Thursday, March 31, 2011

2011 MLB season preview and predictions


By Kshell

With spring training finally coming to an end the start of the Major League Baseball season has finally arrived. Baseball is unique unlike any other sport where you have a six month grind in the season which spans over 162 games. Then to determine the best team in the sport the postseason is condensed to just who can get hot for three weeks and win 11 games. Typically in baseball the team with the best record doesn't win the World Series. The baseball playoffs is a crapshoot much like the NCAA mens basketball tournament. So while many will predict the two best teams to meet in the World Series that often doesn't happen.

In this following post I'll catch you up on the offseason by breaking down each division. I'll talk about each team although some teams don't have much to talk about. Some teams made some noise this offseason and like usual the rich got richer while the small market teams took a hit. That is how baseball works in the regular season but in the playoffs still comes down to timely hitting and great pitching. At the bottom several other people will give their predictions along with myself. Hopefully in six months from now my predictions weren't totally off. Now I'll breakdown each division in order of last years standings starting with the National League East.

National League:

National League East:

Philadelphia Phillies:

The four time division champions Philadelphia Phillies won the offseason World Series. The Phillies brought back Cliff Lee this offseason signing the ace to a five year 120 million dollar deal. The Phillies even though they lost Jayson Werth are the heavy favorites to return to the World Series like they did in 2008 and 2009. The Phillies hope to avoid what happened to them last year when they were upset to the San Francisco Giants in six games. The signing of Lee has brought comparisons to the Atlanta Braves of the 1990's. The Phillies feature Cy Young award winners Roy Halladay(21-10,2.44 ERA, 1.04 WHIP with 219 K's) and Cliff Lee(12-9,3.18 ERA, 1.00 WHIP with 185 K's) along with Roy Oswalt(13-13,2.76 ERA, 1.03 WHIP with 193 K's) and their fourth starter is 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels(12-11,3.06 ERA, 1.18 WHIP with 211 K's). Safe to say the Phillies will be a tough draw in October.

Atlanta Braves:

This will be an interesting year for the Atlanta Braves as manager Bobby Cox retired after the Braves were eliminated in four games in the NLDS. The Braves a franchise who was in the postseason 14 years in a row made it last year for the first time since 2005 last year. The Braves a busy offseason trading for second baseman Dan Uggla(.287/33/105 with 100 runs scored) which helps a lineup which features mostly left handed hitters. The Braves feature a young pitching staff with Tommy Hansen(10-11,3.33 ERA,1.17 WHIP with 173 K's) and Jair Jurrjens to go with veterans Tim Hudson(17-9,2.83 ERA,1.15 WHIP) and Derek Lowe(16-12, 4.00 ERA, 1.37 WHIP). The Braves lineup is strong with Uggla, Jason Heyward(.277/18/72 with 83 runs scored), and Brian McCann(.269/21/77). In any other division in the National League the Braves would be the huge favorites to win their division.

Florida Marlins:

The Florida Marlins once again slashed payroll by trading away Dan Uggla. The Marlins do feature a nice pitching staff in staff ace Josh Johnson(11-6, 2.30 ERA, 1.11 WHIP) along with young superstar Hanley Ramirez(.300/21 Hr's/76 RBI's/92 runs/32 steals). The Marlins do have some young talent and went 80-82 last year. They could be a sleeper team this year but are just in the wrong division.

New York Mets:

Look up mess in the dictionary and you'll find a picture of the New York Mets. The Mets despite being in the biggest market in the United States haven't won a World Series since 1986. The Mets lost Johan Santana(11-9,2.98 ERA,1.18 WHIP with 144 K's) before the season even began. The Mets are hoping for a bounce back year from Jose Reyes. The Mets still feature David Wright who is an elite player in the game. The Mets pitching staff is troublesome and look for them to miss the playoffs yet again.

Washington Nationals:

The Washington Nationals were horrible last season yet again. The bad news for the Nationals was pitching franchise Stephen Strasburg(5-3,2.91 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 92 K's in just 68 innings) going down for 18 months. The Nationals did sign Jayson Werth(.296/27/85 with 106 runs scored) in the offseason to give the fans some excitement. With Ryan Zimmerman(.307/25/85 with 85 runs), Werth, Ian Desmond and #1 pick overall Bryce Harper on the horizon the Nationals could be a factor in a year or two down the road.


National League Central:

Cincinnati Reds:

The Cincinnati Reds surprised everyone by winning the NL central for the first time since 1995. When the Reds made the playoffs however they were given a rude welcome when Roy Halladay no-hit them in game one. The Reds were eventually swept by the Phillies in three games having been shutout in two of those games. The Reds feature a nice young core on their roster. The young stars are Jay Bruce(.281/25/70 with 80 runs score) and MVP Joey Votto(.324/37/113 with 106 runs and 16 stolen bases). The Reds also feature the electric Aroldis Chapman who has thrown over 100 miles per hour than any pitcher in baseball last season combined. Chapman only pitched for a month by the way. Chapman struck out 19 batters in just 13 1/3 innings, he'll most likely start the year in the bullpen. People sleeping on the Reds are making a mistake as they are primed for a run.

St.Louis Cardinals:

No team had a more disasterous offseason than the St.Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals lost ace pitcher Adam Wainwright(20-11, 2.42 ERA, 213 K's, 1.05 WHIP) for the entire season. You think that was bad what followed up next was even worse for the Cardinals. The Cardinals failed to reach an extension for Albert Pujols(.312/42/118 with 115 runs and 14 steals) meaning Pujols will be a free agent at the end of the season. There is no way a mid market like the Cardinals will be able to compete with some of the bigger markets. So the moment the Cardinals start to slump there will be whispers about Pujols possibly being traded. This will be a season long distraction. If the Cardinals can get past that distraction they still have Pujols the best hitter in the game along with Matt Holliday(.312/28/103 with 95 runs) and Lance Berkman. They still have Chris Carpenter(16-9,3.22 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) as the staff ace. The Cardinals will definately be a team everyone will be keeping their eye on.

Milwaukee Brewers:

The Milwaukee Brewers are looking to return to the postseason for the first time since 2008. The Brewers made two pitching moves in the offseason trading for Shaun Marcum(13-8,3.64 ERA, 1.15 WHIP) from the Toronto Blue Jays then traded for 2009 Cy Young award winner Zach Greinke(10-14,4.17 ERA, 1.25 WHIP) from the Kansas City Royals. The Brewers are hoping Greinke can be like he was in 2009 where he went 16-8 with a 2.16 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. The Brewers have always had the hitters with Prince Fielder(.261/32/83 with 94 runs) and Ryan Braun(.304/25/103 with 101 runs scored). The Brewers finally have the right mix of pitching and hitting. The Brewers are my sleeper in the National League.

Houston Astros:

The Houston Astros are quickly becoming an irrelevant franchise. The Astro's feature no stars on their roster. The one brightspot is staff ace Brett Myers(14-8,3.14 ERA, 1.24 WHIP with 180 K's) who in his first 32 starts of the year pitched six innings or more. That is the defination of a horse pitcher.

Chicago Cubs:

The Chicago Cubs still looking to break the over century hump of winning a World Series. The Cubs haven't won he World Series since 1908 and it's not looking like that streak is going to end anytime soon. The Cubs were a huge disappointment last season and are hoping for some bounce back years from Carlos Zambrano, Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez and free agent signing Carlos Pena. The lovable losers seem destined to have yet another disappointing season.

Pittsburgh Pirates:

If you are depressed about your current baseball team be thankful you aren't a Pittsburgh Pirates fan. A once proud franchise that has featured such greats as Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell and Barry Bonds(pre-steroids) has fallen off a cliff. The Pirates haven't had a winning season since 1992 when Sid Bream's memorable dash home eliminated them from the NLCS for the third straight year. The Pirates had the worst record last year at 57-105 and look for them to be terrible once again. The one bright spot is Andrew McCutchen(.286/16/56 with 94 runs and 33 SB's).


National League West:

San Francisco Giants:

The San Francisco Giants last season won the division title on the last game of the season. Then the Giants won their first World Series in San Francisco during that playoff stretch upsetting the Phillies and then Texas Rangers. The Giants still feature a strong pitching staff with two-time Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum(16-10,3.43 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 231 K's), Matt Cain(13-11,3.14 ERA, 1.08 WHIP with 177 K's), Jonathan Sanchez(13-9, 3.07 ERA, 1.23 WHIP with 205 K's) and youngster Madison Bumgarnger who went 2-0 with a 2.18 ERA with a 1.11 WHIP in the postseason last year. The Giants once again are the only team who can go toe to toe with the Phillies in the playoffs when it comes to pitching. The Giants once again will struggle with the offense losing World Series MVP Edgar Renteria in the offseason. The Giants will still be the favorites to win this tough division which features four quality teams.

San Diego Padres:

The San Diego Padres surprised everyone last season winning 90 games which saw manager Bud Black take home the manager of the year award. The Padres like most small market teams have to do traded away superstar Adrian Gonzalez to the Boston Red Sox. The Padres already have a poor offense and without Gonzalez one has to wonder where are they going to get their runs from? The Padres will feature a strong pitching staff which as a team had a 3.39 ERA. The Padres are hoping the pitching staff can carry them once again and this time not fall apart down the stretch.

Colorado Rockies:

The Colorado Rockies had a strange season for them. Normally the Rockies catch fire down the stretch but last year they were 83-79 finishing the year 1-9 in their last 10 games. The Rockies are another team primed to make a splash this season. The Rockies feature stud hitters in Carlos Gonzalez(.336/34/117 with 111 runs and 26 SB's) and Troy Tulowitzki(.315/27/95 with 89 runs scored and 11 SB's). The Rockies also feature staff ace Ubaldo Jimenez(19-8,2.88 ERA,1.15 WHIP with 214 K's) who started last years All-Star game. The Rockies have a staff ace and dominant hitters which makes them a dangerous club.

