Wednesday, April 26, 2006

2006 NFL Draft Preview
Featuring Notre Dame's Draft Prospects

With help from's draft list (misspellings and all) and one guy's draft projections (form your own opinions about its accuracy), here's a look at how each Notre Dame graduate-to-be will fare in this weekend's draft. (Yes, I do realize that in the one draft projection, Fasano is taken in the second round, then is picked as a "sleeper" in the 5th round.)

Anthony Fasano

Projection: Late second round.
Browns: Even after losing Aaron Shea, the Browns are pretty much set at tight end. If anything, they need a solid #2, and Fasano is likely good enough to be a starter. I'd take Fasano over Kellen Winslow any day, but I know that's not happening.
Bears: Rumor has it that the Bears are looking for an offensive tight end. A reliable go-to option would definitely help in Rex Grossman's development. Fasano would definitely be a good choice, but the Bears may instead go with an offense-only "tight end" like Mercedes Lewis.
Colts: The Colts already have Dallas Clark, and '04 draft pick Ben Hartsock is backing him up. Fasano may be better than both, but I don't know if Indianapolis would move towards another tight end.
Giants: Fasano has long been compared to Mark Bavaro; why not put him on Bavaro's old team? Oh yeah, they do have that Jeremy Shockey guy.
Jets: I don't know about you, but I'd take Fasano over Doug Jolley any day. The Jets probably have too many needs to take Fasano in the second round. But, if he's still around in the 3rd or 4th, I'd definitely snatch him up.
Packers: The Packers already have a starter in Bubba Franks. Fasano may be too good to come in as a backup.
Seahawks: Seattle already has two good tight ends in Jerramy Stevens and Itula Mili.
Steelers: Fasano's a year too late. Pittsburgh got their tight end in Heath Miller in last year's draft.
Titans: Ben Troupe is one of the best tight ends in the league. I'm not sure Fasano would be a good fit here.

DJ "Dan" Fitzpatrick

Projection: Undrafted.
Browns: If the Browns did sign DJ, they'd only be wasting his time. In Phil Dawson, Cleveland is set at kicker. After inconsistent play at punter over the past few years, the Browns signed free agent David Zastudil to a 5-year deal, a good sign that he's going to be their guy.
Bears: The Bears are set at punter, but it looks like they may need a kicker. Can DJ hack it as a placekicker in the NFL?
Colts: Set at kicker, set at punter. Next?
Giants: PK Jay Feeley didn't win any fans in Seattle last year. Would Ellen's mommy be willing to cook for DJ, too?
Jets: They may be young players, but the Jets are nonetheless set at punter and kicker.
Packers: Ryan Longwell is out at kicker, and Billy Cundiff is in as his replacement. Training camp may still see the formality of a "competition" for the kicker spot nonetheless.
Seahawks: Seattle is basically set with Josh Brown and Tom Rouen.
Steelers: In Jeff Reed and Chris Gardocki, the World Champs are set at punter and kicker.
Titans: The Titans do need a kicker in some sense. They do however have ND grad Craig Hentrich, who like DJ played both punter and placekicker for the Irish.

Brandon Hoyte

Projection: Undrafted.
Browns: Right now, Hoyte would be a role player at linebacker. Cleveland has enough role players at linebacker right now. What they need is stars at that position, especially at the inside linebacker spot.
Bears: Sure, why not. Let Hoyte back up Brian Urlacher for a while, then take over for him one day.
Colts: The Colts are obsessed with speed on defense, but they were in the middle of the pack against the run. Hoyte may not be a bad pickup.
Giants: Other than LaVar Arrington, the Giants don't have much at linebacker. Hoyte is a New Jersey native. Like Ryan Grant, he could end up with his hometown team.
Jets: Jonathan Vilma is the new centerpiece of the Jets defense, and he's in Hoyte's spot. Unless Hoyte can find a way to play along side him, this may not be a good pick.
Packers: Quick. Name one linebacker on the Packers.
Seahawks: The Hawks are young and talented at linebacker.
Steelers: Linebacker is a source of pride in Pittsburgh. A few years under the tutiledge of the current Steelers may work for Hoyte.
Titans: The Titans are rather thin at linebacker. Can Hoyte pull a Courtney Watson and step in at starting linebacker for a rebuilding team?

Mark LeVoir

Projection: Undrafted.
Browns: This is a possibility, I suppose. The Browns have two veterans at tackle. If they chose, the Browns could take LeVoir and groom him for a few years until he's ready to take over.
Bears: The Bears are two-deep at tackle, but three of those players are veterans. If the Bears want to go with youth, LeVoir is an option.
Colts: Starter Tarik Glenn is going into his 11th season. Kurt Vollers was picked up last year as a backup. Who would you rather have?
Giants: Sure, why not. That way he can hang out with Luke Petitgout and Klondike in the South Bend BW3's.
Jets: On one hand, the Jets are thin at tackle. On the other hand, they're young at that position, so they're probably looking for a veteran backup if anything.
Packers: The Packers are relatively thin at tackle. They are, however, rather young at that position.
Seahawks: It's a good veteran line with solid young backups. Nope.
Steelers: The Steelers are three deep at each tackle position.
Titans: Tennessee lists three tackles on the roster, all rookies last year. The Titans will need to go big at this position.

Corey "Dorey" Mays

Projection: Undrafted.
Browns: Again, the Browns need stars at linebacker. As a plus, Mays has proven to be a team player who can contribute on special teams, but that may not be enough.
Bears: The Chicago native could pull a Darrell Campbell and sign with his hometown team.
Colts: Mays was an unheralded role player at ND, and he did his job very well. Did he do enough to show he can be a role player alongside the likes of passrushers Dwight Freeney and Cato June?
Giants: The Giants just signed LaVar Arringon to play Hoyte's position. So, maybe not.
Jets: Again, if he can bide his time as a backup, he may have a chance.
Packers: Were you able to name a Packers linebacker? OK, name a second one.
Seahawks: Any chances Mays had of making this team went out the window with the signing of Julian Peterson.
Steelers: Mays is a rather underrated player. Serving as a backup behind some perennial pro bowlers may do good things for his career.
Titans: Rocky Boiman is gone, so there is a spot open for a backup outside linebacker.

