April 2004


Football picksApril 1, 2004

2004 NFL Draft Winners and Losers

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2004 NFL Draft Winners and Losers

This season’s draft helped some teams much more than others. Here’s my thoughts on the biggest winners and losers from the 2004 NFL draft.

The Biggest Winners


Arizona Cardinals
– Larry Fitzgerald is going to be a superstar in the NFL. They now have a formidable receiving corps. Karlos Dansby was a steal in the second round as was DT Darnell Dockett in the third. All three of these players have chances to be very special in the league. And don’t forget their “pickup” of Denny Green – a great coach.


Denver Broncos
– Denver filled their needs well on the first day of the draft. DJ Williams will help the linebacking corps right away, and could develop into a top level defender. Tatum Bell is another home run type back, who is thicker than Portis and equally fast. He must demonstrate an ability to run between the tackles better than he did in college. Darius Watts could become a quality number two wideout provided he can stay healthy.


Detroit Lions
– Imagine Roy Williams and Charles Rogers in three years? The Lions are now loaded at the skill positions on offense. Kevin Jones is an upgrade at running back. Teddy Lehman is a quality linebacker who is simply a winner. Now they need to bolster both lines and this team will start making some noise.


San Diego Chargers
– The Chargers scored with their trade that sent Eli Manning’s rights to the Giants. They still added Phil Rivers who may end up being better than Eli. They drafted eleven players overall which bodes well for a team in need of playmakers. Some of the better picks were Michael Turner, Dave Ball and Carlos Joseph of Miami.

 

The Biggest Losers


Kansas City Chiefs
– In a draft loaded with WR’s, the Chiefs failed to add one before the 4th round. We like Sammie Parker but he is very similar to the guys they already have. Really no difference makers at all in the draft for the Chiefs.


New York Giants
– What were they thinking? This team has more needs than Quarterback. They also gave the Chargers their first pick next year, which looks like it will be a good pick. Jessie Palmer may be the starter this season, which is not good news for Giants fans.


Indianapolis Colts
– I like Bob Sanders, but he does not fill a need for the Colts. Really not one selection I really like for the Colts.


Cleveland Browns
– The Browns only had six picks and Kellen Winslow will be a damn good NFL tight end, but Garcia will have a had time throwing to him on his back. They desperately needed O lineman and did not draft one until the fifth round. They also could have used some help at linebacker.

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Baseball picksApril 1, 2004

2004 MLB Baseball Preview Part I

2004 MLB Baseball Preview
Part I

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The 2003 MLB season was one of the greatest of all time, ending with a surprising World Series win by the upstart Florida Marlins. Who will forget Pudge’s play at the plate to beat the Giants in the NL Divisional Series or Steve Bartman’s play in the NLCS? How about Aaron Boone’s homerun to shock the Red Sox in game 7 of the ALCS? Those are just some of the memories from the 2003 season. This year promises to be amazing as well, as many of the games top players have switched uniforms. How their former teams plug those holes may have more of an impact than the superstars who left town. Below is the first in a two part series that will get you ready for opening day.

Baseball presents players with the one of the best opportunities (maybe THE BEST) for big time profits over the course of the season. I will be tracking statistics, weather patterns, and umpires throughout to give you the edge on your bookmaker all season long. I will follow this PART ONE PREVIEW with a look at the rookies who will have an impact on this season. I will also pick my top teams in certain statistical categories, which are important when wagering on baseball games.

TOP FIFTEEN TEAMS

1) New York Yankees – Maybe the best lineup ever assembled. Sheffield, Giambi, AROD, Jeter, Williams, Posada, and Godzilla? If Brown, Vazquez, and the bevy of offensive superstars can stay healthy, they could win 120 games. Hmmmm. Ridiculous.

