Thursday, February 19, 2009

Splogger Don is back!

I know not too many people have read my blog over the last year. Splogger Don is now back in business and ready to roll!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Spring Updates

Sorry to all my fans! i will be back soon with daily spring and summer updates!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Springtime Blues?

The long and winding road to redemption begins shortly for the 2008 Mets - burdened with putting behind in their own minds and their fans' minds the horrendous historic collapse that stunned them and all of baseball in 2007. The acquisition by default of one Johan Santana to solidify the starting rotation obviously helps jump start that process, but the Mets have many questions to answer to themselves and the rest of the National League if indeed they want to be playing and not just watching in October this season.I don't wish to put this on one person's shoulders (or right shoulder to be more specific), but the biggest question to me this spring is the Mets bullpen, and specifically the health of one Duaner Sanchez. If Sanchez can eventually come around and get back to being the dominant 8th inning pitcher he was in the first part of 2006, this team will be tough to beat. And that's asking a lot. Remember - Sanchez has not pitched in a big league game since the end of July '06, just prior to his ill-fated taxi ride. He needs time - and the rest of the bullpen has to afford him that time to come along at his own pace. If he can build his strength in the first half and then eventually team with Aaron Heilman to deliver the ball to closer Billy Wagner, that's a blueprint the Mets can live with. Those three should be joined by four others to form the Mets pen. Manager Willie Randolph has always liked a middle-innings righty-lefty combo - two years ago it was Pedro Feliciano and Chad Bradford - last year it was Feliciano and Joe Smith - this season I think it will be Feliciano and Matt Wise, ex of the Brewers. Jorge Sosa should be the long man, and call me crazy, but I expect a big year out of Scott Schoeneweis. He's a much better pitcher than what he showed last year, he did pitch better toward the end of the season, and on the old bounceback theory with relievers plus an increased comfort level in New York, I think Schoeneweis can turn things around.Other bullpenners to watch - Smith - who allowed 49% of inherited runners to score last year (25 of 51) - has to turn that stat around or he'll be starting the year in New Orleans. Also, Brian Stokes, Nate Field, Ruddy Lugo, Carlos Muniz, Steven Register and Oregon State's Eddie Kunz. Juan Padilla will need some time to get back on track.The Mets pitching staff was 7th in the N.L. with a 4.26 ERA in 2007. That should come down with Santana aboard to team with Pedro Martinez - a potent 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation. Pedro was 3-1 with a 2.57 ERA in 5 starts after his return - you can't project off that, but he looks great, feels healthy, and hitters still fear him no matter how hard he throws. John Maine and Oliver Perez are a very nice 3-4, and El Duque should round out the five. Mike Pelfrey will pitch every 5th day - it will either be at Triple A or during Duque's illnesses or vacations. Everyone seems to try too hard to impress when they come to New York, but from what I've witnessed early on from Santana, he should adjust just fine to the big city.Carlos Delgado will earn $16 million this season, so the numbers (.258 - 24 - 87) have to improve from last year. And Jose Reyes has to avoid hitting the wall that caused his average to drop to .205 during the month of September. The Mets defense up the middle is much improved which should help a strong pitching staff - catcher Brian Schneider threw out 31% of baserunners attempting to steal last year, and 2B Luis Castillo's range should improve that much more with fresh knees after off-season surgery. With a 5 man bench - there really is only one spot open. Ramon Castro, Marlon Anderson, Damion Easley and Endy Chavez are givens. The Mets could use a right-handed hitting outfielder and a righty bat to occasionally spell Delgado at first, along with a backup middle infielder. But Easley is a real X-factor - he can play the outfield, first base, as well as the middle infield. So there's a lot of ways that Willie Randolph can go.And speaking of Willie, will he run things tighter than he did last year? How does he react, and how does he want his team to react to last season's sickening September swoon? Willie is a big believer in payback, and we all know payback is a b----, so we'll soon find out if this Mets team can dispense the hurt they felt upon their counterparts in the N.L.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Spring has come!

For the last four months people have resorted to follow the ongoing rivalry of Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton, road to the Superbowl, and dare i say see how much lower the East is getting over the NBA's west? Well, Tune those remoted to YES network, switch the dial to SNY cause baseball is back!

Most teams will start their preliminary stage of spring training, Pitcher & Catcher sessions, as early as tomorrow. Somehow it all of a sudden feels as if the temperature has reached the mid-50's and flowers are starting to blossom, the light at the end of the tunnel is finally seen!

Mets fans ended off last season probabaly worse than any other team in the history of the MLB. They were predicted National League champs, they were the most complete team in the NL. With only 17 games to play and the champagne ready to be popped any day, was left to age for yet another year. The New York Mets collapsed in the final games of the season and lost division to the Phillies who apparently so were the "team to beat". Seems like years ago where that happend and we are ready to put all of that behind us start a new page and this time complete the page!

