Friday, April 18, 2008

Jazz/Celtics Finals?

John Hollinger, ESPN's stats dude thinks so. It is a good article with statistical evidence. I'm a big stats guy, more so in baseball than in basketball but I like basketball deep stats too. Some things Hollinger says:

Utah has the best chance of coming out of the west at 31 percent.

Jazz played amazingly well over the last fourth of the season. They had an offensive efficiency rating of 116.0, which over a full season would have made them easily the best offensive team of all time.

Jazz were 37-12 after Jan. 1. They had tons of blowout wins over quality teams. Here are some blowout wins this season:

Beat Boston by 18 at their place, the Celtics' worst loss of the season.

Beat New Orleans by 28 and 22, two of Hornets worst losses of season.

Beat San Antonio by 26, Spurs worst loss of season.

Beat Lakers by 24, Lakers worst loss of season.

Beat Phoenix by 22.

Beat Denver by 27 two times.

He points out Utah won 18 games by more than 20 points. The only loss by 20 points for the Jazz was the last game against the Spurs. But can you really think that last game matters, Deron Williams was injured and the Jazz probably lost on purpose, not wanting to face the Spurs in round 1.

Great article by Hollinger, nice to see the Jazz get some love from ESPN. It is about time.

By the way he predicts the Jazz to beat the Rockets in 6, the Lakers in 6, the Hornets in 6, and finally losing to Boston in 6 in the Finals.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

2008 NBA Playoffs

The Jazz lost in convincing fashion last night against the Spurs, proving that it would be better to not have home-court advantage rather than have to face the Spurs in round 1. The difference is that the Jazz will definitely beat the Rockets in round 1 while they only can beat the Spurs.

Here is my NBA predictions
Lakers vs Nuggets - Lakers in 5

Jazz vs Rockets - Jazz in 5

Spurs vs Suns - Suns in 6

Hornets vs Mavs - Mavs in 6

Boston vs Atlanta - Boston in 4

Detroit vs Philadelphia - Detroit in 6

Cleveland vs Washington - Washington in 7

Orlando vs Toronto - Orlando in 6

Lakers vs Jazz - Jazz in 6

Suns vs Mavs - Suns in 5

Boston vs Washington - Washington in 6

Detroit vs Orlando - Detroit in 6

Jazz vs Suns - Jazz in 6

Detroit vs Washington - Detroit in 6

Jazz vs Detroit - Jazz in 5

There will definitely be more posts later about the first round match-up between the Jazz and the Rockets, but for now, if they beat them last year with Yao Ming, why wouldn't they beat them this year without Yao Ming?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Liriano's Return

Francisco Liriano pitched in a major-league game for the first time since 2006. His final pitching line wasn't pretty:
 IP     H     R     ER     BB     SO     HR     PIT
4.2 6 4 4 5 4 0 90

Liriano didn't have an outstanding spring training, and he didn't pitch well in two minor-league rehab outings. So really it shouldn't come as a big surprise that his first start in the majors was a little discouraging. The weather didn't help at all. It was very cold in Kansas City and Liriano said he couldn't feel his fingers. This guy is Dominican and he was rehabbing in Florida, not Minnesota. He will pitch in the Metrodome on Friday so we will see if the weather affected his performance at all.

His command and velocity were not good, not nearly where they were at pre-surgery. That is expected from someone who missed 18 months of action.

So yesterday Liriano only showed that his road back to where he was in 2006 could be a long one. The positive news of the day was that he is still healthy and he didn't haev any setbacks. His velocity was still MLB worthy, he was throwing at 90 MPH. It is too early to pass judgement on how Liriano will turn out to be after surgery, we will just see how he does in his next few games.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Barry Bonds to the Minnesota Twins

Everyone this season was saying how the Twins finally fixed their hitting but their pitching wasn't going to be good enough with the losses of Santana, Silva, and Garza. Well so far (it is still early) the Twins have the worst offense in the AL. Ok Detroit is the only team that has scored fewer runs, they only have 15, while the Twins have 23. But Detroit should have the best offense in the AL. And as for catching other teams offensively it doesn't look good. The next two teams up the ladder are Boston and the Yankees, the two other offensive powerhouses in the AL. The Twins only have 3 HR the whole year, 2 by Morneau. Torii Hunter alone has out-homered the Twins 4-3. I just don't know if the Twins hitters will be able to do much this year. I thought they looked alright on paper, at least comapred to last year. But if Delmon Young and Joe Mauer still aren't developing 20 HR power, only Morneau is a guarantee to hit over 20 HR. I guess Kubel, Lamb, Cuddyer, and Monroe, even Gomez in the future could reach that. But it just might not be this year. We're only 7 games into the season so it is a bit to early to start panicking, but it sure would have been nice to start the season out on top of the ladder rather than on bottom.

