Sunday, February 27, 2011

Around the World of Sports With the BASJ

Well, with tons of things happening all over sports right now, including the start of spring training for the A's and Giants as well as the NBA trade-deadline which returned a familiar face to Golden State in Troy Murphy. So instead of just focusing on one or 2 topics in toady's post, we'll do sort of a state of the sports union address as the sports world transitions from the NFL period to MLB and NBA playoff time.

MLB: Well, being an A's and Giants site, you know what we'll be mentioning here, though to allow more room in the post, we saved our Giants work for The Giants Baseball Blog. So that leaves the A's, who started their Cactus League play Sunday are are right in the midst of getting their backside handed to them by the Anaheim Angels. Until late March, you won't ever see me express concern over losing, or giving up runs, but if I see players who aren't doing their job and aren't properly prepping themselves for the season, then we have a a problem. Not saying that's happening with the A's on Sunday, but they look pretty rough early on.... On a more positive Green and Gold note, A's left-handed ace Brett Anderson threw in an intrasquad game on Saturday and was nearly perfect in his 6 batters faced. He threw only 20 pitches to get the 6 outs and allowed only a few softly hit ground balls..... Good News A's fans, but I want to see him in some games before long before my confidence is sound.

NBA: The Trade deadline has come and gone and although everyone and their grandmother are probably already aware of the Melo-NY deal, but amazingly, there were some other trades that took place in the NBA prior to the deadline that didn't involve the news-hoarding 'Melo. Other than that though there were just two other deals that really garnered national headlines, those being Gerald Wallace's deal to Portland and Deron Williams heading to Jersey for a bunch of draft picks and a poor mans version of himself who can't seem to stay healthy... Deron Williams is a star point-guard, top-5 in the NBA and he'll make a difference for the Nets, but they need more than that... As far as Harris, I guess Coach Sloan thinks his injury days are behind him and he can mold him into a Williams'-type. He's got 1/2 of season to do so for next year and I see similar traits in the two on the court. The 2 first two picks help Utah in the long run, so long as Harris stays healthy, they win this deal. Then again, if Harris is a 40-game-a-year player from here on out, and the draft picks don't pan out, the Jazz win it hands down. They knew the stakes, and they played their cards. Wouldn't have been my play, but they felt they had to mix things up.

NFL: With so much talk about the NFL possible lockout and combine stuff, I wanted to steer clear from that and just point out a few notes involving your very own San Francisco 49ers.

Now, Coach Jim Harbough has gone nowhere near close to saying Alex Smith will start at QB for the 49ers in 2011, but he didn't rule him out as a possible member of their 53-man roster come September. Now that comes to the surprise of just about everybody, and I personally think Harbough said that solely for the purpose to up Smith's value to other teams. Let's face it, Alex Smith has played his last down in the red and gold and there's no way I think the fans would even let him in the stadium if he did come back (even though it was only about 50% his fault for his failure there but that's for another day). So, who does that leave, I think you go two options:
1) Trade for Kevin Kolb or 2) Sign McNabb, otherwise it's second-tiere college guy coming in and takign the reigns and I'd almost rather have Alex Smith.

-Quick Take on Two Potential Targets:

#1 Kevin Kolb Phi.: Obviously butting heads in Philly with Reid and Vick and you know he's not lasting in Philly. He, to me, is next in line with the Aaron Rogers' and the Matt Ryan's, problem is most NFL GM's are privy to that too, so he'll be costly. The type of QB you can build around, though the one knock is that he doesn't have the best arm strength... I personally would take him over all the available throwers the NFL trade-block has to offer this spring/summer.

#2 Donovan McNabb Was.: Like Kolb, has had trouble with coaching and has clearly lost some skill. Still though, he wins, and he knows what to do in pressure situations, an area in which typically ended in a turnover in the Alex Smith-era. Age is not a huge issue (32) but he wouldn't be a long term answer. With him, the run game of Gore and targets like VD and MC, the Niners could be an NFC contender in 2011.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Melo Exits Denver, Welcomed in New York

My favorite part about this site and the reason that I had in mind when I created it, was to be able to branch out and discuss topics outside of just the Bay Area sports teams, and after a blockbuster deal went down in the NBA last night, tonight is one of those exceptions.

