HAPPY NEW YEAR!
I have only gotten through the first quarter of the Holiday Bowl featuring two high powered offenses in the Oregon Ducks and Oklahoma State Cowboys on my DVR. For some reason Jesse Palmer was chosen as the expert analysts for the broadcast. So far this game he has said the following.
1) "For the quarterback, it is imperative to be conscious"
2) "This is one of those games where points are gonna count"
Can't wait to see what the rest of the game is going to bring!
1. FA Milton Bradley signed to an unknown deal with the Cubs
2. Marquis and $1M traded to the Rockies for Luis Vizcaino
3. FA Aaron Miles signed to a two year, $4.9 M contract
4. Mark DeRosa (and $9M of payroll) traded to the Indians for prospects Chris Archer, Jeff Stevens and John Gaub.
It doesn't seem like DeRo has been moved for any players from "the Peavy mix" (ie, Olson from the Orioles) even though trade talks are reportedly back on. I'm not sure exactly what the team is trying to set up, but Fontenot at 2B would be a decent and cheap option if he could only learn how to walk. Furthermore, is Theriot on his way out to the Pads if the talks for Peavy are back on now that the Cubs have Miles, who also walks less by comparison but at least has some sense of defensive range?
On to the DeRosa front: Stevens is the only prospect in the trade who has played above A-ball (Archer was drafted in 2005 and Gaub in 2006). Steven's numbers in AAA last year were very solid (well over a K per inning), but he only threw 29 innings. All three players had ungodly BB rates in 2008, but hopefully that will improve over time. Stevens is projected to be a middle relief pitcher, while Archer has been raised a starter. No clue what the future of Gaub holds.
EDIT: It's official: DeRosa and $9 M in payroll are out; 3 prospects are in. Sadly, none seem to be pieces of the potential three/four-way for Peavy deal.
The Cubs signed infielder Aaron Miles to a two year, $4.9 million contract. With DeRosa, Theriot, Fontenot, Cedeno and now Miles in the middle infield, there is a positional overcrowding that could lead to some trades. ESPN1000 reports that DeRosa is on his way out to Cleveland for some prospects and money, putting the Cubs back into the Peavy mix. Furthermore, ESPN1000 claims the Bradley signing (despite no details of years or cash) is a done deal, as is Marquis exit to Colorado.
Personally, I'm hoping the team can trade Fontenot -- who is in his prime and has high value based on his great partial season last year -- for something and keep DeRo. However, DeRosa is 34 and in the last year of his contract, so if the club is looking at its future rather than just 2009, this could be a smart move. I, however, think 2009 is the year to win it (before important contracts start expiring). But hey, if it lands Peavy...
(also, the Angels just signed Fuentes to a two year, $17.5 M contract)
Tom Coughlin. New York Giants. He helps in the locker room but that team was 12 games this year because of the great talent on the O-line and in pass rushers more than what Coughlin did.
Mike Tomlin. Pittsburgh Steelers. Benefited hugely from the great talent from his predecessors have put together and done exactly what Bill Cohwer has done with essentially the same talent. His in game decisions is suspect. He goes for a lot of unnecessary 4th and long which costs his teams games. If in five years, the Steelers are still continually making the playoffs then I'll change my mind but right now my view on Tomlin is very low
John Fox. Carolina Panthers. Another case of where his GM put together some great O and D lines but Fox gets a lot of credit for keeping this talent together and winning 12 games.
Tony Dungy. Indianapolis Colts. If Peyton Manning could get CoY votes he should get all the votes Tony gets. This team is mainly Peyton Manning. Dungy should get mad props for building up this Colts defense because before he got there, it was shit. And now it's a powerhouse. A sustainable one. But let's be realistic. This team wins games because of Peyton Manning.
John Harbaugh. Baltimore Ravens. He should get a lot of credit for turning an aging defense that only won 5 games last year into an 11 win team, but no way does he help expose other teams weaknesses. If he did, that offense sure was pitiful. It will be interesting to see if this rookie head coach can sustain this success. I'm guessing he can't.
Mike Smith. Atlanta Falcons. The GM should get more credit than Smith for getting Matt Ryan and Michael Turner but for the most part, Smith inherited the same team has last year and was able to do a lot more for a team in the dumps. He was able to utilize his talent extremely effectively to help make the playoffs this year. But still, Matt Ryan and Michael Turner helps a lot on this turnaround.
Tony Sparano. Miami Dolphins. A great coach that was able to do so much with so little
Bill Belichick. New England Patriots. One of the best coaches ever. You better not have a weakness on your team because Belichick will expose it.
Brad Childress. Minnesota Vikings. He is able to utilize his talent very effectively. Run Adrian Peterson. Run him every chance you get. He made a great decision to bench Tavaris Jackson early because he fucken sucks. He has one of the best defensive lines in the NFL which also helps him win games.
Andy Reid. Philadelphia Eagles. When you have Brian Westbrook AND a healthy Donovan McNabb, you should have a winning record. But you shouldn't use McNabb more than Westbrook. That's so retarded. There's a reason this Eagles offense does almost better without McNabb, because Reid is forced to run the ball. There's absolutely no fucken reason to not utilize Westbroook to his full potential, yet Reid doesn't. But on the bright side, he helps with great defensive schemes to be the NFC leader in sacks.
Norv Turner. San Diego Chargers. Very few teams had the expectations that the Chargers had and very few teams had the talent that the Chargers had. Granted they made the playoffs, but to only go 8-8 with this team seems to show you the true Norv Turner.
Ken Whisenhunt. Arizona Cardinals. For a team that always seemed to be loaded with talent, Whisenhunt finally got this team into the playoffs. But with that much talent that the Cardinals had on defense, it's sort of pitiful how bad that defense. But I do like what Whisenhunt has done with this organization and where he's taking it.
Wade Phillps. Dallas Cowboys. The most talented team in the NFL. Also one of the most poorly coached teams. Yes Phillips did a great job on defense but a team also needs an offense and Wade didn't do anything to help it. He didn't keep a cohesive locker room and he didn't do a good job by any stretch of the imagination in terms of managerial skills. It's pathetic this talent-rich team didn't even made the playoffs
Lovie Smith. Chicago Bears. I will talk about him more in depth is my next post but he's a terrible coach and needs to get the AXE!
Jon Gruden. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I still think he's an above average coach that's able to maximize his talent of his players so it's a huge disappointment to me that his team had the chance to make the playoffs and didn't. I would also like to see how well his defenses are without Monte Kiffin.
Eric Mangini. New York Jets. His team executives spent so much money improving this team that Mangini deserves a lot of the blame for only finsihing 3rd in his division. Especially considering the position they were in 11/12 games into the season. Brett Favre throwing 22 INTS didn't help his offense any but with the O and D lines he had, he should have made the playoffs. He deserved to get fired.
Gary Kubiak. Houston Texans. I think he's done a lot for this organization. It's really really really hard to start a franchise from scratch so he inherited a bad situation but I think he's doing a damn fine job building up this team in the tough division he's in. However, he needs to start improving his team and getting winning records to deserve to keep his job.
Sean Peyton. New Orleans Saints. Done a damn fine job maximizing his offense but hasn't done shit trying to improve his defense and that's why I feel he's on thin ice.
Mike Singletary. San Fransisco 49ers. This team was much improved since Singletary took over. In fact, if it wasn't for Mike Martz fucking up that goal line stand in that MNF Cardinals/49ers game, the 49ers would be in the playoffs. Singletary has done a fantastic job bringing life to this dead organization and his players love him and, to quote every ESPN "expert", they have bought into his schemes. Singletary seems to be the coach of the future and the ones SF needs.
Jim Zorn. Washington Redskins. If he stays on, he needs to do a better job handling his players so they can follow his schemes.
Mike Shannahan. Denver Broncos. Winning two Superbowls can and should only go so far. You still need to at least get your teams into the playoffs every so often. In 2006 and 2008 (just SOME examples) he had the opportunity in the last week to make the playoffs and didn't. His game planning and game management has not been very good in recent years and he absolutely deserved to get fired. He has simply not done a good job in the past five years. The coaching he did in 98 and 99 really seems to be the great talent he had more than it was Shannahan. Some people say "You don't forget how to be a great coach" Well, if that's the case Shannnhan didn't do anything in his later part of his tenure to prove hat saying to be correct.
