A Quick Guide To: #SpringTraining

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Spring Questions For All 30 Teams:

Will the Cubs live up to the rampant World Series expectations? Are the D-backs for real? Can David Price make his contract worth it? Are the Royals a dynasty in the making? Do the Blue Jays, Astros and Mets have staying power?

Spring Training preview materials will be loaded with these questions and more, but the obvious truth is that Spring Training itself can’t answer those questions. So the goal in this particular preview, mere days away from pitchers and catchers report dates, is to pose an actual, spring-specific question each Major League club is facing on the cusp of camp.

I’m dedicating this column to the memory of my friend and teammate Tom Singer, who suddenly passed away earlier this week. Tom was one of the more inquisitive and creative minds in the business, and I know he was looking forward to showing up at Spring Training camps and asking unique questions of his own.

Here we go….

NL East

Mets: How carefully should the young starters be eased into the season?

For the Mets, it will be a delicate balance between overworking and underworking Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard after they all saw significant innings increases due to the postseason run. Syndergaard jumped 65 2/3 innings from his 2014 total in the Minors, while deGrom and Harvey jumped 37 2/3 apiece. Because of injury, Steven Matz (15 2/3) didn’t see quite as big an increase, though he, like Syndergaard, is entering his first full Major League season, an adjustment in and of itself. These guys need to be properly prepared for the every-five-day grind, but they should also probably see a less rigorous spring workload than the typical big league starter.

Nationals: Is Trea Turner ready for the big leagues?

The Grapefruit League will be a great test of the Nats’ new-look infield. Anthony Rendon is moving back to his natural position at third base — a fine move in isolation (he grades out better defensively there than at second base). But some scouts believe Daniel Murphy would be far better suited at third than at second base and that Rendon is the better defensive option at second. And then, of course, there’s the big question at short, where the Nats’ options come down to a utility guy (Danny Espinosa) who has spent far more of his career at second, a light-hitting free-agent signee (Stephen Drew) and the top prospect (Turner), who has only played 212 games in what has already been a whirlwind pro career (including 27 with the Nats down the stretch in 2015). Lots of questions in this infield.

Marlins: Can Barry Bonds help Marcell Ozuna’s swing?

New manager Don Mattingly and new hitting coach Bonds pleaded with the front office to keep Ozuna despite the rampant trade rumblings and the disconnect between player and organization last season. Ozuna was one of eight players identified as above-average in each of the five-tool categories by Statcast™, so the potential is off the charts. But his decline in production last season — leading to a controversial stay in Triple-A — was as swift as it was stunning, and spring is an important time for Ozuna and Bonds to develop a positive working relationship.

Braves: Will Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn open any eyes with their spring at-bats?

It’s no secret the Braves would love to move one or both of these guys. So they are destined to receive a steady dose of Grapefruit League at-bats as the Braves try to garner enough interest for a salary dump swap. With Freddie Freeman working his way back from a wrist injury, perhaps Swisher will see some time at first base.

Phillies: Is Tyler Goeddel the next Odubel Herrera?

Last year, Herrera arrived as a Rule 5 Draft pickup and wound up leading the Phillies in WAR (and yes, that says as much about the Phils as it does Herrera). Now, Goeddel is the marquee Rule 5 Draft addition (the first overall pick). That he’ll make the big league club is a foregone conclusion, because the Phillies have nothing to lose by keeping him. The question is how much the athletic but unpolished Goeddel will separate himself from Aaron Altherr, Peter Bourjos and Cody Asche in the battle for playing time in Pete Mackanin’s lineup.

AL East

Blue Jays: Will Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion agree to extensions?

In the lead-up to Opening Day, the new-look front office will have to weigh the attraction of satiating the fan base and ensuring stability in the long-term lineup against the obvious risks that come with power hitters in their mid-to-late-30s. These discussions will take place when all parties arrive in Dunedin, Fla., later this month.

Yankees: CC Sabathia or Ivan Nova?

The last rotation spot is the lone source of genuine positional intrigue in Yankees camp. (That said, Starlin Castro’s continued immersion at second base and first-ever trial at third base, where the Yanks might need him as a Chase Headley backup, is interesting). Sabathia is the former Cy Young Award winner coming off a homer-prone year that ended in alcohol rehab. Nova is the Tommy John alum the Yanks tried to trade. General manager Brian Cashman has said Sabathia’s $25 million salary wouldn’t preclude the Yanks from sticking CC in the bullpen if somebody else (Nova is the obvious candidate, though Bryan Mitchell is another) wins the job outright.

Orioles: What’s the outlook for the outfield?

They’re reportedly making progress with Yovani Gallardo to fill a big hole in the rotation, so let’s focus on the outfield here. Big-bodied Hyun-soo Kim, fresh off signing a two-year contract with the O’s, will arrive from South Korea and try to prove he has the range and athleticism to handle the everyday left-field assignment. Adam Jones was tasked with covering a ton of outfield ground last year, and his performance tailed off in the last two months of the season. At the moment, right field likely belongs to Nolan Reimold, though an O’s team familiar with in-spring splashes could still sign somebody to support or replace him.

Rays: Will James Loney, Desmond Jennings or Brandon Guyer be moved?

It’s a question that presumes a healthy camp, of course, but it would solve a logjam. Dealing Loney would allow Logan Morrison and Steve Pearce to share first, Corey Dickerson to spend the bulk of his time at DH and Jennings, Kevin Kiermaier and Steven Souza Jr. to provide dependable defense in the outfield, with Guyer as a bench option vs. lefties. Or the Rays could move Jennings or Guyer and open up more at-bats for Pearce and Morrison. Whatever the case, one presumes the Rays would be seeking relief help in any deal involving their position player depth.

Red Sox: Can Hanley Ramirez handle first base?

The Red Sox don’t have any position battles, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have position issues. Hanley’s position switch last year — from shortstop to left field — wasn’t subjected to any truly challenging plays during the spring schedule, but obviously the ball is going to find him at first. Because they’re paying Ramirez a ton of money, the Red Sox have no choice but to hope this works — and the same goes for Pablo Sandoval at third. The Panda’s physical condition will, naturally, be a spring storyline all its own.

NL Central

Cardinals: What is Yadier Molina’s timetable?

Molina will spend camp’s early days not swinging the bat or catching bullpen sessions, but building strength back up in his left thumb after having a second surgery this winter. Because there’s no telling how long that process will take and how much it will affect his season preparation, it’s hard to know if Molina will be ready by Opening Day. To say getting him back in a timely matter is important for the Cards is, of course, an understatement.

Pirates: How well is Jung Ho Kang progressing?

