Wednesday, January 30

Santana to Mets?

It's unclear to me if the Twins decided that they had to get Johan Santana out of the AL, or if the Red Sox and Yankees had gotten fed up with the process and decided to either keep their young talent or replace the frontline members of the trade with other prospects, but the players the Twins are getting from the Mets (Carlos Gomez, Deolis Guerra, Philip Humber and Kevin Mulvey) are just not good enough for a pitcher of Santana's caliber, i.e. the best pitcher in baseball at this point. As Jim Callis, editor of Baseball America, states in this post, "Guerra and Gomez come with high ceilings but also lack a lot of polish and have a long ways to go to reach their potential. The odds that they both will do so are slim." He also projects the two other pitchers as #4 starters on a major league team.

Baseball Prospectus projects Santana as a Met to finish the year with a 2.94 ERA and 239 strikeouts. For reference, Jake Peavy led the majors in strikeouts in 2007 with 240. Scott Kazmir led the AL with 239. Only Peavy would have had a lower ERA in 2007, finishing with a 2.54 mark. This immediately gives credence to a Mets rotation which now includes Santana, Pedro Martinez, John Maine, Orlando Hernandez, and Oliver Perez. The Mets are hoping that Maine, Hernandez, and Perez can all provide the types of performances they gave the Mets last season, but there is cause for concern for all three. Maine will be entering his second full season as a frontline starter, giving opponents a better chance to look at him, and Hernandez and Perez are known more for their inconsistency from year to year than their effectiveness. Nonetheless, combined with the punch that the New York offense provides, the Mets have made themselves the favorites of the NL East with this trade (regardless of what the Braves would have you believe - "Santana deal brings parity to NL East").

Edit: Ryan pointed me to this article by Aaron Gleeman, a writer for Rotoworld. In it he tempers the Twins hating, and provides some hope for Minnesota fans in addition to attempting to rationalize Bill Smith's decision.

Monday, January 28

Top 25 - January 28

Here's this week's Top 25, compiled by averaging the rank of the top 46 teams listed by the AP Poll (46 teams received votes this week), Kenpom, and RPI Forecast, then striking any that were not in the top 46 in another's ranking. This week's big loser was Ohio St., who is 21 in Kenpom and 22 in RPI Forecast, but did not receive a vote in this week's AP Poll, being leapfrogged somehow by teams such as Houston, Saint Joseph's, and VCU. The Buckeyes are 14-6, but their worst loss has been to...Butler, who clocks in at #20 in this week's Top 25. Nine teams were in all three lists, but failed to make the Top 25 this week.

1. Memphis
2. Kansas
3. North Carolina
4. Duke
6. Georgetown
7. Tennessee
8. Xavier
9. Washington St.
10. Wisconsin
11. Michigan St.
12. Indiana
13. Texas
14. Marquette
15. Drake
16. Stanford
17. Arizona
18. West Virginia
19. Kansas St.
20. Butler
21. Pittsburgh
22. Saint Mary's
23. Louisville
24. Connecticut
25. Mississippi

Just missed the cut: Mississippi St., Florida, Oklahoma, Clemson, USC, Texas A&M, Notre Dame, Baylor, Gonzaga

I considered using the BlogPoll this week, but decided against it because it comes out on Wednesdays, and the AP Poll comes out on Mondays. If you have another ranking system you'd like me to use, please comment and I'll try to include it in the future.

Monday, January 21

Top 25 for MLK Day

Okay folks, we're heading into the heart of conference play, and I've compiled a list of the consensus Top 25 teams according to Kenpom, the AP poll, and RPI Forecast, a site that looks at a team's current RPI, looks at the teams it has left to play, and calculates what it thinks will be the rank of everyone's RPIs at the end of the season. Nifty little tool, as it looks beyond wins and losses, but is a little closer to what the average Joe Sports Fan thinks of when he tries to rank teams. Since the AP poll only gave 43 teams votes this week (well, 45 teams, but the bottom three all tied at 43 with one vote), I gave Kenpom and RPI Forecast the chance to give their top 43 teams as well, and then struck any team that was not in all three ballots (if any team wasn't in another's top 43 teams in the country, it isn't deserving of discussion in a Top 25 conversation). 30 teams ended up in all three ballots, and here are the top 25 of those.

