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Friday, February 22, 2013

MLB Team Preview: St. Louis Cardinals

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MLB 2013 Team Preview: St. Louis Cardinals
By Wild on Sports Baseball Analyst Aaron Dorman

ST LOUIS CARDINALS
2012 Record:
88-74, won WC, lost NLCS

The Cardinals snuck into the playoffs for the second year in a row, despite losing their two best hitters from 2011 to Los Angeles (Pujols) and injury (Berkman). Once again they were one of the best offenses in the league and Chris Carpenter rose from the dead one last time to help them in the playoffs.

NOTABLE ADDITIONS: none
NOTABLE LOSSES: Kyle Lohse, Lance Berkman (sort of), Skip Schumaker, Chris Carpenter

Keys to Success: Finding the right mix in the outfield and the rotation. The Cardinals are so stocked with prospects and young talent that they didn’t need to add anyone through trade or free agency, and they still face some tough decisions. When will top prospect Oscar Taveras come up and where will he play? Who among their starting rotation candidates will win out? What is the health status of Jaime Garcia? Was Pete Kozma’s crazy September at all repeatable?

Prospect Watch:
Prospect Key 
TBD= Work in Progress
X= Posses the Tool
XX= Excels at Tool


OSCAR TAVERAS, OF (rookie watch):
Power
Speed
Hitting
Plate Discipline
Defense
Arm
xx

xx
TBD
x
x
Taveras is probably the best pure hitter in the minor leagues right now. At just age 20, Taveras hit .321/.380/.572 with 23 HR and 94 RBI with AA Springfield. He doesn’t draw a lot of walks (42) because he doesn’t need to; he gets to many pitches and doesn’t miss his target. He struck out only 56 times, which amounts to just 10.5% of his plate appearances. That low low rate would have placed him twelfth among qualified batters at the major league level. Scouts liken him to a left-handed Vladimir Guerrero. Intriguingly, Guerrero himself hit an eerily similar .333/.383/.544 with a 30/45 BB/K ratio in 421 AB in his age 20 season…however, Guerrero put up those numbers at low-A, not AA (Vlad hit .360/.431/.618 the next year).  It’s unfair to peg Taveras as a hall of famer before playing a game above AA…but there’s a reason why he’s consistently in the top 5 on overall prospect rankings this winter.
SHELBY MILLER, RHP (rookie watch):
Velocity
Second Stuff
Command
Control
Strikeouts
Health
xx
x
TBD
x
xx
x
Miller’s bad AAA stats last year hide his second-half turnaround (2.88 ERA after the all-star break) and ace potential. His mechanics and anticipation of a big league call-up were responsible for early struggles, but he made adjustments and still looks like a future rotation anchor. Overall last year he went 11-10 with a 4.74 ERA and a 50/160 BB/K ratio in 136.2 IP. His control slipped early on; 43 of his 50 BB came in the first half (in 77 IP). After that, he walked just 7 in 59 IP, striking out 70. Miller had a quick and effective cameo in the big leagues in September (16 K in 13 innings, 2 ER) and his background and stuff makes him the early favorite to occupy Kyle Lohse’ empty space in the rotation.
TREVOR ROSENTHAL, RHP (rookie watch):
Velocity
Second Stuff
Command
Control
Strikeouts
Health
xx
x
x

x
x
Rosenthal throws very hard and had a very successful season last year, ending in a superb major league bullpen trial. In the upper minors, Rosenthal went 8-6 with a 2.97 ERA and 104 K in 109 IP. With St. Louis, he had a 2.78 ERA and struck out 25 batters in 22.2 IP. That dominance could “doom” him to the bullpen as the Cardinals have so many options for the rotation. However, he has the secondary pitches to start (as well as a triple-digit fastball). The mostly likely scenario is he begins the year in the Cardinals’ bullpen with the chance to start if people get hurt. Many future starters have come from humbler beginnings that that.
CARLOS MARTINEZ, RHP:
Velocity
Second Stuff
Command
Control
Strikeouts
Health
xx
TBD
TBD
x
TBD
x
Martinez is very young (21 next year) and less polished than Rosenthal or Miller, but he projects to be another hard-throwing, upper-echelon starter if everything breaks right, and can safely projected to at least contribute in the bullpen. His secondary stuff is coming along. In seven starts with High-A Palm Beach, he went 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA. After moving to AA-Springfield, his strikeouts disappeared (just 7.3 K/9) but he went 4-3 with a 2.90 ERA in 72 IP. Martinez generates lots of groundballs which helps balance out his lower strikeout totals. He is probably ready for the challenge of AAA this year, although a roster crunch probably keeps him down in the minors for most or all of 2013.  
KOLTON WONG, 2B:
Power
Speed
Hitting
Plate Discipline
Defense
Arm

