Friday, September 30, 2011
The two teams that I'll be focusing on right now are the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers. The Yankees boast the American League's best record at 97-65, but the Tigers aren't too far behind as they are only separated by two games, and finished with a record of 95-67. This ALDS beginning tonight at 8:37 pm should be exciting as these teams are very evenly matched.
Looking at the final statistics from the regular season, the Yankees finished with an average of 5.35 runs per game, compared to the Tigers 4.86 runs per game. With these numbers, both teams finished within the top five in the league in total runs per game. In addition, the Yanks and Tigers again finished within the top five in on-base percentage. During the playoffs, each and every pitch means something. Walks, baserunners, and driving up the opposing pitcher's pitch count are qualities that are similar to successful teams in October. Now these numbers would make you think that there will be plenty of offense in this series, but at the same time, you have to take into account the pitching that both teams have on their respective rosters.
The Tigers have the best pitcher in baseball: Justin Verlander. We all know that he will win the Cy Young Award, in most likely a unanimous vote. Oh, and he may even win the MVP with his incredible season. Verlander has filthy stuff on a consistent basis, and has been the most exciting pitcher in the majors this season. He has a record of 24-5, a 2.40 ERA, 250 strikeouts in 251 innings, a WHIP at 0.92, and has held opposing hitters to a .192 batting average.
Verlander has faced the Yankees twice this year, and has only been decent, to his standards anyway. His counterpart in Game 1 is C.C. Sabathia, who he has faced once already this year. That was all the way back on Opening Day. Both aces went six innings and allowed three runs. But the past is the past, and Verlander has become a superhuman since Opening Day.
Verlander in the postseason has four career starts, and has not once gotten deeper than the sixth inning. On the other hand, Sabathia has been just as good in the playoffs as he has been in the regular season in the pinstripes. In his last eight playoff starts, Sabathia is 5-1, with the Yankees winning seven of those eight games. Runs will be hard to come by in Game 1, but the team who is more pesky and a drives up the pitch total of the starter will most likely come away with a win because once you get into either one of these bullpens, the game is all but wrapped up.
Jose Valverde for the Tigers has not blown a single save this season, and of course for the Yankees, the all-time saves leader in Mariano Rivera will be shutting the door when given the opportunity.
My keys for the Yankees to win in Game 1 are Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez. Teixeira is 3-22 against Verlander for his career, and is coming off a disappointing 201o postseason. A-Rod has had a bunch of injuries to deal with this season, but if he is healthy, and that's a big IF, the Yankees are given a tremendous boost. Both of these stars need to do what they've done throughout their career: work the count, drive in runs, and strike fear into the opposing pitchers. If that is done, I believe the Yankees can beat the hard-throwing Verlander.
It will be an exciting matchup, as two of the best pitchers in the league square off tonight. I can't wait to see how Game 1 shakes out because this game can dictate what happens in the games to follow.
Prediction of Game 1: Yankees win 5-3.
You can follow David on Twitter @David_ODog or listen to him every Tuesday from 6-7 pm on the Sportswire on 88.1 FM and wcwp.org, as well as Talkin' Baseball: The Hot Corner on Tuesdays from 7-9 pm on wcwp.org.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
This week we're starting off with the locals, because two of the three NY teams pulled off two of the biggest upsets of the week. Going in order of the their record...we'll start with the 3-0 Buffalo Bills! The Bills went into this game vs the New England Patriots with very few people actually believing they can win, except for members of the Buffalo Bills. Never the less they picked off Tom Brady 4 times, and took a win against New England 34-31. Ryan Fitzpatrick did it again, leading a game winning drive, all the while using to his advantage guys like Stevie Johnson in his 4th year, and Donald Jones a 2nd year receiver from Youngstown St. Also, never to be overlooked is Fred Jackson who may have only had 74 yards, but then you realize it was on only 12 carries (6.2 YPC). Bills fans, Im sure you remember when this man was sitting behind Marshawn Lynch! With all that being said, I can't say I believe the Bills are playoff team yet, however they are making some big steps, and look out New York Jets.
On to my boys in blue the New York Giants. A 29-16 win in Philly against the Eagles make ALL Giants fans think, "Hey, maybe this division is winnable". It was 2 weeks ago I was watching the G-Men slowly lose a sloppy game to the Redskins. This game was a complete turn around from that. The often chastised (by me) Eli Manning played an incredible game going 16/23 and throwing 4 TDs. The play calling by Gilbride was absolutely where it needed to be, and Victor Cruz had the game that Giants fans were waiting for since last years great preseason. On a side note that Great catch Cruz made at the goal line, is not a pass I commend Eli for making, its a pass I commend Cruz for snatching away.
