Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Giants, A's Struggling to Score Runs

I'd like to welcome readers back to the Bay Area Sports Journal. We've been on a very inconsistent and in-frequent posting schedule over the last few weeks due to computer issues, but we're back on track and ready for our regular 2-3 post per week output, so stay tuned.

In the Bay Area sports world right now, most of the focus is on the Giants and A's, and their lack of offense. Both teams have gotten terrific starting pitching throughout the season's first 2 months. The A's have been getting solid performances out of Ben Sheets, Dallas Braden, Trevor Cahill and Co., but they just haven't been scoring enough runs to consistently win ballgames. The A's got a gift last weekend when they got to host the Giants for 3 though, cause they've been even worse off than Oakland at the plate lately. Most of the Giants jargan can be seen over at The Giants Baseball Blog, but there main problem has been not being able to play fundamental baseball and do simple things like move runners over and get runners in from third base with less than 2 outs. The A's are more so having a problem because there lineup just doens't have many guys who drive in runs. Their lack of power and run production has caused them to once again go back to Jack Cust as their main source of power. Since they have very little pop, they need to hit for average, but their lineup is hitting around .250. Everyone knew the A's offense was going to be an issue coming into the year, much like with the Giants, so it shouldn't be a surprise.

With their pitching though, they aren't that far off, especially when they get Brett Anderson back. Anderson, in my mind is the most talented pitcher on that staff right now and one of the AL's brightest young arms. Just like the Giants' GM Brian Sabean has had to do with his young pitching core of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner, A's GM Billy Beane is going to have to figure out whether or not he's going to break up the A's pitching core in order to get some offense into Oakland. They are hoping top prospect Michael Taylor will be up eventually to help out, but he had a horrendus spring, and hasn't been too hot so far this year in the minors.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

49ers Locking Up Their Core

A week after they looked up the central figure of their defense, star linebacker Patrick Willis, the Niners are looking to do the same with arguably their most talented offensive player.

The 49ers and Pro-Bowl linebacker Vernon Davis are apparently discussing a contract extension that would keep him in San Francisco for another 5 seasons after this one, and pay him upwards of $40 million, $25 million of which would be guaranteed. Davis is coming off a breakout season in which he caught 78 passes, 13 of which found paydirt, which earned him his first trip to the Pro-Bowl. A lot of people are a little skeptical of shelling out the big dough to Davis after just one big season, but you can tell if you've watched him throughout his career in San Francisco that he was improving each year and is a good candidate to stay productive throughout the course of that contract. Going forward, the Niners passing attack looks like it will be centered around Davis and Michael Crabtree, and those are two young up and coming players that will be in San Francisco for the next 4-5 years. Crabtree already signed his big deal, as I'm sure most people remember, as it cost him a handful of regular season games in order to get the deal done. I just hope they can hammer this thing out before training camp opens up in July, as I'd hate to see any kind of situation that would have to do with Davis holding out.

The Niners have really been busy this offseason as they feel they're on the verge of becoming a playoff team, and a good offseason this year could vault them onto that level. Their most recent addition was cornerback William James, who the Niners signed to a one year deal on Wednesday. James will likely fill the role that Dre Bly had last year after the Niners let him walk earlier in the offseason. The Niners haven't really signed any big-time starting players who will come in and impact the team single-handily, although Ted Ginn could come in and play heavily into the passing game, but they are adding small pieces here and there that are filling holes. I never got much of a chance to talk about Ted Ginn Jr. as he was added while we were really focused on the draft, but he's been the biggest add of the offseason thus far for the Niners, not including draft picks of course. Ginn looked like he was ready to take flight after a solid sophomore year in 2008 in which he caught 56 balls for 780 yards, but then took a step backwards last season. He'll enter the year as the favorite for the slot spot for the Niners, or essentially the 3rd receiver spot behind Crabtree and Josh Morgan, but could overtake Morgan's spot as a starter if he gets it going. Remember, it wasn't too long ago when he was taken at the top of the first round by Miami. At worst, he'll be a big help in the Niners return game where they were subject to using tight-end Delanie Walker there on occasion last year.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Raiders Report

I've been primarily focused on the 49ers and their draft over the last couple of weeks, and I haven't had much of a chance to really look at what's going on with the Raiders. Today, I wanted to take a look at the Raiders draft and give my 2 cents on the JaMarcus Russell situation.

First off, the Raiders draft was one the the better ones that they've put together in recent memory. Instead of drafting on potential, the Raiders actually drafted guys who are polished football players. Their first round pick, Rolando McClain, was picked to go towards the middle of the first round, but the Alabama stud was far and away the best linebacker in the draft. He's big, quick and has tremendous power in the open field. Scouts even compare him to Patrick Willis, and the Raiders are going to hope to get that type of production. No matter what though, he's going to help the Raiders, much more than their first rounders over the last 3 years have, that's for sure. In the second round, the Raiders grabbed Texas defensive tackle, Lamarr Houston, who will have a shot to win a starting spot on the Raiders defensive line in training camp. Houston is another guy who is a powerful inside player who is known for his ability to stop the run. The biggest wild card in the Raider draft though came in the 4th round when they added physical specimen Bruce Campbell. The 6'7", 300 pounder has a lot to learn, but is one of the most athletic big men to play the tackle position ever. If he gets the technique down and can learn to play at the NFL level, he's going to be a stud. He's about as quick as a linebacker and is built like a big offensive tackle.

One position the Raiders didn't address during the draft was the quarterback, but they will have a new QB under center when the 2010 season kicks-off. That will be former Redskin Jason Campbell. Most thought the addition of Campbell signaled the end of JaMarcus Russell's career in Oakland, but there has yet to be any move made with Russell. The Raiders even added another quarterback in addition to Campbell, former Raven and Ram Kyle Boller. It looks as if Russell is now third on the depth chart and at 10+ million dollars per year, he's an expensive third stringer to say the least. There are some that want to give Russell some more time, but I don't see this guy ever figuring it out in Oakland. I think his confidence here is shot, and he's never going to get the full support and trust of the fans. He needs a change of scenery. I'm sure the Raiders are trying to find a situation where they don't need to just release and maybe can get something for him, even if it is just a late round draft pick. Whether he's in the Silver and Black in 2010 or not though, as long as Campbell's around, Russell's never going to be "the man" again in Oakland.