Thursday, July 31, 2008

Manny to Dodgers

So the blockbuster happened in the waning minutes before the 4pm trade deadline. The three way deal included the Red Sox, Pirates and Dodgers. The Dodgers got Manny Ramirez, and the Red Sox got outfielder Jason Bay. The Pirates received four minor leaguers. It was thought that the deal was going to include the Marlins instead of the Dodgers. But the Dodgers came out of nowhere to nab Manny.

Manny has voiced his displeasure with the Red Sox over the last week. "I love the Boston fans, but the Red Sox don't deserve me. I'm not talking about money. Mental peace has no price, and I don't have peace here." That was what Manny thought of the Red Sox.

Ramirez was threatening to not play for the Red Sox. He was tired of the Red Sox and the Red Sox were tired of him. Ramirez is batting .299 with 20 homers along with 68 RBIs.

Let's talk about what the Red Sox got in return. They traded a guy who didn't want to play for them, and they got a elite left fielder who is probably thrilled to play for them. Why is Jason Bay thrilled to play for the Red Sox? He moves from a last place team (the Pirates) who have gave away everything except PNC Park, to a team that is a playoff contender. No, Bay is not as good as Ramirez, but he is batting .282 with 22 homers and 64 RBIs.

The Dodgers have no pop in their bat. They will certainly get pop now that they have Ramirez. They are one game back in the horrendous NL West. Arizona is leading the division currently. By comparison, if the Dodgers (or the Diamondbacks, for that matter) were in the NL West, they would be in fourth place and out of the playoffs. The Dodgers will win the weak NL West now that they have Manny.

The Pirates are in complete rebuilding mode. Now that they've traded away Nady (for next to nothing) and Bay, they have no hope of having a playoff contender in the next two years (at least). I don't know why they would trade away their best players in their prime. But that's how the cookie crumbled.

Interview With Sporting News Expert

I have just finished a phone interview with Sporting News writer Matt Crossman. Matt is one of Sporting News' top writers. Here is some of my interview with him.

Q: How did you get your job at Sporting News?

A: I worked at a couple of different newspapers for six years. I moved to St. Louis and none of the papers were hiring. I had never wrote about sports before, but I was a big sports fan. Sporting News was hiring and I applied. They basically gave me a English test and a sports knowledge test, and I passed.

Q: Do you have any sports writing tips?

A: First thing, most sports fans already read the sports page, sports websites, and sports magazines. Read other things, like novels and magazines like Time and Esquire.

Q: What's your opinion on the Brett Favre soap opera?

A: (Laughs) I think he is making himself look like an idiot. He should fulfill his contract. If he signs with a team, he should play for the team. The Packers aren't helping themselves either. Everybody loses. He loses. The Packers lose. The fans lose.

Q: You were just at the Colts training camp. What the latest from there?

A: The big story was what didn't happen. There's a article in the magazine about this. Peyton wasn't there. (Dwight) Freeny and (Bob) Sanders were there but weren't practicing because of injury. Injuries are the big story there. The three best guys need to get healthy and ready for the season.

Q: Who are your World Series picks?

A: The Red Sox if Manny stays. If Manny goes and they get Jason Bay, which might happen, I still think the Red Sox. The Cubs are the best team in the National League. It will come down to Red Sox-Angels in the American League and Cubs-Phillies in the National League.

Q: Will there be any more major deals before today's baseball trade deadline?

A: This might be one of the biggest years, as far as trades go. A lot of future-Hall of Famers are moving. Pudge is a future-Hall of Famer. Manny might be traded. Griffey might be traded. That's what I love about this business, there's something different everyday.

Q: What's your NASCAR prediction for Pocono this weekend?

A: It will be terribly, terribly boring. The racers who do good at Michigan, usually do good at Pocono. Jimmy Johnson or Kyle Bush, because they're the best drivers.

Q: Who do you think will win the Chase for the Cup?

A: Kyle Bush, he has been faraway the best this season.

Q: Biggest surprise in NASCAR this season?

A: Kyle Bush. Kyle was good before, but his dominating everything this season.

Q: Biggest disappointment?

A: That's a good question. The Penske cars aren't doing well. Neither are going to make the top twelve. (Jeff) Gordon hasn't really come close to winning anything. He has won at least one race every year since 1994. If he doesn't continue the streak, that would be a big story.

Q: Which big name will not make it into the top 12 this year?

A: Gordon will make it. Tony Stewart needs to work to get in. Probably Kevin Harvick is the biggest name.

Q: How do you think the Eagles will do this season?

A: I've been waiting for Donavan McNabb to slow down. (Brian) Westbrook is as good an all-around a back as there is. Andy Reid is a top notch coach. (Defensive Cordinator) Jimmy Johnson is a good coach. They are a playoff team. The Eagles play in a tough division, which is tough to predict.

Q: Do you think Adam (Pacman) Jones will work out in Dallas?

A: Assuming he gets reinstated, Pacman will probably fly under the radar. He knows if he gets into trouble, he will be out. The Cowboys are giving him a second chance, or a fifth chance. He's playing on a great team. He's a good player and the Cowboys are good top-to-bottom. I think he'll have a quiet first year.

Q: Who will win the NL East?

A: The Phillies. They have so much fire power on offense. They will have the last three MVPs on offense. The Mets don't have a good rotation. Pedro (Martinez) is always hurt. The Phillies lineup is too deep.

