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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Goodnight Canada

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Goodnight Canada

Well, another year gone, another season without a Canadian team winning the Stanley Cup. The final nail was put into the coffin on Friday night as the Pittsburgh Penguins disposed of the Ottawa Senators 6-2 to take the series four games to one. With Ottawa now gone we add another tally to the year total since the Montreal Canadiens last brought Lord Stanley home to Canada in 1993.

A lot has been made in the media, this site included, about the NHL and its recent run of success in big markets. Of course, when people refer to those big markets they think of US cities like LA, New York, Boston Chicago, etc. What is being missed is the foundation of the National Hockey League and that is the Canadian audience. The vast majority of the players in today's game were born or grew up in Canada. The game started there on the frozen ponds in the winter and that tradition continues today. Of course, the game is expanding on an international scale but when it comes to tapping into the true root and passion for the game there will likely never be a fan base in this sport like the Canadian fan base.

For the majority of the people reading this article, you are probably thinking to yourself; yeah, OK -- Canada = hockey woohoo, whatever. But what most will fail to understand is the pure madness ingrained in the Canadian culture from day 1. Case and point; anyone catch a glimpse of what was happening in Toronto during the Maple Leafs first round series with Boston? Talk about madness. People were surrounding Air Canada Centre for damn near a mile radius. Lets think about that for a minute. 32,550 in the stadium, another 100,000 give or take outside the stadium, yeah I'd call that some serious fan power and from the NHL standpoint, some serious revenue. 130,000 people all drinking and eating, many buying souvenirs, paying for parking, and the list keeps going on -- get the picture?

As much as fans love their teams in Boston and New York they are coming out my the thousands to stand outside the garden in all types of weather to root on their teams. They love their teams, just not with the same extreme insanity that you get in the Canadian markets.

And so we wait again. Another year of Canadian frustration, another year of what could have been.

I guess we always have the Quebec Coyotes to look forward to in a few years. They are bound to break the streak. Or at least I will keep telling myself that.

Inaugural WOS Weekly Podcast!

 Wild On Sports

We're pleased to announce that the very first Wild On Sports Weekly podcast is up and will be available in iTunes in the coming days. Listen now!

On the Agenda this week:

NHL:
  • A look at both series
  • What's wrong with the goal tending in the East?
  • Are the Red Wings this year's Kings?
NBA:
  •  One winter sports commissioner is loving life, but it's not David Stern
  • Can anyone stop the heat?
  • Will the Spurs hold off father time for one last finals run?
NFL:
  • NFL Draft winners & losers
  • Patriots Star Injured
  • Brian Urlacher retirement
  • More players in legal trouble
MLB: 
  • AL East Opposite of expectations
  • Money can't buy Championships in LA
  • STL keeps on chuggin' 

2013-14 MLB Free Agent Rankings 3.0

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2013-2014 MLB Free Agent Rankings 3.0
(stats as of 5/25)
By Wild on Sports MLB Analyst Aaron Dorman

A little over a quarter of the way into the season it is time for another Free Agent Ranking. The list will change as players are signed midseason or move up or down based on their play. These rankings also assume that certain players will have their option picked up and thus not be eligible for the list, such as Ben Zobrist. Since it is already late May, now we still start listing possible destinations for each player.

1. Robinson Cano, 2B
(.295/.337/.563) Cano is playing like his usual all-star self, leading the league in Home Runs and anchoring the Yankees lineup and surprising start. The power is nice but his walk rate is a little lower than it’s been in recent years. He should raise his batting average as the season goes on. There has been little word lately on how his new agents will affect negotiations, but I still believe that the Yankees will not allow him to leave the Bronx. He is probably looking for, and deserves, a long-term deal north of $200 million. STOCK HOLDING (previous rank: 1) POSSIBLE DESTINATION(S): YANKEES

2. Sin-Soo Choo, RF (.309/.456/.549) Last time I wrote: “Choo has really taken his game to a new level this year, leading the league in OBP and holding his own in center field.” Earlier, in April, he was getting on base largely due to a fluky run of HBPs. However, now his walk rate is a very robust 15.5%, currently the eighth-best mark in baseball, and his OBP is second in the league only to the insanely selective Joey Votto. Choo is on pace for a career high in Home Runs as well. The Reds have shown the ability to spend money, and there is mutual interest in keeping Choo. The only other current ‘obvious’ suitor are the Mets, who will have money (so say the owners) to spend and need an outfielder. Some sportswriters have said Choo is not a “New York kind of player”, but New York also has a sizeable Korean community, near CitiField to boot. The Mariners and Cubs also have a history with Asian players, in the major and/or minor leagues. STOCK HOLDING (previous rank: 2) POSSIBLE DESTINATION(S): REDS, METS, MARINERS, CUBS

