Jeremy Heit's Blog
Saturday, September 06, 2003
 
Sorry about no post yesterday... I didn't even touch my computer. I didn't think I'd have time today either, but I've found a little (I should have enough time and energy to do the young players report tomorrow).

Mike Maroth lost his 20th game last night. This story seemed a lot bigger when he was at 12-15 losses than it is now, but I was really wondering...

1) How bad has he really pitched?
2) And why is he so much worse this year?

Well, for #1 we have to look at the numbers...

170.2 IP (29 GS), 200 H, 44 BB, 74 K, 30 HR for a 6-20 record with a 5.75 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP.

That's a 3.9 K/9 and a 1.68 K/BB. The K's aren't high, but the K/BB isn't that bad. The WHIP is pretty bad and the 1.58 HR/9 is terrible. His problem is the homerun. Look at his stats last year...

128.2 IP (21 GS), 136 H, 36 BB, 58 K, 7 HR for a 6-10 record with a 4.48 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP.

That's a 4.06 K/9 and a 1.61 K/BB. The WHIP's are also close, leaving one thing... the homerun. He has a .49 HR/9 in 2002. That's a full HR per 9 inning drop. His SLG against in 2002 is .419. In 2003, its .493. Now, he didn't pitch spectatularly in 2002, but for his first season in the majors, it was not bad. This year, he's given up a ton of homeruns, making it hard to pitch well, especially if you don't strike people out.

Well, what's the explanation? Well, I believe they moved the fences in in Comercia this year. Well, look at this stat...

2002: 41 2B, 7 HR
2003: 28 2B, 30 HR

Could some of the homeruns this year be balls that were falling in for doubles last year? I really can't know for sure without seeing a tape of every homerun and double he's given up, but this year he's given up 12 HR at home and 18 on the road and last year he gave up 1 at home and 6 on the road. I can't seem to find the stats on doubles anywhere, but he pitches a lot better at home anyway. Last year, he had a 3.18 ERA at home and a 6.36 ERA on the road. This year, its 5.19 at home to 6.30 on the road, but if you look at his stats, his pitching at home is a lot better.

Overall, I can't explain the jump in homeruns, but that's what killing him (Other than the fact that his team stinks).

Thursday, September 04, 2003
 
As the stretch run comes, the Paul Konerko watch is heating up. Over the last few days, the numbers have dropped a little, but for a 15-12 record he has pretty damn good numbers. At the end of the season, I'm going to run an analysis of his numbers and maybe a few other things to do with the White Sox's.

I still owe you readers a Mets Young Players article for the beginning of the month, but I don't have the time today (I'll hardly have time to do this post).

Also, Washington 17, Jets 10 tonight...


Wednesday, September 03, 2003
 
First off, I would be remiss not to mention this...

Mike Richter retires- I'm a Rangers fan. Mike is my second favorite Ranger of all time (I have a strange love for Joey Kocur...). Mike is an amazingly great goalie and might be one of the most underrated hockey players of all time. Yes, all time. Watching them both on TV, I would say that if Richter had Brodeur's D and Brodeur has Ritcher's D, people would think Richter is just as good of a goalie as they think Brodeur is. I really think the thing that makes him so unrecognized is that the Rangers don't play good defense. He is the fourth best goalie of the 90's. The three above him? 1. Roy, 2. Hasek, 3. Brodeur (You could argue Hasek and Brodeur). That's pretty elite company. He has a career GAA under 3 on a team that many years didn't play good defense. He has a ring and made the most important save in Rangers history (Pavel Bure, game 7). He's a Hall of Famer. Period.

Also, a couple of notes to add to yesterday's AFC column:

Lawyer Milloy released- And the Patriots secondary isn't so solid. Record at 5-11 stays the same because I might have set the bar a little low on them, but not anymore. Also, the Bills are in hot pursuit. They get them, I am completely confident they win the division.

Also, I talked about Steve Foley as part of the Bengals linebacker core. Well, he's a Texan now, which doesn't help them much. But Adrian Ross, who was hot on Foley's tail, takes over at LB. They should be fine with Ross.

Now, on to the NFC, as the second part of the football preview.

NFC EAST
Washington- Steve Spurrier's team is goign to struggle again. The D will be fairly solid. The D-line is the problem though. Brandon Noble is injured and no names here really excite. Reagan Upshaw isn't a bad pass rusher. And don't think Bruce Smith. He's way past his prime. The linebackers, on the other hand, are extremely good. Jessie Armstead, Jeremiah Trotter, LaVar Arrington, and Kevin Mitchell backing them up. This might be the best unit in the league. In the secondary, Champ Bailey is still a great cover corner, but sometimes I question his tackling ability. Fred Smoot should grow a little, but I'm not totally sold on him. Matt Bowen, from Green Bay, is a good bit hitting safety. David Terrell is the other safety. That's a weakness, if you didn't know. And the offense... oh where to start. Patrick Ramsey? I'm not sold and might never be. The backup, if he struggles? Rob Johnson... that's not a good QB situation. Trung Candidate is a speedy runner, but I don't think he can do the between the tackles running an every down back needs to do. The receivers, at least the top two, are strong. Rod Gardner and Lavernus Coles are immensly talented. After that, Darnerien McCants isn't a bad third. But, of course, a receiver needs a QB. The offensive line should help Ramsey a little, as its pretty good, but its not goign to be enough. Chad Morton does provide some special teams explosiveness and John Hall is a decent kicker (I'm being nice), but the coverage teams have not been good the last few years. Overall, a team with too little experience and too many holes.
Projected Record- 6-10 (4th in NFC EAST)

