I’ll wrap this series up with the catchers who could bounce back from slow 2007 seasons.

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Photo courtesy of Icon SMI

John Buck (.222, 41runs, 18 HR, 48 RBI)
His power numbers improved last year, but I expect him to bat at least 20 points higher.  Kansas City may have a decent, young offense so I wouldn’t be surprised with run and RBI increases.

 Joe Mauer (.293, 62 runs, 7 HR, 60 RBI)
It’s not that Joe had a BAD year last year, it was just a far cry from his 2006 production (.347, 86 runs, 13 HR, 84 RBI).  I don’t expect a huge jump his HRs, but he should see across-the-board improvement.

A.J. Pierzynski (.263, 54 runs, 14 HR, 50 RBI)
I expect his runs, RBI, and his batting average to improve next year.  I’m thinking .280, 60 runs, 60 RBI. 

 | Posted by | Categories: MLB |

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Photo courtesy of TSN Archives/Icon SMI

I thought I was all out of players worthy of Hall of Fame entry, but a Sporting News friend, Favre is overrated 2007, suggested Joe Carter.  Carter will forever be remembered for two things…being an RBI machine and his series clinching home run off the Phillies’ Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams in 1993. 

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Photo courtesy of Icon SMI

The Numbers
2189 Games
8422 At Bats (94th All-time)
.259 Batting Average
1170 Runs
2184 Hits
432 Doubles
53 Triples
396 Home Runs (46th All-time)
1445 RBI (55th All-time)
3910 Total Bases (84th All-time)
881 Extra Base Hits (58th All-time)
.464 Slugging %

World Series – 12 games, 13 hits in 47 at bats (.277), 8 runs, 3 doubles, 4 HRs, 11 RBI, .596 Slugging %

The Awards
5 All-Star Games
2 Silver Sluggers
MVP votes in 8 seasons

Top Ten Finishes
Slugging % – Three times
Games – Six times
At Bats – Ten times (Led league in ’89 & ’90)
Runs – Once
Hits – Once
Doubles - Twice
Triples - Four times
Home Runs – Seven times
Total Bases – Seven times
RBI – Nine times (Led league in 1986)
Exta-base Hits – Seven times
Hit by Pitch – Six times (Led league in 1991)

Joe Carter has the type of average that Hall of Fame voters frown upon.  I’ll give you that.  His batting average is far from being Hall of Fame worthy.  He didn’t add the type of defense to make up for the lack of average.  So why I am here telling you that Joe Carter is worthy of the Hall of Fame?  Because of the two reasons mentioned earlier.  His RBI prowess can not be denied.  He had at least 100 RBI in ten seasons (as well as 98 in another).  Had their not been labor stoppage in 1994, Joe would have had that signature season.  In 115 games he had 27 HR and 103 RBI.  In an 162 game season that averageds out to 38 HR and 145 RBI. Not a bad follow-up a World Series-ending blast.  Yeah, that blast is what vaults him into the Hall of Fame, in my opinion.  His numbers are borderline.  I’ll give you that.  Add in his World Series heroics and the case is made.  Bill Mazeroski is the only other player to end a World Series with a home run.  He’s in the Hall of Fame.  Want to know what his average is?  It’s .260.  Eerily similar to Carter’s .259.  He brought great defense to the table.  Well, Carter brought RBI production to the table.  He’s already been elected into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, it’s time Cooperstown calls.

References
Baseball-reference.com

Past Chronicles
Bert Byleven
Andre Dawson
Dale Murphy
Mark McGwire
Bobby Matthews
Tommy John
Buck O’Neill & Minnie Minoso
Jim Rice
Ted Simmons
Lee Smith
Jack Morris
Al Oliver
Steve Garvey
Jim Kaat
Pete Ro$e
Shoeless Joe Jackson
Dave Concepcion
Lou Whitaker
Alan Trammell
Ron Santo
Ron Guidry
Gil Hodges
Dave Parker
Tony Mullane
Keith Hernandez
Don Mattingly
Dwight Evans
Ralph Houk (Manager)
Jimmie Dykes (Player/Manager)
Charlie Grimm (Player/Manager)
Billy Martin (Player/Manager)
Harold Baines
Gene Mauch (Manager)
Whitey Herzog (Manager)
Tom Kelly (Manager)

 | Posted by | Categories: Cooperstown Chronicles, MLB |

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Photo courtesy of Shelly Castellano ICON SMI
(Photoshop work by Yours Truly – hence the amateur look)

If you’ve been following basketball closely, you’ll know the following players have been playing out of their minds.  If not, it’s time to play catch up.  Here are some of the hottest players in the league.