New Additions:

Santana: Given what's at stake following the collapse of the 2007 Mets and the '09 opening of Citi Field, the acquisition of Santana may come to stand as the most significant acquisition the club has made since its '83 trade for Keith Hernandez. If Santana isn't the game's premier starting pitcher, then he's second only to the Red Sox's Josh Beckett. His impact can make the Mets a sounder team that is greater than the sum of its parts. And he sure can pitch.

Schneider: A left-handed-hitting catcher is a rarity these days. Schneider isn't an offensive force, but his receiving, throwing and handling of pitchers is what manager Willie Randolph and general manager Omar Minaya coveted. And that he bats left-handed provides Randolph with the ingredients for a catching platoon, and it allows the Mets to get more from right-handed-hitting backstop Ramon Castro.

Church: Likewise, Church's left-handed bat balances the Mets' batting order. Every opponent has more right-handed than left-handed starting pitching, so Church will play almost regularly. His presence may come as more of a right fielder against left-handed pitching. The 43 doubles and 70 RBIs Church produced with the Nationals last season would have ranked first and fourth, respectively, with the Mets -- and the 2007 Nationals were an offensively challenged team. Moreover, Church is a capable outfielder, comfortable in right, center and left.

Matt Wise: Wise worked more than an inning on seven occasions and made 56 appearances last season. Then again, he pitched merely 53 2/3 innings, so limitations do exists with this right-handed veteran of seven seasons. He tends to be more effective against left-handed hitters.

Mets fans all over, i give you one warning please take this one seriously. Buckle up! It's going to be a WILD ride!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Everyone Wins!!

Football in my world is over; Giants had their 15 minutes of fame.

Johan Santana just days ago signed a $137 million contract with the New York Mets. Besides for the NL East, EVERYBODY wins! Ask me in what way? Well let’s begin by how the Mets win in this situation.The Mets acquired the best pitcher in the MLB over the past 5 seasons. He is known to be an inning eater; even last year when he wasn’t so productive still has 220 IP. The Mets needed just that! Last season one huge reason for their collapse was their bullpen. Now with days Santana would take the mound the bullpen can have almost assured rest for the most part. And pretty much keep them energized to last till the end of the season, unlike last year. New York’s lineup also gains by Santana as well. Besides for Santana being a .258 hitter, the hitters wont feel as pressured to step up offensively because when Santana is throwing 8 innings of scoreless ball than the offense wont feel too pressured to score 8 or 9 runs, although don’t get me wrong it will still be done. The Mets defense also will benefit on a Santana day. During Johan Santana's career, he has averaged over 1 strikeout per inning. If he keeps this trend up, this will take at least 1 could-be play away from the defense and save them from a could-be error.

See, the Mets were by far not the only team to gain in this trade. The AL Central is praising New York now, regardless of the fact that they had him figured out in 2007; you still don’t want to face the best pitcher in the league. All AL teams benefited, period.Overall there are those given people would took Santana's trade as a sign of good things to come. I'm not talking stat-wise. C.C. Sabathia was probably in his off-season home watching as ESPN released the information that Santana and the Mets reached a 6 year deal worth $137 million. As he was watching he was for sure smiling. How could he not be? He is the next best pitcher on the market looking for an extension; if his extension is not reached he is free next off-season. He has now witnessed Barry Zito ($119 Million), and Johan Santana reach contracts with money and years. C.C. Sabathia is now expecting the Indians to do the same. A 4 year $80 million is just not enough anymore, rent is indeed rising!

Just as "What Santana wants, Santana gets", What C.C. wants, C.C. gets."


Monday, February 4, 2008

Giant Win

This whole thing has been just the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen. I still can’t get out of my head that this team was six inches from being 0-3, that less than two months ago they were being booed off their home field, that they were down 14-0 in a must-win game in Buffalo before the bad weather started.
And yet now they are the world champions? Amazing.
This is the most resilient team I’ve ever covered. They’ve got incredible heart and toughness. And that defense … wow, did I underestimate them. What they did in the playoffs is incredible enough, but what they did against the Patriots is unfathomable. That’s the greatest NFL offense of all time. That’s a seriously good offensive line and a quarterback who’s brilliant at avoiding blitzes.
And the Giants absolutely battered him.
And Eli Manning was absolutely brilliant in the fourth quarter. The poise he showed, the resiliency from three mediocre-to-bad quarters and even some bad throws in the fourth, all of it was incredible. Didn’t I tell you that someday he’d win a Super Bowl for the Giants? I bet that trade with San Diego probably doesn’t bother you so much anymore, right?
Incredible. That’s the only word I can think of. I don’t think I’ve ever covered anything quite like this.
So enjoy it. Magical rides and unexpected championships like this don’t come around often. And if you want to gloat over the fact that I picked them to be 7-9 this season, and to lose in Dallas … and in Green Bay … and to the Patriots … go ahead. At least I’m not alone. They had a legion of doubters this season – including many of you (admit, you had your doubts).
This unbelievable, magical, incredible team proved everybody wrong.
My MVP vote, by the way, went to Eli Manning. For most of the game it was going to Justin Tuck. And with five minutes left in the game, when they collected the ballots, I had written down Tuck if the Giants win, and Wes Welker if the Patriots win. After that last drive, though, there was no choice. I had to change it.
For the record, Manning got 16 1/2 of the 20 MVP votes last night. Patriots Welker got 1 1/2, and Giants DEs Michael Strahan and Justin Tuck got one each. … I’m guessing whoever voted for Welker turned their ballot in early and didn’t change it. There’s no question Manning was the MVP.
As MVP, Manning is literally “going to Disneyland.” In fact, after a morning press conference here in Phoenix this morning, he’ll hop a flight to Anaheim and will ride in a parade down Main Street, U.S.A. in Disneyland this morning at 10:30 a.m. PST. From there he’ll return to New York, in time for tomorrow morning’s ticker tape parade.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Superbowl Preview

