BY BRETT MURDOCK (AND MATT VINSKO), Couchsideshow.com blogger
As the first pay-per-view event post-WrestleMania, Extreme Rules has the unfavorable task of putting on a quality show after professional wrestling’s biggest extravaganza. Last year, it was actually able to step up to the plate and it was the best PPV event of the year, in my opinion. That’s not just a “wrestling hipster” opinion to go against the mainstream calling ‘Mania the top show of 2012, I legitimately believed it.
This year, the potential to rise above WrestleMania is once again there, especially after a predictable and lackluster (because of the hype) Show of Shows. While many fans see a card that is lacking, I see a line-up with a lot of capability and the chance to do something memorable. In total, there are nine scheduled match-up and all but two of them will employ an “extreme” stipulation, hence the show’s title. Now, along with my co-conspirator Matt Vinsko (making predictions at the willy-nilly like I did on his NBA first-round playoffs piece), let’s get ready to get extreeeeeeeme…
Pre-Show: The Miz vs. Cody Rhodes
Honestly, I have no idea where this match came from. For the past couple of years, The Miz and Cody Rhodes have been two of WWE’s best midcard guys but unfortunately, they have been brick walled by an inability to develop solid feuds for them in singles action. The Miz has had his chances with both the Intercontinental and United States Championships, but failed to make an impact with the belts. Rhodes was part of a great tag team with Damien Sandow but for some reason, the creative staff broke them up to focus them on singles competition. Meanwhile, getting back to present day, these two are probably just there to get the crowd warmed up for the night’s events and to bring at least a shred of credibility to the pre-show. With that being said, the preshow is usually for the fans and the WWE “knows” that fans like the faces, so congrats Miz.
BRETT: The Miz
MATT: The Miz (more…)
Whether you agree with the decision or not former San Francisco Giant and current Blue Jay Melky Cabrera will in fact receive a world series ring despite having no actual contribution in the Series due to a suspension over use of a banned substance.
NBC Sports reports:
Cabrera will receive his championship ring when the Giants visit the Blue Jays, Cabrera’s new team, on Tuesday. Manager Bruce Bochy performed a similar act last month with Chicago Cubs’ right fielder Nate Schierholtz, who was traded shortly before Cabrera was suspended for use of a banned substance last summer
Surely there will be those chirping against the decision–the baseball purists always let their very loud voices be known in situations such as this.
But one could easily make the argument that if not for Cabrera’s contributions in the regular season the Giants wouldn’t have made it to the World Series in the first place. Let us not forget, that when Cabrera left the game due to suspension he held the highest batting average in the league and was well on his way to an MVP and batting title.
Should there be an uproar over Cabrera getting a ring or has he paid his debt?
Be sure to check out other great articles at BlackSportsOnline.
BY Couchsideshow.com staff
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Couch Side hosts Wade McMillin and Craig Paul have had a lot on their plate lately, but they’re back for another exciting episode of the podcast. After a two week hiatus, the hosts return to dish out some NFL offseason grades, talk all things Tim Tebow, dive into the NBA playoffs, examine Tiger Woods’ Players championship win and criticize the voting of the NBA All-Defensive Team. Click below to start streaming, downloading or subscribing to the Couch Side podcast:
Tim Tebow may not have a future as a quarterback in the NFL, but he indeed has a future. Tebow who is a magnet for attention, could try his hand at TV, and would definitely have his list of suitors.
ESPN believes the former Jet will be playing football in 2013, but if not, he’s on the network’s radar as a college football analyst, according to the New York Daily News.
There will definitely be competition from Fox Sports who would deem the former Florida Gators and Heisman Trophy winning quarterback as a coup for their all sports network set to debut in August.
It definitely makes sense for Tebow if he wants to stay around the game he loves, while still getting plenty of attention and eyes from his loyal following.
Be sure to check out other great articles at BlackSportsOnline.