Guards

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It probably feels like five-on-one for Wade at times.

Dwayne Wade – Although Miami keeps losing and losing and, well, you get the point, Wade is doing his part.  Over the past four games he’s averaging 31.25 points, 8.25 assists, 4.o rebounds, 1.5 steals, and 2.0 three-pointers per game.  During that stretch he’s shooting 50.5% from the floor and 80.6% from the line.

Michael Redd - In his past four games Redd has averaged 29.25 points, 3.0 assists, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.5 three-pointers per game.  He’s shot 50.67% from the floor and 76.1% from the floor.  He poured in 42 points on Saturday.

Forwards

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I crush all punks.

LeBron James - I hate to state the obvious, but I would hate to ignore the roll LBJ is on.  In his last five games he’s averaged 30.8 points, 11.0 rebounds, 10.2 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.8 blocks, and 1.8 three-pointers per game.  He shot 51.9% from the floor and 67.3% from the line.  Man, is he good.

Tim Duncan – The big man has been on his game.  In his last five, he’s averaging 20.2 points, 13.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 3.4 blocks, and 1.4 steals per game while shooting 46.4% from the floor and 85.2% from the line. 

Centers

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Marcus Camby -
  Camby has been blocking any shot in his direction.  He’s averaging 6.0 blocks per game over his last five games, to go along with 10.8 points, 11.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 2.0 steals per game.  He’s shot 52.2% from the floor and even hit a couple of threes. 

Images courtesy of Icon SMI

 | Posted by | Categories: NBA |

Here are some relievers who should bounce back from down years. 

Eric Gagne (4-2, 16 Saves, 3.81 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, .245 BAA)
Gagne was awful for Boston.  He makes the switch back to the National League.    He also makes the switch back to closer.  He did well in that role in Texas last year.  He just struggled in his 7th inning duties in Boston.  I expect his saves to go up and his ERA to come down.   

Brad Lidge (5-3, 19 Saves, 3.36 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, .219 BAA)
Playing in Philly will be tough becasue it’s a launching pad.  However, Lidge moves back into the closer role so he should pile up the saves.  He did re-injure his knee so I’d temper your expectations initially.

Troy Percival (3-0, 0 Saves, 1.80 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, .171)
Perhaps the only numbers that Troy will show improvement on are Saves and Strikeouts.   He was very effective for St. Louis last year, and could approach 30+ saves for the first time since 2004. 

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Mariano Rivera (3-4, 30 Saves, 3.15 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, .248 BAA)
These aren’t bad numbers, they just aren’t the kind of numbers we’ve come to expect from Mo.  I’d expect him to get his save up into the mid-thirties or beter, with a much lower ERA and BAA. 

B.J. Ryan (0-2, 3 Saves, 12.46 ERA, 2.54 WHIP,  .333 BAAA)
B.J. missed most of last year after undergoing Tommy John surgery.  Provided that he’s healthy, there is no way he doesn’t improve in every category.

Rafael Soriano (3-3,  9 Saves, 3.00 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, .181 BAA)
Soriano will be thrust into the closer role.  Obviously I believe his save totals will go up.  I think is ERA will go down.  Unfortunately I see his WHIP going up, though his BAA could remain unchanged.

Hudson Street (5-2, 16 Saves, 2.88 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, .190 BAA)
Hudson’s averages (ERA, WHIP, BAA) will likely be similar.  I just expect about twice as many saves this year from Street.

Kerry Wood (1-1, 0 Saves, 3.33 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, .207 BAA)
It’s a big if, but if Kerry can stay healthy he should thrive in this role for Chicago.  That said, Kerry could break a rib sneezing.

Joel Zumaya (2-3, 1 Save, 4.28 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, .189. 
Here’s another guy that will have a great year should he bounce back from injury.  He’s not going to rack up saves, but he should pick up more wins and strikeouts.  Just keep Guitar Hero away from him.

 | Posted by | Categories: MLB | Tagged: Guitar Hero |

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Photo courtesy of TSN Archives/Icon SMI

Tom Kelly managed the Twins from 1986-2001.  In that time he won 1140 of the 2386 games he managed (.478).  He led the Twins to World Series victories over the St. Louis Cardinals in 1987 and the Atlanta Braves in 1991.  He earned the Manager of the Year Award in 1991.  He had to suffer through a period when the Twins spending was at a minimal while most of the league’s payrolls were going through the roof.  Yet he kept the team mostly competitive despite the small payroll, and left it in good shape for his successor Ron Gardenhire.  TK currently ranks 42nd for all-time managerial wins.  I’m not sure if any multiple World Series winning managers had less talent to work with than TK.  Currently, Kirby Puckett is the only Hall of Famer on either roster.  That speaks volumes of the man.  Kirby needs company.  Tom Kelly (and Bert Byleven and Jack Morris) should join him.

