Celtics Injury Update: Shaq out indefinitely
The Boston Celtics are arguably the best team in the Eastern Conference right now as they have a tight grip on the number one seed, but they may start to lose that tight grip over the next few weeks as they have become more and more vulnerable in the paint.
Recently, the Celtics made a pretty drastic move to trade away arguably their best defender in the paint in the form of center Kendrick Perkins (Oklahoma City Thunder). Without Perkins in the paint, the Celtics looked to four-time NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal, but now it appears that he will be out indefinitely with an Achilles injury.
There is no doubt in my mind that the Boston Celtics will still be favored in NBA picks throughout the majority of the last 20 games of the NBA regular season, but they could be in trouble in the playoffs without some much needed defense in the paint.
As of right now, the Celtics are saying that the Shaq is at about 85%, but he won’t be allowed to get back on the floor until he is 100%.
Posted By Wunderdog’s Trusty sidekick ” Wundercat “
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
2. NEW YORK
4. TAMPA BAY
LAST YEAR: 89-73
MANAGER: TERRY FRANCONA
BIGGEST ADDITION: ADRIEN GONZALEZ 1B
BIGGEST LOSS: ADRIAN BELTRE 3B
TOP PROSPECT: JOSE IGLESIAS SS
The Red Sox had just about everything that could go wrong last year go wrong, and still won 89 games. Beckett had a horrible yer and Buchholz struggled at times. They lost Kevin Yukilus and Jacoby Ellsbury for most of the season, and Jonathon Papelbon wasn’t Jonathon Papelbon-like. They let Beltre go, but replaced him with Adrien Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. With Ellsbury healthy again the Sox have the top two base-stealers in the game, backed by a lot of power and depth. If Beckett doesn’t have a stinker year, even ordinary, there is Lester, Buchholz, Lackey and Matsusaka to follow. Aside from behind the plate, the lineup is star studded all the way around. They could be playing for it all come October.
NEW YORK YANKEES
LAST YEAR: 95-67
MANAGER: JOE GIRARDI
BIGGEST ADDITION: NONE
BIGGEST LOSS: ANDY PETTITTE LHP
TOP PROSPECT: GARY SANCHEZ C
The biggest off-season moves by the Yankees were the ones that didn’t happen. It is hard to beleve that the buy-and-fix Yankees made no major moves in the offseason, but not for a lack of trying. Twelve players that donned the pinstripes a year ago have moved on. It will be an interesting year in the Bronx, as Hughes, Burnett and Ivan Nova are going to be countd on heavily in the rotation. The lineup will produce a lot of runs, but will it be enough, and what moves will the Bombers make before the deadline? Chances are they will find a top-flight pitcher, as the retirement of Pettitte has left a void. Stay tuned.
LAST YEAR: 85-77
MANAGER: JOHN FARRELL
BIGGEST ADDITION: RAJAI DAVIS OF
BIGGEST LOSS: LYLE OVERBAY 1B
TOP PROSPECT: KYLE DRABEK RHP
The Jays were forced to let go of both Roy Halladay and AJ Burnett and it looked like they were really going in the wrong direction. But, Toronto had an outstanding season last year winning 85 games in the rugged AL East. The Jays will go as far as their young, but talented pitchers take them. Romero, Cecil and Morrow all 25 or under appear locked in the rotation, and Kyle Drabek, another promising young arm, will get a chance this spring to join them. Verno Wells and Jose Bautista are going to need big years and carry a suspect offense. If the young arms find their potential, the Jays will be winning a lot more than people think.
LAST YEAR: 96-66
MANAGER: JOE MADDON
BIGGEST ADDITION: NONE
BIGGEST LOSS: CARL CRAWFORD OF
TOP PROSPECT: JEREMY HELLICKSON RHP
Was last year the Rays’ swan song of being competitive in the AL East? Probably not, because there are a lot of good arms in the organization. But replaceing Crawford, Bartlett and Pena isn’t going to happen overnight. They also took some hits in the bullpen as well. The rotation is solid, but the lineup is full of question marks as is the middle infield. This team could really do a free-fall this season and go from 96 wins a year ago to trying to get to .500.
LAST YEAR: 66-96
MANAGER: BUCK SHOWALTER
BIGGEST ADDITION: DERREK LEE 1B
BIGGEST LOSS: TY WIGGINGTON 1B
TOP PROSPECT: MANNY MARCHADO SS
The Birds made a good move by bringing in Buck Showalter to manage this young team. He made an immediate impact and has always had a good reputation with young players. The Birds have all young arms, and if they mature into what they hope, the rotation should take a step up. Waiting in the wings is lefthander Zach Britton. The probelm is going to be the lack of consistency and experience in the rotation, and the fact they are playing in the toughest division in baseball. The Orioles should be better, but not enough in this division to even finish .500.