1. Kansas
2. Memphis
3. Duke
4. Tennessee
5. North Carolina
7. Washington St.
8. Georgetown
9. Wisconsin
10. Indiana
11. Michigan St.
12. Xavier
13. West Virginia
14. Marquette
15. Texas
16. Pittsburgh
17. Stanford
18. Drake
19. Texas A&M
20. Clemson
21. Mississippi
22. Kansas St.
23. Butler
24. Saint Mary's
25. Gonzaga

Just missed the cut:
Louisville, Oklahoma, Florida, Southern California, Mississippi St.

Championship Results

Alright folks, I hope we've all learned a lesson from this past weekend. Lucy, do we see what does trash talking gets us? Yep, a whole crap ton of bad kharma.

Ryan: 8 pts 1-1 (10, 5-5)
Cason: 4 pts 1-1 (8, 3-3)
John: 4 pts 1-1 (4, 4-6)
Lucy: -10 pts 0-2 (-6, 5-5)

That's the week's order (and also the order overall as well, it was moving day on the TFSB playoff pick 'em leaderboard), alright everyone, have your thinking caps on for the next two weeks, and be ready to make the big 10 point pick by February 3rd. Everyone is still in the race (ie within 20 points of each other).

Sunday, January 20

Championship Weeekend

Here are my picks for this weekend's action:
New England (9) over San Diego
Green Bay (1) over New York

Despiration time here at TFSB. This is the last oppurtunity to catch the guests, since I'm pretty sure New England will finish out the 19-0. I'm banking things will fall accoring to seed here, but the surprising Giants are who I fear if anyone, so if they can pull the upset I'll make up a little ground, and if not 10 pts!.

Cason's Picks are as follows:
New England (7) over San Diego
Green Bay (3) over NY

John's Championship Round Picks

New England over San Diego (7)

Green Bay over New York (3)

Upset Special: Billy Volek plays quarterback for at least half of the Chargers' snaps

Thursday, January 17

If Tomorrow were March...

Alright folks, we've finally gotten the college basketball season warmed up and a few games into conference play, so obviously its time to skip ahead and begin thinking about everyone's favorite month of the year, March! So, for the next few weeks, John and I will take a look at what the seeding would look like if we didn't have enough information on the teams to seed them properly, so, if we were trying to seed them in mid-January.

#1's - Kansas, UCLA, Memphis, UNC - This is in order of #1-#4 as well, with UNC getting the benefit of the doubt having not yet lost. Kansas has easily been the best team, UCLA has the most impressive wins against good opponents, and Memphis is yet to let anyone get near beating them.

#2's - Duke, Wash St, Georgetown, Tenessee - Duke is playing very good basketball right now (well, except for a certain someone), Wazzu is also playing extremely well (which just makes UCLA that much more impressive), Georgetown, though they haven't exactly proved much of anything, is still hanging around in the polls, we'll tag them the UNC of this grouping (and wait for the meat of the Big East schedule 1/19 ND, 1/26 @WVU, 2/9 @L'ville), and Tennessee seems to have the pollsters hearts as well, though they meet Vandy tonight so we get to see who's the top dog in the SEC.

#3's - West Virginia, Wisconsin, Indiana, Marquette - (This group appears to be where the stats and the voters diverge, we'll stick with the stats, thanks) West Virginia seems to not be garnering much national attention but I would easily rank them above the second half of the top 25 (though no voters seem to agree), Wisconsin is very good at the style of basketball they play (read: Big Ten style) and they're hard to beat when they execute, Indiana is something of a wild card, as they haven't had many oppurtunities to prove themselves, unfortunately we'll have to wait on February before the heavy lifting within the Big Ten schedule arrives, Marquette is another KenPom pal who will have to prove themselves in the coming days (@L'ville 1/17, @UConn 1/20), we'll have a much better idea of what they're capable of next week.

#4's - Xavier, Texas A&M, Clemson, Pitt - Now, rounding out the theoretical Sweet 16, Xavier, recently punished for their A10 blunder, as is Texas A&M, but their track records keep them in the conversation, Clemson seems to have righted the ship, but hanging with the Devils (@Duke 1/19) will be a big test, stay within 5 and they will seem to be the answer for the "who else is in the ACC" question being bandied about, lastly Pitt is here on good faith, they're holding up well without Fields and Cook, but I don't feel like they can play that way for long.

