Predicting The Four Teams Who Will Make The First College Football Playoff

IMG_0175-1.JPGThe 2014 college football season is upon us and it marks the first official season of the new college football playoff. There is no more BCS anymore and we have a better, more stable playoff format that makes more sense. So instead of two teams only having a shot at the national title, four teams will play in a two game format for the championship. It’s not the GREATEST format because I believe it should be an eight team playoff, but nonetheless this is a step in the right direction. So with the debut of the new college football playoff, we say hello to a more fair system and more teams being given the opportunity to play for the national title.

I will now make my picks for the four teams I believe will make the playoff and who I think will take home the national championship. There are many really good teams this year, so this was tough to pick the four teams that I think will make it, but I managed. So without further ado, here are the four teams I believe will be playing for a shot at the national championship.

1.Alabama Crimson Tide (Opening season ranked #2): What is there to say about Alabama? We know the story with them, year in and year out they finish as one of the top teams in all of college football, even if it doesn’t result in a national title. Nick Saban is the best coach in the entire sport and always gets the most out of his players. AJ McCarron is out if Alabama though, so the ‘Tide have to turn to a new quarterback to lead them. McCarron was never a must see, explosive QB, but he was very manageable and kept Alabama in every single game. As long as the new QB can protect the ball and be a good game manager, Alabama will remain at the top. Nick Saban will get the most out of anyone at QB anyway, and I see him using his magic once again this year. Alabama moves on to the college football playoff.

2.Oregon Ducks (Opening season ranked #3): Oregon always opens the season as a top team but finishes just short at the end of the year when they endure their one loss or two losses midway through the season or at the end that ruined their chances in the BCS. This is different, you definitely don’t HAVE TO finish undefeated to make the playoff, like you sometimes did for the BCS, but one loss definitely doesn’t end your chances to make the playoff. This really helps out Oregon because they always seem to get one crucial loss towards the end of their season that basically ends their run towards the national title. Now, when that happens, if it happens, it’s not as bad of news. Oregon has the best QB in all of college football in Marcus Mariota, who is the early odds-on favorite to be the #1 overall pick in the 2015 Draft, and probably would’ve been the #1 pick this year had he declared for the draft. A great coaching staff at Oregon always helps keep them in contention. An offensive scheme that at most times is unmatched is what really separates them from the rest of the pack and allows them to be the scoring machine that they are. I believe with a top QB prospect in an amazing offense is what will really allow Oregon to get into the national title picture and into the playoff. Oregon moves on to the college football playoff.

3.Oklahoma Sooners (Opening season ranked #4): Our lasting image of Oklahoma is storming from behind and defeating Alabama in last seasons Sugar Bowl in what was the best bowl game from last season. This year Oklahoma brings in a very good recruiting class and brings back a maturing gritty QB in Trevor Knight, who led the Sooners in that incredible victory over Alabama at the Superdome. Knight has a lot of work to do to show the world that his Sugar Bowl performance wasn’t a fluke. Bob Stoops is one of the top coaches in college football and with an even better team than last season, I expect Oklahoma to get back to the top and into the college football playoff. Oklahoma moves on to the college football playoff.

4.Michigan State Spartans (Opening season ranked #8): Year in and year out, Michigan State surprises us all and makes a little run. Ohio State has lost Heisman Trophy candidate QB Braxton Miller for the season and this opens the door wider for Michigan State to win the BIG10. Michigan State won the Rose Bowl last year over Stanford 24-20 in a great game. The team brings back QB Connor Cook after a breakout season as some draft experts think with some more improvement this season that he can be one of the top QB’s taken in the 2015 draft. Michigan State brings in a highly touted defense and one of the best pass rushers in all of college football, Shilique Calhoun. Calhoun is a consensus top 10 pick in next years draft. With a top defense and an evolving quarterback in what’s not exactly the toughest conference in football, I think MSU will make it to the college football playoff, and possibly end the season undefeated, that’s how good I think they are. Michigan State moves on to the college football playoff.