x
x
TBD
x

Wong, 22, has just enough tools and talent to avoid the “scrappy” label. He was a first round pick, after all. However, his best asset is that he is good enough in just about everything, without excelling at anything. After a stellar debut (.911 OPS) in 2011, Wong had a less superlative sophomore season for AA-Springfield. He hit .287/.348/.405 with 9 HR, 52 RBI, and 21 SB in 523 AB with solid but unspectacular plate discipline (44/74 BB/K). If he could replicate those numbers in the majors, he’d be an everyday player at second base. His defense is fine. The second base position is somewhat unsettled in St. Louis, compared with the rest of their lineup, but Wong will probably have to prove himself at AAA first.
MATT ADAMS, 1B (rookie watch???):
Power
Speed
Hitting
Plate Discipline
Defense
Arm
xx

x



First base prospects in the minors are rare (usually major league 1B move there from 3B or OF), but Adams has made a statement with his prodigious power numbers. Last year in less than half a season with AAA-Memphis Adams hit .329/.362/.624 with 18 HR and 50 RBI in 67 games. His career numbers are .318/.365/.565, so his power is not a fluke. Unfortunately, as those lines also attest, he is a very aggressive hitter, walking only 15 times last year in 276 PA (with 57 K). Major league pitchers took advantage of this in a brief call-up and he hit just .244 with 2 HR in 90 AB with the Cardinals. He’s only 24 so it’s possible, probable even, that he can make adjustments and at least be a solid first baseman. He might have to learn from the St. Louis bench this year, spelling Allen Craig against difficult right-handers from time to time. Otherwise he’ll head back to Memphis and hit 40 home runs.

2012 Top Draft Pick: Michael Wacha, RHP…40 K in 21 IP!!!

Sleeper MLB Contributor: GREG GARCIA gets on base, plays a capable shortstop, and shows an average speed/power combo…he’s overlooked by most scouts/prospect lists, maybe because of St Louis’ deep farm system.

2013 Outlook and Projection:
The Cardinals have more talent than they know what to do with. Last year they lost Pujols, Berkman, and Chris Carpenter, and were set back a grand total of two games, a real credit to the organization’s depth as well as their ability to avoid crippling contracts. Letting Pujols go was absolutely the right decision, and essentially replacing him with another Hall-of-Fame caliber talent for two years (instead of ten) in Carlos Beltran was a stroke of genius. St Louis’ top prospects are not only elite, they are also big league ready, which means they can focus their monetary resources on locking them up long-term and making smarter decisions rather than desperate grabs for aging stars. Their only large long-term deals right now belong to Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina, both of whom earn their money. Replacing Kyle Lohse and his 2.86 ERA may be difficult in the near term, but any one of Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, Joe Kelly, et al could step in and surprise. They have contingency plans at almost every position. If Allen Craig peaked last year, they could try Matt Adams. If David Freese gets hurt, they can move Matt Carpenter around. Somehow Oscar Taveras will come up and contribute. Etc etc etc. Is is hard to envision a scenario where the Cardinals fail to at least win one of the wild card spots.

STRONG CONTENDERS
 
 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hoopshysteria: What Happened to Blockbuster Thursday?

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Hoopshysteria: What Happened to Blockbuster Thursday?
By Wild on Sports Basketball Analyst Talyon Perry
February 22, 2012
The teams are now set in stone for the remainder of the season after yesterday's trade deadline. What usually is a time for excitement and blockbuster potential turned out to be an almost event-less day. The Josh Smith saga ended on a quiet note as he will stay put in Atlanta for the last year in his contract. The Celtics did not disassemble the franchise. And yes, Dwight Howard is still a Laker.

Who is the biggest winner of the deadline day? The Bucks probably walked away with the biggest improvement after receiving shooter J.J. Reddick who will complement their already lights-out guards Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. Reddick came at a cheap price of only Harris, Udrih, and Lamb. Only concern going forward is that he is a free agent this offseason. 

