The Angels Struggles Continue–Whats Going On??

8286d1aba5e0439686a8751bcf03ae87-6745691156bc44389cb4bdc8cfcc7721-5What in the world is going on with the Los Angeles Angels?  If you would have told me before the season started that the Angels would end the first month of the seasons only two games better the Houston Astros, I would have told you your crazy.  But alas, here we are, at the end of April and the Angels are 9 and 15.  The Angels have already dropped 6 series this season.  Much of the struggles can be contributed to the injuries, but their problems are certainly not limited to catching a bad case of the injury bug.

So, what else is wrong? Well, for one thing the Angles super sluggers are playing super lousy so far this season—although Pujols is starting to play better as of late.  Pujols is coming along, but is only hitting .244 this seasons, with a slugging percentage of .367.  Even worse, Hamilton is hitting a dismal .219 and has a slugging percentage of .323.  The two have 4 home runs combined! The Angels brought Hamilton to Los Angeles because they believed he would be the second piece of the most feared one-two punch in all of baseball.  So far, this combination hasn’t produced much.  The Angels need these guys to get going in May.

The biggest problem for the Angels however, is the pitching.  Angel’s pitchers have struggled throughout the season to get out off inning.  The staff as a whole is plagued by injuries and just downright struggling.  Jered Weaver is out for 6-8 weeks with a broken elbow, C.J. Wilson is been inconsistent at best, and there are multiple injuries deeper in the bullpen with players like middle reliever Kevin Jepsen and closer Ryan Madson.  If this staff can get rolling they have the potential to be one of the best in the American League, but so far things haven’t gone their way at all. jered-weaver-getty2

The Angels need to get healthy and their star players need to start playing like stars. The Angels are good from a talent perspective, but we’ve seen from teams in the Bay Area like The A’s and Giants, that you don’t need big name players and a big budget payroll to win.  The Angels have talent everywhere, and I expect them to turn this season around and finish at the top of the AL West this year, but they need to start playing like a team.

What do you guys think? If you watch the Angels a lot, what else have you seen that is contributing to their struggles?  Feel free to leave comments below or follow me on Twitter @JCConway1

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This Year’s Draft Winners Are Both From The NFC West

usp-nfl_-2013-nfl-draft_020-3_4_r536_c534Three days, hours of coverage, and months of speculations are finally over as the NFL Draft comes to a close tonight.   This draft was much different then most.  For one thing, there have never been as many offensive linemen drafted in the first round as in the 2013 draft.  On the other hand, the first two rounds saw only a few quarterbacks taken which is contrary to the status quo in the quarterback happy NFL. Nonetheless, as different as this draft was, there were still winners and losers

I know I’m somewhat biased, but I can’t help to think the NFC West was the overall winner in this year’s draft.  Got to give credit to all 4 teams GM’s , scouts and head coaches. I felt like every team filled the gaps in their roster terrifically and in most cases improved their overall position as a team.  The bottom line in the NFC West is going to be competitive and physical.  It will be exciting to watch this division in 2013 because all 4 teams have the talent to put on a show.

Not only did the NFC West kill it in this years draft, the two bet overall draft selections belong to two NFC West teams.  The San Francisco 49ers made some awesome picks, particularly with on the defensive side of the ball.  The Niners seemed to fill every hole they had.  The sleeper pick of the draft in my opinion will be Marcus Latimore from South Carolina.  I like this pick a lot. Latimore, as everyone knows has a devastating leg injury last season but the NIners don’t need him right away. They can redshirt Latimore essentially, wait for him to get healthy and then incorporate him into the offense.  The reason I like this pick is because anyone who knows anything about Frank Gore’s knee injury in college will tell you that players can come back from those kinds of injuries and be productive—and in Frank’s case a hall of famers.  Latimore has a great work ethic and reminds me a lot of Gore in terms of attitude and running style. It might be a while, but I can’t wait to see Latimore in action.

hi-res-156645895_crop_650x440The overall winners however, are the St Louis Rams.  The Rams had an awesome first round and were somehow able to steal Tavon Austin by trading picks with the Bills.  If you have ever watched this kid play, you know why I think he’s one of the best picks in the draft.  Austin is electric and adds a huge dimension to the Rams offense. He specialized is making space on screen passes and is a true game changer.  The Rams were also able to fill gaps on their offensive line. St Louis will be able to put a solid team on the field all the way around in 2013 after this years draft.  The pressure is now on Sam Bradford to perform. Bradford has all the help he needs and if they fail to win, much of the blame will undoubting be place on him.