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. CHICAGO WHITE SOX
5. KANSAS CITY
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
LAST YEAR: 88-74
MANAGER: OZZIE GUILLEN
BIGGEST ADDITION: ADAM DUNN 1B
BIGGEST LOSS: BOBBY JENKS RHP
TOP PROSPECT: CHRIS SALE LHP
The White Sox’s resigning of Paul Kenerko, and then adding Adam Dunn gives them some great power in the middle of the lineup. Bobby Jenks was let go, but Chris Sale may step right in and looks like the real deal. If not, Matt Thornton will likely take over closing duties. Dunn is a 40 HR, 100 RBI guy and will be a formidable 1-2 punch in the middle of the order. The White Sox look like they will be the team to beat in the AL Central.
LAST YEAR: 94-68
MANAGER: RON GARDENHIRE
BIGGEST ADDITION: NONE
BIGGEST LOSS: CARL PAVANO RHP
TOP PROSPECT: KYLE GIBSON RHP
The Twins will be hard pressed to duplicate last year’s 94 win total. They will have a lot of new names on the roster with 12 departed players. The Twins seem to be one of those teams that find a way to put the right pieces in the right places, and find a pitcher or two that surprises. Last year Carl Pavano gave them a lift, this year they need Slowey or Blackburn to have a big year. Nathan should be back closing which will help. I think this team drops off, but don’t ever count them out.
LAST YEAR: 81-81
MANAGER: JIM LEYLAND
BIGGEST ADDITION: VICTOR MARTINEZ C
BIGGEST LOSS: JEREMY BONDERMAN RHP
TOP PROSPECT: JACOB TURNER RHP
The Tigers will rely again on Miguel Cabrera to supply the offense and hope that Victor Martinez has a rebirth and puts up numbers like he did in Cleveland. Justin Verlander is solid, but question marks abound after that. Max Schezer has a bigtime arm, but can he put it all together? Rick Porcello looked to be on his way after a solid rookie season, but dropped off significantly last year. They appear to be a top-of-the-rotation pitcher short of making a run. I don’t think there are enough pieces right now, but a big pitcher and another player could have them there.
LAST YEAR: 69-93
MANAGER: MANNY ACTA
BIGGEST ADDITION: AUSTIN KEARNS OF
BIGGEST LOSS: NONE
TOP PROSPECT: DREW POMERANZ LHP
The Indians, at one time were signing key free angents while stockpiling good young prospects. The free agents have departed as well as the prospects and the Tribe is left with an empty tipi. Their top players in Grady Seizmore and catcher Carlos Santana have injury issues. If they don’t strap ’em on for 150 games each, it will get even worse in Cleveland as they are not close to contending. Austin Kearns could barely find at-bats with the Yankees, but he will get 500+ in Cleveland and that’s all you need to know.
LAST YEAR: 67-95
MANAGER: NED YOST
BIGGEST ADDITION: VIN MARZANO RHP
BIGGEST LOSS: ZACK GREINKE RHP
TOP PROSPECT: ERIC HOSMER 1B
The Royals cashed in the few chips they had in dealing Greinke and Betoncourt for prospects, so they have now officially gone to rebuilding mode. Wait a minute, hasn’t this team been rebuilding for over a decade already? They do have a lot of young talent, but that seems to always be the case for Kansas City. Some of that has already been on display, and more will make its debut this season. The rotation, which was bad a year ago, is bad again. But if the infusion of young arms shows promise, perhaps they will soon be heading in a better direction, but it won’t be this year.
NBA Picks : Are the Lakers still the team to bet on ?
The two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers came into this NBA regular season with high hopes of competing for another three-peat in the Phil Jackson era and a sixth NBA title for superstar Kobe Bryant. Even though this team has had its fair share of struggles throughout the regular season and have gone up and down in NBA picks, they seem to be back on track and back to their winning ways as of late.
Despite losing to the Miami Heat recently in South Beach, the Lakers did have some big win over the Dallas Mavericks and the Orlando Magic consecutively which makes people believe that this team is ready to contend for an NBA title once again. Even though Kobe Bryant and company say there is no switch that they flip towards the end of the regular season; that just doesn’t seem to be the case as they always step it up at just the right time.