The only solution I see is to sign Barry Bonds. Bonds would solve so many of the Twins problems. He could still be one of the best if not the best hitter in the game. He would boost two Twins totals that are terrible, namely home runs and on-base percentage. Don't tell me the Twins don't have the money, they just lost Silva and Santana and Hunter who ate up most the payroll. Barry could also help out the young hitters with their stroke, like Young and Gomez. Make it happen Bill Smith!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Jazz thrash the Spurs

Wow the Jazz killed the Spurs for the first time in forever. The Jazz lead the series 2-1. Maybe the Jazz really can beat anybody in the playoffs. The last regular season game for the Jazz this year is at San Antonio so if they beat the Spurs at their place then they will really have me convinced. Oh and did I mention the Jazz held the Spurs to a franchise low points in a game? You heard it here first: Utah Jazz 2008 NBA Champions!

Cuddyer on the DL

Michael Cuddyer was injured in last night's victory. The Twins placed him on the DL and called up Denard Span to replace him. It is tough to lose your #3 hitter, but Delmon Young should be hitting third and now he will probably get his chance. Plus this means that Jason Kubel, arguably the Twins best hitter(that is another post for another time) will be playing everyday. So actually this just might jumpstat the Twins offense.

And how about Gomez! 3 hits last night, he is hitting .450 and leading the majors with 4 steals.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Depressing stat

Thanks to ESPN for pointing this out. The Jazz are the only NBA team this season to lose on the road to the Knicks, the Wolves twice, and the Heat. Had they not lost those four games they would be in first place in the Western Conference. Every game really does count. That is just a little something to chew on as the Jazz take on the Spurs tonight.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A look ahead: 2010 Minnesota Twins

In 2010 the Twins new ballpark will open. This will be a huge day for the Twins shall be getting out of the Metrodome, perhaps the worst baseball ballpark in MLB. The Twins aren’t necessarily rebuilding but they are regrouping, trying to be a World Series caliber team. It’s not a bad idea, most this team is really young especially the core. Only Michael Cuddyer and Joe Nathan are over 27. So the 2008 Twins are kind of like the beta 2010 Twins. Here is what the 2010 Twins might look like on opening day:

C Joe Mauer
1B Justin Morneau
2B Alexi Casilla
SS Trevor Plouffe
3B Danny Valencia
LF Delmon Young
CF Carlos Gomez
RF Michael Cuddyer
DH Jason Kubel

SP Francisco Liriano
SP Scott Baker
SP Kevin Slowey
SP Phil Humber
SP Deolis Guerra

CL Joe Nathan

And the lineup:

CF Gomez
C Mauer
LF Young
1B Morneau
RF Cuddyer
DH Kubel
3B Valencia
SS Plouffe
2B Casilla

All of those guys have great potential. Only Joe Nathan and perhaps Michael Cuddyer have reached their ceiling. Casilla and Gomez could combine for over 100 SB. Mauer/Young/Morneau/Cuddyer/Kubel will be one of the best middle of the lineup combinations. Valencia and Plouffe have great offensive potential as well. Valencia will be the best Twins 3B since Koskie and Plouffe will have the most extra-base hits for a Twins shortstop in a long long time.

And the rotation, well it could be amazing. Liriano could end up being the best pitcher on the planet (yes, better than Santana), Baker has the potential to rack up high strikeout totals and low walks issued, Slowey reminds many of Greg Maddux and Brad Radke due to his command and deception, Humber was the #3 pick in his draft for a reason, and Deolis Guerra should be ready for the rotation around this time and will help anchor the top of the rotation for a very long time.

This post comes at a bad time. 2008 just started, I know. The Twins could be very good this year. But they are more likely to disappoint. So if the season gets to be rough then we can just look 2 years to the future and therein lies great hope and potential.