3. Brian McCann, C (.229/.349/.486) Well now I feel smart for keeping him on the edge of this list. McCann is off to a nice start after finally coming off the DL in early May, hitting for power and drawing walks. His batting average is low, probably due to the small sample size of AB, but his component ratios are all very close to his career numbers. He’s been consistently among the top catchers in the league and as long as that continues he will be in line for a big contract. That might not come from the Braves, who also have the younger (and cheaper) rookie Evan Gattis on hand, and he showed good power while subbing for McCann. The usual suspects (those without catchers at least) but one dark-horse possibility is the Tigers, if Alex Avila shows his 2011 season was just a career anomaly. STOCK UP (previous rank: 10) POSSIBLE DESTINATION(S): YANKEES, RANGERS, TIGERS

4. AJ Burnett, RHP (3-4, 2.57 ERA) Yes, he’s 37 next year. Yes, he’s had an erratic career. But yes, he’s the best pitcher on the market next winter. He still has an above-average fastball that averages over 92 mph and he’s STILL leading the league in strikeouts (79) AND strikeout rate (11.3 K/9). He’s having the best year of his career, but coming off last year’s success, he’s suddenly in line for a contract similar to the one Derek Lowe received several years ago from the Braves. Speak of which, that sounds like a nice fit as a mid-market contender. STOCK UP (previous rank: 7) POSSIBLE DESTINATION(S): BRAVES, BLUE JAYS, ANGELS (?), CUBS (??)

5. Chase Utley, 2B
(.276/.335/.481) It doesn’t look like he’ll return to his days as a near-batting champion, but even at 34 he’s still hitting for power and is on pace for a full year at second base. His defensive numbers are back in line with his career-that is, they’re good-and he gets on base enough for his power to matter. Utley is a poor risk long-term but for the next few years he will help a team in more ways than can be seen in traditional batting lines. STOCK HOLDING (previous rank: 4) POSSIBLE DESTINATION(S): PHILLIES, YANKEES, ORIOLES (?), TIGERS

6. Tim Lincecum, RHP (3-3, 4.70 ERA) It looks like the “new” Lincecum is the one we saw in the second half of last year; his reduced velocity has led to more walks and home runs, but he still has the swing-and-miss stuff to be a third starter, and one with high upside. His ERA is high for now but it is sure to come down; according to fangraphs.com, Lincecum’s “FIP” (fielding independent pitching) is 3.81, which is where his ERA should end up by the end of the year. Last time I said this: “My guess is he’ll wind up commanding more money than he’s worth, and the Giants will have a tough decision to make by the end of this year.” That has not changed STOCK HOLDING (previous rank: 6) POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS: GIANTS, ANGELS, DODGERS, PHILLIES

7. Carlos Beltran, OF (.305/.337/.518) Last time I wrote: “His defense has been marginal this year but it’s still April, he’ll need a season’s worth of reps in RF before we know if he’s really lost a step.” His defensive numbers have normalized and he’s still posting impressive power numbers. The walk rate is very low at 4.7%; he’s still taking pitches (3.47 per plate appearance) so it’s hard to tell what is going on here, other than perhaps a small sample size. It’s still hard to see him going back to the Cardinals when you factor in the presence of Matt Adams and Oscar Taveras. STOCK HOLDING (previous rank: 5) POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS: YANKEES, RED SOX, GIANTS, PHILLIES, METS (??)

8. Ervin Santana, RHP (3-4, 3.14 ERA) It looks like he’s figured out a new way to succeed. He’s still allowing lots of Home Runs but he’s not walking any batters (a career-low 1.4 BB/9) and his strikeout rate is solid (back up to 7.5 from a career low 6.7 K/9 last year). His ERA might rise a little bit but his revival reminds me a little bit of Ryan Dempster last year (although his stuff is different). He’ll be in line for a similar contract from someone who needs pitching. The Royals might want another go-round if he helps them to the playoffs. STOCK HOLDING (previous rank: 8) POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS: ROYALS, TEAMS WHO NEED PITCHING

