Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Retirement

Hey guys,

I am sad to say I have to announce my retirement. I just can't keep up with the blog as much as I would like. I I liked doing this blog and was proud of what I thought was, decent analysis and writing. I am unable to continue to do it however.

I'd like to this of this as a leave of absence—I may have more retirements than Lord Favre and Sugar Ray Leonard put together. So keep tabs on AndAPlayerToBeNamedLater.com. If I can, I'd love to come back. And, as always, thanks so much for reading. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Paul L. Catalano

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Vacation

Taking a little vacation....as always, thanks so much to the people who read and comment. Couldn't do it without you.

Be back soon.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Transactions....

Great to see that the second I start writing about how Mark Teixiera can't hit righties, he starts clubbing them. Tex has got his average up to .248 batting as a lefty against righties—still pretty bad, but a damn sight better than .222 which is where it was 2 weeks ago.

For my money, I really don't think there is much in the way of sports out there that I enjoy watching as much as a Nadal-Federer match. The competitiveness, the amazing athleticism and awesomely sick tennis...it's one of the true joys in sports right now.

That said, watching Federer blow a 5-2 1st set lead was painful. From the second Nadal caught him in that 1st set, Federer was never the same. He opened the game agressive and confident. Afterwards, he appeared more tentative and made silly, unRoger-like mistakes. It was a shame for that to happen to such a true great and class act.

It really is amazing to see LeBron come up so small in the final quarter of the first 3 games of the championships. Not that he can't drop 22 in the next 4th quarter...its just that he hasn't so far—just 9 points in three 4th quarters. And deferring to teammates isn't when LeBron is at his best. Miami might go ahead and win the whole thing, but going forward, it would behoove LeBron to learn how to keep his teammates involved, but still be aggressive.

Nice to see Jeter making a little bit of better contact lately. He got his average up to .260....that said..he still is at a 79 OPS+. And a 327 OBP is probably not what the Steinbrenner family had in mind when they signing him to a 3-year 51 million dollar contract.

10 bucks says that Matt Roth ends up a Jet. They just need a guy like him too much to not get him.

Paul Konerko's impressive season wont save Ozzie's job—especially now with Peavy going down again with a groin injury. My guess, Ozzie gets fired sooner rather than later.

Kinda of a ridiculous interview by Bobby Bowden the other day. Essentially, while commenting on Jim Tressel, Bobby said it was impossible to run a clean program because there are too many rules....Scuze me? Too many rules? The NCAA has too many rules? Please. Bowden has had more than his fair share of problems running his program at Florida State....blaming the NCAA or "one bad kid" for a program's problems seems dishonest to me and as if Bowden is shirking his responsibility for his program. Bowden, we're not saying that running a spotless program is the only possibility—things do happen. But hey, you get a lot of money. The responsibility of the program is yours. Talk to Bobby Knight. It's not impossible to run a clean program.

I don't really get the Bill Madden idea of "owing it" to trade a player who clearly doesn't want to be traded. If David Wright loves it here, why would trading him to Cincinnati or Seattle be "for his own good." Not following that Bill.

Love this article by Jayson Stark, about one GM's ideas about shorting the season. My favorite. the twice a year National Doubleheader Day. Heart that idea. Another interesting one: Our GM also would add breathing room to the schedule by starting the season earlier -- with a week in March he'd call International Week. Take six or eight teams and send them off in late March to Japan, Taiwan, Mexico, Venezuela or some other foreign destination. That would leave plenty of flexibility to have all the other teams play their opening-week March games in warm-weather sites or domes. Interesting ideas.....too bad they will never happen.

I think the Nationals like to spend their money as if they were an alcoholic on a bender.

And finally, the oddest sports story in a while. I mean, what the hell was Bono doing walking? And really, the guy is richer than Croesus, and he can't afford an umbrella?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Kincks Nix Their Own Team

This is the stupidity that has plague the Knicks for the past decade or so.

Donnie Walsh, who gutted the compost Heap that Isiah Thomas had turned the Knick Franchise into, and got eh team into the playoffs for the first time in 7 years, has been sacked becuse owner Jim Dolan wouldn't give him full authority.

Walsh, the guy who led the Pacers to 16 playoffs in 17 years, who built the team, then rebuilt the team—but never entered a full rebuilding mode—always kept the pacers rebuilding; this is the guy—a life basketball guy, that Dolan thinks should be jettisoned.

From the 2001-02 season till last season, the Knicks never got above 39 wins—and that one season was the year they fired Lenny Wilkens got fired—the guy most responsible for getting them that far. Last season, they had 42 wins and for the first time in a decade, they averaged more points than they gave up.

Here they have a reputable basketball guy—a proved winner—and they are setting the table for the return of one of the most justly vilified guys in the history of the game—at least GM-wise.

If Isiah Thomas comes back, the Knicks as a franchise are done. They are a joke. A ridiculous specimen of nepotism and the willful uncaring of the product a franchise puts on the floor. No one should attend a game.

Of course, people will attend. It's New York and people always will go.

But they shouldn't. A product ( the Knicks) that show a willful disdain for their consumer (fans), who accept that their product Isiah will make money whether they win or lose, and actively ignore the impetus to win, should be ignored. It is a crap franchise, on that doesn't care, and should be ignored.

This move typifies anything everything the Kicks have been for a decade—managed without any semblance of knowledgeable guidance. To let go a guy who...and let me be clear; I'm not saying that Walsh is the be-all end-all guy of basketball GM-ing; he is very good (didn't like the Carmelo move)but if Dolan had someone better, then fine...but this is a guy who had a proven track record of success—who got the Knicks this far, and headed in the right direction—to have no one better waiting.... Who are they going to replace him with. Someone unproved?? Isiah? To go into this, ready to let him go, and hav no one prepared, except, of course, Thomas, is a sure sign of stupidity. There is no other word.

The one hope is that the Knicks have a plan; that Thomas isn't the next GM (even if they hire a patsy and have Thomas running things from behind the scenes). That they actually are serious about moving the franchise forward., All there is is hope. lThe Knicks haven't earned any hop in a long time. let's just hope...that they are headed in a smart direction now.

Friday Five—The no rings edition

Which of these championship-lessathletes was the best?

1. Charles Barkley (.540 fg %,12546 rebounds)

2. Dan Marino (Lifetime 253.6 ypg, 420 TD passes)

3. Ted Williams (.344 lifetime BA, 2-time MVP)

4. Patrick Ewing (2894 blocks, 21ppg)

5. Dick Butkus (5-time All-Pro,22 INTs, 27 FRs)

6. Tony Gwynn (.338 lifetime BA. 15-time All-Star)

7. Someone else

Vote and tell us why.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Did the Yankees Dodge a Bullet By Not Signing Cliff Lee?

Check this out: Cliff Lee's ERA is 3.94, higher than Freddy Garcia's and Bartolo Colon's..

This season—in the year of the steroid-free batter pitcher, that 3.94 actually makes Cliff Lee a below average pitcher. (Albeit not by much, but still....)

And this is in the NL East, which, yes is a competitive division, is in no way, the AL East; the Jose Baustista, Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Joyce, David Ortiz division.

Still, pitching in the National League, Lee's WHIP is way up and his BB rate has doubled to 2.14/per 9IP from 0.76/IP. But possibly the most telling stat is Lee's BABIP—specifically against righties. Last year, righties' BABIP was .276. That number is now .356. Righties overall are batting .270 against Lee this season, up from .224 last season. And amazingly, all batters are batting a grotesquely huge .337 against Lee with runners in scoring position, up from .259 last season.

What the heck happened? Well, one theory, courtesy of fangraphs.com is Lee's cutter. All of Lee's pitches are down value-wise this year, but his cutter has become downright bad. Last year, it was a 2.7 value pitch, this year it's a -3.7 pitch. And if you compare the 2 charts (the top is Lee's 2011 cutter heat map, the bottom is the 2010 version), it shows that Lee's cutter isn't as consistently avoiding the meat of the plate. Last year's cutter—as the hot spots show—was either way up in the strike zone, just along the upper part of the box, or lower down in the zone—avoiding the wheelhouse part of the plate. Lee's 2011 hot spot is just a touch higher in the zone, or exactly where the batter would like it. It's not a huge difference, but it's enough to make the batter happy.