BY JESSICA WILLIAMS, Couchsideshow.com contributor
Like I posted in my first blog, the Frozen Four is an equivalent to the Final Four in basketball except with hockey.
The four College teams competing in 2013 were the Yale Bulldogs, Quinnipiac Bobcats, St. Cloud State, and UMass Lowell. All four teams fought their way up to the tournament they all have dreamed of winning. The first semi-final game was UMass Lowell against the Yale Bulldogs. Throughout the beginning of the tournament, it was said that Yale was the “underdog,” and that their chances of going past the first round was slim.
Yet they defeated UMass, who was #3 seed, with a score of 3-2, winning in OT with the final goal scored by their Senior Captain, Andrew Miller. Leaving a stunned UMass Lowell crowd silent, the Bulldogs celebrated their first win, as they were now moving on to the championship round. The next game of the night was to be played by the Quinnipiac Bobcats and St. Cloud State. Quinnipiac had been the #1 seed team this season, so they definitely had quite the “rowdy” fan section.
And just like that, the 2013 NHL season is over with. Quick, right? I know, but that’s what you get when a lockout threatens to cancel another season under the reign of commissioner Gary Bettman. But alas, there was a season played after all consisting of 48 games and after all the hubbub and chaos, the first round playoff match-ups are set. There are some good ones and of course there are some that will end horribly, and I am here to straighten them out for you and get you informed heading into the postseason. Let’s get to it…
Wait, a fun fact before we get started: This is the first time all “Original Six” teams qualified for the playoffs in the same season since a long time ago.
(1) Chicago Blackhawks vs. (8) Minnesota Wild
The Blackhawks enter the playoffs as President’s Trophy winners after finishing with the highest point total through the season. They are a dangerous folk top-to-bottom with great players in all areas and have showed it throughout the year. They started off 21-0-3 and though they kind of went through a rough patch through the middle of the season, they regained their composure and come into the playoffs as the favorites to win it all.
Meanwhile, the Wild are one of those teams you look at and say “What is going on?” They acquired the two biggest prizes on the free agent market this past off season in forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter, they have a solid goaltender (Niklas Backstrom) and have a bunch of other talented pieces that should have made them a title favorite. But alas, they were as inconsistent as any playoff team in recent memory and limp into the playoffs by the skin of their teeth. They are not a confident group right now in my eyes and are staggering.
While both of these teams were prohibitive favorites entering the season, only one appears to be gelling at the right time and that’s Chicago. They score at will and shut down opposing teams with a ruthless defense, and those are bad signs for slumping Minnesota.
• WINNER: Blackhawks in 5 (more…)
BY JESSICA WILLIAMS,Couchsideshow.com contributor
At the moment, I am laying in a hotel bed, in a city I’ve never been in before, researching College hockey teams.
Some people might think this is odd, but it is no different than a basketball fan looking up College basketball teams for the Final Four. Though many folks don’t know this, there is a hockey equivalent to the Final Four; it is known as the Frozen Four. The location of the Frozen Four is different every year, with different teams, and different fans attending the games. This year the tournament is held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I’ve begun to wonder if these people rooting for specific teams are actually fans, or just band-wagoners.
I say this because when you ask these people who they are rooting for, 80% of the time it is the #1 seed team in the tournament. If that just so happens to be their favorite team, then so be it, but usually the difference between a real fan and a bandwagon fan is easily recognizable. For instance, a real fan might know people on the team, or have all the fan attire supporting the team. If you ask one of these fans a question about their team, be prepared to have a conversation longer than an elevator ride.
On the other hand, bandwagon
fans might give you very short, to the point answers about their “favorite team”. Lesson being, when going to a sports tournament of any kind, make sure you do your research on the teams so you don’t get caught as the bandwagon fan.
The St. Louis Cardinals bullpen has been an utter disaster this season. It’s not just one or two guys, it’s everyone.
