Tuesday, December 14, 2010

5 Things That Need To Happen For The 49ers To Make the Playoffs


As if it isn't ridiculous enough that we are talking about a 5-8 team having a chance at making the playoffs, the 49ers actually have a more than legitimate shot.

But let's roll through some scenarios that need to happen in order for the 49ers to get that shot. Remember, the 49ers will own the tiebreaker among the NFC West teams if tied at the end of the season.

1. Win. The 49ers don't have to win their next 3 games, although that would help, but they need to win 2 of the next 3, and that needs to include beating the Rams in Week 16. As of now, the Rams are tied with the Seahawks at 6-7 for the division lead, although the Rams hold the tiebreaker. Let's be real, though. The 49ers do not need to win in San Diego this week. If they do, that's great, it only helps their chances and those chances get extremely high with a win this week. Again, it is not a must. What is a must is a win at St. Louis the following week. The division pretty much comes down to that game for the 49ers, and they need to win or their season is over. Tack on a win at home against Arizona the following week and the 49ers are headed to the playoffs.

2. The Rams need to lose against either the Chiefs or Seattle. Or both. Pretty much, the Rams need to lose 2 of their next 3 games, and one of them needs to be against the 49ers. Now if the Chiefs beat the Rams this week, then things get a lot more clearer for the 49ers, but a Rams win and a 49er loss would call for a Seattle victory against the Rams in Week 17, but let's not go there.

3. Seattle loses to Atlanta and Tampa Bay, then beats St. Louis. Don't forget the Seattle Seahawks are still in this playoff picture, I know, we forgot after that butt-whooping they were handed by the 49ers last week. They do have 3 tough opponents coming up, and the way they are playing, I doubt if they win any of them, but nonetheless, do not count them out. The 49ers need their help. They need the Seahawks to lose 2 of their next 3 games, but have that one win be against the Rams in Week 17. A tall order, I know, but very possible if you think about it.

4. 49ers beat NFC West. The one thing the 49ers have been good at all year is beating the NFC West. They are 1-0 against the Rams and Cardinals, and 1-1 against the Seahawks. The 49ers have games against the Cardinals and Rams left in their division. If they win those, they will get the divisional tiebreaker, which only leaves the Rams and Seahawks to lose 2 of their next 3 games for the 49ers to win the NFC West. Again, very possible. From the outside, the 49ers have already beaten the Rams once before, and the Cardinals just aren't very good. Let's not assume anything, though.

5. Help. The 49ers need help from teams like the Falcons, Bucs, and Chiefs, maybe even the Seahawks. A win by the Chiefs over the Rams this week, makes the 49ers/Rams game the following week what it all comes down to. On the other side, the 49ers need the Falcons to beat the Seahawks, and yet have the Seahawks turn around and beat the Rams. Yes, I know, we are asking for a lot, but these scenarios are more than likely, which is why the 49ers can even dream of the playoffs right now.

Or the 49ers could just win their next 3 games. Wouldn't that be simple.

One last thing I want to add on. For the 49ers to make the playoffs, they need to have Alex Smith at QB. He gives them the best playbook and the best chance at winning games.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Top 5 Prospects In the Giants Organization


A couple years ago, there were inklings that the Giants would have a slew of strong players coming from their farm system. They went by the names Posey, Bumgarner, Sandoval, etc. Now, those players played a significant role in helping the Giants win the 2010 World Series.

So with that kind of success coming from the minors so recently, that means the Giants farm system is depleted, right? Well, a little, but there are still a few names lingering down there that most certainly will get call-ups real soon. Here are a few:

5. SS- Brandon Crawford
I'm sure you have heard rumblings of this kid becoming the next Giants shortstop. Maybe even thought he would be the Opening Day starter at SS in the 2011 season now with Juan Uribe taking a hike. That was before the Tejada signing. Not sure if he is MLB ready just yet. Don't get me wrong, his defensive skills are MLB ready, but his bat sure needs some work if he is to progress to the next level. He played in A-San Jose then worked his way up to AA-Richmond last season and seems to be a promising infielder for the Giants in the near future. That is really the reason why he is on this list. I'm really not impressed with him as a Major League player just yet, but he seems to be the closest to gettting the call to the pros because of his defense and the void the Giants have at shortstop.