Dick Jauron. Buffalo Bills. He is a bad coach. He always always been a bad coach. There's absolutely no reason, once the Bills fire him, that he deserves another chance.
Mike McCarthy. Green Bay Packers. Let's go with a poker metaphor here. When a coach is the chip leader, he looks amazing. When his chips are down, good and great head coaches will earn their money back. Last year, McCarthy had a young healthy team so he became the chip leader. This year when injuries caused him to lose his chips, he showed he was not really a good head coach because he didn't get his chips back
Mike Holmgren. Seattle Seahawks. See Mike McCarthy. It's actually more pitiful than McCarthy because McCarthy at one point could still win the division. Holmgren had just as many injuries as the Packers yet his team BLEW! I mean thy blew donkey balls. Absolutely pathetic and pitiful the coaching job he's done this year.
Romeo Crennel. Cleveland Browns. See Dick Jauron. He sucks as well. More proof how awesome Bill Belichick is.
Jack Del Rio. Jacksonville Jaguars. There's only so much a QB and RB do when an O-line gets depleted due to unmitigated circumstances so it's hard to fault Del Rio on the lack of offensive play. He should get some flack for the defensive slip but in reality they didn't slip too far. He's still a darn good coach in my mind who got some shit luck
Tom Cable. Oakland Raiders. The only way any coach will succeed in Oakland is either: 1) Al Davis dies or 2) Al David stops controlling the team. Until either two happens, the head coach will remain useless
Marvin Lewis. Cincinnati Bengals. See Wade Phillips. The only bright side in Marvin Lewis' tenure has been his offense because of Carson Palmer. Once he got injured of course this team has gone to shit. Lewis can't control his locker room but he wouldn't matter because his game calling his shit. He hasn't done shit with his defense. At all. It's always been shit and you can't have a shit D for this long. He sucks and must be blowing the owner to be keeping his job.
Herm Edwards. Kansas City Chiefs. Throughout his coaching tenure he hasn't really proven to be all that good of a head coach going 54-74 with a .422 sample size. This year was no exception. But with a good organization and some smart drafting last year I wouldn't be surprised if the Chiefs win a lot of games next year. But it won't be because of Herm Edwards.
Jim Haslett. St. Louis Rams. The only two games the Rams won are the two games where Steven Jackson was healthy (essentially). When you have 14 games when you don't have your starting RB, you still need to win some fucking games. Lack of talent and loads of injuries don't help a head coach but Haslett hasn't done anything to make him worthy enough to keep his job.
Rod Maranelli. Detroit Lions. I don't care how untalented your team is (and the Detroit Lions were by far one the most untalented team of all time? you have to win at least one game. At least ONE FUCKING GAME! Come one really!? No wins. 0-16!? Now let's be fair, it's not 100% his fault. He had one of the worst GMs of all time (Matt Millen) and a really tough schedule but when you have games against Jacksonville, Packers, San Fransisco, Houston, and Washington and you don't win one game, you're a bad fucking coach.
3) Jeff Fisher, Tennessee Titans. I think the Hall of Fame praise he got in the beginning of the year is somewhat unwarranted, but the fact remains he did an excellent job this year. First of all, any team that dethrones the Indianapolis Colts deserves a HUGE pat on the back. But Jeff Fisher did it with essentially the same players as last year, where they only went 8-8. He helped develop his defense to put pressure on the QB (even AFTER losing pro bowl defensive end Kyle Van De Bosch) and still have a phenominal secondary just in case a QB ever got away. This defense was more than just talent alone because this same talent was never THIS good. He also did a great job playing to his strengths on offense. Kerry Collins is really not that good. But Chris Johnson and LenDale White are. And teams knew this. Yet Fisher was still able to run over teams and make sure his QB didn't throw picks. And in games where teams stopped his great running attacks (ie the one vs Chicago, he helped change strategy to end up winning the game in the second half. His team absolutely deserved to be the best team in the NFL.
2) Tony Sparano. Miami Dolphins. This roster from top to bottom was really not that good. They had some talent here and there (i.e. Ronnie Brown, Joey Porter) but their best weapon, Jason Taylor, was traded away. The only real difference between last year's squad and this year team was two things: Chad Pennington and not hearing a peep from Ricky Williams. Chad Pennington is not THAT much of a difference maker to just accrue 11 wins. So what does Sparano do with his lackluster squad- he plays to their strengths. A lot of dink and dumps and a lot of trickery. A lot of designing schemes to utilize your best defensive weapon (Porter) to attack the QB. The reason the Wildcat offense was prevalent throughout the NFL? Tony Sparano. You think the Dolphins would have scored five TDs on the Patriots without it? Nope. And when teams starting getting wise to the Wildcat, Sparano adjusted and played gold ol' smash mouth running football. Sparano has done so much with very little and helped turn this franchise around
1) Bill Belichick. New England Patriots. No coach is better at attacking his opponent's weakness. Oh, he's going to throw the ball. But where the ball is thrown and where he tells his receivers to run to is the few places you don't want the Patriots to be. Are you weak up the middle? Well, a lot of screen passes to where the receiver runs from the sideline to the middle. Is your right tackle not that good of a blocker? Well, guess which player his blitzes are going to attack. And he did this with lots of injures. Not only to Tom Brady but he lost a lot of his great star defensive players to free agency or the injury bug, yet STILL was able to thwart his defensive will. Are you beating the Patriots by 24 with one quarter left to go? Don't be surprised if the game is tied or if you lose at the end. No coach is better at half time and game time adjustments than Bill Belicheck. And his players love him. LOVE HIM. It's crazy to think but if Belicheck told his players to strip naked and do the Chicken Dance during half time, all 53 players would. Without question. (The only reason Bill probably doesn't do this is because he needs his players to make half time adjustments!)
Oh, and who makes the Patriots better: Tom Brady or Bill Belichick? Both. Belicheck helps the team win games, Brady helps the teams be absolutely fucking amazing. Plus Tom Brady doesn't play defense.
Football more than any other sport, requires specific and careful game planning and coaching. In baseball, all a manager has to do to decide at the beginning of the year decide what order to place his healthy players in a line up and decide when to pull pitchers and who to replace them with. A very easy job. How a team does doesn't really matter on a baseball manager but which players a baseball GM chooses. Basketball, hockey, and soccer. Well those sports are even easier. Very little game planning by the head coach. All they have to do is decide which players to replace and have the players on the court/field/rink etc run around and have them make plays.
But football. Oh no. You can't just throw out players. You need to design specific schemes. Very meticulous game planning. But really, how much does the head coach do?
The game calling is done by the offensive coordinators (for the most part). Most of the heavy lifting is not done by the head coach himself. So what exactly does a head coach do or need to do? What makes a great head coach? Is a teams record an accurate judge of how well a head coach does?
Simple answer: Yes. But life is not so simple is it? The first person a team should blame on their success or failures is the GM. They are responsible for the players that are on the field. They draft and make trades to determine who starts.
Things an NFL coach IS responsible for:
1) The overall game plan
2) Second half adjustments
3) Ability to keep a cohesive locker room
4) Random game time decisions (like whether to go for it on 4th and X and when to challenge, etc)
And that's it. That's all they have to do.
The biggest thing you can blame a coach for is can they play to their strengths and expose another teams weaknesses. Now a coach is not responsible for the talent on the field but he can control what he does with that talent. You may inherent a team that has sub-par talent but if you're a good coach you still have professional athletes on your team and they still have some strengths. Is your offensive line kind of crappy? Use a lot of dink and dumps. Is your defensive line kind of crappy? Help design smart blitz schemes. Great coaches can do more with less. Any casual fan can notice that if your team is playing an offense that can run the ball well but not pass, then pull your safeties up to the line of scrimmage and force the team to pass (Maybe not THAT specific, but you get the idea). Not necessarily how your team does on one or two plays but how does your team play throughout the game. And if the GM has blessed your team with talent, as a head coach, you need to make sure that talent performs on the field.