The only two relievers with an ERA below 4.00 are Edward Mujica and Randy Choate. Joe Kelly has seen little game time since his early struggles and lack of a need for relievers before the seventh inning due to the success by the starting rotation. Fernando Salas looks like he could use a stint in the minors to figure out what he’s doing wrong as he looks completely lost on the mound. Trevor Rosenthal still looks shaky on the mound despite working himself out of his own jam in the eighth inning on Monday. Mitchell Boggs is likely to be relegated to low-leverage situations until his confidence is rebuilt and shows he can retire good hitters once again. With Eduardo Sanchez on the DL, there are no appealing options in the Cardinals farm system. It appears the Cardinals will have to either look outside the organization or hope Jason Motte recovers by May 1st, the date set to decide whether or not he will have Tommy John or will begin rehab.
That said, there are few options outside the organization that wouldn’t require GM John Mozeliak to give up quality prospects for a short term fix. There is, however, one option that many believe the Cardinals could be interested in: signing Brian Wilson. In case you have forgotten, Wilson is the original Giants “Fear the Beard” campaign closer who closed for the San Francisco Giants when they won the World Series in 2010. He had his second Tommy John surgery last April when his arm gave way once again. (more…)
BY Couchsideshow.com staff
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The Couch Side podcast looks at a heap of first-year football pros, completing a pick-by-pick analysis of the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Join moderator Wade McMillin and guests Craig Paul and Sean Schoonover as the panel predicts the selections of all 32 picks in the opening round. The gang only overlooked one player, but was able to put the rest of the pieces together in this annual episode. If you’re looking for an inside look at this year’s event by the common fan, you won’t want to miss this week’s show. Live in Northwest Wyoming? Go ahead and tune your radio dials to 89.1 FM KNWT this Wednesday at 4 p.m. or again on Thursday at 9 a.m. to also listen to the show. Click below to start listening, download, stream or subscribe to the Couch Side Podcast! You can also scroll down to read our picks.
Couch Side’s official 2013 NFL Mock Draft
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joekel, OT, Texas A&M
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dion Jordan, OLB / DE, Oregon
3. Oakland Raiders: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Eric Fischer, OT, Central Michigan
5. Detroit Lions: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma (more…)
Editor’s note: The preview portions of this blog were written by Matthew Vinsko. Brett Murdock contributed predictions.
Basketball is my favorite sport and it has been for a long time. Unlike baseball, football, and hockey, basketball provides high scoring affairs that can captivate fans and casual viewers alike with quick plays that include dunks, alley-oops, and even well-timed blocks.
That’s why each postseason provides a bittersweet experience for this fan. Yes, the level of play intensifies as we work to finally crown an NBA Champion, but at the cost of a four month hiatus to one of the world’s most popular sports.
This year’s postseason is ripe with storylines (Can James Harden stop his old team from reaching the second round? How long can the Lakers last without Kobe Bryant? Who will stop the juggernaut that is the Miami Heat?). But the real goal of the first round of the playoffs isn’t so much to answer these questions, but rather separate pretenders from contenders as each team takes its first step to the Finals.
Read on for predictions from both myself and my longtime collaborator, Brett Murdock, as we break down the ins and outs of each matchup in the first round.
(1) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (8) Houston Rockets
This is one matchup that might be closer than you think because of both team’s ability to put the ball in the basket.
Houston finished second in the NBA in scoring this year at 106 points per game with James Harden leading the way at just over 25 points per game. OKC finished third in scoring with 105 points per game, led by its MVP candidate, Kevin Durant, who finished with 28 points per game, second in the scoring title race behind Carmelo Anthony.
But as it’s come to be known in postseason basketball, defense wins championships, and the Thunder finished in the top ten of the league in points allowed at a shade over 95 points per game. Houston, on the other hand, allowed over 102 points per game, which won’t help them against the high-scoring dynamic duo of Durant and Russell Westbrook (no respect to Kevin Martin either; the guy can flat out score).
