Archive | March 2014

MLB Staff Picks

The smell of peanuts and cracker jacks is in the air. After 152 days since the Red Sox walked off the field as champions, baseball is back. Our picks are in for this year’s fall classic. Here they are:

Writer

Pick

Brett Malamud

 I’m taking the Yankees over the Dodgers. Both teams have proven this offseason that they want to win now. The Yankees unloaded after missing the playoffs by opening their checkbook and spending close to $500 million. The additions of Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, and Masahiro Tanaka immediately make the Yankees a legitimate threat. But don’t think they’re the only team spending the big bucks. The Dodgers passed the Yankees for the MLB’s highest payroll, ending the Yankees 15 year streak, by spending $235 million this season. All and all I’d say Derek Jeter better start spreading the news that his final season will end with a ticker tape parade down the Canyon of Heroes.

Sam Breiter

 As an extremely optimistic Mets fan with nothing but the highest expectations, I’m always going to take my team. So along with my Mets, I’m taking the rival Yankees. The Mets have young talent in there rotation, and a growing lineup. They may make a huge move by the deadline, and Zach Wheeler will suprise people this year. Yankees, because they spent money this offseason and are clearly doing anything to win a year after missing the playoffs

Dan Lagnado

 In the NL I’ll take the Dodgers and in the AL I’ll take Detroit. Dodgers win a six game series behind Kershaw and Greinke who each win two games

Josh Halilej

 Tigers over Cardinals. Lots of solid pitching between the two of them. I think Justin Verlander comes back big this year and comes out as the Tigers’ #1 with Rick Porcello having an awesome year too finishing ahead of Max Scherzer in the pitching rotation. The Cards are going to need Yadier Molina to manage the pitching staff well, but they just don’t have the overall offensive firepower that Detroit does with the addition of Ian Kinsler. Watch out for the Rangers though if they can have someone aside from Yu Darvish step up in their rotation.

Seth Schuster

 Red Sox over Dodgers. Only a little bit of bias plays into this one…Both are great teams with amazing young talent. With the recent resurgence of John Lackey, John Lester, a healthy Clay Buchholz, and a young and very talented Xander Bogaerts, the Red Sox will be the 2014 World Series Champions. With the leadership of David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, and Mike Napoli, look for the Sox to make a push for the repeat.

Ben Ozur

 Rays vs Dodgers. There’s no explanation for why the Rays are good every year, but the undeniable fact is that they are. However nobody is on the Dodgers level in terms of overall talent. Despite multiple holes including infield depth and major league ready pitchers in the minors, their superstar talent everywhere else will cover that up.

Ryan Gillman

 Dodgers over Tigers. The Dodgers are armed with a wealth of talent and the largest payroll in history. Anything less than a championship would be a disappointment.

Sam  Iryami

 Nationals vs Tigers. Nationals win. The Nationals have the best pitching rotation in baseball with the front four being Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, and Doug Fister. Pitching wins games. Although the Tigers have a great all around team, the team is full of veterans. However, they are definitely a contender for the World Series because of their many stars such as Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, and Max Scherzer. Both teams have unbelievable pitching and hitting, but I have the Nationals taking home the trophy in this one.

Zach Pokorny

 Dodgers vs Angels, but I’d pick the Angels because Mike Trout is amazing
Derek Jeter has one last season in his hall of fame career and will make the most of it (Via Sabo News)

Derek Jeter has one last season in his hall of fame career and will make the most of it (Via Sabo News)

We hope everyone enjoys Opening Day and stays locked in to Dabuzzza here and on our twitter page this MLB season. We know we will.

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What Does Michael Vick’s Signing Mean for Geno Smith?

By Dan Lagnado

By now you all probably have heard Mark Sanchez is out and Michael Vick is in for the New York Jets. Vick signed a one year $5 million deal Friday. This offseason Vick made it very clear that he wants to be a starting quarterback. This creates a bit of a situation in Jets camp. The coaches have consistently expressed confidence in Geno Smith going forward and everyone expects him to make improvements following his roller coaster rookie season. Do not expect another quarterback by committee, as was the case when Tim Tebow joined the team. There will likely be one starter and one backup, barring injury to either competitor.

Michael Vick will go head to head with Geno Smith for the starting QB job. (Via Getty Images)

Michael Vick will go head to head with Geno Smith for the starting QB job. (Via Getty Images)

So what is likely to be the outcome? This was not the same as the Jets signing a veteran to mentor Smith. This is pure quarterback competition.

This preseason, just as last season, will be very interesting to see who performs the best and who wins the starting job. For right now I have to think Vick has the advantage. He’s a veteran and a proven playmaker with all of camp to get familiar with his teammates. Additionally Vick will be reunited with former offensive coordinator Marty Morninhweg who had success with Vick in Philly a few years ago. There are also rumors floating around that the Jets have been in discussions with the Eagles about Desean Jackson, who would provide familiarity for Vick and a speedy deep threat that the Jets have been sorely lacking.

