Guarantees and other useless ramblings

So Rex Grossman has guaranteed the Redskins will win the NFC East. The media has grabbed onto this like it’s a breaking news story. That we should all make a big deal out of it. I can only imagine how much time Pardon the Interruption, Around the Horn and the Sports Reporters will spend on this. Here’s my take.

TOTAL NONSENSICAL BULLSHIT!!!!

It’s the same total nonsensical bullshit as Namath’s guarantee over 40 years ago that the media still talks about. Are you freaking kidding me?

Shouldn’t every single athlete firmly believe their team is going to win? Do people really expect Grossman to say “man, it’s going to be a brutal season. I’ll probably throw 20 interceptions and we’ll be lucky to eke out a 5-11 record. I’m not sure why I even showed up for the season other than to collect my big paycheck.” What did people expect Namath to say when people were asking him about the upcoming game? A guarantee is worth nothing, means nothing, and quite frankly should emanate from every athlete’s mouth.

I’ll tell you this right now. If the media put a microphone in front of me, I’d guarantee victory in every game I play in. In fact, if any of the Bulldogs are reading my column, I guarantee my softball team sweeps the double header tonight. There, I said it. Print it out and put it in their dugout as some form of extra motivation. If you go into a battle NOT thinking you’re going to win, you’ve already lost. Would it be a big deal for a Kansas City Royals player to guarantee victory over the New York Yankees? No. If you don’t think you can beat the Yankees, don’t play. What Grossman said? Big freaking deal. Joe Namath? Most overrated quarterback in the history of the NFL.

 

-Am I the only one who thinks Osi Umenyiora and his agent need to have their head examined? So now there’s a knee injury and that’s why he’s missing practice? A few weeks/month ago Osi declared himself in top physical condition. That he was excited to finally be healthy after playing last year with a hip injury. Now we’re suddenly supposed to believe there’s a problem with his knee? Does Osi and his representatives realize that by publicly stating there’s a problem, they basically destroyed any chance the Giants had of getting a 2nd round pick for him much less the 1st rounder they were looking for. A public injury WEAKENED his bargaining position. The Giants can’t trade him and now why the hell would they renegotiate the contract and pay MORE for what amounts to damaged goods? Idiotic. Even if this injury is legit and Osi hurt himself preparing for the season, he should have kept it under raps so the Giants would either be able to trade him or be willing to pay him more. Just so dumb!

-Stevie Williams, shut up and just carry the freaking bag. Seriously. You won 13 majors with Tiger Woods and we’re supposed to believe that winning some podunk tournament with Adam Scott was the biggest win and thrill of your career? We get it. Tiger is an asshole. The whole world knows this already. We get it, you don’t like they he fired you and that he apparently didn’t do it in person. Boo-freaking-hoo. Tiger made you riches you not only never saw before, but never even dreamed were possible. Your mortgage? You owe him. The car you drive? You owe him. The fact that other people desire you to carry their bag? You owe him. So, just shut up and carry the bag. Your job is to basically be invisible.

-According to today’s paper, Reggie Bush is still pining for Kim Kardashian. Dude, let it go. You’re a freaking rich professional athlete in tip-top shape. There are a million psycho self-absorbed large trunked women out there who’d be more than happy to have the pleasure of your company. Time to move on. Your love life is almost as pathetic as your ability to run between the tackles.

-Panic in NY. Mo blew two straight games and the Yankees have lost 3 in a row. Do people not realize that even in the face of all their problems….questionable pitching staff after CC, A-Rod on the DL, Jeter and Posada in decline….that the Yankees have the third best record in baseball? Relax people. The Yankees WILL make the playoffs. Hell, I’ll pull a Rex Grossman and guarantee it. Then, once in a short playoff series, anything can happen. Chill out folks.

See ya next time.

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Dumb and Dumber

The NFL, namely contracts between teams and players, are a constant fight that represents the battle between dumb and dumber. The situation currently transpiring in Giants camp is the prime example.

Defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who’s due to make $7.1 million over the last two years of his current contract, is publicly barking that he’s going to refuse to play unless he’s given a new contract. Think about that people. A man who’s going to earn over $3.5 million a year is going to refuse to play for such a pittance. It’s insulting to the rest of the world. Truly. Towards the end of the 2005 season, Umeyiora signed a 6-year $41 million extension that would take him through the 2012 season that included $15 million in guarantees. It set a record for the largest contract ever given to a third year player. Let me repeat a few key words from that sentence. LARGEST EVER.

Here we are, six years later, and suddenly that figure is insulting to Umenyiora. Why is it that a total which was completely acceptable is now an embarrassment and an insult? How is $41 million not enough for his family to live the rest of their lives on? That’s insulting to the rest of the world. If he wasn’t so much bigger than me, I’d like to slap him in the face and say wake up. Do you have any idea what kind of a jackass you sound like?

