Hiring of Ben Cherington is intriguing for the Blue Jays

(Courtesy of USA Today Sports)

(Courtesy of USA Today Sports)

TORONTO- When the Blue Jays announced the hiring of Ben Cherington last Wednesday, many people seem to be pleased and puzzled with this move.

The former Boston Red Sox executive will take over the duties as vice president of baseball operations and will be third in command behind president Mark Shapiro and general manager Ross Atkins. He will also work with Gal Kim, their director of player development.

Okay! Now many Blue Jays fans are wondering why they brought in another former Cleveland Indians staff to their front office. But please let’s put that “Indians” title aside. Yes! Cherington did spent one season as a scout for the Indians. But his real work began in 1999 when he joined the Red Sox.

Cherington worked his way up within the Red Sox organization. He held multiple positions as a scout, coordinator of international scouting and director of player development. His hard work paid off as he was named as general manager in 2012. Cherington led the Red Sox to a World Series championship in 2013, but left the organization last year after Dave Dombrowski took over as president of baseball operations.

Dombroski gave Cherington some credit for his work in acquiring and developing young talent like Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Yoan Mocanda. However many people are still puzzling on Cherington’s signing of Pablo Sandoval (5 years worth $90 million), which turned out to be disastrous for the Red Sox. But every baseball executives had some bad acquisition once in a while. Look at Alex Anthopolous’ trade involving R.A. Dickey and Noah Syndergaard.

In the end, Cherington is another baseball guy with a great eye of observing young talent. This is a solid hire for the Blue Jays as Cherington’s track record of bringing in young talent will be a tremendous asset in the front office.

 

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Blue Jays are in ‘rock bottom’

(Courtesy of Denny Medley/ USA Today Sports)

(Courtesy of Denny Medley/ USA Today Sports)

TORONTO- Okay Blue Jays Fans! There’s no need to panic right now. But following last Wednesday loss against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Blue Jays are struggling big time as their playoff chances are getting slimmer and slimmer.

After going on a tear in July and August, the Blue Jays lost their momentum with a 3-9 record in September. As manger John Gibbons said yesterday during his post-game press conference, the Blue Jays have hit ‘rock bottom.’

What’s more concerning is that their best player Josh Donaldson has been sidelined with a sore right hip, which could be an indication of his 0-23 slump at the plate. The 2015 AL MVP is hoping to return as soon as possible, but still fears over the upcoming MRI results.

Even if Donaldson can’t play, his teammates have to step up when the games matter. Their bats have gone cold with a .218 batting average. Russell Martin was red hot in August, however he’s gone cold in September hitting .129. Jose Bautista just can’t seem to recover from a frustrating season. Michael Saunders continues to struggle after the all star break. Their bats are have been so bad lately that Gibbons had to call up Ezequiel Carrera to look for some spark with their bats.

Their rotation have been their biggest strength all season long. But now they’ve regress with a 5.94 ERA in September. Marco Estrada performed well in the first half, but struggled in the 2nd half. He’s also dealing with a herniated disk in his back. Aaron Sanchez is dealing with a blister. And haven’t been as effective as of late. Marcus Stroman have shown some flashes but still can’t find that consistency. And finally R.A. Dickey and Francisco Liriano have been tough to watch. The bullpen has been taxed and underwhelming.

Entering a four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Blue Jays are looking to find their identity. The Angels are clearly out of the playoff race, but so were the Rays. The Blue Jays need to win at least three of four against the struggling Halos. But the schedule is going to get tougher and tougher. They will face the Seattle Mariners, who are only 1.5 games back behind the Blue Jays for the 2nd wild card spot. They will conclude their rest of the season facing their AL East Rivals.

The Blue Jays may have pick a bad time to be playing this poorly but there’s still time to turn things around. With only 16 games remaining, the Blue Jays need to play as a whole in order to keep their playoffs hopes alive. Every single games are very crucial for the Blue Jays.

2016 NFL Season Predictions

(Courtesy of Elaine Thompson/Associated Press)

(Courtesy of Elaine Thompson/Associated Press)

TORONTO- Hey Football Fans! It’s that time again! Football season is back. Here’s my season prediction for the upcoming NFL Season, which kicks off tonight beginning with a Super Bowl rematch between the defending champs Denver Broncos (minus Peyton Manning of course) and Carolina Panthers.

