Archive for January, 2014

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This off-season included some massive shake-ups in the Majors so far, including big free agents, some trades, and injury news regarding those lost last season. But what prediction post is complete without some bold guesses? Here are some of mine.

The Yankees will miss the playoffs: I’m well aware of all the money the Yankees spent this winter, with numbers estimating close to half a billion dollars in total contracts. But last I checked, money isn’t the immediate solution for problems this day and age. The Yankees spent a good chunk of money on a new-looked outfield, including Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, more money on a new catcher, Brian McCann, and a Japanese import pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, all while watching as Alex Rodriguez got suspended for the entirety of the season. All those are good things, but here come the not so good. The entire infield is full of question marks. Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira are both coming off season-long injuries, with latest reports that Teixeira won’t even be at 100% this whole year. Patch-up replacements Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts aren’t strangers to the DL either. Along with that, the back end of the rotation as well as the bullpen are not as reliable as the Yankees would like. Also, their farm system is nearly non-existent. Money can’t solve those problems to the tune of playoffs this time around.

The Royals will contend for a wild card: For the first time in a while, the Kansas City Royals had a good season. 86-76 is a tremendous mark, for a team that’s been perpetually rebuilding since George Brett retired. But, now, they have one of the better up-and-coming cores of players including the likes of Alex Gordon, James Shields, and Eric Hosmer. The team had a fun vibe last year, celebrating with barbecue sauce and a light-up deer in the clubhouse. Their rotation took a hit, when Ervin Santana told them he won’t be returning, but still hasn’t found a new home, but that won’t deter them. They made a few smaller moves, picking up Nori Aoki, Jason Vargas, and Omar Infante, to go along with most of their club last year. Look for them to be that fun-loving team people can’t help but root for, because they are always underdogs. They may be a year or two away with the same group, but they are certainly on the rise.

The Nationals will make a title run: I’ve been behind this notion for a couple of years, but this year seems like the window is wide open for them. The deepest rotation in baseball got deeper with the acquisition of Doug Fister from Detroit, to go along with phenom Stephen Strasburg, reliable Gio Gonzalez, and up-start Jordan Zimmermann. Young guns Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon are another year older and experienced, and will begin to really tear up the NL East with their youth along side veterans like Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, and Adam LaRoche. The bullpen is also solid, with Rafael Soriano, Tyler Clippard, and Craig Stammen. There isn’t really a weak spot on this team, and they are among the most complete teams in baseball. Expect big things from DC this season.

The Reds will miss the playoffs: This one’s tough, mainly because the group that they have has the look of a playoff team. But an off-season loaded with questions has me questioning their playoff possibility. The departure of Shin-Soo Choo is a big one, leaving a massive hole in centerfield, as well as in the lineup. The Reds are looking for help in speedster Billy Hamilton, but as a rookie, he will have his mistakes. Another question that will hover over this team is at second base, Brandon Phillips. The question isn’t how he’ll play, but how long he’ll play in Cincinnati. Questions rose all over the winter about whether he would be traded, with the Yankees seemingly as the top destination. If the Reds struggle, the calls to trade Phillips will get louder, which is bad news for the Reds, likely triggering an impulsive move. The team also is in limbo about what to do with Aroldis Chapman, the fire-throwing closer, whether to keep him or put him in the rotation. Last time a team had that question, they were following the Joba rules. If the Reds don’t keep pace with the Cardinals and Pirates, expect them to be on the outside looking in come September.

The Mariners will miss the playoffs: Last year, I wouldn’t call this bold. This year, they decided to dust off their wallets and spend some money, bringing in Robinson Cano, Corey Hart, and Logan Morrison. Despite having a great 1-2 punch in the rotation, with Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, the rest of the rotation is filled with younger guys with little to no experience on a major league mound. Also, the lineup has exactly one name in it that would scare people, and that’s Cano. With a team that was just recently assembled, it’s hard to judge. Look at last year’s Blue Jays. They scored the big off-season move, trading for the Miami Marlins, and finished well behind the other 4 teams in the AL East. The Mariners are likely destined for a similar performance in the West, with the Rangers, A’s, and probably the Angels still ahead of them in terms of talent and veteran know-how. They showed some life by spending money, but they are still a year or two away from making noise again.

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As the final pin dropped in the NFL coaching carousel, its time to make early predictions for how those hires will work out.

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Best Head Coach Hire-Mike Pettine The former Buffalo Bills and New York Jets defensive coordinator knows a thing or to about molding and mentoring players. With an impressive resume including Darelle Revis and Mario Williams, Pettine is the perfect coach to come in and turn the Browns around. With Joe Haden, Josh Gordon, Barkevious Mingo, and a brand new quarterback, it may finally be time for Cleveland to return to the playoffs.

Best Coordinator Hire-Norv Turner Not enough credit was given to the former Chargers head coach for his job last year. With the aforementioned Browns, Turner turned Jason Campbell into a somewhat decent quarterback. Now give him Adrian Peterson, Cordarelle Patterson, and a half decent quarterback, and the Minnesota Vikings may be back in the playoffs pretty quickly.

