The 2021 MLB season is finally upon us! After a year in which we went through the height of a pandemic and endured a 60 game shortened season, baseball has returned for a more normal season in 2021.
The schedule is back to normal with every team playing a 162 game schedule, traveling across time zones, and with fans (limited) in the stands again. And after a very busy offseason in terms of player moves, we get to see lots of faces in new places. The newly reigning NL Cy Young award winner, Trevor Bauer, left Cincinnati after a season and a half to sign a short-term megadeal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who were already draped in pitching depth and are fresh off a World Series championship. One of the most decorated postseason players in recent memory, George Springer, took his immense talents from Houston to Toronto on a six-year deal. Cleveland finally traded superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor to the New York Mets, a month after new owner Steve Cohen took full control of the team. Those are just a few of the major moves during the offseason but with the new season hours away from starting let’s look ahead and see what I think will happen in this exciting 2021 season
1. New York Mets (95-67)
2. Atlanta Braves (89-73)
3. Washington Nationals (86-76)
4. Philadelphia Phillies (84-78)
5. Miami Marlins (70-92)
1. Milwaukee Brewers (90-72)
2. St. Louis Cardinals (88-74)
3. Cincinnati Reds (82-80)
4. Chicago Cubs (80-82)
5. Pittsburgh Pirates (59-103)
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (105-57)
2. San Diego Padres (97-65)
3. Arizona Diamondbacks (80-82)
4. San Francisco Giants (76-86)
5. Colorado Rockies (64-98)
1. New York Yankees (100-62)
2. Tampa Bay Rays (90-72)
3. Toronto Blue Jays (86-76)
4. Boston Red Sox (77-85)
5. Baltimore Orioles (62-100)
1. Chicago White Sox (96-66)
2. Cleveland Indians (88-74)
3. Minnesota Twins (85-77)
4. Kansas City Royals (75-87)
5. Detroit Tigers (63-99)
1. Houston Astros (91-71)
2. Los Angeles Angels (85-77)
3. Oakland A’s (83-79)
4. Seattle Mariners (74-88)
5. Texas Rangers (66-96)
NL Wild Card Game:
San Diego Padres over Atlanta Braves
AL Wild Card Game:
Tampa Bay Rays over Cleveland Indians
Los Angeles Dodgers over San Diego Padres in 5 games, 3-2
New York Mets over Milwaukee Brewers in 4 games, 3-1
New York Yankees over Tampa Bay Rays in 4 games, 3-1
Chicago White Sox over Houston Astros in 5 games, 3-2
Los Angeles Dodgers over New York Mets in 6 games, 4-2
Chicago White Sox over New York Yankees in 7 games, 4-3
Los Angeles Dodgers over Chicago White Sox in 6 games, 4-2
Manny Machado, San Diego Padres
Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians
NL CY Young:
Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
AL CY Young:
Tyler Glasnow, Tampa Bay Rays
NL Rookie Of The Year:
Ian Anderson, SP, Atlanta Braves
AL Rookie Of The Year:
Andrew Vaughn, 1B/OF, Chicago White Sox
The Nationals pitching, including the big 3, is why they miss out on the playoffs
Fernando Tatis Jr. doesn’t live up to the hype in year 1 of his new megadeal
The Padres get their first no-hitter in franchise history
The Indians place three pitchers in the top six of AL Cy Young voting
Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge combine for 65 homers
The Mets have been one of the few active teams throughout free agency so far this offseason. Under new owner Steve Cohen, President Sandy Alderson, GM Jared Porter, and AGM Zack Scott, the team has been acting quick and diligently in upgrading the club as much as possible heading into the 2021 season. With many of the biggest name free agents still on the market headed into the year 2021, the Mets have already had a somewhat eventful offseason. The signings of catcher James McCann (4/40) and reliever Trevor May (2/15.5) have already immensely upgraded the team. The Mets needed an upgrade behind the plate and got one in the underrated McCann, who was the second-best catcher on the market behind J.T. Realmuto, who would’ve commanded a far higher salary than the 4/40 that McCann signed for. You can never have enough bullpen arms and the Mets nabbed one of the best ones on the market early, in Trevor May, who dominated for Minnesota the last few years.
In normal offseasons in the past, this would be the conclusion of a “fruitful” offseason for the Mets. That’s not the case anymore with the richest owner in the sport taking the helm of the team. The Mets believe the signings of May and McCann are just ancillary moves to bigger and better things. The Mets aren’t done making moves if Steve Cohen’s vision of winning a championship in his first 3-5 years is to be made true. For years Mets fans have been clamoring for the team to be involved on the biggest free agents but their penny pinching former owners, the Wilpons, would rarely make that move unless it was re-signing a player already with the team (David Wright, Yoenis Céspedes) or acquiring a superstar who was on the backend of their career (Robinson Cano (through trade), Michael Cuddyer, Rick Porcello). With the Wilpons out, a billionaire owner coming in, and a good chunk of payroll space before reaching the CBT, the Mets are slated to do major damage this winter.
The biggest free agents coming into this offseason were catcher J.T. Realmuto, CF George Springer, SP Trevor Bauer, INF D.J. LeMahieu, and LF/DH Marcell Ozuna. Amongst heavily reported big names on the trade market, you have Indians SS Francisco Lindor, Reds’ SP’s Luis Castillo & Sonny Gray, Reds 3B Eugenio Suarez, Cubs’ SS Javier Baez, 3B Kris Bryant, and C Wilson Contreras, and Rockies’ 3B Nolan Arenado & SS Trevor Story.
With a middle of the pact farm system and $52.7M in payroll flexibility until reaching the CBT (according to Spotrac) the Mets are widely expected to sign one of those big free agents (most likely candidates are Springer and Bauer) and be involved in trade discussions for most of those players listed on the trade market, perhaps even coming away with one of them. The Mets purposely pounced on McCann to be their catcher over Realmuto due to the significant difference in contract demands and the fact that signing McCann would allow for more team payroll to be spread out to bigger and/or more needs. Now I will pretend to be Mets management and outline how I’d play the rest of this offseason…
Move #1: Sign CF George Springer to a 5 year, $115M deal ($23M AAV)
The Mets desperately need an upgrade defensively in center field and a big-time veteran bat, so why not grab both of those things in former World Series MVP George Springer? Springer is arguably the best leadoff hitter in baseball, possessing major power, solid speed, and solid contact skills. His power could easily translate to a middle of the order bat if the Mets wanted to go with Brandon Nimmo or Jeff McNeil in the leadoff spot. Springer would be a clear upgrade defensively in center, taking over for Nimmo who will slide into left field. Springer is already 31 years old, so his primary defensive position of centerfield scares me a bit, which is why under no circumstances would I go over 5 years for Springer. If someone wants to go over 5 years for Springer (I’m looking at you, Toronto), then they can have him. A starting outfield of Nimmo, Springer, and Conforto for the next 5 years sure sounds nice.
Move #2: Trade 3B/DH J.D. Davis ($2.3M ARB EST, ARB1), SS Ronny Mauricio (NYM #1 Prospect), and SP Josh Wolf (NYM #9 Prospect) to the Cincinnati Reds for SP Luis Castillo ($4.0M ARB EST, ARB1)
Some people will read this and think I’m nuts for thinking of trading Davis and the #1 prospect in the farm system. While a package headlined like that is a steep price to pay, that’s right around what it would cost to acquire Castillo from Cincinnati. Castillo has three years of team control left before he hits free agency, is projected to make $4M in 2021 as a first-time arbitration-eligible player, and has pitched like an ace for two straight years now. He’s 28 years old and would be a perfect #2 to deGrom’s #1 in the rotation. Castillo has high strikeout numbers, a decent career WHIP, and brings lots of energy to the field when he’s starting. Castillo is good enough right now to win a Cy Young award and that’s why the trade package would need to be strong to get him with at least half the league exploring it since it was reported that the Reds were listening to offers for Castillo. I included Mauricio because of how much Cincinnati would probably want him, combined with the fact that the Mets currently have two highly regarded young shortstops already on the major league roster and the impending probability that the Mets make a run at one of the star shortstops slated to hit free agency a year from now. Davis is included so they add some punch to their lineup right away and have a Eugenio Suarez replacement ready, if and when Cincinnati trades him. A deGrom-Castillo 1-2 for the next 3 years at minimum is a scary thought for the rest of the NL. This may be a steep price on the Mets’ end, but you gotta pay a premium for an ascending star pitcher with three affordable years of control left. The package also has to be worthwhile for Cincinnati to even consider it as well. You also get a cheaper insurance policy incase one or both of Syndergaard and Stroman bolt next year.
Move #3: Sign Japanese SP Tomoyuki Sugano to a 2-3 year, $26-39M deal ($13M AAV)
The Mets desperately need starting pitching help behind Jacob deGrom and that’s what’s happening here. Sugano is the biggest international free agent being made available this free agency, coming over from the NPB in Japan, which is regarded as the toughest baseball league in the world after MLB. Sugano is 31 years old, has dominated for the last half-decade, and hasn’t had an ERA above 2.14, outside of 2019 when he dealt with a back injury. He isn’t a huge strikeout guy but still produces strikeouts at a good clip. Multiple reports say that it’ll only be a 2-3 year deal for Sugano’s first MLB contract and should cost somewhere between $12-15M annually. Going off that, the Mets would be crazy not to be in on Sugano (they have been, according to multiple reports), and make the starting rotation as deep and tough as it can be compared to 2020. Sugano finished the 2020 season with a 14-2 record, 1.97 ERA, and a 0.88 WHIP, so he’d be coming over after a very strong final season in Japan.
Move #4: Sign LHRP Brad Hand to a 1 year, $9M deal
The Mets could surely use one more bullpen piece to create a scary force when the starting pitcher exits. The team is desperate for another left-handed reliever and Hand will give them that, plus immense closing experience. The Indians shockingly declined a $10M option on Hand’s contract, making him a free agent this offseason. Hand has 105 career saves under his belt, an ERA that’s never been higher than 3.30 since 2015, league average WHIP, and great strikeout numbers. Add that to Edwin Diaz, Seth Lugo, Dellin Betances, Trevor May, Jeurys Familia, and Brad Brach, and you got yourself a menacing bullpen.
Current Projected Mets 2021 Payroll: $157.28M (according to Spotrac)
Projected Mets 2021 Payroll With My Additions: $203.98M ($157.28+$46.7M)
Still leaves the team with $6.02M before hitting the CBT
C: James McCann
1B: Pete Alonso/Dominic Smith
2B: Jeff McNeil
3B: Andres Gimenez
SS: Amed Rosario
OF: Brandon Nimmo
OF: George Springer
OF: Michael Conforto
DH: Dominic Smith/Pete Alonso
BN: Mallex Smith (OF)
BN: Tomas Nido (C)
BN: Luis Guillorme (INF)
BN: Marwin Gonzalez or Danny Santana (UTIL)
SP: Jacob deGrom
SP: Luis Castillo
SP: Tomoyuki Sugano
SP: Marcus Stroman
SP: Noah Syndergaard (David Peterson during Noah’s rehab)
RP: Edwin Diaz
RP: Seth Lugo
RP: Trevor May
RP: Dellin Betances
RP: Brad Hand
RP: Jeurys Familia
RP: Brad Brach
RP: David Peterson (Miguel Castro while Peterson starts the first 2-3 months)
The 2020 MLB season has come and gone in the blink of an eye. That’s to be expected with this 60 game shortened season but I’m not sure anyone expected it to go by this fast. With this season we’ve seen quite a few unexpected teams and players surprise us and either make playoff berths or have breakout seasons. Major League Baseball also expanded the playoff system this season from 8 to 16 teams and creating a new best 2-out-of-3 wild card series before the division series’. The higher seeds in those wild card series will be the home team for all three potential games. The World Series will be held at the Texas Rangers’ new ballpark in Arlington. The American League field will play at Dodger Stadium and Petco Park starting in the ALDS, while the National League field will play at Minute Maid Park and Globe Life Park starting with the NLDS. There will also be no off days between games in each series besides the World Series.
For the first time I will be doing an “All MLB Team” like the NBA does their “First Team All NBA” and the NFL does their “First Team All Pro” teams. I will also be doing an “All Rookie Team” as well, despite MLB not doing either of those at all. And of course I will be making my postseason picks as well. Let’s get to it
NL Wild Card Series:
#1 Los Angeles Dodgers over #8 Milwaukee Brewers 2-0
#7 Cincinnati Reds over #2 Atlanta Braves 2-1
#6 Miami Marlins over #3 Chicago Cubs 2-1
#4 San Diego Padres over #5 St.Louis Cardinals 2-1
AL Wild Card Series:
#1 Tampa Bay Rays over #8 Toronto Blue Jays 2-1
#7 Chicago White Sox over #2 Oakland A’s 2-1
#6 Houston Astros over #3 Minnesota Twins 2-1
#4 Cleveland Indians over #5 New York Yankees 2-1
#1 Los Angeles Dodgers over #4 San Diego Padres 3-1
#7 Cincinnati Reds over #6 Miami Marlins 3-1
#1 Tampa Bay Rays over #4 Cleveland Indians 3-2
#7 Chicago White Sox over #6 Houston Astros 3-1
#1 Los Angeles Dodgers over #7 Cincinnati Reds 4-2
#1 Tampa Bay Rays over #7 Chicago White Sox 4-2
#1 Los Angeles Dodgers over #1 Tampa Bay Rays 4-2
NL: Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta Braves
AL: Jose Ramirez, 3B, Cleveland Indians
Cy Young Awards:
NL: Trevor Bauer, SP, Cincinnati Reds
AL: Shane Bieber, SP, Cleveland Indians
Rookie Of The Year Awards:
NL: Devin Williams, RP, Milwaukee Brewers
AL: Kyle Lewis, OF, Seattle Mariners
Comeback Player Of The Year Awards:
NL: Trevor Bauer, SP, Cincinnati Reds
AL: Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins
Manager Of The Year Awards:
NL: Jayce Tingler, San Diego
AL: Kevin Cash, Tampa Bay
ALL MLB Team:
C: J.T. Realmuto, Philadelphia Phillies
1B: Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
2B: D.J. LeMahieu, New York Yankees
3B: Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians
SS: Tim Anderson, Chicago White Sox
OF: Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers
OF: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
OF: Juan Soto, Washington Nationals
SP: Shane Bieber, Cleveland Indians
RP: Devin Williams, Milwaukee Brewers
ALL Rookie Team:
C: Sean Murphy, Oakland A’s
1B: Jared Walsh, Los Angeles Angels
2B: Jake Cronenworth, San Diego Padres
3B: Alec Bohm, Philadelphia Phillies
SS: Willi Castro, Detroit Tigers
OF: Kyle Lewis, Seattle Mariners
OF: Luis Robert, Chicago White Sox
OF: Ryan Mountcastle, Baltimore Orioles
SP: Tony Gonsolin, Los Angeles Dodgers
RP: Devin Williams, Milwaukee Brewers
The 2020 MLB season is finally upon us! After a tumultuous 9 months, the world’s greatest game is returning, albeit in a shortened 60 games in 66 days sprint of a season. For reasons all too obvious the 2020 MLB season was delayed by 4 months, thus forcing this season that is barely over a third of a normal season. This creates lots of different options for postseason picks because all it can take is a team storming out of the gates hot that could set itself up in prime position for a playoff spot. Remember the Mets starting their season 11-1 a couple of years ago? Or what about the hot start the Mariners got out to last year? Have either of these teams been to the playoffs in the last few years? No, and in the Mariners’ case, not even at least in the last decade. Now in a 60 game sprint, getting off to those types of starts is almost paramount and gives a team or teams a huge leg up during this sprint of a season. Any teams that get off to, say a 5-10 start, may already start to panic this season but not normally during a 162 game full season. Here are some tidbits before we take a look at my picks: I believe 2020 very well may be the year of the underdog and we may well see multiple surprise teams making the playoffs ahead of their rebuilding schedules. So without further ado, here are the picks
1. New York Yankees (39-21)
2. Tampa Bay Rays (36-24) *
3. Toronto Blue Jays (24-36)
4. Boston Red Sox (19-41)
5. Baltimore Orioles (14-46)
1. Chicago White Sox (34-26)
2. Minnesota Twins (33-27) *
3. Cleveland Indians (28-32) *
4. Kansas City Royals (17-43)
5. Detroit Tigers (13-47)
1. Houston Astros (35-25)
2. Oakland A’s (31-29) *
3. Texas Rangers (27-33) *
4. Los Angeles Angels (24-36)
5. Seattle Mariners (20-40)
1. Atlanta Braves (34-26)
2. New York Mets (32-28) *
3. Washington Nationals (30-30) *
4. Philadelphia Phillies (28-32) *
5. Miami Marlins (15-45)
1. Cincinnati Reds (35-25)
2. St.Louis Cardinals (31-29) *
3. Chicago Cubs (28-32)
4. Milwaukee Brewers (24-36)
5. Pittsburgh Pirates (16-44)
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (39-21)
2. San Diego Padres (30-30) *
3. Arizona Diamondbacks (27-33)
4. Colorado Rockies (21-39)
5. San Francisco Giants (12-48)
AL Wild Card Series:
#1 New York Yankees over #8 Texas Rangers 2-0
#2 Houston Astros over #7 Cleveland Indians 2-1
#6 Oakland A’s over #3 Chicago White Sox 2-1
#4 Tampa Bay Rays over #5 Minnesota Twins 2-1
NL Wild Card Series:
#1 Los Angeles Dodgers over #8 Philadelphia Phillies 2-0
#2 Cincinnati Reds over #7 Washington Nationals 2-1
#3 Atlanta Braves over #6 San Diego Padres 2-0
#4 New York Mets over #5 St.Louis Cardinals 2-1
#4 Tampa Bay Rays over #1 New York Yankees 3-2
#6 Oakland A’s over #2 Houston Astros 3-2
#1 Los Angeles Dodgers over #4 New York Mets 3-2
#2 Cincinnati Reds over #3 Atlanta Braves 3-1
#4 Tampa Bay Rays over #6 Oakland A’s 4-2
#1 Los Angeles Dodgers over #2 Cincinnati Reds 3-2
#1 Los Angeles Dodgers over #4 Tampa Bay Rays 4-2
AL MVP: Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago White Sox
NL MVP: Cody Bellinger, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
AL Cy Young: Mike Clevinger, SP, Cleveland Indians
NL Cy Young: Luis Castillo, SP, Cincinnati Reds
AL Rookie Of The Year: Luis Robert, CF, Chicago White Sox
NL Rookie Of The Year: Shogo Akiyama, OF, Cincinnati Reds
AL Manager Of The Year: Rick Rentería, Chicago White Sox
NL Manager Of The Year: Luis Rojas, New York Mets
The New York Knicks whiffed big in 2020 free agency. How is that any different from prior offseasons? The Knicks have stunk it up for the better part of the last 20 years and have become a franchise so defunct and unstable, that big-time free agents don’t even consider New York a viable destination. LeBron and Bosh in 2010? That was a nice dream. LeBron again in 2014? There was even less hope then. LaMarcus Aldridge in 2015? He laughed at president Phil Jackson for suggesting he’d play center. Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, or Kyrie Irving in 2019? None even considered the Knicks, while two of them (Durant and Irving) signed with the Knicks’ cross-town rivals, the Brooklyn Nets. So why is it that marquee free agents won’t even look in the direction of the Knicks, let alone actually sign with them? It all starts from inside and at the top, with owner James Dolan always meddling.