The same is even more true for Lee's fastball—a huge value pitch last year at 26.4; this year's it's down to a 7.6 value. And again, comparing the heat charts against righties, you can see that the bright spot last season is down in the zone; this year, most of the bright spots for Lee's fastball are up in the higher half of the zone.

Lee hasn't lost any velocity. His pitches are almost exactly the mph they were last year. it's just that he's not placing them as well as he used to. Strangely, Lee's Ks are way up, but as stated before, so are his BB/9 and BABIP and his FB/HR rate. All of this points to location. Lee still has the stuff—see his velocity, movement and his K/9 rate. However, this year's his location is off. This very well could be a temporary thing—a correctable thing—and something that Lee probably will correct. Lee really only has had 3 truly bad games this season—there's not a lot of hard evidence that this isn't a blip on the 2011 season's radar.

The Yankees have had some incredibly good fortune with their pitching this season—and as Mike Silva wrote this morning—Brian Cashman deserves much of the credit for finding Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon, who have answered the bell mightily. And let's not forget Lance Pendleton and Luis Alaya who so far have pitched 25.1 innings of relief and have given up a total of 3 runs. On the whole, it's been a remarkable 2 months of pitching for the Yankees. But can we honestly say we wouldn't want Cliff Lee on our roster right now, even with him pitching sub-par (for him)? No we can't. Right here, right now, the Yankees would love to have him on their team, no doubt. As would any other ball club.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Transactions....

Up next at Ohio State...I don't know. But I don't think it will be Urban Meyer. And I really don't think it will be Gruden. Why would he want to go to college, when he's in a position to grab almost any open NFL spot?

Now, Mark Dantonio at Ohio State makes sense. I can totally see a sweater vest on this guy.

And just a minute. Let me get this right.....college football players traded memorabilia for.....tattoos. Tattoos? Really?

Wow, Bartolo. I know the A's can't hit a volleyball, much less a baseball, but a complete game shutout is still pretty awesome.

Actually kind of impressive that Maria Sharapova won yesterday considering how many mistakes she made. She could look brilliant and like an amatuer, often in the same set. but hey, she's in the quaters.

Nice to see Mark Teixeira up his batting average from the left side 20 points in the past week. Still only at .248, but he looks a little cleaner batting as a lefty than he has for a while.

Who does these rankings? This kind of stuff is ESPN The Mag kind of stupid.

Eric Weddle would fit in perfectly in Jacksonville. He would be a real nice quiet pick-up.

I think Prince Fielder is a really good player. A really good one. but he won't be worth the sick money someone is going to pay for him this offseason. He is only 27, yes, and 35 HRs and a .535 slugging percentage is nothing to sneeze at. But at the kind of money you're going to have to pay to get him. Not sure i would do that.

Everybody who had Lance Berkman as leading the NL in slugging and OBP raise your hand. Anyone? Anyone?

And Matt Joyce leading the AL with a .368 average....anyone?

Good point by Peter King: I think when Plaxico Burress gets out of jail a week from today, and when the NFL resumes, he'll have two or three teams very interested. My guess is the Jets, Eagles and Raiders will be involved (the Jets if they don't sign Randy Moss), and I'll tell you a team that should be interested: Cleveland. A reborn Burress would do a good job giving Colt McCoy a threat he doesn't have right now-if Burress is in shape and as interested in resuming his career as I've heard.  

If its true, Buress could help out McCoy immensely.

If Zach Grienke can get right...the Brewers win the NL Central.

Never. Ever. Thought I would agree with Stephen A. Smith. But wow, he's kinda right.....(I didn't just say that, did I?)

This is just brilliant. Really, really brilliant.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Five

These are really hard...a couple of them I had to look up. Anyway, they are about superstitions.

1. This Angels outfielder puts his glove in the microwave to punish it whenever "it" makes an error. "It's got to learn to catch the ball."

2. This defensive tackle from the U. of Tennessee has an assistant coach slap him across the face as hard as he could before games.

3. This Tigers pitcher used to talk to the baseball, actually telling it where he wanted it to go.

4. Easy one. This shooting guard always wore his University of North Carolina shorts under his Bulls shorts.

5. And last—hat tip to Dan—on the night before a game, this Maverick wears a pair of his future opponent’s shorts to bed.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Good For Dirk! And Jason!

This is Dirk's chance to win it all—and he's playing like it.
I have a soft spot for future Hall of Fame players who never one the big one, the championship, like Charles Barkley. I have a bruised plum soft spot for players who could never even get to the Championship, like George Gervin (poor George—14 time All-Star, career average of 25.1 ppg, never sniffed a championship). That's why I'm really happy to see Dirk Nowitzki make it to his first Championship.

Dirk is a Hall-of Fame player doing everything right in his career. Good guy, good teammate, the 2006-07 MVP is averaging 8.5 boards, and 23 ppg on 48% shooting for his career. And like a true great, The Dirk gets better when it matters most—averaging 26 ppg and 10 boards in the playoffs, including 29 ppg this playoff season. Not only that, he is shooting a 52%—including a mental 52% from 3 point land. And no plan jump shooter, Dirk got to the line almost 10 times per game, making 92% of his free shots—including a sick 59 for 61 in the Thunder series (hat tip Pete S.).

And let's not forget Jason Kidd, who has to be, what? 57 years old by now, but has never won the big one. Kidd, at least played in 2 championships with the Nets. His play was mixed those 2 years, but with a future HOF in Notwitzki by his side (and not, say, Kenyon Martin), his job should be noticably easier.

So, does Dirk get his ring? Tough to say. The Heat play much better team defense team than the Thunder do. (Heat, Thunder, what's with the meteorological names?) It should be an heckuva interesting series—pure offense vs. tough defense. All we at AAPTBNL can say is that Dirk seems right now, to be a man on a mission from Yahweh. He knows that, at 32 years of age, this is his last, best chance. And he's playing like it.He needs to do it now. I hope he does.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Is It Time To Get Concerned About Mark Teixeira?

Panicked? No. Concerned? Maybe.....

As of this writing, the well-paid, Yankee 1st baseman is batting .248—well below his .284 lifetime average, and a far cry from the .207 he hit in 2007.

After batting .220 last year in September and October, Teixiera started —for him—fairly decently. Tex batted .256 and 6 HRs in April, not bad for a notoriously slow starter. Since then however, instead of warming up as the weather warms—again, normal for him—Tex has gone the other way. Batting .241 in May, including .226 for the past 14 days, Tex hasn't gotten much good wood on the bat lately.

For instance, in the past 14 days, Tex's BABip is a pathetic .214. After hovering at about 20% for much of his career, Tex's LD rate has steadily dipped since 2008 to where it is now, at a lowly 15.0%. Conversely, his flyball rate has steadily risen from 36.5% in 2008 to a whopping 48.1% this season.

Now here's where it gets interesting: Tex's lifetime rate as a LHB against a RHP is .275. Last year it was .244. This season it is down to .228. Couple that with the rise in flyballs and the question becomes: Is the Yankee Stadium's short right field seats getting to Teixiera? Is Tex trying to hit it over the short porch?

Take a look at this chart from Fangraphs.com. Particularly pay attention to the red line, or Teixiera's BA vs. righties.



Since the day Tex became a Yankee that line has plummeted. Now take a look at this chart: Tex's BABIP:






For a while in his career, Teixeira drove the ball and got hits. Now, Tex's career seems to be heading for the home run or bust, Dave Kingman territory (well maybe not that bad).

After doing some research, it seems that The Captains' Blog wrote something similar not too long ago. The hypothesis of their article was just what we wrote above: "Despite establishing himself as a well-rounded hitter before joining the Yankees, Teixeira has gradually turned into a more one-dimensional slugger, particularly when batting from the left side." One wonders why that would be—his HR or bust  numbers from the left side, and not the same from the right side? Could the short porch have something to do with it?
Tex's swing in Georgia Tech

Now, some theories have Texeira's declining numbers from the left side due to defenses shifting on him or pitchers learning how to pitch against Teixeira—but why wouldn't those numbers be reflected on the right side? Or that it could be wind shifts at the Stadium—but why wouldn't his lefty numbers level out on the road? No theories seem to make sense....