Worst Head Coach Hire- Jim Caldwell We learned two things when Peyton Manning missed the entire 2011-2012 season. The Colts led Jim Caldwell went 2-14 without Manning, landing the number one overall pick in the draft. Caldwell was immediately fired and replaced by Chuck Pagano. Despite having Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, and Joseph Addai, the Colts had the 28th ranked offense in the league. Furthermore, as the Ravens offensive coordinator last year, the reigning super Bowl champions struggled mightily. Despite talent, the Lions will struggle with Caldwell leading this team.

What hire did we forget? Which hire are we wrong about? Let us know  in the comments!

The 22nd Winter Games is scheduled to start on Friday, February 7th, in Sochi, Russia. There is always excitement when it comes to the Olympic games, and the closer we get to the Games, the more you’ll see written about it.

Comedian Daniel Tosh mentioned how he hates the Winter Games because it’s a contest of “which country has more rich white kids”, and “who slides down a hill faster”. We all know how exciting the hockey games get, but Tosh has a decent point. Let’s take a look at why I’ll only really care to watch the hockey games.

Biathalon, Cross Country Skiing, Nordic Combined: These are in direct comparison with, say, the marathon. They involve people skiing (with variations on what exactly the contest is) very slowly and deliberately for long, long periods of time. So long, that they switch to other events, and return to one of these, and the race will not have changed. At all. The same dude is miles ahead of everyone, and it’s time to switch to another channel in hope something else is on.

Alpine Skiing, Ski Jumping, Speed Skating: These are actually pretty cool to watch, but it’s the same stuff over and over. One guy skis down the hill and is slightly faster than the guy before him. Another guy skates in a circle at high speeds slightly faster than another guy. Another guy flies farther than the previous one. British TV show Top Gear sent a rocket-powered Mini down a ski jump ramp, and it was awesome. But again, the actual event gets quite repetitive, much like swimming, or any various track/field competitions in the summer.

Bobsleigh, Luge, Skeleton: Who slides perfectly still down an icy tube faster? Granted it’s hard to do, it’s not very exciting, unless you hear the Jamaicans yell out “Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up, it’s bobsled time! Cooooool runnings!”. Let’s be honest, NBC’s bobsled ratings will spike when the Jamaican bobsled team is ready to slide down the slope. The break-neck pace they slide at is wicked, but like the previous category, it gets repetitive.

Figure Skating: Wake me up when someone pulls off an Iron Lotus. Until then, I would rather not watch men in tights, unless it’s Robin Hood.

Curling: Mildly entertaining, because it’s silly to watch people vigorously sweeping ice with a broom. Unless the Norwegians are on, because of their pants. Which are way awesome and I want one.

Freestyle Skiing, Snowboarding: Have you seen the Winter X-Games? Good, because this is the exact same thing, but on a bigger stage with more prestige. It’s cool to see someone doing crazy flips and twists and sometimes fall on their bums. But it’s the same darn thing as the X-Games, which cuts into your valuable ESPN time.

Ice Hockey: It’s become the most anticipated event at the Olympics. For the 2010 Gold Medal game in Vancouver, 80% of Canada reportedly tuned in, and the other 20% was likely at their friend’s houses watching the game. At every hockey game you’ve watched on TV this season, they are talking about who’s gonna make the team. It’s the only sport on this list that really involved political views and entire countries stopped to celebrate, wherever they were. It’s where we believe in miracles.

I know that people still care about the other sports, and I’m cool with that. But let’s be honest here, the only games you will make time to tune in to, will be hockey.

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Aroldis Chapman made his name by doing something better than any man in baseball history, and that would be throwing fastballs. I mean FASTballs. There were a couple of instances where the lanky lefty was clocked at 105 mph. You did not read that wrong. Since his entry into Major League Baseball with the Cincinnati Reds in 2010, he’s had 77 saves (38 each of the last 2 seasons), and struck out 324 hitters in just 198.2 innings. Doing the math, that’s alot. But there has been talk of changing his role with the team, and removing him from the bullpen, where he’s dominated hitters with mind-blowing velocity, and put him in the starting rotation.

The thought process at first glance is simple. He’s good one inning at a time, let’s give him 5-7 innings every 5 days, and see if he can replicate those outstanding numbers. He was originally thought to be a starter when he signed with the Reds, and has been in the bullpen since.

But it’s not that simple. Relief pitchers give 100% of their night’s effort into that one inning they pitch. That is what allows the late inning guys to pump their fastballs at the high 90’s, to maybe breaking triple digits. Starting pitchers, on the other hand, have to divide that 100% of energy into every inning they pitch, and conserve their arm to be able to pitch later into games.

Joba Chamberlain, for example, came on the scene in 2008, and was dominating hitters with a 98 mph fastball, and a complimentary slider that just disappeared (much like Chapman’s skill set, but with less 100 mph-ness). The Yankees moved him to the rotation, and his velocity slipped to the low 90’s, and his effectiveness exponentially fell.