Los Angeles Dodgers:

The Los Angeles Dodgers are replacing hall of fame manager Joe Torre with hitting coach Don Mattingly. The Dodgers coming off a disappointing 80-82 season still feature a strong pitching staff. The Dodgers feature staff ace Clayton Kershaw(13-10,2.91 ERA,1.18 WHIP with 212 K's) who is followed by Chad Billingsley(12-11,3.57 ERA, 1.28 WHIP with 171 K's) and Tedd Lilly(10-12, 3.62 ERA, 1.08 WHIP with 166 K's). As you can see the Dodgers have a good pitching staff to compete in this division. The Dodgers are hoping Andrew Eithier can have a big breakout season for them to carry the offense. This division features four good teams and any of these four teams wouldn't surprise me if they won the division.

Arizona Diamondbacks:

It was just four years ago the D-backs had the best record in the national league and appeared to be the team destined to go on a run. Flash forward to 2010 where they went 65-97 you have to wonder what happened to this team. The D-backs even tried to trade away young superstar Justin Upton who is only 23 years old and is already an all-star. The D-backs with the strength of this division appear headed for another long season.

American League:

American League East:

Tampa Bay Rays:

The Tampa Bay Rays fresh off their second division title in franchise history saw some major shakeups on their team. The Rays lost closer Rafael Soriano in division to the New York Yankees, long time all-star Carl Crawford in division to the Boston Red Sox, Matt Garza and Carlos Pena to the Chicago Cubs. In fact the Rays bullpen will be entirely different from last season. So after all that it would be easy to assume this is going to be a bad team which would be a mistake. The Rays went out and signed two veterans Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez. Both guys will be motivated going against their old teams the Red Sox and Yankees. The Rays also feature staff ace David Price(19-6,2.72 ERA,1.19 WHIP with 188 K's) along with star hitters such as Evan Longoria and B.J. Upton. The Rays should still be able to compete in this division.

New York Yankees:

The New York Yankees were surprisingly quiet this offseason failing to land any of the big free agents. You add in the fact they didn't add Cliff Lee last year at the trade deadline one has to wonder what is going on in the Bronx. Even with the quiet moves the Yankees still feature a strong offense if not the best offense in baseball. The Yankees still have Mark Teixeira(.256/33/108 with 113 runs), Robinson Cano(.319/29/109 with 103 runs), Derek Jeter the Yankees captain(.270/10/67 with 111 runs) and Alex Rodriguez(.270/30/125 with 74 runs) which is pretty amazing for an infield who with the exception of Cano had "down" years. The Yankees still feature a staff ace and former Cy Young award winner in C.C. Sabathia(21-7,3.18 ERA,1.19 with 197 K's) at the top of the rotation. Outside of Sabathia the Yankees staff is pretty weak with A.J. Burnett as the second starter, Ian Nova is the fourth and Freddy Garcia(yes that Freddy Garcia) as the fifth starter. The Yankees bullpen should be strong with Soriano and Mariano Rivera. The Yankees aren't built for the playoffs unless they can somehow trade for another front line starter.

Boston Red Sox:

The favorites of the American League the Boston Red Sox had a big offseason. Had the Red Sox made no moves at all they would be in good shape as they won 89 games last year despite Kevin Youkilis missing 60 games, Dustin Pedroia missing 87 games, and Jacoby Ellsbury missing all but 18 games last season. The Red Sox basically acquired three all-star bats for nothing. Now you add in the free agent signings of Carl Crawford(.307/19/90 with 110 runs scored and 47 stolen bases) and Adrian Gonzalez(.298/31/101 with 87 runs scored). The Red Sox lineup will make pitchers work this season as they basically went out and snagged five all-star calibar bats to a team that won 89 games last season. The Red Sox also feature a strong pitching staff in Jon Lester(19-9,3.25 ERA, 1.20 WHIP with 225 K's), Clay Buchholz(17-7,2.33 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) along with veterans John Lackey and Josh Beckett. Pretty easy to see why despite being in a strong division the Red Sox stand out amongst everyone in the American League let alone the East.

Toronto Blue Jays:

The Toronto Blue Jays are coming off an 85 win season despite trading away staff ace Roy Halladay in the offseason. Nobody hit more home runs last season than the Blue Jays who hit 257 home runs. The Blue Jays were led by Jose Bautista(.260/54/124 with 109 runs) last season as Bautista had just 59 career home runs entering the season. The Blue Jays feature a young pitching staff led by Ricky Romero(14-9,3.73 ERA,1.29 WHIP with 174 K's) who will be the staff ace. The Blue Jays will once again be a good team stuck in the wrong division which has hurt them this whole decade.

Baltimore Orioles:

The good news for the Baltimore Orioles is that they finally have a quality manager in Buck Showalter. The better news is the Orioles once they get rid of Showalter will make the World Series as the three previous teams who have fired Showalter have gone on to the World Series shortly after. The Orioles this offseason made some nice moves picking up Derek Lee, J.J. Hardy, and Vladimir Guerrero to go with their young core. The Orioles will put up some runs but the problem is they won't be able to get anybody out.


American League Central:

Minnesota Twins:

The Minnesota Twins won the divison last year and for the fourth time since 2003 were eliminated in the ALDS to the New York Yankees. The Twins losing streak has gone to 12 games against the Yankees as they were once again swept in the first round last year. The Twins once again will try and get over the Yankees hurdle this season. The Twins return all-star closer Joe Nathan. The Twins still have a solid offense featuring former MVP's Justin Morneau(.345/18/56 in just 81 games) and Joe Mauer(.327/9/75 with 88 runs). The Twins feature staff ace Francisco Liriano(14-10,3.62 ERA, 1.26 WHIP with 201 K's). The Twins are hoping this is finally the year for them to get by the mighty Yankees.

Chicago White Sox:

The Chicago White Sox who has missed the postseason the last two years are hoping to return back to October. The White Sox resigned Paul Konerko(.312/39/111 with 89 runs) and signed power hitter Adam Dunn(.260/38/105 with 85 runs). Dunn has hit 38+ homeruns the past seven seasons in a row and will be going to a launching pad. The White Sox also traded for Edwin Jackson who threw a no-hitter last season. The White Sox made some moves in a winnable division. Look for the White Sox to light up the scoreboard this season.

Detroit Tigers:

The Tigers are coming off an 81-81 disappointing season. The Tigers did make a big signing bringing in Victor Martinez(.302/20/79 with 64 runs) to go with slugger Miguel Cabrera(.328/38/126 with 111 runs score) who has had some offseason problems but can still hit. The Tigers still feature flame thrower Justin Verlander(18-9,3.37 ERA,1.16 WHIP with 219 K's) to go with their young staff. The Tigers who haven't been to the postseason since they made the World Series since 2006 will be hoping to end that streak.

Cleveland Indians:

Like the Arizona Diamondbacks the Indians fortunes have change quite a bit in four years. The Indians were just one game away from the World Series in 2007 but blew a 3-1 series lead against the eventual World Series Champions Boston Red Sox. The Indians have since traded away two Cy Young award winning pitchers(Sabathia and Lee) and seen two young promising stars nosedive(Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner). The Indians who haven't won a World Series since 1948 appear to continue the sports trend of Cleveland sports sucking.

Kansas City Royals:

The Pittsburgh Pirates of the American League the Royals who once were a great team from 1976-1985 haven't been to the postseason since that 1985 World Championship season. The Royals have had just one winning season(2003) since 1995. During that time the Royals have finished last place in their division nine times in probably the weakest division in the American League too. The Royals after trading away staff ace Zach Greinke appear headed for another losing season and if not for the Cleveland Indians would finish in last place.


American League West:

Texas Rangers:

The Texas Rangers who prior to last season had never won a postseason series found themselves winning the American League Pennant over the New York Yankees. The Rangers lost Vladimir Guerrero to free agency and most importantly staff ace Cliff Lee as well. The Rangers did sign Adrian Beltre(.321/28/102 with 84 runs) to help offset the loss of Guerrero. The Rangers feature MVP Josh Hamilton(.359/32/100 with 95 runs), Ian Kinsler and Michael Young. The Rangers will still have C.J. Wilson(15-8,3.35 ERA,1.25 WHIP with 170 K's) who stepped up big time last season and will now be the staff ace. The Rangers are hoping their hitters can carry them throughout the season as the pitching behind Wilson appears to be thin.

Oakland A's:

The Oakland A's finished last season at 81-81 and is kind of everyone's sleeper pick to win the west. The reason for that is once again in the Billy Beane era the A's feature a strong pitching staff led by Trevor Cahill(18-8,2.97 ERA, 1.11 WHIP) behind Cahill you have Brett Anderson(7-6, 2.80 ERA, 1.19 WHIP), Gio Gonzalez(15-9,3.23 ERA, 1.31 WHIP) and Dallas Braden(11-14,3.50 ERA, 1.16 WHIP) who threw a perfect game last year. The A's also have Rich Harden on the DL who could be their fifth starter. The A's on offense went out and signed Hideki Matsui, Josh Willingham and David DeJesus. The A's are the exact opposite of the Texas Rangers which should make this AL West race interesting.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim:

Many are sleeping on the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim who prior to last season had won the American League West five of the previous six seasons. The Angels went out and acquired Vernon Wells(.273/31/88 with 79 runs) to bolster their offense. Like the A's the Angels will be led by their pitching which saw a breakout season last year from Jered Weaver(13-12,3.01 ERA, 1.07 WHIP with 233 K's) who will be joined with Dan Haren who was 5-4 with a 2.87 ERA and 1.16 WHIP while he was with the Angels. The Angels have the 1-2 punch in their rotation so if they make the playoffs that is a team that nobody wants to draw in the first round. The AL West will have a terrific three team race that will come down to the last week.

