Sunday, January 24, 2016

(MSS) MSU Basketball Back On Winning Track

This post was originally published on my RWR blog...
Credit: Matthew Mitchell / MSU Athletic Communications
Michigan State men's basketball team has been in a bit of a slump, where they went on a run of three straight losses. The first was to Iowa by 17 points, before back-to-back one point losses against Wisconsin and Nebraska. Bryn Forbes really underperformed during this stretch --- he only scored 2 points against Iowa. Matt Costello picked up an ankle injury against Nebraska and Lourawls "Tum Tum" Nairn Jr. is out indefinitely with plantar fasciitis. It wasn't about to get easier against #7 ranked Maryland, led by star point guard Melo Trimble. ESPN's College Gameday was at Breslin on Saturday morning and they sent their lead announcers there as well. Denzel Valentine had 19 points and 14 rebounds, and Bryn Forbes was the leading scorer with 25. Neither was MSU's player of the game. Michigan State center Matt Costello was expected to be limited with his ankle injury, but had 15 points and 12 rebounds, including 6 offensive boards. It was a statement win for the Spartans on the featured national broadcast. They currently sit as a #3 seed, according to the Bracket Matrix, and set #11 in the latest AP poll. The Spartans take on Northwestern next in a very winnable game --- Thursday at 9pm (too late!) on ESPN.

The MSU women's team has been having a strong season as well. They have a 14-4 record and are ranked 21st in the country by the AP writers. Their leading scorer is the senior Aerial Powers with 18.8 ppg. She is also the leading rebounder with 8.8 per game. The Spartan ladies have a big game coming up against #5 Maryland this Monday night at 6pm.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

(MSS) Al Avila - leading an aggressive offseason in first year as Detroit Tigers GM

This post was originally published on my RWR blog...
This season, there was little to cheer for as the Detroit Tigers failed to make the playoffs. Looking for change, general manager Dave Dombrowski was fired after 11 seasons with the club. His assistant Al Avila was promoted to the GM role. A longtime baseball executive, Avila is best known for signing Miguel Cabrera to the Miami Marlins. Avila had previously been interviewed for general manager positions.

Since the end of the season in October, Al Avila has been aggressive in bringing new players to the team. This is in contrast to Dombrowski, who was burned before by being too patient. Dombrowski was a good GM though, making some great deals over the years. Avila has traded for Cameron Maybin, as well as signing free agents Jordan Zimmermann and Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez. I believe the Tigers are set up for a deep playoff run in the 2016 season. Here is how I project the lineup and pitching staff to look like:

There is a plethora of young talent in the American League Central. The Royals are the defending World Series champions, built around a young core including Sal Perez and Eric Hosmer. The two rookies Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton could be integral to Minnesota success in 2016. The Tigers and Royals will be close in the standings and the pennant chase should come down to the final day of the season.

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