Well, the landscape in the league changed. Defensive ends are being more richly rewarded. Charles Johnson, who had 10 sacks in three years before busting out with 11.5 last year was given a 6-year $72 million deal. Here’s where the dumb part comes in. In fact, it comes in twice. So because the Panthers were DUMB to give a meager player with one good season such a deal, the Giants are supposed to be equally DUMB (excuse the poor grammar) and throw away the record breaking contract their player was given and hand over even MORE money for him to do the same job he was already contracted for? That’s dumb. That’s dumb and dumber!! What about the fact that in 2008 and 2009 Umenyiora was terrible. Where’s the rebate to the Giants? Oh yeah, you think we forgot about that Osi?

I understand that the free market sets the tone. What I don’t understand is why each mistake has to be met with more mistakes? Aren’t we supposed to learn from our mistakes? Why isn’t an employer allowed to say “hey, that owner is an idiot who made a stupid mistake. I’m not going to use that as the barometer.” Umenyiora is a 30-year old player with a hip condition who’s coming off surgery. Play out your record breaking contract and if you’re still an impact player after the 2012 season, you’ll get yours. If not, well you still collected $41 million and chances are, unless you’re injured to the point of not being able to play, someone will give you a few million over a few years in order for you to continue your career. Perhaps they could simply use you on passing down. Voila, more millions for you buddy.

Ok, now that I’ve pissed off every player and player rep, I’ll look at the other side of the issue. If at any point during the contract, Umenyiora suffered a career threatening or ending injury, the Giants could cut him and be off the hook for any future years. So, if you can be cut at any time and lose the future value, you need to maximize how much you get right now. Fair enough. Makes sense from an economic standpoint. Here’s where I get pissed. If Umenyiora got hurt in Year 1 of his deal, and could never play again, he’d still collect the guaranteed $15 million. Why is it that we’re supposed to feel bad for an athlete that in one game has made more than the vast majority on the planet will earn in their lifetime? Isn’t the owner bearing ALL the risk in this situation? It could cost them $15 million to get one game out of the player. The player could stink on ice for a few years and that total would climb to well over $20 million for nothing in return. I could understand the complaint if the contract had zero guaranteed dollars but come on people. $15 million guaranteed!!!! We could all live the rest of our lives quite comfortably on that total. So again, I side with ownership.

In the current situation, I think there’s a middle ground. Umenyiora is making life around camp rough by being a media distraction. He’s coming off a superb season and I agree on it’s face, he’s underpaid compared to others in the league. But, since he signed a record breaking contract that he was extremely pleased with in the past, I don’t think that needs to be thrown in the trash and he get paid roughly $10 million per like other top defensive ends. The middle ground is this. Add two years to his current deal. Those two years total $15 million. In other words, $7.5 million per year which basically splits the difference between the roughly $4 he’s getting now and the $10 that top defensive ends are getting. In fact, it rounds up to his advantage. In addition, now that he’s got what amounts to a 4-year $22.1 million deal, the Giants guarantee $11 million of it. So, he’s not just playing this year on a $3.125 million deal, he’s playing this year for that $3.125 million but he knows if his career ends via injury or he suddenly becomes a terrible player and the Giants cut him, he collects $11 million no matter what. I think that’s something both sides can live with.

Basically, I understand Umenyiora’s position but he needs to understand the economic realities that the owner bears all the risk in the relationship. He needs to thank the team for giving him a RECORD BREAKING deal in the past. He also needs to understand that if the Giants cave and give him the max $10 million per year now, they are setting a precedent that all players can hold out and get max dollars. That’s a precedent no owner wants to set. Sit down, get this crap done, shut the hell up and LET’S PLAY SOME FOOTBALL!!!!

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Trades, Trades and More Trades. Winners and Losers Galore.

SHUT THE HELL UP YOU HYPOCRITICAL MORONS!!!!

-Yeah, I’m talking to all the writers claiming the Yankees were big losers at the trade deadline. I find it funny that these people bash the Yankees for opening the vault all the time and spending $200 million on payroll. Now they bash them for NOT adding more payroll? Ubaldo Jimenez was way too expensive. Three top prospects for a guy with a 4.08 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in interleague play? Yes, it’s only 79.1 innings but it tells me something. It also tells me something when a team like the Rockies, who need pitcing in that ballpark, trade what appears to be a front of the rotation guy who’s signed on the cheap. Hmmm. Prospects flame out all the time, but that doesn’t mean you trade 3 or 4 of your best for one pitcher, especially when Baseball America and other outlets, rank those prospects in the top 50 in the world. Erik Bedard? Glass. Rich Harden? Already broken glass. I applaud Cashman for his discretion. The Yankees have enough to win the World Series right now.

Rockies RHP Ubaldo Jimenez to Cleveland for LHP Drew Pomeranz, RHP Alex White, RHP Joe Gardner and 1B Matt McBride.