When looking at the two teams scheduled to participate in Super Bowl XLII, it’s obvious they took completely different routes in getting to the NFL championship. The New England Patriots, of course, ran the table through the regular season before knocking off both the Jacksonville Jaguars and San Diego Chargers in the playoffs for a combined 18-0 record. Things weren’t quite as easy for the New York Giants, who suffered through some inconsistencies early in the year before righting the ship late in the season to secure a wild-card playoff berth. Viewed going in as perhaps the playoff team most unlikely to ruin New England’s perfect season, the Giants ripped off three consecutive road victories to advance to the big game.
Despite the Giants’ lowly status as the No. 5 seed in the NFC playoffs and the fact that they were pretty much an afterthought as far as legitimate contenders heading into the post-season, they do have the components to pull off the ultimate upset. But for the unlikely to happen, they are going to have to play flawlessly Sunday.
The Giants actually had New England on the ropes during week 17 as the Patriots attempted to cap off the first perfect regular season since the 1972 Miami Dolphins, but Tom Brady and crew pulled victory from the jaws of defeat late in the game. Despite coming up on the short end of the score, New York proved they could play with the big boys, and gained the confidence they needed to make a big playoff run.
During their successful stretch run, it’s no coincidence that quarterback Eli Manning appears to be coming into his own. Granted, he hasn’t put up Brady-esque passing numbers, but he has avoided the big mistakes that have plagued him throughout his career and made the big plays when he has needed to. It helps tremendously as well that his favorite target, Plaxico Burress, appears to be as healthy as he has been since early in the season despite playing on a bum ankle.
Speaking of ankle injuries, Brady has been hobbled by what has been labeled a high ankle sprain, but is expected to play. Obviously, if the injury hinder’s his mobility, it works to the advantage of the Giants, who are fantastic at pressuring opposing quarterbacks with just their front four.
And that’s the key, in my opinion, to beating this unbeaten Patriots squad. You have to get in Brady’s face and make him uncomfortable, which is easier said than done considering the job his offensive line does in blocking for him. Rushing just three defenders and dropping eight into coverage, as Jacksonville did on many occasions in their playoff loss, just doesn’t work. Sooner or later, one of his many talented receivers will find a hole in the coverage and nine times out of ten Brady will find him. To win this game the Giants have got to pressure Brady with their front four, and keep him off balance with occasional blitzes from different areas of the field.
New York also matches up well with their run game against a Patriots defense that has had problems with the power ground game at times. Starting running back Brandon Jacobs is a bruising back, weighing in at a whopping 265 pounds. The Giants will try to use him to wear out the Patriots linebackers, who are among the smartest in the league, but are getting up there in age. Facing a big, powerful guy like Jacobs following a grueling 16-game schedule, along with two playoff games, could be a stiff test for the Pats. And they can’t forget about Ahmad Bradshaw, who offers a nice change of pace with a bit more speed and shiftiness. He’s a deceptively powerful runner in his own right.
The Patriots ground game has picked up recently as well despite a slow start. The lack of a running game early on, however, can probably be blamed more on the fact that the Patriots simply had so much success throwing the ball that they didn’t need to run it much. As the weather has turned colder and the conditions haven’t been quite so conducive to throwing the ball 80% of the time, New England has turned more and more to RB Laurence Maroney, who should be relatively fresh after having carried the ball less than 200 times during the regular season.
For the Patriots, though, everything offensively traces back to Tom Brady. Somehow the Giants have got to get him out of his game and force him to make a couple mistakes. And if they happen to get New England against the ropes again, they can’t let them off the hook. You can win the battle against Brady & Co. all day long, but if you give them one chance to beat you at the end, they will.
The fact that the Giants played the Patriots so well gave them the confidence they needed to get through the NFC playoffs, but I’m not sure it works to their advantage in a rematch. Bill Belichick is perhaps the best coaching mind in the NFL, and there’s no doubt he will have something in store to counter the success New York had the last time around. That, along with Bellichick’s motivational skills, gives this game the potential for a blowout this time around, in my view.
I don’t know that this game will turn into another classic Super Bowl blowout, but I do think the Patriots will pull away to a double-digit win in the end.
Prediction New England 31, New York 13