Chris Sale Goes From One Sox to the Other

In case you had been living under a rock, Chris Sale has been a major trade target ever since he had his major outburst and cut up a bunch of jerseys. This made him by far and away the most attractive trade or free agent target for teams looking to contend. He is a true ace in a league that no question lacks number ones.

With the Winter Meetings in full swing and trades and signings happening left and right, this is probably the most notable deal. Honestly, this is probably the biggest deal in the last 365 days and probably will be until the next trade deadline.

Most rumors had been that up until this morning the clear front-runner was the Washington Nationals, but today the Red Sox came in and gave the White Sox an offer they could not pass up.

Generated by IJG JPEG Library

In return for the illustrious but troubled ace, the White Sox got arguably the best prospect in baseball, 2B/3B Yoan Moncada. With him they also got the Red Sox’ number five prospect, RHP Michael Kopech, the number eight prospect OF Luis Alexander Basabe, and their number 29 prospect in Victor Diaz. All ranking and stats below are courtesy of MLB.com.

This deal works out well for both teams. Let me break it down for you.

For the White Sox, this is probably the best deal that they could have hoped for. Moncada is an absolute stud who can either play 2nd, 3rd, or DH. It will depend on if they feel he is a better fielder than either Todd Frazier or Brett Lawrie. Frazier has always had a solid glove so I doubt they move him. My bet is Moncada either plays 2nd or DH and bats in the 2 or 6 hole in the lineup. Either way they will make sure his bat is in that lineup everyday.

But Moncada is not the only player in this deal. Yes, he is possibly the best prospect, but the White Sox also get Michael Kopech with him. He was drafted in the first round in 2014, has great size at 6’3”, and can hit the upper 90’s with a developing slider. The hope is that he becomes a top of the rotation guy as he gets older. I imagine he will realistically be looking at a 2018-2019 call-up time.

Basabe is also a very interesting piece. He is someone who can hit from both sides and is starting to show some power. If he can keep hitting well as he moves up and gets those strikeout numbers down he could be a middle of the order bat. This is not something that you see very often in young played anymore as they are encouraged at a young age to focus on one side of the plate.

Lastly, the White Sox get Victor Diaz. This kid has a cannon for an arm. His only problem is that it is taking him a little while to learn to be a pitcher instead of a thrower. With time this guy could develop into a top-end closer if he can continue to learn his slider and splitter in tandem with the fastball.

What this signifies is that the White Sox are probably renewing the farm and will soon start to sell off other players. I imagine this will not be the last deal they make this winter.

For the Red Sox, they are getting a bonafied major league ace. The lanky lefty had a league high six complete games, 226.2 innings pitched, and 233 strikeouts. He’s also a perennial All-Star, Cy Young candidate, and someone who even garners MVP votes.

during game one of the American League Divison Series at Progressive Field on October 6, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.

They are adding him to a rotation of this year’s surprising Cy Young award winner Rick Porcello, previous Cy Young winner David Price, knuckleballer Steve Wright, and Padres Former ace Drew Pomeranz. This is easily a top 5 pitching rotation next season if everyone stays healthy.

Along with the high powered offense the Red Sox have, this team is easily a top early World Series contender.

While it will hurt the Red Sox farm quite a bit, it is clear with this move, the pick up of Tyler Thornburg, and their current pursuit of Mitch Moreland, that the Red Sox are going for it all.

Overall it seems as though both teams got exactly what they are looking for. With starting pitching at such a high demand, it is no surprise that the Red Sox had to give up this much in order to grab Sale.

Pokemon GO: Day One

Pokemon Go Avatar

As many people know Pokemon GO has released in the United States, New Zealand, and Australia. It is already the #1 Free App on iTunes and everyone has been talking about. And why not? It is the first major Pokemon Mobile game and its premise is intriguing to say the least.

It’s a game that basically uses google maps to track where you are and place Pokemon that you can catch with the swipe of a finger (or a few swipes depending on the Pokemon). It is seemingly every fans dream, as it is augmenting our reality to put Pokemon in it.

I have been playing this for a full day now and wanted to tell you all about my experience with the world’s #1 free mobile game.

The Good

As a child I literally dreamed and prayed that Pokemon would be real. I wanted to be a 10 year old kid and go to Professor Oak’s lab to grab my starter. In that sense this game is as close as you may ever get outside of some really advanced virtual reality.

At first look one can see that the ability to walk around and catch Pokemon in your neighborhood and at Walmart is awesome. That part is absolutely fun. Catching Pokemon that you can see in your surroundings is just, well a dream come true.Pokemon Go Day 1 Pokemon

By catching Pokemon in the wild you will gain candy that is specific to each evolutionary branch. For example if you catch a Caterpie, in order to evolve it to a Metapod you have to keep catching Caterpie. This continues up to Butterfree. Once your Pokemon can  no longer evolve you must up its combat power. This can be done by using candies and dust. Starust you can get from stops, catching Pokemon, beating gym leaders and leveling up. Candy you obviously get from catching more Pokemon on the line of that particular species.Pokemon Go Butterfree

Oh, and for all of you people out there who only like Generation one (Red, Blue, Yellow), either because you’re stubborn or have never played a Pokemon game outside the originals, you will be happy to know you can only catch the original 151 for right now.

Landmarks have been changed from just buildings or other interesting sites into PokeStops and Pokemon Gyms. I find this concept to be very intriguing. The stops allow you to basically spin their pictures and get rewards like pokeballs, eggs, and other items to help you with your journey. These are crucial if you are going to have enough pokeballs and other items as you go through the game. Or at least, they seem to be crucial, again it has only been out for a day.

The Gyms are interesting. Essentially people take over the Gyms by placing their Pokemon there to defend it. If you are on the same team as your friends you can stack your toughest Pokemon together. Once that has been done people can go and challenge these Gyms. To take them over for yourself or your team you have to continuously battle to take down the defenders Pokemon. There are Gyms placed sporadically, no longer just the 8 gyms in a region.

Also when battling you have to tap quickly for normal attacks and hold your finger down for special attacks. This allows there to be some strategy. Also you are able to swipe left or right to attempt and dodge your opponents attacks.