Q: Which team is more improved after their trade(s): Miluakee with Sabathia, Cubs with Harden, the Angels with Teixeira, or the Yankees with Nady and Pudge?

A: The Brewers definitely. Rich Harden is too much of a question. The Angels are already the best team in the league. The Yankees' players don't blow you away. C.C. (Sabathia) is one of the best pitchers in baseball. The Brewers now have the best 1-2 punch.

I would like to thank Matt Crossman for letting me interview him.


I scheduled some interviews with some top sports writers.  I will be interviewing Matt Crossman, a top writer at Sporting News, by phone in the coming days.  I will also interview Tim Dierkes, from MLB Trade Rumors,  on either Friday or Monday.  

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pudge Headed to Bronx

The Yankees have been looking for a catcher because Jorge Posada is having a season-ending surgery.  Looks like they found their man.  The Yanks will receive Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez (right) from the Detroit Tigers.  The Tigers will get relief pitcher Kyle Farnsworth.  Pudge is having a good season, batting .295 with five homers and 32 RBIs.  Certainly not as good as the old Pudge, but good compared to most catchers.  Farnsworth is a middle reliever with a 3.65 ERA.

The Yankees have certainly been buyers this year.  They already traded for Xavier Nady.  Pudge is definitely a step up from their starting catcher now (Jose Molina).  Remember in my midseason report, I picked the Yankees to win the AL East.  And that was before the acquired Nady and Rodriguez. 

The trade deadline is tomorrow at 4 p.m.  I will keep you posted on any other major trades.

Artest Rockets to Houston

The Houston Rockets have just pulled off a major trade with Sacramento Kings.  The Rockets will receive forward Ron Artest.  The Kings will get Donte Green (he'll be a rookie this season), Bobby Jackson, a first round draft pick next year, and cash considerations.  Artest averaged 20.5 points last season.  Donte Green had a good year with Syracuse, averaging 17.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game last season.  He was picked 28th overall in the 2008 NBA Draft.  Bobby Jackson averaged a little over seven points per game this season.

I think this trade works out for both teams.  The Rockets get a top notch forward, both on offense and defense.  Artest will join Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming in Houston.  Their outstanding starting lineup will look like this (2007-08 stats in parenthesis):
PG Rafer Alston (13.1 points per game, 5.3 assists per game)
SG Tracy McGrady (21.6 ppg, 5.9 apg)
SF Ron Artest (20.5 ppg, 5.8 rebounds per game)
PF Luis Scola (10.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg)
C  Yao Ming  (22 ppg, 1o.8 rpg)

That's pretty good.  All of their starters average double-digit point totals.  The Rockets finished 5th in the tough Western Conference.  They got beat in the first round by Utah last year in the playoffs.  If everybody can stay healthy, the Rockets may be able to crack the top three in the Western Conference.

Artest was not happy in Sacramento, and I think the Kings should be content with the trade.  Artest can be a distraction for them as they enter rebuilding mode.  They will get a rookie (Donte Green) with loads of potential, and they will also get another first round pick.  This trade works out for both teams.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Angels Get Teixeira

The Angels have just pulled of a massive deal with the Braves.  The blockbuster sent Braves first baseman Mark Teixeira (right, while on the Texas Rangers) to the Angels for first baseman Casey Kotchman and a minor league pitcher Stephen Marek.  

Texeira is having a good year so far.  He is batting .282 with 20 homers along with 78 RBIs.  He is the kind of power bat the Angels need in their lineup to become a World Series team.  Kotchman is batting .287 with 12 homers and 54 RBIs.  Marek isn't even considered a top prospect in the Angels' organization.  As far as I'm concerned, the Angels got a top notch player for a bargain price.

I don't get this.  The Braves give up one of their best players and get a decent first baseman and a O.K. prospect.  Are you kidding me?  I don't know why the Braves were so eager to ship Teixeira away.  He doesn't become a free agent until 2010.  Rumor has it that the Angels are trying to work out a long term deal with Teixeira.

The Angels already have the best record in the majors.  They're running away with their division.  They are ahead by 12 games in their AL West division.  This move makes them easily the favorite to win the World Series.  This move shows that the Angels are not afraid to do what most teams are hesitant about: going all out to put the best team together this year and win the World Series this year.

Will this be the last major move before the trading deadline?  I doubt it.  Their are many premier players still on the market.  Among them, Manny Ramirez and Matt Holliday are the most intriguing.  The Mets are reportedly interested in Holliday.  But I don't think they have enough to give the Rockies in return.  Manny Ramirez going to the Phillies?  Click here to read what I think about that.

I will keep you posted on any other major deadline deals.

Donaghy Sentenced

Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy was sentenced to 15 months in prison for gambling.  Donaghy pleaded guilty to the gambling scandal.  He gave gamblers inside information.  He also tried to indict other referees.  To read the whole report, click here.

Tim Donaghy is a rat who casted a dark shadow over the integrity of the NBA.  First, he alters games for money.  One of the worst things you can do in sports, maybe the worst.  Then, he tries rat out other referees and blame the league.  

I hope Tim Donaghy is the only referee involved in gambling.  The NBA better hope he is.  But if he's not, the NBA will lose a tremendous amount of fans and respect.  I want to believe Donaghy is a freak case, but the truth is; nobody knows.  Maybe that technical foul on your team's best player was because the ref had 20,000 on the other team.  Maybe the ball that was way outside that the ump called strike three was because he wanted to make more money.

