Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Five

1. Now with Roy Oswalt in their uniform, do the Phillies take the NL East?

2. How does Tim Tebow pan out in the NFL?

3. With Ochocinco, T.O. and Pac Man Jones, will the Bengals be good enough to win the AFC, or with it turn into a sideshow circus?

4. With JairJurrjens back and healthy, do the Atlanta Braves win the pennant now for Bobby Cox?

5. Is Scrabble a game? What if it was full-contact scrabble?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Trade That Should Be Made—But Won't Be

The Steelers and Patriots don't like each other. They are rivals in the AFC and have been in 6 of the last 9 Super Bowls. They would never make a trade between each other. But they should.

The Patriots defense is not what it once was. A few years back, Belichek's crew would wreak havoc on opposing clubs. Not no more. Last year, the Patriots ranked 23 in sacks.They ranked 20th in rushing Y/G. Anyone watching the Ravens beat up on the Patriots in the playoffs saw what everyone knew. The Patriots defense needs an overhaul.

For some reason inexplicable to fans everywhere, the Steelers refuse to upgrade their offense line. Despite giving up 50 sacks last season, only one behind the Packers who led the league, the Steelers only spent one draft pick in the first 4 rounds on the offensive line. They signed one  offensive linemen free agent, a backup journeyman former 5th round pick of Detroit in 2006. The Steelers last year were 19th in the league in rushing Y/G. What gives?

New England offensive lineman Logan Mankins is frustrated about his contract. A 2-time Pro Bowler, the Patriots offered him less than what the market says a Pro Bowl guard should get. As a result, Mankins is holding out of training camp and would like a trade.

OLB LaMarr Woodley of the Pittsburgh Steelers is also unhappy about his contract. Having earned his first Pro Bowl berth by scoring 13.5 sacks last year, he felt his rookie contract of $550,000 was no longer applicable. However, the Steelers told him they would not renogiate his contract. Woodley has not held out of camp just yet, but he is very publically unhappy with the Steelers.

You see where this is going. Why don't the Patriots trade Logan Mankins to the Steelers for Lamarr Woodley.

Here's why that would make sense. Mankins is one of the best guards in the country and would slip in perfectly into the Steelers line at LG. Able to play tackle in a pinch, Mankins would immediately stabilize the line, including helping Max Starks at LT. A plus run blocker and pass protector, Mankins is also one of the best screen blockers in football. In short, walking into the Steeler locker-room, Mankins would immediately be the best lineman on the team. And he would improve everyone else on that line.

LaMarr Woodley is one of the best pass-rushing OLB in football. Which coincidentally, is exactly what the Patriots need. After Banta-Cain's 10 sacks last year, the next linebacker on the Patriots was Adalius Thomas's 3. To compare, in 2007, Mike Vrabel had 12.5, Jarvis Green had 6.5, Adalius Thomas had 6.5 and Roosevelt Colvin had 4. The Patriots had 46 sacks that year. Last year they had 31. Woodley would come in, man the other side from Banta-Cain and force opponents to choose between Banta-Cain or Woodley, or keep an extra blocker back for both of them.

In short, everyone wins in this trade. 2 Pro Bowlers get traded for each other, and to places of corresponding weakness on the other team. Each fills a hole perfectly. Woodley adds pass rushing—not to mention solid run defense. Mankins adds plus drive blocking, pass defense and excellent screen blocking (as you can see in the picture). And he helps everyone else on the Steeler line, including rookie center Maurkice Pouncey.

Everyone would benefit from this trade. And both teams have able players to fill in for those they traded. So, the trade should happen.

But, you know and I know, it'll never will.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Transactions....

Seriously Dez, you don't want Marc Columbo and Marcus Spears sitting on you while the rest of the Cowboys beat on you. Just carry the pads.


Love Andre Dawson's call out to all the HGH cheaters in baseball. Dawson spoke out in a classy but firm way. Nice going Hawk.


Can't understand why the Bills would not try to go after some help on the O-line. One of the worst O-lines last year, the Bills did next to nothing to bolster the unit in the the off-season. Cornell Green, a weak journeyman at best, is the Opening Day LT. Demitrious "Who Dat?" Bell, a 7th round draft pick out of Northwestern State-Louisiana—and the 4th worst tackle according to the stats—is the Opening Day RT. Why, oh why haven't the BIlls done more to sure up their line in the off-season. Jimmy Clausen has got to be thanking his lucky stars that the Bills didn't take him.


If Chris Paul leaves the Hornets, that probably would be the death knell for basketball in New Orleans.