...except the swinging for the right field fences. Considering the other stats we know; Tex's plummeting line drive rate, his steadily increasing flyball rate, his dropping BABIP rate, as well as Teixeira's dropping fastball success rate and we can assume that Tex is swinging for the fences more. It's happened to other lefties who come into Yankee Stadium. They see the short right field seats and can't help themselves but  to swing for it.

And heck, Teixeira himself said it last year: "I have never played in a home before where the discrepancy was so great between center and right," Teixeira said. "So it is a constant battle every game [to not get pull crazy]. I do have 30, 40, 50 at-bats here a year where I go back to the dugout and think, 'I am trying to pull too much."

And it shows. He's putting almost everything he hits from the left side in the air to right field (as well as a ton of slow grounders to the right side as well). All but 2 of his homers are to right field, regardless of park.
Is the swing getting more uppercut and pull-oriented?

This isn't the first time Tex has had his lefty swing down in the .220's as a Yankee. During June and July of last season, Kevin Long worked with Texeira to try to fix his lefty swing—not his righty swing, just his lefty. It worked for a little while—it got Tex's LHB vs. RHP up to .244 by season's end. Not good, but a smidge better. But this season, he's back to not getting good wood on the ball as a lefty—the flaw in his swing is back.

However, whatever the mechanical flaw, there is still the underlying cause of why is Texeira failing against righties when he batted .311 against RHP in 2008, the season before he became a Yankee? Itsabouthtemoney.net wrote recently an article entitled "Don't be concerned about Teixeira." I respectfully disagree. As the stats they point out, when you look at them as trends, you have to draw the conclusion: Worry, not yet. Concern. I think so.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Transactions....

Hope Jimmer had nothing to do with the making of this t-shirt.
Matt Moore of CBSsports.com has Jimmer Fredette going to the Knicks at pick 17 of the draft. That seems like the kind of fit that D'Antoni would like. If he is still the coach.
 
Even though I don't watch hockey, I am still kinda glad that Atlanta is losing their franchise and that it is moving back to Winnipeg. Canada, the northern state. Hockey belongs there. No in "Hot-lanta."

Again with this crap. Enough. Either you have the proof he did it or not. Enough.

How did the Indians get this good this fast? Alex White? Asdrubol Cabrera, Mitch Tomlin, Josh Talbot. Who are these guys?

Brett Gardner is batting .357 in the last 28 days, which is awesome. but did you see that sliding catch he made in the 1st inning yesterday, getting Ivan Nova out of the inning 1-2-3? That's where he makes his money. Nice catch Brett. And nice pop-back-up!

As incredible as the Oakland' A's pitching is—and it is ridiculous—their batting is that bad. How bad? Brandon McCarthy has a 3.39 ERA, a 1.225 WHIP, leads the league with 1.414 walks per 9 IP, has 2 complete games, a shutout and  and has a .1414 HR/9IP and is still 1 and 4.

Mark Polishuk discusses what a "bad" season for Albert Pujols would mean for his off-season negotiations for a new mega-deal. Me? I don't think a down year has any effect on it at all. Teams will still pay through the nose and ears for Albert no matter what he does this season.

If Brandon Jennings is really on the trading block, I betcha there are a bunch of teams willing to trade for the 21-year-old talent. But how would Bucks fans react. There has been along, long drought up there in Wisconsin.

Shawn Marcum...the best trade made this off-season, except maybe for Adrian Gonzalez. 6 out of his 10 starts have gone for longer than 6 IP and with 0 or 1 runs. Awesome.

Has Danica won anything yet? Then I'm tired of seeing her all the frickin' time. She's on the Cover of SI twice! For what?
Not including the ESPN love she's gotten and the stupid GoDaddy commercials.

I voted that the Giants had one of the nicest drafts this past April. let me take that back. The fact that they didn't touch their offensive line until the 45th round disqualifies them. Their line is old and breaking down. They should have addressed this this year if not last year.

Same goes for the Bills. Mansfield Wrotto? Demetrioius Bell? You really didn't address the line? When Gabe Carimi made it past 22 in the first round, how do the Bills not trade up before the Bears to take him. it's ridiculous. Why do you guys hate Ryan Fitzpatrick so much?

Nice little 1-hour special by MLB Network about the 40 biggest trades in MLB history. one caveat. How did they not have the 1972 Steve Carlton trade from the Cardinals to the Phillies. All Carlton did was win 4 Cy Young awards and 241 wins for the Phillies. Not a big trade?

And lastly ...I've avoided this topic because A0 it's being covered everywhere, and B) what is there to say....but now, I'll say this. Come on guys. Let's cut the crap and get back to some football. There's enough money for everybody.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Five

1. After America, which country has the most baseball players in the MLB?

2. Next most popular country in the MLB?

3. How many Samoans are playing the NFL?

4. Name the first Japanese ballplayer in MLB.

5. There was one NBA player from Egypt. Name him. Hint, drafted by the Blazers from Duke.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Should The Mets Trade Jose Reyes?

You can't teach speed—and Reyes has oodles of speed
Until recently, the Mets were hard in "Win Now" mode. They spent beau coup bucks on Johan Santana, dropped 16 mil per on Jason Bay, signed oldsters Gary Sheffield and Gary Matthews to help compete in the NL East and signed K-Rod for serious coin.

That's all over now.

With Mets management having to cut costs due to the Ponzi scheme they got suckered in, and more importantly, their inability to keep up with the Phillies, the Metropolitans are in rebuild mode. With that the case, the question comes, do the Mets trade their most valuable trade chip, Jose Reyes, for prospects. Or do they try to sign him to a big, long-term deal?

The good news for the Mets is that their payroll for 2012 plummets from 2011's 135 million dollar payroll. As of now, the Mets payroll for 2012 is 64 million—even with a bump in Reyes pay to say, 17 million per, the Mets would still be well under 2011's payroll. And considering that the Mets would likely be playing with more prospects, the payroll shouldn't jump too much higher than that.

Reyes turns 28 in a few weeks—the prime of his career—and is fully healthy. He's batting .322, has 16 stolen bases already, and can still go pick it deep in the hole. He is the kind of guy most franchises would want to build around.

That said, both Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com and Rob Parker of ESPN.com feel the Mets should trade Reyes...this minute...and not wait for the deadline.

Rosenthal feels that the Mets have shortstop prospects in their system and that getting rid of a burdensome contract while rebuilding would benefit the Mets. "The idea of trading Reyes would be to acquire additional prospects with the goal of building a more well-rounded club."

Parker feels the Mets need to be blown up and rebuilt and Reyes (and Wright) "...represent(s) what went wrong, not right with the Mets. It's hard to look past the historic late-season collapses both autographed by the pair." Also, he posits, "Everyone knows this franchise needs an overhaul...There are no more quick fixes—no magical free-agent signings out there to turn the Mess back into the Mets."

Both are valid points. However, other writers, for instance, Thomas Saladino of NJ.com feels that selling Reyes would move the Mets backwards, not forwards. "My belief is that specific injuries should only affect a Franchise for weeks, for months, for a year… tops. Selling away your healthy assets during a time of injury-struggle, will perhaps let the effects of those injuries linger on for years...why is it that the Mets, at this point in the life of their franchise, HAVE to trade him? Why can’t he be a part of the plan moving forward?"

Ultimately it seems, the argument comes down to this: Do the Mets see themselves as competitive in the next few years, before presumably, Reyes skills begin to decline at 33 or 34. (Reyes has had some injuries, which could contribute to his skills declining sooner rather than later.) Do they play again at a high level within that time? Does Wright become the leader he needs to be? Does Jason Bay ever show up? Does Santana come back healthy and dominate? Is Ike Davis for real? Can the Mets fill out their pitching rotation with some nice prospects? Will the team be a genuine contender, thus making Reyes invaluable as part of the puzzle?


If you feel the answers to these are yes, then sign Reyes to a 5-6 year deal at about 17 per. But if you think that the Mets are not projectable serious contenders in the near future and have too many holes to fill, then trade Reyes for the best prospects you can get from a team desperate for an All-Star SS with serious lead-off capabilities. The Giants are salivating over a chance to get Reyes. And the Reds in a dogfight with the Cards would love to get Reyes hitting at the top of the order.
The Mets are a ways off from competing...and have a lots of holes to fill

Truth is, the Mets have a lot of holes to fill. Their outfield is a muddle of over-priced, over-aged and never-will-bes. Their rotation is a mess of spare parts. Their second baseman is actually a terrible leftfielder and 1st baseman who's averaged declined 80 points in 2 years. Their catcher is batting .220 and leads the league in passed balls.