Compare this to Chapman. Chapman likely will have to tone his fastball down from averaging 98 mph roughly, to possibly low-mid 90’s. That’s a huge difference. His mechanics, as explained by Sports Science’s John Brenkus, can’t possibly be repeated 100+ times a night.

Tim Lincecum has similar mechanics, and his effectiveness died down over the last couple of years, as his body caught up to him. So too with Chapman, that motion is extremely taxing on the body. As simple as he makes it look, a human arm isn’t meant to throw a baseball 100+ mph. The tremendous strain it causes on his arm and shoulder would cause his arm to collapse if he tries overthrowing his fastball too many times.

Also, part of the reason Chapman is so effective, is that at that velocity, his control doesn’t need to be pin-point. Batters have less time to see where the ball is going, and will wildly hack at it, trying to hit it. If Chapman’s fastball is more pedestrian, say at 94 mph on average, hitters have more of a chance to decide not to hit it, and can pick and choose rather than guess on the fastball. That would increase his walks, hits, and home runs, and decrease his strikeouts.

While Chapman is in the bullpen, his quasi-legendary velocity is unleashed, reaching 100 mph on average. But if he’s installed in Cincinnati’s rotation, his effectiveness will hit a sharp decrease. The transition the opposite way has shown success, but it’s incredibly rare to find a reliever make his way to being a number one starter overnight. I’m sure he’d be effective, but I doubt it would work in the Reds’ benefit. Keeping him in the bullpen optimizes his talents, and allows him to use his full potential every outing.

Melos Wild Weekend

Posted: January 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

Melos Wild Weekend

New Radio Show on WQMC Radio. 5-6 pm est everyday. tinyurl.com/qcradio

Should the Sabres trade Ryan Miller?

Posted: January 28, 2014 in NHL
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The Buffalo Sabres easily have the worst record in the NHL. With a record of 14-30-7, they are 5 behind Edmonton for last in the league. They are 14 behind Florida, who’s the second to worst in the East. They seem like they are on their way to the top of the draft lottery, given Edmonton doesn’t win it again.

The Sabres have a lingering question looming over their head, though. Franchise goalie Ryan Miller has an expiring contract, set to become an unrestricted free agent after this season concludes. Obviously, with a talent level that Miller possesses, the Sabres would like to keep him. He’s 33 years old, and still has plenty of service left in the tank. But, do the Sabres chance it and keep him so that they can extend him exclusively? Or do they jump ship and continue planning for the future.

One case to be made for them keeping Miller, is that he’s the only thing keeping this team from being historically bad. His record is 13-20-3, with a GAA of 2.63 and a save percentage of .926. His backup, Jhonas Enroth, is 1-10-4 (that’s correct), with a GAA of 2.67 and .910 save percentage. The Sabres play much better for Miller, clearly indicated by the similar numbers between the tandem. If they played for Enroth for a season of 82 games, at the pace he’s played, they would finish with approximately 7 wins. How bad is that historically? The worst team ever, the 1974-75 Capitals had 8 wins. The Sabres really need Miller in net.

Another reason, is that Miller has had sustained success with this franchise. Between lockouts, from 2005-2012, he’s had at least 30 wins every season, leading the team to the playoffs 4 times, and as far as the Eastern Conference Finals twice. They know that if they can put a team in front of him, that can score with regularity, then they can contend for a playoff spot. Clearly that’s become the main issue for Buffalo, having just 97 goals, 22 less than the next team up, Calgary.

However, it may take trading Miller to get some offense. While they do have many expiring contracts, many of those players are key components to the offense they already have, like Matt Moulson and Steve Ott. Those players have much more value on the Sabres roster than they do on the trade market, because without them, the offense is near non-existent. Trading Miller, who would have extremely high pay-back value, could bring in some of that missing offense. Last time they traded offense, they got back Moulson and two picks, and it’s safe to say it’s been working out better for the other team, who now has Thomas Vanek and is on the rise.

Also, it would take a massive contract to keep Miller in Buffalo at this point. His previous contract was 5 years and just over $31M. With his value to the team, he could garner a contract at near Lundqvist value, probably without the same length. With as valuable an asset as Miller is, he would eat up a ton of the cap space that Buffalo might need to use on offensive talent.

From Miller’s point of view, he might want to spend the rest of his career with a team that has a chance to win, as opposed to a team that will be rebuilding for the remainder of Miller’s good years. With his impending free agency, he will be one of the top targets on the market for teams in need of goaltending help. There is the loyalty factor, that he spent his whole career so far with Buffalo, but that hasn’t stopped players from testing free agency, and then ditching their old squad to play somewhere closer to their hometown, or to play for more money, or both.

Odds are, Miller will test free agency this off-season, trade or not. There is a no-trade clause in play, so Miller can theoretically pick and choose. But he will be a high priced rental for the remainder of the season, and if Buffalo is wise, they take the trade before risking losing him for nothing. They are rebuilding now, so it makes sense to add some high value prospects while they are at it, and hope that they can find another franchise goalie somewhere along the long road of rebuilding.

Radio Shows Back!!

Posted: January 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

WERE BACK! On from 5-6 today, talking Knicks, Nets, Pro Bowl, Hockey, and more!
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