Archive for March, 2013

Preseason Position Power Rankings: Couch Side’s Top 10 closers for 2013


BY SEAN SCHOONOVER, Couchsideshow.com blogger

Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kibrel tops our list of the best closers in all of baseball. Photo by: Taylor Magnone / Flickr

Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kibrel tops our list of the best closers in all of baseball. Photo by: Taylor Magnone / Flickr

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.
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Couch Side Podcast Episode 51: 2013 MLB season preview


Couch Side hosts Wade McMillin

Couch Side hosts Wade McMillin (left) and Craig Paul finally talk some baseball in this week’s episode.

BY Couchsideshow.com staff

CLICK HERE TO START LISTENING: 

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:

•  Click here to stream the Couch Side Podcast Episode 51: 2013 MLB season preview, via our host site, TalkShoe

• Click here to download the Couch Side Podcast Episode 51: 2013 MLB season preview, via our host site, TalkShoe

• Click here to stream, download or subscribe to the Couch Side Podcast Episode 51: 2013 MLB season preview, via iTunes

 


Quick Read: New York Giants a potential landing spot for Brian Urlacher?


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Brian Urlacher shocked the football world when he turned down a one-year offer from the Chicago Bears, making him a Free Agent. Photo by: Mike Morbeck

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…)


Preseason Position Power Rankings: Couch Side’s top five setup men for 2013


BY BRANDON J. SMITH, Couchsideshow.com senior blogger

New York Yankees setup man David Robertson topped Couch Side's list of the top setup men in the game for 2013. Phot by: Keith Allison / Flickr

New York Yankees setup man David Robertson topped Couch Side’s list of the top setup men in the game for 2013. Phot by: Keith Allison / Flickr

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.
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Will Atlanta’s huge offseason block some bright young stars?


Atlanta Braves prospect Joey Terdoslavich has had an amazing spring training, but might not be on the opening day roster. Photo by: Big West Conference / Flickr

Atlanta Braves prospect Joey Terdoslavich has had an amazing spring training, but might not be on the opening day roster. Photo by: Big West Conference / Flickr

BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

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…)


Couch Side’s All-Time NBA Fantasy Draft Recap


BY Couchsideshow.com staff

Couch side senior blogger Matthew Vinsko won our All-Time NBA Fantasy Draft.

Couch side senior blogger Matthew Vinsko won our All-Time NBA Fantasy Draft.

The Couch Side All-time NBA Fantasy Draft concluded about a week and a half ago. The teams were picked. Judges have dished out their decisions and we have a winner! For those of you who didn’t get a chance to listen to these special edition podcasts, click here to access them via iTunes or follow the links and clicks below:

• CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO ROUND ONE: 

• CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD ROUND ONE 

• CLICK HERE TO LISTENING TO ROUND TWO: 

• CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD ROUND TWO

Now that access to the All-Time NBA Fantasy Draft has been granted, let’s unveil the teams and how they were ranked. Couch Side asked three judges, Chris Etling, Chuck Constantino and Vin Cappiello to rank the teams one through five, based on talent and how the team would mesh. A very huge thank you goes out to those judges, especially Chris, who offered a deep analysis of each squad. You can check out more of Chris’ works and podcasts by visting his blog site, atthebuzzershow.com.  Here’s a look at that analysis, team rosters and how the voting broke down of Couch Side’s top 100 NBA players of all time by position:

CHAMPION: Matthew Vinsko (Two first-place votes, one second-place vote, 1.68 average — Third pick overall, third in round two)

• Starters: C. Kareem Abdul Jabar, PF. Tim Duncan, SF. Kevin Durant, SG. Reggie Miller, PG. Oscar Robertson

• Bench: C. Patrick Ewing, PF. Kevin McHale, SF. John Havlicek, SG. Pete Maravich, PG. Isaiah Thomas

• Analysis by Chris Etling: At first glance, this lineup looks bizarre to me. Then I start thinking about the synergy of offense and defense that the starting five can bring, and I change my mind. Robertson changed the point guard position with his blend of scoring, rebounding and passing, and he’ll have two tremendous shooters in Durant and Miller to help space the floor. That gives Abdul-Jabbar and Duncan plenty of room to operate in the post where they’re most effective. Defensively, Duncan helps cover for Kareem’s deficiencies, and the rest of the lineup is solid. The bench includes the enigma that is Pistol Pete and some rock-solid players like McHale and Thomas. And since this team is playing for pride and not an NBA title, Patrick Ewing might actually contribute.