Who's knocking and what they can do to come in - Michigan St - show that 36 pts was an abberation, Butler - we're going to need to see some 20 point Horizon victories, Louisville - beat Marquette tonight, Stanford - show you're the upper middle class of the Pac 10 (AZ 1/17, ASU 1/19 @Cal 1/26)

Wednesday, January 16

Divisional Pick 'em Wrap

Seems like Lucy wrapped this up for us:

Lucy: 4 pts 3-1 (4, 5-3)
Cason: 4 pts 2-2 (4, 2-2)
Ryan: 0 pts 2-2 (2, 4-4)
John: -2 pts 1-3 (0, 3-5)

Not sure how many of you remember, but last year, for the Championship weekend, we decided to allow each picker to allot 10 points to the 2 games (so that the same number of points are awarded this week as were in the first 2 rounds). For an example, last year I gave the Colts over the Pats 6 points and the Bears over the Saints 4. Neither number can be 0, and both integers have to sum to 10. Assign your points wisely.

Oh the games are San Diego @ New England (-14) and New York (N) @ Green Bay (-7). Also, hurry to place your bets on the Super Bowl now, AFC (-12.5) vs. NFC, 12.5 is as low as it will get (mark my words).

Saturday, January 12

Lucy's Divisional Round Picks

New England over Jacksonville (4)
Green Bay over Seattle (3)
Dallas over NY Giants (2)
Indianapolis over San Diego (1)

I noticed that we all have the same teams but thankfully a variety of ranking them as far as the points we assigned each. I could have put Dallas or Greenbay anywhere in the middle I guess when I'm just looking at the rank.

John's Divisional Round Picks

Little late getting these in; long night last night.

4. Colts over Bolts

3. Pats over Jags

2. 'Boys over 'Men

1. 'Hawks over Pack (go hot pants!)

Friday, January 11

Divisional Weekend

Sorry for the brevity here folks:

4Indianapolis - The Bolts are in trouble w/o Gates, they barely beat the injury-ravaged Colts playing in SD against bizzaro Peyton (6 picks)

3Green Bay - Just a step ahead of Seattle, and if Seattle's not at home, it ain't happening (something like 2-6 i think)

2New England - There is a shot, though an outside one, too bad Jax isn't playing Indy, b/c it'd likely make for a better game

1Dallas - Almost went with the upset, but I think the home/rested teams will carry the day

Here are Cason's picks for this week:

4 - New England over Jacksonville

3 - Green Bay over "We want the ball and we're gonna score!"

2 - Indianapolis over San Diego

1 - Dallas over NY
Cason: "I was originally going to pick New York here, but so many people have started calling this upset a sure thing that it makes me wonder. I'll be happy if Eli wins here but I'm leery of the Giants all of a sudden getting too much love. I think Dallas wins in a close one, with or without T.O."

Monday, January 7

Wild Card Wrap Up

We all had so-so weekends, I also like to re-extend the invite to Cason, thanks to our wonderful points system he can jump in now and (with some good picking) keep up, especially after our mediocre weekend.

Ryan: 2 pts, (2-2)
John: 2 pts, (2-2)
Lucy: 0 pts. (2-2)

So, Lucy looked a little too over-reliant the seeding and I should have gone with my gut, oh well, maybe next week. Speaking of: Jax@NE, SD@Ind, NYG@Dal, Sea@GB. And look later for John and my thought on the squeaker over Clemson.

Saturday, January 5

Lucy's Wild Card Weekend Picks

Anyways, down to business my mother's thoughts on Wild Card Weekend...
Seattle over Washington: No idea? She has no thoughts.
Jacksonville over Pittsburg: At first she told me that she thought that the Steelers could win this one since it was a home game but then she changed her mind, I think it was something that dad said that changes her mind, but the ol' man just likes to be difficult.
Tampa Bay over N.Y. Giants: The Giants arn't so hot, and the Buccaneers have a reputation for dominating thier home games.
San Diego over Tennessee: This is obvious because those Chargers are just fabulous. And I was just proud of myself for knowing that the little rainbowed lightening bolt was the logo for the Chargers which is the mascot for San Diego's team. Horay! I have learned something, but I'm not saying that I don't have to consult the team key I made myself the first week.