Now it’s easy to put it all on Dolan, and a majority of it is. Although this doesn’t go without mentioning that, now ex-president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry have not done a very good job of running the team since they were paired together and Dolan took a little bit of a backseat to them when Perry was hired in 2017. All the Knicks have done in that time is fire two head coaches, fail to make the playoffs, whiff on key free agents, poorly develop the young talent, and remained amongst the three worst teams in basketball each season. Not only that but for some odd reason the front office decided it’d be a good idea to sign a bunch of power forwards in free agency after missing out on Durant and Irving, their preferred duo. Now granted, one of those power forwards was Julius Randle, an emerging young star in the league who played his first four seasons with the Lakers and then left for New Orleans, where his skill set really shined and exploded. Another one of those power forwards is Marcus Morris Sr., who originally had a deal with the Spurs but wound up changing his mind to come to New York. Morris had been a very pleasant surprise this season with his scoring, toughness, attitude, and locker room leadership. A nice little find there on a one year deal and they were able to flip him to the LA Clippers for a first-round pick and a useful forward in Moe Harkless. I liked the Julius Randle signing when I’d heard about it and at three years and $63 million, I thought it was great value. Only half a season in and that deal has not lived up to the billing at all. Randle is still a nice player but he doesn’t appear to fit in with the system. Could Randle turn it around? Of course, the guy is super talented as he showed you in Los Angeles and more so New Orleans. In yet another lost season, it would definitely behoove the Knicks to float Randle’s name out there in trade talks after this season.
There’s also failed trades with this regime that appears out the door. There was attempting to trade a than still injured Kristaps Porzingiz and potentially more for Anthony Davis when he was in New Orleans. That didn’t work out, so they dumped Porzingis to Dallas for two future 1sts, young point guard Dennis Smith Jr., and immense salary relief. Not only did New York miss out on the top tier free agents with the room created by trading Porzingis but what they got in return didn’t contribute anything, although two future first-round picks (2021 & 2023) will allow this trade to not be properly evaluated for close to a decade. With Mills having been recently fired and impending team president Leon Rose needing an experienced and well regarded general manager under him, Scott Perry is all but out the door as well. Will this new regime bring different results? It remains to be seen but above all Dolan has to keep his input out and just write the checks.
Now with a new regime coming in does that mean that free agents will automatically start eyeing New York as a viable destination? Not at all, not at least until they see how they develop talent and/or how involved Dolan is with the day to day operations of the organization. The great news for the new management team coming in is that the old regime has done a solid job building up draft capital for them to use, which includes two first-round picks in 2020, 2021, and 2023, and seven 1st round picks in total over the next 4 drafts. There’s also what looks like two solid foundational pieces in place with shooting guard RJ Barrett and center Mitchell Robinson. Both have had up and down rookie and sophomore seasons, respectively, but have shown plenty of flashes of immense potential in their game. The Knicks can hold onto all of their upcoming draft picks and try to build a homegrown powerhouse but being able to hit on quite a few draft picks like that is extremely tough and we don’t know what kind of track record the new GM will have when it comes to drafting talent. There’s also the fact that Dolan still lurks in the background and may want to win right away (who doesn’t) and push for at least some of that draft capital be moved for an established star(s), which looks to be the only way the Knicks are getting a superstar to join them for a while.
Should the Knicks trade away all that capital for established players? No, but this team needs an identity and a leader to push them into the future. At the start of writing this, I had a player like Karl-Anthony Towns as a prime target the Knicks should be after but as of this writing Towns has been joined by explosive point guard D’Angelo Russell in Minnesota thanks to a blockbuster trade on deadline day between the Wolves and Warriors. With KAT being joined by another young superstar and both being locked into long term contracts, the Knicks have no chance of landing either in the foreseeable future. The only superstars at the moment I can think of that will be involved in trade rumors this summer are Cleveland PF/C Kevin Love and Washington SG Bradley Beal, the former whom I wouldn’t pursue and the latter whom I would definitely consider if you think RJ Barrett can slide over to small forward and stick there. Many “experts” are in agreement that the upcoming 2020 NBA draft is weak after the first 2-3 picks, so I would definitely dangle our own top 5-10 pick if it doesn’t land 1 or 2 in a trade for an established star. Amongst the seven picks the Knicks own in the next 4 drafts is their own in each year, the LA Clippers’ 2020 and Dallas’ 2021 and 2023 (top 10 protected through 2025). You have to figure that the three picks incoming from other teams will be low picks (in the 20’s) judging by how those teams are presently constructed and operate. So the only picks you expect to be high, and not high for long hopefully, will be the Knicks’ own picks.
There shouldn’t be any hesitation to trade one or multiple of the incoming 1st rounders if it means bringing in well regarded established talent that can help win now. If a scenario arises where the Knicks can obtain a star (such as Beal) on draft night and they don’t own picks #1 or #2, I’d be heavily inclined to pull the trigger. If the Knicks are lucky enough to get the #1 or #2 pick in the draft, I’d be all over Georgia SG/SF Anthony Edwards and former Memphis C James Wiseman. I’m not currently enamored with any other draft prospects outside of Edwards and Wiseman, so I’d heavily consider trading the NY 1st (with more potentially) in the right deal. Getting a star in MSG will automatically help attract other stars into wanting to play at MSG as well. The 2021 NBA draft and free agency classes are both expected to be way deeper than 2020, so the Knicks would be better suited to keep their payroll clear of long term agreements and their picks (or at least their own) in 2021.
The way to build the Knicks, even more so with the extra draft capital, is through trades and player development. Without an established star patrolling the hardwood in orange & blue at Madison Square Garden, the organization and fan base need not look to free agency for improvement as no one wants to willingly play here. Draft lottery night can’t get here quick enough to see what the next development in the Knicks franchise will be.
The 2019 NFL regular season has culminated and we are ready for the playoffs to begin. We have the same division winners in the AFC (New England, Baltimore, Houston, Kansas City) but the two wildcard teams are new. We have the surprising upstart Buffalo Bills holding down the #5 seed at 10-6 and the Tennessee Titans securing the #6 seed at 9-7, just narrowly edging out the Pittsburgh Steelers for the final spot.
In the NFC, we have only one repeat division champion (New Orleans), while the same two wildcard teams from last year made it, albeit one is now a division winner (Philadelphia). The San Francisco 49ers shocked everyone when they went 13-3 to secure the NFC West title and the #1 seed in the NFC. The Seattle Seahawks also return to the postseason for the second season in a row as the #5 seed. The Green Bay Packers had a resurgent season under first-year head coach Matt LaFleur, finishing at 12-4, atop the NFC North, and earning a first-round bye. The Minnesota Vikings return to the postseason for the second time in three years, clinching the 6th and final seed in the NFC, thanks to a fully healthy season from running back Dalvin Cook and great play by QB Kirk Cousins from October onward. The biggest shock of all may be that last year’s NFC representative in the Super Bowl, the Los Angeles Rams, failed to even qualify for the playoffs this season, finishing at 9-7. From 13-3 and a Super Bowl berth to 9-7 and on the outside looking in, what a fall from grace in one season for the Rams. Luckily for them, they’re still set up to have a very nice future and they get to move into their new LA Stadium in Englewood in August.
Other teams that you could say underperformed on expectations would be the Cleveland Browns (6-10), Dallas Cowboys (8-8), Jacksonville Jaguars (6-10), Chicago Bears (8-8), and LA Chargers (5-11). A weird season for sure but another fun one nonetheless. The draft order is set 1-20 with the final 12 spots to be determined in the next few weeks. So with that, we can officially launch the year’s first mock draft. The new crop of NFL prospects entering the league leans heavily offense in the first round, which you don’t get to say too often for draft classes. Most notably it is expected to run heavy on wide receivers as many are calling this one of the greatest draft classes for the wide receiver position. So let’s get to it, shall we?
The draft order from 25-32 is based on current records going into Divisional Round weekend.
*All team needs were researched on thedraftnetwork.com*
1.Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU – The Bengals will finally wave goodbye to the Andy Dalton era when they select their new quarterback of the future with the #1 overall pick in the 2020 draft. Dalton guided the Bengals to a few playoff appearances during his tenure but he never took that next big step to be elite and could never make it to the AFC Title game. The fact that the Bengals went 2-14 and benched Dalton during a stretch of the season tells you all you need to know about where they expected to finish and what their plans were. Burrow was the best QB in college football by a mile this season thanks to an incredible 77.6% completion rate, 55 touchdown passes, and only six interceptions. He has gone from a 5th-6th round prospect (coming into the season according to Todd McShay of ESPN) to what’s essentially an automatic lock of a #1 overall pick. Transferring from Ohio State to LSU sure worked out in Joe’s favor.
2. Washington Redskins: Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State – Many experts and analysts are saying Young is a better pass rusher than both of the Bosa brothers. Pretty crazy to say considering how good the Bosa’s are but if you watched the tape on Young, you’d understand why he’s held in such high regard. The thing that sticks out to me about Young compared to the Bosa’s is I believe Young is noticeably faster with his first move and additional moves to get to the quarterback. Young is easily the best edge rusher in this class and that’s exactly what the Redskins need to add to their rebuilding team.
3. Detroit Lions: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia – The Lions lost quarterback Matthew Stafford 10 weeks into the season. They could definitely use an edge rusher like Young but no one else is as worthy of being selected this high at that position. Detroit boasts a nice receiving corps with Marvin Jones Jr., Kenny Golladay, and tight end T.J. Hockenson, so protecting Stafford is a must if they want any chance to stay in games and to get Stafford closer to a Super Bowl berth before his time is up. Crazy to think that Stafford was the #1 overall pick out of Georgia 11 years ago. 11! Before it’s too late the Lions need to upgrade the offensive line and better protect their franchise QB. Thomas is the consensus best offensive lineman in this draft and can play both tackle spots.
4. New York Giants: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State – The Giants would love to grab Chase Young as well but alas he’s gone. Perhaps the Giants shouldn’t have tried so hard to win those last couple contests against the Redskins and Dolphins. Regardless, the Giants could use help all over their defense and getting a stud corner like Okudah would be a big step in rebuilding that defense. Ohio State has done a great job recently of producing big-time NFL ready corners. The other option here would be to target the offensive line with Young off the board.
5. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama – This is a tough spot for the Dolphins as they can potentially get a franchise quarterback at #5, but has dealt with his fair share of injuries in his collegiate career and is currently recovering from a very bad hip injury. If not for the injury concerns, we would be talking about Tua at the top of the draft with Burrow and Young. Miami currently roles with Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB but need a future stud franchise QB and if not for the injuries, wouldn’t normally have a chance to grab Tua at 5. There’s also the possibility that Miami doesn’t like the medical outlook for Tua and decide to pass on him. I feel that Tua will be recovered enough from the hip injury in time for the draft and medical advancements have come far enough where an injury like this can be put in the rearview mirror. Miami grabs their future QB and Josh Rosen loses again.
6. Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon – It looks as if it’s time to move on from the Philip Rivers era for the Chargers. The Chargers fell from 12-4 in 2018 to 5-11 in 2019 and the worst team in their division. A 7 game swing that had to do with the whole team but a lot to do with the decline of Rivers, who’s been at the helm of the Chargers since week 1 of the 2006 season and hasn’t missed a game since. After this past season and reaching the age of 38, it may be time to change eras. The Giants did it this past season by letting last years #6 overall pick Daniel Jones take over for legend Eli Manning and he balled out and has Giants fans very eager to see what’s next from him in 2020. Pittsburgh may be thinking of doing the same with Ben Roethlisberger, who endured a season-ending injury in September and had to roll with their backup and third-string quarterbacks the rest of the way. Herbert may not have the upside and ceiling of Tua or Burrow, but he was in the conversation for the #1 overall pick last year before returning to school and improving a bit this season. LA could definitely give Herbert a year to study Rivers if they decided to like Rivers did for TWO seasons behind Drew Brees in 2004 and 2005.
7. Carolina Panthers: Derrick Brown, IDL, Auburn – The Panthers need help across their defensive line and they get the best true lineman in the draft. The Panthers could go QB here if they feel they want to move on from Cam Newton but I’d shy away from that and try to get the team right in order for one more run with Newton at the helm, although this team may be on the verge of a rebuild.
8. Arizona Cardinals: Jedrick Wills Jr., OT, Alabama – The number one thing any team should do after drafting a franchise quarterback is to beef up that offensive line as much and as quick as possible to get the most out of him during his rookie contract and to make sure he can stay upright and learn the game. The Cardinals took a major chance on Kyler Murray #1 overall in 2019 after spending the #10 pick in 2018 on UCLA QB Josh Rosen (currently in Miami, may be hurt again by his team drafting a QB as I have them doing). Now in order to make that decision work, they need to protect Kyler better and give him a chance to make plays and guide Arizona back up the NFC West standings, although that may take some more time with how great that division currently is. I struggled with putting the first receiver here but think protecting Murray is more essential.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama – Jeudy is the most polished wide receiver prospect since Amari Cooper to most analysts, even Julio Jones. Do you see the common denominator amongst those three? They all went to Alabama, which continues to churn out NFL ready talent at the wide receiver position. This is also without mentioning Calvin Ridley, who had an amazing sophomore season with the Atlanta Falcons, playing alongside Jones. The Jags could use help along with their back seven on defense but I don’t see a secondary prospect leaping up to this spot and I think Jacksonville would opt for the elite wide receiver prospect over linebacker Isiah Simmons from Clemson.
10. Cleveland Browns: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa – The Browns need help all over but no more than on the offensive line. Cleveland endured a disastrous season after making headline moves during the offseason. An offense that includes #1 overall pick quarterback Baker Mayfield, running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, and tight end David Njoku, should not have sputtered all season, save for Njoku (who was hurt a majority of the year), Chubb (who more than carried his end of the load), and Hunt (who provided somewhat of a spark after his activation from the suspended listín the second half of the season). It all starts upfront with the offensive line that failed to protect Mayfield and didn’t allow the offense to click the way it should have. There’s no guards or centers worth taking this high but there’s Wirfs out of Iowa, who can play tackle and be a key future blocker for Mayfield.
11. New York Jets: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma – The Jets need help mostly at receiver, offensive line, edge rusher, and corner. There’s no corner or offensive lineman worth taking this high, leaving edge rusher A.J. Epenesa from Iowa, linebacker Isiah Simmons out of Clemson, who at this point would be considered having fell in the draft and would be somewhat of an ancillary pick for the Jets, or the run of wideouts behind Jeudy that includes his teammate Henry Ruggs III, Lamb from Oklahoma, and Tee Higgins from Clemson. Entering year three of the Sam Darnold era, the Jets need to give him all the help they can now and with no offensive lineman to take here, they need to get Darnold a future #1 receiver to help run the offense. Lamb is 6’2, 190 lbs, but doesn’t possess burner speed. Either way, Lamb profiles to be a #1 option regardless and that’s what the Jets need to give Darnold, especially if Robby Anderson leaves in free agency, which I suspect he will.
12. Oakland Raiders: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson – The Raiders’ biggest needs are linebacker and wideout. The way this mock draft has shaken out, they land in a great position to grab one of the top receivers left or grab the sliding top linebacker in the draft in Simmons. I would’ve normally gone Simmons here thanks to his slide but with the Raiders moving to Las Vegas next season and starting a new era, I feel the organization may want to make a “flashier” move heading into their new city and building, thus taking a skill position player like Higgins. This also fits the motto of the Raiders, most specifically former owner Al Davis. This move makes more sense as well if the Raiders commit to Derek Carr and want to give him help and any hope at succeeding.
13. Indianapolis Colts: A,J, Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa – The Colts could go a few different directions here but grab the second edge rusher of the draft to bolster their defense and fill a need. I believe the Colts are comfortable enough with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback, so they won’t reach for one here. They could definitely use receiver help but I believe they’ll fill that in free agency/later rounds of the draft. Getting the second-best edge rusher at #13 is a nice coup, even if it’s a decent drop off from Chase Young.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Javon Kinlaw, IDL, South Carolina – The Bucs could use help across their offensive line and maybe even quarterback if they decide to move on from Jameis Winston, which I don’t believe they will. That leaves the interior of their defensive line to address and running back. I like this year running back class but not enough to put someone up at #14. That gives me Javon Kinlaw for the pick, an interior lineman who’s shot up draft boards and would certainly help that Bucs defense that got its offense into quite a few shootouts in 2019.
