Saturday, April 30, 2011

2011 NFL Draft Day 3

I'm pretty spent on the draft right now folks, and I'm still battling a hand/wrist injury, so we won't be dong a live post on Day 3 and probably won't get to the Final Draft Review until Monday as I have the weekend off... Bitter sweet draft so far for San Fran with the Could-Go-Either-Way Aldon Smith, then the great value pick in Kaepernick, however the good vibes they had going were soiled by the selection of Culliver.

By the way, with the 3rd round pick, I didn't get to talk about, but the Niners took Clemson CB Cris Culliver and it was a crying shame I tell you. They passed on Johnny Patrick, Brandon Hogan and Josh Thomas. All available and all better cornerbacks than Culliver right now and probably will be in 5 years too. I hate all these "project pics". The best thing he had going for him is that he was a pre-season All-American, but he didn't work out. He wasn't even in the top-120 prospects and wasn't a full-time starter, a late round possibility, and he goes 80th. Culliver in the 5th, perfect, but not in the 3rd!
Culver Selection Grade: C-

4th Round 49ers Pick: 49ers Select RB Kendall Hunter out of Oklahoma State. I must say, I kind of saw this one as a surprise at first, but the more it's sinking in, the more I like it. The 5'8", 200-pounder will give the 49ers an MJD-like threat as he's short, stocky, quick and powerful. This pick kind of reminds me of the Frank Gore pick back in '05, though Hunter would need to add 10-15 pounds to take eventually take on 20-carries per week in the NFL. I liked Dion Lewis, as his talent could have had him go in the 2nd round and suppose I'd have taken him if I had my choice. I just see Brian Westbrook and DeAngelo Williams in that kid, a sure-fire offensive weapon, whether or not he ever becomes a every-down back or not. Could have seen them go with Buffalo's CB Josh Thomas or UNC's LB Quan Sturdivant (despite the "fraud issue", he's a top-50 talent). So as I said, bit surprised, but understand the pick. Now The 49ers don't select again until Round 6 where they have 3 selections.
Hunter Selection Grade: C

Niners move up to the 5th round to take........ G Daniel Kilgore of Appalachian State. Now, I can't rip him, cause I haven't even heard of him. A few players I have heard of and upset the Niners passed on are CB Chykie Brown, a Big Conference corner ready for the NFL, or Cliff Mathews, another Pass Rushing hog who could have been a big help on D, but no, they over-stock the O-line? Cliff Mathews and DeAndre McDondald are my two choices for pick 182 no with Sturigant and Jarrett off the board.
Kilgore Selection Grade: F


Well, turns out I got my choice at Pick 16 in Round 6 in the USC Troajan #1 wideout Ronald Johnson, after all. Now, everyone is forgetting Johnson, a senior, was not Freshman Matt Barkley's first target, that belonged to Damian Williams. Johnson also had 8 TD catches in '08 as a sophomore before getting hurt his junior year. Call this a poor man's Michael Crabtree drafting cause even though he's a 5th rounder, my money says he's top-3 among receivers in yards for the 49ers in 2011. Great, great pick as I told you, I would have taken him in the 4th! Heck, you out him in Stanford in 2010 with Andrew Luck, and your looking at 1,200 yars, 12+ TD's.. I just hope I'm not overselling him. If football people thought he wasn't worry of a top two-round pick, then you do have to wonder if there's anything in his personal life we don't know about!
Johnson Selection Grade: A

Update: And they go with strong safety Colin Jones. Blah... Now, Jones has some positives to be pointed out like his ball-hawk ability, but again, the 49ers went off the chars on value for this pick? Not trying to rub anything in, but the guy doesn't even have a profile on Scout. And they passed on Jeff Lefeged, a John Lynch clone who was rated as high as a 2nd rounder..... With pick, they take another long-shot in linebacker from Central Florida. A 253 ranked plyer by PFL and not much different from the other draft coverage outlets. It's like they hit a home run, then strikeout.... With 2 picks to to, McDaniel still waits, as does Lefeged and Mathews. Value alone, the 49ers should target these players! Jones Selection Grade: C