San Diego over Tennessee (4)
Tampa Bay over N.Y. Giants (3)
Pittsburg over Jacksonville (2)
Seattle over Washington (1)

Friday, January 4

Its Gonna be a Wild Weekend

Alright, picks picks picks! Here are my picks, sorry John and I don't differ any more than we do

4:San Diego over Tennessee - The easiest pick of the week, and hey, if its wrong we're all wrong
3:Tampa Bay over New York - For the record I came very close to flipping this one the other way, but the Bucs are reseted, and at home, and the Giants are on the road and beaten up after giving it their all last week against the Pats, and there aren't going to be 3 upsets this weekend, are there?
2:Jacksonville over Pittsburgh - It looks like the Steelers injury woes are getting worse, so I'll go with the Jags here, besides, the Jags won in Pittsburgh when the Steelers had Willie Parker
1:Washington over Seattle - This is my weakest upset pick, but I really can't pick a team that lost to the Panthers and played in the NFC West (who the Panthers swept this year)

Thursday, January 3

John's Wild Card Weekend Picks

San Diego over Tennessee (4)

Tampa Bay over New York (3)

There's no doubt at all in my mind that San Diego and Tampa Bay will be moving on after this weekend, so I'm going with the spread in my weights.

Jacksonville over Pittsburgh (2)

This one's a little murkier because Najeh Davenport is such a capable running back, and the Pittsburgh defense is awfully stiff, but I'm thinking the Jaguars will mainly use the run (Pittsburgh defends the run much better than the pass) to set up their air attack, and an efficient Garrard will persevere over a big game from Davenport.

Washington over Seattle (1)

Going with the mild upset here because even though War Eagle is sitting this one out, I like Todd Collins' big-play ability and efficiency, and at this point Clinton Portis is a much safer bet than Shaun "Lifeless Husk" Alexander. Neither defense is worth mentioning.

Final Regular Season Pick'em Tallies

John: 60-36, 20 Upset Points, 96 Total Points
Ryan: 57-39, 11 Upset Points, 81 Total Points

Good year in pick'em, Ryan could have made it interesting toward the end as he only ended up 15 points back, but seemed to fall off the wagon towards the end to the chagrin of our #1 pick'em fan, Lucy. A hearty congratulations to Lucy and Cason, who will be invited to pick the playoff games, and a big thank you to everyone else who put up with us and humored us by picking one or two weeks so Flippy didn't have to get out of bed.

Here are the lines (as of Thursday night) and the matchups for Wild Card Weekend:

Washington Redskins at (-3.5) Seattle Seahawks, Saturday
(-2.0) Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers, Saturday
New York Giants at (-3.0) Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday
Tennessee Titans at (-9.0) San Diego Chargers, Sunday

A reminder that two of those are on Saturday, so make sure to have your picks in by Saturday at noon if possible. Good luck!

Top Ten Teams (1-3)

Thought I'd pull my old college hoops rankings out, but instead of a Power 16, I'm just doing a Top 10, because after looking at the AP poll and ESPN's "expert" Power 16, they're basically the same list, with a team maybe moving up or down one spot. There's a pretty clear consensus on the top 10 teams in the country right now, though (with Kenpom's West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Xavier choices being dragged into the mud out of the top 10, and the writers' Tennessee choice being taken with them), so here's what we're left with:

1. Kansas
2. North Carolina
3. Memphis

5. Duke
6. Washington St.
7. Marquette
8. Georgetown

9. Michigan St.
10. Texas A&M

These are just the averages of the Kenpom, AP, and ESPN Power 16 polls, which is basically 1 Kenpom : 2 Everyone else. Nowhere is there more than a 2-spot change between the AP poll and the ESPN Power 16.

Extra! Extra!

Flippy pulls deadbeat Ryan out of jail, forced to make picks

Alright folks, here we go. For all intents and purposes here is my situation. I have 2 weeks to random flip, with one of those weeks having already blown one 5-point and one 6-point game. So I have a coin toss for 6, 5, 4, 4, 3, 3, 2, 2, 1, 1 games. I will use once to flip 10 1935 US Buffalo Nickels, heads will be right and tails will be wrong. I will then grab the image and post it at the bottom of this post. The coins will be (from left to right) assigned value respective to a random order determined also via

The image:

So, looks like I got 6 right, about on par with the usual Ryan performance, now the order:
1. 4
2. 1
3. 2
4. 2
5. 3
6. 1
7. 5
8. 3
9. 4
10. 6

So, the correct points: 1, 1, 5, 3, 6, 4 and the wrongs: 4, 2, 2, 3 (and 5 and 6). Should have used this system before I guess. So, thats a 6-4 record (6-6 counting the 2 actually picked wrong), and -2 overall points. So, I have ended up the year at 57-39, with 81 points (a marked improvement over last year's 33-47 mark). Here's to the playoffs everyone, picks in by Saturday at noon.