Monday, December 30, 2013

Final NFL Power Rankings: We were right - Part one

Final NFL Power Rankings: We were right - Part one
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (12-30-13)

The NFL season is over with the end reminding us of how things began. The Rankings may have changed all the way, but the top ten did not. Seesaw Sports has its Final NFL power rankings on Black Monday.

Recap: [1st Quarter Power Rankings]
Recap: [2nd Quarter Power Rankings]
Recap: [3rd Quarter Power Rankings]

Final Power Rankings:
[Numbers in parentheses equal difference in rank from Todd: i.e (+1) equals one spot higher]

TODD                                                     DAN
32. Washington Redskins                      Houston Texans (-1)
31. Houston Texans                               Washington Redskins (+1)
30. Oakland Raiders                              Jacksonville Jaguars (-1)
29. Jacksonville Jaguars                       Oakland Raiders (+1)
28. Atlanta Falcons                               Cleveland Browns (-1)
27. Cleveland Browns                           Atlanta Falcons (+1)
26. Buffalo Bills                                     Tennessee Titans (-3)
25. Minnesota Vikings                           Minnesota Vikings (0)
24. New York Giants                             Buffalo Bills (+2)
23. Tennessee Titans                            Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1)
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers                  New York Giants (+2)
21. St. Louis Rams                                Detroit Lions (-2)
20. New York Jets                                 St. Louis Rams (+1)
19. Detroit Lions                                    Miami Dolphins (-5)
18. Pittsburgh Steelers                          Baltimore Ravens (-2)
17. Dallas Cowboys                              Pittsburgh Steelers (+1)
16. Baltimore Ravens                           New York Jets (+4)
15. San Diego Chargers                       San Diego Chargers (0)
14. Miami Dolphins                               Dallas Cowboys (+3)
13. Chicago Bears                                Chicago Bears (0)
12. Indianapolis Colts                           Indianapolis Colts (0)
11. Philadelphia Eagles                        Philadelphia Eagles (0)
10. Arizona Cardinals                           Green Bay Packers (-1)
9. Green Bay Packers                           Arizona Cardinals (+1)
8. New Orleans Saints                          New Orleans Saints (0)
7. Cincinnati Bengals                            Cincinnati Bengals (0)
6. New England Patriots                       San Francisco 49ers (-3)
5. Kansas City Chiefs                           Kansas City Chiefs (0)
4. Carolina Panthers                             New England Patriots (+2)
3. San Francisco 49ers                         Seattle Seahawks (-1)
2. Seattle Seahawks                             Carolina Panthers (+2)
1. Denver Broncos                                Denver Broncos (0)

Comments from the Rankings: 

Obviously getting into the playoffs is a team's top priority. Thus, the best sixteen teams should be the sixteen playoff teams. However, I don't believe that is actually the case. The Arizona Cardinals had a fantastic year. They are certainly better than the sixth seed from the AFC, if not the sixth seed from their own conference.

Also, all divisions are not created equal. I will take the Kansas City Chiefs over all but three division winners in football. In regards to San Francisco, I like them even more. I say they are a top three team even though they didn't win their division.

As for tiers to finish out the season, the top six teams are slightly ahead of the rest of the league. From there, tier two contains teams seven through seventeen. These were all playoff or borderline playoff teams, but, other than Indianapolis, no one in this group felt comfortable in their playoff admission before the season's final game.

Tier three are teams who can pull an upset but don't bring their A game consistently. That would be everyone from Pittsburgh to Cleveland. The bottom five teams are a step below. It is hard to fathom that the Houston Texans would be able to lose fourteen consecutive ballgames. It is also slightly hilarious that I would take them over Washington right now if the two teams played each other.

And oh yeah, Washington doesn't have its own 2014 first round draft pick. Whoops.

Its pretty incredible how close our rankings are to one another, and yet that's not the story here. I'm staring at two teams in the top five that didn't even sniff the postseason last year. The Chiefs and Panthers epitomized the NFL and hope for teams ranked twenty two or lower.

I love your tiers, with a BIG exception in Tier two. Also, my bottom tier has way more than five teams.

We have the exact same teams in our bottom eleven, Tier four in my opinion, with a slightly different order that couldn't matter any less. Those teams suck and we all know it.

Tier three needs to be teams ranked twenty one to sixteen. All average teams with a big win at some point this season, but the playoffs were a long shot and its obvious why. I'm fine with the Cowboys in this tier, but not at the expense of boosting the Dolphins to an unreasonable level.

Teams ranked fifteen up to seven are in Tier two, but you can NOT put Miami in this discussion. This tier is playoff teams and playoff caliber teams. The Cowboys, with Tony Romo, and the Bears are both playoff teams in the AFC. Same with Arizona, who got robbed this season. No one else belongs.

