Monday, January 31, 2011

Transactions....

Would like to start out by tipping my hat to retiring Rocco Baldelli. Hate to see an athlete forced to quit due to injury or sickness. Ole' Rocco had had as much natural talent as anybody. Could hit for power and average. Could run. Glad to see that the Rays are doing right by him at least. And only 29. A damn shame.

Don't get me wrong. I think it's super-mega-awesome that St. John's beat Duke at the Garden yesterday. But let's remember; right now, the Red Storm's record is 12-8. At this point, last year, at this point, their record was 12-8. And yes, they have beaten some quality teams this year, unlike last year. But 12 and 8...is 12 and 8.

Vince Young tells ESPN that he’s an “elite quarterback,” and believes he’s worth starter money. What team would trade for him knowing his 2011 base salary is $8.5 million? Well, Vince—for a guy's who's completion rating was 6 points lower than Jon Kitna in the same amount of games played, who's never won either "jack" and/or "squat" and who's abandoned his teammates more than once—should be a little more humble when looking for a starting job somewhere. Look, you are a talented and sometimes very good QB, but you've got to grow up and apply yourself. You've already been passed by younger QB's, Ryan, Flacco and Freeman (and probably Bradford), don't waste your career, dude.

Can't say why for sure, but I just get the "bust" feeling from Christan Ponder. Again, really can't explain to you why, I just get the feeling: Major Bust.

Bad move, Titans. bad move. No stability. No direction. All the better coaches already hired. No clear-cut starting quarterback. As former Knick Michael Ray Richardson famously said: "The ship be sinking."

Some people believe that even though the Eagles franchised Michael Vick and have publically stated they would like in trading Kevin Kolb, that they won't trade him. Reasoning; Vick gets hurt. A lot. Which is true—so saying loudly that they want to trade him shows Kolb that they really are trying to get him to another team, but secretly keeping him to protect themselves if/when Vick gets injured. The only caveat I had is that, for some reason, the Eagles really like Mike "The Roach" Kafka, a 4th round draft pick who's got zilch experience. If they feel comfortable with Kafka backing up the injury-prone Vick, then trade Kolb and get more picks. But you'd better be right about "The Roach."


Good article over at MLBTR. Considering the Houdini act the Blue Jays pulled in getting out from under Vernon Wells behemoth contract, the article covers the Blue Jays future financial obligations, and projects a run at Prince Fielder. Also, considering the Blue Jays have 8 of the first 70 picks in the draft, there is some nice rebuilding going on over in Toronto.

Texas A&M OLB Von Miller has the potential to be an animal in the NFL. If he gets good coaching and put into the right scheme, he will be a beast.

This is a nice move by YES. Coney is a pleasure to listen to: informative and funny. Good hire.

And lastly, check out some really cool pix from the year in sports that was 2010.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Could The Yankees Eat Barry Zito's Contract?

If it mean getting Matt Cain?

OK, back up. These are the slow days for baseball; no spring training; the free agent market mostly dried up. So why not speculate wildly?

OK, Barry Zito’s contract is an anchor of an albatross of a lead piano on the San Francisco Giants organization. Zito’s contract is costing the Giants between 18.5 and 20 million for the next 3 seasons and then another 7 million dollar payout to make him go away in 2014. Zito’s contract eats 1/6th of the Giants payroll next year. Think they would like to get rid of it?

Well, the Yankees are one of the teams that can actually do that. And what’s more, the Yankees are desperate. They completely whiffed this offseason and are at least one pitcher short of a rotation.

Let’s get something straight. That missing pitcher is not Barry Zito. It’s Matt Cain.

Now, would the Giants trade Matt Cain? Most likely, hells no. But if the Yankees take the gigunda Barry Zito contract off their hands and trade them Ivan Nova and say, Andrew Brackman and Austin Romine? (Or Adam Warren. Or Slade Heathcott. Or any prospect not named Montero, Banuelos, Betances, Noesi or Sanchez.) Where would that leave the Yankees? With a rotation of Sabathia, Burnett, Cain, Hughes and...well my mother could pitch the fifth game. Or Barry Zito, take your pick.

It would also leave their contract situation a complete mess until, at least, 2014. The Yankees would be at around $215 million right now. They would be over $165 next year, not including the arbitration raises of Hughes, Martin, Gardner and the rest. Simply put, with the contracts of Rodriguez, Burnett, Jeter and etc—the Yankees stuck with a lot of gargantuan and immovable contracts for a while.

But the Yankees could, in theory, do it. The other, more pressing question is....would the Giants do it? Probably not. That said, they have a lot people who need to be paid soon. Lincecum is up for arbitration in 2012 and is going to break the bank, if the Giants don’t sign him to a mega-contract before then. Sanchez is up for arbitration that year as well (he of the overlooked 133 ERA+). Wilson and Cain are due in 2013. That’s potentially a lot of money to be spent and soon. Getting about 20 million off the books to pay these kids might not be a bad idea. And they also a bunch of young, talented and cheap players in return. The word is, that this off-season Ivan Nova was coveted by a number of teams, who see a potential rotation starter in him. And the Giants might need a good young catcher if they plan on moving Posey to 1st base or the outfield. Also, the Giants have Dan Runzler, a good young lefty waiting in the wings (2.61 ERA in 41.1 IP) and Zach Wheeler and Eric Surkamp on the fast track to the majors. So the Giants rotation would be Lincecum, Sanchez, Bumgarner, Nova and Runzler, with Zach Wheeler coming soon. Not a shabby rotation...young, talented and cheap.

