Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Saturday, April 30, 2005

When Financial Planning Doesn't Matter...

I remember reading all those articles during the season last year and during this offseason praising the Philadelphia Eagles for the great way they'd managed contracts to avoid financial problems. And those articles were right... but they neglected to take into account the x-factor, holdouts. Those holdouts are threatening to tear the fabric of the team apart before the season even starts. Freddie Mitchell has been forced out by head coach Andy Reid. Brian Westbrook doesn't want to sign the insulting low 1.5 million dollar contract (even I think that's ridiculous). Corey Simon isn't interested in signing the franchise tender. And of course there's Terrell Owens, who has alienated the offense and superstar Donovan McNabb with his comments (even though they were right... about McNabb getting tired in the Super Bowl), and holding out for a new contract one year after signing a long term deal. Thankfully the Hawks don't have to put up with this garbage. I guarantee, though, it will affect the Eagles come the regular season. It will.

posted by Gavin @ 9:52 PM  0 comments

AL West - 1 month in...

Wow. Looks like everyone will be separated by 2 games at the most. As both Gavin and I suspected, this is and will be an incredibly tough conference from start to finish. Let's look at some of the current trends and what to expect in the month of May.

LA Angels of Anaheim (13-11):

May Schedule:
1 - at Twins
2-4 - at Seattle
6-8 - Detroit
9-11 - Cleveland
13-15 - at Detroit
16-18 - at Cleveland
20-22 - at Dodgers
23-26 - White Sox
27-29 - Kansas City
30-31 - at White Sox

Analysis:
The 1st place team in the AL West should be able to continue that trend throughout May with their schedule, predominently versus AL Central teams. Kelvim Escobar is back, while Bartolo Colon has been pitching like an ace besides his start against the Yankees. Like most AL West teams, the bullpen has been solid and the starting rotation above average. Also like most AL West teams, the offense has yet to click on all cylinders. Sure, Vladimer Guerrero is still a monster, and Darin Erstad is having a nice bounce-back year, but newcomers Steve Finley (.157 BA) and Orlando Cabrera (.271 BA) have yet to contribute. Rookie Dallas McPherson has yet to show the enormous potential that Angels fans have been clamoring to see. Because of that inconsistency, I expect LA to remain hovering around the .500 mark, though they might go on one winning streak during this month.

Gavin: If there's a time for the Angels to start making a run for the division, it should be in May. At face value that is about as easy a schedule as one could ask for. Twelve games against the Indians and the Tigers, should do well, as both of those teams are playing below expectations. Then nine games against the White Sox and Dodgers, both of whom should be crashing back to earth by then. My guess is that the Angels will have the chance to go five or six games above .500. Whether or not they do is dependent on a few factors. The starting pitching has to be more consistent, as Lackey, Washburn, Escobar, Byrd and Colon have all been very shaky at times in the first month. None of them are pitching like aces (unlike what Colin writes). The bullpen is showing the wear of losing Ben Weber, putting Scot Shields in positions he is unused to. The offense is showing the wear of losing David Eckstein and Troy Glaus. Eckstein could always be counted on for a great at-bat, getting the ball in play. Glaus could deposit anything in the seats. Frankly, that lineup just doesn't frighten any opposing pitching (obviously except for that Guerrero guy, who is freaking nuts). I don't see this offense getting much better than it is... and that's why I don't see much over .500 for this month.

Seattle Mariners (12-12):

May Schedule:
1 - at Oakland
2-4 - LA Angels
6-8 - at Boston
9-11 - at NY Yankees
13-15 - Boston
16-18 - NY Yankees
20-22 - San Diego
24-26 - at Baltimore
27-29 - at Tampa Bay
30-31 - Toronto

Analysis:
Well, Mariners' fans fears were averted with a .500 month to start the season. After the misery that was April last year, this month has been a sight for sore eyes, even with the inconsistent offense (common theme for this division). However, the month of May will prove whether the Mariners are a contender or a pretender, with a crucial stretch of 15 games against the Angels, Red Sox, and Yankees. Can Gil Meche continue his solid start against Texas? Can Jamie Moyer continue his phenomenal April (disregarding the start today)? What about Ryan Franklin and Aaron Sele? Should they still be in the rotation? And, or course, let's not forget Joel Piniero, who has yet to pitch like an ace this year. That was, and is, the question mark for this team. The bullpen has been better than advertised, as Guardado has regained his control and Putz and Villone have been more than satisfactory. The offense should improve this month as Beltre and Sexson continue to adjust to the league, Reed continues to grow as a hitter, and Olivo learns how to see the slider and the curve. This could be a rough stretch, and it will be extremely interesting to see how the Mariners cope.

Gavin: So the Angels get 12 games against Cleveland and Detroit while we get 12 games against New York and Boston. Wow. This month will be made simply through keeping the Angels within reach during that stretch. I think Mariners fans should be excited about being competitive again, but disappointed by how unlucky the team has been. We should have three-four more wins than we do, and eventually that will catch up with us. The starting pitching has been fair, not overpowering, and with the staff we have will never be better than fair. I'm waiting for when Felix Hernandez, he of the 1.50 ERA in AAA, can step in for Aaron Sele. The bullpen has been the third best in the AL, always giving us a chance to compete in games. The offense has shown a propensity for climbing back into ballgames (like today), although still not hitting the home run like we should. It is true that we need to give Beltre and Sexson another bit to adjust. Boone has looked good, Reed will improve, but how much better can our offense be with the bottom of our lineup being that bad? M's fans should take comfort in that .500 record with only three members of the team having a good month, Ichiro, Moyer, and Guardado. I'll be excited with a .500 record for this month.

Oakland A's (12-12):

May schedule:
1 - Seattle
2-4 - Texas
6-8 - at NY Yankees
9-11 - at Boston
13-15 - NY Yankees
16-18 - Boston
20-22 - at SF
24-26 - at Tampa Bay
27-29 - at Cleveland
30-31 - Tampa Bay

Analysis:
A huge stretch for the A's as well, as they flip-flop with the M's in playing the big boys of the East. Fortunately, they get to come out of it with games against the injury-laden Giants and then several games against the Devil Rays. Out of all the analysis that Gavin and I did before the season, we were most accurate with this team. Their pitching has started out extremely strong. Part of that can be attributed to the growth of Rich Harden and the hot start of Joe Blanton. Part of that, I believe, can be the fact that this is the first time around for Blanton, Haren, etc. Blanton especially seems to have the potential to turn into a Ryan Franklin, a strike-thrower that doesn't strike many people out, relying on defense to procure the win. The offense has been atrocious. That can't continue. I mean, they will be bad, but they won't be this bad. Kendall is a pro, Kotsay is a solid hitter, and Chavez and Durazo, when hot, can simply rake the ball. The other part of this team that will be interesting to see if the hot start continues is the bullpen. Again, some pitchers that are either new (Street) or inconsistent (Dotel). Again, hard to predict, but there should be at least one losing streak in the A's horizon.

Gavin: Colin's right, we completely nailed this club. Now it will be interesting to see how these rookie pitchers face second time around against teams, now that scouting reports start to firm up. That Blanton guy is going to see his ERA balloon over 4.00 unless he finds an out pitch. Still, playing .500 ball with THAT offense, Chavez hitting under .200 and Barry Zito going 0-4 is pretty darn impressive. In fact, just writing that impresses me even more. How the heck have they managed to do that? This team is about to have a huge streak, either winning or losing. One or other other. The starting pitching has been insane good, but won't continue to be that good. The offense has been insane bad, but won't continue to be insane bad. The bullpen has been mediocre, but has the makings of the best in the league (I love Duscherer, Kiki Calero and Huston Street). We'll see who does the best against the bullies of the East, us or them...

Texas Rangers (12-13):

May Schedule:
1 - Boston
2-4 - at Oakland
6-8 - Cleveland
9-11 - Detroit
13-15 - at Minnesota
16-18 - at White Sox
20-22 - Houston
24-26 - Kansas City
27-29 - White Sox
31 - at Detroit

Analysis:
Looks like the easiest schedule of the bunch. Don't be surprised if they end up near the top of the division by the end of May. Again, a lot of AL Central teams, including a series against KC, and their interleague team is Houston, the only offensive team worst than Oakland. Their April is remarkably similar to the rest of the division. In fact, their starting pitching has not been half-bad, highlighted by the return to non-suck by Chan Ho Park and Pedro Astacio. The big surprise of the rotation has been the struggling of Ryan Drese, who was, by far, the Rangers best pitcher last year. The bullpen is still weak, as Doug Brocail was rocked a few times by the Mariners and Cordero has blown a couple of saves already. Their offense still hits a ton of bombs, but struggles to get the clutch single at times. Very reminiscent of the Mariners 1997 and 98 teams.

Gavin: I agree, this is the easiest schedule, but the Rangers have proven that their offense may not translate as well on the road, and are susceptible to struggle against quality starting pitching. They will face that against the White Sox and Indians in May. Can their own starters keep pace? Can Ryan Drese rediscover his control? Can Astacio keep going throwing that junk (or will he get rocked like tonight against Boston)? Can Chan Ho Park almost earn all that money? This team is waiting for those bullpen stalwarts to return, and then the bullpen won't be as bad. i don't see the pitching to be good enough to pull this team out of mediocrity.

Overall it is still hard to get a read of any of the teams in this division. There are big question marks for every team.

Angels: Will the offense outside of Guerrero wake up? Will Colon be consistent?
Seattle: Can this starting rotation keep it up? When will Beltre rediscover his power stroke?
Texas: How many games will their bullpen lose? What is up with Ryan Drese?
Oakland: Is their offense really this bad? Can Harden, Blanton and Haren continue to shine?

We will see how this all turns out, but should be a fun ride to what has been an entertaining season so far!

posted by colin_hesse @ 5:21 PM  0 comments

Walter Jones practices?

I love all the lines from Robbie Tobeck in this article, especially the "I waited to sign until I could get .08 percent of what Walter got". But seriously, I have to wonder what the difference in our offense will be to have Walter around all offseason. It has generally taken our offensive line a few games to feel each other out, even though Jones has always stepped in and played well. However, this gives the line every practice to develop that groove... I honestly think it will help us out. After seeing us give up so many sacks to blitzes early last year before figuring it out, I have to hope that we are able to start out with more consistency.

I also like how they are planning to use Seneca Wallace as a punt returner... he has too much talent and elusiveness to sit on the bench. Bobby Engram is solid, but not spectacular. Let's see what Wallace can do to help jumpstart that facet of our special teams.

Now if they could only still trade Shaun Alexander...

posted by Gavin @ 3:26 PM  0 comments

Friday, April 29, 2005

Sonics vs Kings, Game Three

Just to know up front, I think we're going to lose this game but win games four and five for my prediction pre-series to come true. This will be one heck of a test as Sacramento will be desperate with hometown fans at their back. Luke Ridnour will be the key to the game.

