Friday, January 27, 2012

The Last Hip Hip for Jorge

Heading into the 2012 season the New York Yankees will be without one of the franchise's most beloved players, Jorge Posada. This week Jorge Posada announced his retirement from the game of baseball after 17 brilliant seasons behind the plate for the Yankees. In an environment where big markets tend to look to high profile free agents to fit starting positions, Posada was an anomaly of the rarest form. Originally drafted by the New York Yankees in the 24th round of the 1990 MLB amateur draft, this smooth hitting catcher from the dominican republic would become a fixture in the yankee lineup for almost the next 2 decades. Jorge Posada would go on to reward the yankees with 5 all-star game appearances, 5 silver sluggar awards and an incredible 2003 season in which he placed 3rd in the MVP race. Defensively, Posada was clearly an asset behind the plate as seemingly nothing got by him. Posada's career fielding % is a staggering .992.

Jorge Posada was a rare breed. Posada was a durable player that would hit for a nice average (.273 career line), hit for very nice power (8 seasons of 20 or more HR's) and most importantly he GOT ON BASE (career .374 on-base %). At a premium position, the Yankees were a much better ballclub for having Posada behind the dish. Not only did Posada get the job done consistently at the bat but thoughout his career when a clutch hit was needed, Posada delivered time and time again. Fans loved him for this. Yankee fans are some of the most passionate, loyal fans in all of sports. If you play the game right, you will be treated like a king. On the contrary, if you do not play well, believe me, the yankees fans will let you know! It didn't take long for Posada to become a clear fan favorite. Game after game, year after year...a familiar chant of hip hip...jorge would fill the stands at yankee stadium. You'd even hear the chant on the road as the Yanks travel well across america to support their team. Jorge Posada will always be loved by yankee fans and his career is a testament on how to play the game the right way. Jorge's legacy will forever be etched into historic yankee lore and his contributions to 5 world series championship teams will never be forgotten. Hip Hip Jorge, job well done!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Peyton Manning's Future, The Impact of Andrew Luck

January 8th, 2011 The 10-6 Indianpolis Colts host the 11-5 New York Jets.  The defensive struggle goes down to the wire.  With the Colts leading 16-14, Mark Sanchez and Braylon Edwards engineered a late drive to setup Nick Folk for a game winning field goal as time expired.  As Peyton Manning watched helplessly from the sideline, little did he know that this moment would pale in comparision to the events that were to come. 

Offseason 2011, The Indianapolis Colts disclose information that Peyton Manning is dealing with severe neck pain caused by a bulging disk that will require surgery to repair.  Colts owner Jim Irsay provides very little concrete evidence as to how or when the injury occured but speculation is made that it happened very early at some point during the 2010-11 season, possibly even week 1 against the Texans.  It's worth noting that Peyton Manning failed to appear on the teams injury report for every single game played in 2010-11.  For any devote Colts follower this is very surprising as signs of injury were present as soon as week 2 against the Giants as Manning is seen wearing a sleeve over his left elbow, one similar to the one he wore after recovering from a march 2010 neck surgery.  As the season progressed, Manning struggled with his accuracy and saw the team lose 4 out of 5 games from week 9 through week 13.  Following a week 12 blowout loss to the Chargers, a game that saw Manning throw 4 interceptions, Manning admits to CBS sports that he's dealing with a "stinger" injury in his right shoulder.  Week 13's injury report is released and once again, Peyton Manning is not on it.  Did Peyton Manning play all or most of 2010-11 injured?! 

Entering the 2011-12 NFL season, most people including Colts personnel, NFL insiders, and fans never thought they would see an entire year without Peyton Manning.  As the season clipped along, negative progress reports continued to flow through the media and it became apparant that the Colts would be without their unquestioned leader for the whole of the year.  As Indy played quarterback roulette with the likes of Kerry Collins, Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky the loss of Manning proved more severe than most had anticipated.  Over the course of the 16 game season, the colts would win just twice and star players Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie saw their production drop off exponentially.  To say the Colts need Manning in order to succeed is a gross understatement.  Manning is the engine that runs the Indianapolis Colts locomotive.  The fall out from the disaster of 2011-12 saw Owner Jim Irsay give out pink slips to vice chairman Bill Polian, general manager Chris Polian and head coach Jim Caldwell. 