Seattle Mariners:

The Seattle Mariners who I previewed earlier in the week look to be rebuilding this season. The Mariners feature Cy Young award pitcher Felix Hernandez and appear to be going in a youth movement. The Mariners have had just two winning seasons since 2004. If you want to read more about the Mariners just read my season preview where I give an in depth look at the Mariners.

Well that is all for my previewing on all the teams in baseball. Now here comes the fun part where several people including myself will make our predictions. Should be interesting whose predictions turn out the closest and whose predictions turn out way off.

Predictions:

Patton Richard: Contributer to Seattle Sports Blog

AL East: Tampa Bay Rays
AL Central: Detroit Tigers
AL West: Texas Rangers
AL Wild Card: Boston Red Sox
ALCS: Rays over Red Sox

NL East: Philadelphia Phillies
NL Central: Cincinnati Reds
NL West: Colorado Rockies
NL Wild Card: Florida Marlins
NLCS: Phillies over Marlins

World Series Champ: Tampa Bay Rays

NL MVP: Hanley Ramirez
AL MVP: Evan Longoria
AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez
NL Cy Young: Cliff Lee
AL Rookie Of The Year: J.P. Arencibia, Catcher, Toronto
NL Rookie Of The Year: Freddie Freeman, 1B, Braves

Korey Payne: Blogger and contributer to SSB

AL EAST- New York Yankees
AL CENTRAL- Chicago White Sox
AL WEST- Los Angeles Angels

NL EAST- Philadelphia Phillies
NL CENTRAL- St. Louis Cardinals
NL WEST- San Diego Padres

AL WILD CARD TEAM- Boston Red Sox

NL WILD CARD TEAM- San Francisco Giants

ALCS- New York Yankees Vs. Boston Red Sox

NLCS- Philadelphia Phillies Vs. San Diego Padres

WORLD SERIES- New York Yankees winning against Philadelphia Phillies

AL Cy Young- Felix Hernandez
NL Cy Young- Roy Halladay
AL MVP- Alex Rodriguez
NL MVP- Albert Pujols

100 Loss Teams- Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Indians

Michael Hourigan: Contributer to SSB

AL East - Red Sox
AL Central - Twins
AL West - Angels

NL East - Phillies
NL Central - Brewers
NL West - Dodgers

AL Wild Card - Yankees

NL Wild Card - Braves

ALCS - Red Sox vs. Yankees

NLCS - Dodgers vs. Phillies

World Series - Red Sox vs. Phillies, Phillies win

Mark A. Miller: Contributer to SSB and leader of FANS!

NL LEAST:

1. Philthydelphia Phullies
2. Notlanta Native American Ax Wielders
3. New Yawk Muttsb
4. Florida Marlints
5. Washington Gnats

NL SUCKTREL:
1. Shitcocko Flubs
2. St. Loser Crudinals
3. Milwaukee Boozehounds
4. Ho'stown Assholes
5. Cincinnati Commies
6. Pissburgh Buttpirates

NL WEAK:
1. San Fransicko Gay-ants
2. Los Angeles Doogers of Los Angeles
3. San Diego Fathers
4. Colorado Rookies
5. Arizona Gardnersnakes

AL LEAST:
1. Baaaawston Deadsox
2. New Yawk Spankers
3. Toronto BlowJays
4. Tampax Bay D-Gays
5. Baltimoh Oreos

AL SUCKTREL:
1. Minnehaha Twinks
2. Shitcago Whitesux
3. Det-riot Le Tigres
4. Kansas Shitty Royal Pains
5. Cleveland Native Americans

AL WEAK:
1. Los Angeles Angels of Anahiem of Orange County of California of the United States of North America of Earth of the Milkey Way of the Universe of Infinity
2. Texass Lamegers
3. Cokeland Asslickics
4. Seattle eMbarrassers

AL Jokers: New Yawk Spankers
NL Jokers: Los Angeles Doogers of Los Angeles

NL CHAMPIONS: Philthydelphia Phullies
AL CHAMPIONS: Minnehaha Twinks

World Series Champions: Minnehaha Twinks

AL Cy Young: David Price
NL Cy Young: Tim Licksthecum

NL MVP: Ryan Howard
AL MVP: Gay Roid

AL MOY: Gardenhire
NL MOY: Mattingly

AL ROY: Ackley
NL ROY: Chapman

AL HR LEADER: Gay-Roid
NL HR LEADER: Fielder

Adam Lispie: Moderator of Seahawks Huddle

NL:

East-
Phillies
Braves
Mets
Nats
Marlins

Central-
Brewers
Cards
Reds
Astros
Cubs
Pirates

West-
Rockies
Giants
Dodgers
Diamondbacks
Padres

Wild Card: Braves

AL:

East-
Red Sox
Yankees
Blue Jays
Rays
Orioles

Central-
White Sox
Twins
Tigers
Indians
Royals

West-
Rangers
A's
Angels
Mariners

Wild Card- Yankees

AL champs- Red Sox
NL champs- Phillies

WS champs- Red Sox


MVP:
NL- Pujols
AL- Adrian Gonzalez

Cy Young:
NL- Ubaldo Jimenez
AL- Jon Lester

MOY:
NL- Fredi Gonzalez
AL- Terry Francona

ROY
NL- Bryce Harper
AL- Michael PiƱeda

HR leader:
NL- Pujols
AL- Adam Dunn

Michael Clouse: Friend of SSB and poster on SSB group page

AL East: Red Sox
AL Central: White Sox
AL West: Angels
AL Wild Card: Twins
ALCS: Red Sox over White Sox

NL East: Phillies
NL Central: Reds
NL West: Rockies
NL Wild Card: Braves
NLCS: Rockies over Phillies

World Series champ: Red Sox

AL MVP: Adrian Gonzalez
NL MVP: Carlos Gonzalez
AL Cy: Lester
NL Cy: Lincecum

Jonah Hobson: Standout outfielder for LCC Red Devils(2005-06) and HPU(07-09)

AL East: Red Sox
AL Central: White Sox
AL West: A's
AL Wild Card: Twins
ALCS: Red Sox over A's

NL East: Braves
NL Central: Reds
NL West: Dodgers
NL Wild Card: Phillies
NLCS: Braves over Phillies

World Series Champion: Red Sox

AL MVP: Adrian Gonzalez
NL MVP: Joey Votto
AL CY: David Price
NL CY: Cliff Lee
AL ROY: Jeremy Hellickson
NL ROY: Freddie Freeman

Three crazy predictions:
1. Pirates and Royals both finish within five games of .500
2. No one hits more than 43 HR's
3. At LEAST four 20 game winners this season

Kris Shellenbarger: The owner, gm and coach of Seattle SportsBlog

AL East: Red Sox( Too much hitting and pitching)
AL Central: Tigers( Verlander is a horse, Love the Victor signing)
AL West: A's(Amazing pitching plus I think Rangers fall back)
AL Wild Card: Yankees(Pitching is terrible but still great offense)
ALCS: Red Sox over Tigers(Sox are head and shoulders better than everyone in AL)

NL East: Phillies(Great starting staff although keep an eye on early injuries)
NL Central: Brewers(When Greinke comes back look out!)
NL West: Giants(The Champs still have a great staff, will clinch on last day)
NL Wild Card: Braves(will have second best record in NL)
NLCS: Braves over Phillies(payback from 1993 when Phillies upset the Braves)

World Series Champ: Boston Red Sox(Unless they get bitten by the injury bug they are going to be very tough).

AL MVP: Adrian Gonzalez(Look at his numbers last few years. He was at Petco with no protection. Now in Fenway)
NL MVP: Dan Uggla(He is exactly what the Braves need and will have a monster season)
AL CY: Verlander(He'll have a monster year to carry the Tigers)
NL CY: Lee(He'll announce being back to the NL with a CY Young award)

Well guys that is all for the predictions. I hope you enjoyed the predictions I'm sure some you disagree with. Keep in mind that in baseball not everything is played according to paper so each of us took some risks in our picks. I'll be looking forward to seeing how we all did on our predictions come October.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My interview with Jeff "the fish" Aaron part III


By Kshell

For the third consecutive week I was interviewed by Jeff "the fish" Aaron in which is becoming a nice trend. At first when I was interviewed it was pretty cool and nerve racking. Now I feel like I am when I'm discussing sports with my friends on the phone. I'll be a weekly guess on Aaron's show if you guys want to check out his page you can right here at gametimenorthwest. His show is an online radio show which is nice because you don't have to be in the Seattle market for an example to listen to the show. Well this week we went over several sports related topics including one where I passionately gave out a stat showing how pathetic Mariners president Chuck Armstrong is. In this following blog post I'll once again link my interview and go over the topics on here.


The first topic in this interview which you can hear by clicking this link was about the NIT and in particular the Washington State Cougars. Jeff had stated that at first he would rather lose in the first round of the NCAA tournament game than win the NIT. He then stated how he changed his mind after watching the Cougars experience a few more home games and get an opportunity to make a trip to the big apple New York City. This is where I disagreed with Jeff saying I still believe that I'd rather lose in the NCAA tournament because ultimately you are judged by what you do in the tournament. I also stated that nobody cares about the NIT(Not In Tournament) but I did play devils advocate saying where I can see why that is a good thing. For an example my brother is in the band at Washington State so he got a free trip to New York City. The talk of the NIT led us into the talk of the Final Four.