Final Update: The 2011 NFL Draft has come to a close and the 49ers had a very odd finish to what was such a promising start. After Colin Jones, the Niners took relatively unknown linebacker Bruce Miller from Central Florida, so I won't say anything about him other than the fat that they passed up D-Ends Cliff Matthews and Greg Romeus in order to get Miller, another move I disagree with... With their compensatory picks, they went with yet another project guard in Mike Pearson of Montana St. and DB Chris Holcomb of Florida A&M. It is also worth noting a Safety I really liked as a 5th-7th rounder who went un-drafted were two solid SS's in Florida's Joe Lefeged and Clemson's DeAndre McDowell (both mid-level projections), they will have homes come training camp though, you can count on that. And w0w, I've never had so such an oddly unpredicted draft with some many "Derieus Heyward-Bey" projects going in early rounds. 7th Round Grade: D+

Raiders took a nice back themselves, nabbing the bigger more sturdy back, Taiwan Jones out of Eastern Michagan. Again though, I think the troubled linebacker (Sturdivant) would have been a better value pick. The fact he played for a smaller school is a big reason he dropped cause he's got the whole package, good size, speed and put up gaudy numbers in EM. Dwayne Harris may be the more touted of the two, but the Raiders had their choice and made it. Jones has never faced Level 1 competition either, the one time he did, vs Cal in '09 (4 carries, 2 yards), so the 1700 yard season is nice and all, but we'll see how well that translates on Sundays!
Jones Selection Grade: C

Now they've gone on to grab another wideout in Demarious More, but this one has had some success in Tennessee, not coming off a 300-yard recieving year like Heyward-Bay was
! He's solid yet un-spectacular, but has blazing speed in the open field and is more polished than the the ladder. A true football player and good value pick. I think will develop into a nice #2-3 receiver in time.
DeMarious Moore Selection Grade: B-

Well, I got hte 49ers pick right, but once again, the Raiders take a reclamation project in TE Richard Gordon. They already have a franchise TE in Zach Miller so why they did this is again, an Al Davis head scratcher. There were so many better players available, just check above and check the remaining board!...
Gordon Selection Grade: F

To round things out, the Raiders take a somewhat intriguing pick in uber-athlete in David Ausburry. Now, in 4 years, he never did much in the crowded USC receiving corps, but had some big games and has the tools. I actually like this pick by Oakland, the first one all draft I believe. Now they better swoop up some of those good Un-Drafted FA's in a hurry!

Ausburry Selection Grade:

We'll be back after a week-long vacation (or thereabouts) to do a final analysis of this draft, I certainly am not done talking about it, and it's re-shaped the way each Bay Area football team will approach the offseason (whenever that may be)! Just don't look for any new posts until at least Friday 5/6.

Friday, April 29, 2011

NFL Draft: Day 2- 49ers Take Kaepernick!

Pre-Draft: If I'm the Niners, I think I go with Ryan Mallet. Da'Quan Bowers was supposed to be a top-3 pick, and even if he misses 1/2 or 3/4 of 2011, it'd be like having a #1 DE coming into 2012. I also still like WR Randall Cobb and see him as a perfect fit to Crabtree, the Marvin Harrison to Reggie White... The 49ers pick again at 12 (76 overall) in the 3rd round where QB's Colin Kaepernick and Andy Dalton wouldn't be bad choices if they don't get Mallet at 45. Other options could be speedster back out of Cal Shane Vereen to help out Frank Gore, big Miami tackle Orlando Franklin or UCLA Safety Rahim Moore...

The so called "experts" say the Niners take Kaepernick at pick #45 possibly hoping for another Matt Ryan, un-flashy winning type who learns quick and I could live with that. He's big 6'6"/235, strong-armed, smart and can move like Steve Young. Just didn't play at a prestigous school.... Oh yeah Raiders are at pick 48 and we'll have something to say for them too!

Round 2 Pick Analysis

*Chris Dalton is off the board headed to Cinci, as many suspected. I still like Kaepernick and Mallet better anyway, though I'm in the minority!

