Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Why Repeating As World Series Champions Is So Hard & Can The Yankees Do It?

In the last 30 years, only 2 teams repeated as World Series champions: the late 90s Yankees and the early 90s Blue Jays. No question, repeating in baseball is hard. The NFL, in the past 30 years, has had 5 teams repeat as champions; the NBA has 6. Heck, last year's Phillies are the first team in 8 years to appear in back-to-back Series. So, what is it about baseball that makes it so hard to repeat? And what is the secret to doing it?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Transactions....

Isn't it time that Coach Izzo gets the recognition he deserves? 3 straight Final Fours in 1999 through 2001 and 6 since 1999. To put it another way, the last time Michigan State got to the Final Four, Magic Johnson took them to the championship....in 1979.


Gotta give it to Butler. For a small school that hasn't won their conference since 1950 and have been in the NCAA tournament just three times since 1950, they sure gave Duke all they could handle Sunday night. And they destroyed a St. Mary's team that beat up on Villanova. They should be proud of themselves.



The LA Times has an interesting article on how NFL prospects are using YouTube to try to drum up interest in themselves. The athletes make videos of themselves accomplishing amazing athletic feats, like jumping out of a pool using no hands, leaping over a 66-inch hurdle or, my favorite, Tala Esera, who shows his toughtness, by smashing his head through a wall.



Think Donovan McNabb wishes he had a no-trade clause in his contract right about now?


SI's Sky Andrecheck feels that the Cardinals should not sign Albert Pujols to a Mauer-type mega-contract. He cites Albert's injury history and to-be-sure-to be-coming declinging production. Right. Last I checked Albert was just 30 and missed just 16 games in the past 3 years, and has never played less than 143 games his entire career. So, nooooooo Andrecheck, the Cards should pay Albert to a nice 6 or 7 year deal worth whatever he wants.



In the "No Duh" news of the day, the New York Knicks have alerted the media to the shocking and unexpected news that Eddy Curry will miss the rest of the season. Aren't you just blown away by shock?


Know it's only spring training, but it sure is good to see Travis Hafner swinging free and easy. This spring, Hafner is batting .330, is slugging .550 and has 11 walks. And in further great news, his teammate Fausto Carmona has given up just 1 run in 20 innings this spring. Of course, the real tests starts in a couple of weeks, but promising news nonetheless for two very talented players who've been hampered by injuries for a very long time.



I'm sorry PFW. I love your publication and 99% of the time, you are right on. But the way you have your mock draft running.....if it was true and Buffalo passed up on Bryan Buluga....the people in upstate New York would destroy Ralph Wilson stadium in protest. I mean, really guys.


Last year, Joe Girardi shocked people by switching Johnny Damon to 2nd and Derek Jeter to first in the lineup. Turned out...it worked pretty darn well. And so far, this spring, the whole "batting fifth" thing for Robinson Cano has worked out just fine as well. Again, it's just spring, but so far, he's batting .370 and slugging a mighty .545 with 2 HRS in 44 at bats. Stretched out over a season, that's about 30 HRs for Cano, not factoring in Yankee Stadium's short right field wall.


Meant to write about this a while back, but Tom Verducci had an interesting column on how Ryan Howard is getting fed a steady diet of breaking balls. Howard is facing far, far more breaking balls than almost any other hitter in the NL. And for the most part, he hasn't gotten much better against them. Last year, he improved a little, but not enough to get opposing managers to not target Howard with curveball pitchers. Amazing stat of how managers are setting up Howard. Howard is a career .298 hitter in the first six innings of a game but only a .237 hitter after. Meaning late in games, managers send up a lefty breaking ball pitcher against Howard, and he becomes a liability. Anyway, good article. Go check it out.


And finally—one day I have to create a list of the most freakish, silly injuries in sports history. And this next one would have to be included. 34-year old Cub first baseman. apparently got hurt last week....when the chair he was sitting in collapsed.

"He was eating before the game and the chair just collapsed on him," Piniella said. "That's why we got him out of there after three innings."

 And as the article reminds us....that isn't even the worst freak injury. Remember this doozy? I tried to forget it myself.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hughes Clues: How The Yankees Should Use Phil Hughes This Season

So Phil Hughes is the Yankees 5th starter. Pretty much everyone figured that out by now.

The real question is how are they going to handle his innings limit.

Last year, to much debate, and to everyone’s frustration, the Yankees instituted the Joba Rules. In retrospect it wasn’t so much that he had a innings cap, it was how the Yankees handled it.

Last year, with Rick Porcello, instead of pitching him every fifth day and reducing his innings every start, Tiger manager Jim Leyland skipped Porcello’s start at times and rested him occasionally throughout the year. True, Porcello did have a 104 pitch limit in games, but that was a reasonable pitch count cap. And he wasn’t going out to the mound knowing he was only going to pitch a couple of innings before he got yanked. He was free to pitch.

If the Yankees learned anything from last year—where in effect, they blew Chamberlain’s confidence in late August and September, by pitching him only 3 or 4 innings, and raising his ERA from 3.58 at the end of July to 4.75 by season’s end—they should use Hughes differently. They should follow the Porcello-Leyland method, and let Hughes pitch his games, but let him have longer rests in between games.

For instance, in the beginning of the season, the Yankees have a lot of off days—every Monday in April and April 8th as well. They could skip Hughes some of those days, or use him every 6th or 7th day. And they could do that throughout the year—let him pitch every 6th or 7th day when possible, or skip him whenever there is a rainout. Thereby keeping him fresh, but not making his pitching habits erratic and awkward.

Hughes right now is slotted to throw about 170 innings, a little more than Chamberlain did last year, who threw 157.1.

