Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Legend of Manny Pina

Baseball Prospectus has a daily podcast hosted by Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller called Effectively Wild. They usually fill 30 minutes with some banter and they each bring two topics to the table. On Wednesday, one of the topics, it was an email actually, was something like 'what unlikely thing would you like to see in a baseball game'. I believe they then started about strange ways to walk off a ball game. What Sam came up with next is what sparked this crazy chain reaction. He said that he would love to see a walk off catchers interference, or catchers balk. Then they discussed it some more and went on with the rest of the emails and the show.

Later that evening, I decided to put on the iCubs game on MiLB.TV while I was playing some Madden. I happened to catch iCubs broadcasters Deene Ehlis and Randy Wehofer saying a catcher's interference had occurred, and a rather strange one at that. I wasn't looking at my iPad at the time, but from what Randy was saying it sounded like the call was made because the catcher used his mask (I assume he took it off and it was in his throwing hand) to pick up or stop the ball. Apparently, this action is considered catcher's interference; something I did not know.

This sparked Randy to bring up something he experience in his broadcasting career. He simply said that back when he was working in Burlington there was a game that ended in a walk off catcher's balk. A balk-off! If a catcher leaves the catcher's box to receive a pitch, in this case it was coming out in front of the plate to try and catch the ball early to throw out a baserunner, it is considered a catcher's balk. Which is exactly what happened in Randy's description of this game in Burlington. I promptly relayed this fun-fact to Sam and Ben by a simple tweet. This tweet apparently piqued Sam's interest because not only did he reply to the tweet with a bunch of exclamation marks but they even lead of Thursday's show by talking about it real quick! Which was pretty cool to me.

Having not researched it at the time Randy said it, I decided to do a quick google search to get some solid info on this balk-off. Hoping to find some video was my main goal, but I was unsuccessful. I did, however, find the box score, game log, and game recap from Randy Wehofer himself. The date of the game was May 10, 2007. An instate matchup of the Burlington Bees and the Clinton Lumberkings. The game ended in the bottom of the ninth when Manny Pina balked the winning run home. The walk off catcher's balk Sam Miller had hoped for 6 years in the future.

After finding the box score I sent my findings off to Sam and he promptly favorited the tweet. Then I quickly looked up Manny Pina to see if he had seen any major league time and what he was currently up to. He is currently in the Royals system at their AAA team and got a few cups of coffee in 2010 and 2011. I then considered this fun-fact closed and went on with my business. However...

Every night I check the box scores of the Cub's minor league teams to see how their fared. Tonight, something caught my eye while checking the Iowa Cubs box score. The Iowa Cubs are currently in a series with the Omaha Storm Chasers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. I look and see their catcher was who else, Manny Pina! This is when I start to get excited and frantically check the box score of yesterdays iCubs game to make sure they were playing the same team. Sure enough, the Iowa Cubs played the Omaha Storm Chasers and Manny Pina was the catcher that game.

Manny Pina was the one who committed the catcher's interference (on August 28, 2013) that sparked Randy Wehofer to inform us about the balk off in Burlington (May 10, 2007). That catcher who committed that balk off SIX YEARS ago was MANNY PINA, then in the Texas Rangers organization. If you haven't caught on by now, THAT'S THE SAME PERSON.

Most of you probably wont care about this major coincidence. But man, it's awesome to me.

Baseball is awesome.

Follow me on Twitter, @UrbyJT!

Links used that contributed to my story!

Episode 275 of Effectively Wild
Iowa Cubs vs. Omaha Storm Chasers, 8/29/2013 Box Score
Manny Pina's Baseball Reference Page
Manny Pina's Page
Burlington Bees vs. Clinton Lumberkings, Wehofer's Game Recap 5/10/2007
Burlington Bees vs. Clinton Lumberkings, 5/10/2007 Box Score
Burlington Bees vs. Clinton Lumberkings, 5/10/2007 pxp

Monday, August 5, 2013

Long Term Positional Plans for the Cubs

One of the most popular questions tossed around the Cubs prospect world these days is "What's the 2015 lineup going to look like" "Which lineup is going to bring the Chicago Cubs all the glory and break the curse?" While it may not specifically be 2015, it's a fun question to bring up; albeit it's jumping the gun quite a bit. Especially since the prospect game can be pretty hard to predict at points. But nonetheless, have at it...

CF Albert Almora

Almora isn't widely regarded as a high impact talent among talent evaluators. Most see him topping out at a Role 5
player. The thing that Almora gets all his hype from is three things: his tools, his floor, his makeup. Almora has shown all five tools quite well even into his short minor league career. He doesn't really have one tool that will completely blow you away, but all of his tools grade 50 or above. That makes you a popular prospect. Almora is almost a sure thing as well, that's what I mean by his floor. At worse, Almora is going to end up as a Role 4 player. A lot of which credited to his makeup, he's a good clubhouse guy; hard worker. He's the type of guy that is going to be a leader on a major league ball club as soon as his time comes. I believe he has everything it takes to be a solid lead off man and CF for the Cubs.