We agree completely on our top Tier one teams, ranked seven and above. However, you're crazy if you think the Patriots aren't better than San Francisco. I get it, I do, you see those gaudy NFC victories that San Fran put up in the final month and look to New England who barely squeaked by Houston and even lost to Miami. Don't be fooled, that team was hurting, but the team that stands today with a first round bye is top five in the league.

Friday, December 27, 2013

2014 Sports Predictions - Part two

2014 Sports Predictions - Part two
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (12-27-13)

We at Seesaw Sports are ending this year with ten new predictions for 2014. Another crazy year of sports is on the way and we'll tell you who wins and who goes home crying. Ten sports predictions for 2014, with six through ten here in Part two.

[Part one - Predictions one to five]


6) 2014 MLB World Series

With the way spending and revenue are heading, everyone is a competitor in Major League Baseball. The Seattle Mariners just spent over $200 million on one player. Mid-market clubs like the Reds, Giants and others are signing their own star players to long-term contracts before they even hit free agency. Even the Rays have tried to do the same thing, just years in advance, by signing unproven prospects to long pro contracts.

In regards to 2014, there is no one that sticks out above the pack. However, I do like a couple teams more than the others. I think the Atlanta Braves will be the best team in the NL next season. Their pitching is young and electric. With better seasons from proven hitters who underachieved in 2013, this coming year should be a huge one for the Braves. In the AL, I like the Detroit Tigers to remain good and the Texas Rangers to be back atop the AL West. The overall quality of the American League seems like it will be lower than in recent years though. I am down on nearly everyone in the AL East.

7) 2014 Surprise NFL Team

Much like the Kansas City Chiefs a season ago, a surprise team must have a pretty putrid record to qualify for this. Even Carolina is borderline. Not many people remember but the Panthers were a respectable 7-9 in 2012. So let's say a surprise team has to have won fewer than five games the previous season. Here is the list of teams that would qualify at the moment:

Washington, Minnesota, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Houston and Oakland.

The obvious choices here would be Atlanta, Houston or Cleveland. Both the Falcons and Texans have recent seasons where they were excellent. One blip does not make a trend. A rebound seems likely. And Cleveland has all the makings other than a franchise quarterback. With two first round picks and the return of Brian Hoyer behind center next year, many people will like them as AFC North winners. However, my choice is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

They lost a number of one-score games this year, a stat that often balances out season to season. They also have solid talent and a player they believe in at quarterback; plus, Doug Martin will be back next season to run the ball.

8) World Cup Prediction

Neither of us are soccer aficionados. I am aware that the United States was put into a less than ideal group to start the tournament. However, that is about as far as my futbol critical thinking can take me. I do predict there will be far less societal unrest in Brazil than people are preparing for. It seems bleak at the moment; mobs and protests require police intervention. People are dying and the area is unruly. However, Brazilians love and cherish soccer, right? Won't they be able to settle this down before the games begin in order to host and produce the greatest tournament in the world, in the sport they love the most?

9) 2014 College Football Playoff

The only logical prediction to make here is that proverbial shit will be hitting some sort of giant fan come next December. If people thought the BCS was bad, get ready for something far more uncouth: humans making uninformed decisions! AHH! There is no formula or basis of opinion for the upcoming four-team playoff. It will just be the four teams some panel deems are the best. Good grief. At least the BCS had some numbers to back up its decision.

10) Winter Olympics Thoughts

The Winter Olympics are being held this coming February. Shaun White is the best snowboarder in the world. However, the rest of that aforementioned world is catching up to him. In the past two winter games (Vancouver and Turin), White has grabbed gold in the halfpipe competition. He has won the gold medal in the superpipe competition at the past six winter X Games. I predict he falls short of grabbing a third-straight Olympic gold medal though. There is no way he fails to medal entirely, but I see someone unseating him for the halfpipe gold in Sochi.


6) I'm not down on the AL East at all for 2014, but that doesn't mean the teams will all be around in October either. The Red Sox will have another strong year and the Yankees will be back in the playoffs as well. However, my team to watch in the American League is one that underachieved in 2013, but has the pitching and hitting to dominate if the dominoes all fall. The LA Angels will win the AL West this year. As for the AL World Series representative, this one is not a stretch but I'm saying it anyways. The New York Yankees will be playing for the title and a 28th championship.

As for the National League, I really like your Atlanta pick, mainly because it was mine from last season. However, they won't be the team to beat in 2014. That honor belongs once again to the St. Louis Cardinals. Yet the playoffs will be full of surprises and the NL representative in the World Series won't be wearing red. The Pittsburgh Pirates were no fluke and will be strong enough to earn a wildcard berth in 2014. I like them to ride the wave all the way through October and make the World Series in what will be a magical and memorable run for the ages.