**Niners move up to 4th in round 2, could spell Kaepernick!**

It's official.. 49ers Draft Colin Kaepernick with Pick 35 to be QB of Future. I pretty much knew this was coming the moment Dalton went and the Niners feared they could lose out on Kaepernick, the guy I think they had their eye on all along. There are many that feel Kaepernick is more prepared for the NFL than #8 pick Jake Locker, just to show you his reputation. Kaepernick was a 4-year starter at Nevada, which shows he's a natural leader. In those 4 years, he put up an average of 21 TD/6 INT, 2,657 passing yards per, and and a rock solid 142.2 QB rating. That's just consistency. He led Nevada to one of the biggest upsets of 2010 NCAA season over No. 3 Boise State with 260 yards passing, 45 yars rushing and 2 TD's. He also rushed for over 100 yards 5 times in 2010 including 20 rushing TD's ( for a total of 41 TD's on the year in '10). He's 6'6" and can move and has a big arm. Almost reminds me of Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan, and the Niners are hoping that's indeed the case, and not Jason Campbell (he has way quicker release/mobility than Campbell) or Trent Edwards, who lets face it, was never cut out to be a starter from day 1! Regardless, he won't be the starting QB to the start of 2011 (whenever that may be) and will start off behind a veteran (Alex Smith, Matt Hasselebeck?) which now appears to indeed be Jim Harbough and Trent Balk's plan. In that plan, I think Hasselbeck would be the choice guy because of his experience, similarities to Kaepernick and the fact he still can contribute (rough year behind bad Sea. line and no pass targets, but showed up in the playoffs!) Could very well end up being top QB in this 2011 draft 3-5 years down the road. Selection Grade: A-


Raiders Selections: Well, once again, the Silver and Black have left me scratching my head with another draft choice that's about as questionable as they come. The chose versatile Guard Stefen Wisniewski out of Penn State. A nice player who can play each guard position and center seamlessly. That said, Pro Football Weekly had him ranked as the 137 best prospect in the draft and not many others had him much higher. The Raiders are appearing to take the same route here as they did in '09 with Heyward-Bey, taking a leap on athleticism and pure upside rather than taking a more polished football player. There were just a lot better players on the board, period and for them to wait that long for a mid-level O-lineman has to be a disappointment to Raider fans! (And they wonder why they can't sell tickets!) QB Ryan Mallet made perfect since for them. They wouldn't have to invest 1st round money, and could ease him in behind Jason Campbell to start with rather than throwing him to the wolves when not ready like JaMarcus Russel. I thought it was a perfect situation to go value if they didn't like anyone for themselves. DE Da'Quon Bowers (top-5 projection until knee injury), CB Brandon Harris (first-round projection) or my personal first choice based on need and quality when their number was called, Georgia's OLB Justin Houston, who would have been a beautiful fit next to McClain and Kam Wimbley. Now Wisniewski isn't a bad lineman, but I bet the Raiders could have gotten him in the 4th or 5th. Selection Grade: D+

3rd Round: Ahh man, just when I was really starting to get into this 49er draft, they go out and grab and projected 6-7th rounder in cornerback Chris Culliver and I just don't get it. I don't care what kind of "potential" he has, there were 100 players above him that had more talent and as much as I like the Kaepernick pick, this one really takes the high away. A put "Combine" pick and it's sucks cause there were better players available (namely Amukamara). I'm aware of the incident Prince had with his girlfriend, which is a cowardly thing to do, push a woman, but there are guys in this with much worse resumes, I'll tell you that. He could have been the Prince Amukamamra or Pat Peterson they didn't get, and though he's not near they're skill level, he's a 2nd-3rd round NFL corner and many of those have gone on to be great players.... Culliver was projected by most football publications as a "late rounder" or "potential un-drfated FA). The 49ers could have easily have gotten him in Day 3. Though I do admit, I've never seen him play a snap (I've seen Patrick make a few plays big plays).

And wouldn't you know it, the Raiders would draft an near identical player. Projected late-round CB out of Miami, DeMarcus Van Dyke.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

2011 NFL Draft Day 1

Well folks, the event some consider a Holiday in it's own, The NFL Draft, easily the most prolific of all pro sports drafts has arrived, as the first pick will be taken at about 5 PM PT by the Carlina Panthers and we still don't know who that will be. The lockout has also been temporarily lifted to allow teams to make deals and what not during the draft, but we'll see how long that lasts after the draft ends.

Whether it's Cam Newton or Marcel Darreus, I'm not much concerned with who ends up going number 1, I'm more focused on what the 49ers do tonight. Whether they move down or take the "Prince" at 7 or go way off the radar on grab a quarterback or a lesser CB like Brandon Williams. With the 10-minute intervals between selections, the Niners wouldn't be up until about 6 PM, so that's the time to tune in if your just interested in what San Francisco does. Remember, the Raiders still don't have a first rounder.

Right now, without anticipating a trade, I think the 49ers do end up with Prince Amukamura, the 6'1" 205 CB out of Nebraska who's been overshadowed by freakish corner Pat Peterson!

We'll have much, much more reaction throughout the night here at the BASJ, with in-depth info on the Niners pick, so stay tuned here for your Niners draft talk!