For the last 28 days, Josh Hamilton is batting .391 with 5 HRs and 10 doubles. That's .391 for a month. He also has a .685 slugging percentage in that time and a .721 slugging % in the last 14 days. Right now, he's got to be the far and away front-runner for MVP.

Word is the Rays won't move B.J. Upton......why not? He's batting .228, but despite that, has a lot of interest in him. He's a head case, and the Rays have a blue chip prospect, named Desmond Jennings—down in AAA waiting to get the chance to play. Jennings is batting .285 and has 26 steals. Even if the Rays just platooned Jennings for a little while, and used Ben Zobrist in the outfield from time to time, you have to cut ties with a continually slumping headcase, when you have the chance.


Speaking of what the heck. The Royals are in talks to trade Jose Guillen, Kyle Farnsworth and Gil Meche for Jeff Francoeur and Oliver Perez. What the hell are they thinking. Guillen is a good player, batting .273 with 16 HRs and has a 114 OPS+. Farnsworth is having the best year he's had in a while and has a 2.48 ERA. Francoeur has an 82 OPS+, is batting under .250 and has 8 HRs. Oliver Perez is a broken shell of a baseball player with tons of money owed him. True, Meche has been injured the past 2 years, but for good measure the Mets would throw in Luis Castillo; he of the .242 batting average. So why the heck are the Royals think they are getting in return for 2 pretty good players. 3 washouts?

A recent study shows the Oakland A's earning the worst TV ratings in baseball. No surprise there, but coming in second-worst is a big surprise—the Los Angeles Angels. Really? The Angels not only play in the 2nd biggest market in the country, but have been consistent winners for over a decade now, and continually attempt to keep the franchise winning. Why don't they get the fan support they deserve?

In the "Yeah, right!" news of the week, Stephon Marbury says he wants to play in Miami. Yeah, that sound you're hearing in your ear, Stephon, would be a phone hanging up on you.

Considering Elvis Dumervil just signed a record-busting 43 million dollar guaranteed contract, the fact that the Steelers are paying LaMarr Woodley (13.5 sacks last year) a cent over 550K, must make LaMarr Woodley very unhappy indeed.

And lastly, this is why you pay attention to where the ball is at all times.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Five

1. Where does Roy Oswalt end up? Does he help that team make the playoffs?

2. Where does Cliff Lee go next year?

3. In light of the massive amount of recruiting violations going on, is there a way to make college football more ethical?

4. How do you feel about LeBron James leaving Cleveland and going to Miami?

5. Have you and your friends ever made up a sports word?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Conflicting Stories On The Revis Contract Mess

Interesting and actually informative post on ESPN this week, re: Revis's contract, with Rich Cimini getting into the nuts and blots of the contract issues. Here's what Cimini writes:
"There is a little-known rule in the NFL's collective bargaining agreement that is having a big-time impact on the New York Jets' stalled negotiations with star cornerback Darrelle Revis -- and it likely will sabotage any chance of signing Revis to a contract extension before the start of the season.

It's called the "reallocation rule,” and it explains, in part, why the Jets’ offer to Revis includes virtually no fully guaranteed money. By “fully” guaranteed, we mean it’s guaranteed against skill and injury, ensuring the player gets paid no matter what.

The rule states that, when doing a contract extension in an uncapped year, future guarantees against skill and injury must fit under the team’s 2009 salary cap. In the Jets’ case, that doesn’t leave much at all, as they had only about $300,000 in leftover cap space -- a relative drop in the bucket. They can offer more than that for skill or injury, but not both."
So, in essence the Jets can't offer Revis, as well as Nick Mangold and David Harris a big fat contract because or arcane and very bizarre rules. So what does Woody Johnson, Jets owner say about this scary dilemma?
"We're trying to put the best team on the field within the rules to win the Super Bowl. I guess the fans are going to have to have a little confidence in our ability to make that happen....The fans know that we are trying to win. We are using our best judgment—Mike Tannenbaum, all of the coaches and me as well."
OK, there's a lot of ways to read that: they have a plan to get Revis, Mangold and Harris under contract, or, and the interpretation I believe; they have no plan (trying to put the best team on the field within the rules) and he's cushioning the blow to let the fans know that they will/can replace them. Which would suck.

Harris, Mangold and Revis are not only the best or near the top of their respective positions, they are young. They have many good years ahead of them. Unlike LaDainien Tomlinson, they are on the way up, not down.