Dallas- Bill Parcells has a challenge, but I think he can do some things witht his team. I like the choice of Quincy Carter. He provides a little mobility and I think he's got some tools to be an effective starter. The RB situation is not good. I don't Troy Hambrick is a good RB at all. They get some points for trying to reserruct Adrian Murrell's career. Plus, watch out for Richie Anerosn in the pasing game. Parcells wants to stress no turnovers and game management and he loves and trusts Richie Anderson. Quincy does have some targets though. Joey Galloway is a good deep man and Antonio Byrant is a good tall receiver. The wild card is Terry Glenn. He's speedy and not afraid to go over the middle. Whether he can keep himself int he game is the question. Plus, the addition of Dan Campbell at TE helps. The one thing that does not help Quincy is the injured and inexperienced O-line. It should be intersting to see how much Quincy eats turf. This team's D is strong though. D-line, with Glover, Ekuban, and Ellis, should be strong, especially against the run. I love Dat Nguyen at middle linebacker and Coakley and Al Singleton are good outside linebackers. The secondary is extremely yougn and talented. Roy Williams is going to be a star safety. Derek Ross is solid and Terrence Newman has star all ofver him. Plus, they still have Darren Woodson at safety. The special teams coverage will be strong, as Parcelss stresses it. It will be intereting to see who returns though. Woody Dantzler, a Clemson QB who became a FS, was an explosive returner last year, but was released. Adrian Murrell has returned a little in his career, but if they feel comfortable putting him at risk, watch out for Terrence Newman. The man showed he could run at Kansas State. Overall, a very good D keeps them in games and Carter makes some plays some won't expect.
Projected Record- 8-8 (3rd in NFC EAST)

New York- Kerry Collins has proven me wrong. He's a good NFL QB. He has plenty of weapons in Toomer, Hilliard, Shockey, and Barber in the passing game. Barber should run well again and Dorsey Levens has become the third down back. I really believe Ron Dayne could be a good RB in this league is he gets another new shot with a new team. Also, Jim Finn, is the FB. He's the non touching the ball expert. The O-line should also be solid, making this a great offense. The D is alos solid. The D-line has Keith Hamilton, Cornelius Griffin, Kenny Holmes, and sackman Michael Strahan. Michael Barrow, Dhani Jones, and Brandon Short make a solid linebacker group. The Will's are both young and talented at the cornerback spots. But, as always, the weakness of this team is the safeties. This goes back to the Sam Garnes days. They are giving Shaun Willaiams way too much time because he's not that good. Omar Stoutmire is a decent safety, but doesn't do a lot by getting after the ball. Brian Mitchell also adds to the return game, which hasn't been good the last few years. Overall, the team is talented, but they are the Giants, which means they'll lose games they should win and finish second in the division.
Projected Record- 11-5 (2nd in NFC EAST/6th seed)

Philadelphia- McNabb, Thrash, Pinkston, Lewis, Freddie Mitchell. This team is fine offensively. Plus, the O-line is good, Duce is a good receiving back, and maybe Buckhalter will be able to prove he should be the running RB. The D-line is solid. The linebacking core lost a little, but not too much. The secondary is still as solid as ever. Special teams are fine, as Reid stresses it, plus David Akers is a great kicker. Overall, I don't need to say much about this team. They are good and you know it.
Projected Record- 12-4 (1st in the NFC EAST/2nd seed)

NFC NORTH
Detroit- Mooch is a pretty good coach, but he's got problems. Joey Harrington is not surrounded by a good O-line. Olandis Gary should be an effective runner, or as effective as you can be with a bad offensive line. Bill Schroeder and Az Hakim are the veterans there. Scotty Anderson also showed signs a few times last year. Plus, they drafted Charles Rogers as a target for Harrington, but it was stilla mistake. Should have gone Terrence Newman there. Anyway, Ricks is a fairly good TE and as I've said a few times already, the O-line ain't too good. The D-line, with Procher and Ellis, is not bad. The LB group, with Earl Holmes, is not that good. Terrence Hotl was a nice draft pick at S, but they need more help with guys like Dre Bly back there (which is why they should have gone Newman). Jason Hanson is an effective kicker and Mooch should stress some special teams intensity to this team. Overall, they're are too many holes for even Mooch to fix.
Projected Record- 4-12 (4th in NFC NORTH)

Chicago- I like Kordell Stewart as a QB. I'm one of the few. Unfortunately, his running game stinks. Anthony Thomas is a less talented version of the Jerome Bettis of now an dI don't believe ADrian Peterson can be a consistent every down back. Now, with Marty Booker, Dez Qhite , and David Terrell, he does have some targets. The O-line isn't very solid, but better than Detroit's, if tha tcounts for anything. Basically, the D should return to something close to the form of 2001 if they stay healthy, though they did lose Roosevelt Colvin. It will be a solid D, but not as special as it was in 2001. They also have good returners to maybe make up for some of the offenses' problems. Overall, they are better than Detroit because they have more offensive weapons and a better D. And remember, its not Kordell's fault.
Projected Record- 6-10 (3rd in NFC NORTH)

