30 Teams in 30 Days – Cincinnati Reds

After a great year in 2010, which landed the Reds their first NL Central title since 1995, the Reds disappointed a lot of people last year. Despite having 2010 NL MVP, Joey Votto (who just so happened to attend my high school back in his youth), they couldn’t even reach the .500 plateau. Let’s recap.
Cincinnati Reds
Record: 79-83
Finish: 3rd in NL Central
Playoffs: N/A
Top Pitcher: Johnny Cueto 9-5, 2.31 ERA, 104 SO
Top Hitter: .309 AVG, 29 HR, 103 RBI
Manager: Dusty Baker
Important Offseason Acquisitions: Mat Latos, Sean Marshall, Ron Mahay, Dioner Navarro, Ryan Madson, Wilson Valdez, Willie Harris, Ryan Ludwick, Jeff Francis
Important Offseason Losses: Francisco Cordero TOR, Ramon Hernandez COL, Edgar Renteria FA, Dontrelle Willis, Edinison Volquez, Yonder Alonso SD,  Travis Wood CHC

There were high hopes for the Reds in 2011 after a great 2010, but with the amazing years the Brewers and the Cardinals put up, the Reds didn’t have a chance. Joey Votto (CANADIAN)! got some heat last year, which I didn’t quite understand, I know he had a drop-off from 2010, but he still hit over .300, he had 29 Jacks and over 100 RBI’s. The real problem lied in their pitching, they finished exactly 20th in the league in ERA, WHIP and SO. It was mostly their Starters, besides Cueto and Leake, their Starting Pitching was horrendous, I mean, just look at the stats, of their 5 pitchers with 13 starts or more (not including Leake and Cueto), their Starting Pitching finished with an ERA of 5.00 on the dot. That is unacceptable. They had a decent Bullpen and a decent offensive attack, but their Starting Pitching lost them a lot of ball games. The Reds certainly went after improving that in the offseason, with the addition of young stud, Mat Latos. The 24 year old right-hander has shown great promise, posting an ERA of 3.37 in his first 72 big league starts. They also added veteran lefty, Jeff Francis (also CANADIAN!), who once had great potential, being selected 9th overall in the 2002 Draft, but was never able to live up to expectations, posting a career 4.78 ERA as a starter, the Reds may try to use him in a relief role this year, seeing as he’s already made 3 relief appearances for them in the Spring. So, I believe their Starting 5 should be greatly improved this year, with the hope of continued success from Cueto, Leake and Latos, and then if they can get improved years from Bailey and Arroyo (who had two successful campaigns before struggling last year), they could even be considered a somewhat dangerous starting rotation at times. Their bullpen should be improved a bit with the additions of Marshall and Mahay, but with them parting ways with Cordero, they brought on Madson to take over the closer role, unfortunately it was just announced that he will miss the whole year due to Tommy John surgery, so they’re going to have trouble finding saves from time to time, having established closer. Their offense has lost a little fire power in Alonso, Hernandez and Renteria, but it should still be a very dangerous offensive group. Ultimately I think the Reds will fall short of the Cardinals and the Brewers once again (despite their losses of Prince and Pujols). I just don’t see this team being able to compete with them. However, they are still young (28.0 yr old average) and I believe that they’ll be a threat in this division for years to come.

Prediction
Record: 82-80
Finish: 3rd in NL Central
Playoffs: N/A
Top Pitcher: Mat Latos 14-9, 3.06 ERA, 197 SO
Top Hitter: Joey Votto .311 AVG, 31 HR, 108 RBI
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-Vernon Smells

Peyton Manning To Denver And What Does This Mean For The Rest Of The NFL

As of today, former Colts QB, Peyton Manning will be a Denver Bronco, now for Denver this means the obvious, they’re getting a future hall of famer QB who will give them the best shot to go to a Super Bowl. Now obviously there is some doubt with his neck, but I think it’s fair to believe that all is right with Mr. Manning. Now seeing as Denver could make it to the second round of the NFL playoffs with the Messiah Tim Tebow, theres no doubt in anybody’s mind that they could make the playoffs with Manning. Denver’s defense on average gave up 19 points per game last year, there’s no doubt in my mind that Manning could put up more.

Now for the more interesting topic, what happens to the other teams that were in the mix?

The San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers are in a strange predicament. They were the surprise of the NFL season, making it all the way to NFC championship game. This in turn, took away the “bust” label on Alex Smith, but now Alex Smith is a free agent and seems to think he deserves more, so although the 49ers have signed receivers Mario Manningham and Randy Moss, they now have no QB to throw them the ball.

The Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals will leave this sweepstakes unscalled pretty much. Last season they traded for Eagles QB Kevin Kolb, granted he didn’t do “squat”, but maybe this season it will be different. They also still have all-pro wideout Larry Fitzgerald.

