Monday, November 17, 2008

NY Sports Preview Week of 11/17

This week should be a little less hectic for NY sport fans as they can still revel in their football teams big wins and a winning week for both the Knicks and Rangers.

In terms of baseball both Met and Yankee fans can look forward to their teams being aggressive in the free agent market. K-Rod and CC Sabathia have been given offers and each team is waiting for a response. The Mets and Yankees are differing in their approach, the Yankees are looking to blow teams out of the water and surpass their offers and the Mets are trying to be competitive with others and raise them when needed. We will see what works best.

As for the Knicks they face the defending champs Boston Celtics and then get some easier games versus the Bucks and Wizards. The Celtics should be a tough game to give the Knicks a realistic view of where the team stacks up.

The Rangers have two games vs the Senators which sandwhich a game versus the Canucks. The Canucks game will be a great battle between Roberto Luongo and Henrik Lundquist.

Another big event in NYC will be the Coaches vs. Cancer college basketball tournament which will feature two of the top programs in the country Duke and UCLA. Should be a fun two days at MSG as everyone hopes for the championship game between those two schools.

The New York Football Giants will head to the desert and the site of their Super Bowl Championship as they take on MVP favorite Kurt Warner and the Arizona Cardinals. A win here gives the G-Men a good grip on the #1 Seed and home-field advantage.

The Jets and Bret Favre come off their biggest win in years after beating the Patriots on the road. And how are they rewarded? A trip to Nashville to face the Titans and their undefeated record. A win here and the talk will be about a NY-NY Superbowl. This game should bring the fans back to earth.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Breaking News- Nick Swisher to Yankees

The Yankees have acquired CF/1B Nick Swisher from the White Sox for Wilson Betemit and Jeff Marquez.

Quick thought: Swisher is a guy the Yankees should have been targetting. He is very versatile and fills the CF or 1B hole. He is a grinder in his hitting style. The only concern is that he didn't play in September or October as the White Sox thought they were better without him.

As for Betemit, he was what he was- a bench player with some pop who has never got a chance to play. Maybe this will be the right move for him. And Marquez was a guy the Yankees were high on but ultimatly a guy that couldn't stand in the way of the move.

Top 10 Free Agents

With the countdown to free agency about to hit 7 hrs lets take a quick look at the top free agents available right now:



1) CC Sabathia- What else can be said about the big lefty? He is in position to earn himself a big contact.



2) Mark Teixera- The top offensive player on the list is in high demand and should get himself a monster contract. As one of his friends said "its good to be Mark Teixera right now." How true.



3) Manny Ramirez- If not for his age or attitude he would probably be the top offensive player on the list. He could get A-Rod money but for how many years. It is doubtful he gets the contract that takes him to 42 like he wants.



4) AJ Burnett- Burnett is coming off a huge season, possibly the best of his career and he chose to opt out following it. This will all lead to a big payday.



5) Derek Lowe- Lowe showed once again that he is a big game pitcher by helping the Dodgers make the playoffs and reach the NLCS. He wants to move back to the east coast after 4 years on the west coast.



6) Fransisco Rodriguez- K-Rod had himself a huge walk year by setting the single season saves record. He also is lucky the Mets bullpen was atrocius last year as that will lead him right to Citi Field.



7) Ben Sheets- Sheets expected to be higher on this list following an All-Star game start but another late season injury has raised questions about his health and the need for a long term deal for him.



8) Orlando Hudson- There is a lot of interest in the slick fielding and solid bat. He is the best 2B option on the market.



9) Bobby Abreu-



10) Ryan Dempster- Dempster is coming off a career year and an all-star appearance. He also was the Cubs game 1 starter for the NLDS. It will be interesting to see where his funky windup will be pitching next year.



Guys To Watch:

1) Jason Varitek- Do the Red Sox bring him back or does he go somewhere else?