In the final four we discussed the two underdogs in particular the Butler Bulldogs. Jeff stated that he was more impressed with Butler than VCU because Butler is doing this for the second straight year. That is when I made the comparison to Boise State football where at first it was thought of as an upset now you realize they are a big time program. I mentioned how it's incredible Butler is doing so well despite a coach who barely looks old enough to legally drink. Jeff asked me who I felt would be the best NCAA final and I said Butler-Kentucky. I said Butler because they are more consistent while VCU is hot or cold so they could be blown out or even blow out the opponent. I said Kentucky because they represent everything that is wrong with college basketball. I went over John Calipari and his problems in the past. Apparently Jeff went to school with Calipari and even he knows that Calipari has a huge ego. I talk about the Terrence Jones fiasco at Washington as well. Then we discussed just how sad it is that most likely both Brad Stevens(Butler) and Shaka Smart(VCU) will probably bolt in the next couple of seasons.


Then the final topic we discussed was the Seattle Mariners who open the season this Friday in Oakland. If you haven't read it by now make sure to check out my 2011 Seattle Mariners preview by clicking this link. I first discussed the positives of the Mariners which is every fifth day we get to experience the best pitcher in the American League in Felix Hernandez. I also discussed the youth movement with Michael Pineda, Justin Smoak and Dustin Ackley. That is where the positives end for the Mariners. After briefly discussing the NFL draft and in particular Jake Locker where I still think he'll go in the first round I went right back to the Mariners. I wasn't done yet as I wanted to take some shots at Chuck Armstrong. Armstrong has ran the franchise into the ground his entire time in Seattle. I mentioned how Armstrong has a losing record yet isn't on the hot seat. How the ownership cares more about selling bobbleheads, creating a family friendly atmosphere and making a profit than putting a good team on the field. Then I ended it by referencing Charlie Sheen saying they don't have the Tiger blood that is for sure.

Overall the interview well pretty well. I feel as if I'm getting more and more comfortable and the subjects are in my wheelhouse. I'm a jack of all trades so I can discuss almost anything but like most people I have some area's I'm strong at. Talking about the local teams I feel like I can put my voice out there better. I'm passionate about who got snubbed in the NCAA tournament but I will get pissed off talking about how crappy the Mariners have been. I'm not afraid to rip our teams when they are playing like crap as I don't make excuses. I felt today's episode represented me very well and I'm looking forward to next week's show. Like I said if you aren't already listening to the show go ahead and listen at www.gametimenorthwest.comwhich will have hall of fame wide receiver Steve Largent on Wednesday's show. Well this show went pretty well and I felt like I blasted Chuck Armstrong pretty good which always feels good.

Monday, March 28, 2011

2011 Seattle Mariners season preview


By Kshell


Spring has finally arrived where the sun is about to come out, the grass is freshly cut and you hear the wooden bats crack. Yes baseball season is starting in less than a week. I'll preview the MLB season with predictions later in the week. For now I'll feature the hometown Seattle Mariners who have lost over 101 games two of the last three seasons. This year is a new year which the Mariners are hoping for a fresh start just like they did in 2009 winning 85 games a year after losing 101 games. The Mariners had a quiet offseason and will be counting on young talent that general manager Jack Zduriencik has brought in since he became G.M. in the winter of 2008. The Mariners since they will feature the youth movement will most likely be rebuilding once again. The Mariners will also have their seventh new manager since Lou Piniella left after the 2002 season.

The Mariners hired a new manager because last season went about as wrong as it could have gone. The Mariners after winning 85 games in the 2009 season and acquiring former Cy Young award winner Cliff Lee were some experts sleeper to win the World Series last season. The season quickly fell apart when every hitter had a career worst season. The team fell apart in May despite having Cliff Lee who had won a Cy Young award and Felix Hernandez who would win a Cy Young award that season. Eventually Ken Griffey Jr. who was struggling the whole year(Didn't even hit a single homerun as of June) retired abruptly leaving the team in caos. This was after a report that he had fallen asleep in the dugout. With the season falling apart the Mariners decided to trade Cliff Lee to the Rangers for some key prospects. The Mariners knowing Lee was a free agent had to get something in return which they did. Good chance two players in that trade will make the opening day roster. Then as what happens in sports when a team is struggling someone has to take the fall which in this case was second year manager Don Wakamutsu who was fired in August. So now the Mariners will turn to Eric Wedge to save the day. I'll talk about Wedge later. For now I'll preview the starting lineup if healthy on opening day and will include the reserves as well.

Starting 9:

1. Ichiro: RF

Ichiro has been the face of the Seattle Mariners franchise for the past decade. When Ichiro came over from Japan nobody knew what to expect from him. All Ichiro did was win Rookie of the year, win a gold glove, lead the American League in batting and win the MVP on a historic 116 win Seattle Mariners team. Not a bad start to a major league career huh? Ichiro this past season did what he always does which is hit over .300, collect his 200+ hits and win a gold glove. Ichiro since he has came over has been to an all-star game and won a gold glove in each of his 10 seasons. Ichiro in the process tied Al Kaline and former Mariners great Griffey Jr. for most consecutive gold glove awards by an outfielder with 10 in a row. Ichiro was recently voted without a doubt the best right fielder in the game on MLB networks prime 9 right now. What Ichiro has done is simply amazing in his career. He is a career .331 hitter and averages 45.7 stolen bases a season yet some fans want him traded.

The reasons for trading Ichiro makes sense in fact. Back in July of last year I explored this option in fact. The window for trading Ichiro who will be 37 this season has probably passed. Ichiro will be remembered for his 200+ hits but will also be remembered for his big salary that basically hurt the franchise. Since the 2004 season the Mariners have had just two winning seasons. The Mariners have made the playoffs just once in Ichiro's career which was his rookie season. The Mariners a few years back could have traded Ichiro and received some nice young prospects to go with their other young core presently. Instead Chuck Armstrong and Howard Lincoln won't even explore that option. Since Ichiro isn't going anywhere sit back and appreciate another 200+ hit season, .300+ batting average, all-star game, and gold glove.


2. Chone Figgins: 3B

Chone Figgins was a big free agent signing for the Mariners this past season. Figgins last year had to adjust to playing in a new city, a new spot in the batting order and had to learn a new position. This year Figgins returns back to third base which the Mariners are hoping he can give them a season like 2009. Last year Figgins hit just .259 with one home run, 35 RBI's, 62 runs scored but 42 stolen bases. Figgins was also benched for not hustling by then manager Wakamutsu. He later would get into an altercation in the dugout of that same game. Figgins had a pretty horrible season which saw him almost get traded to the New York Mets.

Now Figgins is back at third base where he played with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. While there Figgins hit .298 with five home runs, 54 RBI's, 114 runs scored and 42 stolen bases in 2009. The Mariners also liked Figgins since he led the American League with 101 walks. The Mariners were looking for a guy who could work the count since the roster was full of hackers. Figgins for having a disasterous last season did still wind up stealing 42 bases. Look for Figgins to get his average around .290 which is what he hit with the Angels. The Mariners with Ichiro and Figgins will once again try to play small ball.


3. Milton Bradley: LF

With the way last season ended I never would have thought Milton Bradley would be the opening day #3 hitter and left fielder. Bradley came over last year in the Carlos Silva trade in an exchange of two high priced guys who weren't working out with their current clubs. Bradley like the rest of the team had a disaterous 2010 season. What made Bradley's seasons unique was his season was disasterous on and off the field. Bradley this offseason was arrested, last year in the opening week of the season he flipped off some fans in Texas, then later in the month quit the team for a while to take care of personal business with himself. You add all that nonsense with terrible defense and a .205 batting average with just eight home runs and 29 RBI's it was one of the worst seasons the Mariners have ever witnessed. To make this even more surprising is the new manager Bradley once wore a shirt that read "F**K Eric Wedge".

What the Mariners hope is Bradley returns to the 2008 form which saw him make the All-Star team. Bradley that year hit .321 and led the American League with a .436 on base percentage along with leading with a .999 OPS. In reality I expect Bradley to keep declining like he has the last two seasons. I'm sure Bradley might improve slightly because this last year was so horrible but to expect much from him is crazy. He is currently blocking the path of young left field Michael Saunders who should be given an opportunity to showcase himself.


4. Jack Cust: DH

The Mariners signed Jack Cust from the Oakland A's this last offseason hoping he can provide the club with some much needed power. Cust who last year began the year in triple A will be the Mariners cleanup hitter this season. Cust is a guy who does three things only which is strike out, walk and hit home runs. Cust has led the American League in strikeouts three years in a row from 2007-2009. Cust was productive in Oakland hitting 26 bombs and driving in 82 runs in 2007, 33 bombs and 77 runs batting in 2008 and 25 bombs and 70 batted in 2009. Last year Cust playing time was reduced but he did hit .272 with 13 home runs and 52 RBI's.

The Mariners obviously are hoping he can continue that type of power. The Mariners won't mind the strikeouts if he is knocking the ball out of the ball park. Last year the Mariners as a team hit just 101 home runs and their leading home run hitter Russell Branyan who hit 15 home runs was let go. The next leading home run leader was Franklin Gutierrez who hit just 12 home runs and will begin the year on the DL most likely. The Mariners desperatly need Cust to provide them with some power.