Donaghy is a ugly reminder that people aren't always honest in sports.  Steroids was a reminder (and a wake-up call) for baseball.  I think he got what he deserves; 15 months is a awful long time in jail considering he pleaded guilty.

I think that not just David Stern should take this as a warning, but all major sports commissioners.  And I hope that this will not happen again.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Eaton To Minors

The Phillies sent pitcher Adam Eaton to the minors.  It's about time.  Eaton was recently moved to the bullpen after the acquisition of Joe Blanton.  Eaton is 4-8 with a 5.80 ERA this season, mostly in the starting rotation.  The Phillies called up pitcher J.A. Happ from Triple A to take Eaton's place.  Happ pitched pretty well when he was in the rotation, filling in for Brett Myers.

Last night might have been the last time you see Eaton in a Phillies uniform.  Eaton has pitched poorly in both the rotation and the bullpen.  After a disastrous first year, the phillies were willing to give Eaton another shot.  After almost two seasons, Eaton has not improved.

As the trade deadline approaches, many people are wondering whether the Phillies are going to make a move.  It was reported that the Phillies may be a good fit for the disgruntled Manny Ramirez.  Ramirez said that he would be open to any trade the Red Sox could work out.  The Red Sox probably won't trade Ramirez; they probably will just wait until his contract runs out after this season.

But what if the Phillies could trade for Ramirez (below).  He would give them a real playoff lift.  if they didn't trade any of their current starters, here's how the starting lineup would look:
SS Jimmy Rollins
2B Chase Utley
LF Manny Ramirez
1B Ryan Howard
RF Pat Burrell
3B Pedro Feliz
CF Shane Victorino
C  Chris Coste
P  Pitcher

That would be an explosive lineup to say the lest.  Now, what could they give the Red Sox.  They would have to give up numerous top prospects and maybe Jayson Werth or Geoff Jenkins.  They might have to give up Pat Burrell to take Ramirez's place in front of the Green Monster.

The Phillies probably won't trade for Ramirez.  But they probably will make one more significant move before it's all said and done.  Their main target is pitching.  They are definitely going to be looking for somebody in the set up roll in the bullpen.  They may make a run at Brian Fuentes or George Sherrill.  Still, Ramirez would be sweet.

Eagles Training Camp Preview

I know this preview is a little late because the Eagles veterans reported on Thursday.  It may be a little more interesting in Lehigh this year than most.  Here are some questions that are facing the Eagles as they get ready for the coming season:

1. Asante Samuel strained his hamstring during the first team workout.  Will he be ready for this season?

They Eagles poured a lot into Samuel, and they better hope he can play.  He is listed as day-to-day, so he shouldn't miss too much time.  Samuel does not have a history with hamstring problems, so don't expect this injury to linger.

Even if Samuel misses some time, the Eagles have a more-than-capable cornerback in former Pro Bowler Lito Sheppard.                                  

2. Brian Westbrook is obviously upset about his current contract situation, will it affect his play?

Westbrook knows he deserves more money than what the Eagles are paying them.
But getting the Eagles to fork up money is like pulling teeth. Westbrook is in camp and I don't
think his contract will get in the way of his play.

3 Lito Sheppard recently hired a new agent (Drew Rosenhaus), and is obviously
unhappy being a backup. What will happen with him?

Lito definitely isn't happy, and why should he be? He is a premium NFL cornerback and
could start on ANY other team in the league. I think he will be traded midseason. He will
probably demand a trade, and the Eagles will be happy to oblige.

If the Eagles start off the season poorly, they may hang Sheppard out as trade bait.

4. Will Donavan McNabb go through the season injury-free?

So here we are with the yearly question. McNabb is not number one on this list, so that's
good. I actually think McNabb will have a healthy and productive season. He is still the key
to the Eagles' success. McNabb may miss a game, but that's healthy by his standard.

5. Will Desean Jackson have a major impact on the Eagles this season?

I think Desean Jackson will have a breakout rookie season. He is absolutely lightning
quick. He will be the return man for the Eagles. I think he has a Devin Hester-like return 
potential. I also think he will be a good target for McNabb.

I hope to make it to a practice this season.

Soul Break Philly's Curse?

The Soul competed in (and won) their first ever ArenaBowl yesterday.  In an exciting game, the Soul outlasted the San Jose SaberCats 59-56.  Soul quarterback Matt D'Orazio played superbly, connecting on seven touchdown passes.  Soul wide recevier Chris Jackson was excellent.  To read a full game report, click here.

I'll have to admit that I am not a big Arena Football fan.  Yesterdays game was pretty exciting, though.  It looked as if the Soul had already won it late in the fourth quarter, but a recovered onside kick and an eventual touchdown plus the two-point conversion kept the SaberCats in the game.

I don't think the Arena Football League will ever be a major player in this nation's sports scene.  But I do think Arena Football is fun to watch.  There are so many touchdowns and turnovers.  Guys getting hit into the wall along the sidelines is fun to watch too.

With the Soul's win, most Philly sports fans are now pondering one question: Does this break Philadelphia's championship's curse?  If you are not familiar with the curse, it's called the Curse of William Penn.  At one point (in 1987) City Hall (above), with William Penn's figure atop it, was the tallest building in Philadelphia.  But since the first Liberty Place was built higher than City Hall, none of the Big Four (Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers) have won a championship.

