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17 year old Cale's very opinionated view on everything sports.

Posts Tagged ‘Cleveland

MLB Season Preview: #25 Toronto Blue Jays

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Overview: The Jays are a mess of a team. They traded away the best pitcher in baseball, P Roy Halladay, gave up on OF Alex Rios, and are stuck with the burden of contracts belonging to OF Vernon Wells and 1B Lyle Overbay. After making several moves during the offseason, it is clear that Toronto is in a rebuilding stage, and going with the youth movement.

Offseason Moves: The Jays brought in a lot of young arms this offseason. Top pitching prospect Kyle Drabek leads the group, that also consists of P Brandon Morrow, P Dana Eveland, and P Merkin Valdez. To bolster the bullpen, Toronto brought in closer Kevin Gregg. However, the biggest acquisitions may have come from within for Toronto, for pitchers Shawn Marcum, Dustin McGowan, and Jeremy Accardo are returning from injuries in 2010. On offense, Toronto made nearly no moves, only bringing in light-hitting SS Alex Gonzalez, and top prospect IF Brett Wallace.

Projected Lineups and Pitching Staff:

1. LF Joey Gathright (.267, O HR, O RBI)

2. 2B Aaron Hill (.286, 36 HR, 108 RBI)

3. DH Adam Lind (.305, 35 HR, 114 RBI)

4. CF Vernon Wells (.260, 15 HR, 66 RBI)

5. RF Travis Snider (.241, 9 HR, 21 RBI)

6. 3B Edwin Encarnacion (.225, 13 HR, 39 RBI)

7. 1B Lyle Overbay (.265, 16 HR, 64 RBI)

8. C John Buck (.247, 8 HR, 36 RBI)

9. SS Alex Gonzalez (.238, 8 HR, 41 RBI)

Backup C: Jose Molina (.217, 1 HR, 11 RBI)

Backup IF: John McDonald (.258, 4 HR, 13 RBI)

Backup IF: Randy Ruiz (.313, 10 HR, 17 RBI)

Backup OF: Jose Bautista (.235, 13 HR, 40 RBI)

1. Ricky Romero (13-9, 4.30 ERA)

2. Shawn Marcum (No stats in ’09)

3. Brandon Morrow (2-4, 4.39 ERA)

4. Marc Rzepcyzynski (2-4, 3.67 ERA)

5. Dustin McGowan (No stats in ’09)

CP: Kevin Gregg (5-6, 4.72 ERA, 23 SV)

SU: Jason Frasor (7-3, 2.60 ERA)

SU: Scott Downs (1-3, 3.09 ERA)

MR: Jesse Carlson (1-6, 4.66 ERA)

MR: Shawn Camp (2-6, 3.50 ERA)

MR: Jeremy Accardo (0-0, 2.55 ERA)

LR: Dana Eveland (2-4, 7.16 ERA)

Player to watch: Top prospect Brett Wallace has been traded twice within the past year. He also has been moved all around the infield, from third base to first base, and also spending time at DH. Toronto has decided that Wallace will be its first baseman of the future, however his road is currently blocked by 1B Lyle Overbay. Don’t expect that for too long, as the Jays will attempt to trade most of their veterans to give the young guys a shot. Of course, Wallace’s massive power and ability to hit for a high average will help move the process along.

Prediction: 58 – 104, 5th in AL East

The Jays have 2B Aaron Hill and DH Adam Lind to build around on offense. However, there isn’t much offense after that. Excluding those two players, the Jays batting average of last season was .251, which is nowhere near the average needed to compete with the pitching in the AL East. Yes, the Jays will be the worst team in baseball this season. However, if it weren’t for the division they play in, Cleveland would be the worst team. Toronto has talent coming up. Ps Kyle Drabek and Brett Cecil will be front-line starters in the future. First basemen David Cooper, Brian Dopriak, and Brett Wallace lead the way on offense. It will just take some time to develop the talent, and it’s not easy to do in the American League.

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The Free Agent Guessing Game

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I am a follower of the site “mlbtraderumors.com” during the offseason and when it becomes closer to the trade deadline of the baseball season. Usually, I am very interested and agree with a lot of what the site says. However, they posted their Top 50 Free Agent Predictions, and I throughly disagree on many. Here is my list:

 

Matt Holliday (above) watches the game from the dugout.

1.  Matt Holliday – Mets.   The Mets need offense, plain and simple. They have the money, and want to add the big bat.

2.  John Lackey – Red Sox. Boston’s rotation was almost a sure thing prior to last season. Now, Beckett and Lester are the only two definite starters, so signing Lackey is a top priority.