Because of the division’s demands, the decisions to deal Neil Walker and non-tender Pedro Alvarez, and the lack of additions of bankable depth options, the Pirates can ill-afford any medical setbacks for Kang, who suffered a fractured tibial plateau and torn lateral meniscus on an ugly takeout slide by Chris Coghlan last September. The move to third base (with Jordy Mercer at short and Josh Harrison replacing Walker at second) will limit Kang’s lateral movement when he returns. As of now, the Pirates are expecting him back in April, with Sean Rodriguez (last seen assaulting a water cooler) filling in and Minor League free agent Cole Figueroa competing for a bench job.

Cubs: Can Kyle Schwarber improve in left field?

As much as we love this Cubs lineup, there’s no denying there are defensive concerns in the outfield, where Jorge Soler had some surprising struggles in ’15, Jason Heyward is moving from right to center and, most importantly, Schwarber was a mess during the NLCS. Schwarber has been working on his first step and flexibility this winter, and that work will be put to the test in Arizona. But his efforts in left coincide with his work behind the plate, where he still hopes to remain an option long-term. Combine all of this with Schwarber’s bid for more at-bats against left-handed pitching, and the kid’s got a lot on his plate.

Brewers: How’s Ryan Braun feeling?

Not that the Brewers are making an earnest effort to contend in 2016, but Braun could stillpotentially play himself into a viable trade chip (provided the Brew Crew is willing to eat some cash, of course) if he’s healthy and producing the way he did for much of ’15. Braun had surgery for a herniated disc in the offseason, but he won’t have a clear idea of how well his back is responding until the regular swings that come in the Cactus League.

Reds: Will a market develop for Jay Bruce?

He only remains in Cincinnati as a function of the unusually deep and late-developing free-agent outfield market this winter, because the Reds, now in full-on rebuild mode, were motivated to move him. Most likely, Bruce will start the season with the Reds and try to piece together enough of a bounce-back campaign to become July trade bait. But all it takes is one spring injury elsewhere to suddenly make the idea of dealing for Bruce more palatable for a contending club. The Reds also have to hope Zack Cozart’s grisly knee injury last year hasn’t affected his defense at short, because he, too, could play himself into trade-chip status.

AL Central

Royals: Can Christian Colon steal playing time from Omar Infante?

In the third year of a four-year deal, Infante will make $7.75 million, and there was a time when that fact alone would settle him into a starting spot for this small-market club. But you might have noticed things are a little different in the realm of the Royals these days, and they’re calling this a legitimate position battle between Infante and Colon, who drove in the winning run in the World Series Game 5 clincher. (Top prospect Raul A. Mondesi will also get consideration but is far more likely to start the season in the Minors). Sure, the Royals are paying Infante a good amount of money, but, hey, they took Colon ahead of Matt Harvey in the 2010 Draft! One way or another, they’ll look for better returns on both of these investments.

Twins: Will Miguel Sano stick in right?

Byung Ho Park’s transition to the bigs is also a major matter in Minnesota, but Sano’s defensive work — directly related to Park’s arrival — will be a more pressing spring concern. Torii Hunter will be in camp as a special assistant to work with the 6-foot-4 Sano in the outfield, and the Twins’ lineup alignment demands that this experiment be successful. Sano was tasked with dropping 20 pounds this winter. Citing a desire to maintain his power, he dropped just five. He’s agile for his size, but this is undoubtedly a big test for him.

Indians: Will Michael Brantley continue his rapid recovery?

He’s the key to the whole darn thing for an Indians team projected by FanGraphs to have the best record in the division despite a less-than-dynamic winter. Brantley didn’t have surgery on his lead shoulder until early November, which means you can count him out for Opening Day and likely all or most of April. But because his recovery has progressed so well so far, Brantley must avoid the temptation to do too much too soon, lest he suffer a setback that crushes a Tribe club already prone toward slow starts.

White Sox: What’s up at short?

Tyler Saladino played terrific defense at third base for the Sox down the stretch last season, but his 68 OPS+ detracted from his value. So it’s an open question whether he’s ready for prime time at a prime spot, and he could be pushed in camp by top prospect Tim Anderson. The other, still-lingering question here is whether the Sox will wind up too tempted by Ian Desmond’s reduced price tag to pass him up. With a protected top-10 Draft pick, the White Sox are better positioned to sign Desmond than many others in the market.

Tigers: Can Bruce Rondon work his way into the bullpen plans?

Well, obviously we’ll be playing close attention to the statuses of Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. But they’ve both had a healthy offseason, so, at this point, there’s little reason to doubt they’ll be in the Opening Day lineup and, hopefully, ready to produce. But Rondon’s dismissal from the club due to a lack of effort makes him an interesting figure in camp. The Tigers’ bullpen has a new closer in Francisco Rodriguez and better balance overall, but there’s always room for a motivated flamethrower. We’ll soon learn for sure if Rondon is committed to winning the respect of his teammates.

NL West

Dodgers: Will Hyun-Jin Ryu be ready by Opening Day?

And if so, what does that mean for fellow lefty Alex Wood? The Dodgers have assembled rotation depth to allow Ryu to ease into action, rather than rush back from labrum surgery. So the most likely outcome is that he starts the season in extended Spring Training or on a rehab assignment. But the Dodgers could also be tempted to take advantage of Wood’s ability to be optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Giants: How is Joe Panik’s back?

He’s 25 years old and coming off an All-Star season. But that season was cut short by back woes. Doctors have not discovered any structural damage, so Panik did not have surgery. But only time and performance will dictate whether this will be a persistent problem for a club all too familiar with back issues involving their second basemen (see: Sanchez, Freddy and Scutaro, Marco).

D-backs: Can Yasmany Tomas acquit himself in the outfield?

In their bold bid to take a major competitive step forward, there’s no denying the D-backs sacrificed defense by involving Ender Inciarte in the Shelby Miller swap. The question is how much. Tomas enters the year as an everyday corner outfielder (Arizona is still unsure whether he’ll remain in right or swap spots with left fielder David Peralta) after proving he can’t handle the hot corner. Tomas has indicated he’s more comfortable in right field, though the D-backs might prefer to have the better defender there and use this spring to get Tomas acclimated to left. And oh by the way, Tomas, who had a .707 OPS last season, needs to hit, too.

Padres: Can Andrew Cashner limit walks and neutralize lefties?

Yeah, yeah, the spring results don’t matter. But scouts are in the stands for a reason. Cashner is a guy with ace-quality potential when he’s right — and that’s a big deal for a Padres team either hoping to surprise some people in the NL West or use Cashner as a valuable trade piece midseason (or even sooner). Last year, Cashner’s effectiveness against left-handed hitters spiraled (.383 wOBA vs. a .294 mark a year earlier), and his overall walk rate jumped to 8.2 percent.