Rashon Powers-Neal

Projection: Mid 7th round.
Browns: The Browns are set at fullback with the veteran Terrelle Smith. He doesn't touch the ball too much, though. Starting halfback Reuben Droughns is a power back. If the Browns featured a slashing speed back, RPN would be a good compement. With the same running style as Droughns, he wouldn't be as needed in the Browns offense.
Bears: The Bears' crowded backfield likely doesn't need a fullback who can carry the ball.
Colts: The Colts really didn't use a fullback in front of Edgerrin James. For the most part, they called Dallas Clark a fullback while lining him up at tight end, or stuck a halfback at fullback. If the Colts want to go in a slightly different direction, a converted halfback like Powers-Neal would be a good pick for their new fullback.
Giants: The Giants have more than their share of capable halfbacks, so they probably aren't looking for a short yardage ball carrier like RPN.
Jets: BJ Askew is a decent option at fullpack, and probably comparable to Powers-Neal.
Packers: Well, health is not something the Packers had at running back last year. William Henderson is entrenched at fullback, but this will be his 13th season. The Pack already has a power back in Najeh Davenport, but are they in the market for another one?
Seahawks: The fullback does get carries in Seattle's offense. With Mack Strong entering his 14th season, RPN would be a good pick as his future replacement.
Steelers: Well, everyone believes the Steelers need a power back to replace Jerome Bettis. The Steelers don't get many touches out of the fullback position, but coach Bill Cowher does love versatility.
Titans: The Titans have three capable halfbacks in Chris Brown, Jarrett Payton, and Travis Henry. Their lone fullback is Troy Fleming, and he proved to be a versatile offensive weapon. RPN would fit into the system, but the Titans have too many other needs to worry about a backup to their talented fullback.

Mike Richardson

Projection: Undrafted.
Browns: Richardson may actually be better at safety than corner. The Browns are set at safety. If they did need another corner, it would be a starter to play along side Gary Baxter.
Bears: Free agent signing Ricky Manning, Jr. was recently charged with assult with a deadly weapon - for attacking a guy with his bare hands! That's setting the bar pretty high.
Colts: The Colts have already signed three defensive backs this offseason. Chances are they're not looking for any more.
Giants: The Giants already have 12 cornerbacks on the roster, including current Hamburg Sea Devil Vontez Duff.
Jets: Well, in Richardson's favor, the Jets are thin at the CB position.
Packers: If Richardson wants to play DB for the Packers, he had better start growing dreads now. Even if he does, they still may not be long enough by the regular season.
Seahawks: Your guess is as good as mine here.
Steelers: A few years ago, the secondary was by far the weak point of this team. If they do improve here, they'll go big.
Titans: Tennessee filled the cornerback position last year, adding three rookies.

Matt Shelton

Projection: Undrafted.
Browns: To make the Browns as an undrafted wide receiver, a player will need to have another skill. For example, converted QB Joshua Cribbs returned kicks this year. A few years ago, CJ Jones was taken as a return man, and even tried some snaps at cornerback in training camp.
Bears: The Bears already carry 8 receivers, and they'll only keep about five.
Colts: Shelton has the speed to play in Indianapolis, but the health of his leg may be a concern on the artificial turf. That, and the Colts have already picked up four new free agent wide receivers, including old foe John Standeford of Purdue.
Giants: The Giants seem to already have a decent mix of size and speed at receiver.
Jets: If Jets fans miss Wayne Chrebet that much, maybe the team can stick Shelton in a #80 jersey and no one will notice a difference.
Packers: You may not have been able to tell by last year, but the Packers are pretty much set at receiver.
Seahawks: Speaking of CJ Jones, Seattle just signed him. Other than the return thing, Jones and Shelton are rather similar size-wise and speed-wise.
Steelers: Even without Antwaan Randle-El, the Steelers seem to have their fill of small, fast receivers.
Titans: Tennesee is already carrying 8 receivers, including Notre Dame product David Givens.

Dan Stevenson

Projection: Undrafted.
Browns: The guard position hasn't been a strong point for the Browns lately, so it's not a position they'll take lightly. Young free agent LeCharles Bentley was just signed to play guard and/or center, so the interior of the line is set.
Bears: The Bears only list two players as true guards. One, Rueben Brown, is entering his 13th season. Illinois native Stevenson make be able to catch on as a backup.
Colts: All of the Colts guards are young, so I don't see them going with youth for their backups.
Giants: Why would they need more guards when they already have the best one in the world: Chris Snee?
Jets: Again, in Stevenson's favor, the Jets look to be a little thin at guard.
Packers: Green Bay is extrememly thin at guard, so it's a possibility.
Seahawks: Again, this is a good, balanced line.
Steelers: Well, the Steelers are a little thin at guard. I do use "thin" loosely, though.
Titans: The Titans have two veteran starters at guard. They are rather thin there, though, so Stevenson would fit in as a backup.

Maurice Stovall

Projection: Early second round.
Browns: The Browns are full of young talent at wide receiver. What they need is veterans who won't drop easy third down passes. They got that, and some size, in local product Joe Jurevicius. Still, GM Phil Savage and head coach Romeo Crennel do believe in taking the best player available. There is a possiblity that Stovall will be the best player left when it comes time for the 12th pick in the 2nd round. If Stovall doesn't go to the Browns, Emily will have to hope for an invitation to Jhonny Peralta's wedding if she wants to rub elbows with Cleveland athletes.
Bears: Notre Dame fans who follow the Bears are hoping Stovall is picked up to complement Muhsin Muhammad.
Colts: Had the Colts not resigned Reggie Wayne, I would have considered Stovall an option. Mo is a possession guy, and the Colts are probably looking for speed, speed, speed. And yet, Wayne, Marvin Harrison, and Reggie Wayne are all 6'0 or shorter. If the Colts are looking for height (and they may be with three of their four new receivers standing 6'2 or taller), Stovall is the best option in the draft.
Giants: With 6'5 Plaxico Burress and 6'3 Amani Toomer, the Giants appear set in the tall receiver category.
Jets: The Jets have been looking for a tall receiver for a while. They thought Justin McCareins was the answer. I don't think Stovall is a bad selection with their second round pick.
Packers: When healthy, Green Bay is already tall and talented at receiver.
Seahawks: Seattle is similar to the Browns when it comes to receivers: they're chock full of young talent, they just need a reliable veteran with good hands. (Coincidentally, Jurvicius did play for the Seahawks last year.)
Steelers: With the loss of Plaxico Burress (and now Antwaan Randle-El), the Steelers will need someone to play across from Hines Ward. Like Ward, Stovall is an excellent blocker, a good posession receiver, and a team player. Playing along with Ward and under his tutiledge could do wonders for Stovall's career. However, to get Stovall, the Steelers may have to trade for an early second round pick.
Titans: Two of Tennessee's top receivers, Drew Bennett and Tyrone Calico, stand 6'5 and 6'4 respectively. Receiver is one of the Titans' top positions. There probably isn't any room for Stovall.

