NBA DFS: March 10th

SO with an appetizing eight-game slate on tap for tonight, I’m going to do my first DFS write-up of the year and give you some of my favorite plays! All of the pricing I’ll allude to is FanDuel since I primarily play over there. Before the plays, I’ll give you a quick rundown on how to construct your lineups. Use my advice at your own risk!

First and foremost, when digesting the slate, figure out which teams are playing up in pace. The reason you want to target the teams playing up in pace is because they’re going to receive more possessions than they would at the pace they normally play at. More possessions give the players you roster a better chance at scoring more fantasy points.

 

So, the teams playing up in pace on Friday are:

  • Chicago
  • Minnesota
  • Boston
  • Dallas
  • Sacramento
  • Toronto

 

Now that we’ve determined that, don’t use that as your only metric of research. Using Vegas as a research tool is important as well. Vegas puts out all of the games Over/Under lines for the day, and the higher totals are normally the games we should target. Again, it comes down to amount of possessions. The higher the game total, the more points being scored which means plenty of offensive possessions for the players YOU selected.

Another research tactic that is helping DFS players take down tournaments and simply get a green return on their investment each night is DVP of Defense vs. Position. DVP allows us to figure out which teams on the particular slate we should attack and at what positions.

And finally, using your gut sometimes is better than any of the stuff above combined. Only your gut would have told you told roster Elfrid Payton in a SLOW paced game against the Bulls the last time the Magic took the court. Payton scored 70+ FanDuel points and was in every winning tournament lineup on that night. So, with that being said, here are some of my favorite studs, value and high-risk/high-reward plays of the night!

 

Let’s break it down position-by-position!

 

Point-Guard;

Elite – Isaiah Thomas ($9,200 FD @ Denver)IT2

Let’s start off by saying that I’m well aware players like John Walla and Stephen Curry are on the board. I simply don’t care. Thomas gets a check next to the pace, DVP and Vegas boxes. The Over/Under is currently at 223, Denver allows the second-most FanDuel points per game to opposing PG’s. Another couple things we should keep in mind is the fact that Thomas is coming off a bad game so his ownership will be lower than normal AND the fact his price has finally lowered to a reasonable $9.2K makes this an elite spot for the diminutive PG.

Value – Cory Joseph ($5,000 FD vs. Atlanta)

There are definitely more reasons to spend up at PG than spending down at the position on this slate, but if Joseph fits into your lineup at $5K you should be comfortable with that decision. He profiles more as a cash game play – someone you’d like to use more in 50/50’s, double-ups and tournaments of that nature because of his limited upside. That said, he’s getting all of the PG minutes and has hit and surpassed value in three straight games. Did I forget to mention we could score at will on Dennis Schroder? He’s a mannequin defensively.

 

Shooting-Guard;

Elite – Bradley Beal ($7,600 FD @ Sacramento)

Although Washington is playing down in pace, the Kings offer no defensive resistance at the shooting-guard position as they allow the fourth-most FD points per game to SG. Beal has found his groove this season and is actually managing to stay healthy. Beal is safe for all formats and could be an elite tournament play at his very reasonable salary. Let’s not forget, Beal flashed 60-point DFS upside in February against a Cleveland team who also doesn’t defend shooting-guards well. This is a PRIME spot for Beal.

Value – Sean Kilpatrick ($4,200 FD @ Dallas) KILPATRICK

Yes, I understand rostering Nets’ players are cringe worthy but there is plenty of merit to this play that I see. First off, Brook Lopez will miss Friday’s game, so his 15.5 shots will be distributed amongst the rest of the team, which bodes well for the Nets SG. Secondly, Kilpatrick has been ballin’ to say the least of late. He’s scored 20 or more actual point in three straight games while posting 30-plus FanDuel points in each contest. He’s crushing value and his price is so low that even if he flopped it wouldn’t kill your lineups. Plus, nobody on Dallas’ second-unit has a chance at guarding him, especially with the midget J.J. Barea returning. No chance at all. With that being said, yes, I do like him MORE if he’s coming off of the bench. So keep an eye on what Brooklyn does with their starting lineup. Kilpatrick is a GPP play only!