Rockies: What will Jose Reyes’ punishment be?

In invoking punishments under the sports’ domestic violence policy for the first time, Commissioner Rob Manfred has big decisions to make with Reyes, Yasiel Puig and Aroldis Chapman. But Reyes is the only member of that group who is facing a criminal procedure. He has pleaded not guilty to domestic abuse charges, and his trial is slated to begin April 4 (Opening Day, of course). Manfred can make his decision independent of those proceedings, and there’s no telling how stiff the penalty will be. Reyes is the Rockies’ highest-paid player and a guy they hoped would rebuild his offensive value (and, ergo, his trade value) at Coors Field. Right now, there’s no way of knowing when or if he’ll be on the field in 2016.

AL West

Rangers: Can Jurickson Profar get back in baseball shape?

We’ll venture away from the obvious intrigue surrounding Yu Darvish’s timetable, because, by all accounts, he’s still on track for a May return. Profar provides intrigue of his own. This is a guy who was once considered the top prospect in the game, but hasn’t played a single inning in the field the last two years because of shoulder issues that eventually required surgery. Profar’s bat action as a designated hitter in the Arizona Fall League caught the attention of scouts, and several teams contacted the Rangers in an attempt to buy low on the middle infielder. The Rangers wisely held onto him, and they’ll ease him back into action in the field this spring. His odds of making the big league club are slim to none, barring injury to somebody else. But the Rangers are about to see if Profar can emerge as an important depth piece in their bid to win the AL West again.

Astros: Will Evan Gattis be ready for Opening Day?

It was revealed this week that Gattis required surgery for a sports hernia, sidelining him for four to six weeks. That’s going to hurt his ability to get his timing back before the end of Grapefruit League play, so the Astros will dole out more playing time to Jon Singleton, Matt Duffy, A.J. Reed, Tyler White and Preston Tucker. While the Astros, in letting Chris Carter walk, might generally be trying to get away from the all-or-nothing approach that was one of their calling cards in ’15, Gattis is still clearly a key cog in this offense. He was also hopeful of increasing his value to the team beyond his DH duties, losing weight and doing catching drills in the offseason.

Angels: What’s Albert Pujols’ timetable?

The Angels are getting crushed in many corners for not doing more to improve their production potential around Mike Trout, opting instead for a more contact-heavy approach. Maybe the Halos have it right, but there’s little denying that their lineup look demands healthy and productivity from Pujols, who is working his way back from November surgery on the plantar plate of his right foot. Pujols is already hitting off a tee but is not expected to resume full baseball activities until March, putting Opening Day in jeopardy. Pujols rushed back to action too quickly in 2013, to the point that it affected his performance, and the Angels don’t want that to happen again.

Mariners: Can James Paxton win a rotation spot?

Technically, it’s Taijuan Walker, Nate Karns and Paxton for two spots, though you’d have to imagine the 29 starts and the progress Walker made as ’15 evolved give him the inside edge on one of those. Karns was Dipoto’s first addition in a busy offseason, but Paxton is the guy who was long lauded as one of the M’s prominent prospects. Injury issues have limited Paxton to 30 career starts over parts of three Major League seasons, but the left-hander has dropped some pounds and will come to camp intent on proving he’s ready to turn his potential into production. Other guys potentially in the mix for that last spot are Mike Montgomery, Joe Wieland and Vidal Nuno. Paxton seemingly has the most upside of those options, but he’s got to earn it.

Athletics: What is the rotation beyond Sonny Gray?

Oakland has probably one of the most — if not the most — unsettled rotation situations in the big leagues. The A’s signed Rich Hill with the intent of inserting him into the rotation, though he hasn’t been a regular starter at this level since 2009. After Gray and Hill, it’s a wide-open competition involving Kendall Graveman, Jesse Hahn, Chris Bassitt, Sean Nolin and possibly even Jarrod Parker (who is attempting to come back from two elbow surgeries) and Sean Manaea (a promising trade acquisition who hasn’t pitched above Double-A but who manager Bob Melvin has called a “wild card” in the rotation battle). Should be fun to watch this evolve.

Source: A Spring Training question for all 30 MLB teams.

Power Ranking All 30 MLB Starting Rotations Entering 2016 Spring Training:

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Rejoice! Spring training is almost upon us, bringing to an end what has been a hectic offseason, one that saw a slew of starting pitchers change uniforms, whether via free agency or trade. Keeping up with what your favorite team’s rotation looks like, much less the competition’s, has been challenging at times.

Read: Power Ranking All 30 MLB Starting Rotations Entering 2016 Spring Training

What You Need to Know for Tuesday Night #Baseball

Clemente

Today would have been Roberto Clemente’s 81st birthday – so let’s all toast a legend of the game while we watch StrikeZone!

Heavy Favorites – according to Vegas

Clayton Kershaw vs. Oakland A’s (-221) – Ànother fifth day, another start for Kershaw as the favorite on the night. It’s becoming  routine, so surely on Sunday, Kershaw will be here. Tonight, Kershaw gets the Oakland Athletics, a team that is really struggling to find their groove – ask Stella. Since the second half of the season, the A’s have the lowest wOBA out of ANY team in the league. Think about that for a moment, worse than Atlanta, Miami, crazy to think about, right? So other than the fact that the A’s can’t hit, they’re at least a tough team to strikeout. They maintained that in the second half, as their strikeout percentage stands at 18%, one of the best in both leagues. But truly, with Kershaw entering tonight with a K/9 of 11.3, what does that mean? Maybe he ends up with eight strikeouts on the night? Kershaw has just been that good. Since the All Star break, Kerhsaw owns a 0.92 ERA giving up only four runs in 39 innings and striking out 45. As usual though, he’s going to cost you a fortune to roster. Priced at $15,000, you better get damn creative building the rest of your roster – thankfully I can help with that.
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Francisco Liriano vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (-215)- We were arguing recently, if the Diamondbacks were getting the respect they deserve when it comes to being a good offensive club. They gave Gerrit Cole a run for his money last night. Tonight, Liriano is the second highest favored pitcher of the night. Like Cole, Liriano hasn’t exactly had a stellar month of August. He’s pitched nine innings giving up seven runs on 13 hits with a 9:6 K:BB ratio. Not exactly great numbers when you’re going to face a team that owns the ninth highest wOBA on the month at .331. Overall, Liriano comes into tonight with a 3.19 ERA with a 1.13WHIP and a K/9 of 9.9. Once again, we’re not sure we’re all giddy to throw Liriano on a roster tonight against this D-Backs team. Are they as good as we’re making them out to be? Maybe not, but I can’t feel great about putting pitcher in tonight that hasn’t exactly shown much as of late. At $10,300, it certainly is risky.