-Wow Cleveland. A make or break move. The Indians acquired Ubaldo Jimenez in the hopes that he can lead them to a division title this year. Then, as discussed above, he’s signed on the cheap for 2 more years. The problem is they potentially gave up a ton. 2010 first round pick Drew Pomeranz is a 22-year old left hander who’s 6’5”. In 91 innings this year between Single and Double-A, he has a 1.98 ERA with 112 strikeouts. He could be in the Rockies rotation sometime in 2012 and a fixture in 2013 and beyond. They also gave up 2009 first round pick Alex White. The 22-year old right hander had a 3.60 ERA in three starts in Cleveland before going down with a finger injury. The trade clearly gives them a better chance to win right now but a smaller market/payroll team like Cleveland is really taking a risk when they give up two rotation pitchers like this. There’s a reason Colorado wanted to unload Jimenez (concern over drop in velocity?) so they did amazing with this haul.

Astros OF Hunter Pence to the Phillies for RHP Jarred Cosart, 1B Jonathan Singleton, RHP Josh Zeid and PTBNL

Astros OF Michael Bourn to the Braves for OF Jordan Schafer, LHP Brett Oberholtzer, RHP Paul Clemens and RHP Juan Abreu.

-Ed Wade (GM of the Astros) is insane. He gets a nice haul from Philadelphia in the Hunter Pence trade and then simply gives away Michael Bourn to Atlanta. Are you serious dude? You couldn’t get 1 of Mike Minor, Randall Delgado, Julio Teheran or Arodys Vizcaino? Um, you do realize it takes parts to rebuild right? You can’t rebuild using air!

Rangers 1B Chris Davis and RHP Tommy Hunter to the Orioles for RHP Koji Uehara.

Rangers LHP Robbie Erlin and RHP Joe Wieland to the Padres for RHP Mike Adams.

-Jon Daniels (GM of the Rangers) is the anti-Ed Wade. It was a stroke of pure genius getting Koji Uehara and Mike Adams. Between those two and Neftali Feliz, the Rangers made the game a 6 inning affair. Even Ron Washington shouldn’t be able to screw this up. They gave up a lot and they will hope Chris Davis doesn’t finally turn into the 30-homer monster people have expected for three years now, but clearly he wasn’t helping them now. We’ll see what happens in a few years when Tommy Hunter, Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland aren’t around to fill the void in the rotation but something tells me if the Rangers are sporting some championship bling, they won’t care at all.

-How sad is it when Erik Bedard is the healthy option? The Red Sox had a deal in place to acquire Rich Harden for first base prospect Lars Anderson. They backed out when they read the medical report. Did you really need a medical report to know that Harden is an arm explosion waiting to happen? The Sox gave up a lot (in terms of bodies) for the brittle Bedard but in two starts against Texas this year, Bedard has a 3.75 ERA and 0.83 WHIP. Besides, Boston always has the money to restock the cupboard anyway. They didn’t give up any top prospects, just middle of the roster potential players.

-YAY PIRATES!! Teams with no money have to do the little things right to win. The Pirates were basically getting negative production from left field and first base. In getting Derrek Lee, they get a player who’s still one of the better defensive players at his position. In addition, he’s been ripping the ball since the break to the tune of a .906 OPS. The Pirates pick up the $2.3 million he’s owed and in exchange, they merely give up a 24-year first base prospect who’s still at Single-A and hitting .282. No biggie. The Ludwick acquisition I’m much less excited about but he does have 64 RBI on the year. People talk about his weak home numbers because he plays in Petco but he’s still just a .258/.300/.398 player on the road. That being said, he’s still better than Matt Diaz, Xavier Paul and Steven Pearce and it cost only cash considerations of a player to be named later. If the PTBNL is nothing, good move.

-The Padres are winners. Well done Jed Hoyer. Yes, they kept Heath Bell but he wants to stay and is willing to give them a slight discount in exchange for a 3-year deal. Even if he leaves, the Padres will get two compensatory draft picks which could easily turn out better than what they were offering. Then, by trading Mike Adams, they received Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland from Texas. Erlin is a 20-year old already pitching at Double-A. In three seasons in the minors he has a 9.6 K/9 and a 1.1 BB/9 rate. That’s fantastic. Get a guy like that pitching in Petco and you’ve got yourself a middle of the rotation starter for a long time. Joe Wieland is also an impressive hurler who actually just tossed a no-hitter on Friday night. On the year he has a 1.80 ERA and 132 strikeouts in 129.2 innings. All that with only 15 walks. He’s still just 21-years old so the Padres traded a reliever they picked up off the scrap heap from Milwaukee, used him for a little over one season and turned him into two pieces of their future rotation. Nicely done.