Now the biggest loser. This easily goes to the Kings for trading rookie Thomas Robinson (their number 5 pick), Francisco Garcia, and Tyler Honeycutt for Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich, and Toney Douglas. Sacramento citizens may be smiling though, not out of excitement but because their soon to leave team just got much worse. There must have been some behind the scenes stuff going on with Robinson because not too often do you see a team trade a top-5 pick in his rookie season, but on the other hand the Kings front office is one of worst in the league.

Now for our weekend preview: Friday will treat us to a match-up between two SGs that have been on fire with James Harden coming off a career-high shooting night and Joe Johnson following his two clutch shots to put the game into overtime and then to win it. The Rockets are a great offensive team but the defense from Nets guards, Johnson and Williams, should slow down the Rockets. Also expect Brooks to beat up on the Rockets down low. Saturday will be a game between the Clippers and Jazz, two teams that were thought to make some moves before the deadline but decided to stick with their cores. Expect to see a show from lob city but the Jazz big men will quietly keep this game close, advantage still goes to Clippers. We will round out the weekend with a Lakers-Mavericks game. This is a vital game for the Lakers as Kobe has already promised a playoff spot. The Mavs will also come ready with more firepower after acquiring Anthony Marrow from the Hawks. Look for recently surging Dwight Howard to show why the Lakers are behind him 100%.

NBA Fanduel Friday - Picks for Friday February 22nd

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NBA Fanduel Friday - February 22nd Edition
Back from the All-Star break we are ready to crank it up once again with Fanduel Picks for Friday! Take a few players, take all the players, take none of the players, but if last week is a sign of things to come this list is one to look at each week before setting your line-ups!

Never played Fanduel before? Now is a good a time as any to start with games ranging from $1 to $500+ with playouts ranging as high as the thousands. Sounds good right? Click the link below to sign-up!

PG - Kyle Lowry  vs.  New York Knicks  $5,800
20+ Fantasy Points in 7 of his last 10 games. Had 12 points in 26 minutes before being ejected against New York last week.
PG - George Hill  vs.  Detroit Pistons  $5,800
Averaging 25 over his last 3 including a 34 FP game against Brooklyn last week. Hill is as hot as anyone in Indiana. A good play this week.
SG - O.J. Mayo  vs.  New Orleans Hornets  $6,600
Mayo has had an up and down month with four 30+ FP games but also 3 in the teens. He appears to be over the ankle injury that was hobbling him last week. Lets hope this is an up trend going into Friday night.
SG - Tyreke Evans  vs.  Atlanta Hawks  $6,600
Evans is coming off a monster game against San Antonio Tuesday night. He was as hot as anyone going into the All-Star break and appears to be continuing that trend. Time to ride him while he continues to be hot.
SF - Kevin Durant  vs.  Minnesota Timberwolves  $9,900
Lebron and the Heat are off so Durant faces no competition for the must play tag this week.
SF - Michael Kidd-Gilchrist  vs.  Chicago Bulls  $3,600
Gilchrist is coming off a 30-minute 25FP performance Wednesday night against Detroit. At $3,600 could be a steal if he can replicate those numbers.
PF - Josh Smith  vs.  Sacramento Kings  $9,300
Smith has been on fire lately going for 40+ in 3 of his last 4. After failing to be deal at Thursday's deadline he will be looking to back up Atlanta's decision to keep him. Expect his recent streak of superb play to continue Friday night.
PF - Andray Blatche  vs.  Houston Rockets  $3,800
Blatche scored 31 FP in 25 minutes against the Bucks Wednesday night.  He has seen a nice increase in minutes over the past couple of games. If that trends continues he could be a steal at $3,800 
C - Dwight Howard  vs.  Portland Trail Blazers  $7,800
Howard was an absolute beast against the Celtics Wednesday night. The back seems to be bothering him less and less lately making him a great play and a relative bargain at $7,800.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

MLB 2013 Team Preview: Cincinnati Reds

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MLB 2013 Team Preview: Cincinnati Reds
By Wild on Sports Baseball Analyst Aaron Dorman

Cincinnati Reds
2012 Record:
97-65, lost NLDS
After a breakthrough 2010 campaign, 2011 was a consolidation year and that winter Walt Jocketty helped shore up the rotation and bullpen to the point where the Reds are now a powerhouse that will compete long-term.

