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Friday, March 15, 2013

MLB 2013: New Blood

Wild on Sports
MLB 2013: New Blood
By Wild on Sports MLB Analyst Aaron Dorman
Eleven Key First Time Everyday Players-Hitters

Spring training stats are notoriously unreliable, yet nevertheless every year March serves as an audition for the regular season. While veterans simply fine tune before Opening Day, others have to make their time count for something more. Here are several young players who are on track to break camp with a starting job for the first time in their career. It is important to note that not all these guys are rookies. Sometimes it takes a few years before a player earns his way into the Opening Day lineup. Some of the following players are under the radar, but maybe not for long.

1      Dominic Brown, OF Phillies
WHY HE’LL START The once touted outfielder was Baseball America’s fourth best prospect going into 2011. He remains talented but the past two years he was never fully entrusted with a starting job and he failed to produce in limited playing. However, he’s having a strong spring, hitting almost .400 and playing every day. The Phillies corner outfield spots are unsettled and Brown has the most tools of anybody on their roster. Even his lackluster big league career shows he can take a walk. WHY HE WON’T Supposedly Brown and manager Charlie Manuel do not have a great relationship, one reason why the Phillies traded for Hunter Pence two years ago instead of going with Brown. Sometimes a team is reluctant to give a young player multiple chances, instead preferring a fresh face to the organization. We will find out in a few weeks.

2      Nick Castellanos, OF Tigers 
      WHY HE’LL START Detroit is aggressive about promoting their top prospects and Castellanos is the best of a thin group this year. Castellanos was great last year outside of a miserable August, and the Tigers might be willing to sustain his growing pains if they really believe he can still help the team. Castellanos might be the best option to start in left field. WHY HE WON’T Despite whatever he does in spring training, Castellanos is probably not ready. He was overly aggressive in the minors, which led to a late season collapse in AA. He’s also relatively new to the outfield, having moved there last year. You don’t want to ruin a potential batting champion by not giving him a chance to learn the strike zone.

3       Adam Eaton, OF Diamondbacks 
      WHY HE’LL START Adam Eaton is ready right now to be a leadoff hitter. His minor league numbers are insane and he did well in his September big league audition, getting on base and scoring runs. Power is the only true skill Eaton lacks at this point, but Arizona’s ballpark could allow him to hit 10-15 Home Runs or more. Arizona doesn’t have an equally potent base-stealing threat. WHY HE WON’T Arizona’s outfield is crowded, and if Arizona wants both Eaton and Gerardo Parra to play everyday, Eaton will probably start the year in the minor leagues. Inevitably, a contending team like Arizona will realize that neither Jason Kubel nor Cody Ross is good enough, but that might happen anytime between now and June.

4     Avisail Garcia, OF Tigers 
      WHY HE’LL START Both the Tigers and scouting community are intrigued by his athleticism and raw talent, and Detroit already showed that they aren’t afraid to rush him by giving him a brief call-up despite limited time above A-ball last year. Garcia hit an empty .320 down the stretch for the Tigers. WHY HE WON’T Garcia is even more aggressive at the plate than Nick Castellanos, and doesn’t offer the same offensive upside. If he can’t walk more than 20 times a year, Garcia probably shouldn’t be an everyday player. He also isn’t doing very much offensively this spring, although it’s hard to tell when spring stats matter to a team. 

5     Johnny Giavotella, 2B Royals 
      WHY HE’LL START Giavotella is a solid offensive prospect who bombed last year in his big league time but still offers better upside than incumbent Chris Getz, who is really just a placeholder. He’s having a decent spring and his upside-perhaps a .280-.290 average with plenty of walks-might be too difficult for them to ignore. He has nothing left to prove in AAA having spent the better part of the last two years mastering the Pacific Coast League. WHY HE WON’T Giavotella has now been given two chances to seize the big league job and so far he’s blown it, showing none of the keen batting eye or modest power he’s demonstrated in the minors. Kansas City has playoff aspirations this year and they may opt for a known mediocrity over a more unpredictable performer.

6     Aaron Hicks, OF Twins 
      WHY HE’LL START Hicks is showcasing himself this spring and the talented outfield has forced his way into the starting outfield race in Minnesota, who dealt two of them this winter and are now looking to their younger players to fill those spots. Hicks has moved slowly through the minors but did well in AA and offers the potential to contribute across the board. The Twins are not competing this year (probably) so this is a good opportunity for him to learn how to play in the big leagues. WHY HE WON’T Teams in Minnesota’s position sometimes opt to wait before calling up their top prospects in order to gain an extra year of service time. If Hicks promises to be *too* good then the Twins might let him mash in AAA for a few months before giving him a starting role. Although the Twins don’t necessarily have a track record for withholding their prospects until midseason, they are conservative with promotions.

7     Pete Kozma, SS Cardinals 
      WHY HE’LL START Rafael Furcal is done for the year and Pete Kozma is the next in line for playing time. Before last September he was a first-round bust, a punchless shortstop who was marginal even at AAA. Then he hit .333 with the Cardinals and became a playoff hero to boot. So far this spring Kozma has picked up right where he left off, hitting .382 with 2 HR in 34 at-bats. St. Louis clearly believes in him. WHY HE WON’T Kozma’s minor league track record is difficult to ignore. In over 800 at-bats at AAA, he’s hit just .223 with hardly any power. No reason as yet has been given for any sudden transformation; he could easily be a one-month wonder. The Cardinal’s don’t want to sink their playoff chances because they couldn’t find a starting shortstop.

