Daily Dojo 7-15-2013

Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis

Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis

Chris Davis has hit 37 home runs before the All Star break. The last person to hit at least 37 home runs before the All Star break was Barry Bonds when he set the single season home run mark at 73. That is A LOT of home runs before the break. Davis has played 14 more games than Bonds did before the break, but it’s still A LOT of home runs for 96 games. Now think about this… To go along with those home runs, he has 70 runs, 93 RBI’s and a .315 batting average. That is an MVP season in the first half. So, he has obviously been incredible. The funny thing is he doesn’t have the best offensive numbers of the first half. Miguel Cabrera has 30 home runs, 73 runs, 95 RBI’s, and a .365 batting average. This stat line has never been done before in the first half. He has just been an absolute beast. For the record, Davis is my MVP because he plays better defense than Cabrera, but their offensive production has been out of this world thus far.

With regards to Chris Davis PED speculation, I think we have to see the second half to decide that. If he goes on to hit homers in the high 60’s, I will start to be skeptical. But if Roger Maris hit 61 in 161 games, why can’t Davis hit 62-65 in 162? If Davis passes Maris, he will not be the single-season home run king. You cannot start removing people from the record books because it will become extremely messy. You have no idea what you should remove and what you should keep. Like, do the 2004 Red Sox keep their World Series title even though David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez tested positive for steroids in 2003? I am not saying that they don’t deserve that title; I think they do. I just do not know where you start and stop removing PED users from the record books.

Buster Posey and Tim Lincecum celebrating Lincecum's no hitter

Buster Posey and Tim Lincecum celebrating Lincecum’s no hitter

Tim Lincecum throwing a no-hitter is surprising to me, but I was not stunned when I heard the news. He had been a phenomenal pitcher prior to the last two seasons. This year has been interesting though. Big Time Timmy Jim has pitched well this season in most games, but his ERA is bad because he tends to have one poor inning each start. Obviously, Saturday night was different. He had 13 strikeouts and 4 walks, which supplemented his 148 total pitches. 1 pitch less than the most amount of pitches in a no-hitter (Edwin Jackson). Lincecum’s no-hitter was much better than Jackson’s because Jackson had 8 walks and only 6 K’s. Lincecum’s no-hitter could be a sign of things to come for him this season, or it could be a single bright spot in another season of struggles. I think he will regain his confidence after this performance and return to dominance, but we’ll see how he performs after the All Star break.

photo-showAll Star Game and Home Run Derby predictions

Home Run Derby: Yoenis Cespedes over Bryce Harper in the final round

All Star Game Starters: Max Scherzer and Matt Harvey (written at 10:47 PM Sunday night so if it is announced before this is posted, you know I didn’t cheat)

Outcome: There will be three home runs in the game by Miguel Cabrera, Chris Davis, and Paul Goldschmidt. AL wins the All Star game behind Edwin Encarnacion single that scores Manny Machado from second in the 8th inning. Mariano Rivera gets the save in his final All Star Game.

 Greg Danchik

Dojo Sparring 7/8 – 7/14

Joe to Greg

Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander

Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander

With the All Star break looming, it seems like the first half of the season has lived up to our expectations. I feel like we’re obligated to talk about the All-Star selections for each league. Your Orioles sent four, three of which are representing a solid core for the starters. The Tigers on the other hand showcase some of the power their lineup has to offer sending Miguel Cabrera (Starter), Prince Fielder, Torii Hunter, and Jhonny Peralta (Reserves). That does not include their aces, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. What are your thoughts on the makeup of both teams? Also what are your predictions for the Home Run Derby and winner of the All-Star game?

Greg to Joe

I definitely think there could have been some interesting things done with the rosters if the lineups were not selected by the fans. Here are my AL and NL starting lineups:

AL

1. Jacoby Ellsbury CF

2. Mike Trout LF

3. Miguel Cabrera DH

4. Chris Davis 1B

5. Jose Bautista RF

6. Robinson Cano 2B

7. Evan Longoria 3B (if not healthy, Adrian Beltre)

8. Joe Mauer C

9. Manny Machado SS (SS is weak in the AL with Hardy winning that vote. Machado could play good defense and have great offensive production and help turn over the line up)

SP: Yu Darvish (My First Half AL Cy Young)

NL

1. Andrew McCutchen LF

2. Carlos Gomez CF

3. Joey Votto 1B

4. Giancarlo Stanton RF

5. Paul Goldschmidt DH

6. David Wright 3B

7. Troy Tulowitzki SS (since injured, I would put Ian Desmond here with Andrelton Simmons as the defensive replacement)

8. Yadier Molina C

9. Matt Carpenter 2B

SP: Matt Harvey (My First Half NL Cy Young and its at Citi Field)

I think these lineups would lead to a game that would be one to remember. Unfortunately, these are not the lineups. I do think that the AL will win. It is a stacked team and should be able to take a lead and hold it with the great relievers in the ‘pen. I think Mariano Rivera gets a save in his final All Star game, and it just so happens to be in New York.

