Wednesday, March 4, 2009

NHL Trade Deadline Winners

The trade deadline for the NHL has come and gone and while the amount of big names being moved may have been down from years past, there was still a lot of deals that were made that could wind up helping a lot of teams. Lets take a look at three teams that improved themselves or their future the most today.

Calgary Flames
Acquired-Olli Jokinen(C), Jordan Leopold(D)
Traded-2009 or 2010 1st, 2009 2nd round pick, Brandon Prust(RW), Matthew Lombardi(C), Lawrence Nycholat(D), Ryan Wilson(D)
--Jarome Iginla and Mikka Kiprusoff aren't getting any younger and the window of opportunity is closing in Calgary. The Flames needed to add a top line center for Iginla and they got an 80 point player to fill the job. Jokinen did not do as well as many hoped in his brief time in Phoenix scoring 21 goals and adding 21 assists in 57 games. The Flames hope that being on a playoff team for the first time in his career as well as playing with Iginla lights a fire under him. Leopold is a former Calgary player as he played three years with the Flames. Leopold adds high quality depth to a defense that desperately needed another top 4 defenseman.

Phoenix Coyotes
Acquired: 2009 or 2010 1st round pick, 2011 2nd round pick, 2009 4th round pick, Matt Lombardi(C), Brandon Prust(RW), Nigel Dawes(LW), Petr Prucha(LW), Dmitri Kalinin(D), Scottie Upshall(LW)
Traded: 2009 3rd round pick, Olli Jokinen(C), Daniel Carcillo(LW), Derek Morris(D), Mikael Tellqvist(G)
--The Coyotes realized that they were out of the playoff race and wisely traded off vets for good returns. The Olli Jokinen experiment just didn't work out as well as they hoped and they were able to get a pretty good package in return for him. Perhaps the trade of the day may have been the dealing of enforcer Daniel Carcillo to Philadelphia for Scottie Upshall and a 2011 2nd round pick. The pick could take 6-7 years to pan out but Upshall is a talented youngster and Carcillo is pretty much a goon. Phoenix continues to collect many solid young pieces as they build a bright future.

Edmonton Oilers
Added: 2009 2nd round pick, Patrick O'Sullivan(LW), Ales Kotalik(LW)
Traded: 2009 2nd round pick, 2009 5th round pick, Erik Cole(RW)
--The Oilers pretty much got Patrick O'Sullivan and Ales Kotalik for Erik Cole and a 5th round pick. Not bad at all. Cole, a soon to be UFA, had just 27 points in 63 games this year and it was unlikely that Edmonton was going to re-sign him. O'Sullivan collected 37 points in 62 games in LA and is signed for 2.388 million for the next 2 years. Kotalik is an UFA at the end of the year but the 6'2 forward has 32 points in 56 games including 18 on the power play.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

D-1 Baseball Starts Manana

February 20th.

Its the date that Division 1 baseball players have been waiting on for about eight months. Its the date that breaks the consecutive string of practices filled with running, drills, intersquad games, lifting, 5 AM wakeups and more running.(When I say it like that it sure does make me miss my playing days) Its the date that marks the beginning of a new season of D-1 college baseball.

You can find all the matchups, scores and individual stats at this wonderful website:

The best matchup of the opening weekend will be between Vanderbilt and Stanford. Vanderbilt's offense has some big holes to fill after Pedro Alvarez and Ryan Flaherty left but they still have a great pitching staff led by Mike Minor. Minor will face off against Jeff Inman, Stanford's ace, in the opener on Friday. The Cardinal are ranked in the top 10 by BaseballAmerica but they too have some big holes to fill in the lineup after losing Jason Castro and Cord Phelps.

Before the season gets going, how about some predictions?