8      Brett Jackson, OF Cubs 
      WHY HE’LL START Jackson has always had 20/20 potential and this spring he’s remade his swing in an attempt to cut down on strikeouts. The Cubs believe in him and they aren’t going to win anything this year. It’s worth finding out if Jackson is a long term answer in the outfield. WHY HE WON’T Jackson hit under .200 in his big league debut last year, whiffing far too many times to have major league success. The Cubs might be better seeing if his new approach at the plate can lead to success in the minors first before they give him the chance in Chicago. Spring training is a time when many players tout new abilities or motivations only to revert to their old self as soon as April 1.

9      Leonys Martin, OF Rangers 
      WHY HE’LL START Leonys Martin is already 25, has proved himself at AAA, and is the most well-rounded of candidates to play center field for the Rangers this year. He could be a solid leadoff hitter for them. Martin’s had a very strong spring, batting .394 so far in 33 at-bats. WHY HE WON’T The Rangers really like Craig Gentry’s defense and may prefer someone like Gentry who already has shown he can play in the majors. Martin did nothing in his brief major league time to show he can play every day for a powerhouse like Texas. He also needs to prove that he’s healthy.

1    Chris Parmelee, OF Twins 
      WHY HE’LL START Parmelee was a solid prospect coming through Minnesota’s farm system and he’s spent the past two years on the bench. With Span and Revere gone, the right field job may be Parmelee’s to lose. He offers solid power and will take his walks; at least he did in the minors. WHY HE WON’T Parmelee has had a lackluster spring and he’s already 25, so there might not be much growth left. He was serviceable in a bench role last year but still, hitting an aggressive .229 doesn’t exactly call for an increase in playing time. Parmelee certainly doesn’t have the upside of a true top prospect like Aaron Hicks, or even a five-tool sleeper like Joe Benson. 

1    Darrin Ruf, OF/1B/whatever Phillies 
      WHY HE’LL START The Phillies say that the believe minor league legend Ruf is more than just a late-blooming AAAA slugger. But are they just trying to save face in light of their shallow outfield depth? To Ruf’s credit, he hit well last year in AA even before his record-setting August, during which he hit 20 Home Runs. Ruf also did well in September with the Phillies. They may also reward his marginal versatility, as Ruf can technically play at any of the four corners (first, third, left field, right field). WHY HE WON’T Ruf has always been old for his league. There is a pretty common track record of older, defensively-challenged hitters failing to make the jump from the high minors. Ruf may not be anything more than a right-handed bat off the bench, as scouts are mixed at best about his offensive abilities. He may also be a liability in the field.

Honorable Mention: Jordany Valdespin, OF Mets  
Valdespin, even as a prospect, is neither hyped nor touted as much as the players above. However, he does fit the model of a young player forcing his way into discussion for an everyday job come Opening Day. Valdespin is an athlete who spent some time playing up the middle for the Mets last year. He showed surprising power, and has always demonstrated solid speed and defense, but his approach at the plate has never been strong. This winter, however, he worked hard to improve his plate discipline, and it looks like that has bled into his spring stats. The Mets outfield is so weak right now that if Valdespin shows the potential for even an average batting eye, he could be their best option to play center field.

Hoopshysteria: Lakers In? Maybe?

Wild on Sports
Hoopshysteria Weekly Blog - Lakers In? Maybe?
By Wild on Sports NBA Columnist Talyon Perry

Looking Back:
Well, the Lakers have finally done it. They are a half game ahead of the Utah Jazz for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The feat did not come without a cost however as Kobe Bryant's late game ankle injury Wednesday night could change that quickly. 

Other news from Staples Center comes to you thanks to Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. I strongly suggest watching them if you haven't already, both dunks will be in the conversation for dunk of the year.

Across the country, the Miami Heat have raised their win streak to 20 and could easily continue. Will anyone challenge then for the Eastern Conference crown?

Now for the weekend preview:
Friday will feature a battle between Memphis Grizzlies and Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets are a great fast paced team so expect them to run the Grizzlies off the court. Denver could be a dark horse when playoff time comes so beware. 

Saturday the veteran Spurs face the future of the NBA in the Cavaliers. There is a small chance that Cleveland can actually beat San Antonio but it will be enjoyable to see how the "young bloods" play with out Uncle Drew (Kyrie Irving). 

We will round out the weekend with a game between two top teams, the LA Clippers and NY Knicks. The biggest story of the night won't be who wins but rather who gets posterized by Griffin or Jordan

Thursday, March 14, 2013

NHL Approves Realignment

Wild on Sports
NHL Approves Realignment

It has been a long time coming. With teams crossing time zones for inter-divisional games and a team in Western Canada playing in the Southwest Conference, a change in division structure was needed.  On Thursday the NHL Board of Directors approved a proposal that the NHL and NHLPA had been working on last week that will realign the NHL into four divisions - 2 eight team divisions and 2 nine team divisions. The new alignment is slated to begin in 2014. While the divisions look significantly different, only 3 teams are changing conferences - Detroit and Columbus to the East and Winnipeg to the West.

Perhaps the biggest challenge faced by the NHL and NHLPA in this realignment has been setting up a playoff structure that would be fair to both teams in a eight team division and teams in a nine. Here is what they came up with...

From NHL.com
"The Stanley Cup Playoffs will still consist of 16 teams, eight in each conference, but it will be division-based and a wild-card system has been added as a new wrinkle.
The top three teams in each division will make-up the first 12 teams in the playoffs. The remaining four spots will be filled by the next two highest-placed finishers in each conference, based on regular-season points and regardless of division. It will be possible, then, for one division to send five teams to the postseason while the other sends three.
The seeding of the wild-card teams within each divisional playoff will be determined on the basis of regular-season points. The division winner with the most points in the conference will be matched against the wild-card team with the lowest number of points; the division winner with the second-most points in the conference will play the wild-card team with the second fewest points.
The teams finishing second and third in each division will play in the first round of the playoffs. The winners of each series will play for the divisional championship.
The two divisional champions in each conference will then play in the conference finals to advance to the Stanley Cup Final."
Seems to make sense.

