Don’t get too worked up over prospect rankings

Berrios

Today, Keith Law released his his top 100 prospects in baseball. It’s led to some consternation and frustration for Twins fans. Sure, there were 6 (!) Twins prospects in the top 100: Byron Buxton (2), Miguel Sano (15), Alex Meyer (30), Nick Gordon (43), Kohl Stewart (53) and Jose Berrios (97). Not many had a problem with 1-5, but many thought Berrios should be ranked much higher.

I really think that Berrios will reach the top end of his projection, or his ceiling, so to speak, but that’s neither hear nor there. I don’t have any problem with having him slotting in at 97, even if I think he will eventually be better than Meyer or Stewart. Why is that? Because prospect rankings generally are less about what players have done in their time in the minor leagues and more about their physical attributes.

Consider the position players rated ahead of Berrios. Buxton is rated where he is because of his incredible athleticism, including speed and a strong arm. Sano is where he is because of his size and strength. Gordon is there because of his instinct and speed. Injuries and some mildly disappointing numbers as a result didn’t bring their ranking down by much.

Now consider the pitchers on the list. Alex Meyer is a hard thrower, who is very tall. Kohl Stewart was going to be quarterback for Texas A&M before he turned his attention to baseball. Both are extremely athletic, and have the frame of a durable athlete. Meyer has severe control problems and Stewart needs to work on secondary pitches, but both are rated highly, mostly because of what they, as physical specimens are capable of.

Berrios is a hard worker, and has blown through the lower levels of Minor League Baseball with authority. He has the confidence one would hope for from a top end starter. Unfortunately, at least when it comes to prospect rankings, he is only 5’10”, and it’s tough for him to get the desired downward plane on his pitches. People worry about his hittability and durability almost exclusively because of his size, not because of his performance.

I personally think that Berrios works hard enough to find a way to pitch around his size. That’s not something that prospect graders evaluate though, so it’s OK if Berrios has 96 players ahead of him in the rankings.

Links of the Day 1/29/15

Good morning. I hope you are in the mood to read some stuff.

The NHL All Star Game (like all all star games) interested nobody. 

MLB Teams that are Going For It. 

The Timberwolves are ready for the big return game tonight. 

SCOREBOARD
NCAAB
Penn State 63, Minnesota 58 – If the Gophers wanted to do anything this year, this was the game they needed to win.
Kansas 64, TCU 61 – When did TCU get a basketball team?
Georgia Tech 70, Miami 50 – Losing by 20 at home is pretty much the worst thing you can do for your tournament hopes.
Purdue 83, Indiana 67 – Everything about the season is now totally OK.

Super Bowl 49 and the cementing of legacies

SuperBowlXLIXLogo

Obviously, by this point you are used to us talking about the NFL on Wednesdays, via the power ranks, and I’m not about to sit here and break with tradition. Let’s talk about the NFL. Specifically, let’s talk about the Super Bowl.

I’ll save predictions for Friday, but today, I want to talk about why this game is so appealing. I think there aren’t many people that like seeing the same teams make the Super Bowl over and over again, but to me, there is something special about dynasties. They are a team to root against, but to be looked back on with admiration. Frankly, I think the best teams deserve to win the most championships, rather than the luckiest teams over the course of a couple of months.

I digress. This clash of titans is even more interesting, because it could be a changing of the guard. The Patriots are winding down a decade or so of absolute domination. Tom Brady doesn’t have much left, and the rest of the roster continues to age along with them. The Seahawks just won the Super Bowl last year with a 2nd year quarterback with many good years ahead of him. The Seahawks are poised to become the team to beat for the next 10 years, assuming Russel Wilson remains healthy. How often does it happen that teams with a history of success clash with a team poised for a very successful future?

It’s also interesting to note how similar the teams are. Both squads are noted for their quarterbacks, but really attain much of their success with talented defenses playing as a collective unit, many times elevating players to superstar status, like Tedy Bruschi or Mike Vrabel of Patriots gone by, and Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor with the Seahawks today. They also share coaches who were disasters in their first attempt to lead an NFL franchise. They took different paths to NFL success, but Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick reaching the Super Bowl in the same year seemed implausible back in the 1990s, let alone as esteemed, future Hall of Fame coaches.