7) My surprise NFL team in 2014 was also a surprise this season for all the wrong reasons. RG3 had himself a pretty bad sophomore slump, but I'm still on the bandwagon and a resurgence is in order. The Washington Redskins will bounce back in 2014 and push around the other NFC East teams, proving we can't judge a quarterback on his first, or his second season, but rather on a body of work.

8) Predicting less unrest than anticipated is like saying a bomb only killed 10K people when we thought 15K would die. Cop out! I'm going to make a completely uneducated guess here and pick the winner. Italy will win the World Cup and the US team will make the semifinals. Mark it down.

9) Am I the only one here making actual predictions? Well, the inaugural College Football playoff will consist of four undefeated teams. It won't be complicated, it won't be a head scratcher. Nope; only four teams will be without a loss next year and they'll all have a chance to compete for that giant glass football.

10) I like your Winter Olympics prediction and I'll raise you another MLB prediction

Masahiro Tanaka is up for bid. The Japanese pitching ace will be playing in the majors in 2014, but which team will overpay for this one man? That honor will belong to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Fun LA fact, it has a huge Asian population and would completely embrace a foreign star like Tanaka. Look out, the Dodgers are throwing money again.

Monday, December 23, 2013

2014 Sports Predictions - Part one

2014 Sports Predictions - Part one
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (12-23-13)

Our predictions played out so well last year, we at Seesaw Sports are ending this year with ten new predictions for 2014. Another crazy year of sports is on the way and we'll tell you who wins and who goes home crying. Ten sports predictions for 2014.


2014 Super Bowl teams

Since the beginning of the season, I had pegged the Broncos and the 49ers as my Super Bowl picks. I thought they were the best two teams entering the year, and both looked poised to compete in the playoffs. However, it's a total cop-out when prognosticators hang on an old prediction when a better one has made itself evident. Denver still seems like the likeliest AFC squad to advance through the playoffs, but San Francisco is not better than Seattle, especially if the Seahawks have home field advantage. So I'm going with Denver and Seattle. Now, of course, if San Fran does end up making it, I can still take credit for that as well. I've set myself up for the double prediction!

I have a feeling you will come up with another selection entirely, but it seems as though you'd be grasping at straws. Everyone is flawed. These are the two teams with the fewest. That being said, when is the last time the two "best" teams actually made the Super Bowl? It's been a while.

2) March Madness prediction

Again, I am forced to refer back to prior, mysterious statements that no one can confirm, but coming into the college basketball season, I was very high on Arizona. Of course, now everyone is since the Wildcats climbed their way to the number one ranking in the country. They will certainly not remain number one all year, but I do like them to advance to the Final Four.

A couple other teams I like are Memphis and New Mexico. I don't know if they both will make the Final Four but let's say they both advance past their seeding in the NCAA Tournament. Wait, that's another cop-out. Okay, Elite Eight. They both make the Elite Eight.

3) NBA Finals MVP

This is silly, so I will rephrase things and throw it back to you. If I gave you two options for this,

Option A - LeBron James
Option B - everyone else

Which would you choose?

4) Alex Rodriguez results

In the case of Alex Rodriguez, my prediction is that the arbiter in charge of the proceedings decides to lower the suspension levied against A-Rod but does not erase it entirely. The most logical scenario would seem to be Rodriguez getting his suspension lowered to the 50-game level that everyone else in this drama received. So the A-Bomb is out until early June sometime. By that point, I am sure Yankee fans will be exhausted by Kelly Johnson's exploits and actually welcome Alex back. (I like Kelly Johnson! but not as an everyday player. Get real.)

5) NFL Draft prediction

I'll save my World Series picks until Friday because I have some NFL draft thoughts to cover first. There will be as many as six quarterbacks taken in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. You heard me! Even with Marcus Mariota returning to school, the QB crop is as deep as it's been in years, and teams are desperate for a franchise signal caller. To clarify, there will most certainly NOT be six quarterbacks worthy of a first round grade, but at least six get taken day one.


The two best teams rarely make the Super Bowl and this year's game will be no different. Mojo is the biggest factor in playoff success and two teams stand out with the most mojo this season. The Carolina Panthers will represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Their mojo couldn't be higher after a monster win over New Orleans this past week. And in the AFC I'm revisiting my prediction from last year, yet this time its coming true. The New England Patriots will continue to defy the odds and roll past the competition on their way to the big game.

Mark it down, we're having a good old fashioned rematch this February. Panthers vs. Patriots for the title.

2) I'm going in a different direction with my initial March Madness prediction. I'm calling it, a team seeded ten or lower will make the Final Four this March. I'm also high on Duke and Arizona, both are Elite Eight teams this season for sure.

3) I like this game, because you have to take the field as I'm going with Lebron James for NBA MVP. I feel pretty darn good about my odds here. Go Heat!