Home Run Derby quick prediction: Yoenis Cespedes over Bryce Harper in the final round

Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard

In basketball, there have been some big moves made. Dwight Howard made his decision to go to Houston, as I predicted. I think he and The Bearded One (my new nickname for James Harden) will make a tremendous 1-2 punch. I know the Rockets have looked at all of the advanced statistics and determined that this combo would one of the best in the league. I trust advanced stats; I think they are very useful in baseball and are growing in the basketball community. I am excited to see that team. I do think it will be the best video game team because you can just chuck up 3’s with Harden, and if he misses, Howard will just get the board. It’s too bad that Josh Smith went to Detroit… He would have been a great third in a Houston Big 3.

What’d you think of the Howard deal and how do you think the All Star game will shape up?

Since the NFL season is fast approaching, who do you think the NFC playoffs teams will be? We can do AFC next week because I think we will be debating more about that since we both have horses in that race.

Joe to Greg

Like you’ve noted, the All-Star game is full of star studded lineups. I give the edge to the AL because of their bats and raw power. By no means will it be a blowout, but the AL has that ability to put up a big inning very quickly. Shifting gears a little, I don’t know what to think of the Dwight Howard trade. There are a lot of “What ifs” in this case but one of the most interesting questions that was brought up throughout the Howard sweepstakes was who handled their decision better, Howard or LeBron? While I thought that LeBron’s decision was madly over hyped, after seeing the ways rumors fluttered the headlines everyday leading up to Howard’s decision, I’m obliged to side with LeBron’s tactic to come out with a formal decision at a set time. Although I hope Howard doesn’t pull one of these out of his hat.

Howard’s decision was masked by sources saying, “He’s still 50-50 between Houston and LA” and people questioning his motives. In terms of handling the free agency situation, Howard could have done better, and Houston is an interesting choice as well. As soon as I heard Houston was Howard’s new home, I thought it was a great fit for him. After letting things soak in for the past couple days I’ve changed my mind a little. I don’t question Kevin McHale‘s coaching ability or the structure of the current Rockets’ roster but the Rockets play similar to how the Lakers play. Howard didn’t embrace Mike D’Antoni‘s pick-and-roll system in Los Angeles but the Rockets system is based off of the same ideas. James Harden gets the ball and a pick and he makes plays; something quite similar to Kobe in LA. I think something that played into Howard’s decision was the fan’s lack of appreciation for him, which in turn shied him away from the spotlight. He needs to feel wanted and that’s something LA never really displayed. In the end, Houston is the best team and fit because it gives him a place where the team’s future had a lot of potential before his arrival and their chances only got better since. Houston has the same feel that Orlando provided for Howard earlier in his career so I think this decision is the best for Howard, regardless of the X’s and O’s.

Quick NFC predictions for the playoffs:

1. Green Bay Packers (Rodgers, Manning, Brady in no order for top QB)

2. San Francisco 49ers (Look for another competitive 49ers team this year)

3. Atlanta Falcons (The Falcons will not be the last undefeated team like they were in 2012, they better look behind them, their division is quietly growing stronger)

4. Seattle Seahawks (Russell Wilson wins games)

5. Washington Redskins (September 9th can’t come faster [Home vs Philly, 7:00 pm ESPN], will RGIII be ready?)

6. New Orleans Saints (Saints finish the season with Panthers, Rams, Panthers, Bucs, I’m hoping Brees can make a late push)

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7. Chicago Bears (I like seeing Jay Cutler struggle)

8. Philadelphia Eagles (Nice try Chip Kelly)

Just for fun, who do you think will have the better transition as a college coach turned professional coach? Chip Kelly going from Oregon to the Eagles or Brad Stevens going from Butler to the Celtics? Also your NFC predictions?

Greg to Joe

Kyrie Irving and LeBron James

Kyrie Irving and LeBron James

Oh, Howard did a much worse job of making a decision than LeBron. Howard was a whiney baby and couldn’t make up his mind, and he dragged it out over two years. LeBron made it one summer and one decision that no one in Cleveland liked. Yet, for some odd reason, LeBron is a evil human being and that everyone hates when Howard did the same things except much worse than LeBron did. It’s because LeBron James is the most talented basketball player to ever live. Yeah, I said it. His physical gifts make him so unique on a basketball court; he can do ANYTHING. So everything he does is magnified. And back to the Cleveland comment, those fans are gonna be kicking themselves if he decides he doesn’t want to come back to Cleveland even though their future is looking much brighter than Miami’s (when looking at each team without LeBron). Especially, if he says the reasoning is all the hatred he received from them when he left.  I realize that I am changing topics again, but Howard and Houston should work out well. I’m excited to see it.

