Sunday, April 27, 2008
Not only was Stevenson outplayed by Lebron James (and who isn't), but was also outshined by DC native Delonte West. West, to the surprise of many, utilized exactly zero hand gestures, facial ticks or interpretive dances, not even when knocking down the game winner with 5 seconds remaining. While Stevenson is no doubt impressed by his own 5-12 with 2 threes, 5 rebounds and 5 assists, the non-theatric West was 5-8 from three point land, hitting 3 of 5 in the last ten minutes. Thankfully for the Verizon Center cleaning staff it wasn't Stevenson hitting the game winner, otherwise his performance of Swan Lake may still be going on.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
NL Cy Young - Johan Santana - Johan will benefit from not only moving to the lighter hitting NL, but he will also benefit from NL hitter that have never seen his nasty stuff. The explosive Mets lineup should also contribute to Santana's win total. Sleeper - Tim Lincecum (oh come on, who did you think I was going to say?)
NL Manager of the Year - Dusty Baker - Despite the slow start, the Reds should be in contention in the NL Central. Sleeper - Bob Melvin
NL Rookie of the Year - Johnny Cueto - The live-armed righty has already become a household name in fantasy circles, but should flirt with 200 strikes outs. Sleeper - Max Scherzer
NL Playoff Teams
New York Mets - Santana and a more consistent Reyes are enough to put the Mets into the post-season as the NL East champs.
Chicago Cubs - The most complete team in the NL Central.
Arizona Diamondbacks - Two dominant pitchers and a young core that has matured quickly make the Dbacks looks like the best in the west.
Philadelphia Phillies - Just too much offensive firepower to be denied, 30+ games against the Marlins and Nats won't hurt either.
So, without further ado (haha), our top ten picks for the 2008 NFL draft.
#1 Miami Dolphins - Jake Long, OT, Michigan. The Dolphins made this one easy for us, signing Long days before they actually went onto the clock. I think this is the right move; when you've got a team with a lot of holes, you either trade down for more picks (which is more difficult than we often give it credit for) or draft the best lineman available. Long is that lineman in this draft, and he should be an asset for Miami for years to come.
#2 St. Louis Rams - Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State. How funny would it be if players from Michigan and Ohio State went back to back as the first and second picks? Well, I guess not that funny really, but I'm sure there'd be some comments about Michigan finally beating Ohio State at something. Gholston is considered by many to be the best bet for becoming a future superstar in the entire draft, and with as poor as the Rams' pass rush was last year, he makes good sense for St. Louis.
#3 Atlanta Falcons - Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College. The consensus number one quarterback in the draft is Ryan, and I project him to go third to the Falcons. While I don't think Ryan is really the best player available at this point (or even the best fit for the Falcons), I think it's important for the Falcons to take a quarterback high in this draft to distance themselves mentally from the Michael Vick era. Ryan can be a solid quarterback, not a special quarterback, but he can give the Atlanta fans a new face to represent their franchise.
#4 Oakland Raiders - Glenn Dorsey, DT, Louisiana State. It'd be something a coup for Dorsey to fall this far in the draft, as he's widely considered the only legitimate #1 overall pick, with regards to talent. But if he does, you can be sure that the Raiders will stop the dropping right there. Dorsey would be a perfect heir to their retiring franchise defensive tackle, Warren Sapp, and he'd be able to step in immediately and have a positive impact on that defensive front. Oakland has got lots of problems, and nobody they draft here could turn them into a playoff team, but Dorsey puts them on the right path.
#5 Kansas City Chiefs - Chris Long, DE, Virginia. The other Long in this draft is the son of former Raider great Howie Long, and while it might take a couple of preseason games for Chiefs fans to warm up to him, his talent will go a long way towards forgetting that fact. Chris Long isn't necessarily a transcendent talent, but he's got great character and seems to be a smart player. He dominated at Virginia, and while he probably won't reach a Michael Strahan or Charles Haley level, most players don't. Long can be a valuable producer and a starter in this league for 12-15 years.
