In this week’s Around the Dorm, the “Ref,” Matt Bowker, asks our panel of experts three questions: Are the Padres the favorite to win the NL West, who should be the first quarterback taken in the NFL draft and will Tiger Woods ever win another major?
1. After multiple off-season acquisitions, can the Padres beat out the Dodgers and Giants in the NL West?
Otto: Even after all of the additions to the Padres this off-season, I still think the Dodgers will win the National League West. We know what they’re going to get from their starting rotation, and now they have added Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson to close out the five-man group. While they got rid of hard-hitting Hanley Ramirez, they added Howie Kendrick and Jimmy Rollins to play up the middle. Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig will still be effective and have been more consistent than Matt Kemp in recent years, and overall, the Dodgers have more experienced players on their roster than the Padres, who, while getting James Shields, as well, have a lot of young names left to prove themselves.
Chris: As spring training is quickly approaching, it’s clear that the race for the NL West crown will be one of the most interesting storylines of the season. After having one of the most active off-seasons in recent memory, the San Diego Padres are in prime position to overtake the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Led by free agent signees Matt Kemp and Justin Upton, the Padres will feature one of the most dangerous offenses in all of baseball. The biggest signing of them all for the Padres was starting pitcher James Shields. Shields provides the pitching staff with the ace they desperately need while also providing postseason experience. Combine this with the Giants’ loss of Pablo Sandoval as well as the Dodgers’ dependence on injury-prone hitters, and I feel that this is the Padres’ year.
Michael: The Padres can definitely overtake the Giants and Dodgers in the NL West. In his first off-season as the new general manager, A.J. Preller revamped the team in multiple areas, including pitching with the acquisition of James Shields. Still, they have their work cut out for them in the West, where the Giants have recently signed third baseman Casey McGehee and have been resigning the same talent that helped them win the World Series last year. The Dodgers have also been busy, trading away Matt Kemp and catcher Tim Federowicz in a five-player deal to, of all teams, the Padres. With players like Kemp, Shields and left fielder Jason Upton, amongst others, the Padres have enough new talent to get into the playoffs past one or both of the other teams.
Chris gets 3 points for calling the Dodgers injury-prone. Michael gets 2 points for praising Preller, and Otto gets 1 point for mentioning the Dodgers’ rotation.
2. Should Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston be the first pick in the NFL draft?
Otto: Jameis Winston without a doubt. Winston is definitely more NFL ready, and history shows us that mobile quarterbacks who come into the league as projects do not fare well. Winston is more adept at making decisions on the field and adjusting to adversity, having so many come-from-behind wins this season. Mariota most likely cannot be a day-one starter, and the Buccaneers need someone to step in right away. Winston has the better physical attributes and also has proven that he can win the big game. Some people will forget what happened during his Heisman season because of last season’s struggles, but he was able to lead Florida State on a game-winning drive against Auburn in the National Championship as redshirt freshman.
Chris: Who do I think will be the Tampa Bay Buccaneer’s newest quarterback? Winston. While both QBs have a whole lot that they bring to the table, Winston’s big, accurate arm will fit in perfectly with Tampa Bay’s pro-style offense. Recently hired offensive coordinator Dirk Keotter will be responsible for using Winston’s skill set to his advantage in their first year together in Tampa. Mariota is an outstanding talent but is unproven at running a pro-style offense and could be a big risk as the No. 1 overall pick. Buccaneers General Manager Jason Licht needs to get this right, and keeping Winston in his home state of Florida is the right call.
Michael: Marcus Mariota is the obvious choice here, just because he’s shown more in 2014 then Jameis Winston. The 2014 Heisman winner lead the Pac 12 in rushing touchdowns this season while leading Oregon to 13 wins and the College Football Playoff National Championship. Winston, on the other hand, has had a year including improvements and disappointments both on and off the field. While his regular season with Florida State showed a lot of improvement from 2013, his Rose Bowl game against Mariota and the Ducks ended in a crushing 59-20 defeat. The 2013 Heisman winner also has dealt with multiple incidents off the field including sexual assault charges, shoplifting charges and suspensions for yelling a vulgar Internet phrase in public. Mariota’s clean record and more recent accomplishments should land him the first pick in the draft, or at the very least a higher pick then Winston.
Michael gets 3 points for his concern about Winston’s issues. Otto and Chris get 2 points each for saying that Winston is more pro-ready.
3. After announcing he will take yet another break from golf, will Tiger Woods ever win another major?
Otto: Absolutely. He’ll win one more for sure, maybe two or three, but that’s it. Unfortunately, we won’t see Tiger break Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 majors, that at one time was sure to fall. Tiger is past his physical prime and has been dealing with injury after injury for the last couple of years, and that’s impossible to really get back from. That being said, you cannot deny that in his prime, Tiger Woods exemplified greatness in a way that very few in sports ever have. And that’s a quality that never goes away. It’s ingrained forever. He will find a way to rise to the top once more at the very least, but as we all know, Father Time is undefeated and will continue to be so, and I’m afraid we have almost seen the very last of Tiger Woods.
Chris: Tiger Woods’s golf career has taken yet another hit. Heading into the season, Tiger seemed primed for a big comeback campaign, stating that his body had finally started to cooperate with him again. However, after withdrawing last week at Torrey Pines, no one can be confident as to whether or not Woods will ever return to his No. 1 in the world form. It always seems to be one injury after another for the 14-time major champion, which is why I think that same title will remain when he retires. Tiger Woods winning is a great thing for the world of golf, but capturing another major tournament victory has become too large of an obstacle, both mentally and physically, for the best player of our generation to overcome.
Michael: With another year off due to injury, I think Woods’s time winning majors and being the world’s best golfer is over. Next year he’s going to be 40, and with the injuries he’s already sustained, you have to wonder how much more he can take. Right now, people need to watch the newer talent like Jordan Speith or Hideki Matsuyama, whose rising stardoms show they have a chance to be great players in the sport. While they may not ever be as good as Tiger Woods, it’s clear now that he himself will never be as good as he once was, and that’s something both we and he need to accept.
Chris gets 3 points for looking at Woods’s mentality. Michael gets 2 points for looking at young players, and Otto gets 1 point for not giving up hope.
Chris wins Around the Dorm 8-7-4.