Of course, this is all just for fun speculation, and would never see the light of day. The Yankees wouldn’t want the Zito contract hanging around their necks like a noose (and God only knows how Zito—a slow-ball, fly ball pitcher in Yankee Stadium in the AL East would play out). And the Giants probably wouldn’t want to give away a pitcher who pitched 21.1 innings of scoreless ball in the postseason, even if it gets Zito’s contract off their backs and good prospects in return.

But heck, on paper it works.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Maybe The Steinbrenners Weren't Wrong

I grew up in the 80s, which was a despondent time for Yankee fans. The first—and only—decade since the teens where the Yankees didn’t win a World Series. Oh, they had high profile free agents—talented guys who George always claimed was” the missing piece of the puzzle” when they signed him or traded away prospects for him. And, yes they won lots of games. But their pitching staff was a mish-mash of aging veterans and not-ready-for-prime-time kids—sound familiar? And as a result, they won a decent amount of games—again, the most games won in the 1980s—but always seemed to fizzle out come September and October. And not quite make it.

But what the Yankees had wrought in me—and many Yankee fans—during those long dark years of 80s and early 90s was a healthy suspicion of any player decision having to do with the Steinbrenners or their clan. Seriously, in those days, George Steinbrenner was a persona non grata among Yankee fans. His poor free agency signing (Jack Clark) and hasty prospect trading for aging veterans (Rick Rhoden, Ken Phelps) was legendary. In other words, if a decision was not made by a genuine “baseball man” GM-type, but instead by the Steinbrenners or their Tampa clan, it was stupid.

And that sentiment has been reinforced since the 80s and 90s. George’s suspension-fueled absence in the early 90s allowed guys like Pettitte, Jeter and Rivera to develop and not be traded for some fossil from another team. However, since 2001, George and the Steinbrenners have often overruled their GM and made rushed and ill-advised decisions since then—such as signing Jason Giambi, signing Gary Sheffield over Vlad Guerrerro, pushing Joba Chamberlain to the rotation (and effectively ruining him) as well as signing Alex Rodriguez to an albatross of an anchor of a contract until seemingly 2100. Almost of their decisions were colossal failures.

That said, the Steinbrenners might not be wrong about Raphael Soriano. They actually may be right about the signing.

According to Danny Knobler of CBSsports.com, the inability of Brian Cashman to sign Cliff Lee and his poor free agent signing record of late, has created an atmosphere of mistrust in the Yankee Front Office. To quote Knobler:
Some people within the organization were telling friends that the divide between Cashman and the team’s Tampa operation is growing again, and even that ownership wasn’t happy with some of Cashman’s recent moves.

Last winter, Cashman traded for Javier Vazquez, Nick Johnson and Randy Winn as free agents, and none of those moves worked out well. There was even talk that Cashman had mishandled the Lee negotiations by showing too much patience, rather than pushing to get a deal done quickly.

And you know what.....they are not wrong. Now let me clarify, I generally agree with Brian Cashman and disagree with the Steinbrenners. I generally am I believer in patience, letting prospects grow, and generally distrustful of big free agent signings. All things the Steinbrenners (and their ilk) generally eschew. Generally speaking, Cashman has been a voice of reason among that crew.

That said, Cashman has struck out on a lot of the free agent stuff. He’s made a ton of bad decisions. His signing Kei Igawa should be a start to any discussion of his worthiness as a GM. But Jeff Weaver should end the discussion. Here’s a New York Times article from 2003:
‘I don’t know— love the guy,’’ said Cashman, the Yankees’ general manager, summing up his soliloquy. ‘’I absolutely love the guy.’’

Cashman is still excited about the trade that brought Weaver to the Yankees last July. Make that his trade.

Since the Yankees lost the World Series in 2001, the principal owner, George Steinbrenner, has orchestrated many roster moves. Raul Mondesi is here because of Steinbrenner. So are David Wells, Hideki Matsui and José Contreras. Steinbrenner wanted them; Steinbrenner got them.

Weaver is here because of Cashman. It may be no coincidence, then, that the right-handed Weaver sometimes seems to be a spare part on the Yankees’ staff. His stuff is electric but his profile is low. He is not here because the owner demanded it.

Really? Trade Ted Lilly, a lefty who had a 3.40 ERA in Yankee Stadium, as well as a 1.057 WHIP the year you traded him, and has been a 2-time All Star (and has been remarkably healthy, despite the fact that the Yankees traded him due to the fact that they thought his delivery would lead to injury), for an over-emotional—admittedly talented—diva, who was in no way was able to pitch in the pressure boiler that was New York. Cashman’s scouting was amazingly flawed. Yet it continued. He championed Carl Pavano so much, that after Pavano’s 4-year failure as a Yankee ended in 2008, Cashman admitted he was thinking of resigning him. Twice.