The Draft's Top-3

1) Cam Newton goes #1 to Carolina... Alex Smith/Akili Smith Pt. 2
2) Von Miller goes #2 to Denver. Good solid backer, very Urlacher like!
3) Marcel Darreus should have gone 1, he's a beast, great value for the Bills @ 3

Note: Patrick Peterson Goes 5 to Arizona!


*The Niners Take Missouri DE/LB Aldon Smith with Pick 7*

Just typed up a big piece on it and it got erased, so I'm going to be shorter version repeat.

In short, I don't love the pick and I certainly don't hate it. I probably would have still rather had the "Prince", though he fell into the 20's. My fear with Smith is the raw athleticism and un-polished football IQ. I hate to see it lead to Manny Lawson 2.0. when there were other options out there I felt more polished and ready to contribute (CB Prince Amukamara, DE J.J. Watt, DE Cameron Jordan to name a few). Now, that said, the kid is as explosive as they come and if you watch him, it's hard not to get enamored. Should help provide a pass rush opposite of Justin Smith and get the double-team off of him on passing downs. Smith had 11 sacks in his Freshman year followed by 6 in his shortened sophomore season, and that's another thing that raises a flag to me. He didn't play a full year and was a non-factor in the bowl-game. Plus his TFL's are obsolete for a guy with that much penetration and quickness. Positives are, he is darn quick and has great instincts, as you'll see in the video. And I think he knows of his weaknesses and wants to eliminate them, which shows maturity. He still joins a crowded Niners line-backing corps that will certainly have some competition come July (if there is a season that is). Overall, I give this particular pick a "B-"! Not my firs choice, but if he compiles 10 sacks in 2011, he'll be worth it!

Check back for tomorrow's draft coverage as we have much, much more including the Niners #2 pick and finally a Raider selection.

Round 1 Complete Update: For the Niners, I said I'd love to see Ryan Mallet fall, and he's ,lasted into day two. Gabe Carimi (T, Wisconsin) is hte only one who went late in round one. Bot now it's game on in round tow on some very good football players. Cb Brandon Harris Aaron Williams (FS, Texas) and Colin Kaepernick (QB, Nevada) are also a strong possibility who would all be adequate choices. Just no Chris Dalton please, never played in a big game and even in a lesser conference, his numbers weren't that good! What an odd draft, first Aldon Smith, and now D'Quan Bowers ( I know about the health issue) and these high profile guys lasting into round 2. Can't wait to see what Friday has in store!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Eve of the 2011 NFL Draft: BASJ Mock Pt. 3

Well folks, even though the darn NFL brain-trust and players still can't get on the same page and the lockout will carry into May, we still have a draft happening this very weekend at the fabulous Radio City Music Hall in New York. My favorite part of the football offseason and I can barely write about it due to an bum right hand (typing this with one hand and one finger, so bare with me).

We also need to do our final phase of our BASJ Mock Drafts with picks 21-32. Due to a bad injury to my hand, I will have to cut the mock draft way short and eliminate most of the player analysis I gave in previous installments. So here we go for picks 21-32 (again, we do these without anticipating trades)

21.) Kansas City Chiefs: Aaron Williams, FS, Tex.: One of the better all-around DB's in the draft would be a great add to KC's defensive backfield.

22.) Indianapolis Colts: Corey Liuget, DT, Ill.: Solid DT would bring stability to a weak run defense, and the Colts certainly don't need any offense.

23.) Philadelphia Eagles: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue: The Seahwaks need some help all over, but Kerrigan is a bright pass-rushing prospect (25 sacks in last 2 seasons), just needs to add 15-20 pounds.

24.) New Orleans Saints: Nate Solder, T, Col.: The monstrous tackle could help NO's run game, or they could package him for a back.

25.) Seattle Seahawks:
Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Tem.: Big, imposing D-End would bring tenacity that the Seattle D needs, just look at his tape.

26.) Baltimore Ravens:
Derek Sherrod, T, Miss. St.: Ravens need a D-End, but may need to settle for a big tackle. Worked well for them with Oher.

27.) Atlanta Falcons: Danny Watkins, G, Bay: Probably a top-20 talent, would be a nice add to Atlanta's O-Line.

28.) New England Patriots: Lance Kendricks, TE, Wis.: A very good pass-catching TE threat had 663 yards and 5 TD in a run-heavy Wisconsin offense so imagine what Brady could do with him?