Golden Spikes: Dustin Ackley-OF/1B-UNC
-Ackley has hit over .400 in both his freshman and sophomore seasons. The only way he slows down is if opposing pitchers pitch around him, which is very possible considering the lineup surrounding Ackley is considerably weaker than the past two seasons. He still has good protection in Kyle Seager so I think the average will still be north of .400. I can also see him hitting between 12-15 HRs and stealing around 20 bases.
It is very possible that Stephen Strasburg wins this award since pitchers frequently do win it(David Price being the latest), but I'm just gonna go with the top hitter to mix it up. Blake Dean(LSU), Grant Green(USC) and Josh Phegley(Indiana) could also be among Ackley's strongest competition.

Roger Clemens Award: Stephen Strasburg-SP-SDSU
-Its hard seeing anyone else beating out Strasburg. He is a man pitching against boys in the Mountain West conference. Expect gaudy numbers from the future #1 pick. Low BB/9, high K/9, a few shutouts, maybe a 27 strikeout game. Only an injury(knock on wood) can slow him down in 2009.
Alex White(UNC), Andy Oliver(OSU) and Mike Minor(Vandy) might give Strasburg a run for his money but in the end it'll be the Aztec righty who brings home the award.

National Champions: Baylor Bears
-The Bears brought in the best recruiting class in 2006 and that group has been disappointing thus far. I see this being the year that those boys put it all together and earn a national title. The Bears rotation includes three arms- Kendal Volz(Jr), Craig Fritsch(So) and Shawn Tolleson(So)- that have the ability to dominate. All three could be top 2 round draft picks.
Baylor's bullpen isn't as good as it was when they went to the CWS a few years ago but closing games out will be former Saturday starter, Willie Kempf, who is coming off a very good year. Setting him up is Mace Thurman, a southpaw who is also coming off a good season. The pen isn't very deep so coach Steve Smith will need some youngsters to log key innings.

Offensively, some big names finally need to step it up and they are Aaron Miller and Dustin Dickerson. These two were the top recruits in that loaded 06 class and Baylor fans had high hopes for them. So far, though, neither has hit above .313. If these two can get it going and hit around .350, the Bears are going to be in great shape as they have a lot of starters returning. Included in the returnees are: Shaver Hansen(3B), Raynor Campbell(OF/2B), Adam Hornung(1B/OF), Ben Booker(OF)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What's Up With Wake?

No team in college basketball is disappointing me more right now than the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. After starting out 16-0, 3-0 and climbing to #1 in the rankings, Wake Forest has gone 2-4 in their last six games and are now 5-4 in the ACC.

The ACC is traditionally a very tough basketball conference and this year is no different. UNC, Duke and Clemson have all been in the top 10 at one point, Florida State currently sits at #25 and Boston College and Virginia Tech are in decent shape as they make a run at a spot in the field of 64. But Wake is not losing to very many top teams. They are getting beat by the bottom half of the conference. Their 4 losses have come to:
-Miami(FL): 15-8, 4-6
-NC State: 13-9, 3-6
-Virginia Tech: 16-7, 6-3 (only solid team)
-Georgia Tech: 13-10, 1-9

The Demon Deacons are a young team as three of their top four scorers are either freshmen or sophomores. But there aren't many teams that shoot the ball better-49.1 team FG% ranks 6th in the country- and there more than likely isn't a bigger team in the country as 6 of their 13 players are 6'9" or bigger, including two 7 footers. Perhaps the Waukegan School for the Incredibly Tall has a bigger team but Wake Forest is at least #2.

Going back to shooting percentage, because Wake is so big their overall percentage is going to get a boost because of their low post game. In turn, their outside shooting hasn't been so good. As a team, they are shooting 33.3% from 3 point land. Though, Jeff Teague is money shooting 51.5% so they have a lethal outside shooter. But their guard depth isn't very strong as Teague is the only player over 33.3% shooting 3's.
However, a team with their dominating low post game shouldn't be getting beat by weak teams as often as Wake Forest has been. They are shooting themselves in the foot as the ACC Tournament nears and a 5-6 seed in that tourney looks like a possibility.