And truth be told, that’s not so bad. Pettitte threw 194 innings last year. Clayton Kershaw threw 171 innings last year. And Rick Porcello, who pitched as a starter from April 9th to October 6th, threw 170.2

Time will only tell what the Yankees will do with Hughes. But this is a very wealthy, very well run organization. One would hope they’ve learned from last year’s debacle with Chamberlain—one that, it doesn’t seem he’s recovered from yet.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Five

1. Who was the player of the decade in football?

2. In baseball?

3. Who was the best small school prospect in NFL draft history?

4. In 73 games over three seasons, Matsuzaka is 37-21 with a 4.00 ERA. Was Boston wrong in signing him?

5, If you were the Phily Eagles, would you trade Donvan McNabb or Kevin Kolb?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Grading Teams Number One Draft Picks: The National League

Let's continue seeing how teams fared on their recent number one draft picks with the Senior Circuit up now.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Grading Teams' Number One Draft Picks: The American League

It's draft season in the NFL. Mock drafts are all over the web and on cable TV. It's a huge time, because getting the right number 1 pick can turn your franchise and team around.

In baseball, there isn't nearly the kind of buzz around draft time as in football. But getting the right number 1 pick for your team is just as vital as in the NFL—selecting a Derek Jeter or a Joe Mauer can give you a building block around which your team can become successful. Conversely, blowing a high pick—or several—can set your franchise back a great deal. Let's take a look at which team does the best with it's number one picks.

First off, we're going to go back only till about 1995 or so. And we won't count picks in the past year or two because for the most part, they have yet to reveal themselves as hits or busts. Let's go, starting with the AL East.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Transactions....

I guess we can call the "Kyle Farns- worth Starter Exper- iment" a failure.


Maybe he's right, but when Jamie Moyer talks about how today's pitchers are babied, he sounds a little like the Monty Python Guys, when they talk about "how things were tougher when they were young.


Love that Purdue showed everybody that they were not a "The Robbie Hummel Players" but an actual team. And a good one at that, as Texas A & M found out.


If the Lions do what this guy suggests, and take Trent Williams ahead of Ndamukong Suh, the Motor City fans will burn down the Stadium and lynch their GM.

 
This time of year, everybody in football is lying so they can misdirect other teams about who they will pick in the draft. They why do I get the feeling that Mike Holmgren isn't lying when he says he doesn't like Jimmy Clausen.


How is Jarrod Washburn not signed by somebody (Twins, Brewers, I'm looking at you)? Obviously he hated Detroit and didn't pitch well at the end of last year, but in Seattle the lefty had a 2.64 ERA in 133 innings last year. What, nobody needs lefties like that?


How bad do you feel for Joe Nathan? The most underrated player in baseball—he leads the majors with 264 saves since 2004, has to have elbow surgery and will miss the season. But even worse than Joe Nathan, I feel bad for the Twins. trying to replace Nathan will be nigh impossible.


Good to see Shelley Duncan playing well in the Indians Spring Training camp. Always felt if he got a half a chance, he could produce.


Wow, how lame was that Tiger "confessional interview?" Love the gentle setting, the softball questions, the humble look on his face, and the muted "nice guy" sweater. Should have had "A Tiger Woods Production" at the end of it. Too bad they couldn't make him sound human rather than the Tiger-bot 3000 robot he sounded like.


And lastly.....you just gotta see this.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Five

1. How do you think Pete Carroll will do in his third try in the NFL?

2. What was the most disappointing player you were a fan of, but who flamed out?

3. What's your most hated sports broadcaster cliche?

4. Will St. Tim Tebow ever be a starting NFL quarterback?

5. What's the hardest name in sports to spell?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mid-Spring Training Update

While the rest of the sports world loses their mind over the fact that Tiger Woods is coming back to the sport hobby of golf, I thought we should take a quick look at some of the questions that were on our minds as the Yankees entered Spring Training, and how they are being answered.

Center Field
Who's in the lead for Center Field? Well nobody, really. Brett Gardner is batting .158 in his 19 ABs, although he does have 4 walks, which looks good to Girardi, who recently said that OBP is the most important statistic. Jamie Hoffman is 3 for 20 with 1 K and no walks. Marcus Thames and Randy Winn are batting .158 and .188 respectively; Thames has 6 Ks, Winn has 4. So far, the immortal Greg Golson is the statistic leader batting .308 in his 12 ABs, which is 5 more than his ABs in real games. Winn and Thames are probably past their Sell By dates, though Girardi might want to keep them for their "experience." Hoffman will probably be sent back to LA unless he comes on strong soon. The guess is Gardner will get either center or left field and may platoon with the righty Golson, at least for the beginning of the season.


Bullpen Lefties
Amazingly, what was considered a problem has been a pleasant surprise so far. While Damaso Marte has been under a cautious spring and has not pitched much, he is expected to be healthy this year. And when healthy in the past, he's been very good. Behind him however, were a number of drifters and journeymen. However, Royce Ring and Boone Logan have both been fairly impressive in their spring outings. Logan has a 3.18 ERA with 3 Ks. Ring has been even better—a 0.00 ERA with 4 Ks in 3.1 innings. So far, both have made a brief but nice case to keep two lefties in the bullpen. And then there's the question of Chan Ho Park, who's yet to pitch in a game yet. My guess is that he starts in AAA and is the first call up. Also Mark Melancon has pitched well. All in all, the bullpen, if the Yankees keep two lefties, (my very tentative guess) looks like this:

Rivera
Chamberlain
Robertson
Marte
Mitre/Gaudin
Logan/Ring

Whoa, why is Chamberlain in the pen? Which brings us to the next question.