The disgruntled all-start small forward finally got his season long wish Monday, as the Denver Nuggets dealt their franchise player and leading scorer to the New York Knicks, and he wasn't the only Nugget to leave town. Not only are they losing their top attention-drawer and centerpiece, but they also had to give up the component that makes their team go in Chauncey Billups. I think just by reading those few sentences, you already know where I stand on this deal. Now, it's not like the Nuggets just gave up Anthony and Billups, they'll be receiving promising young players in their own right, it's just that these guys don't project out to be the caliber of player that Carmelo Anthony does and Chauncey Billups is. Denver will be bringing in Raymond Felton to take over for Chauncey and Wilson Chandler and Danillo Gallinari to fill in for Carmello, and I actually think that particular part of this trade is a win for them. Felton is about 8 years Billups' Jr., and is in the midst of a career year that has him averaging 17 points, 3.5 boards and 9 assists per night. He's not quite gained the leadership experience that Billups has, but if the Nuggets are looking towards 2011-'12 and beyond, this is a guy who could fit nicely into their plans. Chandler and Gallinari are still very raw, but both have upside. They'll never be Carmelo Anthony, but they can play defense and do some different things for you. Without the microscope in NY, I think they'll fair just fine.

Onto the Knicks now, who have drastically improved their chances at making a run in the East this year, but they still have to figure out a way for everyone to mesh. 3/5 of their starting 5 from the last 2 weeks are no longer with the team and that's not just going to be a seamless transition. That's were Billups is so key, and likely the reason why the Knicks were so adamant on him being in involved in this deal. He's your prototypical on-court general and should gain the respect of the younger, more know-it-all generation of Knicks like Wilson Chandler and Landry Fields. But all in all, I think this is a great move for the New York Knicks and should put them back inthe Eastern Conference playoffs for the first time in years (Spike Lee finally get's to appear trash-talking opponents on national TV again!).

This is the way I'd set up the Knicks starting five if I were coach D'Antoni:

PG: Chauncey Billups
SG: Landry Fields
SF: Carmelo Anthony
PF: Amar'e Stoudemire
C: Ronny Turiaf

The question for them aside from their depth in the front court, is their weakness at center. Turiaf is a nice role player, and on a team like the Lakers, make he'd be hidden, but that's the area of concern for NY now and there isn't much time between now and Friday's deadline to do anything. Billups can do it all, including set people up. Fields is an excellent defender and rebounding guard and can score if he has to, but he really doesn't. Carmello and Stoudemire will be the main source of points and rebounds and I think they could do a fine job so long as they stay healthy. There would be some defensive deficiencies, but the offensive firepower would make up for them. If they aren't content on Turiaf at center, they could go out an nab someone like LA's Chris Kaman, Memphis' Marc Gasol or Sacramento's Samuel Dalembert. They don't need a scorer up there, they need a big bodied rebounder who can clear space for Stoudemire and I don't think Turiaf is that guy.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

2011 A's Team Preview

With MLB's Spring Training upon us, the NFL draft just 2 short months away and March madness right around the corner, it's going to be a busy time here at The Bay Area Sports Journal over the next few weeks, so we figured we'd take a look at the 2011 A's as they prepare to start their Cactus League schedule next weekend. Here is their 2011 projected lineup as of 2/21. Now, things can and will likely change, but this is what Bob Geren and Co. will likely be planning for once the real games start.

Starting Lineup:

RF David DeJesus (newcomer from KC should be great add at top of lineup)
CF Cocoa Crisp (A's hope he can stay healthy, great speed and defense in cf)
LF Josh Willingham (new add from Was., finally gets full-time gig)
DH Hideki Matsui (A's banking on him still has some magic left in that bat)
3B Kevin Kouzmanoff (good glove and power, a lot of strikeouts)
1B Daric Barton (improving as a hitter, still needs more pop for a 1b'men)
C Kurt Suzuki (off-year in '10, should return to all-start status)
2B Mark Ellis (solid 2nd basemen, longest tenured in lineup)
SS Cliff Pennington (not bad, not great, good defense, slow bat)

Starting Rotation:

RHP Trevor Cahill (one of best young arms in AL, Cy Young candidate in '11)
LHP Brett Anderson (If healthy, see Cahill)
LHP Gio Gonzalez (rock-solid #3 and getting better, #1-2 on a lot of staffs)
LHP Dallas Braden (not lights out, but a consistent winner)
RHP Rich Harden (If healthy, can be an ace, if not, hello Josh Outman)


RH Andrew Bailey (one of top-5 closers in AL and under 25)
LH Brian Fuentes (could close for 1/2 teams in baseball, deadly vs. lefties)
RH Grant Balfour (like Fuentes, only against righties)
RH Brad Ziegler (has closed and succeeded, can take on any role)
LH Jerry Blevens (un-spectacular, but consistently gets it done)
LH Craig Breslow (very good lefty specialist as evident of his .191 BAA)
RH Michael Wuertz (innings eater but can pitch in tight situations too)
RH Josh Outman (insurance for Harden coming off injury plagued 2010)

