Daily Dojo 7-10-2013

Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun

Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun

Ryan Braun is probably going to be suspended soon. It’s not like we haven’t heard that before, right? He has been linked to the Biogenesis Report since its inception. The MLB has already botched his first suspension by losing the appeal on a technicality. Braun won’t speak about it to reporters or the MLB. Also, Alex Rodriguez has been linked to this report as well. I think when A-Rod gets suspended, he should just walk away and take his money. He is a shell of the player he used to be, and he will not reach Barry Bonds’ career home run record. This report, in general, is going to have many interesting consequences. I want to see the other 20+ players that the MLB wants to suspend. That list could SHOCK some people. I have an idea of one player that could be on it… I won’t say.  It should be an interesting couple of weeks after the All Star Game unless the MLB doesn’t actually announce suspensions.

Yoenis Cespedes is the final contestant for the AL Home Run Derby team. Miguel Cabrera turned down the invitation because of a sore back, but Cespedes is now my favorite to win the whole thing. He is a freak of nature and should be able to homer a ton in this batting practice session called the Home Run Derby.

In actual baseball games this week, the Cardinals are getting a chance to beat up on their former division rival. Adam Wainwright dominated the Astros last night in 7 innings. He only gave up 1 run and added 9 strikeouts. He improves to 12-5 on the season with 126 strikeouts. Now, I have written about the Astros before and how bad they are right now. It means that Shelby Miller should be able to get back to his early season form tonight. I am thinking at least 10 K’s tonight in 6 innings. I think it should be a fun one to watch if you like to see pitching dominance, or you are a Cardinals fan. They are the best team in baseball and will probably be contenders forever with their amazing farm system. St. Louis will probably get a couple of World Series rings in the next 5-10 years. I think the Cardinals will dominate the Astros tonight especially if the Cardinals bullpen holds up tonight.

Tonight’s baseball games to watch:

Greg Danchik

Daily Dojo 7-9-2013

Chris Davis

Chris Davis

The Home Run Derby teams were announced last night and if you are a fan of the derby, you should be happy. Super slugger Chris Davis and defending champion Prince Fielder were selected to the AL team by Robinson Cano. The fourth member of the AL team is TBA. David Wright, NL Captain, selected phenom Bryce Harper to go along with two Rockies, Carlos Gonzalez and  Michael Cuddyer. I think these players will lead to an exciting event, but I am not happy that Chris Davis is in the competition. The Home Run Derby has been known to ruin a players swing because players change their swing to try and hit home runs for the derby (I realize that makes me sound like Captain Obvious). I just do not want to see Davis get knocked off his pace because he has a shot to break 60 homers this season and that has not happened since Barry Bonds hit 73 in 2001. I think if you are going to put Davis in, Miguel Cabrera should be in too and the top home run hitters this year should square off. Right now, Davis has 9 more home runs than anyone else in the competition so I figure he would be the overwhelming favorite. I just don’t want to see this curse on Davis as an O’s fan and as a fan of in-game homers.

Victor Cruz signed a nice extension with the Giants, 6-years $46 million. Now, in the NFL, the only thing that matters is the guaranteed dollars, and Cruz is guaranteed $15.625 million in the first two seasons of this contract. I am not so sure this was a great deal for the Giants. The better receiver on that team is Hakeem Nicks, who is on the last year of his contract. Cruz has been healthier over the past two seasons, but Nicks is a much better talent. I am not so sure Cruz will be able to be the absolute main man and take on double teams if Nicks leaves next off season. I would be worried about his production next year, but this year he should still be good. However, he could end up not losing his worth ethic with all that money in his back pocket.

Who is leading the MLB in WAR (Wins Above Replacement by Baseball Reference) this year? Miguel Cabrera? No. Manny Machado? No. David Wright? No. Chris Davis? No. Cabrera and Machado are tied for second with a WAR of 5.0. Yet, the leader in WAR for this season is Carlos Gomez with a WAR of 5.5. In the first Dojo Sparring, Joe said Carlos Gomez was a “role player.” He has been much more than that this year. Gomez has 20 doubles, 9 triples, 13 home runs, 41 RBIs, and 20 steals. He is doing this all while batting a very nice .308. His offensive stats are phenomenal, but they account for just above half of his total WAR. Gomez’s offensive WAR is 3.0. He has a very high defensive WAR, 2.5, and is third in all of baseball in that category. That can be attributed to plays that he makes that are similar to the one he made last night. This is a must see video… I have no other words for it.

