On The Clock NFL Mock Draft from Fanspeak.com

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Dodgers File For Chapter 11, Future Still Looks Bleak

June 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

The Dodgers have filed for bankruptcy after Major League Baseball refused to allow the new TV deal, that would have given the team the cash to make their June 30th payroll. I realize some Dodger fans, and baseball fans are upset with Selig for not allowing that deal to occur, but I think he made the right move.

Frank McCourt's TV rights deal was a bad deal for both the Dodgers and baseball and only was made to benefit Frank McCourt and ensure he could maintain possession of the team. His deal sacrificed the Dodgers TV rights at a below market value for a longtime, and would have been a bad deal for a low market team like the Royals much less an iconic team in the 2nd largest TV market like the Dodgers.

While some people have some sympathy for McCourt's situation, I believe he is the problem for this team and don't think that the Dodgers should have to pay for their mistakes. McCourt's bad financial decisions on and off the field have led the Dodgers to the point where they need to be monitored by Selig. He has approved bad contract after bad contract, that has led to a ton of 'dead money' over the last few years. From 2009-2014 the Dodgers will have spent over $60 million in players for not to being on their roster. That is just unsustainable to sign all of their actual players, while paying for players they don't want. In addition if the reports are true the McCourts have borrowed at least $100 million against the Dodgers, but not to pay for team operations. That is completely irresponsible and one of the biggest reasons for why L.A. is in the hole that they are in.

Now I don't like the idea that the team will need to make bad baseball decisions simply because the ownership can't afford to pay his bills, but let's be honest they were making bad baseball decisions long before this occurred. And while it is a bit unfair, it wouldn't be fair for the Dodgers 5 years from now to have a lower payroll than they should because they gave up their TV rights at a well-below market rate. Hopefully for the team's sake McCourt will look to sell a majority stake of the team, but giving his impending divorce proceedings it will be harder to find a buyer. If the Dodgers do have to start selling players, the good news is that they have some players with value (Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Jonathan Broxton etc.) that should allow them to both save money and acquire some quality prospects. It could make the next year or two rough in Dodger Town, but it is the best for the team as long as McCourt is at the helm.

What the Pujols Injury Means for the Cardinals

June 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

The St. Louis Cardinals got horrible news today as they found out that their megastar 1B Albert Pujols will be out 4-6 weeks with a fractured left wrist. The injury occurred yesterday as Pujols tried to take a wide throw and tag the runner going to first, unfortunately the runner hit him in a way that broke his wrist. Now the question is, what does this mean for the Cardinals playoff hopes.

Now overall it really isn't the end of the world. The Cardinals have a deep bench overall, but they are already a bit short-handed. Back-up 1B/OF Allan Craig is on the D.L. for a fractured knee cap and he will probably miss 6 weeks as well. Starting 3B David Freese is still not back yet from his broken hand injury, and while he could be back in 1-2 weeks, he might not be 100% when he is back since he hasn't been able to swing a bat. This means that the Cards will have a short bench and probably won't have a fully healthy lineup (not counting Pujols) for a good month.

As for replacing Pujols the Cards will move Lance Berkman in to 1B and play John Jay every day in the OF. Defensively that makes the Cards a better team, but offensively they will take a hit. Jay is a good young OF, who could probably start on at least 10 teams in this league, but he is an offensive downgrade by a wide margin to Pujols (in fairness the majority of the league would fall in that category). Jay (who is LH) will now have to face lefties on a more regular basis. And while he isn't awful against them, the Cards have been wise to platoon him, something they can no longer afford to do. The Cards also now have zero pinch hitting ability or depth on their roster (especially with Freese and Nick Punto still out). While this doesn't seem like a major issue, that is a lot of late inning AB's where you are basically going to sub a pitcher for a minor leaguer (and not a very good one). In terms of depth it is important as well because now you can't give a veteran like Lance Berkman an occasional off day, or a guy who is slumping a chance to rest. Also, it means that any other injuries (Matt Holliday has dealt with his share) would be absolutely devastating.