"The night is darkest just before dawn." - (The Dark Knight)

With the first pick of the 2012 NFL Draft the Indianpolis Colts select Andrew Luck, quarterback, Stanford.  Born in 1989, Andrew Luck is widely considered to be the finest NFL Quarterback prospect to come out of the college ranks in quite some time.  In 2011, Luck won both the Maxwell Award as well as the Walter Camp Award as college football's player of the year.  Luck was also runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in both his Sophomore and Junior years.  The 6'3" 210 pound gunslinger from Houston, Texas threw for over 9,400 yards with a 67% average completion percentage, connecting on 82 touchdowns to only 22 interceptions in his 3 years at Stanford.  He finished college with a combined quarterback rating of 162.8.  Luck shattered pretty much every significant record at Stanford as well as the entire Pac-12 conference.  In both 2010 and 2011 Andrew Luck was a finalist for the Manning Award given to the nations top college quarterback.  Ironically, this brings us full circle to this offseason's most intriguing debate. 

At quarterback, who is manning the colts?!

The case for Andrew Luck.

The Colts have already stated their intention of drafting Andrew Luck with the first pick in the upcoming draft but will he be the colts starter from day 1?  A quarterback with this much talent needs to play.  As noted earlier, Luck has shredded college defenses with ease and by all indications is ready to step in and start in the NFL right now.  Upon seeing him play in the Fiesta Bowl on January 3rd, Luck passed the eye test with ease.  Luck completed a mind-boggling 27/31 pass attempts, throwing for 347 yards in a highly contested overtime loss.  Luck is young, polished and hungry.  Drafting Luck only to bench him behind Manning would be blocking a young star from proving his mettle.  With the success of Cam Newton this past year, it's apparant that this quarterback, who is viewed much more favorably to Newton, is primed to lead the Colts and never look back.  Back in 1998 when the Colts selected Peyton Manning 1st overall out of Tennessee, did he sit out a year? Absolutely not.  Manning stepped right in and threw for 3700 yards and by all indications Andrew Luck should be given the opportunity to do the same. 

The case for Peyton Manning.

The future of Peyton Manning begins and ends with the health of his surgically repaired neck.  Should Manning continue his road to recovery and be ready to play next season, the Colts would have to decide his future with the team.  This past season served to show just how valuable Peyton Manning is to the colts.  Manning runs the team.  From play calls, throws, audibles, and overall leadership Peyton Manning takes a mediocre core of players and turns them into an perrenial playoff team with a legitimate shot at a super bowl.  One thing Manning has that Luck simply does not is experience.  Manning's knowledge of the game puts him at a whole new level when he's under center.  The ability to read defenses, blitz packages, disguised blitz packages, to take all this information and adjust on the fly makes Manning a lethal signal caller that is directly related to the success of the Colts on gameday.  Should Manning prove healthy, he is the best option for the Colts to win right now.  As a four-time league MVP, a healthy Peyton Manning is a statistical juggarnaut capable of winning a super bowl each and every season. 

Can Manning and Luck co-exist?  The easy answer to this is yes, in the short term.  Perhaps a better question to be asked is should Manning and Luck co-exist?  As far as the Colts are concerned, drafting Luck is a commitment to Luck so having both would not be in the best interest of the team should a suitor for Peyton Manning surface via trade.  If Manning's progress looks legitimate, would you consider trading the top pick, presumably Andrew Luck, and cash in on the incredible value he would return via a draft day trade?  If a team were to offer 3 or 4 first-round picks for right to draft Luck, the Colts could potentially solidify their team for the next decade.  The same would hold true if a desperate team like the Jets or the Redskins decide to move all-in to acquire Peyton Manning.  One thing is certain, having both QB's on the roster in 2012 would prevent either senario from being realized. 

Regardless of what happens this offseason, Peyton Manning has had and will continue to have a brilliant career.  I think there's some good football left for Peyton Manning.  By Brett Favre terms, Manning is still a rookie!  I'd like to always think of Manning as a member of the Indianpolis Colts but if he were to switch teams, there'd be no shame in doing so as some of the games very best players have done such and achieved at a very high level.   The Colts have an incredible opportunity to press the reset button 14 years after drafting what many believe to be the ....Greatest Of All Time....

