Thanksgiving Spar

First, we would like to say Happy Thanksgiving to everyone at home, and we hope you have safe travels and a fun time wherever you end up. Now for sparring…

Greg to Joe

At the beginning of this year, did it even cross your mind that Jadeveon Clowney could be playing on the same defensive line as JJ Watt? Can you imagine how good Clowney could be without the constant double teams? Wade Phillips would probably be able to even get Clowney 1 v. 1 with a running back in the back field. That would be funny…

How could we possibly have predicted that the Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons would be the top competition to the Jaguars for the top draft pick? The Falcons literally have nothing besides Matty Ice, Julio Jones and Roddy White. I don’t think their defense is good. They don’t have a running back they can count on. It’s rough for them. And the same goes for the Texans. Without Brian Cushing at middle linebacker, they are lost. Watt can’t do it all on his own. Arian Foster is beat up, and their offensive line isn’t the same as it was in Foster’s glory days. Matt Schaub, their starter since 2008, might be the worst quarterback on the roster too. That’s the sad thing.

Finally, I was able to see the Ravens dominate a game. Unfortunately, it was against Geno Smith playing in M&T Bank stadium, so it is nothing to be overly impressed with.

Patriots’ game… Crazy… thoughts?

Joe to Greg

I don’t think that thought ever crossed my mind until now. I think that’s scary because the Texans look like a lock for at least the 7th pick. We can speculate about what specific draft pick they get all day but I don’t see them dropping lower than the 5th pick barring some crazy, irrelevant end of the season winning streak. Imagine a healthy Cushing and Clowney… I think that will free up JJ Watt and gives him a chance to become the menace he was during the 2012 season.

I have the pleasure of living with a Falcons fan and one of the points brought up while watching the games on Sunday was how each conference has one team that totally busted. The NFC has the Falcons (2-9) while the AFC has the Texans (2-9). Injuries have plagued both teams so it’s understandable that they’re struggling in certain aspects of the game but it’s still a huge surprise nonetheless. Foster seems like a totally different runner and Matt Schaub…well lets just leave it at that. Unfortunately for the Texans season it’s like you said, just a sad thing.

Peyton Manning and Tom Brady after the Sunday night thriller (Photo Cred: Steven Senne)

Peyton Manning and Tom Brady after the Sunday night thriller (Photo Cred: Steven Senne)

The Brady-Manning bowl wasn’t much of a duel between two great quarterbacks. Not because of the surprising lack of production from Peyton Manning (19/36 for 150 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT with a 28.1 QBR and 70.4 RTG), but for two main reasons, the fumbles and the weather. There aren’t many times you see 11 fumbles in one game, but those fumbles kill drives, kill momentum, and like we saw with the last fumble, kill a team’s chances of winning the game. The wind on the other hand was the reason why Bill Belichick decided to give Peyton Manning the ball first in overtime and have the winds become a “12th defender” if you will. Manning’s numbers took a huge dent because of the stellar performance of Knowshon Moreno who had 37 carries for 224 yards and a score. No quarterback should throw against the Patriots…literally just run every play and you will win. I’m disappointed with the how the game ended because I wanted either Manning or Brady to have an impact on the outcome of the game, especially in overtime. How many times will we ever see Tom Brady and Peyton Manning against each other in overtime? It was great for both teams regardless because they played in a playoff type atmosphere with playoff type conditions, which can only help them prepare for a potential rematch later on. Don’t forget the Superbowl is played in New York in February. Should be interesting…any thoughts on the NFL? Can we please talk about some of the MLB trades? Pretty please?

Greg to Joe

With football, the Super Bowl is in the New York and that is exactly why I have been saying all year the Broncos won’t win it. It is not because Peyton Manning is not mentally able to compete in the cold. It is because he cannot physically compete in the cold. His ball loses juice, and it will never pierce the wind in New York Super Bowl Sunday. Obviously, I am of the belief that there is no way that the New York will have good weather for this game. If its a beautiful day, Manning would have a shot, assuming he gets there of course.