Harden can score with the best of them, but unless Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin can score consistently, expect Houston to serve as practice for the Thunder’s defense on their journey back to the NBA Finals.
• Matt: Oklahoma City Thunder in 5 games
• Brett: Oklahoma City Thunder in 6 games (more…)
Like a good NFL quarterback battle, there’s always someone looking over the opening day closer’s shoulder in Major League Baseball. The young 2013 season has already seen a few teams make a switch at the position due to a lack of talent, while other clubs have been hindered by injuries to their late-inning men. Organizations look at their closing situations through a microscope and for a lot of teams, the leash isn’t long to keep the job. No other group of squads knows those facts as well as the five members of the National League Central.
The closer carousel is at full spin for the St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs. Before the season, it didn’t seem like Cincinnati and Pittsburgh had solidified the role with one clear option, either. There’s no question, just one month into the season, there’s been way too many late-inning blow ups from teams in the N.L. Central. In fact, the division leads the majors in blown saves by four with a total of 13. Furthermore, four closers in the National League have two blown saves (the American League has none) and of the four, three of them pitch for N.L. Central teams.
The solution for such a problem could be swapping the bad for the unproven or pitch the hot hands in the ninth. But the Central’s potential replacements for its troubled closers haven’t exactly proven themselves. Of the five teams, three squads have put at least two different hurlers in save situations and the result was a blown save. At the end of the day, my guess is that baseball fans will be seeing a lot of different players in the ninth inning for N.L. Central teams. Only the Cincinnati Reds seem like they have a permanent solution for the ninth inning in Aroldis Chapman. Perhaps the Pittsburgh Pirates do too with Jason Grilli, but as for the rest of the bunch, there is still a huge question mark looming over the heads of late relievers in their bullpens. Here’s a closer look and ranking (from worst to best) of each team’s current closer situation:
5. Chicago Cubs, tied for last place in MLB blown saves
• The Problem: The Cubs have the company of the St. Louis Cardinals in the blown saves department. The only difference is Chicago has used four players in save opportunities who ultimately blew the opportunity. Those pitchers are the likes of opening-day closer Carlos Marmol, MLB rookie Kyuji Fujikawa and veterans Shawn Camp and Michael Bowden. So what’s the problems with each of those players? Marmol has always been shaky and I was actually shocked he got the nod as Chicago’s opening day starter. Fujikawa has never seen MLB hitters before this year. And when it comes to Camp and Bowden, they’re simply just not closers. • The Solution: What I don’t understand is why the Cubs won’t give the big lefty James Russell a shot. He is clearly the best option out of Chicago’s bullpen right now, leading the teams relievers with a 0.00 ERA in just under five innings of work. Russell is clearly underused, which is a head scratcher because he was effective as the team’s temporary closer last year when he picked up a couple of saves and even recorded a 7-1 record as a late-inning reliever. (more…)
There have been numerous boasts from professional sports teams across the world regarding sellout streaks. However, nobody really knew which ones were to be believed. One that was confirmed to be true was that of the Boston Red Sox of Major League Baseball. The ball team sold out 820 straight games at its home of Fenway Park before seeing that streak come to an end on April 10. It’s believed to be the longest sellout streak in major professional sports.
The streak didn’t end by just a few tickets though as the Red Sox saw it come to a conclusion with about 7,000 empty seats in the stands. The official capacity for evening games at the stadium is 37,493, but just 30,862 tickets were sold for their game against the Baltimore Orioles, which they dropped by a score of 8-5. The sellout streak started back in May of 2003 and it also included playoff games. The previous mark was set by the Portland Trail Blazers of the NBA. Portland managed to sell out 814 consecutive home games between 1977 and 1995.