9. Hiroki Kuroda, RHP (6-3, 2.67 ERA). Kuroda battles through various ailments to continue to produce excellent numbers for the Yankees. His ERA is especially impressive considering his home park. Two things to worry about: his career-low strikeout rate (5.7) and his .246 BABIP (batting average on balls in play), which probably means he’s been a little lucky with where balls are falling. But you don’t need a 2.67 ERA to be valuable. Even if he pitches closer to his 3.6 FIP mark, he’s still a bargain as a veteran who will probably go year-to-year. He’s at the age where suitors are limited to those Kuroda has personal preference for. STOCK HOLDING (previous rank: 9) POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS: YANKEES, DODGERS, ANGELS

10. Matt Garza, RHP
(0-0, 0.00 ERA) Garza is a bit of a wild-card on the free agent market, as he still has ace potential but he’s almost 30 and he’s never put everything together. If his first start is an indication, he’s past his health ailments and ready to contribute. He’ll be in another uniform by July and that might affect what team he plays for next year, as well. Even if what we saw in 2010-2011 is as good as Garza gets, he’ll get paid a lot by somebody. STOCK UP (previous rank: NR) POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS: RANGERS, ORIOLES, YANKEES, BLUE JAYS…TEAMS THAT NEED PITCHING

Honorable Mention: Jacoby Ellsbury, OF. I’ve avoided putting Ellsbury on this list, in part because it’s almost a guarantee he will be overpaid in some ways, both based on his age (29) and his extreme outlier season in 2011 when he hit for power and was an MVP candidate. This year he’s sitting on just one Home Run as he currently looks like Michael Bourn, a speedster with good range in center field but below-average on-base skills and contact ability. He might similar be in line for a long wait to sign with a new team, but as of now somebody will still consider that skill set worth 5+ years.

Others with stock up: Mark Reynolds, Nate McLouth, James Loney

Others with stock down/moved off the rankings:
Roy Halladay RHP, Gavin Floyd RHP, Josh Johnson RHP

Friday, May 24, 2013

Hoopshysteria: Vogel Not to Blame

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Hoopshysteria: Vogel Not to Blame
By Wild on Sports Analyst Talyon Perry

Eastern Conference Breakdown
Frank Vogel might be considered the most hated man in 49 of the 50 states, but he shouldn't be blamed for the loss. Did Roy Hibbert stop Carmelo's late game dunk? Yes. Would he have stopped Lebron? No. The reason he wouldn't be able to stop Lebron is because Lebron would flop (I mean taken the foul) like he did throughout the game. Instead it was a defensive breakdown. Lebron made one quick move, beating his man (no double team???). On a positive note, Paul George showed his clutch side by hitting a game tying 3 from five feet behind the line. Unfortunately he was out done by Lebron's game winning layup in the 4th. Heat lead 1-0


Western Conference Breakdown
The West has been much less entertaining with the Spurs leading the Grizzlies 2-0. The real test will come in the next couple games as the series heads to Memphis. The Spurs look like they will sweep the grizzlies unless the home court advantage can turn it around. The match-up to watch will be the grizzlies against Tim Duncan. Duncan has defied aging in this series thus far. Marc Gasol, defensive player of the year, will most likely guard Duncan which will slow him down. Gasol needs to be the best defensive player on the court, for either team, if Memphis wants to send the series back to Texas for game 5.

Francona Takes Back Boston

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Francona Takes Back Boston
By Wild on Sports Analyst Jason Gillson

The most successful baseball coach ever to call Boston home was back in the dugout at Fenway Park last night, at the helm of a first place team; just not the one he or any Sox fans are accustomed to seeing. Terry Francona's Cleveland Indians make easy work of the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night to the tune of a 12-3 beat down. Despite the lopsided score and a battle of two teams very much in the playoff mix at this point, all the talk surrounding the game was not about what happened on the field. Instead it was about the man who led the Red Sox to two World Championships, and an Aaron "bleeping" Boone ALCS walk-off homerun away from a possible third.

For Francona it was business as usual, returning to the same field he stepped on everyday for eight years. "I've been in this dugout before," Fancona said before the game. "You've got to remember, being in a dugout or a clubhouse, there's no place I'm more comfortable. Just because you make a left instead of a right, it's all the same people... Part of the reason I'm OK with this is that I'm really proud of coming here with this hat on, this uniform. That doesn't take away from the eight years I was here. It just makes it easier for me to look back on some of the fonder memories. Now you start new ones in another place. That's how I feel."

Well, you can chalk up that first memory; with his new place in a return to a familiar one, will be look upon fondly. The Sox played a video tribute to Francona early in the game which drew a loud ovation for the skipper, prompting him to tap his chest as thank you to those who had supported him for so many years. That was about a cheery as it got for Boston on the night.