For the coaches… Chip Kelly will have a better transition. He is so innovative and I think he’ll be great, but that team has no talent. He better hope they finish as the bottom 1 or 2 teams so he can get Teddy Bridgewater to run his offense and if he isn’t available at 2, he should take Jadeveon Clowney. Stevens will fair well from the beginning I think. He has a 6 year contract so I think they are going to stick with him for awhile. I just wonder if they are going to tank this year to try and get a ping pong ball. If the Celtics tank and get a top 5 pick, they’ll be back in the thick of things quickly.

Now NFC playoff picture… First comment on yours… Eagles are a bottom 5 team in the league. BEST CASE SCENARIO for this year… 7-9 and they won’t sniff the playoffs.

1. Seahawks (Wilson is great and that team is so dominant around him)

2. Saints (Sean Payton and Drew Brees come back with a BANG)

3. Packers (Aaron Rodgers is a stud and he has a running game this year!)

4. Redskins (Team was banged up last year and still won the division, and that division is really bad… will be close with Giants I think)

5. 49ers (They’ll have the second best record in the NFC, but won’t win their own division)

6. Rams (Jeff Fisher‘s second season, sleeper team. They will be able to go on a big winning streak at the end finishing off against Seattle because they’ll be resting their starters after locking down the 1 seed)

Just missed…

Bears, Lions, and Giants

Jadeveon Clowney's hit in the 2013 Outback Bowl

Jadeveon Clowney’s hit in the 2013 Outback Bowl

So I wanna hear what you have to say about the coaches. I realize you have a SLIGHT bias with Stevens coaching the Bawston Celtics. And who do you think will finish in the bottom of the NFL this year? Who will get to draft Jadeveon Clowney and Teddy Bridgewater in the 2014 NFL Draft?

Joe to Greg

I threw the Eagles up high just for the fun of it, I predict they’ll have a losing record but I think they end the season having a good feel for the following season. I’d watch out for Chip Kelly’s second year but who knows, maybe he’ll surprise us all. The Brad Stevens acquisition to the Celtics is interesting but I like the move. It is clear that the Celtics are in a “rebuilding” mode and I think Stevens is one of the perfect people to enter this situation. The Celtics will be competitive but they are going to endure a tough year ahead. I’m predicting they’ll wind up getting a top 10 draft pick in next years stacked class. This upcoming draft class is going to be one of the best we’ve seen in the past 20 years. Its going to be a deep draft with multiple future franchise players (Andrew Wiggins for example). I see Kelly having the better first season because some of his core players are still there, whereas Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were shipped to Brooklyn, making it a tougher roster for Stevens to manage and work with.

In no particular order I’d group these teams in the bottom of the league for the upcoming season…

-Oakland Raiders (My pick for #1 in the draft next year)

-Cleveland Browns (Trent Richardson will be a nice ray of sunshine on another cloudy season)

-New York Jets (Mark. Sanchez.)

-Jacksonville Jaguars (They’re a confusing bad team because they play in such a weak division but they don’t have a reliable quarterback, also my #2 pick for the draft)

-Buffalo Bills (Going to be tough to compete with a rebuilt Dolphins team and established Pats team)

-Philadelphia Eagles (Although I projected them high in the NFC Playoff picture, still too many questions until Week 1 rolls around, so to be safe, they have a spot on this list)

Your thoughts on the NFL’s bottom tier teams for next year’s draft? Also, does the arrival of Andrew Bynum help attract LeBron James back to Cleveland next summer?

Greg to Joe

My bottom teams are similar. The Raiders are tied for worst team with the Jets. They literally have no talent. It is unbelievable how they are able to do that. I think the only reason that the Browns will be low is because they are in one of the best divisions in football. I actually think they are pretty good and Chud (former Panthers O-cordinator) could really turn that team around. That was one of my favorite head coaching hirings this off-season. Eagles are gonna be bad, but I talked about that before. I do think the Bills will be bad, but the Dolphins won’t be good. The Patriots (and their fans) have nothing to worry about. My two other bottom feeders would be the Jaguars and Titans. The Jaguars have no quarterback and no talent in all honesty. The Titans are pretty bad too. If Jake Locker is not the solution at quarterback, they definitely do not have an answer on their current roster. Also, their defense gave up the most points out of ALL defenses last year. It just does not look good for them.

Read one of my Daily Dojo’s from last week for my response on that Cleveland and LeBron question. Lemme know if you wanna take the bet.