After a head coach has seen what their opponent has done for two quarters, they need to adjust. Especially if your team is losing. A smart coach can analyze what their team and their opponent has done well and done poorly. Then you need to make adjustments. Even if you are winning, your opponent is making adjustments. You need to make some changes to win football games
You also need to have 53 players believe in you and each other (or most importantly the 22 starters). If a head coach does not have a cohesive locker room, then he can not effectively do what else he needs to do. If people don't listen or respect what the coach has to say, then the head coach can not initiate his game plan effectively. The vast majority of what a coach has to do is manage the personalities of his players. Like Wade Phillips. His players don't really listen to him. Therefore they don't really play the way Philips wants them to play and thus he can not initiate his will on the field. Basically, head coached need to be high paid babysitters.
Lastly, the coach needs to make quick, smart decisions on what to do in random situations on the field. He is the ultimate decider on whether to challenge a play. He is the ultimate decider on whether to do something like squib kick with 15 seconds of the game when only up by one and allow the opponent lots of yardage to kick a last minute winning field goal. He is the ultimate decider on whether or not to do a prevent defense on the last drive of the game to allow your opponents to score a game winning touchdown. He is the ultimate decider on whether or not to go for it on fourth downs. It's these multiple game time decisions that weed out the good coaches from the bad ones.
A head coach also has a big say in determining which coordinators the team has. So while coordinators do a lot of the heavy lifting, it is not unfair to blame a head coach for the follies of his coordinators. The head coach does have the ability to override what the coordinators do and have to continually agree with coordinators decisions, but individual game calling is not on the head coaches shoulders.
If a coach can effectively do all four things well, he is a coach worthy of Coach of the Year votes. If he fails to do all four things, especially year after year, he deserves to get the axe.
A part of what a head coach realistically HAS to do is play the expectations game. If his team is expected to win a super bowl and misses the playoffs, he will get fired. If he isn't expected to win many games and wins his division, he'll get a 3 year extension. If a team is expected to do well, then the team NEEDS to do well in order for a head coach to keep his job. But if the team isn't really expected to do anything, then the head coach is kinda safe. (However, a head coach can not be bad year after year. He can keep his job like one or two years if the team is expected to do bad but not for long. a team needs to show improvement.) It sucks, but that's what a head coach needs to do.
Blowing the owner also helps a head coach keep his job.
1) Offenses win games but defenses win championships
2) In order to have a great defense you have to have a great ability to sack the quarterback
3) Having a lot of team sack totals is indicative of how good your “playoff” team is
Last year, the two teams that had the highest sack totals were 1st- New York Giants and 2nd- New England Patriots. Guess which teams were in the playoffs and won? Crazy coincidence huh? In 2005 the Seattle Seahawks were 1st in sacks and Pittsburgh Steelers were 3rd. Crazy again. Of course this doesn’t happen every year. In 2006, the Chicago Bears were t-8th and the Colts were 30th. So I’m not making any bold claims about regular season sack totals and how well a team does in the playoffs. But I am saying this makes logical sense when trying to determine what teams will do once they enter the playoffs. So I went to NFL.com (because ESPN.com is dumb and doesn’t have team sack totals, just individual) and looked to see how teams did in the regular season to sack the quarterback. I used that information to base my prediction on individual games and thus determined my bracket from that.
Do I expect to be right? No. Am I following statistics blindly instead of my head and heart? Yep. Is it fun to see how correct I am? You betcha!
Wild Card Round:
5 Atlanta Falcons def. 4 Arizona Cardinals
6 Philadelphia Eagles def. 3 Minnesota Vikings
5 Indianapolis Colts def. 4 San Diego Chargers
3 Miami Dolphins def. 6 Baltimore Ravens
6 Philadelphia Eagles def. 1 New York Giants
2 Carolina Panthers def. 5 Atlanta Falcons
1 Tennessee Titans def. 5 Indianapolis Colts
2 Pittsburgh Steelers def. 3 Miami Dolphins
6 Philadelphia Eagles def. 2 Carolina Panthers
2 Pittsburgh Steelers def. 1 Tennessee Titans
2 Pittsburgh Steelers def. 6 Philadelphia Eagles
Come closer and closer to the MLB regular season, I will be posting fantasy primers and my personal recommendations and advice. Unfortunately, since the people in my league either write for this site or read it, I cannot disclose my super secret player targets for 2009 prior to our leagues draft date. In 2008, I covetted Hanley Ramirez, Arod, David Wright, Matt Holliday and Miggy as the top 5 picks (in order).
Since I tend to not draft elite pitchers early (since SP is a very deep category with many players who emerge post-draft), I will indicate now that I perceive the top SP producers for 2009 will be:
1. Tim Lincecum
2. Dan Haren
3. Scott Kazmir
4. Javier Vasquez
5. Josh Beckett
Notice a 161-million dollar player who isn't listed? You may call this a "conservative list," but I'm calling for Lincey (whose arm was designed by NASA) or K-mir to rack up close to 300 Ks this or next year. Word of advice, however: I would only draft one of them if they fell past round 3.
Let the comments flow, baby.
Now it doesn't seem like people read this because the only people that comment are the authors. This shouldn't happen. I can't speak for the other three authors, but I know I would like to hear other people's feedback. If you like what we have to say I'd like to hear it and you think we're idiots, I'd also like to know. That is why we are working hard to edit the comments feature to make it easier for anyone to comment. So if YOU read something and would like to add your two cents, I encourage you to please do.
We are also working on adding a counter to see exactly how many people visit this site a day. Now that number might be a bit too high because I check this blog more than I visit my facebook page, but still, it will be nice to see.
Some authors have also contemplated about moving this blog to a legit website instead of a blogger site. It will be only ten dollars a YEAR and maintenance will be easy because we are friends with the webmaster. Now, transferring all of our posts will be somewhat of a hassle but might still be better in the long run.
So in summary, 1) please please please comment! 2) adding a visitor counter and 3) changing sites. So I hope these changes come soon and will be better for YOU!
In the 4th quarter of today's Bears Texans game, the Texans completed a ten yard pass on third down in bear's territory. The spot on the field showed the Texans where 1/2 yard short of a first down, but an easy first down conversion to the 10 yard line. The problem was that the replay showed that the receiver was actually down at the 13 yard line, which would make it a 4th and 3 and the Texans would most likely go for the field goal. Given that this was a crucial moment in the game with both the score and time a factor, bear's coach lovie smith decided to challenge the spot the receiver was down by contact hoping to get the ball moved back to the 13.
Little problem, under the NFL rule book, the down by contact spot cannot be challenged if the play did not result in a first down. What the fuck!! There is a huge difference between 4th and 1 or 4th and 3. Actually it can be extremely important like affecting a team's chance of going to the playoffs. I have a question. Does this also apply to the offensive team? Can an offensive team not challenge the spot if the play didnt result in a first down? The only rational i can think of is that they dont want the game being delayed with useless replays, but each team only has 2 challenges. What does the NFL care how the fuck they decide to use their 2 challenges.
Earlier in the season, lovie smith challenged an incredible one handed catch by marty booker that was called incomplete on the field. He did this even though pass interference was called on the play and the bears would get the ball at the same spot on the field. There should be a rule in the rule book that a team cant challenge a play if it give you absolutely no advatage on the field. That was a waste of time. Two crucial yards in the 4th quarter of a playoff caliber game is not.
Now we all know Jillian Barberie from her 2 minutes a week as the weather girl on the Fox football pregame live Sunday morning show. I'm kinda tired of her constantly trying to dress classy with her business attire or sun dresses. The reason it's annoying is because everything about the woman screams filthy whore. Take today for example. She had a very pleasant dress on, but complemented it with some crazy black stockings and 6 inch heels. Clearly she shops in the hooker department and Fox lets her on tv that way cause, well, men like hookers. But still, have some decency. Pam Anderson is a filthy whore you want to bring home to your mother, Barberie is just a filthy whore
Free throws are actually not nearly as hard as professionals make them seem to be. They are quite easy in fact. I never understood how NBA players can have such a difficult time shooting free throws. It is a 15 foot shot, from straight ahead, with no defenders, and no time limit. How are professionals still shooting 60-70%. The free throw line is sometimes called the charity stripe because they are intended to be easy points for the offense. However, the "recession" seems to be affecting the NBA's charity line too. I'm not even going to discuss the shooting in college basketball. It makes me cringe just thinking about it. Most teams shoot below 70% from the line, and last year's runner up Memphis Tigers shot a combined 61% and even lower in the tourney. God Freakin Damn It!!