5th Starter
To be honest the best fifth starter has been Alfredo Aceves. He has given up 1 run and 3 hits in 10 innings. Hughes hasn't been bad either—while testing out on a new pitch, a changeup—he has a 3.86 ERA in limited work and has looked fairly sharp. Joba Chamberlain, on the other hand, has made a strong case to have his career as a starter shutdown forever. Unlike the Joba who threw with authority towards the end of the 2009 season, when he was shifted to the pen, the 2010 Joba  looks like the tentative one we saw in the middle of 2009 as a struggling starter. Sergio Mitre and Chad Gaudin have had ups and downs (with Gaudin claiming fatigue recently) and will probably return to their spot starter/long relief roles. Look for Hughes to start the season as the 5th starter and for Aceves to be right there in case he falters. Also, look for Hughes to get extra rest as Aceves can spot start for him and keep Hughes innings down.


Backup Catcher
Despite a scare with a concussion early in the Spring, Francisco Cervelli has hit the ball fairly well. Cervelli has only been up 9 times so far, because of the aforementioned injury and the fact that the Yankees brought 806 catchers to Spring Training. Cervelli though has 4 hits, including a triple (when was the last time you saw a Yankee catcher his a triple?). If Cervelli shows he can handle himself as a backup, it will take the pressure off of Girardi to play Posada a lot more than he should, and free him to rest and play more DH.


Spring training still has about 2-1/2 weeks left, and situations can change, so nothing is written in stone. However, some decisions are starting to get locked down. Girardi has publically stated that Robinson Cano will bat fifth in the lineup ahead of Posada and Curtis Granderson. Quoted recently about Cano moving to 5 in the lineup, Girardi said this:

“If you’re going to hit a left-hander fifth (Cano), you prefer to have a switch-hitter sixth (Posada). Then maybe another left-hander seventh (Granderson), and then a switch-hitter eighth (Swisher), and then maybe another left-hander.”

Sounds like Gardner has an advantage over most of the other outfielders, who are mostly righties. Also, Girardi has spoken to reporters with today's lineup most likely would be the Opening Day lineup. And Brett Gardner is starting in center field and is batting 9th.

So with the lineup mostly set, and some good guesses to what may be the rotation, the question is, is this team better than last year's team?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Transactions....

Just a quick look at the brackets, and I'd say out of the Number 1 seeds, Duke has the best shot to make the Final Four. They should handle Cal or Louisville, they can beat Texas A & M, and they should handle a beat-up Purdue team. A date against Villanova, Notre Dame or Baylor in the Elite 8 should be forthcoming—and Duke can beat them all.


Regarding the Brady Quinn trade, it's a good move for Quinn and Denver. McDaniels comes from the Charlie Weis school of offense, so Quinn should be very familiar with the system. And while Quinn has been in the league for a while, he's only been in 14 games. So if's give a fair shot, and he should expect he should, it is a bonus for the Broncos, because for a piddling amount, they get a QB with a nice potential upside.



So we have to figure the Browns are going into this season with at least one other QB, because Delhomme and Senaca Walace can't be considered "The Answer" for the rebuilding Browns. So unless they pull off an amazing trade for Kevin Kolb, they should be drafting one. At pick 7, the top 2 consensus QBs might be gone. So either the Browns trade up to get one—they have about 418 picks in this draft and 5 in the top 3 rounds—or Mangini and Mike Holmgren have found a guy they like later on. Holmgren was the guy who got Packers GM to trade for Brett Farve, who did exactly nothing with Atlanta. Holmgren was also the guy who traded for a no-name guy named Matt Hasselbeck. In other words, the man can spot talent in low round picks or in guys who haven't accomplished anything yet. it would be interesting to see what Browns do from now until the draft.


Is this the year the Pirates significantly escape the boytom of their divison? Aside from a 2nd-to-last placed finish in 2006—they were one game up on the Cubs that year—the Pirates have solidly occupied last place in the NL Central for a long time. But looking at the Houston Astros, and with the young talent the Pirates coming up—this could be the year the Pirates start to inch closer to .500—because I doubt the Astros are going to be anywhere near it.


Vince Wilfork's baby is named David Dream-Angel Wilfork. Just saying.



So sorry to hear about Ryan Westmoreland. All the best prayers and wishes for a full recovery.


Contrary to all the complaining and judgment about the selection this year (including the idiocy that is Jason Whitlock), I thought the committee actually did a pretty good job. The West is a little weak and the Midwest is pretty hard, but overall the teams that got left out deserved to, and teams that are seeded are for the most part, where they should be. As Jay Bilas said, if the teams are complaining overall about their place in the field or by not being in the NCAA's; "Win more games against quality teams." I like that.



I think Toby Gerhart would be a nice fit in the 2nd round for the Chargers. He'd be a nice complement to Darrin Sproles and would get the tough yards in the red zone.



In a amazing conceit and interesting article, The Hardball Times put out on Friday, Brian Giles, Hall of Fame Class of 2016. I know what you're thinking—go read it.


And seriously, I died a little inside when I saw this.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Five

1. You could have any one player in the majors to start your team, who do you take?

2. OK, name your baseball franchise. Could be any city, but you come up with the nicname. Do football and basketball if you feel like.

3. Should baseball have cheerleaders like basketball, football, soccer and so on?

4. After reading my last article, do you think baseball should have a minimum salary cap, especially for teams that receiving revenue sharing. Should it have a maximum salary cap?

5. And lastly, a survey said that 41% of managers around the country believe March Madness helps employee morale. Do you think it helps morale in your office?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hometown Disgraces: Why Can’t the Twins and Padres Sign Their Own Heroes?