 

Small-Forward;

Elite – Jimmy Butler ($9,100 FD vs. Houston) BUTLER

So both of the small-forwards I’m going to list have crushed us of late. Neither have paid off their salaries and one of them, Jimmy Butler, is VERY expensive. Although that isn’t the case on Friday as his price is discounted to $9.1K. Butler hasn’t hit 50 FD points since January 29th, but in the highest Over/Under on the slate, and nobody that can defend him, he’s in the right spot to do so. Although it’s weird to say that now that Wade is back, Wade should take some attention off of Butler and allow him more room to operate. Am I saying it’s a lock for Butler to hit 50 FDP? No. But with the added exposure to James Harden’s turnover problems, he could wreak havoc in the passing lanes all night. Butler can be used in all formats on Friday.

Value – Terrence Ross ($4,500 FD @ Charlotte)

Since arriving in Orlando, here are Ross’ minutes in each game he’s played in; 33, 35, 37, 35, 32, 35, and 31. That screams cash game lock. At $4.5K and 31-plus minutes, Ross should easily hit value. He’s let us down two straight games failing to eclipse 20 FD points, so because of recency bias, his ownership should be lower than it has the last few times the Magic have been on the slate. Ross is viable for tournaments and cash. Don’t be scared away if Nikola Vucevic plays because he’s crushed value in the past few weeks when Vuc has been in the lineup. His return hurts someone like Aaron Gordon more.

 

Power-Forward;

Elite – Draymond Green ($8,100 FD @ Minnesota) DRAY

It almost feels like a cop out taking Green who could be the priciest PF on the slate if Nikola Jokic is out but he’s simply the best play if that happens to be the case. Now, does he have the best matchup? Absolutely not as the T’Wolves are one of the best teams at defending power-forward, but with no Kevin Durant, Green has so much more freedom offensively. He’s scored 33 or more FD points in six straight games while scoring 10-plus actual points in each one of those contests. Green’s very safe for cash and does have tournament upside at his current value.

Value – Trevor Booker ($5,300 FD @ Dallas)

Mannnn, this is bullshit. Two Brooklyn guys on ONE write-up. Time to DRINK! But with Brook Lopez out as I previously mentioned in this article, there are shots to be had! Now we should expect Booker to come off the bench as per usual, but he could see extended run as a stretch-five, especially when Dallas plays Dirk Nowitzki at center. At $5.3K, it’s reasonable to think Booker can hit and exceed value and give you around 30 FDP. Power-forward is god-awful on Friday. It flat out sucks. So getting someone with 30-point upside and is locked into 25-plus minutes is a nice play. I could see the case to be made for cash, but I lean towards using him in tournaments.

 

Center;

Elite – Karl-Anthony Towns ($10,600 FD vs. Golden State)

Towns is easily my favorite play on the board. His price is the only thing that might scare people away, but not I. He has a seven-contest streak of 21-plus points and 14-plus rebounds and he’s in a plus matchup against the Warriors. In the two previous meetings between the Wolves and the Warriors, Towns went for over 40 FD points in both games, one he dropped a 50-burger. All those things considered Towns will likely be a staple in every one of my tournament lineups tonight.

PLUMValue – Mason Plumlee ($5,600 FD vs. Boston)

This play is strictly based on Nikola Jokic’s availability. If Jokic plays, can the Plumlee idea and reconstruct your lineup accordingly. BUT, if he’s not, Plumdog is an excellent play. Attacking Boston bigs is something that every DFS player should experience. When you do, you’ll never stop doing it. Boston can’t rebound the basketball and Plumlee is coming off of two straight double-figure rebounding outputs. He’s a cash game lock with Jokic out and at his reduced price offers some upside in GPP’s if you’re not looking to spend up on KAT and budget your money elsewhere.

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It’s Time for the Mets to Move on from Their Captain

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Okay. I know what you guys are thinking. Especially you, Mets fans. He’s still a solid player when he’s healthy, but that four letter word previously mentioned is the most important thing you’ll read this entire article; when. Wright has played just 38 and 37 games over the past two seasons and has played north of 112 games just once since 2013. SO, I pose this question. Should Mets move on from David Wright before he’s most remembered for his injury history when he should be praised for his play? I say yes.

It’s undeniable fact that Wright is one of the Mets greatest players in its franchise history and definitely the best over the last decade or so. Offensively, Wright is the franchise leader in hits, runs, RBI, total bases, doubles, walks, and WAR. He’s second in games played and second in home runs as well. Stats matter sometimes, and although they don’t tell you the entire story, it shows the great years Wright has put forth for a very storied franchise.