When regular-season games only are taken into consideration, the Red Sox sold out 794 straight contests, which is also a major sports record. Boston demolished the old mark of 455 which the Cleveland Indians set between 1995 and 2001. John W. Henry, the owner of the Red Sox, said that the streak took place at the best ballpark in America and he thanks the Boston fans and players for it. He added that the franchise is looking forward to beginning a new streak and hopes fans in the area will also be able to enjoy their baseball at Fenway Park for generations tom come. (more…)
There’s an inherent feeling about the 29th edition of WrestleMania — that it is predictable. And, after looking at the card, a fan could probably easily deduce many of the outcomes.
You see, despite all of its glory, history, pageantry, etc., this year’s ‘Mania lacks a certain luster, notoriety, and even buzz. Maybe it’s the lack of a solid build (courtesy of the creative team’s indecisiveness), the fact that it’s going to be hard to top last year’s spectacle, or maybe it’s because of this…
Rematches. Rematches galore. Rematches that make the official line-up look a big bag of “we saw that coming.”
Even as a wrestling fan, I’m finding it hard to remember that The Granddaddy of Them All is taking place this Sunday, emanating from MetLife Stadium in New Jersey/New York. For all the reasons listed above, I’m not as excited as I have been in years past, which might be why I scheduled a golf outing with some friends for that afternoon and why I’m also more amped for the Season 6 premiere of Mad Men that night.
Nevertheless, it is still WrestleMania and a lot of the time, the WWE does its best work when they have their backs against the wall to put on a good show, and this feels like one of those times. So, without further ado and rambling, let us dive into the night’s matches…
Intercontinental Championship: Wade Barrett (champ) vs. The Miz (Preshow match)
This is actually kind of a rematch as well, as these two have battled quite frequently on episodes of RAW and SmackDown and have had numerous encounters, leading to the feud. Barrett has held the title since December, and has succeeded in every title defense. He is one of the future stars of the company, and deserves the push he has been getting. However, The Miz hasn’t had a good win in a while and has started to take on some of the characteristics of his kind-of-now-mentor, the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, including having Flair bestowing his legendary submission move, The Figure-Four Leg Lock. This could actually be a solid opening match to get the crowd started and start the night off right, even if it is just on the preshow.
• WINNER: The Miz (more…)
The latter part of the free agency period saw several quarterbacks find new homes.
Kevin Kolb signed a two year, $13 million dollar contract with the Buffalo Bills to take over for the recently departed Ryan Fitzpatrick. Matt Flynn was traded from the Seattle Seahawks to the Oakland Raiders for a fifth round draft pick in 2014 and a conditional late-round pick in 2015. Carson Palmer was subsequently jettisoned from Oakland along with a seventh round pick to Arizona in exchange for a 2013 sixth-round pick and a conditional seventh-round pick in 2014. All these quarterbacks were in desperate need of a fresh start and each will now get just that with a new team. In today’s bonus article, we break down each move and discuss its dynasty implications.
In Buffalo, Kolb finds himself as the favorite to be the starter in week one. At this point, the only real competition would come from Tarvaris Jackson and that’s a battle Kolb should win rather easily based on talent alone. He was a disaster in Arizona, starting just 14 games in two years after signing a a six-year, $65 million contract. It’s fair to wonder if Kolb’s confidence has been shaken to the point of no return. After being beaten down by defenses taking advantage of an atrocious offensive line in Arizona, he displayed “happy feet” in the pocket and looked more concerned about being hit than finding open receivers. Kolb will need to quickly get his confidence back if he’s to do anything in Buffalo. (more…)
BY Couchsideshow.com staff
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In the 52nd episode of Couch Side, hosts Wade McMillin and Craig Paul talk a lot of hoops. Special guest and senior blogger Matthew Vinsko joins the podcast this week to discuss his win in Couch Side’s All-Time NBA Fantasy Draft and he sticks around to banter about the NBA playoff picture. Then, Craig and Wade preview the Final Four and give their predictions of who will reign supreme on the college hardwood in 2013. The hosts wrap up this week’s show with headlines from around the NFL, many of which have to deal with quarterbacks finding new homes. Click below to start streaming, downloading or subscribing to the Couch Side podcast:
Well, it took some time, but I am finally over my Kansas Jayhawks losing to Michigan in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
Truthfully, most of my resentment came from Elijah Johnson’s poor decision-making in the closing seconds of overtime that potentially cost them a win. It was the best game of the tournament, and possibly the game of the year in college basketball, and I am thankful that KU was part of it.