The Soul's championship does not break the curse.  They did win the first football championship in this city since the Eagles won the NFL Championship in 1960.  I can't consider the the Soul a major team in Philly.  I am happy that the Soul won, but the curse will continue.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Name Game

As you probably know, the Seattle SuperSonics are moving to Oklahoma City.  The new Oklahoma City team will not be named the Sonics, nor will they share the same colors.  The NBA recently announced that they have trademarked the new team names to the Barons, Bison, Energy, Marshalls, Thunder, and Wind.

These seem like pretty pathetic names.  Come on, the Wind?  Their slogan's going to be: we're gonna blow you away.  The fans on one side of the arena stand up and blow softly to create a eerie wind in the arena.  I also saw that the Oklahoma state waltz is called the Oklahoma Wind.  Not really an imposing team name.

No offense to the WNBA or the MLS, but the Energy sounds like it should be in women's basketball or Major League Soccer.  Marshalls is a bit too long.  My limit for team names is seven or eight letters.  The Bison and Thunder are alright.

I've come up with a couple good team names.  How about the Oklahoma City Outlaws or the Oklahoma City Wranglers.  I was also thinking about the Oklahoma City Pistols, but I don't think the NBA wants to encourage young fans (or their players for that matter) to buy pistols.  The Oklahoma City Slickers also rolls off the tongue.

The Oklahoma state game bird is the Wild Turkey(above).  That could be interesting: the Oklahoma City Wild Turkeys.  For more Oklahoma symbols click here.

I encourage you to contribute other creative names for the new Oklahoma City basketball team.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Nady Headed to the Bronx

ESPN reports that the Yankees made a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The Yanks get outfielder Xavier Nady and Pitcher Damaso Marte.  The Yankees will ship four minor leaguers from the Pirates.  Xavier Nady (right) is quietly having a great season.  He is batting .330 with 13 homers to go along with 57 RBIs.  Marte is a quality relief pitcher and will help the Yankees bullpen. To read the ESPN report click here.

Nady is a underrated right fielder who should give the Yanks another bat with Johnny Damon and Jorge Posada suffering from injuries.  As I said in my second half preview, I think the Yankees are going to win the AL East.  Nady will definitely help them get there.

There is five days left until the trade deadline and there should be a few more interesting trades before it's all said and done.  Matt Holliday is supposed to be on the trading block.  He could give a team a great bat during the playoff push.  The Cincinati Reds are reportedly shopping the powerful left fielder Adam Dunn.  I went to a Phillies-Reds game this season, and, during batting practice , Dunn can absolutely kill the ball.  Of the pitchers on the market, A.J. Burnett and Eric Bedard are the most intriguing. 

Now let's get get to the Phillies.  Their bats were silent again tonight against the Braves.  They got beat 8-2.   I'm sorry to say it, but the Phillies are falling apart.  Their offense is in shambles.  Jimmy Rollins is really struggling so far.  He also got benched yesterday because he showed up late for a game at Shea Stadium.  He may argue, but he shouldn't.  Manager Charlie Manuel has said it all year long: he only has two rules, hustle and don't be late.  The Phillies are two games in back of the Mets now, and they better pick it up quickly. 

Monday, July 21, 2008

Shockey Gone = Good For Eagles

ESPN reports that the New York Giants have traded away talented tight end Jeremy Shockey to the New Orleans Saints for two draft picks.  New Orleans has been pushing to acquire Shockey and now they have finally done it.  Shockey is a key component of the Giants offense, and Eli Manning will definitely miss the big target across the middle.

Even though Shockey was injured during the Giants Super Bowl run, he is still a top tight end.  He will greatly improve the Saints' passing attack.  Shockey, a four-time Pro Bowler, will join Marques Colston and Reggie Bush as Drew Brees' top targets.  This move will likely make the Saints the top team in the NFC South.

Let's talk about how this affects our beloved Eagles.  Shockey, always rained with boos from us Philly fans, always seemed to play well against the Eagles.  With him gone, the Eagles can focus more attention on Plaxico Burress and the rest of the Giants' receivers.  

Coming up soon on Philly Sports 101: Eagles Training Camp Preview

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Jason Taylor to Redskins

The Washington Redskins have just acquired defensive end Jason Taylor from the Miami Dolphins for a second and sixth round pick.  Jason Taylor will greatly improve the Redskins D.  Taylor is a great pass rusher.  Taylor recorded 11 sacks last season, and has had double-digit sacks in six out of his twelve seasons.  Taylor is getting old, but he is still obviously a force on the D line.

Taylor won the 2006 Defensive Player of the Year Award.  The NFC East is shaping up to be the best defensive division in the NFL.  The Cowboys have their usual stingy offense in top form.  The Giants defense carried them to a Super Bowl last season.  Strahan is leaving the great defensive line, but they still have Osi Umenyoria and Justin Tuck.  The Eagles had a good defense even before they landed the top defensive player on the free agent market (cornerback Asante Samuel).  It's going to be tough for the Eagles this season.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Phils Get Blanton

The Phillies did get a starting pitcher, like I thought they should.  The landed Joe Blanton from the A's for three prospects.  Blanton 5-12 record and 4.96 ERA don't look very impressive, but he got little run support.  In 2007, Blanton went 14-10 with a 3.95 ERA.  He also had 16 wins in '06.  Blanton is a innings-eater.  He averages 6 1/3 innings per start this season.  If he can do that for the Phillies, that would bring more stability to the rotation.