National Championship Game: Oregon 27, Michigan State 23. A rematch of their week two matchup. This time around the high powered offense will beat the power defense, unlike in the last Super Bowl.

Just missed the cut: #1 Florida State, #7 UCLA, #10 Baylor, #11 Stanford, and #13 LSU.

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Seven WR’s In Round One, Major QB Falls!

2014 NFL Draft Top ProspectsThe 2014 NFL Draft begins tonight at 8:00 pm on ESPN and NFL Network. It’s one of the most anticipated nights of the year for die-hard NFL fans, like myself. The hype, the excitement, and the eagerness are what makes the NFL Draft what it currently is: An anticipated major television show. And when you have an NFL draft that is as deep as it this one is, you are in for one great night in front of the television. This is the deepest draft in recent memory, according to most experts, and it’s also being called one of the deepest drafts EVER. That speaks volumes to how great all these players are. The position that is deepest, and there’s no argument against this, is the wide receiver position. This draft has many skilled wide-outs who project to be very good regulars in the NFL.

You have the top two guys in Clemson’s Sammy Watkins and Texas A&M’s Mike Evans, then you have the next batch of guys like USC’s Marqise Lee, LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr., Oregon State’s Brandon Cooks, and Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews. The third tier group of WR’s isn’t shabby either and project to be solid contributors to whoever drafts them and they are Penn State’s Allen Robinson, Fresno State’s Devante Adams, LSU’s Jarvis Landry, Rutgers’ Brandon Coleman, Clemson’s Martevous Bryant, Wisconsin’s Jared Abbredaris, Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin, and Indiana’s Cody Latimer, who has skyrocketed up most draft boards in the past few weeks. This draft is so deep at WR that we have seven of them going in round one alone.

The biggest question headed into this years draft is who is going #1 overall? The Houston Texans hold the number one pick this year and have a few nice options. The main players in the conversation to be selected #1 overall are South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney, Buffalo OLB Khalil Mack, Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel, and Central Florida QB Blake Bortles. There’s an outside shot for guys like Clemson WR Sammy Watkins, Auburn OT Greg Robinson, and Texas A&M OT Jake Matthews to go #1. The latest reporting has Clowney as the likely #1 pick. This is the Texans though and they have shocked people before when they had the #1 pick. Back in 2006, the Texans were expected to take USC RB Reggie Bush #1 overall, with the possibility that they might take USC QB Matt Leinart or Texas QB Vince Young instead. Instead, they ended up shocking the world and taking North Carolina State DE Mario Williams. In the end though, that ended up being the correct choice as Bush never made it in New Orleans, Leinart faltered in Arizona, and Young never made it big after winning the 2006 Rookie Of The Year award in Tennessee. Williams instantly became one of the most feared pass rushers in the NFL and became one of the greatest players in the Texans’ brief franchise history, before bolting for Buffalo in free agency in 2012.

The other big question is where will Johnny Manziel land? The popular QB can do some amazing things on the football field, but also some head scratchers on and off the field. His size will hurt him, although not that much since Russell Wilson just won the Super Bowl at basically the same height. A lot of executives don’t like how reckless Manziel plays but others love how he can always turn nothing into something. Manziel would love to go #1 overall and stay in the state of Texas, but that doesn’t seem likely right now. Manziel could go anywhere from #3 overall to Jacksonville, or fall to the early second. He’s very hard to project, but I projected him to not last past 20.

Like last year on NFL Draft Eve, I enlisted the help of two friends who love football and follow the NFL and college level’s very closely and love the draft as well to mock with me. It also makes the process more fun and unpredictable because you don’t know who the other two guys are going to pick before you pick again. My friends are Kevin and Joe, Kev’ will be picking first overall and Joe second, which leaves me third, and the pattern will continue that way.  You can reach Joe on twitter at @TweetingTheJets, which he uses for all sports related tweets. Kevin doesn’t use a single form of social media, weird right? But who else can you say that about? It’s different and I kind of wish I could do that. So let’s get started on this years NFL Mock Draft…

Don’t miss out on a possible round two being added today before draft time!