My last positive is this is a game that will make you exercise to be successful. Yes, you can drive and get Pokemon, but that takes a lot of the fun out of it and is very dangerous. I just got my first egg from a Pokestop and I have to walk 5 Kilometers to hatch it. This is a wonderful thing and I think a true first for a major game like Pokemon.

The Bad

I have been tweeting about it and so far I think my tweets have held up, this was not the game everyone was hoping for. It is like Battlefront was for Star Wars fans. It is a decent game but, not what we were hoping it would be.

When I originally heard about this game I was about as hyped as one could be. I thought to myself “They (GameFreak/Nintendo) have been making us wait long enough for a Pokemon MMO. This could be worth the wait”. So far it is not.

While this game has interactions at the Gyms with other trainers that is it. Being on a team may prove that to be untrue but, so far there is little reason to play this game with friends outside of walking around with them. You cannot trade with them because too many Pokemon just aren’t that rare and there is literally no possible way to (yet).

There is also no direct battling. WHAT?! I can battle someone at a Gym, but not my sister or cousin who are sitting right next to me? That makes zero sense to me.

Both trading and battling are the two major parts of Pokemon. I guess catching them all is too, but you can’t even do that because you cannot trade. If Pokemon really are only available in certain parts of the country or maybe even world then how are you supposed to catch them if: A. You are a kid with no means to travel or B: You’re too poor to travel.

This game is marketed toward children, while big children like myself still play it, we are not the target market. How is a kid expected to catch different Pokemon if they can only go to their neighborhood, friends house, school , and occasional vacations? After a few weeks they will run out of things to do. This seems to be a major flaw and I am curious to see how or if Game Freak and Nintendo will fix it.

Back to battling for a second. I do not like that I cannot level up my Pokemon or catch Pokemon by battling, only simply catching them. What is the point of having a starter if you cannot battle to train it? I have yet to even see another Squirtle. This means that it could be forever useless as it will fall behind in levels to my other Pokemon. Also Gyms could seemingly be overrun and take forever to beat. If people just grind it out and have very high level Pokemon there then it will be nearly impossible for newer trainers to have any chance.

In the Pokemon Handheld games gyms were level tiered to combat this problem. I hope that Game Freak will eventually do this in order to keep it fun for newer fans. Otherwise again they could lose interest.

Also if for some reason your regional server has not gone down today or if you haven’t had a Pokemon glitch away right as you catch it then you must be literally one in a million. This has been a major problem and annoyance all day. While I understand today is the launch I would have expected something more, well, polished from Game Freak.

My last and biggest complaint is PokeCoins. WHY?! I know they need to make money on this but, why just why make it so that paying gives people who do such a huge advantage? It makes it so they can skip actually walking around and catching anything. It makes it possible for them to pay to own gyms essentially once they hit level 5.

Again I know they need to make money but, why not have just had us pay for the game or put annoying advertisements? Anything but pay to get a huge advantage. I am not saying pay to win, because I do not think there is a true endgame.

Conclusion to Day 1 as a Real Life Pokemon Trainer

Pokemon Go Walking

All of these are my opinions and what I have experienced on day 1 of the game. I understand that I am only level 5, I would be higher but…servers, need I say more? I also understand that there may be more that I have not seen as well as more that will come with updates. So far this game is addicting but, overall a little bit of a disappointment.

Being able to catch Pokemon while walking around and seeing them on your phone as if they are in front of you is amazing. Some of the concepts make sense but are not traditional to what fans have had in the past.

Not being able to battle your friends seems like a major flaw in this game. Adding that I don’t think would be super hard (you’re able to do it against people at Gyms). Also I think it would make this game exponentially better.

Also the in app purchases make me so mad that I want to scream! I think that the fact that I can pay money to get an advantage is infuriating and I wish they could take it out. I know they won’t, that is fine, I just wish they could.

Overall this game seems like it will be addicting for a little while because of the hope for more down the road. If that ends up not being true I believe that the game will fall flat on its face in a couple months. This will be because of lack of, well, anything to do outside of catching the same Pokemon in your region over and over again. Also the lack of truly being able to test your strength against your friends makes me wonder why not just play the handheld games?

These are my Day One impressions and thoughts! What do you all think? Please feel free to comment below, tweet at me @roberthaness, or go to our new forums and we can discuss it all there!

Amateur Coach Diaries: Practice Habits Part 4

Courtesy of, www.pinterest.com

Courtesy of, www.pinterest.com

Albeit what was said in previous articles about League being a different sport from other traditional sports, you can draw some similarities. A player has to be well-practiced, conditioned, and has to have studied up on new trends. But the number 1 thing that all sports share is that the game always starts with a clean slate. At the start of a new game, no matter the sport, the game is always basically zero to zero. For League, this leads into the early game which is where a lot of games can be decided. The elements of the early game never really changes. Monster camps will always spawn at their same time, minions will make it to lane at the same usual time, and everyone will have a yellow trinket up at the start of the game. And to be honest, a lot of amateur teams don’t know how to go back, back to the beginning.

One of the hardest things about coaching is talking about a level 1 invade 45 minutes after it has actually happened. Telling a team that they lost at 10 minutes into the game doesn’t help them at all. The next game is just going to be a different comp with different early game goals. How can we make practicing the early game more efficient? We play 15-minute scrims. Here’s how the scrims work out. You go through your picks and bans and then use your drafted comps to play the first 15 minutes of the game a couple of times through. That means, after you pause at 15 minutes, you remake the game with the same comp and talk about what you need to do differently against their team. It’s a very simple practice drill that no amateur teams (at least to my knowledge) are doing.

logo v3

This does not mean that you pick Leblanc, Corki, and every other early game one item power spike champions you can pick. Scrims are not for winning. This goes double for early game scrims. You need to set goals for your scrims, early or full games. A goal for an early-mid game team is win the game by 15 minutes, while the goal for a double scaling game could be don’t lose the game by 15 minutes. Also, if you’re scrim partner is trying to practice a level 1 invade, don’t try to set up a trap for them to counter the same exact level 1. This completely defeats the purpose of practicing a level 1, because the same invade won’t be used twice in a row in the same best of series (if it is, the other team might have issues?).
There’s a lot a team can get out of playing a lot of early games. Yes, you sacrifice practicing the ability in closing out a game, but once you figure out how to play your certain comp in the early game, then you can practice closing out the game. It’s hard to talk about the early game when the last thing in the player’s minds is that teamfight they got aced or the baron steal your jungler just made to win the game you shouldn’t have won at all. Sometimes to improve our team’s play overall, we just all need to start back at the beginning, over and over again. Hell, you might even need to go back farther than the start of the game, maybe to what goals you set for your team for that game. The early game gives the foundation for the rest of the game, so let’s build a better foundation within the amateur scene. The next article will be on the most important thing we can do as a scene. See you then!