I can make 90/100 free throws on a consistent basis. I have a friend who once hit 104 straight free throws back in high school. Both of us have the special touch associated with European players, but even so just a little practice and a little concentration can make anyone a 75% free throw shooter. Don't think so?
1) Take a basketball
2) Put it in your hands exactly like Steve Nash is doing above
3) Bend your legs before you shoot
4) Make 75% of your free throws
Unless you're basketball retarded, it's that fucking easy
Patrick Sharp is the 27 year old "sniper" or "finisher" on the Blackhawks. He excels in putting the puck in the net leading the hawks in goals with 39 in 2007 and 19 so far this year. He is arguably the fastest forward on the team. Although not the best playmaker in terms of assists, he makes up for it by putting the biscuit in the basket. 8/10
Patrick Kane is the "franchise". This 20 year old lightweight understands hockey like einstein understands physics. His style is that of a point guard, dissecting the defense while setting up his teammates for easy goals. Not the fastest or most skilled skater, but he is lethal with the puck on his stick and has added a deadly wrist shot to his growing repertoire. Look for him to dominate the NHL for 15 years. 9/10
Jonathan Toews is the "captain". At 20 years of age, he is the youngest captain in franchise history, just like Steve Yzerman was for the hated red wings 20 years prior. His style is a combination of kane and sharp. He is a very skilled one-on-one player with the ability to set up his teammates with creative playmaking as well as lighting the lamp himself. His skills are still very raw, compared to patrick kane, but his potential is nearly equal with lots of room for improvement. 7/10(so far)
Martin Havlet is the "European" and most established NHL player on the blackhawks at the age of 27. He has proven to be an all-star caliber player with incredible skating and stick-handling ability. He has a tendency to disappear in games, yet can single handedly dominate any game when motivated. He may not be around for the future because of salary cap restriction, so make sure to enjoy his talents for the time being. 8/10
Brian Campbell is the "free agent" as the hawks just payed this all-star defenseman all the money in the world. He is the fastest Blackhawk and has surprising offensive skills from the blue line. His lack of strength prevents him from being a Chris Pronger type dominate defenseman, but his combination of offensive and defensive skills are difficult to find. 8/10
Nikolai Khabibulin is the "bulin wall" and the stanley cup winning goalie on the Blackhawks. He is quite streaky, but put a strong defense in front of him and he is one of the best goalies in the NHL. He has a proven track record, but at the age of 35 and the younger Cristobal Huet waiting to play, he is not long for the blackhawks. Lets hope he can lead us to the promise land the way he did in 2004 for the Lightning. 8/10
Duncan Keith is the "defender" and arguably the best defenseman on the team. He is a home grown talent who has improved his game into one of the NHL's elite. He is the best skater on the team and recently added a power dimension that puts him ahead of linesman Brian Campbell. Given his age and ability, he should dominate along with Kane for years. 9/10
Kris Versteeg is the "unknown" as not much was expected from this rookie. He has surprised everyone with his play making ability in the mold of a young Martin Havlet. He is the current points leader for rookies and appears to be another great forward from the hawks organization. 7/10
Dustin Byfuglien is the "half-black" "Sean Avery type of player for the Blackahawks. He is a physical monster who loves to stay in front of the goal, blocking the goalie's vision and putting in rebound goals. He has and incredibly strong wrist shot and is a hassle for any defender to contain. Not the guy you want to challenge to a fight. 6/10
Ben Eager is the "Dennis Rodman" of the Chicago Blackhawks. He does little in terms of putting point on the scoreboard, but his intangibles affect every other aspect of the game. He has a never ending motor, which makes his size and speed a headache for any opponent to handle. He has shown surprising offensive development, but his main contribution is doing what Rodman did for the bulls: fuck with the opponent's heads. 6/10
Others of note:
Andrew Ladd - Forward 6/10
Dave Bolland - Forward 6/10
Cam Barker - Defense 6/10
Troy Brouwer - Forward 6/10
Brent Seabrook - Defense 7/10
Colin Fraser - Forward 6/10
Aaron Johnson - Defense 7/10
James Wiesniewski - Defense 7/10
Cristobal Huet - Goalie 7/10
I'm tired of saying "Player X is an overpayed bum!," where X is some player whose production (Y) is less than expectations (eY) and whose contract (K) is ridiculous, but not being able to quantify my claim. I'm also tired of people calling good players like Adam Dunn bums because they don't "hit for average." Thanks to fangraphs, who recently calculated the value of each win contributed by a player to his team in terms of dollars, we can take an interesting look at who was and was not an " overpaid bum" in 2008 by multiplying this number by each players WARP (Wins Above Replacement Player)
Given the sheer volume of major league players, I'm simply going to periodically break up 25-man rosters by teams from the 2008 season in order to determine which players were under/overpaid and how teams, as a whole, "profited" by their signings. In summation, we will find out which teams are efficient at offering baseball contracts.
Let's begin with the Cubs.
As you can probably tell by the profit margin, the Cubs, overall, did very well is paying for offensive production in 2008. Edmond's listen value is based on total production from 2008 and his overall contract value. I know the Cubs paid him the league minimum (500 K, with the Pads picking up the other 8 million), but I could not find his WARP split stats. I'm sure he provided an overwhelming amount of profit for the Cubs.
Basically, this chart shows what we already know. Soriano is an overpaid bum, Ward pretty much sucked and Soto/DeRosa are completely underrated (and paid) as players. When DeRo is up for Free Agency next year, he's gonna get some nice offers IMO. I wish the Cubs could have him another 2 years.
Final note: Despite Cedeno and Pie's profitable contracts, they are still shitty players. They are just paid shit too.
I'll update this post with further analysis later.
Also, David "MVP" Eckstein, put up some new photos on the side, including the ones I sent you via facebook!
That is all.
In their first match up where it counts, Beasley won the matchup. Neither one of them dominated or lit up the scoreboard. Rose played 38 minutes with 10 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists on a pathetic 3-14 from the field. Beasley played 23 minutes off the bench and had 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks on 6-11 from the field. Hopefully next time they play Rose will show Beasley why he was the number one pick!
But let's take a closer look at stats. I'm going to discount passer rating for this argument because if Pennington truely is better because of lots of dink and dumps, his passer rating should be inflated. I think the best stat to look at is Yards Per Attempt. If Brett Favre is truly better because he doesn't dink and dump, then he should have a better YPA than Pennington.
Pennington: 7.74 YPA, 6th in the NFL
Farve: 6.72 YPA, 22nd in the NFL
Even if run after the catches help Chad's YPA, there's no reason Favre's YPA should be THAT low. Advantage: Pennington
Another important stat one COULD look at is completion percentage. Now here, Pennington should have a high comp %. (In fact, I was watching SportsCenter one day and they showed one game where Chad P. had 11 straight completions yet the vast majority of them WERE dink and dumps and it would have been pathetic if he DIDN'T have 11 straight completions on the type of passes he threw). But if Favre has a comp % even CLOSE to Pennington, then Farve his better because his completions are more skilled and harder to do
Pennington: 67.0% t-2nd
Favre: 67.0% t-2nd
Let's look over some other stats:
Pennignton: 17 TD/ 7 INT, 2.43
Favre: 21 TD/ 19 INT, 1.11
Yes Favre should have more INTs and TDs than Chad but there's absolutely no excuse, whatsoever, for that low of a TD/INT ratio
Football Outsider stats:
Pennington: 5th in DVOA, 7th in DYAR
Favre: 23rd in DVOA, 19th in DYAR
Advantage: Pennington (and it's not even close)
Chad Pennington is BY FAR the better quarterback this year. Brett Favre gives up WAY too many interceptions and has superior less value than Chad Pennington. And considering Favre's top two receivers are far better than Pennington's (look up Ted Ginn Jr, Devone Bess, Jericho Cotchery, and Lav Coles's stats on footballoutsiders.com) it's really pathetic how bad Favre is this year.