15. Denver Broncos: Isiah Simmons, LB, Clemson – Denver has five primary needs (wide receiver, offensive tackle, cornerback, safety, and linebacker). This is a very tough choice between Simmons and LSU safety Grant Delpit. I went with Simmons considering the slide he’s had and the fact that most analysts have him as a top-five player. Getting a top-five player at #15 is a steal and Denver is a good organization that will get what they expect out of Simmons. It also helps that Denver is expected to have amongst the most cap room of any team in free agency and can fill their other needs through there.
16. Atlanta Falcons: Grant Delpit, S, LSU – The best safety in the draft and someone I think is a just slightly lesser version of Jamal Adams, falls to 16 and helps try to revamp this ATL defense.
17. Dallas Cowboys: C,J, Henderson, CB, Florida – The Cowboys add some much needed defensive help, although it isn’t a front seven guy. Henderson is the second-best corner in a draft relatively weak with corner help in my opinion. Henderson will be a welcome addition to a defense that could use help all over.
18. Miami Dolphins (From Pittsburgh: Austin Jackson, OT, USC – The Dolphins use their second first-round pick on a big offensive tackle to protect their new franchise quarterback. Jackson was a top half of the first-round prospect going into this season but slipped with an up and down season. This could be a steal for Miami.
19. Las Vegas Raiders (From Chicago): Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford – The Raiders hit their biggest need at 13 with the Higgins pick but now need to get right in their secondary and Adebo gives them much needed secondary help.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (From Los Angeles (N)): Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU – The Jags use their second first-round pick, like Vegas, to grab a corner to go with their earlier wideout selection. This is a need after trading Jalen Ramsey to Los Angeles.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama – The Eagles badly need an injection of young talent at the wide receiver position for Carson Wentz. The group Philly put out in 2019 couldn’t stay on the field and Carson Wentz was heavily using his tight ends by the end of the season. Get Wentz some help with a burner like Ruggs III.
22. Buffalo Bills: Terrell Lewis, EDGE, Alabama – The Bills could use a younger long term wide receiver for Josh Allen but I think they can get someone in round 2. Buffalo needs to work on that pass rush after a surprising season that saw them finish 10-6 and make it to the postseason.
23. New England Patriots: Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State – The Patriots boasted the best defense in 2019 but that didn’t help them avoid a first-round playoff exit vs Tennessee. Although Gross-Matos is a defensive player, they could use more depth and long term pieces. I believe Bellichick will help the offense through free agency vets.
24. New Orleans Saints: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama – The Saints could use someone to roam the middle of the field, a legit #2 to Mike Thomas, an interior offensive lineman, or another corner to pair with Marshon Lattimore. I decided to go with Diggs after the way Kirk Cousins was somewhat able to throw on the New Orleans secondary in the playoff game. NOLA does a good job finding offensive linemen late.
25. Tennessee Titans: K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU – The Titans are still amongst the final 8 teams playing, which is a testament to how great a job Mike Vrable has done and the amazing season that Derrick Henry had. Tennessee needs help on both of its lines and needs to rush the quarterback better and they get a guy in Chaisson who’s great value at 25.
26. Minnesota Vikings: Tyler Biadasz, G/C, Wisconsin – The Vikings grab an offensive lineman out of the offensive linemen factory known as Wisconsin. They could go for a corner here but I think the value with Biadasz at this spot works better.
27. Miami Dolphins (From Houston): J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State – Dobbins is neck-and-neck with DeAndre Swift of Georgia for the title of best running back in this class. It’s a toss-up really but I lean Dobbins and he’d fit in perfectly with the young nucleus Miami is trying to build on offense.
28. Seattle Seahawks: Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado – Shenault Jr. joins the impressive wide receiver class of 2020 thanks to good route running, contested catch ability, and his 6’2, 220 lb frame. He isn’t a burner but he’ll fit in perfectly alongside Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf. Another new weapon for Russ Wilson.
29. Kansas City Chiefs: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma – Murray fits KC perfectly, he can stuff the run and cover running backs and tight ends with his speed and size. At 29, Murray is a steal for the Chiefs here and he’s exactly what they need.
30. Green Bay Packers: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU – The Packers could use more depth at receiver and the next best receiver is Jefferson out of LSU. This kid can fly and make tough catches. He can be dominant as well, based off his 4 touchdown catches in the first half against Oklahoma in their CFP semifinal game. Aaron Rodgers will love this pick.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama – The second-best safety in this class falls to the Niners at 31. McKinney fits the team perfectly and will help improve this young improving defense.
32. Baltimore Ravens: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama – Yes, this is the THIRD wide receiver from Alabama being drafted in the first round. Goes to show how great Alabama is at prepping its wideouts for the NFL. Lamar Jackson needs weapons at wide receiver badly and this positional pick will be very popular for Baltimore as the draft gets near.
Questions or comments? Leave a comment or tweet me at @ScoreboardSteve
The 2019 NFL season is upon us with the Chicago Bears playing host to the Green Bay Packers on opening night. This matchup pits the team that won the NFC North last season (Chicago) against their longtime biggest division rivals from Green Bay, who’re looking to reclaim the division with a new coaching staff in place that Aaron Rodgers is eager to get to work with. It should be a great game with the top flight Bears defense going at it with Aaron Rodgers and the high octane offense of the Packers. It’s truly a great way to start the 2019 season without featuring the reigning champs (New England).
We witnessed an incredible 2018 season that saw youngster Pat Mahomes take the league by storm and capture his first NFL MVP award and guide the Chiefs all the way to an overtime loss in the AFC Title game. We also saw rookie quarterbacks take over the league as Baker Mayfield (Cleveland), Sam Darnold (New York Jets), Josh Allen (Buffalo), and Lamar Jackson (Baltimore) all had impressive rookie seasons that has fans eager to see how they all respond in their sophomore seasons. The Rams and Chargers brought playoff football back to Los Angeles in a big way, with the Rams reaching the Super Bowl thanks to an incredibly high powered offense. That high powered offense didn’t show up in the Super Bowl though, as they were crippled by the Patriots defense in a 13-3 defensive slug fest.
That brings us to the 2019 season and seeing who progresses and regresses, which I will try to predict. So here goes… * indicated wild card team
1. New England Patriots (12-4)
2. New York Jets (10-6)*
3. Buffalo Bills (6-10)
4. Miami Dolphins (4-12)
1. Cleveland Browns (10-6)
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7)
3. Baltimore Ravens (8-8)
4. Cincinnati Bengals (3-13)
1. Houston Texans (9-7)
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-7)
3. Tennessee Titans (6-10)
4. Indianapolis Colts (5-11)
1. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5)
2. Los Angeles Chargers (10-6)*
3. Denver Broncos (6-10)
4. Oakland Raiders (5-11)
1. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)
2. Dallas Cowboys (8-8)
3. New York Giants (5-11)
4. Washington Redskins (4-12)
1. Green Bay Packers (12-4)
2. Chicago Bears (9-7)
3. Minnesota Vikings (8-8)
4. Detroit Lions (4-12)
1. New Orleans Saints (12-4)
2. Atlanta Falcons (9-7)*
3. Carolina Panthers (8-8)
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11)
1. Los Angeles Rams (13-3)
2. San Francisco 49ers (9-7)*
3. Seattle Seahawks (9-7)
4. Arizona Cardinals (2-14)
Wild Card Weekend:
#3 Cleveland Browns over #6 New York Jets
#5 Los Angeles Chargers over #4 Houston Texans
#3 New Orleans Saints over #6 San Francisco 49ers
#4 Philadelphia Eagles over #5 Atlanta Falcons
#1 New England Patriots over #5 Los Angeles Chargers
#2 Kansas City Chiefs over #3 Cleveland Browns
#1 Los Angeles Rams over #4 Philadelphia Eagles
#2 Green Bay Packers over #3 New Orleans Saints
AFC Championship Game:
#1 New England Patriots over #2 Kansas City Chiefs
NFC Championship Game:
#2 Green Bay Packers over #1 Los Angeles Rams
#2 Green Bay Packers over #1 New England Patriots
NFL MVP: Tom Brady, QB, New England
Offensive Player Of The Year: Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
Defensive Player Of The Year: Myles Garrett, EDGE, Cleveland Browns
Offensive Rookie Of The Year: A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans
Defensive Rookie Of The Year: Darnell Savage Jr., S, Green Bay Packers
Comeback Player Of The Year: Le’Veon Bell, RB, New York Jets
Coach Of The Year: Matt LaFleur, Green Bay Packers
The 2019 MLB season is a mere two weeks away and it can’t get here any faster. After a slow-moving offseason that saw both megastar free agents, Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, sign in late Februrary and early March, respectively. As of this writing there are still major free agents that remained unsigned, players by the name of Dallas Keuchle and Craig Kimbrel. The fact that one of the games best closers and a starter with a Cy Young on his resume and no scary injury history are still free agents in March is ridiculous and troublesome. It makes writing this article more difficult but sometimes you just gotta play the cards that your dealt and here we are.
We saw many major moves occur during this offseason, some predictably, some out of left field. Here’s a list of the biggest moves this offseason and a recap:
Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz traded to the Mets for two top prospects & veterans
Wilson Ramos, Jed Lowrie, and Jeurys Familia all signed with the Mets
The Yankees acquired James Paxton (trade), Adam Ottavino, DJ LaMahieu, and Troy Tulowitzki
The Twins brought in Nelson Cruz, Marwin Gonzalez, and Jonathan Schoop
The Astros roped in Michael Brantley
The Mariners got Edwin Encarnacion, Yusei Kikuchi, two top three prospects of the Mets’, the Yankees’ top prospect, Mallex Smith, and Domingo Santana
The Braves brought back Brian McCann and also signed Josh Donaldson for 1 year
The Nats got Patrick Corbin, Yan Gomes, Anibal Sanchez, and Brian Dozier
The Phillies reeled in Bryce Harper, JT Realmuto, Andrew McCutchen, David Robertson, and Jean Segura
The Brewers got Mike Moustakas back and got Yasmani Grandal
The Cardinals made power moves and got Paul Goldschmidt and Andrew Miller
The Reds acquired Sonny Gray, Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, and Alex Wood
The Dodgers added A.J. Pollock, Joe Kelly, Russell Martin (he’s back), and a couple of nice prospects from Cincinnati
The Padres were the winning suitor for Manny Machado, go figure
As you can see it was a busy offseason but a long one as well and now it’s time for baseball to be played. As of now it looks like the AL East will once again be a two team race between Boston and New York. The AL Central is getting better but Cleveland should still run it for now. The AL West is better, sans Seattle, but it looks like it’ll be Houston and Oakland in the top two spots. The NL East looks like it’s going to be a bloodbath as Philadelphia, Washington, New York, and Atlanta really loaded up this offseason and it should be a four team race all season. The NL Central is vastly improved and any team could pull away with the division crown. The NL West is also better, although Los Angeles once again will be heavily favored.
I think it’s safe to say that there is and will be a better showing of competitiveness and teams will be more closely grouped together in the NL. The AL, albeit improving, looks like it’ll be the same four powerhouses from last season (BOS, NYY, HOU, CLE) with the surprise 1-3 teams mixed in there along the lines. Before long Toronto, Tampa, Chicago, Minnesota, and LA will make their jump, perhaps even this year if someone has a surprise year like last years Oakland A’s team. I will also disclose my picks for all the awards like MVP, Cy Young, Rookie Of The Year, Comeback Player, Manager etc. Lets get to the picks.
*Wild card teams in italics behind division winners
1.New York Yankees (103-59)
2.Boston Red Sox (99-63)
3.Tampa Bay Rays (89-73)
4.Toronto Blue Jays (77-85)
5.Baltimore Orioles (60-102)
1.Cleveland Indians (91-71)
2.Minnesota Twins (82-80)
3.Chicago White Sox (75-87)
4.Kansas City Royals (71-91)
5.Detroit Tigers (67-95)
1.Houston Astros (98-64)
2.Oakland A’s (87-75)
3.Los Angeles Angels (80-82)
4.Texas Rangers (77-85)
5.Seattle Mariners (69-93)
1.Washington Nationals (91-71)
2.New York Mets (89-73)
3.Atlanta Braves (88-74)
4.Philadelphia Phillies (85-77)
5. Miami Marlins (61-101)
1.St.Louis Cardinals (92-70)
2.Milwaukee Brewers (89-73)
3.Chicago Cubs (86-76)
4.Pittsburgh Pirates (81-81)
5.Cincinnati Reds (75-87)
1.Los Angeles Dodgers (94-68)
2.Colorado Rockies (88-74)
3.San Diego Padres (79-83)
4.San Francisco Giants (74-88)
5.Arizona Diamondbacks (69-93)
AL MVP: Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels
The rest of the top three: Aaron Judge, Yankees & Alex Bregman, Astros
NL MVP: Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, St.Louis Cardinals
The rest of the top three: Nolan Arenado, Rockies & Michael Conforto, Mets
AL CY Young: Gerrit Cole, Houston Astros
The rest of the top three: Chris Sale, Red Sox & Shane Bieber, Indians
NL CY Young: Walker Buehler, Los Angeles Dodgers
The rest of the top three: Max Scherzer, Nationals & Jack Flaherty, Cardinals
AL Rookie Of The Year: Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago White Sox
The rest of the top three: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays & Justus Sheffield, Mariners
NL Rookie Of The Year: Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, San Diego Padres
The rest of the top three: Victor Robles, Nationals & Chris Paddack, Padres
AL Manager Of The Year: Kevin Cash, Tampa Bay Rays
The rest of the top three: Aaron Boone, Yankees & AJ Hinch, Astros
NL Manager Of The Year: Dave Martinez, Nationals
The rest of the top three: Dave Roberts, Dodgers & Mike Shildt, Cardinals
(1) New York over (4) Boston in 5 games, 3-2
(2) Houston over (3) Cleveland in 4 games, 3-1
(4) New York over (1) Los Angeles in 5 games, 3-2
(2) St.Louis over (3) Washington in 5 games, 3-2
(1) New York Yankees over (2) Houston Astros in 6 games, 4-2
(2) St.Louis Cardinals over (4) New York Mets in 7 games, 4-3
(1) New York Yankees over (2) St.Louis Cardinals in 7 games, 4-3.
The Mets officially acquired second baseman Robinson Cano and closer Edwin Diaz from the Seattle Mariners on Monday, December 3rd. A press conference was held the next day at Citi Field to introduce the newest Mets. During the press conference new Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenan stated clearly that this move was made with the mindset that more is yet to come and this is only the beginning of a bigger and broader offseason plan. What exactly that means remains to be seen but it sure has fans in a frenzy and excited for what else BVW has in store. Turns out that Brodie wasn’t kidding around as he swooped in around 2:30 am EST on Thursday, December 13th to bring back reliever Jeurys Familia, who spent the past six and a half seasons with the Mets and catapulted himself into third place on the Mets’ all time saves list. It also appears that the Noah Syndergaard trade rumors can be put to bed as BVW said that Noah is a huge part of our team and future success. Some may look at that as Brodie not getting an offer to his liking but the thought of trading Noah was pretty egregious to begin with, unless of course another team came running with a package featuring multiple major league ready prospects, which no one has, yet. Unless a team like San Diego (who is very interested in Syndergaard) comes calling with a package that begins with Fernando Tatis Jr., the Mets will be hanging onto Syndergaard.
Now what exactly should BVW do next? He’s acquired a dangerous middle of the order bat in Cano, a dominant reliever in Diaz, and brought back one of the most dominant bullpen weapons the Mets have ever had in Familia. The team could still use some thump in the lineup, rotation depth, bullpen reinforcements, and a more firm answer at the catching position. There are many avenues to go as the free agent market is flush with bullpen arms and has quite a few impact bats. The trade market may have even more options especially on the starting pitching front. There’s definitely enough options out there for everyone but we’re focused on the Mets here. With Canó and Díaz in the fold here’s what else I’d do to *realistically* help turn this team around.
#1: Sign Marwin Gonzalez – The glue guy of the Astros’ lineups the last few years hits free agency and he has something to offer every team. Gonzalez is super versatile as he can play any infield position and both corner outfield spots. After a breakout 2017 during Houston’s World Series run, Gonzalez had a down 2018 season as he batted (.247/.324/.409/.733) with 16 HR’s, 68 RBI’s, and 61 runs scored. He nursed some injuries throughout the year and I believe he’s more closer to the hitter he was in 2017 (.303/.377/.530/.907) with 23 HR’s, 90 RBI’s, 67 runs, and a 146 OPS+. He’s not terrible defensively anywhere really. Gonzalez will be 30 on opening day 2019, shouldn’t command major dollars or length in his new deal, and is a perfect fit for the Mets. The Mets can always use versatility, especially with the amount of injuries they happen to get each season. Marwin is also a switch hitter and has provided quite a few clutch moments in Houston. I’d pencil Marwin in as a steady regular to see lots of time at left field, third base, and first base. Barring injury, I don’t see him taking many reps from Cano (second base) and Amed Rosario (shortstop). Gonzalez may not be a huge name but he’s a glue guy from a championship team and all teams could use someone like him.
Something around what I would offer him: 3-4 years, $36-54 million ($12-13.5 million a year)
#2: Sign Andrew Miller – Miller is coming off a 2018 season that was riddled with injuries and saw him stumble when he was able to take the field. When healthy and on his game, Miller is a buzzsaw on the mound with impressive strikeout rates, multi inning eater, and a great track record. Once a top starting pitching prospect that was included in the infamous Tigers-Marlins blockbuster of 2007 that saw Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis go to Detroit, Miller never quite panned out as a starter but when Boston turned him into a reliever, he saw lots of success and quickly became one of the most dominant relievers in the game. It’s that bullpen dominance that made the Yankees sign him to a four-year, $36 million deal prior to the 2015 season. Continued dominance in pinstripes led to the Yanks trading Miller during a lost 2016 campaign to the Cleveland Indians. The Indians wound up trading their two top prospects at the time, outfielder Clint Frazier and starting pitcher Justus Sheffield. That may sound like an overpay and may well be, but Miller proved his worth and was one of the main reasons Cleveland made it to the 2016 World Series, albeit in a losing effort. Miller has averaged 14+ K/9 since 2013, minus 2017 where he only dipped down to 13.6 and his injury riddled 2018 where he was still striking batters out at a 11.9 K/9 clip. If the Mets can add Miller to a bullpen that already features Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, Seth Lugo, and Robert Gsellman, they’d have arguably the most dominant bullpen. On top of all this, the Mets really need to add a lefty reliever. Miller is the best lefty on the market and brings a proven track record to the table. Why not go with the formula that Kansas City cooked up when they ousted the Mets in five games in the 2015 World Series?