Amateur Coach Diaries: Practice Habits Part 3

Courtesy of, Seth Varner and Pintrest

Courtesy of, Seth Varner and Pintrest

When I was about 12 years old, I wanted to be a pitcher for my little league team. My dad was one of the coaches of this team. We had one of those pitch-back net devices in the backyard, so he made a 18in by 18in square in the netting with a rope and then put a stick 50 feet away from the net. He told me I had to hit the square 25 times in a row before he would let me pitch. He told me how my grandfather did the same thing with my uncle and I would have to do the same. I can’t remember if I got it or not, to be honest I only remember that I took a pitch to the head while at bat during fall ball that year. Anyways, the morale of the story is that Baseball takes 10 players on the field to play the game. 9 people in the field, and 1 at bat. But when I was practicing that one aspect of the game, just myself and the net, it only took 1 person and a practice device. This is exactly the same as having players practice in a custom game. Custom games can be useful in many different ways: jungle clears, lvl 1’s, CSing, warming up, and lane swaps.

One of the first practices I had with my team was a lane swapping practice. We pulled up LCS vods of lane swaps and grinded out the timing. I’m not going to go into the logistics, but basically we spent that night,  practicing lane swaps. I could tell through vod reviews of even the best amateur teams, we had the best lane swap timing in all the amateur scene. We were getting 30-second tempo swings off the first turret and sometimes it would lead into a sub 15-minute inhib turret. The thing that confused me was that teams we played our lane swap against, still had a slow lane swap a week after we played them. logo v3

In a meta that relies on tempo and getting the turret down the fastest, you’d think teams would want to figure out how to replicate it. It comes down to players not wanting to go into custom game after custom game. So instead, the team just scrims with the same slow lane swap they ran the week before. Obviously there is more to do in customs then lane swaps, but that is a great way to use them. The other night, one of our junglers and I were working on a new jungle pick. We played maybe 20-30 custom games of the jungle pick with different runes/masteries/skill orders/ camp orders. You can also practice timing for a level 1 invade. Sometimes what you draw on rift kit won’t translate on to the game field when the pressure is on. Customs are also a great way to try out new match-ups or train a player in a certain match-up. Maybe they need to work on their Ahri into Zed or their Cass into Ryze.

There are so many uses for customs, and a lot of amateur teams just refuse to use them. Well, surprise, this is the closest we are getting to sandbox mode for now. “Why would we go into customs when we could have a scrim block?” Because if you want to make something game ready, you need to practice it before the scrim for it to be effective. I mean, I’m not saying make your team practice a lane swap to their point where they can get sub 3:30 times 25 times in a row. But hell, you do you, coach. You do you. The next article will be about spamming the restart button. See you then!

2016 American League West Preview

Courtesy of, brokenbatsingleblog.wordpress.com

Courtesy of: brokenbatsingleblog.wordpress.com

The Texas Rangers were the best team in the AL West last year. The Rangers had a solid offense with good enough pitching to back it up. They had some vets like Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre who really helped them push their way to a division title. However, they were not the team everyone talked about. That team, was the Houston Astros. They came out of nowhere and almost won the division and were good enough to make it to the Wild Card round.

The Astros finished second last year but, were a major surprise to baseball as they had been picked by many to not contend at all. Their young players stepped up and shinned. Carlos Correa has the talent and the ability to be a perennial All-Star and MVP candidate.

The Angels finished third last year and played well throughout the season, just barely missing the playoffs. They had the offense coming from their superstar Mike Trout and future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols. Their problem was, and still is, pitching.

The Seattle Mariners finished fourth last year in a disappointing 2015 campaign. They struggled in hitting as they finished in the bottom three for both runs scored, strikeouts, and batting average. Their pitching was also nothing to write home about as they finished the year with a 4.16 ERA.

Last were the Athletics who were expected to have a down year. They traded away many of the pieces they had brought in for the 2014 playoff run. Billy Beane decided it was time to rebuild. They brought in some interesting players through trades and Sonny Gray was spectacular.

That was last year though, lets move on to what should be an exciting 2016 for the AL West. I will start by giving which place I believe the team will finish in, then I will go through almost every position and tell you all what I see and lastly I will name my player or players to watch.

1st Place: Houston Astros

Courtesy of: www.sports-logos-screensavers.com

Courtesy of: www.sports-logos-screensavers.com

Last year the American League West had a surprise team, the Astros. While they did not win the division they had everyone talking. This was because they were well ahead of schedule. The Astros were a young team that many thought wouldn’t be contending this soon after they had blown everything up years before. Everything is finally coming together for a team that was the worst in the majors for almost 3 years. Their loyal fanbase will have to opportunity to watch a team that has unbelievable talent.

The outfield rotation of Rasmus, Gomez, Marisnick, Tucker and especially Springer are all solid. They can play defense well and carry some impressive bats. Springer and Gomez should have excellent seasons this year. Gomez will finally be able to play a full season with a winning team. Springer will look to continue to improve on what was a spectacular 2015 season. As long as the injury bug does not get to him he should have a monster year.

The infield, particularly the middle of it, will be amazing as well. Jose Altuve was one of the only good players on the team during their rebuilding process. His patience has paid off. With him and Carlos Correa manning the middle of the field the Astros may have the best middle infield in baseball. Correa has shown that he can be a major force. He can hit for average, power, bat with runners in scoring position, steal bases and play defense. The kid was a number one overall pick for the Astros and he has not disappointed. Look for him to have an amazing year and look for his name on the MVP ballot at the end of the year.

The starting rotation added Doug Fister to the mix which is a solid pickup. Keuchel, the reigning Cy Young Winner, McHugh, Fiers, and Feldman make up the rest of what should be a solid rotation. They have their ace and a great number 2 in McHugh. Those two should make the top of this rotation deadly. The back of their rotation is also made up of solid overall pitchers. Many of them are innings eaters who will keep you in a ballgame and give you a good chance of winning once you get to the bullpen.