5. Justin Smoak: 1B

The reason the Mariners traded Cliff Lee in division was to acquire Justin Smoak. Jack Zduriencik felt of all the prospects teams offered the Mariners Smoak was the best of the bunch. Smoak is a switching hitting power hitting first baseman. Smoak was the 11th pick overall in the 2008 baseball draft. After being rushed through the minor leagues Smoak saw himself ranked 13th on baseball america top prospects list heading into the 2010 season. When Smoak arrived in Seattle he struggled pretty badly hitting .156 with two home runs which saw him be sent down to Tacoma. While in Tacoma he hit .271 with seven home runs and 25 RBI's in just 35 games. In fact he helped lead the Tacoma Rainiers to their first title since 1969. When Smoak was recalled he appeared more comfortable hitting .340 with three home runs in his 14 game call up.

The Mariners are hoping that Smoak can perform at the small sample size he showed in September. He probably won't hit that high of an average but he also won't be as bad as he was in July. For the Mariners to be successful they need these big prospects to finally pan out. Smoak for the season did hit 13 home runs in 348 AB's so the power has already been established. Smoak just needs to work on his eye which was his strength coming up through the minor league systems. With Smoak the Mariners have a special prospect and it should be fun watching him sock the ball to the hit it here cafe a few times.


6. Miguel Olivo: C

Yes Mariners fans this is the same Miguel Olivo who failed terribly with the Mariners from 2004-2005. Olivo was signed this offseason to a two year/14 million dollar deal hoping to give the Mariners some offense at the catcher position which they haven't had in years. Olivo came to the Mariners as the catcher of the future when the Mariners traded then ace Freddy Garcia to the Chicago White Sox. Olivo with the Mariners was a bust hitting .176 with 11 home runs and 32 RBI's in 104 games before he was traded away. Well Olivo has appeared to have turned things around as he has hit double digits in home runs five straight seasons including 23 in 2009. The Mariners a team desperate of power need some production from the catcher position.

The Mariners are hoping that power of Olivo can translate over to Safeco Field once again. I don't see a happy ending here as Olivo is a dead pull right handed hitter which is a death sentence in Safeco Field. I also think he is blocking path of youngster Adam Moore who is in a make or break type of season. It will be nice to see someone not named Rob Johnson catch anymore. His dropping of third strikes was growing old along with his crappy average. For that I'm kind of excited for the Olivo era although I have a feeling how this is going to end.


7. Franklin Gutierrez: CF

A prime example of the good job Jack Zduriencik has done while in Seattle. He traded aging closer J.J. Putz in a three way deal which brought back Gutierrez and Jason Vargas. Gutierrez was a huge success his first year in Seattle hitting .283 with 18 home runs with 70 RBI's with 16 stolen bases. To the Sabermetrics crowd he had the greatest defensive season in centerfield history. Last year Gutierrez bat slumped seeing him hit just .245 with 12 home runs and 64 RBI's but he did steal 25 bases on 28 attempts. Gutierrez did win his first gold glove after being snubbed in 2010. Now Gutierrez appears to start the year off on the DL which is terrible start for the Mariners.

With Gutierrez appeared sidelined look for Ryan Langerhans and Michael Saunders to share the duty in centerfield until Gutierrez can return. With Gutierrez the Mariners have one of the best defensive centerfielders in baseball if not the best. What Gutierrez needs to do is be a threat on offense like he was in 2009 where he hit for a solid average and good power. Defense is very important in baseball especially in centerfield but you can't hit cornerstones of your franchise hit below .250 with no power. Now with Gutierrez starting the year off hurt it will be interesting how this year goes for him. This is another make or break year for him. A good year here soldifies he is a cornerstone for years to come, another poor offensive year the Mariners will start looking in another direction.

8. Jack Wilson: 2B

Well I'll start this off by saying Wilson is keeping the spot warm for prospect Dustin Ackley. Ackley was the #2 pick overall in the 2008 draft and was the MVP of the Arizona Fall league this past offseason. Now I'll dive into Wilson who was part of a big trade along with Ian Snell at the trade deadline in 2009. This wasn't one of Zduriencik's finest trades that is for sure. Snell who was a total disaster and is since been gone while Wilson is now moving positions. The Mariners are probably regretting giving Wilson a two year/14 million deal after the 2009 season. Wilson has had two forgettable years in Seattle hitting just .240 with one home run, two stolen bases and 23 RBI's in 92 games.

Now it appears the Mariners are cutting bait with Wilson. They are moving him to a position that they know will be occupied by June at the latest. Wilson just can't stay healthy and when he is his bat has been awful. The defense which was his strong point wasn't that great. I wouldn't be surprised by July the Mariners designate Wilson for assignment. His days as a Mariner appear to be on death row.

9. Brendan Ryan: SS

In a surprising move the Mariners switched Brendan Ryan to shortstop with Jack Wilson who is now second base. This move is significant because of Dustin Ackley. By playing shortstop that shows the franchise has value for you down the road. With Ryan the Mariners get a nice utility defender who is a career .259 hitter with the St.Louis Cardinals.

The Mariners are hoping he can produce a year like he had in 2009 where he hit .292 and stole 14 bases. The Mariners want someone who can be stable at the shortstop position. Despite being the franchise who always took a Shortstop in the draft the Mariners have failed to produce a good shortstop since giving up on Carlos Guillen. Now the Mariners will hope Ryan can at least fill the gap which has been desperately killing this franchise for a decade now.

Bench:

Adam Moore: C

A make or break year for the Mariners catcher who was once a top prospect. Moore last year in 60 games hit just .195 with just four home runs. Moore will get one last chance as Olivo could start the year injured as well. This is it for Moore or he'll join the long list of other prospects who never panned out.

Ryan Langerhans: OF

Langerhans might even start on opening day depending how serious the Gutierrez injury is. Langerhans is a solid outfield option but must improve his hitting. In Seattle he has hit just .207 with six home runs in 94 games. With Langerhans you'll get a lefty who is used to being the fourth outfielder.

Adam Kennedy: 2B/SS

Kennedy is a good veteran infielder who has proven he can hit some and play good defense. A lifetime .275 hitter in 12 seasons Kennedy is the type of veteran player the club could use. The 2002 ALCS MVP will be a nice addition to the Mariners.

Starting Five man staff


1. Felix Hernandez: RHP

With the Mariners losing 101 games it is pretty easy to think everyone had a bad season. That would be a big mistake as Felix Hernandez became only the second Mariners pitcher in franchise history to win the Cy Young award despite a 13-12 record. Hernandez had such a poor record due to no offense which if you are still reading you can see the offense won't be much better this year. Hernandez came up with a lot of hype but the last two years it's becoming quite obvious he is entering his prime. Hernandez in 2009 finished second in the Cy Young race going 19-5 with a 2.49 ERA in 238 2/3 innings pitched with 217 strikeouts. In 2010 his Cy Young season he was even better going 13-12 with a league leading 2.27 ERA, league leading 249 2/3 innings pitch with 232 strikeouts. The Mariners haven't had a run like this from a pitcher since Randy Johnson. The scary thing for hitters is that Hernandez is only going to be 25 years old this season.

With Hernandez the Mariners know they have the best pitcher in the American League and one of the best in baseball. If the Mariners were to ever reach the playoffs like the San Francisco Giants last year they could be scary. The Mariners need to build a team around Hernandez or trade him in a Herschel Walker type of deal where they receive four or five players. With Hernandez the Mariners have a special talent but an ace alone doesn't gurantee championships. The fact Hernandez went only 13-12 shows you that baseball is a team game. At least every fifth day despite how terrible the Mariners are playing the Mariners get a chance to watch the very best in person.


2. Jason Vargas: LHP

When the Mariners made the big J.J. Putz trade Jason Vargas was just a throw in. In fact more fans were excited about Mike Carp than Vargas. Vargas has come a long ways and will now start the year as the #2 starter in the rotation. Vargas in his first year with the Mariners went just 3-6 with a 4.91 ERA in 23 games and 14 starts. Last year saw a huge breakout season for Vargas who just recently turned 28. Last year Vargas went 9-12 but had a 3.78 ERA in 31 starts throwing 192 2/3 innings and striking out 116 batters. For Vargas it appeared he may have worn down a bit last season as he had never thrown more than 100 innings in a season.

Last year in the first half of the season Vargas was 6-4 with a 3.09 ERA in 17 starts going 107 2/3(Average 6 1/3 a start) striking out 68(5.68 K's per 9). While in the second half Vargas was 3-8 with a 4.66 ERA going 85 innings(six innings a start) in 14 starts while striking out 48(5.1 K's per 9). Like I said Vargas had never thrown more than 100 innings in a season and last year he almost threw 200 innings. In his previous four seasons in the Major Leagues he had made just 34 starts while last year he made 31 starts. Vargas features a nice change up and has shown he can strike some hitters out. I don't know if Vargas is a #2 starer though I've always seen him as a #4 or #5 starter.


3. Doug Fister: RHP

On most teams Doug Fister would be your 5th starter or long man out of the bullpen. Fister is what the Mariners had hoped for when they grossly overpaid for Carlos Silva. Fister is a strike throwing machine who pitches to contact while not featuring great stuff. Fister last year with the Mariners was 6-14 with 4.11 ERA and in 28 starts pitched 171 innings(six innings a start).

Like I said with Fister don't expect dazzling results. He does feature a purpose though. He is pretty cheap and can give the team innings. Several pitchers made a career off that(the entire 2001 Seattle Mariners pitching staff minus Freddy Garcia). Fister like Vargas probably slated a little bit too high in the rotation but that is to be expected for a bad team. If the defense behind him is pretty good he should be fine.


4. Erik Bedard: LHP

This is by far the Mariners biggest wildcard up their sleeve. With Erik Bedard you have when healthy one of the better pitchers in the game. The problem is when is he ever healthy? Well supposedly this year Bedard is finally healthy. The once savior of the Seattle Mariners back in 2008 is now hoping to pitch in his first game since July of 2009. Bedard missed all of last season. In fact since coming to Seattle Bedard in three seasons has combined to make just 30 starts and thrown just 164 innings. In those 164 innings he has a 3.24 ERA and a 11-7 record with 162 strikeouts.