Kudos, Chad P. for having a great 2008 season and I'm sorry Favre stole your pro bowl selection
SIDENOTE: Chad Pennington is 2nd in the NFL in passer rating and Favre is 18th behind QBs like Shaun Hill, Trent Edwards, Eli Manning, and Jason Campbell. Now passer rating is clearly a flawed statistic but if you're really high in passer rating then your a really good QB. If you're mediocre in passer rating, then you're just a mediocre QB. So don't look how many spots there are between Pennington and Favre so know that Pennington is at the top so he's good and Favre is towards the middle so he's just mediocre.
SIDENOTE 2: This is NOT a statement for who's career is better because Brett Favre CLEARLY wins that one, this is JUST for the 2008/2009 season
79) Nick Punto, UT: SIGNED The high-energy guy who steals bases and plays stellar defense is staying in Minnesota after agreeing to a two-year contract worth $8.5 million
He can do two skills that aren't really that important to a baseball player but are nice complementary skills to a good player. But we forgot about the whole "complementary" part and give him way more more than he's worth
95) Brad Wilkerson, 1B/OF: Hit 30 home runs and walked 100 times only four years ago, so someone is bound to take a flyer.
He did something sometime ago somewhere. Um.. I think he plays baseball too.
100) Curt Schilling, SP: Oh, what the hell.
A guy who's still proven he's a darn good player at his old age but had an injury last year. When healthy, and he is, can be a DAMN good player in your rotation. But I don't really care about things like stats and how a guy plays or anything.
109) Craig Counsell, UT: Is he Punch or Judy?
What does this even mean? I think it should be illegal to be retarded AND on drugs AND write things that people believe as legitimate
114) Daryle Ward, 1B/OF: After two standout pinch-hitting seasons, regressed to a .216 average last year.
After two season where he did well I'm going to point out a random meaningless statistic to prove he's bad in his third season
119) Bob Howry, RP: SIGNED The Giants bolster their bullpen, signing the 35-year old to a one-year, $2.75 million deal
The Giants bolster their bullpen by signing a guy I clearly think is crap because I put him so low.
120) Doug Mientkiewicz, 1B: Showed tremendous plate discipline with 44 walks to 28 strikeouts, even if all his power is sapped
Bad Jeff Passan! Bad! No! Go treats for you! Doug Meintekghytlkgwzzcsks sucks.
125) Julian Tavarez, RP: Hey, he’s always up for throwing at batters, if nothing else.
Um.. he wants to play baseball. Hey, so do I! I guess I'm on this free agent tracker thing too!
Let's take a moment to look at this:
87) Trever Miller, RP: SIGNED The left-handed specialist got a $500,000, one-year deal from the Cardinal
128) Casey Fossum, RP: He could be an effective lefty specialist (.674 OPS vs. .920 against righties)
Both guys, according to Passan's logic, are good against lefties. That's it. Yet, there's a 41 ranking gap in between them? Good job buddy. Good job.
OK, back to the list!
142) Mike Timlin, RP: Wait. He’s really not Bob Howry’s twin?
OMG, an intentional joke by Passan!
161) Scott Podsednik, OF: Gone is his speed on the basepaths and range in center field. Which renders him … a minor leaguer.
Gone, or rather never there, was his ability to get on base and hit for power. Any power. Ever.
Everyone past 161 should read, and granted essentially does, "He sucks but he's a free agent so I'm obligated to put him on this list on every single available free agent"
I hate Jeff Passan so freaking much!
Drew Gooden has been doing the opening tipoff for the Bulls. This is because he was starting with Aaron Gray who can’t jump even though he happens to be 7”0. Gooden is out right now and the bulls are starting Noccioni in his spot. Nocioni can’t be the one doing the opening tippoff so their starting Jokaim Noah who is only starting because of the opening tipoff.
My question is where is Tryus Thomas? He just got back from an injury, but even before why wasn’t he doing opening tipoffs? Tryus Thomas is a great athlete and one of the best jumpers in the game, let alone on the bulls. Why hasn’t he been doing opening tipoffs from day one?
Tryus has been coming on strong lately by his two big games on December 13th and 16th where he scored 16 and 22 points respectively with 14 rebounds, 4 steals, and blocks in those two games. Then he was sidelined with a concussion and played five minutes in his first game back. In his last game he looked back to his form before the injury with 16 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 2 blocks. Thomas is very good on defense with rebounds, blocks, and steals; something the rest of the team is weak on so his presence should give the team a big boost.
With Thomas’s good play recently he should be getting the starting nod soon over Noah or Gray and then hopefully the light bulb will go off for Vinny Del Negro, Del Harris, and Bernie Bickerstaff to let him to the opening tip!
13) Bobby Abreu, OF: Six straight 100-RBI seasons is impressive, but the disappearing walk total last year is a little disconcerting.
So basically, he was good because he played for the Yankees and was able to bat in a line up full of All-Stars so, if you get Abreu on your team, I guess he'll suck. Of course, Abreu was AWFUL because of his disappearing walk total and didn't do anything else
15) Oliver Perez, SP: The grand mystery of the Class of ‘09: Is he the guy who thoroughly dominates one start, or the one who looks Triple-A bound the next?
Will he pitch well or won't he? I don't know but I sure love this analysis.
21) Jon Garland, SP: The archetype is-what-he-is pitcher – gives up lots of hits, strikes out no one but logs a guaranteed 200 decent innings.
A guy who sucks but stays healthy while he sucks
25) Joe Crede, 3B: A little high for someone with chronic back issues, but he’s only 30 and plays Gold Glove-caliber defense when healthy.
A guy who can play well when healthy but he is not healthy so he can't play well. But because he played well once before when he was healthy, he's a good player
32) Garret Anderson, OF: He still will hit .300 with 15 home runs, not take any walks and look like Grandpa Abe Simpson when he’s running.
Yes! A guy who can't walk and with no power! This is just what my teams needs!
39) Mark Grudzielanek, 2B: High batting average and above-average fielding make up for Grudzielanek’s lack of power and patience.
The two fundamentals that make a great player: the ability to be discipline at the plate and to hit for power. I'm pretty sure absolutely nothing makes up for a player who can't hit and can't walk.
Let's take a break for a second. At least Jeff Passan has gone this far without making any reference to our favorite player David Eckstein.
47) Paul Byrd, SP: The pitcher equivalent to David Eckstein – and 26 spots higher than Eckstein because pitching scrappiness yields league-average performance.
Oh shit. Nevermind.
48) Ray Durham, 2B: Can’t run much and is slow in the field, too, but high on-base percentage and doubles power make him a nice one-year fill-in.
He can walk and hit for some power. Fuck this guy sucks
54) Juan Uribe, 2B/SS/3B: Ability to play three positions and hit home runs – well, from 2004-07, at least – makes him worth the risk
You're right, his defense, and not the fact that he's one of the worst offensive players of all time, make him worth maybe someone picking him up
59) Mark Kotsay, 1B/OF: He doesn’t cover much ground in center field and doesn’t hit enough to play first regularly. Nonetheless, good-guy reputation will help him land a solid gig.
He's a terrible player but he's really really nice but let's give him a million dollars or two
65) Will Ohman, RP: Workhorse’s 83 games pitched ranked second in baseball in 2008.
He can pitch.... and well.. um.. he's a pitcher.. and um.. he can throw a ball
67) David Weathers, RP: Still an effective right-handed reliever – and a rare one that gets out lefties, who had a .635 OPS against him in 2008.
He's a guy that can get out both righties AND lefties (so basically EVERYONE). Let's drop him to #67.
71) Kevin Millar, 1B: Pulled off the rare 20-homer, sub-.400 slugging percentage season, achieved this decade by such luminaries as Richie Sexson, Tony Batista and Uribe.
If Jeff Passan really just running out of free agents at this point?
73) David Eckstein, SS/2B: Shopping himself as a second baseman, so he can look like only a half-wimp on his throws to first base.
So basically David Eckstein just sucks? Why can't you say that? Why can't you say he sucks? But apparently his pitching counterpart is good?
74) Mark Prior, SP: Hey, Wood stayed healthy for an entire year
A former teammate did something so maybe Mark Prior can do something as well
Ok, well, Jeff Passan has officially pissed me off too much that I'm not even going to bother making fun of 75 to.. 183! Holy shit! If he's pulling off this shit analysis at 74 I can't imagine him doing another 109 players. Fuck you Jeff Passan. Fuck you.