Not long ago I thought Wake Forest's great size and ability to own the boards would continue to overshadow their deficiency from the outside and would help propel them deep into the big dance, possibly to the Final Four. Now though, I'm questioning that thought. Their big men continue to get in foul trouble- Al-Farouq Aminu, James Johnson and Chas McFarland have each fouled out 3 times this year- and not many guards outside of Jeff Teague and L.D. Williams are stepping up.

I guess the good news for Wake is that it is early February and that there is time to get it going. But they have some big issues to address going into the ACC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Bowl 43 Predictions

With about an hour to go before the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers go at it in Super Bowl 43 in Tampa Bay, I feel now is a good time to get my predictions out there.

Coin Toss: Heads
First TD scored by: Larry Fitzgerald
Pittsburgh Total Yards: 372
Arizona Total Yards: 386 (most through the air)
Pittsburgh Turnovers: 1
Arizona Turnovers: 3

Final Score: 31-20 Steelers
MVP: Ben Roethlisberger

With all that said, I do hope I'm wrong. Being from St. Louis, I'm a huge fan of the Rams and will always root for Kurt Warner whenever he isn't playing against the Rams. However, the Steelers defense is just too good.

Friday, January 30, 2009

2009 NFL Mock Draft: Take One

The title pretty much says it all. Lets starting mocking...

1)Detroit Lions: Matt Stafford, QB, Georgia
-If an OT really impresses at the combine, I can see the Lions taking him in a move similar to the Texans taking Mario Williams over Reggie Bush. For now, Stafford seems like the best choice for the winless Lions.

2)St. Louis Rams: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
-Again, an OT could be the pick here but not until after the combine. Crabtree is widely considered to be the most talented player in this draft and the Rams have needs everywhere. Perhaps trading Torry Holt makes the selection more of a no-brainer.

3)Kansas City Chiefs: Aaron Curry-LB-Wake Forest
-Curry is a beast but is he worth the 3rd pick? Mark Sanchez could be considered here but I think the Chiefs would rather take their chances with Tyler Thigpen. A DE could be the pick considering the need but it'd be a reach at this point in time. Curry isn't a bad player to build a defense around.

4)Seattle Seahawks-Andre Smith-OT-Alabama
-With Michael Crabtree off the board, grabbing Walter Jones' future replacement isn't a bad alternative. Smith lines up at RT next year for the Seahawks and slides over to the left side when Jones leaves.

5)Cleveland Browns-Malcolm Jenkins-CB-Ohio State
-The Browns desperately need help on defense and Jenkins will provide that help. There may not be a safer player in this draft but that doesn't mean he isn't darn good. Jenkins could very well be one of the top 3-5 CBs in the league very soon.

6)Cincinnati Bengals-Michael Oher-OT-Ole Miss
-The Bengals are living the dream as 3 of the 4 top OTs fall to them. Protecting Carson Palmer should be of the utmost concern to Cincy and adding Oher addresses that.

7)Oakland Raiders-Eugene Monroe-OT-Virginia
-Jeremy Maclin could be Al Davis' pick here but building a strong offensive line to help JaMarcus Russell and Darren McFadden should be a bigger priority.

8)Jacksonville Jaguars-Jason Smith-OT-Baylor
A third straight offensive tackles come off the board as the Jags fill a major hole with the BPA in Smith. A good speedy reciever like Maclin could be an option if the OTs don't fall as I plan, but with Smith on the board they can't pass him up.

9)Green Bay Packers-Brian Orakpo-DE-Texas
Not only is Orakpo the BPA at this point, he also fills a need for the Packers. Orakpo will lineup opposite Aaron Campman in Dom Caper's 3-4 defense. With Ryan Pickett in the middle, the d-line of the Packers appears set.

10)San Francisco 49ers-Everette Brown-DE-Florida State
Mike Singletary decides to go with his boy Shaun Hill at QB and starts to build a menacing defense as he adds Brown to Patrick Willis. Mark Sanchez is the obvious alternative pick here.

Before I move on I just want to say that I had a couple of sentences written out for each pick and when I submitted the post it all got deleted so forgive me for not re-writing it all but I'm rather pissed right now. Anyways....