Perhaps one of the most interesting storylines in all of this will be the new rivalry's it creates.While Detroit loses its rivalry with Chicago (in theory), it gains some excellent original 6 options in Montreal and Boston. Crosby and Ovetchkin are now in the same division and will face off on a more regular basis. The Western Canadian teams will all get a chance to dance regularly as well.

Overall a good day for the NHL. It will be fun to see how it all unfolds.

2013-14 realignment plan

2013 Fantasy Baseball Preview

Wild on Sports
2013 Fantasy Baseball Preview
By Wild on Sports Analyst Kyle Kargel

Top 5 Fantasy Baseball Catchers 2013

1. Buster Posey SF- Posey proved to everyone last year he could comeback from a serious injury and did so by batting .336 and winning the NL MVP. Don’t expect a repeat performance of that nature, but do expect to see him at the top of NL catchers at least, barring any more injuries.
2013: BA .300 25 HR 90 RBI 2 SB 70 Runs

2. Yadier Molina STL- Molina surprised everyone last year with his 22 homeruns and .315 average after only having six homers in 2010 and improved to 15 two years ago. Molina should be able to keep pace with himself as the Cardinals number five hitter.
2013: BA .310 20 HR 80 RBI 5 SB 60 Runs

3. Joe Mauer MIN- Leading all catchers in at-bats a season ago Mauer expects to stay healthy all season after a season shortened season in 2011. His power numbers have been dismal the past few seasons, but if him and Mourneau expect the Twins to go anywhere his power numbers have to improve.
2013: BA .300 22 HR 73 RBI 12 SB 70 Runs

4. Victor Martinez DET- Martinez should pick up where he left off of in 2011. Yes, he did tear his ACL only a year ago, but Martinez is a seasoned veteran in this game and should have no problem getting back to his form in 2011. Expect him to be near the top of catchers in average.
2013: BA .320 13 HR 70 RBI 2 SB 75 Runs

5. Matt Wieters BAL- Wieters is a big guy with a lot to prove this season. Not that he didn’t have a good 2012, but he can hit a lot better should he put in the effort in 2013. His sub .250 average wasn’t impressive, but has played 130+ games the past three seasons to go along with homerun totals of 22 in 2011 and 23 in 2013. He should stay consistent with those numbers, and believe his average going up some as well.
2013: BA .270 25 HR 70 RBI 3 SB 65 Runs

Fantasy Catcher Bust
A.J. Pierzynski TEX- “Punch A.J.” was the line the White Sox came up with a few years back to get Pierzynski into the all-star game. That’s what the Rangers might want to do to themselves after signing this aging veteran. Pierzynski had a breakout year in 2012, but it just won him a big contract that the Rangers were willing to offer him. He is in a division with better pitching than the AL Central. He averaged only 12 homeruns through his first 10 seasons. Expect his numbers to settle down around there.
2013: BA .260 HR 14 RBI 60 SB 0 Runs 55

Fantasy Catcher Sleeper
Travis d’Arnaud NYM- The Mets expect d’Arnuaud to start the season in the minors and bring him up a little into the season, but d’Arnaud has been compared to the next Buster Posey, and what better time to bust out than in the Big Apple. He has yet to play in the majors, but was involved in the trade that sent R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays. His arrival should be even sooner if John Buck struggles out of the gate.
2013: BA .275 HR 14 RBI 50 SB 5 Runs 40

Top 5 Fantasy First Baseman 2013

1. Albert Pujols LAA- With Miguel Cabrera no longer qualified for the first base position Pujols shouldn’t struggle with capturing that top spot. He won’t struggle terribly in April as he did last season and his numbers should be back around where they were when he was with the Cardinals.
2013: BA .295 HR 40 RBI 115 SB 3 Runs 90

2. Prince Fielder DET- People had high expectations of Fielder going into 2012 and he met those expectations for the people of Detroit hitting 30 homeruns and driving in 108 runs. There should be no reason why he can’t do the same, if not better after shedding around 20 lbs. this offseason thus far. Also, with Martinez hitting in the five spot this year, it should produce more opportunities for Fielder to score.
2013: BA .290 HR 33 RBI 100 SB 10 Runs 100

3. Edwin Encarnacion TOR- Before belting 42 homers last year Encarnacion worked with Robinson Cano on his swing, and did he ever improve it. Encarnacion should be more than a one hit wonder coming off last season, and with Toronto looking to make a move in the AL East Encarnacion should have no problem working with Jose Bautista as a one two punch for the offense.
2013: BA.280 HR 35 RBI 95 SB 10 Runs 85

4. Billy Butler KC- Butler has been the most consistant piece of offense the Royals have had in the past 10 years. They know barring injury they can expect 25+ homeruns and 90+ RBIs from him and hit in clean-up spot on a daily basis. Hard to say for a team that has found itself in the bottom of the division the past 10 seasons. Butler should keep his numbers the same, but the Royals have improved slightly.
2013: BA.300 HR 25 RBI 95 SB 2 Runs 80

5. Adrian Gonzalez LAD- So, the Red Sox experiment didn’t work out according to plan. Gonzalez was impressive on the Dodgers while he was there and looks to start fresh with Matt Kemp and Andre Eithier batting around him. His stats should be similar to last year with a little more pop.
2013: BA .290 HR 24 RBI 100 SB 0 Runs 83

Fantasy First Base Bust
Joey Votto CIN- Votto will be among the good as far as first baseman are concerned, but to put up the near .340 average he did last year will be a bit obscure. He also only had 14 homeruns and 56 RBIs as well last year, which is only average even though he missed 51 games. Still, he wouldn’t have had much more to add to his stats. Considering everything at hand this isn’t enough to be near the top of projected first baseman this year.
2013: BA .280 HR 17 RBI 70 SB 3 Runs 80