First Quarter: Sonics 19, Kings 31
Good news: Jerome James had our first four points of the quarter, including one put-back. Bad news: he then tried to run our offense three straight trips down the floor, unsuccessfully. That's when the Kings grabbed the lead. However, Ray Allen has come to play, hit some huge shots to match the intensity that Sacramento has brought. The Kings are only hitting long jumpers, which won't last. I was afraid that we would be down ten midway through the quarter. Only down four at the six minute mark is a great place to be on the road. Luke Ridnour has played good defense on Bibby and is slowing the ball down on the offensive end. He still can't shoot, and we'll have to put in Antonio Daniels if he continues those woes. After the six minute mark nothing has gone right for Seattle. We're lucky to only be down eight at the three minute mark. The offense is lax with poor spacing, Rashard looks hesitant to shoot (we desperately need him to be a consistent scorer) and we were allowing some dribble penetration. Kenny Thomas is the first quarter MVP for the Kings, with good ball on the offensive and defensive end. Really, this quarter would have been even if the Sonics hadn't turned the ball over nine times. I wrote above that I thought we would be down by ten midway through the quarter, I was wrong... it happened at the 2 minute mark. We have to calm down, run our offense, and get good shots. Not the end of the world, but it'll take a nice run to get back in this one.

Second Quarter: Sonics 45, Kings 54
Well this just keeps getting worse and worse. We can't shoot worth anything. Fortson gets two quick fouls. Sacramento can't miss. We've gone almost nine minutes without a field goal. Don't we shoot threes every once in a while? Ridnour collects our field goal, hope that starts the fire.
Side Note: I'm watching the M's play during commercials and I can't believe Aaron Sele gets anyone out. Every at-bat is a serious struggle... anyways, back to the game.
Rashard Lewis is officially AWOL. he shouldn't even be out there right now if he can't give us some points. Why doesn't Jerome James guard Brad Miller? At least get a hand in his face? Man! Finally go down by twenty at the five minute mark. I'm going to quit blogging in hope that we go on a run. Back at halftime...
Or MAYBE NOT!!! Within 8 with 3 minutes left!!! Ray Allen putting us on our back!! 14-1 run!!! Kudos to Vlad for hitting the three after we were down by twenty, it seems to have released some kind of positive energy for us. That and the Kings are not hitting jumpers all the time (except for that three just now by Mobley). Under 2:00 score, Sonics 2, Kings 2. I was hoping for one more run here, but we did weather the storm and are back in the game. Good job guys.

1st Half MVP: I'll give this to Ray Allen for those nine straight points getting us back in the game. Hopefully Rashard and Ray can continue the comeback in the second quarter.

Key Stat: 13 Sonics turnovers. Do I have to say anything about this except ouch?

Third Quarter: Sonics 81, Kings 92
This quarter has been very poor defensively. Sacramento is scoring almost every time down the court, and it's only been because we've been good offensively that we are still within striking distance. Jerome is doing well offensively, but not moving his feet on the defensive end. That, and we're giving up too many offensive rebounds. It's a textbook way to not get back into the game. I'd like to see Antonio Daniels replace Ridnour for his defense. The refs are starting to call the game our way and giving us the body calls we weren't getting in the first half. Time to get over the "down by eight" hump. Collison is playing good basketball but is missing some EASY shots. Missing lay-ins causes us to go back down by 12. Well, we are least playing aggressive basketball, it's just not translating into a run because the Kings can't miss those jumpers (which is what I called for one game this series). We get over the hump to be down by seven with a minute and a half left (of course then Mike Bibby buries a jumper). If Nick Collison could hit two foot shots we would be down by four... Basically, this comes down to defense. If you give up over 90 points in three quarters you have not played good defense. End of story. Hopefully we come back in the fourth, but I'm not optimistic.

Fourth Quarter Final: Sonics 104, Kings 116
Sonics can't shoot well enough to get back in this game and that technical on Daniels was just silly. We need to maintain poise and perhaps play some actual defense. We are simply not forcing enough turnovers. I'll blog some more if we make this close, but if not we lost for simple reasons... we didn't play good defense, the Kings shot insane (55 percent), and Ray and Rashard didn't dominate. All that and we kept it close after that 21 point spell. This is nothing to panic over. We'll win Games 4 and 5.

MVP: None. I can't really in good conscience give this to anyone. Ray scored, but shot horribly. Jerome scored, but defended horribly.

Key Stat: It all comes back to those turnovers in the first half. Don't have those and we win this game, hands down. That 54 percent shooting percentage for the Kings didn't hurt either... that won't continue. We also won't let the Kings have over 30 free throw attempts too. An awful lot of things went wrong, and I don't think it will all happen again.

posted by Gavin @ 10:11 PM  0 comments

M's 4, A's 2

What a win! And what I mean by that is.... how the heck did we win this game? I mean, wow, the A's had runners in scoring position basically every single inning. Did the A's hitters swing and miss once versus Sele? I can't remember one, though I did flip back and forth to the Sonics game every now and then.

A few notes:

- Let's hope that the home-run shakes up Boone and gets him out of this slump.
- That "improved defense" has finally started to show up these past few games. I am especially enjoying Beltre at third. Excellent hands and range.
- Aaron Sele somehow gets hitters out.... somehow. I still can't see him lasting in the rotation till the All-Star game.

On to Hargrove:
Two things. 1. In a 3-1 game, when pitchers such as Mateo haven't pitched in a week and Villone is a better set-up guy, why do you put in Thornton, who has yet to prove that he is anywhere near clutch?
2. Then, finally, you put in Putz, just in time to let him face a string of left-handed hitters, with Villone sitting there waiting in the bullpen.

You know, this time it worked, but I am continually amazed at some of the early decisions I have seen from our new manager. Fortunately the W stands, and it would be extremely nice to take the game tomorrow to win the series. Moyer vs. Blanton, 1 PM.

posted by colin_hesse @ 10:08 PM  0 comments

Don't Get Fooled By Jerome

It finally happened... Frank Hughes wrote an ESPN.com article on the "new" Jerome James after his two great playoff performances. Jerome humbly admits how bad he was and points to his "mama" and new work ethic at why he has stepped up in the postseason. It's hard to stop laughing. James averaged 4 point and 3 rebounds during 82 games in the regular season... and NOW he's an improved player because of stuff that happened last offseason? What the heck was happening before? Is he going to give us one huge discount to resign him since he "wasted the money" these past three years? Probably not... he has to feed his family. Jerome James is a huge talent, and if Nate McMillan can't make him succeed, no one can. Please say we aren't going to resign him... please...

Also today, Steve Kelley has a great article on Luke Ridnour, who I thought played a fantastic game in Game 2, and would have been my MVP if his shot had been falling. Luke is the x-factor tonight, to see how he is able to calmly run our offense through all those cowbells. My money is on Luke to perform well, and to actually hit 50 percent of his shots.

posted by Gavin @ 5:23 PM  0 comments

Jamie Moyer's Legacy

Scott Miller at CBSSportsline has a terrific piece on Jamie Moyer. Moyer, as we all know, just tied Randy Johnson on the all-time Mariner's win list, and might take the lead with his start Saturday at Oakland. We also know how important Moyer has been to the Seattle community as well. His Moyer Foundation has been a shining example of how a professional athlete can interact with the community.

I am a huge Jamie Moyer fan. Always have been, though there have been several points that I thought he was done. I believe that he is right up in the top five Mariner players of all time. My list:

1. Ken Griffey Jr.
2. Randy Johnson
3. Alex Rodriguez
4. Edgar Martinez
5. Jamie Moyer

Could someone else be on that list? A Jay Buhner perhaps? Maybe a Harold Reynolds? How about Mr. Mariner himself? There are arguments to be made, that is for sure. However, Moyer has been good for so long as a Mariner that I believe he deserves the spot I have given him. He is smart, knows hitter's tendencies, and is one of the best pitchers I have seen make adjustments during the game. There are so many games I can point to where he gives up a run or two in the first couple of innings because the hitters are keying off of something and then he switches up his rhythm and shuts down the offense for the rest of the game. I will miss him greatly when he retires.

Gavin: My top five would look the exact same. No one was Junior. No one was Randy in his prime. Alex became the best player in the league. Edgar should be a hall of famer. Moyer has been our best pitcher for forever, a 20 game winner at age 40, freaking fun to watch, and yes, better than any of the other position players. To me, it's not even close.

posted by colin_hesse @ 2:43 PM  0 comments

OK, so our assistant coaches rock...

David Locke loves our assistant coaches. Great. I definitely like Dwayne Casey, and hope that we hire him when McMillan takes the money to go to New York or Cleveland. However, where were articles like this the last couple of years? Didn't we have the exact same coaching staff when we sucked? Didn't we have the exact same coaching staff before this season when everyone, David Locke included, predicted us to be the worst team in the West? Sorry, a little double standard there.

posted by colin_hesse @ 2:07 PM  0 comments

Seahawks Offseason Review

Clare Farnsworth of the PI has a great article today on how the Seahawks used free agency to fill some key needs before the draft, and then looks at the players coming out and the players coming in, examining if we are better or worse off.

Here are my thoughts on the same subject:

Out: Chike Okeafor. In: Bryce Fisher

Colin: I put this as a push. They both had 8 1/2 sacks last year, neither will overpower you, and you lose a little talent and gain a little better locker-room presence. It's not like Okeafor ever really stepped up in the clutch.... Did the Rams punt at all in the 2nd half in the playoffs? Answer: No.

Gavin: I agree, this is a push. Okeafor did have tons of talent, but I can't think of one big play that he made all season. He was nothing without Wistrom. Fisher won't be anything by himself either, but he will be passable. Still could use an upgrade here.

Out: Chad Brown. In: Jamie Sharper

Colin: Huge plus, due to Brown's propensity to get injured and beaten down the past couple of years. I loved the guy's intensity, but he was never out on the field! Sharper is younger, a true leader, and is better in pass coverage, which we sorely need. Yes, we lose a little pass-rush, but, again, it's not like Brown was providing that last year.

Gavin: Plus (not huge plus if Brown's healthy), but plus even if Brown stays off the injured reserve. Chad's desire was still there, but his speed and strength weren't. He could get to the quarterback once a game, but the blitzing skills had faded. Jamie Sharper is a younger version of Brown and yes, better at the zone pass. This should help our defense out quite a bit.

Out: Orlando Huff. In: Lola Tatupu

Colin: Farnsworth has this as a minus, which I disagree with. We know what Huff brought, which was very little. Tatupu has heart, and, once again, is better in pass coverage. I would prefer to see him on the field even over Koutouvides. To me, this is a plus. Basically, my theory boils down to... if we are changing our defense from last year, it is a plus.

Gavin: Plus. Koutovides didn't show much. Huff was a zero. It doesn't take much to provide an upgrade here, let's see what Tatupu brings, especially to the zone blitz/pass.

Out: Anthony Simmons. In: D.D. Lewis

Colin: Again, plus. Simmons has always gotten injured, never got the whole leadership thing down, and never stepped up in the big games. D.D. Lewis is faster and, once again, works better in the Ray Rhodes defense. Our defense has had the wrong players for the system. Now we have better ones. Simple as that.

Gavin: Push, because of DD Lewis' own injury problems last year. He has to prove that he is back at full strength and capable of starting 16 games for us. He has undeniable talent. Ray Rhodes loves him. Now we get to see if that talent translates to the field.

Out: Ken Lucas. In: Andre Dyson.

Colin: Huge plus. Do I even need to explain this? Even the contract is a better deal with Dyson.

Gavin: Huge plus. Dyson is better than Ken Lucas. Lucas gambled way too much, bit on deep balls way too much, and got caught out of position on run defense way too much, not to mention his inability to stop the quick-hitter. Dyson will get us the same number of picks without as many of the head-scratching mistakes.