1.Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina – Kevin.
2.St.Louis Rams: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo – Joe.
3.Jacksonville Jaguars: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson – Steve, Myself.
4.Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M – Kevin.
5.Oakland Raiders: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M – Joe.
6.Atlanta Falcons: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn – Steve.
7.Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M.
8.Minnesota Vikings: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida.
9.Buffalo Bills: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan.
10.Detroit Lions: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State.
11.Tennessee Titans: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA.
12.New York Giants: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina.
13.St.Louis Rams: HaSean Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama.
14.Chicago Bears: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh.
15.Pittsburgh Steelers: Odell Beckham Jr, WR, LSU.
16.Dallas Cowboys: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville.
17.Baltimore Ravens: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama.
18.New York Jets: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State.
19.Miami Dolphins: Zack Martin, OL, Notre Dame.
20.Arizona Cardinals: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State.
21.Green Bay Packers: Ryan Shazier, ILB, Ohio State.
22.Philadelphia Eagles: Marqise Lee, WR, USC.
23.Kansas City Chiefs: Brandon Cooks, WR, Oregon State.
24.Cincinnati Bengals: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech.
25.San Diego Chargers: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame.
26.Cleveland Browns: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State.
27.New Orleans Saints: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri.
28.Carolina Panthers: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama.
29.New England Patriots: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU.
30.San Francisco 49ers: Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana.
31.Denver Broncos: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame.
32.Seattle Seahawks: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech.


2014 NFL Mock Draft

L-R: Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater & Jadeveon ClowneyThe 2013 NFL regular season is over and so is the first round of the playoffs, so we know the 2014 draft order from 1 through 24. The NFL draft is always one of my favorite nights of the year and with the NFL season over, a good chunk of the draft order set, and team needs pointed out, we can begin the mock drafts.

The 2014 NFL draft has a good crop of top quarterbacks available, so this years QB class is way deeper than last years. This years draft is also absolutely loaded with wide receivers and play makers. The Houston Texans own the #1 overall pick after starting the season 2-0, but collapsing after that and finishing the season on a 14 game losing streak to finish 2-14. The Texans don’t have a plethora of needs, so with the right picks they can be back in playoff contention as early as next year. We saw Matt Schaub lose the starting QB spot as he looked disastrous in 2013 and backup Case Keenum looked average at best. Many people expect the Texans to go QB with that #1 pick, but Texans owner Bob McNair has stated that the Texans are also open to trading the pick to add even more picks.

I have enlisted the help of a friend to have a two-man mock draft tonight so there are differing opinions and picks in this mock draft. It’s also more fun and unpredictable. We will alternate picks. I will make the first pick, he will make the second, I will make the third, he will make the fourth, and so on in that order. Hope you enjoy this mock everyone.

1.Houston Texans: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville.
2.St.Louis Rams (From The Washington Redskins): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson.
3.Jacksonville Jaguars: Blake Bortles, QB, University of Central Florida.
4.Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M.
5.Oakland Raiders: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina.
6.Atlanta Falcons: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA.
7.Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo.
8.Minnesota Vikings: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State.
9.Buffalo Bills: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M.
10.Detroit Lions: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State.
11.Tennessee Titans: Ha-Sean Clinton Dix, S, Alabama.
12.New York Giants: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama.
13.St.Louis Rams: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M.
14.Chicago Bears: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State.
15.Pittsburgh Steelers: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan.
16.Baltimore Ravens: Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson.
17.Dallas Cowboys: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri.
18.New York Jets: Marqise Lee, WR, USC.
19.Miami Dolphins: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn.
20.Arizona Cardinals: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama.
21.Green Bay Packers: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech.
22.Philadelphia Eagles: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
23.Cincinnati Bengals: Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida.
24.Kansas City Chiefs: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU.

Any objections or comments about this mock? Feel free to leave a comment or tweet me @ScoreboardSteve. 