Green Bay- Yes, Green Bay. Brett Favre is still Brett Favre, but I'm not sure about the rest of the offense. Ahman Green wore down at the end of last year and that's not a good sign. The receivers after Donal Driver all have questions. Ferguson and Walker are both talented, but I'm not sure how good they will be. Bubba Franks does provide a good TE option. The O-line should be good, since it is the same group. KGB is on the D-line, but no one else really is. I like Diggs with the linebackers, but there's not much else there either. Darren Sharper is a great safety and Al Harris and Tyrone Williams aren't bad cornerbacks. The Packers need to return kicks better and are relying on an Arena League player, Chatman. Overall, I think this team is good, but isn't that solid defensively and isn't as explosive on offense.
Projected Record- 10-6 (2nd in NFC NORTH)

Minnesota- Which opens the door for Minnesota. Daunte Culpepper is going to have a huge year this year. I mean, HUGE. Michael Bennett is injured and most aren't sure how long, but I think Onterio Smith is going to have a good year at RB for them, with Moe Williams helping in short yard situations. Randy Moss and D'Wayne Bates are a great 1-2 receiver punch and Kleinsasser gives them a good TE. Also, watch for Byron Chamberlian when comes back from suspension at the TE spot. The O-line is also the best its been in years, helping Culpepper, who will not turn the ball over as much this year. The D-line, including big time talker Chris Hovan, is solid. Crockett, Biekert, and Claiborne make for a solid LB group, plus E.J. Henderson is a very good backup. Denard Walker is the leader of an interesting group of defensive backs. They have some talent, but they could be either real good ro real bad. The special teams coverage units have to get better, but I believe Miek Tice, who is a solid coach, will get that done. Overall, they only beat out Green Bay because they are a little more explosive offensively. Plus, they get them week 1 in Lambeau, meaning they don't have to go there in December.
Projected Record- 11-5 (1st in NFC NORTH/3rd seed)

NFC SOUTH
New Orleans- Aaron Brooks is one of the most inconsistent QB's I have ever seen. Sometimes he's Dan Marino, other times he's Heath Shuler (yes, I just put the name Heath Shuler in the same sentence as Dan Marino). The Duece is loose and running all over people behind a good offensive line. Joe Horn, Donte Stallworth, and Jerome Pathon provide a speedy, solid receiving group. The TE's, Ernie Conwell and Boo Williams, are also solid. The D-line is a little inexperienced and a little too aggressive (if that's possible). The LB group are good at stuffing the run (a big problem for this team last year), but don't look to be particulary good agianst the pass. Dale Carter, Fred Thomas, Ashley Ambrose, and Tebucky Jones in the secondary doesn't sound particulary good for Pass D. The one big plus this team has in Michael Lewis. He might be the best returner in the league. Despite that, I think with Aaron Brooks's inconsistencies and a defense that just doesn't seem THAT good, this team will struggle. Plus, Haslett should be fired.
Projected Record- 5-11 (4th in NFC SOUTH)

Carolina- I like John Fox a lot. I think he's an amazing defensive coach and has some weapons offensively. I think Chris Weinke should be starting, but even if its Rodney Peete, that guy will control the ball and not try to force too much. The signing of Stephen Davis give this team a nice RB who can pound out some yards. Plus, DeShaun Foster, who was injured as a rookie, has great speed and could be a great changeup. Brad Hoover is also a very solid FB. The receivers are interesting. Muhammad has always been talented, but seems to under perform a little. I love Steve Smith, who's undersized, but has amazing speed. I also love Richy Proehl, who they signed to be the 3rd recevier (he should be starting somewhere too). He's savvy, smart, a great route runner and very dependable to catch the ball. The O-line could be very solid for this team, even though it is a little young. But defense is John Fox's strength and its this team's strength. The D-line, with Julius Peppers, Kris Jenkins, Brentson Buckner, and Mike Rucker might be one of the best in the league. Greg Favors and Will Witherspoon are solid outside LB's and Dan Morgan is a very talented, but oft-injured middle LB. Mike Minter is a great safety and Deon Grant has worlds of talent. Terry Cousins and Reggie Howard aren't spectacular CB's, but are solid. The special teams returners, with Smith and Terrence Wilkins, could make up for the lack of offensive explosiveness. Overall, this team is very young and talented. The D will keep them in a lot of games, but they will lsoe a few because of the QB situation.
Projected Record- 8-8 (3rd in NFC SOUTH)

Atlanta- Mike Vick is out the first four weeks. I haven't even looked at the schedule and I'll guarantee you this team goes 4-0 with Doug Johnson. That's how much ocnfidence I have in him. That's not saying Vick shouldn't be starting, but that Johnson is a quality backup. They also ahve a great combo at running back, with the powerful T.J. Duckett and the elusive and shifty Warrick Dunn. Johnson also has a great receiver is Peerless Price to throw to. Brian Finneran is a solid two and Alge Crumpler is a very good TE. The O-line should be solid and will have to help Johnson, who's not nearly as mobile as Vick. The D-line is fairly solid, with Patrick Kenrey and Brady Smith, two guys with plenty of energy, on the ends. The LB group is another one of the league's best. Keith Brooking might be on of the league's most underrated players. Chris Draft, Sam Rogers, and Matt Stewart are savvy and understand their positions. Plus, the backups, Will Overstreet and Keith Newman are also solid. The only big name on the secondary is Ray Buchanan. They are big guys in the secondary and look like they could be a solid group. On special teams, Travis Jervey is a good returner, plus they just picked up Dantzler. The team is good in coverage and Jay Feely is one of the best kickers around. Overall, this team will start strong, will struggle a little when Vick gets back and gets used to palying again, but will end up a very good team. The only achilles heel could be the secondary (I just looked at the schedule... they'll beat Tampa in Week 3...)
Projected Record- 12-4 (2nd in NFC SOUTH/5th seed)

