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November 25, 2010

Prediction Friday: Ravens-Bucs and baseball's best offseason buy

Welcome to Prediction Purple and Black Friday, where we’ll hunt for a bargain while giving proper due to the Ravens-Buccaneers game on Sunday.

I think the Buccaneers are a whole lot better than I had assumed at the beginning of the season. But I’m not buying them as a force just yet – despite a 7-3 record.

We’ll get to that game in a second, but first a little Connolly’s housekeeping.

First, did anyone see what happened in the annual Calvert Hall-Loyola Turkey Bowl game? I was busy, and as a proud Hallman, I am just curious. So let me know. (By the way, fellow CHC alums need not respond. I want to hear it from the mouths of Dons. One time is a fluke. Two times ...)

OK, seriously, I do have a piece of business I ignored this week because I was too caught up in Orioles’ coaching hires and arbitration decisions (and turkey) to properly address last week’s Prediction Friday winner.

The Ravens beat the Panthers 37-13, and pretty much everyone predicted a blowout, including the fake barkeep. I had it at 31-3, and, honestly, it was way too close for comfort until the defense took over.

I am giving out drink chips to Ron (37-10) and Keith (38-7), but the big winner is Barry with his almost perfect 38-13 prediction. Due to the delay, you can drink up through all of next week on me, Barry. Enjoy. If I am not mistaken, this is not the first time Barry has squeezed the juice out of this place for a week.

As for this Sunday, I am going with the Ravens to win 27-20. I think Josh Freeman will manage a couple scores, but the Ravens’ D will eventually put the whippersnapper in his place. My hero of the game is Joe Flacco with three TD passes to three different receivers.

Now it is your turn. Predict the score and the player of the game (tiebreaker) for the Ravens-Bucs on Sunday. Winners get a bottomless imaginary glass for a week.

For those of you that want Orioles’ discussion in this space, I’ll give you a bonus – and one that is properly themed. Aubrey Huff, one of my favorite guys to deal with over the past few years, signed a two-year, $22 million deal to stay in San Francisco this week.

That’s a hefty raise from the $3 million he got last offseason. He is considered the best buy – given his price and production – of the 2010 class.

Since it is Black Friday, and all the bargain hunters are out, I want your prediction for the best free agent buy of 2011. The anti-Garrett Atkins, if you will.

I am going to go with another ex-Oriole. I say Miguel Tejada, after being re-energized on a competitive team in the second half last year, will get his competitive juices going and have one more above-average season – and do it all on a one-year deal.

There are plenty of other options, including guys coming off injuries such as Brandon Webb, Eric Chavez and Magglio Ordonez, for instance.

So give me some names.

Daily Think Special: Ravens-Bucs

Bonus Think Special: Who will end up as this offseason’s unlikeliest best buy?

Posted by Dan Connolly at 10:54 PM | | Comments (27)
Categories: Connolly's Corner Sports Bar


Here's my top 3...

1.Lance Berkman:
A season plagued by mild injuries all year. He's got almost 10 seasons of .900+ OPS. He didn't just forget how to play. In fact, he outplayed A-Rod, Jeter, Swisher, Posada in less AB's (19) in this years playoffs. His Playoff career numbers are ridiculous too. Just 2 errors this year @ 1B. He's ready to show a team why he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Hopefully it's us!!

2.Justin Duchscherer:
Sooo good when he can play. In 2008, when he pitched in 22 Games, he had a .188 Batting Average Against Righties & .489 OPS in 242 Plate Appearances. Against lefties he had a .227 BAA, .668 OPS. For his career he is .226 BAA, .622 OPS vs. RHB & .244 BAA, .691 OPS vs Lefties. In comparison, Cliff Lee has a .257 BAA, .712 OPS vs. RHB. & Against Lefties:.270 BAA, .713 OPS in his career.

3.Jorge Cantu:
Puts up numbers close to Adrian Beltre's when he's on. Almost 3 seasons of 100+ RBI. Would look very nice @ 3B if we don't work any trades out. I really like the idea of signing him b/c he can play 1B, 2B, & even SS. The guy's in great shape & plays great 1B. Presely helped him last year to 50 RBI the first 3 months of the season. Re-ignite that fire! He makes sense for security reasons too. Him or Wiggy.

1.Roberts 2B | S
2.Markakis RF | L
3.Cantu 3B | R
4.Berkman 1B | S
5.Werth LF | R
6.Scott DH | L
7.Jones CF | R
8.Wieters C | S
9.JJ Hardy SS | R


Jason Berken
David Hernandez
Mike Gonzalez
George Sherrill (after he gets non-tendered - check out his Lefty Specialist capabilities)
Jim Johnson
Koji Uehara
Alfredo Simon
Rafael Soriano

Felix Pie - OF, Robert Andino - IF, Jake Fox - C/1B

Listenin' to "We'll Raise A Ruckus Tonight" right now.