But the amount of years Wright has been in the league I briefly touched on in the paragraph above is what is coming around to bite Wright in the ass. The Captain is now 34-years old and father time is knocking on the door. Most recently, Wright has come down with another injury, this time in his shoulder. It’s hindering his throwing ability so he’ll be shut down until further notice, putting opening day in question. According to MLB.com, Doctors believe the injury has something to with the neck surgery he had last June. Yikes.

Anytime one injury directly connects with another, the status of that player going forward simply doesn’t look good and it doesn’t sit well with me. It doesn’t make me feel comfortable with that player moving forward, as the thought of injury will linger in the back of my mind every single time he’s involved in the game at all. As I mentioned in the intro, Wright’s played just 75 games over the past two seasons, so beginning the season on the disabled list is less than ideal for an already injury-prone player.

As for Wright’s production on the field, here are his numbers from 2014-’16;

 

  • 209 G
  • .266/.339/.396/.735 slash line
  • 20 HR
  • 94 RBI
  • 96 R

 

Those numbers are really solid for a 162 game campaign. Unfortunately for the third basemen, it’s 209 games, and it’s over a three-year span. He’s never had elite power, but what power he did have has virtually evaporated. At this point, when healthy, Wright is a glorified singles hitter with enough sauce to shoot one into the gap at times. Maybe even channel his inner Rey Ordonez and belt one out of the park like Rey did 12 times during his career.

The Mets window is closing by the day and just in 2015, they proved that they can go the distance even without their captain manning the hot corner everyday. It’s obviously different in 2017 than it was two years ago due to the team’s roster construction, but bringing in someone who will be on the field and contribute every game is key.

Wright’s production and glory years, so to speak, won’t go unnoticed if he were released, traded or waived. That being said, the Mets should consider it in my opinion. Father time catches up to everyone — except Bartolo Colon — and he’s having a chat with David Wright a lot sooner than everyone thought.

The OFFICIAL Fast Food Bracket!

 

32 Fast Food chains began. Only one will remain! We need YOU, the people, to help us decide which should move on!

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And we’re off!

 

We’ve completed round one and there weren’t that many upsets. Chipotle is still the favorite, but tune in to our podcast to find out who makes it to the Elite 8!

 

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Onto the Sweet 16!

 

The unlikeliest of MVP Candidates; Ian Desmond

Neither the National or American league have one player currently running away with the MVP race. There are four, maybe five guys in each league that will likely continue to challenge one another for the award. The Mike Trout’s and Bryce Harper’s of the world are two of the names that will probably end up challenging for the award by seasons end. But with that said, there’s a dude in Texas who is flying completely under the radar that has been as valuable as anyone in the league. His name is Ian Desmond.

Offensively, Desmond has done a little bit of everything thus far in 2016. Here are his American League rankings:

 

If Desmond continues on the pace he’s played at, he’d end the season two hits shy of 200, score 115 runs, hit 43 doubles, 25 home runs, drive in 104 RBI and swipe 29 bags. All that while hitting north of .300, with an OPS near .900. This is all happening just a year after hitting .233 and a lot of people wondering if he’ll ever be an everyday player once again. Desmond has been especially good in the friendly confines in Arlington, as he’s strumming his guitar to a tune of .366 at home.

Where Desmond has made his money this season is when runners have been on base. With nobody on base, Desmond has hit just .252 this season but when at least one person’s on, he’s lighting opposing pitching up, hitting .398. Even more impressive is his .343 average with runners in scoring position. In 70 at-bats with RISP, Desmond has driven in 32 runs. His ability to come up clutch for the Rangers this season has helped them achieve the best record in the AL currently.

When Desmond signed in Texas, he knew Elvis Andrus was their shortstop as he agreed he would move to the outfield. In his seven professional seasons prior to 2016, Desmond had played 7.1 innings in the outfield. He has a .983 fielding percentage in center field which is right on par with the league average and already has five assists from the OF, putting him 11th in the entire league in that category.

When we think about the Texas Rangers, the first names that come to mind are Fielder, Hamels, Beltre and Darvish. All of a sudden, not a single of those aforementioned cornerstone players have been as valuable as Ian Desmond has for the Rangers this year. Don’t be surprised if Desmond is fighting for the award comes years end.