29.) Chicago Bears:
Randall Cobb, WR, UK: He doesn't have the prototypical wideout size, but reminds me of Marvin Harrison, and had a huge 2010 junior year (84 catches, 1,000+ yds, 7 TD). 2011's Mike Wallace! (Pictured)

30.) New York Jets: Justin Houston, LB, Hou.: Bulky outside linebacker can move up to the line on passing downs and has all kinds of talent and versatility!

31.) Pittsburgh Steelers: Kyle Rudolph, TE, ND: PFW's top rated tight-end fits the Steeler mentality perfectly, good run blocker, tough and clutch.

32.) Green Bay Packers: Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA: The uber-athletic backer probably won't be the most skilled LB available, but has as much raw talent as any in the draft.


We'll do our best to bring some more 49ers and Raiders Pre-Draft Coverage tomorrow, but again guys, my hand is in bad shape and I won't be able to do too much extra. There is a lot of talk going on in the Niner war room that a trade down could be in the works, which makes more and more sense being that their top choice, Pat Peterson, will be gone in the top-3. The could still get a top-10 corner in Prince Amukamara if they decide to trade back with the Redskins or Texans. Or they could have their eye on someone completely different. Either way, we finally get to see Jim Harbough in action for the first time as 49ers head coach, and this decision (much like Mike Nolan's selection of Alex Smith) could define his time here!

Again, scroll on back tomorrow for in-depth Raiders and 49ers pick news, even if my hand is falling off!

-For the other 2 installments of BASJ's 2011 NFL Mock Draft, click here!-

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

ALL "Unknown" MLB Team for April

I know we're not officially into May quite yet, but in the last week of April, I figured we'd try something new here at The Bay Area Sports Journal. We'll go position-by-position and take a look at just who has stuck out at you in April and looks prime for a breakout season. To qualify, you've had to have had below average seasons in years prior and and little to no expectation of success coming into '11. You also qualify if your a rookie who wasn't highly touted! Basically, it's the return (or arrival) of the greats!

----April's All-Surprise Team Batting----

C) Alex Avila, Detroit Tigers: Posey, Santana and Mauer get most of the pub, but Avila is right on their heelsteps. He's got a line of: .321, 3 HR, 14 RBI and at 24 years-old and loads of upside, he could be the next great young backstiop!
1B) Brett Wallace, Houston Astros
: If you follow minor league baseball, you've probably heard this kids named mentioned a time or two. The Marin County native idled McGuire coming up, and may end up like the A's slugger, without all the baggage. Hitting .324 with 1 HR and 14 R.
2B) Darwin Barney, Chicago Cubs
: Don't know a whole lot about him. He's quick and plays well, good defensively. He's hitting .329 with 11 R amd 11 RBI for the Cubbies! Fan's hope he's finally the heir apparant to Ryno at 2nd whom they've missed since the 90's.
3B) David Freese, St. Louis Cardinals: Still not sold on him myself, but then I watch him hit and he hits a double into the corner, and then goes out and snags a liner in the air in defense that most people don't make. He's another guy getting better with time (

SS) Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland Indians: He's come alive with the long-ball (4 HR, 10 RBI). Problem there, is that he now tries to drop his shoulder and leave earth every at bat, and his avearge is starting to suffer. Still thin he has a nice year in '11.
OF) Lance Berkman, St. Louis Cardinals: Wow, is all I can say after watching him play, or try to, the last 3 years. Plenty of speculation arised, but he's on his way out of April as the top dog on the Fantasy OF world with his .377-6-16-19-1.173 line (projected out to nearly 40 HR and 90 RBI with over 100 runs scored.
OF) Alex Gordon, Kansas City: Talk about surprise! This guy looked like he was was falling off the face of the earth 2 years ago, now he looks like the All-Star he should be. Gone are the sub .220 averages and skyrocketing strikeout numbers, he's finally found his talent, hitting . 356 with a homer and 18 RBI. Talk about a breakout year and solid baseball story!
OF) Ryan Roberts, Arizona Diamondbacks: Roberts spent his entire career with Toronto, then came to AZ in 2006 where he started picking u his game. Got an opening when Mark Reynold went to Baltimore and hasn'y looked back (.321, 4 HR, 13 RBI).

----Pitching Section----

SP1- RHP Michael Pineda, Mariners
:I don't like using clone-type comparisons, but if there were ever one for Pineda, look at C.C. Sabathia. Towering at 6'7" and 260 pounds, he's a tough guy for opposing hitters to get going against.