NOTABLE ADDITIONS: Sin-Soo Choo,
NOTABLE LOSSES: Scott Rolen, Drew Stubbs

Keys to Success: Can Sin-Soo Choo play center field capably, at least until Billy Hamilton is ready to contribute? Do either Zach Cozart or Devon Mesoraco have growth left in them? Mesoraco was supposed to be an everyday catcher last year but didn’t show enough to unseat the quietly competent Ryan Hanigan, who will again provide insurance against Mesoraco’s failed development. Is this the year Bronson Arroyo’s slop finally proves unworkable? It looked like in 2011 he might be finished but then he put in another solid year, eating innings and staying healthy. What kind of role is envisioned this year for Aroldis Chapman, who still has the stuff to be a starter but is almost literally unhittable out of the bullpen (he allows one hit every two innings).

Prospect Watch:
Prospect Key 
TBD= Work in Progress
X= Posses the Tool
XX= Excels at Tool

BILLY HAMILTON, OF (rookie watch):
Power
Speed
Hitting
Plate Discipline
Defense
Arm

xxxxxxx
x
x
x

Hamilton is the fastest player in organized baseball. He set the all-time professional baseball stolen base record last year with 155 between three levels (including Cincinnati). Overall in the minors he hit .314/.415/.425 with 2 HR, 43 RBI, 113 RS, and 86 BB between High-A Bakersfield and AA Penascola. He hit 22 doubles and 14 triples so even if he doesn’t hit home runs, he has enough gap power to keep pitchers honest. His BB% in AA was among the league leaders and the plate discipline he adds to his game makes him more than just an elite burner. Hamilton could be a marquis lead-off man as soon as this year. He will probably start in AAA but could force his way into the Cincinnati lineup, especially if Sin-Soo Choo struggles defensively.
TONY CINGRANI, LHP:
Velocity
Second Stuff
Command
Control
Strikeouts
Health
x

x
x
xx
x
Cingrani is a fascinating prospect, as he works almost entirely off his good-but-not-great fastball yet puts up truly insane statistics. Normally prospects whose results outweigh their stuff can be treated with healthy skepticism, but Cingrani’s stat line moves beyond mere competence. Last year between High-A Bakersfield and AA Penascola, he went 10-5 with a 1.73 ERA, which lead the minor leagues. He also struck out 172 batters in 146 IP. His control was mediocre in AA and his ERA doubled…all the way to 2.12.  His nuts minor league career includes a 1.73 ERA and 252 K in 197 IP. Scouts believe that Cingrani’s act won’t work three times against a major league batting order, but even so, it is hard to see him as anything less than a dominant relief pitcher. Only Cincinnati’s strong rotation will keep him from getting a starting opportunity.
DANNY CORCINO, RHP:
Velocity
Second Stuff
Command
Control
Strikeouts
Health
x
x
x

TBD
x
Corcino, 23, survived the AA jump with his numbers superficially intact. In fact, his ERA dropped from 3.46 down to 3.01. However, his walk rate nearly doubled and his lower ERA was in part due to more luck with hits. The good news is that, although his strikeout RATE dropped (10 K/9 to 8 K/9), his strikeout PERCENTAGE stayed very similar (17% in 2012 vs 17.8% in 2011). That means that his ability to use his plus stuff to confuse hitters did not actually change drastically. Corcino could either become a mid-rotation starter or he could be a capable reliever, the latter scenario likely if his control does not improve.

2012 Top Draft Pick: Nick Travieso, RHP

Sleeper MLB Contributor: Reliever JJ HOOVER isn’t much of a “sleeper” after a strong 30-inning audition in Cincinnati but if Chapman moves to the rotation, Hoover could compete for time as the closer.

2013 Outlook and Projections:
It has been a slow process but the Reds are now something of a dynasty. They have a great mix of strong pitching, a balanced lineup and solid depth, and their bullpen is just nasty. Joey Votto is their only truly elite hitter right now but they have no holes anywhere in the lineup. After years of struggling to find the right rotation mix, Jonny Cueto and Mat Latos anchor a strong staff that has reinforcements if the back end (Mike Leake and friends) has performance or injury issues. Aroldis Chapman is due for an extended look as a starter. However, outside of one spot start, just five pitchers started every game for them last year, so the depth they have is gravy. Scott Rolen is the big name departing but he was mediocre last year and Todd Frazier will do fine replacing him. At some point their crazy contract extensions to Votto and Brandon Phillips might hurt, but not in 2013.