4) I think Alex gets a slightly higher suspension, missing an aesthetically pleasing 65 games. But I don't think he returns to the Yankees this season. As long as teams like Seattle need names to fill seats, A-rod has value on the open market. The Yankees eat half his salary and trade him for some youth. Where you ask? I'm leaning towards Seattle or Colorado. Just a gut feeling.

5) Wow, hard to top that type of prediction. I know the quarterback needs around the league are running high, but six quarterbacks in the first round? I'm predicting the top pick in the draft will NOT be a quarterback. Round two is the new round one for QBs and this year will be more of the same. I like six quarterbacks in round two, but only two taken in round one. Johnny Football slips into round two for sure and the Redskins draft a quarterback. How about them apples?

Friday, December 20, 2013

2013 Sports Predictions Recap

2013 Sports Predictions Recap
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (12-20-13)

Well my brother, we have been at this for an entire year now. Back in December of 2012, we each made a list of predictions for the coming year. Some were pretty good; some were horrible. I thought it'd be fun to take a peak back at some of our guesses for 2013, in preparation for doing the same, idiotic, neck-on-the-line exercise this month as well.

To start things off, let's just say I know my football pretty damn well. I had Alabama winning the 2013 BCS Championship by more than a touchdown. They ended up winning 42-14 over Notre Dame.

I had the San Francisco 49ers making the Super Bowl. I don't even remember predicting that. Why didn't I gloat about it more at the time? Oh, I know why. Because you piggybacked on my pick and also took San Fran!

Continuing my hot football picks, I liked Mike Glennon as the best rookie QB coming out of the draft, and I said "as December rolls around, the Carolina Panthers will have the best record in the NFL." How bout that? Pretty close, right? I'm taking credit for that as a correct prediction.

You weren't too shabby yourself in the football department. Other than nailing the 49ers, you had Johnny Manziel winning another Heisman Trophy and, well, he was a finalist!

You also had the Braves, Rays and Reds all as MLB playoff teams, although your World Series pick was off and you liked the LA Angels more than the LA Dodgers; ooof. Why don't you go ahead and tell us where we were off so we know what to steer clear of this time around?

Right off the bat, I'm happy to say I was wrong in picking the Patriots to reach the 2013 Super Bowl. They got within a Ravens' miracle of making it, but still fell short. Something to avoid in this year's predictions? How about putting New England in the 2014 Super Bowl for starters.

We also sucked at predicting the NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four. Now mind you, its December and March Madness is known for being wildly unpredictable, but we were WAY off the mark. I got one team correct, the Syracuse Orange Men, but put Duke, NC State and Texas in there. You abstained from making this prediction, which was a good idea in hindsight as Louisville, Wichita State and Michigan were the three teams to join Syracuse in the Final Four. I'm willing to pick the Final Four again, but it will have zero basis in reality. Zero!

I'd also suggest we steer clear of MLB trades. I wishfully placed Evan Longoria on the Yankees and you ignorantly put Curtis Granderson on another team mid-season. Sure, sure he left in free agency, but the damage was done. We missed completely on our MLB trade predictions.

Swing and a miss, you were off the mark with the New York Jets as well. I bet you salivated when they signed David Garrard in the offseason, as you predicted their week one starter wasn't yet on the team and would not be a rookie. Alas, the starter all year has been rookie QB Geno Smith.

For some reason I made a golf prediction, stating Phil Michelson would win the Masters and retire from the sport. I'll mark that down as misguided. Moving on...

I commend you for attempting to predict the final BCS title game, but Ohio State vs. LSU was just wishful thinking. It will be Auburn vs. Florida State for the final BCS Championship. I smartly avoided this prediction.

We did thirteen predictions for 2013, but that was obviously over our heads as prognosticators. Lets make it an even ten this year and kick things off Monday with our first five predictions. Here's my wish list to get things started:

1 - 2014 Super Bowl teams

2 - A March Madness prediction

3 - NBA Finals MVP

4 - Alex Rodriguez results

5 - MLB World Series 2014

6 - Surprise NFL team of 2014 (biggest turn around perhaps)

7 - World Cup prediction

8 - First College Football Playoff prediction

[2014 Predictions on Monday]

Monday, December 16, 2013

Its not all good with the New York Yankees - money tree Part three

Its not all good with the New York Yankees - money tree Part three
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (12-16-13)

[Part one - Arrivals and Departures]
[Part two - Numbers to the Moves]

Its time to tackle the Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury moves. Like I said on Friday, I like both players in a vacuum for sure. But does it make the most sense to draft/sign players for need or to always take the best player available?

I'd say in general its better in the long run to draft the best player and build around him or her. Talent breeds more talent, attracts more talent and elevates others' abilities. That being said, the Yankees are already a fairly talented team. I know, they are getting old fast. But since we are talking free agency, this is the ONLY good time to fill a need over taking talent. Pay more to fill a hole in the lineup rather than crowd an already potent position with one more guy. Catcher might be the most valuable position, taking into account the need to develop a repertoir with the pitchers. Huge move for the Yankees filling that hole.