• Votes: TALENT: 3rd; MESH: 1st; OVERALL: 2nd (Chris); 2nd (Vin); 3rd (Chuck)

• Championship comments: “I had a lot of fun teaming up with five fellow NBA fans to take a look at the past, present, and future of the NBA,” Vinsko said. “I’m happy my knowledge of my favorite sport has led me to make the decisions I did regarding drafting. I had a blast researching the best players at each position to put together what I deem a super team, and thank everyone involved for putting this together. I think a similar draft or panel in the future would be equally stimulating, and hope to continue contributing anyway that I can.” (more…)


Preseason Position Power Rankings: Couch Side’s top five left fielders for 2013


Ryan Braun tops the list of Couch Side's top left fielders with his big bat and speedy legs. Photo by: Steve Paluch / Flickr

Ryan Braun tops the list of Couch Side’s top left fielders with his big bat and speedy legs. Photo by: Steve Paluch / Flickr

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.

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Couch Side Podcast Episode 50: Half Way To One Hundred


The Couch Side podcast reflects on 50 episodes of greatness in this week's episode.

The Couch Side podcast reflects on 50 episodes of greatness in this week’s show.

CLICK HERE TO START LISTENING: 

By Couchsideshow.com staff

Couch Side hosts Wade McMillin and Craig Paul are overjoyed this week with their accomplishment of finally reaching 50 episodes of the podcast. Im this week’s episode, the hosts talk everything Couch Side, including website and podcast-download statistics, how far the show has come and what’s in store for the future. They also talk sport with special guest Sean Schoonover, breaking down the NCAA tournament. This is one show you won’t want to miss. Click below to start streaming, downloading or subscribing to the Couch Side podcast:

•  Click here to stream the Couch Side Podcast Episode 50: Half Way To One Hundred, via our host site, TalkShoe

• Click here to download the Couch Side Podcast Episode 50: Half Way To One Hundred, via our host site, TalkShoe

• Click here to stream, download or subscribe to the Couch Side Podcast Episode Half Way To One Hundred, via iTunes


Is Drew Stanton the answer at QB for the Arizona Cardinals?


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The Arizona Cardinals have been searching for their quarterback of the future ever since Kurt Warner retired following the 2009 season.

The list is long and unimpressive – John Skelton, Max Hall, Derek Anderson, Ryan Lindley, Kevin Kolb and Brian Hoyer. It’s been a tough three years. Enter Drew Stanton. The Cardinals signed him last week to a three-year, $8.2 million contact and he instantly became the favorite to win the starting QB position.

For now.

Stanton was Andrew Luck’s backup with the Colts last season. Arizona head coach Bruce Arians knows Stanton well and Stanton knows Arians’ system from being together in Indianapolis last season. Is it a perfect fit?

“They need to find an answer at this position,” Stanton told azcentral.com. “I want to be that answer. I’m going to do everything in my power to be that answer, and given that opportunity, I feel like I can.” (more…)


Preseason Position Power Rankings: Couch Side’s top five center fielders for 2013


Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout surprised the entire MLB at just 21 years old in 2013. Photo by: Keith Allison / Flickr

Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout surprised the entire MLB at just 21 years old in 2013. Photo by: Keith Allison / Flickr

BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

Like shortstops are to the infield, center fielders are the captains of the outfield. Players in the middle of the deep grass have a special skill set like no other spot in baseball. Usually, they have the best wheels, an uncanny defensive ability and an above average arm. Centerfield calls for some of the best players in the game.

This season there is no lack of talent in the middle of the outfield. While some of the older players have moved to corner outfield positions, it seems like a new generation is trying to make its name in centerfield. Mike Trout was a prime example last season and trust me, he’ll be high on this rankings list. But there still is a few unknowns, so here is Couch Side’s official top 10 center fielder of 2013:

10. Chris Young, Oakland Athletics (.231 BA, 14 HR, 41 RBI, 1.9 WAR): This could be the worst pick I’ve made while doing these fantasy baseball rankings, but Chris Young still shows some serious potential. The new change of atmosphere could benefit the 29-year-old as he should see a lot of at bats. Although Coco Crisp will be in this lineup, Oakland likes to shake things up a lot and I think Young will find a promising role this year.