Ever since the beginning of the free agency Monopoly-money movement, baseball separated into two strata, the” big market money to burn” teams and the small market have-nots. And for the most part, there was a sort of equilibrium. To be sure, the Yankees, Red Sox and their ilk made it to the playoffs more than say, the Kansas City Royals or Pittsburgh Pirates, but certain small market teams would break into the World Series and even win it from time to time. The 2002 Angels won it all with a roster that cost $61 million, or about half of what the Yankees cost. The next year, the Florida Marlins won it all with a budget of $49 million. The White Sox and the Astros fought it out in 2005 with middling budgets of roughly $75 million. The Rockies made it to the Series with one of the lowest budgets in baseball for 2007. So did the Tampa Rays in 2008. In fact 8 different clubs won the World Series since 2001, and 13 different teams were in it. To be clear, we’re not saying the game is balanced fair and square; we’re saying certain teams have a plan to make he best with the smaller revenue they have.

And a big part of that plan is, trade expensive older players to a desperate big market team, for young cheaper talent. The Oakland A’s have been doping it for years. Toronto did it last winter with Roy Halladay. The Indians did it with Victor Martinez last summer. And so on.

However, recently that trend has changed and not for the better depending on the point of view.

It is common knowledge that the San Diego Padres will be trading their 1st baseman, Adrian Gonzalez come the trade deadline. And this week, Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star/Tribune suggested that the Twins should trade Joe Mauer.

Why are these even options?

Both Gonzalez and Mauer are natives of the city they play for. Both are young, emerging superstars; the kind of players a franchise should build around. These guys aren’t aging overpaid former stars in decline. These are guys are just hitting their prime. Mauer won the MVP last year. Gonzalez won his 2nd consecutive Gold Gloves, led the NL in walks, and in canyon-esque Petco Park, had 40 home runs (only 22 more than the next Padre). Why would teams even think of trading these guys?
Well, as Souhan writes:
"A trade could yield a closer to replace Joe Nathan...A statistician or scout might argue that he might never duplicate his remarkable 2009 season, that he has been plagued by injuries, that the Twins are high on catching prospect Wilson Ramos, that the franchise might be better off spending the $200 million it might take to sign Mauer on a handful of other players.

Matt Snyder of MLB Fanhouse wrote a while back:

The problem here is that the Padres can't be ready to compete for the next two years. They aren't anywhere near competing. They need a large quantity of good young players, and dealing a player as attractive as Gonzalez would be on the open market is the best way to land several stellar prospects.


For the casual Padres fan, the thought of moving Adrian Gonzalez may just seem like a salary dump.  That couldn’t be further from the truth, it is more a matter of trading a guy that you will not be able to sign...As I previously mentioned, the Padres trading AGON is far from a salary dump, but a move the team will need to make to ensure they are able to earn maximum value for the organizations long-term outlook.


A longtime banker, the 92-year-old Pohlad (owner of the Twins) is tied for 114th on the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest people in the country with a fortune estimated at $3.1 billion...He is the wealthiest baseball owner..."

And with the Twins moving into a new stadium, thereby generating even more revenue for the Twins and the Pohland family, how could the Twins cry poverty?



San Diego’s Petco Park is only six years old...Heck, Milwaukee is the No. 35 media market, smallest in the majors. Yet, the Brewers offered left-hander CC Sabathia a $100 million free-agent contract after the 2008 season. Their owner, Mark Attanasio, recently said he wants to keep first baseman Prince Fielder, who—like Gonzalez—will be a free agent after the 2011 season.

So is it the truth that the Padres and the Twins just can't sign these homegrown, young stars? Rosenthal continues:

If the Padres land a few potential building blocks, then plow their savings on Gonzalez into player development, more power to them. But the idea of building around such a player — an almost-perfect player for San Diego, really — should not be so easily dismissed...The Padres will be around $40 million — a number that almost certainly is far below the total they will collect in revenue sharing and central-fund payouts.

So what is it exactly that is preventing these teams from signing what should obviously be talented, popular stars?

In an older article written on baseballsuite101.com, James Lincoln Ray writes that when small market teams get the revenue sharing money from richer teams and spend it on players, success often follows.

The Colorado Rockies are a fine example. The Rockies used all of the $16 million they received in 2006 revenue sharing dollars to increase their payroll in 2007, and that certainly helped the team win this year's National League pennant. The Detroit Tigers are another success story. They used revenue sharing dollars to attract free agents Ivan Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez, and those players helped the Tigers climb from a team that won just 43 games in 2002 to a club that won the American League pennant last year.

Ray goes on to write that some baseball teams don't use the money they receive to better their ballclub—a contention Yankee owner George Steinbrenner and Red Sox owner John Henry have often vehemently complained about. Instead they just pocket the money, a windfall for the owners.
One reason that some clubs fail to improve is that they don't use their revenue sharing dollars to attract free agents or to retain homegrown players. (Emphasis mine.)

This January the New York Daily News's Bill Maddon reported that Commisioner Bud Selig was going to crack down on "baseball's revenue-sharing welfare cheats." Maddon quotes John Henry:
"Change is needed and that is reflected by the fact that over a billion dollars have been paid to seven chronically uncompetitive teams, five of whom have had baseball's highest operating profits.


Maddon continues:

According to sources familiar with what went down between Selig and Players Association honchos last week, the union has targeted four teams—the Marlins, Pirates, Rays and the Padres.
In an interview with Padre owner Jeff Moorad, Hamilton was told by Moorad that:

The gross revenue of the club is something in the range of $150 million. Most clubs have a payroll half the amount of the gross revenue.  The Padres have to pay $20 million a year in stadium bonds.  Moorad wouldn't change that because we have one of the better stadiums in all of baseball.  He believes that the Padres can maintain a $70-80 payroll in the future.

Last year, the Padres spent about $37.8 million in payroll and the Opening Day payroll should be about $36 million. One question: Mr. Moorad, $70-80 minus 20 equals $50 to 60 million. Why isn't the payroll where you said it would be? And if there is a difference of rough 15 to 25 million, couldn't you use that to sign local favorite and entering the prime of his career, Adrian Gonzalez? Couldn't you build around him?