You look at this list and I am extremely happy with Ruskell and the way that this offseason has gone. We will be a better team than we were last season. Now, our schedule is still pretty rough and the NFC West will be better. But I am excited to see what we will bring to the table, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

Gavin: As long as we can play zone coverage, our rankings will go up by ten to twelve, I guarantee it.

posted by colin_hesse @ 1:54 PM  0 comments

Thursday, April 28, 2005

M's Series Preview: at Oakland

Well, we finally took a series from an AL West opponent! Yeah! Now our season can truly begin... with what might turn out to be the most boring series ever, what with our current offense matched up against the ghastly Oakland offense.

Friday: Sele vs. Haren

The good news: Haren is off to a slow start. The bad news: Aaron Sele is pitching. The good news: He is pitching against the A's, the one team that he might work well against. In fact, I think he will..... and we will see a W on the horizon.

Saturday: Moyer vs. Blanton

Moyer always pitches well against the A's, but Blanton has started off real, real tough. This will be the first time the M's see him, and that is never a good sign. This will probably be a tough 2-1 loss for the good guys.

Sunday: Piniero vs. Zito

After seeing Piniero pitch well against the Rangers, I can see him absolutely shut down the A's. In fact, we could easily run away with this game. W.

We don't have to face Rich Harden. Thank you. He will be a thorn in the Mariner's side for a long, long time.

My record on predictions so far: 11-5
M's record during this time period: 9-7

posted by colin_hesse @ 8:06 PM  0 comments

Fun Baseball Questions

I rather liked this article from Eric Neel about baseball so far this year and thought Colin and I should answer the questions they pose...

1. How 'bout those White Sox?

Gavin: Going down. The offense is pathetic. The bullpen is pieced together. The starters are quality. That's it. They are worse than the Oakland A's, and you know how much fun we've had at their expense so far this year.

Colin: Going down, but wait until after the All-Star break. They have enough of a rotation to last until July, but the clutch hitting and excellent relief can not continue. They just don't have the talent for it. Plus Ozzie Guillen is their manager. Enough said.

2. Are the Nationals for real?

Gavin: I say yes, but the starting rotation and lower half of the lineup says no. They will need career years from Brad Wilkerson and Jose Vidro to keep it going. I still hold out hope for a magical year.

Colin: Well, they won't suck, but no, they won't win the division. However, they will be a watchable team that should be in the race for a good long while.

3. Who is the most bulldog player in the game?

Gavin: I give it to Darin Erstad, especially when he was in the outfield. There were times that I think he purposefully slid just to get mud all over him. He'll take out the second baseman hard on a double-play ball, never gives in at the plate, and is just the type of guy you want on your team... just not at first base.

Colin: Well, Erstad is nice, but I will give it to Marcus Giles, the 2nd baseman for the Atlanta Braves. The man is tough. I saw him take two huge base-running hits in a single game and stay on his feet. I would take him over Boone any day.

4. What early season surprise won't maintain?

Gavin: My vote goes to Gustavo Chacin of the Toronto Blue Jays, currently off to a 4-0 start. His wind-up will confuse teams first time around, but they're going to catch up, and his lack of control will add to the fun.

Colin: My vote goes to the underperforming San Francisco Giants. They have been rocked by injuries, but that starting rotation should drag them up. They will contend for the NL West title this season, with or without Bonds.

5. Who is your favorite player under 25?

Gavin: I have to go with the homeboy, Adrian Beltre... or possibly Jeremy Reed... or possibly Felix Hernandez. Still, Beltre is entering the prime of his career, swings a good stick and plays as good a third as you'll ever see.

Colin: Is Michael Young under 25? If so, then Michael Young. I love his approach at the plate, his defense, his leadership, his ability to do whatever the team needs.... The guy is special, and he is my favorite AL West foe for some time.

6. What's the current World Series matchup?

Gavin: Baltimore vs St Louis... the Orioles have dominated both Boston and New York in the early going, and the other AL contenders all have serious question marks. No one is challenging the Cardinals.

Colin: Baltimore? Are you nucking futs? Right now the matchup is Minnesota vs. St. Louis. Santana is getting in a solid groove, with Radke and Silva both starting strong. Mauer and Morneau are starting to hit with regularity, causing that Twins lineup to look a tad more potent. St. Louis is running away with the NL Central already.

7. Who are you least concerned about, Yankees, Phillies, or Padres?

Gavin: I have to go with the Padres here because of how weak overall the NL West is. Arizona is currently leading... that's right, Arizona. The Padres have 140 games, solid starting pitching, and hitters just waiting to heat up.

Colin: I'll go with the Padres as well. They have a solid team, and I expect them to pick things up soon.

8. What two managers would you like to see duel with lightsabers?

Gavin: Lou Piniella versus anyone or Tony Pena versus Ozzie Guillen in the battle of the latin hotheads.

Colin: Definitely Ozzie Guillen, and I would like to see him against former manager Larry Bowa. I know he's not managing right now, but that would be a sweet matchup. I would pay money.

9. Who is the current underrated player?

Gavin: I gotta go with the article and Carlos Guillen. Where the heck was all this talent when he was this inconsistent prospect with the M's? It's not like Comerica is a hitter's paradise. He went from one bad park to an even worse park and is just ripping the ball. What? What?

Colin: How about Jon Garland? The guy is the #5 starter on the White Sox and has an ERA under 2.00. He is pitching lights out, and has not gotten any press about it. Sure, El Duque will probably be injured, and Contreras will not pitch as well as he has. However, Garland might end up as the #2 starter in this rotation.

posted by Gavin @ 4:38 PM  0 comments

Newnham off his game

I've disagreed with quite a few articles by Blaine Newnham recently, and today's offering was no exception. Because Martell Webster might have some money problems, he should be allowed to enter the NBA early. Because Martell might get injured he (or any high school prospect) should be allowed to make the jump to the NBA. From a fan's standpoint I think I can officially say, "Who the heck cares?" I don't... absolutely don't. High school players make the NBA worse, outside of an extroardiary select few, and they can wait two years. I want a role player like Damien Wilkins as my 12th man, not Robert "Acne" Swift. I want my team that I'm giving 60 bucks a ticket to spend that money on people I might see within the next four years. End of story.

posted by Gavin @ 4:27 PM  0 comments

M's Bench Worst Ever

I don't think I've ever seen a more pathetic excuse for a bench. That Off the Wall column agrees with me today, and makes the best point possible, one could take five random pitchers from the NL and improve our bench. This all would have been moot with Bucky bashing homers, but that fell with the divot in the knee. We absolutely will need to trade for help or get some from AAA ball.

posted by Gavin @ 4:25 PM  0 comments

Yankee's pitching will not improve

New York has dug themselves a major hole, and their inability to attract young starting pitching is a big reason why. CC Sabathia reupping with the Indians is yet another in a string of lousy indicators... don't be surprised to see AJ Burnett resign with the Marlins at some point this year. More teams are able to keep their best players, which is good for the league, bad for New York. Now the Yankees have long-term contracts hanging around their necks for all their starters, making adjustments much more difficult. The days of them signing ace after ace ended when Andy Pettite left for Houston. Thank you, Houston. Baltimore and Toronto are sending you a box of chocolates.

posted by Gavin @ 4:22 PM  0 comments

NBA Playoffs - 1st Round Review

Two games into the first round and I have to say, this has got to be one of the lamest first rounds in NBA history. And they actually extend the misery by making it a best of seven series. I can barely watch most of these games, as they are ALL BLOWOUTS. Anyways, on to the matchups...

Miami vs New Jersey (Miami up 2-0)
Vince Carter can't shoot when he's covered by three people. Even though Shaq hasn't dominated (doesn't he say that he "rests" to dominate now... when's that going to happen?) Alonzo Mourning, Damon Jones, and this year's MVP Dwayne Wade have run circles around the nets. Jason Kidd can make two highlight level plays and then not play defense. The Nets gave up their entire frontcourt to grab Carter, and it shows against the bigger Heat. New Jersey will have to pull a major upset to not be swept.

Detroit vs Philadelphia (Detroit up 2-0)
Two games, two large Philly leads, two large Detroit comebacks, two sizeable Detroit wins. The pattern of each of the games have been remarkably similar, yet Detroit never panics, stays true to themselves and their game, and slowly but surely makes their run. It probably helps that Philadelphia has no inside game and that they defend with four while Webber is on the floor. Essentially, these past two series should have been byes, and then we wouldn't have had to watch.

Boston vs Indiana (Series tied 1-1)
Game one, Boston rolls. Game two, Boston folds. Yes, Reggie does get a lot of calls, but don't tell me you aren't just hoping for two things... one more clutch playoff shot, and a seven game series against Detroit. Please, Lord, make this happen. Still, gotta root for the Glove.

Chicago vs Washington (Chicago up 2-0)
The first "defense wins" series in the playoffs. Chicago plays defense. Washington doesn't, and doesn't have a good enough offense to recover. I'm still a little surprised that Chicago won both games, but you cannot argue with what you see out of them. Big props to Kirk Hinrich, who along with Nick Collison prove that nice white guys can make it in the NBA.

Phoenix vs Memphis (Phoenix up 2-0)
Phoenix has played the exact same way they played in the regular season and I still find it hard to imagine being as successful as they are. They play absolutely zero defense. None. Pau Gasol could have laid it in twenty times last night. And yet they are so absolutely explosive and hit the offensive glass so well that it seems like they are slumping when they score 120. Not many teams that will be able to outshoot Phoenix, and Memphis played their best game last night. Lucky to win one.

San Antonio vs Denver (Series tied 1-1)
Denver was unable to combat San Antonio's desperation at the beginning of Game 2. Played them even the rest of the game, but desperate teams with tons of talent are hard to beat. Still, mission accomplished for the Nuggets in taking one of two from the best home team in the country. I still will call this for San Antonio, but I think it's going to go seven. The Nuggets' front line has been impressive... if they could actually hit some threes I'd be more impressed.

Seattle vs Sacramento (Seattle leads 2-0)
Seattle has dominated this series physically and mentally, and Sacramento will need one heck of a rally to steal four games. I wouldn't be optimistic if I was a Kings' fan... Rashard Lewis hasn't even had a good game yet.

Dallas vs Houston (Houston leads 2-0)
The most surprising series so far. Dallas looked strong entering the playoffs, but Tracy McGrady has looked absolutely outstanding, and the Houston bench (maligned by us in our preview) has been fantastic. Dallas is still the more talented team, and is the only team down 2-0 with a realistic shot of winning the series. Dirk Nowitzki has to be more aggressive, take the ball to the hole and get fouls on McGrady, if he insists on defending him. He can't just take all these jumpers. Dallas also needs their defense, which had been so much better, to actually be better, because Houston is a slow boring team, not this fast-breaking jump shooting imposter.

CAN WE HAVE SOME GAMES DECIDED BY LESS THAN TEN POINTS!!!

posted by Gavin @ 3:04 PM  0 comments

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Sonics vs Kings, Game 2

Well, I started this game out expecting a fairly high scoring affair with Bibby and Bobby Jackson making a big impact. Don't really expect to win, but it would be huge if we did.