What do you guys think? Who was this years NFL draft winners? Feel free to leave your opinions and thoughts below.  Also, make sure to follow me on Twitter @JCConway1

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The First Rounds Finally Over. How’d Your Team Do?

It’s finally here!  The first round of the NFL draft was yesterday and the weeks of speculations can finally come to an end.  The NFL draft is truly a spectacle and every year it seems to grow in popularity.  I wish I could say that I don’t buy into all the hype, but I would be lying if I did. I’m always anxious to see whom my team picks up and love to play judge and jury their decisions.  This year’s first round played out much different then most years and was anything but normal. The NFC West made some great moves the division seems poised to be one of the best in 2013.  So, how did your team do?  Below are the highlights for all 4 teams in the NFC West for the first round of the 2013 draft.

NFL: Saint Louis Rams-Press ConferenceThe Arizona Cardinals started off the 1st rounds with one of the best picks in the entire draft.  Jonathan Copper from North Caroline is an absolute beats.  Being that Cardinals had one of the worst offensive lines last year it wasn’t surprising that they went with an offensive lineman in the first round.  Cooper is a hog , and I expect him to be a solid presence for the Cardinals for years to come on the offensive line.

The Seahawks decided to forgo the first round when they traded their 1st round pick to the Vikings for Percy Harvin back in March. Can say I blame them on this one.  If Harvin can stay healthy he is one of the most dynamic wide receivers and kick returners in the entire league.

The 49ers had a great move in the first round.  They had a huge need at safety after trading Deshawn Goldson to the Bengals earlier this offseason.  They found a solid replacement for Goldson in Eric Reid from LSU.  Reid is a versatile safety who has a nose for the ball and fits well with the 49ers physical defense.  I’m excited to see how the Niners staff develops Reid over the summer and expect him to contribute early on next seasons.

Finally, we have the St Louis Rams.  The Rams make some serious moves in the first round and traded picks with the Buffalo Bills to acquire Travon Auston from West Virginia. In my opinion this was one of the best moves of the entire first round.  Austin is a stud. He’s fast, has great hands, and most importantly, he has a great work ethic.  The kid loves football and has the tools to be great. Tavon will e fun to watch over the next few years and he provides a devastating weapon for Sam Bradford and the Rams offense.

What did you guys think of the first round of the draft?? Who made the best moves?? BE sure to leave your comments below.

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The Rockies Are Doing What Now? No Way.

Carlos+Gonzalez+Dexter+Fowler+Los+Angeles+zqhsZX_Q98RxRight now the Colorado Rockies sit atop the NL West with a two game lead over the San Francisco Giants.  They have gone 13-5 so far in this early season and have the second best record overall in the National League.   No one is surprised that the Atlanta Braves hold the NL’s best record, but I think just about everyone is baseball is a little shocked at how the Rockies have performed so far this season.  How can a team like the Rockies start off with such a bang, when a year ago, they were at the bottom of the NL West standings?

Lets take a look.

The most important reason for Colorado’s recent success is due to their offense. The Rockies have been hitting the cover off the ball as of late.  Carlos Gonzalez is off to a great start and is poised to have yet another 20-30 home run season.  CarGo–and Rockies fans affectionately call him–is already leading the league in runs scored and hitting a cool .364 with 24 hits and 4 home runs.  In addition to CarGo’s output, another not-so-likely player has stepped up to provide a boost in the arm for Colorado’s offense.  Dexter Fowler is playing out of his mind right now and is tied for the National League’s second most home runs with 8.  Fowler has been hitting for power and it shows.   Finally, there’s ol’ reliable—Troy Tulowiski. Tulo is off to another fantastic season and has 7 homeruns, 17 RBIs, and a batting average of .328troy_tulowitzki

So, the million dollar question is, is this kind of production sustainable?? My guess is yes.  Especially in terms of Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowiski. Both these guys have been productive throughout their young careers and I don’t expect that to change.  If CarGo and Tulo can stay healthy,I think their production can remain somewhat constant and wont fall off too much throughout the season.

The wild card here is of course Dexter Fowler.  Now, I’m not going to pretend that I saw this kind of power coming from Fowler—or for that matter, even knew who Fowler was before this season.  From what I have gathered, Fowler had a pretty uneventful rookie season last year and made tremendous strides in the offseason.  The Rockies have high hopes for Fowler and if he can continue to drive in runs and hit the ball of out the park, I think the Rockies will be a force to be recon with in the NL west.

What do you guys think? Where do you see the Rockies ending in the division this year? Id love to hear your input.  Feel free to leave comments below or catch me on Twitter at @JCConway1.