Let’s not forget where the Rangers were 72 games into the season in 2015. With virtually the same construction of the roster, they were 37-35, four games out of first place. 72 games into ’16, the Rangers have the best record in the American league at 46-26. It isn’t only because of Desmond and his fantastic first-half, but it is a very big reason as to why.

Three logical landing spots for Kevin Durant

Now that the 2015-2016 season has come to a close, one thing is on everyone’s mind; where is Kevin Durant going to play going forward? Well we’re here to speculate on three landing spots for the “Slim Reaper.”

 

3) Boston Celtics

Now look, Durant and his camp haven’t ruled out any teams so everyone that can make a play at him financially likely will. So after many discussions with teams across the league, we believe there will only be three teams remaining, one being the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics are an extremely promising young team with a Head Coach that has never had a poor word spoken about him, dating all the way back to his time at the University of Butler. The one thing they are lacking is star power. Isaiah Thomas is the closest thing to a star, but he’s only made one all-star team roster. That said, a large portion of their 48-win team will still be intact next season. Only three of their free agents had a real big impact on this past season’s team and both are restricted (Jared Sullinger, Tyler Zeller) and Boston will likely be able to match any contract offers made. Evan Turner is the third player but I’m fairly certain most people would consider getting Kevin Durant an upgrade over Turner.

The one thing the Celtics have a lot of is draft picks. The acquired the Nets’ next three first-round draft picks a couple of years back, as well as getting one from Dallas from trading Rajon Rondo and also having picks of their own. If Durant’s had specific stipulations about coming to Boston and one was trading their picks to acquire championship-ready talent, I’m nearly 100-percent sure the Celtics would oblige.

Now if they did acquire Durant, it’s likely they begin playing a lot of small ball. They’d still be able to slow the pace down and play big, especially if they resign Sullinger. That said, it would be on Durant if he would move down and play more power-forward.

The Celtics are a superstar away from being serious contenders in LeBron James’ conference. We’d call it the east but he’s owned it for six consecutive seasons so what’s the point? Does Durant think a Celtics team with him heading the roster can beat the Cavaliers and win championships? We think it’s more than plausible to think that he does.

 

2) Golden State Warriors

We understand many of you are wondering…WHAT? But hear us out. What does Durant seemingly want more than anything? A championship. Where have the Warriors made it too the past two seasons? The NBA Finals. The two are a perfect match.

If the Warriors want to make a serious push at Durant, they will be able to financially. The Warriors payroll was north of $93M this past season. If they resign nobody, including restricted free agents Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli, they’ll have close to $20M available in spending money. The salary cap is also rising, likely giving the Warriors a few couple of million to play with.

Strategically, the Warriors would have zero problems sliding Durant into the then departed Harrison Barnes’ role. The Warriors already have the league’s best offense and that’s before he ever put on their jersey and Durant would take them to a whole new level. Adding him and subtracting Barnes in the Dubs “death lineup” would be virtually unstoppable. Although we haven’t seen Durant play in an offense quite like this, we’re sure one of the three best players on the planet would drastically lower his isolation percentage for consistently great looks at the rim.

We personally believe the Warriors are the favorites heading into the 2016-’17 season without Durant, but if they acquired him, there would be no way around it. Yes he would still be in the daunted Western Conference, but he’d have so much help surrounding him, he’d be silly to not strongly consider this franchise as a candidate.

 

1) Oklahoma City Thunder

Yeah, yeah, how original. But out of all 30 teams in the NBA, resigning with the Thunder makes the most sense for Kevin Durant. At least for the 2016-’17 season, that is. Beyond that is really anyone’s guess.

The Thunder has virtually everyone from this year’s Western Conference Finals team coming back under contract. If Durant resigns, it’s likely the team won’t make any big time moves because of their limited amount of income left over.

Look, the Thunder might only have one more crack at it. Not only is Durant a free agent this year, Russell Westbrook becomes a free agent after the 2017-’18 season. If Durant signs a one-year deal, they’ll have another chance at getting back to the Western Conference Finals and this time, beating whoever’s in their way. It’ll be the second-year with Head Coach Billy Donovan and the players will begin to trust his methods a lot more.