And Mr. Pohlad, with a new stadium generating new revenue, and your family value estimated at 2.6 billion dollars, is it really impossible to sign the MVP and hometown hero, Joe Mauer? Couldn’t he be the cornerstone of your franchise for the next decade?

There are no rules stating a franchise must spend it’s money on anything it doesn’t feel like it should. But when 2 hometown favorites—young, immensely talented, and good guys; perfect cornerstone material for a franchise—are being shunned by their own teams, when these teams obviously have the money to spend, it’s time for baseball to step in. Because it is a disgrace, and it shouldn’t stand.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Constant Gardner Debate

Now, it is no secret that this blog is a fan of Brett Gardner's. In the number 9-hole and manning center, he gives the Yankees something they don't have—speed and solid defense. The ability to be a pest and distract opposing pitchers, to take the extra base and to cover tons of ground in Yankee Stadium. On the whole, we feel, that is not so bad a thing.

So, his slow spring training start notwithstanding, we were happy to see an article in The Hardball Times, reiterating something we felt and wrote about previously: And that would be, that people who feel Gardner won't hit in the majors have history and stats working against them. All Gardner needs is consistent time and he will respond.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Transactions....

Here's an interesting web site. It's called Baseball Projection, and the link I have here is to Derek Jeter's and Alex Rodriguez's career projections from 2010 on. Apparently according to these guys, Jeter's numbers begin the slow deluge this year, as his BA drops each year from now until 2014, which is when he apparently retires. A-Rod 's numbers suffer a similar fate, but he hits at least 20 homer runs a year until he retires in 2017. He ends up with 815 home runs, though he doesn't hit above .250 after 2015. Not the projections the Yankees want to see on their 25 million dollar a year investment.


Here's a thought. Send Chicago Bear TE Greg Olsen—who does fit into Mike Martz's offense—to the New England Patriots. Olsen is a catch and run TE who in the right offense with a good QB, can be dangerous, something the Pats need. The Bears who just signed blocking TE Brandon Manumaleuna could get some of the draft picks back that they lost trading for Jay Cutler.


Wow. Does Julius Peppers, instead of sacking quarterbacks, just swallow them? I mean, look at the size of his mouth.


The New York Times did a "Isn't that sad" type piece in the Sunday sports section on Kei Igawa. In it they write: "Igawa is mostly out of sight and pretty much out of mind. He is rarely mentioned in conversations about the fifth slot in the starting rotation, a competition that involves as many as five candidates." They also mention he is working on a cutter and retired all 5 batters he faced in his forst Spring Training appearance. They he went out and got rocked by the Minnesota Twins and gave up 5 runs oin 1 inning of work. Keep working on that cutter, Kei.


Has their been a pschizophrenic team this year in college basketball than Lousiville? They lose to Western Carolina, Charlotte, UNLV, but beat Syracuse (twice) and West Virginia. Could turn out that they could be a surprise team in the Tournament. Or they could lose in the first round to New Mexico State College of Iron-Mongering.


Interesting that the Eagles decided to keep Michael Vick. To me, it seems a little more likely now that they trade Donovan McNabb and have Kevin Kolb and Vick fight it out over the summer.


As of this writing, Jon Alabadejo's ERA is 189.00. That number again is 189 runs per inning.


Oooops. What I...uh...meant to say...was....uh.


Anquan Boldin and his averages of 84 catches for 1,074 yards, 6 TD and 12.8 yards per catch as a No. 2 receiver (behind Larry Fitzgerald) for a 3rd and 4th round pick.....is a stupidly awesome deal for the Ravens, who haven't had a commanding number 1 receiver in.....infinity.


Never truer words ever written by Peter King:

So without being judgmental ... if Roethlisberger is without fault, it still is utterly preposterous he puts himself in these situations. If Roethlisberger is without fault, he has to re-think who he associates with, and he has to re-think whether it's a very good idea to be hanging around college bars at 2 in the morning. If Roethlisberger is at fault, the issues are entirely different. If he's at fault, he has got to grow up.


Did the Mets build their new stadium on an ancient Indian burial ground? I mean, it's not just that they are injured, it's that its all bizarre injuries and odd circumstances.



And lastly, I've never been a big fan of the Miami Hurricane football program, but this guy, who just "U-ed" Bobby Bowden....well it's just awesome.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Mock Draft (Tebow-free!)

No other event in the world of sports is as curious as the NFL Draft. No actual sporting goes on: no tackling, no bombs, no blitz. Yet so many love it. Anyway, here goes the first mock draft of the season.

1. St Louis Rams — Sam Bradford QB — Oklahoma
As much as Coach Spagnuolo is a defensive coach, franchises are built around quarterbacks. Ask New Orleans and Indianapolis. The Rams grab the best in the draft, providing his shoulder checks out.

2. Detroit Rams — Ndamukong Suh DT — Nebraska
The Lions luck out and grab the DT of their dreams. They place him right next to former Cornhusker, Kyle Vanden Bosch as the rebuilding of the Lion defense starts to take shape.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Gerald McCoy DT— Oklahoma
It's 3 for 3 for the Big 12 as Oklahoma DT McCoy lands with the perfect team for the speedy lineman. In any other season, McCoy would be considered the number one defensive player, so the Bucs catch a break here snagging him at number 3.

4. Washington Redskins — Jimmy Clausen QB — Notre Dame
No way does Mike Shanahan not take his own quarterback to prepare and groom. Clausen tutored under Charlie Weis and is familiar with an NFL system. Shanahan starts to put his mold on the Redskins, so expect a lot of offensive picks out of this Redskin draft.