-The Phillies acquisition of Hunter Pence makes a lot of sense only for the right now. With all the parts in that offense, the Phillies are still only 12th in baseball in runs scored. While Pence is hitting .306 his BABIP is a whopping .365. He’s getting very lucky and is probably still just a .280 hitter. More concerning is he’s now striking out 19.7% of the time when in the last two years he was at 16.8 and 16.0 respectively. He gives the Phillies a more secure option in 2011 but I don’t think he’s any better long term than Domonic Brown. Of course the good news is the Phillies got to keep Brown too. So for 2012, the outfield can be Victorino, Pence and Brown. Nice job.

-Kudos to Frank Wren, GM of the Braves, for scoring Michael Bourn from Houston without giving up ANY of his top 4 pitching prospects. Again, really Ed Wade?

-GM Bill Smith (Twins) is lucky he still has a job. Depending on which news source you believe, he was on the verge of trading Denard Span for Drew Storen and some junk. The Nationals somehow balked because of the insistence on Storen. Idiots. Storen has a live arm but he’s a reliever. You trade relievers for everyday centerfielders. Span is a legit leadoff hitter with excellent on base skills and a 90% contact rate. He’s also a plus defender in center field who’s 27-years old and signed cheaply through 2015.

-Boo Detroit!!! Doug Fister? Yes, I see the 3.33 ERA too but he pitches in Safeco and has arguably the best defense behind him. His 0.43 HR/9 is insane because of his home ballpark. His xFIP is really a 3.91. I understand Detroit isn’t a hitters paradise but he’s Doug Fister? You traded Charlie Furbush (that’s his real name people), Casper Wells and two more prospects for Fister and David Pauley? Hmm, I wonder if this was the type of deal most dumbass writers thought the Yankees should make? This is what happens when you make desperation moves people. I think the Tigers were better off keeping their parts and just allowing 20-year old Jacob Turner to stay in the rotation.

-Add baseball ruin to the financial ruin in Los Angeles. They couldn’t get Hiroki Kuroda to drop his no-trade clause and then they trade their top hitting prospect, outfielder Trayvon Robinson, to get involved in the 3-team deal that sent Erik Bedard to Boston, in order to acquire catcher Tim Federowicz and two pitching prospects. Robinson is 23 and has hit .293/.375/.563 with 26 homers at Triple-A this year. Future star. What they received was a defensive catcher. He was Boston’s 21st best prospect. HAHAHA. Not 21st in the nation, simply 21st in the Boston organization.

-Bravo Seattle. Now that Bill Bavasi is no longer destroying that franchise, I can say things like this. They traded Erik Bedard, Josh Fields, Doug Fister and David Pauley and received Trayvon Robinson, Chih-Hsien Chiang, Charlie Furbush, Francisco Martinez, Casper Wells and one of Detroits top 3 draft picks from 2010 (3B Nick Castellanos, RHP Chance Ruffin and LHP Drew Smyly). If it’s Castellanos, it’s robbery but chances are it’s one of the two arms. Still a great haul for nothing. I discussed Robinson earlier but Chiang, who they received from Boston, is a 23-year outfielder who is hitting .338/.399/.647 with 18 homers at Double-A this year. He and Robinson can fill two outfield spots for a long time.

-Why is Melky Cabrera still on the Royals? This was a clear case of sell high. They have Lorenzo Cain killing it at Triple-A and Cabrera is blocking the way. Plenty of teams wanted to acquire a bat and Cabrera had the stats to get them a very solid prospect. Don’t get that one.

-Finally, the Orioles. By getting Tommy Hunter and Chris Davis, they received two extremely solid prospects for Uehara. Hunter figures to fill a mid to back of the rotation and Davis once again is mauling Triple-A pitching. Between him and Mark Reynolds, the O’s could have 60-80 homers in the middle of their batting order. Unfortunately they may combine to hit .222.

See ya!!

 

 

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Fast and the Furious

I love this NFL off-season. Because of the lockout, teams have such a short window to get deals done with free agents making the news wires and stories come at a frenzied pace. I’m sure the General Managers hate it but I love it. Let’s look at what some of the teams have done thus far.

Patriots

-Sent a 2013 5th round pick to Washington in exchange for Albert Haynesworth. The good news is the Pats are getting what many consider a very talented defensive tackle. Haynesworth forfeited his 2011 guarantee by skipping 2010 mini-camps so the Pats can cut him if Fat Albert doesn’t show something early. One major issue I see here is Haynesworth was unhappy in the 3-4 scheme run by the Redskins. Well the Pats run the same scheme. Ooops

-Sent a 2012 5th round pick and 2013 6th round pick to Cincinnati for Chad Ochocinco. At this point in his career, he should probably change his name to Slowchocinco. Lacking downfield speed, Ocho will work the intermediate range while Welker works the underneath. He runs crisp, precise routes so I think he’ll fit in quite well in New England. Tom Brady likes knowing that a receiver is going to be where he should be. Downgrade Deion Branch on your draft lists.