Something around what I would offer him: 2 years, $16-18 million ($8-9 million a year)
#3: Sign Gio Gonzalez – Gio may not be the same pitcher he was when he first came up with Oakland and in his first few years with the Nats, but he’s still a quality lefty veteran who can stabilize the back-end of a rotation. In a rocky 2018 season that he split with Washington and Milwaukee, Gio pitched to a 4.21 ERA, but a majority of that was when he was still with the Nationals. After being traded to Milwaukee in August and making five starts down the stretch, Gonzalez compiled a 2.13 ERA for his new team. He even made two starts in the NLCS against the Dodgers, although neither start lasted more than 2.0 innings thanks to MLB teams playing the bullpen roulette game when the playoffs hit. Gio wasn’t terrible in either start. Gio has a top three and a top six finish in the NL Cy Young vote in his career and doesn’t surrender many homers. He’s 33, very durable (averages 34 starts a season), won’t cost much money, and won’t garner long-term deals. The Mets can’t run Jason Vargas out their every fifth day, they need someone else more trustworthy to hold down the #5 spot and I believe Gio would be perfect for that role. He won’t have to do as much heavy lifting like he was when he was one of the top guys in the Nats rotation for years. If the Mets can run out a rotation of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz, and Gio Gonzalez, they’ll be in very good shape. An added bonus is the Mets won’t have to worry about Gio owning them anymore like he did as a Nats pitcher.
Something around what I would offer him: 1 Year, $5-6 million
#4: Trade for J.T. Realmuto – This is the deal that actually sounds most likely/plausible to happen because of the Mets’ need for a catcher, the Marlins selling off anything good they have, and the continued rumors everyday of how hard BVW is trying to acquire Realmuto from Miami. The love for JT is real and appropriate as he has quickly become arguably the best all around catcher in the game. Realmuto is only 27 years old and has two cheap controllable years left on his contract. Considering the position he plays, his age, his contract, and the fact that it would be an inter-division trade, it will and is going to cost the Mets a lot to acquire him. Over the last week or so there’s been a lot of reports coming out that the Mets were involved in multiple three team trade scenarios that would see Realmuto come to the Mets and possibly Noah Syndergaard to the supposed third team involved, who would then flip prospects to Miami. I think that’s all smoke and mirrors, considering the Mets would need to get back something nice in addition to Realmuto for having to sacrifice Syndergaard (three years of control remaining) and not many teams even meeting the asking price for “Thor” in regular two team trade scenarios. I do believe that the Mets do have the ammunition left to execute a trade by themselves. The Mets do not have a respectable major league catcher on the roster (sorry Kevin Plawecki, Travis d’Arnaud, and Tomas Nido). Not only do Mets catchers fail to produce at the plate but they are amongst the worst when it comes to throwing out runners and pitch framing on defense. The catchers position has been a black hole for the Mets ever since 2008, which was the first season after Paul Lo Duca left, who gave the Mets one great season and one pretty solid season. Since Lo Duca left, the Mets have gotten terrible production from their catchers. And a catcher is supposed to be one of the key cogs and a strong voice for any team and the Mets haven’t employed anyone like that in 10 years. It’s finally time to get an answer at catcher and make the lives easier for the fantastic pitching staff they’ve built. I am certainly against giving Yasmani Grandal a three to four-year contract worth $13-16 million a season, especially after the disastrous postseason he just had when he literally couldn’t even buy a hit. That’s a hard pass for me for a 30-year-old catcher who’s best days are behind him and who isn’t incredibly better than what the Mets have at catcher at the present moment. Realmuto is the answer.
Something around what I would trade for him: Realmuto to the Mets for 2B/3B Jeff McNeil, SS Andres Gimenez, and LHP Anthony Kay (this is not a concrete offer and substitutes can be made and/or added/subtracted)
What do you say, Mets fans? Would you accept this for the rest of the offseason? Sound off on Twitter or in the comments!
NEW YORK, NEW YORK: The 2018 New York Mets season has been an atrocity of epic proportions and there’s no way around that. After an incredible 11-1 start to the season, the Mets are 33-60 since to put them at 44-61 overall. They’re currently sitting 14 games back in the NL East and 14 games back of the second wild card spot. After injury after injury and continued turmoil behind the scenes that starts with ownership, this season was dead before August even hit. The team traded closer Jeurys Familia to Oakland and second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera to Philadelphia. The sell off should’ve been greater if they’d found deals they liked for Devin Mesoraco, José Bautista, and Jerry Blevins for starters. Nonetheless, those guys are pending free agents anyway, along with the two they traded away.
The Mets notably hung onto their prized pitching pieces from the rotation (Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Zack Wheeler) and their two main bullpen pieces (Seth Lugo & Robert Gsellman). Supposedly the Mets plan to contend in 2019 so they wanted to hang onto this pitching that finally seems to be clicking together. A rotation headed by deGrom, a healthy Syndergaard, and the new and improved Wheeler is a pretty good starting attack. Their numbers may not show it (especially Gsellman) but I really like Lugo and “Gman” in the pen and think they could become lockdown weapons very soon. Here’s my problem with keeping this pitching: What’s the point of having it if they team continues to not score for them? The offense MUST be addressed but the Mets made many questionable offseason moves last winter that will for sure hamper their ability to maneuver in the upcoming free agent market.
Whether Mets fans like it or not, Todd Frazier will be back at third base next season. Amed Rosario was once the top prospect in baseball so he will get a very long leash at shortstop. The outfield is set with Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, Jay Bruce, Juan Lagares, and by mid season, Cèspedes back in the fold. That’s five guys to rotate in the three outfield spots, plus I’m sure Bruce and/or Ces’ will get some time at first base as well. First base appears to be settled as well as the Mets have Dom Smith just waiting for an everyday opportunity, Wilmer Flores swinging a decent bat as always, and Peter Alonso waiting in the wings at AAA just waiting for his first call up. That leaves catcher and second base as the only positions where the Mets aren’t locked in to someone. I’d assume that Kevin Plawecki will be brought back and that Travis d’Arnaud will return after a reworked deal after missing this season due to Tommy John surgery. I’m sure those guys will be given last chances to mark a claim on the position. That leaves second base to upgrade unless Jeff McNeil shows in this upcoming two month audition that he can stick here and keep hitting like he did at AA/AAA this year. If McNeil succeeds, that’s great, but if he doesn’t, the Mets still have to fill that hole and the free agent options aren’t all that great.
The Mets can get by with a rotation lead by deGrom/Syndergaard/Wheeler and complementary pieces rounding out the rotation, as long as they do sign depth and make smarter signings and not waiting til March to give the likes of Jason Vargas a multi year deal like Sandy Alderson did this year. The offense needs some sort of speed and pop added to it and the bullpen needs a major makeover behind Lugo and Gsellman. Thankfully the Mets will have a lot of options on the bullpen market this winter as that class is deep. The main question is will they spend? The easy answer would be no but the added heat on ownership this season and the inevitable hiring of a new outside the organization GM and a pledge to contend next season has me thinking it’s too hard to believe that no money will be spent to upgrade the team. The team could use more offense in my opinion but with all the attractive superstars on the market that will be commanding seven figure deals, I don’t see the Mets jumping in that pool, especially with the Cèspedes contract blowing up. Their best bet to be able to indulge somewhat will be with bullpen pieces since they need a few. Something tells me the team rolls out an offense that looks eerily similar to the one we saw open this 2018 season.
As much as the Mets could use a Bryce Harper and Manny Machado in the lineup, they’re not shelling out $300+ million contracts to anyone. They probably wouldn’t even shell out the $90-125 million it’d take to reel in Arizona CF A.J Pollock, who would fit this team perfectly. Machado would make the biggest difference but unfortunately when they don’t even attempt to make a run at him, they’ll say they’re comfortable with Rosario and Frazier manning short and third, respectively. As if the Yankees didn’t switch their top prospect (Gleyber Torres) to second base once he was called up to keep veteran Didi Gregorious at shortstop. The Mets could 100% get away with that and I believe Rosario’s tools would translate even better at second, even though I’m a fan of his game at shortstop. They’ll likely sign a veteran who can play multiple positions, like Marwin Gonzalez, who plays every position for Houston outside of pitcher and catcher. He’ll also only be 30, won’t command major money, and is having a down year this year after having a killer 2017 season during the Astros’ World Series run. I also wouldn’t shocked to see the Mets revisit the idea of Eduardo Nunez, granted he opts out of year 2 of his deal with Boston.
With current thinking and current team structure, I’m looking heavy at bullpen arms because a dominant bullpen is what every team wants these days and it seems to be the way towards building a winner as well. According to Spotrac, the Mets have $92.5 million committed to payroll for the 2019 season, but that doesn’t factor in arbitration raises for guys like deGrom, Syndergaard, Wheeler, Conforto, Plawecki, and Matz for starters. Let’s assume after all the arbitration raises and rendering of contracts, the team adds about $30 million, so that puts payroll at $122.5 million before any outside additions are made. The payroll opened the 2018 season at $150 million even though the team was intending to lower payroll from 2017. The slow moving dry market last year allowed the Mets to get a couple of additional players for cheaper than they expected which in turn obviously moved the payroll up. I’m going to go ahead and assume that the 2019 payroll will land somewhere between $140-150 million again, so that’s leaves about $20-30 million in spending money for outside free agents.
I can’t lie, Jeurys Familia gave me lots of anxiety when he came in to close games although he was one of the best closers we’ve had and he had killer 2015 and 2016 seasons in which he amassed a total of 94 saves and a cumulative 2.2 ERA. Unfortunately though, when it came to huge moments and lots of pressure, Familia would tend to fold up and disappear. Nothing more evident than the three blown saves in the 2015 World Series against the Royals and allowing a game winning three run homer to a pinch hitter in the top of the 9th in the 2016 NL Wild Card game against the Giants. All of that being said, I wouldn’t mind Familia returning but not as the closer. I just don’t see Familia returning to the same team he spent his entire career with up until the trade to Oakland two weeks ago and not be the everyday closer again. Plus I’m sure there’s another team out there that will be willing to guarantee Familia the closers job.
The other sticking point is that this regime and since the Madoff scandal, the owners as well, have been reluctant and refuse to hand big money contracts out to closers, which is understandable. So that line of thinking probably doesn’t help Familia’s chances of being brought back to Queens.
I’d make a run at Adam Ottavino from Colorado who sports a 1.40 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, and a 13.5 K/9 ratio. He’ll be 33 by the start of the 2019 season, so he won’t command many years or dollars at all. I also can’t totally see him re-upping with Colorado thanks to how much they spent on their bullpen additions last winter and how they gotta work on a new deal with 2B D.J LeMahieu and perhaps extending 3B Nolan Arenado’s contract longer. I can see Ottavino possibly being had for something similar to what the Mets signed Anthony Swarzak for last winter (2 years, $14 million). Although I could see Ottavino topping that slightly.
Next I’d go after an older lefty who’s recently dealt with injury problems that we could get for cheaper than expected but not that cheap since they’re still household names and many teams will still line up for. The two guys I have in mind are new Yankees reliever Zach Britton and currently DL’d Indians reliever Andrew Miller. Miller will be 34 and is coming off an injury riddled season but should be returning within the next two weeks for the stretch run in Cleveland. When healthy, Miller is an absolute buzzsaw on the mound and one of the best relievers in the game who can close and/or go multiple innings, which is why Cleveland paid such a hefty price in 2016 when they traded for him and gave up outfield prospect Clint Frazier and pitching prospect Justus Sheffield, both of whom are the Yankees’ top prospects and amongst two of the best prospects in all of baseball. Miller is currently dealing with a knee injury and not something related to his arm, fortunately. If he can come back healthy down the stretch run and be dominant again, teams will be lining up regardless of his age and he’ll definitely see at least 3 year offers.
The case with Britton is he just returned from Tommy John surgery a month ago and is still shaking off the rust and getting back into the flow of things. He’s been a little shaky since his return but that’s expected and he has had some real nice outings as well. He’s younger than Miller at 31 years old and may command 3-4 years, where if it goes to 4, I’m out. I’d max out at 3 years on either of these guys but no 4 year deals for relievers. If you can add two of these three guys to the bullpen to go along with Lugo and Gsellman, you have the makings of what should be a dominant bullpen. And hopefully one or two of the many young bullpen arms the team has acquired the last 2 years can evolve into something special as well, that’d be a nice added treat.
Do I think these moves catapult the Mets back to the postseason? No, but I believe it gets them slightly closer but ultimately it’s on the offense to pull a 180° and be healthy/fantastic in 2019 or the new GM has to pull off some magic and make some difficult decisions on who truly deserves to stay and contribute and replace them with adequate players. This team could absolutely use a Machado or Harper but the Mets just won’t open their wallets that wide and will watch other big market clubs have no problem paying those two superstars. Meanwhile I think most fans would be okay with that, if the Wilpons would just do what they gotta do and cut bait with Jason Vargas and Jay Bruce and rid those contracts off the books because those were TERRIBLE moves by Sandy Alderson and they need to vanish as soon as possible. Unfortunately I don’t see that happening whatsoever and both guys will play out their contracts in Queens.
Hopefully the new GM is creative and can make something of this roster come Opening Day 2019.
The 2018 NBA Draft Lottery was held on May 15th and as a Knicks fan you could only pray that the NYK garnered some luck and would move up from the #9 position in the lottery. Well, as most things go for the Knicks, luck was not it, as the Knicks remained at #9. Staying put at #9 isn’t the worst either because they just so easily could’ve slipped to later than 9. So while the night was hopefully going to go a lot better, it could’ve been a lot worse for the Knicks.
Now that the stage is set and the Knicks are officially picking ninth, lets take a look at a few prospects who many people believe could be available when the Knicks pick and how they’d fit in with the future. The Knicks’ most pressing need is a small forward, who can not only score, but within time be able to lock down the other teams best offensive player. They have a plethora of young guards on the roster. Frank Ntilikina was the #7 overall pick in the 2017 draft out of France. Emmanuel Mudiay , the former #7 overall pick out of China, was picked up at the trade deadline from Denver in a three team deal also involving Dallas. Trey Burke was called up from the Knicks G-League team in January and provided a real spark off the bench on a rather lackluster team with his scoring and passing numbers. Amongst all three of those young guys, Burke looked the best to me, although his defense lacked, his offensive output surely outweighs Ntilikina’s lack of offense/stingy defense. Ntilikina was drafted as a point guard but towards the end of the season you might think that Ntilikina is better off at the 2 spot with his top notch defense and developing offensive game. Time will surely tell what happens with these guys but I’m not opposed to bringing back all three, or at the least, Burke and Ntilikina.
The Knicks could use another big man to develop and maneuver around in the initial 3-4 month absence that Kristaps Porzingis will face this upcoming season and for KP to have another young bruiser down low with him. Enes Kanter has been a nice scoring threat and locker room presence but he has not panned out as a former #3 overall pick for Utah. Kanter plays nonexistent defense and has a hefty $18.6 million player option for next season, which reports are saying he may turn down in hopes of signing a long term deal. If that’s the case, a long term deal isn’t happening in New York. The Knicks have to begin suiting up to pay Porzingis as he enters year 4 of his rookie deal and they’re already paying Joakim Noah an absurd amount to stay home and watch the games. So there’s no need to sink more big money in an underachieving player, especially another big man. Luckily this draft has a solid handful of big men at the top of the draft.
Knicks GM Scott Perry has come out and said that the Knicks will go BPA (best player available) on draft night, which isn’t a bad decision anyway. Most people will be looking for a 3-AND-D wing player but no one should hold their breath when it comes to the Knicks. The Knicks could somewhat shock us all and take another point guard for all we know. As of know there’s only two big time point guards expected to go high in the draft and they’re Alabama’s Collin Sexton and Oklahoma’s Trae Young. Sexton is more a traditional PG, while Young is very similar in style to (gulp!) Steph Curry, in that he can score from all over, isn’t afraid to throw up 25-40 shots (most of them 3’s just like Curry), and he can pass the ball really well for someone who is a primary scorer/shooter. Am I saying that Young will be the next Curry? No I’m not but this kid has a lot of potential and after seeing the type of player that Steph Curry has become, some teams will be hesitant to pass on Young if the opportunity arises.
Let’s take a look at a few players that may be available when the Knicks pick 9th and that make sense for the roster:
Mikal Bridges, SF, Villanova:
Bridges is a little different compared to most NBA draft prospects as he actually completed three seasons of college ball. He also did so at one of the most prestigious schools in the country and won two titles there. The kid is already a winner and leader. He’s the consensus best 3-and-D guy in this draft. He’s the exact type of player the Knicks need and are looking for. The Knicks have a few young guards (Frank Ntilikina, Trey Burke, and Emmanuel Mudiay) that will get further tested to see if they can hold the reigns down in NY as the lead guard next to Tim Hardaway Jr. The Knicks didn’t and don’t have a concrete small forward waiting in the wings to take over once Carmelo Anthony was traded. Taking Bridges would allow for the defense to get even better as it showed improvements as last season ended. Defense is Bridges’ top calling card right now in my opinion but the offense should come around as well and Bridges should at least be able to knock down spot up 3’s off passes to start his career. Bridges is a starter from day one prospect who should make an impact from day one and get even better as he grows.
Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma:
Trae Young reminds a lot of people, myself included, of Steph Curry. The reason being is that Young can pull up from anywhere on the court and make shots with his great range. He lit the college basketball world on fire in the first half of the season, bombing away 3’s and showing off incredible court vision with incredible passes and finding open teammates. Young led NCAA in scoring with 27 ppg and assists with 8.7 apg. He hit a rough patch as he faced conference opponents a second time and they figured out how to defend him but there is room for improvement. You can never have too many guards, as the Knicks have shown, and the Knicks missed out on Steph Curry by one pick in 2009 when Golden State selected him at #7 as the Knicks sat with the #8 pick that year. It’ll be tough to pass up on someone like Young when you see what Steph Curry has done in the NBA and the similarities in his and Young’s games. Young isn’t nearly as polished as Curry coming out of college but he did make a huge statement anyway with his play this season. The Knicks could very much use a scoring guard like Young as Ntilikina seems to be more of a defensive minded guard who will drive to the basket. Trey Burke can shoot it but he’s more effective as a sixth man off the bench. Mudiay isn’t much of a scorer either but he isn’t a shooter when he does score, so Young would definitely bring a different element to the offense in the backcourt. Defense is where Young would be a liability and he has to bulk up more to deal with the rigors of the NBA game. If Young continues to play/shoot the way he did at Oklahoma, he is sure to light the NBA world on fire.
Michael Porter Jr., SF, Missouri:
Michael Porter Jr., (MPG), is a wildcard in this draft. His only collegiate season was wiped away after back surgery in November. He returned in time for March Madness but wasn’t his old self and could be seen trying to get back into his old rhythm on the court. MPG was a top recruit out of high school and was a McDonald’s All American. Before this past season began, MPG was a heavy favorite to be the #1 pick in this draft but with the back injury and MPG postponing workouts because of back spasms, teams are weary about spending a high pick on him. Before the back injury, Porter displayed a nice shot and court vision. He’s the type who can play as a point forward with his scoring ability and vision. Teams are going to dive deep into his medical records and have to be comfortable with spending a high pick on him. I believe MPG’s ceiling is going #2 to Sacramento (apparently the Kings love MPG) and his floor is Philadelphia at #10. The Knicks’ biggest need is a small forward so it’ll be interesting to see what they do if Porter Jr., slips to #9.
Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas: Bamba made a huge impact in college basketball in 2017-2018. He stands at 7’1 and has a 7’10 wingspan (NBA record at the combine). His defense was great at Texas as he blocked 3.7 shots per game. He’s a menace on defense and near the rim. His offensive game is developing as he has the potential to be a consistent perimeter shooter and elite finisher around the rim. If you draft Bamba, you’re getting all defense at first but over time you hope he develops his offensive game and he becomes a complete player. Having Bamba at the 5 and Kristaps Porzingis (when he returns from his torn ACL) at the 4 is a scary young front court rim protecting duo. That’ll open up the game for the guards to slash and dash as well. Unfortunately though, I don’t think Bamba drops past the Chicago Bulls at pick #7. Also, have you seen this kid in interviews? He’s a very humble and intelligent person, so I’m confident in him and hopefully he has a positive career wherever he winds up.
Hopeful but don’t expect to slip to #9:
Luka Doncic, SG/SF, Slovenia
It’s only May 9th, we’re almost at the 1/4 mark of the 2018 MLB season, and boy have the New York Mets brought their fans on a roller coaster ride already.
The Mets came into the season with some legitimate hope but not the lofty expectations that was bestowed upon them in 2016 (the year following their World Series appearance) and 2017 (the year after they missed out on the postseason when they ran into a buzzsaw named Madison Bumgarner in the NL Wild Card game). With an injury riddled 2017 to many key players and a slight step back in 2016, the expectations were brought down for 2018, especially with a new coaching regime coming in. Something about this team and expectations that just don’t mix well together. Just look at 2015 when they went to the World Series, nobody saw that coming. The Mets got really lucky with a monster second half from newly acquired Yoenis Cèspedes, great health and fine pitching from their starters, and a magical postseason barrage by Daniel Murphy. That was 3 years ago (shockingly) and this is a totally different Mets team stepping in the dugout every night.
The expectations for the Mets jumped a bit at the end of Spring Training thanks to Cèspedes showing he’s back healthy and hitting bombs again and the fact that the vaunted “Fab 5” starters all came out of spring training healthy for the first time. One minor hiccup was that Zack Wheeler started the year in AAA and Seth Lugo had what is now Wheeler’s rotation spot. A snow out early vs Philly pushed Lugo back and allowed him to make a couple of bullpen appearances where he looked fantastic, so the Mets decided to keep Lugo there and ultimately called up Wheeler to take that #5 spot when it was time for that starter to pitch. So when Wheeler came up and made his 2018 debut, it signaled the very first time EVER that the “Fab 5” of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Wheeler all took a rotation turn together and came away unscathed at that.
When Wheeler made that start on April 11th in Miami, he pitched brilliantly for 7 innings, allowing just one run on two hits and one walk, striking out seven. The Mets won that game 4-1 and were in the midst of an 8 game winning streak that eventually made it to 10 games and brought the Mets to 11-1 to start the season. It was an unbelievable start that no one saw coming and started making believers out of not just the fans but big time reporters, journalists, and executives alike. Were these the Mets that a lot of people thought that with some luck could absolutely wreck havoc on the NL? Were these what the Mets should’ve been in 2016, fresh off their first sampling of postseason baseball and playing World Series games at Citi Field?
It’s been almost exactly one month since that Wheeler start in Miami that helped catapult the Mets to that incredible 11-1 start. So where does the Mets’ record currently stand?
18-16, a measly 7-15 record since the hot start.
The fantastic bullpen we saw has come back down to Earth. The offense has become and looked completely inept at times after showing so much fight and clawing back from deficits quickly during the great start. The rotation is also in shambles. Let’s start with the #1 ACE of this staff, Jacob deGrom. Jake has without question been the best and most consistent rotation piece this season as he’s pitching to a 3-0 record, 1.87 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and 54 K’s in 43.1 innings. Unfortunately in deGrom’s last start, he hurt his elbow while batting and was recently put on the 10 day DL and is only expected to miss one start. Then you have Noah Syndergaard, who is another ACE but hasn’t been doing it as dominant or consistently like deGrom, pitching to a 2-1 record, 3.09 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and 54 K’s in 46.2 innings. Walks have been a problem and Noah always seems to find himself with a high pitch count by the time the 5th inning comes around.
Those have been the only two somewhat success stories with the rotation, which features a lot of bad behind Jake and Noah. For starters, there’s Matt Harvey, who many people, myself included, picked to win comeback player of the year and perhaps regain his form and get back to being the pitcher he was in just 2015 (post TJ surgery) and not necessarily 2013 (one of the most dominant pitching seasons in franchise history & pre TJ surgery). Harvey pitched 5 shutout innings, allowing only 1 hit, 1 walk, and struck out 5 in his season debut, a victory over the Phillies in April 3rd. Many people thought the “Dark Knight” was back. Wrong.
After that start Harvey was a complete dumpster fire when he took the mound and showed no signs of life after that gem vs Philadelphia. Harvey allowed 14 runs on 25 hits in his next 3 starts. Along with his poor performance, he showed a very bad attitude with management and the media which didn’t help his case. Finally the Mets decided to move Harvey to the bullpen, which I was a fan of and thought maybe he could rediscover himself with less stress and innings to pitch. Boy was I wrong as Harvey made four relief appearances, totaling 6 innings, and allowed 8 runs. During his last relief appearance, a 2 inning, 5 run drubbing by Atlanta to cap a sweep for them, the Mets asked Harvey to accept a minor league assignment. Harvey quickly declined that request and was subsequently designated for assignment, which means the Harvey/Mets marriage is officially over and done with. Harvey was officially traded to the Cincinnati Reds about 17 hours ago for catcher Devin Mesoraco. Very bittersweet and as a Mets fan, I’m gonna take the optimistic approach and thank Harvey for basically leaving his arm on the Citi Field mound on that chilly night of November 1st, 2015 trying to win this team a championship. Mr.Harvey, I thank you and salute you. Good luck.
Now the next two guys, Matz and Wheeler, two guys loaded with potential, especially Matz IMO, who just can’t get or keep it together. Wheeler has been mediocre at best since that brilliant start in Miami. Matz has been about the same but recently turned in his best start of the season with a 6 inning, one run allowed on three hits performance against Colorado. Unfortunately the Mets lost 2-0 and didn’t support Matz anyway. Could it be a sign of things turning around? We’ll see.
I saw a stat the other day before Harvey was DFA’d that said the Mets starters not named Syndergaard/deGrom, have a 6+ ERA. That’s putrid, disgusting, and not gonna cut it whatsoever. What’s even worse is that Jason Vargas, the “prized” starter we bought in free agency is finally healthy and has turned in 3 straight garbage starts to start his Mets tenure. When it rains it pours as they say.
Cèspedes is exhibiting great power but is striking out a ton too. Michael Conforto shattered timetables by coming back very early from shoulder surgery but has looked dreadful at the plate. Jay Bruce and Adrian Gonzalez, two of the better vets, have come as expected, striking out a ton, hitting homers, but also being clutch and coming through when needed for the most part. Todd Frazier has been a welcome addition with his solid defense at the hot corner and grinding at bats and being amongst the league leaders in walks. The catcher position has been a disaster, thanks to Travis d’Arnaud being knocked out until 2019 with Tommy John surgery and Kevin Plawecki fracturing his hand in Miami a month ago. So because of those injuries and before the Harvey/Mesoraco trade, the Mets have been trotting out Tomas Nidó and José Lobaton behind the plate and it’s basically like forfeiting a spot in the lineup when they come up. Brandon Nimmo and Juan Lagares have looked real good in limited action but aren’t seeing any sort of increase in playing time although Conforto is doing nothing, Bruce is doing nothing, and Cèspedes is battling some minor nagging injuries. It’s kind of mind boggling really.
The bullpen has definitely cooled off as expected and is down to being average, not terrible. Jeurys Familia has been rock solid at closer, with 10 saves and a 1.59 ERA. Seth Lugo has been pretty stable, pitching to a 1-0 record, 2.66 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and 19 K’s. A.J Ramos and Robert Gsellman have been decent and free agent acquisition Anthony Swarzak has been M.I.A with an oblique injury after only appearing in two games. Jerry Blevins has been pretty awful and lefties are pounding him. I can definitely see a reliever acquisition at the deadline if the Mets stay in the race.
It’s pretty much the same song and dance like in years past. Hope the rotation stays healthy, hope the bullpen finally figures it out, and hope the offense keeps hitting homers all season long because that’s pretty much how the lineup is built every year, feast or famine with home runs and strikeouts. It’s just so hard seeing that formula work anymore.
The Nats are said to be the “class” of the NL East, the Phillies and Braves both boast young and exciting teams that are ready to start playing meaningful games down the stretch, and you got a pretty dang good NL Central and NL West crop that are all diverse and strong at all different facets of the game. The 11-1 start was nice but all it threw back was false hope. Yes, i know what you’re gonna say, it’s only May 9th and there’s plenty of baseball left, and yes, you’re right, but this song just sounds all too familiar with the Mets and the NL is just so loaded with talent right now. I hope and pray to be proven wrong on this team as it does certainly have potential but I’m just not all that confident in that actually happening right now. Sorry Mets fans. Throw this back at me come October if the Mets are so lucky to still be playing that month.
Right now it is 10:40 pm EST on January 12th and a lot free agents remain unsigned in MLB in what has to be the slowest moving market in this generation at least. Many major names are still available, including but not limited to, J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Jonathan LuCroy, Yu Darvish, Jake Arrietta, etc. There really hasn’t been much noise all winter concerning Moustakas, Cain, LuCroy, and Arrietta. According to recent reports, Martinez is at a contract stalemate with Boston, Hosmer has received seven year offers worth $140+ million from San Diego and Kansas City, and the Darvish derby is down to six teams (Rangers, Astros, Yankees, Twins, Cubs, and a mystery sixth team, according to Darvish himself). The reliever market has seen its fair share of deals this winter but no other positions are getting much love. And by the way, the trend has continued, relievers continue to get paid big bucks.
This offseason the Mets have so far signed reliever Anthony Swarzak (2 years, $14 million) and just last night brought back right fielder Jay Bruce (3 years, $39 million). Coming into this offseason, the Mets did say that payroll would be cut from the $155 million point they opened the 2017 season at but never gave an actual number with most reports saying it’d be around $135-140 million. The fact that a team in the biggest market in the world can’t maintain a top 10 payroll and has to slash payroll two seasons removed from a World Series appearance while still fielding a playoff/championship caliber core is an ABSOLUTE JOKE and has angered fans this offseason. This team still has lots of promise left in it and with the right moves can be right back in the World Series. Yes, the Wilpon’s took a big hit in the infamous Bernie Madoff scheme but that is well in the past at this point and with the team performance the last few seasons and two straight playoff appearances, the Wilpon’s have been making more money as of late.
There is no excuses at all as to why the New York Mets have to or should slash payroll this offseason or any offseason really for that matter when they’re located in the New York market and you got the Yankees playing crosstown. Now I’m not saying that the Mets should spend like the Yankees and go over or hover around the luxury tax threshold, but to potentially be cutting payroll by $20 million and not supporting even a top 10 payroll is ridiculous. Let’s say the Mets payroll lands at $140 million to open this upcoming season, judging by last years opening day payrolls, that would lower them from 12th last year to 16th this year in payroll. Is that a serious possibility for, again, a team in the NYC market that is playoff caliber and is two seasons removed from being in the World Series?! It seems ludicrous and it is, but it’s also what I and all other Mets fans have had to unfortunately get used to under this current Mets ownership. Operating in a big market under mid tier market budgets and disrespecting the fans by not even being aggressive on the market is such a slap in the face and practically irresponsible. Although, there is one way the Wilpon’s can somewhat save face and at the same time make GM Sandy Alderson look better as well is to make a surprise splash in the market and see if you can get someone like a Hosmer or Moustakas at an even cheaper yearly rate and/or not as many years. I’m not saying that the Mets will or should, but you can definitely bet that with it being mid-January now that the big names free agents left standing are going to be taking less than what they originally envisioned and it might even be significantly less.
The Mets have had a very quiet offseason up until the re-signing of Jay Bruce last night. The additions of Swarzak and Bruce should definitely help solidify an improving bullpen and bring back an important power bat to the offense who can also fill in at first base sometimes, respectively. Are they solid additions? Absolutely. Is it enough to dethrone the Nats as the class of the NL East? Not even close. The Mets still need another bullpen arm, a middle of the rotation starter, and two complimentary starting bats or one major offensive piece. The Mets recently spoke to the Pirates about Andrew McCutchen but those talks are done and over with, now that Bruce is coming back to Queens. The Mets look like they’re going to go with a defensive setup of Yoenis Cespedes in left field, Michael Conforto in center field, and Bruce in right field, while also playing first base, which in turn would slide Conforto over to right field on those days and allow the Mets to start the more defensively sound Juan Lagares or even youngster Brandon Nimmo in centerfield. Bruce will split time with youngster Dominic Smith at first base, which is where I was a bit puzzled when I found out Bruce was coming back and that he would play some first base. While I do like the idea of the Bruce/Smith platoon at 1B and agree with the Mets’ assessment that Smith may not be ready for the everyday starting job at first base, I thought they’d bring in a righty platoon partner for Smith and not another lefty, like Bruce is. I thought righty Wilmer Flores would see most of the platoon work at 1B but that may not be as much of a case as originally thought. Flores could also ultimately be the starting second baseman come April but I believe the Mets like him in a super utility role, as do I honestly, although I wouldn’t mind even more starts for Flores considering how well he’s grasped right handed pitching the last two seasons. I guess time will tell how things go with Flores and the Bruce/Smith platoon.
Now how can the Mets inject some life into the fan base in a pinch? Sign Hosmer or Moustakas. Yes, I know, it’s easier said than done. There’s no doubt in my mind though that both of their price tags are dropping and both guys won’t come close to garnering the type of deals they thought they would coming into this winter. Could either one of these guys possibly take a one year deal to reestablish value and become a free agent again next winter in what’s being described as the best free agent market in a very long time? Hosmer is still only 28 years old, in the middle of his prime, and possesses one of the best all around games in baseball. That kind of player is going to strike it rich but with this market, could Hosmer take a one year deal and be a free agent again next year at the age of 29 (still a great age in free agency)? The worth of that kind of one year deal would need to be very high, probably between $20-25 million at least. Could or would the Mets swallow that, even for one year? I doubt it, which leads me to believe that acquiring Hosmer is exactly what it is, a pipe dream. Move the conversation over to Moustakas and it’s a different story.
You can ask anyone, I’ve never been a big fan of Moustakas and thought he’d be a free agent who gets massively overpaid after breaking the Royals’ franchise record for home runs in a single season (38) in his walk year. Now while his powerful run producing bat is a dangerous weapon, he doesn’t do much of anything else all that well. He doesn’t draw walks, doesn’t hit for a high average, and his defense is adequate at best. The fact that he’s probably received the least amount of buzz amongst the major free agents remaining is going to bring his price down, especially when San Francisco decided to trade for Evan Longoria instead and St.Louis is more interested in trading for Josh Donaldson. Here’s the difference between Moose and Hosmer though, while Hosmer is 28 years old, Moose has him by three years at 31. Definitely a tougher situation for Moose when contemplating shorter terms deals, if those are to be received. Again, would or could Moustakas take a one year, let’s say $15-20 million deal? What about maybe something along the lines of three years, $45-55 million? Very doubtful but the longer these guys continue to wait to sign deals, the uglier their contracts will be.
Now like I said, I’m not a big fan of Moustakas and would rather not allocate major dollars to him over the course of a multi year contract but you can’t tell me that if the Mets signed Moustakas out of the blue that it wouldn’t energize this fan base and even put a little bit of a scare into the Nationals. In this “dream” scenario though, I’d much rather sign Hosmer and if it somehow wound up being a multi year deal, I’d flip Dominic Smith as part of a package for a legit cost controlled third baseman or catcher, while letting Bruce handle right field all the time and cementing Conforto as the everyday starting center fielder. Again, like I’ve been saying, this is all a pipe dream but it’s also something that should at the very least be considered by management/ownership. And as fellow Mets fans can attest, all we can do is dream, right?