9. Denard Span, Washington Nationals (.283 BA, 4 HR, 41 RBI, 17 SB, 4.8 WAR): I was extremely surprised that Span wound up with the Washington Nationals. However, it just may produce a career year for the 29-year-old as he still proves to be one of the best center fielders in the game. He is a perfect lead off hitter and the bottom of the Nats’ lineup is so good that he could score a lot of runs.

8. B.J. Upton, Atlanta Braves (.246 BA, 28 HR, 78 RBI, 31 SB, 17, 2.6 WAR): There’s a huge reason Upton earned an enormous contract with the Braves this offseason. Although he stikes out a lot, Upton is one of the best center fielders in the game because of his uncanny power, incredible defense and surprising speed.

7. Dexter Fowler, Colorado Rockies (.300 BA, 13 HR, 53 RBI, 2.6 WAR): It’s weird that Fowler isn’t a speedster, but he definately makes up for it in plenty of other areas. Last season, the 26-year-old set career highs in RBIs and home runs. If he cant repeat that performance this season, Fowler may make next year’s top five. Obviously, Colorado believes in that after giving Fowler a contract extentison in one of their very few moves this offseason.

6. Adam Jones, Colorado Rockies (.287 BA, 32 HR, 82 RBI, 3.4 WAR): By far, Jones had a career year last season. Don’t let that cloud judgements, though. One-year-wonders usually don’t last when it comes to fantasy baseball. Sure, he was a great player last season, but it was probably the first time he was more than a waiver wire pickup.

5. Michael Bourn, Cleveland Indians (.274 BA, 9 HR, 57 RBI, 42 SB, 6.0 WAR)

Many might think Bourn is the fastest center fielder in the game, but then came along Mike Trout. This 30-year-old is showing signs of his age. Yet, he set a career high in homeruns last year. Bourn’s power seems to be improving. He also always seems to get better on new teams. The Indians will be his fourth, so the potential for more career seasons could be waiting for Bourn. Plus, that speed is definitely still there.
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Christian Ponder strikes back at Percy Harvin


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Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder had some choice words for former teammate Percy Harvin after the wide receiver was traded this offseason. Photo by: Brit / Flickr

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder had some choice words for former teammate Percy Harvin after the wide receiver was traded this offseason. Photo by: Brit / Flickr

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin got his way and was traded away from the Minnesota Vikings partly because of his reported feelings about his former quarterback Christian Ponder.

Ponder has wasted very little time stepping to the proverbial podium and letting it be known that he could care less what Harvin says, does or thinks. The Pioneer Press ran a variety of statements from Ponder that started off assertive but eventually became pretty direct. Ponder started off by stating that he and Harvin had a nice relationship and that since he did not hear the words come out of Harvin’s mouth, it didn’t matter much.

“The thing is, there’s no quote strictly from Percy that he was the one saying it,” Ponder said. “I haven’t put too much thought into it. If that was his opinion, that’s unfortunate. But he’s a Seahawk now, so it doesn’t really matter.”

That turned into  this.

“People have their opinions. There were things I could have done better (last season). But now that he’s on a different team, his opinion doesn’t really mean much.”

Ponder is right it doesn’t mean much now. This is especially in light of the fact that Harvin made it a point to thank Ponder’s predecessor Brett Favre at his intro presser with the Seahawks on Tuesday. There is obviously not a lot of love lost between these two. (more…)


Preseason Position Power Rankings: Couch Side’s top five right fielders for 2013


BY CHUCK CONSTANTINO, Couchsideshow.com blogger

Outfield has always been a crucial position in fantasy baseball leagues. From the outfield spot you can grab some of the best players in the league. When analyzing just right fielders, there are several big name players who may be selected ahead of projections because many of them are entering their prime, or due to potential. Here’s a look at my top right fielders this fantasy season.

Right fielders just outside of my top five stack up as the following: Alex Rios, CWS, Carlos Beltran, STL, Nelson Cruz, TEX, Ben Zobrist, TAM, Nick Markakis, BAL, Nick Swisher, CLE.

5. Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds (.252 BA, 34 HR, 99 RBI, 1.4 WAR)

If the right field class wasn’t so stacked, Bruce would be higher up.The 6-foot-3 lefty oozes potential. He’s hit at least 25 home runs since entering the league in 2010, with 34 last year. He knocked in 99 RBIs last year, and should improve on that. As he enters his prime, Bruce will be a 40 home run candidate, and a sleeper to lead the league in home runs. Be careful though, he’s a .255 career hitter who strikes out a lot and walks very little. Also, his career high in steals is just nine.