Now the biggest issue for the Cardinals chances is still their pitching staff, but with a significantly weaker lineup, their pitching problem is even more dire. Up until now the Cards could rely on one of the leagues best offenses to pull them through enough games, but that isn't the case any longer. I think the Cardinals need to go out sooner rather than later and add at least one starting pitcher and one bullpen arm if they hope to stay into contention for when Pujols comes back. Now I definitely don't think they need to overreact and trade for a starting bat, but they should look for any bargains of bench and role players to give them solid depth now, and great depth when all their injured guys come back. If St. Louis doesn't make these moves in the next week or so then I think this injury could make them the 3rd horse for the Central race.

What would realignment mean for baseball?

June 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

With reports that MLB is talking realignment I wanted to take a minute to see what impact it could have on the game. The proposal would make a number of drastic changes, but it is important to remember that it is rumored to be '50-50' at best.

The first move would be to move a team from the N.L., likely the Astros (though I'd guess Arizona and Colorado are on the short list as well), to balance out the two leagues 15-15. The problem with that is with the current structure, you'd have teams needing to play interleague games throughout the entire season. And while that isn't as big of a deal in other sports, the primary difference of the D.H. between the two leagues would lead to some serious issues. Can you imagine an N.L. team going into the last series of the season, and they have to face an A.L. team, but don't have the offensive firepower to matchup? Or even worse could be the opposite situation where an American League team, needing to win for a playoff berth, having to sit one of their best hitters on the bench the final series of the season? While I love the idea in practice, because right now your odds are worse for making the playoffs in the N.L. than the A.L. (discounting the fact that the A.L. East dominates the Wild Card), I don't think it will work. Unless of course the league either expands by two teams or the National League adopts the DH (and for baseball purists, the DH isn't going away from the A.L. so that is a non-starter).

The next drastic change would be the elimination of the divisions. There would be just two singular 15 team divisions and the top 5 teams from each would advance to the playoffs (adding the 5th playoff team will probably happen no matter what). This would of course eliminate the division races, but could actually be better since there would hopefully be tight playoff races at the end of the season. And with teams getting into the postseason based on merit, and not just winning a weak division, you should have even better playoffs. The one downside is the whole division rivalry issue.

Not only would this take some of the sting out of traditional rivals like the Yankees-Red Sox, Dodgers-Giants, and Cubs-Cardinals, but just in general it would change things. Right now in Washington a team looking to play spoiler more than anything else, a game against the Phillies, Mets, Braves and Marlins mean more than against anyone else. Sure there is a regional vibe that would still be there for the Phillies and the Mets, but I think there is a distinct difference. I mean Atlanta is a 10 hour drive from D.C. and Miami is even further, yet those games have a bigger feel for fans, than say a Pirates game (4 hours) or Reds game (8 hours). The other factor with Division rivalries is that as it stands now you know that you are going to close your season with games against opponents in your division. So in the final two weeks of the season you will at least have 1 shot (sometimes 2) to put a hurting on any division opponent fighting for that Wild Card (or change the leader board inside your division). Now it will just be luck of the draw to even face an opponent who has a playoff shot, and even then all you are doing is giving the berth to another team in your league.