Cardinals

-The Cardinals traded Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and their 2nd round pick in 2012 for Kevin Kolb. Ok, not a terrible trade for a starting quarterback in the league. Then they gave Kolb a 5-year $63.5 million contract which allowed for $21.5 in guarantees. ARE YOU HIGH? Kevin Kolb has made 11 starts in his NFL career and his stats benefitted from the West Coast offense. I’ve heard people say that the contract is similar to what the Packers gave Aaron Rodgers after he only made 7 starts. Allow me to piss in the Cheerios of that argument. First of all, Rodgers was a first round draft choice while Kolb was a second. Second, Rodgers was a Packer for his career, being groomed as the eventual replacement to Favre and learning from the sure-fire Hall of Famer. Kolb has sat behind different quarterbacks running a system that’s NOT the same as he’ll be running in Arizona. So, his learning curve starts brand new once again. Could it work out? Absolutely. Expensive risk? 100%. The good news is somewhere, Larry Fitzgerald is smiling. He just jumped back into the top 3-4 for fantasy receivers.

Texans

-Signed CB Johnathan Joseph for 5-$48.75 with $23.5 guaranteed. I love this move. Joseph is a 27-year old shut down corner with excellent ball skills. Houston was last in the league in passing defense in just about every category you can think of. My guess is Joseph is coming cheaper than what Asomugha is going to get so the savings difference allows the Texans to be active elsewhere too.

-Signed S Danieal Manning for 4-$20 with $9 guaranteed. Voila. The savings from Joseph versus Asomugha go towards a guy ranked as the #5 cover safety in the NFL last year. In addition, Manning is very solid in stuffing the run. With their high powered offense, it’s great to see the Texans shore up the defense. This could be the year they make a ton of noise. Love these two signings. Just think what kind of stats Arian Foster, Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub can put up with a defense that will allow the offense to be on the field more. Wow. Foster and Johnson are the #1 players at their respective positions in my book.

Eagles

-Acquired Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the above mention Kolb trade. He’ll team opposite Asante Samuel for what could be one of the best ball hawking backfields in the NFL (pending Asomugha’s destination). The good news for opposing quarterbacks is, both players can be beat because they so often take chances.

-Signed DE Jason Babin to a 5-$28 with almost $6 in guarantees. After a somewhat middling beginning, Babin had 13 sacks last year and gets rewarded with a big payday. With Trent Cole on the opposite end it’s going to be nearly impossible for opposing offensive lines to stop both of them. It will also allow the above mentioned corners even more opportunities to take chances on interceptions. You better have a running back that can pass protect when you’re playing the Eagles.

-Will eventually sign Vince Young to back up Vick. YAWN!!! It’s only a one-year deal so Young is useless unless Vick gets hurt. So, he’ll end up showcasing nothing and be searching for a deal again next year. Secondly, Young’s decision making ability are so piss poor, there’s no way he’ll efficiently run a West Coast offense should he take over. Basically, Young will tuck and run almost every chance he gets. Watching the Eagles will end up being like watching the University of Nebraska under Tom Osbourne.

Buccaneers

-Signed Davin Joseph for 7-$53 with $19 in guarantees. That’s a boatload of cash for a right guard but the Bucs were so far under the cap, they basically had to start throwing money around. He’s a great run blocker so that’s good news for LaGarrette Blount.

-Signed Punter Michael Koenen for 6-$19.5 with $6.5 in guarantees. WHAT???!!!$$$#%#$^@#$% Who the hell pays a punter that kind of coin? Who the hell pays the 28th ranked punter in terms of net yards that kind of scratch? Are we back to the days of the Yuccaneers? They could have signed me for 6 years and $3 million and gotten a better bang for their buck. I’d just punt the ball like 30 yards out of bounds. Win-Win.

Jaguars

-Signed Paul Posluszny for 6-$42 with $15 in guarantees. The Jags basically stole Posluszny from the Bills but he wanted to get back to a 4-3 scheme. It’s a great move and immediately shores up a defense that gave up 121.6 yards per game  and 19 touchdowns on the ground last year. Posluszny remains an IDP threat.

-Signed Clint Session for 5-$30 with $11.5 in guarantees. Damn that’s a lot of money for a guy coming off an injury. He was the Colts leading tackler in 2009 so assuming he’s healthy (which he must be to get this kid of deal) the Jags defense just got a whole lot better. Combined with Posluszny the Jaguars really solidified the middle of their defense.

-As of this writing, the Jags are the front runners to sign SS Dawan Landry away from the Ravens. Eric Weddle was the first choice but he resigned with San Diego. In Landry, they get a player who had double-digit tackles 4 times last year. Posluszny, Session and Landry would be quite a haul in one off-season. Jaguars could become a sleeper defense in 2011, especially for those of us who usually wait until the second to last round to grab one.