Tampa Bay- Brad Johnson is a good, solid QB. Another guy I was wrong on. He has three good receivers in Keyshawn, Keenan, and Joe Jurevicius (who I think should be starting somewhere), plus Ken Dilger and Tony McGee at the TE. The O-line is also as solid as it was last year. Notice I'm avoiding something? The RB situation. Pittman gains some yards (as Sports Guys says: "The back with the most yards without ever scoring a fantasy point") and Thomas Jones was a massive bust in Arizona, though might be helped by an acutal offensive line here. I acutally like Aaron Stecker, the third RB a lot. On D, they repalced Al Singleton with Dwayne Rudd and lost Jackson at safety. Meaning the D is aboslutely fine. So overall, they are almost the same team, which means they are a Super Bowl contender.
Projected Record- 13-3 (1st in NFC SOUTH/1st seed)

NFC WEST
Arizona- Jeff Blake. Ugh. Next... Emmitt Smith... a little over the hill, but solid. The guy to watch is Marcel Shipp though, who could be a very good RB in this league if he gets a shot. The receivers... Boldin out of Florida State has some ability. Kevin Kasper, a good kick returner, might get a shot. But this unit is weak. The O-line might not be that bad, allowing for a running game... Vanden Bosch is injured, meaning this D-line isn't very good. The LB group has speed, but not much else. The secondary adds Dexter Jackson from TB, which is a decent pickup. The most solid group on D, which isn't saying much. The special teams probably won't be that good, especially returning. Overall, a team with not much talent spending money on the wrong positions (meanign Emmitt.. they had Shipp)
Projected Record- 3-13 (4th in NFC WEST)

St. Louis- Kurt Warner. Nope. Don't believe it. Also, will left in too long before Martz realizes the starter should be Bulger. Marshall should come back fairly strong and has a nice backup in Lamar Gordon. The thing that make this team so special on offense was the depth of speed and playmaking ability this team had. Now,the only two receivers they have are Bruce and Holt. Bruce is a good possesion receiver and Holt has some deep playmaking ability, but they can't go 4 or 5 wide anymore. The O-line should be solid, allowing Marshall to pick up some yards. Leoanrd Little leads a strong group of D-lineman. Tommy Polley is a good LB, but probably the only one they have. Aeneas Williams moves to FS as they bring in some young corners. If you couldn't tell, I believe the cornerback position is one of the most important in all of football. This is not a smart move. This team struggled to cover kicks and punts and it seems like the same could happen this year. Plus, the Rams don't have explosive players returning anymore. Overall, a team with a lot of players coming back form injury, a lackluster defense, and bad special teams. Not near a playoff team.
Projected Record- 5-11 (3rd in NFC WEST)

Seattle- By default. Matt Hasselback. What can I say? I was two years early on this guy when I drafted him early in fantasy a few years ago. He'll be solid. Hoopefulyl Shaun Alexander will gain a few more yards this year. Mili is a good short yardage TE and Jeramy Stevens coudl be very good. The receivers? Bobby Engram is over the hill. Darrell Jackson is decent and I'm not sure is Koren Robinson will ever mature to waht he could be. Decent O-line. Some solid D-line players, but a little old. Fairly solid linebackers, though they have a lot. Good secondary, with Springs, Trufant, Robinson, and Tongue. Josh Brown is a rookie kicker and that doesn't always go well. But then again, he can't be worse than Ryan Lindell. Overall, some offensive talent, a good secondary, but will get killed by the run.
Projected Record- 7-9 (2nd in NFC WEST)

San Francisco- Jeff Garcia. Garrison Hearst. Kevan Barlow. Terrell Owens. Tai Streets. A good O-line. A decent defense lead by good linebackers. That's all you need to win this division... and get a quick first round exit from the playoffs
Projected Record- 10-6 (1st in NFC WEST/4th seed)

Playoffs
First Round:
Bye- (1) Tampa Bay and (2) Philly
(3) Minnesota vs. (6) New York
Minnesota- 35 New York- 17
Minnesota carries an end of the season run into the playoffs and steamrolls the Giants.

(4) San Fran vs (5) Atlanta
Atlanta- 31 San Fran- 3
Told ya San Fran gets steamrolled.

Second Round:
(1) Tampa Bay vs. (5) Atlanta
Altanta- 17 Tampa Bay- 14 (OT)
Great game, involving a Jay Feely 50 yard FG set up by a Mike Vick 15 yard run for a first down on 3rd and 12.

(2) Philly vs. (3) Minnesota
Philly- 24 Minnesota- 17
McNabb and the Philly defense are to much for Culpepper.

Championship:
(2) Philly vs. (5) Atlanta
Atlanta- 27 Philly- 17
Mike Vick shows up again, throwing two TD's to Finneran. The Atlanta D also picks McNabb four times, as he fails once agian in a championship game.

NFC CHAMPION: Atlanta Falcons

SUPER BOWL
Atlanta vs. Tennessee
Tennessee- 23 Altanta- 14
Steve McNair, the MVP, is just too much for everyone in the playoffs. Plus, Jeff Fisher creates a scheme to confuse Vick.

There you have it. The Super Bowl Champions will be the Tennessee Titans.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003
 
This is the first part of Jeremy Heit's Football Preview (which can only be read on Jeremy Heit's Blog!). Today is the AFC, tomorrow is the NFC.