Fantasy First Base Sleeper
Anthony Rizzo CHC- Rizzo will be the young star on a rebuilding team. He hit 15 HR and batted .285 in only 87 games last season so expect his homerun and RBI numbers to balloon after playing a full year for the Cubs this season. After all, he is the future of the organization that hasn’t won a World Series in over 100 years.
2013: BA .280 HR 23 RBI 80 SB 7 Runs 75

Top 5 Fantasy Second Baseman 2013

1. Robinson Cano NYY- This is a clear cut number one for the second base position. The Yankees are plagued with injuries and have lost some of their home run power to free agency including outfielder Nick Swisher and catcher Russell Martin. This leaves only Cano as the last homerun hitter from the lineup of a year ago. He will contend for the MVP award this season should the Yankees over come early injuries and make the playoffs.
2013: BA .305 HR 43 RBI 120 SB 7 Runs 110

2. Ian Kinsler TEX- Kinsler has been a dual threat on the base path and with the bat ever since he entered the league. Always possible for him to go 20-20 or even 30-30 Kinsler looks to lead a Rangers team that lost one of its best hitters in Josh Hamilton to the Angels. So look for the Rangers to shift Kinsler around in the batting order if necessary to produce offense.
2013: BA .270 HR 24 RBI 80 SB 30 Runs 105

3. Dustin Pedroia BOS- Even though Boston looks to be partly rebuilding, they have all the pieces they were missing last year due to injury including lead-off hitter Jacoby Ellsbury who Pedroia is comfortable hitting behind. With him back Pedroia will likely hit better than he did last year which lands him back as one of the five most valuable second baseman.
2013: BA .300 HR 21 RBI 75 SB 20 Runs 103

4. Aaron Hill ARI- Justin Upton is gone from the D-Backs, and that leaves the offense in the hands of Hill and Paul Goldschmidt. Hill has been consistent since departing from the Blue Jays hitting 26 homeruns last year. He also swiped 14 bags last year which makes him somewhat of a valuable asset on the bases.
2013: BA .295 HR 20 RBI 70 SB 15 Runs 100

5. Jason Kipnis CLE- Kipnis passed his first full season as a MLB second baseman with flying colors. He hopes to not have a sophomore slump in his second full season. This can only happen if he hits worse than the .257 he did last season. If he starts hitting below .250 start panicking if you own Kipnis. If this doesn’t happen his numbers should stay around the same as far as power and speed.
2013: BA .265 HR 17 HR 80 RBI SB 25 Runs 90

Fantasy Second Base Bust

Dan Uggla ATL- The .220 average Uggla posted last year was atrocious to his standards. His average has gotten worse over the past few seasons which doesn’t bode well for Braves fans. His 19 homeruns were also a career low last year. He has no choice to improve these numbers or else he will be traded or demoted.
2013: BA .235 HR 23 RBI 60 SB 1 Runs 80

Fantasy Second Base Sleeper
Jose Altuve HOU- Not many people know of this little guy. Standing at 5’5 Altuve is the lone bright spot for the Astros and their future, even though it may not be much. He stole 33 bases last year and was fifth in the MLB in hits among shortstops with 167. Even though the Astros moved to a much tougher division in the AL West he looks to be the team’s lone all-star for the second season in a row.
2013: BA .300 HR 10 RBI 40 SB 40 Runs 93

Top 5 Fantasy Shortstops 2013

1. Jose Reyes TOR- Looking to show Miami what he is really made of Reyes is taking his talents across the border to show the AL East what he is really about. Although Reyes played almost every game last year, he only hit 11 homers and hit .287. Marlins fans were hoping for more of a 20 homerun and .300 average type season, similar to that in New York. Blue Jay fans are hoping to be the beneficiary of a “comeback” season for Reyes.
2013: BA .310 HR 16 RBI 65 SB 40 Runs 110

2. Ian Desmond WASH- Washington fans didn’t see Desmond coming as all the hype was around Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg a year ago. Desmond has stolen a sliver of that spotlight as he hit 25 homeruns and stole 21 bases last year, and the same is expected of him this year.
2013: BA .300 HR 20 RBI 85 SB 30 Runs 80

3. Hanley Ramirez LAD- There is a pleather of dual threat second baseman this year and Ramirez is yet another one of those players. Upset in Miami during the middle of last season, he was traded to the Dodgers where he looks to take back his lead-off spot and take off with it. If the Dodgers start to gel as a team Ramirez will certainly be one of those reasons why.
2013: BA .275 HR 25 RBI 80 SB 30 Runs 90

4. Troy Tulowitzki COL- Tulo was a strong fantasy commodity a couple years ago, but injuries kept him out of most of the 2012 season. If everything is back to normal than Tulowitzki should be a threat to hit between 30-40 homeruns considering the Rockies are mostly looking to Carlos Gonzalez and himself as the team’s biggest offensive threats. He’s got the size, youth and athleticism to come back strong.
2013: BA .290 HR 30 RBI 85 SB 5 Runs 80

5. Starlin Castro CHC- Castro played all 162 games for the dismal Cubs last year, and hopes to do the same this year. The sky is the limit for Castro as injuries have never been a problem in his short career. He was third in the NL among shortstops with 183 hits. He and Anthony Rizzo look to dig the Cubs out of the cellar in the NL Central.
2013: BA .305 HR 20 RBI 85 SB 15 Runs 85