The Tennessee Titans

The Titans gave it a good go trying to sign Manning. They pulled the “you played here in college” card, but that didn’t work. So now for the Titans are stuckwith another aging QB (Matt Hasslebeck), although young QB, Jake Locker didn’t look half bad last year. 2010-2011 NFL Rushing leader, Chris Johnson had a lack lustre year in the 2011-12 season. If Johnson can improve they could give the now Mario Williams-less Texans a run for their money.

The Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins are definitely in a panic mode. They finished with a record of 6-10 (not too bad considering they started off 0-7), unfortunately, since they were able to win those 6 games, they now sit in the 8th position when it comes to the draft. The Dolphins are QBless as Chad Henne singed with Jags and Matt Flynn signed with the seahawks, so all signs point to the fact that Miami will try to draft Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill.

However, there is a subplot to the Miami situation. Seeing as Denver now has Manning, they will try to trade Tebow, and with the Jags already getting Henne, some believe Miami will trade for Tebow, seeing as he’s Florida’s favourite son.

The Tebow Situation

As previously mentioned Tebow could go to Miami. Now another team I could see him going to is San Fran, With receivers like Manningham and Moss, Tebow could just launch the ball up to them. Not to mention, a Frank Gore and Tim Tebow backfield could be lethal. Also we can’t forget that former QB Jim Harbaugh is there coach, so he could show Tebow a thing or two.

The Jaguars have been rumoured to be in the mix still, but I don’t see why the Jaguars would sign Henne and then trade for Tebow. The Patriots have also been in the mix, which I surprisingly understand. Now, the Patriots aren’t going to be trading Tom Brady or anything, but Belichick is an innovator, so he would try to find a way to fit Tebow in.

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-McFultz

 

The End of An Era

Although it is not official…yet. It is rumoured that the Indianapolis Colts will release  star quarterback Peyton Manning. Manning was drafted in 1998 by the Colts with the first overall pick, his first season he went 3-13, but in his second season he went 13-3. He brought the Colts to 9 consecutive playoff appearances, before missing last season. With the Colts, Manning won 4 MVP awards (an NFL record), he won one Super Bowl and a Super Bowl MVP award. He is 3rd in every major passing category and he’s face of the franchise… or was. With Manning gone, the Andrew Luck era shall begin, pending the Colts draft Luck. The best situation to happen for the Colts is that Luck goes 3-13 (like his predecessor) and gets the Colts another first overall pick so they can build a team around Luck.

Now for Manning, he now has the option to sign wherever he pleases. The top four teams I can see Manning go to are as follows.

1) The New York Jets, the Jets have a great defence and a great run game. The one thing they’ve been missing is a consistent QB, Mark Sanchez has been less then stellar in his time with New York. Manning’s father Archie during an interview a few months ago almost hinted that Peyton could end up there. If Peyton were to land in New York it would really heat up the Manning-Brady rivalry, as well there would be two Mannings’ in New York.

2) The Arizona Cardinals, the Cardinals have been one of the teams that are consistently mentioned. Arizona is a very stable environment (which Manning likes), they also are the city that took in an old Kurt Warner.  Arizona also has one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, Larry Fitzgerald. A Manning-Fitzgerald combo would be killer, as well the Cardinals are in the NFC West, a division that has been the weakest division in the NFL in recent years. With that being said the 49ers were stellar last season but Manning could easily dissect the 49ers defense. Also the Cardinals hired Manning’s ex QB coach Frank Reich.

3) The Washington Redskins, the Redskins are a team that have been known to sign older players and have always been willing to pay top dollar. The Redskins have been known to look for the quick fix and if your looking for a quick fix, Peyton Manning is your man. The Redskins also hold the 6th pick, with that pick they could possibly draft Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon. With Manning and Blackmon the ‘Skins could tear up almost any defense. Now their main competition would be the Super Bowl champion New York Giants, who are led by non other than Peyton’s younger brother Eli. The Giants made the playoffs with a 9-7 record, Peyton hasn’t won less then 10 games since 2001. Now, even if the Giants were once again to finish first in the division, it’s safe to say that Manning would lead the Redskins to a  wild card spot

4) Last but not least, the Miami Dolphins, The ‘Fins have been a team always in the mix of the “where will Peyton end up talks”. Although the ‘Fins had a pretty bad season at 6-10, they were not actually as bad as their record suggests, they finished the season 6-3. The ‘Fins also hold the 8th pick, with that they can improve an already pretty solid o-line, fix up some of their defensive problems or if around, draft WR Michael Floyd from Notre Dame or Kendall Wright from Baylor, with one of these  two start wide receivers plus Brandon Marshall, the Dolphins could torch any opposing defense.

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-McFultz