The Thunder were one measly game away from this years NBA finals before collapsing against the Warriors. If Durant feels like next year will be different, he’ll resign without much hesitation. We should expect Durant to wreak havoc for the Thunder for at least one more season.

Gennady Golovkin; The Modern Day Mike Tyson

Other than the loud mouth personality, owning a tiger – from what I know Golovkin has not yet purchased one – and a face tattoo, what’s the difference between Gennady Golovkin and Mike Tyson? Both are, were for Tyson, quite the physical specimens with monster power and the unique ability to bring fear upon their opponents who have others punch them for a living.

Looking at both fighters bodies of work they are eerily similar. After his two-round dismantling of Dominic Wade, Gennady Golovkin now rests with a professional record of 35-0, 32 wins by the way of knockout. Through 35 fights in Tyson’s career, he 35-0, 31 wins by knockout.

In similar ways, both are cocky and will fight and in Tyson’s case did fight anyone that is and was willing to step up to bat. Golovkin’s cockiness has been a recent fad. The thing about it is, he knows he’s what’s in in boxing right now, just like Tyson knew when he was running the show. Just an example of GGG’s in ring cockiness came when he dropped his hands and motioned for Wade to throw punches at him.

Now look, things are obviously different. Tyson fought in the heavyweight division while Golovkin is just a middleweight. That said, Golovkin’s power is similar to that of Tyson just in a smaller body. The scary part is that Triple-G isn’t just a power puncher. He arguably has the best jab in the entire sport. Golovkin can adjust from stalker and strict power puncher to combinations of jabs to set his big shots up.

Golovkin’s resume has so much room to gr

ow as he begins to face bigger and bigger names. He’s been ready for these names but the only problem has been the big names have shied away from fighting him. Triple-G’s recent fight drew north of 1.3 million views. There are no more excuses for the biggest names in the sport to fight Golovkin. Golovkin, like Tyson, is about to be a pay-per-view star and rule the boxing world. We can only hope GGG doesn’t bite a piece of someones ear off.

AL West Predictions

AL WEST

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1) Texas Rangers

  • Notable acquisitions: Justin Ruggiano, Ian Desmond
  • Notable losses: Yovanni Gallardo, Mike Napoli, Leonys Martin

 

Strengths: When Texas convinced Ian Desmond to sign on to playing left field for them, it officially gave the team the perfect balance in their lineup. Texas has some big boppers in the heart of their lineup, but they can steal bases and hit for a high average. They have depth off of their bench as well, especially if and when Josh Hamilton returns. Looking up and down the Rangers lineup, I don’t see any holes.

Weaknesses: This could be a stretch because the Texas rotation could be somewhat dominant, but past injuries could loom large. Yu Darvish missed all of last year and Derek Holland missed a large portion of it. Both have to prove they’re at full strength. Colby Lewis also had a very unexpected season in 2015 and I’m not sure it’s realistic that he’s a 17-game winner again in ’16. Like I said, the rotation could be just fine, in fact dominant, but there are questions that have to be answered before we proclaim them the perfect team.

Team MVP: Prince Fielder

W/L Prediction: 93-69

 

2) Houston Astros

  • Notable acquisitions: Ken Giles, Doug Fister
  • Notable losses: Mark Appel, Chris Carter, Scott Kazmir

 

Strengths: Houston’s strength is their youth. There oldest everyday player is 30-years old. That’s still in the midst of their respective prime. The middle of their infield is the best in the game and we’ve only gotten half a season out of them together. Each member of their outfield can hit for power, play plus defense and steal bases. Houston is young, fun, entertaining and should win a lot of games in 2016.

Weaknesses: Like their strength, their youth could also be their weakness. Let’s look at Game 5 against the Royals in last year’s ALDS. They had the series wrapped up in a bow, but everything came unraveled for the young ‘Stros. They’ve learned what it’s like to lose the hard way which should help this team build character and respond well in the face of adversity. Key word in that last statement was should. It may have crushed them in all crunch time situations. We will have to wait and see how it plays out.

Team MVP: Carlos Correa

W/L Prediction: 90-72

 

3) Seattle Mariners

  • Notable acquisitions: Steve Cishek, Wade Miley, Nori Aoki, Joaquin Benoit, Adam Lind
  • Notable losses: Carson Smith, Logan Morrison, Leonys Martin

 

Strengths: The Mariners rotation has a lot of interesting arms hat should carry their team for the 2016 season. Resigning Hisashi Iwakuma was huge. As we getting Wade Miley in a trade with the Red Sox. Taijuan Walker and James Paxton are the most intriguing of the bunch. Both have an immense amount of talent but both are unproven at the big league level. The Mariners success could ride on how well both Walker and Paxton pitch in 2016.