Fine, a hole has been filled, but are we sure Brian McCann is the same hitter he used to be? He will turn thirty years old before next season begins. Last year saw him miss a number of games because of injury, but the season before was the beginning of the downturn. It seems likely that McCann's career crested in 2011. Hopefully these past two years of disappointment were just a case of the injury bug and the Yankees are receiving 2006-2011 McCann. Otherwise, this is not a very good signing. And even if he comes back a bit to his career norms, how much longer can this guy catch? People are already talking about transitioning him to first base and he hasn't even played a game on his new five year, $85 million contract.

If McCann plays everyday catcher for four of those five years, and bats anywhere near what he did for his peak years, this is a good signing. I don't believe both of those things will be true though. Even assuming the bat returns, if he plays first base, his normal production is not good enough. His great value at the plate stems from the fact that be plays the catcher position. His overall numbers aren't good enough to make up the difference in position. He's a 20 home run guy who rarely slugs .500 and has never walked more than 74 times in a season. That is an average to below average bat at first base.

You got me, I love the McCann signing of him as a catcher. I do NOT want to see him at first base. Mark Teixeira is at first base, assuming he returns from injury. Moving McCann to first only re-opens the hole at catcher I was excited to see filled.

Moving on. As for Jacoby Ellsbury, you mentioned one of the obvious positives in signing him: he's a better version of Brett Gardner who also makes Gardner expendable as a trade chip. This is important because Gardner may be the only trade chip on the Yankees roster right now!

The thing many people do not realize is that Ellsbury is also younger than Gardner (albeit very slightly). And he has amazing upside. Although he will probably never approach his 2011 season numbers again, Brett Gardner can never sniff that type of production. But even with another elite power season being unlikely, Ellsbury brings a ton of skills to the table. The stolen bases and runs scored are a given. He has always hovered in the high .270s to .290s in batting average as well, even if he falls short of .300.

What everyone got on the Ellsbury signing for was the size of the contract. Not only did it possibly increase the asking price for Cano, but it begged the question of whether an injury-plagued player like Jacoby Ellsbury be worth seven years, $153 million? The numbers say yes.

Numbers please.

Last year Ellsbury played in 134 games. He bats lead-off, so missing 28 games, he still managed to collect 577 at-bats. For some comparison, Robinson Cano played in 160 games last year and had 605 at-bats. It's not as much of a difference as people seem to believe. But playing in 134 games, Ellsbury was 5.8 wins above replacement (WAR) according to Baseball-Reference. This figure is not perfect, but it takes into account a player's hitting, as well as his base-running and fielding abilities. Missing roughly thirty games, Ellsbury was just about a six win player.

Not to get too number-crazy here but, according to FanGraphs data, with the way the market is moving and how much money teams are spending, the cost of one win above replacement is around $6 million for free-agency-eligible players. That means, on the open market, a two win player could fetch $12 million, and a six win player like Ellsbury should cost around $36 million per year. This is just speaking of players added on the market, not in regards to rookies or players not eligible for arbitration. So, obviously these figures are not a perfect translation of the league. Mike Trout is the best player in the world and still makes under a million dollars because he hasn't hit free agency yet. However, open market wins cost what they cost. It is not an opinion on the value of said player. It is strictly the math of what wins cost to purchase.

So you're saying the Yankees got themselves a deal? That also means Mike Trout should fetch $30 million a year easily when he does hit free agency. No wonder Cano pushed for the big bucks.

Exactly. With the increased television revenue being delivered to each franchise in the coming years, that figure will probably increase. A large part of the defense of Robinson Cano's contract was that Seattle essentially bought him with the National TV deal money they will get, which is $25 million per season. So heading back to the Yankees, even if Ellsbury declines as a player in the coming seasons, which he is sure to do, his contract will not be unbearably high. In fact, if he continues with seasons like last year, he will be a bargain while still just hitting nine home runs. Ellsbury "only" needs to settle in as a 3.5 win player to legitimize the contract, a figure he has dwarfed two of the past three seasons.

[Part one - Arrivals and Departures]
[Part two - Numbers to the Moves]

Friday, December 13, 2013

New York Yankees off-season Money tree - Part two

New York Yankees off-season Money tree - Part two
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (12-13-13)

[Part one - Arrivals and Departures]


I disagree that the spending cap is irrelevant. I think it still means something and the men in charge are trying their best to stay underneath it. The delay on the Alex Rodriguez verdict puts a damper on things since they have no knowledge of what will become of his $30 million per year. But the big moves thus far have kept them under $189 million with or with A-Rod in tow. Likewise, I would be very surprised if the Yankees moved in on one of these "ace" free agent pitchers for a big contract. While they certainly need another starter, Matt Garza or Ubaldo Jimenez for $18-$22 million per seems outlandish. The old Yankees wouldn't have cared because, as I said, they need another starter. But I think these Steinbrenners this year will try to stay under the luxury tax threshold.