STRONG CONTENDERS


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MLB 2013 Team Preview: Miami Marlins

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MLB 2013 Team Preview: Miami Marlins
By Wild on Sports Baseball Analyst Aaron Dorman
 
Miami Marlins
2012 Record:
69-93
The Marlins were supposed to contend in a fancy new ballpark, and instead the “fish” completely tanked, spurring yet another absurd salary-dump and rebuild by baseball’s worst ownership group.
 
NOTABLE ADDITIONS: unlucky prospects, cheap washed up veterans, money in the owner’s pockets
NOTABLE LOSSES: Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio, John Buck, the faith of MLB and the Miami fanbase
 
Keys to Success: Will Giancarlo Stanton sulk? How will Miami deal with their one remaining star? How long will they wait before they trade him away? If they are generous, Stanton will be dealt to a contender/real baseball team by midyear. Will Logan Morrison and Ricky Nolasco play well enough to be traded as well? In particular, will Morrison live up to his past potential? How real was Justin Ruggiano’s half-season of greatness? Which if their rookie/sophomore pitchers will establish themselves? Will MLB finally force a sale of the team?
 
Prospect Watch:
Prospect Key 
TBD= Work in Progress
X= Posses the Tool
XX= Excels at Tool
 
CHRISTIAN YELICH, OF:
Power
Speed
Hitting
Plate Discipline
Defense
Arm
x
x
xx
x
x
 
Yelich is on the fast track to be the next all-star Marlin to be traded away. He has put up superlative hitting lines in his first two seasons since being draft in the first round. Last year at high-A Jupiter he hit .330/.404/.519 with 12 HR and 20 SB in just 397 at-bats. He hit plenty of doubles (29) and the Florida State League is a pitcher’s haven, so his low HR total should not concern, he projects to hit 20-25 at least in the majors. He’s fast, his defensive reps have been solid and he’s only 21. A future batting champion, he could be in the opening day 2014 lineup for the Marlins, and the 2016 opening day lineup for your favorite team.
JOSE FERNANDEZ, RHP:
Velocity
Second Stuff
Command
Control
Strikeouts
Health
xx
x
x
x
xx
x
All things considered, Fernandez probably had the best season of any minor league pitcher last year. He looks like a future ace after going 14-1 with a 1.75 ERA in 25 starts with 158 K in 134 IP between low-A Greensboro and High-A Jupiter. Fernandez has a tremendous fastball and is among the best pitching prospects in baseball, despite going “only” 14th overall in last year’s draft. Only his relative distance from the majors keeps him behind guys like Dylan Bundy or Shelby Miller in rankings. He could be the opening day starter in 2014 for the Marlins, and the opening day starter in 2016 for the Yankees.
JAKE MARISNICK, OF:
Power
Speed
Hitting
Plate Discipline
Defense
Arm
x
x
 
 
x
x
Marisnick was acquired from Toronto in this winter’s megadeal/megadump. He’s a good prospect but is still more tools than results as he hit just .249/.321/.399 with 8 HR, 50 RBI, and 24 SB in 489 at-bats with High-A Dunedin and AA New Hampshire. His AA exposure proved a real challenge as he hit just .233/.286/.336 there in half a season. He plays a good center field and plenty of potential, with a ceiling as a five-tool contributor in the major leagues. He hit as high as .320 in 2011 but last year shows that he will have to re-establish himself as a batting threat (he also struck out 100 times). He’s only 22 so he has time.
JUSTIN NICOLINO, LHP:
Velocity
Second Stuff
Command
Control
Strikeouts
Health
TBD
x
x
x
x
x
Another Toronto import, Nicolino’s advanced repertoire has been too much for low-A hitters, as last year he went 10-4 with a 2.46 ERA and had a stellar 119/24 K/BB ratio in 124.1 innings. His fastball is just average but he is only 20 years old so maintaining or even gaining velocity is a possibility. He shows incredible control for a pitcher as young as he is and could find the Florida State League is another opportunity to post video game stat lines before the real test of AA. He is far away from the majors but with his polish he easily projects to be no worse than a mid rotation starter in the future.
ROB BRANTLY, C (rookie watch):
Power
Speed
Hitting
Plate Discipline
Defense
Arm
TBD
 