Your reply reminded me to post my thoughts on the Rangers-Tigers trade. I like it for both sides, but I think the Tigers got the better end. The money saved is crucial, and Prince Fielder‘s hitting skills might be deteriorating. I am a little concerned he just isn’t the same hitter. The Peralta signing and Bourjos trade for the Cardinals were EXACTLY what the Cardinals needed. They got a shortstop and a defensive center field with unbelievable speed. They managed to fill these needs without giving up anything! David Freese was going to go anyway, so they could get Kolten Wong in the line up. I can’t wait to watch this team play next year. And just a reminder, people will say the Cardinals overpaid for Peralta, but they are underpaying basically everyone else on that roster. With the loss of Carlos Beltran, they probably bought themselves more wins and are saving 2 million dollars this season. I would be worried about the forth year. He is pretty big for a shortstop. He may not last there. The Red Sox and Orioles haven’t made any huge moves, but the Yankees did. They bring in Brian McCann. They desperately needed a catcher, and McCann should have a career high in home runs next year with the extremely short porch in right. Any thoughts on the baseball deals?

Your a bigger basketball guy than I, what do you think of Derrick Rose going down?

Joe to Greg

Similar to you, I don’t think the Broncos can win with poor conditions, that is if they manage to reach the ultimate game. Regardless I think the weather will be a factor in the game, but we’ll have ample amounts of time to talk about that once we know who is actually in the game.

My impressions on the Rangers-Tigers trade are fairly indifferent. I have this feeling that Fielder has past his peak in terms of hitting. Over a 3 season span (2011-2012-2013), Fielder’s home runs (38-30-25) and RBI production has dropped (120-108-106). What’s even more surprising, out of a possible 810 regular season games over the past 5 seasons, Fielder has only missed ONE game, back in 2010 when he was with Milwaukee. I’ve had him on my fantasy baseball team the past 2 seasons as well so I’m familiar with most of his stats. I noticed a slight drop in overall production this year but he can still prove to be effective for the Rangers. Sometimes a change of scenery makes a big difference. Knowing that Jacoby Ellsbury is leaving this offseason, I’ve got a pretty bold prediction.  I’ve heard rumors that the Red Sox might be interested in acquiring Carlos Beltran, but I’m trying to contain my excitement because I’m pretty sure the whole AL East is interested in him. They acquired another righty in the bullpen, Burke Badenhop, from the Brewers for a minor league hurler. My eyes are focused on Beltran but time will tell.

I’m planning on coming out with a piece for Beyond the Arc soon regarding some of these injuries and recent action, but two quick thoughts about the D-Rose injury…

The Eastern Conference Finals matchup is essentially locked in stone. The Miami Heat versus the Indiana Pacers seems inevitable and it’s because D-Rose went down. The Bulls are an incredibly talented team but they just can’t go against Miami or Indiana without a player of D-Rose’s caliber. I’m picking the Pacers, yes the Pacers, to get the #1 seed in the East. After they lost in Miami in Game 7 last season, the Pacers know how close they were to a finals appearance. I think they’re extremely motivated to get home court advantage. Home court advantage for them is having 4 of 7 games in Indiana against Miami.

The Bulls WILL make a trade… this comes from another NBA-minded friend of mine, but he’s calling for Evan Turner of the Philadelphia Sixers to get traded to the Bulls for some sort of draft pick exchange. I don’t know how far-fetched that idea is but 1) Turner played his college ball at Ohio State and he grew up in Chicago and 2) Turner is still on his rookie deal meaning he is cheaper to obtain than if this situation occurred two years in the future. Going on this assumption, look for the Bulls to deal a combination of Kirk Hinrich, another small bench guy, and a first round pick to get Turner. Either way I’d be extremely surprised if the Bulls didn’t attempt to bolster their roster in some way shape or form.