Let us now look at those J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets. Im sure a 34-24 loss to the Oakland Raiders is not what the Jets had planned for this past Sunday. This game showed me that this team is NOT at all what it used to be. Looking at the offense, the run game is Not the go to strategy for this team anymore, and for good reason. As Ive been saying since preseason, Shonn Greene is not a feature back which means the Jets do not have one. Hence the reason Sanchez threw 44 passes. Now looking at the defense, very few people were running at all on this defense the last few years...this year, and in this game McFadden ran for 19 carries for 171 yards which equals 9 yards per carry. McFadden is a top running back in the NFL right now, but he would Not have been able to do this the last two seasons. This could be more of a problem season than expected for Jets fans.
Some other key games Id like to mention are the Tampa Bay Bucs finally beating the Atlanta Falcons 16-13, and the Carolina Panthers getting their first win this season, beating the Jaguars 16-10. Its strange to note that Matt Ryan threw for 330 yards, while Josh Freeman threw for 180. LeGarette Blount had an unimpressive 24 carries for 81 yeards, but even more unimpressive than that, and a big reason why the Bucs won this game is due to Michael Turner having a meager 11 carries for 20 yards. Adds a real wrinkle to the so far unimpressive (except for the Saints) NFC South. The other game I target is Cam Newton's first win of his career beating the Blaine Gabbert lead Jags 16-10. Newton had his least effective game so far, throwing only 18/34 for 158 yards and only the 1 touchdown to Greg Olsen. I am still impressed with Newton, and a Big Fan none the less. Which leads me to my last point.
The rookie QB portion of the blog begins now. I mentioned Newton, and I see only big things ahead for him and Im glad to see his humble press conference after the win. Blaine Gabbert gets his first start for the Jags this past week and wasn't the main reason the Jags lost. Gabbert went 12/21 for 139 yards and a score. Not that impressive, but for a first start, and his lack of receivers, you cant complain about much. Andy Dalton went against a very stout 49ers defense this week and went 17/32 and had 157 yards. I still have faith in "The Red Rifle" (one of the few nicknames I like). Again though, the man has limited options, AJ Green helps but if these two can spend some years together I like where it Could go.
Thats it for now, let me know what you think about this weeks views,and any games you would want me to cover next week. Without feedback, this is how it will stay, for better or for worse. See you all next time. Joe (Twitter - @CorporalJoe)
As the New York Mets season comes to a close with a record of 77-85, there will be many questions that need to be answered. Do the Mets re-sign Jose Reyes? Are they buyers or sellers in the off season? How much money will the Wilpons let Sandy Alderson spend?
First off, without a question, the Mets have to re-sign Jose Reyes. With the season he had, it seems like he has put it all together. With the Mets in the shape that they are in they can’t afford to lose Reyes (if that makes sense). With the other issues on the table, we will just have to wait and see.
Another transition the Mets will do in the offseason is refining the diamonds dimensions. This is a decision that should have been made in the 1st year of Citi Field, when their core player David Wright only hit 5 homeruns in the new park. The previous year in 2008 Wright hit 21 homeruns at home in Shea Stadium. I guess the theme of the off season is a wait and see approach.
But what we saw yesterday will leave a memory for everyone of all ages. Not only was there one collapse or comeback, there were two. As a New York baseball fan, what the Red Sox did in September erases the Mets of ’07 and ’08 and yes even the collapse of the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS. As bad as Boston’s 7-20 September was, Tampa was only 12-10 in September before ending the year on a 5 game winning streak. Its easy to say Boston folded it up, but you have to give the Rays credit where credit is due. Manager Joe Maddon, who should win AL Manager of the year, dealt with an 0-6 beginning, an entire revamped bullpen, and a lineup which lost Carlos Pena and Carl Crawford (2 productive players from the previous three successful seasons) and even lost all-star Evan Longoria for a month due to an injury. Yet the Rays still competed with great pitching and timly hitting, something Boston failed to do in September. It was only appropriate down 7-0 in the 8th inning in game 162 that Tampa scratched and clawed their way back to score 6 in the 8th and tie the game in the 9th with a 2 out, 2 strike home run from Dan Johnson who was hitting .108 with only 1 HR entering the AB. Then the magic that was the Rays won it on a 12th inning walk-off HR from who else but Longoria, whose three-run HR in the 8th gave Tampa a chance to complete the comeback.