x
 
x
x
Brantly was acquired in the trade that sent Anibal Sanchez (and Omar Infante) to Detroit. He plays a capable catcher and has posted interesting, if not incredibly strong, numbers in the minor leagues. Brantly hit .298/.348/.410 with 5 HR and 41 RBI in 362 AB between AA-AAA for both the Tigers and Marlins. He was better in AA (.311/.359/.461) but the sample size at each stop was small. He hit 10 HR in 2011 so he has some more power potential than he showed last year and he’s only 23. Most encouraging was a successful major league debut, as he hit .290/.372/.460 in 100 AB at the end of the year with Miami, including 3 HR and 13 BB, which was nearly as much as he had drawn (20) in the minors. Brantly is fine defensively and if he hits .270-.280, he’ll be at least an average everyday player.
ADEINY HECHAVARRIA, SS (rookie watch):
Power
Speed
Hitting
Plate Discipline
Defense
Arm
 
x
TBD
 
x
x
It is difficult to evaluate Hechavarria’s offensive potential because he spent all of 2012 in AAA-Las Vegas, a great hitter’s park in a hitter’s league. He did not show major home/road splits while putting up a .311/.363/.423 line with 6 HR and 8 SB in 444 AB. The stolen base total is low but he has good speed and will probably add more to his totals. He might need to as his overall offensive game is still very suspect. He did very little in a major league audition at the end of the year: .229/.247/.314 with a putrid 1/23 B/K ratio in 70 AB). Those numbers are eerily similar to his line in AA-New Hampshire two years ago. His defensive reputation is strong and at worst, Hechavarria could be a defense-first hacker who occasionally hits above .260 and uses his speed to help compensate for other offensive shortcomings. It’s not a tremendous package but Miami is counting on him to be their everyday shortstop this year. 
 
2012 Top Draft Pick: Andrew Heaney,LHP
 
Sleeper MLB Contributor: 3B ZACH COX had a terrible season, but a year ago he looked like an everyday third baseman, and Miami could have a steal on their hands as all it took to get him from St Louis was generic reliever Ed Mujica.
miami marlins preview:

2013 Outlook and Projection:
The Miami Marlins are a joke, one that is getting more or less funny depending on one’s perspective. Certainly, teams in the AL East can’t be very happy that Toronto was gifted half their roster. The number of fans in Miami was a short list to begin with, and they will stay away once again, although now with the knowledge that their tax-payer dollars went to fund a giant empty stadium with the ugliest ____ in sports. Technically, the Marlins now have a loaded farm system, with some talent on the way in the immediate future, but to what end? Jeff Loria has proven over and over again that he not only has no patience for a core to coalesce into a contender, but he doesn’t really want to spend money to create a winning team. The Marlins were very bad last year but could have contended had they not made the trade with Toronto, and instead tried to add some veterans to plug their holes. It doesn’t help that Loria his group are also liars, denying that they were going through another rebuilding phase after they traded away Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez last year, moves that, at the time, looked like they freed up money to sign free agents this winter…but Placido Polanco and Juan Pierre wasn’t what fans had in mind. There are rumors that MLB and Bud Selig were very angry with the team this winter, and maybe another bad season could finally push them over the edge and force a sale. Until then, it is foolish to predict that the Marlins will be anything but a feeder outlet for the rest of baseball, letting prospects turn into stars and then trading them away before they cost any money. As a Mets fan, I am already excited about the possibility of trading for batting champion Christian Yelich in the winter of 2016.
REBUILDING (could contend by: whatever year a new owner steps in)
 
 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

NBA Power Rankings - February 20th

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NBA Power Rankings
February 20, 2013
 
With the games on hold over the weekend for the All-Star break there is not a whole lot of change here from last week. Let the playoff stretch begin! Remember -- Trade Deadline is Thursday!