1st Quarter: Sonics 26, Kings 22
The Sonics have done a great job of matching the Kings' desperation. Sacramento obviously understands the situation that they are in. Go down 2-0 and kiss this series goodbye. Sure hasn't been the offensive explosion that I was anticipating. First three for either team was that huge bomb from Rashard at the three minute mark. We haven't given up as many offensive rebounds, but have given up too many lay-ins. Mike Bibby hasn't come on strong as expected. I thought he might have ten points by the end of the quarter. Stojakovic or Mobley hasn't been an offensive force either. Luke Ridnour was the MVP of the first quarter. He had a ton more confidence running the offense, and made some huge defensive plays, causing turnovers on sure lay-ups from Brad Miller and Peja Stojakovic. He also played fantastic defense on Bibby, proving Jay Bilas wrong yet again. Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen need to step their offensive games up. Both have missed some wide-open jumpers, at least Rashard hit the one three. Radmanovic has looked good from the field, going 3-4, but is a little slow on the defensive end. Sacramento is doubling us up in points in the paint, not correct at all. Needs to change. All in all, we had to withstand a storm from Sacramento, and we did.

2nd Quarter: Sonics 55, Kings 44
I've been really impressed with the Sonics' effort all over the court in this quarter. The defense has been stellar. Ridnour set the tone in the first, and the bench set the tone in the second. They sealed off the paint, not allowing the Kings to get all those lay-ins anymore. Mobley, Bibby, Stojakovic or Jackson have yet to establish themselves, although Bibby does have ten. Kings have yet to hit a three, and are depending on some cheap fouls right now to even stay within sight. Ray Allen jumpstarted himself by taking it to the rack consistently, drawing fouls and easy buckets. Fortson's screens were bricks during the quarter, the pick and roll was working to perfection. We hit the 50 point barrier while still not shooting as well as we can. Jerome James is proving that he was not a one-game wonder, absolutely owning Corliss Williamson. Good recognition by Ridnour to keep feeding him the ball. Again, still not allowing the type of offensive rebounding we did in game one, and limiting the Kings to jumpers. Two minutes score: Sonics 4, Kings 2. Keep track of this because of how important it is to game momentum. As Denver proved on Sunday, a run at the end of the half can give a visiting team life. The Kings knew this and amped up again, and yet again the Sonics responded. If we play the same way we win this one easily. Have to avoid the second half we had last time around.

Key Stat: Bench Points - Sacramento 10, Seattle 23
Our bench dominated. Sacramento was holding even wihle the starters were out and then Radmanovic came in, started knocking down shots. Then Fortson and Collison came in and started throwing their bodies around. Thirteen point advantage looks pretty big.

1st Half MVP: Jerome James made a late run for this honor, with 10 point and key defensive presence, but Luke Ridnour keeps this for the tone and energy he set. I counted three strips on lay-ins (one more in the second). 4 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, and kept Mike Bibby out of the lane. He has been an absolute stud.

3rd Quarter: Sonics 88, Kings 62
Here's the type of game Colin and I previewed. The Sonics are starting to become the dominant physical team. I wrote that we as Sonics fans were looking forward to Brad Miller coming back because we had his number... and the beginning of the 3rd quarter was evidence of that. Miller looked like he was about to cry and got a technical for arguing a call after fouling Jerome James. He had the "Tim Duncan Sad Face" going on. We relaxed too much in the third quarter last game and it was evident that Nate McMillan wasn't going to let the Sonics have that kind of effort again. The Sonics busted out of the half fired up. Jerome James is just rocking the everything right now. He is looking like the best center in the West right now. Because of our physical presence, the Kings are starting to worry about the officiating instead of their offensive flow... too much barking. Key possession: 7:30 left and the Kings have four shots and eventually turn it over, then we come down and Ridnour hits the three to go up by 19. BAM!!! Peja Stojakovic has disappeared from this game. The Kings desperately need him and his outside shooting to start narrowing the gap. The Kings have shown some patience and Bibby has started to drive to the hoop better. It's time to give Rashard Lewis some props for his defense on Peja, I just wrote about how he had disappeared and a lot of it has to do with Lewis, who isn't known for his defense. Peja is just not getting any open looks and is refusing to drive to the hole. I love how the Sonics are responding to every adjustment the Kings make. The half court execution has been exactly what we need in order to succeed in the playoffs. Our defense has improved this quarter and put the clamps on the Kings. 6 turnovers in the quarter and only 18 points. We are simply dominating Sacramento around the paint. Also in the quarter we were always shooting free throws because of Sacramento's frustration. Easy points in a playoff game are hard to come by.

Final Score: Sonics 105, Kings 93
The Sonics started this out playing not to lose, lacking the agressiveness and intensity. Amazing how that can happen in the span of a commercial break. They wanted to run as much time off the clock as possible during their offense, but aren't getting quality shots at the end. Radmanovic passed on a few open looks. Because of this the Kings went on a 15-0 run to open the quarter, all with the big three on the bench. Things were not looking good at all at this point. Too much standing around on offense. The Sonics showed their youth and inexperience. I'm shaking my head and refusing to write anything more until we start playing better. Well, we eked it out. Still played like crap until we woke up for the final few minutes, just to show the Kings' scrubs that they weren't that much better than us.

Key Stats:
Offensive Rebounds: Sonics 11, Kings 12... Still need improvement on this, we are the better team on the boards.
Free Throw Attempts: Sonics 30, Kings 15... The team that goes to the line more is the aggressor. We were the aggressor.

Game MVP: A tie between Jerome James and Ray Allen, but both comes with the qualification that they really contributed to the fourth quarter "effort".

Conclusion: The Kings would be foolish to think that the fourth quarter gives them confidence or to use that lineup again. The quarter can entirely be laid at the feet of the Sonics. This is evidenced by how we dominated the last three minutes against the same lineup. When Seattle played like they cared they owned this series like we had predicted. It would be nice if they wouldn't let the Kings back in these games... eventually they will be burned. I think we'll take at least one of the games in Sacramento and my prediction of winning in five is looking pretty good. On a side note, Rick Adelman helped lose this game for his team by not putting Stojakovic or Bibby back in the game when the run was starting. Yes, the bench players were doing a good job, but they are all bench players. To get over the hump, you need to have your all-stars out there. Not much confidence in his team.

posted by Gavin @ 10:24 PM  0 comments

Mariners Report: 20 games in

As I am wont to do, I have decided to do a mini-report every ten games on how the Mariners are playing....

Record: 10-10
Standings: 2nd place in AL West, 1 game back

Offense:

- Ichiro is continuing to be, well, Ichiro. I still would like to see him try to achieve somewhat of an actual power stroke. I know he's capable of it, and it would be a boost to our lineup.

- Jeremy Reed, slowly but surely, is making that batting average rise. It now stands at around .270, and figures to continue to rise as his AB's are consistently quality.

- As I blogged about earlier, Beltre and Sexson will come around, and their strong presence in our lineup is incredible. A huge boost.

- Boone is having an average season. Nothing special, but that grand slam against Zito was huge.

- Don't look now, but Ibanez is starting to heat up. This will be huge, and will include some home runs, and soon.

- Randy Winn is still in the lineup.

- Miguel Olivo had huge hits the last couple of games. Let us all hope that will continue.

- Come to us, Pokey Reese!

Pitching:

- A tip of the cap to the ageless wonder. Jamie Moyer is pitching the best I have seen him since 2001. Amazing.

- Joel Piniero still looks like a good #2 starter. He is not, yet, taking the "ace leap" that was bandied about this winter.

- Who is Gil Meche? Why is Gil Meche? Can anyone explain Gil Meche to me?

- Aaron Sele is still pitching for us. Explain.

- Ryan Franklin is learning, once again, why it sucks to be him and get no run support. Of course, it's his luck that he is up against Buerhle and Harden.

- And a big congrats to our bullpen, who have become stronger and stronger as time has gone by. Excellent work down there, and I hope it continues.

Overall I am impressed. I did not think we would still be at the .500 mark 20 games into the season. Let us hope this continues through the next ten...

posted by colin_hesse @ 9:12 PM  0 comments

M's 7, Rangers 4

A tale of two teams. One possesses tremendous power, but lacks strong pitching, especially in the clutch. The other possesses little to no power, but has shown themselves to possess a little more clutch pitching. Guess which team is which?

- I loved how the M's played add-on, both in the 3rd and in the 9th. There have been several games this season already where the M's have jumped out to early leads, and then failed to score the rest of the game.

- Miguel Olivo fell a few times, but had a huge double to back up his great hits from Sunday. Um... please continue this?

- Beltre had one of his best hitting games as a Mariner, and Sexson joined him. Wow, our lineup looks so much better when those two guys are on. Just a completely different flow to the game.

- Raul Ibanez is terrific at that 6 slot. He should have plenty of opportunities with men on base.

- Piniero is still inconsistent, even though a few of those home-runs were on good pitches. If he is really going to be an ace, he needs to have shut-down potential, not 3-4 runs a game potential like he is showing so far this year.

- Guardado is looking better and better as the season goes along.

- Alright.... on to tomorrow (Franklin vs. Rogers). Another win would be great!

posted by colin_hesse @ 7:58 PM  0 comments

NFL Draft Grades - Short and Sweet, Texas Style

Arizona Cardinals:

Colin: As I blogged earlier, a solid draft filled with possible starters. Antrel Rolle will be not good, great. Grade: A

Gavin: Filled their needs with impact players. Can't do any better than that. Can't forget that they signed Timmy Chang after the draft, which was a great pickup as well. Grade: A

Atlanta Falcons:

Colin: They seemed a little too excited to be getting a wide receiver from UAB in the 1st round. Babineaux was a late climber. Translation: Not a good player, but did well at the combine. Grade: C+

Gavin: Reached for a lower tier wide receiver in the first round. Babineaux was a solid second round selection. Grade: C

Baltimore Ravens:

Colin: Great choice of Derek Anderson in the 6th round. He might challenge Boller for the starting job, and soon. Grade: A-

Gavin: Landed best wide receiver in the draft in Mike Clayton. Derek Anderson has biggest upside of any QB in the draft. Dan Cody should perform well as part of Baltimore's tremendous defense. Grade: A

Buffalo Bills:

Colin: No first-round pick, and then they stretched for their second-rounder, Roscoe Parrish, at a position that they were already pretty strong at, WR. Grade: C-

Gavin: Not much of a draft. Really didn't need Parrish. The Bills could have used some offensive line help. Grade: D

Carolina Panthers:

Colin: Thomas Davis will be nice, but I am most interested to find out how Stefan Lefors does at the next level. A nice draft altogether. Grade: B+

Gavin: Thomas Davis was one of the Hawks' favorite players and will be an impact player on an impact defense. Dislike the pick of Eric Shelton, because Foster and Stephen Davis are still available. Should have picked an offensive lineman. Didn't get any in the draft of note. Still, I like the pick of S Ben Emanuel from UCLA. Grade: B-

Chicago Bears:

Colin: Kyle Orton was also a nice pick, in case Grossman goes down again. However, not sure you take Benson over Cadillac Williams. Grade: B

Gavin: I would easily take Benson over Cadillac Williams. He was the better rusher. Both were better than Ronnie Brown. Kyle Orton was a fantastic pick, because no one wanted to see more of Jonathan Quinn. Mark Bradley and Aireese Curry were tremendous value picks at WR. They significantly upgraded their offense and gave Brian Urlacher and Tommy Jones some actual help. Grade: A