For Francona this really has to bring a sense of closure to it all. It is now all smiles and roses, but turning the calender back one year, it was less than pretty for all involved. An epic collapse on the field, nastiness and rumors off the field, a new side show manager who made more headlines for antics than successes and a season that will go down as one of the worse in franchise history. For better or for worse, all of that is now behind us. Francona has found a new home; the Sox have Francona #2 in John Farrell. Everyone is happy...for now.

And for at least one night the city of Boston once again belonged to Terry Francona.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Urlacher Announces Retirement

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Urlacher Announces Retirement
By Wild on Sports Analyst Jason Gillson

In a sad but fitting announcement on Wednesday former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher announced his retirement. The 13-year NFL vet was not resigned by the only team he has known in his career following an injury riddled 2012 season. After exploring all of his options he came to the conclusion that the time was now to call it quits.

"After spending a lot of time this spring thinking about my NFL future, I have made a decision to retire," Urlacher said in a statement he posted on Twitter. "Although I could continue playing, I'm not sure I would bring a level of performance or passion that's up to my standards. When considering this along with the fact I could retire after a 13-year career wearing only one jersey for such a storied franchise, my decision became pretty clear.

I want to thank all of the people in my life that have helped me along the way. I will miss my teammates, my coaches, and the great Bears fans. I'm proud to say that I gave all of you everything I had every time I took the field. I will miss this great game, but I leave it with no regret. There's no scenario or amount of money that could bring me back... I'm very happy with my decision. I'm 100 percent solid on this. I'm tired of working out. As old as I am and as much as my body is sore right now, I'm tired of working out."
Sad to see one of the true greats at his position walk away but you have to agree that if his heart is no longer 100% in it, it is the necessary decision. Urlacher was an absolute beast in the middle of the field being at or near the top of the league leaders in tackles just about every full season that he played. He now joins fellow former all-pro linebacker Ray Lewis as the two marque news makers this off-season. What a hall-of-fame draft class that will be a few years from now.

Unfortunately, there comes a time when even the best have to hang them up. For Urlacher that time has come.

Puckmania: Rangers on the Hot Seat

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Puckmania: Rangers on the Hot Seat
By Wild on Sports NHL Analyst Josh Tarr

Not too many people would’ve expected the Bruins-Rangers series to be as lop-sided as it is, but when you look at the Rangers power play unit, you can’t be all too surprised. They are now 0 for 11 on the man advantage in this series and even more noticeably, they just do not know how to get in position when it comes to breaking out. Needless to say after last nights 2-1 loss to the Bruins, Coach Tortorella’s seat just got a whole lot hotter.

To his credit however, I would believe finding a way to stop all four of Boston’s offensive pairings would be rather difficult. Likewise, when you have an defensive core who is able to find the back of the net almost as often, things get a little bit hairy for the opposition. With Johnny Boychuks game tying goal last night, the Bruins defense has 11 goals this postseason, outscoring their 2011 Stanley Cup Champion team.

Like I mentioned in my last article, when a team gets very hot at the right time and finds answers when they’re in a hole, it is hard for opposing teams to come up with ways to slow them down, whether you have the tools to do so or not. That being said, whoever has to play the Bruins in the eastern conference finals should be prepared for a hard fought battle in every aspect of the game. I believe these Bruins are as legit as their 2011 counterparts.

Just as the Bruins, I think you’ve got to be scared having to face the San Jose Sharks, who’ve tied up their series with the defending champion Kings last night 2-1. Brent Burns moving up to forward has been one of their best coaching strategies of all time. His offensive production and ability to play the body has taking San Jose’s game to another level. More importantly, the Sharks are seriously exposing Jonathan Quick and his (minimal, albeit) goaltending flaws. I believe Antti Niemi will continue to use his Stanley Cup experience to shed light on his teammates who have been to the show so many times and failed.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

MLB Power Rankings - May 21

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MLB Power Rankings
May 21, 2013

Once again the Texas Rangers hold down the top stop in this week's MLB Power Rankings. Close on their heals are the St. Louis Cardinals, owners of the best record in baseball. The Cards continue to defy the odds overcoming major injury after major injury and host the best starting pitching ERA in the MLB. The New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and San Francisco Giants round out the top five.

Where does your team rank this week?