Week 12 NFL Picks And Parlay

Brady PeytonWeek 11 of the NFL season is in the books and it was an ugly week with a lot of low scoring games, blowouts, and sloppy games. In the three games of the week, the Broncos handed the Chiefs their first loss of the year, by the final score of 27-17, as Peyton Manning played spotless all game. In game two, the Panthers used a late rally to edge the Patriots 24-20, to improve to 7-3 and drop the Pats to 7-3. And finally, the Saints dropped the 49ers down in the Super Dome, 23-20, to improve to 8-2 and drop the Niners to 6-4, in a hard fought battle. The Saints are 9-2 (thanks to a Thursday night victory against Atlanta) and the Falcons are horrible this year at 2-9, meanwhile the Saints still only lead the NFC South by one game over Carolina, with both meetings still to come.

Last week I went 10-4 with my picks, improving my overall record from 84-53 to 94-57. In my picks ATS, I went 0-4 with my picks, a disastrous week, dropping my record from 20-22-1 to 20-26-1. Here’s my week 12 picks.

Detroit Lions over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Houston Texans or Jacksonville Jaguars
Green Bay Packers over Minnesota Vikings
Kansas City Chiefs over San Diego Chargers
Carolina Panthers over Miami Dolphins
Pittsburgh Steelers over Cleveland Browns
Chicago Bears over St.Louis Rams
Baltimore Ravens over New York Jets
Oakland Raiders over Tennessee Titans
Indianapolis Colts over Arizona Cardinals
New York Giants over Dallas Cowboys
Denver Broncos over New England Patriots
San Francisco 49ers over Washington Redskins

Picks Against The Spread:
Kansas City Chiefs (-4.5) vs San Diego Chargers
Pittsburgh Steelers (+2) @ Cleveland Browns
Baltimore Ravens (-3.5) vs New York Jets
Oakland Raiders (+1) vs Tennessee Titans

The Mets Meet With Jay-Z To Discuss Robinson Cano, Wait, What?!

nypost_20131119_2_068_C_2On Monday night the New York Post reported exclusively that New York Mets COO Jeff Wilpon, GM Sandy Alderson, and assistant GM John Ricco met with agent Jay-Z at a hotel in Manhattan to talk about his client, free agent second baseman, Robinson Cano. Sandy Alderson had already stated this fall that he doesn’t see the Mets, in any way, signing a player to a $100+ million contract. That would have immediately taken Cano, OF’s Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo off the board. So what’s the deal with this meeting for Cano? Is it a play to get fans to buy season tickets and put hope into the fans, or are the Mets finally listening to the fans and willing to open the checkbook and sign a mega free agent and improve the offense?

In my opinion, this is all BS. It’s just a ploy to get the fans excited and to make it seem like they’re actually doing something. We all know that there’s no way the Mets are diving into the $100 million contract pool again, at least just yet. Robinson Cano isn’t just only going to get more than $100 million, but he’s going to come awfully close to $200 million and the Mets have never come close to giving out that type of contract before. The most expensive contacts that the Mets have ever given were the $138 million extension to third baseman David Wright, and the $136 million contract given to starting pitcher, Johan Santana. And we all know how that Santana contract turned out.

Also, the Mets have a competent player at 2B already, and it’s Daniel Murphy. Murphy has improved quite a bit defensively at second and has shown to have a solid bat for the position. Murphy can hit .290+, add in a handful of doubles, and 5-10 homers. Now, there have been a lot of rumblings that the Mets may trade Murphy this off-season as a few teams like him a lot and have inquired about him. So the Mets could sign Cano and trade Murphy, but, and in my opinion, instead of throwing $125+ million at Cano, shouldn’t the Mets be giving Wilmer Flores a shot to start at second base with his elite prospect bat? Flores has shown he can hit at all levels in the minors and was given some looks with the big league club but struggled a bit with consistency and injuries. You could possibly add a really solid bat at second base at the league minimum, instead of signing Cano to a mammoth contract that could handcuff the franchise for years. Not to mention, Cano lollygags and takes plenty of plays off during games. He has shown not to hustle out grounders and gap hits, and be a lazy player. Why throw so much money at a player who doesn’t have a high drive for the game?