The point being, that, yes, while Cashman has made some good decisions, his track record definitely does deserve some closer diligence. Does the fact that he signed CC Sabathia, Mark Teixiera and the like point to the fact that he is good GM and can find good fits for his team, or that he has the Yankee wallet to back him up?

If the above examples show anything, they show that while Cashman is an advocate for patience involving prospects, rather than just using them as trading chips for aging stars—all good things—he hasn’t been the best GM in regards to scouting or value-judgment.

Maybe the Steinbrenners are right. Maybe phasing him out is the right course. Look...after the contracts of Giambi, Pavano and the like cleared out in 2008, Cashman, or any ape, was free to reload—with Yankee money—and sign Teixiera, Sabathia and Burnett. Are you telling me that you, the guy reading this reading this article, couldn’t have done that? But the harder stuff a GM for the Yankee GM should know; projecting how a player might adjust to playing in New York; how a prospect might pan out; Cashman hasn’t done well. Last year, Cashman traded Curtis Granderson for Austin Jackson, a top Yankee farm prospect. Granderson had fallen in every offensive category for 2 straight years and was locked into a long contract. Jackson was the top prospect in Baseball America’s Yankee farm system. By all accounts a born centerfielder; a defensive stalwart and a natural slap hitter. So how did that work out? Jackson batted .290 his first season, was an exemplary defensive outfielder, had 10 triples, had 27 stolen bases. Granderson meanwhile, didn’t improve appreciably in any category or statistic you care to look up; and overall batted what he did the year before or even lower—.247 BA, 24 HR, 12 SB. Would you have made that trade?

Look, being a Yankee GM means not only being a good judge of talent, but also, a judge of how that talent will play out in Yankee Stadium, under the hot lights of fan and media judgment. Which is why trading a lefty, like Ted Lilly who has a lifetime 2.15 ERA in Yankee Stadium, and has all the signs of a lefty strikeout Pettitte-type, for a mercurial talent makes no sense in 2004. Did Cashman not do his due diligence and check to see if Weaver could handle the Bronx? Likewise, a GM who scouts a veteran centerfielder player who declined in every statistic category for 2 straight seasons (.302 to .208 to .249BA; .38 to 26 to 23 2B; 135 to 123 to 103 OBP+) and decides to trade his no. 1 prospect for him, has to be put under suspicion—even before the fallout of the season.

Which brings us to the Soriano signing, which Cashman was against. Well, Soriano was a lights out closer and now mans the 8th inning, which pushes David Robertson, Boone Logan and Joba to the 6th and 7th inning, creating a nice bridge for the shaky Yankee rotation. In effect the Yankees just replaced Kerry Wood’s contract for Soriano’s. Soriano, who is younger, better and can man the 9th inning should the Yankees need it. Overall, you get one of the top closers to pitch your 8th inning, for the same price as the guy who did it last year. And with extra money in your budget, why not do it—especially with the 2012 free agent pitching class looking so dim? So why would Cashman be against it?

Cashman may have good intentions, and I believe he does, but his decision-making have made him more than suspect; they have made him close to failure. Should the Yankees ever have a GM with genuine prospect scouting skills—in the Yankee farm system and beyond—well, who knows, what he might accomplish? Is it time to phase Cashman out....maybe. But if not, that time may be near.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Transactions....

I don't know how injured Jay Cutler really was, but hell, they would have to knock my head clear off my body and then run it back for a touchdown to get me out of a NFC Championship game.

B.J. Raji is going to be a force in this league. And not just because of his huge guy. At 340 lbs, the man can still move. Strong and nimble, he can do what no other NT can do. A future All-Pro.

Instead of demanding a trade, if I were Carson Palmer I'd worry more about my massively declining skills.

Just a hunch; but the Rays losing Grant Balfour, Dan Wheeler and Rafael Soriano are bigger losses than Carl Crawford. The middle relief and Soriano were a strength for the Rays. And now they have Kyle Farnsworth and Joel Peralta (who had a 5.98 the last time he pitched in the AL). A strength has become a significant concern.

I love the overkill of writers like this. And by "love" I mean I shake my head in disgust. It couldn't be that maybe the Steelers were just a better, more talented team? That the Jets have been playing way over their talent level for a while now and faced a superior team. Huh, maybe? No, to writers like this, someone always has to the idiot goat loser of the game. Everything is a overkill. ("Only Roethlisberger isn't Manning or Brady, both statuesque passers who crack and crumble under the first hint of pressure.") I hate writers like this. And by "hate" I mean loath.

How the heck are the Packers the favorite? Didn't they just eek their way into the playoffs while the Steelers were dominant all season long. Didn't get that one.


College Football News has it's early Top 10 projection for the 2011-2012 season, and the oddest thing. The former Big 10 has as many teams in Top 10 as the powerhouse SEC. How is that? Well obviously Ohio State and a strong Wisconsin team are in there. But the 3rd team in the Top 10 for the increasingly misnamed Big 10 is newcomer Nebraska. Another interesting thing: there are 7 SEC teams in the top 25 and not one of them is the national champion Auburn Tigers.