1. Texas Rangers (27-15)
2. St. Louis Cardinals (27-14)
3. New York Yankees (26-16)
4. Boston Red Sox (25-17)
5. San Francisco Giants (24-18)
6. Cincinnati Reds (25-17)
7. Detroit Tigers (23-17)
8. Atlanta Braves (23-18)
9. Washington Nationals (22-19)
10. Cleveland Indians (23-17)
11. Pittsburgh Pirates (25-17)
12. Arizona Diamondbacks (24-18)
13. Baltimore Orioles (23-18)
14. Kansas City Royals (20-18)
15. Tampa Bay Rays (21-20)
16. Colorado Rockies (22-20)
17. Oakland A's (21-22)
18. Philadelphia Phillies (20-22)
19. Seattle Mariners (20-22)
20. Chicago White Sox (18-21)
21. Minnesota Twins (18-20)
22. San Diego Padres (18-22)
23. Toronto Blue Jays (17-25)
24. Los Angeles Dodgers (17-23)
25. Los Angeles Angels (15-26)
26. Milwaukee Brewers (16-24)
27. New York Mets (16-23)
28. Chicago Cubs (17-24)
29. Houston Astros (11-31)
30. Miami Marlins (11-31)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Puckmania: NHL Super Series

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Puckmania Weekly Blog: NHL Super Series
By Wild on Sports NHL Analyst Josh Tarr

Did you miss me?

I’m coming to you live from a charging cubicle at Reagan National Airport, talking about the NHL conferences semis, of course. I would like to know if anyone else is as surprised as I am that the only series to this point that a team is dominating is the Bruins-Rangers (where the bruins are out scoring the latter 8-4).

Not only are the Bruins heating up at the right moment, but they are completely dominating play in front of the net and beating up on Lundqvist. Boston’s defense, which was considered to be a cause of concern in this series, is now surprisingly a legitimately serious threat to their opponents. The storyline coming into this series was the lack of availability on the blue line, albeit, Chara clocked nearly 40 minutes of ice-time in game 1, the Bruins discovered that even without three of their top six defenseman, their luxurious prospect pool is able to provide sufficient help right now. Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug have filled in on defense for Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference and Wade Redden and all are finding success in different ways.

As for the Rangers? I wouldn’t put my money on who will be starting in net Tuesday night. While the Bruins have been tarnishing Hendrik Lundqvists legacy, I’m pretty sure it’s been months since backup goalie Martin Biron has seen any action. The John Tortarella show may perhaps end in a screeching halt if things stay the way they are.

Like I indirectly mentioned earlier, I’ve spent the last couple of days in Washington, D.C. visiting my cousin and watch him graduate from the Washington College of Law at American U. I had the privilege of watching the Pens-Sens game last night at the bar at the Wardman Park Marriott (might I say their service was a premium). What a finish for Ottawa! I thought in order for the Senators to have a fighting chance in this series, game three was a must. They simply took advantage of what seemed to be a very tired Pittsburgh Penguins team, and were impressively enough able to muscle off the worlds best hockey team in four and a half periods.

As of the Western conference games, the Sharks-Kings series seems to be much closer and more intense than the Hawks-Wings series. Which, although makes sense when you consider the talent levels of each teams in both series, you’d have to think an original 6 series this deep in the playoffs would be more intense. I am admittedly impressed that the Red Wings blew out Chicago in game two, even though the Blackhawks have a goalie in Corey Crawford who looks almost as lost as MAF did a few weeks ago against the ISLANDERS, of all teams.

This all goes to show you that the NHL playoffs are a horse of a different color. You could be an 7th seeded Detroit Red Wings team who limped all the way to the post season, and if you play the game right at the right time, you have a fighting chance to make it to the finals.

I have a very cool stat to run across before I sign off and fly back home: If the conference finals happen to be the Bruins-Penguins in the East and the Hawks-Kings in the west, it would be the first time in NHL history that the previous four Stanley Cup winners would be the final four teams remaining in a playoff round. Might I coin this potential round, the Super Series?

Options for the Wild Wild West

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Options for the Wild Wild West
By Wild on Sports Analyst Aaron Dorman

A look at possible trade scenarios in the AL West for Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton. It is looking more and more like it is not a matter of if, just a matter of when.

1. Angels trade of Vernon Wells for of Giancarlo Stanton

WHY IT WORKS: Vernon Wells has opened eyes with his rebound this year, now nearly two months young. He’s knocking the ball around, hitting for average, showing strong defense, and generally showing off the skills that got him an ill-advised 8-year contract. Now, he’s doing it all with the Yankees, but the Angels are still bankrolling most of this, so all the parties involved could presumably work something out. The 2013 version of Wells would be a strong replacement for Stanton, who has not been healthy this year and certainly could not give Miami an equal amount of veteran leadership. Stanton’s presence would allow the Angels to trade Josh Hamilton somewhere so that HE could get his OBP above .300 too just like Wells.