But, it’s over now, and regardless, I’m still “Rock, Chalk” all the way, and will be forever. Now, we have to look to the future and for Kansas, that means a new starting five because this season’s normal starting line-up of Elijah Johnson, Ben McLemore, Travis Releford, Kevin Young, and Jeff Withey are either graduating or going to the NBA.
And that is what this blog is about. Determining what the future holds for those five young men, who bled crimson and blue in their time. For purposes of listing and building anticipation, I’m going to go in reverse order of what I think about their chances to be in the NBA.
5. Kevin Young (SF/PF, 6-foot-8, 190 lbs.)
A workhorse through his two years at Kansas after transferring from Loyola Marymount, Young played as an undersized power forward for the Jayhawks. His main job was to hit the glass for rebounds, use his underrated athleticism, and be a hustler for coach Bill Self. And he did a mighty fine job of it. Unfortunately, those skills don’t really translate to the NBA, especially when you combine his lack of true offensive talent — not being able to create his own shot, a bad looking jump shot, little ball-handling skills, etc. He is a likable guy and worked hard during his stint in Lawrence, but there is no real future for him in the pros, unless he really puts in the work but at his age, time is already passing by quickly.
• NBA Comparison and Future: None, and overseas or coaching.
BY SEAN SCHOONOVER, Couchsideshow.com blogger
When identifying the top closers of the MLB, one must consider players whom possess the ability to handle pressure, whom can pitch to location while maintaining velocity, and whom can still throw that filthy off-speed pitch 3-2 for strike three. They are dealt with some of the most nerve racking moments, and the game rest in their hands during that final half inning, a run given up usually leads to defeat. The following list includes the 10 best closers going into the 2013 season, starting with players 10-6 and their 2012 statistics. Players left off the list and who most likely make up the 11-15 spots include: J.J. Putz, Joel Hanrahan, Huston Street, John Axford, and Tom Wilhelmsen. With that here are your projected ten best closers for the 2013 season:
10. Joe Nathan, Texas Rangers (2.80 ERA, 37 SV, 78 Ks, 1.057 WHIP, 1.9 WAR): At 38 years old he is an oldie but goodie. Nathan last year converted 37 of his 40 save attempts, while posting a career best 6:1 K/BB ratio and striking out 10.9 batters per 9 innings. Even at his older age he is one of the best closers in the game, and should be just as successful in his 2013 campaign.
9. Greg Holland (Kansas City Royals (2.96 ERA, 16 SV, 91 Ks, 1.37 WHIP, 1.7 WAR): Holland suffered from a rib injury during the first half of the season last year, but after he fully recovered he lit it up as first the setup man and then the closer. His numbers last season were superb considering the injury, with converting 16 of his 20 save attempts, while posting a 12.2 K/9 innings ratio to go with a 2.68 K/BB ratio. I’m predicting a 30 save season for this youngster especially with a revamped Kansas City Royal squad.
8. Sergio Romo, San Francisco Giants (1.79 ERA, 14 SV, 63 Ks, ,849 WHIP, 1.8 WAR): Romo filled in impressively after Brian Wilson was shelved with another Tommy John injury, helping lead the Giants to their second World Series title in three years. Romo has one of the best combinations of command and filth in the hyper-strikeout era we are in today, it also helps that he is on a very successful Giants squad.