Monday, January 9, 2012

Kris Humphries: NBA's Public Enemy #1

At Power Forward, 6'9" from the university of who gives a crap Kris Humphries!! Booooo!! Jerkface!! Booooo!! You royal bag of douche!! Booooo!! Kim for president!! Booooo!! Booooo!! Booooo!! The home crowd is incredibly fired up and the game hasn't even started yet. In just 1 short year, Kris Humphries went from relative obscurity to the most hated man in the NBA. After a much anticipated, publicized wedding to reality sweetheart Kim Kardashian and subsequent nasty divorce, LeBron James breathed a much needed sign of relief. No longer was the devil of south beach the object of the nations scorn, oh no, instead Kris Humphries has taken on the entire burden. So what is it about this doofus that gets people so upset?

This is just a wild guess here but I think Kris Humphries is certifiably retarded. I mean who marries someone on national television then turns around and acts like a jackass on.....wait for it....national television? Kris Humphries. Apparantly the viewing public believes Kim Kardashian when she references the word Jerk or Mean associated with Humphries. So why not hate him, what do we care? Truth is we should probably give the guy a break, we don't know what happened behind the....wait what? IT WAS ON TV!?!?! Ohhhhh!! Hate away my friends, hate away! Kim Kardashian is a NATIONAL TREASURE I mean she has so many great talents, she can...err...she's just so pretty! There's simply one thing you can't do these days and that's mess with a pretty girl, everyone knows that!

So if you plan on seeing the New Jersey Nets play this year, dust off your pitchforks and clean out your throat cuz Kris Humphries is waiting for you. Perhaps you'd like to bring a nice cutout of Kim Kardashian to the game to remind Kris of all that he's lost. In fact, the Nets are planning a Kim Kardashian night in which the first 20,049 fans to pack the Izod Arena in East Rutherford New Jersey (sounds good huh?) will recieve a Kim Kardashian Bobblehead and a sack of batteries to throw at Kris! Oh yes, it's gonna be one hot night of mayhem. So Kris as you prepare to play basketball the rest of this year I suggest you eat worms before each game because nobody likes you, everybody hate you! Kim for president. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Fantasy Basketball: Must Adds

This year, being only a week old, has already seen it's fair share of injuries.  Stars Manu Ginobli, Zach Randolph are (for all intents and purposes) done for the year and players such as Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, Andrew Bogut, Eric Gordon, Nene, Deron Williams, Stephen Curry, and Devin Harris have all been dealing with various injuries so far this year.  If you're in deeper leagues trying to fill your roster with a nice group of productive players here is a list of true sleepers that should be added ASAP before someone snags them and reaps the rewards:

Iman Shumpert - Knicks -- Back from his own injury, Shumpert was solid in his return scoring 18 points wednesday night while playing a solid 30 minutes off the bench.  He should continue to produce solid stats as the Knicks love his all-around game. 

Gary Neal - Spurs -- A surprise start tonight against the world champion Mavs, Neal came out of the gate blazing hot scoring 9 points in the first 5 minutes of quarter 1.  With Ginobli sidelined Neal could continue to start for the forseeable future. 

Norris Cole - Heat -- Started tonight for the Heat with both LeBron and Wade looking on.  Cole, a flashy point guard from cleveland state has shown a keen ability to get to the bucket and finish in dramatic fashion.  Whether starting or coming off the bench his stats should remain very strong as the season continues. 

Marshon Brooks - Nets -- Brooks has earned a starting role while Deron Williams has been out due to an injury but his play will earn him increased play once Williams returns.  Brooks is a pure scorer with great court vision who can really handle the rock.  Going forward, start brooks with confidence. 

Jonas Jerebko - Pistons -- Rookie Jerebko is looking like a pure diamond in the rough and appears to have a stranglehold on the pistons starting small forward spot.  At 6'10" there's nothing small about this swedish import and his stats have followed suit.  Consider Jerekbo a solid add as well as a high priority trade target. 

Ryan Anderson - Magic -- Anderson is truly making the most of the oppotunity he's recieved since Orlando parted ways with Brandon Bass.  With Glen "big baby" Davis struggling, Anderson has thrived posting near superstar numbers through the first week.  It's likely he's been picked up already but I bet if you offered an established star like Corey Maggette you can snag him in a trade that should pay off in a big way. 

Good luck in the shortened season and GO BULLS! All the way! If you have any adds of your own that you'd like to share please throw me a line or put them in the comment box below.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Tim Tebow Effect: Faith and Football

Tim Tebow believes in God and is unapologetic about it.  As this season comes to a close, Tebow has seen both success and failure on the football field.  Many critics continue to be baffled as to why Tebow has been successful at all and here is my take on why Tim Tebow can and will win football games in the NFL and how his strong faith helps him on the football field. 