These are the most likely set of players to make up the A's 2011 roster, and by the looks of things (and by the looks of their competition), they're going to be in pretty good shape. The thing the A's are going to be banking on most is their health, especially in their rotation. If Anderson and Harden stay healthy with the rest of the bunch, and they can get just enough hitting, they should win the AL West. Now, the Rangers or Angels could go out and make a big move that catapults them ahead of the line, but right now I like Oakland's chances.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A's and Giants Report To Spring Training

Well baseball fans, the wait is nearly over, as most Major League teams have begun Spring Training workouts and spring games are just around the corner.

Like always, for full Giants coverage, check out our exclusive The Giants Baseball Blog, which will be updated daily or every other day, with the Giants spring training beat. So, because we save most of our Giants talk for that site, we'll be focusing on the A's today, and their improving chances in the AL West. The competition in the AL West have all taken big hits this winter, and the Rangers are now on the verge of losing one of their best hitters and team leaders, Michael Young. Meanwhile, the traditionally active LA Angels stayed relatively quiet this winter, and didn't do much to improve their roster over last years bunch. The A's, however, have improved, more than any other team in this division in my opinion. They added some hitting by grabbing Hideki Matsui, Josh Willingham and David DeJesus. They also added to their pitching staff by getting Rich Harden (pictured to left) back and signing Brian Fuentes, the top left-handed reliever on the market. They have really put themselves in position to make a legit run at this division, and right now, I'd consider them the favorites.

Now, they do have some major health questions they need to answer, mainly in their starting rotation. They have a real solid young group of starters, but arguably their best one, lefty Brett Anderson, has had trouble staying on the mound for a full year. The 23 year-old made huge strides in his sophomore year before going down with an arm problem, and the A's are really hoping he's at 100% and ready this spring. He and Trevor Cahill (18 game winner, sub-3.00 era in 2010) could make up the best under-25 duo in the AL. Their question coming in isn't about pitching though, they have plenty of that, especially now with Harden and Fuentes in town. It's about hitting. They didn't hit in 2010 and that's why they didn't make the playoffs. I don't know if Matsui, Willingham and DeJesus will be quite enough to push them over the top, but it's certainly a start, and I think the A's are 1 big bat away from being real contenders, not only for the AL West crown, but quite possibly for AL Pennant.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl In-Game Post

We're decided to do something a little different this year, doing a Super Bowl in-game post here at the Bay Area Sports Journal. Again, you all know I'm rolling with Green Bay, and have been all year. Just cause I think it's Aaron Rogers time. But don't get me wrong, I'm a tad leary of Pittsburgh's defense. If they can get into Rogers' grill, then Pittsburgh takes SB45. There's no way Green Bay can rely on the run, they'll have to have to passing game at least effective in order for their run game to work. On the same account, a lot of people aren't giving them GB the credit their defense deserves. They haven't been around as long as the Steelers' guys, but their young linebacking corps and that secondary can shut anyone down, and it's we all know that intricate defensive schemes do to the Steeler offense. They can be non-existant at times and that's what Green Bay has to expose. I'm not a betting man, but who doesn't do a little Super Bowl betting. For last minute Super Bowl odds or Super Bowl Pics, check out Docs.

And stay tuned for our in-game comments and critiques!
First Half
-Well, I told ya so. The Packers are off to a great start, getting in Roethlisberger's head and picking him off twice already. They're doing exactly what I said they had to do defensively and their offense isn't fased by the Steelers at all.
-That Starks kid is looking alright, but again, it's becuase of Rogers opening up the field through the air.
-Ben with a nice comeback at the end of the half finding Heinz in the back of the endzone. The Steelers certainly looked like a different offense on that drive, so this thing may not be over so quicklly. Pack still in pretty good shape though up 21-10 at BlackEyed Peas concert time.

Friday, February 4, 2011

BASJ'S Super Bowl XLV Prediction

So, like thousands of sports blogs across the nation will be doing this weekend, I'm set to make my prediction for who wins Super Bowl XLV this Sunday.

