at age 33, 34, 35, and 36.
Once Fielder exits his power prime, his value is going to drop off the table. He's not a bad contact hitter, but he's never hit .300 and he's a .282 hitter for his career. His defense is below average (-4.5 career dWAR), but he'll probably be the DH anyway. He's not a particularly strong baserunner and that's not likely to improve with age. So if his power drops off even a little, due to age, injury, or simply playing at the more spacious Comerica Park, you're left with an .850 OPS-ing DH making a salary that will likely be close to the top-10 in the league. Hey, there's nothing wrong with a guy that hits .285, walks a lot, and hits 30 homers, but for $23.8MM, you're expecting the guy to win MVPs.
Another issue I have with this deal is confusion as to what will happen with Victor Martinez. He'll be out for most of 2012, but he should be back at full strength for 2013, and he's owed $38MM for the next three years. I can't imagine they want him to catch full-time (after all, they have Alex Avila), and with Miguel Cabrera at 1B and Fielder at DH, I don't see where he plays. V-Mart only caught 26 games last year, and I can't imagine that Detroit is going to pay him $13MM in 2013 for that. Remember folks, the last time Miggy played 3B full time (2007), he made 23 errors and had a -1.1 dWAR. The last time he played there at all (2008), he made five errors in 14 games. Cabrera at 3B and Fielder at 1B will make for a pretty poor defensive infield.
I credit Detroit for going for it this year. Minnesota and Chicago are down, and Kansas City is still probably a year or two away. When your primary divisional competition is Cleveland, it's usually time to go for it, pretty much no matter what sport you play. I don't think this deal makes them the favorite to win the AL, but another ALCS appearence certainly seems attainable. They need some help at the back end of the rotation, and they probably don't have the money for it. They also need to stop letting Austin Jackson bat leadoff. That said, I'm excited to see what Miggy can do with Fielder hitting behind him. I think the AL MVP is coming back to Detroit in 2012, as Miggy will finally win one.