Cincinatti Bengals:

Colin: My favorite draft. Pollack will be outstanding, and to follow that up with Odell Thurman was a terrific move. Grade: A+

Gavin: I do agree that Pollack will be good, but Odell Thurman by all accounts is a knucklehead, so is more of a question mark. However, rest of the draft is pure money. Tab Perry and Chris Henry will be quality wide receivers, they got some good o-line depth, and the seventh round selection of Jonathan Fanene was a steal (he dominated the game against Pittsburgh). Grade: A

Cleveland Browns:

Colin: Braylon Edwards might be the most talented player in the draft. For that alone.... Grade: A-

Gavin: Braylon was the best pick of the first round. Surprised he dropped to third, and I'm sure Cleveland was pleased. The even better pick was Senior Bowl MVP Charlie Frye with the third round selection to throw him the ball eventually. I also love the fourth round pick of Oklahoma CB Antonio Perkins... saw him a few times and loved his talent. Still, a waste of a second round pick of Brodney Pool. Grade: A-

Dallas Cowboys:

Colin: People love this draft, and I disagree. Why concentrate on your defense when your offense was terrible? Seriously, am I the only person who saw that? Grade: D (harsh, but I really didn't like what the Cowboys did)

Gavin: I completely agree with Colin... did these coaches watch how pathetic their offense was last year? You have an aging offensive line, an aging quarterback, two aging wide receivers, and a stud running back. Not anything to hang your hat on. They will lose more games than they win next year. None of the defensive rookies will vie for rookie-of-the-year honors. This team is not significantly better by any stretch of the imagination. They should have taken Mike Williams or Aaron Rodgers with one of their two first round selections. Grade: F

Denver Broncos:

Colin: Two words. Maurice Clarett. Grade: F

Gavin: I only like one pick, Karl Paymah from Washington St, and that's because he's from Washington St. I think Clarett will be better than advertised. Grade: D

Detroit Lions:

Colin: I like the Mike Williams pick, simply because he will be a special player. Everything else was so-so. Grade: B-

Gavin: They simply couldn't pick on Mike Williams. You hate to release Az Hakim, but that combo on offense is great. However, they still will be trying to outscore teams 35-31 this coming year. Not enough to jump them over "mediocre" status. Still, Shaun Cody is better than teams had him projected, same with Bill Swancutt. Grade: B+

Green Bay Packers:

Colin: Aaron Rodgers will enjoy his time at Lambeau, and should serve well when Favre decides to finally retire. Grade: B-

Gavin: Aaron Rodgers was the steal of the first round. Then the Packers decided to draft wide receivers instead of linebackers. Good luck keeping your job, Mike Sherman. Grade: D

Houston Texans:

Colin: Blah. Travis Johnson might be good, he might not be good. A lot of questionable players in that draft. Grade: C+

Gavin: Travis Johnson is the only player in this draft worthy of acknowledgment. The Texans had serious offensive issues and this draft did nothing to help. Grade: D

Indianapolis Colts:

Colin: Very similar to the Texans, except the fact that Marlin Jackson will help that beleagured secondary. Grade: B

Gavin: The Colts need defenders, and they drafted a ton. However, they have not shown a propensity to draft good defenders and need these to step up. Still, potentially drafting two starting cornerbacks will help take the pressure of the defensive line. Grade: B

Jacksonville Jaguars:

Colin: I love the Matt Jones pick, and to follow that up with a UW alumni? Priceless. Grade: B+

Gavin: Matt Jones will be an impact player in the Hines Ward, Antwaan Randle-El mold. Can't question his athletic ability and will give Byron Leftwich a consistent big target. They also needed offensive line help and got it with Khalif Barnes, a steal in the second round. Grade: A-

Kansas City Chiefs:

Colin: Wow. The smiles on the KC brass must have been wide when Derrick Johnson slid down to them. However, second pick on a punter? What the.... Grade: C+

Gavin: Derrick Johnson did nothing but make plays in college. Never understood why all the scouts slept on him. He will (dare I say) awaken the ghost of Derrick Thomas? Still, rest of the draft blew. Punter? PUNTER? No more defensive players until Round Five? ROUND FIVE? Grade: C-

Miami Dolphins:

Colin: Why take the backup (Ronnie Brown) when you can take the starter (Cadillac Williams)? Sidenote: Saban still really likes the SEC as evidenced by his draft. Grade: B

Gavin: I agree wholeheartedly with Colin. Why do you draft a backup running back with the second pick overall? Why do you pass on Braylon Edwards? Still, Matt Roth and Channing Crowder were excellent later picks. Grade: B

Minnesota Vikings:

Colin: I don't know why you would take any wide receiver over Mike Williams, but Erasmus James could really help them if he plays up to his potential. Grade: A-

Gavin: Didn't like the pick of Troy Williamson. All the speed in the world doesn't matter if he can't play, and South Carolina didn't showcase anything that Williams wouldn't have done. I do like the Erasmus James pick, but the rest of the draft didn't provide much defensive help. Grade: B

New England Patriots:

Colin: Does it even matter? No matter what happens, they are great for a long time. Grade: B

Gavin: I'm going to do it... this was a crappy draft. Maybe they prove me wrong, but I doubt it. They drafted the USC backup QB, for crying out loud, over the former Heisman Trophy winner. Grade: C-

New Orleans Saints:

Colin: They took a flier on Adrien McPherson, which might turn out to be the best pick of the draft. He has serious talent. Grade: B+

Gavin: Aaron Brooks is still wildly inconsistent, so drafting McPherson made sense. They also landed the best OT prospect in the draft in Jammal Brown. Didn't like the safety they drafted, but Chase Lyman and Alfred Fincher were excellent picks. Grade: B+

New York Giants:

Colin: No first-rounder, and no terrific picks, though Prisco thought that Justin Tuck was a great choice. I don't. Grade: C-

Gavin: I like Corey Webster. He will immediately help the Giants. I like nothing else. Grade: C

New York Jets:

Colin: I really like the use of the pick on a kicker. Not any kicker. This guy will win plenty of games for the Jets. Ballsy move that will pay off with me giving them an... Grade: A-

Gavin: Mike Nugent was a terrific pick. He would not have been around next time through. Now when Herm Edwards decides to blow a game, he will have a better kicker to pull him out of the fire. Justin Miller was a steal for cornerback and Sione Pouha was part of that excellent Utah defense. The Jets might not draft well often, but they did this time. Grade: A

Oakland Raiders:

Colin: Andrew Walter goes from ASU to the silver and black, ending any hope of a certain ex-UW quarterback of being the future. Grade: B+

Gavin: Fabian Washington was a reach of a first round choice (see Justin Miller above). Andrew Walter wasn't much of a college quarterback. I still don't know how he got the statistics he did. He was awful in any big game. Grade: C

Philadelphia Eagles:

Colin: Another solid, solid draft filled with players that can help them. They don't go for the questionable player, they just go with the best players. Grade: B+

Gavin: The team we want to draft like. Nobody special, but they had no holes. Good players up and down the line. Especially like Mike Patterson and Matt McCoy. Could have done better to find a backup for Brian Westbrook. Grade: B

Pittsburgh Steelers:

Colin: Heath Miller will be catching many a touchdown from Big Ben. I guarantee it. Grade: B+

Gavin: Heath Miller was a terrific pick late in the first round. Bryant McFadden was a good second round pick. However, they needed a quality wide receiver to replace Plaxico Burress and Reggie Brown was not the answer. They will regret that. Grade: B

St. Louis Rams:

Colin: Read below for further detail. Nothing special here. Grade: C

Gavin: Not good at all. Grade: D

San Diego Chargers:

Colin: Luis Castillo, if he is off the juice, will help them, and there were a slew of other good players now on their way to sunny San Diego. Grade: A

Gavin: I believe that it was a one-time deal for Catillo, although he wasn't first round talent. Shawne Merriman however will be darn good, and I really like the pickup of Darren Sproles as a polar opposite third down back. Grade: A-

San Francisco 49ers:

Colin: Again, read below. Grade: A-

Gavin: Not impressed. Grade: C

Seattle Seahawks:

Colin: I've said enough on these guys. Grade: B-

Gavin: Solid. Grade: B

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

Colin: Finally, the taker for Cadillac Williams. I believe they found the best running back of the draft. Grade: B

Gavin: Cadillac Williams is a good back... but the Bucs have Michael Pittman and needed a wide receiver or corner, which this draft had in spades. Like the draft of Barrett Ruud quite a bit. Nothing else is that tremendous. Grade: C

Tennessee Titans:

Colin: I just don't know what all the hype is about Pac-Man Jones. I just haven't seen it. Grade: B-

Gavin: Is this the same Pac-Man that I saw get burned all those times in college? Good receiving skills, but should have gone with Antrel Rolle. They'll regret it. A lot of reach picks with the rest of the draft, including the Eastern Washington guy when Khalif Barnes was still around. Grade: C-

Washington Redskins:

Colin: Jason Campbell? Again, I don't see the transition to the NFL being too kind here. Anyone remember a certain great college QB named Akili Smith? Grade: C-

Gavin: Another woeful offensive team that drafted defense first. Come on people! The NFC was boring last year! I'm higher on Jason Campbell than Colin is, but Gibbs could have had Aaron Rodgers with his first pick and a wide receiver with his second. Maybe some offensive line help so that the running game could actually get off the ground or that Patrick Ramsey wouldn't be running for his life every game. Poor... Grade: F

posted by colin_hesse @ 5:44 PM  0 comments

NFC West - Improvement On The Horizon?

Colin: I am going to rank the team's drafts from top to bottom as I see them....

1st: Arizona Cardinals - I love Antrel Rolle. He shut down Larry Fitzgerald in college, and was the heart and soul of an excellent Miami defense as a cornerback. You don't usually see that. He will provide leadership for the defensive backs and adds to a terrific Arizona defense. JJ Arrington was a great pick as well, even if some didn't think so. Yes, his size is not the best, but he plays well, picking up blocks and getting the extra needed yards. Just a draft filled with solid players. Keep watch. It might not be this year, but Arizona will be challenging for a playoff spot by the start of the 2006-07 season. They just need a solid quarterback.

2nd: San Francisco 49ers - It helps to have the top pick, not only in the 1st round, but in every round, and the Niners took advantage. Will Alex Smith be the answer? I'm not sold, but he was the right player to take. Frank Gore was a terrific pick in the 3rd round, providing that his knees hold up. He was an absolute bear in college. Just a great draft with players that can't hurt a horrible team. Will they be the diffrence? Absolutely not. But the team will be improved for next year.

3rd: Seattle Seahawks - See previous blog for more details. Suffice it to say that they did a decent job with what they had, but there was nothing to set it above the Cards or Niners.

4th: St. Louis Rams - Tory Holt was a terrific analyst at the draft, and he was on the ball when he said that the Rams needed a safety. Their pass defense was atrocious, and it still will be. Alex Barron is a big question mark. The last thing the Rams needed was a talented kid who's head might not be in the right place. Same with 3rd rounder Richie Incognito. Some analysts really like this draft, but I find nothing there to make it stand out. Sure, it might help their overall depth, but I don't find them any stronger after the players that are now joining them.

Gavin: My ranking is slightly different from Colin's...