Weaknesses: The Mariners have a strong infield heading into the 2016 season, but the outfield has a lot of question marks. With Nelson Cruz likely moving over to DH full-time, the outfield doesn’t have a real identity. None of their guys hit for much power or for average for that matter. Matter of fact, not one of the top four outfielders on Seattle’s depth chart had north of 355 at-bats last season. Who’s going to be the leader of this crew when it’s all said and done?

Team MVP: Robinson Cano

W/L Prediction: 83-79

 

4) Los Angeles Angels

  • Notable acquisitions: Yunel Escobar, Craig Gentry, Andrelton Simmons, Cliff Pennington,
  • Notable losses: Erick Aybar, David Freese, Mat Latos

 

Strengths: Mike Trout, Fish Boy, Trout, Mike. Whatever you want to call him, he’s the Angels strength. The Angels haven’t exactly surrounded Trout with a lot of help, so Trout is going to have to put together an astronomical season in order for Angels to compete for a playoff spot. And if anyone can do it, it’s Trout. He’s currently the face of baseball and expect nothing short of greatness for Trouty once again in ’16.

Weaknesses: As it was mentioned in the strengths, management has exactly helped Trout in terms of putting really good pieces around him. Other than Trout, Pujols and Calhoun, the Angels have no real power threats. They also don’t have a true leadoff hitter or anyone that will wow you with their ability to spray the ball over at the field at the dish. They need Trout, Pujols and Calhoun to really provide them with an insane amount of production. We shouldn’t expect Yunel Escobar’s addition to mean that much. I doubt he can do anywhere close to what he did last year again in 2016.

Team MVP: Mike Trout

W/L Prediction: 77-83

 

5) Oakland Athletics

  • Notable acquisitions: Henderson Alvarez, Ryan Madson, John Axford, Yonder Alonzo, Jed Lowrie, Khris Davis, Chris Coghlan
  • Notable losses: Brett Lawrie, Drew Pomeranz, Ike Davis

Strengths: The Athletics aren’t going to be very good in 2016, but they do have a plethora of outfield depth. They honestly have four-to-six guys that could start at any outfield spot. The three that will start – Davis, Burns and Reddick – have a great combination of speed, average and power. When one of them need a day, Coghlan, Crisp and Fuld can provide them with an day off.

Weaknesses: Other than Sonny Gray, Oakland’s staff is really going to struggle. Nobody on the staff other than Gray made north of 21 starts last season. With some high-powered American League offenses this year, the A’s staff is going to run into some problems. They have a lot of depth in the outfield I’m sure some teams would be interested in. Acquiring a starter or two wouldn’t be the worst idea Billy Beane would have.

Team MVP: Sonny Gray

W/L Prediction: 75-85

AL East Predictions

AL EAST

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Toronto Blue Jays

  • Notable acquisitions: J.A. Happ, Jesse Chavez, Drew Storen
  • Notable losses: David Price, Ben Revere, Mark Buehrle, LaTroy Hawkins

 

Strength: There is no doubt that the middle of the Jays order keeps the team’s heart beating. There 2-3-4 hitters all hit 39 or more homeruns just a year ago. It’s the closest thing to Murderers row we’ve had in a long time. Navigating through the Jays lineup is a disaster as a whole. Numbers six and seven hit a combined 41 homeruns last year so even if you get through the mashers in the middle, the back end can beat you too.

Weakness: The starting rotation is going to be a big problem for the entire division, including Toronto. They’ll finally get a full year of Marcus Stroman as their ace which is a positive, but question marks swirl around the rest of the rotation. Estrada, Dickey and Happ are solid, but the latter two are pretty inconsistent. Happ, in my opinion, was overpaid. He was brought in as the three or four starter but is being paid like a front end of the staff pitcher. The lineup will provide plenty of run support for these guys, but getting used to that will bite them where the sun don’t shine if the lineup gets shut down.