SS Starlin Castro

Starlin takes a lot of heat from the fans and the media as being a poor player. They call him lazy on defense and has a poor approach at the plate. The fact of the matter is that he's a great shortstop. He has good range, quick hands, and a strong arm. He's everything you want in a starting shortstop and he's proved that, no matter what anyone else says. YES he has some things to work on, but what young player doesn't? He's going to get it done. His approach at the plate is still developing, he clearly has weaknesses in his swing along with some mechanical issues. Many of which has caused him to somewhat regress this season. But I'm no where near close to closing the book on Starlin Castro. He's young, 23 years old. That's the age that many players are just getting their cups of coffee in September or maybe even their rookie season of MLB ball. He was thrown in the deep end at a young age when he was still perfecting his craft. I'm confident he will turn it around. I also completely expect him to stay at shortstop. There has been a lot of talk about him moving off the position, but I think it's way too early to start talking like that. He's established that he can handle the shortstop position with impressive ability, and you don't just concede that to a lower minors player.  He's clearly in the long term plans for the Chicago Cubs, as an extension last year shows their commitment to him.

LF Jorge Soler

Soler hit a bit of a road block this season in his development; he reaggravated a lingering stress fracture in his leg that has put him on the shelf for over two months. It was unfortunate because it seemed that he was nearing a promotion to AA Tennessee, as the promotion of Javier Baez clearly shown. Hopefully he can get a couple weeks worth of ABs here in August and continue on to the AFL where he'll face some good competition that will be good for him. As for his long term status, he's clearly in the plans for the Cubs. Right now he's in RF but I expect him to concede the position to Kris Bryant. He still has a great arm and good athleticism which will serve him great in LF. His combination of contact and power suits him well in the three spot. I see him as a .275/.340/.460, 30 HR kind of guy. Not too bad at all.

1B Anthony Rizzo

Rizzo is an obvious staple to this lineup. He's inked a contract extension this year that bought out his arb years and locks him up with the Cubs well into his prime. He slightly struggled in the first half of the season but is starting to show some progression as we head towards the latter part of the season. I don't think there's a whole lot I need to tell you about his ability as we've all seen it. His power plus his respectable approach at the plate makes him a threat in any lineup. He's currently been hitting a lot in the 3rd spot this year, however I think his lower average will knock him down to the cleanup spot in the future.

RF Kris Bryant

The Cubs first round pick in the 2013 draft is off to a hot start in the Northwest League and should start moving up the system pretty fast. Talent evaluators like Kris Bryant moving to RF. Especially since the Cubs have quite the log jam at their infield positions and Bryant has a very strong arm to serve in Right. He has power for days that should play excellent at all levels. It's just a matter of getting the bat to the ball to show that power. That fact could equal a less than stellar AVG at the major league level, maybe floating around the .250 level. But his slugging percentage should clear all those issues up and make up for a low average. He'll be player in the middle of the Cubs big league lineup. Potential Role 7 player.

3B Mike Olt

Olt was the main piece in the Matt Garza deal to the Texas Rangers. Olt has struggled this year at the AAA level which was a blessing in disguise because it actually allowed the Cubs to acquire him. As apparently they attempted to do so last year and were unsuccessful due to his good numbers. To his credit, many of his struggles early in the year were due to injury and health issues. Specifically a tear duct issue in his eye which seemed to linger quite a bit, but it seems like it's been mostly figured out. Olt can play all four corner positions but his natural position and the one he excels at is definitely the hot corner, where he provides above average fielding and a strong arm. I think if the Cubs can settle him into one position he can start to improve his hitting. As he was bouncing around the Rangers infield and outfield due to a guy named Adrian Beltre. Olt has above average power but like many power hitting prospects there are some holes in the swing. He has a good walk rate at ~13.5% but on the other side his K rate is a questionable ~26.6%. While Olt will more than likely get a call-up this September (Despite what Jed Hoyer has recently said on 'Waddle and Silvy'), the 2014 season is going to be key for Olt, especially Spring Training. Olt should have a great opportunity to win the 3B starting job out of Spring Training among competition like Luis Valbuena, Logan Watkins, Christian Villanueva, and maybe even Josh Vitters. If he can prove in 2014 that he can be a solid major league regular at the hot corner, then he's a fantastic long term candidate.

C Welington Castillo

Weli hasn't blown anybody out of the water, but he's had a respectable season as the Cub's starting backstop. While he does have his flaws such as power numbers and some framing issues, he's proved he can handle the pitching staff well and has a strong arm. I think that's all you can ask for in a starting catcher, especially with this lineup. Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus said it well (paraphrasing) "[The Cubs could have me behind the plate and it wouldn't matter with that lineup]". It's also easy to pencil Castillo in as the long term catcher because the Cubs really aren't developing anyone else in the high minors. The Cubs did draft a couple catchers this year but I don't think they'll be ready by 2015 or 2016. Names like Jordan Hankins and Cael Brockmeyer. The only guys that you might even think about being catcher prospects are Chadd Krist in Daytona, or Willson Contreras in Kane County and those are stretches at best. Maybe some of those names could be his backup by then, but I don't see any of them starting for a competing team. While they could use their high number of quality assets to upgrade at the position, I still think they stick with Castillo.