Greg Danchik

 

Daily Dojo 7-8-2013

Hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable July 4th weekend, in case you missed out, here are some of the highlights from the weekend and a look into the new week in sports.

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

Andy Murray is on the rise and it’s finally starting to sink in with the tennis community. Andy Murray won the 2013 Wimbledon title Sunday, defeating Novak Djokovic in straight sets 6-4, 7-5, 6-4. After losing to Roger Federer in last year’s Wimbledon Final and walking off the grass courts in tears, Murray has turned his game around. Being forced to have a short memory, Murray was thrown into the Olympics where he faced Federer once again at the All-England Club, this time prevailing to bring home the gold medal. Shortly following his gold medal performance, Murray went to New York and claimed the 2012 U.S. Open title, his first grand slam tournament victory. He continued the hot steak and ran through his side of the draw in the Australian Open earlier this year, unfortunately falling to Djokovic in a 5-set thriller. After missing the entire French Open due to a back injury, Murray was primed for a run at Wimbledon this time around, and it paid off. Interesting facts from Murray’s match with Djokovic, they played on July, 7th, Murray is younger than Djokovic by 7 days (May 15th-May 22nd), and it is the first time a British man has won at Wimbledon in 77 years. Seems like the perfect ending.

 After plenty of speculation, the Dwight Howard Sweepstakes are over. D12 will be joining James Harden and the Houston Rockets. The move is a 4-year, 88 million dollar deal that has Howard packing his bags and leaving the spotlight of Los Angeles. More to come on this move with in-depth analysis in the next edition of Dojo Sparring.

One of the most entertaining personalities in baseball returned last night as Manny Ramirez began his comeback tour. Ramirez went 1 for 3 with a hit and a walk for the Texas Rangers’ Triple-A team, Round Rock Express. Looking to play in the majors one more time, the 41-year old hasn’t played in the big leagues since 2011. Ramirez could be in a true Rangers uniform sooner than expected as Rangers’ designated hitter Lance Berkman was place on the 15-day DL Sunday. Although this could be the opportunity Ramirez has been waiting for, he’s insisted that he isn’t going to rush things.

If you’re looking for a game to watch tonight, go no farther than the start of a three game series between the Oakland Athletics (52-37) and the Pittsburgh Pirates (53-34). The A’s are leading the AL West by a half game over the Texas Rangers, who open up a four game series with the Baltimore Orioles tonight. The A’s also boast the second best record in the AL whereas the Pirates are tied for the best record in the MLB with their division rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals. These two small-market teams are turning into legitimate contenders in front of our eyes, don’t sleep on either of these teams.

A player you might not want to sleep on either is Manny Machado, third baseman from the Baltimore Orioles. If you haven’t seen his spectacular play yet, you need to. Easily clinching the top play of the first half of the season. Be on the lookout for Machado in the upcoming All-Star game.

Joe Meola

Daily Dojo 7-4-2013

Happy 4th of July, have fun doing whatever you are going to do.

Brad Stevens

Brad Stevens

Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo

Brad Stevens, former Butler head man, signed a 6 year, 22 million dollar contract with the Boston Celtics. I think he is a great coach, but he has a tough task ahead. First, it’s Boston. There is a lot of pressure in a big market like that and a franchise that has 17 NBA championships. This has big implications for Rajon Rondo, I believe. Rondo, to put it lightly, is an ass from what I have read in the past. He and Doc Rivers butted heads plenty of times. Is Danny Ainge going to make Stevens deal with Rondo and the challenge of adjusting to the NBA game? I doubt it. I bet he gets traded at some point either as soon as he gets healthy or during the off season. I don’t really care about what the Celtics are saying right now. I still think he will be dealt.