If anything, the difference between the two teams lies in the quarterbacks. It’s not even a difference between their ages that stands as the starkest contrast. There is a difference in their talent set as well. Brady is a better thrower of the ball, and has a better football IQ. He knows how to beat teams based on on field strategy and decision making. I believe Wilson is likely much smarter than Brady off the field, but on the field, he relies on athleticism, his own and that of his teammates, to beat opponents. You can’t tell me you would take Brady’s running back or receivers over Wilson’s, but that doesn’t mean the Seahawks QB doesn’t get credit for knowing how to use his teammates.

It’s really a shame that silly stories like “deflategate” and Marshawn Lynch’s press conferences are dominating headlines. This may be remembered as a Super Bowl between two of the great dynasties of our time, two great eras as they overlap for the briefest of moments.

Links of the Day 1/28/15

Man, without Power Ranks I’m going to really have to come up with something interesting to say on Wednesdays.

If you have Insider, you might enjoy the ranking of minor league systems out there.

Baseball, and the number of runs scored, are just fine. 

Charlie Coyle did a good thing with the hockey puck last night. 

SCOREBOARD
Football League Championship
Derby County 2, Blackburn 0 – The Rovers are playing a lot of soccer lately.
NHL
Minnesota 2, Edmonton 1 – The Wild are back from break and ready to start winning. Championship!

On the Menu: Slow roasted pork panini with tomato chutney

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Above, you will see what a panini is supposed to look like. You will note that I did not upload a picture of the food that I created. I’ll get to that in a second.

Katie and I recently came into about a quarter of a pig’s worth of pork. Despite the fact that this was supposed to be beef on the sandwich, I made the executive decision to use pork chops. Also, we weren’t so fancy that we had to use multiple kinds of onions, like grilled red onions and cipollini onions, so we just went with basic yellow onions. And we didn’t need fontina cheese, and we weren’t about to stock up on cloves. Cheese we had on hand, as well as a nutmeg/cinammon blend we had were apt substitutions.

In the end, there was nothing wrong with the flavor. The pork was seasoned with paprika, chipotle, garlic salt and pepper and cooked on low heat for a couple hours, until the meat fell off the bone. After that the shredded meat was prepared, I layered the sandwiches cheese-onion-meat-cheese and went to grill those up. Pretty much a disaster. The rolls we used for the sandwich burned before the cheese could melt. When you put them on the grill pan only long enough to get grill marks, they would lose all of their insides upon being flipped. A heartier bread wsa needed. Eventually, I just toasted the bread, and it wasn’t a panini, but rather just a messy sandwich. Thank goodness they tasted good.

The chutney worked out good. It was a dip to go along with the panini. It consisted of sweated onions in oil, tomatoes, the clove substitute I mentioned, agave and white wine vinegar. Why was that so much easier to make than a damned sandwich?

Links of the Day 1/27/15

Hello New England! If you have power, you had better hang out here on Rhino and Compass until the streets are clear.

A guy went to the bathroom with some footballs. Again, DeflateGate is a stupid story, but this is a funny circumstance. 

Matt Painter is on the hot seat. I mean, if Purdue wanted to spend the money to buy him out.

Athlon is not impressed by Purdue. But why would they be?

SCOREBOARD
NCAAW
Iowa 78, Nebraska 72 – Nebraska will rapidly become Iowa’s biggest rival, so this kind of a win is certainly appreciated.

An update on the College Basketball Belt

Belt

Georgia has had a decent season, but did you know that they are the current holders of the College Basketball Championship Belt? As you may recall, teams hold onto the belt until they are beaten, and the belt is wrestled away from the team. By the end of the season, it will be around the waist of the NCAA Tournament champion, most likely, but during the regular season, it can bounce around quite a bit.

Two years ago, it spent most of the year in the ACC. Last year, it spent most of the year in the A-10, around St. Louis’ belt. This year, as you might have guessed, after spending much of the time with West Virginia, it ended the non conference schedule with LSU and ultimately entered the SEC. It seemed that nobody wanted to retain it for a while, as it went from LSU to Missouri to Auburn to Florida and now, eventually, to Georgia.

They retained the belt against the two squads from Mississippi, and should be able to continue their reign as champions, with games against bottom dwellers Vanderbilt and South Carolina. After that, it gets a bit trickier, They take on the #1 ranked Kentucky Wildcats. If they win the belt, then who knows how long they will retain it. Perhaps until next year.

(For the record, Joe Lunardi has Georgia in the NCAA Tournament as a 9 seed)

Links of the Day 1/26/15

Happy Birthday to my baby brother. 29 today! That… That makes me feel old.

Chris Berman is unhappy again. I can never get over cranky Chris Berman.