4. OF- Francisco Peguero
One growing similarity you will notice between the top prospects for the Giants is speed. Peguero may be at the top of that list. But although he can steal bases like nobody's business, his plate discipline may need some work. If you can't envision this guy or haven't seen him play, just think of a skinnier Pablo Sandoval who still swings at everything, yet Peguero can put the bat on the ball. He is a tough strike out, which is why the Giants like him. Problem is he swings at everything. He is in a real battle with Darrren Ford for the starting CF of the future.

3. SP- Zack Wheeler
Many remember when he was the 6th overall pick in the 2009 draft. The 20 year old potential starting pitcher for the Giants, and top pitching prospect, has huge upside in the future. But that is all he has right now. He had a rough season last year and that has sparked some concerns about how fast he will rise to the Majors. Don't expect him in San Francisco anytime soon. This is not a Madison Bumgarner who blew through the minors. Wheeler will have a slow rise to the Majors. He will need to fix his wildness problem if anything is to change. Hopes are he starts in A-San Jose in 2011.

2. CF- Gary Brown
Speedy and athletic will describe Brown. He was the 24th overall pick by the Giants in this last 2010 draft. He has modest power, but doubts about him hitting consistently may have him down this list a little farther for some, but I like him. He is a top of the order type of hitter and is another talented CF prospect for the Giants. He hit .438 with 41 RBI's and 31 SB in college at Cal State Fullerton, and was called one of the fastest players in the country. We'll know more about him when he presumably starts in A-San Jose in 2011.

1. 1B- Brandon Belt
This is an easy pick right here. Belt is the best player in the Giants farm system, no doubt. I don't want to talk him up too much, but .383 with 10 HR's and 62 RBI's in 77 games in A-San Jose last season may do the job for me. Again, I don't want to get everyone's hopes up, but he is being very much compared to Buster Posey in terms of upside. If you haven't seen him play, picture the future John Olerud. A skinny, hit for average player. At 6'5" 195 lbs., he may need to put on some weight, but there has not been a hitting prospect in the Giants' farm system with this much anticipation, well, since Posey. Odds are, he does the same thing as Posey did last season. Belt will start in AAA-Fresno, but given an injury or lack of hitting from someone in San Francisco, Belt is on the first plane to the Major Leagues.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Giants Done Dealing?


The San Francisco Giants have had a surprisingly up and down offseason so far in the last month since their World Series Championship.

The Aubrey Huff signing was on the top of their list, and they got that done quickly, but the Giants hit a bit of a speed bump when their walking catch phrase Juan Uribe parted San Francisco for enemy Hollywood. The Giants would counter, though, with the signing of Miguel Tejada who will fill the void at shortstop, or third base, or wherever the heck they plan on putting him. It's really not clear.

But what has some Giants fans a little disturbed is the Pat Burrell signing. Now, theres no problem in signing Pat Burrell, especially for the $1 million petty change they paid him (by the way, Burrell would have signed with SF for peanuts). But the fact GM Brian Sabean signed him so early in the offseason has some a little ticked off.

The Giants seemed to make it clear that after Burrell's performance in the World Series, he was going to be last on the Giants' list of who to sign. Then why one month into the offseason did the Giants sign him? Does this mean they're done?

It sure seems that way, although let's not jump to conclusions until after the Winter Meetings. But odds are the Giants are done making moves.

Jayson Werth signed with the Nationals for bajillions, and Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford are about to get straight paid by the Yankees, or whoever outbids them (I say no one). So get your heads out of the gutter with those thoughts, Giants fans.

I sure hope the Giants aren't done. They need a legit shortstop or legit third baseman, because I don't see Tejada making it through an entire season at shortstop. What happens if Pablo Sandoval stinks up the joint like he did last year? Is Mike Fontenot or Ryan Rohlinger the answer? Not if they want to repeat as World Champs.

Jason Bartlett is still out there for trade and I wouldn't mind him running the infield in 2011. But all Giants rumors involving Bartlett faded away after the Tejada and Burrell signings.

So they're done dealing, right?