 

Daily Dojo 7-12-2013

Brian Roberts after his third inning homer against the Rangers

Brian Roberts after his third inning homer against the Rangers

I was pumped that the Orioles were able to split the series with the Rangers last night. They are trailing the Red Sox and Rays in the AL East and they are also two games back in the AL Wild Card chase. If they can get a sweep this weekend against the Blue Jays, it would be huge for them. The Blue Jays are not playing great right now, and I do not think they are going to suddenly turn it on at Camden Yards. Hopefully, the Orioles can go into the break hot, and the Blue Jays go in cold.

A couple of big series are starting today, but the biggest is out in Oakland. The Oakland Atheltics (54-38) host the Boston Red Sox (57-37) for a three-game series. They are both leaders in their divisions, and this series could end up having huge consequences. If the Athletics are able to pull off a sweep, the Orioles and Rays get a huge boost as they chase the Sox in the division. While the Rangers, who need all the help they can get, would benefit from a Red Sox sweep. The once feared Rangers had the third worst team OPS in the month of June. They have started to turn it around in July, but they are still not the same hitting team they used to be. Maybe losing Josh Hamilton was a bigger deal than they initially thought. I, as a fan of another AL team, am happy that this has happened because it has, hopefully, made the road to the playoffs a little bit easier.

Chris Capuano

Chris Capuano

Last night, I watched the Rockies play the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was late, but I had to stay up because Vin Scully‘s voice is so soothing. He is the best announcer in sports, no doubt in my mind. He is the one man show, and his voice is amazing. It was a good game because of the dominating performace delivered by Chris Capuano. Troy Tulowitzki and Dexter Fowler were activated just before the game, so he dominated a fully loaded Rockies’ lineup. I was pretty amazing to see Capuano pull of 8 strikeouts in 6.1 innings.

Greg Danchik

 

Daily Dojo 7-11-13

Yasiel Puig

Yasiel Puig

Yasiel Puig has taken the fast track to stardom. He has dominated since his call up, but he needs to realize he is still a youngin’ and has not proven himself as truly elite yet. He’s a 22 year old, supposedly, and he decided that he was too good to speak to a former great in Luis Gonzalez. You know, the guy who won a World Series with a base hit off the greatest closer in the history of history in Mariano Rivera… that guy. Puig is too good for him now. And don’t say, “Oh, he can’t speak English. He just did not understand.” False. Gonzalez approached Puig in his native Spanish language, and straight up ignored him. Puig did not even turn to look at Gonzalez.

People dislike Bryce Harper because he knows he’s great and shows it. But at least Bryce would respect a great from a rival team approaching him. He respected future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones by admitting he would vote for Chipper in last year’s final vote instead of himself. Puig is just coming off as a cocky, disrespectful asshole. He should learn to respect the game and its former greats because other players are starting to hate him.

Kyrie Irving and LeBron James

Kyrie Irving and LeBron James

Andrew Bynum signs with the Cavaliers. I am on the record of saying LeBron James will be a Cleveland Cavalier for the 2014-2015 NBA season. I have made two bets actually and I will take anymore that people want to offer up. If you look at the Cavaliers and Heat this season and take LeBron James out of the picture, the Cavaliers are much better. Starting five of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, and Anthony Bennett with Tristan Thompson, Anderson Varejao and Andrew Bynum splitting the 4 and 5 duties. The Heat minus LeBron looks like this… Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem, and Chris Bosh. I realize that this is an unfair comparison because the Heat built their team around LeBron, but wouldn’t LeBron want to play with the better supporting cast? That’s what he did in 2010, and he will probably do it again. If you say he’s the best player in the world now and he doesn’t have to move because players come to him, you’re wrong. He was the best player in the world in 2010 and he moved. He is already building an extension on his house in Ohio, he wants his kids to grow up in Akron, he donated $1 million dollars to rebuild his former high school’s basketball gym, and he wants to win. LeBron will be donning a crisp #6 Cleveland Cavaliers’ jersey opening night in 2014/2015.

I was wrong about the baseball games last night. I am glad I was wrong about the Orioles. Wei-Yin Chen pitched well and I hope he can sure up that rotation as they make a second half playoff push. Cliff Lee giving up 4 solo homers was a shock to me. My only explanation is that Citizens Bank Park is very hitter friendly. If you put it in the air, its gone. Tonight, I am hoping for the Orioles to score 10 runs on the Yu Darvish replacement starter, Ross Wolf. Making his second career start, the Orioles should be able to take advantage of a pitcher with a career ERA of 4.78. I am excited to watch this one as an O’s fan. And I just remembered I won’t get to watch it live… good thing MLB.tv has full replays of every game!

Greg Danchik

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