1. San Antonio Spurs (42-12)
2. Miami Heat (36-14)
3. Los Angeles Clippers (39-17)
4. Oklahoma City Thunder (39-14)
5. Memphis Grizzlies (33-18)
6. Denver Nuggets (33-21)
7. Indiana Pacers (32-21)
8. New York Knicks (32-18)
9. Utah Jazz (30-24)
10. Brooklyn Nets (31-22)
11. Boston Celtics (28-24)
12. Houston Rockets (29-26)
13. Chicago Bulls (30-22)
14. Atlanta Hawks (29-22)
15. Golden State Warriors (30-22)
16. Los Angeles Lakers (25-29)
17. Dallas Mavericks (23-29)
18. Toronto Raptors (21-32)
19. Milwaukee Bucks (26-25)
20. New Orleans Hornets (19-34)
21. Detroit Pistons (21-33)
22. Philadelphia 76ers (22-29)
23. Portland Trail Blazers (25-28)
24. Cleveland Cavaliers (16-37)
25. Washington Wizards (15-36)
26. Sacramento Kings (19-35)
27. Phoenix Suns (17-36)
28. Minnesota Timberwolves (19-31)
29. Charlotte Bobcats (12-40)
30. Orlando Magic (15-37)

NHL Power Rankings - February 20th

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NHL Power Rankings
February 20, 2013

1. (1) Chicago Blackhawks 12-0-3
2. (8) Pittsburgh Penguins 11-5-0
3. (4) Anaheim Ducks 11-2-1
4. (2) New Jersey Devils 9-3-3
5. (3) Boston Bruins 9-2-2
6. (14) Montreal Canadiens 9-4-1
7. (6) Vancouver Canucks 8-3-3
8. (9) New York Rangers 8-5-1
9. (12) St.Louis Blues 9-5-1
10. (19) Nashville Predators 7-3-5
11. (5) San Jose Sharks 7-4-3
12. (16) Carolina Hurricanes 8-4-1
13. (10) Toronto Maple Leafs 9-6-0
14. (13) Ottawa Senators 7-6-2
15. (22) Phoenix Coyotes 7-6-2
16. (7) Detroit Red Wings 7-6-2
17. (11) Dallas Stars 8-7-1
18. (15) Tampa Bay Lightning 7-6-1
19. (20) Minnesota Wild 7-6-2
20. (23) Buffalo Sabres 6-9-1
21. (28) Calgary Flames 5-5-3
22. (18) Philadelphia Flyers 7-9-1
23. (25) New York Islanders 6-8-1
24. (27) Washington Capitals 5-9-1
25. (24) LA Kings 5-6-2
26. (17) Edmonton Oilers 6-5-3
27. (26) Colorado Avalanche 5-7-1
28. (21) Winnipeg Jets 5-8-1
29. (29) Florida Panthers 4-6-4
30. (30) Columbus Blue Jackets 4-9-2

Monday, February 18, 2013

MLB 2013 Team Preview: New York Mets

Wild on Sports
http://img.bleacherreport.net/img/images/photos/002/160/792/hi-res-152845803_crop_exact.jpg?w=650&h=440&q=75
MLB 2013 Team Preview: New York Mets
By Wild on Sports Baseball Analyst Aaron Dorman

New York Mets
2012 Record:
75-87
The Mets enjoyed a strong and competitive first half but attrition and a miserable July torpedoed their season. Last winter’s budget was spent on a gaggle of awful relievers.

 
NOTABLE ADDITIONS: Shawn Marcum, Travis D’Arnaud (and Noah Syndergaard), an army of middle relievers and AAAA outfielders
NOTABLE LOSSES: RA Dickey, Mike Pelfrey, Jason Bay
 
Keys to Success: Who will play in the outfield? The Mets currently don’t have any full-time outfielders on the roster, although they could find some workable platoons. Can Lucas Duda hit like he did in 2011? He’ll have to in order to make up for his awful defense, even though he’s moving to left field. Can Ike Davis hit like he did in the second half? Can David Wright hit like he did in the first? Will Ruben Tejada be healthy all year long? When will top prospects Travis D’Arnaud and Zach Wheeler make their debut? Their success could put the Mets in a position to use next winter as an opportunity to build a contender again.
 