The bullpen has the potential to be great. Ken Giles who was the Phillies closer was traded to Houston this offseason. He did not win the closing job, it was announced that Luke Gregerson would have that job, but, I can see Giles eventually winning it back. Pat Nesheck and Tony Sipps will also round out what will be an older but, effective bullpen.

The Astros should win this division barring any terrible injuries. Look for them to make some trade deadline deals to improve their corner infield positions and maybe add one more starter if they have the money to. They are one of my picks to make it to the World Series this year.

Player to Watch: Carlos Correa

2nd Place: Texas Rangers

Courtesy of: www.sportslogos.net

Courtesy of: www.sportslogos.net

This Rangers team came out and won the division last year, yet they were not the talk of the division. Many people outside of Texas had forgotten that they were the Division Champions, not the Astros. They will be looking to improve on their performance last year as they will have Yu Darvish back this year and an interesting piece in Ian Desmond patrolling left field. Ultimately they will finish 2nd behind an up and coming Astros team because their age will start to show and I do not think they will end the season with a healthy enough team to win the division.

The outfield will have Ian Desmond who to an extent is an experiment out in left field. He has been an infielder for his entire career but, he looked serviceable during Spring Training. They brought him in for his bat and they got him cheap. They are hoping this move will pay off. The rest of their outfield is much less exciting. Delino Deshields Jr. will be playing center field and while he is solid on defense he has a lackluster bat. Shin-Soo Choo will be playing right field and is a solid, but not all that exciting, player. He had a great season last year but, has been known to be injury prone throughout his career. Lastly is Josh Hamilton who should be back sometime in May. He has always had the potential to be a star but, his past and his age are starting to catch up to him. Sadly I do not see him playing all that well this year.

The Rangers infield will be solid. Adrian Beltre will playing solid defense and swing a mean bat. People are wondering if he is a Hall of Famer, I think he is and I think he will continue to prove that this season. Elvis Andrus will continue to bat for a decent average, steal bases, and playing great defense. Rougned Odor won the starting job at Second for now. Jurickson Profar will be called up if Odor starts to struggle at all. Mitch Moreland will be manning first base and will continue to hit. The big man has finally come into his own and deserves to be their starter. Prince Fielder will also play some first but, will mostly be their big bopper at DH. He will continue to do what he always has done, hit.

The most exciting part about this team is their starting rotation. Lets get the 3, 4, and 5 pitchers out of the way to start. Martin Perez is young and has good stuff but, he will need to prove that he deserves to stay in this rotation. Colby Lewis has been the Opening Day starter in the past and he has also dealt with health issues. If he can stay healthy he will be a solid back of the rotation guy. Derek Holland is in the exact same situation as Lewis. Now we get to the fun part, Yu Darvish who will be back in May and Cole Hamels. These two are both Aces and have been top 3 in Cy Young Voting. They are one of the best 1-2 punches in the game. Their only problem is staying healthy. If either of these two are down for too long a time the entire rotation gets significantly worse. If they are healthy for the entire year they will be fun to watch.

Here is most likely the biggest weakness for the Rangers, their bullpen. Look at these names and tell me what average fan will know them? Not one. Shawn Tolleson will be their closer and he has been solid the last two years with ERA’s of 2.76 and 2.99 respectively. He is not flashy but, he should get the job done. After him is a mix of many no name players. This will be an area they will need to improve drastically if they want a chance at winning the division.

Overall this Rangers team will be solid if they improve the bullpen and if they stay healthy. That is two too many ifs for me. I doubt they will stay healthy and I don’t think they will be able to improve the bullpen enough. I do think they will have a good year and have a chance at the wild card.

Player(s) to Watch: Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels

3rd Place: Seattle Mariners

Courtesy of: www.sportslogos.net

Courtesy of: www.sportslogos.net

This team has consistently under-performed.  Robinson Cano, King Felix, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager are their best players. These four are great but, they have never been enough to push them over the top. There are just too many holes. They will play some good baseball but, they will not be anything spectacular this year. This team outside of a few players is boring.

The outfield will consist of Nori Aoki, Leonys Martin, Seth Smith, and Franklin Gutierrez. All of these players are good, but none are great. Aoki will hit for a good average, Martin has not hit well, Smith was once a solid player but, age has caught up to him, and Gutierrez is the definition of OK. This outfield will be boring, not much more to say than that.

The infield is similar. Kyle Seager is fun but, will most likely be forgotten as his brother Corey takes over in Los Angeles. Ketel Marte is 22 and could be a fine major league player. The only problem is that he wont be a star. He, like most of this team will be good but, not great. Robinson Cano has been solid but not the Superstar Seattle wanted. His power numbers have dropped off a cliff seemingly and age is not on his side. He will be good like every year but, unless he regains that power stroke he will not be the Superstar Seattle desperately needs. Adding Adam Lind to play first adds  power and stability to the position. He is again like the rest of this team, solid, but nothing amazing. He will play well and hit 20+ homeruns this year. Nelson Cruz was a great addition to the team. He was the only really exciting hitter last year for this squad. For a time it seemed like he alone could carry this team on his back along with his 44 homeruns. Sadly that was not the case. Cruz is 35 this year and he should start slowing down, right? Chris Iannetta will be the catcher this year. He is a good defender with no bat. They are all solid but, will any of them bring the necessary boost that the Mariners need? I do not believe so.

The starting rotation is a little more interesting. Wade Miley, Taijuan Walker and Nate Karns are like the rest of this team, solid but nothing great. King Felix is well the King of Seattle. He is always in the talk for Cy Young and has been the backbone for this lackluster pitching staff. I am sure he will be in talks for the Cy Young again this year. Iwakuma won 15 games last year and proved he could be the number 2 behind the King. This was something Seattle has needed for a long time. The only problem is that he is heading into his age 35 season and will most likely not be able to put up the numbers as he has been for much longer.

The bullpen has some intriguing players but again none of them are great. Steve Cishek will be trying to get back into form as he once was in Miami. Joaquin Benoit has always been a good option in the pen and will most likely continue to be just that. Lastly the addition of Nick Vincent from the Padres is a move that will go under the radar but, should prove to be a great one for the Mariners.