WHY IT WON’T: Is it worth thinking seriously about if the Angels could actually get Stanton? Their best prospect Kaleb Cowart has played two months above A-ball and might…MIGHT…be one of the top 75 prospects in baseball, pre-draft. Could Peter Bourjos be the centerpiece of a deal? Or “Hammerin’ ” Hank Conger? They wouldn’t seriously consider trading a pitcher, young or old, would they? When their depth is such that Joe Blanton is still starting for them every fifth day?

Tragically, the Angels MIGHT have been players for something, if not Stanton than a guy like Chase Headley, if they had held onto Jean Segura and his .350 batting average, but alas he is playing for Milwaukee as part of the package for Zack Greinke, a move that now looks rather foolish. The Angels can’t trade Segura, or Vernon Wells, or anyone else, for Stanton. Not this year.

PROGNOSIS: MONEY CAN’T BUY YOU EVERYTHING

2. Athletics
trade of Michael Choice, rhp Michael Ynoa and ss Addison Russell for of Giancarlo Stanton

WHY IT WORKS: This trade looks light by the standards of pre-2013 prospect lists but flash forward to today and it’s as a fairly competitive idea for a trade package. If Miami wants more players, or more guarantee of at least one successful big leaguers, Oakland could possibly throw Dan Straily into the mix, or swap out Choice with a middle infielder. Russell is a teenager who turned heads last year but is currently struggling to make contact in high-A. He’s still 19 and so there’s plenty of time for him to work on a skillset that could lead to an all-star shortstop. Choice and Ynoa are both high-profile signings who’ve struggled with injuries in the past but are currently enjoying bounce back and/or breakthrough seasons. Choice is showing good power in AAA but he’s blocked for now, while Ynoa is blowing away hitters down in low-A ball. As for Stanton, his tendency to homer, walk, or strike out is as “Moneyball” as it gets and Oakland currently lacks star power behind Cuban sensation Yoenis Cespedes.

WHY IT WON’T: Oakland doesn’t need outfielders. They have plenty. Sure, Chris Young will hit free agency and Seth Smith isn’t really blocking anyone long-term but if Coco Crisp is healthy, and Choice is ready, than Oakland can turn to other needs, such as pitching depth or a real second baseman. Also, these are the Athletics; Billy Beane doesn’t build his team around big (read: expensive) stars. The only time he trades for guys like Stanton are if they are close to free agency, and thus can either a) net a draft pick or b) get swapped again for prospects if Oakland isn’t contending. That’s how they handled Johnny Damon, how they handled Matt Holliday, and how they’ll probably operate in the foreseeable future. Oakland is a near lock to have Stanton someday: but probably when he’s 39 and teams are undervaluing his aging skillset.

PROGNOSIS: UNLIKELY TRADING PARTNERS

3. Astros trade of George Springer, ss Jon Villar, rhp Jared Cosart, and of Marc Krauss for of Giancarlo Stanton

WHY IT WORKS: Well, the Astros are loaded with prospects right now. They could probably match and top any offer made by anyone else as long as only minor leaguers are included. Last year’s top pick Carlos Correa is the only current contender for real blue-chip status but they’ve got at least a half dozen guys who have star potential at various places around the diamond, and a whole army of second-tier B-grade guys who can fill out a package. Houston could probably find use for Stanton on a team that’s winning about 25 percent of its games. That is, unless they want to “beat” the 1962 Mets’ record.

WHY IT WON’T: GM Jeff Luhnow has looked smart so far, stocking up prospects and outlining a real future for this team, but one thing he’s made abundantly clear by the product that is currently on the field at Minute Maid Park is that the Astros are not playing for tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that. This team is not one Giancarlo Stanton away from being good. This team is about six Giancarlo Stantons away from being good. And they might have that somewhere down on the farm. But management won’t trade those guys away for the ACTUAL Giancarlo Stanton. Although I think I might have seen Mike Stanton warming up for them in the bullpen.