Dwight Howard wants to decide which team he is going to sign with by Friday. Here are what I think the chances are: Houston Rockets 75%, Dallas Mavericks 15%, Los Angeles Lakers 9%, Golden State Warriors 1%, and Atlanta Hawks 0%. Rockets make the most sense because they are the only team that has a young star there already, the cap space to sign Dwight straight up, AND they have a television network so he can get his own TV show. That last part is a joke mostly, but it could mean something to him. The reason I put Dallas so far behind Houston is they barely have enough cap space to sign him and they only have an aging star in Dirk Nowitzki. They are ahead of the Lakers simply because of Mike D’Antoni and Dwight says he doesn’t like the Lakers’ fans. Poor baby. Warriors get 1%  because it makes a lot of basketball sense to pair up with David Lee and Stephen Curry and the Warriors can offer a sweet package in a sign and trade for him. The package, reportedly, would be something like Andrew Bogut and Harrison Barnes/Klay Thompson. The Hawks have no shot because they have nothing to offer as a basketball team. There is no way they can win for awhile so I doubt he would want to go there. Now, there could be a huge upset because Dwight is so indecisive and changes his mind without a good reason. In my eyes, he will announce he is going to be a Rocket, and if he says anything else, it is a huge upset.

Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard

Manny Ramirez signed a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers. I love Manny Ramirez. I hope we can see Manny being Manny at some point in the season even if he isn’t a good solution to the Rangers’ problems. Do not worry about him fantasy wise. He should only be picked up if you are DESPERATE in an AL only league.

Joey Chestnut ate 69 hot dogs… ridiculous… That’s all I have to say about that.

Greg Danchik

Daily Dojo 7-3-2013

Homer Bailey does it again. He pitches another no-hitter, and he does it against the defending World Champion San Francisco Giants. He is the first pitcher to have the last two no-hitters in all of baseball since Nolan Ryan. He is definitely developing into the top player that he was projected to be. He was drafted in the first round in 2004. I saw this great tweet last night.

The Padres 2004 draft continues to haunt them. They took Matt Bush first overall and he is out of baseball and in jail. A big opportunity to acquire big time talent, and the Padres blew it. That’s why they have not won a playoff series since 1998 when they went to the World Series with Tony Gwynn.

Homer Bailey

Homer Bailey

Back to Bailey, he could really turn into an absolute beast. He obviously has the power arm to be a great pitcher. His 105th pitch of the night was clocked at 97 MPH. He threw 109 pitches on the night. He struck out 9 and only walked 1 batter so he was really close to a perfect game. He does have some weird splits considering he pitches in a hitter friendly home park. He has a 2.85 ERA at home, but a 4.41 ERA away. This must just be a mental thing where he needs the support to help him get going. Once he gets over that mental hurdle, he could turn into an absolute stud muffin and be dominate with Mat Latos in the Reds rotation. If they ever stretched out Aroldis Chapman and Johnny Cueto gets healthy, that could be a filthy rotation in 2014.

David Price came off the DL last night. Luckily, he was pitching against the Houston Astros so it was basically another rehab start. He did pitch great though. He had 10 strikeouts in 7 innings and only threw 70 pitches. I think this means he fixed whatever problem he had before the DL stint and he will go back to his old Cy Young winning form. He could help propel the Rays to a Wild Card berth.

And while we are on an AL East team, lets look at run differentials by division. I did not notice this before deciding the AL East was the best division and the NL East was the worst, but Buster Olney’s tweet backs me up.

I understand that run differential is not the tell all, be all stat, but it is a good indication of how good teams are. Granted, the NL East is being dragged down by two of the worst teams in baseball, NY Mets and Miami Marlins, but I do think, overall, the division is weak.

Since they have gone on a nice winning streak, the Braves are making me look stupid, but when I wrote that they were slumping big time. So I don’t disagree with my decision making process, but I recognize I will probably be wrong about the record. It has just taught me to never bet against a really streaky team that has the ability to score 10 runs a night or strikeout 10 times a night. You just have to stay away from them when trying to make season long predictions. I do believe their ridiculously hot start and division gives them a great chance of making the playoffs. I just don’t know how many wins they will end up with and how well they will do in the playoffs. They should be an interesting team to watch down the stretch.

In NHL news yesterday, the Flyers signed Vincent Lecavalier. I do not know how good he still is. I just remember watching him and Martin St. Louis beat the Flyers in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2004. Maybe, he will help the Flyers out. I don’t know, but he will be a Flyer in the 2013-2014 season.

 Greg Danchik