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Photo courtesy of Icon SMI

References
Baseball-reference.com

Past Chronicles
Bert Byleven
Andre Dawson
Dale Murphy
Mark McGwire
Bobby Matthews
Tommy John
Buck O’Neill & Minnie Minoso
Jim Rice
Ted Simmons
Lee Smith
Jack Morris
Al Oliver
Steve Garvey
Jim Kaat
Pete Ro$e
Shoeless Joe Jackson
Dave Concepcion
Lou Whitaker
Alan Trammell
Ron Santo
Ron Guidry
Gil Hodges
Dave Parker
Tony Mullane
Keith Hernandez
Don Mattingly
Dwight Evans
Ralph Houk (Manager)
Jimmie Dykes (Player/Manager)
Charlie Grimm (Player/Manager)
Billy Martin (Player/Manager)
Harold Baines
Gene Mauch (Manager)
Whitey Herzog (Manager)

 | Posted by | Categories: Cooperstown Chronicles, MLB |

Here’s a list of some pitchers who could possibly bounce back this year, making them bargains.

Jeremy Bonderman (11-9, 5.01 ERA, 145 Ks, 1.38 WHIP, .278 BAA)
I think Bonderman was tired last year.  He’s been working this offseason to build strength in his forearms.    I think that will help him return to form. 

Matt Cain (7-16, 3.65 ERA, 163 K, 1.26 WHIP, .235 BAA)
How in the world could Cain have a 7-16 record with those numbers?  Talk about being snake bitten.  I’m guessing some bounches go his way this year and his win total improves drastically. 

Chris Carpenter (pitched 6 innings last year – elbow)
The 2005 Cy Young Winner will start the season on the DL.  If you can stash him away, he’ll likely give you a nice second half push. 

Francisco Liriano (Did not pitch)
I don’t expect Liriano to repeat the 12-3, 2.16 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, .205 BAA, 144 K performance of 2006, but he should produce solid numbers for the Twins if he can stay healthy.

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Pedro Martinez (3-1, 2.57 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, .284 BAA)
Pedro actually pitched well considering the circumstances.  If Pedro can stay healthy, he’ll have a nice year following Johan Santana in the rotation.

Brett Myers (5-7, 21 Saves, 4.33 ERA, 83 Ks, 1.28 WHIP, .234 BAA)
A return to the starting rotation will help Myers get into double-digit wins and 180+ strikeouts.

Jered Weaver (13-7, 3.91 ERA, 115 Ks, 1.39 WHIP, .280 BAA)
I expect Weaver to bounce back from his sophomore slump and win at least 15 games next year.  His ERA and BAA will reduce significantly.

Dontrelle Willis (10-15, 5.17 ERA, 146 Ks, 1.60 WHIP, .294 BAA)
I think I could have hit well against Dontrelle last year.  Everybody else did.  The move to Detroit will ensure that run support won’t be an issue this year.  I think he’ll be motivated by the change of scenery, and bounce back nicely.

Carlos Zambrano (18-13, 3.95 ERA, 177 Ks, 1.33 WHIP, .233 BAA)
I’m not sure if he’ll win more games than last year, but I do expect his winning percentage to improve, along with his ERA, strikeout totals, and BAA.

 | Posted by | Categories: MLB |

Here’s a look at some outfielders who should improve on last year’s stats.  Keep them in mind when you’re drafting your fantasy baseball team.  They could be great bargains.

Rocco Baldelli (.204, 5 HR, 12 RBI)
Rocco was limited to 35 games last year because of a hamstring injury.  The Rays are going to take it easy on Rocco in spring training to keep him healthy.  Judging by that, he’ll probably be a little slow out of the gates.  If he stays healthy, he should be able to get back into the .280, 10 HR, 60 RBI range. 

Jason Bay (.247, 21 HR, 84 RBI)
He complained about the lack of improvement Pittsburgh made to its roster in the offseason.  One way to help fix it is to improve yourself.  I have a feeling Bay will put his money where his mouth is and have a nice across-the-board improvement.