Thank you Mr. Gore. You're super awesome. The end.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Fun With Projections

One-tenth of the way into 2006, or 16 games, may not produce any useful projections. But that shoulnd't stop anyone from overanalyzing those projections.


Record: 192, Billy Hamilton 1894
Travis HafnerCLE23

Hafner has the ability to get absolutely locked in at the plate for a week at the time. That's how this season started, so any of his numbers will look slightly inflated. 192 runs is an absurd number, especially for a #4 hitter, who would have to rely on impressive RBI production from the 5-9 hitters in the Indians lineup. Hafner nearly got to the 100 run mark in each of the past two seasons, and he should top that plateau this year.


Record: 67, Earl Webb 1931
Todd HeltonCOL9
Jay GibbonsBAL8
Mike LowellBOS8
Garrett AtkinsCOL7
Johnny DamonNYY7
Adrian GonzalezSD7
Josh WillinghamFLA7

If I was a betting man, my money would be on Helton, who did hit 59 doubles a few years ago. He and Atkins do benefit from the thin air and big gaps at Coors Field. Of course, Helton is already on the DL. The bandbox that is Camden Yards may turn some of Gibbons' doubles into singles (or, in the case of the short right field porch the lefty Gibbons has to deal with, some doubles into home runs). Lowell has the benefit of a right-handed pull swing and the Green Monster, but some wonder if he can hit well enough to play every day for the BoSox. Adrian Gonzalez has the benefit of an insanely spacious Petco Park. But, to reach this record could require stretching some singles into doubles, and it doesn't look like Gonzalez has that kind of speed. (Of course, Gonzalez could just take a page from Mark Grace's book. Grace credits his 511 doubles to his ability "to turn triples into doubles.") Willingham does have the benefit of playing in a large stadium, even if it isn't as large as Petco. But, can a player with 48 career at bats entering this season break a 75 year old record?

Home Runs

Record: 73, Barry Bonds 2001
Albert PujolsSTL10
Chris SheltonDET9
Adam DunnCIN8
Andruw JonesATL8
Carlos LeeMIL8

Pujols is off to a tremendously hot start. In his favor, it looks like the ball carries well to left and left center in the new Busch Stadium. Of course, maybe it just looks that way because of the way Pujols is hitting. Most people are aware of Shelton's hot start as well, but one wonders how long he can keep it up. The large dimensions of Comerica Park are working against him, as is his spot in the order. Batting sixth certainly takes pressure off of him, but sooner or later pitchers can and will start pitching around him to face the bottom of the Tigers lineups. Dunn is known for his power, but he's also known for swinging and missing - a lot. Of all the 60+ HR seasons over the past 10 years, the player to do it with the lowest average was Mark McGwire when he hit just .278 in his 65 HR season of 1999. Dunn's highest career average is .266. Andruw Jones, still only 28, had the highest single-season total of any player on this list last year when he hit 52. He's continuing to show that he has become a great hitter, but is he really a 70+ HR guy? Carlos Lee, a good all-around hitter (let's just not go into his defense), seems to have hit a wall at 32 HR for a season, and he's already on the DL this year.


Record: 191, Hack Wilson 1930
Andruw JonesATL23
Albert PujolsSTL20

As I alluded to above, Andruw Jones is coming into his own as a hitter. On one hand, Jones has done rather well as a one-man RBI machine so far. On the other hand, with Rafael Furcal gone to LA and Marcus Giles and Chipper Jones frequently on the DL, who will be on base for Andruw to drive in? In Pujols' case, here's an interesting question: In the NL, is it better to bat third or fourth if you want to drive in more runs? Batting fourth, there are three good hitters in front of you who could potentially be on base for you to drive in. Batting third, you get more at bats, but there are only two good hitters (and before that the pitcher's spot) in front of you.

Total Bases

Record: 457, Babe Ruth 1921
Chris SheltonDET63
Morgan EnsbergHOU50
Travis HafnerCLE49
Albert PujolsSTL49
Andruw JonesATL47

Question: Where can I find a nearly complete list of hitters who are off to a hot start in 2006? Answer: See the table above. Ensberg is starting to mirror Andruw Jones - both broke out last year, and are continuing to hit very well this season. But, if this record has stood for 75 years, something tells me it's going to be more difficult to break than it looks from these initial numbers.


Record: 195, Adam Dunn 2004
Brad WilkersonTEX25
Richie SexsonSEA21
Adam DunnCIN20
Geoff JenkinsMIL20
Adam LaRocheATL20
Ryan ZimmermanWAS20

Who has the best shot at breaking this mark? Well, Dunn obviously set the record, and he's come close a couple other times. Sexson usually racks up the K's as well. I was surprised to see Wilkerson on this list. He doesn't have the star power that Dunn or Sexson have, though. If he continues to perform poorly, he'll be benched, demoted, or shipped out before he even has a chance to approach the record. Jenkins was an outstanding hitter in college. He hasn't quite lived up to that reputation in the majors, but something tells me he wouldn't let himself get anywhere near 195 strikeouts. Plus, if he continues to hit in front of Carlos Lee and Prince Fielder, he's going to get some good pitches to hit. LaRoche is platooning with Brian Jordan at first base for the Braves. I can't see Bobby Cox letting a dubious honor fall on one of his young players. Plus, at this point, would anyone be surprised if Atlanta found a superstar first baseman in their farm system to replace LaRoche? There was some question as to whether Zimmerman, a college star, was ready to be an everyday player in the majors. His glove is definitely ready, but there were still questions about his bat. One thing's for certain: Frank Robinson will not let his future star's psyche be bruised by getting anywhere near 200 K's.