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AFC West Schedule Preview—Just a Few Thoughts

Manning-off-and-running-in-Denver-9P28DSI5-x-largeAs a division the last 3-5 seasons have been pretty rough for the AFC West. Other then the brief Tebow Show in 2011 and the arrival of Payton Manning last season, the division hasn’t received much attention from the league and the media—because they weren’t any good. Last year the division saw some success with Broncos, but other then that, the rest of the division was kind of a joke.  The Chiefs and the Raiders were tough to watch, and the Chargers way underperformed as a team.  In 2013, the AFC West looks to improve upon its recent history and make a name for itself as a division.

This week the new schedules were released for the 2013 regular season.  A couple thing s stood out to me when looking at each teams schedule.

First, The NFL has Scheduled 8 primetime games featuring teams from the AFC West. I get that people around the country want to see Payton Manning—cant blame them–but does anyone really want to see Phillip Rivers and the San Diego super Chargers three times in one season? I know I don’t.  Meanwhile, teams like the Raiders and Chiefs are hardly getting any primetime love from the NFL.

oakland-raiders-players-2009-nfl-denver-1MTmtRWhat’s even more surprising about the AFC West’s schedule is just how easy it is.  According to 2012 results, the Denver Broncos have the NFL’s easiest schedule in 2013. This could provide the foundations for another super bowl run for Payton Manning and the Broncos. The charges also have it pretty easy and claim the NFL’s easiest road schedule in 2013.  On the other hand the raiders have a brutal schedule. 4 out of the Raiders first 5 games are against NFL elite quarterbacks—they face Andrew Luck, Payton Manning, RG3, and Phillip Rivers all by week 5.  If Raider-Nation is anxious to see how their offseason defensive acquisitions pan out, they’ll have a good idea by the middle of the second month of the season.

Overall, I think the Broncos and the Chargers should be pretty happy with how their 2013 schedules turned out.  Both teams have a lot of talent and need to take advantage of the gift the NFL has given them.  On the flip side, the Raiders just need to remain competotibe.  Although the franchise is still rebuilding, and the schedule isn’t in their favor, if they can make of good year out of 2013 it could go a long way to reestablishing a winning culture in Oakland.

What do you guys think of the AFC West Schedule?  Anything stand out to you?  Feel free to leave comments below.

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San Francisco 49ers 2013 Schedule preview

21a1-Niners1-Color-54p-1024x865As a football fan it’s always exciting when new schedules are released—particularly for the 49ers as we all know I’m a huge fan.  For me, it’s a chance to not only size up a teams competition, but it’s also a time to draw absurdly early predictions. Last year after looking at the Niners schedule, I thought—“well this year is going to suck.”  Turns out, many of the teams that I though were going to give the 49ers trouble were any good –see Detroit, Green Bay, New England (even though they almost came back to win).  This goes to show you can put too much clout in preseason predictions and a schedule hot off the press doesn’t really tell you much.  Nonetheless, I can’t help but to look at the 2013 schedule with some of the same anticipation as I did in 2012.

To sum up 49ers 2013 schedule in one word–OUCH!  Last year started off tough, but this year starts out like a punch in the face. San Francesco will open the season with a divisional round playoff rematch against the Packers at Candle Stick.  Then it’s off to Seattle for a HUGE division rivalry and after that, the Niners will host Indianapolis. The 49ers first 3 games are against 2012 playoff teams. Theses games are huge in terms of setting the tone for the 49ers in 2013.  They have to get off to a good start.  If San Francisco fans want to know where there team stands compared to their division and the other elite teams in the NFL, they will have a good idea by the end of week 3.

If you are thinking the second half of the seasons is going to get any easier for the 49ers, you’re wrong. In fact, the second half of the season is even more daunting then the first.  Weeks 10-16 are definitely going to test the 49ers as they play Carolina, New Orleans, Washington DC, Seattle, and Atlanta.  To make that impressive stretch of games against playoff caliber teams even more impressive during weeks 11 and 12 the 49ers will play back to back road games, on the east coast, during the prime time, in New Orleans and in DC—that kids, is what we call brutal!

On the bright side, San Francisco has a total of 5 prime time games in 2103. Although 3 of these games are away and 2 are on the east coast, I can’t blame the NFL for avoiding another blackout like last season’s Monday Night game against the Steelers. I applaud their efforts to get the 49ers in from of the National stage.

I think this division could be very competitive with Seattle of course, but also St. Louis–Jeff Fishers is doing good things there. I love the Niners, but they gotta be on their game all season long. Close games, tough opponents, and adversity can either destroy a team, or straighten a team. Can’t wait to see how Harbaugh and the boys respond to it this year