What are you predictions for the Turkey Day games?

Greg to Joe

I am in totally agreement with Ellsbury. The Sox are a smart organization, and I think they know he won’t be able to provide the same value later in his career. I liken him to Michael Bourn. He is basically Michael Bourn except he hits like 3 more homers a year and has a career average about .020 points higher. Bourn got 4 years for $48 million. Ellsbury is also a Boras client so all things considered, he is going to be asking for a lot of money. An amount that a lot of organizations won’t be willing to pay. I think the Red Sox let him walk, and I think he ends up in Seattle (my bold prediction). It makes a whole lot of sense. The Mariners are trying to become relevant again, so they will probably over pay for someone. There park is also huge, which will play to Ellsbury’s strengths. Ellsbury will not hit double-digit homers again, but in Seattle’s rather large ballpark, he could lead the league in doubles.

I can’t agree with your bold prediction because… I WANT BELTRAN MORE! He makes a lot more sense in Baltimore. The Red Sox already have a full-time DH, and Beltran can’t play the field full time again. Papi isn’t going to play first base unless they are in an NL park. Baltimore doesn’t have a full-time DH, and Beltran would just make a great lineup even better. Now if they could only find some pitching..

I don’t think they Bulls trade is so far fetched, but I think they will be fine this year. Thibodeau is one of the best coaches in the NBA and will find a way to rally the team. Deng and Noah will be able to do a lot for them, and Jimmy Butler is underrated in my opinion. Even if the Bulls make a trade for Evan Turner, they won’t win the title. So I don’t see a point. I do see a situation where they ship Deng away for picks and try to get a ping pong ball. That’s unlikely thought. I think the most likely situation is they stand pat and do nothing.

I agree on the Pacers. They are so good on defense it is unreal. Paul George is a top player in the NBA and is a serious threat to take the MVP from LeBron. It won’t happen, but he’ll make it close.

Thanksgiving day games are close to my heart. The Ravens play in a game that, much like last week, is a must win if they want to make the playoffs. If they take down the Steelers, they will be GREAT position to take down the division. The Ravens get to play at home in the cold (temperatures expected between 30 & 40 degrees), and that is perfect for Flacco. His arm strength gives him an advantage in the cold. The Steelers have Big Ben, but I think the Ravens defense is better. It is so close. It will come down to who hits the long TD pass and that will decide the game. I don’t see a lot of long sustained drives coming this week.

(Photo Cred: James D. Smith/ AP)

(Photo Cred: James D. Smith/ AP)

ATS Picks for Thanksgiving games

Greg

Lions -7 – The Packers are not the same without Aaron Rodgers. Megatron will have a big first half, and the second half will be ALL Reggie Bush running wild.

Raiders +9.5 – 9.5 is a lot of points. The Cowboys are pretty bad in pass defense (31st in yards per game). Matt McGloin has SHOCKED everyone. He sucked at Penn State, but he is hot now and I think he keeps it up. I think the Cowboys could get upset at home if they aren’t careful.

Ravens -3 – I have to believe they make it back to the playoffs so I believe they win at home against an old Steelers team,

Joe

Packers +7 – I’m only picking this under the assumption Matt Flynn is going to look like the Matt Flynn that used to play for the Packers. The Lions were 9 point favorites at home against the Buccaneers last weekend and lost. I think the Lions win, but it’ll be closer than people think…or Megatron will just go off, which is fine because he’s on my fantasy team. I just wanted a lot of points scored.

Cowboys -7.5 – I don’t know why I’m doing this. This is the Cowboys after all but the line dropped a little. If this is at 9.5 I’d probably take the Raiders +9.5 but I don’t have enough confidence in them. I like Romo….(fast forward to Thursday night….why the hell did I pick the Cowboys? Lets just say I regret this pick already)

Ravens -3 – Keep winning those games, Flacco. December 22nd is coming up and I can’t wait (Patriots @ Ravens – Sunday Night Football)

Greg Danchik and Joe Meola

Rangers and Tigers Trade

The Trade – The Rangers take on 7 years and $138 million of Prince Fielder and give up 4 years and $62 million of Ian Kinsler. The Rangers also get $30 million from the Tigers.