Wow, this is really the slow season of baseball.

You stay classy, Dan Jennings.

How the heck did the Royals get Billy Butler to agree to a contract that averages less than 8 per? B.B. batted .318, had a .388 OBP and had 45 doubles. And he's only 24, so you know he'll be getting tons better. I mean I know he's not eligible for free agency for a while, but I'd think he was worth more than 8M per.

I'd have liked to give the AAPTBNL Man of the week award to Brian Urlacher who was all over the field yesterday. He had 10 tackles, 9 of the solo, a sack, and interception deep in Chicago territory. But ultimately you have to give it to undrafted rookie Sam Shields. 2 INTs including the game deciding one late in the 4th. He also had a sack and a forced fumble. Totally deserving, Shields is Man of the Week.

And this....is just inexcusible.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Conference Championship Weekend

NFC Championship Game
Packers at Bears
Up there with the Patriots-Jets and Ravens-Steelers, the packers and Bears know each other. There will be no shenanigins, no new trick plays. These teams know each others playbooks and today, they are just going to go out and try to beat the other guy. That said, this isn't the smashmouth football of old, between these 2 teams. No, Green Bay is all about aaron Rodgers and throwing the ball. While the Bears can also pass the ball, they have the worst offensive line in the pros. Which means if Cutler and the Bears fall behind early and have to throw the ball, Cutler should take out a life insurance policy on himself.

Also, add to the problems for the Bears is that Green Bay is great at defending the pass. The Bears, having trouble passing the ball and protecting Cutler will try to run the ball via draw plays and screens. It won't work. The pick: the number 6 NFC seed Packers beat the Bears at Soldier Field:
Packers 33
Bears 20


AFC Championship Game
Jets at Steelers
The Steelers and Jets are more alike than some pundits think. Yes, they are both 3-4 defense teams with loudmouth players. Both stop the run with Superman-like efficiency. And both teams live off of big plays. Ben Roethlisberger is 9-2 in playoff games and Mark Sanchez is 4-1. Both guys aren'r pretty all the time, but in the post-season they get it done.

The Steelers Achilles Heel is their terrible offensive line. Given that the Jets' excellence at stopping the run, the Steelers best offensive option will to rest their offense on Big Ben's right shoulder. Which has worked so far. Big Benny averages a shiny 6.90 YPA and rocked a 101.2 QB rating against the tough Ravens last week, even when his running backs averaged 2.3 ypc and only got 71 positive yards on the ground. Then do the Jets flood the zone as they did last week against Tom Brady. Or do they bring the house against Big Ben and knock him down.

Yes, the Jets beat Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. But now, as CHFF says, the Jets now face a  team that has a better defense than any other in the AFC playoffs. The Jets have a noble run; but it ends late Sunday night in the cold.
Steelers 23
Jets 9

Enjoy the games.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Five

1. OK, midterm report card: Which team is the best in college basketball?

2. OK, off-season report card: Which MLB team had the best off-season?

3. Is Tom Brady the best quarterback in the NFL?

4. Will Sam Bradford be one the best NFL QBs in a few years?

5. Is "The LeBrons" the dumbest marketing idea in sports history. If not, what is?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Is Bill Belichek Really A Coaching Genius?

Even before the media recently began touting the fact that the Patriots have lost their last 3 playoff games—dating back to the Giants upset in Super Bowl XXLI—some football analysts began questioning whether Bill Belichick was really the football genius he is purported to be. The Patriots haven’t won it all since 2004, right? Is he really such a brilliant tactician? Or is he the victim of some great good luck?

No, he really is that good. Really, really good.

Belichick has a .714 playoff winning percentage, 9th all-time, ahead of guys like George Halas, Jimmy Johnson and Bill Walsh. His regular season winning percentage of .633 is ahead of Walsh, Curly Lambeau, Joe Gibbs and Tom Landry. Not too shabby, huh?

On the other hand, while yes, he is a master tactician and motivator; luck can play apart of his success, can’t it? Consider this: Up until the day Tom Brady started as Bill Belichick’s quarterback, Belichick’s coaching record was 41-57. He’d had 1 winning season out of 6 that he coached and had been to the playoffs exactly once. Since Tom Brady is his starting quarterback, Belichick’s teams have won 3 Super Bowls, missed the playoffs twice—and one of those seasons was when Brady was out for the season with an injury—and have not had a losing season.

During Belichick’s stay as Cleveland’s head coach, his quarterbacks were Bernie Kosar, Mike Tomczak, Todd Philcox and Vinnie Testaverde—who put together don’t equal Tom Brady’s left pinkie. Belichick came in to Cleveland and found an aging team, past its prime. Belichick tried to dismantle the team—including a very public and controversial dumping of beloved Bernie Kosar—and build the team the way he wanted it to be. But Belichick had one major problem—he didn’t have the unconditional backing of Browns management, nor did he have someone to work closely with to get the players he wanted. Belichick knew that Kosar was done as a quarterback, but didn’t have a GM like Scott Pioli to help him find his Tom Brady and convince management to select him. The Browns organization had a number of football czars who each wanted different directions for the team. The result: chaos.