The Mariners are a good team, do not get me wrong. The problem is they are boring. They do not have what it takes to push for the division or a playoff spot. Some people are picking them as a dark horse team but, until there is a spark from one of their players I do not foresee them being anything more than a .500 team.

Player to Watch: King Felix

4th Place: Oakland Athletics

Courtesy of: en.wikipedia.org

Courtesy of: en.wikipedia.org

Billy Beane has been doing Billy Beane things. He has brought together a cheap but, intriguing roster. I do have them finishing 4th just to be safe but, I think this team could make a charge at the wild card if certain things can go their way.

Their outfield consists of Khris Davis, Billy Burns, Josh Reddick, Coco Crisp, and Chris Coghlan. These 5 could be a great rotation. Davis and Reddick bring power. They could each hit 25+ homeruns this year. Burns and Crisp bring the speed and Coghlan is just solid all around. They could do great things as a group. If Davis can reach his full potential watch out, he could be a monster hitter. Billy Burns is probably the most exciting player you have never heard about. He is the typical Billy Beane player.

The infield should be interesting as well. Marcus Semien could be very good if he can bring down the strikeout numbers. The A’s received him in a trade with the White Sox last year and he has been pegged as their Shortstop of the Future. Jed Lowrie is always a solid veteran to have on your team. He is manning second because age is starting to catch up with him but, his bat should still provide solid at-bats. Yonder Alonso, Mark Cahna, and Billy Butler will all be splitting time at DH and first base. Alonso was picked up from the Padres last year and has been a solid everyday player. He can hit for contact and has gap power. If he can hit with runner is scoring position and add some more power, Alonso could finally reach the potential many thought he had. Steven Vogt was a suprise player last year. He hit 18 homeruns and drove in 71. He is a solid bat and even better behind the plate.

The rotation will be where this team will need to improve. They have a lot of injuries to deal with and not much talent to speak of. They will be the reason this team does not make the playoffs and they are why I have them fourth. Of course their is one Superstar, Sonny Gray. Everything I said before only talks about the rest of the rotation. I think Gray could win the Cy Young away this year. He has amazing stuff and is very collected for how young he is. People need to start paying attention to him. The only problem is that knowing Billy Beane he could get traded if the season completely implodes.

The bullpen will be a major strength for this team. They have the potential to be one of the best ones in the game. Sean Doolittle will be closing this year and doing his normal thing of getting outs as long as he is healthy. They brought in Ryan Madson and John Axford who were both previously All-Star type closers. If they can get back into form, watch out. These three could be what they Pirates had a few years ago with Grilli, Melancon, and Watson. Liam Hendricks and Mark Rzepczynski also have a track record of getting the job done. This bullpen could be amazing and if the starters can keep the game close and give it over to the pen the A’s could win many more games than people are predicting, including myself.

This team has potential if the moves they have made pay off. They could make the playoffs as a wild card. Sadly it is more likely that they will finish right around .500 because not every move can always pay off.

Player(s) to Watch: Sonny Gray and Billy Burns

5th Place: Los Angeles Angels

Courtesy of: en.wikipedia.org

Courtesy of: en.wikipedia.org

I know many of you have been wondering where this team would be. I can tell you right now that this team is vastly overrated because of two players, Mike Trout (he is not overrated, just the team) and Albert Pujols (he is overrated). They will have a bad year for many reasons, one being money and two being the lack of any prospects. This is normally any team’s nightmare. When you have all your money sunk into just a few players and no prospects that means rough years are heading your way and I think that starts this year.

The outfield of Daniel Nava, Craig Gentry, Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun is just not good. Left Field will be platooned by Nava and Gentry and neither of them are all that great. Trout is obviously one of the best players in baseball so no matter what else I say, much of it does not apply to him. Calhoun is solid but, it seems as though he has already reached his best. I think that last year will be the best year he ever has which again is not bad but, left much to be desired.

The infield is a train wreck outside of Andrelton Simmons. Yunel Escobar is decent but, nothing great. Johnny Giavotella is serviceable at best. CJ Cron is a similar player to Calhoun except he plays first base. Albert Pujols is one of the best players ever and he hit 40 bombs last year but, he is still a huge chunk of their payroll and he can’t carry teams like he used to. Simmons is a wizard on the field and is improving at the plate. The problem is that the Angels gave up so much to get him and for what reason? They will not be good this year. These kinds of moves are made by GM’s and Front Offices who are afraid to lose their jobs. Lastly Carlos Perez and Giovanni Soto are behind the plate and are decent at best. Perez is young and has some potential but, I would not count on him for much.

The rotation is not terrible but, there are many questions left unanswered. CJ Wilson is having shoulder problems which means it is just swollen and he isn’t out for very long or, it means surgery and he is out for quite awhile. Garret Richards has the potential to be solid but, I just do not know if he has what it takes to be the Ace for a team. 2014 was a great year for him but, 2015 was average. Alex Heaney was a top prospect for the Marlins and has been traded around a bit. If, and I really do mean if, he can pull it all together he could be a nice young player. I just have not seen enough of him to be convinced that he will be able to. Santiago and Shoemaker are not bad but, they are not playoff caliber players and Jared Weaver is in the twilight of his career.

The bullpen has even more questions than the rotation. How much longer can Street be this good? He and Joe Smith are the only good players in a very average bullpen. Will anyone step up? Does their depleted farm system have a diamond in the rough? They do not have the money to go out and get anyone and their farm system is atrocious.

The Angels are heading into what could be a long string of bad years. They will need to try and dump contracts near the trade deadline to try and revamp this team. They have no money and a bad farm system. All of this spells impending doom for a once great franchise. They may be in the hunt near the beginning of the year but, eventually I think it will all fall apart. The worst part about this is that they cannot blame it on injuries. As of now Wilson is their only injury problem. This could be the year the Angels start to fall apart.

Player to Watch: Mike Trout (Who else?)

My Top 10 Video Games of All Time

Courtesy of, www.reddit.com

Courtesy of, www.reddit.com

I have been an avid gamer for many years. Video games have brought me much joy over those years and many of them for very different reasons. They are what I do to relax. They have allowed for me to expand my mind and become much more creative. They have also driven my love for history and strategy. Overall I feel like video games have had a very positive impact on my life.