11) Buffalo Bills: Rey Maulauga-LB-USC
12) Denver Broncos: BJ Raji -DT-Boston College
13) Washington Redskins: Aaron Maybin-DE-Penn State
14) New Orleans Saints: Vontae Davis-S-Illinois
15) Houston Texans: Peria Jerry-DT-Ole Miss
16) San Diego Chargers: Chris Wells-RB-Ohio State
17) New York Jets: Mark Sanchez-QB-USC
18) Chicago Bears: Jeremy Maclin-WR-Mizzou
19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Knowshon Moreno-RB-Georgia
20) Detroit Lions: Eben Britton-OT-Arizona
21) Philadelphia Eagles: Brandon Pettigrew-TE-Oklahoma State
22) Minnesota Vikings: Darrius Heyward-Bay-WR-Maryland
23) New England Patriots: DJ Moore-CB-Vanderbilt
24) Atlanta Falcons: Duke Robinson-G-Oklahoma
25) Miami Dolphins: James Lauaranitis-LB-Ohio State
26) Baltimore Ravens: Percy Harvin-WR-Florida
27) Indianapolis Colts: Ron Brace-DT-Florida State
28) Philadelphia Eagles: William Moore-S-Mizzou
29) New York Giants: Brian Cushing-LB-USC
30) Tennessee Titans: Hakeem Nicks-WR-North Carolina
31) Arizona Cardinals: LeSean McCoy-RB-Pittsburgh
32) Pittsburgh Steelers: Alex Mack-C-California

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Remaining Free Agent Starting Pitchers

It is January 20th and the MLB free agent market still features several quality starting pitchers. Many believe a struggling economy mixed with high salary demands is keeping these pitchers from signing.
Here is a look at who is available, what makes them so attractive and/or unattractive and a prediction on where they will end up.

Ben Sheets:
13-9, 3.09 ERA, 198.1 INN, 181 H, 17 HR, 47 BB, 158 K, 139 ERA+
-Sheets is undoubtedly the most talented pitcher without a contract. He combines an explosive repertoire of pitches with all star results. However, injury concerns play a large role in Sheets' inability to find a contract to his liking. He made it through most of last season injury free but suffered a tear in his elbow during September that caused him to miss the postseason. Along with the injury problems is the fact that any team that signs Sheets will have to forfeit a 1st round draft pick due to his Type A status.
A team in desperate need of a front of the rotation starter to help complete a possible contender should be intrigued by Sheets. Anyone looking for a back of the rotation innings eater will likely look elsewhere.

Prediction: Milwaukee Brewers - 2 years, 18 million with 3rd year option at 13 million

Oliver Perez:
10-7, 4.22 ERA, 194 INN, 167 H, 105 BB, 180 K, 100 ERA+
-Not many pitchers have gone through the ups and downs that Oliver Perez has the past few years. For the past two seasons things have been up for Oliver. Because of this, he is asking for the moon and expecting nothing less. Concerns about control and stamina mixed with being a Type A free agent have lead to little interest in the 27 year old lefty. Perez is a risky signing for any club, I guess except the Yankees, because it is possible that he lets his control problems get the best of him and reverts back to his 2005-2006 form. Although there is as good a chance he throws enough strikes to be a solid #2-3 starter.
I can't see Perez escaping from New York after the Mets lost out on Derek Lowe. The Mets need one more starter to complete their rotation and they already have some good, reliable arms in Santana, Pelfrey and Maine. The risky Perez shouldn't scare them too much. A signing could take longer to develop now that Derek Lowe signed for big bucks. Perez is going to want his demands met, too. Not sure if that will happen.