AFC East:

New England Patriots

Even with Tom Brady out for the first four games with a suspension, the Patriots will still compete when their starting quarterback returns. Bill Belichek is a great head coach. They have weapons on offense with WR Julian Edelman coming back from injury and TE Rob Gronkowski is a beast, as long he stays healthy.

Buffalo Bills

The Bills may have seemed to found their franchise quarterback with Tyrod Tyler. Head Coach Rex Ryan helped improved their defense. WR Sammy Watkins has shown the potential to be a number one receiver. But they will rely on RB LeSean McCoy to stay healthy and look to find his groove like his old days in Philly.

New York Jets

They have a brutal schedule to start their season, as they will face 5 playoff teams to start. It could be a tight race in a tough division. Their defense may be the only reason why the Jets will compete thanks to the return of CB Darrelle Revis. But with no solution at quarterback, that can be difficult to see the Jets compete for a wild card spot.

Miami Dolphins

New head Coach Adam Gase will look to solve all of the Dolphins problems. QB Ryan Tannehill has a sold receiving core with Jarvis Landry, but did lose RB Lamar Miller, who signed with Houston. Their front four is solid with Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake, but their secondary struggled last season. They hoping that CB Byron Maxwell can rebound and improve that department after struggling last year with the Eagles.

AFC North:

Pittsburgh Steelers

Big Ben, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown could be the best QB-RB-WR combo since the 1990s Cowboys’ triplets with Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith. They got pass rushing and an explosive offense. If their secondary improves, they can be a threat to win a Super Bowl.

Cincinnati Bengals

Andy Dalton may have the best season of his career last year. But can he still get over his playoff hump. A.J. Green is still one of the top wide receivers in the game. Their defense is underrated led by DT Geno Atkins. But the key for them is to win when the game matters the most, the playoffs.

Baltimore Ravens

The good news is that their reliable veterans like QB Joe Flacco, WR Steve Smith and OLB Terrell Suggs are all returning from injuries. The bad news, this team is far away from competing. They need better protection from their offensive line and their defense need to improve. With the Bengals and Steelers compete, it may be too much for the Ravens to burden

Cleveland Browns

Robert Griffin III is hoping that a change of scenery should redeem himself after dealing with multiple knee injuries. If he can revive himself, then the browns may have found something. Look for Josh Gordon to bounce back after dealing with drug abuse.

AFC West:

Houston Texans

Coach Bill O’Brien has gone 9-7 twice without a consistent quarterback play. Lamar Miller is their new tailback. And of course, they have the monstrous DE J.J. Watt who gives opposing quarterbacks nightmares.

Indianapolis Colts

QB Andrew Luck is back and that is great and all. But their offensive line struggled and cost Luck to miss a majority of the season with injuries. Their wide receiver core with underrated T.Y. Hilton and Calvin Johnson.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars may have take their next step forward with QB Blake Bortles leading the way. DE Dante Fowler Jr. is back from an ACL injury and that should help the pass rush. They continue to stockpile talen through free agency and draft, including 1st Round pick Jalen Ramsey. They may look to break out their playoff drought for the first time since 2007.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans seems committed give their franchise QB Marcu Mariota some help. RB DeMarco Murray joining the Heisman Trophy tandem of  Mariota and RB Derrick Henry. But their defense not that good to compete with the Texans, Colts and Jaguars.

AFC South:

Denver Broncos

With Peyton Manning retired, they are hoping that Trevor Sieman could help Denver retain their Super Bowl title. They still have OLB Von Miller to lead his defense. But the question is going to be the production of the quarter back. At least WR Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Saunders should help that out.

Oakland Raiders

It’s hard to believe that the Raiders could make the playoffs. They are looking very good with third year stars in DE Khalil Mack and QB Derek Carr. WR Amari Cooper has shown potential as a star receiver. Finally, there may be hope in Oakland after all.

Kansas City Chief

The Chiefs’ defense is very good, but suffered a loss of OLB Justin Houston with an ACL injury. They will be in the hunt within the division. But their division may be tough to overcome the Broncos and Raiders.

San Diego Chargers

They finally solve the Joey Bosa’s contract dispute. But they are far from competing. Sure they have QB Phillip Rivers and WR Keenan Allen, but his supporting cast won’t do them any favours.

NFC East:

New York Giants

Eli Manning has a lot of weapons with Odell Beckham and company to outscore their opponents. They spend a lot of money to improved their defense with Olivier Vernon to help with their past rush. In a very weak division, the Giants may have the most complete team within the NFC East.