But the story doesn’t end there. In the National League there was an even bigger collapse, and this was a total collapse. The Braves, who like the Rays relied on their pitching, had a 10.5 game lead on second place St.Louis as late as August 26th for the NL Wild Card only to see that number erased on the final day of the regular season. Atlanta’s pitching took a substantial hit when top of the rotation pitchers Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson were lost due to injury. Yet the Braves had the players despite those injuries and still couldn’t get it done. Whether it was the rotation, or their tiring bullpen which was their strength all season until the last month, the Braves will look back and say what if. The Cardinals on the other hand did what the Braves couldn’t do, get qualtity pitching down the stretch and get production up and down their lineup. In the end, we saw not only one collapse, but two.
They both share a lot in common: The teams that collapsed (Boston and Atlanta) failed to pitch down the stretch and get the timly hitting that made them so successful the first 5 months of the regular season. And the teams that made the dream comeback a reality (Tampa Bay and St.Louis) showed that you have to take it 1 game at a time for 162 times per season and do all the little things right, get quality pitching and get the hits when you need them. But what we saw during the September of 2011 will probably never be seen by any sport ever again. Which is what makes Baseball, America’s Pastime, a truly amazing sport.
- Atlanta Braves were leading 3-1 then lost 4-3 in the 13th inning to the Philadelphia Phillies when Hunter Pence singled to right scoring Brian Schneider.
- Boston Red Sox had the Baltimore Orioles 1 strike away from winning the game and Papelbon gave up a ground rule double to Reimold which scored Hudson and then Andino singled to left and Reimold scored which ended the game in the bottom of the 9th.
- St. Louis Cardinals shutout the Houston Astros 8-0 and were waiting for their fate to be sealed when the Phillies beat the Braves later on
- New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays went into the 12th inning and Evan Longoria ended it with a solo shot over the left field wall and sealed the Rays fate when minutes before the Red Sox had lost
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
by Jason Comack
Despite what Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill may lead you to believe “Moneyball” is not all about on base percentage. Moneyball is about finding market inefficiencies. It's about gaining a competitive edge on your opponents by looking in places no one has looked before. Jonah Keri, in his book about the Tampa Bay Rays, dubbed this “the extra two percent.”
The movie Moneyball has a scene where Billy Beane talks about how nothing he does will matter unless the A's win the final game of the season. Truer words may not have been spoken in the movie. The A's playoff record is a case that many will cite when arguing about stats. That somehow Beane's A's (and stat based thinking) were an ultimate failure because of the A's inability to win a world series. Of course if one tried to argue that juggernauts like the Yankees and Red Sox, who rely heavily on statistics, are a success of Sabermetrics they would be similarly be rebuffed. “They’re a big market team, they buy players, you don't need stats to sign Mark Texieria.”
This is why I'm rooting for the Tampa Bay Rays to make the playoffs.
The Rays are 90-71 as are the Boston Red Sox. Let's try to put this in perspective.
The Rays, despite having a payroll of $120 million dollars less then the Red Sox, find themselves tied for the wild-card spot with one game left to play.
The Rays, despite losing Carlos Pena (1 year 10 million to the Cubs) Carl Crawford (7/142 to the Red Sox) Rafael Soriano (3/35 to the Yankees) and trading away Matt Garza, find themselves tied for the wild-card spot with one game left to play.
The Rays, despite playing in the toughest division in baseball (For comparison; the AL east had a run differential [Runs Scored – Runs Allowed] of +270, the AL Central had a run differential of -248), find themselves tied for the wild-card spot with one game left to play.
How is this possible? How can the Rays have consistent success amongst baseball titans? I'll give you a hint, despite what Brad Pitt might lead you to believe it doesn't have to do with on base percentage.
The Rays embody the spirit of Moneyball. While everyone loaded up on sluggers who get on base the Rays loaded up on speedy athletes who can play defense. Name a defensive metric and as a team the Rays lead in it. They also steal a lot of bases (152, second most in the majors.) They bunt, they suicide squeeze, they often take the extra base.
What makes the Rays such a Moneyball team is how far removed their style of play is from what most people associate with Moneyball.
Regardless of the outcome tonight, and potentially tomorrow the Rays season has been a resounding success. What's unfortunate is that people will only remember it if they win the last game of the season.
Like what you see? Read Jason on ProSportsBlogging.com ,you can also hear him every Monday and Thursday on the Sportswire from 6-7 on 88.1 FM and WCWPSports.com . Follow him on twitter at J_Comack
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Arian Foster owners may be able to rejoice this week. John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reports that he expects Foster to be ready to resume his job as the starting RB, and calls Ben Tate "the backup". Texans face the Steelers this week, and while in years past that would be a bad matchup, the Steelers D has been anything but stout against the run this season.