Prediction: New York Mets - 3 years, 31.5 million with 4th year option at 12.5 million

Jon Garland:
14-8, 4.90 ERA, 192 INN, 237 H, 59 BB, 90 K, 91 ERA+
-One of the more unexciting pitchers in the game, Garland gets hitters out by getting ahead early and inducing weak contact. Because of this, he has been one of the most durable starters in the game. Last year, though, was the first time since 2003 that Garland didn't top 200 innings. However, it wasn't because of injury. Garland made 32 starts. It was because he had a rough season posting the worst ERA and ERA+ and lowest K total(in a full season) of his big league career. Perhaps a switch to the National League could help Garland out a lot.
There hasn't been a whole lot of talk about Garland. I'm going to guess he still thinks he can get 3 years at about 8-10 per. In the end, I think he caves and goes the Kyle Lohse route.

Prediction: Washington Nationals - 1 year, 6.5 million with about 2-3 million in incentives

Randy Wolf:
12-12, 4.30 ERA, 190.1 INN, 191 H, 71 BB, 162 K, 93 ERA+
-Wolf is a poor man's Ben Sheets. He is a good middle to back of the rotation pitcher that can toss a good amount of quality starts. Like Sheets, though, injuries are a problem. In 2008, Wolf made 30+ starts for the first time since 2003. Tommy John surgery and shoulder surgery have kept him on the DL for much of 2004 to 2007. His strong comeback in 2008 dismisses the thought that the surgeries have drained Wolf of his ability to be an impact starter in the majors. Also, he is just a Type B free agent so his new team will not have to forfeit a draft pick.
Still, a team looking for a sure bet to get 190+ innings may feel more comfortable with Garland or Pettitte.

Prediction: Los Angeles Dodgers - 2 years, 14 million

Andy Pettitte:
14-14, 4.54 ERA, 204 INN, 233 H, 19 HR, 55 BB, 158 K, 98 ERA+
-Pettitte might have been one of the more underrated pitchers in free agency this winter. At least among the fans. He isn't the dominating stud he was in Houston in 2005(not really sure where that season came from) but he is almost a lock to pitch 200 innings with solid results. On the road last season, Pettitte posted a 3.78 ERA compared to a 5.28 ERA in Yankee Stadium. So perhaps getting out of the Bronx will be a good move for the 37 year old lefty. (Of course where I have him going might not be any better.)
Pettitte already turned down the Yankees 10 mil offer but that doesn't mean he will get more elsewhere. Not many teams have 10+ million lying around. I believe Pettitte was just pulling a Joe Torre and felt a massive paycut was a slap in the face. Pettitte has a worse case than Torre does, though. He is a good #3-4 starter, but he is seeking the money of a #1-2 starter. He won't find it.

Prediction: Texas Rangers - 2 years, 18.5 million

Braden Looper:
12-14, 4.16 ERA, 199 INN, 216 H, 25 HR, 45 BB, 108 K, 102 ERA+
-It wasn't long ago that Looper was closing out ballgames at Shea Stadium. It also wasn't long ago that he was getting booed off the field at Shea Stadium. Thanks to Dave Duncan, Looper has found a nice home in the starting rotation the past two seasons. Looper has surprisingly become a quality back of the rotation arm. Although the improvement he showed from his first year of starting to the second could carry over to year three and turn him into more of an impact starter. I doubt any GM is banking on that and I'm sure several GMs are worried about the durability of a 34 year old pitcher that is just two years removed from pitching in relief for 9 straight years.
For now, innings eating and strike throwing as well as providing a good amount of quality starts help boost Looper's attractiveness. Long term contracts probably aren't in his future but I could see several suitors giving him a call if he decides to accept a shorter deal.

Prediction: St. Louis Cardinals - 1 year, 6 million with 2nd year option at 8 million

And Here We Go

Hello all,

Welcome to The Sports Rag. I'm Buck and I'll be your captain for this exciting journey. Alright, that is quite enough of that.

If you couldn't guess by the title, this blog will mostly be about sports. Namely baseball, both pro and college. If sports is your cup of tea then I suggest you keep coming back. If it isn't well just come on back anyways. I enjoy the company.

If you are a St. Louis Cardinals fan, check out my blog on the Cardinals titled "Holding all the Cardinals."

That is pretty much all I've got for now. I'll be back shortly to discuss some sports.