The one big positive that would come out of the realignment would be the instituting of balanced schedules. I realize that it is a money saver in terms of travel costs, and a money maker at the gate, but unbalanced schedules just aren't good for baseball. I know they might work in other sports, but for baseball it just doesn't make sense. Look at the Baltimore Orioles, they are going to play about half of their games against the American League East. A division in which everyone has at least a .484 winning percentage or better. Baltimore is at the .484 mark right now, but would likely be above .500 with a more balanced schedule. The Orioles are 8-7 against the West and 11-9 against the central, but are just 9-15 against the American League East (and what doesn't bode well for them is they have more games remaining against the East than other teams do). The 4th place Blue Jays are also hurt by this as they are just 11-16 against the East, but 7-6 vs the West and 13-9 vs the Central. In any other division in the league these teams would be playoff contenders. While a balanced schedule alone wouldn't guarantee them anything, it could help in other ways as well. Now teams like the O's and Jays will have months where they face the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays 12-15 times. The Orioles, for instance had the big three for 12 of their 28 games in April (a couple got postponed) and also had to face the Tigers, Indians and Rangers for another 10 games. That is a brutal way to begin the year, and it actually turned out better than it originally appeared, since the Twins and White Sox were their other opponents and before the year they looked tougher than the Indians (and even maybe the Tigers). The Orioles also don't end the season favorably as they have 15 games against the big 3 of the East, plus series against the Tigers and Angels.

The unbalanced schedule also gives advantages to teams in weaker divisions inflate their record and look deserving of a playoff berth when they really aren't. The Reds are the prime example of this right now. They are 34-32 overall, but 24 of their wins and just 14 losses are at the hands of their N.L. Central brethren. They are just 3-7 versus the East and 7-8 against the West (which isn't really known for their talented teams). They are on pace to win about 48 games against their own division, meaning they can play under .500 baseball against the rest of the league and still get 90+ wins. Balanced scheduling would help make sure that some teams wouldn't be given such easy paths to successful seasons. Sure the Reds can still beat up on the Cubs and Astros, they just won't have them make up such a high percentage of their season.

What do you guys think? What concepts of realignment are good and what would you like to see going forward?

2011 MLB Mock Draft

June 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

1. Pittsburgh Pirates: 3B Anthony Rendon (College)-

I know a lot of people are jumping ship, and there are plenty of other fine options, but Rendon was the top player in this class. His injuries are fluky rather than a major concern, and teams are basically pitching around him. He's got the best bat and glove combination in this draft, and is very reminiscent of Evan Longoria, Ryan Zimmerman, and David Wright. If he gets anywhere close to that group this is a great pick, and allows Pedro Alvarez go from being a weak defensive 3B to an above average defensively 1B.

2. Seattle Mariners: SS Francisco Lindor (H.S.)-

Lindor is the top SS prospect in this draft with what looks like an elite glove. There are some concerns with his hitting, but a number of teams feel he will hit plenty for a top 5 pick. The Mariners look to be one of those teams, and while they could pop a pitcher here, I think they go with the premium position.

3. Arizona Diamondbacks: RHP Gerrit Cole (College)-

The D-Backs luck out and land a guy they covet, in Cole. Cole was a little inconsistent down the stretch, but he has been considered an elite arm since the Yankees drafted him in the first round 3 years ago. He passed up the shot and has gotten even better. He is a top overall pick in most drafts (and could be this year as well), so Arizona gets great value.

4. Baltimore Orioles: RHP Dylan Bundy (H.S)-

The Orioles could take anyone of the top pitchers available, but I'm thinking they pop Bundy here. Bundy by some accounts is the best prep arm in the last couple years and should move quickly through the Minors. The O's already have his older brother in their system and probably can't resist the idea of having both brothers in their rotation in a year or two.

5. Kansas City Royals: OF Bubba Starling (H.S.)-

The Royals are rumored to be in on any of the college starters, but can they really pass up a local talent like Starling? Starling is a 5-tool CF prospect, who in some drafts would be the top player selected. He's a bit raw since he was a two sport star, and he has a strong Nebraska commitment that Kansas City will need to buy him away from, but I still see this as the pick. The Royals are shy about spending for elite H.S. talent and for the most part it has paid off. While Starling could be a few years away (probably at least 4), he could be the final piece to their already impressive young future lineup.

6. Washington Nationals: LHP Danny Hultzen (College)-

The Nationals appear to have a 6 man wish list and will take whomever is left. Since Lindor went above them (he doesn't appear as high on their list) Washington will get to choose between Hultzen or Bauer. While either would be a great pick, Hultzen isn't getting past Washington. He's a local kid, who grew up in MD and went to H.S. in D.C. and college at UVA (talk about a Nationals promotional tour). Hultzen is also a lefty, which helps balance the top right-handers in their rotation, Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann.

