Monday, July 30, 2012

49ers Talking Super Bowl

After an NFC Championship appearance last season, the 2012 San Francisco 49ers started training camp with the ultimate goal in mind, and in reach. Super Bowl!

I know, every training camp, every single NFL team has that goal in mind, but it's not just the 49ers themselves that are believing they're the team to beat in the NFC. They followed up their brilliant 2011 season with an impressive offseason as they identified their holes and did an admirable job in filling them. One of the biggest flaws for the 49ers for most of the season and certainly into the playoffs was their lack of quality receiving options for Alex Smith. The Niners dominated with their defense, but when they had to put points on the board with their aerial attack, they struggled mightily. So in steps Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and first rounder A.J. Jenkins which should provide the 49ers a much more vertical passing game. Both Moss and Manningham have arrived in 49ers camp and impressed early on, but it hasn't been as smooth of sailing for the rookie. Jenkins has had a bit of a rough go of it early on in his first pro training camp. He's had some trouble holding up and his conditioning isn't quite where it should be, even if Coach Harbough doesn't want to admit it.

I'm still not getting why there is so much hype around the young wideout this early on though. Sure, he wasn't a projected first rounder and has some limitations to his game, but we're not even a week into training camp yet so you can't really grade him out yet. It's likely going to take Jenkins some time to adapt, and that's why the 49ers stocked up on other wideouts this spring. Even if Jenkins is only a part-timer his rookie season, the 49ers now have enough weapons at wideout now to do some damage. Moss has gotten nothing but rave reviews, and very well could enter the season as the teams number one wideout, especially if Michael Crabtree's injury woes haunt him again this preseason. Crabtree got hurt on the very first day of camp, turning his ankle, and even though he's been in the offense a few years, he's never had a full training camp and preseason to get acclimated with Smith. To me, the pressure should be on Michael Crabtree more than it should AJ Jenkins. It's year three for the flashy receiver and it's time for him to separate to take the next step!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Trade Deadline Analysis: Athletics

Last week, we talked about what the Giants will be doing as we approach the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline. Today, we'll take a look at the A's who, surprisingly, should be looking to "buy" this year.

Marco Scutaro
There has been no shortage of Oakland A's hype across the Bay Area and even on the internet lately, and it peaked after their four-game sweep of the Yankees this weekend. For people who thought the A's were jokes, that weekend beat down of New York certainly changed their perspective. It seems like every year the A's put together a run like this one, but ultimately fade out towards the end of the year, but this team is showing no signs of slowing down. They've made so much noise in July that even their fans are starting to expect GM Billy Beane to make a move or two to help this team out for their second half surge. The general consensus around baseball is that the A's, like their cross-bay rivals, will be scouring the market for serviceable bats this summer. The problem with the A's situation right now though, is they need a shortstop badly, and could use another 3rd basemen as well. They could look into a second-tier guy like Marco Scutaro, but teams just aren't looking to make deals this summer and definitely not good, useful shortstops.

Carlos Ruiz
With the extra wild card team coming into play this year, only a handful of teams are legitimately out of contention right now, and the teams that are out, don't really matchup with Oakland's needs. The A's have the resources in terms of young talented players in their system to deal, but is there a guy worth breaking the bank for? I don't think so. Catcher is another spot the A's are currently below league average, and could definitely use an upgrade and Carlos Ruiz would be a great add. He's also the top catcher on the market right now and will likely take a bidding war to acquire. Again, much like with San Francisco, I have a hard time seeing them doing anything each shattering between now and the 31st. Their biggest move could come within when a couple of their own players get healthy and make their anticipated return next month. Opening Day starter Brandon McCarthy, and ace Brett Anderson, are each a few weeks out (barring setbacks) and the A's are expecting both ready by August. Oakland's starters have been solid, but Brett Anderson is their most talented arm and will provide a huge boost.

Things could start to pick up now on the trade front with Ichiro Suzuki being shipped to New York Monday. Usually it just takes one to get the ball rolling, and even though I'm not expecting a plethora of moves this year by anyone, I do have a feeling both the A's and Giants will do something to help themselves, so stay tuned!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Trade Deadline Analysis: Giants

With MLB's non-waiver Trade Deadline approaching in under two weeks, trade talk has heated up for both the A's and the Giants. Today we'll talk a bit about where the Giants are, Saturday we'll get into the A's.