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Couch Side Podcast Episode 49: All-Time NBA Fantasy Draft — Round Two


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CLICK HERE TO START LISTENING: 

BY Couchsideshow,com staff

The Couch Side podcast concludes its All-Time NBA Fantasy Draft, wrapping up the star filled list of the top 50 players in professional basketball history. The All-Star panel of Brett Murdock, Craig Paul, Matthew Vinsko, Sean Schoonover and Stayson Isobe return to select their benches after picking starters almost three weeks ago. Couch Side editor Wade McMillin serves as the moderator of the draft and has three specials judges ready to rank the guest panel’s teams. To find out which NBA greats were selected in this round, you’ll have to listen to the podcast, but check back in to couchsideshow.com about one week from now for complete rosters and to see who won this heated basketball battle. Click below to start streaming, downloading or subscribing to the Couch Side podcast!

•  Click here to stream the Couch Side Podcast Episode 49: All-Time NBA Fantasy Draft — Round Two, via our host site, TalkShoe

• Click here to download the Couch Side Podcast Episode 49: All-Time NBA Fantasy Draft — Round Two, via our host site, TalkShoe

• Click here to stream, download or subscribe to the Couch Side Podcast Episode 49: All-Time NBA Fantasy Draft — Round Two, via iTunes


Quick read: Dwight Howard says Kobe is teaching him to be a man


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I would hope that Dwight Howard is starting to figure things out, but because he talks so much and contradict himself so often, you have to wonder.

Dwight spoke to the media again and said that it took him half the season, but he understands now what Kobe was saying about keeping the clown act in Orlando.

“It’s going to make me a better man and a better player from watching Kobe,” Howard said.

“Besides just the expectations,” he said. “In games, I mess up and there’s somebody in the crowd saying something and I’m ready to snap at ‘em. That’s not what we’re supposed to do.

“But you look at a guy like Kobe and he doesn’t care about nothing but going out there and playing hard. That’s a lesson a lot of us have to learn — especially young guys.”

“I told him [Bryant]: ‘I’m afraid to miss. When I get out there, I don’t want to miss, and I end up missing.’ And he was like: ‘You know what? Shoot 1,000 jumpshots a day. You’re going to miss a lot of those shots. But that’s OK. Because you’re teaching yourself it’s OK to miss.’

“Now I see it. He gets out there and he might miss a couple 3s, but then he’ll make nine in a row. You see that and it just kind of gives you more inspiration.”

Dwight Howard is a grown man with 5 Baby Mamas, he shouldn’t need Kobe to teach him to be a better man, but maybe he needed to see someone who takes his profession seriously to wake up and realize he isn’t a child anymore.

It might be too little, too late for the Lakers, but they are making a push currently for the playoffs. Dwight Howard is going to have to stop clowning and start balling for them to make it.

Be sure to check out other great articles at BlackSportsOnline.

Preseason Position Power Rankings: Couch Side’s top five third basemen for 2013


How will Miguel Cabrera one up his Triple Crown season in 2013? Photo by: Keith Allison / Flickr

How will Miguel Cabrera one up his Triple Crown season in 2013? Photo by: Keith Allison / Flickr

Editor’s note: Couch Side is very pleased to bring back its annual MLB preseason position power rankings. This year, we will offer two positions every Wednesday and Friday. Each blog ranks the top 10 players at each position and is written by some of Couch Side’s best bloggers. The following is part six of what will be a 12-part series. Enjoy!

BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

As older third basemen with aging knees trot their way over to first base or become designated hitters, a new wave of third basemen are showing us just as much power.

Like first base, a bit of pop is expected to come from third basemen as well as a quick glove and even quicker reactions. Defense is a must just left of shortstop. A solid bat also comes with the territory. While many consider shortstop the toughest defensive position in the game, third base is where screamers come down the line. And if those players don’t have the instincts to stop a smash, they won’t have a job for long.