Well, let's give it some time, I mean, the Winter Meetings do sometimes get General Managers a little frisky.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bye Bye UUUU-Ribe


There will be no more Uuuuu-ribe chants coming from AT&T Park in the near future. The next time Juan Uribe comes to the city of San Francisco, there will be a mixture of boo's and mixed applause. But mostly boo's, I mean, he will be playing for the Dodgers.

The fans of San Francisco have the right to boo him. Uribe pulled one of the dirtiest moves in the book yesterday by signing with the enemy Dodgers in what is obviously a money motivated move to LA by Uribe.

Uribe signed with the Dodgers for 3 yrs./$21 million. Do you think the Giants were going to match that offer? Not for a utility player they weren't.

But in a sense the Giants are losing part of what made this team who they were. Uribe represents what the Giants season was all about and what they stood for. He would swing as hard as he could, and it was either a lined shot or a swing and a miss. Such was the Giants season.

Uribe is not a traitor for joining the Dodgers. He saw a deal where he could get rich, it just happened to be with his former team's arch rival. It's his first professional chance at getting paid, and he wasn't going to think twice about passing that up at age 31.

I'm sure he wasn't even thinking about missing those Uuuuu-Ribe chants Giants fans had come to love. They were fun while they lasted. Now no more.

Don't forget, the Giants had a chance to match that offer by the Dodgers, GM Brian Sabean just chose not to pay through the nose for a guy who batted .248 last season. But the Dodgers were.

So what does this mean from a Giants perspective? It means that Sabean may have something up his sleeve if he didn't even think about matching the Uribe offer. There have been murmurs of maybe Miguel Tejada coming to SF, and Mychael Urban this morning suggested a trade for Marco Scutaro from Boston.

But may I make my own suggestion for Jason Bartlett of Tampa Bay. He bats for average and would be an upgrade over Renteria or Uribe, whoever they decide to replace him with.

The Giants have money now. It will be nice to see them use it in the coming weeks.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Win Or Call It A Season For the 49ers On MNF


I might be stating the obvious here, but the San Francisco 49ers need to win on Monday night against the Arizona Cardinals.

Sure, we've been saying this for weeks now. Every game is a must win if you start the season 0-5. But this week is actually a 'must win.'

On Sunday, the NFC West's 'elite' (ya we'll call them that) Seattle Seahawks got obliterated by the KC Chiefs, and the 'Fighting Sam Bradford's' (also known as the St. Louis Rams) snuck by Denver. That would mean Seattle and St. Louis are tied atop the NFC West at 5-6. Wow. How competitive...

There's a problem, though, you die hard 49er fans. Is it the fact that the die hard 49er fans may be the only type of 49er fan left? Possibly, but no. It's that the 49ers' record is 3-7 and time is ticking on the their season.

The Good News: 49ers still have to play the Seahawks and Rams.

The Bad News: There's only 6 games left.

The Reality: Every week I find it harder and harder to come up with possibilities where the 49ers can win the NFC West.

So, yes, this is a 'must win' game because I don't see the 49ers doing much damage in the Frozen Tundra next Sunday.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bad Weekend For Bay Area Pro Teams


Good thing the San Francisco Giants just won the World Series, otherwise the catastrophe that was this weekend in Bay Area professional sports would be enough to drive a Bay Area sports fan off a cliff.

The word of the weekend, children, is "Frustration."

Be it the Sharks, Warriors, 49ers, or even Raiders, every game that was played by those teams was as frustrating for a sports fan as it gets. These teams put up a record of 0-5 this weekend, quite possibly the worst culmination of 3 days in a long time for Bay Area sports.

We'll start with the Warriors who played two games this weekend against the NY Knicks and LA Lakers. I know they are missing David Lee, but the performance early against the Knicks was lackluster and the effort in the 2nd half was not enough to pull one out.

By the way, why was 6'3" Stephen Curry guarding 6'10" Danilo Gallinari with the game on the line? I was getting sick to my stomach watching Gallinari drill 3-pointer after 3-pointer in the eye of Curry.

As for the Laker game, tragic is more like it, and we'll leave it at that. Anytime a team loses by 30 points, the best analysis is no analysis.