1st person to guess the artist gets an imaginery pint glass of some real good Baltimore brew, Loose Cannon of Heavy Seas fame.


Oh, BTW...
Ravens 23
Bucs 17
R POG= Heap.

Ravens 23
Buccaneers 16

I also see Joe as the player of the game, but I think he'll struggle a little bit with the Bucs' solid corners and Raheem's "Tampa 2.1" defense. 2 TDs, but I think this is the day his pick-less streak comes to an end. But hopefully not.

Best bargain I think is Webb, just because of what he can do when healthy. Berkman et al. are too old to put up the numbers they had in their prime, but Webb is not. Although he's only throwing his fastball in the 80s right now, which is throwing some teams off, someone will take a flyer on him and be very happy.

Omazing -

Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

And good luck with that pipe dream of the O's acquiring Werth and Soriano.

Here are a few answers to your question, Dan:

Xavier Nady - Some NL team looking for a cheap bat will sign him for a couple million an they'll get 20 homers out of it.

Aaron Harang - He was one of the better pitchers in baseball until injuries knocked him of course over the last couple of years. Some team will give him a deal loaded with incentives and, if he's healthy, he'll be well worth it.

Two real good choices, notbrooks. Ive always like Harang.

I am going to name two different areas and nominees.. 1. first base Pena, I believe he finds a more hitter friendly field and has a huge comeback.. 2.. pitcher I predict the best buy is a comeback guy like Webb or Bedard if healthy..

Dan - hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving. You know what's Omazing? That your first respondant gave you his top three choices for the bonus question - and then put them all onto the Orioles team! Now THAT would be truly Omazing! And I hope he's even a third of the way right.

Ravens win 24-16. Ed Reed has another key INT.

Top free agent bargain will be Kevin Millwood who signs with a NL contender for $5M to be a mid- to back of the rotation starter and wins 16 games with a 3.85 ERA.

Least value returned on a free agent contract in terms of actual performance will be Derek Jeter, who signs for 3/40 with the Yankees and is a part time player even before his final season.


I agree that Cantu might work out well at third base. I also think Magglio Ordonez will have a bounce back year at the plate.

Lance Berkman??? Anybody care to check the 35 year old 1B's power numbers after 2007, (the year of the release of the Mitchell Report). He has been on a steady decline.

The O's will get none of those players.

Our flavor of mediocrity changes mildly year-to-year, but ownership not willing to make the bold moves required given the economic reality we live in - having to pay super premiums for talent. We just won't do that.

I look for another Garret Atkins like deal to pacify an eroding fan base. It will not work this time as we are getting smarter about cop-outs, but it will plug some holes with warm bodies.

Besides, Buck will have this team 74-88 next year - and that will seem like playoff caliber compared to what we went through last year...

My glass is 3/4 empty on this team, and rightfully so. Give me one reason it shouldn't be...

Oh Omazing -- You envision an incredible transformation of the Orioles roster. Six free agent signings (including Uehara) and a trade! This isn't your fantasy team, is it? By the way, Cantu is not a great defensive 3B'er (-7 Runs Saved with Florida) but he can, at times, hit... And who are we giving up in the deal for Hardy? Albers and Reimold? Ya think they'll bite on that one?

Ravens 32 - 17

Ray Rice will rush for 130 yards, he's due, and 60 yards recieving. 2 TD's. The defense will contribute with one 1 TD interception.

And I will give the nod to Vladimir Guerrero

BUC 24

Ravens 31 Bucs 20 Flacco throws 4 tds goes over 300yds.Rice runs for 121yds.Going all black uniforms for black Sunday!

Whoever came up with that first post is dreaming. Thats like $100 million in signings.

Best value player on market will be Xavier Nady, who will go signed for a 1 or two year deal worth 5 million and he will pop 25 HR if he doesnt get injured. Might be the player we should use at 1st base......what do you think? Might keep him healthy and keep him from running in the outfield.

With all this damn (excuse my language) parity in the league this year, this is the most uncomfortable I've ever been predicting games. Some say a blowout this weekend, others have it close & Dan you've been hot so I must take that and our 4-0 home record into consideration. Ravens 28-17 Hero: Webb

Dan--Thanks for the kind nod. And thanks for the bar chip. That's coming in handy and I'm enjoying the good conversation at Connolly's. For Sunday:

Tampa Bay--20

Suggs cements the victory, sacking Freeman with 37 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Flacco hits Mason and Heap for TD's, Rice runs one in from 4-yards out, and Cundiff kicks a 27-yarder.