J.D. Drew (.270, 11 HR, 64 RBI)
J.D. may have pressed a bit in his first season in Boston.  He had a nice playoffs going 16 for 51 (.314) with 7 runs, 3 doubles, a HR, 11 RBI, and 6 walks.  Now that he’s more comfortable in Boston, I think he’ll improve on his modest 2007 numbers.  That is assuming he stays healthy (knock on wood).

Jermaine Dye (.254, 28 HR, 78 RBI)
Those aren’t bad numbers, but they are a far cry from the .315, 44, 120 he put up in 2006.  I think the addition of Nick Swisher will help the offense.  Dye’s home runs may not change much, but I expect increase in his average and his RBI.

Andruw Jones (.222, 26 HR, 94 RBI)
To say Andruw struggled last year would be a major understatement.  Sure he’s aged, but I think a change in scenery will rejuvenate his bat. 

Craig Monroe (.219, 12 HR, 59 RBI)
The Twins are in trouble if he doesn’t improve on his horrendous 2007 campaign.  They need him to step up to help fill the void losing Torii Hunter created.  If he can improve to .260. 20, 80 the Twins will be very happy.  So will his fantasy owners.

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Image courtesy of Icon SMI

Manny Ramirez (.296, 20 HR, 88 RBI)
Manny being Manny isn’t producing 20 HR & 88 RBI.  That’s Manny being Josh Willingham.  ManRam can still mash.  In the playoffs he hit .348 with 11 runs, 4 HR, and 16 RBI in 14 games.  He’ll get back to over 30 HR and 100 RBIs.  Of course, Manny being Manny, he won’t slide much. 

Vernon Wells (.245, 16 HR, 80 RBI)
Wells shoulder bothered him last year.  In fact, he cut his season short in Septemeber to go under the knife.  He’s saying he’s close to 100%.  100% for Vernon Wells is at least worth .280, 25 HR, 90 RBI).

 | Posted by | Categories: MLB |

We already took a look back at the first round picks.  Now let’s take a look at the other rookies that made an impact last year.

OFFENSE 

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Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants, 7th Round
Bradshaw’s regular season numbers don’t tell the story.  He finished with 190 yards (8.3 ypc) and a score.  However, he made a name for himself in the playoffs rushing for 208 yards and a score in New York’s four road victories.

Trent Edwards, Buffalo Bills, 3rd Round
Trent took over the starting job for an injured/ineffective J.P. Losman.  He looked decent at times finishing with 1630 passing yards, 7 TDs, 8 INTs, a 56.1% completion percentage, and a 70.4 passer rating.  His best game was a 4 TD performance against Miami.

Brian Leonard, St. Louis Rams, 2nd Round
Leonard had 303 yards for the Rams in his rookie season.  He helped out in the passing game grabbing 30 passes for 183 yards.  The highlight of his season was his 102 yard effort (plus 33 receiving) in a loss to Arizona.

Brandon Jackson, Green Bay Packers, 2nd Round
Jackson had every opportunity to take the job and run with it, but injuries and a slow start allowed Ryan Grant to take the reins.  He finished with 267 yards rushing and 16 catches for 130 yards.  His best effort was the 113 yards he hung on Detroit in the season finale.

James Jones, Green Bay Packers, 3rd Round
Jones showed some big play ability catching 47 passes for 676 yards and a pair of TDs.  The highlight of his season was a 79 yard TD grab from Brett Farve in a win over Denver.  He had three catches for 107 yards that game. 

Zach Miller, Oakland Raiders, 2nd Round
Zach showed signs that he’s going to be a very capable TE in this league catching 44 passes for 444 yards and 3 TDs.  He ended the season on a high note with 8 receptions for 84 yards.
 
Kolby Smith, Kansas City Chiefs, 5th Round
Kolby filled in admirably after Larry Johnson went down with a foot injury.  He rushed for 387 yards (77.4 yards per game) and 2 TDs in Weeks 12-16.  His monster 150 yard, 2 TD game against Oakland endeared him to fantasy football owners (at least the ones who owned him).  He also added 22 catches for 148 yards.

Darius Walker, Houston Texans, Undrafted
Darius finished strong from Houston running for 264 yards in their final four games (66 yards per game).  His lone touchdown came against Jacksonville in Week 17.  


Selvin Young, Denver Broncos, Undrafted
Travis Henry’s inability to stay healthy opened the door for Selvin Young, an undrafted RB out of Texas.  Selvin responded with 729 yards (5.2 ypc) rushing and a score and 35 receptions for 231 yards.  His best game was a 156 yard effort against Kansas City.

DEFENSE
Gerald Alexander, Detroit Lions, 2nd Round 
Alexander had a solid season rookie season recording 81 tackles, 2 sacks, and 2 INTs.  He had 15 tackles in a loss to San Diego.