The 2017 MLB season has come to a close and it was honestly one of the best seasons to watch from a fans standpoint as we saw so many milestones and records broken. We saw a huge influx of young talent yet again break into the league and take it by storm. For starters, we saw Yankees rookie right fielder Aaron Judge hit 52 home runs and break the old MLB home run record for the most homers hit by a rookie in a single season, the old record was 49 by Mark McGwire, who did it for Oakland in 1987. Dodgers rookie first baseman Cody Bellinger didn’t come up to the big leagues until the end of April, yet he broke the old NL record (38) by Frank Robinson (1956) and Wally Berger (1930) for most home runs in a single season by a rookie, finishing with 39. Judge is also a very strong favorite in the AL MVP race as well, as the Yankees are also headed back to the playoffs.
We saw quite a few pitchers, who aren’t considered aces put on ACE performances all season long, like Arizona’s Robbie Ray & Zack Godley, LAD’s Alex Wood, Milwaukee’s Zach Davies, NYY’s Luis Severino, Cleveland’s Carlos Carrasco, and Houston’s Lance McCullers (although he had a hard time staying healthy). A couple of those guys are in CY Young conversations, others are just falling short. We’ve seen usual pitching mastery from the likes of Chris Sale, Corey Kluber, and Clayton Kershaw, to name a few. The NL CY Young race is a lot more competitive and open than the AL race is, which is a two man race in my eyes.
The NL MVP race has quite a crowded field and should be one of the more hard to decide races this year. Off the top of my head, there are at least FIVE (5) strong candidates for the award and it’s hard to choose even one. You have the likes of Arizona 1B Paul Goldschmidt, Miami RF Giancarlo Stanton AND LF Marcell Ozuna, Cincinnati 1B Joey Votto, Washington 1B Ryan Zimmerman AND 3B Anthony Rendon, Colorado 3B Nolan Arenado and CF Charlie Blackmon to name some of them. The AL MVP race appears to be a three headed monster to me, with New York RF Aaron Judge, Houston 2B Josè Altuve, and Cleveland IF Josè Ramirez leading the charge. The one thing that hurts Altuve’s case is that a few of his teammates (George Springer, Carlos Correa, Marwin Gonzalez, & Yuli Gurriel) are also having great seasons. You could say the same for Judge and Ramirez too I guess, but they don’t have the type of teammates who’re having the exact type of seasons that Altuve’s teammates are having. It really will be fascinating to see how it shakes out because if Altuve doesn’t have the teammates that he does have, he’s the run away favorite for AL MVP. Alas, we got ourselves a race…
Let’s get to the picks…
1.Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks:
“Goldy” dominated all season and led his team to the first NL wild card spot in a year where a lot of people thought it’d be a down year for the D-Backs. Goldschmidt finished the year with .297 AVG, 36 homers, 120 RBI’s, .404 OBP, .966 OPS, 117 R’s, 18 SB’s, and played in 155 games. He also displayed his usual gold glove caliber defense at a key position where strong defense is preferred. The man has finished as the runner up twice for NL MVP and I believe the third time will be the charm and he finally wins it. I thought heavily about picking Rockies 3B Nolan Arenado for MVP but although Arenado had an incredible season even without the Coors Field effect, I couldn’t help but notice that Goldschmidt didn’t have last years NL batting champion (D.J. LeMahieu) and this years batting champion (Charlie Blackmon) both hitting in front of him. Arenado topped Goldschmidt in RBI’s by a tally of 130-120, that’s only a +10 margin with way better hitters in front of Nolan and his OBP was .31 lower than Goldschmidt’s. That’s why I give Goldschmidt the edge over Arenado for NL MVP.
2.Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies
3.Giancarlo Stanton, RF, Miami Marlins
4.Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds
5.Bryce Harper, RF, Washington Nationals
1.José Altuve, 2B, Houston Astros:
Altuve just continues to get better and better every year. Not only did Altuvé prove to be the one constant all season in that daunting Astros offense but he also did many things he hasn’t done before. On top of his usual gold glove defense, Altuve posted career highs in home runs (24, tied with 2016), runs (112), average (.346), OBP (.410), slugging % (.547), OPS (.957), OPS+ (165), WAR (8.4), while playing in 153 games. Altuve also knocked in 81 RBI’s, 39 doubles, 4 triples, 204 hits, and stole 32 bases. Altuve also struck out only 84 times all season, almost 0.5 strikeouts per game. Incredible numbers by the shortest player in baseball at 5’6. Aaron Judge was a heavy favorite as well up until a very weak month of August and second half of July hurt him badly. His strong September vaults him back up into the very top of the race but Altuve has been doing everything all season and hasn’t slowed down. In fact, Altuve’s first half OPS is almost identical to his second half OPS (.968 to .967) so you can see the consistency at the plate with this guy, especially after teammates Carlos Correa and George Springer missed time this season with injuries. Judge became the first player in history to lead his league in the “three true outcomes” category as he led the AL in homers (52), walks (127), and strikeouts (208). As awesome as Judge’s season was, especially for a rookie, I just believe his dip in late July and all of August hurts his chances and plus his defense isn’t nearly as good as Altuve’s, although that’s not a knock on Judge because he proved to be more than average defensively in right field, Altuve is just a wizard at second. Now while the big debate is all around Altuve vs Judge, I believe it should be centered more around Altuve vs José Ramirez of the Indians. Like Altuve, Ramirez was consistent all season and put up extremely good numbers for someone who I don’t think anyone expected to be this good and someone who isn’t all that well known on the Indians compared to some of his teammates. Ramirez finished with a .318/.374/.583/.957 slash line, 29 HR’s, 83 RBI’s, 107 Runs, 56 doubles (led the league), 6 triples, 145 OPS+, 18 stolen bases, 6.8 WAR, and more than adequate defense at both second base and third base. Ramirez also struck out only 69 times, good for only 0.43 K’s per game. The reason why I’m not going with Ramirez is because he batted a lot out of the #3 spot in the lineup with two good hitters in front of him and some big time thumpers behind him and because of the insane numbers and career highs that Altuve posted on a team that saw their fare share of injuries this season around him.
2.Jose Ramirez, 2B/3B, Cleveland Indians
3.Aaron Judge, RF, New York Yankees
4.Mike Trout, CF, Los Angeles Angels
5.Chris Sale, SP, Boston Red Sox
NL Cy Young:
1.Max Scherzer, SP, Washington Nationals:
Scherzer gets the edge over Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers and teammate Stephen Strasburg thanks to better consistency/health, and of course because of the great numbers he put up. Scherzer finished the 2017 season 16-6, 2.51 ERA (career best), 268 K’s (led the NL), 2 complete games (led the NL), 175 ERA+ (career high), 0.90 WHIP (career best), and 12 K’s/9 (career best). Scherzer is the reigning NL Cy Young winner and a two time winner at that, also doing so in the American League in 2013 as a member of the Detroit Tigers. Kershaw led the leagues in wins (18) and ERA (2.31), but was short of Scherzer by 25 innings pitched and 66 strikeouts. Missing a month+ of the season cost Kershaw a possible runaway win. It also doesn’t help that the Dodgers were just so unbelievably good this season that even without Kershaw, the Dodgers would’ve been fine and still won the NL West. I believe the gap would be tighter in the Nationals’ case because if Scherzer missed an extended period of time, the margin for error was a bit closer for Washington than it was Los Angeles even though both teams won their divisions in runaway fashion. And here’s another stat that definitely favors Scherzer, he allowed only a .168 BAA to batters during the third and fourth time through the order, whereas Kershaw had a .237 BAA, even higher than Strasburg’s .194. Very big difference there and that’s where I draw the line for Kershaw’s chances. Strasburg missed time this season too sporadically even though he put up almost similar numbers to his teammate, but Scherzer was just that much better. Scherzer wins his third Cy Young award and gets even closer to punching that Hall of Fame ticket.
2.Clayton Kershaw, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers
3.Stephen Strasburg, SP, Washington Nationals
4.Robbie Ray, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
5.Kenley Jansen, RP, Los Angeles Dodgers
AL Cy Young:
1.Corey Kluber, SP, Cleveland Indians: Kluber had an incredible season and pitched even better down the stretch during Cleveland’s huge winning streak and as they chased down Houston for the best record in the AL. Kluber finished the season with a 18-4 record, 2.25 ERA (led league), 265 K’s, 0.86 WHIP (led league), 5 complete games (led league), 3 shutouts (led league), 202 ERA+ (led league), 11.7 K/9, 7.36 K/BB (led league), 8.1 WAR. He also led with 18 wins as well. The flavor of the season and heavy favorite for this award was Boston’s Chris Sale until Kluber shot himself to the top of the conversation with his great pitching down the stretch and Sale’s slight decline as the year ended. Sale became the first pitcher since Pedro Martinez in 1999 to strike out over 300 batters in a season, so that was remarkable. Unfortunately I feel like Sale’s drop off in August and September (five games he allowed 4+ earned runs in 10 starts & four times he couldn’t make it past the 5th inning). His ERA “ballooned” to 2.90 to end the season, a .65 higher mark than Kluber. He also had a .1 higher WHIP and only 1 complete game and 0 shutouts compared to Kluber’s four more complete games and three more shutouts. Kluber also had better and even more respectable home/road splits than Sale also. As tremendous as Sale was this season, I think Kluber was just more durable and consistent with his great numbers.
2.Chris Sale, SP, Boston Red Sox
3.Luis Severino, SP, New York Yankees
4.Justin Verlander, SP, Houston Astros/Detroit Tigers
5.Craig Kimbrel, RP, Boston Red Sox
NL Rookie Of The Year:
1.Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers:
Bellinger took the league by storm after his promotion in late April, setting the new NL record for homers by a rookie in a season. This years R.O.Y awards (both NL AND AL) are runaways and really don’t even need much explaining for the picks because in reality the two winners will be unanimous. Let’s just see how the other rookies are positioned behind these no doubt winners…
2.Paul DeJong, SS, St.Louis Cardinals
3.Ian Happ, OF, Chicago Cubs
AL Rookie Of The Year:
1.Aaron Judge, OF, New York Yankees:
Judge is also the unanimous choice here. The guy hit 52 homers (most ever by a rookie, AL or NL) and led his league in walks, AS A ROOKIE. That’s enough in its own right. Let’s see how the others fared behind him…
2.Andrew Benintendi, OF, Boston Red Sox
3.Yuli Gurriel, 3B/1B, Houston Astros
NL Manager Of The Year:
1.Craig Counsell, Milwaukee Brewers:
Counsell took a Brewers team that had zero expectations to do anything this season and possibly be one of the worse teams in the league to nearly the second NL wild card spot. The Brewers came into the last game of the season needing a victory in St.Louis and a Colorado loss at home to the Dodgers to nab the last wild card spot but both opposite outcomes happened and Milwaukee was eliminated. The Brewers took a makeshift team that saw one frontline starter emerge in Chase Anderson and an offense that was way better than expected led by guys like Eric Sogard, Eric Thames, and Travis Shaw, to name a few. The fact that Milwaukee nearly made the wild card game in what was supposed to be a rebuilding season is a testament to the leadership of the team, led my by manager Craig Counsell.
2.Torey LuVollo, Arizona Diamondbacks
3.Bud Black, Colorado Rockies
AL Manager Of The Year:
1.Paul Molitor, Minnesota Twins:
Molitor took the Twins from 103 losses in 2016 to the AL Wild Card game against the Yankees this year. The Twins became the first team in history to go from 100+ losses one season and to the playoffs in the next. The Twins were led by veteran pitcher Ervin Santana and young guns Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, and Eddie Rosario. The Twins even sold off pieces at the trade deadline and wound up doing even better and claiming the second wild card spot. The turnaround during a rebuilding season was remarkable and Molitor has got to be a unanimous choice for this award. Job well done with this Twins team.
2.Joe Girardi, New York Yankees
3.A.J. Hinch, Houston Astros
Comeback Player Of The Year: Zack Greinke, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
The 2017-2018 NBA season has officially tipped off and that means it’s time for the yearly predictions from yours truly. The season tipped off in a major way as the Cleveland Cavaliers (reigning Eastern Conference champs) defeated the Boston Celtics 102-99 before a sold out crowd. The game also featured the additions of Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, and Jae Crowder in Cleveland, the return of Kyrie Irving to Cleveland in a Celtics uniform, and the addition of former Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward, who signed a four-year, $128 million free agent contract to come to Boston in the summer. The game was overshadowed in the first five minutes after Hayward took a nasty fall and wound up breaking his ankle on the court in one of the more gruesome injuries we’ve seen as you could see players on the bench turning away and looks of disgust on their faces. Hayward is assuredly done for the season and this hurts Boston’s chances big time in the East. What was supposed to be a huge exciting memorable night was brought down within five minutes. What a shame.
In the nightcap the new look Houston Rockets came into Oakland, California and dethroned the defending champion Golden State Warriors, 122-121, after what looked like a Kevin Durant buzzer beater was called off after video review showed the ball was still in KD’s hands when the buzzer went off. A heartbreaking loss for Golden State but a huge statement win for Houston. This was most notably Chris Paul’s debut with the Rockets, who had a tough time in his debut but got bailed out by the great games by superstar teammate James Harden and role players Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, and P.J. Tucker. Houston looks legit yet again this season and are poised to finally take over the West from Golden State.
I know I have an unfair advantage with these picks since I already know about that Gordon Hayward injury but this isn’t a full-time gig for me and I couldn’t get my picks out in time. The full slate of predictions looks like this though…
4.New York Knicks
1.Oklahoma City Thunder
2.San Antonio Spurs*
3.New Orleans Pelicans*
1.Golden State Warriors
2.Los Angeles Lakers
3.Los Angeles Clippers
* indicates playoff team who didn’t win their division
East Playoff Seeds:
West Playoff Seeds:
1.Golden State Warriors
2.Oklahoma City Thunder
5.San Antonio Spurs
7.New Orleans Pelicans
Eastern Conference Finals:
#1 Cleveland Cavaliers over #2 Washington Wizards in 6 games
Western Conference Finals:
#1 Golden State Warriors over #2 Oklahoma City Thunder in 7 games
2018 NBA Finals:
Golden State Warriors over Cleveland Cavaliers in 6 games
NBA MVP: Giannis Antetokounmpo, F, Milwaukee Bucks
NBA Defensive POY: Rudy Robert, C, Utah Jazz
NBA Rookie of the Year: Jayson Tatum, F, Boston Celtics
NBA Most Improved Player: Andrew Wiggins, SF, Minnesota Timberwolves
NBA Coach Of The Year: Tom Thibodeau, Minnesota Timberwolves
NBA 6th Man Of The Year: Jamal Crawford, SG, Minnesota Timberwolves
NBA Most Improved Team: Minnesota Timberwolves
NBA Most Disappointing Team: Los Angeles Clippers
East Sleeper Team To Make Finals: Milwaukee Bucks
West Sleeper Team To Make Finals: Minnesota Timberwolves (I don’t see any team outside my West top five making any serious noise)
The top five worst records will belong to (in no order):
New York Knicks
If you have any comments or questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment and engage in conversation.
The 2017 NFL Draft is tomorrow night and that means it’s time for the annual mock draft from Scoreboardsteve.com. Usually I put out a few of them before the draft but because of work and other obligations I unfortunately haven’t been able to keep up with the site as much as I’d like to. Now hopefully this can be the kick start to me getting back in the writing grind.