I like this move for the Phillies.  They did trade away three good prospects, but they need this boost in the rotation to win the division this year.  Blanton is not pitching well this year, but with the Phillies' run support, he should do much better.

Another reason this is a good move is because Blanton can't become a free agent till 2010.  This is not just a rent-a-player deal, Blanton should be a staple in the rotation for a while.  Not like C.C. Sababthia and the Brewers.  The Brewers gave up a wealth of talented prospects for a guy who will only pitch for them for a few months.  Sabathia will be getting the big money this offseason from another team.

The Phillies will start the second half in about an hour tied for first in the National League East with the Mets.  The Mets have ripped off ten straight wins, and have gone from a disaster to a contender.  The Marlins are not far back either, so the Phillies will need to kick it up to high gear the rest of the season.  Hopefully, Blanton will help them with that.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Farewell Spectrum

It was announced today that the Spectrum will be torn down in 2009.  The Spectrum, one of the oldest arenas in Philly, used to house the Flyers and the Sixers.  The Flyers and Sixers moved out in 1994.  The Spectrum now houses the Phantoms (minor league hockey), Kixx (indoor soccer), and Wings (indoor lacrosse).  

The Spectrum has seen some of the biggest moments in Philly sports history.  The Flyers won two Stanley Cups there.  The Sixers also won two world championships while playing in the Spectrum.  The Flyers beat the "best team in the world" Soviet Central Red Army 4-1 in a memorable game in 1976.  

The Broad Street Bullies hockey team rattled the boards at the Spectrum.  Julius Erving rattled the rim for the Sixers.  Several important NCAA tournament games have been played at the Spectrum.  The Grateful Dead held 53 concerts at the Spectrum.

In place of the Spectrum, there will be an entertainment complex and possibly a hotel.  For those who don't know: all of the Philadelphia professional sports arenas/stadiums are in the same place in south Philly along Broad Street.  I do not know why they are building a entertainment complex.  I thought the sports are the entertainment.  Make that were the entertainment.

This is another example of how sports are not the main event at sporting venues.  When you went to the Spectrum, you went to see sports.  There were no ands, ifs, or buts about it.  It is a cramped arena.  You didn't go to have a nice time with the family or to eat at a restaurant or play games at the game.  The Spectrum was built to watch sports.  Stadiums built today are more about making as much money as you can while still showing a sporting event.

We will miss you Spectrum, with your lack of leg room and sticky floors.  We will know that you are from a dying kind.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Baseball at the Break

It's All-Star week again, time to size up the first half of the season.  Their have been many surprises (see Rays, Josh Hamilton).  I will predict who will win each division, plus the wild card.  I will also give out the first half MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, Surprising Team, Disappointing Team, Surprising Player, and Disappointing player.

NL East- Phillies- I'm not just saying their going to win because I'm a fan of the team.  I think they will take my advice I gave them a day ago and pick up a quality pitcher.  If they do pick up a pitcher, that will put them ahead of the of the Mets and Marlins.  They do need to score more runs, but I think that will come around.

NL Central- Cubs- This is a really tough division.  You have the Cubs, who are playing terrific.  The Cardinals are definitely overachieving.  The Brewers will be better now that they have C.C. Sabathia.  But I think the Cubs will win it.  They acquired a good pitcher in Rich Harden.  Pair him up with Carlos Zambrano and the rest of the pitching staff and they will have one of the best rotation in the league. 

NL West- Diamondbacks- This is a weak division.  The Diamondbacks are leading now and they are a gam
e below .500.  They will pull it out because of their pitching.  They have the best pitching in the division with Brandon Webb and Dan Haren.  The Dodgers are just too inconsistent to win this division.

NL Wild Card- Brewers-  Milwaukee has a dynamic pitching duo with C.C. Sabathia and Ben Sheets.  They are getting good at-bats from All-Star Corey Hart and Ryan Braun.  They also have Prince Fielder and J.J. Hardy, which I think will put them past the Cardinals, Mets, and Marlins.

AL East- Yankees- I know the Rays are the feel-good story of the season, but I'm not feeling it.  I don't think the Rays will be able to sustain the pace they've set through the first half.  They will break down as the season goes on.  The Red Sox will be just too banged up to win the division.  The Yankees will probably pick up another pitcher.  With Pettitte, Mussina, and rookie Joba Chamberlain pitching good, they will come back and have a great second half.  Jeter is starting to come around, and A-Rod is having another great season.

AL Central- Twins- The White Sox have been very good (and surprising), but I don't buy first half surprises (see AL East).  The Twins have great hitters like Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer.  Livan Hernandez and Nick Blackburn are good pitchers who should improve as the season wears on.  I've already co
unted out the Tigers.

AL West- Angels- One team that's already started to run away with their division is the Angels.  Their pitching is phenomenal.  Joe Saunders, Ervin Santana, John Lackey, and Francisco Rodriguez, c'mon that's downright ridiculous.  Vladimir Guerrero is up to his usual work.  Torii Hunter will up that .269 average in the second half.  The Angels are serious World Series contenders.  

AL Wild Card- White Sox- The White Sox are playing extremely well so far.  Look for them to cool down a bit, but not enough to miss the playoffs.  Carlos Quentin is having a great season.  Jermaine Dye looks like his old self.  Gavin Floyd is on fire with ten wins.  Starter John Danks has a sub 3 ERA.

World Series- Angels vs. Cubs- Cubs win-  Great rotation, great hitting, where can you go wrong with the Cubs.  The Cubs will break that century draught.