Let's look at the 2008 baseball season. Without division winners, the playoffs would look like this:
1) Cubs (97-64)
2) Phillies (92-70)
3) Brewers (90-72)
4) Mets (89-73)
Instead, the Dodgers (84-78) went into the playoffs. Here are teams that had a better record than the LA Dodgers: NY Mets, Houston Astros (86-75), St. Louis Cardinals (86-76), and Florida Marlins (84-77). Four teams had a better record than the Dodgers yet they were still able to make playoffs
1) Angels (100-62)
2) Rays (97-65)
3) Red Sox (95-67)
4) Yankees (89-73)
Here it wasn't AS bas considering the Twins (88-75) and White Sox (89-74) only were a game behind the Yankees but still, the Yankees won the same amount of games and lost less games than my ChiSox.
Now let's look at football. And while the season is not over yet, let's look at what would happen assuming the playoff teams had the best record possible and the teams that didn't make the playoffs and the worse record possible (i.e. let's say Miami won and therefore they would make the playoffs so since the Patriots would NOT make the playoffs, they will "lose" this Sunday)
1) Tennessee Titans (14-2)
2) Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)
3) Miami Dolphins (11-5)
4) Denver Broncos (9-7)
5) Indianapolis Colts (11-5)
6) Baltimore Ravens (11-5)
Teams that will miss the playoffs: New England Patriots (10-6), New York Jets (9-7)
1) New York Giants (12-4)
2) Carolina Panthers (12-4)
3) Minnesota Vikings (10-6)
4) Arizona Cardinals (9-7)
5) Atlanta Falcons (11-5)
6) Dallas Cowboys (10-6)
Teams that would miss the playoffs: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7), Chicago Bears (9-7), Philedelphia Eagles (8-7-1)
Now this doesn't seem TOO bad. But again, this is the BEST SCENARIO POSSIBLE. What if San Diego, New England, Minnesota, Chicago, Tampa Bay, Philedelphia, Washington, and Seattle win? Then the scenario turns out like this:
1) Tennessee Titans (14-2)
2) Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)
3) Miami Dolphins (11-5)
4) San Diego Chargers (8-8)
5) Indianapolis Colts (11-5)
6) Baltimore Ravens (11-5)
Teams that miss: New England Patriots (11-5), New York Jets (9-7), Denver Broncos (8-8)
1) New York Giants (12-4)
2) Carolina Panthers (12-4)
3) Minnesota Vikings (10-6)
4) Arizona Cardinals (8-8)
5) Atlanta Falcons (11-5)
6) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-6)
Teams that miss the playoffs: Chicago Bears (10-6), Dallas Cowboys (9-7), Philedelphia Eagles (9-6-1), Washington Redskins (9-7)
This doesn't seem fair does it? an 11-5 team (New England) and a 10-6 team (Chicago) misses the playoffs and two 8-8 teams (Arizona and San Diego) make the playoffs. That's bullshit.
Divisions are fine for determining who plays who during the regular season but the teams that have the best record overall should be rewarded for making the playoffs. Especially in football, if you go AT LEAST 10-6, you deserve to make the playoffs. It isn't such a bad idea to change the playoff system is it? Nope.
As Bill Beane as so accuretely pointed out, you don't need money to have a good product on the field. (I think it's called like "Moneyball" or something). Let's take a look at 2008 and see how teams spent their money:
1) Yankees. Payroll: $209,081,579. Finished: 89-73, 3rd in AL East, missed playoffs
2) Tigers. Payroll: $138,685,197. Finished: 78-88, last in AL Central, missed playoffs
3) Mets. Payroll: $138,293,387. Finished: 89-73, 2nd in NL East, missed playoffs
4) Red Sox. Payroll: $133,440,037. Finished: 95-67, 2nd in AL East, lost in ALCS
5) White Sox. Payroll: $121,152,667. Finished: 88-74, 1st in AL Central, lost in ALDS
6) Angels. Payroll: $119,216,333. Finished: 100-62, 1st in AL West, Lost in ALDS
7) Cubs. Payroll: $118,595,833. Finished: 97-64, 1st in NL Central, Lost in NLDS
8) Dodgers. Payroll: $118,536,038. Finished: 84-78, 1st in NL West, Lost in NLCS
9) Mariners. Payroll: $117,993,982. Finished: 61-101 (worst record in AL), last in AL West, missed playoffs
10) Braves. Payroll: $102,424,018. Finished: 72-90, 4th in NL East, missed playoffs
Here's what the top teams were in baseball during the regular season and their payroll ranking:
1) LA Angels. 100-62. 6th
2) Chicago Cubs. 97-64. 7th
3) Tampa Bay Rays. 97-65. 29th (out of 30)
4) Boston Red Sox. 95-67. 4th
5) Philedelphia Phillies. 92-70. 13th
6) Milwaukee Brewers. 90-72. 15th
7) New York Yankees. 89-73. 1st
8) New York Mets. 89-73. 3rd
9) Chicago White Sox. 88-74. 5th
10) Minnesota Twins. 88-74. 24th.
Here's how the playoffs shaked out and their teams payroll ranking:
Won WS: Philedelphia Phillies. 13th
Lost WS: Tampa Bay Rays. 29th
Lost ALCS: Boston Red Sox. 4th
Lost NLCS: LA Dodgers. 8th
Lost ALDS: Chicago White Sox. 5th
Lost ALDS. LA Angels. 6th
Lost NLDS: Milwaukee Brewers. 15th
Lost NLDS: Chicago Cubs. 7th
Notice anything? There is absolutely no correlation between payroll and how a team performs on the field or in the playoffs. AT ALL! In fact, the team with the second worst payroll made it to the World Series! They had a better regular season record that both the Red Sox and the Yankees and made it father in the playoffs than both of them.
The team with the worst payroll, the Florida Marlins, had a winning record at 88-77 and really was in the payoff hunt for a lot of 2008. The team with the second biggest payroll, the Detroit Tigers, a team that was supposed to have one of the best offenses of all time, finished dead last in their division, behind the Kansas City Royals! The Royals! The Twins with the 24th ranked payroll had the exact same record as the team with the 5th and only lost the division based off of the 163rd game. (As David "MVP" Eckstein would say Small Sample Size! Small Sample Size!)
So for all you owners and GMs and managers or whoever who are pissed at how much the Yankees are spending, SHUT THE HELL UP! Instead, maybe you should look within your organization and make that better instead of wasting your time bithching and moaning.
Source: http://blog.sportscolumn.com/story/2008/4/1/231932/3450/mlb/2008_MLB_Payrolls and http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/standings?date=20080929&type=reg&br=9&year=2008&order=false&st=2
I only got a chance to see the highlights of the Hawaii Bowl featuring god's gift to the world Jimmy Clausen. Now we all know that he sucks. He's a spoiled california kid from a famous family and brother of other marginal college football QB's most notably Casey Clausen. Little Jimmy has been told he's god's gift to the football universe from the first time he put on a football helmet. He dominated at Oaks Christian, which basically dresses a D1 school in high school, allowing little Jimmy to be the brat he was raised to be. He was one of the most highly recruited QB's in recent memory, being told what a god's gift he was by names like weis, carroll, and saban only feeding little Jimmy's ego. Before coming to notre dame, he predicted the fighting irish would win 4 national championships. Oops!
This guy defines the word douchebag. After sucking it up for two straight years and making the chicago bears offense look sound by comparison, little Jimmy finally had a stellar game at the Hawaii bowl against the Hawaii warriors, formerly known as the rainbow warriors btw. And after each TD pass, the camera would zoom in on little Jimmy's arrogant smirk making every viewer throw up a little. How this guy can have a smirk after leading the irish to an embarrassing 10-15 record and almost costing charlie weis his job i simply do not know. After taking over for a darn good schmuck in Brady Quinn, little Jimmy has redefined the word schmuck while having as many interceptions as TD passes and a losing record at a once proud football institution.
I actually think little Jimmy has NFL star potential considering his 6'3" frame and rocket arm, but unless he losses the fucking attitude, he will end up exactly where his brother Casey is, sitting at home while his daddy tells him what a god's gift to football he really is.