Slugging %

Record: .863, Barry Bonds 2001
Chris SheltonDET1.086
Albert PujolsSTL1.021
Morgan EnsbergHOU.943
Jim ThomeCHW.867

Question: Is there anyone we left off of that hot start list? Answer: Yes, Jim Thome. Thome's tear hasn't finished yet. But, like Hafner, he's a guy who just gets locked in from time to time, and he's locked in right now. Oh, and if any of these guys are still slugging over .800 in June, we'll talk.

Batting Average

Magic Number: .400
Chris SheltonDET.431
Morgan EnsbergHOU.415
Victor MartinezCLE.413
Casey BlakeCLE.412
Ramon HernandezBAL.407
Todd WalkerCHC.405
Luis CastilloMIN.404

Ah, the magic number 400. Will anyone chase it this year? Shelton and Ensberg are locked in right now, but can they keep it up for a full season? Shelton is only in his second full season, and Ensberg's never even hit .300 before. Martinez and Hernandez have their position working against them. Hitting .400 requires you to leg out some infield singles, and there's a reason why the phrase "catcher running!" is a signal for an infielder to slow down and take his time with the throw. As catchers, their bodies will also break down over the course of the season. Of course, Martinez, a notoriously slow starter, did hit .380 in the second half last season. That hot streak has continued into this year, aided by the Indians facing an abnormal amount of left-handed starters. Thus far in 2006, Martinez is hitting .533 against lefties but "only" .265 against righties. Can Martinez keep his average up once he starts facing the regular dose of right-handed pitching? Casey Blake had a career year in 2004, hitting a whopping .271. The following year, he hit .241. I'm in no hurry for him to cool off, but I know it's going to happen sooner or later. I was going to say I was worried whether Dusty Baker would give Walker enough at bats to chase .400, but now I'm starting to regret that thought. Walker has always been a decent hitter, but .290 isn't .400. If there's anyone to put your money on, it's Castillo. Castillo flirted with .400 for a while 6 years ago, but ended the season hitting .334. Still, the pinball table that is the Metrodome is a perfect complement to his ground ball, contact-hitting style.


Magic Number: 30
Erik BedardBAL4
Curt SchillingBOS4
Oscar VillarealATL4
Josh BeckettBOS3
Gustavo ChacinTOR3
Greg MadduxCHC3
Jason MarquisSTL3
Pedro MartinezNYM3
Roy OswaltHOU3
Kenny RogersDET3

The 30 win mark hasn't been hit in decades. Of the pitchers who already have 4 wins, only Schilling is on a team good enough to give him a shot. But, of course, health is an issue. He may not reach 30 starts, much less 30 wins. Beckett's move to a new league has aided him so far. Hitters will start to figure him out eventually. That isn't to say he won't have a very good year, though. Chacin just appears to be a hot starter. After a handful of wins in a row to start 2005, he ended with a 13-9 records. Chacin needs to think about 20 before he can think about 30. Maddux is definitely an interesting choice. I'll be rooting for him, and leave it at that. Marquis has been on the verge of a breakout season for a while now. I'd be happy for him if this was his breakout season, assuming a 15-7 2004 wasn't. But, like Chacin, he needs to think about taking things one step at a time. Pedro Martinez has been aided by the Mets' great start. He flirted with 30 a few years back before his body broke down. Houston is known for a mediocre offense, and Roy Oswalt may find himself on the wrong end of a few too many 1-0 and 2-1 games this year. Like Martinez, Rogers is partially the beneficiary of his team's hot start. He keeps himself in great shape, but to assume he wins 30 games is to assume the Tigers win 100.


Magic Number: 20
Scott ElartonKC4
Jon LieberPHI3
Brian MoehlerFLA3
Andy PettitteHOU3
Victor SantosPIT3
Jorge SosaATL3
Josh TowersTOR3

The easy money is on Kansas City's Elarton, right? Not so fast my friend. Elarton may hit the mid teens in the loss column, but manager Buddy Bell will start shuttling minor leaguers to the mound before his new millionaire "ace" has a chance to hit 20. If the Phillies ace approaches 20, things will get ugly. I can't see that team being that bad. Yes, the Marlins did have a firesale, but they really are rebuilding. Before Moehler hits 20, there will be a legit prospect waiting in the wings to replace him. Pettitte still has his pride. He's off to a rough start, but he should turn things around to some degree, with or without run support. Victor Santos is the guy I would worry about. Unlike in Elarton or Moehler's case, he is the young replacement prospect. Good luck, kid. Sosa won't last in Atlanta to see 20 losses. Bobby Cox wouldn't risk losing face by letting anyone get close the year after Leo Mazzone left. If Sosa doesn't turn things around, he'll be out the door. Towers, the only pitcher in the majors with a single-digit uniform number, perhaps plays for the best team of anyone on this list. He'll get things righted, even if it takes playing with his psyche by switching to a traditional two-digit number.


Magic Number: 2.00
Josh BeckettBOS1.29
Jose ContrerasCHW1.29
Greg MadduxCHC1.33
Tom GlavineNYM1.38
Curt SchillingBOS1.61
Chris CarpenterSTL1.67
Jason JohnsonCLE1.83
Brad PennyLAD1.88

As I mentioned above, hitters will figure out Beckett sooner or later, but he'll still have a good year. Contreras is still relatively new to the majors. He could go either way, but he should focus on an ERA under 3 before worrying about one under 2. Maddux is the only person on this list to finish a season with an ERA under two. He was below 1.70 in both the 1994 and 1995 seasons. Eleven years later, can he repeat? And how will his former Atlanta teammate fare? As the season wears on, one wonders how Schilling will fare. Carpenter proved he was an ace last year, but there's nothing shameful in giving up a few runs at hitter-friendly New Busch. Johnson had his first rough outing of the year on Sunday, giving up 4 runs in 6 innings of work. Johnson will prove this year that he's better than his career numbers to date, but he won't be a superstar. Brad Penny has finished with an ERA under 4 in only three of his six seasons. One thing at a time, Brad.