First Half Awards

NL MVP- Chase Utley- 25 homers plus 69 RBIs for Utley.  Utley (below)  is batting .291 and having a out-
of-this-world season.

AL MVP- Josh Hamilton- 95 RBIs before the All-Star break, I thought that was impossible.  Hamilton has 21 homers and is batting over .300

NL Cy Young- Brandon Webb- Webb has been terrific this year, notching 13 wins with a low ERA.  Webb is having his best year yet and that's saying something.

AL Cy Young- Cliff Lee- Lee leads the American league in wins (12) and is second in ERA (2.31).  Enough said.

NL Rookie of the (Half-) Year- Geovany Soto- Soto is having a great first season behind the plate for the Cubs.  He is batting .288 with 16 dingers.

AL Rookie of the (Half-) Year- Evan Longoria- Longoria has great power.  He has 16 homers in a little over 300 plate appearances.

Surprising Team- Rays- Tampa Bay has been a contender this late in the season since... well, ever.  They are 16 games over .5oo.

Disappointing Team- Detroit Tigers- They are 7 games behind in the NL Central.  Before the season started, nobody believed the Tigers would be that far back this late in the season.

Surprising Player- Josh Hamilton- Hamilton is having a great season.  Hamilton has battled back from drug problems in the past years, and now he is a possible triple crown winner.  Amazing.

Disappointing Player- Brett Myers- Myers is in Triple A.  He pitched opening day this season for the Phillies.  Enough said.

Disagree with my first half assessment.  Drop me a comment. 

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Phils Need Help Now

The Phillies really need some pitching help.  They are atop of the National League East at the moment, but the Mets and Marlins are right on their bumper at half a game back.  The Mets are rolling now with eight straight wins. 

The Phils need to acquire another quality pitcher.  Cole Hamels is an ace and gives them a chance to win every game.  Brett Myers, who started Opening Day, is having trouble in Triple A.  Jamie Moyer has been good of late, but can you count on him to continue at that pace all year, at 45 years of age.  Kyle Kendrick is doing alright, but he is too inconsistent.  Speaking of inconsistent, meet Adam Eaton.  Sometimes he will pitch well.  But most times he'll give up eight runs in one inning including a two-run double from Randy Johnson, like he did yesterday.  

Now let's talk about who they should trade for.  They should try to get A.J. Burnett from Toronto.  The Blue Jays are apparently shopping Burnett and the Phillies would be great suitors.  They may have to give up a top prospect, but if they really think they have a good chance at going deep into the playoffs, they need a pitcher like Burnett.

Burnett is 9-8 this season with a 5.23 ERA.  Not the best numbers, but paired with the Phillies offense, he will easily win 14, 15 games.  Burnett doesn't have a great offense backing him up now.  He has won double-digit games in five of his nine seasons in the pros.

Somebody else the Phillies should seriously consider going after is the Seattle Mariners Eric Bedard.  The Mariners are 22 games below .500, so they will definitely be sellers at the trade deadline.  He is on the disabled list now and will not pitch before the break.

Bedard is 6-4 with a 3.67 ERA.  He is definitely has good stuff and would really help the Phillies try to lock up the NL East.  

They Phillies probably need to win the division to get to the playoffs.  If they don't, they will have a tough wild card race with the Brewers, Cards, and the Marlins or Mets.  To win the division, they need another quality pitcher.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Just Stop Farve

So, Favre, you missing football yet.  We've all heard it by now:  Favre apparently is interested in coming out of retirement.  The Packers may not be as interested however.  Favre text the Packers general manager and asked to talk to him about possibly joining the team again.  GM Ted Thompson said they would talk after he was done vacationing.  You would think that if the future-Hall-of-Fame quarterback wanted to rejoin the Packers, Ted Thompson would jump out of his beach chair and hightail it back to Green Bay.

Favre flirted with retirement last offseason, leaving his team in limbo for quite awhile.  Then, at the end of this season, Favre held a tear-filled news conference about how it was time for him to let the game go.  The Packers thought that the Favre era was done right there.

But no, Favre now wants to crawl back to the team that made him famous.  The Packers may not be jumping at the opportunity to make Favre their quarterback.  The Packers look perfectly content to let Aaron Rodgers run the offense.  But now they are in a sticky situation.  The face of their organization for what seemed like forever, wants to continue to be the face.  

Favre is trying to make this like a soap opera, with the text messages and the little hints on various radio shows.  Farve is trying to make Packers management look like the bad guys, if they don't welcome Favre back with open arms.  And because of that, the Packers shouldn't feel obligated to bring Farve back aboard the Packer ship.  

Somebody needs to explain to Favre that a professional football team isn't the kind of thing where you can come and go as you please.  The team, in this case the Packers, can't just keep accommodating you whenever you feel the urge to leave or join the team.  I know you are a fan favorite and legend in Green Bay.  I know you can still contribute to a NFL team, but maybe it's time for Green Bay to move on.  They have already made changes to the offense to accommodate Aaron Rodgers.

The Packers should tell Favre that their not interested in him and that he should shop himself to other teams.  I know that the fan base won't like it, but sometimes you have to do what's best for the organization.  It's time to let Rodgers have his turn, but Brett Favre keeps hogging the carousel that is quarterbacking in the NFL. 