Major League baseball still has a plethora of talent at the hot corner. In fact, last year a third baseman took home the first Triple Crown in more than 40 years. Talent will always lye closest to the away team’s dugout and with some hefty power hitters, this year is no exception. So here’s a look at Couch Side’s top 10 third baseman for 2013:

A quick glance at five guys outside of the top 10: Brett Lawrie, Aramis Ramirez, David Feeze, Todd Frazier and Mike Moustakas … Further out who still deserve recognition: Will Middlebrooks, Trevor Plouffe and Manny Machado. Alright, now, let’s start the show!

10. Martin Prado, Arizona Diamondbacks (.301 BA, 10 HR, 70 RBI, 5.4 WAR): Prado makes my list simply because after Miguel Cabrera, this 29-year-old may be the best contact bat / on-base guy at the hot corner. His .359 OBP also isn’t anything to sneeze at. What a player!

9. Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh Pirates (.244 BA, 10 HR, 85 RBI, 2.6 WAR): For fantasy purposes, Alvarez makes my top 10. Quite honestly, I think he is going to blow up this season. Yes, he strikes out a lot, however his power numbers easily forgive that. This may sound premature, but Alvarez could very well be the next Jose Bautista.

8. Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco Giants (.283, 12 HR, 63 RBI, 2.0 WAR): In a separate blog I wrote on Couch Side, I was forced to look up Sandoval’s defensive statistics. And considering this guy is pushing 280 pounds, he is quite nimble on his feet. Add those praises to his consistent and impressive bat, and Sandoval could easily be a top five third baseman. He just lacks power.

7. Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals (.282 BA, 25 HR, 95 RBI, 3.8 WAR): After slumping at the beginning of the year in 2012, Zimmerman bounced back to have a very impressive second half. In 2012, Zimmerman more or less had his best year at the plate since 2009 when he set career highs in all batting categories. He has to be loving that revamped Nationals lineup and his numbers are every indication of that.

6. Hanley Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers (.257 BA, 24 HR, 92 RBI, 1.2 WAR): Ramirez is slowly working his way back into the type of player he was in 2009 when he set career highs in every single hitting category. Last season, he obviously slumped for the Miami Marlins, but he really turned things around in the Dodger white and blue, batting in just four less runs than he did while in a Marlins uniform. That’s extrmely impressive, considering Ramirez played in 29 fewer games as a Dodger.

5. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays (.289 BA, 17 HR, 55 RBI, 2.3 WAR)

I probably won’t make many friends ranking Longoria No. 5 on this list, but his injury does concern me. It seemed like Longoria took too long to heal from it, at least that’s what the experts said, and that just raises red flags. His numbers coming back, however, may place my own foot in my mouth as it was like Longoria didn’t miss a beat after injury. Check out the stats above and then consider that the 27-year-old was able to achieve them in just 74 games. I’m sure this youngster has many MVP years ahead of him. I’m just not buying into his big bat this season.
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Rockies rotation goes from bleak to weak


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin looks like the team's best starting pitcher on paper, but he's not their ace. Photo by: Charles Atkeison / Flickr

Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin looks like the team’s best starting pitcher on paper, but he’s not their ace. Photo by: Charles Atkeison / Flickr

There’s no hiding the fact that Coors Field isn’t a pitcher-friendly park.

While that may mean good things for hitters in the Colorado Rockies’ lineup, it spells disaster for their pitching staff. In years past, Colorado has tried to combat their home field by adding big names, but lately, it seems like the team has given up on trying to land talented free agents. During the Rockies World Series run in 2007, Colorado had the likes of Ubaldo Jimenez and Aaron Cook as their top of the rotation starters. Now, just six years later, it seems like there really isn’t a clear Ace of this staff or even a legitimate No. 2 or No. 3 starter.

In fact, not much has changed when comparing last year’s starting rotation to this season’s. The only real difference is that last year there were a few names — like Jamie Moyer and Jeremy Guthrie — that fans could get excited about. In 2013, the only guy fans can have high hopes for is Jorge De La Rosa, who hasn’t pitched in 16 months.

Long shot in the dark: The chances De La Rosa bounces back from Tommy John surgery are slim. The fact is most pitchers never successfully return from the hurler’s curse. Colorado fans will have their fingers crossed that De La Rosa can somehow defy the odds, but even if he does, they won’t want to see the short-lived 2013 version of the 31-year-old. Last season in just three starts, De La Rosa posted an embarrassing 9.28 ERA and an 0-2 record with just six strikeouts.   De La Rosa’s history before that isn’t anything to brag about, either. The lefty has only had one season with a sub-4.00 ERA, which came in 2011 when he only started 10 games. To call him this year’s Ace should be more of a concern than a hope of an incredible MLB comeback story.  (more…)


Preseason Position Power Rankings: Couch Side’s top five shortstops for 2013


Editor’s note: Couch Side is very pleased to bring back its annual MLB preseason position power rankings. This year, we will offer two positions every Wednesday and Friday. Each blog ranks the top 10 players at each position and is written by some of Couch Side’s best bloggers. The following is part five of what will be a 12-part series. Enjoy!