Record: 57, Bobby Thigpen 1990
Jonathan PapelbonBOS7
Bobby JenksCHW6
Tim WorrellSF6

Papelbon looks to be the leading contender, but for some there's already a countdown to move him to Boston's starting rotation. Without Papelbon, the next obvious choice is the closer on the reigning World Series champs. That makes Jenks, still considered a prospect, a good choice. It looks like Tim Worrell won't get an opportunity for 57 saves. Yes, the Giants are playing well, but Armando Benitez is already back from injury and has moved back to his closer role.

HR Allowed

Record: 50, Bert Blyleven 1986
Livan HernandezWAS9
Rodrigo LopezBAL7
Brad RadkeMIN7
Glendon RuschCHC7
Bruce ChenBAL6
RA DickeyTEX6
Brett TomkoLAD6
Kyle DaviesATL5
Aaron HarangCIN5
Danny HarenOAK5
Joe MaysKC5
Eric MiltonCIN5
Brian MoehlerFLA5
Oliver PerezPIT5
Andy PettitteHOU5

Wow, that's quite a list. Quickly. Livan Hernandez: How bad do you have to be to give up 50 homers in RFK? Rodrigo Lopez: My fantasy curse of Orioles starters continues. Radke, Mays, Milton: Well obviously you need to be a fly ball pitcher to have success in Minnesota. Milton, by the way, has given up 40+ home runs in each of the last two years. Glendon Rusch: Time for me to pull out my Cubs top 10 prospects list. Bruce Chen: Well, Camden is a bandbox. Let's see, what east coast teams hasn't he played for yet? RA Dickey: Gave up all 6 homers in his first start, and hasn't pitched since. Brett Tomko and Danny Haren: Does the phrase "pitcher's park" not mean anything to you? How about "fly ball pitcher?" You do realize that implies fly ball outs? Kyle Davies: Hope you have bus fare to Richmond. Aaron Harang and Oliver Perez: Going to be a long year, isn't it? Moehler and Pettitte: See above.


Record: 41, Joe McGinnity 1900
Barry ZitoOAK5

Not happening. Around 30, the ump will read the lineup card before the game, see Zito's name on it, and eject him before he can even throw a pitch.

Quick Notre Dame Baseball Alumni Update

Grant Johnson is a starter for the HiA Daytona Cubs. He's 2-1 on the season with an ERA of 3.00

The good news for Chris Niesel is that he's with the HiA Kinston Indians in his second year of pro baseball. The (arguably) bad news is that he's already been made a reliever. Niesel has now pitched 8 innings in 4 games, with an ERA of 4.50.

Steve Sollman is tearing up HiA as a Brevard County Manatee, in the Milwaukee organization. He's hitting .392 with a homer and 8 RBI in 14 games.

Steve Stanley's career with the Oakland organization got off to a hot start. He was at AA Midland by his second season (2003), and even spent most of 2004 at the AAA level. But, he was back to AA for all of 2005 and the start of 2006. Stanley announced his retirement from baseball on April 18.

One has to wonder if the success of teammate Brian Stavisky played a factor in Stanley's retirement decision. The two played together for Midland in 2005, but Stavisky received a promotion to AAA Sacramento and to major league camp for spring training in 2006. Stavisky is hitting .200 as a part-time outfielder this season.

For a complete list of Notre Dame alumni in professional baseball from the 1800s to the present, including stats through 2005, be sure to check out the Notre Dame alumni page at The Baseball Cube. And, for current stats, try

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Miscellaneous Ramblings

  • My Grandpa got a phone call from Lou Holtz the other day! OK, it was a pre-recorded campaign message for Bryan Flannery, but I was still pretty fired up about it. You can here the message at the Flannery for Governor multimedia page. (Unfortunately, I wasn't invited to any of the "Meet the Bloggers Debates."

  • Recently local Cleveland chocolatier Malley's unveiled the Travis Hafner "Pronk" Candy Bar. Hafner earned his nickname from being "half project, half donkey" (or, according to a certain softball teammate and Avon Lake resident, he earned it because a certain part of his anatomy drags on the ground). He didn't want his name on a candy bar until he tasted it and discovered it was the "best candy bar I ever tasted." When passing out free samples to his teammates, "I was pumped. I felt like a proud papa." The Pronk Bar may be the best Cleveland-themed chocolate bar since the Bernie Kosar Bar or my imaginary creation, the Matt Bahr. (Packed with football-shaped almonds!)

  • Congrats to Klondike for pulling a fast one on all of us. In the KankaMatic baseball draft, Klondike's final selection was "Ramon Perez." The only problem? There is no "Ramon Perez in or anywhere near the major leagues, and it took six days before anyone noticed! Well done.

  • Recently, Pedro Martinez hit three Washington Nationals in in one game, including Jose Guillen twice. Guillen was fined for walking towards the mound and causing the benches to clear after his second plunking. Pitcher Felix Hernandez and Nationals manager Frank Robinson were ejected and later suspended when Hernandez hit Paul Lo Duca with a pitch after both teams had been warned. What was Pedro's punishment for being responsible for three of the six Nationals hit in the series, and for hitting Guillen now five times? There was no punishment. Why not, obviously Pedro's a veteran with great control? Hey man, don't blame Pedro. Blame Pedro'stoe.

  • In his first start at the AA level, Orioles prospect Adam Loewen struck out 12, walked none, and gave up 1 hit and no runs in 8 innings of work. I've come very close to adding Loewen to my fantasy team in a super-Gammonsesque move. But considering what usually happens to Orioles starting pitchers on my fantasy team (Rodrigo Lopez last year and Daniel Cabrera currently), maybe I should do Loewen a favor and keep him off my team. Why is it that being an Orioles pitcher on my team is a curse, while being any non-Met on Dave's fantasy team makes it likely you'll sign with the Mets as a free agent (as Pedro Martinez and Carlos Delgado already have)?

  • Ever wanted to build a better mousetrap? How about a working "lifesize" version of the game Mousetrap?

  • Vontez Duff, under contract with the Giants, is currently playing for the last place Hamburg Sea Devils of NFL Europe. The starting cornerback has 11 tackles, including one on special teams, two pass breakups, and one interception. He's returned 8 kickoffs with an average of 20.6 yards per return and a long of 35 yards. Of course, the one time I flipped over to the NFL Network and caught a Hamburg game, Duff got burned deep by an opposing receiver.