This trade is a great trade for each side for a variety of reasons.

Rangers

The Rangers get the power bat that they have been missing since Josh Hamilton went cold towards the end of the 2012 season. Now, Prince Fielder was not the same player he had been in his Milwaukee days last year. Prince had his lowest ISO (Isolated Power) and OPS of his career this past season, and he had his lowest wOBA since his rookie season. By almost every statistical measure, Prince Fielder had his worst hitting season as a full time professional. Yet, he was better than the Rangers previous DH, Lance Berkman (6 homers in 294 plate appearances). If the Rangers have Fielder DH and not worry about playing “defense” (Prince cost the Tigers 13 runs this past season… at FIRST BASE), he should be able to stay focused and in enough shape to give the Rangers another 30 homer bat in the middle of that line up.  (It is being reported that Prince will play first base. Let it be known I think that is a mistake)

The other bonus to the Rangers trade is Jurickson Profar finally has a full-time spot in the Rangers line up. The 2011 and 2012 top prospect has struggled in his inconsistent MLB playing time in his past two seasons. He has 7 homers and a .274 average in 341 plate appearances. The homers would be good if Profar had the steals to go with them. However, he only has 2… TWO steals in all those plate appearances. Profar has 2 steals in 6 attempts! That’s not going to be valuable for the Rangers if he doesn’t convert more of his stolen base attempts. He should improve in his first full season as a Major Leaguer, but if he doesn’t, this trade could prove to hurt the Rangers in the long run.

The other part of this trade is the money involved.  If the trade doesn’t work out and Fielder’s hitting skills continue to deteriorate, the Rangers are paying a lot of money for a mediocre DH. Even with the large influx of money the Rangers will be getting in their new local TV deal, this is could hold them back from being one of the top teams in the MLB in the next couple of seasons.

Clearly, the Rangers side of the trade has some real upside, but has some risks.

Tigers

While I think the Rangers did improve, I think this trade is so phenomenal for the Tigers. This trade, along with the Cardinals smart deals, makes the Tigers the favorites to face the Cardinals in the World Series. The Tigers still need to fix the bullpen, but they can do that with the money they saved in this trade.

Before this trade, the Tigers were seriously considering moving Max Scherzer. That made a lot of sense. Scherzer is a Scott Boras client, and if he acts as most Boras clients do, he won’t sign an extension until free agency, which will drive up the price. The Tigers wouldn’t have been able to afford him with Fielder on the books through 2020. I think the Tigers do have the money to do that now and that will keep one of the best starting rotations in tack for the foreseeable future.

The Tigers, also, get to move Miguel Cabrera back to first base. There are a lot of bonuses to this. For one, Cabrera cost the Tigers more runs at third base last year than all of the years he played first base for them combined. He will be much more valuable as an actual baseball player (not fantasy asset) at first base. That ends up opening a spot at third base. And guess what?! The Tigers’ best prospect is a third baseman! Nick Castellanos is his name, and he joins Xander Boegarts as a favorite to win the 2014 AL Rookie of the Year award. He does project to be a top notch hitter at the big leagues with around 25-30 homers in his peak years. His .303 batting average and .804 OPS in his time in the minors are a pretty good indication of how good of a hitter he is, considering he has been younger than the average player at each level. Now Castellanos isn’t a Gold Glove defender (40 errors in 210 games at third base in the minors), he should be very serviceable with the slick-fielding Jose Iglesias next to him.