Making this list was not an easy task. Because I have played so many games in my life it is hard to just narrow them down to 10. This will not be a list of similar games mind you. This is a list of games spanning different genres and many different gaming systems.

These are games that I have spent countless hours on and I love them all for very different reasons. Here is my top 10 games of all time:

Why I Think Jay Bruce to the Indians Works

Courtesy of, metsmerizedonline.com

Courtesy of, metsmerizedonline.com

Jay Bruce has been a staple in the Cincinnati Reds organization. He was hyped up to the fans throughout his minor league days and moved relatively quickly through the organization making his debut when he was 21. The soon to be 29 year old has been the subject of many trade rumors over the past year as it is no secret that the Reds are rebuilding.

While he will most likely not be traded until trade deadline with most of the big outfield free agents off the board, it is still possible that he would be traded before the season starts.

Bruce had been someone who was improving in every category each year. Then he had an injury that set him back and has been regressing ever since. His power numbers are down, he’s not driving in the runs he once was, and he is not hitting for average. For a rebuilding team keeping a 29 year old struggling outfielder does not make much sense. It is likely that a change of scenery to a contender would help him.

While looking at teams who might want Bruce I came across many possibilities. The Orioles, Angels, Astros and Giants all came up in my searches, but there was one team that I think he would fit in with perfectly, the Indians.

The Indians are desperately in need of a right fielder as they have Lonnie Chisenhall listed on their website as their starter. Bruce would be a massive upgrade and would add even more power to a lineup that is already ripe with it.

Because he is a solid defender the Indians would be getting a great upgrade there. Bruce has made some incredible plays not only with the glove during his time at Great American but, also with his cannon of an arm. The one thing that has been consistent throughout his trying times at the plate has been his defense.

Bruce would give them way more power than Chisenhall would. He would be given protection up and down the line up which could only help his batting average and runs driven in. Also he would be able to help the offense early in the season until Brantley came back from injury.

Let me ask you Indians fans, would you love to see an outfield that features Rajai Davis, Michael Brantley, and Jay Bruce? Let me answer for you, yes.

The Indians already have solid pitching led by Corey Kluber and he would fit the biggest need they have. Also he could DH as he aged and could be a staple in the Indians organization for years to come.

The next question Indians fans would be asking is, what would we have to give up to get him? I would respond with not a whole lot for what you would be getting. As we have all seen the Reds are completely rebuilding and have been taking some trades that have been questioned by the fans and experts alike. They are desperate to reduce the payroll and really blow this thing up.

So the Indians would most likely need to give up a few middle tier prospects or one top prospect and a lower tier prospect.

I would imagine the trade might look something like this, Jay Bruce for Jose Ramirez, James Ramsey, and Shawn Armstrong.

Courtesy of, factoryofsadness.co

Courtesy of, factoryofsadness.co

The Reds would be getting a decent return while the Indians would only be losing a depth player who has not panned out the way they had hoped, a number 12 prospect who is slated behind the likes of Bradley Zimmer and Clint Frazier and a number 27 prospect who is a middle reliever.

Jose Ramirez has been a highly touted prospect but has not panned out all that well for the Indians. Now with and infield of Jason Kipnis, Rookie of the Year runner up Francisco Lindor, and Giovanny Urshela who is solid with the glove and is probably the Indians 3rd basemen of the future, Ramirez will be a bench player. He would be the main piece in this deal.

Reds fans might be asking why another infielder? Well Ramirez is still only 23 years old and has plenty of potential that could be unlocked with a change of scenery. He would add to a young future infield with Peraza at 2nd and Ramirez or Suarez playing SS or 3rd seeing as either could play both positions.

The Reds would also be getting a solid prospect in James Ramsey who was a former 1st round pick with power and a lively arm in Armstrong who could earn himself a bullpen spot.

What is most important to the Reds though is that all three of these players are basically Major League ready players which is something that the Reds Front Office has been saying they wanted all along.

The Indians would get their rightfielder that they desperately need to help them compete and the Reds would get three solid Major League ready prospects in return.

What do all of you Indians and Reds fans think of this trade? Tell me if I am stupid or a genius either in the comment section below, on twitter @roberthaness, on our facebook page, or on the forums!

 

My 2016 MLB HOF Votes

My HOF Votes

The MLB Hall of Fame will release their picks for this year’s class. The headliner for the new players in this years class is Ken Griffey Jr., whom some believe might be the first player to receive 100% of the vote. Then there are the known steroid users like Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds who have been on the ballot for four years but, have never been close to the 75% of the vote needed to get in.

My votes may not count but, I still think it is interesting to look at and comment on this year’s class. I will be looking for a few things with my votes. To start statistics. This is the bottom line for me. If a player is in the top ten in any category or has substantial overall numbers for his position then they are automatically in consideration. Also I look at their career with the team or teams they played with. If they were the best player of the time on their respective team or they are in the team’s Hall of Fame then they are also in consideration for me. Lastly steroids will have an effect on my ballet to a certain degree. I will comment on each player and say why I believe they deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

Here are my picks:

  1. Ken Griffey Jr.
  2. Mike Piazza
  3. Jeff Bagwell
  4. Tim Raines
  5. Trevor Hoffman
  6. Roger Clemens
  7. Barry Bonds

 