SP2- RHP Alexi Ogando, Rangers: The converted reliever is makng easy work out of opposing hitters ever since he started pitching just 1 per week (3-0, 2.13, and and amazingly low, league leading 0.67 WHP). The 27 year-old has lights out stuff and should be kept in the rotation, or swapped with Neftai Feliz at closer... He's that good!

SP3) LHP Zach Britton, Orioles: Now Britton is a little different from the other two in that he had some expectation coming in, but that's always said of Orioles prospects and rarely seems to be the case, With Britton though, it is.

CL) RHP Craig Kimbrel, Braves: There are still probably a lot of good baseball fans who don't know who this kid is. The right-handed Billy Wagner-clone is a model of consistency and averages 98 mph with his heater.

BASJ NOTE: So, again sorry for the short injury-hastened post, but got to do something a little different rather than who the A's are playing and how many points Steph Curry had... That said, that's exactly what we'll be back to once my hand allows it, hopefully by the upcoming NFL draft!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

McCourt Relinqueshes Control of Dodgers

Well, if you've been paying any attention to the mess that's been going on amongst the Dodgers ownership group, Thursday's news shouldn't come as too much of a surprise to baseball people. Commissionar Bud Selig announced earlier in the day that he'd be assigning a team of executives to overlook the Dodgers operations throughout the 2011 season.

This is likely the first in a succession of moves to get McCourt out from atop the Dodgers franchise, as his reputation as a selfish, greedy busniesmenn has come to light more and more in recent years. Of the questionable moves by McCourt was to employ his two sons, who probably have 1/2 the baseball expertise needed to hold a front office gig, prominant roles within the organization in which netted them upwards of $15 million annually. I don't get what Frank was doing with the franchise one bit and felt that way ever since he started allowing ridiculous money to be thrown into injury riddled superstars (Jason Schmidt, Manny Ramirez, Rafael Furcal, who hasn't been the same since 2008, and many many more.) He gave Ted Lilly a near $50 million dollar deal, despite worries about the lefties consistency. It just seemed like he didn't want to spend quite the money to get the superstar, rather spending an abundance on 2nd tiere players. Now not all blame can be put on McCourt, he was paying bright baseball minds millions of dollars per year to help him get those decisions right, but he gets his because he failed to do due dilligence in overlooking one of the best franchises in American sports.

Up Next @ BASJ: With the NFL draft now just a week away, it's time to revert full focus back to the gridiron, even though there may not even be playing come September. We already did our Mock Draft Part 1 and 2 with other draft coverage which can be seen here! With the Draft scheduled for next weekend, it's time to finish off our first round extended-mock with picks 21-32 of the first round. We'll also add a shorter version of a 2nd round mock as well, along with the final tweaks to the first two installments, so tune back for series coverage!

Monday, April 18, 2011

NFL Lockout Talk/New Bay Area Sports Radio

Well, we've made it a point not to discuss the boring business aspects of the NFL labor talks that have transpired over the last 2 months, and there could be some big news regarding the likelihood of there being a 2011 NFL season.

Judge Susan Richard Nelson is overlooking the mediation between the two sides (players association and owners) and the players have put in a request to halt the lockout. Now, that sounds all good right? Unfortunately though, that's not the case. Whatever decision Judge Nelson makes will undoubtedly be appealed, which could throw yet another delay into the kickoff to the 2011 NFL season. I was really hoping this thing would get squared away by draft time, but even when news appears to be good, it just leads to more questions. It looks like this thing will surely leak into the summer months now, which would lead to a delay to starting training camp, which then results in kickoff being pushed into October or November. Eventually it will get to the point where the NFL season would have to start around the new year, thus leading to a full cancellation of the season. Since I've been a sports fan, I've only had to endure one strike which stopped me from watching the sports I love, and that was the 1994 MLB strike. At first, I'll admit, I wasn't the least bit worried about the NFL for 2011 and again, figured there'd be a new labor agreement by April. However, experts close to the league expected this thing to carry on, and unfortunately, there isn't yet a light at the end of the tunnel.