Finally, the Tigers get a new leadoff hitter. I am still bitter about their postseason defeat to the Red Sox when the Tigers out played them the first 5 games of the series, but I digress. One of the struggles the Tigers had, besides the bullpen mentioned earlier, was their leadoff spot. Austin Jackson was at the top of the order the first three games and proceeded to go 1 for 13. Torii Hunter moves into the top spot and moved Miguel Cabrera to the second spot, which made every advanced stat nerd (me included) jump with joy. Hunter did okay by getting on base 4 out of 13 times at the plate, but that’s not a good enough OBP from a leadoff man on a team looking to win a World Series Championship.

Enter Ian Kinsler. A second baseman with a .350 career OBP and can give you 15-20 steals each year. A perfect fit at the top of that line up behind Miguel Cabrera. Look for Kinsler to break the 100 run mark for the 5th time in his career, assuming he manages to stay off the DL. Another added bonus to Ian Kinsler, he can hit ’em out of the park. It won’t be at the same rate as he did in Texas, but he should still be an top notch second base option as the Tigers look to break through and win the World Series for the first time since since 1984.

(30 year anniversary?)

Greg Danchik

George Springer – A Question of Playing Time

George Springer introduced as the Houston Astros' 2011 First Round Draft pick (Photo Cred: Bob Levey/Getty Images North America)

George Springer introduced as the Houston Astros’ 2011 First Round Draft pick (Photo Cred: Bob Levey/Getty Images North America)

A rookie is a rookie is a rookie used to be the saying for every rookie in the MLB, but I think that is starting to change. Minor league systems are better at developing players, and amatuer players are more developed when they are drafted/signed as well. George Springer, a 2011 draft pick out of the University of Connecticut, should be a starter in the Astros outfield and  will be a key piece in that lineup for the ‘Stros for years to come.  However, we only care about this year, and the key to Springer’s success this year is based purely on how much playing time George Springer gets. Springer is easily the most talented of the Astros’ outfield options, but he could be limited because he is the young guy. The most ridiculous bias in baseball. Anyway, I look into the projections for Springer and his ability to help your fantasy teams.

Throughout the minor leagues, Springer has had pretty good statistics. He has racked up 62 homers, 81 steals on 97 attempts (83.5 SB%), 51 doubles, and a .299 batting average over the course of 3 minor league seasons. He had his best season last year in AA and AAA with 37 homers and 45 steals. He almost went 40-40 in his 3rd year as a professional! Obviously, he wouldn’t have come that close in the majors, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he pulled off 40-40 later in his career.

To get to his 2014 projection, I have to talk about his underlying statistics that are better at predicting his numbers for fantasy baseball.

In the minors, he has posted a BB% of 12.4, but a horrendous K% of 26.3% including a 30.9 K% when he made his initial jump to AA. His BABIP (batting average on balls in play) was around .370 throughout 2013. Looking forward to a jump into the major leagues this year, I would expect his BB% to drop and his K% to rise, and they would be around 11% BB% and a 27% K%. His BABIP should also drop to something between .320 and .330.

So the minor leagues do not do a good job keeping track of batted ball percentages so it is hard to make a good projection for this season. Either way, Springer’s minor league batted ball percentages look like he hits line drives on 18% of his contact, ground balls 45% of the time, and 37% of his hits are flyballs. During this past season, he hit 22% of his balls in the air out of the park. My conservative projection for his batted ball statistics in his initial major league year is 50% GB%, 18% LD, and 32% FB%. I also have him hitting 14% of his flyballs out of the park.

What does this all mean? Let’s put this into terms of the typical fantasy baseball owner. I think he will get about 550 PA this year if he makes the MLB team out of spring training. His underlying statistics produce a projected stat line that is poor in some areas, but good in others. It is also very conservative in my opinion. I have him having a .246 batting average, which would definitely hurt your fantasy team. However, this could easily turn out to be much higher because of his speed and he can get more infield singles than the average player (like Mike Trout). I also have him getting on base 186 times and taking off for second base 46 times. With an 80% success rate, he ends up with 37 stolen bases. Added to his 15 projected home runs, these counting stats are going to be valuable to your fantasy team. His stolen bases could end up higher than 40. If his batted ball stats don’t regress in his jump to the MLB, fantasy owners could be looking for a 25 homer and 40 SB season out of this rookie. His runs and RBIs are more dependent on his team, but I still have him around 55 runs scored and 70 RBIs.