With Bedard nobody knows what to expect. I actually feel bad for Bedard and felt he has received a bad rap. The guy is shy so people assume he is a jerk. He is a good pitcher and you can't control injuries. He isn't "wimpy" like many believe him to be. He just has bad luck with injuries and in fact tries to tough it out which makes it even worst. Does he lack good judgement? Probably. Is he wimpy? Hell no. Bedard if he is healthy realistically will be the Mariners second best pitcher. Hopefully this is finally the year Bedard can give the Mariners something. At the very least then the Mariners can trade him for some nice prospects.


5. Michael Pineda: RHP

Speaking of prospects the Mariners will feature the 16th best prospect of 2011 in Michael Pineda. The 22 year old Pineda is built like an ace as he is 6'5" 255 pounds and is a strikeout pitcher. In his minor league career Pineda posts a 31-14 record with a 2.49 ERA. He has struck out 396 batters in 404 1/3 innings. Pineda has electric stuff but like Hernandez in 2006 the Mariners will have to watch his innings. Pineda has never thrown more than 140 innings in a season.

With Pineda the Mariners have a future ace who can take over if they decide to trade Hernandez. If the Hernandez is kept then the Mariners can have a dangerous 1-2 punch in a couple of seasons. Hernandez and Pineda are separated by just three years in age so not unreasonable to see them carry the team for five to seven seasons together as the 1-2 punch. I'm just excited to see Pineda this year. I know there will be some bumpy starts but there will be some electric starts as well.

Bullpen:

Closer- David Aardsma: RHP

This is one of Zduriencik's best signings so far. Aardsma who will begin the year on the disabled list was a nice signing in 2009. Aardsma who had zero career saves when the Mariners signed him has 69 saves with the team the last two years. Since joining the Mariners Aardsma has 69 saves with a 2.90 ERA and has struck out 129 batters in 121 innings.

With Aardsma the Mariners have proven just how valuable closers truly are. The Mariners found a guy with zero career saves who had pitched for four different teams in four seasons and turned him into one of the top closers in baseball. With Aardsma starting the year off on the disabled list this will open up another opportunity. Aardsma will be the closer when he returns and with another 30 saves will be second in Mariners history for saves. Who would have thought all this when he was signed in 2009? Zduriencik hit a home run with this signing.


Setupman- Brandon League: RHP

In what is easily Zduriencik's worst trade giving up on the talented Brandon Morrow for Brandon League last season. League had an up and down first season in Seattle which saw him give up plenty of eighth inning leads. League on the year went 9-7 with a 3.42 ERA in 79 innings while striking out only 56 batters. League will begin the season as the Mariners closer until Aardsma is ready.

With League the Mariners need to see more consistency. His struggles could be because he couldn't throw his best pitch which is his splitter since Rob Johnson couldn't catch anything. League in the second half of the season posted a 2.86 ERA compared to 3.86 in the first half. The Mariners are hoping his great stuff can translate to better results. League will be in a ton of late inning situations either as the closer or the eighth inning man.


Manager:

Manager- Eric Wedge

The Mariners new manager is former Cleveland Indians boss Eric Wedge. When he was hired I offered up my opinion on the hire. I think in baseball of the three major sports the coach/manager matters the least. A manager's most important job is to handle the 25 different personalities on his team, use his bullpen correctly and other than that just sit back and see if your team is good or not.

For Wedge the Mariners hired a manager who was second in manager of the year in 2005 and won manager of the year in 2007. Wedge unlike Wakamatsu is an established manager and won't take as much crap. When Bradley wore that shirt Wedge was just in his second season as manager. I doubt Bradley or anyone will wear such disrespectful stuff. Wedge has a tall order in front of him and a front office who likes to fire the manager instead of look in the mirror.

Outlook:

For this to be a successful season in my opinion is if all the young kids get a chance to showcase their talent and some of them emerge. The Mariners have no shot at the postseason and are in rebuilding mode. If the Mariners lose another 90 games will that be the end for Zduriencik? Possibly. I know Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong would rather blame others than look in the mirror. Those two have ran this franchise for over 25 years yet the Mariners are just one of two franchises in all of baseball who have never reached a World Series. The Mariners haven't reach the playoffs since 2001 which was 10 years ago. As long as dumb and dumber are running things doesn't matter who the general manager and manager are.

As for the current 2011 team in place I see tons of change. You'll look back at the opening day roster and noticed that half this roster has changed by July. The bullpen other than Aardsma and League are so up for grabs I'd be wasting time trying to preview them. The Mariners for the first time in a long time do have some nice young prospects. Yet with the Mariners I always feel like they'll find a way to screw this all up. Look for some good pitching, terrible hitting, empty seats and people asking about the NFL come July. This will be another long season for the Mariners and the lack of excitement towards this year shows everyone else knows the Mariners fate. At least we have Felix Hernandez to look forward to every fifth day. Other than that this is going to be a long six months.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Zakuani's 80th minute goal ends the Sounders scoring drought in a 1-1 draw with Houston

By Money Mike

After a tough first two games of the season, the Sounders get their first goal and first point of 2011 in a 1-1 draw last night against the Houston Dynamo after an 80th minute goal by Steve Zakuani. It wasn't the result they were looking for, but it's a result they'll take.

Houston could've and should've been reduced to 10 men early in the game when defender Hunter Freeman gave the ball away to Erik Friberg and then pulled him down just outside the penalty area. Freeman was the last man on that play, but rather than sending him off, the referee only showed him a yellow card.

The Sounders continued to pressure the Houston Dynamo backline early in the game. In the 27th minute Erik Friberg's cross found O'Brian White for a header from point-blank range and goalkeeper Tally Hall came up huge for the Dynamo, making an excellent reaction save to stop what would've been the opening goal. Hall came up big again after Kofi Sarkodie's failed clearance sent Steve Zakuani away, but his left foot shot was again denied by the Houston goalkeeper.

Despite being the better side in the first half, the Sounders found themselves down a goal. In the 42nd minute, Lovel Palmer cracked one from 30-yards out which hit the crossbar. The ball fell to Andre Hainalt, who was unable to put a shot on frame, the Sounders failed the clear and the ball fell to Geoff Cameron who unleashed a low drive, which deflected off the foot of Jeff Parke and in the back of the net and Houston headed to their locker room at the break with 1-0 lead.

In the second half, the Sounders continued to throw everybody forward. In the 65th minute, Fredy Montero gave it a go from 36-yards out, but it was easily trapped by Tally Hall. About 8 minutes later, Montero was denied again from 11-yards out. In the 79th minute, Zakuani had another golden opportunity to equalize, but he was dispossesed by his former Akron teammate Kofi Sarkodie. Will that goal ever come for the Sounders? In the 80th minute, it came.

A corner kick from Erik Friberg deflected off the knee of Bobby Boswell to the back post and Steve Zakuani tapped it in to the back of the net to break Seattle's goal-scoring drought. Two minutes later, Seattle had a chance to take the lead but Fredy Montero's shot was again saved by Tally Hall. That was just about the last big chance of the game.


Leo Gonzalez booked for diving in the penalty area, did the referee get that right?:

NOT EVEN CLOSE!! Gonzalez and Zakuani combined very well on this play, it was Andre Hainalt with the challenge. The replay shows that Hainalt clipped Gonzalez and braught him down, that should've been a penalty. That was a horrible decision by the referee.


Scoring Summary:

Houston Dynamo - Geoff Cameron (unassisted) 42'

Seattle Sounders FC - Steve Zakuani (unassisted) 80'


Misconduct Summary:

Houston Dynamo - Hunter Freeman (caution; Tactical foul) 2'

Houston Dynamo - Lovel Palmer (caution; Reckless foul) 30'

Seattle Sounders FC - Patrick Ianni (caution; Reckless foul) 43'

Houston Dynamo - Geoff Cameron (caution; Reckless tackle) 46'

Seattle Sounders FC - Leonardo Gonzalez (caution; Simulation) 73'


Lineups:

Houston Dynamo - Tally Hall; Kofi Sarkodie, Bobby Boswell, Andre Hainalt, Hunter Freeman; Corey Ashe (Danny Cruz 85'), Lovel Palmer, Geoff Cameron, Brad Davis; Will Bruin (Brian Ching 75'), Jason Garey (Cam Weaver 45')

Seattle Sounders FC - Kasey Keller; Zach Scott, Patrick Ianni, Jeff Parke, Leonardo Gonzalez; Erik Friberg, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans (Mauro Rosales 71'), Steve Zakuani; O'Brian White (Nate Jaqua 61'), Fredy Montero

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Seattle Sounders FC vs Houston Dynamo preview. Four local boys returning to their hometown.

By Money Mike


The Seattle Sounders get ready for their third match of the season, friday night against the Houston Dynamo. The Sounders are coming off two 1-0 defeats against the Los Angeles Galaxy and the New York Red Bulls, and are in need of a big response. Meanwhile, the Dynamo are coming off a season opening loss at home to the Philadelphia Union 1-0 thanks to a 5th minute goal by Danny Califf. It was the first time Houston has lost a home opener in their history dating back to 2006. These two teams split the season series last season with Seattle winning 2-0 at Qwest Field on August 8th, thanks to goals by Fredy Montero and Alvaro Fernandez. Houston returned the favor in the final game of the regular season on October 23rd when James Riley's 11th minute goal was soon picked back by goals from Geoff Cameron and former Seattle U RedHawk and USL Sounder, Cam Weaver and came away with a 2-1 win. These two teams need answers!! Cam Weaver isn't the only one returning home. Goalkeeper, Tally Hall who graduated from Gig Harbor High School, Mike Chabala, a Washington Husky and former Gonzaga Bulldog, Brian Ching who also played for the Sounders in the USL make their return to Seattle.