This mock draft will feature myself and three good friends (Joe, Kevin, and Brandon) with vast knowledge of the draft class and team needs for the NFL teams. We will alternate picks with the team drafting #1 going again every 4 picks as with all other picks. This is also going to feature the first mock draft ever on this site that will include trades. So with the addition of trades, it’ll make this even more unpredictable than it already is. We will also be including short write ups explaining each pick as well which is also something new for this site as well. Joe will pick #1, Brandon will pick #2, I will pick #3, and Kevin will pick #4. So lets get to it…
1.Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M – No explanation necessary for this pick actually… – Joe
2.San Francisco 49ers: Jamal Adams, S, LSU – A bit early normally for a safety but I’m not entirely enamored by Soloman Thomas, who seems to be the consensus #2 choice in most mock drafts lately. 49ers will go with a best player available approach and Adams get the edge over Ohio State safety Malik Hooker due to injury history – Brandon
3.Chicago Bears: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State – Chicago needs work all over their secondary and I like Hooker more than any of the corners available in this draft and he can be the general for the rebuild of that secondary. – Steve
4.Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU – Blake Bortles is under a lot of pressure and with no offensive lineman worth taking this high in this class Jacksonville will take the best offensive player available in the freak of nature, Fournette, who can take some pressure off of Bortles in his own right – Kevin
5.Cleveland Browns (TRADE!!! from Tennessee Titans via St.Louis Rams): Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina – Cleveland trades #12, this years second round pick, and next years second round pick to Tennessee for the #5 pick. Cleveland has been all over Trubisky and are actually debating taking him #1 over Garrett but in this mock they stick with Garrett at #1 and trade up to get their man at QB before the Jets pick at #6 (who also love Trubisky) – Joe
6.New York Jets: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson – The Jets miss out on Trubisky but get the next best QB available in Watson. I wish his arm came back a bit better but he possesses just about everything else the Jets are looking for and GM Mike MacCagnan finally has a QB to build around. – Brandon
7.San Diego Chargers: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State – The Chargers miss out on both Hooker and Adams but they still grab the top guy available at another position of need. – Steve
8.Carolina Panthers: Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama – Most people think the Panthers will go with McCaffrey here but GM Dave Gettleman loves defensive linemen and I can’t see him passing up on someone who dominated the SEC. – Kevin
9.Cincinnati Bengals: Soloman Thomas, DE, Stanford – A guy many are picking to go #2 overall to the Niners falls to 9 and the Bengals scoop him up and let him develop behind their depth. – Joe
10.Buffalo Bills: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama – The corner market is shrinking and the two best QB options are off the board, so the Bills take Foster with the #10 pick despite his failed drug test. Also, Rex Ryan cries in the corner. – Brandon
11.New Orleans Saints: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee – The Saints need help on defense (what else is new) and they get the all time sack leader in Tennessee history to help their anemic pass rush. – Steve
12.Tennessee Titans (from Cleveland Browns via Philadelphia Eagles): Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan – They need some weapons bad and I think he’s the top receiver available. John Ross could also be in play here. – Kevin
13.Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech – I think the Cardinals grab their eventual replacement for Carson Palmer but let Mahomes sit first and learn from Palmer. – Joe
14.Philadelphia Eagles (via Minnesota Vikings): Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State – Now I just want to preface this by saying that I’m sure Christian McCaffrey is a swell young man and I’d probably let him marry my daughter, but the Eagles are taking an absolute monster in Dalvin Cook at #14. John Ross and Mike Williams are enticing but Ryan Matthews and Darren Sproles won’t be around much longer and Cook will take a lot of pressure off of Carson Wentz. – Brandon
15.Indianapolis Colts: Garett Boles, OT, Utah – Age is a bit of a concern but Boles may very well be the best tackle available in this class and the Colts need to do everything they can to keep Andrew Luck upright and in more games than days in a hospital bed. – Steve
16.Baltimore Ravens: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson – Steve Smith has retired and Brashad Perriman has done squat since being taken in round 1 two years ago, so Joe Flacco gets himself a legit new #1 wideout. – Kevin
17.Washington Redskins: Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri – The Redskins value pass rushers and Harris shouldn’t still be available in my opinion – Joe
18.Tennessee Titans: Adoree Jackson, CB, USC – Gareon Conley would’ve been the no brainer pick here 48 hours ago but a rape allegation is going to hurt his draft stock. Jackson is an elite athlete who did it all for USC but can he be a shutdown corner in the NFL? I wouldn’t blame Tennessee for taking a chance with all their draft capital. Should Jackson not work out in the secondary, there are other ways to make him useful – Brandon
19.Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OJ Howard, TE, Alabama – Tampa Bay seems committed to giving Jameis Winston a scary supporting cast and adding Howard only proves that. Howard takes over and will become what many thought Austin Sefarian-Jenkins would become and gives Winston yet another dangerous weapon. – Steve
20.Denver Broncos: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin – The Broncos need offensive line help badly and take the best tackle still available on the board – Kevin
21.Detroit Lions: John Ross, WR, Washington – The Lions take John Ross to pair up with Golden Tate and make Matthew Stafford a very happy man – Joe
22.Miami Dolphins: Forrest Lamp, OG, Wake Forest – The ‘Phins have an opening on their line and quite frankly, I like his name. – Brandon
23.New York Giants: Christian McCaffrey, RB/WR/Hybrid, Stanford – The Giants continue to get next to nothing out of their backs and get someone who can play all over the field and be productive and even put him in on kick/punt returns. – Steve
24.Oakland Raiders: Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida – Oakland has to go defense and Jarrad Davis is the best defender left on the board. – Kevin
25.Houston Texans: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama – Houston was a hard one with the way the board has shaped up but they could use some corner help so I’ll go with Humphrey from ‘Bama. – Joe
26.Seattle Seahawks: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama – Russell Wilson needs help. He’s going to die behind that current ‘Hawks o-line, so the pick is Robinson, the best tackle left on the board. – Brandon
27.Kansas City Chiefs: Haason Reddick, LB, Temple – Reddick can do a lot and KC will love that about him. Reddick will also be given time to figure out where/what his exact role will be long term. – Steve
28.Dallas Cowboys: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt – Cowboys don’t have many holes on offense so why not draft a great defensive player? – Kevin
29.Green Bay Packers: Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State – How is this guy still available? The Packers get a steal at 29. – Joe
30.Pittsburgh Steelers: Kevin King, CB, Washington – A 6’3 corner who comes from a good program in Washington and with the Steelers needing help badly in their secondary, King will give them just that. – Brandon
31.Atlanta Falcons: Taco Charlton, DE/OLB, Michigan – Dan Quinn loves to draft defensively and also loves to continuously rotate his players. I can’t believe Charlton is still available at 31, so Atlanta grabs a big defensive force to pair with Vic Beasley to terrorize QB’s for the next 10 years. – Steve
32.New Orleans Saints (via New England Patriots): Budda Baker, S, Washington – The Saints go defense again in round one because they need all the help they can get. I can see teams trying to get a Tyrann Mathieu kind of player out of Baker. – Kevin
And that closes out our annual mock draft. Three quarterbacks in round one, one trade, and three running backs. 18 of the players selected were on the defensive side of the ball. Nine of the 14 offensive players selected were skill position players (coincidentally enough, three quarterbacks, three running backs, and three wide receivers). Hope you guys enjoyed the mock and if you have any feedback you can leave comments or even contact me or Joe on twitter (Brandon and Kevin don’t have Twitter).
The 2016 NFL season has culminated and it’s finally playoff time. The 2016 NFL season saw quite a bit of interesting games and stories unfold. It all started with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady serving a four game suspension in the “deflate gate” scandal to start the season, which allowed us to see his backup Jimmy Garoppolo lead the Pats to a 3-1 record in Brady’s absence. The Cleveland Browns started the season 0-14 and were poised to become just the second team in NFL history to have a winless season at 0-16 (2008 Detroit Lions) before they beat the San Diego Chargers 20-17 in week 16 and eventually finished the season 1-15 and in position with the #1 overall pick in the 2017 draft.Three out of the four teams that were in last years conference title games didn’t even qualify for the playoffs this year (Broncos, Panthers, Cardinals) with the Patriots, the loser of last years AFC Title game, being the lone exception. And speaking of those Patriots, quarterback Tom Brady did come come back in their fifth game and what he did in the 12 games he played was nothing short of phenomenal (3,554 yards passing, 28 TD’s, 2 INT’s, 67.4% completion %, 296.2 average yards passing per game, and set the single season record for TD:INT ratio (with a minimum of 300 attempts) with a 14:1 ratio). The Patriots are also the #1 seed in the AFC and enjoying a first round bye this week as they await to see who they will be playing in the divisional weekend at home. The NFL saw quite a few surprise teams make their returns to the playoffs this year, with the Oakland Raiders returning to the playoffs for the first time since their Super Bowl run in 2002. The Miami Dolphins are making their return to the postseason for the first time since 2008. The Giants, in their first year under new head coach Ben McAdoo, ended their five year playoff drought and handed the #1 seed Cowboys two of their three losses this year.
That’s just some of the highlights of the 2016 NFL season and I’m sure there will be plenty of more highlights in these upcoming playoff games this weekend and beyond. For any reader that has read my work before, I’m going to spare you the long introduction and get right to what you clicked on the link to see and that is my wildcard weekend picks. And for the record, I don’t see any of these games being very exciting or juicy this weekend outside of Giants-Packers on Sunday afternoon at frozen Lambeau Field. Here are my picks…
#5 Oakland Raiders defeat #4 Houston Texans: This game will be fought and won by stout defenses. The Texans and Raiders both possess two of the same things, strong defenses and starting quarterbacks who are bringing the quite a bit of uncertainty to the field. The Texans have always brought a strong defense to their playoff matchups the last several years and that’s what’s carried them and won them a few playoff games, with the dangerous JJ Watt terrorizing the opposing quarterback every game, although Watt will be missing this postseason after undergoing season-ending back surgery after week 3 this season. The Raiders have quietly built one of the more fearsome defenses over the last few years, led by another dangerous pass rushing threat and another top 3 defensive player in the league in Khalil Mack. Houston will be starting quarterback Brock Osweiler in the game, who in week 15 was benched at halftime for throwing two first half interceptions on top of having a terrible first year in Houston. Osweiler was the backup in week 16 to Tom Savage and came in for the second half in week 17 only because Savage was injured. Savage is still injured and that excuse is probably the only reason Osweiler is being given the chance to start this playoff game, as Savage was as serviceable as can be and the fact that Osweiler has just been that bad in Houston this year. The Raiders will be starting rookie Connor Cook as usual starter Derek Carr, who was playing like an MVP candidate, broke his leg in the week 16 win against the Indianapolis Colts, and usual backup Matt McGloin injured his shoulder in their week 17 loss to the Denver Broncos. Cook did take over in week 17 late in the second quarter when McGloin was injured, as he was 14 of 21 with 150 yards passing, one touchdown and one interception. Cook did show some positive signs in the brief showing and was named the starter for this playoff game this week. I’m going with the Raiders because I like their defense a bit more, believe that their defense is going to eat up Osweiler as they’re familiar with him and the fact that he is just straight up awful. The final reason why I’m picking Oakland is because I actually believe in Connor Cook as I’m familiar with his collegiate work at Michigan State and the fact that Houston has no idea what to expect and have nothing to prepare them for him. Cook was a projected high first round pick before the 2015 season at MSU before having a down year his final season there and seeing himself slip to the fourth round of the 2016 NFL draft before the Raiders took him at pick #100. This will be a low scoring affair and I believe in the Raiders to take this game and head to divisional weekend. (Oakland 17 Houston 13, OAK +4)
#3 Seattle Seahawks defeat #6 Detroit Lions: The Seahawks will take this contest thanks to being at home, having a stout defense, and having been to the playoffs for what is now five years in a row which has allowed them to have an experienced playoff team while also bringing a championship pedigree. The Lions did a lot by shocking many of us in making the playoffs and nearly winning the NFC North championship before Aaron Rodgers showed them he’s still boss in a week 17 division title game beat down. The Lions came out of nowhere to finish 9-7 and make the playoffs. Unfortunately I believe this will finish as a season in which a team shocks us by making the playoffs when we didn’t expect them to but falls flat in their first playoff matchup. The Lions have a capable offense as their led by MVP candidate Matthew Stafford at QB, who has thrown for the fewest interceptions in his career in a full single season (10). I believe the Seattle defense is just that much better than Detroits offense and will show their experienced ability trumps all. And not for nothing but it’s hard to go against Russell Wilson in the postseason when he’s never missed the postseason in his career, has been to two Super Bowls, and has won a ring, while being the oil that keeps this machine going. Give me the experience. (Seattle 26 Detroit 14, SEA -8)
#3 Pittsburgh Steelers defeat #6 Miami Dolphins: Just like the Lions, but even more surprising in my opinion, the Miami Dolphins snuck into the playoffs as the #6 and final seed in the AFC. The Dolphins started off the 2016 season 1-4 before winning their next six games and feverishly making a playoff push and ultimately finishing the season at 10-6. What’s even more impressive about the Dolphins season is that they lost starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill in week 14 vs Arizona after suffering a sprained ACL and MCL in his left knee on a hit. The Dolphins didn’t play Tannehill the rest of the season but still have some hopes that he can return at some point this postseason. Awhile that’s been going on and continues to go on, the Dolphins are starting Matt Moore in Tannehill’s place and although they only have one loss with him, look noticably different. Moore is a serviceable backup but when having to start in stretches of consecutive games he really proves that he’s just another mediocre quarterback. The Steelers have one of the most high flying offenses in football and one of the best offensive trios in the game in QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell, and WR Antonio Brown. This game will also be taking place from Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. Although I’m impressed with the way the Dolphins played after starting the season 1-4, I can’t see them marching into Pittsburgh and beating the Steelers with Matt Moore at starter. If Tannehill was starting than I’d give this game more thought because of the defensive inconsistencies of the Steelers and Tannehill’s solid play this year. Alas, it’s Matt Moore starting in Steel City and I think that is just recipe for disaster for the Dolphins, who are finally back in the playoffs for the first time since the 2008 season. The Dolphins defense has been very solid all year but I don’t think it’s enough to hold Ben-Bell-Brown in check and allow Moore to lead the Dolphins to more points. The Dolphins did beat the Steelers 30-15 in week 6 but that game was in Miami, in hot conditions that Pittsburgh had a hard time handling, and Roethlisberger was injured in the second quarter of that game and wasn’t 100% the rest of the way. That’s a nice win, but now Roethlisberger is out for revenge and the game will be in blustery cold Pittsburgh, where I think Dolphins players will have a harder time handling those conditions than the Steelers were in those hot Miami conditions back in week 6. The Steelers are a playoff steady in the NFL, Ben has two rings (three trips to the Super Bowl), is a Hall of Fame bound quarterback, and this Miami team is young and inexperienced, which why I like Pitt’ to take this game. (Pittsburgh 27 Miami 20, MIA +10.5)
#5 New York Giants defeat #4 Green Bay Packers: The most exciting game of wildcard weekend happens to be the final game that will go on. The Giants haven’t been to the playoffs since their Super Bowl XLVI win over the Pats in the 2011 season. The Giants also made the playoffs in the 2007 season where they also won the Super Bowl over a than undefeated Patriots team. Quarterback Eli Manning is as clutch as it gets come playoff time and gives opponents nightmares when he cashes his ticket to the postseason not because of how often they make it (because they really don’t) but because of how dangerous Eli becomes and how clutch he is. In the 2007 and 2011 Super Bowl years, the Giants beat the Packers in both those years, first beating Green Bay 23-20 in overtime in the NFC Title game in ’07, and winning again 37-20 in the divisional round in ’11. The Packers have arguably the best quarterback on the planet and without question the hottest as Aaron Rodgers is playing insane lately in leading the Packers from 4-6 to 10-6 and the division title. This is going to come down to which QB can make fewer mistakes and although I’m a huge fan of Rodgers, I like the way Eli performs in the playoffs and how incredible the Giants defense has been. Take nothing away from Rodgers and the Pack’ but their defense is nowhere near the same level as the Giants’ and I believe that will lead to the Giants putting up points tomorrow while the Giants defense keeps Aaron Rodgers a little more in check. This was also the hardest game for me to pick as both teams are just so good and have such great playoff experienced quarterbacks but I gotta roll with the G-Men because of that top flight defense, Eli Manning’s playoff resume, and the fact that the Giants haven’t been to the playoffs at all in five years, which leads me to believe that the Giants are due to make some noise and perhaps even make a bit of a run towards a third Super Bowl title in 10 seasons. Hopefully this game brings the fireworks that I’m not totally expecting from the other three games. With my thinking of Seattle beating Detroit, the winner of this game would move on to #1 seeded Dallas on divisional weekend. And no matter who wins this game between New York and Green Bay, either matchup with the Cowboys would be extremely enticing and salivating for FOX to have on its network. Again, I expect this game to be back and forth, loaded with excitement, and a great duel between two future (arguable) Hall of Fame quarterbacks. The Giants will punch their ticket for a third meeting with the Cowboys and a trip to the NFC Title game on the line in Dallas. (New York 31 Green Bay 23, NYG +5)
So there we have it, the divisional round playoff matchups according to me are set: #5 Oakland @ #1 New England and #3 Pittsburgh @ #2 Kansas City on the AFC side with #3 Seattle @ #2 Atlanta and #5 New York @ #1 Dallas on the NFC side. Enjoy this weekends games and tune back in next week for my divisional round picks.
The 2014-2015 NBA season is underway and we got a nice trio of matchups on opening night the other night as the we saw Anthony Davis and the rising New Orleans Pelicans take care of the Orlando Magic. We also saw the defending champion San Antonio Spurs narrowly beat the retooled Dallas Mavericks in a fantastic game, 101-100. And last but not least, we saw the Houston Rockets defeat the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center 108-90. Unfortunately, we saw One of the most young promising players in the league get injured in that Rockets-Lakers game as Lakers PF Julius Randle fractured his right tibia in a collision with two Houston players. Randle was the Lakers’ seventh overall pick in this years draft out of Kentucky. Randle is expected to turn into a Lakers franchise cornerstone player and is only 19 years old. Sadly, Randle will miss the rest of this season.
The rest of the NBA action tipped off last night as we got some great games to open the season. We saw the Bulls take care of the Knicks at Madison Square Garden as Derrick Rose made his much-anticipated second return with the Bulls. We got to see the LeBron-less Miami Heat in South Beach narrowly beat the young, rising Washington Wizards in a great Southeast Division clash. And the late night, nationally televised game we saw the rising Portland Trailblazers knock off the Oklahoma City Thunder, who were without Kevin Durant who is expected to miss at least the first month of the season with a broken foot.
So what’s the start of the NBA season without my yearly predictions? Last year I had the Miami Heat over Golden State Warriors as my Finals pick and I ended up being dead wrong. Instead, we got the San Antonio Spurs laying the smack down on the Miami Heat in five games. I was also wrong on my pick of LeBron James winning the MVP award again as that award went to the Thunder’s Kevin Durant. So let’s see how I do this year with my picks.
* Indicates a playoff team who did not win their division. Division winners are noted in bold.