Overall, Springer looks to be in for an interesting rookie season. If he gets the playing time and doesn’t struggle in the jump to the major leagues, we could be looking at a not-as-great-Mike Trout-type rookie season with less runs and RBI’s because of the Astros’ poor 2014 roster outlook. However, he could end up in the minors for 2014 and not working out for fantasy owners. I believe this will result in a big discount on draft day, and possibly, putting him on the waiver wire at the end of drafts. I would look for him in the mid-to-late rounds of your draft, especially if word gets out that he will be on the major league roster. If you are willing to take a small risk, I would make sure to have George Springer wherever you can in your 2014 fantasy baseball leagues. The way too early favorite for AL Rookie of the Year.

Greg Danchik

NFL, NBA and MLB: The All-in-One Spar

Greg to Joe

How’s it going mayne? I decided to start the sparring Sunday night because I have no time this week and its gonna be brutal.

draftstreetSo fantasy football has been so up and down for me. Most importantly, I do not know when to start CJ Spiller. When he plays well, he is on my bench. It’s so depressing. Anyway. I am doing well in all of my leagues and will be competing for a playoff spot in every league. BTW, winning Draftstreet with 4 players left and you  have 1.

If I wasn’t watching the Ravens go for two right now, I would be watching the Buccaneers-Seahawks game. Who would have thought that this game would have been tied up BY SEATTLE  with under 2 minutes late? Unbelievable game. Mike James has looked just as good as Doug Martin if not better. Buccaneers were so close to quitting on their coach. Now, they could be taking down one of the “best” teams in the NFC. I put quotations because I think the best teams in the NFC are now the 49ers, Saints, and Packers. The Seahawks’ offense is not good enough to win a championship, unless they pull a Ravens’ title run together and get hot at the right time. Who knows whats going to happen in the playoffs. It is all about who is hot. Final football note, its funny how no one is taking the 9-0 team seriously. Personally, I am with the majority. I don’t think they can do anything in the postseason this year, but we’ll see.

So the MLB season is over. Congrats to the Red Sox, and I hope you had fun at the parade. I am so shocked that they won the whole thing. They would not have sniffed the postseason if this site was up before the beginning of the 2013 MLB season. Unbelievable. Do you have any going away thoughts on the MLB?

Joe to Greg

All I have to say is, Andre. Johnson. Right around the time you sent this e-mail I was looking dead in the water. You still had four players going, three of which were playing in the Colts-Texans game. Until Johnson threw down 45 points. Who knows what’ll happen next with our matchup. Yahoo Fantasy is pretty much a lost cause for me but ESPN I love my team. I think I’m going to end up losing this week but I had Megatron, Frank Gore, and Hakeem Nicks on a bye so you can only do so much.

The parade was awesome. I was front row on one of the gates at the beginning of the parade so it was cool to see everyone go by. They led the parade off with the security officer from the ALCS game, which got the crowd even more pumped up. All in all, a great parade. Back in our Week 4 Spar we made our predictions for the MLB playoffs and my prediction payed off (humble brag). Sox in 6 over the Cards. I can’t say I’m surprised because I think the Sox just had more experience and they had those chemistry guys that every clubhouse needs to make runs in the playoffs. The biggest impact in the series was timely hitting in my opinion. They just seemed to find a way to get runs when they needed them. Congrats to the Sox. Anyways, good bye to the MLB season. Are there any moments during the season that stand out to you or any big plays you’ll always remember?