7. Arizona Diamondbacks: RHP Trevor Bauer (College)-

Although the D-backs might have been a little upset to see Hultzen go off the board they are quite alright with this scenario. They get to grab Bauer who was Cole's teammate in college, and basically just as good. With Cole and Bauer at the front of their rotation going forward, things begin to look quite bright in Arizona.

8. Cleveland Indians: RHP Matt Barnes (College)-

The Indians have had a lot of success in recent years taking college arms, and it looks like that trend will continue. While overall I think they are a year or two away still, they proved thus far this season that they are an up-and-coming team. Adding a guy like Barnes who can help them out in a year or two is a smart play.

9. Chicago Cubs: RHP Archie Bradley (H.S.)-

Bradley gets overlooked somewhat because of all the elite talents in this draft but he is very good overall. He'd rank up there with most of the top H.S. pitchers taken the last couple of years and is good pick here for the Cubs. Chicago needs to hit a home run with this pick, and with top H.S. bats like Starling and Lindor gone, I say they go with the best player on the board.

10. San Diego Padres: 3B/OF Cory Spandenberg (College)-

While this pick is protected the Padres aren't figured to go too cheap here. They likely will look at bats though as, the Padres are in serious need of some offensive options. Spandenberg might not stick at 3B, but 2B, CF or even a corner spot are all options. He has a very advanced bat and could move quickly through their system.

11. Houston Astros: LHP Jed Bradley  (College)-

The Astros need to find some quality young pitching in this draft, and while they'd maybe consider a quick moving high schooler, I think that a college pitcher is most likely. While they still have a number of top options available, I think Jed Bradley will be their choice. I think that LHP is a premium and I really believe in his ability to become a number 2.

12. Milwaukee Brewers: RHP Sonny Gray (College)-

Pitching has long been an issue for the Brewers, and while their rotation is pretty sound right now, none of their current guys are real longterm guarantees. The Brewers need to add some high upside arms to their system and Gray is one of the best arms on the board.

13. New York Mets: RHP Taylor Jungmann (College)-

New York could go any number of different directions, particularly if their new minority owner shows a willingness to spend more on amateur talent. If they don't do anything drastic though Jungmann should be their selection here. He is a highly polished RHP, who profiles as a very good number 2. He can move quickly through their system, and has little downside.

14. Florida Marlins: SS Javier Baez (H.S.)-

The Marlins have a knack for taking local high school kids, and Baez is one of the best talents to come out of the state of Florida in years. He will probably have to move to 3B (which is quite alright with Hanley Ramirez at SS), but should be a relatively quick mover. He could be ready within 3 years and should be a highly productive offensive weapon.

15. Milwaukee Brewers: SS Levi Michael (College)-

This pick is unprotected so I'd look for Milwaukee play it a little safe here. Michael isn't reach though, just a guy who is likely to sign for slot. He profiles as a solid offensive SS, with good defensive ability. He doesn't have an elite tool, but is good across the board. He should also move quickly and would give the Brewers a nice middle infield with Weeks.

16. Los Angeles Dodgers: LHP Tyler Anderson (College)-

Given their financial situation the Dodgers have to stick to slot with this pick. Anderson is a bit of a reach as he is more a early 20's prospect, but he is still a good player overall. He projects as a good number 3, and being a lefty he makes more sense here than say a similar righty.

17. Los Angeles Angels: RHP Taylor Guerrieri (H.S.)-

The Angels will likely look to take a top prep pitcher with this pick. They will be quite happy with Guerrieri who in most years is a top 10 talent. Despite being a H.S. guy he still looks to move pretty quickly and could be up in just over 3 years.