If it were my club, I'd trade Reyes for a ransom. He's a potential franchise player when healthy and in a better lineup, he could be deadly. The Mets need to plug some of the gaping holes in their roster and can punch in anybody at shortstop until uber-prospect Wilmer Flores is ready. San Francisco would trade the Golden Gate Bridge for Reyes....so Mets, trade him—and Beltran and K-Rod—and start over.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

New Blood: The Yanks Need To Call Up Some Kids

Jorge Vasqez leads the International League with 16 HRs.
This morning, Mike Silva of the New York Baseball Digest wrote that the Yankees need some fresh faces. Couldn’t agree more. In fact, I think they should go even further than Silva suggests.

The Yankees average age of 31.5 is the oldest in the American League. Their average pitching age of 31.2 is the oldest in the majors. In short, they are old.

And it shows. Despite the immense talent on the roster and the good start to the season, the bats have been a bit slow. Overall the Yankees look a bit creaky and are starting to slow down in all phases of the game.

The Yankees don’t trust their farm system—I’ve written that before. Due to the fact that the Yankees’ core tenet is to win and win now, they have no patience to let a kid go through the growing pains to become a the good player. If Ivan Nova had a few bad starts in a row, he’d be out of the Bronx faster than you could say “George Washington Bridge.” And could you honestly say that the Yankees would have had the patience to let Gio Gonzalez get shelled for a couple of seasons until he became the 2.31 ERA, 170 ERA+ pitcher he is now? Fuhgeddaboutit.

However, times have changed. And with the Yankees ship looking a bit shabby, now might be the perfect time for the Yankees to actually go down to their number 5 ranked farm system and bring up some new blood to try to invigorate the flagging big ballclub.

Obviously, Jesus Montero is the evident 1st option, and as I’ve written, why not bring him up? And as Silva wrote, another good choice to bring up would be Jorge Vazquez. I mean all he’s done is go 5 for 13 in the last 4 games with 4 HRs, 7 RBIs and 3 walks. Why keep him Scranton when Posada is batting .179 (even with the 2 hits last night), Swisher is batting .218 and Andruw Jones is .220?

Wilson Arias is 30 years old and has been in Trenton since 2008. He has a 1.74 ERA as a lefty reliever this year. Batters are hitting a total of .162 off him this season and lefties haven’t scored a run off him yet. What are the Yankees saving him for? And are you really saying you want to rely solely on Boone Logan as the only lefty out of the pen for the next couple of weeks? What exactly is the hurt in giving a 30-year old lefty with some evident success a shot?

Bartolo is a little too chunky to be counted on to pitch the entire season
After a nice start, Bartolo Colon has a 5.26 ERA in his last 3 starts. He’s 38 next week, hasn’t pitched 100 innings in a season since 2005, and to put it kindly...is a smidge overweight. Meanwhile, in AAA, D.J. Mitchell has a 1.14 WHIP, a 2.50 ERA and is holding opponents to a .192 BAA. When—not if—Colon craps out, would the Yankees actually try out a prospect like Mitchell—or Adam Warren or David Phelps—or go to the waiver wire and pick up another castoff? Armando Galarraga is available.

No one is promising that these kids will turn around the season and lead New York to a championship. But the Yankees have the talent in their farm system. And the big club is old and creaky and in need of a jump. The time seems ripe for the Yankees to tap their farm system—not for a trade this time—but for young talent and the spark it could provide.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Transactions....

The King does not like tough D.
Kinda slow news day....anyway....

Have to give Luol Deng some mad props for the defense he played yesterday against LeBron. James looked frustrated and battered. If this is the kind of D he'll be facing all series, he's in for a long one. And apparently he doesn't like all the tough defense. Boo hoo, King James. Boo hoo.

All right, let's get past the Posada kerfuffle. Lemme just say this. I hate what Posada did this weekend, and I would have pulled him from the lineup and not just dropped him to 9th. That said. Swisher .217. Alex Rodriguez .250. Mark Teixiera .259. Derek Jeter .260. Russell Martin .243. It ain't all Posada. The entire team can't seem to hit anymore.

And it ain't just Posada who needs to find the bench.

So in his first few years in the majors, Jose Bautista hits 15, 16 home runs a season, then last year, he smacks 54 and this years he's on a pace for 80. Hate to say it, but in these times, I have my suspicions about doing the HGH and/or steroids. I hope it's nothing but talent....but....

Peter King wrote this today: "I think I'm for a reunion of Pete Carroll and Matt Leinart in Seattle. For one reason: Why not?" Frankly, I love it. If Carroll can get Mike Williams back on track, why not Leinart?

I think the Braves are starting to make their move in the NL East, taking 2 out of 3 from the Phillies. And I think Jair Jurrjens is the most underrated pitcher in baseball.

That sound whizzing past you....it's Adrian Gonzalez on his way to the MVP.

Ba ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Interesting fact: Since the birth of his daughter, Ian Kennedy has a 1.47 ERA, striking out 37 batters in 36 2/3 innings , walking just eight. With the high K rate, opponents managed his 23 hits against him. Did he name her Cy?

Wes Welker, part 2, trying to break Carlos Roger's ankle.
What is it about Texas Tech and small, fast white guys? After Wes Welker came from nowhere to be the Patriots most reliable receiver, now Danny Amendola—according to Rams offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels—will figure to be a big part of the Ram's offense next season. Amindola had 85 receptions last year, and if anybody knows how to get the best out of Danny Welker-clone, it would be McDaniels.

For my money, the Mavs-Thunder series is the one to really watch—Derrick Rose notwithstanding. Dirk Vs. Kevin Durant just sounds like a heck of a lot of fun—sorta, whoever has the ball last wins the game.

And lastly, sure this guy is an idiot for running onto the filed, but gotta give him creativity points for his escape.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Is Phil Jackson the Best NBA Coach Ever?

More knowledgeable people than I could better answer this question. But honestly, my gut instinct is no.

When you have the best player in the history of the world on your team, it's easy to coach. Late in the game, down by one, all you have to say in the time out is "Give the ball to Michael."

When Michael wasn't there, did Jackson win any championships?

Then all he does is go to a team with Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. "Give the ball to Shaq." Or, "Kobe, take over." Not much coaching needs to be done there.

No, I'd like to see Jackson go to Milwaukee, or Memphis, or Jersey. Some place like that, where the best player or two in the game aren't in Phil's starting five.

Jackson was a very good coach, no doubt. But the best ever. i don't think so.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Friday Five–the Saturday Edition

1. What were the most home runs Reggie Jackson hit in one year?

2. What were the most TD passes Joe Montana threw in one season?

3. Did Dave Winfield ever win the MVP?

4. What was the highest batting average Babe Ruth hit for in a season?

5. Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain hold the top18 seasons in RPG? Who's got the 19th spot?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Further Look At Posada And Montero

Last week, I wrote that the Yankees should sit Jorge Posada and bring up uber-prospect Jesus Montero to take over the full-time DH role. And I got raked over the coals for it. One week later, I’d like to take a look at the proposal once again.

Some suggested that the Yankees were fine with Eric Chavez and Andruw Jones as the DH platoon. I implied that Chavez was an injury waiting to happen and that Jones was a shell of his former self. Since then, Chavez has...wait for it...gotten injured. And Jones has been 1 for 9. If fact, Jones has been 3 for his last 20 and hasn’t had a home run since April 5th. He’s batting .231 against lefties and isn’t producing anywhere near where the Yankees had hoped. Who knows when Chavez will get back?

When the article was written, Posada had had a nice couple of days in Detroit. But since then, Jorge has gone 1 for 15 with 5 strikeouts. He hasn’t had a hit vs. a lefty all season.

Another criticism I got is that I quoted Posada’s BA from last year, but not his OPS+. OK, let’s take a look at Posada’s stats—all of them. Posada has struck out 26 times in 27 games. He’s batting .111 with runners in scoring position. His WAR of -0.4 is 10th worst in baseball. His K% of 28.3 is 24th in all of baseball. His BABIP of .138 is by far the worst in baseball. The next worse: Johnny Gomes with .190—52 points higher.