Fantasy Shortstop Bust

Asdrubal Cabrera CLE
- People see Cabrera to have a comeback year in 2013, but in order to do that you need to have some sort of consistency earlier in your career. Cabrera had 25 homeruns and 17 steals in 2011 but only went 16-9 last year As the Indians fell out of the AL Central race in the middle of the season. For the sole fact that Cabrera is looking to one good year to play off of, it might be a long season this time around.
2013: BA .265 HR 15 RBI 70 SB 10 Runs 80

Fantasy Shortstop Sleeper
Andrelton Simmons ATL- Tyler Pastornicky didn’t get the job done last season in his shortstop audition, but hype has been built up around Simmons all spring training, more than it was Pastornicky last season. Simmons did all he could in the 166 at-bats that were given to him only hitting a few homeruns, but hit .289. He should secure the spot this season for the Braves.
2013: BA .280 HR 16 RBI 80 SB 5 Runs 75

Top 5 Fantasy Third Baseman 2013

1. Miguel Cabrera DET- Reigning MVP and Triple Crown Champion. Enough said.
2013: BA .320 HR 35 RBI 110 SB 2 Runs 100

2. David Wright NYM- Wright is putting on a clinic during the World Baseball Classic, and this should be no false inclination as to what he will be doing this season for the Mets. The Mets didn’t do much last season and wright still put up solid numbers for them hitting .306. He was fourth in the MLB in hits with 178. The team as a whole should rebound after a dreary 2012.
2013: BA .310 HR 25 RBI 90 SB 20 Runs 90

3. Evan Longoria TB- Hamstring probably isn’t the word you want to bring up to Longoria during this season as he is coming off a hamstring injury that kept him out of 88 games last season. Longoria looks to get back up to or over that 30 homerun total that he hit in 2011 which he shouldn’t have a problem doing if he is able to play 140 games or so next year.
2013: BA .280 HR 30 RBI 100 SB 2 Runs 80

4. Adrian Beltre TEX- Without Hamilton, this year Beltre comes back as the team’s leader in hits, home runs, average and RBIs. This should continue for Beltre except if he has somewhat of a down year and Nelson Cruz or Kinsler explodes out of nowhere. As long as Beltre is able to keep that third or fourth spot wrapped up he should have no problem putting up numbers similar to last season.
2013: BA .305 HR 22 RBI 105 SB 2 Runs 92

5. Chase Headley SD- The Padres don’t have much offense except for this guy. Analyists are looking at Headley as a bust, but what are they going by. He played all but one game last season. Besides 2011, he’s gradually improved in each season he’s played since 2007. Also, he can swipe you 15-20 bags a season if you chose to use him that way. Headley will be leading the Padres offensive attack this season, and may challenge the NL lead in home runs or RBI.
2013: BA .275 HR 32 RBI 95 SB 15 Runs 90

Third Base Fantasy Bust
Pedro Alverez PIT- I know a lot of owners won’t be looking to draft Alverez as a starter on draft day, but he did hit 30 homeruns last season which can be a tease to owners that are looking at him. It took him a while to get the engine going. He only hit .191 in 2011 and .244 last season. Expect those numbers to slightly improve, but his homerun numbers to come back to reality
2013: BA .245 HR 20 RBI 75 SB 0 Runs 70

Third Base Fantasy Sleeper

Will Middlebrooks BOS- The Red Sox have hit the reset button and this year they hope everyone can stay healthy including Middlebrooks who was on his way to a remarkable rookie campaign. In only 75 games Middlebrooks hit 15 homeruns and 54 RBI. Those numbers could have easily been doubled without injury.
2013: BA .295 HR 22 RBI 95 SB 10 Runs 80

Top 5 Fantasy Outfielders 2013

1. Matt Kemp LAD- Kemp was on the early watch for the Triple Crown last year before injuries riddled him early in the season. If Kemp had stayed healthy it may be him were talking about winning the Triple Crown as well as Cabrera. All in all Kemp should stay healthy leading to healthy like numbers from the Triple Crown threat.
2013: BA .310 HR 35 RBI 120 SB 25 Runs 95

2. Mike Trout LAA- The numbers Trout put up last year were un-rookie like, but he proved everyone wrong showing what a young stud can do. Although he did play a month in the minors to start the season last year, he put up a healthy amount of at-bats and cooled off in September. His numbers will be more humanlike this year, but still MVP caliber.
2013: BA .320 HR 20 RBI 70 SB 40 Runs 120

3. Andrew McCutchen PIT- If the Pirates had more offense to build around McCutchen his RBI and run totals may be a lot higher. As it stands now Cutch is able to go 30-20 or 20-30 if he wanted while still putting up a decent amount of RBIs and runs to be a top five outfielder.
2013: BA .320 HR 23 RBI 90 SB 30 Runs 100

4. Carlos Gonzalez COL- Gonzalez might be the most dangerous double threat player in the game besides Trout. He’s racked up 82 homeruns and 66 steals over the past three years missing minimal time while being on the DL. His homerun total has gone down the past couple seasons but still expect him in the 20-30 range.
2013: BA. 295 HR 25 RBI 80 SB 25 Runs 90

5. Ryan Braun MIL- Braun put up the most explosive numbers besides Cabrera last year. The reason he is down on this list is due to his steroid suspicion. Guy deserves credit where it’s due so it was only fair that Braun was actually on this list. If it is found out that Braun did some sort of PED, his value goes down the drain. If the steroid allegation doesn’t get in his head his numbers should be golden.
2013: BA .310 HR 27 RBI 110 SB 25 Runs 100

Fantasy Outfielder Bust
Josh Hamilton LAA- The numbers Hamilton have put up over the past few years have been astronomical. The guy did hit nine homeruns in six straight days which has never been done. Expect Hamilton to have somewhat of a year like Pujols did last season while breaking into the organization. Hamilton will put up good numbers, probably just not the ones he put up last year.
2013: BA .270 HR 30 RBI 90 SB 5 Runs 90