RA Dickey vs. Philadelphia Phillies (-190) – We’ll give credit when it’s due, Dickey has been solid as of late. Dickey has given up only four runs in his last three starts on 14 hits and a K:BB ratio of 13:6. For a knuckleballer, that’s pretty good. Tonight, he gets those Phillies that Vegas loves to hate on. After starting off the second half on fire, the Phillies have seen their wOBA slip to the middle of the league at .312, good for 16th. Dickey is of course, one of the toughest pitchers to predict because, quite frankly, even he doesn’t know what the knuckler will do on a particular day, Dickey has had his struggles on the road this season, with his wOBA against is over 60 points higher compared to at home. His price tonight just might make him a serious consideration, as he’s only going to run you for $7000.

Top Overall Game per O/U

Washington Nationals vs. Colorado Rockies (Coors Field) – 11 Over/Under- Vegas is expecting some fireworks in this one. Jordan Zimmermann takes on David Hale in this one. Zimmermann has looked like his old self lately in his past two starts, scoring 22.6 and 30 points against the Rockies and Dodgers. However, of course, pitching in Coors Field adds a whole different dynamic to the equation. As for Hale, he’s coming off the disabled list to return to the rotation, proving how bad their rotation really is. Hale owns a 5.69 ERA on the season with a 1.39 WHIPand a K/9 of 6.6. The Nationals have really been struggling at the plate, owning a .296 wOBA this month, good for 24th in the league. Nothing a little Coors Field can’t fix, right? As always, find a way to work a couple of these hitters into your lineup tonight.

Toughest Pitcher L/R matchup

  • Left handed batters
    • Felix Doubront OAK (LwOBA .218)
    • CC Sabathia NYY (LwOBA .222)
    • John Danks CWS (LwOBA .253)
  • Right handed batters
    • Jacob DeGrom NYM (RwOBA .197)
    • Clayton Kershaw LAD (RwOBA .238)
    • Jordan Zimmermann WAS (RwOBA .256)

Easiest L/R matchup

  • Left handed batters
    • Matt Wisler ATL (LwOBA .436)
    • Tyler Cravy MIL (LwOBA .424)
  • Right handed batters
    • CC Sabathia NYY (RwOBA .385)
    • Felix Dubront OAK (RwOBA .373)

All Pitcher Stats

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Hottest Hitters – last 7 days

  • Chase Utley PHI – DiRT Canon Value 106.66
  • Carl Crawford LADDiRT Canon Value – 101.06
  • Pedro Alvarez PITDiRT Canon Value – 98.37
  • Jackie Bradley Jr BOS  – DiRT Canon Value – 93.63
  • Alejandro De Aza BOSDiRT Canon Value – 90.90
  • Matt Kemp SDP – DiRT Canon Value – 88.86

Other notables:  Joey Votto is 11-for-23 with 2 HR’s, 7 RBI and 6 runs scored.  Miguel Sano is 10-for-24 with 3 HR’s, 9 RBI, a stolen base and 4 runs scored.

Best BvP matchup Tonight

Brian McCann vs. Mike Pelfrey – All is right in the world once again! McCann is 19-40 against Pelfrey with 10 extra base hits, two of them going for home runs, and a 1.368 OPS.

Adrian Beltre vs. Hisashi Iwakuma- If Iwakuma is thinking he’s going to pull out another no hitter, Beltre is here to stop him dead in his tracks. Beltre is 11-33 against Iwakuma with four extra base hits, three of those going for home runs and a 1.008 OPS.

Nick Markakis vs. James Shields- These two have seen a lot of each other back in their AL East days. Tonight, they matchup once again with Markakis 23-74 against Shields with seven extra base hits, two of them being home runs and a .859 OPS.


Weather

Looks like it might be a clear night of baseball!


Top 4 by Position – in no partciular order

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A Pitcher To Consider

Garrett Richards ($9,800) –Raise your hand if you made a weird face when you saw Richards here. I’ll admit, I did, and I’m the one writing this. I have a few reasons to go this route so hear me about before you close this article in disgust and un follow me on Twitter. First off, Kershaw is just too expensive. $15,000. Putting Kershaw on your roster leaves you with $35,000 to work with, or $3,888 on average for each remaining player. Even if you went with Adam Conley, who’s the cheapest pitcher on the night, that leaves you with an average of $3,862 per player. Doable, but tough for sure. Then we have deGrom. Do I like the matchup against Baltimore? I don’t love it. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t hate if you draft deGrom tonight. His WHIP is a ridiculous 0.83 and he doesn’t give up a lot of home runs, only 11 on the year, but at Camden Yards scares me a bit. I have no doubt that deGrom will most likely have a solid start, but at $11,600, I’d at least want to like the matchup a bit more. Baltimore does own the best wOBA against RHP this season. So, with all that being said, here we are with Richards.

After starting off the month hitting way more to the potential people thought the White Sox have, they’ve fallen all the way down to 15th in wOBA in the month of August. Their power is decent, as they’re 10th in ISO this month, but a matchup in LA makes me feel a lot better about dealing with that. The White Sox are also in the middle of the pack in terms of strikeout % sitting at 20.5 on the month, or 14th in the league. I’m ok with that since Richards has a K/9 of 7.1, which I feel as if that’s obtainable tonight or close to it. Overall, for his price tag of $9800, it gives you a good chunk of flexibility that you wouldn’t necessarily get with deGrom and certainly not with Kershaw. Richards certainly isn’t the same caliber pitcher as those two, but matchup wise, I’m feeling good about this one.

Worth Considering

Anthony Rizzo($4900) – Rizzo gets a matchup tonight with the home run happy Anibal Sanchez. The majority of the home runs Sanchez has let up as come from RHB, but Rizzo does such a good job against righties, I like this chances tonight. Rizzo owns a .392 wOBA against righties this season with an ISO of .262. Big numbers for sure against someone who struggles to keep the ball on the park. Sanchez is given up an astonishing 28 home runs on the season. If someone can take him deep, Rizzo is certainly fitting the mold tonight.

Save $$$…

Abraham Almonte ($2000) – Honestly, I’m riding the hot streak right now. Almonte doesn’t have impressive overall numbers, but he’s been hitting well since taking over the every day outfield role in Cleveland. In the month of August, Almonte is batting .286 with two home runs, and eight RBIs. Again, nothing overly impressive, but at just $2000, you have nothing to lose here. Tonight he faces Eduardo Rodriguez, who has an wOBA over .300 against both RHBand LHB. Almonte, being a switch hitter, can take advantage of either side. He’s not a great hitter and don’t expect a ton, but even a 5-7 point night exceeds what you could ask for from someone who’s an everyday starter costing you the minimum price possible.