2B Arismendy Alcantara

Alcantara has been the prospect that has made leaps and bounds in his game this year. He turned himself from a toolsy shortstop in the lower minors to a legit all around prospect at the AA level. He has an understandably small frame at 5-10 160 lbs but he has some pop in his swing. That power is something we all saw on national TV with his HR at the 2013 All-Star Future's Game. He has the tools to handle shortstop but a move to second makes sense for him. He's already starting to make that permanent move with the promotion of Javy Baez to AA Tennessee. Although it seems like a promotion to AAA Iowa looms for Alcantara where he could go back to seeing some time at shortstop. Jed Hoyer has been on record as being greatly impressed with Alcantara's progress which further validates my prediction that he can be the long term second basemen.

Questions? Comments? Let me know what you think.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Quicks Picks - Final 2012 NBA Draft Predictions

1. Hornets: Anthony Davis
2. Bobcats: Thomas Robinson
3. Wizards: Bradley Beal
4. Cavs: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
5. Kings: Andre Drummond
6. Trail Blazers: Harrison Barnes
7. Warriors: Dion Waiters
8. Raptors: John Henson
9. Pistons: Damien Lillard
10. Hornets: Terrence Jones
11. Trail Blazers: Austin Rivers
12. Rockets: Terrence Ross
13. Suns: Jeremy Lamb
14. Bucks: Jared Sullinger
15. 76ers: Perry Jones
16. Rockets: Quincy Miller
17. Mavs: Kendall Marshall
18. Rockets: Marquis Teague
19. Magic: Royce White
20. Nuggets: Moe Harkless
21. Celtics: Draymond Green
22. Celtics: Tyler Zeller
23. Hawks: Tony Wroten Jr.
24. Cavs: Arnett Moultrie
25. Grizzlies: Andrew Nicholson
26. Pacers: Fab Melo
27. Heat: Festus Ezeli
28. Thunder: Evan Fournier
29. Bulls: Tyshawn Taylor
30. Warriors: Will Barton
31. Bobcats: Doron Lamb
32. Wizards: Furkan Aldemir
33. Cavs: Jared Cunningham
34. Cavs: Jeff Taylor
35. Warriors: Mike Scott
36. Kings: Miles Plumlee
37. Raptors: John Jenkins
38. Nuggets: Kim English
39. Pistons: Robbie Hummel
40. Trail Blazers: Orlando Johnson
41. Trail Blazers: Kyle O'Quinn
42. Bucks: Kevin Murphy
43. Hawks: Terrell Stoglin
44. Pistons: Scott Machado
45. 76ers: Jae Crowder
46. Hornets: Khris Middleton
47. Jazz: Kevin Jones
48. Knicks: Tomas Satoransky
49. Magic: Hollis Thompson
50. Nuggets: Drew Gordon
51. Celtics: Darius Johnson-Odom
52. Warriors: Henry Sims
53. Clippers: Tornike Shengelia
54. 76ers: Garrett Stutz
55. Mavs: Robert Sacre
56. Raptors: Quincy Acy
57. Nets: Chris Johnson
58. Timberwolves: Cameron Moore
59. Spurs: Paul Lacombe
60. Lakers: J'Covan Brown

Sunday, April 22, 2012

2012 NBA Mock Draft

Welcome to my 2012 NBA Mock Draft. I will be taking you on a pick by pick basis of what I think the results will be, my reasoning, and the NBA equivalent of said prospect at MAX POTENTIAL (This aint no 2003 draft, may look like it). My selections will most likely be based on draft need and I used the current league standings (4/19/2012) to determine draft order.

1. Charlotte Bobcats: Anthony Davis - PF - Kentucky
The Bobcats need help, plain and simple. So this is just a situation of taking the best player on the board. That player looks to be Anthony Davis. Now, I'm a big critic in Davis. I'm not entirely sure how NBA ready he is. 6-10 220lbs. isn't going to fly as well in the NBA as it was in the SEC. Although do think his experience as a guard in high school could help him build more of a finesse game in the pros.
NBA Equivalent: Chris Bosh

2. New Orleans Hornets: Thomas Robinson - PF - Kansas
The Hornets are in the right direction with the recent transfer of ownership and team that has a fairly solid lineup of young guys. I think an upgrade at PG is due but it's unnecessary to reach to get that. Their next position with the most to be desired is PF. Their guys there now have done a pretty poor job of rebounding and Thomas Robinson can add to that along with being a physical offensive threat.
NBA Equivalent: Brandon Bass

3. Washington Wizards: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist - SF - Kentucky
This is a bit of a no brainer here. The Wizards have had some trouble finding a good SF and Kid-Gilchrist is the best players on the board also probably the most gifted in the draft. He can add that takeover ability at SF for the Wizards who already have a solid core of John Wall, Jordan Crawford, and Nene, among others. This is a perfect pick for the Wizards.
NBA Equivalent: Andre Iguodala

4. Sacramento Kings: Andre Drummond - C - UConn
The Kings lack depth badly at the center spot. Currently, Chuck Hayes is the back up center. Don't get me wrong, Chuck is a good, physical player, but I don't care how physical and athletic you are 6-6 at the 5 spot is going to cut it. While putting Drummond on the same team as DeMarcus Cousins could turn to be an NBA-diva nightmare, it's the right choice to add some depth to your roster.
NBA Equivalent: DeMarcus Cousins (surprising, huh)