Injury report:

Houston Dynamo - Well, there's really nothing much to talk about here. Calen Carr, who was aquired from the Chicago Fire yesterday in exchange for Dominic Oduro, has a concussion and he is out. Francisco Navas has a strained right hamstring, he is also out. Colin Clark still hasn't played a match for the Dynamo at all yet since being traded from the Colorado Rapids, and it's a question of whether or not he'll debut in this game. A left knee injury lists him as questionable. And Finally, Brian Ching has a strained right hamstring and is listed as probable.

Seattle Sounders FC - For the men in rave green, we have new updates and I promise you, they're good ones. Mike Fucito is still out though with a right adductor strain. Nate Jaqua is expected to suit up for tomorrow's match, but we don't know for sure, he is listed as doubtful. Brad Evans is still recovering from a right hamstring strain, he is also doubtful. Mike Seamon is listed as questionable as he is recovering from right leg neuritis. Pat Noonan is listed as probable with a left adductor strain, don't expect him to make the 18-man squad tomorrow. Last, but not least, Steve Zakuani says he's 100% and ready to go, we'll see if Sigi Schmid will put him in the lineup tomorrow, he's listed as probable.


Key matchup:

Steve Zakuani vs Hunter Freeman: Even though we don't know if Zakuani will start, this is the only key matchup I can think of. Believe me this could be the first time Hunter Freeman will face him and if Zakuani takes him on like, 10+ times, he is going to be under a lot of pressure, I don't think he'll be able to contain him.


Areas Seattle needs to improve on:

Play your game. Which is ATTACK!! ATTACK!! ATTACK!! for 90 minutes. They didn't play that game last saturday against the Red Bulls and thats why I think is the reason they lost. New York came at them all game long because they didn't go after the ball like they were supposted to, and nobody commited forward. There is no excuse for that crap, they need to go after the ball at all times and not let the forwards do all the work in the attacking area.

My interview with Jeff "The Fish" Aaron part II


By Kshell

In what is becoming a nice trend for myself I was on the Jeff "the Fish" Aaron show once again. This time the interview took place on tape delay instead of live which I actually liked. This way I could hear myself with the rest of the show all at once. On the other side by being taped I don't know the flow of the previous conversations. This interview with Jeff lasted longer than my first one and we covered more topics. The interview process was pretty fun and I feel as if each time I'll continue to improve. At first I didn't even listen to my own interview until a week later because I was embarrassed. This time I listened to it immediately when it was put up. In this following blog post I'll go into detail with posting a link to my interview to describe the topics that I went over.


In my interview which you can listen to by clicking this link included several topics. The first topic was about the "Pot smoking" Washington State Cougars. Jeff posted the new fight song for the Cougars who at the time had suspended DeAngelo Casto(They lifted it before the game) who was the third Cougars starter to be suspended for pot. I think this was the funniest segment as Jeff had some good one liners along with his song about the Cougars. I suggest Afroman since pretty much all their songs have something to do with getting high. Even the story of how Casto was caught was pretty hilarious. The Pullman police was on foot patrol because there had been some burglaries around that neighborhood. They happened to see DeAngelo Casto rolling a joint through his window. This is like a scene from a movie it is so funny. The Cougars had their three best players busted for marijuana in one season which is pretty incredible.


Another we talked about was the lack of buzz surrounding the Seattle Mariners. Never in my life(25 years old) have I never been so disinterested in opening day than I have this season. As I discuss in this blog post hard to get excited about a team losing 100+ games and making no big free agent signings. We also talk about how the Mariners would rather spend money on slogans than have a good product on the field. Once again Jeff had me cracking up with his "Come see Ken Griffey Jr coach third base night" promotion which sadly wouldn't surprise me. The team still isn't over 1995 which didn't even reach the World Series. Just sad because opening day used to be my favorite day of the entire sports year. Now with the Mariners I know they will suck so I won't even waste my time getting excited.

Another topic we discussed was UFC coming to Seattle to a sold out Key Arena. We also discussed how once again despite a huge following in the northwest nobody in the Seattle media seems to care. They will pretend to care this week but after this week will continue to ignore the sport. Like I said in the podcast hopefully a Silva-GSP fight can bring in all the naysayers as that will be the biggest event of the year besides the Super Bowl. That also brought up our favorite sports month of the year. For Jeff this time of the year is his favorite with the Arnold Palmer invitational, UFC, spring training, college basketball, etc. I also nominated April as well for opening day, masters, NFL Draft and of course the Final Four. For me though I picked the month of October as I'm a baseball fan. In October you have the NFL(hopefully) and college football in midseason gear, NBA is on the horizon and baseball playoffs the entire month. Then we had one final topic to discuss which is almost a right of passage I guess.


You can't have interviews without talking about the Warlock himself Charlie Sheen. This was brought up because I had mentioned before the interview I was online thinking about buying a Charlie Sheen shirt. I think I'm going to buy this one right here which says Duh! Winning! I chose the picture of Sheen to my right as Major League is my favorite movie of all-time. Crazy how Charlie Sheen ended up being a bigger screw up than Ricky Vaughn who had been released from prison before he made the Indians roster. We also talked about how he is doing his stand up in Everett and charging a ton of money. I won't be listening to his stand up as I don't know how funny his jokes can be. Plus in another month his act will grow old as will his 15 minutes of fame. Like I said in the interview I hope he is secretly a genius and playing America right now. If he is doing that I will bow down to such genius. Otherwise Sheen's act is just sad at this point.

To sum things up, this interview went pretty well. I felt more comfortable with this interview than my first and I'm sure my next one will be more comfortable than this one. If you guys aren't already you need to be listening to the Jeff Aaron show by clicking this link he offers good opinions. What I like most about Jeff is that he isn't afraid to voice his opinion. I'm hoping to get to that level and I definitely have it in me. For next week I'll try to get into Jim Rome mode on my opinions so watch out guys. Overall this was pretty fun and I'll never forget these experiences for the rest of my life.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Huskies season ends in heartbreak to Tar Heels 86-83 in round of 32


By Kshell

The Washington Huskies(24-11,11-7) season comes to a disappointing end to the second seeded North Carolina Tar Heels(28-7,14-2) 86-83. The Huskies had high hopes to begin the year which you can read here. There was talks of Final Fours and this being finally the year. Instead the Huskies fail to reach the sweet 16. The Huskies lost a close game to a tough opponent in which was basically a road game. The Huskies blew an 11 point lead and never trailed by more than two points until two minutes left in the game. Due to costly decision making down the stretch the Huskies season is over. The Tar Heels were led by Tyler Zeller who scored 23 points and Harrison Barnes who scored 22 points. The Huskies were led by freshman Terrence Ross who scored 19 points. The Huskies bench once again was the strength outscoring the Tar Heels bench 41-5 but the Tar Heels starters overcame that by scoring 81 points to the Huskies 42. In the end the season will be viewed as a disappointment to some fans while others are just happy to make the tournament. The Huskies played hard and came out on fire to start the game.


The first half was a high scoring run and gun half for both teams. The Huskies were trailing 15-14 went on a 12-0 run to lead 26-15 over the second seeded Tar Heels. The Tar Heels then responded to even take the lead. Both teams fought back and forth in the first half ultimately ending with the Huskies taking a 45-44 halftime lead over the Tar Heels. The Tar Heels were led Harrison Barnes who scored 14 points on 6-10 shooting including two three's. Tyler Zeller scored 12 points on four for eight shooting and was perfect from his four free throw attempts. The Tar Heels shot 16-36(44.4%) from the field and made three for eight three pointers. The Heels also shot 9-13(69.2%) from the foul line. The Huskies were actually out playing the Tar Heels most of the half.


For the Huskies they were led by freshman Terrence Ross. Ross who didn't score in his first tournament game came out with 12 points on four for five shooting including two three pointers. Matthew Bryan-Amaning scored eight points on four for eight shooting with seven rebounds. Darnell Gant scored six points hitting two three pointers. Isaiah Thomas slumped scoring just four points on two for eight shooting but had three assists. Aziz N'Diaye who was inserted back in the lineup dominated the glass. N'Diaye scored two points but grabbed eight rebounds. The Huskies shot 18-40(45.0%) from the field, 6-13(46.2%) from three point range and were perfect in their three free throws. The Huskies dominated the glass 24-15 despite the Tar Heels height advantage. The Tar Heels in the second started to dominate the paint and closed the gap on the rebounds.


In the second half saw both teams take turns having momentum. The Huskies led 74-69 with under six minutes to go. The Huskies then had a 76-73 lead which saw the Tar Heels go on a 7-0 run to take a 80-76 lead. After a crucial N'Diaye putback to pull the Huskies within 80-78 the Tar Heels went up six with under two minutes to go. After a Huskies bucket to pull within 84-80 with under 30 seconds left Thomas found a wide open Scott Suggs who drilled the three pointer to pull the Huskies within 84-83. The Huskies then fouled Kendall Marshall who was going to shoot a one and one free throw. Marshall missed the free throw and the Huskies got the rebound. Instead of calling their last timeout the Huskies let Venoy Overton take the ball to the hoop as he got his lay up swatted with 10 seconds. Fighting for the rebound the ball went out of bounds with seven seconds remaining. Justin Holiday's inbound pass was tipped and Dexter Strickland was then fouled. He made both free throws to give the Tar Heels an 86-83 lead. Once again Overton made a poor decision as he was expectating a Tar Heel to foul him he threw up a half court shot with 1.2 seconds on the clock. The Huskies caught a break as the ball went off a Tar Heel. So with 0.5 seconds left the Huskies inbounded the ball to Thomas for three and he missed it. The shot could have been called goaltending but on the review Thomas foot was on the line so it didn't matter. The Huskies lost 86-83 ending their season short of expectations.