For those of you who are unaware other sports exist outside of football, MLB will be debuting its own personal network new year's day properly called MLB Network. This is a tremendous idea, although i have no clue why it took MLB so long to realize this is a great idea. We're all familiar with the NFL network, although none of us actually have it, which gives us even more in depth football coverage and primetime games. The NBA network has been around for many years, and recently the NHL, golf, and even tennis have introduced their own cable channels. So baseball is a bit behind the curb, but no better time than the present.
The preview channel that i have spent watching quite a bit today promises great features and daily coverage that is very enticing to even the average fan. They promise to cover the hot stove, draft, world baseball classic, and live coverage of daily action going live from 5pm to the last pitch of the night on the west coast. This network is sure to bring the baseball fan closer to the game and players, telling the untold stories. Considering ESPN is becoming more and more of a year round NFL network itself, with its combine/draft/preseason/regular season/postseason/offseason/favre retirement coverage, it will be nice to have a network devoted exclusively to the greatest sports on earth; baseball.
The current on-air talent for the MLB network is quite below average. Harold Reynolds and Dan Plesac are decent analysts but everyone else sucks. Matt Vasgersian is one of the most annoying personalities in baseball, so if you didnt like the baseball coverage on TBS during the postseason, you wont be very impressed with the people you see on the MLB network, but i would still recommend it. It's gonna be awesome!
In today's blogpost, Schilling basically says what I said yesterday about the Yankees signing of Mark Teixeira being overrated, only with a "we are just as good as the Yanks without Tex" attitude.
Two words, Schilling: as if.
Let's compare 25 men rosters:
1B: Youkilis vs Teixeira -- The Yankees win this matchup because while both first baseman are patient sluggers with relatively high batting averages (if you are into that sort of statistic), Tex clearly has more power (30+ HRs vs 20+)
2B: Pedroia vs Cano -- The Red Sox win this one if Cano continues his career with his 2008 numbers instead of his 2006/2007 numbers. If Cano were to "bounce back," however, he would be a formidible comparison to Pedroia, given his double digit HR power, more-than-competent ability to make contact and well-above-average defense.
SS: Jeter vs Lugo -- Despite his hugely overrated status and steady decline-in-ability as he is aging, Jeter is clearly better than Lugo in all categories other than defense (sabermetrically speaking, Jeter was rated the worst defensive SS in the game last year). Just look at their offensive numbers.
3B: A-rod vs Mike Lowell -- Yankees win this one with no question. A-Rod is one of the best baseball players of all-time and Mike Lowell is old, oft-injured and inconsistent.
OF1: Jason Bay vs Xavier Nady -- The Red Sox win this one because Bay is a 30 HR power guy with a career OPS that hovers around .900. However, Nady, until recently, was utilized as a utility guy throughout his career (much like Mark DeRosa). It took until last year to show what he's capable of doing (and it's actually pretty damn good).
CF: Ellsbury vs Swisher -- This one is a tie, in my opinion. While Ellsbury is clearly the better defender (if for no reason other than the ability to run at fly balls competently), Swisher is clearly more valuable (where it counts) offensively. Besides, Swisher really isn't an outfielder. He's more of a 1B/DH.
OF2: JD Drew vs Johnny "Ex-Sox" Damon -- This one again goes to the Yankees because Damon still walks, smacks extra-base hits and is, above all, consistent. Drew has some great ability but it often comes and goes in streaks. That's all and good for a 162 game season (sample size), but nothing to brag about come playoff time.
DH: Matsui vs Ortiz -- Both are health risks as of late, but Ortiz is clearly the better player in terms of power (which is what you want in a DH). Match point goes to the Red Sox.
SP1: Beckett vs Sabathia -- In 2009, Sabathia's arm will probably fall off, but Beckett is just as likely to get a sidelining blister on his index finger. Assuming both stay healthy, however, Sabathia's career and potential is clearly more distinguished (more K's, less HRs) and more consistent.
SP2: Dice-K vs AJ Burnett -- The Yankees win here if AJ stays healthy because Dice-K's walk rate is going to eventually bite him in the ass. Both have nasty stuff, however, and you could give a good arguement that this one is a toss up.
SP3: Wang vs Lester -- Yanks sweep this matchup, as Wang pitches like an ace. Want is great at inducing ground balls and not walking people, while Lester is just an above-average middle-of-the-rotation kind of guy.
SP4: Joba vs Tim Wakefield -- Considering how good and young Joba is and how old and not-very-good Wakefield is, I'm giving this matchup to the Yankees.
SP5: Phil Hughes vs Clay Buchholz -- The winner of this matchup is indeterminant because both are young pitchers with much hype, great stuff and tons of potential but very limited proven success in the majors. They can either be the next Roy Oswalt or the next Daniel Cabrera. Only time will tell
Relief Core: The Red Sox have a leg up on the Yankees in this category given their profound pitching depth.
CL: Rivera vs Papelbon -- While Papelbon will probably be great for many years to come and Mo Rivers is on his way out of the game, they both posses equally great talent. I have to give the edge to Mo and the Yankees, however, given Rivera's sheer experience in the majors.
All said and done, it's clear that the Yankees pretty much have better team all around. Outside of the DH position, second base and a corner outfield position, the Yankees have equally good, if not better, players at every turn. Despite his comment that he is "glad Youk is staying at first and Mike is at third," there is no way in hell he could look me in the eye and say Youk wouldn't be a better 3B than Lowell and Tex wouldn't be a better 1B than Youk. Such a claim defies all logic and reason.
"31) Jason Giambi, DH: After years as a bust, he could prove a power-hitting bargain to a team in need of a designated hitter."
If you (or Jeff Passan, for that matter) were to in fact click the given link, you would find the following batting statistics for Jason Giambi as a Yankee:
2002: 1.034 OPS (172 OPS+), 41 HR, 109 BB, 689 PA
2003: .939 OPS (148 OPS+), 41 HR, 129 BB, 690 PA
2004: .721 OPS (90 OPS+), 12 HR, 47 BB, 322 PA
2005: .975 OPS (161 OPS+), 32 HR, 108 BB, 545 PA
2006: .971 OPS (148 OPS+), 37 HR, 110 BB's, 579 PA
2007: .789 OPS (108 OPS+), 14 HR, 40 BB, 303 PA
2008: .875 OPS (128 OPS+), 32 HR, 76 BB, 565 PA
Putting his two injured half seasons (2004, 2007) aside, Jason Giambi played five "full" (545+ PA's) seasons for the Yankees, only OPS-ing below .930 once (last year, with a league-worst .875 OPS). In fact, if you were to take out Giambi's terrible first month start from his final season stats in 2008, in his worse full season with the Yankees, Giambi would have put up a horrible .904 OPS (485 PA). If you were to even combine Giambi's two injured half-seasons into a single full season and expect "production" from him, he still would have had an OPS+ of 101, 1% better than the MLB average, in his worse "full season" as a Yankee.
So please, Jeff Passan, explain to me how a guy who hit an average of 35 HR's a season (1 less than Mark Teixeira's career season average), walked 100+ times a season and OPS-ed .961 when healthy (.926 overall) for the Yankees was a "bust." Are you trying to say that Giambi wasn't as good at ages 30-37 as he was when he was 26-29 and on steroids? Does that even count as an argument?
EDIT 1: I was looking over Giambi's stats and noticed his seven year Batting Average for the Yankees was approximately .250. Perhaps Passan, who clearly doesn't understand the important statistics in baseball, thought that batting .250 (despite a .400+ OBP) makes one "bad." But then I remembered this article Jeff Passan wrote a few months ago. Surely Passan cannot think that Giambi is a "bust" because of his .250 BA because he was just raving about Ryan Howard, who hit .250 (and had an OPS only 5 points higher than Giambi's 2008 OPS) last year. So what in the fuck is Jeff Passan talking about???
EDIT 2: Come to think of it, you know who else has a career OPS of .926 or higher? Only 40-other players. Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson had career OPS's of .926. In fact, Giambi's career OPS ranks top 30 in MLB history, ahead of Willie Mays, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Edgar Martinez, David Ortiz, Carlos Delgado and Albert Belle. Giambi basically has the same career OPS as Ty "Wife Beater" Cobb. Pretty fucking exclusive company, if you ask me.
At this point, I demand an apology for the time you made me waste thinking about this all day.