3.  Jason Bay – Red Sox.  Boston is the only place Bay has won, and he fits in very nicely there. I expect him to wait until Holliday signs, but after realizing Boston is his best spot, he will resign.

4.  Chone Figgins – Cardinals. A bit of a surprise here, as most believe Figgins will either sign with the Phillies or return to the Angels. However, the Cardinals struggled with solidifying the top of their lineup all season, and Troy Glaus is no longer a sure thing at the hot corner.

5.  Randy Wolf – Dodgers. L.A. is in the same situation as Boston, and have no idea what their rotation will look like next season. It’s highly unlikely that the Dodgers could acquire Roy Halladay, so Wolf is a must to bring back.

6.  Andy Pettitte – Retirement. Yes, Pettitte is finally going to walk away. After winning a World Series in 2009, who wouldn’t want to go out on top?

7.  Jose Valverde – Yankees. This will be the biggest splash of the offseason in the Bronx, as the will sign Valverde to set up Rivera, and possibly be his replacement.

8.  Marco Scutaro – Red Sox. The Sox let SS Alex Gonzalez walk, and Scutaro fits nicely. He can bat at either the top or bottom of the lineup, and will help SS Jed Lowrie stay fresh throughout the season.

9.  Adrian Beltre – Angels. They will need to fill the void that Figgins leaves, and I don’t think that they are ready to hand over the job to minor leaguers yet. This signing makes much more sense if the Halos are unable to bring back OF Vladamir Guerrero.

10.  Rich Harden – Mets. I believe the Red Sox will get Halladay, and that is why I have Harden going to the Mets. In desperate need of starting pitching and a winning club, look for New York to go on a spending spree to try and fill the stands at Citi Field.

11.  Mike Cameron – Royals. Kansas City already declined Coco Crisp’s option, and they need a center fielder. Frankly, the need elsewhere for Cameron’s services is limited.

12.  Johnny Damon – Giants. The Giants need to add offense, and Damon would fit nicely by the bay. Damon would also be the final piece of an outfield that includes Aaron Rowand and Nate Schierholtz.

13.  Orlando Hudson – Diamondbacks. It was a mistake letting Hudson walk in the first place, and Arizona was a dreadful team last season. They need to make improvements, and second base is one of the many holes on this club.

14.  Miguel Tejada – Orioles. I think Tejada would be good for the Phillies,

Miguel Tejada (above) could dawn that same Orioles' uniform again.

 but I just can’t see that happening. After the relationship soured between Baltimore and Melvin Mora last season, a hole at third base opened up for Tejada to step right back into.

15.  Joel Pineiro – Mets. New York needs rotation help, and its no secret that GM Omar Minaya likes the idea of building a latin oriented team.

16.  Nick Johnson – Orioles. Baltimore let 1B Aubrey Huff go at the trade deadline, and can afford to offer an incentive laden deal to the oft-injured Johnson.

17.  Aroldis Chapman – Reds. This could be the surprise of the offseason. After all the hype, when teams actually see him throw, I believe that his value will fall in the eyes of GMs, and will join the Reds rotation of the future, Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto, and Micah Owings.

18.  Marlon Byrd – Rangers. It is the only place where Byrd has had success in his major league career, and there is not much of a market for center fielders, prompting the Rangers to keep Marlon.

19.  Vladimir Guerrero – Twins. This is another surprise pick here, but Minnesota needs to add a bat to help MVP Joe Mauer and 1B Justin Morneau. Guerrero would be the perfect DH to open a new ball park in the Twin Cities.

20.  Felipe Lopez – Dodgers. With Orlando Hudson leaving the Dodgers, Lopez fits right in as a bat in the No.2 hole of the line up, or down at the bottom.

21.  Adam LaRoche – Braves. LaRoche has spent most of his big league career in Atlanta, and the Braves can’t afford to lose too much offense. Look for LaRoche to get a pay raise to ensure that he doesn’t leave Georgia.

22.  Rafael Soriano – Angels. Adding this right-handed late inning reliever will give L.A. the ability to play the numbers, and put in either Soriano or closer Brian Fuentes based on matchups.

 23. Jon Garland – Twins. Minnesota would like another arm to go in their rotation, and Garland would be a nice addition. He is one of the lower pitchers of this year’s crop, so his price will not be outrageously high.

24.  Carl Pavano – Nationals. Pavano was given a shot by the Indians last season, and was then traded to Minnesota. While Carl could still return to Cleveland, the Nationals are in need of a veteran starter, and a stop gap until all their young pitching talent arrives.