A couple of thoughts: One way around this is to pay Revis's entire salary as a bonus. As Insidethecap.blogspot.com writes:

The Niners contract extension with linebacker Patrick Willis illustrated a structure that could be used to reward a young player while remaining 30% rule compliant. In short...the Willis deal was largely achieved via a $15.5 million signing bonus and $4.8 million supercede signing bonus.

Which, in a way, is what the Jets did with D'Brickashaw Ferguson when they resigned him last week. So, why not, if Revis demands, say, a 15 million dollar per year contract, pay him $50,000 in salary and the rest in various bonuses, thus avoiding the whole Salary Cap Rule mess? Would the Jets do that? Woody Johnson does not hurt for money; however, he may not want to set a precedent for future contract negotiations. And that seems to be the case—as the Daily News's Manish Mehta wrote recently, "At this point, it appears they’re unwilling to do that."

Next question: Can't the Jets rework a bonus of their current contracts to try and create space. The Titans just accomplished that with Chris Johnson. Granted the Jets have about a dime of current cap space, but it wouldn't hurt to try to renegotiate say, Sanchez's whopper of a contract to make it more cap friendly. No?

Admittedly, not being an expert in the byzantine NFL salary cap rules, I couldn't say what the Jets do for certain. But reading between the PoliticSpeak of Woody Johnson and of "getting the best team on the field within the rules" to me sounds like Jets fans everywhere sound start to accept the fact that the great draft class we had just a few years ago might not be able to be kept past this year.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ben Sheets To The Yankees? Why Not?

With all the rumors flying around the Yankees getting a starter to fill in for Andy Pettitte—Ted Lilly, Roy Oswalt, Fausto Carmona, Joakim Soria, Jake Westbrook, I’ll add one named. Ben Sheets.

OK, insert injury joke here—true, Sheets is a shoulder injury waiting to happen, but Sheets offers something a few things the other guys don’t.

Let’s look at some of the other possibilities. First off, Lilly is likely to get pounded in the American league—his fastball sits at 86 mph and is plummeting. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a quality pitcher who can spot his pitches, and would still command a high price tag. But in the hitting heavy AL East, a fastball at 86, which he trusts less and less—using it 31% of the time instead of 46% last year—won’t cut it in October. Just ask slow-baller Jamie Moyer, who has an ERA a hair under 5.oo the past 3 years in interleague games.

Next, Joakim Soria. The Royals aren’t trading Joakim Soria. Forget it.

Fausto Carmona and Jake Westbrook are quality targets, but would command prohibitive prospects in return, something the Yankees already said they are reluctant to do. Carmona is a former ace, is still young and has pitched very well this season. Westbrook is a solid veteran, a groundball machine, which teams love in the postseason, but who wants to remain in Cleveland. Cleveland has already said they don’t want to trade Westbrook, which is GM-speak for “It’s going to be expensive to get him.”

Next up is Roy Oswalt. Oswalt has a gargantuan contract and is signed through 2011. Also, Oswalt doesn’t have any experience pitching in the AL East in high-pressure October playoff games. Too many big-name NL pitchers folded under those conditions (Randy Johnson, Kevin Brown, I’m looking at you.)

However, the main point is that Ben Sheets brings something the others don’t— a relatively reasonable price tag. Oakland, out of the AL race, signed Sheets to a one-year 10 million dollar contract so he could be trade bait come July. Sheets, after a terrible start has been pitching better of late, with a .220 BAA and a 1.42 ERA. Of his 11 last starts, 9 have been quality, pitching a 3.73 ERA in those 11 starts. That said, Sheets hasn’t been lights out, not like Oswalt or Carmona and is a sneeze away from the DL.

But what’s in it for the Yankees is that Sheets provides nice coverage. Besides just filling in for Pettitte, should Burnett flame out or should Vasquez or Hughes regress, Sheets could step in. And would be a step up from Chad Gaudin, or Sergio “Who Knows What You May Get” Mitre (3 runs in 4 2/3 IP in AAA yesterday). And, come playoff time, when rotations get shorter, he could fill in the shaky Yankee bullpen (and by that I mean Joba Chamberlain).

Now if the A’s ask for the world—say Jesus Montero and Manny Banuelos, then forget it. But Sheets, while pitching better isn’t Roy Oswalt, Joakim Soria or Cliff Lee and the A’s know it. What he is is a relatively low-price, low-risk trade target.

