Thursday, April 20, 2006

Madden 07 jinx to nail the Hawks??; Munns to go on a mission?

It's being reported early today in Seattle that our own Shaun Alexander will grace the cover of Madden 2007, to be released this August on all platforms......is this a good thing??

Some history - ESPN ran a story I believe last year or this year talking about the "Madden Jinx". In the history of the Madden game, it's kind of been uncanny lately, but that cover player at some point the next year suffers an injury, and/or the team goes in the toilet. Check it out:

Madden 2006 - Donovan McNabb - team fell apart, he was lost to a season-ending hernia injury
Madden 2005 - Ray Lewis - suffered a season-ending injury
Madden 2004 - Michael Vick - suffered a broken leg, season-ending injury in preseason
Madden 2003 - Marshall Faulk - knee and shoulder injuries, Rams go 7-9
Madden 2002 - Daunte Culpepper - back and knee injuries cut his season short, team went 5-11
Madden 2001 - Eddie George - hurts his foot, favored Titans upset in playoffs by Ravens

Scary.

That said, it can also be noted that Shaun Alexander was on the cover of another EA Sports title, NCAA Football 2001, and that didn't hurt him one bit. So there.

All jokes aside? This jinx will be broken this year. Alexander is as durable as it gets. He takes care of his body, avoids huge hits (except for Lavar's elbow) and has a great offensive line and fullback to pave the way. I think he won't be what he was this year, I mean that was an all-time season, but I do believe that we can put it in ink for 1500 yards, 20 TD's and a lot of redzone efficiency again.


On the Cougs recruiting front - there are whispers that all-everything QB is serious about the Cougs and loved his visit during spring practice, and in fact has the Cougs as his leader. But he's also just returned from trips to Utah and BYU, and it's now well-known that he is a devout Mormon. There is strong talk that he will go on a mission, which could delay his arrival to Pullman until 2009-2010? That might be ok, in the long run, when you consider the QB depth the Cougs have right now, and I'm talking young depth. It would be nice to have Munns in our back pocket in a few years.

Also, more Locker to MLB talk per the Go-To guy. Mixed signals, still, and he's been up-and-down as a pitcher. Still, an MLB team scouting DIRECTOR (not just a regional scout) will be at his next game, today, so there are some rumblings (per KJR today) that some teams have him moving up their MLB draft boards.

I saw some video of Locker the other day on FSN, and while it's hard to tell sometimes based on the video quality, the competition, the camera angles, etc, I have to say....and this is hard to say.....that this kid is tremendous. I can understand some of the John Elway athlete comparisions, I mean there are some plays he makes with his legs and arm that normal QB's just cannot do. But I also watched a Brett Favre DVD the other night, and they had high school highlights of him when he played in an option-style offense where he only threw about 15 times a game?? I swear I thought I was watching Jake Locker. Be afraid, and hope like hell an MLB team falls in love with him!!! Read more ...plus comments

Monday, April 17, 2006

Spring ends well; 10 reasons to hate the M's

Good vibes after the spring game. Doba sounded very positive, and Brink played well. The running game was stuffed, but it's spring, again, so nothing to be too worried about.

My early feel? This feels like a 7-5 team. Better than last year, sure, they will be improved in some areas. But they will still blow some games, especially on the road, and especially if they struggle early with a new center and new starting RB's.

The Auburn game means basically nothing in the big picture, other than to try and be healthy coming out of that game. I think it's crazy to go down there, in that heat and humidity for the many reasons Doba has said in the past, but the paycheck is just too much to pass, not to mention the exposure of being on every TV in America that day. We're going to get manhandled in that game, in a deer-in-headlights kind of way that makes you realize how far they are from actually contending on a national stage. Just hope and pray they can get off the mat and recover fast from that one and that it doesn't, per Doba, take a full two weeks to get back to normal after playing in 90 degrees with 95% humidity!

Oh yeah, we're getting new turf this year too. Turns out FieldTurf has an 8-year guarantee, and the product itself is a lot better today than it was when it was installed 6 years ago, so they are getting a new field. I thought our AD source mentioned new turf as part of the stadium renovation, but I'm not 100% there. The numbers and markings on the field are actually sewn in to the turf these days instead of painting to help prevent fading, so things will look quite sharp! Fingers crossed for CRIMSON ENDZONES!!! :)

Good read on why it's so easy to dislike the M's.

http://prospectinsider.wordpress.com/2006/04/15/ten-things-to-hate-about-the-seattle-mariners/

Some of that stuff is funny, but some is pretty, well, petty.

Boy, it's amazing how negative M's fans are online these days. Many sites and boards I read go out of their way to rip the starting pitching, even after shutting out the Sawx at the Fens on Saturday! It's only happened like 4 other times in team history, so instead of ripping Jo-EL for throwing too much junk or why he doesn't have his mid-90's heat like he did pre-injuries, why not embrace the shutout? Talk about negative. It's human nature really. Think about your life - I'b bet about 97% of everything in your life is just where it should be, 3% isn't what you want. But what does human nature do?? Focus on the 3% that isn't right! I know I do it all the time, and I wish I could be more opitmistic in such times, wish I could embrace the good instead of wring my hands over the small % of what could be better.

Anyway, to put this start in it's proper place? They just played 5 teams in a row that won 90+ games last year, all to start the season, all against top-flight pitching, and they are basically .500 and 1/2 game out! It'll be nice to see some Texas pitching this week, for sure.