The Rest by Position

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Randomly Generated Lineup Combinations – Ideas

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Game 7’s are DiRTy

NHL

Two Game 7s in the NHL Conference Finals

The Blackhawks forced a decisive seventh game in the Western Conference Final with their 5-2 win over the Ducks in Game 6 on Wednesday, after the Rangers did the same in the Eastern Conference Final with their Game 6 victory over the Lightning on Tuesday. This will be the third time in NHL history that both Semi-Final or Conference Final series in one playoff year went seven games, It happened first in 1964, when Toronto beat Montreal and Detroit topped Chicago in seven-game Semi-Finals, and again in 2000 when New Jersey edged Philadelphia and Dallas got by Colorado in the Conference Finals.

nullKeith notches three assists in the second period

Duncan Keith assisted on all three of the Blackhawks’ second-period goals in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final. Keith is the fourth player in Blackhawks history to register three assists in one period of a playoff game. The other Chicago players to do that are Pat Stapleton in 1973 (Game 1 of the Stanly Cup Final at Montreal, first period), Chris Chelios in 1992 (Game 2 of Conference Final vs. Edmonton, third period) and Patrick Kane in 2014 (Game 5 of Conference Final vs. Los Angeles, first period). Kane was the last player on any NHL team to accomplish that feat before Keith.


 

NBA

40 year Drought is over

Stephen Curry registered 26 points, eight rebounds, six assists and five steals in the Warriors’ series clinching win over the Rockets on Wednesday night. The only other players to produce at least 25 points, five rebounds, five assists and five steals in a playoff series clinching win are Michael Jordan (1990 vs. Philadelphia),Hersey Hawkins (1991 vs. Milwaukee) and Scottie Pippen (1991 vs. the Lakers).

Both NBA Conference Finals end in five or less

The Warriors ended the Western Conference Final series in five games with a win over the Rockets on Wednesday night, a day after the Cavaliers completed a sweep of the Eastern Conference Finals with a victory over the Hawks. This marks only the second time in the last 29 years that both NBA Conference Finals series ended in five or fewer games. The only other time that happened over that span was in 2011.


 

MLB

nullThor and the Mets

Noah Syndergaard did not allow a run while pitching one out into the eighth inning and had a big day at the plate going 3-for-3 with a home run in the Mets’ 7-0 blanking of the Phillies on Wednesday afternoon. The only other rookies to hurl at least seven shutout innings while lashing out three or more hits including a home run are Colorado’s Jason Jennings, who pitched a shutout and had three hits and a homer against the Mets on August 23, 2001 and the Dodgers’ Larry Sherry, who did not allow a run over 8.2 innings and recorded three hits and a long ball against the Cardinals on August 15, 1959.

nullThe Yankee nightmare continues as A-Rod passes Gehrig…..and Thome

Alex Rodriguez hit a go-ahead three-run home run in the fourth inning in the Yankees’ 4-2 win over the Royals on Wednesday afternoon. Rodriguez’s blast, the 50th of his career against Kansas City, not only allowed him to break Lou Gehrig’s American League record for career RBIs, it also set the mark for most career home runs hit against the Royals, a record he shared with Jim Thome entering Wednesday’s action.

nullCruz goes the dynamite

Nelson Cruz broke a scoreless tie with a two-out, three-run home run in the top of the ninth inning in Seattle’s 3-0 win over the Rays in Tampa on Wednesday afternoon. Cruz became only the second player in Mariners’ history to break a scoreless with a two-out home run in the ninth inning or later, joining Logan Morrison who went deep with two out and two-men on in the top of the ninth against the Angels in a 3-1 Seattle win on September 18, 2014.

Pirate pitching stifle another opponent

The Pirates defeated the Marlins by a score of 5-2 on Wednesday extending their winning streak to six games. Pittsburgh has allowed two or fewer runs in each of the six wins during its streak. The only other time the Pirates have won six consecutive games, while allowing two or fewer runs in each game, over the last 38 seasons was in 1992, when Pittsburgh had a nine-game streak of that kind.

nullKipnis loves batting first

Jason Kipnis went 3-for-5 in the Indians’ 12-3 win over the Rangers on Wednesday afternoon. It’s the eighth time that Kipnis has had three hits in a game in this month. Prior to Kipnis, the last Indians player to record at least eight three-hit games in a calendar month was Kenny Lofton, who had eight in August of 1995. It is also the highest total in a calendar month by a second baseman since San Francisco’s Jeff Kent had eight games with at least three hits in June 2002.

nullLaRoche in extra innings

Adam LaRoche singled in the go-ahead run in the top of the 10th inning leading the White Sox to a 5-3 win over the Blue Jays on Wednesday afternoon. LaRoche’s 855 career RBIs ranks 20th among active major league players, but his 26 RBIs in extra-innings are tied with Carlos Beltran for the fifth most among current players behind Albert Pujols (35), Alex Rodriguez (33), Ryan Howard (29) and Matt Kemp(27).

nullAnother Arenado

Nolan Arenado drove in three runs in the Rockies’ 6-4 win over the Reds on Wednesday afternoon. It’s the sixth time that Arenado has had at least three RBIs in a game this season, tied with Paul Goldschmidt for the major-league lead in that category. Prior to this season, Arenado drove in at least three runs in a game only five times in the 244 major-league games he had played in during his career.

nullPanik at the Disco

Joe Panik hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning giving the Giants a 2-1 lead in a game they would go on to win 3-1 on Wednesday afternoon. It’s the first time Panik had multiple RBIs in a game this season. He entered Wednesday’s action with the most games played (44) among players that did not have a multiple-RBI game this season.

nullFinally Hicks

Aaron Hicks hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning in the Twins’ 6-4 win over the Red Sox on Wednesday afternoon. Hicks entered the contest on a streak of 71 consecutive plate appearances without driving in a run, which was the third longest current streak for any major-league position player entering Wednesday’s action, behind Mike Baxter (103) and Coco Crisp (72).

A’s struggle in close game again at home

The A’s dropped a 3-2 decision to the Tigers in Oakland on Wednesday afternoon. Oakland has now lost each of its last 12 home games that were decided by one run dating back to last season. It’s the longest such streak since 1894, when the Cubs had a 12-game streak of that kind and the National League Louisville club (spanning 1893-1894) had a 13-game streak.

nullScherzer loves the Nat’l League

Max Scherzer hurled seven shutout innings and struck out 13 in the Nationals’ 3-0 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Wednesday. The only other visiting pitchers to not allow a run while registering at least 13 strikeouts at Wrigley Field are Cincinnati’s Ewell Blackwell (1948), the Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax (1961), Cincinnati’s Jim Maloney (1963), Atlanta’s John Smoltz (1996), San Francisco’s Jason Schmidt(2004) and Milwaukee’s Mike Fiers (2014).

nullHeyward homers

Jason Heyward led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a game-tying home run and the Cardinals scored another run later in the inning to defeat the Diamondbacks on Wednesday night. It was Heyward’s 89th career home run but only the third of which came in the ninth inning or later with his team trailing and either tied the game or put his team ahead. The only other times he did that were on April 20, 2010 and August 17, 2013.