In New England, Belichick did have Scott Pioli—who worked with Belichick from the exact same script—to build a team from the ground up. From the time he took the Patriots out onto the field Opening Day 2000, to the time they won the Super Bowl at the end of the 2001 season, player turnover was the name of the game in New England. Drew Bledsoe was replaced by Tom Brady. Richard Seymour, Matt Light and Greg Randle were drafted and starting. Belichick favorites Anthony Pleasant, Bobby Hamilton were brought in to start as was Otis Smith, Roman Phifer, Mike Compton, Antoine Smith, Marc Edwards and Mike Vrabel. Quite a turnover......and it worked. The Patriots shocked the football world by winning the Super Bowl that year.

In a way he wasn’t able to in Cleveland, Belichick was able to turn over the roster and mold it into his image. And, to me, Belichick is twice a genius. Not only as a coach, which he unquestionably is (and anyone doubting that is ridiculous to the extreme). But equal to his coaching acumen, is Belichick’s acute vision for spotting players who could fit the system he likes to run. Selecting Tom Brady, who nobody thought would amount to a decent starting quarterback; signing the incredibly versatile Mike Vrable who the Steelers let go; getting Wes Welker for a 7th round pick—who went on to lead the league in receptions twice; picking Devin McCourty and Brandon Meriweather—both Pro Bowlers—deep in the first round; plucking BenJarvus Green-Ellis off the scrap heap and finding a starting running back; drafting Logan Mankins and Dan Koppen (Koppen in the fifth round), both Pro Bowlers; selecting Asante Samuel in the fourth round; plucking Danny Woodhead from the Jets for nothing. And so on.....

Some coaches—Mike Holmgren leaps to mind (Marcus Tubbs, Lamar King, Koren Robinson, Chris McIntosh, Ike Charlton)—are yes, extremely innovative and successful at the coaching aspect of the game. But they can’t scout a player who would mesh well into their system, with any accuracy. Belichick can.

As to why Belichick hasn’t won it all since 2004. Well, expecting to win it all every season, especially in a league with Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger, is kind of ridiculous. All Belichick has done since 2004 has compile a 73-23 record, including a season where Tom Brady was out with a injury. He was also 2 minutes—and a God-produced miracle pass—away from another Super Bowl and the first perfect season in modern football.

So, yes, any coach with 3 Super Bowl rings is a genius. But what helps Belichick’s genius, is what prevented Belichick from succeeding in Cleveland. Being able to select the players to run his system.  And it is what will keep New England competitive for a long while into the future.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Transactions...

An amazing weekend of football leads to 2 improbably Championship games. And they are games the way they should be played in January: in the cold, maybe snow; in the mud. Played hard and hurt. Pittsburgh is going to be around 14 degrees warm on Sunday, Chicago a balmy 15. Going to be 2 good ones come Sunday.

Sure, Rafael Soriano can help the Yankees. But only if the Yankees can swing a deal for a new starters. Otherwise Soriano will be coming into the 4th inning of ball games.

So Brett Gardner...feeling valuable? Like, maybe, a trade chip? Cause I have the Yankees are feeling that way. I just hope its not for Derek Lowe. Because that would be bad. Really bad.

Tell me why the Big East basketball conference isn't better than say..the NBA Central Division. Cause I would put Pittsburgh, Syracuse, UConn, West Virginia, Villanova, Georgetown and Notre Dame up against Indiana, Cleveland, Detroit and those guys any day.

Here's another "football player" complaining about the sod in a stadium in the middle of January. And again, I say, "too. Damn. Bad." It's football for Christs' sake. For almost a hundred years it's been played in the cold, in the mud, in the rain and sleet. You don't like it? Start your own Sunny Day and Astroturf football league and leave the real game to the guys who don't complain.

Some buzz around the league is that John Elway may consider trading one of his few good defensive players, D.J. Williams, for draft picks. With just six draft picks, and only two after the third round, we hear the Broncos will be looking to stockpile selections prior to the draft. Williams was stripped of his captaincy after his second DUI arrest this season and has not displayed the attitude the organization expects from its leaders moving forward. Sounds like a future Cincinnati Bengal to me.

The past few years, I've been a fan of what the Milwaukee Brewers have been doing. Not running the show like a small market team, but like a team that will do what it takes to win. Love them. But putting a multi-year Rickie Weeks high on the To Do List. I don't get it. Sure he had 29 HRs, and that's nice. but the guy can't field (15 errors, 3rd in NL) and strikes out a just stupid 28.3 % of the time. That's ridiculous. Unless Prince Fielder is demanding the team to sign Weeks, the Brewers should focus on other things and maybe use Weeks as a trading chip.

I think that we can all agree—even Ohio State fans—that Michigan really needed this.

Derek Lee giving up Gopher Balls. That's what he does.
For the AAPTBNL Man of the Week, gotta go with Aaron Rodgers. 31 for 36. I mean, Jeeesh. He was 26 for 28...to his main 4 wideouts. Just a ridiculous performance. if he is anything like that next week in Chicago, the Bears defense is going to have a tough afternoon. Congrats, Aaron.