"All-Sports" 95.7 FM Radio Station Opens Bay Area

Here in the Bay Area, a new sports radio station has launched on the FM dial at 95.7. I'm a huge KNBR guy, and rarely even tune over to the Ticket 1050, so I haven't yet had a chance to listen to all of what 95.7 has to offer, but the concept is long over due. Finally the A's, Sharks, and I'm assuming eventually the Raiders fans have themselves a home, where they can here talk about there teams, rather than the Giants/49ers/Warriors banter you'll here on 680. Not only does this give them a broadcast platform, but it clears up the roles in bay area sports radio. Now, as I said, KNBR gets to put all there focus into the teams they actually want to, rather than being obligated to discuss the A's, Raiders or Sharks on a semi-consistent basis. That leaves 1050 to be a neutral station, discussing whatever big is happening in the Bay Area, or on a larger scale, and 95.7 to focus on the Oakland teams like KNBR does the San Francisco franchises. Now, whether or not "All-Sports 95.7" can execute that remains to be seen, but if they want to stick around, that's the role I'd like to see them take on... Also, I'm very curious to see who does there afternoon shows. I only listened to it once Monday night around 9:30 and got Todd Wright's ESPN radio syndicate. I have no idea if he's still in radio or not, but I'd love to hear Larry Kruegar back on Bay Area sports radio.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A's Rebounding After Slow Start

Like their neighbors across the bay, the A's got off to a slow start on the year, but have regained their balance and returned to .500 for the first time since opening day after winning 4 of their last 5 games.

What's so surprising about the A's winning lately, is that they're doing it without getting much offense at all. Everyone knew coming into the year that the A's were going to struggle at times to score runs, and that's very much so been the case, as they're averaging about 3.5 runs per game. Only 1 regular player is hitting over .262, and that player is Daric Barton who's only at .293. And while Barton has decent average, he's been obsolete in the run production department despite his favorable spot in the lineup. Barton has no home runs and just 3 RBI in his 12 games, both numbers way below the league average for first basemen. Josh Willingham has been the major run producer thus far, leading the team with 3 home runs and 7 RBI, but he's hitting just .241 and has struck out an alarming 17 times in his 41 at-bats. Hideki Matsui has also pitched in a bit with 2 homers and 7 RBI and the .262 average, but besides those guys, it's been pretty dismal at the plate for Oakland. If they didn't have Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill and Dallas Braden throwing for them, they'd probably be looking at a 2-10 record rather than the 6-6 record they sport, so it goes to show you just how key good pitching can be, even in the AL.

The A's have also been doing well without all-star closer Andrew Bailey. The young 26 year-old flame-thrower has been sidelined and hampered all year long with his strained forearm, but hopes to be back on the hill for the A's by the end of the month. In his absence, Brian Fuentes has been nails, locking down all 5 of his save chances and backed by nice peripheral numbers. So within a few weeks, the already stacked pitching staff in Oakland will be getting even stronger, but I don't think any A's fan is really worried about the pitching right now. They'll need to bring in a offensive player who can help kick-start this bunch sooner than later unless they get things going here in the second half of the month. If the A's head into May still sputtering offensively, I wouldn't be surprised to see them make some changes. One of their hotter bench players has been Andy LaRoche (hitting .365 in 19 at-bats) and he could find himself over at the hot corner more often if Kevin Kouzmanoff (.171 in 42 at-bats) doesn't start picking up the slack. I'm not ready to make judgements on players after just 2 weeks of play, just pointing out areas that need to be improved in coming weeks or else we'll see changes.

As Always, For Giants Coverage, Check Out THE GIANTS BASEBALL BLOG!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Around the World of Sports with BASJ

Like we try to do at least once a month here at the Bay Area Sports Journal, we wanted to take a look around the sports world, beyond what's happening just here in the Bay Area. With MLB baseball underway, the NCAA tournament just finished and the NFL draft and NBA playoffs just around the corner, their is certainly no shortage of topics to discuss.

MLB: We'll start in the MLB, where the season is barely a week old, and a few surprises have stuck out early. A few of the teams that are off to the hottest starts, are the teams that a lot of people had finishing in the cellar of their division. Perhaps the most impressive of all have been the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays. Both are stocked with young talent, but neither looked to have much of a shot in the tough AL East, but they are off to terrific starts. In the AL Central, the Royals are atop early with a 5-1 record as they're finally getting some production from Alex Gordon and the rest of that young roster. The AL West holds Baseball's only undefeated team in the reigning AL Champion Texas Rangers, also a team that not a lot of people were expecting to strive like they have, even after their World Series appearance last fall. Over in the NL, things are a little more to script, with the Phills on top in East, Cinci in the Central and the Rockies taking the early lead in a struggling NL West. Much like in 2010, it looks 2011 could have some playoff teams that surprise you.