Michael Vick owners can breathe easier after it was revealed Vick only has a bruise, and the Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that, while he still must be cleared by a doctor, he is expected to play. Vick owners, however, may still want to pick up Vince Young as insurance.
Felix Jones owners should be concerned this week. Jones appeared to aggravate his separated shoulder in last night's victory, according to an ESPNDallas report, and may get this week off, especially with the Cowboys getting the bye Week 5. It would get Jones over 2 weeks of rest while only missing one game. Tashard Choice and DeMarco Murray could share carries if Jones sits.
Bigger issues loom for Antonio Gates owners. Gates, who is known to play through pain and still be a fantasy stud at the low producing TE spot, is seriously considering sitting out the next 3-5 weeks, in an effort to be healthier for the team in the second half of the season according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Gates apparently tore scar tissue in his foot during the Chargers Week 2 loss to New England, and its unknown at this time if rest will be sufficient for Gates to recover. This is a situation to monitor over the next few weeks.
With the news Kenny Britt's season is over, Nate Washington becomes a much bigger play in Tennessee, especially with Chris Johnson and the running game faltering. Tennessee could look to get CJ2K more involved in the passing game as well, as he has not been able to get going early in the season after holding out all preseason.
Ryan Grant owners have reason to be frustrated. After not playing well the first 2 weeks of the season, Grant broke through in Week 3 vs. the Bears for 92 yds on 17 carries, outplaying mega-sleeper James Starks. However, Grant suffered a kidney bruise late in the game and his status for this week's game is uncertain. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said he would not have any further updates on Grant until the team returned to practice Wednesday. While early indications are that he is expected to play, how much he can play is debatable right now. This is something Grant owners need to check back on later in the week. Starks would be the clear choice to start vs. Denver if Grant can't go.
Looks like Curtis Painter could get the start for Indianapolis this week. Kerry Collins is coming off a concussion and has been largely ineffective as the starter anyway. Painter started off the preseason terribly, but improved towards the final two weeks of the preseason, and looked much sharper than Collins when he came in the game, after Collins had to leave with a concussion. Painter targeted Pierre Garcon 5 times after coming in the game late, and if Painter plays, he could very well surprise. Painter would be a boost to Garcon's production.
ESPN's John Clayton says Frank Gore will be able to start this week vs. the Eagles. Gore came out of the game late last week vs. the Bengals. Gore hasn't been able to get untracked yet this season, however the Eagles defense has not been good against the run this year so far.
The Cincinatti Inquirer reports that there is "no truth" to a report about the Bengals speaking with the Dolphins about a trade for disgruntled QB Carson Palmer. The Dolphins allegedly offered a 3rd rd pick for Palmer. Bengals owner Mike Brown is known to be holding out for a first round pick (which isn't happening). Also, Brown is known to be very angry with Palmer for choosing to retire instead of play for the Bengals, and Miami isn't yet ready to give up on Chad Henne. Those seeking QB help will need to look elsewhere.
The Patriots were happy with the play of rookie RB Stevan Ridley this week, but he's a long way away from unseating BenJarvis Green-Ellis atop the food chain.
With the impeding suspension of Cedric Benson looming, Bernard Scott is a must own in all leagues.
Daniel Thomas has been impressive the last two weeks, while the Dolphins are still trying to figure out how to properly use Reggie Bush. Miami might want to take a look at how the Saints used to use Bush and currently use Darren Sproles, who has been a sparkplug for New Orleans.
Over his last 10 games, DeAngelo Williams is averaging 43.5 YPG and 3.6 YPC, while James Stewart has averaged 73 YPG and 5.3 YPC. No change is imminent but the situation bears watching is the Panthers abandon their two headed monster attack and make the more recently productive Stewart the main carrier.
Questions? Comments? Send them to PCreightonWCWP@Yahoo.com
Follow me on Twitter at PCreightonWCWP
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
I havent written for this blog yet but as a member of the station, and assistant sports director I feel obliged that SOMEONE needs to write in this thing once in a while. A little about me, I am 28, a college senior, and a Yankees/Giants/Islanders fan, and root for the Nets (quickly becoming more of a fan). If you like what you read, you can hear me on Talkin' Baseball from 7-9PM on Tuesdays on our web station, and Im on the Sportswire from 6-7PM on Wednesdays and Thursdays on 88.1FM, and our webstation. Im also a color commentator for CW Post Pioneer football, and mens basketball. Tune in on any of the stations I mentioned and give us a listen, and hey follow me on twitter @CorporalJoe....Now, on to the football.