25.  Brad Penny – Diamondbacks. Arizona needs everything, and Penny would give the D-Backs a deeper rotation, as well as a veteran starter.

26.  Erik Bedard – Dodgers. Bedard is often injured, and this could lower his price. However, price isn’t much of an issue in L.A. Bedard is also rumored to be a pain in the clubhouse, in which he would fit right in with Dodgers OF Manny Ramirez.

World Series MVP Hideki Matsui (above) won't leave the Bronx.

27.  Hideki Matsui – Yankees. Believe it or not, the Yankees need the Japanese media in New York. Not to mention, Matsui was just World Series MVP, and there is no way that he is let go.

 28.  Bengie Molina – Mets. The Mets need bats, and their offseason spending frenzy will continue with the signing of Molina. Acquiring one of the best hitting catchers in baseball will help New York build a deeper line up.

29.  Mike Gonzalez – Braves. A possible destination is in the Bronx, but if Soriano leaves Atlanta, Gonzalez may like having the closer’s role all to himself.

30.  Jason Marquis – Rockies. Marquis had a stellar first half in Denver, but struggled down the stretch. I believe that he will hold out in hopes of a bigger deal, but the market will not play in his favor and force a return to the Rockies.

31.  Placido Polanco – Rays. Money isn’t a plenty down in Florida, but after trading 2B Akinori Iwamura, the Rays could use a stabalizing force at the top of their line up. CF B.J. Upton was inconsistent last season, which is why signing Polanco could happen.

32.  Tim Wakefield – Red Sox.  Boston’s rotation is very uncertain, and Wakefield has only ever played for one team. If Wakefield doesn’t return to Boston like I believe, look for retirement.

33.  Ben Sheets – Rangers. Sheets has taken a year off to recover from shoulder surgery, and looks to mount a comeback. Not many teams will be willing to offer him a contract, but the Rangers are always in need of starters, and could offer him an incentive laden deal. Not to mention, Sheets is the same kind of pitcher that owner Nolan Ryan used to be, so that must make him attractive.

34.  Doug Davis – Brewers. Davis has already played for the Brewers, and Milwaukee doesn’t have the money to sign a top-notch starter. Davis’s signing looks even more likely since the Brewers claimed him on waivers in August but couldn’t work out a deal.

35.  Jarrod Washburn – Mariners. There were no bitter feelings between the two sides after trading Washburn to Detroit, and the pitcher said that he would like to return to Seattle. The Mariners aren’t deep on pitching, so bringing back Washburn makes perfect sense.

36.  Russell Branyan – Mariners. I don’t believe that any other club will take the chance of signing Branyan, for he very likely could be a one year wonder. Also, Branyan has the desire to stay in Seattle, so why would he leave?

37.  Billy Wagner – Nationals. Wagner has questions about his health and age, which makes him an unreliable option in the late innings. However, he has stated that he wants to close for the Washington Nationals, and they have no one better. There is no reason that this deal shouldn’t get done.

38.  Juan Uribe – Mariners. Uribe had a good season in San Francisco last season, but not good enough to demand a crazy amount of money. The Mariners will need a third basemen if Adrian Beltre opts to leave, making Uribe a fit in Seattle.

39.  John Smoltz – Retirement. Smoltz’s attempt to come back from shoulder surgery failed last season, and there is no reason to believe that he would be able to make it through a full season. I don’t believe any club in contention would take a chance on Smoltz.

40.  Jermaine Dye – Royals. Dye is in the last stretch of his career, and being a former Royal may appeal to him. His market is not that big, therefore Kansas City would be able to afford him.

41.  Mark DeRosa – Phillies.  The Phillies have tried to acquire DeRosa for years. It makes perfect sense for both sides, as Philadelphia will need a third basemen going into next season.

42.  Coco Crisp – Padres. Money is an issue for San Diego, and it helps that Crisp can’t demand a ton of it. The Padres need an outfielder, and Crisp would be a nice addition to the top of the line up.

43.  Carlos Delgado – Blue Jays. Delgado is another aging superstar, and

Carlos Delgado (above) could also be returning to Toronto.

may want to return to his old stomping ground in Toronto. The Jays are totally devoid of power, and could bring back Delgado at a low price.

44.  Orlando Cabrera – Twins. Both sides have interest, as Cabrera was the emotional leader of last season’s squad. I don’t see Cabrera going any place else.

