BOB MATTHEWS SPORTS TALK
Weeknights 6:00PM - 8:00PM
on WHAM 1180
Email Bob here.
For over 25 years, Bob Matthews has held the title of Rochester's most popular sports writer/commentator. For over 20 years, Bob has hosted WHAM's nightly sports talk program...consistently ranked at the top of his time slot!
From 1978 to 2012, Bob Matthews was a sports columnist for the Times-Union and Democrat and Chronicle and a regular "As the Sports World Turns" contributor to the Gannett News Service. He is the only person to be selected Press-Radio Club Sportswriter of the Year (five times) and Sportscaster of the Year, and was a pioneer inductee into the Frontier Field Walk of Fame.
A Rochester native, Bob graduated from Brighton High School where he played varsity baseball, basketball and served as student council V-P. Bob is also a veteran, serving his country in Vietnam.
Always opinionated and outspoken, Bob's proudest accomplishment is advocating for Frontier Field. His all-time favorite athlete...former Red Wing Luke Easter. One of his sports regrets……not being around for the glory year of the Rochester Royals.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are the popular pick to win the National League West. After all, they’ll have the largest player payroll in baseball history this season – roughly $230 million. But the former record -- $209 million -- was held by the 2008 New York Yankees. That team finished third in the American League East and the Yankees failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 1993 (there were no playoffs in the abbreviated 1994 strike season).
I believe the Dodgers also will be fat cats and fail to meet expectations.
My pick to win the NL West is San Francisco. The Giants won two of the last three World Series but still don’t get the full respect they deserve.
1—San Francisco Giants (predicted record 94-68). The Giants can’t match the Dodgers in big-name players but they have two significant advantages – arguably the best starting pitching in baseball and they how to win… Bruce Bochy probably is the most underrated manager in the game…The Giants swept favored Detroit in the 2012 World Series and allowed a total of six runs in the four games…Two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum enters this season as the No. 5 starter in the rotation, behind Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong and Barry Zito. No breathers in that group for opponents…Stingy closer Sergio Romo anchors a deep bullpen, including three lefthanders The Giants led the NL in save percentage (successful in 80.3 percent of opportunities)…The Giants last season became the first team since the 1987 Cardinals to make the playoffs despite hitting the fewest home runs in the majors. That doesn’t mean they can’t hit. Catcher and 2012 NL MVP Buster Posey (.336, 24 HRs, 103 RBI), 3B Pablo Sandoval and RF Hunter Pence have plenty of pop and 1B Brandon Belt figures to supply more power this season…The supporting cast (including 2B Marco Scutaro, SS Brandon Crawford and outfielders Angel Pagan, Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres) aren’t automatic outs…48-33 at AT&T Park despite only 31 HRs in 81 games…Averaged 5.06 runs on the road, second only to the Angels the majors…Posey hit .360 with runners in scoring position, .385 after the All-Star break and a MLB-best .433 vs. left-handed pitchers…A no frills, sound, pieces-fit-together sort of team.
2—Los Angeles Dodgers (92-70). Manager Don Mattingly’s lineup resembles an all-star team, including Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez and Carl Crawford. 2B Mark Ellis and catcher A.J. Ellis aren’t slouches. The only question marks are journeyman Luis Cruz at third base and how many games injury-prone Crawford will miss?...Strong bench, including speedy SS Dee Gordon and OFs Jerry Hairston Jr. and Skip Schumaker...Exceptional 1-2 starting pitchers (Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke), with plenty of proven arms behind them: Josh Beckett, Chad Billingsley (elbow a concern), Korean League import Hyun-Jin Ryu and Chris Capuano…Deep bullpen, including Brandon League, Kenley Jansen and Ronald Belisario… They’re the first team other than the New York Yankees to have MLB’s highest payroll since the 1998 Baltimore Orioles… Despite expensive reinforcements last season, the 2012 Dodgers played 17-18 ball down the stretch and missed the playoffs…60-45 with Kemp in the starting lineup and 26-31 without him… 10 players will make at least $11 million this year. Expectations and high and so is the pressure … Seeking first world championship since 1988.
3--Arizona Diamondbacks (89-73). Looking for a sleeper? Manager Kirk Gibson’s team could surprise…The underrated starting lineup includes rookie CF Adam Eaton (out two months with a sprained elbow; he was enjoying a hot spring and appeared ready to be the top-notch leadoff man the Rockies have been lacking), catcher Miguel Montero, 2B Aaron Hill, LF Jason Kubel, 3B Martin Prado , RF Cody Ross and 1B Paul Goldschmidt…Hill hit for the cycle twice last season…SS Cliff Pennington is the only weak stick…Strong bench includes Eric Chavez, Geraldo Parra and Willie Bloomquist…Starting rotation has high potential with Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill, Wade Miley and Brandon McCarthy (recovered from a skull fracture when hit by a line drive last September)…Deep bullpen, featuring J.J. Putz, Heath Bell, David Hernandez, Brad Ziegler and lefthanders Tony Sipp and Matt Reynolds…12-6 vs. the Dodgers and 9-9 vs. the Giants last season…15-27 in one-run games…81-81 record last year (despite +46 run differential). They should be significantly better than .500 this season.
4—Colorado Rockies (76-86). New manager Walt Weiss’ lineup has a core of solid veterans (SS Troy Tulowitzki, LF Carlos Gonzalez, underrated CF Dexter Fowler and RF Michael Cuddyer), a fading likely future Hall of Famer (1B Todd Helton), a good-hit, lousy-field young catcher (Wilin Rosario) and a tough out at third base (Jordan Pacheco). The Rockies are going to score plenty of runs…Tulowitzki has missed 174 games in the last three years…Decent bench…The Rockies figure to give up significantly more runs than they’ll score…The starting rotation’s 5.81 ERA was worst in MLB last season and still is a mess…The bullpen isn’t much better…Relievers threw a MLB-record 657 innings last season…MLB-most 122 errors and 94 wild pitches…Need to improve at home and against the American League: Worst-ever 35-46 (.452) at Coors Field (Gonzalez hit .368 at home and .234 on the road) and 2-13 in interleague play last season.
5—San Diego Padres (75-87 record). Games at Petco Park should be more fun to watch this season. The fences finally were pulled in. The Padres will hit more HRs and score more runs than usual this season, but opposing hitters likely will improve even more…3B Chase Headley had a breakout season in 2012 (31 HRs, 115 RBI) and was the first Padre ever to have two 30 RBI months…Other decent sticks include LF Carlos Quentin and 1B Yonder Alonso…SS Everth Cabrera became the first Padres to lead the NL in stolen bases (44x48)…Young infielders Logan Forsythe and Jedd Gyorko have potential…Need more from former hot prospect CF Cameron Maybin and catcher Nick Hundley…Promising catcher Yasmani Grandal was suspended 50 games for testing positive for PEDs…Edinson Volquez and Clayton Richard are the best of a weak starting rotation. Closer Hustin Street and set-up man Luke Gregorson are the best on a suspect bullpen…Started 27-49 last season then went 49-37 in the remaining 86 games. I believe the impressive finish was a fluke.