1st: Arizona Cardinals - Antrel Rolle will be a stud. If they had real help for him I would like this team even more. Eric Green, the corner they selected with their third round pick, has serious size issues and is projected to not even be able to muscle Bobby Engram. However, Antrel Rolle might give even Terrell Owens some shoves. Any West Coast fan has to cheer for JJ Arrington. The guy led the country in rushing... doesn't that count for anything? The Cardinals didn't have many holes, and they filled the ones they did with excellent prospects. Very few question mark picks. I don't feel that the later rounds helped them out much, but the stuff they did on the first day was exactly what they needed.

2nd: Seattle Seahawks - This is more because of my dislike of San Francisco's draft than our strength. But as listed below, I have our draft as a solid "B" due to its strength at every selection. If you took away the numbers from our players you would have eight players capable of making and contributing to our roster and two possible Pro-Bowl players in Spencer and Tatupu, not to mention the makings of an amazing offensive line. Not as bad as how some projected us (although I can't really argue with a C).

3rd: San Francisco 49ers - Do I think Alex Smith is a good quarterback? Yes. Do I think he's worth the investment that the 49ers will be making in him? Absolutely not. Last year this QB would have been a second round pick. So would Aaron Rodgers. They had the luxury of being the best quarterbacks in a weak year. And still the Niners took him. There were better players on the board (Braylon Edwards) and needs at every position (RB, WR). So I rate them down because of the mediocrity of this pick. However, David Baas was a tremendous pick at round two (but Chris Spencer was rated higher) and Frank Gore a decent pick in round three (one of the few RBs that we wanted for Seattle). Still, who will have an impact for San Fran next year? My guess is that Tim Rattay will outperform Smith in training camp, same with Kevan Barlow and Gore. The 49ers also desperately needed defensive help and didn't really address any of those issues.

4th: St Louis Rams - Mike Martz must feel that he's better able to handle offensive tackles with attitude issues than he was with Kyle Turley. He drafted two with good potential but poor attitudes. This led me to think... has there been a Pro-Bowl offensive tackle who had attitude problems outside of Turley? None that I can think of... doesn't say much for the chances of Alex Barron or Richie Incognito. The cornerback prospect struggled at the Senior Bowl and there were better corners still on the board. The best pick was the safety from Stanford. I like him quite a bit. Still, not much of a draft for the Rams. Didn't really address any of their needs.

posted by colin_hesse @ 4:52 PM  0 comments

Seahawks Draft Grades

1st Round: Chris Spencer, C

Colin: I actually like this pick more and more as I read more about Spencer and what else was available at this point in the draft. Ruskell did try to trade up to get a David Pollack and Erasmus James, but nothing happened, and at that point he saw a Pro-Bowl caliber player on the board, someone who can anchor the middle of our offensive line for years to come, and made the call. Spencer plays tough, dirty, and has already drawn several connections to Pro-Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson, one of my favorite Hawks. Can you imagine a D-Line seeing Spencer, Hutchinson, and Walter Jones steamrolling right at them? Our running game will thank Ruskell for this selection.

Gavin: This pick has been growing on me as well. Definitely not a 2005 pick, but a great 2006 pick. Robbie Tobeck has one, maybe two years left. A big time center is necessary for an offensive line (see Kevin Mawae) and are hard to come by. I'm even going to go one further and say that a line next year of Walter Jones, Steve Hutchinson, Chris Spencer, Pork Chop Womack, and Ray Willis (last two could be switched) would be the best line in the history of the Seahawks. I get shivers just thinking about the potential there. Basically we would have been holding our breath on Tobeck not getting injured. Now we don't. Colin is correct, according to every team who is smarter than me, Dan Cody and Matt Roth were rated far down the boards. We were getting "second round" talent either way. At least this way we were more confident in the final product and still filled a need.

2nd Round: Lofa Tatupu, ILB

Colin: Another pick that I have grown to appreciate as I get to know Tatupu and the Hawks' reasoning with this pick. The ESPN guys immediately linked Tatupu to the Miami Dolphins Pro-Bowl linebacker Zach Thomas. I can see the comparison. An undersized middle linebacker who plays bigger than he is, is extremely intelligent, and plays hard every down with a large amount of intensity. This was Ray Rhodes' pick, and if Ray Rhodes sees something there, I am willing to trust him, especially with who else was left on the board at this point. This is a common theme: there were not a ton of difference-makers in this draft. Not a lot of teams really improved themselves, even on paper. I like this pick.

Gavin: I have to say that the moment the ESPN guys mentioned Zach Thomas I was happier with this pick. He is one of my favorite linebackers, outside of Ray Lewis and Lavar Arrington. This was the second of the telling criteria in a Tim Ruskell selection... intelligence and performance. Ruskell doesn't care about the measurables as much as these. To this I say a large, hurrah! The Patriots linebacking core is the smartest in the league. We want to play zone defense, which requires smart linebackers with excellent intuition. Last year we got schooled across the middle. Hopefully Tatupu can address that... but he still has to convince me that he can stop the run up the middle. I trust Ray Rhodes, though, and he desperately wanted this man.

3rd Round: David Greene, QB

Colin: I'm not sure that Greene was worth a 3rd rounder. Yes, he won a lot of games at the college level, but I never really saw him win many games with his arm. Mostly I saw a team that won based on defense and a good running game, like all SEC teams. LeFors and Orton both went in the 4th round, which is where I would think that Greene belonged. However, I like the pick from a needs standpoint. He will fit right in as a backup QB that could easily step into a game or two as required.

Gavin: This is my pick as the worst by the Seahawks. This is where they should have taken a defensive end. We could have picked up several QBs in later rounds, including Stefan Lefors from Louisville, who would have done the trick as well as Greene. I feel that we reached... this is only an OK quarterback.

3rd Round: Leroy Hill, OLB

Colin: Well, he has an ACC defensive player of the year on his resume. No one really has much to say about this guy, and I don't see him beating out DD Lewis or Jamie Sharper. I guess he adds depth, but I would have wanted more from a 3rd round pick. My worst pick of the 1st day.

Gavin: I'm a little nicer on this one, but not by much. Again, we needed a defensive end. There were decent d-ends still left. End of story. I suppose this is built out of how weak our linebacking core was last year. The reviews I've read on him continue the theme of intelligence. He actually reads like a smarter Anthony Simmons... if only it were true.

4th Round: Ray Willis, OT

Colin: And my favorite pick of the 2nd day. Another mean, tough offensive lineman. Our O-line is in good shape for years to come, and I think that teams such as the Broncos and the Packers have shown us just how important a great offensive line is to a team. I expect him to get some snaps as a rookie, and will press Womack for playing time. Actually, one scenario will be Chris Gray getting knocked out, Womack playing RG, and Willis playing RT. Hmmmm.

Gavin: I think Willis actually projects to guard, as he has quickness issues. Either way, this was a fantastic pick. We have as much depth at the line as in the history of our franchise, because we can't forget our draft last year and that tackle they like who would have replaced Womack. Read the book on Willis, and he again is smart and mean on the field. We've drafted enough knuckleheads in Jerramy Stevens and Koren Robinson that it's great to hear about the opposite.

5th Round: Jeff Huckeba, DE

Colin: Well, he is a defensive end, I guess. Not much to say about this tweener, besides the simple fact that he will need to develop bulk and come through more in the pro's then he did at the college level. Ruskell must have seen something in him that I did not, or else this was the token DE pick just to satisfy the media and the fan base that was clamoring for help at that position. He can't be any worse than Anton Palepoi.

Gavin: Well, Huckeba had better be a great special-teamer, because I'm ticked they didn't draft Bill Swancutt from Oregon St with this pick. He would have been a steal (and was for Detroit). Again, Huckeba is a smart player who plays above his ability.

6th Round: Tony Jackson, FB

Colin: The departure of Heath Evans opened this pick up. Jackson can also play a key role on special teams, an area of the team that really suffered last year for some odd reason. He is a wedge buster, which should help us stuff opposing return teams.

Gavin: The final rounds had the Hawks focus on improving their woeful special teams. I actually love this pick. We picked someone to be a wedge buster. That's a smart draft. Perhaps he can also spell Mack Strong effectively, which Heath Evans couldn't do.

7th Round: Cornelius Wortham, LB

Colin: Another high-energy guy that could see some time immediately on special teams. Not much more besides that.

Gavin: High-energy and smart... will only ever see time on special teams if he makes the squad.

7th Round: Doug Nienhuis, OT

Colin: And another interesting offensive line pick that could really pick us up if injuries demolish us as they are wont to do every now and then. A solid 7th rounder for sure.

Gavin: Interesting how many people called him a steal when he was the second-to-last pick in the draft. Adds to the line depth that I've raved about earlier.

Overall Grade:

Colin: I have grown to like this draft more and more as the days have gone by. I will go so far as to rate it a B-. There are not a lot of impact players, but the play of Tatupu and Spencer will go far to determine how this draft is viewed in the rearview mirror. The only pick that I really did not like was Leroy Hill, but he might surprise me.

Gavin: I'm going to shock myself and give this draft a "B". Obviously it was not good enough to warrant anything higher, as we didn't get anyone who would make a significant impact next year. However, we did accomplish a few goals...
1. Offensive Line Depth - Bam
2. Backup Quarterback - Disagree with the selection, but still
3. Linebacker Depth - Tatupu could make this draft an "A" in hindsight
4. Special Teams Play - Can we please have teams start drives before their thirty?
We did not get the gamebreaker defensive end, but it is important to not that there was NO defensive end that didn't have huge question marks. Terrell Suggs would have been drafted before all these guys, Spears, Pollack, James. There didn't look to be a 10 sack guy among them. We can still wait for possible cuts including Simeon Rice by June 1.
We also did not get the stud middle linebacker. However, there were no stud middle linebackers. I wanted Crowder. We could have had Crowder. However, I'll give Ruskell the benefit of the doubt and hope that Tatupu outperforms the Florida guy. For all this, a B seems fitting.

posted by colin_hesse @ 4:34 PM  0 comments

SPU player has chance to make Storm

Amy Taylor, who singlehandedly cost the Falcons their chance at the NCAA Division II title, has been invited to Storm camp to try and make the team. It is a longshot, and even though she did blow that championship game, she is a Falcon, and I will root for her to come through. Go Falcons! Maybe I'd actually pay attention to what the Storm do.

posted by Gavin @ 3:40 PM  0 comments

More M's Found with Steroid Probe

Outfielder Jamal Strong became the fourth major leaguer tested and suspended under the new performance enhancing drug policy. Strong, like Alex Sanchez, is a weak hitting speedster. He has one home run in Tacoma. Not impressive... not impressive at all. Could this policy actually suspend someone we care about? Someone who hit 30 home runs or won 20 games? Is that too much to ask for?

posted by Gavin @ 3:38 PM  0 comments

The Early Struggles of Sexson.... and Beltre

The PI has an interesting article on the travails of Sexson at the plate. I have to admit, I am a little tired of seeing him strike out, but I really believe in both him and Beltre.

Take Beltre, especially. His average is terrible and he only has one home-run. Then why do I enjoy watching him at the plate? Because I see a good, good hitter up there. Someone who does what is necessary for the team, whether that is a sac-fly or a ground ball the other way. His power numbers will come. Heck, he should have had a few more home-runs that he has gotten robbed. Remember the ball he hit against Paul Byrd in Anaheim? He crushed that ball, and I still have no clue how it didn't leave the park.