5. Kansas City Chiefs —Russell Okung OT — Oklahoma State
After one pick, it's back to the Big 12, as the Chiefs grab the top O-lineman on the board. Okung showed spectacular strength at the Combine and solidified himself as the premier LT prospect in the draft.


6. Seattle Seahawks — Eric Berry S — Tennessee
This scenario plays out the worst for the Seahawks, who wanted either one of the 2 franchise quarterbacks or Okung to rebuild their offensive line. The consolation prize is Berry, who many consider the best pure prospect in the draft. Look for a trade down from this spot. Thhis pick might also be Denver's who would receive it in exchange for Brandon Marshall.

7. Cleveland Browns — Joe Haden CB — Florida
Eric Mangini knows the importance of having a shutdown corner—he drafted Darell Revis. Haden, who had a miserable combine is still the number one CB in the nation. Mangini will ignore the Combine, get the best pure CB-athlete and feel he can coach Haden up to be the shutdown corner the Browns need.

8. Oakland Raiders — Jason Pierre-Paul DE — South Florida
Now here's where the Draft gets fun. No one ever knows what Weird Al is going to do, but the safe money is going to say he will get enamoured with a great workout and take the guy regardless if he can actually play football or not. Paul had a knockout of a combine, showed strength, fluidity and pure speed. Davis will ignore academic challanges and questions that Paul could learn a complicated defense and just take the guy who looked the best in shorts.

9. Buffalo Bills — Bryan Buluga OT — Iowa
The Bills were caught off guard by the retirement of RT Brad Butler at the age of 26. This one year after the trade of Jason Peters to the Eagles. Buluga has showed the ability to be an above-average LT, something the Bills sorely need.

10. Jacksonville Jaguars — Derrick Morgan DE — Georgia Tech
The Jags recorded the fewest sacks in the league last season—just 2 seasons after the spent their first and second round picks on Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves. The absolutely need someone to step in and pressure opposing QBs, and as such, take Morgan, who had 12-1/2 sacks and 18-1/2 TFL. Even with Aaron Kampman in the fold, the Jags need pass rush help. Morgan can provide that.

11. Denver Broncos — Dez Bryant WR — Oklahoma State
This pick, acquired from the Bears in the Jay Cutler trade, is contingent on the possible trade of Brandon Marshall. Strong and quick, Bryant is nigh-impossible to cover by one DB. Character issues abound, but if his Pro Day impresses, Bryant could be considered a lock to be gone by pick 11.

12. Miami Dolphins — Dan Williams DT — Tennessee
To be sure, Bill Parcells has huge files on Derrick Morgan and Jason Pierre-Paul—the Tuna loves him some athletic pass-rushing OLBs. Those 2 gone, Parcells could go for Sergio Kindle or Ricky Sapp, but knows that the heart of any Parcells defense is the NT. And with an aging Jason Ferguson, Williams, a ideal wide-body is in Parcells' sight. Look for a trade-down (possibly with, say Green Bay, who is interested in Campbell) and for Parcells to target Williams. Williams was a one-year wonder when Monte Kiffin came to Tennessee. Parcells, however, has never been shy to take on a project, sees the NT of the future.

13. San Francisco 49ers — Taylor Mays S — USC
San Francisco needs help in their secondary, and after Mays put on a great show at the clinic—6'3", 230, 4.43-40 yrd dash and 24 reps, second highest of all safties, he made sure he'd leave in the first half of the draft. Can cover and hit. Comparisons to Ronnie Lott will be forthcoming.

14. Seattle Seahawks — Bruce Campbell OT — Maryland
The Seahawks must, MUST come out of this draft with a left tackle. And Pete Carroll loves natural athletic ability. Campbell had a combine for the ages, ran a 4.85. did 34 reps and showed a ripped body, capable of fluidity and strength. Campbell is raw, but Caroll has taken raw and made football players before.

15. New York Giants —Brian Price DT — UCLA
The last half of the 2009 season showed that the Giants defense as it was, was busted. Opposing offenses ran at will, and protected their quarterback without much trouble. Price, a disruptive shifty DT, is a perfect fit for the Giants system and could be in the rotation from day 1.

16. Tennessee Titans —Everson Griffen DE — USC
The Titans have lost a ton of talent on their defensive line in the past couple of years. Griffen has talent to burn and can be coached up by the Titan staff. Kindle and Sapp are considered here, but are more 3-4 OLBs, than a pure DE. Sleeper Alex Carrington has been a fast-riser and could be the shock pick of the draft.

17. San Francisco 49ers — Jerry Hughes OLB — TCU
Most have Hughes going early in the second round. The 49ers, who need an edge rusher, give Mike Singletary the type of player he loves. High-motor, intense and aggressive. Hughes had an outstanding Combine. He showed himself to be a natural pass-rusher. Sapp and Kindle is an option here as well.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers — Mike Iupati OG — Idaho
Unless the Steelers absolutely hate Ben Rothelsiburger, they will draft and offensive lineman—any offensive lineman—with this pick. Iupati has Steeler written all over him; tough, mean, imposing. Iupati is a natural guard who can play some tackle if necessary.

19. Atlanta Falcons — Brandon Graham DE— Michigan
Look for a trade down here. All the top players are off the board and from here till the second round, the talent level becomes interchangeable. That said, the Falcons are in need of a bookend to John Abraham. They whiffed hard a couple years back on DE Jamaal Anderson, who is trying now to become a DT. Graham lit up the Senior Bowl and followed that with a nice Combine. He doesn't have the measureables, but just knows how to get it done on the field.