Panthers

-In one of my previous posts, I discussed just how stupid they were to resign DeAngelo Williams. Total waste of cash. Now they’ve traded a 2012 3rd round pick for TE Greg Olsen. This one I like. He immediately makes the newly acquired Jeremy Shockey somewhat irrelevant. Olsen is an outstanding talent and has terrific hands for a tight end. He also has the ability to stretch the field and give a secure target to new quarterback Cam Newton. Panthers Offensive Coordinator Rob Chudzinski was a tight end in college at Miami and he was the tight ends coach for San Diego when Antonio Gates burst onto the scene. Yeah, good things ahead for Olsen. His QB situation sucks but don’t downgrade him too far. Big upside potential.

Saints

-Signed Darren Sproles for 4-$14. You just have to love this franchise. They get Sproles, who averaged over 10 yards a reception over the last 3 years for LESS than the Dolphins paid Reggie Bush. Clearly this signing indicates there’s concern about Pierre Thomas as well as the health of Chris Ivory. Sproles has been super fast out of the backfield in his career and that was on grass. He could have quite the impact on the carpet. A definite sleeper in PPR leagues.

Dolphins

-Signed Reggie Bush for 2-$10. Let’s face it, Bush has simply gotten worse since his rookie campaign. He’s soft and has zero ability to rush between the tackles. This signing (instead of Bradshaw or other potential lead rusher) seems to indicate the Dolphins have faith in rookie Daniel Thomas as their feature back. The Dolphins commit to the run so upgrade Thomas. Bush basically played like crap the last few seasons on the fast carpet in New Orleans so he’ll be slower on the grass of Miami. The flipside is, maybe playing on grass will save his knees and allow him to play 16 games for the first time since 2006. He only has value in PPR formats.

Bears

-Signed WR Roy Williams to a 2-year contract. While Williams was largely a bust in Dallas, don’t fall asleep on this one. Mike Martz was the Detroit coach when Williams had his pro-bowl season. He’s still only 29-years old and has the size to be very effective. Jay Cutler loved throwing to his big receiver in Denver Brandon Marshall (no, I’m not comparing their talents) so maybe, just maybe, this resurrects Williams’ career. He’s a late round flier now as opposed to being utterly useless.

Redskins

-As opposed to breaking down all the Redskins signings which include Barry Cofield, Josh Wilson, Stephen Bowen and Chris Chester I’ll simply say what pretty much applies to a Daniel Snyder team every season. The Redskins threw a ton of cash around and got zero top level talent. They compiled more mid-level players for high level cash and once again, will not compete for a playoff spot.

That’s all for today.

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Baseball Trades and NFL Signings.

The sell-off in Flushing has begun as the Mets traded Carlos Beltran to the Giants for prospect Zack Wheeler. The Mets aren’t going anywhere this year and with Beltran in the final year of his overpaid deal, he simply had to go. Let’s see what the Mets got.

Zack Wheeler is a 21 year old hard throwing right hander. In 146.2 minor league innings between 2010 and 2011 he has struck out 168 hitters. Great news. The bad news is he’s walked 85. He’s also pretty adept at inducing ground balls. Now over the course of time, we’ve seen many wild hard throwers finally harness their control and have excellent careers so the jury is still out on Wheeler. Baseball America had him as the Giants #2 prospect coming into the season though their mid-season rankings show they bumped OF Gary Brown ahead of Wheeler. It’s a good get in exchange for a 2 month rental player but there’s also some potential for trouble. My West Coast scout, who’s seen Wheeler pitch, says his mechanics are a recipe for disaster. Anyone familiar with Chris O’Leary (and if you’re not, go to chrisoleary.com and read up) knows the shivers you get when you hear the words inverted W. My scout claims Wheeler has it and it very often spells Tommy John surgery sooner rather than later. I called it correctly for Stephen Strasburg and we’re looking at a similar situation here. With Pagan’s struggles this year, perhaps getting a future centerfielder and leadoff hitter in Brown was the better way to go. Then again, maybe that wasn’t an option. Mets at least got something.

In other trade news, the Blue Jays acquired Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen from the White Sox in exchange for Jason Frasor and prospect Zach Stewart. From the White Sox perspective, they gave up on 2011 and dumped $7.2 million of what’s owed to Teahen through 2012. Zach Stewart has potential to be an end of the rotation pitcher, but his upside is limited. This was Kenny Williams dumping salary. They don’t need Frasor for their bullpen and I suspect his $3.75 million option for 2012 will be declined. I won’t really analyze the Blue Jays side of this deal since they immediately flipped Jackson to the Cardinals so we’ll look at that trade now.

The Blue Jays traded Jackson, Octavio Dotel, Marc Rzepczynski and Corey Patterson to the St. Louis Cardinals for Colby Rasmus, Trever Miller, Brian Tallet and P.J. Walters. I’ll start by analyzing the two main pieces, Jackson and Rasmus.