The rumors have started to run rampant regarding the Giants and who they could target in the next 10 days. One of those players is said to be in Philadelphia, as numerous sources have them interested in third basemen Placido Polanco. I came to the realization this team needed another infielder when it was clear Freddy Sanchez wouldn't be returning, but I still don't see a terrific fit out there for this club. I'm sorry, but the aging, slow Polanco isn't what this team needs and I can't understand why Sabean would even pursue that target. Didn't he learn anything last year with the Orlando Cabrera deal? Plus, Polanco has been playing third base for Philly, and unless the Giants plan on moving Pablo permanently to first base, Polanco would be moved out of position. I wouldn't be opposed to moving Sandoval across the diamond for the "right" third basemen, but certainly not Placido Polanco. The right third basemen in my mind would be a guy like Hanley Ramirez (who is also apparently on the trading block), someone who will be around for a few years and is right in his prime, but the Giants don't have the minor league depth to pull off those deals every summer.

Infante: A Realistic Target?
Another Marlin's name that was mentioned in the Andrew Baggarly chat yesterday is a guy I hadn't thought about much is Miami's 2nd basemen, Omar Infante. The 30 year-old infielder has the versatility to play 3rd, short and 2nd and is a plus-hitter. He could free up Ryan Theriot to be more of a utility guy and contribute at shortstop as well. Infante is hitting .281 with 8 home runs and 33 RBI and swings from the right-side which is something the Giants desperately need, good right-handed bats. The best part, is he's not a headline player and likely wouldn't cost an arm and a leg to get. The Marlins are clearly open to dealing him too, but the latest news out of Miami has the Marlins attempting to package Infante together with Josh Johnson and deal them to the American League. This is a really tough year for teams looking to add pieces. Too many clubs still feel they're in contention and the ones that aren't are well aware of their situation and the plethora of buyers heading into the deadline. I just don't see the Giants having enough ammo to pull off a big deal for offense, which is why I still think if they add a piece or two, it'll be to the bullpen. They're still trying to assess their own system and figure out just who they feel is expendable, and again, after the moves last season, I have a hard time seeing another blockbuster getting done this July.

Perhaps the most sensible and attainable target I've heard linked to the team the last few days has been Royals closer Jonathan Broxton. It's clear the Royals will deal him at some point, they have Joakim Soria returning next season, but the Royals could be detoured away from the Giants after their luck with the Cabrera/Sanchez deal. I'm not holding out hope for a big bat like I was last summer, even though they could sure use one. However, a closer-type, especially with the inconsistencies Casilla has run into, makes a whole lot of sense.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Niners, Raiders Ready for Camp

It's about that time of year when football training camps will be starting up all across the nation in a week, and we start shifting some of our focus back to the gridiron.

Moss Should Help WR's
Things have been extremely quiet on the player movement front for both Bay Area franchises, but expect to start seeing some serious football articles in papers and on the internet over the next few weeks. For me, I like to focus on a particular area on each team to see how things shake out early in the preseason. With the 49ers, this year it will be their receiving corps. They did a major overhaul to that department in the spring, and have a lot of new faces for Alex Smith to develop chemistry with. First and foremost, of course, has to be a guy who many are expecting to either be a blessing, or a train wreck, and that's Randy Moss. So far, in mini-camp workouts, Moss has drawn rave reviews from 49ers staff and his new quarterback, but he's not the only new guy in town expecting balls thrown his way. Moss has always been the central figure of his teams passing attack, but that may not be the case in San Francisco. The Niners also used their first round pick on Illinois speedy wideout, A.J. Jenkins, and he's expected to challenge for a starting spot this summer. Finally, the 49ers also added Mario Manningham from the Giants, another guy who's used to having the ball thrown at him half a dozen times per game. You mix those guys in with Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree and Delanie Walker and all the sudden the 49ers go from having a limited passing attack to a potentially wide open one. Should be interesting to see if that shifts their focus away from being so run-heavy on offense?