  1. Ken Griffey Jr. or also know as “The Kid” is by far the easiest vote in this entire class. While people have their reasons for him not getting 100% of the vote I think that all of them are stupid. Every year there is an automatic candidate and some writer will say because no one else has had 100% of the vote that they had to be the one who didn’t vote for them. Honestly I think that is ridiculous. Especially when you don’t even use all 10 of your votes anyways. Junior deserves to be first ballot and he deserves 100% of the vote. He is number 6 all-time in Homeruns, he saved a struggling franchise (Mariners) and he will be in the Reds and Mariners team Hall of Fame. He was the player of a generation and he did all of it during the steroid era without using steroids.
  2. Mike Piazza will be voted on for the 5th time and I think he gets in this time. Many people believe that he had used PED’s because of his power and the fact that he played during the steroid era.  While I do consider steroids in my assessment I have looked up whether he used steroids and there are no confirmed reports that he did. So while it may sound bad I will have to vote for him based on what has been confirmed. Enough of that though, lets get to the stats. The man was a hitting machine. He batted .308, with 427 homeruns, 1335 rbi, with a career ops of .922. These numbers are fantastic and make him one of the best hitting catchers of all-time. Also he has gone down as one of the best Mets of all-time. This means a lot considering the history of the franchise. While I hope that he did not use steroids just the numbers and how historic he was with his team I believe he deserves a vote.
  3. Jeff Bagwell was one of my favorite players to watch as a kid. I had to see him hit the ball all over the field against the Reds for too many years. His swing was great and he was one of the defining players for a very good Houston Astros team. His numbers are similar to Mike Piazza’s and he has never been connected to steroids for any other reason than the fact that he played during the steroid era. Truthfully it has been a shame that he has not been all that close to getting in but, maybe this will be his year.
  4. Before writing this article I honestly did not know much about Tim Raines. I knew he had been on the ballot before and that he had been close a few times. After looking him up and his numbers I think that he absolutely deserves to be in. To start he was one of the best Expos players ever. Yes, if you forgot Montreal had a team called the Expos. He was a fantastic leadoff hitter for them. He was a 7 time all-star and most importantly is 5th all-time in steals with 808. I think being top ten in any major stat is automatically a qualifier for me and hopefully that will swing some votes his way this year.
  5. Trevor Hoffman was the man. Besides Mariano Rivera he was my favorite closer to watch when I was a kid. While he threw 95 at the beginning of his career he got injured and that made him have to change the way he pitched. Man could he pitch. His game revolved around one of the filthiest changeups in the game and it helped him become the 2nd best closer of all-time. He had 601 saves in his career and he was a guy who started off in the Reds farm system as a shortstop. With Rivera he was one of the first truly great 9th inning saves guys in the game. This is Hoffman’s first time on the ballot so he may not get in right away but, he will eventually.
  6. If you have read this far or just skipped to this part I know why. Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds are some of the most notorious steroid users ever. I have always thought that I would not want to vote for them because of their usage. This was especially true for Clemens. I loved watching him pitch as a kid and when I found out that he was using steroids and had lied about it before I was very disappointed. I have since looked at it from a more objective view. The man won 354 games and started 707 while striking out 4,672 batters. He won 7 Cy Young awards and 1 MVP award. These numbers are incredible. He is one of the best pitchers ever and while he did use steroids I think he deserves to get in for two reasons. One because of his numbers and two because he was the best pitcher of this era.  I doubt he will get in this year or maybe ever but, he was a fantastic pitcher with or without the steroids.
  7. Unlike Clemons I was never a huge fan of Barry Bonds. Before the allegations I respected how good he was but once they came out and he denied them I started to question how good he was. Then I looked up his stats and I remembered that with or without steroids the guy was special. He was the most feared batter ever, 2558 walks tells that story and why would people walk him? The man hit 762 homeruns and drove in 1996 runs. He was also the MVP 7 different times. Sadly because of numbers and the fact that he was the best player of this era he gets my vote. I do not see him getting in this year but, I think eventually unless they take away his homeruns that Bonds will be a Hall of Fame player.

These seven players have my vote. I can’t wait to see one of my favorite players ever, Ken Griffey Jr. get in and I think it will be interesting to see if any of the other six do.

Do you agree with my picks or do you hate them? Comment below, tweet at me @roberthaness, or comment on our forum where we can have a lengthy discussion!

 

Stats courtesy of, baseballreference.com

The One Player That Can Save The Reds’ Offseason

Courtesy of, leageez.com

Courtesy of, leageez.com

The Cincinnati Reds have had a terrible offseason so far, and that is probably putting a positive spin on it. There have been failed deals, domestic violence disputes and trades that not many people agree with.

Sadly this is the nature of a rebuilding team. You trade away players that you love and hope that the young players you get in return can someday help your team win a championship.

Where the Reds have gotten extremely young is in their pitching staff. Last year to start the 2014 season the Reds had a starting rotation of Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake, and Alfredo Simon. Only one of those 5 remain, Homer Bailey, and he will be recovering from Tommy John surgery until sometime in May or June. That means that there will be 5 relatively inexperienced starters coming out of Spring Training for the Reds if the team stays as is.

I will not be putting my predictions of the rotation for the Reds until they have finished making most of their big moves. As of now the Reds are in full rebuild mode and that means try outs for everyone. This also means that there is a lot of uncertainty for the coming season for the team overall.

Because they are moving most of their veteran players, the Reds lack of experience will put this team in the position to have a lot of growing pains. This will hurt the attendance and excitement of one of the most loyal fanbases in baseball.

With all of the negativity and loss of star players like Todd Frazier, Johnny Cueto, and Aroldis Chapman the Reds front office will have problems convincing the fans to come spend their hard earned money to watch young players develop.

There is one player who is on the free agent market who can help bring some fans to the stadium, be another face alongside Joey Votto (assuming that he is not traded), and he can help be a veteran presence for the young Reds pitching staff.

This player is Bronson Arroyo.

Courtesy of, www.sportsworldreport.com

Courtesy of, www.sportsworldreport.com

Rumors have said that Arroyo would be interested in returning to the Reds. While in Cincinnati the man was beloved by the fans and he seemed to love the city back.

The Reds traded for Arroyo in 2006 when they sent their power hitting outfield Willy Mo Pena to the Red Sox. Arroyo had come off of a decent season with the Red Sox, 14-10 with a 4.51 ERA. These number were not stellar but, he had over 200 innings and this would become something that he would be known for in Cincinnati.

The next season he made his first and only All-Star game in a season where he went 14-11 with a 3.29 ERA, 3 complete games and 240.2 innings which was best in the Major Leagues that year. He was known as a work horse who would give you 200 innings and who would start every 5 days.

Bronson did have his struggles. He was known for giving up the long ball. This was especially true in 2011 when he gave up 46 home runs in one season. While this was a down year he still reached 199 innings, which was his only season that he did not reach at least 200 innings.

Bronson was not only known and loved on the field though. He was also always interacting with the fans.

Reds Fest is a giant party the Reds organization throws for their fans in which they get to meet with the players. They are able to get pictures, win prizes and even play games like poker with some of their favorite players. Bronson Arroyo was almost always at these events and he would normally pick up his guitar and sing for the fans.

He became a fan favorite over the years that he was here. He was the work horse on the field and the laid back, guitar playing, long blonde haired bro off it.