Team MVP: Josh Donaldson

W/L prediction: 90-72

 

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New York Yankees

  • Notable acquisitions: Starlin Castro, Aroldis Chapman, Aaron Hicks
  • Notable losses: Brendan Ryan, Adam Warren, Chris Young, Justin Wilson, Rookie Davis, J.R. Murphy, Stephen Drew

 

Strength: The best aspect of the entire Yankees team is their bullpen. The back end of the bullpen to be more specific. They arguably have the best 7-8-9 in baseball. The Yanks starters didn’t give them any depth last year, something that is likely to happen again in 2016. If that’s the case, the Yanks need to virtually have a perfect ending to every game they have a lead in.

Weakness: The Yanks pause for concern is something that I mentioned in the strengths – the starting rotation’s lack of depth. Most fans figured Brian Cashman and the rest of Yankees management would improve the rotation during the offseason, but that hasn’t been the case. Instead, they chose to improve their bullpen to shorten games. But you still need have starters that can get that insane back of the pen a lead. The rotation is full of question marks. What will C.C. Sabathia provide? Will Masahiro Tanaka sustain another year of good health? Will 2015 sensation Luis Severino be on an innings limit? All questions that will be answered once the season begins.

Team MVP: Jacoby Ellsbury

W/L prediction: 89-73

 

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Boston Red Sox

  • Notable acquisitions: David Price, Chris Young, Craig Kimbrel, Carson Smith
  • Notable losses: Justin Masterson, Rich Hill, Wade Miley

 

Strength: Boston has a refreshingly young and talented team that is probably a year or two away from being a championship contender. There are so many names you can rattle off that makes it so exciting to be a fan of the Red Sox, and so painful for everyone else in the division. Betts, Bogaerts, Bradley Jr., Swihart, Rodriguez, Castillo, and that’s just at the Major League level. That fountain of youth is surrounded by a solid foundation of players that will help mold the future of the Sox, but also help them win games now.

Weakness: Yes, I understand they landed David Price, so I’m really talking about the rest of the Red Sox rotation. The rotation after Price has as many question marks surrounding it as the rest of the division’s staffs, minus Tampa’s. Clay Buchholz is bound to get injured at some point during the season and who knows if Rick Porcello decides he wants to use his sinker to his advantage and keep the ball off of Yawkey Way. David Price adds wins to this team, as does the bullpen, but without a consistent rotation, I don’t see more than a Wild Card spot for Boston.

Team MVP: Mookie Betts

W/L prediction: 85-77

 

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Baltimore Orioles

  • Notable acquisitions: Mark Trumbo
  • Notable losses: Steve Pearce, Wei-Yin Chen, Gerardo Parra

 

Strength: Baltimore’s main strength revolves around three names – Jones, Machado and Davis. Those three alone can carry an offense, and honestly a defense with how well all three pick it on that side of the ball as well. Machado is coming off a monster year and has risen to super stardom like we expected him to. Davis just resigned a long term deal that has him receiving paychecks until the year 2037. After the aforementioned “Big 3” there isn’t much you can smile at on the Orioles roster.

Weakness: I think I’m beating a dead horse but again, another AL East team’s weakness is their starting rotation. The Orioles don’t have a single trustworthy arm in their rotation. Chris Tillman, the O’s projected opening day starter and ace, pitched to a 4.99 ERA last season. Kevin Gausman hasn’t been nearly the pitcher the team had hoped for and Ubaldo Jimenez has been a disaster since arriving.

Team MVP: Manny Machado

W/L prediction: 76-86

 

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Tampa Bay Rays

  • Notable acquisitions: Brad Miller, Logan Morrison, Hank Conger
  • Notable losses: Asdrubal Cabrera, Grady Sizemore, J.P. Arenciba

 

Strength: Unlike the rest of the division, the Rays rotation is the strongest part of their team. With 2015 all-star and Cy Young contender Chris Archer heading the rotation, the Rays have a great starting foundation. Then mix in Alex Cobb, Drew Smyly and Jake Odorizzi and you have a whale of a rotation. Problem is going to be run support for this rotation. There may be many occasions where Rays starters get through seven or even eight innings tied or losing because the lack of offense in Tampa.

Weakness: Offensive production is going to be hard to come by in Tampa this season. Outside of Evan Longoria who’s already on the down side of his career, the Rays are going to go through a season long power shortage. Tampa’s lineup is full of guys who are decent MLB players, some who would start on quality teams, most who would not. There are going to be a lot of devastating 2-1 losses in Tampa Bay this season.