18. Oakland Athletics: OF George Springer (College)-

The A's are interested in a lot of guys here, but Springer seems to be their top choice. He gives them a high upside CF prospect, who's glove will play even if the bat doesn't develop like they hope.

19. Boston Red Sox: OF Mikie Mahtook (College)-

Boston could go in a number of directions here, but Mahtook is a high upside CF, who could easily be a top 15 player. He gives good value here and should contribute and be ready for the show in the next couple years.

20. Colorado Rockies: 2B Kolten Wong (College)-

The Rockies seemed focused on college players here, and Wong is probably their top choice. He looks to move quickly and be a very good hitter, giving the Rockies an impressive middle infield.

21. Toronto Blue Jays: RHP Dillon Howard (H.S.)-

Toronto could go a number of directions here, but with H.S. pitching of value at this pick I see that the direction they go. They have 4 supplemental picks so they could add a couple intriguing college players in that area.

22. St. Louis Cardinals: RHP Jose Fernandez (H.S.)-

St. Louis is a wildcard team, they have shown an ability to go with both H.S. and college players.

23. Washington Nationals: RHP Alex Meyer (College)-

This is a steal for the Nationals if Meyer lands here as he has the potential to go 10 picks higher. Washington would love to add another top college arm with this pick, and this would give them an incredibly strong rotation going forward.

24. Tampa Bay Rays: RHP Robert Stephenson (H.S.)-

This is the first of the Rays 3 first round picks (they also have 7 supplemental and 2 2nd rounders) and I think they will take the best player on their board. Stephenson is a high upside pitcher who could end up developing into a number 2 down the road.

25. San Diego Padres: LHP Josh Osich (College)-

There is a lot of assumption that the Padres will spend money this year, but that hasn't fully been their M.O. in the past. I could see them going over slot in the next few rounds, but they will probably look for easy signs early. Osich has good upside and projects well as at least a 3.

26. Boston Red Sox: RHP Tyler Beede (High School)-

Beede is a local product that the Red Sox have their eye on, and would be a nice sign for them. He sounds like he has a big bonus demand, but does want to sign. He's got a ton of upside and gives Boston a potential future frontline pitcher.

27. Cincinnati Reds: OF Brian Goodwin (College)-

It's hard to predict exactly what the Reds will do, but Goodwin is a good value pick here. They could go the H.S. route, but probably won't go over slot to do so. Goodwin has a lot of upside and could develop into a frontline CF. That might not be a big need for the Reds, but having two stud young CF's is hardly the worst thing in the world.

28. Atlanta Braves: RHP Joe Ross (High School)-

The Braves typically go with sign-ability in the first round and I think this is no exception. Ross has a lot of promise, but apparently doesn't have the huge price tag.

29. San Francisco Giants: LHP Henry Owens (H.S.)-

While pitching is the Giants strength I think they continue to stockpile young arms, as their isn't a great hitting option here. Owens is a high upside lefty who could move pretty quickly for San Francisco.

30. Minnesota Twins: LHP Andrew Chafin (College)-

Minnesota typically takes college players and specifically pitchers with their top pick. Chafin could be a slight reach here, but he is a good pitcher and should sign quickly.

31. Tampa Bay Rays: LHP Daniel Norris (H.S.)-

With the Rays having so many they can pick whatever they want. While they can't blow their budget on every pick, I see them grabbing a couple high priced options. Norris probably should go 10 picks sooner, but his price tag could scare some teams away. Tampa though should take a shot on him as he can really develop into a stud pitching prospect.

32. Tampa Bay Rays: C Andrew Susac (College)-

Susac helps balance the Rays draft after they have taken two high upside pitchers. Susac gives them a college positional guy, who should also sign quickly. This is good value for Tampa and rounds out a great first round for them.

33. Texas Rangers: OF Brandon Nimmo (H.S.)-

Nimmo gives the Rangers a high upside athlete, who has some star potential. He's a bit raw overall, but it is a very good pick here for them. He's expected to sign, but will likely be for well over slot.

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