7. Jim Johnson, Baltimore Orioles (2.49 ERA, 51 SV, 41 Ks, 1.019 WHIP, 2.3 WAR): Johnson had a breakout season in 2012, leading Major League Baseball with a stunning 51 saves. He is definitely against the norm when it comes to an ideal closer as he is anything but a strikeout pitcher, posting a rather pedestrian 5.4 K/9 innings last season. I believe Johnson will be a very effective closer for the Orioles this season but don’t expect him to post a duplicate 50 save season.
6. Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees (2.16 ERA, 5 SV, 8 Ks, .960 WHIP, 0.4 WAR): Yes I know he is 43 years old, and coming off a major knee injury. However he is hands down the best closer of all time, and I am predicting another great year from him. What amazes me about this guy is that only one season out of his illustrious career as a full time closer did he fail to reach 30 saves in a season, not counting last season. He is for real.
5. Jonathan Papelbon, (Philadelphia Phillies (2.44 ERA, 38 SV, 92 Ks, 1.057 WHIP, 1.6 WAR)
Papelbon is definitely back in full force as a dominant closer. His first year with the Phillies last season he posted career highs in both innings pitched and strikeouts with 70 and 92 respectively, to go with an 11.8 strikeout per 9 inning ratio, which is above his career average . One thing that he brings to the table is consistency; he has now posted 7 straight seasons of better than 30 saves and at least a 10 K/9 inning ratio. Papelbon might have been the biggest bright spot for the Phillies last year, and I am expecting him to produce another career year in 2013.
BY Couchsideshow.com staff
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The Couch Side podcast is on the right side of 50 as hosts Wade McMillin and Craig Paul embark on another exciting episode. In this week’s show, the gang discusses which NFL were winners and losers in this year’s NFL Free Agency class. Then, special guest Sean Schoonover joins the podcast to preview the 2013 MLB season and talk a little bracket busting. Click below to start streaming, downloading or subscribing to the Couch Side podcast:
Since the moment he and the Chicago Bears parted ways, linebacker Brian Urlacher has been connected to the New York Giants through rumor and speculation. That continued recently when Bill Barnwell of Grantland suggesed that Urlacher would be a perfect fit for Big Blue if he desired to remain in a 4-3 scheme.
Even Dan Graziano from ESPN recently suggested that Urlacher would “make sense” for the Giants.
“Urlacher’s only NFC East fit is the Giants. He’d provide a presence in the middle of their mediocre linebacking corps — certainly offering more than recently signed Dan Connor would. He’s a veteran for a veteran locker room. He surely would like to go to a contender, and the Giants always are that. The Giants are the one place in this division where he’d fit. The only question is whether they’re interested, and to this point they do not appear to be.”
We at Giants 101 have attempted to avoid this topic, but like the daily “any update on Victor Cruz” question, it’s become unavoidable. Even with the addition of Dan Connor, fans and pundits have been unable to avoid the question: “Does it make sense?” The answer, quite simply, is yes … if this were 2007.
Ed Valentine of Big Blue View recently took on this question himself and came to the same conclusion we reached here at Giants 101: at this stage of his career, Urlacher is not only a bad fit for the Giants, but would be a downgrade in comparison to Connor, who was highly rated prior to his poor season in the Dallas Cowboys’ 3-4 system. (more…)
BY BRANDON J. SMITH, Couchsideshow.com senior blogger
Relievers can be difficult to project because performance can sway so drastically from season to season. The limited number of innings, and the various situations the pitchers are used can lead to occasional spikes or dips in results. Sometimes you don’t know if your established 8th inning guy will have to take over closer duties, which can also affect his numbers depending on the situations he’s used in. I’m not of the mind that a minute number of relievers can close; most guys can do it if they have a big fastball that can be consistently thrown for strikes. However, given how much of a financial incentive it is to be a big time closer, teams will overvalue based on saves, when they should really be looking at how effective the pitcher was overall. I digress, so here are my top 5 setup men aka potential closers that currently aren’t.