For the Cardinals, they get a guy in Jackson who immediately plugs right into their rotation. Jackson has a 3.92 ERA in the rough and tumble American League so his stats should improve facing the pitcher. In addition, Jackson has actually been unlucky this year. His .333 BABIP is higher than his career .309 mark and his FIP (fielding independent pitching) is only 3.20. The last two seasons he’s had a ground ball rate of 49.4% and 46.9% respectively. Now, he’s joining arguably the best pitching coach in the league in Dave Duncan. The master of the ground ball. Look for Jackson to shine in St. Louis and then at the end of the season, get a very nice free agent contract somewhere else at which time the Cardinals would collect two draft choices as well.

The Blue Jays get Colby Rasmus. The talk around the league is that the Cardinals simply didn’t get enough for a guy with Rasmus’ upside and potential ability. I’ll disagree. In 2010 Rasmus hit .276 with 23 homers, 85 runs and 66 RBI in 464 at-bats. Pretty good for a 23 year old right? Deeper inspection shows Rasmus had a .354 BABIP which means he was extremely lucky to hit a mere .276. He struck out 27.7% of the time!!!! Rasmus is really a .250 hitter at best. Over his 1,440 plate appearances, he strikes out 22.2% of the time. Sorry, that’s just not good. We hear the word toolsy all the time in relation to players and that talk always seems to drive up projections. The fact is there’s plenty of toolsy guys failing all over the league. How are Lasting Milledge, B.J. Upton, Fernando Martinez, etc doing in their careers? Let’s face it, prospects fail all the time. It’s why some teams have no hesitation in dealing them for established major leaguers. If you have a chance to win now, you take that chance. Besides, Rasmus was waist deep in Tony LaRussa’s doghouse so he simply had to go.

Rasmus gets a boost leaving a park that suppresses lefty power to one that enhances it but he still may never develop into anything more than a .250 hitter. From a fantasy perspective, Rasmus gets big jump. We talked about the power but he’s also leaving a manager who regularly gives the red light on the bases to one that’s got a permanent green light. More homers, more steals, weaker batting average. Sounds like B.J. Upton to me.

The part of the trade that people seem to ignore from the Cardinals standpoint is Mark Rzepczynski. Here we have a 25-year old left hander with a career K/9 of 8.22 and a ground ball rate of 54.4%. The former starter has enjoyed success in the bullpen this season but again, under the tutelage of a guy like Dave Duncan, it would not shock me in the slightest to see Rzepczynski turn into a legit #3 starter in St. Louis. We’ve already seen what Duncan can do for pitchers like Chris Carpenter, Joel Pineiro, Brad Penny, and Jake Westbrook last season. He and Mike Maddux are probably the two best pitching coaches in all of baseball. This deal was more than Jackson for Rasmus. The Cards get Jackson for now, two draft picks when he leaves, plus Rzepczynski, move Jon Jay into a full-time role in the outfield, get Corey Patterson as insurance off the bench and clear out some excess sitting in their bullpen. Again, look what Duncan has done with the likes of Salas, Boggs and Sanchez in the bullpen. The guy is a genius.

Heading to the NFL, Sidney Rice proved that the game is all about the benjamins. Chasing the dollars, he signed with Seattle, where he gets reunited with one of the worst quarterbacks in the league in Tarvaris Jackson. Yes, Rice got $41 million with $18 guaranteed but those of you counting on him as a fantasy keeper can forget it. He’s lucky if he’s a WR3 at this point. Rice is a deep threat and Jackson is a QB who simply stares down at the one receiver he’s going to throw too. That means the safety easily gets over and double covers the throw. Expect Rice’s completion to target rate to be dreadful. I understand the lure of the money but shouldn’t a professional athlete be motivated by winning? By success? It’s not like he’d have gotten $5 million somewhere else and the Seahawks jumped in with $41. I’m sure he could have gotten at least $37 million from a team with a good quarterback but I guess I haven’t really looked into how hard it is to survive on a MERE $37 million.

Reggie Bush was traded and agreed to a 2-year extension with the Miami Dolphins. Since Miami will most likely use rookie power back Daniel Thomas as their lead back, it seems Bush once again steps into that scat back role he filled in New Orleans. At least now he’s the #2 option whereas between Ingram, Thomas and Ivory, Bush was clearly the odd man out in New Orleans. In addition, Bush gets off the carpet and onto natural grass. Don’t underestimate the importance of that for a guy with knee problems. Bush is still fast enough to out run defenders on grass and it’s not like Thomas is a proven performer. Don’t sleep on Bush, especially in point per reception leagues.