BY BRANDON J. SMITH, Couchsideshow.com senior blogger

Will another change of scenery make Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes the best player at his potion in 2013? Photo by: Paul Hadsall / Flickr

Will another change of scenery make Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes the best player at his potion in 2013? Photo by: Paul Hadsall / Flickr

Shortstop is a fun position to rank because of the defensive importance, as well as trying to figure out where an aging superstar like Jeter or a defensive wizard like Brendan Ryan would place.

I’m going to use the Bill James defensive spectrum in order to highlight the importance of the position from a defensive standpoint.

[ – – 1B – LF – RF – 3B – CF – 2B – SS – C – – ]

The furthest right you are on the spectrum determines the significance of the defensive contributions required. Shortstop is second to catcher according to this theory, where first basemen are appropriately listed on the opposite end. It’s not hard to stick a big guy with minimal athleticism over at first and let him hit his 30+ home runs (think Prince Fielder).

When it comes to evaluating right now, we have to consider all the usual factors: age, health, ballpark, peripherals, and occasionally shoddy defensive metrics. Derek Jeter has never been regarded in the saber metric community as a great defensive shortstop, but mainstream apologists and fans will insist that despite coming off an ankle surgery, and at 38, won’t be a complete liability. It remains to be seen if it will be or not, but its one component of evaluating shortstops that is a constant discussion amongst writers and fans.

Here are my 10-1 shortstops:

10. Erick Aybar (2012 stats .290/.324/.416, 8 HR, 45 RBI, 20-4 SB/CS, 4 WAR) – You have to respect Aybar for being potentially the most valuable shortstop last season via Wins Above Replacement.

9. Alcides Escobar (2012 stats .293/.331/.390, 5 HR, 52 RBI, 35-5 SB/CS, 3.2 WAR) – Escobar might be the rangiest SS in all of baseball, his stolen bases will add some nice fantasy value if he can hit for average.

8. Jimmy Rollins (2012 stats .250/.316/.427, 23 HR, 68 RBI, 30-5 SB/CS, 2.3 WAR) – The veteran Rollins can still hit for some pop and be a factor on the base paths.

7. Ian Desmond (2012 stats .292/.335/.511, 25 HR, 72 RBI, 21-6 SB/CS, 3.2 WAR) – He likely won’t slug .500 this year, but regression shouldn’t kill his stock completely.

6. Asdrubal Cabrera (2012 stats .270/.338/.423, 16 HR, 68 RBI, 9-4 SB/CS, 3 WAR) – The projection model ZiPS has Cabrera finishing with similar results to last season (17 HR, 72 RBI).

5. Andrelton Simmons (2012 stats .289/.335/.416, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 1-0 SB/CS, 2.8 WAR)

The sheer enormity of the potential defensive value makes me optimistic about Simmons as a top shortstop going forward. Is there risk in putting him this high? Sure, especially since I’m basing this off of 49 games played last year and rookie struggles are likely to occur. Taking these defensive metrics with a grain of salt, but Simmons was +19 according to Defensive Runs Saved and +10.4 in Ultimate Zone Rating. He looked like he had fantastic range and ability with the eye test as well. Hitting leadoff in the Braves lineup is going to be a decent experiment as well if he can keep up his .350 OBP ability that he showed in the minors. I’m betting high on Simmons regardless of the risk.
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2013 Free Agent quarterback class lacks options


Matt Moore has usually been a backup quarterback in the NFL. He's a free agent now and with so many questions at the position from other teams, could this be Moore's year to shine? Photo by: Kevin Tsui / Flickr

Matt Moore has usually been a backup quarterback in the NFL. He’s a free agent now and with so many questions at the position from other teams, could this be Moore’s year to shine? Photo by: Kevin Tsui / Flickr

The Couch Side podcast is on hiatus this week, so we bring you an original blog about the NFL’s favorite position …

BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

With Joe Flacco off the Free Agent board, the picking seems pretty slim for teams targeting quarterbacks in the 2013 Free Agent Class.