Prospect Watch:
Prospect Key 
TBD= Work in Progress
X= Posses the Tool
XX= Excels at Tool
 
TRAVIS D’ARNAUD, C (rookie watch):
Power
Speed
Hitting
Plate Discipline
Defense
Arm
x
 
x
 
x
x
D’Arnaud is arguably the best catching prospect in baseball, and he’s been traded twice already for two Cy-Young winners. He’s probably done moving, and a move to the major is imminent after hitting .333/.380/.595 in 67 games with AAA-Las Vegas. Vegas is a great hitter’s park, but d’Arnaud did well on the road so his line, while probably not repeatable in the majors, is still legitimate. D’Arnaud should hit for power and is a strong defensive catcher, both of which make him an elite prospect. Two red flags for the 24-year-old are his health issues-only 2 full seasons in the last 4 years-and his 19/59 BB/K in 303 PA. He’s always been something of a hacker and so will probably have a low OBP in seasons when he doesn’t hit .290+. The Mets are still happy to have him, as finding a good every day catcher is always tough.
ZACK WHEELER, RHP (rookie watch):
Velocity
Second Stuff
Command
Control
Strikeouts
Health
x
x
x
TBD
x
x
Wheeler, 23, is a near-ready of pitches and poise that indicate a future no. 2 starter. He figures to follow the path of fellow-Met Matt Harvey, fine-tuning his command in AAA for half a season before moving up to New York for good. Wheeler might be ahead of where Harvey was this time last year, as he’s already made six good starts at AAA. Between AA-Binghamton and AAA-Buffalo, Wheeler went 12-8 with a 3.26 ERA and 148 strikeouts in 149 innings. Traded for Carlos Beltran in 2010, Wheeler’s control took a major step up when he moved to the Mets, and he’s shown no health concerns. He and Harvey could anchor the Mets rotation for the next decade.
NOAH SYNDERGAARD, RHP:
Velocity
Second Stuff
Command
Control
Strikeouts
Health
x
TBD
x
x
x
x
That the Mets got Syndergaard as well as D’Arnaud for knuckleballer RA Dickey is a real coup and a tremendous boost to their farm system. In fact, Syndergaard looks a lot like Wheeler before he was traded to the Mets-a talented right-hander with excellent velocity still working on his secondary pitches. As a teenager (19) for low-A Lansing he went 8-5 with a 2.60 ERA and 122 K in 103.2 IP. If he can maintain a K/BB ratio near 4 as he did last year, he will move quicker than expected.
WILMER FLORES, 3B/2B:
Power
Speed
Hitting
Plate Discipline
Defense
Arm
TBD
 
xx
 
 
 
Flores has been on prospect lists for a long time, it seems, as he was a high-profile international signing and he’s moved slowly up the Mets pipeline. He reached AA-Binghamton in 2012, hitting .300/.349/.479 with 18 HR and 75 RBI between there and High-A St. Lucie. One thing that has always kept him on the radar is his exceptional contact ability, as he rarely strikes out (60 times in 547 PA) and looks good in the batter’s box. Concerns about his power were mostly answered last year, but he’s very slow and remains a candidate to move to first base in the future. That would put a lot of pressure on his bat. The Mets might try him at second base more often this year, after re-signing David Wright long-term. If Flores can hit at AAA this year, he might be most valuable to the Mets as trade bait for an outfielder.
 
2012 Top Draft Pick: Gavin Cecchini, SS
 
Sleeper MLB Contributor: RHP JEURYS FAMILIA struggled as a starter last year but could thrive as a hard-throwing reliever, and he’s very young. 
 
2013 Outlook and Projection: The Mets are in an awkward position, hamstrung by bad contracts and insolvency. Although the owners claim their money troubles are over, the Mets payroll continues to drop, they continue to lose money, and their record continues to slide away from .500. Their GM, Sandy Alderson, has shown extreme caution and patience, which has worked at times, such as when he leveraged Carlos Beltran and RA Dickey (all three of their top prospects are from those two trades) into top-tier talent, but at times this approach has seemed uncreative and he may be missing out on some opportunities. Why, for example, was Scott Hairston allowed to play out the year in a Mets’ uniform? Most damningly, the Mets got almost nothing for Jose Reyes, as the Miami Marlins had a protected first-round draft pick last year. Keeping Reyes through 2011 smelled badly of ownership interference. Will keeping David Wright around placate the fan base? Some veterans who will test Alderson’s trigger finger include former Cy Young winner Johan Santana, Shawn Marcum, and John Buck. If you squint, you could see an interesting team come out of their roster. Their pitching is talented, and their infield is young. Still, even if things come together, they figure to repeat the pattern of years prior: start out well enough but see their lack of depth exposed as the season nears the trading deadline. This is a season to establish a group of players the Mets can build around. 
 
Projection: REBUILDING (could contend by: 2014)
 
 

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