PROGNOSIS: IF STANTON IS TRADED FROM MIAMI TO HOUSTON HE’D PROBABLY JUST QUIT BASEBALL ANYWAY

4. Mariners trade rhp Tijuan Walker, lhp Tyler Pike, and “C” Jesus Montero for of Giancarlo Stanton

WHY IT WORKS: Walker would give Miami a second young ace to build around (with “J-Fern”), Montero would give Miami a potential future first basemen who is currently suffering from the twin burdens of catching and trying to hit in Safeco Field, and Pike is a wild card, a teenage lefty in low-A who could blossom over the next year or so. That should be enough to get Stanton, who would be the new centerpiece of Seattle’s lineup, a team that has been cycling through a lot of those lately. The difference here though is that Stanton’s already hit over 30 Home Runs for a big league team.

WHY IT WON’T: Even if you substitute Montero for some other hitting prospects (another pitcher? Infielder Stefen Romero? Brad Miller?) the Mariners can’t really afford to give up much on offense, even in a trade for Stanton. They have had a terrible time developing good hitters once they come to Safeco, either through the draft (Dustin Ackley) or a trade (Justin Smoak, Montero) and currently have just one usable major league lineup piece under contract beyond this year (that would be the underrated Kyle Seager). Even if they can acquire Stanton, they still need to find some young hitters who can be assets on offense. They have some very promising prospects at AAA right now, but just a year or two ago guys like Ackley were in the same position. Seattle might be in a better position to trade for Stanton after the season, but for now it might make more sense for them to hold on to their upper-level minor leaguers and see how they play out the year.

PROGNOSIS: POSSIBLE TRADING PARTNERS


5. Rangers trade rhp Justin Grimm, lhp Martin Perez, 1b/3b Mike Olt, 2b Rougned Odor, and of Lewis Brinson for of Giancarlo Stanton

OR

Rangers trade ss Jurickson Profar and any B-level prospect lying around for of Giancarlo Stanton

WHY IT WORKS: How good a fit is Texas for Stanton? Let’s start with the options they have to trade with. Texas is so stacked at both the major and minor league level that they can try to acquire Stanton in two ways, either by offering the next Hanley Ramirez (Profar) or by dealing in bulk. The Rangers roster currently includes a number of rookies or near-rookies who are off to very good starts, but are nearly luxuries on a team that is winning 65 percent of its games and yet doesn’t even have their full arsenal of arms healthy and ready to go yet. That means they can offer some extra guarantee that they’d be dealing major leaguers, to go with whatever promising players from their prospect stash are also included. Texas has a clear need for another outfielder too, or at least an obvious fit for one, as David Murphy is struggling and the Leonys Martin/Craig Gentry tag team is still a bit questionable on offense. Nelson Cruz will also be a free agent this winter. And even though Texas is winning handily, do they not still miss that extra bit of superstar fairy dust they lost when Josh Hamilton departed?

WHY IT WON’T: There really isn’t any reason. Texas might feel strong enough about their team to not make a deal. It’s possible they don’t want to get locked into Stanton after so generously extending Elvis Andrus and Matt Harrison. But destiny beckons.

PROGNOSIS: LIKELIEST (!!!) OF TRADING PARTNERS

Sunday, May 19, 2013

MLB Weekly Walk-off 5/19

Wild on Sports
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MLB Weekly Walk-off
May 19, 2013
By Wild on Sports Analyst Kyle Kargel

It’s still hard to figure out almost two months into the season how the New York Yankees have held the lead in the AL East for as long as they have. Although they’re only a game up on second place, they are starting to get back players that were injured at the start of the year. Most experts this problem would lead the Yankees to the bottom of the division, but it has been the exact opposite of that. With Curtis Granderson returning already, and Mark Teixeria set to return in the beginning of June, is it fair to bench all the guys who have been picking up the slack while the big names are injured? Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay, Travis Hafner and Brett Gardner have been picking up the slack while the Yankees all-stars have been injured. It will be interesting to see how Joe Girardi juggles the lineup with the regulars returning and the team trying to maintain a division lead. The National League is still headlined by the tightness of the NL West, and the Dodgers still haven’t made their move yet. The NL West is only separated by six games and the Giants are doing their best to advance to another World Series. They hold the division lead and it’s going to be hard to take that away with an experienced lineup like theirs. The Giants always get support all around the lineup. Marco Scutaro leads the team in average, Hunter Pence leads in homeruns, Pablo Sandoval leads in RBIs and Angel Pagan leads in runs. The Dodgers still have time on their side, but it’s only a matter of games before they realize they will need to make a move or two if they want to advance to the playoffs.

