Sunday, March 31, 2013

There is no reason Michigan, after reaching Final Four, can't win NCAA title

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Ultimately, Michigan proves its better than MSU

Burke, McGary, sheer will lead Michigan into Elite Eight

MSU Spartans, Izzo will pick up the pieces after laying an egg vs. Duke

Thursday, March 28, 2013

On Bruce Rondon being sent to Triple-A and Detroit Tigers closer situation

Baseball clubs fall into two categories. Ones perpetually rebuilding, others expecting to win.
The Tigers fit into the latter department.
I think they have the best club in baseball myself, well, except they don't have a closer. It's like entering the fastest car in the Daytona 500, except for missing a gear.
The Tigers threw all their eggs in Bruce Rondon's basket. He is not remotely ready for the major leagues. So the Tigers are forced to Plan B. Oh, there is no Plan B.
Jim Leyland: Won't be handing the ball to Bruce Rondon
The Tigers have added chance to their season. Bullpen by committee might work, but odds are just as good it won't. Somebody might emerge from their current roster. Chances are more likely, however, none of their current pitchers will. The Tigers have a decent bullpen otherwise, but down the line, the closer role is out of the comfort zone for their current relievers.
Everybody knows the Tigers' plight. The price just went up for legitimate potential closing candidates, if their are any available, which is questionable. Once the season starts, it's highly unlikely the Tigers will be able to make significant trades for a couple months. Everybody likes their team right now. All think they can be like the 2012 Oakland A's. It takes awhile for sellers to understand their fate.
Yes, the Tigers are far superior to their opposition in the American League Central, but a season can get away quickly because of closer issues. For proof, look at the 2008 Tigers. For more recent evidence, check out what transpired for the 2012 Boston Red Sox early last year after projected closer Andrew Bailey was injured.
The Tigers might be fine. You never know. Hey, they got to the World Series with Phil Coke closing when months before he couldn't seem to get any hitters out, regardless the situation. One of manager Jim Leyland's strengths is handling his bullpen. This will take all his skills, but could be like asking Leyland to split the fish and divide the loaves.
It's knocking on wood, crossing your fingers, hoping you roll a seven and a 11. Given the strength of the Tigers' roster otherwise, it's as perplexing as it is inexcusable they find themselves in this spot with the opening of the season mere days away.

Why Michigan, MSU will have trouble carrying Big Ten flag in Sweet 16 of NCAA Tournament

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Wide receiver high-risk, high-reward position in NFL Draft for Detroit Lions

Monday, March 25, 2013

On Michigan vs. Kansas, MSU vs. Duke

What it will take for Michigan, MSU to reach Final Four of NCAA Tournament

John Beilein: Team must do well in half-court sets
My column:
Coach K and Izzo: Legends of March meet again

Sunday, March 24, 2013

On Michigan and MSU headed to Sweet 16 of NCAA Tournament

My updated blog:

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Why VCU will be such a test for Michigan today

The perception Virginia Commonwealth is like a mid-major team that advanced one year to the Final Four based on a Cinderella Story just isn't true.
In truth, VCU has a well-established program. It is a part of a conference which is the most underrated in college basketball, the Atlantic 10, which is 6-0 in the NCAA tournament to this point. Yeah. 6-0. The A-10 has 15 percent of the victories in the tournament so far.
Michigan is a young team. The Wolverines' poise will greatly tested today. Their big edge: The home court advantage. I still like Michigan to win this game because it will be as close to a home game as possible at The Palace.
If it were on a neutral court, I'd think VCU would win it. As is, it will be an extremely tough test.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Michigan seeking to gain respect, MSU maintain it

Izzo, MSU have done it in NCAA tourney, unlike Michigan
My column:

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

NCAA tournament another chip for MSU coach Tom Izzo's shoulder

Most underrated factor looming as Lions bounce back from dreadful 2012 season

On Michigan, MSU, Lions' free agency, Tigers' closer, Pavel Datsyuk

This week's live chat. We do this every Monday 1 p.m. sharp at #OPChat. Check it out and join in:

Monday, March 18, 2013

Bruce Rondon as Detroit Tigers closer? What we really know

And so after a rocky start this spring, hard-throwing rookie right-hander Bruce Rondon has pitched better lately.
Much better, actually.
But in regard to the most important issue - by far -surrounding the Tigers entering the 2013 season, do we know any more about whether Rondon is capable of filling the closer role now than we did when spring training began?
The answer is, "No."
Bruce Rondon: Has made significant progress
All that has transpired lately is that Rondon hasn't removed himself from the equation, which appeared to be the likely early this spring when he did a Ricky Vaughn impersonation from the movie "Major League."
He does throw hard. He is striking out nearly two hitters per inning. But he throws too many pitches at this stage.
It does appear less likely the Tigers will trade Rick Porcello for a closer. Drew Smyly has struggled. The Tigers need both Porcello and Smyly.Hitting prospect Nick Castellanos has increased his value by hitting well this spring and not making an errors in left field..
There are two ways to look at Castellanos. He is a extremely valuable chip for a trade, but he could hit himself out of that position if he gets off to a slow start this season, and his value drop.
It all comes back to how desperate the Tigers are to trade for a closer.
My gut feeling is Jim Leyland will not anoint Rondon closer. He will just be in the bullpen mix. Then the season will start, and Leyland will play it by feel.
Before he came to the Tigers, I talked to a number of people who said what Leyland did best in the National League was handle his bullpen. For the most part with the Tigers, that has been true. Certainly he brought Phil Coke along properly last season when he struggled and it paid off handsomely in the playoffs.
Leyland won't panic one way or another, but it's a precarious situation.

NCAA Selection kind to The Palace, Michigan, MSU

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Tigers have become what the Yankees still wish they were

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Palace, Oakland County - treasures that will shine on NCAA tournament stage

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Detroit Tigers left field: Lot of pieces to the puzzle, but few fit

Since adding Omar Infante in a trade late last season, signing premier free agent Torii Hunter in the off season, and with the return of Victor Martinez, the Tigers have an excellent lineup top to bottom.
The exception: Left field when a left-hander is the opposing pitcher.
AAndy Dirks is a good player. And his numbers are not bad against left-handed pitching (he is left-handed hitter). But Dirks, ideally, plays in about 130 games to get the most from him in regard to production. In a perfect world, the Tigers would have a right-handed hitting option.
Andy Dirks: Key player for Tigers in '13
They don't. Avisail Garcia is 21. It just wouldn't be right to keep him on the team as a part-time player when he needs to hit every day to develop fully as a hitter. Rule 5 pickup Jeff Koburnus is intruging because of his speed and background, but he has never played outfield in professional baseball, or above Double-A overall. There is risk there.
Quintin Berry and Don Kelly do bring a lot of good things to the table: Neither is right-handed hitter.
The Tigers could make a move toward the end of spring training as roster spots get tight and clubs look to make moves.
But ideally, Garcia does show development in Triple-A and can return to the major leagues. It's also up to Dirks. The Tigers are counting on him to reasonably repeat his performance in 2012, which was one of the most underrated factors in the Tigers squeezing out the AL Central title

Monday, March 11, 2013

Detroit Lions can be cured by right free agent moves, NFL Draft picks

My column:

Matthew Stafford: A reason Lions have a shot to contend in '13

On whether Tigers should trade Rick Porcello, Lions' free agency, Red Wings, MSU, Michigan

Replay of my live chat today. We do this every Monday at 1. You can send questions or comments in advance. Look for link each Monday on Twitter @patcaputo98

Thoughts on Michigan, MSU and Big 10 basketball

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Ultimately, Michigan was just too flawed to win Big Ten title

Saturday, March 09, 2013

MSU fans need not root for Michigan to beat Indiana

Izzo's team may be better off with Michigan loss Sunday
My column:

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Why not a guard for Detroit Lions in first round of NFL Draft? This is why

I'm not sure, if ranking a player strictly on his ability at his specific position, rather than taking position into account, if guard Chance Warmack from Alabama isn't the best player available in the upcoming NFL Draft.
He will play at least a decade in the league. It would surprise no one if he is eventually an All-Pro.
The Lions do have a need at guard. Why not select him fifth overall?
Chance Warmack: Best NFL guard prospect
There are a number of reasons they should not. First and foremost is he's a guard.
The idea "take the best player available" regardless of position is not a wise one. Some positions are simply more important than others in the NFL Draft. Guard is near the bottom of the list, above fullback and kickers.
It's because guards play in limited space. There is a tackle and a center on each side protecting them. A tackle has to be agile enough protect an open border. It's why the best athletes on the offensive line generally play tackle. Secondly, a guard never touches the ball - like a skill position player on offense. He can help a team score touchdowns, but won't actually be the one who does. Unlike a center, a guard doesn't snap the ball and is rarely as involved as the center with the line calls. A guard's job, in simple terms, is too not be a weak link in the chain in the passing game and run block. It's not that it isn't an important spot. Poor guard play certainly doesn't help a team - and superior guard play does. But there are much more pressing concerns. It's an easier position to fill adequately in the NFL than most others because it doesn't require as much athleticism.
It's why no offensive guard has gone within the first 10 overall picks in the NFL Draft since Colorado's Chris Naeole in 1997 by New Orleans. He was a solid NFL starter for more than 10 years, but few people remember him. It's not his fault. It's the position. It's a limited impact position.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Plan B for Detroit Tigers closer stands for Bewilderment

Bruce Rondon: Hasn't commanded the baseball
My column:

Monday, March 04, 2013

The Red Wings, their chances of making the playoffs - and the wild, wild West

The Red Wings are currently a glass half-full, glass half-empty proposition.
The half-full part: The Red Wings are very much in the playoff picture (they have made the playoffs 21 straight years, the longest current streak in professional sports). Also, several promising players have emerged and given the Red Wings a much needed lift (Damien Brunner, Joakim Andersson, Brian Lashoff, Tomas Tatar),
The glass half-empty: The Red Wings have lost an inordinate number of man games to injury. Also, they been remarkably inconsistent, literally from period-to-period, let alone game-to-game. In the process, they are letting points get away here and there, which ultimately could prove to be painful.
Red Wings: Scrambling to make playoffs
Sunday's shootout loss to the Blackhawks was typical of the Red Wings' season. They broke a scoreless tie against the NHL's best team with a goal by Tatar in the third period set up by Andersson from behind the net.
They lost the lead. Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson, who has developed in a solid NHL defenseman after years of getting blistered by Red Wings' fans for being a turnover machine, shot the puck over the glass for an automatic penalty. Then, Patrick Kane, Chicago's superbly skilled center, took over the game with a pretty one-timer tying goal and a sensational clinching move in the overtime shootout.
Ah, the Red Wings got a point. Glass half-full. Ah, Red Wings flittered away a point they should have gotten. Glass half-empty.
Glass half-full: If the season ended today, the Red Wings would be in the playoffs.
Glass half-empty: Yeah, but they have 24 points, and so do five other teams in the Western Conference. In fact, the Western Conference is extraordinary balanced. It's rapidly approaching the halfway point of the NHL's lockout shortened schedule of 48 games (the Red Wings have played 22), and 12 teams have between 26 and 20 points in the Western Conference.
So when the Red Wings let a late lead get away and lose at Los Angeles. Or if they lose twice at home to dreadful Columbus. Or if they get a point when they probably should have had two against Chicago, it's something that could eventually put their spot in the playoffs in jeopardy. Fourteen of the Red Wings' last 22 games are on the road.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Michigan proves it can beat MSU at its own game

My column:

Trey Burke: Great steal essentially won game

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Seems unlikely Michigan is tough enough to beat MSU