AFC EAST
New England- I really don't expect a lot from this team. Tom Brady is not that good fo a QB, and his only option is really Troy Brown. David Pattena nd Deion Branch are nice players, but not that good. Kevin Faulk and Antowain Smith are not good options on the RB position and the O-line isn't that strong. The D-line is muddled in questions of size and health. The linebacking core is improved with the signing of Roosevelt Colvin, to add to an already solid LB core. This will be the strength of the team. The secondary is also solid with Lawyer Milloy and Ty Law coming back. Rodney Harrison is also a good safety, but expect him to get suspended at least two games this year. They do have Adam Vinatieri, which is a positive. All and all, this team isn't that great defensively and isn't strong enough offensive to win a lot of games.
Projected Record- 5-11 (4th in AFC EAST)

NY Jets- 12 weeks. 12 weeks. That's all there is to it. Vinny will not lead this team to victory. The only thing you can expect is Wayne Chrebet to get the ball a lot more. This team is solid defensively and on special teams, but the offense isn't good enough. (You can tell I really don't wanna talk about this...)
Projected Record- 7-9 (3rd in AFC EAST)

Miami- Pretty good O-line that will open plenty of holes for Ricky Williams. This team does have a problem with passing the ball though. Jay Fielder is decent at best and Brian Griese is injured. Chris Chambers is a good deep threat, but not a great recieiver. Derrius Thompson and James McKnight are the 2 and 3 and that basically means TE Randy McMichael is the 2. Defensively, this team has one of the best secondaries in the league. The D-line is solid and the linebacking core has Zach Thomas to lead it. I think this might be the overhyped part of the team, as I don't think Junior Seau is what he used to be. Still solid defensively, but not explosive enough in the passing game to win the division or make the playoffs. Expect the usual December flop.
Projected Record- 9-7 (2nd in AFC EAST)

Buffalo- The offense is outstanding. Drew Bledsoe is one of the top QB's in the league and Travis Henry is a great runner. He also has Sam Gash to block for him this year. The O-line is also very solid and they have Eric Moulds, one of the best receivers in the league. I think Josh Reed will replace Peerless Price just fine and Bobby Shaw is a good third option. Dave Moore is a solid TE, which is all this offense needs. On defense, this unit is imporved. The secondary is still young, but very good. Adding Takeo Spikes to London Flectcher and James Posey makes this one of the more underrated LB groups. The addition of Sam Adams to go with Pat Williams will help this team stop the run. Plus, watch out for Aaron Schobel on the right end. The special teams coverage was also addressed during the offseason and should be a lot better. Overall, this team is the most balanced of the four in the AFC East and that's why they win the division.
Projected Record- 10-6 (1st in AFC EAST/4th seed)

AFC NORTH
Baltimore- Jamal Lewis is good running back beind a bad offensive line. Kyle Boller or Chris Redman is not the answer and Travis Taylor is not a #1 receiver, as much as the Ravens want us to think so. The best receiving option here is Todd Heap, a very good TE. The defense is a little overhyped. The D-line is very questionable. The linebackers are still good, with 3 of the 4 being Peter Boulware, Terrell Suggs, and Ray Lewis. I like safety Ed Reed and CB Chris McAlister, but the rest of the secondary is questionalble. Expect a lot of Matt Stover field goals.
Projected Record- 5-11 (4th in AFC NORTH)

Cleveland- First, let me say, this will not be Kelly Holcomb's fault. Kelly Holcomb will do fine, this team will score points. Willie Green is a very good RB. The WR core of Johnson, Morgan, Northcutt, and Davis is explosive, plus Davis and Northcutt provide points on special team too. The O-line is a little subject, but the ability of the players should make up for that. On defense, this team will struggle. I like Courtney Brown and Roye, but the D-line just won't get it done. The linebacking core is very young and a mess. The secondary shows nothing special and the only guy I like back there is Earl Little. Overall, this team is too weak defensively to win a lot of games.
Projected Record- 6-10 (3rd in AFC NORTH)

Cincinatti- I love Marvin Lewis. Defensively, this team will be better just because of Lewis. But also, becaue the players are improved. The D-line looked very impressive in preseason and should continue to stop the run and pressure the QB. The linebacker group lost Takeo Spikes, but he was replaced by Kevin Hardy, who goes along with Brian Simmons and Steve Foley to make this a very good group. Tory James and Jeff Burris are nice CB's. The only weakness on the defense could be safeties, but I expect Lewis to work that out. Offensively, this team is better than you think. I think the O-line is underrated, which Levi Jones and Willie Anderson at the tackles and O'Dwyer and Steinbach at the guards. Corey Dillon is a great runnign back and will get help from one of the best blocking backs every, Lorenzo Neal. Jon Kitna is a solid QB and has a nice WR core. Chad Johnson will be a star in this league and I expect Peter Warrick to have a huge year. Kelley Washington, out of Tennessee, provides a tall and strong deep threat. T.J. Houshmandzadeh (I had to look that up) and Danny Farmer provide good backup wide receivers, plus T.J. is good on special teams, if he can down on the fumbles. Reggie Kelly also provides a good blocking TE. Marvin Lewis will also make sure this tema plays specials hard and good. Expect this team to be a lot better than you think they are...
Projected Record- 8-8 (2nd in AFC NORTH)