That being said, there was a lot of money going around anyways. With many contracts off the books, there was green to disperse. I'll attack these moves one at a time, before getting to the McCann - Ellsbury debate.


Hold on. There is a TON of money going around. They may avoid the luxury tax, but that by no means makes them frugal. If we assume Alex is suspended and his salary wiped away, there is nothing holding our Yankees back from swinging from the fences financially.


We shall see, but as for the deals that went down.

Robinson Cano signs with Seattle. I'm fine with how things played out. He was a great player who wanted way too many years on his next contract. The Yankees will surely miss his bat and glove at second base but he is not irreplaceable. The key to this situation was obviously the timing of the Ellsbury signing. Once he signed for $153 million, there was no way Cano was going to come back for less than $200 million. Old baseball fans always harp on the exorbitant sums of money and how one mistake made by one franchise shouldn't effect the price another player gets. But it always does and it always will. Everyone agrees Cano is a better player than Jacoby Ellsbury. Even if Cano and his agents come to a realization that New York gave Ellsbury more than he was worth, are they really going to accept less? Get real.

Yankees sign Kelly Johnson. This actually happened before Cano signed with the Mariners, but I like the move either way. Johnson is a serviceable second baseman, with good speed and some power in his bat. He is not an everyday player, nor does he hit for much average, but a 15/10 season (home runes/steals) seems likely from him. He was also signed for $237 million less than Cano...if that matters.

The real kicker here at 2B will be if the Yanks manage to sign Omar Infante. Infante is a super utility guy who can play second most of the time but also rotate to third and short to spell guys. He would be perfect, as would his .318 average from last year. Apparently he and New York are far apart on a contract at the moment though.

Curtis Granderson signs with Mets. Combined with the fact that the Yankees signed Carlos Beltran, the departure of Granderson means almost nothing. He is a good power source from the outfield but not as good of an all-around hitter as Beltran. These moves offset each other and the upgrade from Grandy to Beltran helps cover a little of the departed bat at second base as well.


Side note. I love how Curtis tried to suck up to the Mets fans by jumping on the "true New Yorker" bandwagon. Its probably the biggest headline he'll get as a Met, assuming he stays healthy and the Mets continue to be the poor baseball product we know and love.


Yankees re-sign Hiroki Kuroda. It was for just one more year, which seems right for a pitcher of his age. While Kuroda was superb the first half of last season, by far the team's best pitcher, he tailed off so dramatically at the end of the season, I would have been fine with the Yanks not bringing him back. As it stands, we need him in the rotation, hopefully as not much more than a third or fourth starter though. A lot depends on the usefulness of Michael Pineda. Remember him? Hopefully the 6'7" youngster is finally ready to contribute in 2014 because we need him to be a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher for six months.

With Pineda, Kuroda, Nova and Sabathia set, we have four fifths of a good starting five. There are also a number of options already in the organization for that fifth spot. The problem is, no one on this list is really an ace or even a dominant number two. Sabathia is not that anymore if last year was any indication. The signing of a Matt Garza or Ubaldo Jimenez would solve this problem but, as I mentioned, I doubt the Yankees would spend the money on that spot, nor should they necessarily. At it stands, the Yankees rotation is fine but very mid-heavy without a top flight ace. Only Pineda has that upside of anyone on the major league roster right now.

As for Ellsbury and McCann...where should I begin?

I guess I'll start by saying I like both players in a vacuum for sure. Brian McCann was lauded as a perfect signing for New York because, as you touched on, the catcher position last season was a black hole of incompetence. This is true, and McCann is clearly a huge upgrade in this slot, but is the weakness of a spot reason enough to sign McCann when there were better hitters available at other positions? I guess this goes to NBA or NFL draft technique a little bit in regards to whether it makes the most sense to draft for need or to just take the best player.

Monday, December 9, 2013

New York Yankees off-season Money tree - Part one

New York Yankees off-season Money tree - Part one
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (12-9-13)


F that $189 million!

It seems as though, pending the results of the Alex Rodriguez arbitration hearing of course, the Yankees are eschewing their original off-season plan of sticking below a $189 million payroll for the 2014 season. Rather than making a bunch of small moves, they already plunged into two new, huge contracts before the winter meetings even kicked off.

There seem to be two distinct trains of thought in regards to the new hires. Everyone loves the Brian McCann signing and everyone hates the Jacoby Ellsbury contract. And let's not forget the departure of the one and only Robinson Cano.

I'm interested in hearing your perspective on these moves and lack there of, but just as a taste, I'll say that I kind of feel the exact opposite.