2) Boston Red Sox – Certainly upped their rotation but will it be enough? The Red Sox / Yankee match-ups will be some of the most entertaining games in some time. Many of their hitters had career years a year ago. If Pedro and Schilling can avoid long stints on the DL, and David Ortiz, Bill Meuller, and co. can reproduce their offensive output of a year ago, this team could be special. Lots of questions, though, for such a ballyhooed team.

3) Chicago Cubs – This pitching staff is very, very good. The staff may allow them to compete with the Yankees, or any other team, come October. Prior will start the season on the DL but it should not matter much as this rotation is six deep.

4) Anaheim Angels – Free Agent acquisitions of Colon and Guerrero were coups. Can Glaus and Erstad rediscover their All Star form of earlier seasons? If so, the Angels could shock everyone and represent the AL in October.

5) Houston Astros – Addition of Petite and Clemens bolster their rotation, but I do not like the trade that sent Wags to the Phils. Lidge and Dotel must deal with the consistent late inning pressure of closing. If they succeed, so will the Astros.

6) Seattle Mariners – The loss of Sasaki will hurt this team’s bullpen but they are still very tough. The rumored deal for Griffey may be just that but if that deal does go down, their offense will compete with the Angels and Yankees for the best in the AL. Another big question for the Mariners is Freddy Garcia. Will the real Freddy Garcia please stand up?!? Rich Aurilia is a stud and a huge addition in terms of leadership for the Mariners. Randy Winn in an upgrade over Cameron in center. The Mariners will be a major player in the West.

7) Philadelphia Phillies – Addition of Billy Wagner is huge for the Phillies. Can Pat Burrell resurrect his once ‘can’t miss’ offensive prowess? Can Bows keep the clubhouse together? Good questions in my opinion. Only time will tell.

8) San Diego Padres – My pick in the NL West, the Padres have dramatically improved themselves for the opening of their new ballpark. The return of Trevor Hoffman will help the bullpen while David Wells can still pitch. Keep an eye on Khalil Green. If he can hold up defensively, it will dramatically increase the Padres chances.

9) Minnesota Twins – The Twins will remain formidable this season. Their young nucleus remains in tact, and the arrival of rookie catcher Joe Mauer has everyone in the Twin Cities smug about their Twins. They should win the Central once again this season and bow out early to one of super power AL clubs.

10) San Francisco Giants – Many questions surround the Giants offense after losing gold glove winner, Jose Cruz and team leader Rich Aurilia in the off-season. The G-Men however, always seem to find a way, and I would not be surprised if it happens again in 2004.

11) St. Louis Cardinals – The Cardinals offense will once again be tough with Rolen and Pujols in the middle of the order. The big question with the Cardinals is will Reggie Sanders and Bo Hart produce. Sanders is with his 1,000th team, but has been productive at every stop along the way. Hart overachieved in 2003, but must continue to to soften of the blow of Fernando Vina’s departure. The return of Woody Williams will bolster their starting pitching. Health has been the main dagger for the Cardinals the last couple of seasons. If this team can stay healthy, they’ll give the Cubs and Astros all they can handle in the Central.

12) Toronto Blue Jays – The Blue Jays possess a great young pitching staff centered around Cy Young winner Roy Halladay. The addition of Miguel Batista and Ted Lilly will help the rotation as well. The key to this team will be the production of Eric Hinske, Reed Johnson and Frank Catalanatto. If those three players have nice offensive seasons, the Blue Jays will have a nice year.

13) Oakland Athletics – The A’s still have a premium starting rotation but may struggle to score runs at times this season. Inking Chavez is big for this team, but they’ll need production from unproven players to match the win totals of previous seasons.

14) Arizona Diamondbacks – A real sleeper team in the NL West. I love the addition of Richie Sexson who was just waiting to become a legitimate superstar but was hindered by the bad lineup in Milwaukee. Randy Johnson needs to return to form for this team to be serious contender.

15) Atlanta Braves – Still a nice ball club, but they have lost a ton of offensive and pitching production from their dominant teams. JD Drew will have to have a great year for the Braves to have a shot at the Wild Card. Smoltz could go at the trade deadline.