2)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thursday Night Showdown

So as we wait for Friday's free agent market to open up, lets take a look at Thursday's big game. First place in the AFC East will be up for grabs as the New York Jets travel to Foxborough to face their rivals the New England Patriots. (The word rivalry gives the Jets too much credit as they seem to never beat the Pats.)

This is the biggest regular season game the Jets have played in recent memory. This is definetly the biggest game since the 1998 AFC Championship game and it might be bigger. It could be the biggest game since Super Bowl 3. This game is for the Jets franchise. This is their chance to take over the AFC East. They need to prove to themselves they can beat the Pats. Their fans need it and most importantly the organization needs it.

Yes, the Patriots do not have Tom Brady, Adellius Thomas or their top 3 running backs, or most of their secondary; so everything seems stacked in the Jets favor. Everything but history. The Jets always seem to lose these types of games. And most Jet fans have a lot of hope for the game but they ultimatly know the worst will happen. Maybe Brett Favre is the right guy for this spot, he has won a lot of games and thrown a lot of big tds but he also has a lot of losses and a lot of bad interceptions. Favre is able to put everything behind him and move onto the next play. That is what the team needs this week they cant worry about Jets history or anything else other then the 11 patriots who will be lined up against them.

For the Jets to be succesful, Eric Mangini needs to establish Thomas Jones and Leon Washington and the run game. The weather is calling for rain and a sloppy field, perfect weather for the Jets new offensive line and for the gunslinger Favre to steal a win. As long as Favre isnt throwing 45 times a game. And Mangini needs to pressure Matt Cassell and get his jersey dirty. They can't give him time in pocket. The defense needs to GO GET THE QB.

If the Jets win they have a great shot at the AFC East title, if they lose they face a 6-5 record with the Titans coming up the week after. This game will also tell how the Jets franchise views itself for years to come.

Yankee Hot Stove: The Offense

Before getting into what the Yankees need to do this offseason to improve their offense a bit of news. The Yankees have signed Damaso Marte to a 3 yr 12 million dollar option. I was never a fan of acquiring Marte last year and still will not trust him in a big spot. However the move makes sense as the Yankees need a lefty reliever they can rely on (no more Billy Traber or Mike Myers please.) Phil Coke looked good last September but lets let him develop before we give him the 8th. (Remember how good Ian Kennedy was last September?)



Ok onto the offense: As we know Friday 12:01 AM will be a big day for the Yankees. Maybe even the biggest free agency day for the Yankees in their history. The offense was the major problem for the Yankees last year. If you take the same pitching last year with 2007's offense, the Yankees make the playoffs. Hopefully a healthy Posada will come back and restore some claught to the catching position. Arguably two of the top Yankee hitters last year Jason Giambi and Bobby Abreu wont be back next year. They both had very good years last year. It seems any player on the team not named Jeter or A-Rod will be on the block.



Yankees have shopped Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon and have had some interest in both. The big name the Yankees can offer is Robinson Cano, now the tough move is do you believe that 2008 was just a bad year and he will return to his batting title form or is he a guy you need to get rid of? Cano could get you the centerfielder that you need as Damon definetly wont be there and there are doubts if Brett Gardner or Melky Cabrera can handle the job. Cano for Matt Kemp of the Dodgers has been rumored for months and seems like a good deal. If Cano is gone look for Orlando Hudson to be signed to replace him.



I wouldn't mind seeing Abreu back for one year and having Gardner and Cabrera try to handle CF this season as there are no top guys to get to fill those wholes. For 1B, I am not a big Mark Texeira fan but he seems to fit their needs perfectly. Great Defense, Good OBP and Power. Texeira doesnt do anything great but does a lot good. He isn't as good as the money he will earn but thats the market and the Yankees need him. If I were Yankees I would see if Todd Helton and Ryan Howard were available. Howard doesnt seem likely to stay in Philly too long and he is very pricey maybe he can be had. If I were Cash, I would bring Giambi back on a cheap short contract as his OBP and OPS last year were very good and he had some nice #'s besides avg.