1. Toronto Raptors (49-33)
2. New York Knicks (43-39)*
3. Brooklyn Nets (42-40)*
4. Boston Celtics (33-49)
5. Philadelphia 76ers (15-67)
1. Cleveland Cavaliers (57-25)
2. Chicago Bulls (55-27)*
3. Detroit Pistons (41-41)
4. Indiana Pacers (39-43)
5. Milwaukee Bucks (19-63)
1. Washington Wizards (53-29)
2. Miami Heat (48-34)*
3. Charlotte Hornets (45-37)*
4. Atlanta Hawks (37-45)
5. Orlando Magic (22-60)
1. San Antonio Spurs (59-23)
2. Dallas Mavericks (51-31)*
3. Houston Rockets (50-32)*
4. Memphis Grizzlies (44-38)*
5. New Orleans Pelicans (30-52)
1. Oklahoma City Thunder (52-30)
2. Portland Trailblazers (49-33)*
3. Denver Nuggets (36-46)
4. Minnesota Timberwolves (28-54)
5. Utah Jazz (17-65)
1. Los Angeles Clippers (55-27)
2. Golden State Warriors (54-28)*
3. Phoenix Suns (44-38)
4. Sacramento Kings (26-56)
5. Los Angeles Lakers (23-59)
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals:
1 Cleveland Cavaliers over 8 Brooklyn Nets 4-1
2 Chicago Bulls over 7 New York Knicks 4-2
3 Washington Wizards over 6 Charlotte Hornets 4-2
4 Toronto Raptors over 5 Miami Heat 4-3
Eastern Conference Semifinals:
1 Cleveland Cavaliers over 4 Toronto Raptors 4-2
2 Chicago Bulls over 3 Washington Wizards 4-3
Eastern Conference Finals:
1 Cleveland Cavaliers over 2 Chicago Bulls 4-3
Western Conference Quarterfinals:
1 San Antonio Spurs over 8 Memphis Grizzlies 4-3
2 Los Angeles Clippers over 7 Portland Trailblazers 4-2
3 Golden State Warriors over 6 Houston Rockets 4-3
4 Oklahoma City Thunder over 5 Dallas Mavericks 4-3
Western Conference Semifinals:
4 Oklahoma City Thunder over 1 San Antonio Spurs 4-3
3 Golden State Warriors over 2 Los Angeles Clippers 4-3
Western Conference Finals:
4 Oklahoma City Thunder over 3 Golden State Warriors 4-3
NBA Finals Pick:
1 Cleveland Cavaliers over 4 Oklahoma City Thunder 4-3
Finals MVP: LeBron James, Cleveland.
NBA MVP: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers.
Top Five With LeBron: Russell Westbrook, PG, Thunder – Chris Paul, PG, Clippers- Anthony Davis, PF, Pelicans – Steph Curry, PG, Warriors.
Defensive Player Of The Year: Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans.
Top Five With Davis: LeBron James, SF, Cavaliers – Chris Paul, PG, Clippers – Dwight Howard, C, Rockets – Joakim Noah, C, Bulls.
Rookie Of The Year: Andrew Wiggins, Timberwolves.
Top Five With Wiggins: Jabari Parker, F, Bucks – Marcus Smart, G, Celtics – Nerlens Noel, PF, 76ers – Elfrid Payton, PG, Magic.
Most Improved Player: Harrison Barnes, Warriors.
Top Five With Barnes: Reggie Jackson, PG, Thunder – Andre Drummond, C, Pistons – Steven Adams, C, Thunder – Eric Gordon, SG, Pelicans.
Sixth Man Of The Year: Jamal Crawford, Clippers.
Top Five With Crawford: Reggie Jackson, PG, Thunder – Draymond Green, F, Warriors – Amar’e Stoudemire, PF, Knicks – Isaiah Thomas, G, Suns.
Coach Of The Year: David Blatt, Cavaliers.
Week 5 of the 2014 NFL season is upon us and that means it’s time for my weekly picks. Last week I didn’t post my picks because I had a busy prior week and attended the final Mets game of the season on last Sunday. Last week I went 5-7 with my picks though, which is a horrible week. I went 1-3 against the spread, with my only win being the Colts -7, as they blew out the Titans. I went 12-3 in week 3, so my overall record is 32-25 and I’m 6-9-1 against the spread. Hopefully week 5 will be a better week, so lets see…
Detroit Lions over Buffalo Bills
Indianapolis Colts over Baltimore Ravens
Tennessee Titans over Cleveland Browns
Carolina Panthers over Chicago Bears
Dallas Cowboys over Houston Texans
Pittsburgh Steelers over Jacksonville Jaguars
New Orleans Saints over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New York Giants over Atlanta Falcons
Philadelphia Eagles over St.Louis Rams
Denver Broncos over Arizona Cardinals
San Francisco 49ers over Kansas City Chiefs
San Diego Chargers over New York Jets
Cincinnati Bengals over New England Patriots
Seattle Seahawks over Washington Redskins
Four Team Parlay:
Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5) against St.Louis Rams
Cincinnati Bengals (-1) against New England Patriots
Tennessee Titans (-1.5) against Cleveland Browns
Indianapolis Colts (-3.5) against Baltimore Ravens
Week three of the 2014 NFL season is ready to begin and that brings forth another edition of my weekly picks. In week one I went 8-7 and 1-3 against the spread. In week two I went 7-8 and 2-2 against the spread. That brings my overall record to 15-15 and 3-5 against the spread. Week three must be a big improvement. The big marquee games this week are the Packers @ Lions, 49ers @ Cardinals, Broncos @ Seahawks, and Bears @ Jets on Monday Night Football. The Super Bowl 48 rematch between Denver and Seattle at CenturyLink Field will be the most watched of course.
Lets get to the picks…
San Diego Chargers over Buffalo Bills
Dallas Cowboys over St.Louis Rams
Philadelphia Eagles over Washington Redskins
Houston Texans over New York Giants
New Orleans Saints over Minnesota Vikings
Cincinnati Bengals over Tennessee Titans
Baltimore Ravens over Cleveland Browns
Green Bay Packers over Detroit Lions
Indianapolis Colts over Jacksonville Jaguars
New England Patriots over Oakland Raiders
Arizona Cardinals over San Francisco 49ers
Seattle Seahawks over Denver Broncos
Kansas City Chiefs over Miami Dolphins
Carolina Panthers over Pittsburgh Steelers
Chicago Bears over New York Jets
Four Team Parlay:
San Diego Chargers (+1) against Buffalo Bills
Dallas Cowboys (-3) against St.Louis Rams
Cincinnati Bengals (-7) against Tennessee Titans
Green Bay Packers (+3) against Detroit Lions
Week two of the 2014 NFL season is upon us so that means it’s time for my weekly picks. Last week I posted an abysmal 8-7 record, while going 1-3 against the spread. My only win playing the spread was taking the 49ers -4.5 against the Cowboys. I hope to improve greatly this week, in both departments. There’s a few very interesting games this week that should surely have fans’ eyes glued to the tv. The highlights of this week are the Lions @ Panthers, Falcons @ Bengals, Seahawks @ Chargers, Chiefs @ Broncos, Jets @ Packers, Bears @ 49ers (SNF), and Eagles @ Colts (MNF). That Bears @ 49ers game marks the first regular season game at Levi’s Stadium, the new home of the ‘Niners, in Santa Clara, California.
Let’s get to the picks…
Miami Dolphins over Buffalo Bills
Detroit Lions over Carolina Panthers
Cincinnati Bengals over Atlanta Falcons
New Orleans Saints over Cleveland Browns
New England Patriots over Minnesota Vikings
Arizona Cardinals over New York Giants
Dallas Cowboys over Tennessee Titans
Washington Redskins over Jacksonville Jaguars
Seattle Seahawks over San Diego Chargers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers over St.Louis Rams
Denver Broncos over Kansas City Chiefs
Oakland Raiders over Houston Texans
Green Bay Packers over New York Jets
San Francisco 49ers over Chicago Bears
Indianapolis Colts over Philadelphia Eagles
Four Team Parlay:
New York Jets (+10) against Green Bay Packers
Atlanta Falcons (+7) against Cincinnati Bengals
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3) against St.Louis Rams
New England Patriots (-3) against Minnesota Vikings
The 2014 NFL season is less than 10 hours away from starting and that means the return of my weekly NFL picks. I’ll pick every single game for the week that is about to begin and include a four team parlay against the spread as well, for the crazy people who’d actually bet with my picks. Last year I hit two four team parlays through the season. The spreads this first week are very tricky as a lot of them a low and the only high ones aren’t worth it because you can’t bet on possible blow outs on opening week.
A few days ago I released my “2014 NFL Season Predictions” and I picked the Seattle Seahawks to repeat as Super Bowl Champions, except this time they’ll beat Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts in the biggest game of the year. I also predict that Andrew Luck will step up to the next level this season and thrust himself into the category of elite NFL quarterbacks and finish at the top of the MVP voting, although I have Packers QB Aaron Rodgers winning the MVP this season. I also predict the Carolina Panthers to take the biggest step back this season after making the playoffs last season as they will finish out of the playoffs and in dead last in the NFC South. Enough of those kind of picks, here are my week one picks…
New York Jets over Oakland Raiders
New Orleans Saints over Atlanta Falcons
St.Louis Rams over Minnesota Vikings
Pittsburgh Steelers over Cleveland Browns
Philadelphia Eagles over Jacksonville Jaguars
Baltimore Ravens over Cincinnati Bengals
Chicago Bears over Buffalo Bills
Houston Texans over Washington Redskins
Kansas City Chiefs over Tennessee Titans
New England Patriots over Miami Dolphins
Tampa Bay Buccaneers over Carolina Panthers
San Francisco 49ers over Dallas Cowboys
Denver Broncos over Indianapolis Colts
Detroit Lions over New York Giants
Arizona Cardinals over San Diego Chargers
Four Team Parlay:
Saints (-3) over Falcons
Bears (-7) over Bills
Chiefs (-3) over Titans
49ers (-4.5) over Cowboys
With less than one month to go in the 2014 MLB season we have a great race and debate on who should win the NL MVP award. The top two candidates appear to be Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw and Miami Marlins superstar slugging right fielder Giancarlo Stanton. Those two easily blow everyone else away in the race for MVP and are the main two candidates for the award.
Stanton has led the race for NL MVP all season but over the last month or so Kershaw has gained a load of momentum by pitching absolutely brilliantly and masterful to put his name into the race. Many people, including myself wholeheartedly up until a couple of years ago when Justin Verlander won the 2011 AL MVP award, I was against the idea of pitchers winning the MVP award. As big of a fan as I am of Verlander and how much of an incredible season he had in 2011, I was 100% against him winning the MVP that year. Ever since that year though, I’ve cooled on my stance on pitchers being eligible for the MVP award, although I’m still not 100% sure I’m now okay with the thought of it. Just thinking of and seeing what Kershaw is doing this year though, how could you not consider him a serious candidate for the MVP award? He’s having the best season I’ve seen from a pitcher in my brief life, even better than Verlander in 2011 and Max Scherzer last year with Detroit when he won the AL Cy Young. Kershaw is having this type of season even after missing the first three weeks of the season due to a back injury suffered in Australia during the first series of the year in March vs Arizona. I’ll go on to make a case for each player, Kershaw and Stanton, on why each of them should win the NL MVP award and who my pick would be if the season ended today.
Giancarlo Stanton, RF, Miami Marlins (.291 AVG, 37 HR’s, 105 RBI’s, 88 R’s, .396 OBP, .560 SLUG, .957 OPS, 11 SB’s, 161 OPS+): The offensive season that Stanton is having in an offensively and power lacking era is amazing, especially in such a spacious park as Marlins Park is. Stanton has single-handedly kept the Marlins in the NL Wild Card race (they currently sit 4.5 games back of the second wild card spot held by Pittsburgh). Stanton is on pace to hit over 40 home runs and could be on his way to 45 home runs. The fact that Stanton has kept his team in contention this late in the season, had such a great offensive season in a huge ballpark, and doesn’t have much other competition makes him as legit of an MVP candidate as anyone. The days are long gone where we have numerous 40+ homer hitters in the same season in the NL. The fact that Stanton has this type of power at age 24, on a not so good offensive team, with no protection is eyebrow-raising. Stanton is undeniably the best offensive player in the National League and will contend for many MVP’s before his career is over. Another key factor in this magnificent season by Stanton is the fact that he has stayed healthy all year, a problem he’s had in prior seasons, which just goes to show you that he may have just contended for a couple more MVP’s before this year, because he’s had a few high-powered seasons before this season. If pitchers were barred from winning their leagues MVP award, Stanton would be the clear-cut choice to win the NL MVP this season, but that brings us to the one man who may just knock him off at the very end, and that man is…
Clayton Kershaw, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers (18-3, 1.67 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 210 K’s, 27 BB, 177.1 IP, 213 ERA+, 10.7 K/9, 6 CG, 2 SHO): Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in the entire sport and has clearly shown it all year this year. Kershaw missed the first month of this season after injuring his back in Australia in March when the Dodgers and Diamondbacks had an opening series there to kick off this season. Upon returning though, Kershaw has been nearly untouchable, even untouchable as seen in his June 18th no-hitter against the Colorado Rockies in which he struck out 15 batters and walked none. The only thing that kept Kerhaw from achieving a perfect game was the fact that shortstop Hanley Ramirez committed an error to just give Kershaw the no-hitter. Kershaw has eight games in which he hasn’t allowed any earned runs and seven games in which he hasn’t given up any runs at all. That’s remarkable. Kershaw hasn’t allowed any more than three runs in-game outside of his May 17th start at Arizona in which he allowed seven runs in 1.2 innings. If you take that horrible start out of his game log, Kershaw would have a 1.32 ERA. That’s astonishing, but alas Kershaw had that one horrific start. A 1.67 ERA is nothing to sneeze at though, as Kershaw can possibly end this season with the best left-handed ERA since 1933 if he can keep it below 1.70 through the end of the season. Kershaw leads all NL pitchers in wins, ERA, WHIP, ERA+, WAR, CG’s, is second in shutouts, and is third in strikeouts. Imagine that, all with missing a whole month of the season. Kershaw is having a better season thus far than Justin Verlander in 2011 when he won AL Cy Young AND MVP. He’s also having a better season as of now than Max Scherzer last year when he breezed to the 2013 AL Cy Young award. The Dodgers sit atop the NL West by 3.5 games over the San Francisco Giants, so just imagine how far back they’d be without Kershaw in their rotation? Kershaw is having arguably the best season I’ve been able to see in my young life by a pitcher and I have a feeling no one will top this season for a very long time. Like I said earlier, I’m not totally on board with pitchers winning the MVP award, but it’s hard to go against Kershaw this year.
The 2014 NFL season begins tomorrow night at 8:30 PM EST in Seattle, Washington, as the defending champions, the Seattle Seahawks take on the Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field. This marks the official start to the 2014 season and finally gets all of us fans back into football mode. We have a great slate of NFL games in week one and the Seahawks-Packers match-up is at the top of the list. Another fantastic match-up pits the Denver Broncos, the reigning AFC Champions, against the Indianapolis Colts, with Peyton Manning facing his old team for the second straight season after an incredible game last year in Indy. Other solid games in week one is the Bengals vs Ravens, Redskins vs Texans, Saints vs Rams, Panthers vs Buccaneers, 49ers vs Cowboys, Giants vs Lions, and Cardinals vs Chargers.
The Thanksgiving schedule this year is amazing and should appease everyone’s appetites as we get the Bears @ Lions at 12:30pm, Eagles @ Cowboys at 4:30pm, and the Seahawks @ 49ers in the nightcap. Does it get much better than that? I don’t think so.
Last year I had the Denver Broncos over Seattle Seahawks as my Super Bowl pick. I was right on the matchup, but way wrong on the outcome as the Seahawks obliterated the Broncos 43-8 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Broncos offense, which broke numerous records in 2013, looked completely over-matched against that incredible Seahawks defense which gobbled up every good Denver receiver throughout the game. Hopefully this year I can repeat myself by getting the Super Bowl match-up correct again, but this time I can get the outcome correct. The NFL seems a bit more wide open this year compared to last year in my opinion, thus making it a little tougher to determine who makes the playoffs and ultimately wins the Super Bowl. Here goes nothing though..
* Indicates a Wild Card team
1.New England Patriots (11-5)
2.New York Jets (9-7)
3.Miami Dolphins (6-10)
4.Buffalo Bills (3-13)
1.Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)
2.Baltimore Ravens (10-6)*
3.Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)
4.Cleveland Browns (4-12)
1.Indianapolis Colts (12-4)
2.Houston Texans (7-9)
3.Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12)
4.Tennessee Titans (2-14)
1.Denver Broncos (12-4)
2.Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)*
3.San Diego Chargers (9-7)
4.Oakland Raiders (3-13)
AFC Wild Card Round:
3 New England Patriots over 6 Baltimore Ravens
4 Cincinnati Bengals over 5 Kansas City Chiefs
AFC Divisional Round:
1 Denver Broncos over 4 Cincinnati Bengals
2 Indianapolis Colts over 3 New England Patriots
AFC Championship Game:
2 Indianapolis Colts over 1 Denver Broncos, 34-30
1.Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)
2.New York Giants (8-8)
3.Washington Redskins (8-8)
4.Dallas Cowboys (6-10)
1.Green Bay Packers (12-4)
2.Chicago Bears (10-6)*
3.Detroit Lions (9-7)
4.Minnesota Vikings (4-12)
1.New Orleans Saints (13-3)
2.Atlanta Falcons (8-8)
3.Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8)
4.Carolina Panthers (5-11)
1.Seattle Seahawks (14-2)
2.San Francisco 49ers (10-6)*
3.Arizona Cardinals (9-7)
4.St.Louis Rams (5-11)
NFC Wild Card Round:
3 Green Bay Packers over 6 San Francisco 49ers
5 Chicago Bears over 4 Philadelphia Eagles
NFC Divisional Round:
1 Seattle Seahawks over 5 Chicago Bears
2 New Orleans Saints over 3 Green Bay Packers
NFC Championship Game:
1 Seattle Seahawks over 2 New Orleans Saints, 27-17
1 Seattle Seahawks over 2 Indianapolis Colts, 28-24
NFL MVP: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers.
Offensive Player Of The Year: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts.
Defensive Player Of The Year: Darrell Revis, CB, New England Patriots.
Offensive Rookie Of The Year: Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Defensive Rookie Of The Year: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, Houston Texans.
Comeback Player Of The Year: Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons.
Coach Of The Year: Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis Colts.
Executive Of The Year: Mickey Loomis, New Orleans Saints.
Most Improved Team: Houston Texans
Most Disappointing Team: Carolina Panthers
Tennessee Titans select Oregon QB Marcus Mariota with the #1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Cleveland Browns (from Buffalo Bills) select Texas A&M OT Cedric Ogbuehi with the #2 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Oakland Raiders select Alabama WR Amari Cooper with the #3 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.