#6 New York Jets - Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas. Let me start by saying this: McFadden is not Adrian Peterson. Peterson dominated every caliber of competition he faced in college; McFadden seemed to have trouble with the better defenses in the SEC. That being said, Larry Johnson had trouble with the better defenses in the Big Ten, and he's turned out pretty well. McFadden would give the Jets three legitimate starting caliber running backs along with Thomas Jones and Leon Washington. A two-headed monster of Washington and McFadden for the next three years sounds very appealing to me.
#7 New England Patriots - Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy. The Patriots haven't had a pick this high in the draft for a while, which I think explains why they've tended to not "go after" top tier talent at cornerback. But this is an opportunity that New England won't squander, and they'll take advantage and grab the top defensive back in the draft. Their position of greatest need is probably linebacker, but at this point the best linebacker looks more likely to fall into the 15-20 pick range, and one thing you can count on the Patriots avoiding is wasting the value of this high pick. McKelvin gives them another option to replace Pro-Bowler Asante Samuel.
#8 Baltimore Ravens - Branden Albert, OG, Virginia. There's talk of Albert jumping up the draft board and going as high as fifth to the Chiefs, but this seems to be a more likely value spot. The Ravens would like to see Matt Ryan fall to this point, but if he's not available, you can never have too many offensive linemen. Albert gives them depth, and could give whatever new quarterback ends up starting in Baltimore an extra second or two to deliver the ball to their solid receiving corps. With Steve McNair retired and Kyle Boller having lost his favor with Ravens fans, quarterback is absolutely a position they'll need to address. But Baltimore historically has been too smart with their picks to reach for Brian Brohm or Joe Flacco, who both figure to be second round picks.
#9 Cincinnati Bengals - Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida. The Bengals' draft plans would change mightily if they acquire another first round pick by trading Chad Johnson before the draft, but assuming no trades take place, I see the Bengals going after Harvey here. While he's been playing defensive end, he's got the speed to switch to linebacker, giving Cincinnati the opportunity to evaluate him as a general talent and find a way to get him on the field at different positions for crucial plays. Sedrick Ellis is another player the Bengals are rumored to like, and I really have no reason to say why Ellis or Harvey is a better fit than the other. Basically just flipping a coin.
#10 New Orleans Saints - Sedrick Ellis, DT, Southern California. The trouble with creating mock drafts is that someone always slips through the cracks and falls way later than you'd expect them to go. Ellis is one of those players, a guy that a lot of different teams like enough to take, but who seem to have more evident holes to fill. Ellis could go as high as fourth to the Raiders, but I don't think it's unreasonable to suggest that he could also fall to this pick, though certainly not beyond. There's been talk of the Saints trading up to acquire Ellis, so if he falls into their laps, I'd be shocked if they didn't take him. He's a great pass and run defender who has played in big games at USC. Against Jake Delhomme, Jeff Garcia, and whoever the Falcons run out there at QB, he could be a real disruption and a fantastic piece to help the Saints get back into the playoff picture.
Now, if you want to talk about accuracy, remember that last year each of us Joe's got three picks correct out of our first ten. So when you think about bashing us after we miss half the picks, just remember that the bar was set relatively low. And then feel free to bash us, either in the comments here on the blog (you can comment anonymously if you so choose) or via e-mail at email@example.com.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
NL Cy Young - Johan Santana: I've felt he was the best pitcher in baseball despite being in the burlier American League, so his move to the senior circuit should only be beneficial. Realistically though, you're looking at a great Cy Young race in the NL between Santana, Jake Peavy, Brandon Webb, and Cole Hamels. Sleeper - Yovani Gallardo
NL Manager of the Year - Joe Torre: I don't think the Dodgers will be among the best teams in the league, but they'll be in the playoff hunt right up until the last week of the season. As I don't expect a surprise team to improve dramatically, and I don't see any of these teams going crazy and winning 100+ games, Torre will be one of the more heart-warming stories in the manager realm. How he handles the logjam in the outfield will prominently affect his potential for this award. Sleeper - Manny Acta
NL Rookie of the Year - Kosuke Fukudome: Whether or not players who have played professionally overseas should be eligible for the Rookie of the Year award is a debate for another time. The fact is, he's a disciplined bat who will be a vital cog for what figures to be a playoff team. His year-end numbers will justify a ROY award. Sleeper - Jay Bruce
NL Playoff Teams
New York Mets - Too much talent to fall apart like last year. Adding Santana gives them a legitimately scary rotation.