However, this could also be good for Smith. It’s not exactly a vote of confidence but it should serve as motivation as well as a learning experience. He knows he needs to play better and that he’s not just going to be handed the job at the beginning of the year. Vick, at this stage in his career, is a similar quarterback as Geno Smith: able to use his feet but not as dynamic as Colin Kaepernick or RGIII but still able to be a pocket passer as well.

Look for Vick to end up starting the 2014 season before passing the torch onto a much wiser and confident Smith for 2015 unless the team decides that Smith cannot handle the competition and therefore is not the franchise quarterback he was expected to be. Geno is tougher than that, in my opinion, and I think he will use this situation to his advantage.

Now if they could only sign a cornerback…

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Dan Lagnado is studying communications, law economics and government at American University. He’s a fan of both the Mets and Jets and has been writing about sports for four years. You can follow him on twitter at @dlag1995

2014 MLB Predictions

By Dan Lagnado

National League

East: Washington Nationals

Coming off a disappointing season in which the Nats were 10 games behind the first place Braves, I expect a bounce back season and 95+ wins from the Nationals. An improved starting rotation with the addition of Doug Fister and a lineup without a weakness, the Nats and first year manager Matt Williams can make a run in the playoffs.

Central: St. Louis Cardinals

Last year’s National League champions continue their regular season success led by a batch of young starters. The loss of Carlos Beltran is minimized by the arrival of Jhonny Peralta and the Cardinals have a good chance to defend their title.

West: Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers simply have too much firepower to not win this division. They won the division by 11 games last season and there is no reason for them not to repeat unless the team is decimated by injury.

Clayton Kershaw hopes to lead the Dodgers deep into the playoffs this year (Via USA Today)

Clayton Kershaw hopes to lead the Dodgers deep into the playoffs this year (Via USA Today)

Wild Card 1: Cincinnati Reds

The NL Central is one of the most competitive divisions in baseball with three teams making the playoffs last year. I think the Reds jump up a spot from WC 2 to WC 1 in the upcoming season behind the strength of Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips. Another reason for the improvement is that Pittsburgh’s dream run last year does not have the same impact this time around and they drop off enough for the Reds to overtake them down the stretch.

Wild Card 2: San Francisco Giants

In a bounce back year the Giants will finish second in their division and take the second Wild Card position. The starting rotation will return to its former glory and the addition of Tim Hudson will add stability to a rotation that already contains Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner.

American League

East: Boston Red Sox

This was not an easy decision but in the end I have to stay with the defending champions. A solid pitching rotation returns intact and the playoff experience will help this team retain their division title.

Central: Detroit Tigers

Even with injuries to Jose Iglesias, the Tigers are still the team to beat in the AL Central. Miguel Cabrera is coming back healthy and new acquisition Ian Kinsler will provide a big boost at second base. Joe Nathan will provide a boost at the back of the bullpen and Justin Verlander should be back healthy.

West: Texas Rangers

The arrival of Prince Fielder and Alex Rios and the first full season of Jurikson Profar will key the Rangers to a division title. Yu Darvish looks to follow up a dominant year and cement himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball. In a competitive division that goes down the wire, the Rangers will edge out the division.

Wild Card 1: Oakland Athletics

The A’s continue their recent success by locking up another playoff birth, this time by Wild Card. Despite injuries to the starting rotation, Oakland does have enough young pitching to get them through the season effectively.

Wild Card 2: Los Angeles Angels

The Angels’ power bats finally get it together and make it into the postseason. Mike Trout once again will be one of the best in the league and Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols finally get it together in the American League to carry the Angels to success.

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Dan Lagnado is studying communications, law economics and government at American University. He’s a fan of both the Mets and Jets and has been writing about sports for four years. You can follow him on twitter at @dlag1995

Phil Jackson Videos

Phil Jackson was introduced Tuesday morning at Madison Square Garden as the new president of the New York Knicks. Here is a video of the press conference

The Zen Master was then introduced to the Garden crowd during their game on Wednesday against the Indiana Pacers, where he received a standing ovation.

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Brett Malamud is a Computer Science Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy

Decker to the Jets

By Christian Pierre Louis

From the Rocky Mountains of Colorado to the Meadowlands of New Jersey.

That is the move free agent WR Eric Decker will make as he and the New York Jets have agreed on a five year deal that is for $36.25 million over five years with $15 million in guarantees.

After being the second option to the more talented Demaryius Thomas in Denver, Decker will take on No. 1 receiver responsibilities in Rex Ryan’s “ground ‘n’ pound” offense.

Whereas Decker had other quality targets such as Thomas, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas to draw defenders away in Denver’s record-breaking attack, he’s going to be the center of attention in a passing game led by an inconsistent Geno Smith.