And lastly, some Clide the Glide photos. Just because.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011

Transactions....

One of the really cool things about Marshawn Lynch's insane run, where he avoided like 95 tacklers, was that Matt Hasselbeck was downfield trying to throw blocks. When a QB is trying to throw blocks downfield, that is awesome.

The worst part of that run, for New Orleans, was Jabari Greer's attempted tackle. He looked like Jeff Van Gundy trying to hang on to Alonzo Morning

Michael Vick looks like Michael Vick again.

Yes, Carmelo Anthony is a scoring machine. but is he one of the top 3 players in the league. No. Show the Nets should not give up that much for Melo. They just shouldn't. Don't think he's that kind of player.

Another bad trade made this week. Well, maybe bad is overstating it, because Matt Gaza can be a good pitcher for the Cubs. But man, did they give up the house for him. Dude isn't 1977 Steve Carlton, Cubbies. It's Matt Garza.

After 2 crap seasons, Glenn Dorsey finally turned on the light switch in his head. 11 tackles yesterday for a 3-4 lineman—nice. He just seemed everywhere yesterday. Too bad the rest of his defense (except Eric Berry) didn't show up.

And I like Ray Rice as a RB a lot, but man did he whiff on some  blocks yesterday. If I was Flacco, I'd be a little miffed at him.

Been wondering for a while who should the Eagles trade Kevin Kolb to. More and more I think the Niners seem like a good fit for him. Harbargh just seems like the coach to get the most out of a guy like Kolb—a strong armed smart passer. Look what his brother did with Flacco.

Not that Andy doesn't have the right to take his time to contemplate his future. But really, his his making the Yankees hang out in the wind.

Mark Sanchez is one of those guys who never, ever looks good doing what he is doing, but seems to always just do enough to win. How else can you explain him? Does he look like Joe Montana in the pocket. Aw, hecks no. But dude has done enough to have 3-1 in playoff games (all road game), and in the process beat Phillip Rivers and Peyton Manning. Must be doing something ok.

Boy, Reggie Bush showed up big when his team needed him on Saturday huh?

You gotta like what the Rockies are doing. They just signed potentially the next Albert Pujols in Carlos Gonzalez to a very manageable long-term contract, after signing Troy Tulowitzski to a manageable contract last season. Keeping a young nucleus under wraps for a long while, all to manageable contracts. Nice way to build a dynasty.

Man of the Week. Easy. Matt Hasselbeck. Beat up seemingly since training camp. They guys goes out there and simply has the prettiest day a QB has had in a while. Go check the tape and how he throw the ball. Just the way it should be done. And got 4 TDs and beat a really good day by Drew Brees and took his 7-9 team another round in the playoffs. Way to go, Matt.

And if you haven't seen it yet...it's the Pro Bowl Shuffle. Stupid, but funny.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Friday Five

1. If you were Andrew Luck, and pretty much guaranteed to be a number 1 pick in the draft, would you have gone back to Stanford?

2. Should Bert Blyleven be a Hall of Famer?

3. Who should Michigan go after for their head coaching job?

4. If you had to choose just one of them to join the Red Sox this off-season, would you prefer Carl Crawford or Adrian Gonzalez?

5. Is it just me, or does David Stern look like Kermit the Frog?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Pigskin Prognostications

OK, one of the best times of the year is here—NFL playoff time. Before we spend the entire weekend on the couch watching the games, let's try to predict what we'll be watching.


New Orleans Saints at the Seattle Seahawks
Yes, Seattle really is hosting a playoff game. And that's just amazing considering they had the 31st worst rush defense, and gave up the 8th most points in the NFL. The Seahawks were just 2 and 5 against opponents with winning records. And yes, the Saints lost 2 of their top rushers this week, but honestly you could dig up Knute Rockne, hand him the ball and he'd get 5 yards per carry against the Hawks.

Going for the Seahawks is the fact that when the teams last met, back on November 21st, Matt Hasslebeck threw for 366 yards against the normally excellent Saints passing defense. And with starting safety Malcolm Jenkins, responsible for 2 of the Saints NFL-low 9 INTs, the Saints' pass defense is susceptible to the big play. Which is good for the Seahawks, who were 31st in rushing offense—they are going to need the big play to get points on the board.

In the week's most uninteresting game, expect a close game until the 4th quarter, when the Saints will remember they are playing the 7-9 Seahawks and run up the score a bit.
Saints: 36-13


New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts
Oil. Water. Immovable Object. Irresistible Force. Colts. Jets
The Colts had the number 1 pass offense in the league, this despite the Colts offensive roster looking like the local emergency room. The Jets gave up successful passing plays at a 50.7% clip, best in the league. Despite having one of the worst running games in the NFL, the Colts had more first downs than anyone else in the league. The Jets gave up 4.8 yards per offensive play, 3rd best in the league.

Boiling this game down, it comes to, can the Jets defensive front stop the run and make Manning feel uncomfortable. if they can't do either, they've got problems. If Ryan sends extra guys to blitz, Manning will counter them, as he often does when team send more guys to blitz. Simple, more guys coming, someone is open, and Manning usually finds them.