It was pretty much a given that Flacco would resign with the Baltimore Ravens. However, I didn’t think he would become the highest paid player in NFL history. Will this revamp the quarterback market? Maybe in the future, but it certainly won’t have any weight with this offseason’s handful of quarterbacks in need of jobs. Last year, players such as Matt Flynn, Alex Smith and Matt Hasselbeck headlined the class of 2012. While that group looked like a bunch of snoozers, this year’s is even worse with Matt Moore leading the way by a long shot.

Perhaps the 2013 Free Agent quarterback class isn’t even worth the words and the time of this blog, but the quarterback position is one that always catches some ink. There are some younger options for teams and some veterans looking for a second or in some instances a third look. Regardless, any signed free agent quarterback will garnish some attention. So here at Couch Side, we will give credit to these gunslingers, with this list of the NFL’s top 10 Free Agent quarterbacks:

1. Matt Moore, Miami Dolphins

I actually believe in Matt Moore. It may sound stupid, but he legitimately deserves a shot to be an NFL starter somewhere. In deeper Fantasy Football leagues two years ago, he was a really good pickup, especially in leagues with two quarterbacks. He’s had a handful of good games and even a few great ones. My friends and I call it Matt Moore Magic and he’s done nothing but play above his “image” in every single start with the Dolphins. When he actually got the majority of playing time in 2011, Moore proved he can excel under center, throwing for almost 2,500 yards, 16 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. If I’m the Browns, Moore is high on my radar.

• Where he fits: Any team that needs a starting quarterback NOW (Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals, Jacksonville Jaguars) (more…)


Giants backup QB David Carr wants starting job


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I won’t hold it against anyone who forgot David Carr still played football, he’s hasn’t had an opportunity to start a game in his two stints with the New York Giants (2008-09, 2011-12) due to Eli Manning’s incredible durability.

Carr plans to strike while the iron is hot according to Ralph Vacchiano of the NY Daily News, and turn to free agency in an attempt to salvage his once promising career.

The 33-year-old Carr is planning to test the free-agent market to see if he can find a better opportunity to play elsewhere, according to someone familiar with his plans. Carr, who was the No. 1 overall pick of the NFL draft way back in 2002 but hasn’t started a regular season game since 2007, will be an unrestricted free agent on March 12 and expects to draw some interest from around the league.

Vacchiano also suggests that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have some interest in the former Houston Texans quarterback.

The most likely spot would seem to be with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who according to one league source had some interest in him before he re-signed with the Giants before last season. The Buccaneers’ offensive coordinator is former Giants quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan. And Carr would “at least be in the conversation” for a job down there, a source said, with Bucs starter Josh Freeman coming off two shaky seasons in a row.

There are a lot of starting opportunities available in the NFL, I just hope David was using his time wisely while backing up Eli because this is most likely his last chance.

Be sure to check out other great articles at BlackSportsOnline.

Preseason Position Power Rankings: Couch Side’s top five second basemen for 2013


BY CHUCK CONSTANTINO, Couchsideshow.com blogger

Editor’s note: Couch Side is very pleased to bring back its annual MLB preseason position power rankings. This year, we will offer two positions every Wednesday and Friday. Each blog ranks the top 10 players at each position and is written by some of Couch Side’s best bloggers. The following is part two of what will be a 12-part series. Enjoy!

Second base isn’t generally known as a power position, so in fantasy drafts second basemen tend to fall to the later rounds. However, there are plenty of second basemen who can bring something to the table in fantasy value.

Here is my list for the top second basemen in terms of fantasy baseball for the 2013-14 season:

5. Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers (.256 BA, 19 HR, 72 RBI, 2.0 WAR)

A virtual lock for a 25 home run and 25 steals season, Kinsler is a highly-coveted fantasy second baseman. After a down year, if Kinsler can stay healthy he’s a steal. The Rangers will be without Josh Hamilton this season, but have added Lance Berkman. His runs scored could be near 100, but the Rangers’ lineup is riddled with injury-prone players. Pick him and pray the Texas heat helps keep him healthy. Also, superstar in the making Jurickson Profar will be competing for the second base spot. Kinsler could be moved to first base or the outfield. If that is the case, look to grab Profar in your draft.
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