As for Manny Ramirez, I do believe the Yankees will have a chance for him. If they can move Matsui, Manny wouldn't be a bad DH for a year or two. Anything more then 2 yrs is a bad contract. I utlimatly believe Cashman wont sign him no matter how hard Scott Boras tries. If Cashman wants a CF he should see what Toronto wants for Vernon Wells and see if he is available.



So Abreu back, Gardner in CF, and Texeira at 1B is my pick. I will probably be wrong on all my ideas but I do know this: the next month will be very exciting to see what moves the Yankees make.

Post Season Awards Preview

With my renewed hope in the intelligence of the sports writers who voted on the MLB Awards here are my picks and who I actually believe will win it.

AL Cy Young: I would vote for Roy Halladay. He is truly a marvel to watch as he goes out and expects to throw a complete game every time out there. He also pitches in the toughest division in baseball and continues to be the top pitcher in the AL year and year out.
Who will win: Cliff Lee. Lee had a great year on an even worse team then Lincecum so giving the award to him is fine by me.

NL MVP: This was probably the toughest choice for me: as far back as June I thought Chase Utley had it locked up but as he slowed two candidates clearly emerged as the choices: Albert Pujols and Ryan Howard. The only argument against Pujols is that his team didn't make the playoffs. But he did keep them afloat into September. (Oh and he did it with a bad shoulder that needed surgery.) His other strike against him is that he puts up these crazy videogame like numbers every year. It isn't a shock to see him do this at all. Howard on the other hand got his team into the playoffs with big hit after big hit in September. He led the league in homerun's and rbi's. (Postseason does not count in the vote as they are voted before the postseason.) Sounds like the winner right? Not so fast, factor in his 250 ba and 199k's and you see some blemishes. I would vote for Howard (even Pujols said Howard should get it).
Who will win: Pujols finally gets his MVP. Again no problem with this choice.

AL MVP: It pains me to say this but the MVP of the AL is going to be the balding five foot tall secondbaseman of the Red Sox. The littleman swings a big stick and willed a banged up and below the usual standards of recent Boston teams into the playoffs. The team had no Beckett, Ortiz, Manny, or Drew for parts of the year yet Pedroia really defined the team. His hustle and effort on every play (take notes Robbie Cano take notes) was what defined this Sox team. He grinded and gutted out every at bat. And you know he does something right when I say he is one of the few Sox I would like to see on Yankees.
Who will win: Pedroia

Managers of the year: Joe Maddon (obviously) and Charlie Manuel.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Week in NY Sports: Week of 11/10

First order of business: Check out my article on BleacherReport.Com on the great choice Tim Lincecum was for NL Cy Young. I have been asked to write various articles for BleacherReport.com and will be sporadically doing them. Please look out for them.

A new feature here on the Elias Sports Blog, we will take a look at the upcoming week for NY teams and preview the biggest games for each team. What a big week this is coming up for NY sports. All teams in action will have big games and the NY teams look to be active in the MLB Free Agency frenzy starting Friday 12:01 AM.



Knicks: Mike D'Antoni's boys look to build on a hot 4-2 start as they go to San Antonio and face the Tim Duncan and the Spurs. A win here would be sure to give the team more confidence.



Rangers: The Rangers take on their cross river rivals on Wednesday for the first time since Martin Brodeur has been shelved. Following a great start the Rangers have only won once in their last 5 games. Has the European trip finally caught up with them?



Jets: The game of the week in the NFL features the Jets going up to Foxborough and taking on the Patriots in a battle for first place. This game is one of the biggest in Jets history and will show what this team is made of. (More on this game to come later in week.)



Giants: The defending champs will take on the Ravens at home this week. The G-Men sit at 8-1 and would need a Mets like collapse to fall out of the playoffs. The Ravens feature a superb run defense so this should be a good test for Brandon Jacobs and company.



Mets: The second team in NY looks to add a closer and another bat in free agency.



Yankees: The shopping spree begins just after midnight Friday morning. The Yankees are expected to be big players and to open up their wallets.