Chicago Cubs - I teeter between the Cubs and Brewers, but I believe the Cubs' starting pitchers and defense to be the difference.
Arizona Diamondbacks - The most exciting part of the D'Backs is that they can still get a lot better. Their young talent has room to improve, which could culminate in a 110 win season down the road.
Philadelphia Phillies - They're a pretty typical good team, and come playoff time they could surprise some people. As it is, though, they're looking like a wild card team.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
But in the meantime, I've been looking for other MMORTS-style games to quench my thirst. I play the occasional game of WarCraft III online, but it's not really what I'm looking for. I want more of a broad scope interactive game that includes diplomacy, economics, city management, and a civilian aspect of the game. Beyond Protocol may not even be that game, as I haven't seen much as far as the civilian side of things. So I've been looking around.
I did some browsing on Wikipedia and stumbled upon Ikariam. I've created an account (on Lambda world, if anyone else wants to join up), and I'm sort of testing the waters. It's a free system, though there is some kind of enhanced experience that you can get by buying "ambrosia" (using real money) and spending that. I haven't investigated that aspect too much, since for the time being I'm really just looking for a time-killer.
In that vein, one of the most appealing aspects of Ikariam is that it's a browser-based game. This means that, if I like, I can check in on it while I'm at work without having to install a big program or anything. I like the idea of checking in, giving new orders, and then getting back to the business of the day....which for me would probably be looking for more of those kinds of games.
Anyways, I've gotten to play it a little bit, and it seems very Civilization-esque. It's got a few different levels of management, from inside your city to the island that you share with a number of other cities, to the whole world (again, Lambda for me). You allocate resources to different tasks (military, research, resource management, etc.), and try to build your city so that it's strong enough to defend itself from eventual attackers while having the capacity to expand to new territories. Again, I'm very early in the game, and don't know exactly how combat or expansion works, but I know they're in the game somehow, and I'm looking forward to finding out.
All in all, it seems encouraging. I'm not going to declare right now that it's my kind of game, but it's certainly got the tools to be something I'm happy to throw some time into. If you decide to join up, let me know so I can track your town's progress and direct you towards my own.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
But really, what you should do is grab a couple friends, get outside, and play catch. You can watch a ballgame when the temperature climbs up to 85 or 90, but it gets uncomfortable to play catch at around 80. You've got to take advantage of these temperate days while we have them, because you know damn well that come July, we're looking at 90+ every single day.
Unless you don't like baseball. In which case, do whatever you want, we're obviously not friends anyways. I have no friends that don't like baseball.
Friday, April 18, 2008
A great middle reliever can lower your team's ERA and WHIP. Last year Marmol had an ERA of 1.43 over 69.1 innings. That is about a third of what a very solid starting pitcher will have. These innings will have an effect on your bottom line. It is sometimes difficult to imagine a middle reliever having significant value over the course of the season but there will be times when after a night of baseball one of your starting pitchers will have had a less than stellar game and a solid two innings in relief can help bring all of your final numbers for the night back to respectability.
Additionally Marmol had 96 strikeouts last season or 8 less than Chien-Ming Wang (in 130 less innings). A hard throwing reliever can help to balance out a crafty starter. These solid arms will get brought into close games late leading to more wins than the typical reliever and are the first in line for save opportunity if something were to happen to the closer. The closer situation is typically good to look at when valuing middle relievers. Kerry Wood's injury history makes Marmol a bit more valuable than if he were setting up Nathan. That being said, value picks are what win fantasy leagues. So while I think Marmol is very good pitcher, top- and middle-tier closers should go first. Marmol's value comes from being a contributor on your team that got taken late in a draft and offers mid-draft value.
Inconsistency is an issue with all relievers and pitching in general. Linebrink strung together three very good seasons but has been somewhat mediocre in recent years. Brad Lidge went from being a dominant force to not being able to hold off Dan Wheeler for the closer's job in just a couple of years. Spending a high draft pick on a player that could be relegated to mop-up duty after a bad month is a risky proposition.