I’m not saying that Cano isn’t an elite talent, he’s arguably the best second baseman in the league, but he does have flaws and has yet to show he can be a leader as well. I’m also not saying that Flores can or will be the next Cano, but I firmly believe that he can be a very solid hitter at the major league level, albeit with below-average defense. Flores will cost next-to-nothing, while Cano could cripple the franchise with the contract he’ll get. All of the Mets’ money this off-season would undoubtedly go towards Cano, which shouldn’t happen. The Mets need to spread the money around (if they even have any), and address the numerous needs they have, like shortstop, two corner outfielders, backup catcher, and back-end of the rotation. As much of a beast Robinson Cano is, he is not what the Mets should be targeting at this moment. Second base is not a top need, and his new contract could severely backfire.

It doesn’t matter anyway though, as this is all just a way to get excitement into the fans and instill some fear in the Yankees to pony up the money to re-sign Cano. Robby wants to be a Yankee, the Yankee’s want him back, and no other teams are going to come close to giving Cano what he wants. Still, it’s going to take some time before Cano and the Yankees finally agree on a new contract, so I wouldn’t be too surprised if a team like the Dodgers, Tigers, Rangers, or Nationals swoop through and make a strong run for Cano or at least, offer big money. Ultimately though, I see Cano in pinstripes next off-season and coming nowhere close to playing in Queens for 81 games a season.

And one other thing, this meeting was initiated by Cano’s other agents, Brodie Van Wagenen and Juan Perez, so there’s a good chance that the Mets are just kicking the tires as they have nothing to lose by meeting with Cano’s agents. This will sell a few extra tickets and get the Yankee’s attention a bit to up their offer and save themselves from losing their biggest offensive piece. It’s good strategy by Cano’s agents, but shouldn’t they have instead met with Magic Johnson, who partially owns the Los Angeles Dodgers and actually has the money to sign Cano? Meeting with the Mets isn’t exactly too much of a threat and won’t instill much fear in the Yankees, as the Mets has slashed payroll for three straight years and supposedly only have $30 million to spend this off-season. This is all just a big joke and pathetic ploy by both the Mets and Cano’s agents to instill hope in the Mets’ fans and instill fear into the Yankees. Unfortunately, I don’t see it working out well for either parties and this will just backfire on both ends.

Seriously, how pathetic. The Mets think it’s a big joke to put hope in the fans that they’re actually willing to spend, and spend on a superstar like Cano. No one’s falling for it and this will only enrage the fans even more when the Mets don’t even come close to being a serious contender for Cano’s services. The jig is up Wilpon’s, Alderson, and company, time to put up or shut up. And what do I mean by “put up or shut up”? I mean, spend money to improve this sad team already or sell the team and get a serious GM in here who doesn’t make jokes about the teams financial situation. This isn’t funny anymore and the fans deserve better and deserve a championship caliber team again.

Week 11 NFL Picks And Parlay

Jamaal Charles & Peyton ManningWeek 10 of the NFL season is in the books and we have finally seen both winless teams win their first games of the season! The Jacksonville Jaguars upset the Tennessee Titans in Nashville by the final score of 29-27 to earn their first win. We also had the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win game number one by upsetting their cross state rivals, the Miami Dolphins, 22-19. Buccaneers cornerback Darrell Revis made the game clinching interception with 1:35 remaining on a deep pass to Mike Wallace. We are now assured that there will be no winless team in the NFL this season. The Kansas City Chiefs remain 9-0 for the time being and are the only undefeated team left in the NFL. Who would’ve known that the team with the worst record last year (2-14) would be the final undefeated team the next year and be almost a lock for the playoffs? Sports sure are strange sometimes.