Pittsburgh- Explosive offense. Good O-line. Tommy Maddox has proven me wrong by being able to play NFL QB. Amso Zereoue is the right choice at RB, as he provides a breakaway dimension the Bus doesn't. Hines Ward and Plaxico Burress might be the best 1-2 punch in the league. Add to that Antwaan Randle-El, who I think is going to have a huge year, and this in the best receiving group in the league (plus Randle-El returns kicks). Watch out for Jay Riemersma to have an impact at TE. The D-line and linebackers are great, though the Joey Porter does hurt them a little. The main problem this team had last year was pass defense. I think Chad Scott, Brent Alexander, Mike Logan, and Dewayne Washington are good enough to get the job done to let thi team win the division. The explosive offense will be enough to get this team into the playoffs...
Projected Record- 11-5 (1st in AFC NORTH/3rd seed)

AFC SOUTH
Houston- They are an expansion team. David Carr is still going to get knocked around. Andre Johnson should give him a little help and Stacey Mack isn't a bad RB. Billy Miller is a decent TE, but the O-line still isn't good enough. Defensively, the secondary isn't bad, the front 7 isn't great, but this team is going to be faced with teams in good field position a lot. It's an expansion team, they'll struggle again...
Projected Record- 3-13 (4th in AFC SOUTH)

Jacksonville- Not that this team wil be much better. They added Hugh Douglas and Mike Peterson on defense, but you still need 9 other guys out there and the only other guy out there with any quality ins Tony Brackens. The special teams coverage is not that good either. The O-line is shaky and the WR core is bad. Jimmy Smith is suspended the first four games, leaving J.J. Stokes at the one with guys like Matthew Hatchette and Kevin Lockett battlign for the 2. Fred Taylor will get injured by October, so watch out for LaBradon Toefield, rookie form LSU. Mark Brunell is a solid QB, but 33. I except him to be out of a job by November, with Byron Eftwich then running the team (who I like a lot).
Projected Record- 5-11 (someone in this division has to win some games) (3rd in the AFC SOUTH)

Indianapolis- Petyon Manning is a top 5 QB. He hasn't won in the playoffs because he has no defense. Edge James is back and if he falters a little James Mungro, Ricky Williams, and Dominick Rhodes are all still around. Marvin Harrison is the best receiver in the game and Reggie Wayne should improve on a solid 2002. Brandon Stokley, from the Ravens, should be a solid number three. Marcus Pollard and Dallas Clark give them two solid tight ends. The O-line is also very solid. The D-line is much improved, with Chad Bratzke and Dwight Freeney playing well last year. The linebackers are an interesting group and little banged up. In the secondary, I like Mike Doss a lot, who might get a host to start at strong safety. David Macklin and Walt Harris leave me with questions at the CB spot. This team is solid enough defensively and good enough offensively to make the playoffs, but who knows if they will actually win a game there.
Projected Record- 10-6 (2nd in AFC SOUTH/6th seed)

Tennessee- Steve McNair is tough. Amazingly tough. And is going to have a massive year this year. The WR core of Mason, Bennett, and McCareins will surprise you a lot this year. Eddie George is tough and I expect him to havce a little better of a year then he has had the last couple. Chris Brown, out of Colorado, also provides a nice backup home run threat. The O-line, which is very good, should help Eddie along and hopefully keep McNair healthy. With a D-line of Hall, Carter, Haynesworth, and Kearse, this team could be very powerful up front. The linebacking score, led by Peter Sirmon and Keith Bulluck (soon to be star) should be very good. The secondary is extremely solid and should shut down most offenses. The most shaky part of this team could be Joe Nedney, who missed a lot of big kicks last year (about 5 last year vs. Pittsburgh before making one). That being said, this team could make it back to the palyoffs.
Projected Record- 12-4 (1st in AFC SOUTH/2th seed)

AFC WEST
Kansas City- Trent Green is a good QB, though I think he can go on turnover binges. I think Priest Holmes will start off strong, slump in the middle, and finish strong. The WR is deep, but not particular great. I'm not high on either Johnnie Morton or Eddie Kennison, and Boerigter and Hall won't get enough playing time, though Hall is explosive on special teams. The O-line is fairly solid. The D-line is the most solid part of the defensive, but its not anything special. The linebackers and secondary are not strong at all. Basically, come back to me when this team can play D.
Projected Record- 6-10 (4th in AFC WEST)

San Diego- I like Drew Brees a lot, but I'm not sure he has an explosive throwing arm. Not tha tthat matters, because this is Marty Ball and LT might get two million carries this year. I love LT and he is going to be the leading rusher in the league. I love David Boston too and he should be good. I like Tim Dwight in the slot and Stephen Alexander is a good TE, but most teams will probably be able to double on Boston and keep 7 to 8 in the box at all times. Plus, the O-line isn't that great. Strong D-line and I love Marcellus Wiley. Strong LB core and don't lose much wit the loss of Seau. I think the pass defense and secondary is a little underrated, but they are young. Overall, this team doesn't have enough offensive weapons nor does it have enough defensively to make the playoffs.
Projected Record- 8-8 (3rd in the AFC WEST)

Oakland- Rich Gannon is still accurate and a good decision making QB and one of the best. If he gets injured, this team doesn't have a lot of help. Garner is a shifty explosive back who does well in this offense. Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, and Jerry Porter, with Doug Jolley and Teyo Johnson at TE. Enough said there. The O-line is still together and solid, but the center situation with Barrett Robbins is interesting. Solid D-line, though I don't like Dana Stubblefield. Very solid LB core, though Romo might just get suspended for the year at some point. Unbelievably good corners. Great returner in Buchanon. So why is this team only second? I really think there age will catch up to them. They are good and explosive, but I'm not sure how long it can lastwith a team this old.
Projected Record- 11-5 (2nd in AFC WEST/5th seed)