5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Bradley Beal - SG - Florida
With Anthony Parker aging, the Cavs need to find a 2-guard who could be apart of a 1-2 punch with Kyrie Irving. Bradley Beal will be they guy and what a deadly backcourt that would be. Beal is extremely versatile at 6-5. He can do everything from playing point to rebound the ball and everything in between. Should be a good pickup for the Cavs.
NBA Equivalent: Jamal Crawford

6. Golden State Warriors: Harrison Barnes - SF - North Carolina
The Warriors don't have any glaring needs so I think this is a spot where you take the best player off the board. In my opinion that Harrison Barnes. Some may disagree with his regressive Sophomore year but I don't have a doubt in my mind that the potential is there. I have no reason to think that with in a few years that Harrison can't become a force in the league.
NBA Equivalent: Rudy Gay (maybe a bit extreme?)
** A note on this pick. Was originally traded via NJ to the Utah Jazz in the Deron Williams trade, but it was only top 7 protected, so if they are drafting sixth it comes right back to them **

7. Toronto Raptors: Terrence Jones - PF - Kentucky
Terrence Jones is another versatile player in the draft. His versatility could be tested in Toronto. The Raptors have a good amount of young PF so Jones could be asked to slide up to the 3 spot on a frequent basis. Shouldn't be a problem because Jones is a great shooter and ball handler for a 4 man. Could be one of the next good tweeners in the league. Although I wouldn't be surprised if he made a full time move to being a SF, sliding down to PF on occasion.
NBA Equivalent: Carmelo Anthony (More Marvin Williams if he doesn't pan out as wel;)

8. New Orleans Hornets (via Minnesota*): Damian Lillard - PG - Weber St.
With the Hornets front court now pretty packed with the addition of Thomas Robinson. It's time to find the Hornets a new starting PG. Jack and Vasquez have done fine but who nows how long they can hold up. Lillard can add a good scoring complement to Eric Gordon as he led the entire NCAA in scoring for a lot of the year. He needs to work on his passing and floor vision so he's no Chris Paul, nonetheless a great scorer.
NBA Equivalent: Derrick Rose (eh?)
*CP3 Trade

9. Portland Trail Blazers (via New Jersey*): Perry Jones III - PF - Baylor
The starting job may not be open for awhile but depth for Portland could be an issue down the road. Jones fits nicely here as learning under LaMarcus Aldridge could help unleash some of that supposedly untapped potential. Being 6-11 would help him here as a lot of his playing time would most likely be seen at the 5 spot with JJ Hickson also being on the bench along with him. If he starts to be a little more consistant and add some good weight he could be a force.
NBA Equivalent: Anthony Randolph
*Gerald Wallace Trade

10. Portland Trail Blazers: Tyler Zeller - C - North Carolina
Sorry Perry Jones III, I'm not just giving you playing time! Zellar's 7-0 250lbs frame is probably one of more NBA ready bodies and that can be rare these days. With Przybilla getting old and more worthless by the minute. Tyler Zellar could potentially step in and have huge impact for Portland
NBA Equivalent: Tim Duncan

11. Detroit Pistons: Jared Sullinger - PF - Ohio State
The Pistons are finally starting to show that they might be on the up and up. Jared Sullinger fits in perfectly on a team that only has one true PF on the team in Charlie Villanueva. With Greg Monroe finally starting to live up to his potential, him and Sullinger could be really good down low for the Pistons
NBA Equivalent: Carlos Boozer

12. Houston Rockets: Jeremy Lamb - SG - UConn
The Rockets are probably looking for a SF or C for this pick. C isn't quite there and SF wont be there for a while so they need to take the best player off the board. Houston has two good 2-guards right now in Kevin Martin and Courtney. The addition of Lamb could open the opportunity to have Martin slide down to the 3 in a position where the matchup permits. Lamb and Lee would then be sharing time at SG.
NBA Equivalent: Ray Allen
** This pick was originally supposed to go to the New Jersey Nets for the Terrence Williams trade. However, the pick was Top 14 protected so it goes back to Houston **

13. Milwaukee Bucks: John Henson - PF - North Carolina
The Bucks have good depth in their front court, but they could use an upgrade. John Henson looks like a good fit here. Henson is an extremely athletic, long PF with amazing defensive and shot blocking opportunities. If he can add on ALOT of muscle and weight, he's only about 210lbs, he can be just like......
NBA Equivalent: Amar'e Stoudemire 

14. Utah Jazz: Austin Rivers - SG - Duke
The Jazz need an upgrade at the 2 guard. Rivers would bring some explosiveness and scoring to the Utah backcourt. He is another one of those guys in the draft that has that take over the game instinct. If he can be efficient and not launch up too many shots. Him and Devin Harris would be a nice compliment. Those two plus a starting lineup with Hayward, Millsap, and Al Jefferson could make the Jazz ready to compete.
NBA Equivalent: Allen Iverson