Out is Jason Giambi -- who averaged 35 HRs and 100+ walks a season -- and in is Mark Teixeira -- who averages 36 HRs and 79 walks a season. Not a huge "upgrade" outside of years left until retirement (Giambi yielder higher production per AB for the Yankees than Teixeira has in his career). The comparable power comes with a parity of Batting Average for Pitch Selection (the latter of which corrolates higher to consistent Runs Created). So despite what you think, Tex isn't exactly the biggest upgrade in the world for the Yanks.
Out is Bobby Abreu -- who averages 22+ HRs and 104 walks per season -- and in is Nick Swisher -- who averages 28 HRs and 91 walks per season. Both have great plate discipline, but Abreu is clearly better. Also, despite the fact that Abreu is probably nearing the last several years of his career, I can't say Swisher's poor defense in the outfield and streaky hitting are properly compensated by the fact that he's entering his prime years. Also, while Swisher may have more raw HR power, Abreu has shown a much better ability to scoop up XBH's (Abreu's career SLG is 48 pts higher than Swisher's). Abreu's replacement may not be a downgrade, but he's not an upgrade either.
In is CC Sabathia, who logged 253+ innings last year. Even though he's got the same "work horse" label as such players as Carlos Zambrano and Aaron Harang, his heavy arm abuse by the Brewers is nothing short of unsettling. As the Pitcher Abuse Point (PAP) system indicates, it's what pitchers do when tired and fatigued that causes long term injury. At the very least, those four consecutive three-days rest, 99-105-108-122 pitch starts in September can't be good for Sabathia's health. Recall that after logging in a career his 241+ innings in 2007, Sabathia started off the year in horrible, fatigued form (Ks down, BBs up, HR/9 up, etc.). Note further than fellow workhorse Aaron Harang had a phenominal season going into late May, when Dusty Baker -- in classic Dusty Baker fashion -- decided to pitch him for four innings following a 103 pitch outing just two days prior. Baker then made Harang pitch 5.2 innings three days later. While Harang's arm took a little over a month and a half to fall off (extended DL stint), his peripherals plummeted immediately (Ks down, BBs up, HR/9 up). Harang ultimately ended the season with his highest ERA and lowest numbers of Ks since 2004 (his first full season in the majors). To the Yanks, I just say "buyer beware."
Out is Mike Mussina, who had a fantastic season to retire on. His career 3.68 ERA and <1.2 WHIP will surely be missed.
In is AJ Burnett who can only stay healthy in contract years. Nuff said.
Out is Pettite, whose SP3/SP4 career with the Yankees has been well above average and nothing short of reliable.
In are prospects Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy who "they" say have great stuff, but failed to help the Yankees win a single game in 2008 between the two of them. Their production potential may be high, but the inexperience, lack of command and before-their-prime status make Huges and Kennedy questionable pieces in the "Yankees dream rotation."
While i'm not saying the Yankees won't win their division this year, I am saying they are not that much better of a team than they have been in the past few years. Since The Rays are going to probably be better this year (considering the increased major league experience among the youthful squad), the Yanks are going to have to do more than sign a bunch of big names with big questions behind them to become AL Champ shoe-ins. They'll probably make the playoffs, though.
Ok, that'sh not true at all. Far from it. I do not hate Lou Holtz. He'sh one of the greatest college football coachesh of all time. He'sh amashing. He hash inshightful analashys and brings his great wishdom to the game. But sherioushly, doesh hish lisp pissh anyone elshe off or ish that just me?
Ooooo! A baseball post. I guess, I'll read on.
In the wake of baseball's free agency market, there have been a lot of rumors about which free agents are going to which team. If you just spend a few hours (or like six to ten which I seemingly do now that I have nothing to do) watching ESPN, you'll see that there are rumors everywhere about which teams are going after which player and which players accepted contracts from which franchise. But the thing that bothers me the most is that these journalist aren't naming their sources. These reports are always the same "[insert baseball team here] is going after [insert baseball player here] sources tell [insert inane, crappy ESPN baseball reporter here, or rather just insert ESPN baseball reporter here]." And it always seems like these reports are never right! Let's take Mark Teixeira for example. First he wasn't doing anything because he wanted to get signed by the Angels and he wanted to wait to see if Sabathia signed with the Angels. Then, Teixeira, was offered a HUGE contract by the Red Sox. Then Teixeira was looking at teams which included Boston, Washington, and Baltimore. Then he was only exclusively looking at Boston and Washington (seriously, Washington! I know they might offer you a lot of money, but the fucking Nationals! Really!?). Then he signed with the Yankees. What the fuck! Why do I care that Teixeira is kind of sort of looking at some teams. I don't need to hear about random bumble skunk teams and situations. Just tell me that Teixeira signed with the Yankees. That's all I want to hear about.
Secondly, and most importantly, who are these sources! Who is like telling Buster Olney that Teixeira is considering like two teams, then I hear an hour later he signed with a team that WASN'T one of the two teams Teixeira was considering. Can you imagine if the New York Times did this? "Sources say that George W. Bush is thinking about bombing Iran in the upcoming weeks. Now sources say that Bush is planning on just going to Iran within the next two weeks. Sources are now telling the Times that W is now going to call Iran. Wait, Bush, just had this one dream where he actually thought about Iraq and that was it." Seriously, the tabloids at least MENTION their sources (Granted they say "We heard from this bum on the street"… but still). Are they tabloids on a higher realm of journalistic integrity than sports writers? According to my brother (who is going to be a journalist and is majoring in journalism and thus has SOME knowledge on the topic of basic journalism), the reason journalist really don't name their sources is to protect the source. For example, if a source feels his life or job is in danger and/or has a VALID reason to not be named, then a journalist should protect their sources identity. If a Presidential aide is talking smack about the President, then of course that source should want to remain anonymous.
Side note: see how easy it was to name my source and present a foundation for his credibility? Why can't you do this ESPN?
But this is baseball. Offering a contract to a player or talking about what team a player wants to play with does not fall under this category of protecting anonymity. What is the valid reason for not mentioning these sources? You can't just say random things, especially if they turn out to be meaningless in the end. Now, if ESPN said, "according to Teixeira's agent, Teixeira has gotten offers from Boston, Baltimore, and Washington", then OK, that's acceptable even though they have no bearing on which team the 1B ultimately chooses. But ESPN baseball reporters need to mention their sources when talking about big issues like these in order for them to be credible. Even though this is ESPN, you need credibility as a news organization as a whole. ESPN is the major influential sports institution in America and in order to remain truly influential and important, you need credibility.
Right now, ESPN baseball reporters have the equivalent integrity of high school gossip. "Well I heard so and so had a nose job and liposuction this summer! OMG!" What's stopping us four blog posters (or three if you don't count Irwin who hasn't done anything yet) from starting our own blog or TV show and just saying the first things that come to our mind. "Today Alexei Rameriz, in an attempt to bulk up, is taking daily steroid injections in the ass from Ozzie Guillen and has joined the competitive eating circuit." Seriously, if I called Buster Olney about this information, changed Alexei to Derek Jeter, this story would first page news by morning. I understand journalists don't have to and should not have to name their sources according to the first amendment and judicial cases but this is getting ridiculous. Sources need to start getting named.
Yes, there are many times where a team should have won and lost. There are also many times a team should have lost and won. If this happened, then maybe, that would happen, which would lead said team to a win. Maybe a satellite fell from the sky and killed a team's star running back and quarterback the opposing team would win. Maybe if dinosaurs came back to life and killed half a team, another team would win. Maybe if a radioactive plant blew up near a stadium and gave a team superhero powers, then maybe, MAYBE, a team would win.
There are so many scenarios that could cause a team to win or lose that people should stop speculating on "What Ifs". Now it is possible that a record could lie about the strength of a particular team. There are times where a team plays their opponent very well and due to some fluke plays, said team loses. However, the team lost. It's a loss. There's nothing the team can do now to change that fact. In fact, you can make the argument that the team should have played better to avoid being in that situation where one or two fluke plays could occur that could cause said team to lose. But I digress.
So a team MAY be better than their record, but to all analysts, please don't talk about situations that might have happened. You can talk about the strengths and weaknesses of a particular team and how that might match up against their opponent. But do not, DO NOT, talk about what could have happened when predicting and talking about future games.