The Sharks did not fair much better. Playing the red hot Colombus Blue Jackets on Saturday, the Sharks could not find the net and were shut-out 3-0 on their home ice for the first time in over a year.

Either Todd McClellan needs to split up that 1st line, or they just need to play better. They are not contributing at all, and the Sharks cannot thrive on the great play from Ryane Clowe and Logan Couture alone.

Need I dignify the 49ers with post-game analysis? A game that was needed to be won was not. That falls directly on the head coach, and there have been murmurs that the loss may have Singletary with one foot out the door. Finally.

The Raiders seemed to be the Bay Area's only hope on Sunday. Yet a big game against the Steelers that could have showed the NFL they were for real resulted in a disappointing blow out. Did they just have a bad game, or are these the true Raiders? The Raiders aren't a bad team, but they're not at all on the Steelers level.

Maybe this week will go a bit better for the Bay Area. The Sharks host the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday, followed by the Canucks and Oilers on the road.

The Warriors are in a state of disarray right now after their hot start. A game at home tonight against the Denver Nuggets could get ugly, but the Rockets, Grizzlies, and T-Wolves on the road this week may be what this team needs to get back on track.

To the Bay Area sports fans, it can only get better from here.....right?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Warriors Are Nothing Without Lee


Let's face it. Since off-season pick-up David Lee has been injured, the Warriors remind people a whole lot of the team that was thrown out on the court the last few seasons.

You know how you can tell? For several trips down the floor last night, everyone and their mother knew what play was going to be run. It's called the "Monta Is Our Only Option" play. I bet you can guess what happens, huh? The Warriors throw the ball around for a bit, acting like there is actually a play being run, and then sooner or later Ellis is isolated and goes one-on-one with whoever is guarding him at that point.

The outcome is one of three: a bucket, defensive foul, or offensive foul. That's a 33% chance of something good happening. I don't like those odds. And last night, the odds seemed worse than that.

The Warriors made a great move signing Lee and trading Anthony Randolph who has had little or no effect on the Knicks' season so far. Lee brings rebounding and a post to mid-range game. He is a legit power forward, something that the Warriors have needed for years.

The best part about Lee is that he takes the attention off Ellis and Curry for a second.

He hasn't put up crazy numbers so far this season (14 ppg, 11 rpg), but Lee brings the team options other than "find Curry for 3" or "Let Monta Just Go." If the ball goes inside to Lee, he can use a post-up move, pass to a slasher, or dish it beyond the arc to someone (preferably Curry) for 3.

Those seem like better odds of scoring a bucket, right?

This is a better team than last year, and although their record so far may be a little wishful, it is not far off.

With Lee, they are a contender for the playoffs. Without, you're looking at the failure that was the last few seasons.

Feel better David Lee.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sharks Heating Up, Play Best Game Of the Year


For those who thought the Sharks were on the verge of laying down this year, may I direct you to the box score of last night's thrashing of the "Team to beat" LA Kings.

The Sharks had 6 goals by 6 different players, including at least 1 goal from each of the 4 lines.

The Sharks were already dubbed a mediocre team this early in the season, yet these last 3 games have shown that maybe they just needed a little time to rev things up a bit. Oh, and Jumbo Joe Thornton is back.

Sure, you know what you are going to get from the 1st line pretty much every night. They're arguably the best line in hockey. What is cool to see is the 2nd line produce, no matter who Todd McClellan throws out on that line every night.

One staple of that 2nd line is Ryane Clowe who has 2 goals and 4 assists in the last 4 games, and has been the reason why the Sharks are on a 3-game winning streak right now.

But what concerned the Sharks prior to the season has been the Sharks best asset in my opinion. I'm talking about the youngsters Mitchell, Couture, and McGinn. But mostly Mitchell and Couture, although McGinn, 22, does not get enough credit for the little things he does.

Couture, 21, has 6 goals and 4 assists on the year, while Mitchell, 25, has tallied 3 goals and 2 assists. McClellan has moved them up and down the lines so often, it's impressive to see how little that fazes their play.

With the team starting to come together, the Sharks are starting to heat up and we shouldn't be surprised. This has been the best regular season team in all of hockey these past few years. What made you think any different?

In order to be the best, you have to beat the best. And the Kings got a rude awakening last night at The Tank.