New Forward in Philly

Elton Brand is going to be a Sixer.  He gave the Sixers a verbal agreement last night and should sign a contract today.  The Sixers hope that the addition of Brand will make them a real contender.  I think it will.  Assuming they sign restricted free agent Andre Igoudala, this is what their starting lineup would be:

PG Andre Miller
SG Andre Igoudala
SF Thaddeus Young
PF Elton Brand
C   Samuel Dalembert

I like that starting lineup.  You got Andre Miller at point guard, one of the best assist guys in the league.  He'll find Brand open down under.  Igoudala at shooting guard, he was the Sixers top scorer last season with a shade below 20 per game.  Thaddeus Young at small forward, he really got it going late last season, averaging double-digits in the playoffs.  Of course, Elton Brand at the other forward position.  Then you put Dalembert at center, he averaged a double-double last season.  Not only do I think this move will improve the offense, the defense also looks pretty good.  With Brand and Dalembert in the frontcourt, nobody is going to score easy baskets in the paint.  Igoudala is also a fine defender.

The Sixers will also have a good bench.  Guard Willie Green (12 points per game last season) will be good off the bench.  Young Guard Louis Williams (11 points per game) was a pleasant surprise last season, look for him to step in when Miller needs a break.  Forward/master rebounder Reggie Evans (7.5 rebounds per game) will step in to give Brand a blow.  Forward Jason Smith, who was a rookie last season, should also see some playing time

Starting this season, I think the Sixers will prove to be one of the elite teams in the East.  They are not yet up to Celtic level, but they size up pretty well with the other top teams in the East.  The Cavaliers are good, but if you can shut down Lebron with good defense, then you should beat them.  The Pistons have great chemistry and talent at all positions, but are getting old.  Those are the teams I see to give a challenge to the Sixers (good thing their not in the West).  

The Sixers, at best, could finish second or third in the East.  At worst, they could finish fourth or fifth.  That is if Brand can stay healthy, which he didn't do last season.  Brand played in a mere eight games because of a ruptured Achilles tendon.  

Overall, this is a good move by the Sixers.  They needed a go-to guy down low and they certainly got it with Brand.  This move should help them become a major contender in the East.   

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Brand to Sixers?

ESPN reports that the Sixers are entering the bidding war for talented free agent Elton Brand.  The 29-year old big man is a unrestricted free agent and is the best player on the market.  ESPN reports that the Sixers, already 11 million under the cap, will free up even more money by trading away guard Rodney Carney and center Calvin Booth.  The Sixers are competing with the Los Angeles Clippers (Brand's team last season) and the Golden State Warriors for Brand.  The Clippers and Warriors currently have more money under the cap then the Sixers but the Sixers could have up to 15 million if they trade away Carney and Booth.  ESPN reports that the Sixers are working out a deal that would send the players to Minnesota.

The Brand situation is a bit complex.  Brand opted out of his contract with the Clippers that would have paid him 16.5 million this season.  He wanted the Clippers to pick up someone else to complement him.  The Clippers certainly did that when they signed point guard Baron Davis away from Golden State.  The Clippers thought that would be enough to lure Brand back.  But then Golden State offered him a deal and now the Sixers are interested.

The Sixers say that they will do all they can to sign Brand, who is a force in the paint.  If they can not sign Brand, then the Sixers will continue their hunt for forward Josh Smith. 

Elton Brand played in only eight games last season because of injury.  In the 06-07 season, Brand averaged 20 points and a shade under 10 rebounds.  Over the course of nine seasons, Brand is averaging a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds.  

The Sixers should do their best to try to sign Brand.  Brand would have more of a positive impact than the other free agent the Sixers are targeting (Josh Smith).  Just think of the combination of Samuel Dalembert and Elton Brand in the front court.  I'm not saying that adding Josh Smith wouldn't be an improvement, but he seems like another Andre Igoudala.  You need different kinds of players to make a team work.

The Sixers should trade away Rodney Carney and Clavin Booth, if it gets them closer to signing Elton Brand.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sabathia on His Way to Milwakee

Star pitcher C.C. Sabathia is on his way to Milwaukee.  The Brewers threw a package of four prospects at the Cleveland Indians for their ace.  The Brewers gave away some high prospects.  The Indians especially wanted outfielder Matt LaPorta, who has 20 homers in Triple A.  In giving up Sabathia, the Indians are giving up a CY Young Award winning pitcher.  Sabathia was crowned the top pitcher in the American League last year.  Sabathia isn't doing as well this year, he is 6-8 with a 3.83 ERA.  But that may have something to do with his lack of run support from the Indian's struggling offense.  Sabathia was 19-7 last season with a ERA a hair above three.  For his career, Sabathia is 106-71 with a 3.83 ERA over eight years in the bigs.  

Sabathia is just the kind of player the Brewers need to put them over the top.  He will join ace Ben Sheets, a 2008 all-star selection, at the top of the rotation.  Sheets has pitched tremendously this season, going 10-2 with a 2.77 ERA.  He has been the only bright spot in the rotation for the Brewers this season.  Three of their starters are currently on the disabled list: Chris Capuano, rookie Yovani Gallardo, and Jeff Suppan.  Sabathia will hopefully bring some stability to the rotation.  

The Brewers are 49-39 so far this season.  They are 3.5 games behind the first-place Cubs in the National League Central.  If the season ended today the Brewers would make the playoffs as a wild card.  They have a potent lineup with hitters such as Ryan Braun, J.J. Hardy, Prince Fielder, and Corey Hart.  They will definitely make the playoffs and, with the addition of Sabathia, should be a major contender come playoff time.  