45.  Gregg Zaun – Rays. The Rays need a backup catcher, and Zaun is cheap. Perfect fit.

46.  Jim Thome – White Sox. Thome has had a good run in Chicago, and the only other place I could see him landing would be Cleveland. I think the issue here will be money, and Thome will not get what he want, but Chicago will offer a little more than Cleveland.

47.  Fernando Rodney – Phillies. Rodney is a good fit in Philadelphia because of his versatility. He can close, set up, and pitch in middle relief. If Brad Lidge struggles again next season, Rodney would be the best insurance policy.

48.  Xavier Nady – Diamondbacks.  Nady provides corner outfield depth, and can play first base. He’s not an all-star by any means, but a decent player that could help out in Arizona.

49.  Kiko Calero – Rays. Calero would be cheap, and as I have previously said, that makes him a fit as a reliever in Tampa.

50.  Rafael Betancourt – Rockies. Betancourt was one of the Rockies best relievers last season, and there will be interest in him. However, I think Colorado will offer some decent dollars to Betancourt, and keep him around.

There is one thing that I did agree with on the site, and it is that this is a difficult puzzle. If one player signs with one team, it ultimately could effect another team’s interest in another player, and all sorts of mayhem in which is the MLB offseason. Although, I thoroughly believe that my predictions will prove more accurate.

NFL Season Preview: #1 Pittsburgh Steelers

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Overview: With a 12-4 record through the regular season, the Steelers ran through the playoffs, and all the way to a Super Bowl victory. Despite various injuries to QB Ben Roethlisberger, RBs Rashard Mendenhall and Willie Parker, and WR Hines Ward, Pittsburgh went all the way for the second time in the past five years.

Offseason Moves: The Steelers didn’t have many moves to make, especially coming off a Super Bowl winning season. In the draft, Pittsburgh selected Missouri DE Ziggy Hood in the first round. Through free agency, the Steelers signed WR Shaun McDonald, and CB Keiwan Ratliff. Although, Pittsburgh did lose CB Bryant McFadden, and G Kendall Simmons to free agency.

Upcoming Season: Nothing much should change for the Steelers. The pieces are still all the same. QB Ben Roethlisberger will be consistent throwing the ball to WRs Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes. RB Willie Parker should rebound from a couple of injuries, and carry the load for Pittsburgh. The Steeler’s defense is still one of the best in the NFL, and is led by S Troy Polamalu.

Rashard MendenhallPlayer to watch: RB Rashard Mendenhall is coming off a rookie season in which he only played in four games due to injury. There were high expectations for the former Illinois running back, and Mendenhall should be ready to help RB Willie Parker out in the backfield. Look for Mendenhall to be a threat as a receiver out of the backfield all season for Pittsburgh.

Prediction: 13-3, 1st in AFC North

The Steelers are one of the best, if not the best, teams in football. Not to mention, they get to beat up on Cleveland and Cincinnati twice a year. Look for Pittsburgh to prove that they are still the class of the AFC.

NFL Season Preview: #26 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Overview: The Bucs were 9-3 and in prime position to make the playoffs at Week 13 of the ‘o8 season. Fumbling down the stretch, Tampa Bay lost their last four games, including an absolute upset to Oakland, to go 9-7 and be eliminated from the playoffs.

Offseason Moves: Tampa Bay, in a surprise move, fired longtime head coach Jon Gruden, and replaced him with Raheem Morris. Sticking with the theme of change, the Bucs let QBs Jeff Garcia and Brian Griese walk, and released WR Joey Galloway, RB Warrick Dunn, and LB Derrick Brooks. In with the new, the Buccaneers drafted QB Josh Freeman in the first round, and traded for TE Kellen Winslow from Cleveland. Of course, Tampa Bay wouldn’t be complete without a quarterback competition, so they signed QB Byron Leftwich and Luke McCown. The Buccaneers also added RB Derrick Ward and LB Angelo Crowell to the mix.

Upcoming Season: The Bucs have made a lot of changes, and a lot will depend on the QB play, and consistency, which is something they had neither of last year. The defense appears to be the strength of this team, but it doesn’t appear that the offense is together yet.

Player to watch: Since I believe that Tampa Bay will not throw QB Josh LeftwichFreeman into the mix right away, look for QB Byron Leftwich to win the job and impress. After being released by the Jaguars, and being the backup for the Steelers, Leftwich showed signs of being him old self. With the starting job in Tampa, and some decent weapons in WR Antonio Bryant and TE Kellen Winslow, Leftwich could have a twenty TD season.

Prediction: 5-11, 4th in NFC South

The Bucs just have too much uncertainty, and are in too tough a division to have a good season. Plus, they play the AFC and NFC East, which easy games are few and far between.