15. Philadelphia 76ers: Arnett Moultrie - PF - Mississippi State
The Philadelphia 76ers are another team that don't have any big needs that they need to address. I think they're going to go with adding some depth in their front court with the selection of Arnett Moultrie. Moutrie is an extremely quick big man who is a rebounding machine on both sides of the court. Should be a good backup to Elton Brand
NBA Equivalent: Andray Blatche

16. Phoenix Suns: Dion Waiters - SG - Syracuse
The core of the Phoenix Sun's backcourt is aging. Guys like Steve Nash, Grant Hill, and possibly even Michael Redd are nearing retirement. They need to start looking at getting guys now in hopes of reducing the rebuilding time when they do leave. Waiters can attack the basket at all times at will. His jump shot leaves a bit to be desired but he can still be a solid contributor in the league. 
NBA Equivalent: Monte Ellis

17. Houston Rockets (via New York*): Meyers Leonard - C - Illinois
This is the guy that Houston has wanted all along. Marcus Camby could be retiring at the end of the season. This would leave just Samuel Dalembert at the 5 spot. Bringing in Meyers would add some long term depth to the position. Leonard definitely needs to add some strength to his 7-0 240lb frame and his offensive game needs some work. But on the upside he's very quick and is a good defender and shot blocker
NBA Equivalent: Al Horford (Maybe even a little Camby plus an inch)
*TMac Trade

18. Denver Nuggets: Kendall Marshall - PG - North Carolina
The Denver Nuggets have turned out to be a team that's a bag of misfits of the NBA. They have a good, young starting lineup that should be in place for awhile. The only place that they are showing some age is in their backup PG. Andre Miller is 36 years old and is on the doorstep of retirement. Denver is going to be looking for a backup to point guard of the future and some might even call him the franchise player, Ty Lawson. Marshall would be able to add a different element at PG off the bench. Kendall is much taller than Lawson and is more of a pure point guard, as apposed to Lawson who tends to score more. Don't know if he would be starting soon but regardless, Kendall Marshall would be a key part to the Denver Nuggets in the future
NBA Equivalent: Devin Harris

19. Dallas Mavericks: Tony Wroten Jr. - PG - Washington
The Mavs are going to be looking for some help at PG pretty soon. Jason Kidd is 39 and there's no other true point guard on the roster. Tony Wroten is a very unique and versatile point guard. His 6-5 but he has the court vision and passing ability of any other point guard. His explosive offensive ability also gives him the option of playing shooting guards. So most scouts are calling him a combo guard.
NBA Equivalent: John Wall

20. Orlando Magic: Royce White - PF - Iowa State
Royce White is the most versatile player in the draft. He was the ability to player Point-Forward, Small Forward, Power Forward, and Center. I think Royce isn't quick enough for SF and is undersized for a center. Orlando is a perfect fit for Royce because they already have an offense that can utilize a point forward and they don't have a real physical PF. Needs to work on his jump shot and free throw shooting, which was atrocious at times. His anxiety disorders will bring up questions though in a world of the NBA where you travel up to twice a week or more.
NBA Equivalent: Josh Smith

21. Memphis Grizzlies: Fab Melo - C - Syracuse
The Grizzlies don't exactly need an upgraded at Center with Marc Gasol there. But Melo could be a good back up for him. The Grizz should jump on this pick because Fab Melo probably has the most NBA ready body at 7-0 274lbs. He's very raw offensively so it will take a few years to tap his potential but a guy his size could be very dominant in the NBA.
NBA Equivalent: Andrew Bynum

22. Atlanta Hawks: Terrence Ross - SG - Washington
The Hawks have Kirk Hinrich, Tracy McGrady, and Willie Green rotating as their SG in the lineup. This isn't going to cut it over the long term with Hinrich and TMac's age and Wille Green isn't a NBA caliber starting SG. Terrence Ross is a good all-around SG that can make immediate impacts. Ross has great range on his 3pt shot and can drive to the basket along with being a great. If he improves his ball handling he could be able to break the starting lineup once Hinrich and TMac are gone.
NBA Equivalent: Manu Ginobili 

23. Boston Celtics: Jeff Taylor - SF - Vanderbilt
The Bostons Celtics are starting some tough rebuilding years dead in the face. With their big three most likely one their way out pretty soon. So they need to start trying to replace them. The best player on the board is SF Jeff Taylor. Taylor is a great shooter and very explosive to the rim. He doesn't have the ability to create his shot like most scouts would like him to but that will come later down the road. Don't expect him to be snatching Paul Pierce's job out of his hands but he should contribute nonetheless.
NBA Equivalent: Landry Fields (with more size and driving ability)

24. Boston Celtics (via Clippers*): Festus Ezeli - C - Vanderbilt
Back to back picks for Boston. Just like I said before, it's all about retooling for the Bostons Celtics. Festus might be a bit of a reach here but with back to back picks for the Celtics is a risk they can take. Ezeli is a quick, long big man who is a good rebounder and excellent shot blocking abilities. His post moves and offensive abilities overall need a lot of improvement. He does however, has a chance to make large impacts once Kevin Garnett retires. Much like before, he's not taking any starting spots from anybody.
NBA Equivalent: DeAndre Jordan
*Jeff Green Trade

25. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Lakers*): Andrew Nicholson - PF -St. Bonaventure
The Cavs need to start looking at options for replacing Antwan Jamison, who is 35 years old and on the doorstep of retirement. They already have guys like Tristian Thompson but they're isn't a whole lot of good, young talent after that. Andrew Nicholson is a great all around power forward. He has abilities ranging from throwing it down in the post with range extending to the 3pt line. Very similar to Antwan Jamison himself, should be a good fit for the Cavs.
NBA Equivalent: Glen Davis

26. Indiana Pacers: Moe Harkless - SF - St. John's
The Pacers have great depth, and talent at all of their positions. With no aging players, only two guys are over 30. The Pacers are sent to make some hay in the future so all they need to do is just take the best man off the board and keep adding up their young talent. Harkless is an extremely athletic small forward. Tremendous rebounding and defensive abilities along with the ability to drive and finish at the basket at will. His 6-8 190lbs. frame isn't going to cut it so he needs to add strength. He also needs to improve his shooting. May not break the starting lineup for awhile but should be a good, reliable backup to star player Danny Granger.
NBA Equivalent: Al-Farouq Aminu (but probably a littler better)

27. Miami Heat: Draymond Green - SF - Michigan St.
I think it's pretty obvious that the Miami don't need a whole lot now. With what they have, all they could possibly need is a guy who can distribute the ball and can spot up in the corner and drill the three. Draymond Green can do that and more. If the Heat add Green, it could add an interesting twist to their lineup. Putting Wade, Green, LeBron, Bosh, and a big man on the floor at the same time could be deadly. It would allow Wade and LeBron to be more of a scorer and not have to initiate the offense. In a sense, Green would be their point forward. Although his defense could hamper the team as he would be guarding out of position it could still work out as Wade and LeBron can guard a wide variety of players. Would be a really good pick up for Miami
NBA Equivalent: Hedo Turkoglu (But much shorter)

28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Marquis Teague - PG - Kentucky
Much like most of the teams you've seen this late in the draft, they're good to go. They don't need a whole lot. Especially applies to the Thunder. They could use Marquis Teague though. Derek Fisher is probably going to be gone next season and Teague brings a much different element to the Thunder lineup. Russell Westbrook is obviously a pure scorer and is hardly considered a point guard. While Teague is a pure point guard and could help set up Kevin Durant off the bench. Teague has tremendous quickness and court vision that would fit right into the Thunder's up tempo game. He doesn't have much of a 3 point shot, but it shouldn't be a huge issue with Harden and Durant around.
NBA Equivalent: Darren Collison

29. Golden State Warriors (via San Antonio*): Doron Lamb - SG - Kentucky
The Warriors took a huge risk this year when they traded away their franchise player, Monte Ellis to the Bucks. I'm sure they would like to draft someone to try and replace him. They already have sharpshooter Klay Thompson as their starting SG, but he's a different type of guard. Doron Lamb brings that scoring mentality back to the Warriors shooting guard position. He can shoot from all over the floor and brings the quick, attack the basket mindset like his predecessor. He's not going to have the exact same impact as Monte coming right out of college but the potential is there for sure
NBA Equivalent: Monte Ellis
*Stephen Jackson Trade

30: Chicago Bulls: Evan Fournier - SG - France
Our first international player of the draft. Fournier is a long athletic wing who can drive the paint and can pull up with a nice mid-range game. Doesn't have much strength or a three point game so those are some things he really needs to improve on if he wants to contribute in the Bulls lineup as they already have established sharpshooters are the team. A lot of his playing time might have to come in backing up Luol Deng at the three so I can't emphasize the strength issue enough as he's only 6-7 206lbs. Very raw but has potential.
NBA Equivalent: Ronnie Brewer

Sunday, March 4, 2012

2012-13 MVC Men's Basketball: A Quick Outlook Into My Preseason Picks

I know some of the stuff in here they don't actually poll for the preseason(i.e. COY), but I'm going to put my predictions in anyway

Preseason Poll:
1. Creighton
2. Illinois State
3. Drake
4. UNI
5. Evansville
6. Indiana State
7. Wichita State
8. Missouri State
9. Southern Illinois
10. Bradley

Preseason MVC Player of the Year: Doug McDermott

Preseason Coach of the Year: Tim Jankovic, Illinois State

Preseason 1st Team All Conference:
G Jake Odom, Indiana State.
G Colt Ryan, Evansville
G Rayvonte Rice, Drake
F Doug McDermott, Creighton
F Jackie Carmichael, Illinois State

Preseason 2nd Team All Conference
G Anthony James, UNI
G Tyler Brown, Illinois State
F Ben Simons, Drake
F Seth Tuttle, UNI
C Gregory Echinique, Creighton

Preseason All-Freshman Team:
G Fred Van Vleet, Wichita State
G Micah Mason, Drake
G Marcus Marshall, Missouri State
F T.J. Bell, Indiana State.
C Henry Uwadiae, Wichita State

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pre-Spring Training Projected Cubs 25 man roster and Lineups/Rotations

It's that time of year again, Spring Training! The Cubs come into this spring with many questions in their rosters with a busy season full of signings, trades, and releases. Today I'm going to take a look at what the Cub's 25 man roster might look like come the start of April.