Ngata is a plug against the run and forces a fumble that he recovers, leading to a Ravens TD 20 seconds before half time.

honestly dan—
i appreciate the breathe of fresh air by mixing in the orioles questions. all the raven's superbowl talk has made this town screwy. but i don't think they're going to move forward until they make a series of major signings. and does tejada really want to come back? ---again?

i was pretty close with the score last week until ray lewis caught a 2ND pick six!! who knew!?! thanks, alot ray [in my sarcastic voice] this week i predict a joe flacco-homecrowd-statewide-horror of a pick six given up to the buccaneers. running game still imbalanced because gaither is out for the season [message!] i say the ravens squeek out a victory to move to 8-3. but the bucs will put up alot of fight and it may come down to the wire. maybe cundiff is the hero.
final prediction: ravens 27 bucs 23

Xavier Nady is a good athlete
I think Tyler Henson is better!
Joe Mahoney is a big guy. Adam Dunn is bigger. Just using Dunn as a reference point. When I watched Mahoney play, he looked ok.

As for next year surprises. Ronnie Beliard was annoying like a gnat when he played for the Nats. He was a very tough out. I would like the Orioles to take a look at him! Kerry Woods would be interesting.. maybe. He's got high miles.
Scott Podsednik wouldn't be too shabby as a 4th outfielder. Jim Thome would be a nice addtion as DH. He can still crush a baseball and is a good guy!

I still will reiterate we need to do a trade with the Royals and get Jayson Werth in here. If we have any shot at the playoffs while redeeming a lot of reputations during 2011. This is the only way to go.
Although I have to admit a Type A free agent is very expensive! However, I still think it's "Werth" it! If the Orioles had 48 million to give to V Mart, how much more would it be if they did the trade with the Royals and pick up Werth. You bring back a lot fans if you do this and will offset the cost! Someone in management has to come to their senses with that fact!

And a belated Happy Thanksgiving Dan!

Ravens: 31
Bucs: 24
Flacco finally has a good game against the Cover 2 defense and throws 3 TDs and over 300 yards. Rice has a 100+ YD day from scrimmage with a rushing TD of his very own. TB is a very good team but they have not beat a winning team yet and also, we are at home.

As for the O's:
I would be happy if they traded for Mark Reynolds and signed an Adam LaRoche/D. Lee/Pena/Berkman.

Ravens - 27 Bucs - 13

My baseball bargain will be Jon Garland who just signed a $5 million 1 year contract with a vesting $8 million option if he reaches 190 innings for the Dodgers.

He is supposed to be their 5th starter which might sound a little crazy at first, until you see what kind of rotation they have with Clayton Kershaw, Ted Lilly, Hikroki Kuroda, and Chad Billingsly. Garland will essentially be taking the place of Vicente Padilla and John Ely. He could easily surpass 190 innings like he has almost every single season; if he gets enough starts. Very rarely do 5th starters get over 25 starts.

I think he was a bargain after the year he's coming off of and the Dodgers are going to be a team to reckon with now if they can add a little offense. Garland was given a lot of credit for helping the Padres getting near contention.

He might not have "sexy" numbers, but the guy always wins, always logs a lot of innings, and his teams win.

Ravens Score: 27 - 17

Player of the game: Boldin with 111yds 2 td

Baseball best deals
Position Player: Manny Ramirez - If someone signs him for a few mil he will hit so he can make big money again. I think in TB.

Pitcher: Kevin Millwood - He will be more of the pitcher of the first couple months and last few weeks. I think for St L.

prince or dunn , or prince and hardy, pena is cooked ; ravens 34bucs 27 , we cant stop the run anymore or put pressure even with a blitz , why did we let go of pryce too along with barnes they have sacks and saftetys , something is wrong with this defense cord.

If the O's are shopping for a first baseman they may want to visit the First Baseman Store. Kansas City is absolutely awash in first baseman. This past year,of course, they had Billy Butler on the major-league roster and later on, brought up Kila Ka'aihue from AAA where he batted 319 with 24 home runs in 323 at-bats. The consensus seems to be that their first baseman of the future as Hosmer. He started the season in high A ball where he hit 354 with seven home runs in 325 at-bats. He moved up to AA ball where in 195 at-bats he hits 313 with 13 home runs. They also have a first baseman at low A ball named Juan Grabol. He hit 292 with nine home runs in 113 at bats. And down in rookie ball they have Jacob Kuebler , who hit 330 with three home runs in 94 at-bats. And last but not least, the fellow I think the Orioles should be interested in, is Clint Robinson who hit 335 with 29 home runs in 477 at-bats in AA Ball. That is what I call an embarrassment of wealth.

Not to beat a dead horse, but that lineup posted by "Omazing" is just outright comical.


I think the team would continue to improve next season if the Orioles signed:

1) Ty Wigginton (2 or 3 years)
2) Miguel Tejada (2 years or 3 years)
3) Hisanori Takahashi (2 years)
4) John Maine (1 year if non-tendered).

An impact bat(e.g. Vladimir Guerrero) would be great but I don't think it's likely to happen unless there it happens through a trade.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

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