Last week I went 6-7 with my picks as we saw lots of upsets. That downgrades my overall record from 78-46 to 84-53. In my picks ATS, I went 3-1, with my only loss being that I took the Bengals -1.5 at the Ravens, who won the game outright, 20-17 in overtime. I improve in my overall picks ATS from 17-21-1 to 20-22-1. Here’s my week 11 picks.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers over Atlanta Falcons
New York Jets over Buffalo Bills
Detroit Lions over Pittsburgh Steelers
Philadelphia Eagles over Washington Redskins
Chicago Bears over Baltimore Ravens
Cincinnati Bengals over Cleveland Browns
Houston Texans over Oakland Raiders
Arizona Cardinals over Jacksonville Jaguars
San Diego Chargers over Miami Dolphins
Seattle Seahawks over Minnesota Vikings
New York Giants over Green Bay Packers
New Orleans Saints over San Francisco 49ers
Denver Broncos over Kansas City Chiefs
Carolina Panthers over New England Patriots

Picks Against The Spread:
Detroit Lions (-2.5) @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Kansas City Chiefs (+7.5) @ Denver Broncos
New York Jets (-1) @ Buffalo Bills
San Diego Chargers (-1.5) @ Miami Dolphins

Predicting Where The Top MLB Free Agents Will Land

2013-2014 MLB Free AgencyNow that the 2013 MLB season has ended, it’s now time to find out where all the free agents will be signings and which teams will get stronger for the 2014 campaign. Yesterday we saw free agent OF Marlon Byrd sign a two-year, $16 million deal with the Philadelphia Philies. It was the first big free agent signing off the off-season and should jump-start some more deals in the very near future. I’m going to predict where the top 10 free agents will go in this piece (and no, Marlon Byrd wasn’t in my top 10), and we will see how well I did once all 10 players sign. 13 players were given a one year, $14.1 million qualifying offer from their 2013 teams and all 13 turned down the offers. So if any of those 13 players sign with a new team, the new team will have to forfeit their 2014 first round draft pick. If the new team has a top 10 pick in the 2014 MLB draft, they will then have to give up their second round pick.

The clear-cut top free agent is New York Yankees second baseman, Robinson Cano. The elite middle infielder possesses slick fielding abilities, a good batting average, and serious power for a second baseman. Cano is everything you look for in any player, not only just a second baseman. Back in September a report came out that Cano wanted a 10 year, $300-310 million contract, which turned off everybody. I don’t see how anybody can be willing to give any player that long of a deal and that much money, let alone Cano, after what has happened with the Alex Rodriguez deal and Albert Pujols deal. After the disasters of the A-Rod and Pujols deals, I don’t think any player will ever get a 10 year deal again, with exceptions for Angels OF Mike Trout, Nationals OF Bryce Harper, and Marlins OF Giancarlo Stanton, who are all still in their early 20’s and would have to sign extensions with their teams now. The top free agent starting pitcher is Masahiro Tanaka, from Japan. Tanaka is 25 years old and is expected to go through the MLB’s posting process soon. Tanaka is regarded to be not as great as Yu Darvish, but still able to be a reliable #2 pitcher in any teams rotation.

With my predictions, I will have the player’s name first, position second, and old team third. Afterwards, I will put what I think their new deal will be and with what new team at the end of a short summary about the player and their situation. Here are the predictions…

1.Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees – Most people expect Cano to return to the Yankees because many other teams will not be willing to meet Cano’s contract demands and because the Yankees will be missing a large portion of their offense if Cano were to leave. I agree and believe that Cano and the Yankees will meet somewhere in the middle on a new deal.
Prediction: 8 year, $181 million, New York Yankees.
Other Teams That Will Be Interested & In The Mix: Toronto Blue Jays, Detroit Tigers, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers.