  • I'm still kicking myself for missing this once-in-a-lifetime April Fool's Day Rambling: a fake engagement announcement with a wedding date of March 3 of next year (think about it). On a related note, I hear KankaManiac nickyschu had quite a bit of success with an away message "announcing" his engagement on April 1.

  • As a reminder, baseball lineups are once again due by 5 PM this Friday on the baseball board.

  • Speaking of the other message boards, Andy came up with the great idea of doing NHL and NBA playoff pick 'ems. Look for more info on those soon.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Cleveland Indians Roster Breakdown

Starting Rotation

CC Sabathia, LHP: Sabathia started the opener against Chicago well, until he fell off the mound throwing the first pitch of the 3rd inning. Later that inning, he had to leave with a strained abdominal muscle. The Indians training staff says the injury has nothing to do with his weight. He'll be out 3-5 weeks. Oh, and for those Clevelanders who want to get rid of him: hey, he's the winningest active pitcher 25-or-younger. Isn't that good enough for you?

Sorry, couldn't find a picture of him in the all-red throwbacks.

Jake Westbrook, RHP: Westbrook is one of the best in the league when it comes to ground ball to fly ball ratio, and this year is no exception so far. Westbrook is now 2-0, giving up uny 3 runs in 13.2 innings of work.

Clifford Lee, LHP: Lee's first start was a tough one, giving up 3 runs and hitting two batters in 5.1 innings. Fortunately, games like that are the exception for Lee. Lee was the only member of Cleveland's young core talent not to sign a big long-term deal this offseason, and he says he won't negotiate during the season.

Paul Byrd, RHP: Fifteen years after being drafted by Cleveland, Byrd is starting for the Indians. Byrd is replacing Kevin Millwood, who led the league in ERA but got virtually run support last year. So, what happens in Byrd's first start? He gives up 5 runs but wins an 11-6 game.

Jason Johnson, RHP: Johnson wasn't even supposed to start until later this month, but then Sabathia went down. Johnson responded with 7 innings of shutout ball against the Twins. Not bad for a 5th starter. I see Johnson as the next Scott Elarton - a mediocre pitcher on a bad team who becomes a good pitcher on a good team. Like Westbrook, Johnson is best when he can make the opposition hit the ball on the ground.


Bob Wickman, CP/RHP: Wickman always makes things interesting (his 1-2-3 inning Friday fills his quota for the month), but he does get the job done. He tied for the league lead in saves last year, and he already has three in 6 games this season.

Rafael Betancourt, RHP: Betancourt has proven to be a solid setup man who can also pitch 2+ innings a game in middle relief. He's pitched 3.2 scoreless innings so far this season.

Fernando Cabrera, RHP: Many think Cabrera is the closer of the future for the Tribe. He had a rough spring training, and it carried over to the opener when he gave up 6 runs in middle relief against the White Sox. Cabrera bounced back with a scoreless inning in Byrd's 11-6 win the other day.

My weekly Baseball America prospect email told me he had a bad spring.

Jason Davis, LRP/RHP: It's been decided that Davis, a former starter, will now work exclusively out of the bullpen - he won't even spot start. Called up when Sabathia was put on the DL, Davis has yet to appear in a game this season.

Danny Graves, RHP: Just what the Indians need - another wild but effective relief pitcher. So far, Graves has been wild - 2 walks and 2 hits in 1.2 IP - but he's also been effective with zero runs and 1 win. We'll see how long this lasts.

Matt Miller, RHP: Miller, the sidearmer, has developed into a decent middle reliever. His 3.86 ERA so far is uncharacteristically bad for him, and I mean that as a compliment. It should be all uphill from here.

Guillermo Mota, RHP: Mota battled injuries during the offseason, so manager Eric Wedge has been selective when giving his new reliever work. Mota is tied with Miller for the most IP by a reliever, and he also has yet to give up a run.

Scott Sauerbeck, LHP: Sauerbeck has never had good control in his time with the Tribe, and this year is no different. Of the 7 batters he's faced, Sauerbeck walked two and hit one. He's more of a middle reliever than a shutdown lefty specialist, so there's a chance Cleveland will be shopping for a LOOGY come the trading deadline.

Batting Order

Grady Sizemore, CF: Unlike last year, the Cleveland bats have gotten off to a hot start in April. It all starts at the top, and that's Sizemore. Grady goes all-out on both sides of the ball, and he's a legit star. No he hasn't drawn a walk yet this season, but I can live with that when he plays the way he does. Plus, it's said that he has the talent to one day become a 3, 4, or 5 hitter. After he had 22 HR in his first full Major League season, I'll believe it. With a new 6-year contract, perhaps we can pencil Grady into the #3 slot in the 2011 lineup.

An equal-opportunity gratuitous picture.

Jason Michaels, LF: Replacing Coco Crisp, Michaels will be under the microsope all season. I think everyone got a little nervous when Michaels made an awkward dive at a double hit past him on Opening Night. But, he's played well since. On a team that couldn't bunt to save their lives last year, Michaels has already attempted two sacrificies early in games. One was a popup to the pitcher and the other was foul over the backstop, but it's the thought that counts. This team struggled when it came to bunting and aggressive baserunning over the past few years. The fact that Michaels and/or the combination of Wedge and hitting coach Derek Shelton are trying to correct those flaws is a good sign.

Jhonny Peralta, SS: Peralta is the only everyday hitter to get off to a slow start, but he's sure to turn things around soon. And is it really that slow of a start? He's hitting .231 with 9 K's in 26 at bats, but does have a hit in each of Cleveland's 6 games so far and has scored six times. Plus, according to Peter Gammons, Peralta and Ronnie Belliard are one of the best double play combinations in the AL.

Travis Hafner, DH: The more Hafner plays, the more he reminds Clevelanders of Jim Thome is his prime. The Tribe's current big country farmboy is always going to work deep into the count. He has the power to stay back on the ball and hit it deep to center or left center. And, like Thome, he has the ability to go on absolute tears for a week at a time. Hafner just finished a streak of reaching base on 11 straight plate appearances: 3 walks, 3 singles, three homers, and a double. Oh, and I know it's early, but he's slugging .957 right now with an OPS of 1.457. Now signed through 2008, that's not bad for a guy acquired for Einar Diaz (now back with the Indians) and Ryan Drese.