Since I am late to the party and didn't start this up last week, Im starting with week 2. My goal with this is to weekly look at some key games, and key teams as I see them, and hopefully get some feedback from you, the reader. Week 2 in the NFL saw a lot of no brainers, as well as some surprises. We saw the Steelers shutout the Seahawks (no brainer), as well as the Ravens (surprisingly) lose to the Titans. As the games go on, its easy to look at some of these and say how little they mean in the long run, but I think that for the most part, if teams can stay healthy (which is harder than in sounds) I expect more of the same from the good, and bad teams.
I have heard more than one source pick the San Diego Chargers to go to the Super Bowl from the AFC. The reason I question this is NOT due to the questionable Chargers defense, its Not due to the fact that the Chargers, and Norv Turner haven't won a big game in recent memory, and its Not due to my lack of faith in Tolbert, and Matthews to be running backs on a championship contending team (at least not yet). No, my lack of faith is not really due to anything Charger related, its due to the fact that as long as the Patriots have Tom Brady, Wes Welker, Bill Belicheck, and even a Decent defense, they are going to be my pick to win the AFC. After throwing for over 500 yds in week one against the Dolphins, he throws for 423 yds against that Chargers defense. Sure the Pats D wasn't stellar, and sure Rivers has a great arm, and excellent receivers...the Pats still won be 2 TDs. I dont see them, or anyone else in the AFC being able to keep up with their kind of fire power.
After the Bears destroyed an assumed Super Bowl contender in the Atlanta Falcons, Im sure they had many people believing that maybe they were on their way to figuring it out this season. Then the New Orleans Saints welcomed the Bears to town...and promptly blew them out 30-13. Now the reason why I pick this game to look at is because, in case you couldnt tell I will tell you, I picked the Saints and Pats in the Super Bowl. Against the same defense that held Matt Ryan and the Falcons to 12 points, Drew Brees and the Saints put up 30. It seemed, at least to me, that the Saints defense (admittedly the Bears are no Packers) decided to show people that they are not as bad as they played against the Packers. Where the Bears D took a serious step back against the Saints. The Saints best receiver Marques Colston wasnt even there, and ya know what, they didnt seem to miss him much. Watch out NFC, the Saints aren't losing to a 7 win team in the playoffs this year.
Being in New York I do have to mention the local teams. The Jets did what they were supposed to do against the Jags. Holding them to 3 points is what Id expect, Rex's defense is good once again, to the surprise of no one. Luke McCown wasnt able to find any of his receivers, whos names are not really worth mentioning (with no Marcedes Lewis). Mark Sanchez is getting better every year, and even as a Giants fan, I am a fan of Sanchez, he seems to be well on his way to figuring it out more and more. As I sit and watch the Giants now, I worry. I never really did, and still dont know if Eli will ever be as good as he thinks he is. The run game is great once again, the pass rush is great once again....the defensive backs...yeah they scare me. If it takes winning ugly to win games. Ill take it. The Bills (yes theyre in NY too), have found something, I firmly believe have found something in Ryan Fitzpatrick. Sure theyve played two subpar teams, sure they need more of a pass rush to help out a week defensive back core, but hey Bills fans...you have something to be excited about, and its a future.
A quick word on rookie QB's....Wow. Was that quick enough for you? But for real, Tom Brady is one of the guys in the top two in both weeks in passing yards, the other....Cam Newton. Sure he still has a way to go, sure his team is 0-2, sure he needs to get better in the red zone. But when it comes to throwing the ball (and running with it when called upon) he seems to know just what hes doing. Andy Dalton on the other hand had a bit of a rough beginning, his debut was going well enough, until he had a minor injury that cost him the rest of his game. This week he comes back, and throws for 332 yds and 2 TDs. Yes these guys don’t have a win between them, but they were picked so high for a reason, they’re not on very good teams. I am also a BIG Jake Locker guy, I don’t know much about Gabbert, but lets see.
This week was a horrible one for injuries. In my opinion Jamal Charles is the biggest name with the worst injury. One week after losing Eric Berry to a knee injury Charles is now done for the year with the same. Packers Safety Nick Collins is also done for the year with a neck injury. Panthers LB Thomas Davis is out for the year after tearing up his knee for the third time. On lesser severe injuries, Mike Vick was spitting blood, and who knows, Tony Romo broke a rib AND punctured a lung, at Least questionable. Nick Mangold has a high ankle sprain, could be out for a week or two. Aaron Hernandez hurt his MCL and could be out for a week or two. News Flash to Giants fans, they had not one, but TWO players hurt this week. Hixon was on the sideline but didn’t play second half. Manningham was also hurt at the end of the second half, and I guess we’ll see this week how bad it is.
That’s about all I got for you all for now. I’ll be back next week, or maybe thoughout the week with something new for you. Let me know what ya think.
Heres to a healthy week.