One last geek stat: out of 580 players, www.baseballprospectus.com had Posada rated 554th in the Value Over Replacement Player. Andruw Jones was 429th.

Meanwhile, Jesus Montero has been in a bit of a slump—he is only 6 for 18 lately...which is below his .337 BA—7th in the International league. He has a .768 OPS, which rises to a whopping 1.133 against lefties. (As I said before, Posada hasn’t gotten a hit off of a lefty this season.)

OK, you don’t think the Yankees should bring up Montero to be their full-time DH/part time catcher, then fine. So what do we do with Posada? The guy is cooked—he’s a 39-year old catcher whose body is shot. If Posada’s poor performance goes on much longer, the Yankees should be ashamed of themselves for letting one of the Core Four go out in such an embarrassing style.

So who do we play as a DH? One option is to rotate the DH, with Jeter and Rodriguez getting the bulk of the days and using Nunez more, but Jeter would hate that and it would embarrass the both of them in very damaging style. Another option is the Jones—Chavez split, but as we’ve said before, Chavez is once again injured and Jones is underwhelming at best.

Lastly, the Yankees could do what they always do; trade young talent for a veteran another team doesn’t want anymore. (Did you notice Mark Melancon has a 1.62 ERA?) That could work, but who could they get to fill the DH role in the middle of the Yankee lineup—I’ve heard Alfonso Soriano is for grabs? How about Carlos Lee? And whom do we surrender for the new DH?

The Yankees are decidedly middle of the pack with their .252 BA. Their superior slugging has gotten them this far, but come October, the Yankees are going to also need to know how to manufacture runs as well as club the ball.

To that end and for my part, bringing up Jesus Montero makes sense—the kid can just plain rake. And having him hit everyday and get accustomed to big league pitching, while easing him into the catching role slowly (playing him once a week there or so), again just makes sense. Trade Cervelli or Molina or both? Sure go ahead. Neither of them is Yogi Berra, so get what you can for them, and start grooming the kid.

Anyone have better options, let’s hear them.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Transactions....

You've probably seen it by now, but Andrew Bynam's foul while the Lakers were down 30 points in the 4th quarter in last night's game, then his subsequent shirt tossing—punkest move I've seen for a long time. Just a complete jerk move. First off, why do you take off your shirt—Bynam, you're not ripped—you just look like a punk. And second, why when you are down 30, do you have to throw an elbow into a defensive point guard's chest. Classless move. Hope the NBA suspends you for your blatant cheap shot for half of next season.

After a start where his fastballs were slogging down in the upper 80s, Joba Chamberlain's pitches are consistently hitting 95. Hope as the weather warms it goes even higher to the 98-99 range, back to where they were when he first came up.

One of the most underrated players in the NBA. Al Horford of the Hawks. Watch how he plays. Does a lot of the dirty work, setting screens, extending plays with tips. Dude shoots 56% for the regular season, then ups that to 78% in the playoffs. Also ups his rebounds to over 10 for the postseason and has almost 4 apg a game in the playoffs. Dude is an underrated man.
 
More and more baseball insiders see Albert Pujols staying in St. Louis after the season. The prevailing wisdom is that the big market teams, Philadelphia, the Yankees and Mets and Boston all have 1st basemen they like. I'd like to remind them that the Cubs have 80 million coming off the books this offseason and another 30 the season after. And sure Prince Fielder might be cheaper, but A) Fielder is just not the player Pujols is and B) screwing the Cardinals might be too much fun for the Cubs to pass up the chance. I think Pujols stays in St. Louis as well, but don't count out a massive offer from the Cubs.

Gotta admit, I did not see the Marlins top starting 3 of Josh Johnson, Anibal Sanchez and Ricky Nolasco combing for an 8-2 record and pushing the team to a 20-13 record. Johnson, sure, you expect it from him. But Sanchez and especially Nolasco, who knew? Those 3 guys could be a thorn in the side of the Phillies all summer and make the NL East a fun race down the stretch.

CFN.com has started its offseason team-by-team breakdown and preview with the Texas Longhorns and then going on to every BCS team from there—one a day. A good read even if you aren't a fan of the particular team that day. Good stuff. But still, I have to say, the best name I've heard in a while, Texas Longhorn running back Fozzy Whittaker. Waka, waka waka.

Nobody is happier that Jeter is doing well lately, but let's just wait until saying he's back until we get a little more evidence. yesterday's homers cam on fat pitches that weren't inside and not exactly hard heat. until he can consistently get the bat on the ball on fastballs, I'll reserve my judgement.

Everyone keeps waiting for the Indians to come back to earth...and they haven't. They are 8-2 in their last 10. And that includes a west coast trip. And big congrats to Travis Hafner for finally making back from all those injuries and returning to the player he once was. Way to endure, Pronk.

This is a nice read—the All-Under 22 team. Check out Bob Feller's 1940 season. 320 IP! 31 CG! And check out Jimmie Fox's 1929 season—batted .354, 33 HRs. But Foxx didn't even get one vote for the MVP award. What the hell?

And lastly....check out David Price's home run trot. Too bad we won't see it too much.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday Five

Hall of Fame Edition!!

1. Which team did Tom Seaver put on his Hall of Fame plaque?

2. Which team did Sparky Anderson put on his Hall of Fame plaque?

3. How about Reggie Jackson?

4. And Carlton Fisk?

5. And, last...the oft-traveled Gaylord Perry?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Sell-Out of ESPN

Watching those stupid new Kenny Mayne/Erin Andrews Diet Mountain Dew commercials rubbed me the wrong way. I didn't know why, but they bugged me. So when I tried to find it on YouTube this morning to watch it again, I found like, a jillion Kenny Mayne commercials. For not only Mountain Dew (which I haven't had since I was eight), but for Progressive insurance, Gillette Fusion ProGlide razor, and the kicker, D-2 TopFlight golf balls.

It's bad enough when supposed impartial journalists go on TV to show their preference for Applebee's or Southwest Airlines or Audi but when they actually start to hawk things that they would actually cover, then it goes to far.

ESPN covers golf, so why should on their employees promote one golf ball over another? It's bias. And when Erin Andrews hawks Reebok, doesn't that imply that SportsCenter's coverage involving Nike would be biased.

Which is exactly what happened. In a recent ombudsman report on ESPN, Kelly McBride and Regina McCombs write this:
ESPN's approach toward endorsements came under intense scrutiny earlier this year when Reebok rolled out its Andrews campaign two weeks after she reported on traction issues with Nike cleats during the Rose Bowl.
Jeez. Isn't that a coincidence? Andrews reports that Nike cleats weren't working well at a game, and 2 weeks later, she's appearing in ads for Reebok. Wow.

Kelly McBride and Regina McCombs then quote the irascible New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick to show why mixing sports reporters with product endorsement is a bad idea. As usual, he puts it in his understated way.
"Nike, as if they and ESPN didn't know, is the largest steamroller among the sneaker cartel that has infiltrated, penetrated, dominated and eviscerated U.S. high school and college sports," Mushnick wrote. "But it's not as if [Lee] Corso, Herbstreit and Fowler would have any reason to report on any of that, ya know? And it's not as if Nike would have any reason to pay them off, ya know?"
Which is exactly what happened with Andrews and her Reebok endorsement. And even if Andrews is innocent and it was all a coincidence, it doesn't matter. The appearance of impropriety taints any journalistic integrity ESPN has left. (Which, after their attempt at a Barry Bonds reality show, is at an all-time low.)

McBride and McCombs continue:
For example, why can't anyone at ESPN, even an analyst, take a contract from a college or professional team? Because ESPN likely covers that team. It's challenging enough to create a perception of fairness during a game broadcast (That's probably the chief complaint in the mailbag: "ESPN folks hate Team X or Team Y, my team.") But it would be even harder to maintain credibility in the face of a perceived conflict of interest when the stakes get higher.
What if a player dies because an unreasonable coach bullied him into running too far in the August heat? Or an athletic program covers up the criminal activity of its star athletes? ESPN puts such restrictions into the endorsement guidelines because it recognizes that it would strain trust among the audience if even one person were perceived to be "on a team's payroll."
And this is not the first issue facing ESPN about favoritism. ESPN corporate sent a "Do Not Report" memo regarding the Ben Roethlisberger rape case. Reasons abound for their decision not to report it—their excuse was ridiculous and not even worthy to reprint—but its been speculated that if they ran with the story, they would be penalized financially. And who might be in a position to do that? Somebody who might be heavily financially involved with ESPN. The NFL perhaps?