Recently, Terrell Suggs made a comment on ESPN first take mocking Tim Tebow suggesting that God had a divine say into how the Broncos fared this season.  It was a shameless low blow on Tim's faith and Suggs should be ashamed for making the comment.  Truth is, Tim Tebow does not believe divine favor plays any role in the Broncos success or failure this season. 

He does, however, depend on his world-view and his faith through every action of his life, including football. In that sense, his faith is helping him to victory. Tim's allows his faith to control the type of player he is on the football field. 

Tim's faith in action:
1) His humility tells him that he must work hard to achieve - he doesn't "deserve" it and he won't choose to live off his talent.  Preparation plays a huge role in the success of a professional athlete.
2) His belief that eternity is more important than earthly things, gives him calmness when the game is on the line (it's just a football game). 
3) His belief that he must live every moment, not for himself first, but for others, makes him a great and respected teammate.  A leader is an example to others and football is a team game.
4) His humility also keeps him from getting involved in smack talk, stupidity, and other things that waste time instead of moving him towards accomplishing what his job is. Focus.

Tim Tebow is what a real Christian looks like and should look like. That's why he's hated. Problem is, he's probably getting a lot of flack for what other "Christians" have done, not himself personally. Many Christians have failed to be what Christ has called them to be, and have made Christianity look fake or for holier than thou. Truly not the case...Jesus came to save those who are willing to admit they are sinners, not those who pretend to have it taken care of. Tim Tebow is a man of faith, depending on Christ - why? Because he knows he's not God and needs God. That's true Christianity. 

Yeah, Christianity has been made to look bad by an Americanized Church populace, but by all indications, Tim Tebow is the real deal.  What would the world look like if being a Christian was the cool and accepted way to live? 

The Broncos aren't winning by divine favor, but Tim Tebow is leading them to success, because those that TRULY follow Christ are servants/leaders that make those around them better through leading by example.  Tim Tebow wins because he believes in himself. His teammates believe in him and he's able to play at a high level when the game is on the line.
I will always like Tim's approach to the game. I don't have to tell you what that is, just watch a game and listen to what he says and you'll know. Tim will constantly face adversity, he faced it warming the bench and he'll face it on the field now that he starts.   Adversity is part of the game, overcoming adversity is what teams do to win. Tim's faith is very important to him and his faith has helped him overcome some downright nasty criticism from all kinds of outlets. Have you heard some of the questions he's had to field? I know for a fact that some players would not be able to handle what he has to deal with every week, so as far as I'm concerned the way he handles himself is just **IMPRESSIVE**. Whether you like or despise his public displays of faith, I think he's flat out earned a high level of respect from everyone, even the teams he beats on the field.  

After a week 14 win against the Bears, Brian Urlacher made a nasty comment about Tebow after the game and Tebow just thanked Urlacher and called him a great player. The ability to let criticism and insults slide off you is just so rare in professional sports. What's also rare is he is constantly respectful of everyone even those making or asking scathing questions/comments. These are the guys I will always respect. Let me be clear, he's not the only high character player in the NFL, not by a long shot, but he may be the most criticized player in the NFL today and he's able to handle it with ease.  As Tebow leads his broncos to square off against the Steelers in the playoffs I wish him nothing but the best.  The NFL needs Tim Tebow and should embrace the effect he makes everytime he steps on to the field.  

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Mixed Messages: Chicago White Sox 2011-12 Offseason

It's been a very bizarre offseason for the Chicago White Sox but one thing is certain, the 2012 version of the Chicago White Sox will look a little different. So here is a recap of the White Sox offseason moves so far:

**Traded Sergio Santos to the Blue Jays for Minor League Prospect Nestor Molina.**

This moves opens up the closers role for Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain or the hard-throwing youngster Addison Reed. Nestor Molina has been flat out NASTY in the minors and if his skillset can translate to the MLB he has an ACE ceiling.

**Signed John Danks to a 5-year $65 million extension.**

Make no mistake about it, Kenny Williams left no stone unturned in his attempt to trade John Danks this offseason but I believe this was just due-diligence on his part to see if a suitable return was realizable. When a suitor did not surface, the White Sox saw more value in retaining the young lefty to be an anchor in the rotation for many years to come. I think it was a great move.