20. Houston Texans — Kyle Wilson CB— Boise State
The Texans let Dunta Robinson go, which pretty much solidifes that they are going with a CB somewhere in the draft, probably the first round. While C.J. Spiller, Ryan Matthews or Jahvid Best get a look, the Texans fill their bigger need at CB. With a nice 25 reps at the combine, if Wilson runs well at his Pro Day, he may solidify his status as a top 3 CB in the draft.

21. Cincinnati Bengals — Golden Tate WR — Notre Dame
The Bengals need offensive weapons. With T.J. Houshmandzadeh gone, Laverneous Coles a bust and Ocho Cinco not his former self, the Bengals need to surround Carson Palmer with some more weapons. Tate is fast, sure-handed and familiar with a pro offense.

22. New England Patriots — Rolando McClain ILB — Alabama
Sergio Kindle and Ricky Sapp get serious looks here as the Patriots lack anything resembling the pass rush they used to be famous for. However, all Bill Belichek needs to do is watch the Ravens run up the middle of their defense during the playoff game to know that they need someone else besides Eric Alexander or Paris Lenon manning the inside LB in their 3-4. McClain, well-coached by Saban in Alabama will fit right in.

23. Green Bay Packers — Anthony Davis OT — Rutgers
Green Bay desperately needs offensive Lineman, and may move up to get one. If not, they may go with the Rutgers product. Davis showed up fat, slow and immature at the Combine. His talent and ability are there, unquestionably. The only question is, will Green Bay take a chance on his head?

24. Philadelphia Eagles — Sean Witherspoon OLB — Missouri
Witherspoon has the size and fluidity to slide into the WLB spot. Active and agressive, he fits into the Eagles attack style.

25.  Baltimore Ravens — Patrick Robinson CB — Florida State
A 4.42 40 yard dash, a 30 inch vertical and great instincts secure Robinson a 1st round pick. Could go higher with a great Pro Day.

26. Arizona Cardinals — Sergio Kindle OLB — Texas
The slide ends for Kindle, who didn't have the exciting combine day that people were hoping. Not huge and not super fast, Kindle is a force to be reckoned with, but not in the class of former Longhorn, Brian Orakpo. Kindle may slide a little bit in the draft, but should still be in the first round.

27. Dallas Cowboys — Earl Thomas CB/S — Texas
Fast and instinctive, Thomas drops only because he doesn't have the size of the other safties. Good coverage skills and a solid tackler, Thomas is versatile enough to play the safety positions or throw in at cornerback.

28. San Diego — Ryan Matthews RB — Fresno State
In a weak RB class, Matthews is the best workhorse running back. At 218 pounds and 4.45 speed. Matthews is exactly what the Chargers need and could be a complement to scatback Darren Sproles.

29. New York Jets — Ricky Sapp OLB — Clemson
With Anotonio Cromartie in the fold, the Jets can turn to other holes to fill. A wide receiver might be nice, but none is worthy of this pick. Carlos Dunlap has all the skills and looks the part, but has had off the field issues and shows every indication that once he cashes his check, he wont use his talent on the field. Sapp showed that he could handle the OLB in a 3-4. He is fluid, can rush the passer or drop into coverage. Sapp could take over the role of the bust Vernon Gholston and would fit in well in Rex Ryan's defense. Keep an eye on Tyson Alualu as well.

30. Minnesota Vikings — Maurkice Pouncey — Florida
The Vikings lost the ability to run halfway through last season. Pouncey can step in from Day 1 and help solidify the Viking O-line. Smart, big and surprisingly quick, Pouncey can shift John Sullivan over to RG and try to get Adrian Peterson running again. With Artis Hicks gone, it is imperitiv

31. Indianapolis Colts — Jared Odrick — Penn State
Solid but not spectacular DT who hustles and can get into the backfield to disrupt plays. High-motor quick (4.98 40) seems like a perfect fit for the Colts defense.

32. New Orleans Saints — Terrence Cody DT — Alabama 
The Saints gave up 4.5 yds per carry last season. Lucky for them, most teams were playing catch up and had to pass to stay in the game. Cody could be a 2-down lineman and negate and chance of a run up the middle by any team. He could keep the linebackers clean and limit opposing offenses. He is the kind of pick a Super Bowl winner can afford.

That's it. And as I promised, no Tim Tebow. Write back with comments or counter-arguments.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday Five

1. Who will have more sacks next season: Julius Peppers or Aaron Kampman?

2. Do you agree with Barry Zito plunking Prince Fielder in retaliation for a home run celebration last year. Elaborate.

3. The Hardball Times predict Alex Rodriguez is going to have an MVP type year with 46 HRs, 124 RBI, 20 steals and .610 slugging percentage. How do you think he'll do this season?

4. If you were the Rams, would you trade a 2nd round pick for Donovan McNabb?

5. If you were a high school quarterback, and could go to any college to play football, where would you go?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Goo-Gobs of Love for Joe Girardi

During the 2009 season there was a cacophony of calls for Joe Girardi’s head. The Yankees missed the playoffs—a mortal sin around New York City—the season before, and had started off the 2009 season slowly. Sites such as “firejoeg.blogspot.com” popped up on the web, and tons of message boards (some not even sports-related) were wondering when/begging for, Girardi’s removal.

And then there were the constant comparisons to his predecessor, Saint Joe Torre, which filled talk radio and the back pages. It got so bad, that the fans and people even complained when he took out Sabathia, Jeter and Teixeira early on Yankee Stadium’s Opening Day, even though they were losing 10-2 and it was a chilly out. The press surely didn’t like him—too brusque—and criticized almost everything he did. Indeed, even when the Yankees were winning, as in last year’s playoff series against the Twins, some called the Yankees “lucky” and said Phil Cuzzi was more responsible for the Yankees winning than the Yankees themselves. And his players thought he was too hard and “not fun.” Girardi was being set up to be Jay Fieldler to Torre’s Dan Marino.