Fred Bennett, Houston Texans, 4th Round
Bennett had 62 tackles and three INTs in his rookie season.  His three picks came in Weeks 9, 12 & 13 (with a bye in Week 10).  He had 11 tackles in a loss to Indianapolis. 

Tim Crowder, Denver Broncos, 2nd Round
After missing his first three games, Crowder went on to record 17 tackles and 4.5 sacks.  A pair of those sacks came in a win over Kansas City.

David Harris, New York Jets, 2nd Round
Harris was another great find for the Jets.  He tied for 8th in the league with 126 tackles.  He also added five sacks.  He had 41 tackles in back-to-back losses to Buffalo and Washington.

Chinedum Ndukwe, Cincinnati Bengals, 7th Round
Not quite this years Marques Coltson, but a solid 45 tackle, 2 sack, 3 INT season out of a 7th rounder.  Chinedum had ten tackles and two picks in a win over Cleveland.
 
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Brian Robison, Minnesota Vikings, 4th Round 
Robison had quite an impact for a 4th round pick.  He had 24 tackles and 4.5 sacks.  He opened the season with two sacks against Atlanta. 

Clifton Ryan, St. Louis Rams, 5th Round
Clifton had 30 tackles and two sacks in his rookie season.  His best game came against San Francisco when he had four tackles, including a pair of sacks.  He forced three fumbles on the year.

LaMarr Woodley, Pittsburgh Steelers, 2nd Round
Woodley missed three games, but still managed to record 14 tackles and four sacks.  In Pittsburgh’s playoff loss to Jacksonville, he had three tackles and two sacks.
Images courtesy of Icon SMI

 | Posted by | Categories: NFL |

Sorry about my Third Baseman post being sent 100 times.  I’m not sure what the story behind that is.  Hopefully it was just that post.

 

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Photo Courtesy of Shelly Castellano ICON SMI 

Need some help with your fantasy hockey team?  You’ve come to the right place.  Try these hot players on for size. 

Center
Mike Comrie
- Comrie has 8 points (four goals, four assists) in his last eight games, including three multi-point games during the stretch.  In his first 54 games he produced 37 points (0.69 points per game). 

Winger
Ryan Malone
- Malone has really stepped up his play over the past seven games (1.43 points per game).  He has 10 points (4 goals, 6 assist) in that stretch, scoring two points in five of the seven games.  In his first forty-nine games he had 27 points (0.55).

Defenseman
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Photo courtesy of Icon SMI

Andrei Markov - Here’s another defenseman who’s been playing well all year (41 points in his first fifty-eights games – 0.71 average), that has stepped up his game.  He has 7 points (all assists) in his last four games (1.75).  This is his third straight year with 45+ points, but with two more points he’ll have his first 50 point season.

Goalie
Carey Price -
 After playing in only one game out of 18 from 12/24 -2/5, Carey has played in six of Montreal’s last eight games.  In those six games, he’s gone 3-1 with a 2.52 GAA and a 92.4% save percentage.  Before this stretch Carey was 9-7 with a 91.4% save percentage. 

Here’s a look at some third basemen who should improve on last year’s stats.  Keep them in mind when you’re drafting your fantasy baseball team.  They could be great bargains.

Hank Blalock (.293, 10 HR, 33 RBI)
Blaylock only played in 58 games last year because of a shoulder injury.  He’s healthy and looks to rebound in ’08.  He should be able to get you 15-20 HRs and 80 RBI, which should be a steal when you draft him.

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Eric Chavez (.240, 21 doubles, 15 HR, 46 RBI)
Chavez is coming off three surgeries (both shoulders and back) so he’ll likely get off to a slow start as he gets his swing back.  As long as he stays healthy, I don’t see any reason why he doesn’t blow last year’s numbers out of the water.

Troy Glaus (.262, 19 doubles, 20 HR, 62 RBI)
Sheryl Crow said “Change will do you good”.  The Cardinals hope that is the case as they sent the disgruntled Scott Rolen to the Blue Jays for Glaus.  If he’s healthy, Glaus should improve on his uncharacteristically low power numbers.

Scott Rolen (.265, 24 doubles, 8 HR, 58 RBI)
The other half of the Glaus-Rolen deal should also improve on last year, again providing he’s healthy.  He’s been alternating between good and bad years since 2004 so if the trend continues he’ll be in store for a decent season.  I’m sure he’s just glad to be away from Tony LaRussa.

 | Posted by | Categories: MLB |

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