That whole payroll limitation was just a fun way of curbing spending. You make a statement and stick to it, unless opportunities arise in which you just throw your prior limitation into the wind. The New York Yankees have no cap. I repeat, they do NOT have a spending limit and damn is it good to be a fan. They missed the playoffs in 2008, spent nearly a half a billion dollars in salary in the off-season and won the World Series in 2009. Now the team missed the playoffs again in 2013 and is well on their way to spending up a storm. As long as the team can afford it, I'll be marking my calendar for a ticker tape parade in November of 2014. Woo!

As for the moves and non moves so far, very very happy as a Yankees fan. Let me just lay them out for you and then I'll touch on the two men you mentioned and the big one that got away.

Non Moves:
Robinson Cano signs with Seattle (2B)
Curtis Granderson signs with Mets (OF)

Yankees sign Brian McCann (C)
Yankees sign Jacoby Ellsbury (OF)
Yankees sign Carlos Beltran (OF)
Yankees sign Kelly Johnson (2B/INF)
Yankees re-sign Hiroki Kuroda (RHP)

People do in fact seem to love the McCann signing and hate the Ellsbury signing. I LOVE them both. I realize McCann is no Buster Posey, but the biggest Brian McCann stat that jumps out to me is his career .350 On Base Percentage. Sure, he's "only" a career .277 hitter, but the catcher he is replacing, Chris Stewart, is a mere.214 hitter with a .287 OBP for his career. The Yankees have lacked anyone at catcher who can consistently get on base for years. He fills a hole big time.

I also love the Ellsbury signing. He is a better version of Brett Gardner. Lots of speed and athleticism with better stats all around. But more importantly, he is a huge upgrade over the departed Granderson and makes Gardner a viable trading chip, something the Yankees have also been without for quite some time.

The move I was most happy about though, the re-signing of Kuroda for one year. That man can pitch. He isn't flashy, is getting old, but he definitely has one more year in the tank. He is a huge addition for the number two or three spot in the Yankees' rotation. With CC Sabathia as the number one, Kuroda takes pressure off of Pineda to perform as a number two starter. Big win here.

As for Mr. Cano, I tip my cap to the years we had together. I also tip my cap to the amount of money he got Seattle to pay him. I just hope he enjoys losing. Losing like a lot. If there is one thing that Seattle's baseball team is not known for, its playing in October. Cano's departure opens the door for some further additions to the Yankees roster in the pitching department. This has been an issue for the team for the last several years, and since Andy Pettitte can't be counted on to come out of retirement, we need someone who will rack up wins for the team.

So, you're anti McCann and pro Ellsbury? How do you feel about the loss of Cano and additions of Johnson, Beltran and Kuroda? Has some optimism crept into your otherwise cloudy disposition?

Friday, December 6, 2013

NBA Season of Déjà vu Season of Déjà vu - Part two

NBA Season of Déjà vu Season of Déjà vu - Part two
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (12-6-13)

[Part one - Season of Déjà vu]

Picking a surprise team from the East is tricky. On the surface, someone like Toronto would qualify. They are below .500 and have been struggling. But because of the division standings, they are currently fourth in the conference...not much of a sleeper. I really liked what the Hawks and Pistons did in the offseason so they are teams to keep an eye on. Twenty games in is a quality sample size but not enough to mark a team as dead. Look for the Pistons and Hawks to both battle for one of those top four seeds to secure home court advantage in the first round.

Although the Boston Celtics have pretty much the same record as these teams, I don't see the playoff sleeper potential here. If anything, they've been playing over their heads. It made too much sense for them to tank this season. Scratching out a seven or eight seed now doesn't help them long term. There isn't enough talent on the roster to surprise anyone in the playoffs.

Yeah, I was grasping for a glamour pick with the Celtics as sleeper. Let's just face it, the Eastern Conference is not very good. Every team is average and lacks a reason for a casual fan to watch them. I'll move on to the West.

In the Western Conference all of the top eight teams are over .500; what a contrast to the East! I'm pulling hard for Portland to hang on and lead the pack. And there is serious upset potential come playoff time. The Lakers and Grizzlies are lurking over the final playoff spots, as is Phoenix, and I say at least one of them snags a spot from Dallas or Denver. So will anything change from last season? Yes, yes it will.

Last year the Spurs and Thunder held on well into the post season, mainly because several other young teams didn't have enough experience yet to match up with them for the long haul. I believe Golden State gets over that hump this season. They are no longer a surprise and will move one step further this year. I'm not ready to put them in the NBA Finals, but I'm damn close. I also love Houston's potential late in the season to knock off the former big boys. The East may be business as usual, but out West things will get interesting and expectations dashed. I WANT to pick the Clippers to take a step forward, but unfortunately they are stuck in the same spot.