5. David Hernandez, Arizona Diamondbacks (68 IP, 98 Ks, 22 BBs, 2.50 ERA)
Former Team Mexico/USA pitcher is underrated, he improved his strikeout rate and lowered his walk rate in 2012, and figures to be used by Kirk Gibson to trade off the 7th or 8th with the inferior Heath Bell.
4. Drew Storen, Washington Nationals (30 IP, 24 Ks, 8 BBs, 2.37 ERA)
Let’s throw out that blowup inning against the Cardinals in NLDS game 5 last year, Storen is going to be getting key outs against the Braves lineup for a team that many will predict to win the World Series this year.
One thing I’ve heard throughout Spring Training at least 100 times now is that you can’t buy too much into Spring Training numbers.
However, when it comes to being a Braves fan, the stats that a handful of their younger players are putting up this spring call for a lot of attention. Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved what Atlanta did this offseason. The acquisitions of B.J. and Justin Upton makes this team an automatic contendor in 2013 just a few short months after Chipper Jones announced his retirement.
But the additions scare me a little bit, considering the caliber of young position players the Braves have waiting in the wings. Today, I wouldn’t trade what the Braves did this offseason to see if these younger guys pay off. But it would be flat out nieve to think Atlanta’s solidified outfield might block or even cause some of these young stars to find new teams.
Here’s a look at a handful of those hot position players and why they would make the team most years:
• Joey Terdoslavich (spring stats: .432 BA, 1 HR, 8 RBI, .595 SLG)
The 24-year-old first baseman / outfielder definitely has his path to the majors blocked by the likes of Atlanta’s stellar outfield and with the emergence of Freddie Freeman, he just can’t find a home on the big league roster. Terdoslavich was being groomed in the minors to eventually fill Jones’ cleats, but because of poor defense, the Braves has to explore other defensive postions for the young slugger. He has dabbled behind the plate and in the outfield. It obviously didn’t work out as Terdoslavich is listed as a first baseman on Atlanta’s Spring Training roster. It seems the Braves don’t trust much in his outfield defense, either. I’m just not sure if it would matter because of the players higher than him on depth chart. Sure, the Braves could use Terdoslavich as a pinch hitter, but that usually doesn’t suit younger players to well. Terdoslavich has proven he belongs on the big league roster this season, hitting .432 with one home run and eight RBIs in his 37 at bats this spring. He probably won’t make it, though, and begin the season in AAA. (more…)
BY BRANDON J. SMITH, Couchsideshow.com senior blogger
Some may think of left field as that position where a youth baseball coach would hide his worst player. In Major League Baseball, it’s quite the contrary, In fact, many former center fielders, who had a younger player with a tad more defensive skills bump them out of their former positions, will usually move just one spot left. It also seems like a lot of the games top power hitters call left field their home. We’ll look at both cases in today’s blog of the top 10 left fielders in the game today:
10. Josh Willingham, Minnesota Twins (.260 BA, 35 HR, 110 RBI, 2.9 WAR) - One of the most underrated power hitters in baseball.
9. David Murphy, Texas Rangers (.304 BA, 15 HR, 61 RBI, 10 SB, 3.2 WAR) – One of the most underrated players in baseball.
8. Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland Athletics (.292 BA, 23 HR, 82 RBI, 16 SB, 3.4 WAR) - Great rookie season from the defected Cuban, expect more in 2013.
7. Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies (.303 BA, 22 HR, 85 RBI, 20 SB, 1.3 WAR) - Big platoon split due to Coors Field.
6. Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals (.294 BA, 14 HR, 72 RBI, 10 SB, 6.2 WAR) - Excellent defensive fielder with an improved bat.
5. Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals (.295 BA, 27 HR, 102 RBI, 3.8 WAR)
Holliday is one of the great sure things in baseball. Consistently reliable slugger who drives in runs and generally does things well. One of the things he doesn’t do well is defend, or really have great range, at least not anymore. Regardless, he’ll be a big factor the Cardinals yet again.