Team MVP: Chris Archer

W/L prediction: 74-88

 

Division Winner: Toronto Blue Jays

Division MVP: Josh Donaldson

What’s Harrison Barnes Worth in Free Agency?

With the 2012-’13 rookie class’ free agency looming, Harrison Barnes has spent four seasons playing second fiddle to the “Splash Brothers.” Barnes potential is sky high and shows flashes of it on some nights. But when the dust clears and Barnes is receiving offers from other teams, will the Warriors match? What’s Barnes truly worth?

Let’s compare Barnes to another small-forward during the last year of his contract. Let’s take Gordon Hayward’s 2013-’14 season and compare Barnes’ 2015-’16 per-36 numbers:

Barnes and Hayward’s per-36

Hayward remained with the Jazz after they matched the Hornets offer sheet of $63M over four years. That’s $15.75M annually. Barnes per 36 numbers are slightly better than Hayward, but the Jazz have always relied on Hayward more than the Warriors have relied on Barnes.

Barnes, statistically, is a better shooter than Hayward. It could have to do with the way each is relied upon in their respective roles, but the stats could be back up the actual facts. But why pay a guy that type of money if he has a usage rate similar to the likes of Spencer Hawes, Alex Len and Corey Brewer?

Barnes per-36 numbers are an indication what he can do going forward. He’s averaging nearly 16 points per-36 and that’s as the fourth, and on some nights the fifth option on the Warriors. He’s extremely solid in many different ways scoring the ball. He can be a catch and shoot player, can post you up, and can take you off of the bounce. He’s superior than Hayward offensively in many ways, just won’t get credit for it until he’s in a role where he can just let it fly.

At his 6’9” frame, Barnes will be a hot commodity this offseason. The game is changing and Barnes will be able to play multiple positions, including power-forward. It’s highly likely the Warriors attempt to keep Barnes, especially if they win another championship. Why lose any pieces to a two-time champion? But even if they do keep him, don’t expect it to be cheap and expect them to have to match another team’s deal, just like Utah had to do with Hayward.

Expectations? He resigns with Golden State for a contract larger than Hayward’s. With the way players are signing deals and getting inflated contracts, expect nothing less with Barnes’.

The Fight Pacquiao Should Have Chosen

Manny Pacquiao is saying he will fight one more time, unless Floyd Mayweather will give him a rematch. Until Pacquiao wakes up and realizes Floyd seems satisfied with retirement, his last fight will come on April 9th.

That final fight will come against Timothy Bradley. The two have already fought twice during their careers, each winning once. Bradley’s win was one of the more controversial decisions in boxing history. There were honestly only one or two rounds you could have scored in Bradley’s favor, but even then, those rounds could have been won by Pacquiao which would have scored him each and every round.

Bradley may have been the best pay-per-view draw, but he wasn’t the best fight Pacquiao could have chosen. Especially if it’s Pacman’s last bout. It would have been great to see him challenge himself. Both Bradley fights have been relatively easy, the first one as I mentioned was so wrongly judged.

The opponent Pacquiao should have selected is Terence “Bud” Crawford. Crawford is one of the best young boxers in the game. A lot of boxers seemingly get a lot of hype swirling around their names and never live up to it. Crawford isn’t like those guys. The 28-year old is the current WBO junior welterweight champion.

Crawford can do anything in the ring. He can even switch to a southpaw stance, which is something not many boxers can do. Having to prepare for a righty and a lefty at the same time is something not many trainers help their fighters train for. Bud is 27-0 with 19 victories coming by way of knock-out. As of December 2nd, Crawford in number nine on ESPN’s pound-for-pound list, Pacquiao’s three.

Bradley is much more known than Crawford to the casual fan. Bradley has notable wins against Pacman himself, Ruslan Provodnikov, Juan Manual Marquez, and Brandon Rios. Crawford’s two biggest wins are against Yuriokis Gamboa and Dierry Jean, two guys not many casual boxing fans would know.

This fight would have been a dream come true for the both of them. Both are fantastic technicians that love putting on a show for the crowd. Bradley doesn’t have the power to hurt Pac like Crawford does and we’re going to miss out on that greatly. The last two fights we’re going to remember Manny Pacquaio by are both likely snoozers.