Or as Mike Francesa said:

“Bottom line is ESPN is extremely protective of athletes, especially the ones that do commercials with them. … ESPN, when they are in bed with athletes, they just protect them. We know that. That’s nothing new.”
Naturally, when brought the fact that sports reporters selling shoes or golf balls is inappropriate—or that ESPN reports its news with favoritism towards certain parties and shows favoritism, the reporters got indignant.

"My loyalties are always to ESPN and the job and to basketball," said Jay Bilas, a former Duke basketball player and coach and a longtime network analyst. "I do this because I love basketball. When someone asks me a question, my job is to provide a factual basis for my opinion."
Right. So how about this?  ESPN decides to quash a story that looked bad to the King of its ratings? Loyalties indeed.

Maybe this isn't big news. And maybe most fans don't care. But if ESPN wants people to take them seriously—Sports Reporters, Outside the Lines, etc—they need to have to project at least a muon of impartiality in its sports reporting. And their reporters shouldn't have a whiff of favoritism—to Reebok, Nike or whomever.

You're the worldwide leader in sports. And your sports news show is your flagship. Keep it clean.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Time For Posada To Sit

This is Jorge Posada’s last year in a Yankee uniform as a player—there's no doubt of that. Someday he might make a nice coach, tutoring young catchers and using his stubborn fiery personality to put rookies through their paces. But as an everyday starter, he’s done.

Here in the beginning of May, Posada is batting .150. He has a miniscule .244 OBP and a 74 OPS+. And despite words from Girardi to the contrary, Posada is not looking better at the plate. Yes he did hit 2 meatballs from Justin Verlander, but once Verlander left the game, Posada struck out twice—once with men on 2nd and 3rd, the other time with runners on 1st and 3rd.

Right now the Yankees are in first and can cover Posada because the team as a whole is playing good ball. The Yankees team batting average is down, but their slugging percentage leads the AL and they have 9 more HRs than any other team in the AL. Over the long haul, however—once the season enters the dog days and the Red Sox come back and the Yankees are in a real pennant race, can the Yankees afford to hide Posada in their lineup?

And this is not new news. Posada batted .248 last year. After last year the Yankees brain trust decided to move Posada to full-time DH in an attempt to get him more rest and save his body so he could be fresher at the plate. That hasn’t worked.

Frankly, there is no masking the fact that Posada is 39 and has taken years of battering as a catcher. And the fact that it's taken its toll is self-evident in his play.

And it’s not the fact that he has to “adjust” to being a DH...please. That’s a load of bunk. And its not that he starts slow, ala Mark Teixeira, he doesn’t—over his career, Posada has hit more HRs in April than in any other month, and has batted .271 in April over his career (including this year).

Could this be an extended slump? Sure, anything is possible. But look at the hard facts. You have a 39-year-old catcher who moved to DH, after batting .248 the year before. And in 90 plate appearances over 23 games, said player is bating .150 and has easily had the worst start of his career.

Lucky for Jorge, Derek Jeter is struggling as well—and the Yankee poster boy has taken the attention off his awful start.

Still, when you look at the body of evidence, there's one conclusion. It’s time to sit Jorge Posada. It’s time to bring up Jesus Montero.

After last night’s AAA game, where he went 3 for 5, Montero is batting .373. He’s proven all he needs to down in AAA, t least hitting-wise. And coming up and filling the DH position, the pressure to catch and control a pitching staff is off his shoulders. He can concentrate on adjusting to major league pitching. And Girardi can work him in behind the plate in spot games and in low pressure situations to get him acclimated. But as stated before, the boy can hit and its time to bring him up.

Jorge Posada has 5 rings and has etched his name along the great Yankee catchers of Berra, Dickey and Howard. He has a puncher’s chance at the Hall of Fame. It’s been a great career. But now is the end his time as an everyday player. It’s time to sit Jorge.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Transactions....

Chris Carter introducing himself to Boise State
Love the Greg McElroy pick by the Jets. He will eventually become a nice no. 2 behind Sanchez.

That said, I'm not sure how they passed on Chris Carter in the 5th round. Carter was a great force at Fresno State, ran a 4.58/40 yard dash, had 11 sacks—7th in the nation—and had 16.5 TFL. He was projected to go in the 3rd round and you had him there sitting in the 5th. And the Jets desperately need a OLB rush linebacker, which is where Carter projects to. Jeremey Kerley is a tiny wide receiver for a AB, Sanchez who's not exactly accurate. And here's Kerley's review in CFN.com

It’s one thing to put a nail in Wyoming’s coffin, but he’s not fast enough make anything big happen on a regular basis in the NFL. He’s quick and can be used as a return man, but he’ll be a disappointing receiver who’ll only be a No. 3.
Just great.

Good to see Brett Gardner working out of his early slump—batting .545 in the last 7 days with a 1.182 slugging percentage and a 1.888 OPS.

And hey, I was very much against the Granderson for Austin Jackson and Ian Kennedy trade, and I still feel it was a lot to give up—especially with Kennedy pitching at a 3.93 ERA this year—but credit where credit is due. Curtis is playing really well lately. A 160 OPS+, a .281 BA and 8 HRs. Keep it up Grandy. And great work by hitting coach, Kevin Long. Derek Jeter, are you paying attention—Long can actually help you with your swing. Do what he says.

That foul call on Paul Pierce was a terrible call. Just a terrible call.

My early selection for the team with the best draft selection: The Giants. They got Prince at 19, when most said he would go in the top 12. DT Marvin Austin is a first round talent—taken deep in the 2nd. WR Jerrel Jernigan and OT James Brewer were all expected to go higher and both fill needs. Overall a great draft.

With King Felix pitching a 3.21 ERA, Michael Pineda throwing a 2.01 and Doug Fister throwing a 2.70, how the heck are the Mariners 3 games under .500. Well, i guess it has something to do with them in second to last place in almost every batting statistic—Thanks you Twins! Seriously, with that kind of pitching, which you don't see often, you need to win.

So....Twins. Did you organize a meeting and decide that everyone on the team will have the worst yea of their career? Seriously: Delmon Young, .228 BA, Alexi Casilla, .190 BA, Justin Morneau 225 BA,  Michael Cuddyer .226 BA, Jim Thome .214 BA. Last year, the Tins had a team BA of .273, 3rd best in the AL. What the heck happened?

It's really time to leave the program you supposedly love, Jim.
Completely sucks that BC linebacker Mark Herzlich didn't get selected. I have a feeling he's going to regain some more of his athleticism and make teams pay for not taking him.

I feel terrible about the Phil Hughes situation. No 24 year old, with such a promising future should have the circulation problem he's having. Here's hoping he can make it all the way back. The Yankees sure need him.

Just out of curiosity's sake, take a look at the crazy article over at the Hardball Times. It's The Worst Day By Hall of Famers. Fun read.

Jimmy....it's time to step down.

And finally....no better story than this.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Some Draft Thoughts

Sorry it's been a while. Been crazy at work. Anyway...

It's pretty interesting that the Patriots took yet another cornerback at 33 with Akeem Ayers and Brooks Reed sitting there. Thee Patriots have drafted like 400 corners in the last few years, and still they haven't found 2 that they like. Odd.

I think Ryan Mallett is very lucky to go to the Patriots. That situation is going to be best thing for him.

Mason Foster is perfect for the Buccaneers.

In fact, the Bucs did really well for themselves so far.

So has Houston. Watt, Reed and Harris really, really improve that defense.

Christian Ponder is not a number 12 pick. He's not even a first-rounder.

Anthony Castonzo is perfect for the Colts.

Atlanta better be right about Julio Jones. They gave up the farm for him.

James Carpenter? In the first round? Really?

Muhammed Wilson to the Jets is a nice pick. Then Kenrick Ellis in the 3rd, and now the Jets have a young D-line. Now they just need someone to rush the passer.