Now, if you read our last post, you already know where I'm standing. As far as these two teams are concerned, there hasn't been a more evenly matched Super Bowl in recent memory, at least in my opinion. Both of these teams bring similar style, smash-mouth, in-your-face and win-at-all-costs mentality (geese, how many more cliches can I come up with). But you get the point. Both QB's are won't leave this game unless it's on a stretcher. We've seen Aaron Rogers do some miraculous things while dealing with a threatening concussion issue, and even opposing linebackers will tell you they don't love the idea of getting "Big Ben" in the open field, cause he's bigger and stronger than a lot of those defensive players. Bottom line, both these guys are tough and will do all they possibly can to see that their team is hoisting the Lombardi trophy in the middle of Dallas Stadium. However, as I said in the last post, and as I predicted way back in August. Proof is right here in the NFL preview post, and never touched since, as you can tell by some of the other selections.

I'm still sticking with Green Bay, even with a running game that's far from complete and some nagging injuries throughout the roster. As much as I respect the Steelers and their tough way of playing this game, I think their run is coming towards an end. I like Reshard Mendenhall and that young Mike Wallace at wideout, but Hines Ward is slowing and that O-Line and defense are starting to age a bit. I think the Pack are basically a younger version of the Steelers, kinda like the '06 version or something, except they use the aerial attack rather than the bruising rushing game. In order for the Steelers to take this one, they have to eliminate the Packers run game early and get in Aaron Rogers face a lot. Then they have to hope Mendenhall can get going against the Packer stout front-7 and Roethlisberger can get through Chuck Woodson and int. machine Nick Collins... It just seems like too many things need to go right for Pittsburgh, but then again, I've seen Rogers come out and completely crap his pants, so if that happens, the Steelers could feast on him. I'm still sticking with my Pack pick in a good 'ol fashion Texas bruiser, 24-20.

Also, if your looking to do any sort of Super Bowl wagering, including party games, check out Docs for Super Bowl Squares as well as all your Super Bowl Odds.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

49ers Must Find Starting QB; Super Bowl XLV

Well, it's no secret to anyone who's followed the NFL, let lone watched this team play on a week-in-week-out basis, that they've been in need of a legit NFL quarterback since Jeff Garcia took his act out of town. I was never a huge Garcia fan, but the dude won football games here, and he's been the last QB to get it done consistently.

So, in comes Jim Harbough to try and turn this Niner offense into something functional, and first on his list of things to do has to be to find someone who can move around a little bit, make a tough throw when needed, and lead a football team in the 4th quarter when they have the lead. Unfortunately, the only man on their roster who's even managed a 4th quarter drive is 3rd stringer David Carr (no offense to Carr, but he's 3rd for a reason), and since Alex Smith isn't getting another opportunity as starter as a 49er again, it means somebody else will be behind center for the 49ers in 2011, and I think I speak for the majority of the "Faithful" when I say, FINALLY! However, before we can start popping the champagne corks just yet, there's still one huge obstacle to figure out between now and August, and that is who indeed will be at the helm for Coach Harbough. We discussed some of the better college candidates in short a few months back, although with their selection where it is, I don't see them going that route right now. I still like the game Jake Locker and a right-handed Steve Young and Mark Brunell. Still though, he's got his flaws, and I'm not sold on Ryan Mallett (and no way do I use a early round pick on a project like Cameron Newton. If The draft were today though, and the San Fran had a chance to grab Locker without having to give up too much, I may not be able to pass that up.

If they don't go through the draft, which seems most likely, that leaves free agency or the trade route as far as possible QB adds, and the free agent market, as we've discussed here, isn't exactly flooded. As far as it's concerned, Donovan McNabb leads the class, and would really be the only one I'd consider under the right terms. Problem is, there will be about 12 other teams with the same thought in mind which means the 49ers must decide and do it sooner rather than later, and figure if they want to approach a possible bidding war for McNabb. Vince Young should be right behind McNabb too in the un-employment line. He's younger, and in a new setting could take off, but have a hard time seeing a team commit to having him start for them. Then there's Marc Bulger and Seneca Wallace and the list just gets worse and worse.

Super Bowl Media Week Begins: We were going to talk a little more Super Bowl talk in this post but things have been pretty quiet thus far in Cowboy country. We had our first player prediction yelled out as Green Bay' stud CB guaranteed a win, and if you've been reading our blog lately, you know that I agree with him. Ben Roetheisberger is acting like he belongs in the Super Bowl lyme-light as he fits it so well and it's playing out like your typical, icey cold Super Bowl media week. The thing I don't agree with is the consensus going around that Ben Roethesberger is a better QB than Aaron Rogers. Now, this is a post for a whole new day, but as clutch as Ben is, I take Rogers hands down in this game, and unless their running game goes to crap, they should walk away the victors