Do not misunderstand what I am saying, this is a major get for the Jets.  Decker, still in his prime at age 27, set career highs in receptions (87) and receiving yards (1,288) last season while reaching double digits in touchdowns for the second consecutive season.

The Jets top two receivers only totaled 979 receiving yards last year and the team was 31st in passing offense. Right now, Decker’s clearly the best receiver on the Jets, who may add another with their first-round pick. Their other experienced receivers are Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill and David Nelson. They certainly didn’t put fear in the hearts of defenses.

Eric Decker will open a new chapter in his career by joining the Jets (Via Getty)

Eric Decker will open a new chapter in his career by joining the Jets (Via Getty)

Decker is Denver usually played in one of the outside spots, but the Broncos used him in the slot at times as well. Decker was also used in a punt return role at times in his career.

It will be extremely interesting to see how defenses now adjust to Decker being “the guy” on a team that is weak at the receiver position. He hasn’t been the go-to guy the past two seasons with the Broncos, there was no need for it, as that team had a plethora of options around him.

Not the same case in New York.

He will be the man that the team calls upon when they need a big play down the field and now everyone in the NFL knows it.

Overall, this was a good signing by the Jets, they desperately needed more weapons offensively and they grabbed the best receiver out there. Now, it is time for the organization to put more pieces around Geno Smith and Eric Decker, whether it may be in free agency or the draft, the team still needs more offensive talent to compete with the best in the AFC.

If the Jets can add more pieces to Decker on the offensive side of the ball to compliment that young and tough defense, they could have some real potential to fly high in this upcoming season.

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Christian Pierre-Louis is a journalism major at Seton Hall University. He is a HUGE fan of the, LA Lakers, NY Giants, and NY Yankees. He is also an assistant sports producer at Seton Hall’s radio station WSOU 89.5 FM. You can follow him on twitter at @CPL_78.

The Eventual Impact of Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard

By Dan Lagnado

By now it is no secret that the Mets have significant depth when it comes to starting pitching. As it shapes up now, the projected rotation to start the season will consist of Jon Niese, Bartolo Colon, Zack Wheeler, Dillon Gee and either Daisuke Matsuzaka or John Lannan (most likely). Matt Harvey has announced via Twitter (@MattHarvey33) that he intends to pitch in 2014. Jeremy Hefner will also be returning from Tommy John Surgery this summer. And we all know that Montero and Syndergaard will be added to the rotation this season as well.

That gives the Mets five more starters than they need. So the question is who’s low on the totem pole and ends up wearing a different jersey in 2015 and who stays to take on other roles?

Let’s assume that Harvey returns to his typical self, following his rehab. He clearly stays in the rotation as the ace. If Wheeler’s development goes as it should and he improves in his first full pro season he will also remain in the rotation. Jon Niese was given a 5-year extension in 2012 and so will be under contract for 3 more seasons. I don’t see him going anywhere as long as he stays mostly healthy. Bartolo Colon was just given a 2-year contract this past offseason. At age 40+ there’s no guarantee he chooses to stay for the second year but if he continues to pitch as he has of late, I can’t see him choosing to retire. Syndergaard and Montero are both considered highly touted prospects. Syndergaard gets more of the hype but Montero will be called up sooner. The rumors are that Syndergaard is untouchable so he’ll be with the team. What does this mean for Rafael Montero? I don’t see the Mets parting with such a big talent. He can easily take Colon’s starting spot when that contract expires or if someone is moved. Jeremy Hefner has shown the ability to come out of the bullpen and pitch well so he might be moved there when he returns. Matsusaka and Lannan most likely will not be sticking around. One of them will either agree to go the minors to start the year or void their contract and the other will be either sent down or released when Montero is called up. Dillon Gee is an interesting case. He pitched pretty well last season and if he pitches as well this year he could be trade bait around the deadline. The Mets could certainly get a decent prospect in a position of need for Gee and there are always teams looking for quality starting pitching. Jenrry Mejia could also be used as a piece in a trade. He is competing for the 5th starter sport this spring and has shown that he has a lively arm. He’s also still a young, raw talent despite previous arm troubles.

So what are we looking at for 2015? The starting rotation could looks something like this:

  • Matt Harvey
  • Zack Wheeler
  • Bartolo Colon
  • Jon Niese
  • Noah Syndergaard/Rafael Montero

I can understand some of you might ask, “would the Mets consider trading Niese as well? He’s more of a proven major league talent maybe you could get more for him”. Well it’s possible of course, but in my opinion it’s important to have a lefty in your starting rotation, especially because of how often the Mets have to deal with Ryan Howard, Freddie Freeman and Adam LaRoche.

So there you have it. This is what the Mets must do with an extreme excess of starting pitching in an organization that is just about ready to compete in a top-heavy division.

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Dan Lagnado is studying communications, law economics and government at American University. He’s a fan of both the Mets and Jets and has been writing about sports for four years. You can follow him on twitter at @dlag1995