Black Friday Nears

Just about 72 hours seperate us from the free agency and the Yankees opening their giant wallet and seeing who will take their money. It is an exciting time to be a yankee fan as they are poised to be big players in this offseason. Hal Steinbrenner was quoted today saying that "they are ready for free agency."

Pitching Needs:
Everything I read and hear sounds like they will be making a giant run at CC Sabathia and they are willing to give him anything he wants. They would even "let him DH" from what Mike Francesca was told. I think the Yankees will make him a Godfather offer (an offer he can't refuse.) Who turns down big money anyway?

I also see the Yankees making a big run at either Burnett or Lowe and adding two of the big three to their rotation. If they strike out on those two they have Ben Sheets or Ryan Dempster as possible options.

I think Pettitte will be back at a sizeable discount and Mike Mussina will go off into the sunset with his only 20 win season. As for the bullpen no major needs and I think Cashman learned to build the bullpen with youth and not free agent signings. Bullpens are fickle and change year to year. I would expect Damaso Marte unfortunatly to be back and maybe a run at Juan Cruz to be added to the pen.

Offense Hot Stove Tomorrow

Hot Stove Heats Up

Now that the GM meetings are over the real fun will begin. While the GM's were busy working on their golf game or their bowling game, they managed to find some time and lay the ground work for some possible trades or free agent signings. This time of the year for baseball is possibly just as exciting as the actual season. Everyday there are new rumors and new possible deals coming out. One day you think its a lock CC Sabathia is going one place and Jake Peavy is going another only to read the next day that none of it was true and a third team has upped their offer. It is a fun time to sift through all the material and find the reporters who you believe. Some of the best to follow or Jon Heyman of SI and Ken Rosenthal of Foxsports; but the best in the business is Buster Onley (especially for Yankee fans. He seems to break all their major news.)

Right now it seems every team is interested in every player. This is especially true of the Yankees. It sounds like they are rumored to sign every player this offseason. A word of warning: Don't Believe the Rumors. They are just rumors. For every deal that happens there are 100 rumors. And usually the deal that happens, happens quick and is unexpected. For example:

Matt Holliday to the A's
This move was straight of leftfield. Everything I read seemed to point to the Cardinals or the Phillies. But Billy Beane swooped in made a giant offer and got a great hitter. I do not understand the criticism of Beane on this move. If he has proved anything, it is that he usually has a plan and knows what he is doing. He restocked the A's farm system last year in trading away Joe Blanton and Danny Haren. He had never been a fan of closers making big money so getting rid of Huston Street makes perfect sense. (Street is overrated as it is, but thats another story.) So worse case scenario for the A's now that they traded for Holliday is either A) They trade him in July and get prospects or B) They keep him make a run at the playoffs and get two draft picks for him when he leaves. Its really a win win, and why wouldn't you want Billy Beane to have extra draft picks? As for the Rockies they got a good young CF, two good young pitchers and another trade chip in Huston Street. This was a great deal for both sides.

A few thoughts:
1) What are the Royals doing? It seemed the Royals had a clue this season as they finally made some good draft picks and seemed to making a good step to being legit. Now they trade for Mike Jacobs, who is a solid player, but goes against their OBP plan. I just don't get it.

2) Was that the Nationals big move? I have been reading for days about the money the Nationals had and how they planned to make a move for Teixera, Adam Dunn, or Manny Ramirez. They believed they were a bat away from being in contention. Now they trade for Josh Willingham and Greg Olsen? Please tell me this isn't their big offseason move.

3) Where does Manny go? The whole Manny Ramirez offseason will be intriguing. Scott Boras orchestrated a player quitting on his team so he would be let out of his contract- that worked. Then said player has the best second half in MLB history and is lined up for a big pay day. Only one problem, no team wants to give him long term security b/c they are worried he will quit on them. I don't see Manny getting the contract he wants that will take him to 42. I think he will end up with Dodgers taking less then their offer of 25 million per year for two years and signing for three seasons.