2.Jacoby Ellsbury, CF/OF, Redsox: Jacoby Ellsbury is a tough case because he’s another player whose game relies heavily on his speed and defense. Ellsbury is 30 years old and has Scott Boras as his agent, so it will not be easy whatsoever to make a deal happen with Ells. Ellsbury hasn’t been known to produce power outside of his MVP caliber 2011 season where he hit a whopping 32 homers. Ellsbury is pretty much a case of a player who holds great speed (which will disappear more and more as he ages), great defense, and will get extra base-hits thanks to his speed. Some people think Boras will try to top Carl Crawford’s seven-year, $142 million deal that he signed with the Redsox in the 2011-2012 off-season. I don’t think that’ll happen.
Prediction: 6 years, $117 million, Seattle Mariners.
Other Teams That Will Be Interested & In The Mix: Boston Redsox, New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, Houston Astros, New York Mets, Chicago Cubs.

3.Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Reds: Choo is a 31-year-old outfielder who possesses solid power, a solid average, and a very good on-base percentage. He can also give you a steal here and there and is a very good lead-off hitter to have. Choo is another Boras client and will look to break the bank. A report surfaced last week that Boras was looking to break Jayson Werth’s $126 million contract that he signed with the Washington Nationals three years ago. If that’s the case, many teams will bow out of the race for Choo quickly. Choo is a solid all around player, but he’s not worth more than $120 million in any universe. The Reds would like him back, but it seems as if they won’t have the money to retain him, especially if a lot of other teams are vying for Choo’s services.
Prediction: Five years, $93 million, Texas Rangers.
Other Teams That Will Be Interested & In The Mix: New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, Seattle Mariners, Houston Astros, New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds.

4.Brian McCann, C, Braves: McCann is a soon to be 30-year-old, power hitting, solid defensive catcher. Guys like this don’t hit free agency often, but the Braves have Evan Gattis for behind the plate now. McCann has been injury riddled as well over the last couple of years but had a nice bounce back year this year and should have a lot of suitors and get paid well. AL teams make the most sense for McCann so he can DH and since he’s expected to garner a deal that’ll bring him into his mid-30’s and because of his big power that you will want to keep in the lineup everyday.
Prediction: 5 years, $80 million, New York Yankees.
Other Teams That Will Be Interested & In The Mix: Boston Redsox, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers.

5.Masahiro Tanaka, SP, Japan: Tanaka is regarded as the best starting pitcher on the market and will go through the usual posting process that mostly all Japanese players go through. All teams will have a chance to bid for the negotiating rights to Tanaka and the team that bids the most will get a 30 day window to sign Tanaka to a deal and if they don’t sign him they don’t get their posting fee money back. Tanaka isn’t as polished as Yu Darvish currently is, but he’s expected to be a very solid #2 starter and perhaps in time, a teams ace #1 pitcher. Expect a lot of suitors.
Prediction: 6 years, $66 million, New York Yankees. ($62 million posting fee, totaling $128 million spent with Tanaka).
Other Teams That Will Be Interested & In The Mix: Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels, Houston Astros, New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, Colorado Rockies, San Diego Padres.

6.Mike Napoli, 1B/DH, Redsox: Napoli had originally signed a three-year deal with Boston last off-season but a hip injury made both parties renegotiate for a one year deal. Napoli stayed healthy all year and had a solid year with the Sox, hitting 23 homers, with 92 RBI’s, and accounting for an .842 OPS.  The Redsox were hoping to be major players in the Jose Dariel Abreu sweepstakes but the Whitesox ultimately signed him, so the Redsox are back to negotiating with Napoli to come back again or be missing a huge piece of their offense in 2014. With not many options at first base and coming off a World Series victory, I expect the Redsox to pony up and give Napoli a new deal.
Prediction: 3 years, $44 million, Boston Redsox.
Other Teams That Will Be Interested & In The Mix: Texas Rangers, Houston Astros, Seattle Mariners, Colorado Rockies.