The Spurs and Thunder are still the favorites, but Portland has clearly established themselves as a team to be reckoned with. A record of 16-3 is no joke. If anyone is going to be that third team challenging for the Western Conference Finals, it's the Blazers. Golden State still seems flawed to me. They could obviously make a playoff run if their shooters get hot. It is pretty easy to imagine. However, I feel more confident in a post scorer like LaMarcus Aldridge and a point guard who gets to the hoop like Damian Lillard on Portland, than I do catching fire from behind the arc with the Warriors.

Houston and the Clips are interesting because they both seem like they are one player away from competing, and that one move could come if they trade with each other. Omer Asik does not fit on Houston. Everyone knew that the second they signed Dwight Howard. He is going to be moved. If Los Angeles can scrap together something Houston wants, or perhaps involve a third team, Asik is just the type of player the Clippers need to solidify their front line.

Let's revisit the standings around Christmas, when the soul of the NBA season kicks off. Hopefully one of these contenders has made a move by then. Give me some trades.

Monday, December 2, 2013

NBA Season of Déjà vu Season of Déjà vu - Part one

NBA Season of Déjà vu Season of Déjà vu - Part one
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (12-2-13)

The 2013-2014 NBA season is still very, very young and yet it's beginning to feel way too similar to last year. Injuries have once again derailed several teams and more than a few star players. I'm not interested in harping on the injuries, but what happens to Derrick Rose and the Bulls? Can the Nets turn the corner and get both Brooke Lopez and Deron Williams back at full strength to turn their season around?

I'm sad about Derrick Rose. I wanted a true contender for the Miami Heat come playoff time. Yes, yes there are the Indiana Pacers and Paul George is becoming a superstar. But he isn't one yet. Both the Bulls and Nets were serious competition, but I don't know if they can hang on for the long haul this season.

Things are looking up in the Western Conference, so give me your breakdown of the NBA season. Everyone knows its official start is on Christmas Day, so will the playoffs be as predictable as they were last year? Will every team we expect make it? Something has to change, doesn't it?

You are correct in that it is much too soon to pay attention to the NBA standings. However, certain trends are obvious, whether because of injuries or the fact that your first-year head coach is spilling drinks on the sideline to get a free stoppage of play late in the game because he has no timeouts left.

The East is a wrap; call it right now. Miami and Indiana are both going to win over sixty games and no one else in the conference is going to approach fifty. It's a two-team race and Paul George is already a Star, with a capital S. He is making an All-NBA team this season. The Rose injury is the major cause of this supremacy race not being three-sided. Chicago has no ceiling with a healthy Derrick Rose. Now, their ceiling is fifty games and a trip to the second round of the playoffs. It's sad but true.

The rest of the East's supposed contenders have collapsed faster than stock in Kevin Garnett. Brooklyn and New York have been surprisingly terrible thus far, but lesser contenders like Milwaukee and Detroit have also failed to live up to expectations. Eight teams have to make the playoffs from this conference (some kind of silly rule mandates it). But that doesn't mean eight or seven (or even six!) teams will top a .500 record. If Miami does not face Indiana in the Eastern Conference Finals, something drastic went wrong for one of them.

As for the West, the exact opposite is transpiring, and I could not be more delighted about it. It looks like there will be no dominant team, but as many as twelve good teams. It is quite possible, by the end of the year, there will be as many as a dozen West teams with a better record than the eighth seed in the East.

San Antonio still looks amazing but so does Portland. It also seems like Houston, OKC and some others haven't even gotten going at full speed yet, even though they're still winning over 70% of their ballgames. A lot was expected out of New Orleans; they may be an interesting team to keep an eye on in the coming weeks, especially with the Anthony Davis injury. At 8-8 they are still very much in pursuit of a playoff spot, but they currently sit in a three way tie for 10th in the conference so they can't wait too long to turn things around.

So to finally answer your question, the playoffs will be exactly the same as always! The East is already decided. Heat v. Pacers, Eastern Conference Finals, mark it down; bet it; do whatever you gotta do. As for the West, it is as much of a craps shoot as it has been in recent years. I still see as many contenders to win the conference as we thought in August. You could even talk me into expanding that from the four we thought at the beginning of the season. Through a month of play, the West has actually become more competitive.

That stunt cost Jason Kidd $50,000! One expensive use of a Downy paper towel. But I'm going on record that the Nets will be in the Eastern Conference Finals. Nets vs. Heat. I know the Pacers are on fire, but they need one more year of playoff experience before they can reach that 'next level.' Unfortunately we'll also have to hear about the Knicks all year, since you're spot on when saying no other team is formidable enough to matter in the East this season.

We disagree out West, but I'll toss a question quickly your way before tearing open that wound in Part two. Is there a surprise team in the East? Maybe the seventh or eighth seed who makes a surprise playoff run. It can't be the Nets, or even the Knicks. I'm pulling for the Celtics to take home that title this season.