Sexson and Beltre will be fine. I still give them some weeks, or even a few months, to get the AL kinks worked out, and I'll be happy with their successes.

As for Randy Winn...

Gavin: I agree with Colin, Sexson's bat will turn around. He still projects to have 35 home runs and 136 RBI. Not too shabby. Beltre exudes confidence at the plate. He gets jammed too much inside, but shows decent contact and doesn't strike out with men on base. These slumps happen. We all shouldn't start freaking out quite yet.

posted by colin_hesse @ 12:08 PM  0 comments

Smart Move by a Smart Player

Brandon Roy is staying at UW for his senior year. Well, good. At least there is one individual who knows that he has some work to do to improve his draft status. This is a big up for the Dawgs, who have lost Nate Robinson, basically have lost Martell Webster, and even saw Ken Bone bolt to coach the powerhouse that is.... Portland State. To which I say, "Portland State? Why on Earth did you not stay at Seattle Pacific if you wanted to still be a head coach?" However, Roy staying means that we have a bona-fide leader on this team. This is his team, no question about it. If we need a clutch basket, there is no decision about, "Well, I guess this is Robinson's turn... no, wait, maybe Simmons...." Just put the darn ball in Roy's hands, and let him work. The way he was playing at the end of the season was tremendous.

I like our chances in the Pac-10 now that he's back. I see a lineup comprised of that new point guard (I forget his name), Roy, Jones, Brockman, and Williams. Not too shabby.

Gavin: He probably was reading our blog to help him make the decision. Nate Robinson had nothing more to prove. Roy has everything to prove. It's the difference between millions of dollars and a guaranteed contract and nothing. Obviously it makes all the difference in the world to the UW basketball program as well. Contrary to popular belief, we are not going to be trashed next season. Simmons wasn't a key factor the second half of the year, Robinson was too streaky, we never had Martell Webster, but we do lose Conroy (but gain Ryan Appleby). We will rock the Pac-10 next year.

posted by colin_hesse @ 12:03 PM  0 comments

Monday, April 25, 2005

Seahawks Draft Thoughts From Around the Country

Before Colin and I throw out our draft grades I thought I'd compile a potpourri of draft articles that include thoughts on the Seahawks...

First up comes a humorous draftblog article from Skip Bayless. I don't necessarily agree with all of his thoughts, but he actually gave the Seahawks props for selecting Chris Spencer. Skip appeared to like Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Washington, Dallas, and Detroit.

Next up comes Mel Kiper Jr with his draft grades. Seattle gets a B, which is interesting considering that he rips them for the paragraph following. That B is one of only thirteen teams to get above a C plus. I guess I didn't think our draft was that stellar, but grading is enough of a stretch regardless. He gives A's to Arizona, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Dallas. I disagree with a couple of those selections as well.

Len Pasquarelli was far more critical of Seattle, essentially stating that if we couldn't start drafting better that Arizona was going to overtake us. I already thought Arizona might overtake us simply through their free agent acquisitions and don't think the draft changed my mind either way. He also liked Minnesota and Baltimore.

Pete Prisco at cbssportsline.com came in with his grades and the Hawks nabbed a C, even though he was a big fan of the Tatupu pick and the Willis pick. Frankly, it looked like he and Kiper should have switched their grades. Prisco gives A's to San Francisco, San Diego, Oakland, Minnesota, Dallas, and Cincinatti. In the NL West, he liked Arizona and St Louis, which I disagree with. Overall, I disagree more with Prisco than with Kiper.

Sports Illustrated has a "Top 10 Draft Surprises" list which includes Chris Spencer. Spencer was a surprise, but not as big a one as Clarett or Rodgers. Don't like seeing him included.

In the final national article, Don Banks from SI has a winners/losers list. Winners are Arizona and Minnesota. Losers don't include Seattle, which is nice.

Now to the hometown articles... we'll start off with an article from Clare Farnsworth on how Chris Spencer and Ray Willis are "nasty". I'd prefer "smart" and "effective". Frankly, this is a fluff article that reads poorly. I don't recommend it. Farnsworth's done better.

The Seattle Times did a "why did we draft no names" approach to their review and got some okay quotes from Ruskell but very little in the way of analysis. Disappointing as well.

Best article, hands down, comes from Farnsworth. It's a question and answer article that gives me some more hope about our draft and Ruskell. Highly recommend reading the darn thing.

Colin and I will be doing our own draft analysis appoximately whenever we have time.

posted by Gavin @ 3:53 PM  0 comments

Sunday, April 24, 2005

MLB Weekly Thoughts

1. The St. Louis Cardinals are a darn good team and are about to pull away in the NL Central again. They have three legitimate aces in Matt Morris, Mark Mulder, and Chris Carpenter. Any team that makes the World Series other than them wil be a minor upset.

2. Commentators are starting to figure out that Oakland has no offense. This is not a surprise. They should have asked Colin and I. They will have a few long losing streaks because of that, and many 2-1 losses.

3. The NL East is ripe for the taking. Atlanta is starting to finally show the wear of losing so much offense every year, John Smoltz is losing all these 1-0 games. Washington is my sleeper choice. Having an actual home is going to be huge psychologically for them.

4. The Chicago White Sox are not as good as their record indicates. They are a ridiculous 9-1 in one-run games. This will not continue. Their offense is not good enough. Carl Everett cannot be the number three hitter on a first place team. Their bullpen is not solid enough to maintain the pace. Look for them to hit the skids within the next month and come back to Earth.

5. Ditto for the LA Dodgers. LA's pitching has been unreal, but their hitting is poor enough that the wins will not keep coming at the same rate.

6. Pitching across the league is improved... or steroid use is down. Take your pick. I just can't believe how many quality starters these teams are facing day in and day out. The Mariners haven't faced a scrub starter in forever. It just makes for entertaining baseball and will keep more teams in the hunt for playoff spots.

7. The Yankees are not as bad as their record indicates, but aren't that great either. When you overspend on career-year pitching you open yourself up for exactly what's happened. Knee jerk reaction spending and a high team ERA. Jaret Wright and Carl Pavano are struggling with the move to New York. Randy Johnson will be inconsistent... he's 42. Mike Mussina looks worse each and every year. Tom Gordon is struggling. Rivera's blown two saves. This pitching, coupled with an aging lineup will keep the Yankees close to earth.

Again, I'm really enjoying this season so far. The storylines are entertaining and the parity is fun. Keep on paying attention!

posted by Gavin @ 6:13 PM  0 comments

M's Weekly Thoughts

The M's scuffled a bit offensively this past week against Rich Harden and CC Sabathia. However, there are some misleading thoughts that could occur about us being weak like last year. These are bad. The truth is...

1. We got opportunities to score against good pitching.
2. We hit the ball hard during those opportunites.
3. Those balls were hit right at outfielders.

I judge that we lost five-ten runs this past week along on that type of luck. We really seem to be a pretty unlucky team so far this year. Hopefully that turns around. Other thoughts...

1. Aaron Sele is Aaron Sele, which is why I hope Felix is up soon.
2. Gil Meche needs to figure it out and avoid the one inning. He's a 20 game winner if he starts to avoid that one inning with the way he's been pitching.
3. Our bullpen is going to be one of the best in the league, centered around Villone and Guardado.
4. Beltre and Sexson are definitely having adjustment issues. We need them to start hitting consistently.
5. Where's the power? Still aren't hitting any home runs...
6. Jeremy Reed is starting to turn it on. Look for the top of our order to start imposing itself.
7. Our bench continues to suck. We need some consistent production (although we should tip our hat to Greg Dobbs).
8. Randy Winn is not who we want up with men in scoring position. He is awful this year in that spot.
9. Mike Hargrove has made fewer boneheaded moves recently.
10. Joel Piniero is not yet comfortable. We need our ace.

Not a great week... need this one to turn around.

posted by Gavin @ 6:06 PM  0 comments

M's 9, Indians 1

This was my inaugural game for the year at Safeco field, and I think it was the hottest game I've been to there. We were roasting in center field. Only a few drunk people around us, especially the idiots trying to start the wave with two outs in the ninth inning. Other favorite moment in the first inning, two outs and Coco Crisp at second base. Fan behind us in a really high pitched voice yells out, "Two Outs! Play's at first!" This is where Jeremy Reed should have turned around and said something like, "No sh*t, Sherlock."

Thoughts... the M's used the big inning yet again, showed some good patience, and had just enough clutch hitting to get those nine runs. The story of the game was Jaime Moyer. The crafty lefty looked as good as I've ever seen him, hitting the corners, and getting ground ball outs. This is important. The last year or so Moyer had been giving up too many fly balls, which meant that his change wasn't sinking enough. Today it most definitely was.

The defense was actually solid today. Great plays by Adrian Beltre and of course the play of the week from Jeremy Reed. That was an insane diving catch right in front of where we were sitting. We even turned a double play today... one of the first I've seen all year.

Kudos to Miguel Olivo. He's been making a lot better contact the past few games, but hitting it right at people. Today the ball fell in the gaps and he showed the double power which is why we like him better than Dan Wilson. Hopefully he can keep it going. The bases clearing double in the sixth sealed the game.

All in all the game illustrated why I am more optimistic about this season, better pitching and hitting getting us the salvage win of the series.

posted by Gavin @ 5:57 PM  0 comments

Series Preview: at Texas Rangers

Well, coming off of this atrocious hitting series, the M's bats get a present with a 3 game series against the Texas Rangers. Can the M's get back to the .500 mark? Let's look at the matchups...

Tuesday: Piniero vs. Drese

Drese has had a tough start to the season, but should be good for a quality start. This is the start for Piniero to show that he is the M's ace this season. Is he up to the task? I will go out on a limb and say yes. Put up a W for the M's, though there is a large possibility that the Rangers will hit a few out this night. Heck, there's a chance they will hit a few out every night.

Wednesday: Franklin vs. Rogers

Case in point. Franklin against the best home-run hitting team in the majors.... at a stadium where the ball just flies out. This should be an easy game for me to call. However, the optimist in me wins out over the realist in me. I believe that the M's offense will actually pick Franklin up so that the 2 home-runs he does give up (resulting in 3 runs, by the way) won't be the difference.

Thursday: Meche vs. Young

A loss. That's all I need to say. Young is pitching better recently, and Meche's confidence is still off. Him against the Rangers pressing to avoid the sweep will be horrible. I predict an absolute whupping this night.

Well, I'm actually glad that we don't have to face Park or Astacio, because they have been pitching the M's tough recently. These predictions depend on the M's offense waking up a little, but they might, if today's game is any indication. Well, here's hoping!

Predictions so far: 10-3
M's record during this time: 7-6

posted by colin_hesse @ 4:35 PM  0 comments

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Seahawks Day 1 Draft Grade

Overall, looks like a solid C. Nothing special about this class, no difference makes, no one that will really make you stand up and take notice. Gavin and I will blog more on this later.

By the way, why the h-e-double hockey sticks does Denver take Maurice Clarett in the third round? What on earth is Mike Shanahan smoking these days? Is he really having a "Rocky Mountain High"?

posted by colin_hesse @ 10:29 PM  0 comments

Sonics vs. Kings, Game 1

Over 78% of teams who win Game 1 end up winning the series. That is how important this game is. Of course, throw in home court advantage and our playoff newbies, and this game grows in importance. Also throw in how terribly the M's are playing, and this game grows even MORE in importance for me having something to appreciate about today.