I went to law school – I got a football scholarship!

RIP: Patrick Swayze sadly died of pancreatic cancer in 2009

Word is someone got drunk recently and thought it was a good idea to remake this movie.  Not a continuation that could have had a guest appearance by Keanu, ya know, helping with clues on how he stopped the “Ex” Presidents, blah blah – No a full-on reboot!  The remake we neither wanted nor needed, and wait until you see this trailer – should have called it something else besides “Point Break”!  Called it something else like, Jason Bourne’s Fast and Furious Twilight Adventure 10.  They took something that was simple and fun and made it moody.  I’m gonna stick up for younger me and boycott this movie purely based on principle.  How do you replace the magic of Swayze, the awkwardness of Keanu and the bat-shit-craziness of Busey?  What’s next a remake of Roadhouse?  Is someone out there intentionally trying to ruin titular movies of our youth, just for CGI cash-grabs?  This movie fails to have the gang wear the ex-presidents masks, and it is also not centered around surfing, like the original – it’s more nonsense about international markets and youth soccer – than some bruddahs searching for sum toasty-tubular waves looking out for 50yr-storms.  Even the catch-phrase: do you know how many laws you broke? Gravity? Are you serious?!  This is just cookie-cutter junk – Delroy Lindo being the stereo-typical police-chief – throw in some stunts and let the story fill itself out – just like The Last Action Hero (except that was making fun of itself).  Is Hollywood all out of ideas?  I’m so angry that I need to watch the original a few times, just to get the taste out of my mouth, because I might have thrown up a little.


NBA

James does it again

LeBron James finished the Cavaliers’ four-game sweep over the Hawks averaging 30.3 points, 11 rebounds and 9.3 assists per game. James is the first player in NBA history to average 30/10/9 in a playoff series of any length. Honorable mention to Oscar Robertson who averaged 33.4 points, 12.4 rebounds and 8.6 assists for Cincinnati against Boston in a seven-game series in 1963.

Another Atlanta Choke-job

The Cavaliers swept the number one seed Hawks in the Conference Finals. Cleveland is only the third team under the current payoff format (since 1983-84) to sweep a playoff series against the top seed from its own conference. The Lakers swept the Spurs in 2001 and the Nets Swept the Pistons in 2003.

NHL

Brassard Hat-trick gives Rangers another Game 7

Derick Brassard scored three goals and added two assists as the Rangers avoided elimination with a 7-3 win over the Lightning. Brassard is only the third player in NHL history to record a hat trick and at least five points in a road game in which his team faced playoff elimination. Lanny McDonald (three goals, two assists) did it in 1977 for the Maple Leafs at Pittsburgh in the final game of a three-game series won by Toronto. McDonald scored or assisted on all five goals scored by the Leafs in a 5-2 win. Greg Paslawski did it for the Blues at Minnesota in 1986 (three goals, two assists).

Brassard is the fourth player in Rangers history to record a hat trick in a game in which the Blueshirts faced playoff elimination. Frank Boucher did it against Toronto in the 1932 Stanley Cup Final, Ron Duguay against Philadelphia in 1980 and Mark Messier in the “guarantee” game against New Jersey in 1994

MLB

nullKershaw, loves Chavez Ravine

Clayton Kershaw has allowed three or fewer runs in each of his last 29 starts at home, the second-longest streak of that kind in major-league history. Doc White had a 32-start streak of that kind for the White Sox spanning the 1905 and 1906 seasons, when the team played at South Side Park. (Comiskey Park didn’t open until 1910.) The third-longest streak is by Adam Wainwright, who allowed no more than three runs in each of 28 straight home starts spanning 2009 and 2010 at Busch Stadium.

nullFielder en fuego

Prince Fielder had another three hits and three RBIs for the Rangers on Tuesday night (26pts-DK) giving him 14 hits and 15 runs batted in over his last five games. Over the last dozen seasons the only other major-league player with at least 14 hits and 14 runs batted in over a five-game span is Alfonso Soriano for the Yankees in August 2013 (15 hits, 18 RBI).

nullDonaldson a 48 on DraftKings

Josh Donaldson went 4-for-4 with two homers, four runs batted in and five runs scored. Donaldson is the second player in Blue Jays history to go 4-for-4 or better with at least four RBIs, four runs scored and two homers. Carlos Delgado did it against Tampa Bay on September 25, 2003 (4-for-4, 4 runs, 6 RBI, 4 HR).

One of Donaldson’s homers was in the first inning and the other was a three-run walkoff blast. Only two other Blue Jays hit a first-inning homer and a walkoff homer in the same game: Otto Velez on May 4, 1980 and Reed Johnson on June 15, 2003.

nullYankees drop a deuce in the first inning

Mark Teixeira hit a two-run home run in the first inning and the Yankees cruised to a 5-1 victory over the Royals. The Yankees have scored two-or-more first-inning runs 14 times this season, four more such first-innings than any other major-league team. The Bronx Bombers are 10-4 in those 14 games.

nullPirates’ are shivering timbers

Jeff Locke did not allow a run in 5.2 innings pitched continuing a recent trend of excellent starting pitching for the Bucs. Pittsburgh’s starting pitchers are 5-0 with a 1.06 earned-run average over the last five games. The last time the Pirates’ starting pitchers went 5-0 with an ERA that low over a five-game span was in August of 1977 (5-0, 0.69 ERA). The Pirates starters in those five games were John Candelaria (twice), Bruce Kison, Jerry Reuss and Jim Rooker.

nullSeager hits two late homers – scores 39 in Draftkings

Kyle Seager hit a grand slam in the eighth inning and a game-winning homer in the tenth inning in the Mariners’ win over the Rays. Seager is the sixth player in Mariners history to hit two homers in the eighth inning or later in the same game. Donnie Scott (1985), Jim Presley (1986), Jay Buhner (1992), Russ Davis (1999) and Michael Saunders (2012) also did it.

nullSchumaker likes pinch-hit doubles

Skip Schumaker‘s pinch-hit double in the ninth inning drove in the winning run in the Reds’ win over the Rockies. Shumaker has doubled in four of his last five pinch-hit appearances. The last Reds player to have four extra-base hits over five plate appearances as a pinch-hitter was Tony Perez in 1976. Perez had a double, home run, home run, fly out and double over five pinch-hit appearances.

nullHolliday extends streak early

Matt Holliday‘s RBI-single in the first inning extended his reach-base-safely streak to 42 games tying the modern franchise record to open a season which was set byAlbert Pujols in 2008. It was the 20th time this season that Holiday extended his streak in his first plate appearance of the game.