Fantasy Outfielder Sleeper

Shin Soo-Choo PHI- Choo is off to the NL from Cleveland and hopes to put a spark into the Phillies line-up. Choo is a good all-around asset that the Phillies can use to their advantage. Choo is a 20-20 threat that you might be able to get in later rounds in most drafts. He could also accumulate 100 runs should he lead off for most of the year.
2013: BA .275 HR 21 RBI 70 SB 20 Runs 100

Fantasy Starting Pitchers 2013

1. Justin Verlander DET
2. David Price TB
3. Clayton Kershaw LAD
4. Felix Hernandez SEA
5. Stephen Strasburg WAS
Bust: R.A. Dickey
Sleeper: Tim Lincecum

Fantasy Relief Pitchers 2013
1. Craig Kimbrel ATL
2. Aroldis ChapmanCIN
3. Jason Motte STL
4. Fernando Rodney TB
5. Jonathan Papelbon PHI
Bust: Rafael Soriano WASH
Sleeper: Huston Street SD

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Puckmania Weekly Blog: 20 Minutes

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 Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) works to get a shot off in front of Boston Bruins goalie Anton Khudobin (35)  in the second period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Puckmania Weekly Blog
By Wild on Sports NHL Analyst Josh Tarr
March 14, 2013

20 Minutes Won’t Win You Any Hockey Games

Game of the Week: 
Tuesday, March 12th Bruins (2) @ Penguins (3)

It’s hard to believe that a team posting a 17-4-3 record would have much to worry about coming down the stretch of a 48 game season, but that’s exactly the case of Boston Bruins. Following an embarrassing 3-2 loss in Pittsburgh after leading 2-0 with 7:18 remaining in the 3rd period, the Bruins defensive problems we’re made crystal clear. Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference and Johnny Boychuk have all played far below their expectations. The first offensive line including Milan Lucic, David Krecji and Nathan Horton missed plenty of shots and combined for a plus/minus of -6. Likewise, the third offensive line continues to struggle to find the back of the net. Time is running out quickly for these struggling B’s as the trade deadline is looming and they are clearly buyers this year. It would not surprise me to see GM Peter Chiarelli make a move to acquire a top 4 defensive defenseman or a veteran 2nd or 3rd line winger. The Bruins have played up to Stanley Cup form all season long, but the Penguins showed the world last night that there is still work to be done for this Boston squad.

News Around the League:

*The Blackhawks have FINALLY lost a 60 minute hockey game. Make that two 60 minute hockey games. The first of which came last Friday in Colorado, where the Avalanche won 6-2 and put five of those goals past Corey Crawford in the first two periods. Emery got the starting job on Sunday against the Oilers but was pulled less than half way into the first after allowing three goals on nine shots. The Hawks ultimately lost this game 6-5.

*Evgeni Malkin is back on the IR once again with an undisclosed upper body injury. He sustained the injury in a game Saturday against Toronto.

*Sergei Bobrovsky has been red hot in net for the Columbus Blue Jackets posting a 5-0-1 record in his last six starts. Allowing only five goals in that span. Legitimate enough for me to pick him up on my fantasy team.

*In sad news, the first Tennessean born NHL player and Montreal Canadiens forward Blake Geoffrion announced on Wednesday that he plans to retire from Hockey after suffering a skull fracture in November in AHL Hamilton.

3 Stars of the Week:

3: Sergei Bobrovsky (G CBJ):
Bobrovsky is currently riding a six game point streak, sporting a 3-0-1 record this week, including a shutout and only allowing four goals.

2: Chris Kunitz (LW PIT):
Kunitz has an eye-popping six goals and three assists in his last four games and is a +5 in that span. He netted a hat trick and two assists in a 6-1 win on Sunday against the Islanders.

1: Sidney Crosby(C PIT):
The face of the league is in the midst of what could be the best run in his career. The fact that in his last four games and that he has one goal, eight assists and is a +7, had five assists on Sunday against the Islanders, further proves that he is the best Hockey player in the world. In 27 games, he has 18 goals, 19 assists with a plus/minus rating of +22. To think this kid has another 15+ years left in his career is mind-boggling.

NBA Power Rankings - March 13th Edition

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NBA Power Rankings
March 13, 2013

Winners of 18 in a row, the Miami heat maintain their stronghold on the #1 ranking. At the other end we have the Charlotte Bobcats, losers of ten in a row. Where does your team rank? Likely somewhere in between.

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

NHL Power Rankings - March 13th Edition

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NHL Power Rankings
March 13, 2013

So they are human after all! The Chicago Blackhawks finally lost in regulation this week. If that wasn't strange enough, they went and did it again the next night. Still not enough of a stumble to warrant losing the number one spot but it is worth watching. Elsewhere around the league, the New Jersey Devils continue to struggle without goaltender Marty Brodeur and fall back to #16. On the positive side, the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners of six in a row continue to roll and mark the separation in the rankings of the clear cut top five teams in the league, then everyone else. Where does your team rank this week?

1. Chicago Blackhawks (21-2-3)
2. Anaheim Ducks (18-3-3)
3. Boston Bruins (17-3-3)
4. Montreal Canadiens (17-5-4)
5. Pittsburgh Penguins (18-8-0)
6. Los Angeles Kings (14-8-2)
7. Carolina Hurricanes (14-9-1)
8. Minnesota Wild (13-9-2)
9. Toronto Maple Leafs (15-10-1)
10. Ottawa Senators (13-8-5)
11. Detroit Red Wings (12-9-5)
12. New York Rangers (13-9-2)
13. San Jose Sharks (11-7-6)
14. Vancouver Canucks (11-7-6)
15. St. Louis Blues (13-10-2)
16. New Jersey Devils (12-9-5)
17. Phoenix Coyotes (12-10-3)
18. Dallas Stars (12-10-2)
19. Nashville Predators (10-9-6)
20. Winnipeg Jets (12-11-2)
21) Philadelphia Flyers (12-14-1)

22) New York Islanders (11-12-3)
23) Columbus Blue Jackets (10-12-4)
24) Colorado Avalanche (10-10-4)
25) Edmonton Oilers (9-11-5)
26) Tampa Bay Lightning (10-14-1)
27) Wwashington Capitals (10-13-1)
28) Calgary Flames (9-10-4)
29) Florida Panthers (7-13-6)
30) Buffalo Sabres (9-14-3)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Let the Signing Frenzy Begin!

