Monday, July 02, 2007

In Bruno We Trust - JFJ...Not So Sure

Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in. A special "Hey" goes out to Hazel Mae if she is checking in.

You know the drill here, we'll get to the NHL Free Agent signings after we talk football. Portugal begins their quest for the Under-20 World Cup in Toronto today as they square off against New Zealand. Most of the "experts" aren't predicting much from this side in this championship - they were the sixth and final qualifiers from Europe - and look to be in very tough after the group stage with perennial favourites Brazil and Argentina getting most of the attention. One of the players to watch in the tournament will be Bruno Gama; he has great speed, quick feet, and a cannon for a shot - his star has been on the rise and this tournament could well be his coming out party. One more thing on Gama, he was the youngest player ever to play regularly in the Portuguese Superliga - assuming a regular role at the age of 16.

We'll gladly accept the role of darkhorse and surprise a few of the so-called experts. Other players to watch, Manuel Fernandes and Joao Moutinho in midfield.

Unfortunately, Canada got smoked yesterday by Chile - losing a 3-0 decision. Canada was completely out-played and out-classed by what was thought to be South America's weakest entry in the tournament. The score was flattering, as Canada didn't manage a shot at goal (yes, AT goal, not on goal) until the second half. Things aren't going to get any easier for Canada as this was looked to as a game they could win.

The NHL's Free Agent market opened with a bang yesterday - the action was fast and furious yesterday with the New York Rangers making the biggest splash. An early assessment of the winners and losers after Day One:

New York Rangers - they may have overpaid for New Jersey C Scott Gomez, but adding him and Buffalo's Chris Drury makes them early favourites to win the Eastern Conference. The free agent additions is going to take some of the heat off Jaromir Jagr and gives the Rangers a scary number one power play unit. The Rangers have had a history of bad free agents signings - but you can't really argue with either of these two.

Philadelphia Flyers - as a card carrying member of Leaf Nation, it pains me to say that the Flyers are winners. Daniel Briere signed an 8 year/$52 million contract with Philadelphia yesterday and instantly gives the Flyers an extra goal a game. The Flyers also added D Jason Smith and C Joffrey Lupul from Edmonton in exchange for D Joni Pitkanen and LW Geoff Sanderson. The Flyers have added six new faces since the end of last season - they'll make the playoffs...unfortunately.

Pittsburgh Penguins - addressed one of their biggest weaknesses, experience on the blue line, signing defenceman Daryl Sydor to a two year deal; signing Petr Sykora for two years was another good move - the Penguins are going to be slugging it out with the Flyers for the division.

New Jersey Devils - Lou Lamoriello must be pissing vinegar today, having watch Scott Gomez and D Brian Rafalski refuse to take a sip of his koolaid and sign elsewhere. The New Jersey Devils are much worse off than they were two days ago.

Buffalo Sabres - I can almost hear Lindy Ruff screaming "IT'S A JOKE". The Sabres thought they could keep one of their two best forwards - big miscalculation. The Sabres have lost their captain and co-captain and with it, their chances at a Stanley Cup. We're putting our money down on Lindy Ruff complaining about the NHL's inflated salary cap by the end of this week.

Boston Bruins - Peter Chiarelli traded for a guy he believes is a number one goalie in Manny Fernandez, and with it added $4.6 million salary cap hit. That pretty much limits the Bruins from addressing their biggest weakness - a below average defence corps. Memo to Chiarelli: Fernandez's number were in large part a product of playing under Jacques Lemaire's defence first system; Fernandez is going to make Vesa Toskala look like a bargain at $3 million.

Ottawa SenaTards - while they'll tell you they don't want to tinker with a team that made it to the Stanley Cup Finals, the truth of the matter is that they don't have a lot of cap room to address areas of weakness. John Muckler screwed them with a few of his deals - his final bitch slap to the Tards was tendering a qualifying offer to Oleg Saprykin.

John Ferguson Junior made news yesterday signing Isles LW Jason Blake, coming off a career year, to a 5 year/$20 million deal. We're not sure where we stand on this one; while we like what Blake brings (speed, grit, scoring, defensive awareness), we're not sure we like the thought of signing a soon to be 34 year old, under-sized winger, to a five year deal.

Three years would have been more palatable - JFJ overpaid in terms of length of contract. The first order of business is to try to trade Raycroft Raycroft and Bryan McCabe; we would sign a veteran to backup Toskala like Curtis Joseph and use that cap money to try and sign a player like Peter Forsberg to a 2 year deal.

Why do we think JFJ is going to ignore this advice and try to sign Todd Bertuzzi?

Red Sox West P Chad Billingsley pitched seven shutout innings to salvage a game in their series against the Padres, . Billingsley gave up three hits, no walks and struck out seven in the Dodgers 5-0 win - he's going to be more than an adequate replacement for Jason Schmidt.
San Francisco Giants P Tim Linecum also pitched seven shutout innings yesterday, giving up three hits, no walks and striking out twelve.

Houston Astros 1B Lance Berkman had a home run and drove in four runs in a 12-0 win over the Rockies. The Maeple Leafs welcome Berkman back to the ranks of the living after a tough start to the season. We were going to award Wandy Rodriguez a star for pitching seven shutout innings...but some smart asses might ask about the significance of three 7's - never mind.

We had a rough week suggesting plays on the basis of "they won't get swept" - we'll stay away from those suggestions...and the damn Red Sox, who have lost five of six and making us look really dumb. The total for the year stands at - $1,025 - I know...I know, I hate saying that; we'll be better this week. Tonight its home cookin' in the AL and road warriors in the NL.

Oakland over Toronto - Former Sox P Lenny DiNardo takes the mound against Josh Towers...if you have read the page before, you know how we feel about Towers. Lay $100 on the A's - $128.

Cleveland over Tampa Bay - Fausto Carmona had a tough outing last time out, we expect him to get well against the Rays and Andy Sonnanstine (who spent some time on guess who's roster? hint - not the Maeple Leafs). Lay $100 on the Indians - $205.

Philadelphia over Houston - former Jays P Woody Williams takes the mound for the Astros, meaning their is going to be a lot of runs tonight. We'll go with soft tossing Jamie Moyer to keep the Astros off balance. Lay $100 on the Phillies - $112.

New York over Colorado - Tom Glavine vs Jason Hirsh, Mets are 8-2 in their last ten games and the Rockies are 1-9 - don't take a brain surgeon to realize that the Mets are the play of the day. Lay $150 on the Mets - $120.

You may also want to consider a couple of value plays -

Minnesota over the Yankees - pinstripes starting Roger Clemens, who has been ordinary since his return, against Boof Bonser (Bonser is excellent value tonight at + $165), Twins playing well and the Yankees are just brutal;

Los Angeles over Atlanta - Derek Lowe has been very good at home this year and the Dodgers will be looking to rebound from losing two of three to the Padres.

Seattle over Kansas City - we like Hernandez over Meche, especially since Mariners will be playing first game under interim manager.

That's it for today gang - thanks for taking the time to check in. For those of you in Canada, have a great holiday Monday. Have a great one peeps!

Hazel, I hope things are groovy in your world.

I'm Out.


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