Again, the benefits of Sheets are the expiring contract and the relatively smaller asking price (Juan Miranda, Kevin Russo, Mark Melancon, Marcos Vechionacci?). The Yankees are saying publically they want to full the hole from within, but what do you expect them to say? If the A’s ask the world, forget it. But it’s worth exploring.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Joba and the Yankee Pen Mess

Earlier this year, I defended Joba Chamberlain, saying his poor pitching was just a slump. Something he could work through and that he was due to come out of it soon. I was wrong.

The entirety of the Yankee Universe—including this site— the past few days have been buzzing calling Joba broke, a mess, lost, and that he should be removed from the 8th inning role. They are right.

The Yankees this offseason completely rebuilt their bullpen to the detriment of their team. Gone are Phil Coke, Phil Hughes and Brian Bruney. Throw in the injured Alfredo Aceves and Sergio Mitre and you have a completely new pen. One that, outside of Rivera and occasionally Marte, cannot be relied upon for much.

I mean, replacing Phil Hughes with Chan Ho Park? What was Cashman thinking?

But the main problem, still, is Joba. So what’s wrong? Well according to Fangraphs.com, his fastball velocity has dropped from 2007 when it was at 97.4. Now it sits at 94.3. Also, his slider, which is at the same speed it was in 2007, doesn’t slide nearly as much as it did back then. Neither does his change-up. In essence, Chamberlain doesn’t have the speed he once did, or the movement on his pitches.

Is this permanent? Who knows? But unfortunately, if history is any sort of teacher, Chamberlain, trying to fix his problems in the bright hot lights of Yankee Stadium will need a lot of luck.

So who takes the 8th inning? Well, one candidate is David Robertson. Yes, his era is still high. But after an awful start where it ballooned up to 14.21, his ERA has dropped down to 5.01. In his last 16.1 IP, he has given up 4 runs—all in one terrible game against Toronto—and he hasn’t given up a home run since May 5th, a span of 23.2 IP.

Robertson was lights out last fall for the Yankees, tossing 5.1 innings of shutout ball in the postseason, including coming in the 11th inning against the Twins after Damoso Marte had let the first 2 guys single. He is somebody, if given the chance might be able to grow into the role. He’s not a guarantee, but name a 8th inning man who is. And if last fall is any indication, he can handle the pressure.

Another person could be Jonathan Albaladejo. Scoff if you must, but the guy is dominating at AAA. His ERA is 0.96 ERA—not too shabby. There’s more. From 2009 till today, his WHIP in AAA is about a 0.78. In 82.2 innings, he’s given up 13 earned runs. Again, he’s not a guarantee to do the same up in the Bronx, but he deserves a shot with those numbers.

Some blogs around the net would have the Yankees go out and trade for a reliever, like Kevin Gregg or Kerry Wood (Really?) I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with a move like that, but I would caution those who would think that  whoever comes in will be a savior. Pitchers pitching well who come into Yankee Stadium often crumble under the pressure. Ask Randy Johnson.

Still, the real pickle is Chamberlain. The once-heir-apparent to Mariano Rivera now can’t seem to head out to the mound with a black cloud of potential disaster over his head. According to Baseball Reference, Chamberlain is not only one of the worst relievers in the game this year, he is behind guys like Chad Qualls and Juan Gutierrez, and barely ahead of Mister Baseball himself, Randy Choate.

Recent whispers have Chamberlain keeping his 8th inning role in the second half. I may be wrong, but I think this is a mistake. Chamberlain has issues, both mechanical and mental. Figuring both of those out will be nigh impossible up in the Bronx. Sending him to Scranton and having daily up close tutoring might smooth out his mechanics and build his confidence back—which in turn might be what he needs to be successful in the Bronx. Mike Silva of NYBD wrote about this recently and it absolutely the right call—except capping it at 2 weeks might not be enough. I would send Joba down to Scranton until he seems to be somewhat closer to his old self. Seeing Joba come back later this year and pitch well would be a great sight. A nice story to feel good about.

But, for all practical purposes, no matter how well he may pitch, Yankee fans need to realize, the Joba of 2007 is gone. And most likely forever.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Vacation

Hey guys. AAPTBNL is on vacation for about a week or so. And by vacation, I meaning working late, closing on buying a new coop, selling my old coopa nd taking care of a very pregnant wife.

See you in a week.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Friday Five

Sorry about the lack of updates. Been very busy...anyway, here we go.

1. Who pitched a no-hitter on July 4th, 1983?

2. Who's number was retired on July 4th, 1939?

3. Who was killed last year on July 4th.

4. Charles Barkley is in talks to be the GM of the Phoenix Suns. Good idea?

5. Does it bother you when teams use a state name or region (Golden State Warriors, New England Patriots) instead of the city name?