End of 1st quarter: Sonics 30, Kings 22

Well, the optimist in me is glad that our shooters and offensive rebounders came to play. Jerome James had a usual up-and-down quarter, but you can tell that if he decides to play like a beast, Sacramento has no answer. Ray Allen is playing well, and it was good to see Radmanovic, even with that hairstyle. I'm sorry, but white men do not belong with, well, I think those are supposed to be dreads. I've been racking my brain to come up with who he looks like. I have no idea.

The pessimist in me wonders what will happen when Bibby wakes up and our boost from the crowd begins to wear down. Miller is back, which does mean that the Kings' offense will run smoother. But, at the end of the day, we're up by 8, and I can't complain too much about that. Well, I can complain about our defensive rebounding. Step it up there, guys.

Halftime: Sonics 55, Kings 40

Matt Hasselback is watching the game. I like that, like our football star watching our bball guys in the playoffs. But then, I already liked Hasselback a ton.

Ray Allen has 19 points, Rashard Lewis has 10 (with 3 fouls), Daniels has 10, and James has 9. Excellent work with four players almost in double digits at the half. Our offense looks terrific. It has that free-flowing play that works around the edges, Daniels and Ridnour are cutting to the hold and finding open shooters. Everything looks terrific on that side of the court.

As for the defensive end, we still need to step it up on getting to the defensive glass. We are making the Kings shoot jump shots, and they are missing (Bibby 0-9, 1 pt, Mobley 3-9, 6 pts). Stojakovic is the only King to step up, and even he was starting to miss at the end of the half.

The run started in the second quarter with the flagrant foul called on Songaila. That WAS a flagrant foul, good call by the refs gathering together and issuing the call. Keys to the second half: Keep getting the offensive rebound, start getting the defensive rebounds, keep the offense flowing... just keep playing the way you are playing. Here we go!

End of the 3rd quarter: Sonics 70, Kings 64

The Sonics shot 6-25 this quarter. That's horrible, and let the Kings back in this game after being done 21. Of course, the Kings are making everything in sight, so that doesn't help. Ray Allen needs to step up, because he has been missing several open shots. Jerome James and Rashard Lewis were the only two players to want it. Heck, Ostertag was outhustling Collison and Fortson. Fricking Greg Ostertag!! We know what we need to do, now we just need to go out and do it, or else we will have lost a game we should have won.

Final score: Sonics 87, Kings 82

That was not our best second half of all time. We only scored 32 points, and we were the ones settling for off-balance jump-shots and missing easy lay-ups. It was nuts! Sacramento is not that good a defensive team. I know that's hard to believe, but it's true. It's also true that Greg Ostertag should not be a difference maker. He was. That's terrible. We did step it up defensively in the 4th quarter, and that helped stymie the Kings.

Mike Bibby - thank you for giving us Game 1. Your atrocious shooting, in the end, was the difference.

Things to bring out of this game:

- Defensive rebounding for both teams was a joke. It will be interesting to see how this goes.

- Keep feeding Rashard Lewis the basketball. Sacramento has no answer for Rashard.

- Ridnour and Collison need to gain some confidence. Both had sub-par games. We need more out of them, plus....

- Radmanovic and Fortson also had horrible games. Radmanovic I can understand, what with him coming off of an injury, but Fortson didn't seem to have any fire in his belly. Where was his patented intensity?

- Why on earth is Game 3 next Friday? Who schedules these playoffs? This is an absolute joke.

posted by colin_hesse @ 10:27 PM  0 comments

NFL Draft - First Round End

1:16: I had this one off by one pick as Jacksonville selects Matt Jones, WR, Arkansas. This converted quarterback just oozes potential, and although I personally would have gone with Mark Clayton, he has the ability to be a gamebreaker. Again, this is a condemnation of the poor work of Reggie Williams. If Williams comes around, the offense will be much improved. Next up Baltimore, who should take around one minute to select Clayton or Aaron Rodgers (although since they have a Tedford project already they may hesitate on Rodgers and take Jason Campbell instead?).

1:19: (Colin) I love this pick. This guy is a difference-maker, who will pose HUGE problems for defenses. He can rule over linebackers or cornerbacks. This is one of my favorite picks so far. Good job, Jacksonvillie. By the way, this is the Hawks Week 1 opponent.

1:24: Baltimore did pick quickly after all and went for Mark Clayton, WR, Oklahoma. What a steal at this pick. They absolutely needed a wide receiver after missing out on Terrell Owens last year. One of those pathetic offensive teams who didn't draft defense! What a perfect pick... last year for Kyle Boller to show anything, but a healthy Todd Heap will help as well. We're up next! Dan Cody and Channing Crowder still available. I think we'll take Cody.

1:28 (Colin) Well, the Hawks trade down to #26 with Oakland. No word on what else we got in that trade. I guess that they must not be worried about Cody being taken by Oakland, Green Bay, or Washington. I'm a little uneasy about this, but we'll see how it works out. I think that it is safe to say that Ruskell is not too worried about needing to fill a glaring weakness. He must be in "take a nice player at some point" mode. Update: The Hawks got a 4th round pick this year from Oakland. Now we have oodles of picks. Did we really need another one?

1:32: Obviously Oakland knew who they wanted when they traded with us, so they select Fabian Washington, CB, Nebraska. Not sure who they were worried about getting this. Maybe Green Bay. Of course, neither of those teams are looking D-end also. Good pick for Oakland, didn't give up anything for it. Lower quality cornerback than the others, not as good as Buchanon, but the best corner available. I thought Oakland needed a running back more, a JJ Arrington... maybe a defensive tackle...
Next up now is Green Bay, who need a backup to Brett Favre. What a perfect situation for Jason Campbell or Aaron Rodgers. Look for both quarterbacks to be taken back-to-back.

1:43: Good to see Aaron Rodgers on the phone for the past few minutes... Green Bay makes the right choice, Rodgers, QB, California. Green Bay gets the successor to Brett Favre as the absolute STEAL of the draft. What luck for the Packers... without a poor season you get that type of talent to replace your All-Pro QB. This will be seen in the future as the best pick of the 2005 draft, hands down. Congratulations Mike Sherman and Ted Thompson for not getting a worse defensive player and cementing the future of the franchise. Next up Washington, and hopefully an offensive player like Jason Campbell.

1:46: (Colin) Great, absolutely great pick by the Packers. I was vehemently disagreeing with Randy Mueller (which I almost never do) as he was saying the Pack should stick with a defensive pick. Favre almost retired after last season, and now, finally, the Packers have the heir apparent, who will be able to have a year or two on the bench learning the system before being able to step in. If I'm a Packers fan, this is a terrific pick, maybe not for this year, but for the future of the franchise.

1:56: Washington is finally ready to pick, and select Jason Campbell, QB, Auburn. Hey, I was right. This was a good pick for Washington at this point. I still think they could have used a playmaker at wide receiver instead of the defensive player earlier, but they must feel that the skill players they have are acceptable. This is an upgrade on Patrick Ramsey and Mark Brunell... will he start next year? Now we are on the clock again! Dan Cody still available...

2:06: Each section on ESPN last around five minutes, followed by three minutes of commercials. They actually could spend some time doing analysis on teams and players. Good thing I can switch between this and Detroit-Philly.

2:09: The Hawks have used much of their time to select and they finally start doing some analysis and talk about Roddy White, who is a wide receiver... do they see that we just signed Jerome Pathon? Torry Holt called us out on mental toughness, which is most definitely the case last season. That was absolutely godawful analysis. The pick is in, and we select Chris Spencer, C, Ole Miss. So... do we want defensive help? I guess we went with the best available center instead of anybody on the defensive board. This is just a little odd for me.

2:13: (Colin) Why in the world would we have taken Roddy White? What? What? I am... well... ok with this pick. More of a C+, maybe B- pick to me. I would have given Dan Cody a solid B grade, but I can understand the thinking. We do not have any center depth, and Tobeck is not getting any younger. If this kid improves, it might turn out to be a solid pick. I guess I have to put my trust in Ruskell on this one.

2:18: Next up is Atlanta and the rest of the deep playoff teams. None of these teams have serious needs, but Atlanta could use some wide receiver help and with Roddy White still on the board should lean that way.

2:24: Atlanta select Roddy White, WR, UAB. Perfect pick for them and should be excited to have him fall into their laps. Michael Vick and Alge Crumpler have to be pleased to have some real offensive support in the passing attack. San Diego has another pick now, and I think Khalif Barnes might be their choice for offensive line depth. Solid talent still available and you can never have enough talent at offensive line.

2:32: This is about to set a record for the longest first round in NFL history. I'm pretty sure this is all about how close the talent is, there have been very few easy decisions. That's why so many teams have used the entire fifteen minutes allotted. It makes this whole liveblog thing a little dull, but bearable. I have some Coke with Lime and am ready for more.

2:35: The Chargers are ready to pick, and select with pick 28 Luis Castillo, DT, Northwestern, who sent a letter to the teams admitting steroid use. Interesting pick. If the player is better than the drugs, he will be an excellent addition. I still think an OL or WR would have been a better call for them. If he wanted a DT, I would have had Mike Patterson from USC higher.
Next up is Indianapolis who probably will take a QB... or not. They sure need defense, my guess is the corner still out there, Marlin Jackson from Michigan.

2:41: Indianapolis selects Marlin Jackson, CB, Michigan. Whenever I'm right I call it a solid pick. Great selection for them to drop all the way to 29. Jackson's a solid corner who also played safety. Best defensive player left and that's what Indianapolis needed as they try to actually stop New England and Tom Brady every once in a while. Pittsburgh is on the clock and should quickly select Heath Miller, the TE from Virginia. Best player left, and Roethlisberger needs the big across the middle threat.

2:44: I was right in that Pittsburgh was fast in coming in with their pick, and here it comes... Heath Miller, TE, Virginia. What a fantastic pick for Pittsburgh. Perfect fit for their biggest need. They have to have that type of tight end for their offense, and they were exposed in the playoffs as an outside WR passing offense. This will help Hines Ward stretch the field. Still need another big WR target, but this is a great pick. Now on to Philly and probably Dan Cody to replace Derrick Burgess. Also a running back like JJ Arrington (like in my mock draft) could help lighten the load for Brian Westbrook.

2:49: Philly is also fast coming with their pick, and select Mike Patterson, DT, USC. They needed some line help, and this is a pretty good pick. The Eagles don't have glaring needs, and this gives Patterson some time to develop. He'll help plug the line and allow for the type of blitzing Jim Johnson loves. When you are coming to the end here with teams without huge holes, there is no such thing as a reach. Final pick coming up here for New England. I would guess they go with a cornerback or safety here.

3:00: 6 hours in, the first round finally comes to an end with the Patriots selecting Logan Mankins, OG, Fresno State. This is probably to replace Joe Andruzzi. I guess when you are a dynasty you can select anyone you want. Still, I think they needed cornerback help, so Earth, Wind, Fire and wide receivers aren't your starters.

Well that's it! Read through all this at your own peril. Colin and I will have more analysis in the next couple of days.

posted by Gavin @ 3:03 PM  0 comments

 


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