Tigers beat Oakland, 1-0

The Tigers beat the A’s, 1-0, in Oakland on Tuesday night. It was the first 1-0 win the Tigers have ever had in a game played in Oakland. Tuesday night’s game was the 257th between these two teams in Oakland, including the playoffs.

nullCastro finally has clutch hit, leads Astros

Jason Castro‘s two-out double in the seventh inning broke a 1-1 tie in the Astros’ 4-1 win over the Orioles. Castro entered the at-bat with a .138 batting average with two outs and runners on base this season (4-for-29).

nullIt’s May-tober

Madison Bumgarner improved his record to 9-1 in games played in May over the last two seasons. That’s two more May wins than any other pitcher over that span.

–Elias with the assist

Tuesday Dregs

Did you know LeBron James finished with 37 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists, and scored game 3’s last five points over the final 40 seconds as the Cavaliers moved out to a three-games-to none series lead with a 114-111 overtime win over the Hawks on Sunday? No other player has ever reached all of those totals (37 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists) in an NBA playoff game.

James earned the 12th triple-double of his playoff career, surpassing Jason Kidd’s total of 11 and moving into second place all-time, behind Magic Johnson, who had 30. James achieved the triple-double with his tenth assist with 3:49 remaining in the third quarter. No NBA player had produced a triple-double within the first three quarters of a playoff game since Chris Paul, playing for the New Orleans Hornets against the Lakers, did that in 2011. No NBA player had earned a triple-double so early in a game since 2009, when Rajon Rondo achieved it with 6:15 to play in the third quarter, playing for the Celtics against the Bulls.

James finished with 37 field-goal attempts, the most he has ever taken in any NBA game, during either the regular season or the playoffs. He missed all nine of his first-quarter field-goal attempts, becoming the first player to take that many shots in the first quarter of a playoff game and to miss them all since Tim Duncan went 0-for-10 from the field in the first quarter of Game 1 of a Western Conference Semifinal series against the Lakers in 2002. LeBron also missed his first shot in the second quarter, becoming the second player in this year’s playoffs to miss his first 10 field-goal attempts of a game. (Isaiah Thomas missed his first 10 shots from the floor in Game 4 of a first-round series against Cleveland.) Among other players who have started past playoff games with double-digit streak of misses: Duncan (twice), Carmelo Anthony (twice), Ray Allen and Tony Parker.

James Harden scored 45 points, grabbed nine rebounds and handed out five assists as the Rockets avoided a sweep with a 128-112 victory over the Warriors. The 45 points is the third-most ever scored by a player for a team that was down, three-games-to-none, in a playoff series, behind the 51 points scored by the Warriors’ Sleepy Floyd in 1987 against the Lakers and the 46 points scored by Miami’s Dwyane Wade against the Celtics in 2010.

Only one other player scored at least 40 points, grabbed at least nine rebounds and handed out at least five assists in a game for a team that was down, three-games-to-none, in a playoff series: Tom Chambers for the Suns against the Lakers in 1989 (41 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists).

The Warriors (20-for-46) and Rockets (17-for-32) combined for 37 three-point field goals made and 78 three-pointers attempted. The 37 three-pointers made were the most ever in an NBA playoff game, breaking the record of 33 set by the Seattle (20) and Houston (13) in Game 2 in 1996; and the 78 shots from beyond the arc were also the most ever in an NBA playoff game, breaking the mark of 70 by Oklahoma City (35) and Houston (35) in Game 2 in 2013.

The Warriors are only the second team, regular season or playoffs, to lose a game in which they made 20 three-pointers. The Nets lost to the Nuggets on Jan. 11, 2012 despite making 20 shots from beyond the arc. NBA teams that made 20 or more three-pointers are 15-1 in the regular season and now 2-1 in the playoffs.


Ben Bishop posted a 2-0 win over the Rangers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final, after giving up five goals in both Game 3 (a 6-5 overtime victory) and Game 4 (a 5-1 loss). Bishop is the only the third goaltender in NHL history to record a playoff shutout after allowing at least five goals in each of the previous two games of the same series. The other goaltenders to do that were the Quebec Nordiques’ Dan Bouchard against the Flyers in 1981 (Game 3) and the Canadiens’Carey Price versus the Bruins in 2008 (Game 7).

Toews heroics are not enough

Jonathan Toews scored a pair of goals in the final two minutes of the third period to tie the score at 4-4 in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final, but the Blackhawks’ late comeback proved to be in vain as Matt Beleskey scored 45 seconds into overtime to win the game for the Ducks. It was the fifth time in NHL playoff history that a team tied a game after trailing by two goals in the last two minutes of regulation time, and Toews is the first player to score both the tying goal and the one before that. The last team before Chicago to stage a two-goal tying rally in the final two minutes of the third period was the Bruins in Game 7 of their first-round series against the Maple Leafs in 2013. Milan Lucic scored to get the Bruins within one goal, and Patrice Bergeron netted both the tying goal in regulation and the series-winner in overtime.


Never Before

Francisco Liriano struck out 12 batters and earned the win as the Pirates completed their three-game series sweep of the Mets. Gerrit Cole struck out ten batters in his series-opening win on Friday, as did A.J. Burnett in his victory on Saturday. It is the only time in modern major-league history (1900 to date) that a team’s starting pitchers won three straight games within one series while recording a double-digit strikeout total in each game.

Big Game James? 

The Padres averted being swept in their three-game series at Dodger Stadium behind the pitching of James Shields, who improved his record to 6-0 this season. Shields is the only pitcher who has won as many as six games for his new club after switching major-league teams during the past offseason. Since 2010, spanning his time with the Rays, Royals and Padres, Shields is 7-0 in 11 regular-season starts in games in which his team was in danger of being swept in a series, and each of those seven wins came on the road.

Historic Failure

Jeremy Guthrie gave up four homers and allowed 11 runs while getting only three outs against the Yankees on Monday. Guthrie is the first starting pitcher in major league history to give up at least four homers and allow 11 or more runs in a game in which he recorded no more than three outs.

Still doesn’t play on Sundays

Andre Ethier‘s solo home run in the eighth inning broke a 2-2 tie and the Dodgers went on to beat the Braves, 6-3, on Monday night. It was career home run #151 for Ethier, 14 of which have been go-ahead homers in the eighth inning or later (9.3 percent).