The entire division is starting off inconsistent, top to bottom, but if you ask me, the division is right where the A's want it. I look for an August run of terror where the M's might even be in the race by the trade deadline, yet wake up 9/1 and be out by double-digits.

On Beltre - they are stuck, pure and simple. He has to get better in Seattle. No chance to trade him right now, period, because he's a mess and nobody wants to pay $12+ million for a mess. I know they got rid of Cirillo, but that was a different deal (lower salary, and they are STILL paying for that this year, believe it or not!). Beltre is as confused at the plate as any class-A player would be. He's behind fastballs, ahead of breaking pitches, afraid of everything, and yet overswinging. I'm not sure I've ever seen a batter with so much MLB experience, who looked so inexperienced. That's what happens when doctors run into cases they've never seen before. They take off the wrong ankle (I stole that quote from somewhere else btw).

I'd love to see the M's say ok, Adrian, you don't think about swinging at anything other than a fastball, period. If it's not a fastball, you don't swing, end of story. A slider in the dirt is a swing-and-a-miss, 100% of the time, and the league knows you are desperate. If the pitcher gets you to K looking on a slider low-and-away? Tip your hat and walk back to the dugout, but do NOT give in. And in your stage of your career, over 4,000 at-bats, if you CAN'T RECOGNIZE a slider vs. fastball?? Well, then take a seat.

That's the rub. A guy who was that good, that young, doesn't suddenly forget how to play. And especially doesn't forget what a fastball vs. slider looks like. Remember that in 2004, Beltre hit .334/.388/.629 in 598 AB's (48 homers, 32 doubles, 80 xbh vs 87 k). No player in MLB history ever had that success at that age and didn't at least approach those numbers again. No hitter in baseball like Adrian Beltre, who posted a 160 OPS+ above replacement level as a young player, and then never amounted to anything again. I mean it's never, ever happened, but for a major injury that ended a career. If he never comes back to star status, he'll probably be a unique figure in major league history. Read more ...plus comments

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

M's after 3 games

It's early, early, EARRRRLLLLYYYYY.......but some interesting stuff on the M's so far. I've watched them closely for all 3 games, call me crazy, but I'm very interested in them all of a sudden. A few thoughts:

1) Lopez is a completely different player vs. last year. He even has a new batting stance, slightly open and hands held high. Very relaxed, and going with the pitch, and he's had some big hits already. He had 3 more today, including a triple. I can see now why scouts are excited by his skill set, and why he does in fact compare to Miguel Tejada. Hard to believe he's just 22 but he's really improved already.

2) Johjima is the real deal. That HR he hit on opening night was proof enough, a screaming liner the other way that carried out against Bartolo Colon. Never an easy thing to do. They were remarking on the broadcast today about how aggressive he is with his game in regards to leadership, that he isn't shy to communicate his thoughts no matter what. They really got themselves a player here, at least I think they did.

3) Even Reed looks to be somewhat improved. The double he hit on opening night, a ground-rule shot to the left-center gap, is something you never would have seen him do. However he followed that up by some pretty ugly strikeouts where he practically leaped out of his spikes, so he's inconsistent. IF he can keep going the other way, he could be a great hitter.

4) Even Betancourt looks like a better, more confident hitter. Experience can do wonders, but hell, he could hit .215 and with that glove, he's a bonus. What a great defensive player!

5) Sexson had a huge night last night, that 3-run shot was huge when the Angels cut the lead to 1. And he flat-out smoked that thing too. 5 ribbies is a great week for some players, so that was a fantastic night.

6) The starting pitching has been quite good. The HR that Vladi hit on opening day was a good low-and-away, but Vladi did what Vladi does best. Pineiro was very strong for 7 last night, and then Washburn was strong today against his former team. And the best (Felix) is yet to come! Very pleasantly surprised at the first 3 games by the starters. I think Washburn especially is a big key, obviously Jo-EL is big, but Washburn really can help settle things down as the #3 guy, an experienced AL lefty to boot.

The bad (and there is always bad):

1) Beltre, well, is back to being the 2005 version. Sadly, he looks completely clueless right now. Swinging at slop in the dirt (and missing badly), and taking perfect strikes. I think he's totally guessing right now, and he's guessing wrong. II even saw him get blown away by an 88 MPH fastball from Jeff Weaver today. In 2004, a pitch like that is about 20 rows deep in left field. I don't know where the guy was from the WBC or the entire 2004 season, but who knows, maybe it's time to start thinking that Safeco Field has ruined another hitter??? I sure as hell hope that he starts hitting and gets comfortable, but 3 games in, he sure looks a lot like the messed up version of 2005.

2) The bullpen has been great by Soriano, but pretty bleak elsewhere. Putz gave up some big runs back-to-back games, and Fat Eddie was lucky to get out of there last night without losing! He threw more pitches in the 9th than he did in all of spring training, that should give you an idea of how bad he was. He looked awful, too, just no feel at all.

3) The baserunning has been brutal. I know they want to be aggressive this year, but running yourself out of rallies isn't a good idea either. I guess I'd rather they err on the side of aggression vs. being too passive. Last night Reed tried to go from first to third on a single and Vlad had him gunned out by 10 feet, but somehow the ball got by Figgins. VERY lucky.

All in all, hard to complain about 2 out of 3 to start it out. This might be a .500 team after all. They are 100% more interesting this year than they were last year at this time, no doubt about it! Read more ...plus comments