NCAA Basketball: We'll move onto NCAA hoops, where I'll admit, I didn't get into as much as I have in years past. I was so focused on spring training and the leading up the 2011 MLB season to put much stock into the tourney, but I did watch some of that National Championship game, in which Connecticut dominated with defense. UConn was the clear-cut favorites, but Butler hung in there in the first half. But in the 2nd half, the Huskies pulled away, getting good performances out of their star, Kemba Walker (16 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists) and sophomore forward Alex Oriakhi (11 pts, 11 boards) and ended Butler's Cinderella story.

NBA: Like with the NCAA Tourney, I haven't been nearly as focused on the NBA as I have with baseball and football, but it's almost playoff time, and that's going to change. The Spurs and the Bulls are the top teams from their respective conferences, record-wise at least, but I don't think those two will necessarily be representing the East and West in the Finals. The Spurs aren't the league's youngest team, and they are dealing with some health issues. Tim Duncan is battling nagging injuries that have tremendously cut into his production this season, and I just don't know if they'll beat the Lakers in a best of 7. If LA gets knocked out before the Spurs would have to face them, then I think they can pull it off, but LA is the one team that can stop them, I believe. In the East, the Bulls have the record, the Heat have the talent and Boston has the experience. So they have 3 teams with a legit shot. If I were a betting man, I'd put my money on a 2010 repeat or Boston vs. LA.

NFL: We'll finish up with the NFL today, where there just hasn't been much to talk about, unless you really like discussing Lockout terms and news, which I can't stand and won't do. With this lockout keeping teams from doing anything with current NFL players and free agents, the draft is about the only thing we get to focus on right now, and it's approaching quickly (April 28th). This is one of the oddest drafts in recent years, not only because of the lockout, but because there is such uncertainty surrounding the #1 pick. In years past, it's been pretty clear leading up to the draft, who would go #1, but right now, it really could be 1 of 6 or 7 players. The Panthers are a team with a lot of needs, but they just drafted Jimmy Clausen last year and I don't think they're ready to just cast him aside. I'm thinking they'll go defense or possibly grab star receiver A.J. Green. They could even trade down a few slots with a team who wants to ensure they get their pick of the litter at quarterback, like Arizona, Buffalo, Tennessee or Washington. If your into the NFL draft, then this is a site you'll want to be frequenting, because between now and April 28th, I'd say the NFL draft will get about 75% of our focus.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A's Opening Day Preview

Well, some of the baseball world got started yesterday, including the San Francisco Giants, check The Giants Baseball Blog for their recap, but the rest of the bunch get going tonight, including the Oakland A's. The A's will play host to the Seattle Mariners, in a match-up of two of the best young righty's in the game tonight, Trevor Cahill and Felix Hernandez with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 Pacific Time. Here is a preview on the projected lineups with key points to the game after:

Seattle Mariners:

1. Ichiro Suzuki RF
2. Chone Figgins 3B
3. Milton Bradley LF
4. Jack Cust DH
5. Justin Smoak 1B
6. Miguel Olivo C
7. Ryan Langerhans CF
8. Brendan Ryan SS
9. Jack Wilson 2B

P: Felix Hernandez RHP (13-12, 2.27 era, 237 K's in '10)
Oakland Athletics

1. Coco Crisp CF
2. Daric Barton 1B
3. David DeJesus RF
4. Josh Willingham LF
5. Hideki Matsui DH
6. Kurt Suzuki C
7. Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B
8. Mark Ellis 2B
9. Cliff Pennington SS

P: Trevor Cahill RHP (18-8, 2.97 era, 118 K's)

This is going to be a good test for the A's bats right out of the shoot. King Felix is the best pitcher in the AL in my opinion, and the A's offense isn't their strong point. Then again, they'll have their ace going up against a much weaker starting 9. I think it's going to be a low scoring affair, and the first team to put a run on the board may be the team that wins this game. The A's need to get into Hernandez's head early. He's mellowing out more and more, but you can still get to Felix and rattle him, and that's how you beat him. Looking forward to seeing how the 3 new A's do in their Oakland debut (Willingham, DeJesus and Matsui) as all will be hitting in the middle of the A's order. Certainly not flashy, but could be the most cost-effective heart of the order in baseball, but they have to perform in order for the A's to go. The A's also need to get a little more pop out of Daric Barton. He's a solid hitter, but doesn't hit many out. If he can hit 15-20 HR's this year, it will really help this offense put runs up. The 2011 A's somewhat remind me of the Giants going into the 2010 season; great, great pitching, but it's anybodies guess as to how many runs they'll put up.