**Traded Carlos Quentin to the Padres for pitching prospects Simon Castro and Pedro Hernandez.**

This is a very interesting trade because on the surface it would appear that the return they recieved may be less than desirable but it's impossible to judge at this point in time. One thing is certain, this trade was a salary dump by the White Sox. Quentin will be replaced by cuban sluggar Dayan Viciedo and the White Sox shouldn't skip a beat. Pitching coach Don Cooper will have a big job turning around a once highly thought of pitching prospect in Simon Castro. I saw castro start in the Futures Games a few years back and he looked phenomenal! In terms of an ML comparison, I would say a young Jose Contreras would be most apt. If Castro can regain his form, this trade will look better than it appears at this time.

**Traded Jason Frasor to the Bluejays for pitching prospects Myles Jaye and Daniel Webb.**

This deal appears to be another minor salary dump by the White Sox. It appeared early on that the White Sox had plans for Frasor in their bullpen as they had exercised his $3.75 million option. Now it appears they were simply looking to deal him and get prospects in return which they successfully achieved. Webb and Jaye will provide depth in the lower levels of the White Sox farm system.

Losses due to free agency: Mark Buehrle and Juan Pierre.

At this point in the offseason I believe the White Sox are sending mixed signals about the direction this club would like to go. Are they in full blown rebuilding mode or are they trying to reestablish a new winning formula?! I believe it's both. When you look at every move they've made so far, suitable replacement MLB players are already on the roster and ready to contribute. Lose Buehrle? Enter Chris Sale/Zach Stewart. Lose Santos? Enter Crain/Thornton/Reed. Lose Quentin? Enter Viciedo. While it's tough to lose familiar faces, it won't take long for new faces to become those familiar faces. It's the circle of baseball life.

Predicting the rest of the offseason. I believe the White Sox will shock the baseball world and sign Cuban super sluggar Yoenis Cespedes to a long term deal. These cost saving moves have freed up a significant amount of money they can use to sign the outfielder. Should they do this, they will continue in their efforts to create the cuban national team on the south side of chicago. An outfield of Cespedes in left, Rios in center and Viciedo in right would be a fearsome trio at the plate should Rios regain his form. If the sox decide to pocket the savings, look for a platoon between Alejandro De Aza and Brent Lillibridge out in right. Gavin Floyd will be a popular trade candidate should they decide to give Zach Stewart a spot in the 2012 rotation. Ultimately, I believe the Sox will retain Floyd and look to deal him at the deadline if necessary. Finally, Matt Thorton could be moved should a suitor surface. At his current role of setup man, his $6+ salary for the next 2 seasons is not considered a value but should Thorton successfully move into a closers roles, he could become one of the biggest bargains in baseball at the position.

It will be interesting to see how the rest of the offseason plays out for a team in transition. Are they rebuilding? Yes.  Do they want to win now? Yes.  Is it possible to do both?  What do you think about the White Sox Offseason so far??

Fantasy Basketball: Life After Manu Ginobli

The San Antonio Spurs were dealt a siginficant blow Monday night when star shooting guard Manu Ginobli suffered a metacarpel fracture to his shooting hand.  Fantasy owners who were enjoying Manu's hot start must now look for options to fill the void left by the injury.  For those in deeper leagues, here are few options  that may be there for the taking on the Waiver Wire. 

James Anderson - Spurs -- Former first round pick will assume Ginoblis starting spot for up to 6 weeks.  Gary Neal is still rehabbing in the D-league so Anderson should be the direct beneficiary of Ginoblis injury.  Anderson's scoring is limited but his ancillary stats may warrant a look. 

Alonzo Gee - Cavs -- Gee is an attractive option simply because he's been averaging 29 minutes of run per game while averaging double digits in scoring.  I would not be surpised if Gee overtook Omri Casspi in the starting lineup in the very near future. 

Damion James -- Nets -- James has not been a statistical juggarnaut so far this year but his play has been enough to earn a starting job for New Jersey.  With increased minutes at small foraward (SG eligible), he may be worth a look off the waiver wire. 

Sundiata Gaines -- Nets -- Another deep sleeper, gaines has been quietly solid so far starting at shooting guard for the Nets.  Gaines has been averaging close to double digits a night but he's chipped in with assists and steals as well.  If he's there and you have space, I'd pick him up. 

Josh Howard -- Jazz -- Remember him? Well he's fantasy revelant again after landing a rotational role with the Utah Jazz.  Always a scoring threat, Howard has played quite well coming off the bench to spell a streaky Gordon Hayward.  His play should warrant more minutes so he's a very solid add.