What might be more impressive is the Colts rush defense. While they were 25th in the league giving up 127 ypg, in the last 3 games of the year, the game up, respectively, 67, 80 and 51 yards in those 3 games. It will be interesting to see how they handle the Jets 4th-rated rush offense, who are averaging 148.4 yards per game.

Guessing the score...you have to go back to Manning. One of the all-time greats, Manning has 46 game-winning drives in his career. Simply put, if the game is close in the 4th quarter—which it will be—Manning will find a way to win.
Colts: 26-24


Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs
Possibly the main stat that jumps out while researching the Ravens-Chiefs game is this: The Ravens have played 7 games going against + .500 teams, going 4-3; the Chiefs have only played 3 games against teams over .500, and lost 2 of them (the one they won was against the 9-7 Chargers early in the season—the Chargers later repaid them 31-0.

The Ravens calling card is still defense. 3rd ranked in the league, they will make life hard whenever the Chiefs try to pass. Lucky for the Chiefs they have the number 1 ranked rushing attack in the league. What further will turn the Chiefs into a one-dimensional run-only offensive is that the Chief's top wide receiver, Dwayne Bowe couldn't practice this week. Not a good sign when one of your best offensive weapons is down when you're about to face the Ravens.

The Ravens are not a top offense, but against the Chiefs, they won't need to be. Kansas City is a completely average defense that the Ravens can keep on the field a long time by beating up on the Chief offense and getting them off the field.

The Chiefs feasted this season by playing both the NFC West and the AFC West. While having improved, the should be nowhere near the playoffs. Easy draw for Baltimore:
Ravens: 27-13


Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles
No doubt aided by Michael Vick's exploits, the Eagle's rushing attacked average a remarkable 5.4 ypa. But even without Vick, LeSean McCoy averaged 5.2 ypa and Jerome Harrison averaged 6.0 per attempt. Remarkable. What this might force Green Bay to do—should the Eagles pound away successfully early in the game—is to call some of their backfield guys close to the line. The packers have the best passing defense in the league—2nd best 24 INTs over the season—but
Should the Eagles successfully run—and Vick can scramble for a few first downs—they may be switched to stop the run.

On the other side of the ball, the Eagles defense is a little banged up, which the Packers can try to exploit. The Packers have the 3rd best passing yards per attempt—and their 57 passes of 20 yards are 2nd in the league. Passing is their bread and butter and the Eagle's 14th ranked pass defense—banged up as previously stated—has its work cut out for themselves.

In their last meeting, game 1 of this season, the Packers held DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin to 8 catches and 78 yards in a 27-20 win. But the interesting series, was the last one Philadelphia ha when trying to tie the score late in the fourth quarter. See below for what happened.


1st and 10 at PHI 24(Shotgun) M.Vick scrambles left end pushed ob at PHI 33 for 9 yards (C.Matthews).
2nd and 1 at PHI 33(Shotgun) M.Vick up the middle to PHI 49 for 16 yards (S.Shields).
1st and 10 at PHI 49(No Huddle, Shotgun) M.Vick sacked at PHI 49 for 0 yards (C.Jenkins).
2nd and 10 at PHI 49(Shotgun) M.Vick sacked at PHI 46 for -3 yards (C.Matthews).
3rd and 13 at PHI 46(Shotgun) M.Vick pass short middle to J.Avant to GB 42 for 12 yards (B.Chillar).
4th and 1 at GB 42(Shotgun) M.Vick up the middle to GB 42 for no gain (C.Matthews).
DRIVE TOTALS: GB 27, PHI 20, 6 plays, 34 yards, 2:19 elapsed

5 runs and/or sacks, and 1 pass.

In the previous 2 series, which ended in a TD and a FG, Vick ran the ball once and was sacked once. So, in other words, the hypothesis might be—make Vick run. I know, that sounds stupid. But in the last 5 games where Michael Vick has started and where the pass coverage has been very, very good and less concerned with his running, Vick has had 6 INTs, 7 fumbles and 13 sacks. In short, the defenses are using complicated pass defense schemes and disguised blitzes and forcing Vick to give up the pass and run.

Strange concept, but what works, works. I think Green Bay confuses and holds Vick in check, somewhat, and pull out this game
Packers: 34-24

Enjoy the games.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Know Thy Enemy: Boston Red Sox

Leading up to spring training, we will be going through the traditional and new enemies of the New York Yankees this off-season, to see where they stand. How did they do in the off-season, who is healthy, etc? First up: The Boston Red Sox.

This off-season, the Boston Red Sox lost Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez—that’s 48 HRs and 180 RBIs gone—and yet the BoSox feel supremely confident going into 2011. That’s because they signed Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford in the off season; two guys in the prime of their careers at 29 years of age and who seem perfectly suited to play in Fenway Park.

Firstly, looking back, the Red Sox were battered by injuries last season, yet still won 89 games. Josh Beckett, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Kevin Youkalis were just some of the players on the DL for parts of last season. Now that rejoin an improved team that almost won 90 games in the AL East.