Denver- Yes, Denver. Yes, Jake Plummer. I like Plummer a lot and think he could be a great QB. All, he needs is a solid O-line, a running back, and a group of wideouts. Let's see.. Clinton Portis, second leading rusher in the AFC behind LT this year... so that's a check. Rod Smith, one of the best receivers around, Ed McCaffrey, and Ashley Lelie, a very talented second year player. Plus, Shannon Sharpe. That's a check. The O-line is intact and healthy. Check. So, Jake Plummer will have a great year this year. Defensively, they are solid. The D-line, with Treyor Pryce leading it is very good. The LB core is solid with John Mobley, Al WIlson and Ian Gold. The Broncos are a little young in the secondary, but I think Deltha O'Neal will be much improved. Lenny Walls is 6-foot-4 and Kenoy Kennedy is a hard hitter. The coverage teams might be an issue with this team, but I don't think Shanahan will let it be. Jake Plummer will lead this team to the best record in the AFC. Yes, I did say that.
Projected Record- 13-3 (1st in AFC WEST/1st seed)

PLAYOFFS
First Round:
Byes- (1) Denver and (2) Tennessee
(3) Pittsburgh vs. (6) Indianapolis
Indianapolis- 31 Pittsburgh- 21
Indianapolis gets over the jinx and beats the shaky Pittsburgh pass defense.

(4) Buffalo vs. (5) Oakland
Buffalo- 38 Oakland- 28
Buffalo is jsut more explosive on this day, plus the weather in Buffalo slows Oakland down a little.

Second Round:
(1) Denver vs. (6) Indianpolis
Denver- 28 Indianapolis- 7
Denever just destroys them, controlling the ball and shutting down Manning.

(2) Tennessee vs. (4) Buffalo
Tennessee- 17 Buffalo- 3
Tennessee's defense comes to play and Steve McNair does enough with the offense to get this team to the AFC Championship

Championship:
(1) Denver vs. (2) Tennessee
Tennessee- 24 Denver- 10
In the cold weather, Eddie George shows signs of life by running all over Denver's D. Tennessee confuses Plummer and stuffs Clinton Porits to go to the Super Bowl.

AFC CHAMPION: Tennessee Titans

Tomorrow, I'll do the NFC and pick my Super Bowl winner.

Monday, September 01, 2003
 
It's all very simple. Walk the Met killer. That's what Weathers did and the Mets win 3-2. The Mets played a pretty good game and this was a pretty good game. Good pitching, good defense, a little timely hitting. Weathers looked great out of the bullpen and had some real nasty stuff today. But, there is only one reason why I'm writing a review of this game...

Jeremy Griffiths. His stat line:

6 1/3 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 6 K, 0 HR, 117 pitches

I really think he should have left after 6, when he had given up 4 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 5 K on 103 pitches. In the 7th, he hit Estrada and gave up two sinlges loading the bases. Wheeler came on and got out of it by getting Shffield to pop up and Chipper to fly out. Other than the 7th, he pitched well. He did walk 4, 1 intentional, and both guys who walked scored. He showed a good sinker and slider combination. His curve needs a little more velocity (its a little to slow) and his fastball was around 90 the whole day, hitting 92 a couple of times. I was impressed and if he pitches like this the rest of the way, he can give Heilman a run for his money as 5th starter next spring (I think Jim and Art might just not care how much the Mets hyped Heilman and put in Griffiths if he deserves it more because if it was up to Wilpon, it would be Heilman).

Also, a reminder... football preview coming in the next two days...
Tomorrow- AFC
Wednesday- NFC

Also, on Thursday, I'll try and do my Mets' young players review I usually do at around the beginning of each month.

 
Something that I missed and then forgot to mention. Comes to me courtesy of David Bloom...

"News: The Mets recalled Jeremy Griffiths from Triple-A Norfolk on Monday. He will start Monday's game against Atlanta.

Analysis: Griffiths replaces Aaron Heilman in the rotation. Griffiths isn't likely to help Fantasy teams this season, but a strong September might earn him a spot in next year's rotation. He's worth a flier in NL-only keeper leagues."

I'm guessing he got this off of Fanball or some other Fantasy Sports analysis site. I'm happy with it as Heilman was struggling (I'll get to that on I hope Thursday, with my beginning of the month young players report) and Griffiths was pitching extremely well in Triple AAA. If you remember, a few days ago I answered an e-mail from David about the future of the Mets rotation and Griffiths. I really didn't think the Mets would remove Heilman from the rotation with all the hype he got as the Mets next big pitcher, but it looks like the front office has changed a little. I really still believe Heilman will be in this starting rotation at the beginning of next year, but I'd like to see what Griffiths can do and maybe he can convince the Mets that he should be starting at the major league level.

And in the first inning, he struck out Furcal and Giles and got Sheffield to ground weakly to short. I'll have a report on how he looked in the game at some point today.

 
Yesterday, at least for a minute, I thought I would never root for a winning team again...

I turned on the Mets game in the bottom of the 9th inning. Watched Cedeno get out, Reyes walk, and Perez ground into the double play when they were down 4-1. I was dissapointed, but I wasn't expecting all that much. But then, they pan to second base, and Jose Reyes is screaming in agony and clutching his left ankle. It looks bad, real bad from the amount of pain he looks like he's in. And then my mind starts to go pessimistic...