I agree with your Seattle comment, I don’t think they have the offensive firepower to hang with the Packers or the Saints. Their defense is their trademark but I lack confidence in the way their offense runs. It’s Week 9 and I still don’t know what to make of the Chiefs. Yes their 9-0, but I think I’m with the majority as well on this one. I don’t see a lot of postseason success in their future. Don’t want to get off on a tangent here but I loved how the Patriots played yesterday. Finally with a healthy Amendola and Gronk. Aaron Dobson is becoming more apart of the offense as well. How do you feel about the Ravens state? Any comments leading up the Packers-Bears game tonight (Monday)?

Greg to Joe

Andre Johnson just kept catching passes and it was so frustrating for me. I was so positive that I was going to win that DraftStreet contest and of course I lost. Also, another fun fact. My Yahoo team has scored the most points out of anyone in the league, but I haven’t won any weekly  ten dollars and I am not in first place. One reason why I am considering retiring from fantasy football next year. So much luck is involved that it is very frustrating to watch Tyler sit in first with a less superior team.

The biggest MLB moments for me are the Mariano Rivera All Star game. That was pretty awesome. It was definitely a good game to watch as well, surprisingly. I still can’t get over the slider/changeup Carlos Martinez threw to Shane Victorino in the World Series still puts me into a state of euphoria when I watch it. Oh my is it good. The only defensive plays I can think of are the Jose Iglesias plays he made with the Tigers. He may not be able to hit, but his glove will make him a major leaguer for a long time. You got any offseason predictions? I have a few, but I want to see your take first.

Dobson is finally showing why he was taken in the NFL Draft and Kenbrell Thompkins wasn’t. He is the better of the two receivers, but he is finally showing it. Also, Gronk is a game changer. I think the Patriots are back on track, but can easily be knocked off if Gronk or Amendola get hurt again. With the Ravens… I can see them win between 5-9 wins. 9 wins is possible if something happens in practice this week and they change the o-line blocking scheme. Kelechi Osemele was being talked about as a top 10 guard in the NFL, but his back has hampered him this year and has finally put him out for the season. If the Ravens can take down the Bengals this week, I will feel much better about the season, but I don’t know if that will happen. Also, I question Joe Flacco‘s health. I think he might be hurt because you can tell his arm strength has been zapped for some reason. We’ll see more in the following weeks.

Joe to Greg

As far as my offseason predictions go, I haven’t put much thought into them. I see Jacoby Ellsbury leaving Boston, as sad as it sounds. The Cardinals won the NL Central by 3 games this season (Pittsburgh in 2nd) and I think they’ll win again but by more than 5 games. They’re the reigning NL champs and I don’t see them dropping off, we’ve talked about them multiple times throughout our spars and reviews, but the strong homegrown base and the experience from playing in a World Series will do wonders for this team going forward. I’ll have to think of others for now. How about yourself?

Also, any first impressions on the start of the NBA season?

Greg to Joe

Yeah, I doubt that Ellsbury stays in Boston. I think he ends up in Seattle as they try to turn things around. The Cubs could also be in on him. I want to see the contract that the Yankees give Robinson Cano. It will probably be more than $200 million, but the question is by how much. I also think the Cardinals will finally fix their shortstop problem. I see them doing one of three things. One, they sign Johnny Peralta to shore that up. Two, they trade one of their young pitchers for a shortstop like Jurickson Profar or Elvis Andrus. The Rangers need pitching and they have two shortstops. I would love for a deal with the Orioles like… Lance Lynn for JJ Hardy and Jonathan Schoop/Adrian Marin. That will never happed especially after the Machado injury. The Orioles would have no shortstop for the beginning of the season. These two previous options involve getting ride of David Freese, moving Matt Carpenter back to third base and putting Kolten Wong at second base. The third option is keep Freese, keep Carpenter at second, and put Wong at shortstop. It’s not unreasonable, and the Cardinals’ shortstop situation will be a lot better than it was last year if they do any of these options. My final two big predictions are Shin-Sho Choo is a Met by January, and Masahiro Tanaka is an Angel. The Mets are the perfect fit for Choo. He becomes a veteran leader of a young team. It also puts the Mets in a good spot to contend in the next two years with their dominant young pitching and solid infield. Oh, I also forgot my last prediction. Carlos Beltran is either an Oriole next year, or he returns to his roots and resigns with the Kansas City Royals.