Victor Martinez, C: Martinez is arguably the best hitting catcher in the game today. Or is there that much of an argument? Martinez may not be locked in at Hafner's level, but his performance so far is nothing to laugh at. That, and if you don't like what you're seeing now, you have until 2010 to change your mind.

Ben Broussard, 1B: Broussard is the first of a couple Indians who needs to prove he belongs here. His defense is OK but not spectacular. His long swing makes him very streaky at the plate. The singer/songwriter/guitarist used his free time to produce a 12-song CD last season. This year he's dropping the guitar and will use that free time to focus on his day job - in the hopes of holding on to the starting first base job in Cleveland.

Ronnie Belliard, 2B: Belliard has become the emotional leader of this team. He's a gritty, gutsy hustler who's never afraid to crack a joke to loosen up his teammates. (He followed Omar Vizquel's lead in serenading Bob Wickman during games to keep the closer loose.) Belliard strained a calf muscle on Thursday (coming off of the field between innings, go figure) and is listed as day-to-day.

Aaron Boone, 3B: When the Indians traded for the best third base prospect in baseball, Boone responded with a spectacular spring. He's carried that performance into the regular season so far. Boone is an all-around player: good defensively, smart on the bases with decent speed, and - for now at least - good with the bat.

Casey Blake, RF: Other than Broussard, the Indian with his job most at stake was Casey Blake. Blake broke out in 2004 to the tune of 28 HR and a .271 average. He followed that up in 2005 with 23 HR, but with only a .241 average. He's off to a hot start in 2006, driving in 6 runs in 6 games with an OPS of 1.100. Plus, in only his second full season in the outfield, he's already a workable defensive right fielder with a very good arm.


Kelly Shoppach, C: Shoppach, a young prospect from the Red Sox system, is said to be Major League-ready defensively, and it shouldn't be long until his bat catches up. True to his status as a Theo Epstein prospect, Shoppach walked in his only plate appearance of the season.

Eduardo Perez, 1B/OF: Son of Hall of Famer Tony (he was on the Big Red Machine), Perez was brought in to platoon at first against left handed pitchers. He's proved his worth so far, hitting 2 home runs in 6 at bats.

His dad was on the Big Red Machine.

Ramon Vazquez, IF: Last year, former Dodgers starting second baseman Alex Cora was brought in as insurance for the young Jhonny Peralta at shortstop. As soon as Peralta proved he could handle the majors, Cora was expendable. So, he was shipped to Boston in exchange for Vazquez. Why trade utility infielders? Cora was arguably the better player, but he also cost $1mil more per year. In a way, the money saved helped lock up the future All Star Peralta through 2011.

Todd Hollandsworth, OF: The 1996 NL rookie of the year was signed as a fourth outfielder. He can play all three outfield positions respectably, and it looks like he has a good throwing arm. He hasn't played yet this season, but Hollandsworth will provide a veteran left-handed bat off the bench.

Coming Soon

Fausto Carmona, SP/RHP: Indians GM sees Carmona as a barometer of how far the team has come. A few years ago, Carmona might have been able to turn his good spring with the big league camp into a spot in the rotation, maybe even as the opening day starter. But now the team is a pennant contender, and they can afford to start Carmona in AAA to help him further develop. Depth is never a bad thing, especially when it comes to pitching.

Jeremy Sowers, SP/LHP: Two years ago, Sowers was setting the world on fire at Vanderbilt. Last year, he quickly rose from Hi-A Kinston to AA Akron to AAA Buffalo, where he started this season. Comparisons to Greg Maddux are sure to come left and right when you have the type of control Sowers had. In college, he posted 327 strikeouts to 86 walks. In the minors last year, he had 149 K's (in 159.1 IP) to only 29 walks, including a 70/9 ratio at Akron! When the Indians do need a fifth starter over the next few weeks, it will be interesting to see if they go with the tested Carmona, or if they take a gamble with the young and intriguing Sowers.

Ryan Garko, 1B: The lumbering catcher was moved to first base this spring, because he didn't have anywhere to go with Martinez and Shoppach ahead of him. He already looks OK on defense, but he's sure to improve with time. And, without having to don the tools of ignorance every day, he may see some improvement in his .310 career minor league average.

Andy Marte, 3B: Marte is quite easily the best third base prospect in the game. Casual Indians fans may still be upset with the Crisp trade, but that should all be forgotten once Marte makes an impact.

Jason Cooper, OF: Cooper may have farther to go than anyone else on this list, but his journey through the minors needs documenting. Cooper is yet another star in the newly-developing Stanford-to-Cleveland pipeline that includes Garko, SP Jeremy Guthrie, former OF Jody Gerut, and a handful of others. Just three summers ago I was in Lake County watching Cooper tear up Mid-A pitching. Now he's starting for AAA Buffalo and was invited to the big league camp for spring training. Cooper may not get as much press as some of the other Cleveland prospects, but he's got all the signs of being a great ballplayer.

Jason Dubois, OF: As Jeremy likes to say, he's not French, so it's pronounced du-BOISE. (But not like the capital of Idaho. OK, he didn't say that part, I did.) Dubois tore up spring training this year, and I'm sure some thought he was worthy of a spot on the Indians opening day roster. So far, Dubois has been a great AAA player but a mediocre Major League player. Time will tell if he can put everything together and stick around in The Show. The Tribe needs right-handed power to complement Sizemore, Martinez, and Hafner, so anything Dubois would be able to do would be a plus.

Franklin Gutierrez, OF: Gutierrez is the type of five-tool young Venezuelan talent that makes Peter Gammons excited and me even more excited. He has the range to play center and the arm to play right, the speed and contact ability to leadoff and the pop to hit cleanup. Right now he's batting leadoff and playing center for AAA Buffalo, but it should only be a matter of a few years before he's taking over for Michaels or Blake. Gutierrez and reliever Andrew Brown, who probably belongs on this list in his own right, were acquired from LA for Milton Bradley. Yet another coup of a trade by Mark Shapiro.

Not a mancrush... yet.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

WNBA Draft Breakdown

Megan Duffy is the latest Notre Dame alumnae (or, as of right now, to-be-alumnae) to take her shot at WNBA stardom. Here's a look at Wednesday's WNBA draft, looking particularly at how it affects ND's four current players.