Let the Signing Frenzy Begin!


NFL Free Agency has begun and the dominoes are falling left and right! Stay here for an up to date list of signings as they get announced!

Baltimore Ravens
Chris Canty, DL

Chicago Bears
Martellus Bennett, TE
Jermon Bushrod, T

Cleveland Browns
Paul Kruger, LB
Quentin Groves, LB
Desmond Bryant, DL

Denver Broncos
Louis Vasquez, G

Indianapolis Colts
Gosder Chirilus, T
Donald Brown, G
Erik Walden, LB
Greg Tolor, CB
Lawrence Sidnury, LB

Jacksonville Jaguars
Terrance Knighton, DT

Kansas City
Dunta Robinson, CB
Anthony Fasano, TE
Chase Daniels, QB

Miami Dolphins
Mike Wallace, WR
Dannell Ellerbe, LB
Phillip Wheeler, LB

New York Giants
Aaron Ross, CB
Cullen Jenkins, DT

Philadelphia Eagles
Bradley Fletcher, DB
Jason Phillips, LB
Patrick Chung, S
Isaac Sopoaga, DL
James Casey, TE

San Diego Chargers
King Dunlap, T
John Phillips, TE

St.Louis Rams
Jared Cook, TE

Tennessee Titans
Andy Levitre, G
Delanie Walker, TE

Top 10 NFL Free Agents

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Top Ten NFL Free Agents

With NFL free agency set to open in just a few hours lets take a look at the top ten players in this year's free agent class and project their final destinations. Who will your team get?

1. Dashon Goldson, FS, 49ers: Has been to two consecutive Pro Bowls. Both a ball hawk and a guy who can put a lick on you. A much younger Ed Reed type. Will command a pretty penny. All the talk around the league points to the Eagles. The 49ers would love to keep him, particularly with the Seahawks just picking up Percy Harvin. May be out of San Fan's price range though.
Projected Team: Eagles  Other in Contention - 49ers,

2. Cliff Avril, DE, Lions: Avril will likely be bringing in the biggest money this off-season even if he isn't necessarily the best player in the group. He is young and has produced 29 sacks over the past 3 seasons. Some scouts think he is fast enough to stand up and play some LB which would certainly make him more useful to some teams. 
Projected Team: Colts   Others in Contention: Browns

3. Greg Jennings, WR, Packers: Great hands, great route runner. A little surprised the Packers did not make a little harder push to try to resign him before free agency opened. He will be a great offensive weapon for anyone who lands him.
Projected Team -  Vikings  Others in Contention - Packers, Patriots

4. Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers: He is the speedy deep threat that a lot of teams would love to have. Is coming off a bit of a down year but is young and poised for a rebound. All the talk around the league is that Miami is prepared to throw big money at him. Hope it works out better than the Brandon Marshall experiment.
Projected Team: Dolphins  Others in Contention - Patriots

5. Paul Kruger, OLB, Ravens: Had a breakout season for the defending champs that will earn him a pay check. Fairly versatile so teams can play him at LB or DE. Browns seem poised to make some noise this off-season. Has also been linked to Indy.
Projected Team: Browns  Other in Contention - Colts

6. Wes Welker, WR, Patriots:  The first of a Patriots heavy free agent class. Welker is the most productive WR on the market - whether that is due to Tom Brady or his skill is a fair argument. In the end he will realize that and stay in New England.
Projected Team: Patriots  Others in Contention: Broncos, Dolphins, Packers

 7. Aqib Talib, CB, Patriots:  Big, physical defenders like Talib are in high demand so there will be a strong market for him. He's the best of a deep group of corners this year. Ultimately, the Patriots need him the most. With other options out there it may drag his price down a bit, particularly if he is not one of the first at his position to sign.
Projected Team: Patriots  Others in Contention: Eagles, Redskins, 49ers

8. Steven Jackson, RB, Rams:  The workhorse back has piled up a lot of mileage on his legs during his time in St. Louis but still has the power to be a difference maker in the backfield for many teams. He has been strongly linked to Atlanta where he would fill the roll left by the cut Michael Turner getting about 1/2 the workload but very valuable around the goal line.
Projected Team: Falcons  Others in Contention:  Lions, Cardinals, Packers, Steelers

9. Sebastian Vollmer, T, Patriots: A very reliable pass blocker. With Vollmer, Jake Long and Andre Smith all on the market teams looking for o-line help will have plenty of options.
Projected Team: Patriots  Others in Contention: Rams, Chargers, Bears

10. Jake Long, T, Dolphins: As mentioned with Vollmer, the tackle class is very top heavy. Three guys who will all be looking for big money. It will be interesting to see where the dust settles.
Projected Team: Bears  Others in Contention: Rams, Dolphins

Other Noteworthy Players:
Andre Smith, T, Bengals
Michael Bennett, DE, Buccaneers
Jake Long, T, Dolphins
Tony Gonzalez. TE, Falcons
Sean Smith, CB, Dolphins
Brent Grimes, CB
Danny Amendola, WR, Rams
John Abraham, DE, Falcons
Ed Reed, S, Ravens
Jared Cook, TE, Titans
Dwight Freeney, DE, Colts
Reggie Bush, RB, Dolphins

Monday, March 11, 2013

49ers Answer: Anquan Boldin

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49ers Answer: Anquan Boldin

Well, that didn't take long. Just hours after division rival Seattle acquired star receiver Percy Harvin the 49ers have answered back in a big way.