The Lakers might have their hands full in the playoffs against teams like the Thunder, Mavs and Spurs, but I believe they have what it takes to win a third consecutive NBA title.
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Posted by Wunderdog’s Trusty sidekick ” Wundercat “
NBA Power Rankings: Lakers Stay atop Rankings
1- Los Angeles Lakers (48-20)
The two-time defending champions are making a case for the league’s best team once again as they are atop the NBA power rankings for the second straight week. They may have lost to the Heat recently, but big wins over the Mavs and the Magic were enough to eclipse that loss.
2- Chicago Bulls (48-18)
Even though everyone is still hesitant to label the Bulls the best team in the East, Derrick Rose and company are playing at an extremely high level and have officially topped the Celtics in the East.
3- San Antonio Spurs (54-13)
The Spurs have started to struggle recently, especially at home. Even though they were favored to beat the Lakers and the Heat in NBA picks, they were just dominated by these heavyweights and a lot of people have started to question whether or not this team can really contend for a title.
4- Dallas Mavericks (47-20)
Even though the Mavs are without a doubt one of the best teams in the league right now, they did suffer a pretty bad loss to the Lakers in Dallas recently and might still be a bit far away from contending in the West.
5- Boston Celtics (47-18)
After the trade that sent Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City, the Celtics just haven’t been the same and if they don’t pull it together soon, they could be in danger of being knocked out of the playoffs early.
6-10- Miami Heat (46-21), Oklahoma City Thunder (43-23), Denver Nuggets (40-27), Orlando Magic (42-26) and Portland Trail Blazers (38-29)
Each week follow our our rankings each week with our free NBA picks
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
3. LOS ANGELES
LAST YEAR: 90-72
MANAGER: RON WASHINGTON
BIGGEST ADDITION: BRANDON WEBB RHP
BIGGEST LOSS: CLIFF LEE LHP
TOP PROSPECT: MARTIN PEREZ LHP
With the departure of Cliff Lee, the Rangers will rely on Colby Lewis at the top of the rotation, and he is a good one. While there isn’t a Cliff Lee on the staff, the pitching is solid from tp top bottom. The Rangers have a potent attack, and it will be important for them to keep Josh Hamilton healthy, as he is the key to the attack. The West is down and the Rangers should be a runaway winner here. The next question is, can they find their way back to the World Series? They have the resources to add a key player or arm late if needed, stay tuned.
LAST YEAR: 81-81
MANAGER: BOB GEREN
BIGGEST ADDITION: RICH HARDEN RHP
BIGGEST LOSS: VIN MARZANO RHP
TOP PROSPECT: CHRIS CARTER OF
The A’s seem to do more with less than any team in baseball. Last year’s version was good enough to pull off a .500 season. They seem to come up with a surprise on the mound almost every year, and getting Rich Harden back and performing at the level he has in the past will make the rotation stronger. They have some good arms, and a good pen, so they have a tendency to pitch themselves into wins. The lineup is anything but scary, so they will go as far as their pitching can take them.
LAST YEAR: 80-82
MANAGER: MIKE SCIOSCIA
BIGGEST ADDITION: SCOTT DOWNS LHP
BIGGEST LOSS: HIDEKI MATSUI DH
TOP PROSPECT: MIKE TROUT OF
The Los Angeles Angels really slipped last year and finished under .500. Losing Lackey at the top of the rotation really hurt. They gave up on Vlad Guerrero who went on to have a huge year, and now they gave up on Matsui. The farm used to be loaded, but it isn’t what it once was. This team improved their bullpen with Downs and Takahashi, but have a lot more liabilities than what we are used to seeing from this team. The rotation is lacking an ace, but certainly is servicable. I don’t see this team doing much more than hovering around the .500 mark once again.
LAST YEAR: 61-101
MANAGER: ERIC WEDGE
BIGGEST ADDITION: JACK CUST DH
BIGGEST LOSS: RYAN ROLAND SMITH LHP
TOP PROSPECT: DUSTIN ACKLEY 2B
Rewinding the tape, just a couple of years ago the Marinershad Cliff Lee, Eric Bedard and Felix Hernandez in their rotation. Bedard got hurt and never was what they had hoped. Lee was dealt, leaving Hernandez. If Bedard isn’t what he once was, the dropoff in the rotaion after King Felix is huge, and the Mariners will have to work some magic to avoid another 100 loss seasson. The pen has Aardsma and a lot of question marks. The offense is going to struggle as well. This team is in some trouble once again.
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