The Colts might be in on Cris Carter’s son Duron. 

Glen Davis is the last NBA player I want landing on me. 

SCOREBOARD
No games last night!

Revisiting my NFL predictions

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Way back in September, a day before the season started, I pieced together a lengthy post full of NFL predictions. As a meteorologist professionally, I know that it’s important to verify your predictions so you know exactly what did and did not work. Let’s go division by division to see what I got right and did not.

NFC West
Got it right – Seahawks winning the division, San Francisco missing the playoffs at 8-8.

Got it wrong – Arizona playing well. I thought they wouldn’t even be competetive. I thought the Rams would be, at around 8-8

NFC South
Got it right – Not much. I accurately said that Josh McCown is awful and that the Bucs would finish last!

Got it wrong – I picked the South to put two teams in the playoffs, and neither one was the Panthers. I also thought the Falcons would be in bounce back mode. Insted, everyone was terrible.

NFC North
Got it right – I said the Packers were scary good, and that there was no stopping them in the NFC North. I also correctly said that this would be a year for Vikings fans to get excited about next season. I think that happened.

Got it wrong – I thought the Lions would return to the cellar in the NFC North, while at the same time suggesting that the Bears would be really strong thanks to having a healthy Jay Cutler. You don’t get much wronger.

NFC East
Got it right – Nick Foles wouldn’t be able to sustain his success from 2013 (even though he was injured, causing the step back). Suspecting that Odell Beckham “should be pretty good”.

Got it wrong – Pretty much everything else. I mean, i had WASHINGTON  winning the conference, and they were dreadful. I also had Dallas in dead last, and they seemed to turn a corner this year. I did not do well in the east.

AFC West
Got it right – I pretty much nailed it this time out. Denver won the division with ease, while the Raiders were tougher, but not good. Kansas City struggled against a tougher schedule.

Got it wrong – The Chargers, finished with the same record as the Chiefs with a lower point differential, and did not make the playoffs. So close to perfection.

AFC South
Got it right – Indianapolis coasted to the post season on the backs of a terrible division. I also pegged Houston to finish second. Blake Bortles may have indeed been the 2nd best QB in the conference.

Got it wrong – I don’t think I properly assessed just how bad the division would be. Tennessee only had 2 wins and Jacksonville only had 3. This meant that the Texans had more opportunities to get above.500, which they did.

AFC North
Got it right – I correctly picked the Bengals to make their way back to the playoffs. I also said that Ray Rice should have been suspended for longer than the 2 games that had been issued at the time.

Got it wrong – I think I was right in that the Browns would be better all around than many thought they would be (no thanks to Manziel) but I underestimated the other teams in the AFC North. The Steelers and Ravens each got over their running game issues just fine.

AFC East
Got it right – The Patriots won the division! Easily! The Bills also got second place, and did so with an above .500 record. Not their fault that the AFC North was o potent.

Got it wrong – Tom Brady was healthy all year, so my crazy prediction didn’t bear out. The Jets were also just as bad as they seemed, while the Dolphins maximized a seemingly holey lineup.

As you can see, I didn’t do a particularly awesome job with my predictions this year, though I got a few things right. If you were wondering where I went with my playoff predictions, suffice to say that I had the Bears in the Big Game. Not great. I do much better in baseball season.

Links of the Day 1/25/15

Happy Sunday, of what might be the worst sports day of the year! NFL and NHL All Star Games? No thank you!

The Wild and Blackhawks will be playing their outdoor game at TCF Bank Stadium. 

Coastal Carolina would like you to see their field from space. 

Bill Belichick might want to consult science before he starts saying things. (I continue to maintain that this is a stupid story not worth talking about. Belichick makes it a headline by calling a press conference. He should have just dropped it)

SCOREBOARD
NCAAB
Purdue 67, Iowa 63 – The Boilers got their first win over a ranked opponent in 11 tries. Meanwhile, Iowa remains unable to win in West Lafayette.
Kansas 75, Texas 62 – I think we can all agree, an embarrassing loss for the Longhorns is a win for the rest of us.
Minnesota 79, Illinois 71 – The Gophers are starting to play like they know what they are doing.
Miami 66, Syracuse 62 – The Hurricanes won AT Syracuse. This is a down year for the Orange, but that’s still a very impressive win.
IPFW 77, North Dakota State 71 – Sure, NDSU is the only loser today, but they got to play a team called the Mastadons, so that’s not so bad.