My team includes the likes of the suddenly questionable Francisco Rodriguez, the always injury-prone Huston Street, and the incredibly hittable Jose Valverde. So, I'm glad I took Marmol in the 12th round of my draft, as he has already racked up 17 strikeouts in 12.1 innings. But could this end up blowing up in my face?
No, it can't. Did you even read the post?
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Kobe Bryant was absolutely one of the best players in basketball this year. Despite constant offseason bitterness and demands to be traded off the Lakers, Bryant came to play from day one. He averaged 28 points per game, and played in every single one despite injuring his shooting hand. His performance somehow didn't slip, and he led the Lakers to the #1 seed in the extraordinary Western Conference this season. He's not known as being a terribly mature player or teammate, and he does have that tiny little incident in Colorado from a couple years ago, but on the court, he's among the best of our time. He's as close to Michael Jordan as we've got right now.
The biggest offseason move was the trade of Kevin Garnett from the Timberwolves, where he had spent his entire career, to the Celtics, who traded almost the equivalent of a full roster in acquiring Ray Allen and Garnett. The results were a sight for sore eyes for Celtics fans (at least those ones who aren't baseball or football fans). Boston won 66 games this year, a full seven games ahead of the Pistons for the #1 seedd in the Eastern Conference. Garnett's points, rebounds, and assists were actually down from his career averages, but he was more efficient than ever, posting a career high shooting percentage and cutting almost a whole turnover per game off of his stat sheet. The reality of Garnett is that he started to play more like a true point forward, starting the offense, but not being relied upon to make every play. The Celtics would have been better just by adding Ray Allen, but most anybody in basketball will tell you that Garnett is the reason the Celtics are primed for their first NBA finals in a generation.
Ho hum. LeBron quietly averaged 30 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists per game this season. You wouldn't think that'd be possible, but because of the resurgence of the classic Lakers Celtics rivalry, the 45-37 Cavaliers and their superstar have gone somewhat unappreciated. LeBron took yet another step towards becoming a legend in the sport, increasing his assists, steals, blocks, and rebounds. His free throw percentage is still not what it should be for a player of his caliber, but that will improve as he becomes more committed to good form and follow-through. He had 7 triple-doubles this year, and in only 5 of his 74 starts did he post fewer than 20 points, showing a consistency he lacked in previous seasons. This could be especially valuable in the playoffs, as the Cavaliers are a team that really can't afford for their best player to have an off night. They live and die with James, and at least for the first round against my woeful Wizards, they figure to survive. LeBron has got a killer instinct that seems to be matched only by Kobe Bryant.
The fire for Chris Paul seems to have died out a little bit, though the Hornets still won by far the toughest division in the NBA, the Southeast, which features four 50-win teams. Paul increased his scoring, assists, and field goal percentage for the second straight year, and was the first guy in a while who wasn't Steve Nash to lead the NBA in assists per game. The Hornets were a real shocker as far as their performance this year, and all of the credit for that has got to go to Paul, who made every clutch play when his team needed it. It's nice when your best player is a young point guard, and the Hornets can be excited about their prospects with Paul at the helm for years to come.
So who's your MVP? Don't make me laugh. Kobe Bryant has got to win this award in a landslide. The two main factors for an MVP award are individual performance and team performance. Garnett's team was exceptional, but his numbers were only very good. LeBron had absurd numbers, but his team was only 8 games over .500. Chris Paul shined along with his team, but he clocks in a tick below Bryant in each of those departments. Ladies and gentlemen, your MVP, Kobe Bryant.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
There are actually two entities called Flight of the Conchords: the band and the show, starring the band. I like the band, but I'm more impressed with the show. Granted, each episode has at least two songs written by the band, and they're not always perfectly integrated, but their main goal is comedic, and the show has more LPMs (laughs per minute) than any of their songs.