The only active players with more go-ahead homers than Ethier in the eighth inning or later since 2006 are Albert Pujols (17), Miguel Cabrera (16), Prince Fielder(16) and Chris Young (15). Jose BautistaJustin Morneau and David Ortiz also have 14 such homers since 2006.

Not since…

Prince Fielder went 3-for-5 with a home run in the Rangers’ win over the Indians. Fielder is now batting .365 with nine home runs in 45 games this season. The last Rangers player to have at least nine homers and a batting average of .360 or better over his first 45 games of a season was Josh Hamilton in 2012 (.368 with 20 homers).

Fielder has 11 hits and 12 runs batted in over his last four games. The only other player in Rangers franchise history with that many hits and RBIs over a four-game span is Ivan Rodriguez from July 30 to August 2, 1999. Pudge had 13 hits and 12 RBIs over that four-game span.

Miss me Milwaukee?

Giants’ leadoff batter, Nori Aoki, went 4-for-4 with a home run in their win over the Brewers. Aoki is the fourth Giants player over the last 60 years to go 4-for-4 or better with a home run from the leadoff spot in the batting order. Bobby Bonds, who did it three times (once each in 1971, 1972 and 1973), Marvin Benard (1998) and Randy Winn (twice in 2005) were the other Giants players to do it over that span.

Arenado times two

Nolan Arenado has seven hits and knocked in seven runs over his last two games. Arenado is the first major-league player this season to have that many hits and RBIs over a two-game span and he’s the first Rockies player to do it since Carlos Gonzalez had exactly seven hits and seven RBIs over two games in May 2012.  That is about how long it has been since we have seen anything from CarGo.

Elias Sports Bureau with the assist…

Dregs of Monday

What we learned this weekend…

How awkward is this? That’s Gov.Chris Christie, apparently trying to frisk Jerry Jones for BearClaws.

The NFL wants to expand the playoffs and after this weekend, with what you saw, (if you watched) you’d have to ask why.  Before the Dallas/Detroit game the NFL provided as much drama and excitement as a preseason game.  Unless you were gambling – we were – or playing FanDuel – we did – or had a rooting interest in any of the outcomes, could you really say it was fun to watch?  Granted, Saturday is not a typical NFL day but when your first 3 playoff games get out-watched by each of the CFP games – you might want to rethink the idea of diluting your product further with more teams – especially after all the outrage over the NFC South champion, who just might play in the NFC championship game – just sayin…


 

25 years ago – the WorldWideWeb was launched – Iraq invaded Kuwait – Nelson Mandela is released – Re-Unification of Germany – Hubble Telescope – IceIce Baby – U Can’t Touch this – Vogue – Twin Peaks – debut of Law & Order – debut of Beverly Hills 90210 – Dances with Wolves – Home Alone – Pretty Woman – Edmonton Oilers win 5th Stanley Cup in 6yrs – Mike Tyson lost to Buster Douglas – The Cincinnati Reds sweep the Oakland A’s to win the World Series, etc……This is what was going on in the world the last time the Bengals won a playoff game.

 


 

Plays as himself in Madden, still cant find the hole…

Didn’t you used to be Trent Richardson?  Remember the trade the Colts made to Cleveland for him?  Wow has he been terrible.  The former top-five pick couldnt make the field yesterday and was listed on the injury report with an illness earlier in the week.  Yeah, he’s got cant-find-the-hole-itis, and because of that got benched for Dan Herron who gave the Colts over 100 total-yards and a touchdown.  Expect the Colts to drop him at the end of the season and move on from his 3.1 YPC in 29 games to find another stable-pony in the draft or free-agency.  Normally that kind of trade could have hurt an organization for awhile, but then again you gotta have Luck. – see what i did there?


 

must be a pattern

With the Colts win over the Bungals, we now get to see Manning v Luck.  It’s not like those two are getting into a cage match, but the sports media will hype it as such, because it’s the new boss doing what the ol’boss did – just win baby.  There’s a lot riding on this game for the both of them because – Luck has to show he is ready to keep climbing that ladder and Peyton’s legacy will further slide if he does not hoist another trophy.  Luck already is the better QB and is on his way to being elite, but the Broncos have the better team so it will still be entertaining to watch.  Is it me or has Jim Irsay been really quiet lately? #OffTheMeds.


 

Speaking of Tom Brady, we know that each year/team is different and that Ray Lewis aint walking back into the Ravens locker-room, – I bet he is thinking about it – so for Tom, it still has to weigh on his mind a little that he is 1-2 against the Ravens in the playoffs.  We know this – the Ravens are not scared of the Patriots.  John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco are 10-4 in the playoffs, with a more impressive 5-0 in first round games, so this will be fun to watch and see if we get ANOTHER Manning v Brady.

 


 

First team in NFL history to start 4 QBs in a season

You have to admire the toughness of the Arizona Cardinals.  Last year they go 10-6 and do not make the playoffs.  This year, beset by injuries like a plague, finish 11-5 and go to Carolina to rack up 77 total yards – worst ever.  If you watched that game, then you saw the Card’s with a chance – if not for Ginn’s fumble or the 2 redzone INT’s thrown by Lindley – being up at halftime, 14-13.  Arizona has a lot of talent and who knows what they could have accomplished without those injuries/suspensions/concussions etc…Not too beat a dead horse but this game gave me a serious case of LSU flashbacks and what it’s like without any kind of QB.  Carson Palmer and the rest of them are not going to be the answer for the future, so you must wonder how big they will push in free-agency or the draft to get a solid starter at the position for right now.  It could be worse, you could have been the guy who played Michael Bush in FanDuel. #IwatchFootballBro.


 

Suh at the Rose Bowl

To me, the current state of the NFL and it’s recent legislation of the rules, compared to those of the halcyon days of glories past, has stirred this outrage.  The biggest mistake made by the officials was throwing the flag in the first place – no flag no issue – picking it up was the problem.  Blame Stafford for under-throwing the ball – blame the refs for not calling a penalty on a helmet-less Dez Bryant being on the field; when you slow down the play, show me the egregious-interference – then watch a really terrible pass-interference call and tell me which one is worse – the point being, is the refs should never decide/influence the game.  That isn’t the play that cost the Lions the game – it could be you forgot the 10-yard shanked punt, or the Lions D giving up a 4th and 6, followed by the game winning TD, then with 2 minutes left, being tits-on-bull useless on Offense.  So while some are crying conspiracy, let’s remember the Raiders are still the only team that truly lost a playoff-game nefariously, #RIPTuckRule1999-2013.

The dawning of an Empire