Studs of the Past Week

1. Jean Segura SS Mil- A hidden gem for the Brewers thus far during this season, Segura is among the league leaders in batting average and steals this season. The past week saw Segura whacking three homeruns while swiping six bases. Though the Brewers have been dropping games as of late, Segura will play a big part in the Brewers chances of making the playoffs or even contending for the division if Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez and Rickie Weeks do their fair share.

2. Shelby Miller SP Stl- Miller threw a complete game shutout a couple starts ago where he only allowed one hit and no walk and followed it up pitching 5 2/3 innings while allowing no runs once again. He was part of a combo with Adam Wainwright that held the Rockies hitless for 50 consecutive at-bats spanning over two games which hasn’t been done in over 80 years. The Cardinals shouldn’t fade from their NL Central lead and once again have the pitching staff to make it far in the playoffs.

3. Jon Lester SP Bos- Owners of Lester have been treated great so far this season, but the past week or so Lester has been pitching just as good as his teammate Clay Buchholz. Lesters last two starts consist of 16 innings pitched and only two earned runs. Lester has yet to lose a game this year, and has gone at least five innings in every start this season. Given Lester will lose at least once this year, he has a recipe that may net him near the top of the Cy Young race.


Duds of the Past Week

1. Prince Fielder 1B Det- Luckily for Fielder his recent slump isn’t noticeable because the rest of the Tigers team has been able to pick up the slack. Fielder is hitless in his past 12 at-bats and his average has dropped around the .270 mark. This can be looked at as Fielder just cooling off from his hot start that landed himself and teammate Miguel Cabrera as the RBI leaders of the AL, but that isn’t the case now. Fielder should bounce back and still be counted on hitting in 100 runs this season.

2. Justin Verlander SP Det- I’m not trying to hate on the Tigers or anything, but it just so happened that two of their biggest commodities happened to have one of the worst weeks of their career, but Verlander will be sure to not make a habbit of it. Experts noticed Verlanders velocity was down in April, but it has improved since then. Verlander’s last two starts have consisted of 7 2/3 innings pitched and 11 earned runs. Those numbers have been non-existent in Verlander’s career until now.

3. Ben Zobrist 2B/OF TB- The Rays use Zobrist all over the field, but his struggles have been at the plate the past week or so. Zobrist’s average has dropped below .250 for the first time this season and has gone three for his last 22. Zobrist hits all around the Rays lineup so it’s not unlikely that this kind of struggling will continue. Also, he hasn’t gone on the DL in the past couple seasons so that risk is very minuscule.


Pickups for Next Week

1. Eric Chavez 3B- Get him while he’s hot. Chavez has seen an increase in playing time with Aaron Hill on the DL. Hill should be sidelined for at least the next 3-4 weeks so look for Chavez’s at bats to continue as well as the hits if he continues at the pace he’s at. Maybe he took a look at old tapes from when he played for the A’s back in the early 2000s. Regardless Chavez should be available in most fantasy leagues.

2. Yunel Escobar SS TB
- Although Escobar’s numbers don’t show it, he’s actually been hitting decent over the past week. His .222 average used to be at a disappointing .176 only a couple weeks back. Escobar won’t put up huge numbers, but he’s been consistent enough in the past couple years that he will at least raise his average a little more and hopefully accumulate 10-15 homeruns total this season.

3. Michael Morse OF Sea- Impatient owners of Morse have probably already dropped him due to his average dropping down to .220 near the end of April. Morse was a stud in Washington only a couple years ago belting 31 homeruns, but injuries plagued Morse last season as he missed 60 games. Barring injury Morse can hit a solid 20-25 homeruns this season, and he already has ten to his credit. Also Morse has nine hits in his last 15 at bats.

Key Match-ups in the Upcoming Week

Arizona vs. Colorado- The Diamondbacks and Rockies have gotten off to surprising starts and have really taken the NL West by storm this season. With the Giants trying to fend off both teams, either the Diamondbacks or Rockies will be able to inch their way closer to the division lead with a series win.

St. Louis vs. San Diego- Much like the Diamondbacks and Rockies, the Padres have been surprising as well holding their own in the NL West, but they can make a huge statement with a home series win over the Cardinals. Meanwhile, the Cardinals are trying to hold off the Reds for the time being. A west coast series win would benefit the Cardinals and be a confidence booster when they have to travel to other west coast teams.

Cleveland vs. Boston- Terry Francona returns to Boston where he left a sour taste in the mouths of fans from Boston a couple years ago. The Bobby Valentine experiment didn’t work out to plan, but everything for the Red Sox has been positive thus far. It will be interesting to see how the pitching staff of the Red Sox holds up against the power hitting of the Indians.

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