After losing each of my last two bets, I’m 6-5 with my baseball picks on the season, hardly good enough to call a hot start, but I’m staying on the right side of the .500 mark. We’ll see if I can’t step it up with my only two picks of the week. As always, I have some solid pitching match-ups today. Greinke and Marcum step up in the American League, while the new Philly, Roy Halladay, tries to halt his teams’ losing streak against Tim Hudson and the Braves.
Kansas City Royals @ Toronto Blue Jays (-120) (4-21: 12:37 PM ET) (Greinke vs. Marcum): I like both of these pitchers a lot, but Zach hasn’t brought it all together yet this year, and Marcum is looking good coming off his surgery. With the big name on the mound for the Royals, the line is shifted that way a bit, and there’s some good value on the lesser named ace in Toronto. Neither offense will do big things, so the money line looks like the good bet – this will likely be a close one. I’ve got my money on Marcum and his Jays.
Philadelphia Phillies (-1.5, +110) @ Atlanta Braves (4-21: 6:35 PM ET – ESPN) (Halladay vs. Hudson): This game is toying with me a little bit. Originally I liked Philadelphia to get it done behind Halladay, but then I thought Hudson might just give the Braves enough to pull it out at home, maybe hand Halladay his first loss in a Phils uniform. But after the Braves trouted around and scored 3 runs in the 9th to tied it, and Nate McLouth blasted a walk off HR to win it, I just can’t see Halladay failing when the Phillies need him most. This streak needs to stop, and he’s the guy that has to do it. The Braves lefty-heavy line-up will do their best to get to Roy, but I see the Phillies line-up stepping it up a bit for their new ace.
The NFL Draft is one of the greatest shows in sports, and despite it’s unbelievable length, it’s ridiculous detail and information put into every single pick, every single player interview, and the effort and time spent on studying each player live and on film, it’s amazing how many great players slip through the cracks and how many bad players get drafted in the first round. Now, sometimes things happen and players lose their mojo – and obviously some players turn a corner or figure something out or even get good coaching and become more than anybody expected – but still, there’s only so many more Raider drafts I can handle before I find the supply lines for Al Davis’s battery pack and shut that thing right down!
I have 3 guys I see as Overrated and 7 guys that and Underrated heading into the draft. I expect the former to play lower than their draft number insists, and I expect the latter to play above their selection spot.
OVERRATED: I don’t like writing bad things about kids I don’t know too much about, so let me preface this by saying that, these guys won’t be bad, they’re just a little overrated.
Jimmy Clausen: I guess it depends who you’re talking to, but plenty of people think that this kid will have a solid pro career and that he’s worth and early pick on draft day. Come on. I mean, sure, he pitched for a pro coach and he did so in a pro-style offense (not that spread stuff that doesn’t work in the NFL), but the bottom line is, he spent most of his “great season” playing “flyers’ up” with Golden Tate. Luckily for him, Tate is on my “underrated” list of Clausen wouldn’t even be in the first round discussion.
Joe Haden: I think Haden will be a fine pro, but he’s said to be “far and above” anything the rest of the draft has to offer at corner. That’s just not true. He might be the guy with the best times, and maybe the most “production” in college, but he played corner for one of the fastest and most disruptive defenses in college football. Of course he’s going to look better because of it. He’ll be solid, but Top 10? Not for me.
C.J. Spiller: I’d like to start by saying that I love watching Spiller, I love his game, I think he’ll be a good NFL back and a touchdown maker – but there are plenty of people ranking him as a Top 10 player in the draft, some even rank him in the Top 5. He’s a small-ish back, and though he’s definitely a match-up problem, a guy like Reggie Bush (I like him a little more, even, because he’s a tougher runner) but I don’t think a part time running back is ever worth a Top 10 pick. In fact, I can count the amount of running backs in the NFL that were worth Top 10 picks on a single hand. Spiller should be good, but if the Hawks, or any other team, spend Top 10 money on Spiller, they got bad value for their dollar.
Dez Bryant: How can a potential Top 10 pick be underrated? They talk about Bryant like he’s the anti-Christ, and maybe he turns out to be a bad seed, we won’t know until he gives this “pro athlete” thing a shot. But I think he’s fine, and I think he’s one of the best prospects to come out of the draft at the receiver position, ever. I would put Calvin Johnson ahead of him – but aside form that, over the last 10 years, I don’t think there’s a better body type with more speed and better moves, touchdown making moves, than Dez Bryant. He’s a Top 5 talent without personality questions and he’s a Top 10 talent with them. He’s no Ben Roethlisberger, give him a break.
Kyle Wilson: Because of his elite ball skills, his fluid motion, and his willingness to do all it takes to be a great football player, Kyle Wilson is my top rated cornerback. When I watch him play, I see a player that will lock receivers up and will not be afraid to take chances and make plays.
Jerry Hughes: Jerry Hughes was the most dominant force on the best defense in college football. He may be small, he may not run a 4.4, but he gets to the quarterback right quick – and I know about 32 NFL teams that could use him immediately.
Golden Tate: Jimmy Clausen’s numbers were crazy. His stock has shot up in some circles. Every day, before Jimmy goes to bed, he call’s Charlie Weis, and together they give thanks for the gift of Golden Tate. I haven’t looked at a single time or off season report on this kid – I watched him play – he’ll be a stud at the next level.
Brandon Spikes: Like the guy I’m going to list next, Spikes just changes games. He does everything right, he reads plays very well, and he doesn’t play as slow as his 40-time problems insist. He’s going to be a good pro and some team is going to come out of this draft with a great player picked 20-30 spots after he should have been picked.
Eric Norwood: This kid changed games at South Carolina. That team wasn’t very good, but they were in a lot of games, and he had a lot to do with that. He stepped up against good teams, and he just flat made plays. He’s not a great size, but his speed is above average, and he’s a good football player. There’s something to be said for that last one.
Brandon LaFell: At nearly 6’3″ and 215lbs, LaFell is a physical specimen at the receiver position. He blocks very well is super competitive, and would have dominated if he was in a system where an accurate quarterback could have passed him the ball. As far as I’m concerned, that’s perfect, because LaFell will slip down draft boards and somebody with some smarts will be there to grab him.
I managed a split on Tuesday, dropping the Lakers and Blazers spreads (though I warned you all about the Blazers) and winning pretty easily with the Hawks and Celtics – and I’m feeling really good about that Celtics game. Here are my picks for both of Wednesday’s game 2′s. Enjoy!
Charlotte Bobcats (+9) @ Orlando Magic (4-21: 7:00 PM ET – TNT): I wouldn’t be stunned if Charlotte pulled off the upset in Orlando in game 2. They played absolutely terrible in Game 1, and they still came back to make it interesting. They have the bigs to match up with Dwight Howard down low, the have a solid back court and a great coach. Nine points is a lot, even against a Magic team with all those ways to beat you. I think there is a good chance at an upset, but I’ll take the 9 points just to be safe.
San Antonio Spurs @ Dallas Mavericks (-3.5) (4-21: 9:30 PM ET – TNT): When I stare in the crystal ball I just see a much better team that happens to be on the better side of the match-up game as well. Sometimes you can get a better team in a tough match-up situation, but the Mavericks have the bigs to give Tim Duncan some trouble, they have an unguardable guy in Nowitzki, they have a surplus of scorers in Dirk, Butler, and Terry, and they have a point guard that runs a team as well as anyone in the league. They are playing at home after thieving a win last time out – I say they start 2-0 against the Spurs, and cover the small spread at home.