Cokin’s Corner, Thursday 1/28/16

  • January 28, 2016

I’m already well underway on my early MLB work, putting together probable depth charts for the 2016 season. This is more for fantasy purposes than anything else, although there are certainly early assessments being made for potential O/U win plays once those lines are established.

One of the teams that doesn’t inspire much confidence right now is the Los Angeles Angels. The Halos have Mike Trout, and that’s about as good a starting point as any team can enjoy. But beyond Trout, going the glass half full route on this team looks like a dicey proposition.

The problem seems to be with team owner Arte Moreno. His free-spending days have evidently ground to a screeching halt. No doubt this has much to do with the Josh Hamilton fiasco, which has proven costly both in the wallet and on the field. The throw in the massive Albert Pujols contract, which has little chance of being a good one, and it’s not too hard to fathom why Moreno is no longer in a spending mood.

Unfortunately for Halos supporters, it’s really starting to look like the team is headed toward nonentity status for at least the upcoming campaign. The starting rotation could be passable, but probably not much more than that. Garrett Richards is better suited as a #2 than the staff anchor. Jered Weaver is getting by on savvy at this point. Andrew Heaney has a decent chance to move forward and CJ Wilson figures to contribute as long as he’s back to being healthy. The Angels could do lots worse than Hector Santiago as the #5, but overall it’s not a staff that will inspire fear with most opponents.

The bullpen is similar, in that it’s probably okay with Huston Street closing games and I would still give thumbs up to Joe Smith as a decent setup guy. But getting to those last two frames could be an adventure, so with that in mind this is probably no better than an average pen.

The offense is where the real problems are likely to show up. Trout is amazing, and I like Kole Calhoun. Pujols can still hit the ball a long way, and while his star has clearly added some, he’s still a good player. The infield defense got much better with the trade that brought Andrelton Simmons to Anaheim. Yunel Escobar is off his best overall season, so he could be an asset. But there are some real potholes in left field and behind the plate, and the overall lineup is really righty-heavy, which could be an additional problem.

I’m trying to find a silver lining here, but that’s a real chore. The two Texas teams in the AL West are stronger going in, the Mariners appear poised to improve and if Oakland can fix what was an absolute disaster of a bullpen in 2015, they should also get better. Could the Angels be a last place team in 2016? I’m not sure I’m ready to be that much of a doomsday predictor. But this doesn’t look like a contender, and my early opinion is that the Angels will be a losing team this season.

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-1.25 for me on Wednesday. I split four in hoops, with all of those clean decisions either way. The one hockey game missed as the Flames fell to Nashville 2-1, with Preds goalie Carter Hutton plus an unfortunate crossbar ping late in the game preventing the Flames from forcing OT.

For info on my available services, please feel free to email me anytime at cokin@cox.net.

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Pittsburgh was no match for Clemson as the Wednesday free play missed by a substantial margin. I’ll head to the SoCon for tonight’s comp.

785 EAST TENNESSEE STATE  at  786 WOFFORD

Take: ETSU +3

Bad habits are hard to break and right now Wofford has a very bad habit. The Terriers are having a real problem finishing games.

Take a look at the last four conference games for Wofford. They had a decent second half lead against Chattanooga but got run out down the stretch en route to a 77-68 loss. The Terriers managed to win against The Citadel, but had to hold their breath as they let a pretty late 14-point lead get all the way down to one possession. I watched that game, and Wofford was in almost panic mode down the stretch as they turned what should have been an easy win into a narrow escape. The Terriers had a 63-60 lead with just a handful of ticks remaining against Mercer and couldn’t hold it in an eventual overtime loss. Last time out, Wofford was up 60-52 against Furman with just over three minutes to play. They were outscored 11-2 in the homestretch and lost the game, 63-62.

I don’t think there’s any question this is a worrisome issue for veteran coach Mike Young. It’s certainly surprising as this is a veteran Terriers team that won 28 games last season and gave Arkansas a major scare in an NCAA Tournament thriller. But for whatever reason, this year’s squad is in a funk and it’s becoming apparent that there’s not likely to be any repeat of last season’s heroics.

Wofford is having a great deal of trouble stopping its opponents from making shots. The Terriers are among the worst teams nationally in defensive field goal percentage, and that’s on both twos and threes. That spells potential trouble against an East Tennessee State squad that can definitely shoot the ball. The Buccaneers are not exactly great stoppers themselves, but they’re the better offensive team and it would appear that they match up pretty well against the Terriers tonight.

I would expect that this will be a close game. But the power ratings favor ETSU and the end game problems for Wofford are a factor at this point. It’s a winnable game for the visitors, and East Tennessee State plus a basket or better looks appealing to me.