The trouble, of course, is that retelling the jokes in written form is a complete waste. You'll have to get out there and look for yourselves. YouTube has got a lot of clips from the show, but some of them are out of context and may not be as humorous as they could be. In fact, to really show you what the show is all about, it's probably better to tell you to look up the music videos from the show on YouTube. Some of them don't really fit into the storylines, or give you a good idea of what the show is all about, but I've got a few that are particularly funny, and also give you a good sense of the show's sense of humor. I'll link them to their respective videos when I get home; I'm at work right now and YouTube is among the very few restricted websites.
online, it's a small investment that you can expect to return a lot of laughs. If you enjoy the videos, you'll love the show. Think of the Office, except with characters who are more quirky and less insane.
Monday, April 14, 2008
145. Mercer AutoWreckers - Jeremy Guthrie, SP, Orioles
146. Vandelay Industries - Chase Headley, 3B, Padres
147. Dunedain Rangers - Jake Westbrook, SP, Indians
148. Those Guys - Raul Ibanez, OF, Mariners
149. Howard's Heroes (from The Usual Suspects) - Boof Bonser, SP, Twins
150. Howard's Heroes - Ryan Theriot, 2B, Cubs
151. Cleveland Enforcers - Joel Zumaya, RP, Tigers
152. DamKnights - Carlos Gomez, OF, Twins
153. Feisty Mosquitos - Jose Guillen, OF, Royals
154. Akron Pronks - Kevin Youkilis, 1B, Red Sox
155. Stewies SexyParties - Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Rockies
156. Vandelay Industries (from Riders of Rohan) - Ryan Spilborghs, OF, Rockies
157. Akron Pronks (from Mercer AutoWreckers) - Scott Baker, SP, Twins
158. Vandelay Industries - Gio Gonzalez, SP, Athletics
159. Dunedain Rangers - Willy Mo Pena, Nationals
160. Those Guys - Brian Fuentes, RP, Rockies
161. Howard's Heroes (from The Usual Suspects) - Luke Scott, OF, Orioles
162. Howard's Heroes - Andrew Miller, SP, Marlins
163. Howard's Heroes (from Cleveland Enforcers) - Joe Crede, 3B, White Sox
164. DamKnights - Henry Owens, RP, Marlins
165. Feisty Mosquitos - Scot Shields, RP, Angels
166. Akron Pronks - Bill Hall, OF, Brewers
167. Stewies SexyParties - Bartolo Colon, SP, Red Sox
168. Vandelay Industries (from Riders of Rohan via The Usual Suspects) - David Price, SP, Rays
Best Pick(s) - I'll take this opportunity to highlight the solid job Howard's Heroes did in acquiring solid talent despite trading a lot of earlier picks. Ryan Theriot, Luke Scott, and Joe Crede all figure to be solid producers, with Theriot a speed merchant, and Scott and Crede having decent power potential. Andrew Miller and Boof Bonser are both high caliber pitching prospects, so with five picks in the last two rounds, the Heroes were able to find a lot of valuable pieces.
Worst Pick(s) - Jake Westbrook seems to have reached his ceiling, and it's not impressive. Joel Zumaya seems to be the heir apparent to Jeff Kent in finding weird ways to get himself hurt, and wouldn't you know it, he started the season on the DL. But really, in the last two rounds, half of these guys are going to be on waivers before the season anyways, so the "bad" picks here are merely guys ready to be dropped for whoever starts hot.
Riders' Pick(s) - No picks.
Overall Analysis - I enjoyed this draft, but I think I prefer to have more of a standard draft, rather than shifting all around the board. With my picks bunched together, I couldn't really do any "best available" picks; I had to grab what I needed because I wasn't going to be picking for a couple rounds. A lot of the guys taken in the last two rounds were very intriguing, but because of my situation, I wasn't really in a position to pick a guy like David Price, Carlos Gomez, or Bartolo Colon. It'll be very interesting to see in the middle of the season how that has affected the standings.