7.Carlos Beltran, OF, Cardinals: Beltran is entering free agency fresh off of a magnificent postseason in St.Louis, where many wondered if Beltran was the greatest postseason hitter of all time after the show he put on. Beltran stayed relatively healthy during his two years in St.Louis and still has plenty left in the tank. An AL team makes a lot of sense so Beltran can DH and get days off from the field with his past knee problems. With the lack of power in free agency this winter and Beltran coming off of two strong years in St.Louis, expect a lot of suitors for him. I don’t see a return to St.Louis because of the depth the Cards have and because they have the top prospect in all of baseball, OF Oscar Taveras, who is major league ready. Beltran is also probably more likely to want to go to a win-now team so he can get that World Series ring that he deserves.
Prediction: 2 years, $30 million, Pittsburgh Pirates.
Other Teams That Will Be Interested & In The Mix: New York Yankees, Boston Redsox, Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, Houston Astros, New York Mets, St.Louis Cardinals.

8.Stephen Drew, SS, Redsox: Drew is arguably the top free agent shortstop on the market and he will cost a draft pick to sign as he turned down Boston’s qualifying offer. With the market for shortstop’s so thin, Drew figures to get a nice big deal, especially with Scott Boras as his agent. Boston would like him back, but at what costs? Drew is one of the best defensive shortstops in the game and has some pop in his bat. Drew is also a lefty and will be 31 years old on opening day next season. Hard to pinpoint what kind of deal he will get with his age, attributes, and the bevy of teams that will try to sign him.
Prediction: 3 years, $42 million, Boston Redsox.
Other Teams That Will Be Interested & In The Mix: New York Yankees, New York Mets, St.Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates.

9.Ervin Santana, SP, Royals: Ervin Santana was traded last winter from the Angels to the Royals. The trade ending up being great for Santana, as he put together one of his best seasons in the MLB, going 9-10 (ignore the record, because the Royals offense was horrific at times in 2013), a 3.24 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 161 K’s, and 211 innings pitched. Santana was the #2 pitcher on a Royals rotation that was much improved with the acquisitions of himself and James Shields. Now Santana is a free agent, has four good seasons out of nine in the MLB, with all four of those seasons coming in the last six. Santana also has a no-hitter under his belt and is looking for a big payday this winter, as him and his agent are seeking a $100+ million contract over five years. Considering Anibal Sanchez, a better pitcher, signed a five-year, $80 million deal last winter, I don’t see Santana going over $100 million unless some team wants to go full on out of their mind and throw around money because they can. With the lack of free agent pitching this winter, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if Santana got that $100 million contract, considering the contracts we’ve seen doled out over the last few off-seasons.
Prediction: Five years, $82.5 million, Washington Nationals.
Other Teams That Will Be Interested & In The Mix: New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Angels, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres, Colorado Rockies.

10.Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Indians: Jimenez finished 2010 in the top three of the NL CY Young voting with the Colorado Rockies and has since fallen off big time. The Rockies traded him in 2011 to the Cleveland Indians and Jimenez found his old form in 2013 that made him a CY Young caliber pitcher back in 2010. Jimenez finished 2013 at 13-9, with a 3.30 ERA, 194 K’s, and a 1.33 WHIP. According to MLB Trade Rumors, from April 29th onward, Jimenez posted a 2.61 ERA, and was on fire to finish the season. Jimenez will be 30 years old on opening day of 2014, so he could get a nice big deal this winter, due to the thin market at SP, his age, and his past success.
Prediction: 4 years, $60 million, Los Angeles Angels.
Other Teams That Will be Interested & In The Mix: New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, Houston Astros, Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres.

Other Free Agents:
Curtis Granderson, OF, Yankees: Prediction – 3 years, $45 million, Chicago Whitesox.
Nelson Cruz, OF, Rangers: Prediction – 3 years, $42 million, New York Mets.
Matt Garza, SP, Rangers: Prediction – 4 years, $69 million, Los Angeles Dodgers.
Hiroki Kuroda, SP, Yankees: Prediction – 1 year, $15 million, New York Yankees.
Omar Infante, 2B, Tigers: Prediction – 3 years, $33 million, Detroit Tigers.
Joe Nathan, RP, Rangers: Prediction – 2 years, $25 million, Detroit Tigers.
Scott Kazmir, SP, Indians: Prediction – 2 years, $16 million, Cleveland Indians.
Johnny Peralta, SS, Tigers: Prediction – 2 years, $23 million, New York Mets.


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