2008 All-Star team Announced

The all-star team was named yesterday.  Here are the complete American League and National League rosters:  

American League Starters                                           National League Starters 

C   Joe Mauer  Twins                                                          C  Geovany Soto  Cubs
1B  Kevin Youkilis  Red Sox                                              1B  Lance Berkman  Astros
2B  Dustin Pedroia  Red Sox                                             2B  Chase Utley  Phillies
SS  Derek Jeter  Yankees                                                   SS  Hanley Ramirez  Marlins
3B  Alex Rodriguez  Yankees                                            3B  Chipper Jones  Braves
OF  Ichiro Suzki  Mariners                                               OF  Alfonso Soriano  Cubs
OF  Josh Hamilton  Rangers                                            OF  Kosuke Fukudome  Cubs
OF  Manny Ramirez  Red Sox                                           OF  Ryan Braun  Brewers
DH  David Ortiz  Red Sox                                                  DH- Manager Clint Hurdle will select                                                                                                        one before the game.  Probably Albert                                                                                                      Pujols.
American League Reserves                             National League Reserves

C- Dioner Navvaro (Rays), Jason                         C- Brian McCann (Braves), Russell Martin 
Varitek (Red Sox)                                                    (Dodgers)
1B- Justin Morneau (Twins)                                 1B- Albert Pujols (Cardinals), Adrian Gonzalez
2B- Ian Kinsler (Rangers)                                      (Padres)
3B- Carlos Guillen (Tigers),                                 2B- Dan Uggla (Marlins)
Joe Crede (White Sox)                                          3B- Aramis Ramirez (Cubs)
OF- J.D. Drew (Red Sox),                                     OF- Nate McLouth (Pirates), Ryan Ludwig 
Carlos Quentin (White Sox),                               (Cardinals), Matt Holliday (Rockies)
Grady Sizemore (Indians)
DH- Milton Bradley (Rangers)

American League Pitchers                           National League Pitchers

Justin Duchsherer (A's)                                      Aaron Cook (Rockies)
Roy Halladay (Blue Jays)                                   Tim Lincecum (Giants)
Scott Kazmir (Rays)                                            Dan Haren (D'backs)
Cliff Lee (Indians)                                               Ben Sheets (Brewers)
Joe Nathan (Twins)                                            Carlos Zambrano (Cubs)
Jonathan Papelbon (Red Sox)                          Brandon Webb (D'backs)
Mariano Rivera (Yankees)                                Ryan Dempster (Cubs)                    
Francisco Rodriguez (Angels)                          Brian Wilson (Giants)
Ervin Santana (Angels)                                     Edinson Volquez (Reds)
Joe Saunders (Angels)                                      Kerry Wood (Cubs)
George Sherrill (Orioles)                                 Brad Lidge (Phillies)
Joakim Soria (Royals)                                      Billy Wagner (Mets)

So, there are your 2008 MLB all-stars.  A couple things I want to talk about; first, why is Jason Varitek on the American League team.  I know he was voted in by his fellow players but why?  He is batting a low .218 this season with only seven homers and 27 RBIs.  He should not be on the team.  I know he has been a top catcher for years and captain of the Red Sox, but if a guy is having a off year, leave him off the list.  Seven Red Sox and seven Cubs were named to the team.  The injured David Ortiz was picked as a starter; Milton Bradley will take his place.  

The Phillies are represented by Chase Utley and closer Brad Lidge.  I also think Pat Burrell should have made the team.  Burrell is batting .279 with 21 homers and 53 RBIs.  Burrell is eligible for that last all-star spot.  I think he should have made the team outright however.  If you want to for Burrell or any of the other players competing for that las spot, scroll downto the bottom of the screen and vote now.  

Speaking of all-star weekend, guess who's representing Philly in the home run derby.  No it's not Ryan Howard.  Chase Utley will compete for the home run crown.  Utley currently leads the majors with 24 dingers.  Lance Berkman, Dan Uggla, Josh Hamilton, and others will compete with Utley in the home run derby. 


Sunday, July 6, 2008

Phils Extend Lidge's Contract

The Phillies have just locked up Brad Lidge for the next three years.  The Phillies signed their closer to a three-year deal worth 37.5 million dollars.  Lidge has been impeccable since joining the Phillies last offseason.  Lidge has 19 saves this season while sporting a 0.77 ERA.  Lidge has been a key part to the Phillies team this season.  Lidge was also named to the National League All-Star team.  The only other Phillie to be named to the team was Chase Utley.

Lidge has been very good this season and obviously the Phils would like him to stick around for a while.  But is this a good decision.  Lidge has been up and down in his career.  He was the closer for the Astros and pitched spectacular.  But then Lidge took a sudden decline and lost the closing job.  He looks to be back in prime form this year but this may be another Tom Gordon situation.  Gordon was the Phillies closer during the 2006 season and pitched extrememly well.  He was also named to the all-star team.  But last season Gordon got injured early in the season, which forced Brett Myers into the closing role.  Gordon has never pitched the same since his injury.  He has pitched average this season.

Lidge does have quite the history of injury.  He had to have a minor surgery on his knee during spring training and has suffered shoulder troubles in the past.  I don't think this is a good move by the Phillies.  They should have waited to September to see if Lidge could continue his success.  The Phillies like to give out contracts prematurely (Jim Thome) and I think this a prime example.