That's the last of the draft analysis, so I'll start getting back to regular professional sports commentary. But don't worry; there'll be plenty of fantasy discussion mixed in.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
121. Mercer AutoWreckers - Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Red Sox
122. Vandelay Industries - Bob Howry, RP, Cubs
123. Dunedain Rangers - Melky Cabrera, OF, Yankees
124. Those Guys - Kazuo Matsui, 2B, Astros
125. Riders of Rohan (from The Usual Suspects) - Jeff Kent, 2B, Dodgers
126. Howard's Heroes - Aaron Rowand, OF, Giants
127. Cleveland Enforcers - Mark Beuhrle, SP, White Sox
128. DamKnights - Kevin Slowey, SP, Twins
129. Feisty Mosquitos - Ian Kennedy, SP, Yankees
130. Akron Pronks - Hideki Okajima, RP, Red Sox
131. Stewies SexyParties - Ryan Garko, 1B, Indians
132. Riders of Rohan - Jason Schmidt, SP, Dodgers
133. Mercer AutoWreckers - Bronson Arroyo, SP, Reds
134. Vandelay Industries - Andy Pettitte, SP, Yankees
135. Dunedain Rangers - Felix Pie, OF, Cubs
136. Those Guys - Colby Rasmus, OF, Cardinals
137. The Usual Suspects - Jay Bruce, OF, Reds
138. The Usual Suspects (from Howard's Heroes) - Pat Neshek, RP, Twins
139. Cleveland Enforcers - Stephen Drew, SS, Diamondbacks
140. DamKnights - Conor Jackson, 1B, Diamondbacks
141. Feisty Mosquitos - Nick Johnson, 1B, Nationals
142. Akron Pronks - Curt Schilling, SP, Red Sox
143. Stewies SexyParties - Cameron Maybin, OF, Marlins
144. Vandelay Industries (from Riders of Rohan) - Matt Garza, SP, Rays
Best Pick(s) - Stephen Drew is still considered a can't-miss prospect, so getting him this late seems like a worthy acquisition. Jeff Kent and Aaron Rowand could be very solid producers, and the kind of guys that competitive owners should target at low cost in keeper leagues.
Worst Pick(s) - Even at the time of the draft, Schmidt and Schilling were expected to miss substantial time. While it's late enough in the draft that the risk is minimal, it's still a pick used on a guy who simply can't be a big producer.
Riders' Pick(s) - As you might've guessed, I really liked my Kent pick, and wasn't as keen on my Schmidt acquisition. But it did complete the unholy trinity of injured pitchers (Prior, Carpenter, Schmidt), so I've at least got that going for me.
Overall Analysis - As I said about the last two rounds, most of the guys here are being taken where they ought to be taken. Role players, sleepers, and youngsters highlight these later rounds, and those that work out tend to be integral parts of the teams in the top half of the standings.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
The NFL passed a few new rules into law this week, most of which seem like a good idea:
- Field goals are now reviewable, which seems like the kind of thing that should have always been reviewable, so I'm in favor of that.
- Teams can elect to "defer" the coin toss to the opposing team, rather than choosing to receive or kick off. That's fine, though I really don't care, and I imagine most coaches don't care either. Possession seems much more important than direction.
- The 5-yard variety of facemask penalties was eliminated. My hope with this rule change is that, while the total number of facemask penalties will go down, the number of 15-yard facemask penalties will go up. Any level of twisting or pulling should now be a 15-yard personal foul. This rule change seems to be closer to the spirit of football, where sometimes you're going to get your hand on somebody's facemask.
- Defensive players can now also wear radio helmets, just like the offense has with the quarterback. Though I didn't see any specifics, I assume they mean just one player on defense. This seems like a direct response to the Patriots' spying scandal, and a way to even the playing field a little bit. I'm in favor.
But there's one rule that, at least at first glance, seems like a bad idea:
- The concept of a "force out" on the sidelines was eliminated with regards to pass completions. I could maybe see this being a good idea if you go with the "one foot in bounds" rule that college uses, but all signs point to it still being a two feet league. That means that defensive backs are all going to be trying to force receivers out of bounds, and we're going to get a lot less passes near the sidelines. In case you can't put two and two together, this means that late game drives are going to be a lot more difficult, which is a shame, because late game drives are really the most entertaining part of football. I'll need more concrete information on this rule to know for sure, but at first glance, it doesn't look good.
I do like that the NFL, as a league that relies heavily on its rules to define the game, is willing to make changes from year to year in the hopes of creating a better package, a safer and fairer sport. Kudos on the effort, just make sure you get that sideline catch rule right.
Thanks for keeping up with Joe & Joe Sports, and we look forward to giving you our often entertaining and occasionally correct analysis very soon!
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