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BOTTOM FIVE TEAMS

1) Milwaukee Brewers – Gone is Richie Sexson, the only ray of hope left in the organization. The keys to the offense are left to Geoff Jenkins who may be hurt by May and youngster Lyle Overbay. Ben Sheets will be asked to lead this staff. He was highly regarded earlier in his career but his stuff has just simply never panned out. UUUGGGHHHH!

2) Pittsburgh Pirates – Anytime you’re depending on Jose Acevedo and Jose Mesa to shut the door on opposing teams late in games, you know you’re in dire straits. Such is the outlook for the 2005 Pirates. Oh yeah, and Chris Stynes isn’t going to win many ballgames for you either. This team looks very bad on paper. I feel sorry for the folks in Pittsburgh.

3) Texas Rangers – The Rangers will be back soon enough, but I doubt Soriano will be anything but a K machine with his new team. They still have no pitching. Kenny Rogers is projected to be the ace, which shows just how bad this pitching staff is projected to be. Like the Rockies, they will score runs with Brian Jordan, Brad Fullmer and Soriano, but it will not be enough this go around.

4) Montreal Expos – Gone are Vazquez and Vlad. This is the one team out of this bunch that may surprise and make us look silly. Nick Johnson is a stud that the Yanks may regret giving up for years to come, and Carl Everett has been productive for the past couple of years. Pitching remains the biggest question in Montreal, and Livian Hernandez is not dependable ace.

5) Colorado Rockies – The Rockies are depending on Joe Kennedy, Shawn Estes, and Scott Elarton to be effective starters. Umm – Not going to happen. They’ll score lots of runs but they’ll give them up in bunches. This team, believe it or not, needs to unload Helton and Wilson this year while their value remains high.

TEAMS WHO’LL FLY UNDER THE RADAR

1) Tampa Bay Devil Rays – This young team is beginning to come of age. Carl Crawford is looking for a breakout year to establish himself as one of the premier leadoff men in the league.

2) Toronto Blue Jays – One of the more underrated starting rotations in baseball. Everyone knows about Halladay but Lilly and Batista can provide quality depth here. Delgado and Wells are as good as it gets at the plate and will generate runs against anyone.

3) Kansas City Royals – A hot start a year ago lead to a memorable season for the Royals. Pitching seems to be the only major question mark for the Royals heading into this season. They’ll have at least three southpaws in their rotation to begin the season, and if Kevin Appier can eat up innings, the Royals will be players once again in the Central.

4) New York Mets – The Mets are my sleeper team in the NL East. They have a nice mix of veterans and youngsters throughout their club. One key here, will be if Mike Piazza can stay healthy and produce from the 4-hole. If so, this team will hang around well into September.

5) Baltimore Orioles – The Orioles made some key additions which should help in the win column. Miguel Tejada and Rafael Palmeiro will bring instant offense, and improve the defense right away too.

MY OCTOBER (IN APRIL)

NL East – Philadelphia Phillies
NL Central – Chicago Cubs
NL West – San Diego Padres
NL Wildcard– Houston Astros

National League Division Series:
Astros over Phillies
Cubs over Padres

National League Championship Series:
Cubs over Astros

AL West – Anaheim Angels
AL Central – Minnesota Twins
AL East – New York Yankees
AL Wildcard– Boston Red Sox

American League Division Series:
Yankees over Twins
Angels over Red Sox

American League Championship Series:
Angels over Yankees

World Series:
Cubs over Angels in seven

Part II – Click Here

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Baseball picksApril 1, 2004

2004 MLB Baseball Preview Part II

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2004 MLB Baseball Preview
Part II

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Rookies to Watch

National League

Khalil Green SS, San Diego Padres – The former standout at Clemson is ready for the big leagues. He can flat out hit the baseball. The question remains, is he ready to be a big league shortstop? We don’t think so, as that position generally takes kids some time, but he’ll have an impact this season. Much of the Padres hopes fall on Greene this season. He is a future All Star, but not this season.