Pitching-wise, the Sox have a few questions. Firstly, if Josh Beckett comes back healthy in 2011 and anywhere near his 2007 performance, the Red Sox will have the top starting 3 in the league. With Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz achieving true ace status in 2010, Beckett would just ensure any short series would be difficult for any opponent to win. Add to that, John Lackey will be entering his second season in Fenway and should be more acclimated to life in the AL East and most likely, will improve on his 4.40 ERA. In short, the Red Sox should have a solid, and possibly, awesome, starting rotation.

The bullpen has a keeper in Daniel Bard and can normally rely on the mercurial Jonathan Papelbon—although, Papelbon can't be considered the ace of the pen he once was. Some questions: Do they have any viable lefty options, though? Is Doubront and Okajima solid options? If Bard goes down, can Papelbon be solid as the only closer in the pen? The Red Sox added Bobby Jenks in the off-season, but their bullpen is nowhere near the level of their rotation. It may not matter too much; they will probably playing with a lead most nights.

And that’s because their lineup is stacked. Adrian Gonzalez should just be penciled in for the MVP now; He averaged about 35 HRs and 105-110 RBIs in cavernous Petco Park—in Fenway, who knows what he could average? Crawford, with a much more powerful and dangerous lineup around him could increase his MVP-consideration numbers (7th in Al MVP last year; .307 BA, 134 OPS+, 8th in AL total bases). And with a healthy Youkalis and Pedroia (not to mention, Ellsbury), the Red Sox would have 4 serious candidates for the MVP in their lineup.

The Red Sox do have some questions; as mentioned, their middle relief. Also, can Jarrod Saltalamacchia step up and become an everyday catcher? Can J.D. Drew rebound from an off 2010? How long can Big Papi churn out hits or will his big lumbering body finally give? Can Dice-K and Papelbon turn their flagging careers around?

On the whole however, these questions are really not overwhelming questions—most teams would give a lot to have Dice-K as their 5th option to start. Last year the Red Sox were second in the AL in slugging and first in OPS+. Those numbers should climb this season. The BoSox pitching last year was 6th in WHIP in the AL and first in strikeouts. If Beckett can rebound and Lackey settle in, those numbers could very well increase as well. To sum up, the future looks very bright for Le Sox Rouge. One would have to consider them the obvious favorites for not just the AL East, but for the entire American League.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Transactions....

Seriously...what the heck happened to Eli? 10 INTs in 2008? 25 this year. What the heck happened?

Remember when Mike Lupica was actually a legitimate sports reporter. Wow, seems like a long time ago. now he's just a doofus.

I mean, seriously. Lupica criticizes Rex Ryan for having a bravado style. Why? Ryan talks about being the biggest baddest team on the planet. So what? Heck, I'd want my coach to talk that way too. But Lupica considers that a problem. What else does he find wrong with Rex? Well, apparently, Mrs. Ryan likes her some feet. So what? Who cares what the Ryans do in their bedroom. Sideshow staying to the side...at the end of the day, the Jets went 11-5. They beat the Patriots and Steelers this season. They are in the playoffs. Mike, why are you complaining?

Not to second guess Randy Edsall.....well, yes I am...but Maryland? Of all the openings you could have taken, you go to Maryland? Why?

The fact that Marvin Lewis is leaving the Bengals because they won't upgrade the facilities is just ridiculous. The Bengals should be embarrassed. But they won't be.

The Raiders sweep their division and gets a .500 mark on the year, for the first time since 2002 (or 4 coaches ago), so what do they do. Obviously fire the coach giving your time the progress they haven't seen in almost a decade. Just ridiculous. The Raiders should demand that their owner hire a GM and stay out of his way.

Hey Raffy. Shut up. You took them. And everyone knows you did.

Gotta love this quote from Raheem Brock of the Seattle Seahawks: Brock, who registered 2½ sacks and a forced fumble in Sunday night's division-clinching victory over the Rams, was quoted in The Seattle Times: "I hate rookie quarterbacks and I wanted to hit him [Rams QB Sam Bradford] as much as possible. I'm not going to let a rookie quarterback take me out of the playoffs." Outstanding quote.

Memo to Eric Mangini. Next time you accept a head coaching job, make sure you have a secure quarterback situation. In your first job with the Jets, you had 2 broken aging QBs in Chad Pennington and Brett Farve. And with the Browns you had...LOL...Jake Delhomme and rookie Colt McCoy. Seriously, choose your next job with some more care.

In the shooting fish into a barrel article, NESN's Tony Lee decides that surprise, Tampa is the baseball franchise most in need of a new stadium. Well, duh. They play in a warehouse with the Brady Bunch's plastic backyard lawn for a field.

For AAPTBNL Man of the Week, I'm giving the award to....the Tampa Bay defense. All of them. 7 passes defensed against Drew Brees with a pick. Throw in 3 sacks and holding the Saints to just 13 points in a game they really wanted to win. Great performance. And next year...I'll say it now....they win the NFC South.


And lastly....."sweetcakes?" Why not just refer to her as a "broad" and tell her to get to the kitchen. Class move, dude. Very classy.