On the other hands, the Eagles have had some strange picks. Can't say they were my favorite.

And finally, name of the draft so far. Ugo Chinasa.  Ugo! Chin ass!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Transactions....

Has anyone turned it around more than Alex Gordon of the Royals? And look! The Royals have a nucleus to build around.

I know its only 21 games, but boy....suddenly that Jason Werth contract looks really, really long.

So the buzz has the Falcons trying to move up to grab Julio Jones. That would be a really nice move for their offense, but they would have to sell the farm to do it.

Another rumor: The Redskins trading up to the number 2 pick to get Blaine Gabbert...the Redskins better be sure about Gabbert. They need help everywhere and sacrificing a ton of picks to get this kid is a risky, risky move.

Jair Jurrjens is back. Last night he got 13 outs with 43 pitches. And wow, that makes the Braves rotation a totally dominating one. How dominating? Brandon Beachy has the highest ERA of the starting 5. With a 3.68. He has a WHIP of 1.091.

I know Frank Thomas wont be elected to the Hall of Fame for a few years, but I hope his speech is going to be angry and that he rips into the steroid users of his generation. I really do.

The New York Knicks make many, many dumb moves. This was not one of them.

Heard a very, very sad fact. Paul Maholm tied Zach Duke for most career wins at PNC Park with 31. PNC opened in 2001. Wow.

Is Albert Haynesworth trying to make himself the most hated man in sports?

The more I think about it, the more I think that there are going to be a rash of teams trying to trade back into the first round to take some of the QBs. Colin Kirkpatrick or Christian Ponder could be taken by the Bengals, Niners, Titans or Cardinals late in the first round on a trade-up. And the Jets and Steelers could recoup picks.

I think we're going to be seeing more and more of Joe Mauer at DH. At only 28, he's beginning to break down a bit. He's the franchise. You can't risk him back there behind the plate.

Everybody who had the Cleveland Indians 2.5 games ahead in the AL Central, raise your hands. Stop lying.

Do people really care whether Jeter and A-Rod are best buddies? Whether they hang out and watch Die Hard 2 and have beers or whether they don't...it doesn't make one iota of difference.

Could somebody please tell B.J. Upton that all the "potential" he has is bogius, that 2007 was a long time ago and that he is just not a good baseball player.

And finally, this blog hates soccer. Hates it. A lot. But if this is real....this is ridiculous.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Mock Draft

Panthers shock everyone and take the Alabama DT
I love the draft. I really do. And this year is extra fun because there is no consensus number 1 pick. The year of the defensive lineman, here's my guess at how I think the draft could go.

1. Carolina — Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
Carolina shocks the world! I just don't think they are sold on Cam Newton being the franchsie. Though I could eat my words come Thursday. If they could trade down to say, 4 or 5, they might.

2. Denver — Von Miller, OLB, Texas
The Broncs are sad. The guy they wanted and thought were getting, gets plucked right in front of them. But since they need defense in any way possible they go for the best defensive guy on the board.

3. Buffalo — Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
Well, maybe Newton isn't a sure thing, but for a franchise that hasn't been relevant in over a decade, with one foot in Toronto and in need of a impact player, they can't pass up the guy who could revitalize the franchise and fan base.

4. Cincinnati — Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
The Bengals cannot, repeat, can freakin not, go into the season with Dan LeFevour and Jordan Palmer as the only QBs on the roster. And I don't think the Bengals would go after some of the available QBs (McNabb, Kolb). So I think they take the new face of the franchise and let him take his growing pains this season.

5. Arizona — A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
Ken Whisenhunt really wanted Von Miller. Sorry, Ken. And it's too early for OL help, so A.J. Green comes in to help Larry Fitzgerald and whatever QB they end up getting.

6. Cleveland — Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
Colt McCoy needs help. Seriously, the Browns haven't had a dynamic playmaker since Jim Brown. Mike Holmgren starts to get the offense he wants.

7. San Francisco — Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
The Niners could not be happier. Arguably the best player in the draft falls into their lap. And he fits a real need. Perfection.

8. Tennessee — Robert Quinn, DE. North Carolina
No, Quinn is not the most motivated player in the world, but there are goo-gobs of talent somewhere in there. And the Titans need someone to rush the QB.

9. Dallas — Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
The was a tough, tough pick. Tyron Smith makes a lot of sense. But the Cowboy pass defense was aw..aw...awful. The Boys could trade up to the end of round 1 and get Gabe Carimi, Nate Solder or Marcus Cannon. The Prince is too good to pass up.

Castonzo is the best, most ready LT in the draft
10. Indianapolis — TRADE (Washington trades the no. 10 pick to the Indianapolis Colts for their 1st round pick, their 2nd round pick and a conditional 2012 pick) 
Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
Washington can get their QB down further. This is way too high for the next QB to go. So they trade with the Colts who need a left tackle they can rely on. Bill Polian hardly ever makes trades, but the core group isn't getting younger—Manning is 35. Tyron Smith may be more gifted, but has never played the left side at all. Castonzo can come in right away and start on the blind side.

11. Houston — J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
Wade Phillips is installing the 3-4 in Houston and gets the perfect player to anchor the DE spot.

12. Minnesota — Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
Too early to take a QB and they could probably pick one up in the 2nd round. That's of course, assuming Donovan McNabb isn't in town. In any event, Nick Fairley—a one-time Top 2 pick—wins the Slippery Slider Award and gets plugged into the spot Pat Williams is leaving.

13 Detroit — DaQuan Bowers, DE, Clemson
It seems like the entire planet has the Lions taking an OT here. But I have a gut instinct that Jim Schwartz wants to build the defense more. DaQuan Bowers, the best rush end falls into their lap—it's just too good to pass up for old Jim. Pairing him with Suh. A dream.

14. St. Louis — Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois
The Rams gave up 4.5 yards per carry. Spags does not like. Also, Liuget is a quick penetrating tackle, perfect for Spags style of defense.

15. Miami — Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Everyone has the Dolphins going with Ingram. And they are right. Makes too much sense not to take him here. Strong, smart, sophisticated back with nice shifts and power to pass-block. Helps the Fins immediately.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars — Alden Smith, DE, Missouri
The Jags only had 26 sacks last season, 2nd worst in the league. They get the best pure pass rusher left on the board to drop onto their D-line.

17. New England — Tyron Smith, OT, USC
The frickin' rich get richer. Sitting still at 17, the Pats get the most athletic OT in the draft. Damn Belichek.

18. San Diego — Muhammed Wilkins DT/DE, Temple
Too early to take a WR—probably will try to sign Braylon Edwards or someone else to fill that need. Instead they take the perfect D-lineman for them. Wilkins can play anywhere along the line and is strong, strong, strong. A lot of mocks have them taking a rush LB. Not sure why, the Chargers had 47 sacks last season—2nd best in the league.

19. New York Giants—Mike Pouncey, OL, Florida
The G-Men should have taken an OL guy last year. Diehl, O'Hara and Seubert are dinged up and all on the wrong side of 30. Mike Pouncey, taking over the LG spot could give the line a jolt of youth and punch.

20. Tampa Bay—Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
Like their Florida brethren, the Jags, the Bucs are looking for pass rushing. Ryan Kerrigan's teammates called him Superman—he ran a 4.67 (.5 seconds off the best DE) and benched 31 reps (second best for DE after Watt). Kerrigan joins the Bucs young defensive tackles and can help the pass rush.

21. Kansas City — Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
Strong, tough and athletic. Would fit either on right side or possibly the left side for the Chiefs o-line. OC Bill Muir will appreciate Carimi immediatly.

22. Washington — Jake Locker, QB, Washington
Washington needs help everywhere. Really. The interior of their O-line is awful—the 3rd worst run game and 46 sacks. After Orakpo, the next best sacker on the team had 2.5 sacks—The Andre Carter Show has mercifully been cancelled. But Shanahan needs a QB to coach. Locker probably reminds him a bit of Jake Plummer. Locker is not an immediate starter, but Shanahan probably feels he's the guy to get Locker on the right track.

23. Atlanta — TRADE (Atlanta trades their 1st, 3rd, and 5th round picks to the Philadelphia Eagle for the 23rd pick.) 
Cameron Jordan — DE, California
Cameron Jordan has slipped a bit. But no more. Atlanta leapfrogs their rival Saints to grab the most complete DE left on the board.