Kyrie Irving and LeBron James (Photo Cred: Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

Kyrie Irving and LeBron James (Photo Cred: Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The NBA season has been interesting. Michael Carter-Williams is playing as good as anyone in the NBA right now and led the Sixers to 3 wins to start the season. That will in no way shape or form continue, but it was quite astonishing. I think the East is shaping up to be a three team race between the Heat, Pacers, and Nets. If the Nets are able to use Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett like the Spurs use Duncan, they will be dominant this year. I also love Enes Kanter. He is big man with a sweet jumper. If Utah wins the lottery next year, they’ll be a semi-contender in 2014-2015. Also, LeBron is still going back to Cleveland. The best situation for him. What do you think of the NBA season so far?

Joe to Greg

Mike Trout sliding into 2nd base (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Mike Trout sliding into 2nd base (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

I like your predictions, especially the Rangers and Cardinals discussions. They really have the perfect holes to fill and it would be stupid not to explore those options. I think Cano gets south of $250 million, which is just out of this world to even think about. It makes me think of what Mike Trout might get offered, not saying it will be a huge number like that but who knows. The NBA has definitely been intriguing so far. Michael Carter-Williams is proving the doubters wrong and starting off a tremendous rookie campaign. The Celtics and Jazz seem to be the early favorites for the best lottery picks. Miami has struggles playing in the first quarters for some reason and the Indiana Pacers are 5-0? Who would’ve thought it. I love Enes Kanter and my equivalent is Jonas Valanciusnas from the Toronto Raptors. He’s been a beast who has averaged 15 points and 9.5 rebounds in his past two games. He’s been dominating down low, grabbing boards and posting a field goal % of 57.14. A great fantasy commodity in deep leagues. More on the NBA season to come. Any quick thoughts on the NFL this week? I’m a fan of the San Francisco-Carolina game and I think the Dallas-New Orleans game is going to be a shootout.

Greg’s Final thought

  1. If I am Mike Trout and the Angels approach me with an extension, I accept nothing less than $300 million over 10 years. I am serious. And quite frankly, it would be a discount for the Angels.
  2. Game of the Week for me is Panthers at the 49ers. I wanna see how Newton and Kaepernick perform against top defenses.

Greg Danchik and Joe Meola

2014 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide

SportsDojo4_Rev2_Rev1You may have noticed that I am not writing as much anymore. I rarely do Daily Dojos and most of my writings come from the Dojo Sparring, a very casual article. Anyway, this is mostly because as school rolled around most of my time has been taken up by my Bucknell work. I have to do it because if I didn’t graduate (or better yet, graduate with a good GPA), I would be written out of my parent’s will. With the time that I have leftover after school obligations, I have been working on rankings for the 2014 MLB season. I realize it is early, but there are 30 teams and around 30 players on each team, or in each team’s farm system, that should be known to get a full grasp of the significant pieces of the 2014 player pool. It takes time to do 900 projections and boil them down into understandable rankings that can be used for the average fantasy baseball league. The rankings will be constantly changing from now until February as more information is released about the players and most importantly, playing time and batting order position. These rankings, along with a lot of other great information, strategies and ideas, will be released sometime in February. While doing these rankings, I will be releasing some early player outlooks for one hitter and pitcher for each team that I think will be the most interesting. I will do a hitter from each team and then a pitcher from each team, leading up to the release of The Sports Dojo’s 2014 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide (presented by Greg Danchik).