According to multiple sources, the 49ers are on the verge of acquiring WR Anquan Boldin from the Baltimore Ravens. It is not yet clear what will be going the other way but it is believed to be draft picks.

The deal comes just days after it was reported that the Ravens gave Boldin an ultimatum of take a pay cut (from $6mil to $4mil) or likely be cut. Well, they didn't cut him, but they did live up to their word. Boldin made it clear that he should not be subject to a pay cut, particularly following a Super Bowl where he all but made about half of Joe Flacco's recent contract for him with a huge game. In fact, it was Boldin, not Flacco, who should have been named the game's MVP.

Regardless, the team that lost to Boldin in the Super Bowl now has him. The team that looked to be a step behind in the NFC West is now back at the top.

Huge trade day for that division. And the fun is just beginning. Tuesday at 4pm free agency opens. Hold on to your hats folks!

Harvin Headed to Seattle

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Harvin Headed to Seattle

The talk of the off-season in the NFC West, and rightly so given their run last season, has been the San Francisco 49ers. Gone is QB 1B - Alex Smith - via trade to Kansas City. In addition, the rumor mill has been chock full of Darrelle Revis to San Fran rumors. Well, all that attention is about to shift to another team in the division:  the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks are the talk of the league this afternoon, agreeing to a trade with the Minnesota Vikings for star WR Percy Harvin.

The trade cannot become official until the NFL begins its 2013 calender year on Tuesday. It is being widely reported that the Seahawks will send the Vikings multiple draft picks (including a 2013 first rounder) pending both a physical, and more importantly, Harvin signing a contract extension.

The move is a huge one for Seattle. Rookie QB Russell Wilson proved that he is the real deal last season. Now with the explosive Harvin in the mix Wilson and the Seahawks offense will really cause match-up issues for their competition; most notably the 49ers who are looking to retool their secondary.

It will be interesting to see if this moves forces San Francisco's hand to make a move for Revis or another big time DB. In the mean time, it is the Seahawks that are the talk of the division and at this point should be considered a serious contender in the NFC in 2013.

Anyone Want a #1 Seed?

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Anyone Want a #1 Seed?
By Wild on Sports Analyst Travis David

March is officially upon us, but the madness has been striking all season. No more so than atop the men’s college basketball polls. Who wants to be No. 1? No, really, does anyone want to be the top ranked team?

Seven times this season the No. 1 ranked team in the Associated Press Poll has stumbled. Five different teams have made the climb to the top. Indiana (26-5) started the season as the top-ranked team and has held the top stop in 10 of the 17 weeks. The Hoosiers have also lost the most times (3) as the top-ranked team.

From January 7 to February 4 (5 weeks) a different team claimed the No. 1 spot. Three of the five weeks the top two teams fell and the No. 3 team in the previous poll made the jump to No. 1.

Why all the madness?

For one, there seems to be a lot more parity across the nation this season. And more importantly, winning on the road has become a long lost art.

The good news? As always, the big dance is played on neutral courts. With that being said earning one of the four top seeds in this year’s tournament may be the biggest piece of the puzzle for the prospective national champion.

The biggest benefit of earning a No. 1 seed in each of the four regions is staying closer to home. With no clear cut favorite in this years field, a team that can generate the closest thing to a “home court’ advantage will be huge.

With that being said, here are my picks for the top four teams, through Sunday.

My overall No. 1 seed is Gonzaga (West). Most experts are calling for Duke as the overall No. 1 seed, but the Blue Devils did not even win the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Zags (30-2) are the current No. 1 team in the nation and have played like a No. 1 over the last couple months. A lot will be mentioned of Gonzaga playing in a Mid-Major Conference, but running the table in any conference now a days is quite an accomplishment. Led by Kelly Olynyk, the Zags became the fist team outside the power six conferences to achieve the top spot in the polls since Memphis done so in 2007-08.

My second No. 1 seed would be the aforementioned Duke Blue Devils (East). Duke (27-4) has spent two different stints as the top before falling both times on the road. One of those road losses came by 27 points to ACC champ, Miami. Sure the Blue Devils have not lost with senior Ryan Kelly in the lineup, but the best team in the nation does not lose by 27 points.

My third No. 1 seed would go to the Indiana Hoosiers (Midwest). IU won the Big Ten Conference championship with a big road win on Sunday. A loss would have most likely dropped them to a No. 2 seed, depending on how the Hoosiers faired in the conference tournament. IU lost four conference games -- two at home and two on the road -- in addition to in-state rival Butler. The Hoosiers also possess two national players of the year candidates in Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller. The two home losses are a little cause for concern.

Should the Hoosiers make a run the Midwest regional will be played in Indianapolis, little over an hour drive from its home campus.

And my final No. 1 seed (South), well…lets just say I need to see how conference tournaments unfold later on this week. I have four teams in the running: Kansas, Georgetown, Louisville and Miami. The Jay Hawks (26-5) had a letdown on the road over the weekend to Baylor but still finished as co-champs in the Big 12 with Kansas State. The Hoyas (24-5) also suffered a letdown last week by laying an egg at Villanova and finished in a three-way tie with Louisville (26-5) and Marquette in the Big East. And following suit the Hurricanes (24-6) were tripped up Georgia Tech at home. Miami (24-6) has stumbled to the finish line having lost three of its four, but winning the ACC should not go without recognition.

Like what you read? Follow Travis David at @tdavid_21 and @WildOnSports

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