The Reds need a player like Arroyo who can come back and fulfill some of the many needs that they have. He can be a veteran presence for the young pitchers on the field. This will be important because it will allow them to develop more quickly. With Arroyo and Bryan Price leading these young pitchers it would not surprise me if they became one of the better rotations in baseball in a couple years.

Bronson can also help to mend many of the broken hearts of Reds fans. They have already watched Todd Frazier, arguably the most beloved player in recent memory get traded. They have also lost the most exciting closer in baseball, Aroldis Chapman, in a trade to the Yankees. Bringing back a fan favorite would start to help the wounds heal.

The Reds could bring him back on a reasonable deal as well. I could see him getting a contract with similar money that Ryan Vogelsong just got. Maybe 2 million or 3 million per year with incentives. I would also expect a 2 year contract with the second year being a team option.

The Reds have said that they wanted to make sure Bronson was healthy before talking with him, and by all accounts he is healthy. I think that they need to sign him and do it soon. The fan base is already starting to lose hope and things are not going to get any easier for the Reds. For them to do a complete rebuild players like Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce will most likely be traded away sooner rather than later.

Bronson Arroyo would benefit in coming back to a team and city he is familiar with. He would be given the opportunity to help rebuild the franchise and in the future potentially come back as a coach or assistant with the Reds.

If you would like to discuss this then please comment below, tweet at me @roberthaness, or go to our new forum page in the menu and post on there!

Stats courtesy of, Espn.com and Baseballreference.com

December 29 Bowl Preview

December 29 Bowl Preview

Armed Forces Bowl: California Golden Bears (7-5) vs. Air Force Falcons (8-5), 2:00 P.M.

Cal has arguably the best quarterback in the country and still only managed to get seven wins. Quarterback Jared Goff is a potential first overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft and threw for 4252 yards and 37 touchdowns. Goff’s arm has been the reason the Golden Bears were able to average 36.5 points per game, because they didn’t have much of arunning game. Cal’s defense has been the reason that they lost five games on the season. They allow 30.8 points pergame, due to a lackluster rush defense, which allows over 200 yards per game.

Air Force lost in the Mountain West Championship to San Diego State, but still had a successful season. Their 321.8 rushing yards per game is the second best in the country because of their triple option offense. The Falcons defense has been very complimentary to their offense by allowing just 190 passing yards per game and 23 points per game.

This game pits strength against strength with Goff going up against the good pass defense of Air Force. Goff has only had one bad game all year, and that won’t repeat itself in this game. Cal will put up too many points for Air Force to keep up.

Final Score: California 43 Air Force 29

Courtesy of, www.cbssports.com

Courtesy of, www.cbssports.com

Russell Athletic Bowl: #10 North Carolina Tarheels (10-2) at #17 Baylor Bears (9-3), 5:30 P.M.

North Carolina had a chance to be in the College Football Playoff had they beaten Clemson in the ACC Championship Game, but lost to finish their regular season with ten wins. Quarterback Marquise Williams had two bad games in the team’s two losses making him the key for the Tar Heels. He had a successful season by running and throwing the ball to help North Carolina average 40.9 points per game. The Tarheel defense was improved this season under defensive coordinator Gene Chizik. They allow fewer than 200 passing yards, but more than 200 rushing yards per game.

Baylor was so desperate for a healthy quarterback at the end of the season, that they were moving wide receivers to quarterback. The third string quarterback Chris Johnson will start the game, because he is the best quarterback healthy. He was the reason that Baylor beat Oklahoma State, which was a big win. To go along with Johnson, they have a great running back, Shock Linwood, and the best wide receiver in college football, Corey Coleman. Even with a third string quarterback, the offense will play fine. Baylor’s defense was average this season, but does have two stars on the defensive line. Defensive end Shawn Oakman is athletically gifted and great at getting to the quarterback. Defensive tackle Andrew Billings has a quick burst after the snap and is very disruptive.

This game will come down to the best offense as there will be a lot of points scored. Baylor’s run game will be able to exploit the North Carolina rush defense. Billings and Oakman will force Williams to make bad decisions and have his third bad game of the season.

Final Score: Baylor 55 UNC 39

Courtesy of, bleacherreport.com

Courtesy of, bleacherreport.com

Arizona Bowl: Nevada Wolfpack (6-6) vs. Colorado State Rams (7-5), 7:30 P.M.

Nevada had six wins with two games to play, but lost their last two games. They have a good rushing offense which averages 205 yards per game. The Wolfpack offense doesn’t put a lot of points on the board, but running back James Butler racked up 1156 rushing yards and does move the chains. Nevada’s defense is average, but is vulnerableto good running offenses.

Colorado State has one of the most talented receivers in the country in Rashard Higgins, who had 933 receiving yards and eight receiving touchdowns. The Rams boasted an offense that was balanced, averaging around 200 yardspassing and rushing. Colorado State on defense is vulnerable to the rush more so than the pass.

The Rams will win the game because of their balanced offense creating problems for the Wolfpack.

Final Score: Colorado State 32 Nevada 23

Courtesy of, www.csurams.com

Courtesy of, www.csurams.com

Texas Bowl: #20 LSU Tigers (8-3) vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders (7-5), 9:00 P.M.

LSU started off the season hot, but didn’t finish it off well by losing three of their last four games. Running back Leonard Fournette is one of the most talented players in the country and finished the season with 1741 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. Their offense is very bland at times, but quarterback Brandon Harris did a good job of protecting the football, only throwing five interceptions on the year. The Tiger defense wasn’t the best they have ever had, but they were solid, allowing just 24 points per game.

Texas Tech has a great offense this season using the air raid offense. Running back Deandre Washington rushed for 1455 yards and quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw for 4283 yards. Their tempo is a factor that a lot of teams can’t handle as they snap the ball very quickly. The Red Raiders are very bad on defense, giving up 42 points per game, which is the fourth worst scoring defense in the country. They give up 271 rushing yards per game, which is also makes them one of the worst rush defenses in the country.

Fournette will have one of the best performances of the bowl season by going up against such a bad defense. He will gain more than 200 yards rushing and the Tigers will win.

Final Score: LSU 38 Texas Tech 31

Courtesy of, www.cbssports.com

                        Courtesy of, www.cbssports.com

Page 1 of 212