Edwin Jackson RHP, L.A. Dodgers – The 6’3” Jackson will man the #5 starter position in the Dodgers staff, and has the stuff to win 15 games from the position. He became the youngest Dodger starter to win his first start last season against the D-Backs. Expect more of the same fro m this hard throwing youngster who is coveted by every team in the game. When the Dodgers were looking for another bat this off-season, everyone wanted Jackson. That is why their offense will be terrible this summer.

Kazuo Matsui SS, New York Mets – Little Godzilla arrives this season in the US from Japan. He is a gifted player who is solid defensively and a good hitter. He will not match his power numbers from Japan but will help the Mets a great deal this season.

American League

Bobby Crosby SS, Oakland Athletics – The only reason the A’s let Tejada get away to the Orioles. Second baseman Mark Ellis’ injury will hurt Crosby’s development in the near term, and the A’s need him to be a defensive gem, which it looks like he’ll be. He will not come close to replacing Tejada’s. He is still a fine prospect with a nice career ahead of him.

Joe Mauer C, Minnesota Twins – Mauer has arrived. The big time home town prospect who was taken in the first round of the Amateur Draft will start the season as the Twins catcher. He has shown maturity already, doing a great job with the pitching staff in spring training. Mauer may struggle at the plate a bit this season, but he’ll turn into a guy that hits 20-25 home runs consistently for the Twins. Combine those numbers with his uncanny athleticism behind the plate and, barring injury, this kid is as can’t miss as they come.

Best Bullpens

1) Philadelphia Phillies – Billy Wagner, Rheal Cormier, Todd Worrell
2) New York Yankees – Mariano Rivera, Paul Quantrill, Tom Gordon
3) Boston Red Sox – Mike Timlin, Alan Embree, Scott Williamson, Keith Foulke
4) Anaheim Angels – Ben Weber, Francisco Rodriguez, Troy Percival
5) Los Angeles Dodgers – Eric Gagne, nuff said in Chavez Ravine.
6) Houston Astros – Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel, Brandon Duckworth, Jeriome Robertson

Best Starting Rotations

1) Chicago Cubs – Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Greg Maddux, Zambrano
2) Boston Red Sox – Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe
3) Houston Astros – Roger Clemens, Roy Oswalt, Andy Petite
4) Oakland Athletics – Mark Mulder, Barry Zito, Tim Hudson, Rich Harden
5) Florida Marlins – Josh Beckett, Brad Penny, AJ Burnett, Carl Pavano
6) Anaheim Angels – Jerrod Washburn, Bartolo Colon, Kelvim Escobar, Ramon Ortiz

Best Power Offenses
These teams will blow up for some monster games

1) New York Yankees – AROD, Giambi, Posada
2) Houston Astros – Jeff Bagwell, Lance Berkman, Jeff Kent
3) St. Louis Cardinals – Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, Reggie Sanders
4) Boston Red Sox – David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Nomar, Jason Varitek
5) Colorado Rockies – Todd Helton, Preston Wilson, Larry Walker, Jeromy Burnitz
6) Anaheim Angels – Vlad, Darrin Erstad, Tim Salmon, Troy Glaus

Best Small Ball Offenses
These teams will be consistent offensively

1) Florida Marlins – Juan Pierre, Luis Castillo
2) Tampa Bay Devil Rays – Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli, Jose Cruz Jr.
3) Baltimore Orioles – Melvin Mora, Luis Matos, Larry Bigbie, Miguel Tejada
4) Minnesota Twins – Torii Hunter, Jacque Jones, Cristian Guzman
5) Oakland Athletics – Frank Menechino, Bobby Crosby, Mark Kotsay
6) Seattle Mariners – Ichiro, Randy Winn, John Olerud

Hopefully this preview has gotten you warmed up for a great season. Stay tuned for more analysis all season long.

 

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