Detroit Shock

2nd round, 17th pick overall: Selected F Ambrosia Anderson from BYU. Anderson was traded to Minnesota for F Jackie Batteast. 3rd round, 35th pick overall: Selected C Zane Teilane, Western Illinois.
Bill Laimbeer, who oversees Shock player moves, wanted to draft Batteast last year. He couldn't, so instead he traded for her this year. Batteast will play small forward and power forward, primarily serving as Swin Cash's backup. But Cash is just one of three very talented "swingwomen" on this team, along with Cheryl Ford and Deanna Nolan. It will be interesting to see how Batteast fits into the rotation.
It truly looks like Laimbeer is building the Shock around size. Besides the four talented forwards, Detroit has 6'5 star center Ruth Riley. Riley's backup, now entering her second year, is the 6'7 Kara Braxton. And, just in case one 6'7 backup center isn't enough, the Shock drafted another in Teilane. The Shock are thin at guard, but that position seems to be at a premium throughout the league.

Minnesota Lynx

1stround, 1st pick overall: Selected G Seimone Augustus from LSU. 1st round, 7th pick overall: Selected G Shona Thorburn from Utah. 3rd round, 31st pick overall: Selected G Meghan Duffy from Notre Dame. Also acquired F Ambrosia Anderson from Detroit for Jackie Batteast.
Minnesota has no shortage of guards; Thorburn and Duffy are just two of seven Lynx under 6 feet tall. But Minnesota did need players who could create for their teammates. None of the returning Lynx guards averaged as many as 3 assists per game. I'm going to assume Thorburn will be the new starting point guard, with Duffy as her backup. Thorburn finished her college career with 679 assists, including 454 over her final two seasons. Duffy had exactly 500 "helpers" in her Irish career.

Phoenix Mercury

1st round, 2nd pick overall: Selected G Cappie Pondexter from Rutgers. 2nd round, 18th pick overall: Selected F Liz Shimek from Michigan State. 2nd round, 21st pick overall: Selected F Mistie Williams from Duke. 3rd round, 32nd pick overall: Selected G Crystal Smith from Iowa. Shimek and Williams were traded to Houston in a deal that included the Comets 2nd round pick, G/F Ann Strother from UConn.
Houston was desperate for a point guard, figuring Diana Taurasi would play better off the ball. They got their point guard in Pondexter. What that means for reserve PG Niele Ivey remains to be seen. But, the Mercury are still very thin at the 1 position, so maybe Ivey will be able to stick around.

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Weekend in Review
Opening Something Edition

  • Chris Quinn finished second in the college three point shootout. Quinn reached the finals before falling to Marquette's Steve Novak.

  • Megan Duffy effectively finished fourth in the women's version of the shootout. Duffy reached the semifinal round of 4 before going cold and finishing with 10 points in the round.

  • Duffy did fare better when it came to selecting this year's Frances Pomeroy Naismith award. Given by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association to the best collegiate player 5'8" or shorter, the award is named after the founder of basketball's daughter-in-law. Duffy, who stands at 5'7", commented that she wasn't going to wear heels to the ceremony for fear of being disqualified. A list of past winners, including ND's Niele Ivey, can be found courtesy Wikipedia. The WBNA draft starts Wednesday, so stay tuned to see where Megan will go.

  • According to Wikipedia, Megan Duffy is tall. Also according to Wikipedia, I'm tall. Unless you're not only talking about non-Hispanic whites. In that case, I'm average. And there's nothing wrong with being average. (Warning-ish: Video, therefore sound. Safe for work if your officemates are used to strange sounds coming out of your cubicle.)

  • Courtney LaVere also received an award from the WBCA. LaVere, who is interested in becoming a broadcaster, was awarded the Robin Roberts WBCA Broadcasting Scholarship Award. Courtney will be awarded $4,500 to pursue sports communications/journalism in graduate school.

  • How not to end a basketball game, brought to you by the Stanford/LSU women's Elite 8 game. Down by one with less than 10 seconds left, Stanford star Candace Wiggins dribbled left of the key and kicked it to a teammate in the corner for a wide open three. The three would have given Stanford a 62-60 lead... if LSU star Seimone Augustus hadn't stepped up to take a charge from Wiggins. The announcers called the foul "obvious," but replays showed Augustus leaning forward to make sure she drew contact. After the inbound, Augustus was fouled and made both free throws. There were now 4.6 seconds left, and Stanford was down 62-59. Time enough to inbound to a guard, dribble once or twice, and hit a teammate upcourt for a tying three, right? Nope. The inbounder heaved a Hail Mary down the court and into traffic. An LSU Tiger caught the ball, dribbled up the court twice, and chucked the ball into the air in celebration - with 3.6 seconds left! The ball came down with a full second left on the clock. Fortunately for Ms. Premature Celebration, it landed in the vicinity of two fellow Tigers. A made desperation three from Stanford at that point may quite have been karmic retribution for Cal's "The Play" some 24 years ago.

  • Blink and you miss college spring sports. After starting the season 2-5, ND's baseball team has grown their record to 17-8 (5-1 in the Big East). The softball team, still in the midst of a gruesome non-conference schedule, is 12-8.

  • As I'm writing this, I just heard the I-X Indoor Amusement Park jingle for the first time this year. You don't understand how fired up I am right now.

Finally, some updates on Notre Dame women's basketball alumni, courtesy reader Tara (ND class of 2010).
  • Ruth Riley has recovered from a finger injury and is back with the Colorado Chill. The Chill are members in the National Women's Basketball League, which plays during the WNBA"s offseason. Ruth's teammate on the Chill is WNBA All-StarBecky Hammon of the New York Liberty. Below is a completely gratuitous picture of Becky Hammon.

  • Liberty College women's basketball's first family, Assistant Coach Kelley and Director of Basketball Operations Adam Deyo are expecting their first child in March.

  • Meghan Leahy is engaged to a former ND basketball player from the men's side. At the current time, the future Mr. Meghan Leahy's name is unavailable.

  • Imani Dunbar, who had been with a pro-am team in San Francisco, is still working in the Bay Area.

  • Ericka Haney is currently an assistant coach for Chicago State's women's basketball team. (Chicago isn't a state, but they do have their own flag.)