1. RF - David DeJesus: I wasn't completely sold on the early signing of DeJesus. Although I was somewhat put to rest after the trade of Tyler Colvin to the Rockies, but I still am not 100% on it considering it's a pretty crowded outfield with strong up and coming talent. I do feel that he is the best we can do, right now. Hopefully DeJesus can finally be the go to leadoff guy the Cubs have been searching years for.

2. 2B - Darwin Barney: Really no question here, Barney coming off a great rookie of the year potential season (Barney received 7th place in the RoY votings) in which he put up a .279 AVG.

3. SS - Starlin Castro: Another no brainer here in my opinion. There was some debate among others as Castro didn't put up his best numbers from the three-hole. But I think you should always put your best hitter in the 3rd spot in the lineup.

4. 1B - Bryan LaHair: This could come as a surprise to some people, but it's justified. LaHair coming off an absolutely outstanding year both in the minors and his limit time in Chicago. LaHair was the PCL MVP and was in the top of all major hitting statistical categories in AAA. The only question is how long of a leash will LaHair have with young phenom Anthony Rizzo, who was acquired from the San Diego Padres in the Andrew Cashner trade, waiting in the wings presumably in AAA Iowa.

5. CF - Marlon Byrd: I see no reason for Marlon Byrd to not be in his usual fifth spot this year. Byrd is supposedly coming into spring training 20-30 lbs. lighter after intense offseason martial arts workouts. This could be because Marlon has a slew of top prospects waiting to take his spot, such as Brett Jackson, Matt Szczur, and Dave Sappelt. But Marlon will start the season as the starting CF.

6. LF - Alfonso Soriano: Sori has had quite a journey along the cubs lineup card, quite possibly batting at every single spot in the order. May I remind you that he was signed in hopes of being the starting CF and leadoff hitter *cringes*. I think that Soriano will find himself in the 6th hole this year. Much like Byrd, Soriano had those same rookies on his tail

7. C - Geovany Soto: Notice a common theme here, another Cubs player with a rookie on his tail. Geo hasn't quite lived up to his potential since his Rookie of the Year season, and any more drop off could find him on the trading block, and on the bench watching Welington Castillo behind the plate. But for now, Geo will start the season in the 7 hole behind the plate.

8. 3B - Ian Stewart: I'm really not quite sure what to think yet of Ian Stewart. Much like the player he was traded for, Tyler Colvin, he has loads of potential but just hasn't quite released it yet. Cub fans are hoping he can replace the power and reliability of newly departed Aramis Ramirez, but until then he will be lower in the order.

9. P - Pitcher's Spot.


C Jason Jaramillo: With my talk of Welington Castillo above, you'd might expect him here. But being a backup catcher would be a tough thing for a young guy to do. With Koyie Hill gone, the Cubs just need that guy who could start once a week and not complain about it. I think veteran Jason Jaramillo can fill that role. Castillo will be starting everyday in AAA Iowa.

OF Tony Campana: Arguably one of the fastest players in the league. Campana had some high energy moment last year and hopefully can continue that off the bench. Campana hopefully improved his hitting from last season which would make him even more valuable. Tony can provide a spark off the bench as a pinch runner and get a start every now and then when Marlon Byrd needs a day.

OF Reed Johnson: Despite all of the outfield talent in the farm. Seasoned veteran Reed Johnson should find himself back on the Cubs bench this year. Hopefully his injuries are no longer an issue or can be controlled as they plagued his season last year. Reed Johnson can provide some pop off the bench and also give the corner outfield spots a day off. I also believe Reed will retain his unofficial role of "Late inning fielding substitution to Alfonso Soriano."

UTIL Jeff Baker: Much like Reed Johnson, Jeff Baker should find himself back as well. His versatility is key as he can virtually play all of the infield and outfield spots. Baker is one of the Cubs most underrated assets.

UTIL Blake DeWitt: DeWitt has been in a little bit of limbo as of recent with him being DFA'd but ultimately coming back to the team as a Non-Roster Invite. I do feel though that he will end up on the team. His versatility similar to Baker and his solid lefty bat off the bench can't be passed up


The rotation is looking to be quite the log jam this year with nearly 11 potential candidates. Two of which have guaranteed spots so it could be 9 guys fighting for 3 spots. And rightfully so after early injuries in the Cubs rotation last year put the season off on a rough start. No clue what the Cubs do with the guys who don't make it.

1. Matt Garza: Don't need to explain here.

2. Ryan Dempster: Nothing to say here either, keep scrolling!

3. Chris Volstad: ALRIGHT, let's get this mess sorted out! I think at the end of the day the #3 spot will go to Chris Volstad. Volstad if you remember was the player swapped for Carlos Zambrano (Thank God!). Volstad had a rather unimpressive season last year but I think he can turn it back around this season.

4. Randy Wells: Randy had some tough moments last season which started out with an injury during his first start. He actually ended up with a season that wasn't too bad. I think he finds himself back in the rotation this year, where hopefully he can finally maximize his potential.