Heck, even the “highbrow” web site Slate.com got into the act:

“Often caught by television cameras modeling taciturn expressions while consulting thick binders full of arcane statistics, Girardi looks like an engineer, runs a game like one, and even talks like one. (How are the playoffs different from the regular season, Joe? “You have your parts, and you understand what you need to do with your parts, and you just go from there.”) And in this year’s playoffs, Girardi has done a fantastic job illustrating why baseball is a game for delinquents, not engineers.”

Then the Yankees won the World Series.

Now everybody loves him.

So far this spring, everything around the Yankees has been a peachy-keen lovefest. The media has covered Girardi in gooey praise as they reported on the Yankees visit to an arcade! Hooray! They reported how none of the previous managers did this, and how this was a good “team-building” idea. And they positively gushed this winter when Girardi praised the Jets.

Ian O’Connor, formally not a fan of Girardi’s did a puff piece on him recently, profiling Girardi’s toughness. He even commented on his “dockworker arms.”

And it wasn’t just the light fluff. LoHud’s Chad Jennings wrote that “Having the players buy into the system and respect Girardi is also huge.” The New York Times changed their tune as well: Instead of complaining about his over-managing, now they write “One of Girardi’s greatest strengths last season was how he managed the entire roster, showing a smart sense of when and how to rest his veterans, and he will again find ways for Rodriguez, Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter to remain fresh. He proved equally adept at cultivating trust and communication among his players and the staff.”

The media also gushed about how he’s lightening up his usually intense training on his pitching staff this spring. The Daily News wrote how Girardi called Andy Pettitte over the winter and told him to not start throwing right away, but to get extra rest. The LoHud blog takes the article further to give a quote of Pettitte’s about Girardi.

“He pays attention,” Pettitte said. “He’s constantly thinking, ‘What can help us? What can keep us healthy?’ like no manager I’ve been around. He wants us to feel good. He wants to take care of us, whether it’s baseball, our families, that’s the way Joe is. He’s constantly thinking of ways to help us in life and to get us through this baseball season.”

Was there a subtle poke at Torre there or is it just me? “Like no manager I’ve been around?” Hmmmm.

That said, in the early part of the 2010 spring training everybody seems to be smitten with goo-gobs of love for the Yankee manager. It will be interesting to see how these same people react when the Yankees lose 2 games in a row to the Indians. Or when David Robertson blows a 9th inning save to the Red Sox when Rivera or Chamberlain was still out in the pen.

My guess is that the love won’t be there.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Transactions....

First off, like everyone else who watched it, gotta say....that Canada-America hockey game was one for the ages. Great game. Both teams should be proud.


Unfortunatly though, I don't think hockey is going to get even 1 percent more popular due to this game. Hockey's problems are bigger and harder to fix  than just one good game.


Baseball America came out with its Top 100 prospects of 2010. And at first look, I have to say....damn the Rays have a ton of prospects. Out of the Top 100, they have the number 6, 18, 34, 35, 54, 67 and 68 prospects. To counter, the Diamondbacks and Cardinals have just 1 prospect in the Top 100.


As a counter, WasWatching.com released the Yankees top prospects of the past decade. And wow. The list is a catalog of disappointment and frustration. Just a few of the names that didn't pan out. Randy Keisler, John-Ford Griffin, Drew Henson, Bronson Sardinha, Sean Henn, Eric Duncan, Tyler Clippard, C.J. Henry, Steven White. And it is interesting to note, that some of the players who did have success in the majors, did so elsewhere. Ted Lilly, Nick Johnson, Juan Rivera and Dioner Navarro to name just a few.


When exactly did Mike Lupica turn into such a bitter little human being. here's what he wrote yesterday on the Olympics:

But then these are the two weeks, every four years, when we're supposed to feel as if the world has practically stopped spinning on its axis because the U.S. won a gold medal in the Nordic combined.

By the way, after Lindsey Vonn did win the women's downhill with her sore shin, it took just a couple of keystrokes the next day to find the first headline that read this way: "Profile in Courage."
You can only imagine what the coverage would have been like if she'd won with a sore pinkie.

Do the networks overhype some stuff? Sure. But here's an athlete who's been working her entire life to try to compete in the Olympics and win. Kind of a big deal for her, don't you think Mike? Why not let her have her few minutes in the spotlight and let the rest of us get excited about an Olympic  sporting event. And lighten the heck up.


Prediction: The Wildcat formations will start to fade out from the NFL this year. After seeing how Pat White and Michael Vick fared last year, and seeing who played in the Super Bowls recently— dropback QBs exclusively—teams may still have some variation of the Wildcat, but it wont be the huge phenomenen some broadcasters made it out to be. And that might be bad news for Tim Tebow.


Nice bit of humility by Albert Pujols this week. Apparently, Albert has a new nickname: "El Hombre" and he doesn't like it. "I don't want to be called that. There is one man that gets that respect, and that's Stan Musial. He's the Man. He's the Man in St. Louis. And I know 'El Hombre' is The Man in Spanish. But he is The Man. You can call me whatever else you want, but just don't call me El Hombre." Nice to see that from a guy as talented and dominant as Pujols.


Can't understand why so many mock drafts have Jimmy Clausen going ahead of Sam Bradford. Of, course, assuming his shoulder is fine, there's no competition between the two. Anyone watching football on fall Saturdays the last couple of years should know that Sam Bradford is the better of the two QBs in this draft. hands down.



I have one question for Eric Hinskie who apparently did this himself voluntarily. Why? Oh, and nice Banana Republic whities, Eric.


One last thing: NBC's research found that 35% of all viewers — including 25% of males — said they cried watching Vancouver coverage. Dear Lord. Just tell me it wasn't at figure skating. Curling, sure OK. But not figure skating.