Big Year for CP-3
Across the bay, the Raiders didn't have near the cap space the 49ers did, so their moves were all much more under-the-radar this offseason. They did managed to get their star safety, Tyvon Branch, locked up long term last week though, and they feel like they have the pieces in place to be a contender. They started last year off well with much of the same cast, and they're hoping they get a little more luck in the health department this time around. Obviously Darren McFadden will be very key to this teams success, but they aren't going to win many games unless Carson Palmer reverts back to his Bengal form. He was very sporadic during his run with the Raiders last year, but a lot of that can be attributed to his half-season layoff and trade to a new team. This time around, he won't have those excuses, and the Raiders paid dearly in order to get him, so they'll be counting on him to be there guy for a couple of seasons here. This will be his first training camp with the Silver and Black, and he has to use it to get in tune with his wideouts and learn the O-line, something he was never really able to do after the trade last year.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Warriors Rundown Show

New Golden State Warriors broadcast at UnifySports.Tv! (The video part is down, but the audio is there, just click the speaker)


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Giants Send 4 to All-Star Game, A's Get One

It's been a while since the Giants had three starters in an All-Star game, but that's exactly what they'll have at the annual mid-summer classic in Kansas City.

Posey Led NL in Votes
Pablo Sandoval was voted in as the starting 3rd basemen, Buster Posey as the starting catcher and Melky Cabrera as a starting outfielder. Those names really shouldn't surprise anyone, as they were at the top of the voting at their respective positions for a while now, but the one that does kind of surprise me is Pablo Sandoval. He's been solid when he's been out there, but to miss a month in the first half and still get voted in takes some help on the fans behalf. Melky was leading the league in hitting for a good portion of the first half and certainly deserved the nod, so it was good to see the fans show up late and help get him in. Buster has been the leading catcher for the NL since balloting opened up (finishing with an NL-high 7.6M votes) so he'll be attending his first career All-Star game as a starter. The big surprise to me though, was that Tony LaRussa didn't pick any other Giants pitchers to join Matt Cain. Matty became very much a potential starter for the NL after his perfect game last month, but I'd say both Bumgarner and Vogelsong were deserving as well as Sergio Romo and possibly even Santiago Casilla.

Across the bay, the A's have had an up and down season with a lot of injuries, and will be sending just Ryan Cook, their new young closer to Kansas City for Tuesday's game. Cook has become the A's most dependable bullpen arm, and has a 1.46 ERA and 0.92 WHIP heading into the break. He's also closed out 8 of 11 save attempts and sports a strikeout ratio of a batter per inning. Still, this selection really surprised me. I only expected the A's to send one player to the All-Star game, but I thought it would have been Josh Reddick, who enters the break hitting .265 with 20 HR's, 42 RBI and 8 stolen bases. Not that Cook hasn't been deserving, but he's a rookie with a half-year of experience while Reddick is on pace for about 40 jacks!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

BASJ All-Star Picks

Well, the All-Star team was announced Sunday, and like there is every season, a ton of deserving players were left out of the starting lineup or off the team all together. Here are our picks for the AL and NL starting lineups, based on first half production and nothing else:

National League:

RF Melky Cabrera, SF: .352 Avg, 7 HR, 39 RBI, 10 SB
SS Ian Desmond, Was: .279, 14 HR, 45 RBI, 8 SB
CF Andrew McCutchen, Pit: .360, 16 HR, 54 RBI, 14 SB
LF Ryan Braun, Mil: .309, 22 HR, 58 RBI, 13 SB 
1B Joey Votto, Cin: .352, 14 HR, 47 RBI, 4 SB
3B David Wright, NYM: .351, 10 HR, 54 RBI, 8 SB
DH Carlos Beltran, Stl: .304, 20 HR, 63 RBI, 7 SB
C Carlos Ruiz, Phi: .354, 12 HR, 44 RBI
2B Aaron Hill, Ari: .301, 11 HR, 38 RBI, 7 SB

Pitcher: R.A. Dickey, RHP, NYM: 12 W, 116 K's, 2.15 ERA, 0.83 WHIP

American League:

CF Mike Trout, LAA: .340, 10 HR, 36 RBI, 22 SB
2B Robinson Cano, NYY: .315, 20 HR, 48 RBI, 1 SB
LF Josh Hamilton, Tex: .316, 25 HR, 73 RBI, 6 SB
3B Migeul Cabrera, Det: .317, 16 HR, 65 RBI, 5 SB
1B Edwin Encarnacion, Tor: .296, 22 HR, 56 RBI, 8 SB
DH David Ortiz, Bos: .301, 21 HR, 54 RBI
RF Adam Jones, Bal: .298, 19 HR, 43 RBI, 11 SB
C A.J. Pierzynski, CHW: .291, 15 HR, 48 RBI
SS Elvis Andrus, Tex: .306, 1 HR, 36 RBI, 16 SB

Pitcher: Chris Sale, LHP, CHW: 10 W, 98 K's, 2.19 ERA, 0.95 WHIP