24. New Orleans — Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
The Saints shrug towards the Falcons trade and grab the Iowa product who can do it all. A slightly disappointing senior year drops Clayborn down a bit, but the Falcons will love his motor.

25. Seattle — Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
Local boy Jake Locker might have been a nice story for the Hawks, but the truth is they need O-line help more. The Seahawks had a putrid 3.7 yards per carry last season and seemed to enjoy watching Matt Hassleback get pounded. Danny Watkins is a possibility, but Solder is too athletic and promising for the Hawks to pass up.

26. Baltimore — Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
The Ravens really need a WR and a CB. There is no WR worth this spot, but CB Jimmy Smith is a possibility. But the truth is the Baltimore pass rush is not what it used to be. After Terrell Suggs no linebacker had more than 2 sacks. Ayers is fluid and quick off the snap, and while not the fastest burner, he knows how to make plays behind the line. Ayers also has 6 INTs and had 7 forced fumbles.

27. Philadelphia — Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
The Eagles will look hard at Danny Watkins—the Eagles gave up 49 sacks last season—but truth is defenses are gonna sack Vick—just a fact. And Ellis Hobbs retired and Asante Samuel just turned 30. It's time for the Eagles to restock the corners—Smith is the consensus 3rd best corner and a nice pick for the Eagles. Texas's Aaron Williams is a possibilty as well.

28. Dallas — TRADE ( Dallas trades their 2nd round pick and the 2012 1st rounder for New England's 28th pick)
Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi
The Boys need to leapfrog the Bears who are sure to grab Sherrod with the next pick—they absolutely need to. Their O-line is aging and they need to protect the Romo-franchise. So they take a veteran LT who blocked in the SEC for 3 years. He can move the 320-lb Doug Free to his more natural RT spot and protect Romo for the next 10 years.

29. Chicago — Danny Watkins, OG/OT, Baylor
The Bears need a OT like my baby needs a clean diaper...which is to say, they really need an OT. They gave up 56 sacks last season and averaged 3.9 yards per carry. The overaged Danny Watkins is tough and played LT at Baylor. Only 6'3", Watkins isn't the ideal LT, but he won All-Big 12 honors and graded out high as a LT. And the Bears can't be picky right now.

30. Houston — TRADE (Houston trades it's 2nd round pick, it's 4th round pick and a conditional pick in the 2012 draft to the New York Jets for the 30th pick.)
Aaron Williams, CB, Texas
Houston needs a CB desperately. Kareem Jackson was a disappointment last year and the other corner is Glover Quin. Ooof. Aaron Williams is a tall, fast CB/S that can fill in multiple positions in the sad Houston secondary. The Texans jump the Steelers who needed a CB for themselves. The Jets reclaim a 2nd round pick and can get the defensive help they need later in the draft.

31. Pittsburgh — Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
The Steelers look at Brandon Harris and Ras-I Dowling, but remember they need to repair an aging front 3. Casey Hampton is 33 and has been taking a pounding in the middle of the pile for a long, long time. Taylor can come in, learn from the best and take over in a year or 2.

32. Green Bay — Brooks Reed, OLB, Arizona
2 blonde long-haired barbarian looking dudes trying to smash opposing QBs. It's too good to pass up. Reed, big, fast (1.54-second 10-yard split) takes the other side from Clay Matthews and gets the keys to the quarterback. Justin Houston and Cameron Heyward are potentials as well and Kyle Rudolph is a dark horse, but Reed, the complete package at OLB makes the most sense.

And that's the first round. And one last thing. The guy you see below is Mark Herzlich. A sure 1st-round pick 2 years ago, this kid got cancer...then kicked its ass. Herzlich worked out constantly as he was going through chemo—that word again was "chemo" and the other words were "worked out while going through"—and came back to start for the BC Eagles last year. Somebody has to take this kid. If he can sack cancer, he can sack opposing QBs.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday Five (Today, it's Seven)

OK, today I'm going to give you an athlete changed name, and you have to give the original name.

1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

2. Marvelous

3. World B. Free

4. Pele

5. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf

6. Tiger



And for good measure....Macho Man

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Is Cam Newton Really A Number 1 Pick?

Back in January after auburn won it all and people started thinking about the upcoming draft, most prognosticators and scouts had Cam Newton as a 1st round pick—not near the top, more like in the 20th pick range. In fact, on January 6th, Eric Edholm of Pro Football Weekly—when discussing the Panthers options after Andrew Luck opted to stay in school—dismissed Cam Newton in 2 sentences.
Cam Newton is a terrific athlete, but is he a sure thing as a QB?....That's why I think it's far more likely the Panthers will look at other positions.
Since then, Newton's stock has risen and risen and risen till now everyone has him as the top pick come next Thursday. Heck, all 4 guys at Sportsline.com picked Newton to go first.

If you watched Auburn at all this season, you can see why teams are high on him. And if you haven't, just check out some of the scouting reports—they are practically pornographic in their depiction of Newton's athletic attributes.
"Physical marvel."
"Can make all the throws with ease."
"Elite size and athletic ability."
"Outstanding natural athleticism and is very smooth."
Newton can scramble and run, throw a 50-yard spiral and can take/deliver a hit. He's the total package, physically.

It's the other part of the equation that raises the most questions—the mental and technical aspects, that bother people. 1st off, Auburn runs a 1-read and run system, which worked great down in the SEC, but in the pros...not so much with the success.

Also, instead of constantly being in a shotgun offense where he gets to see the defense right away, Newton will have to learn to take the snap and drop back and read the defense and his progressions—something that probably wont be easy against a Rex Ryan or Dick Lebeau defense.


And college quarterbacks who played in the spread option system, a shotgun system designed to take decision-making away from the QB, and base them on the offense design, haven't fared too well.

And its not just me saying it. Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun, a former NFL quarterbacks coach (hat tip to Smartfootball.com) is quoted as saying this about college spread QBs:

"And then they find it's tough to take that full drop behind center, a five- or seven-step drop, because at that level, in the NFL, the ball has to be released immediately without taking a gather or a hitch step. Guys just aren't able to get the ball out when it has to be released."

Gary Kubiak said this:
"Quarterbacks in this league don't play that deep (in the backfield) so it's an adjustment and one that can take some time. They have to see it more quickly and they have to do while having the footwork to get back from center, set up and throw."

Now wait a minute...what are the 2 knocks on Newton?

Seems content to short step throws and get rid of the football before the pressure is able to reach him, causing his accuracy and ball location at times to suffer...He also will get lethargic with his footwork at times...—National Football Post
• Raw footwork and operated primarily out of shotgun
• A tendency to get sloppy with mechanics at times
• Touch, timing and anticipation are all merely average—NFLDraftCountdown.com
...an option-type offense who rarely uses good footwork...his accuracy looks better than it would in a traditional offense because he is often throwing to receivers who are completely wide-open...Newton rarely had to go through his progressions in Auburn's offense. Most of the time he just caught the snap and made quick throws to wideouts behind or at the line of scrimmage—Sporting News
Played in a simplified, run-first, dive-option read offense with very basic high-low reads. Worked exclusively out of the gun and was very quick to run at the first flash of coverage. Limited field vision — does not process the passing game. Inconsistent throwing mechanics with a flick delivery — generates all of his power from his upper-body strength and too often arms the ball. Streaky passer with spotty accuracy. Makes his receivers work hard and throws into coverage.—Pro Football Weekly
So NFL coaches say the most necessary attributes a college spread quarterback needs to succeed in the NFL are 1. Good footwork and mechanics &  2. Quick field vision.

Eeep.

Now, this isn't to say that the Panthers shouldn't take him with the number 1 pick. If they feel that they can coach him up, or tailor an offense to work with his strengths, then more power to them.

And this is not to say that Newton won't be a great NFL player. He led the Tigers to the National Championship and he has all the physical tools to be a champ in the NFL—a howitzer arm and the ability to extend plays and/or run. That said, guys drafted primarily for their great arms and/or athleticism (Kyle Boller, JaMarcus Russell, Jeff George) haven't always fared too well.

This is just to say that when you are taking the number one pick in the draft, and are giving millions of dollars to a guy who will have your franchise put on his shoulders, you'd want that player to be as problem-free as possible.

Best of luck to you, Carolina.