5. Paul Maholm: Maholm was a late offseason signing which was key since he will be the only lefty in the Cubs rotation. Maholm wraps up the rotation at the 5 spot.

(Guys left out: Travis Wood, Casey Colman, Jay Jackson, Trey McNutt, Chris Rusin [AAA Iowa rotation] Jeff Samardzija, James Russell [Bullpen] Trever Miller, Rodrigo Lopez [Released])


LRP - James Russell - Russell will remain the spot start and long relief guy this year.

MRP - Andy Sonnanstine - The Sonnanstine signing bring some much needed veteran presence to the bullpen.

MRP - John Gaub - Gaub had an outstanding year in AAA last year and will find himself as the lefty specialist.

MRP - Manuel Corpas - Similar to Sonnanstine, Corpas can bring some good veteran presence. Has a good career ERA, a shade under 4.

7th Inning - Jeff Samardzija - Theres talks right now of Jeff being stretched out to be in the rotation. I disagree with this because the rotation is already jammed full, and the presence of Sean Marshall will need to be replaced in the bullpen. Hopefully the Cubs abandon the plans of Samardzija in the rotation. Unless they make a move somewhere.

8th Inning - Kerry Wood - The Cubs had a bit of a contract scare with Wood that almost landed him in Philadelphia. The Cubs managed to get him back and he will be in his normal 8th inning spot.

9th Inning - Carlos Marmol - Consistency. Please.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mock Draft Round One. v1.0

Last Updated: January 23, 2012

1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck - QB - Stanford.
It's starting to become more of a reality that Jim Irsay is going to make the decision and move on without Peyton Manning. The easiest pick in the draft.

2. St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon - WR - Oklahoma State.
This pick was a very tough one for me between him and Matt Kalil, but I was convinced by two things. Justin's performance in the Fiesta Bowl was phenomenal, and the Rams have been stung in the past by taking offensive lineman in the first round after they haven't quite lived up to their full potential. The latest being Jason Smith out of Baylor back in 2009. Anything to improve Sam Bradford's arsenal is a huge plus for the Rams.

3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil - OT - USC.
The Vikings have a lot to work on to improve from this flat out terrible season. So I think it's just going to come down to taking the highest available player off the board. Matt Kalil can help a Viking's offensive line that gave up a fifth most 49 sacks this season. And keeping young QB Christian Ponder from getting flustered will greatly help the Viking's chances next season.

4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson - RB - Alabama.
It was tough for me not to take Robert Griffin III here, but I don't think the Browns have given up on Colt McCoy yet, and rightfully so as he's just one year into his career on a team that doesn't have a whole lot around him, and Trent Richardson can be a start to that. The Browns struggled this season finding consistency at RB with Peyton Hillis having an injury-plagued let down season (Madden Curse?!), and who knows if he will ever be able to produce at the high level he used to.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne - CB - LSU.
The Bucs need to start their search for a replacement of future Hall of Famer Ronde Barber. The 36 year old who has been a staple to the Tampa Bay defense since 1997 is possibly close to retirement. And the Bucs will no doubt be looking at Morris Claiborne to do just that. Not only can Claiborne be a great bump and run corner, but he can also add a great return element to the Tampa Bay special teams.

6. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor.
Granted RG3 could go much higher than this due to trades, but since I don't predict those I'm going to put him here. The Heisman trophy winner can hopefully be the next franchise QB for the Redskin who haven't seen one of those in a long time. There are also some rumors that Peyton Manning could land with the Redskins. So this pick could change for a number of reasons.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina.
The Jags had a pretty poor season getting to the opposing QB. Recording only 31 sacks on the season. So it makes perfect sense for the Jags to take one of the best pass rushers in the draft off the board. Coples has great speed off the edge to go along with his solid frame which allowed him to play from DT during his college days. Good versatile pass rusher.

*8/9. Miami Dolphins: Riley Reiff - OT - Iowa
Much similar to the Minnesota Vikings. The Dolphins need to greatly improve their offensive line for their young quarterback (whoever it ends up being), which gave up the third most amount sacks, 52. Reiff has great footwork for an offensive lineman, and if he can bulk up a little bit come seasons start. He has the potential to be great.

*8/9. Carolina Panthers: Dre Kirkpatrick - CB - Alabama
Carolina's secondary was horrendous this year. They don't have a clear shut down corner on their team so it's no doubt they need to turn to Dre Kirkpatrick. There are some risks around him that have some other mocks dropping him much lower than this due to a pot possession arrest. But considering they drafted a QB with potential major recruiting violations around him, I think they'll still stick with him. So unless Dre tests positive for something at the Combine. The Panther's will pick him up here.

10. Buffalo Bills: Courtney Upshaw - OLB - Alabama
The Bills greatly improved their defense this past year. But they still have some things to work on and some holes to fill on that side of the ball. That's the OLBs. With two mediocre 30+ year old OLBs, The Bills will look for Courtney Upshaw to fill that. Courtney Upshaw is a versatle LB who can also play DE. The Bills will most likely look for him to play SLB in their 3-4 scheme.

* To be Determined by Coin-Flip