The Huskies lose a tough close game despite shooting 33-72(45.8%) from the field and 10-19(52.6%) from three point range. The Huskies were even perfect on seven free throw attempts. Despite giving up the size advantage the Huskies outrebounded the Tar Heels 38-33 including 13 offensive rebounds. In the end that wasn't enough for the Huskies as the Tar Heels were led by their five starters who scored 81 points. Led by Zeller with 23 and Barnes with 22. Marshall scored 13 points while dishing out 14 assists. For the Huskies they were led by Ross who scored 19 points on 7-10 shooting including three three pointers and six rebounds. Bryan-Amaning finished his career with 14 points on 7-14 shooting with eight rebounds. Thomas scored just 12 points on 5-15 shooting but did have eight assists. C.J.Wilcox came alive in the second half to score 11 points on four for nine shooting including three three's. Scott Suggs added eight points on two three pointers. Gant scored six points and six rebounds. Overton finished his career with five points and two assists. Justin Holiday continued his shooting slump scoring just four points on two for six shooting. Then N'Diaye provided a lift scoring four points on two for three shooting with 11 rebounds including five offensive. The Huskies played a good game but five bad minutes down the stretch can offset 35 great minutes which is the sad reality of sports.

Overall the Huskies played a good but they just simply lost to the better team. The Huskies now you could argue if they had taken care of business in the regular season they wouldn't be in this position. As for the game itself it was a clean game which the Huskies battled hard. Now the cold reality is three guys on this Huskies team will never wear that Huskies uniform again. The Huskies will be returning six guys from this team along with Abdul Gaddy and Tony Wroten coming in should be in a position to make some noise next season. As for this year the year that started off with so much promise including at one time a top 10 ranking is over suddenly. Nobody would have accepted a round 32 loss at the start of the year or even three weeks ago. The Huskies didn't achieve their goals and now must always wonder what could have been?

Observations:

- Years from now people will look back at this game as an instant classic. Unfortunately for Huskies fans they seem to be on the wrong side of those games. In this game you'll notice a young freshman who kept his team in it. No I'm not talking about Harrison Barnes who played great I might add.

Instead I'm talking about Terrence Ross. Ross who showed you why he is still a freshman at times but also showed how the sky is the limit for him. Given the situation of the game and the opponent I'd say this was Ross finest game of his freshman year. Ross started off hot in Pac-10 play averaging 16.0 points per game in his first four games. Then Ross like most freshman hit a wall. It was so bad he played four minutes against UCLA the second to last regular season game then didn't play against USC. Ross rebounded by averaging 15.3 PPG in the Pac-10 tournament being named first team all tournament team.

Then Ross took a big step backwards scoring zero points on 0-5 shooting in 10 lousy minutes against the Georgia Bulldogs. Ross found himself removed from the starting lineup today. Ross hit his first three point attempt in the first half. Ross, unlike Wilcox who can catch fire at any moment, you know what you are getting. Typically with Ross you can tell the game he will have in the first five minutes. Well today Ross grabbed six rebounds and made some nice athletic moves. He also showed he is a good shooter as well. Ross finished the year averaging 8.0 PPG while shooting 44.3% from the field, 35.2% from three's and 75.8% from free throw's. The future is bright with Ross and Wilcox being only freshman.


- The picture to my right is of Thomas giving support to teammate Justin Holiday who made a costly mistake on the inbound pass. Holiday has gone MIA the last seven games. Holiday who worked so hard to improve his scoring all year long. In the team's first 28 games Holiday averaged 11.9 PPG, shot 124-249(49.8%) from the field and 46-115(40.0%) from three point range. As you can see Holiday made great strides in his career but then in the last seven games he reverted back to how he was early in his junior season.

In Holiday's final seven games in a Huskies uniform he averaged just 4.9 PPG while shooting 14-48(29.1%) from the field and was 1-16(6.3%) from three point range. In four of those games Holiday played over 30 minutes despite slumping so badly. One can question why Holiday was even on the floor with those numbers down the stretch. I openly question that as well since as you can see Holiday has been an offensive liability. It is truly a shame Holiday's career ended the way it did. Hopefully the fans can remember the good he did for this school.


- Venoy Overton's career ends with two costly mistakes. Overton played just 12 minutes while scoring five points on one for three shooting. Romar smartly didn't play Overton much instead playing his three wings of Ross, Wilcox and Suggs. Yet with the season on the line on the two most important possessions the season was decided by Overton. Even Overton himself questioned that move after the game.

I'll talk about both plays and one play wasn't Overton's fault in my opinion. Down by one with 17 seconds left Overton chose to push the ball which I hated the decision. Even if he makes the bucket the Tar Heels still have 10 seconds to score the game winning shot. Now some may say Lorenzo Romar trusted his senior to make the right decision but that is just stupid. What makes Overton so great and so frustrating is how reckless he plays. Having said that with the game on the line you don't want that. Romar should have taken a timeout and put the ball in Thomas hands to let him decide the season.

On the half court shot Overton messed up big time. Up three with less than five seconds to go the Huskies expected the Tar Heels to foul them. Overton hoping they would foul him as he threw up that desperation three to earn three free throw's. What Overton should have done is not worry about them fouling him. Overton should have pushed the ball up court and quickly find a shooter. If they foul him simply make the first free throw then miss the second for a tip in or tip out three for the win. Once again remember this was after a made free throw why Overton brought the ball up the court instead of their best player and decision maker Thomas is a bit mind boggling. Once again hopefully the fans remember all the good that Overton did because like Holiday he didn't end his career on a high note at all.


- Pretty amazing the Huskies only lost by three points with Isaiah Thomas shooting 5-15 making zero three pointers. Thomas had just 12 points but did dish out eight assists. Most people figured if the Huskies were to win Thomas would have to have a big game which he didn't. Even with Thomas struggles you have to wonder why wasn't the ball in his hands with the game on the line. I know technically he took the last shot of the season but that was a catch and shoot situation.

Thomas the final time he brought the ball up faked a three and dished to an open Suggs who drilled the three to pull within one. Unlike last week where Romar put the ball in Thomas hands to win the game he elected to go with Overton. That decision fans will debate all offseason as they should. Thomas made great strides as an overall great player. Thomas was once again named first team all pac-10 finished his year averaging 16.8 PPG on 44.5% shooting from the field and 34.9% from three point range. The most important part is Thomas averaged 6.1 assists on the year the highest since Will Conroy averaged 6.5 assists in the 2004-05 season.


- Lorenzo Romar is a good coach for the Washington Huskies. That has been established with taking the team to the tournament in six of his eight seasons. He has a winning tournament record too at 8-6. He has won the Pac-10 tournament three times and the regular season once. He has also failed to take that next step in this program. It is becoming more painfully obvious he might not ever be able to take that step.

Now I felt for the first 35 minutes Romar coached great. There wasn't many stupid plays, the rotation was just fine. Then in the last five minutes just basic fundamental plays the Huskies couldn't make. The two Overton plays, Holiday inbound, Ross getting his pocket picked, having both Overton and Holiday on the court, etc. This seems to be a theme in the Romar era on tough losses that the Huskies don't lose because the other team beat them. They are losing by making stupid decisions late in games. This isn't to take away from North Carolina at all they were the better team playing basically a home game.

The Huskies are in a weird spot with Romar they truly are. Some fans and a certain KJR host seem to think he can do no wrong and are just happy with making the NCAA tournament. Those fans adjust expectations as the season goes on. Other fans know this program can do so much more with all that talent in the Seattle/Tacoma area. Romar is a great program builder as typically all his seniors get better. Only Mike Jensen and Venoy Overton appeared to have taken a step back throughout their careers. The Huskies need to land a big time recruit. I'm not talking about a player either I'm talking about scouting the country for an X's and O's geru at some D-2 or D-3 school. Ken Bone was a head coach at Seattle Pacific for 14 years and he left to Washington knowing he could move on from there. The question comes down to will Romar finally admit he needs help on offense or will the Huskies simply accept being a top tier team in a weak conference?

All in all this loss was probably the second toughest in the Romar era. I don't think any loss will top that Uconn game in 2006 but if there was a game this was it. This loss became even more depressing as 11th seeded Marquette(same team UW beat last year in tournament) upset 3rd seeded Syracuse. So the Huskies most likely would have been the favorites in a sweet 16 game instead their season is over. The Huskies future appears very bright but after seeing them underachieve in the regular season the last two years can you trust them?

The Huskies had to play basically a road game because they lost to Washington State twice, Oregon, Oregon State and Stanford. Win at worst four of those games the Huskies would have a 28-10 record going into this game and most likely would have been in Tucson. Instead for the second straight year the Huskies lost seven conference games in a weak conference. The Pac-10 has sent just three teams out of 48 teams to the sweet 16 the last three years. There is no excuse to lose that many games in a crappy conference like that. The Huskies if they wish to advance in the tournament must take care of the regular season. Look at North Carolina they won the ACC regular season and now their path to elite 8 looks pretty good. Win in the regular season and you obviously get rewarded with easier opponents and are closer to home. The Huskies hopefully next year finally play up to their capabilities. As for this year well it wasn't a failure but it wasn't a success either. I guess there is always next year which is the typical Seattle saying unfortunately.