Washington Redskins

With RGIII gone, look for Kirk Cousin to be the man in the nation’s capital. Able to sign CB Josh Norman to get in Beckham’s head twice this year. They may have a brutal schedule in the second half of their season, but could be a tight race with the Giants

Dallas Cowboys

Already America’s team lost Tony Romo due to a broken bone in his back. As exciting as RB Ezekiel Elliot and QB Dak Prescott and a healthy WR Dez Bryant are, that a lot of pressure being put on for two rookies to carry the load. Defensively, they are a mess with Demarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory and Rolando McClain out due suspensions. Even if Romo somehow come back, its too much to burden for the Cowboys

Philadelphia Eagles
Good news is that they traded away Sam Bradford to the Vikings for a 2017 1st round pick. The bad news is, they are still rebooting. Carson Wrentz will get a shot as starting QB, but he doesn’t have many weapons around him.

NFC North:

Green Bay Packers

As long as Aaron Rodgers is around at QB, the Packers should be a very good this year. Jordy Nelson is back and their defense is solid. But can they get back to their Super Bowl stardom like they did in 2010? Will be tough but are still in contention.

Minnesota Vikings

Losing QB Teddy Bridgewater is a devastating loss, but they are hoping that newly acquired Sam Bradford could still allow the Vikings to retain their division title. RB Adrian Peterson may be 30, but he can still carry run the football.

Detroit Lions

QB Matthew Stafford will miss his top WR Calvin Johnson. Stafford is still a solid playmaker but he needs some weapons around him. Iggy Ensah is one of the top pass rusher, but the rest of the defense is shaky. It will be tough overcome the loss of Johnson.

Chicago Bears

QB Jay Cutler turned things around this season. Receiving core is solid with WR Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White. They did lose RB Matt Forte and their defense is concerning.

NFC West:

Carolina Panthers

The reigning NFC champs is now tempted to take the next step to win a Super Bowl. QB Cam Newton is looking to lead his team to bring the Vincent Lombardi trophy back to Carolina. Offense is dangerous good with the return of WR Kelvin Benjamin. Losing Josh Norman is huge but they still have a great defense with Kony Ealy.

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons had a promising start with a 6-1 record but struggled in the 2nf half with a 2-7 finish. WR Julio Jones had a monster year and Matt Ryan is a good quarterback. Their pass rush needs to improve as they had a league low 19 sacks in total.

New Orleans Saints

There no telling in which the Saints are heading. They can compete with head coach Sean Payton and QB Brees still remaining since their 2009 Super Bowl victory. Or they can struggle with their defense ranked 2nd worst and allowed the most touchdown passes with 45. If their defense turns things around, then maybe the Saints surprise a lot of people.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

QB Jameis Winston had a productive rookie year thanks to his receiving core with Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. But a poor second half cost Lovie Smith’s job as head coach. They promoted Dirk Koetter as Smith’s next successor. The pressure is on Winston to take the next step forward.

NFC South:

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks are a good team, but lost their wow factor like they did when they won the Super Bowl in 2014. QB Russell Wilson remains of the game’s best callers and their defense still look good with an insane CB Richard Sherman. But they need to adjust without RB Marshaun Lynch.

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals have the most compete offense with RB David Johnson and WR Larry Fitzgerald to help the late blooming QB Carson Palmer. They’re defense is also solid in pass rushing and their secondary is a solid core with CB Patrick Peterson. Could be a two-team race for the NFC South title.

Los Angeles Rams

Relocating from St. Louis to Los Angeles, the Rams are hoping that Californian QB Jared Goff to be their superstar. Their found a new fearsome foursome led by Aaron Donald to sack opposing quarterbacks. RB Todd Gurley overcame an ACL injury to become the top runner in the NFL. If only their receiving core can help Goff to be productive.

San Francisco 49ers

With Blaine Gabbert being named starting QB, Colin Kaepernick may look to find his way out of San Francisco. Kaepernick already cause a distraction by not standing up for the national anthem. They could finish with the worse record and may look to compete for the number one pick for the 2017 NFL Draft.

NFL MVP: Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers

Offensive Player of the Year: Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers

Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Ezekiel Elliot, RB, Dallas Cowboys

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Leonard Floyd, OLB, Chicago Bears

Comeback Player of the Year: Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys

Super Bowl Champion: Carolina Panthers over Pittsburgh Steelers