12 weeks, now 1 year. Next it will be J.J. Redick breaking his hand. Then Richard Jefferson hurting his legs. Then a Ranger... well, they are hopeless anyway...

And then I had to leave the house. So, I was left with the thought in my head that my football season would be hopeless and my baseball season for next year was already looking bad. Of course, when I got home I found out he sprained his ankle and is day-to-day. So, a lesson to you all... try not to be so pessimistic when someone gets injured.

A couple of last minute pickups were made yesterday before the waiver dealine...

Jesse Orosco acquired by the Twins- I don't know about you, but when are people going to realize Jesse Orosco can't pitch anymore. I know Gardenhire loves veterans and this is to help replace the young and struggling J.C. Romero, but he's Jesse Orosco. Plus, Romero is a perfectly good LOOGY...

.222/.330/.311 for a .641 OPS

That's better than the .267/.400/.533 Orosco had in 15 games in NY. Jesse has always been a reliable LOOGY, but if you get hitters that are smart enough not to swing at all of his pitches out of the strike zone, he falls behind and gets in trouble.

Jeff Conine acquired by the Marlins- What a shock. Everyone's favorite comes home again. I don't know if this means Lee goes to LF, Cabrera plays third, and Conine plays first or whether Conine can play LF, but its not a bad pickup and adds a little bat to replace Lowell. Also, if you scroll down the news item, they are bringing up Gerald Williams. Heh (That just makes me chuckle).

Also, another New York shortstop got injured. Yes, everyone's favorite, Derek Jeter. So what do the yankees do?... Turn to a familiar face.

Yankees sign Luis Sojo- I've had to put up with watching a lot of Yankees baseball in my time and hated most of it, but I must say, I love Luis Sojo. Luis Sojo was never a great hitter. He's a career .261/.298/.353 hitter. But, he's a gamer. He's an overachiever, in the Joe McEwing mold. He went out there, he played hard, and brought character and leadership to the clubhouse. If Joe Torre had asked him to run through a wall for no reason, he would have done it. He was one who was just happy and appreciated that he was lucky enough that his job was playing a game.

Now, he's been out of playing baseball for a year. This is a signing basically to cover Jeter's injury, which most reports say will be for the next series. I don't know if this is going to sneak him a spot on the playoff roster, but it might be fun to see him in pinstripes for a couple of days.

Also, a programming note. The next two days I'm not going to be talking baseball. I'm talking football. It's going to be my season preview, with the AFC tomorrow (probably up in the morning) and the NFC Wednesday (probably in the afternoon, after my first day of school). I figure if your a baseball fan, you have some interest in football and this is a sports blog centered around baseball. And better yet, its my blog, and I feel like talking about the football season for the next couple of days. (That's comes out so self-centered and arrogant) So, on Thursday, I'll be back to baseball, unless something major happens in the next two days that makes me want to talk baseball.

Sunday, August 31, 2003
 
Five new links added to the sidebar (which I've been meaning to do for a while): Futility Infielder (Yankees coverage, plus other baseball articles), Ducksnorts (Padres), Dodger Thoughts (Dodgers), The Cub Reporter (Cubs), and Twins Geek (Twins). So, go check them out and enjoy them.

Today, I'm going to talk about Pat Burrell. We all know about how much he has struggled this year and how him turning it around could be the difference for the Phillies in the Wild Card. Well, he's also playing the Mets this weekend. Here's what he's done vs. them career (2000-2002)...

172 AB, .314/.408/.692 (1.100 OPS), 12 2B, 17 HR, 49 RBI, 27/42 BB/K ratio

Those are monster numbers compared to the .267/.361/.496 hitter he is for his career (2000-2002). But this year, he's struggling. He's hitting .203/.311/.418 (.729 OPS). So, what about the Mets...

48 AB, .208/.345/.542 (.887 OPS), 2 2B, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 10/16 BB/K ratio

Comparing the numbers this year to what he's doing overall this year, he is still beating up on them. He's not getting it in play as much, but I think the Mets are just plain out scared of him at this point with those 10 walks. Of course, before Pat Burrell, there was another Met killer. His name is Larry. You might know him better as Chipper Jones. Here's what he's done (including this year)...

448 AB, .344/.428/.603 (1.030 OPS), 20 2B, 30 HR, 89 RBI, 68/63 BB/K ratio

That's almost a full season's worth! Many people call Pat Burrell the Met killer. I still say its Chipper Jones. Compare their stats including what Pat's done this year...

Pat: 220 AB, .291/.394/.653 (1.053), 14 2B, 21 HR, 60 RBI, 37/58 BB/K ratio
Chipper: 448 AB, .344/.428/.603 (1.030 OPS), 20 2B, 30 HR, 89 RBI, 68/63 BB/K ratio

Pat is on pace, over a full season's time, to hit for more power, but Chipper is a better all around hitter against the Mets. Plus, the things he's done to them in important games still make him the ultimate Met Killer.

By the way, to prove my power point, Pat Burrell is 2-8 in this series so far. He has a 2B, a HR, 2 RBI, 3 K, 6 LOB.

Also, I'm not too happy with Johan Santana's little hamstring injury. Most think its not too serious and could just be a cramp, but I really don't need him getting hurt at all. I traded for him before the fantasy season, after Kenny Rogers was signed, expecting him to start at some point in the season. I had to wait all the way until August and now he's become the best pitcher on my staff. I'm rounding into the playoffs in the next week or two and really need him healthy. So, Johan, get healthy soon...


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