From the what the hell were you thinking department, the Carolina Panthers resigned DeAngelo Williams for five years and $43 million including $21 million guaranteed. Are you freaking serious? They gave that much money to a 28-year old running back when they already had Jonathan Stewart ready to take over as the lead back? In the 17 career games where Stewart has received 15 or more carries the Panthers are 14-3. He averages 112.2 yards per game while averaging 5.62 per carry. He also scored 16 touchdowns. Now I’ll admit some of that success is based on being a situational runner but still. You’re a franchise with more holes than the Finlandia factory, you have a 24 year old beast ready to tote the rock and you do this? The Panthers could have used Sidney Rice. They can use Johnathan Joseph or even Nnamdi Asomugha. They could use a dozen other free agents that are out there. I’m stunned. If you live in the Carolina area, find a new team to root for. Idiotic move.

That’s all for now. More tomorrow when more MLB trades and more NFL signings become clear.

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Meals on Wheels!

Jerry Meals, you sir, are a complete dipshit. You better have a fast car if you’re ever in the Pittsburgh area. By now you’ve heard about the blown call at the plate in the 19th inning of the Pirates-Braves game. You’ve also seen the clip about 30 times. Well, if you haven’t, push harder on the rock that’s crushing you because it’s time to get out from under it and live a life.

In case you missed it, with one out, Scott Proctor (yes, the pitcher was hitting) hit a grounder to third. Pedro Alvarez scooped it up and threw home attempting to nail runner Julio Lugo at the plate. Lugo started his slide about 89 feet from home plate. (Seriously, he slide reminded me of Major League when Willie Mays Hayes was stealing second and finished his slide like 5 feet from the bag). When he finished his slide, he was still about 2.5-3 feet from home plate. Catcher Michael McKenry did indeed give an ole tag but the replay seemed to indicate he got Lugo on the shin. Lugo popped up, pretty much resigned to the fact that he was out, but he decided to go the rest of the way and step on home plate. When he did, Meals called him safe, game over. Huh?

Now I’ll admit it was a terrible play by McKenry. If you’ve got a runner dead to rights like that, slap the tag on him. It’s Julio Freaking Lugo for heavens sake not Ryan Howard or Prince Fielder bearing down on you. Why the ole tag? Slap the tag on the skinny punk and he’s unquestionably out. That being said, Meals deserves every bit of venom being spewed at him. We’ve all seen the “in the vicinity” play when it comes to turning the double play. We’ve seen many an ole tag that was missed still called out because the ball easily beat the runner. We’re in the midst of a season where Buster Posey got destroyed by a questionable collision at home plate. So, shouldn’t we at least be attempting to protect the catcher a tiny bit going forward? The ball beat Lugo by at least 10 feet. If Lugo had simply stopped running and let McKenry tag him, I’m not so sure he’d have gotten any flack. That’s how out he was. I could almost understand the call if it was early in the game but in the bottom of the 19th inning? Really? I know situation shouldn’t dictate the call but tell that to NHL referees during playoff games.

So the terrible call brings up a few observations. First, we simply need some form of instant replay in baseball. Screw the purists. We’re not pilgrims or Amish people playing this game. It’s the 21st century so let’s take advantage of what’s at our disposal. Surely we can come up with a rule with limited instant replay that goes beyond checking a home run call. How about the manager gets 1 challenge per game? In addition, any call that would decide the outcome of the game gets reviewed. There, pretty simple. The second thing I thought of was Jerry Meals (ignoring the obvious pun of his last name and the fact that he was apparently late for dinner) was probably exhausted. Being the home plate umpire is easily the most difficult assignment at the game. Perhaps there needs to be an inning/time/pitch limit for umpires. Have them rotate at some point during the game to make sure the freshest set of eyes is at the most important spot. Just a thought. Anyway, I’ve beaten this situation to death so now it’s on to other things.

What the hell are the Arizona Diamondbacks thinking? They are 3 games out of first place in their division. They are 4 games out in the Wild Card race. Juan Miranda (.213/.315/.402) and Xavier Nady (.253/.296/.363) are complete ass. You call up Brandon Allen (who now owns a career triple slash of .208/.310/.387) to play first base and he’s now hit .125 in 24 at-bats. Yes, 24 at-bats is a tiny sample size, but it’s still pretty damn stinky. So what am I getting at? At AA, the Diamondbacks have a kid named Paul Goldschmidt. In 99 games this year his triple slash line is .306/.430/.635. Those are insane numbers. But looking further, he’s hit 30 homers, driven in 93 runs while scoring 82 and even stealing 9 bases. Um, guys, CALL HIM UP NOW!!!! There’s no risk of starting his arbitration clock if you call him up now. What the hell are you waiting for? Are you trying to not win the division?

According to sources the Los Angeles Angels are willing to trade Erick Aybar straight up for Jose Reyes.  Really? You think? And I’m willing to trade the $20 in my pocket for whatever Bill Gates has in his bank account. Think he’ll do it? The scary thing is one NL executive (who of course remains nameless) said he’d do it because he’d never pay Reyes $20 million a year for 10 years. Continuing on by saying that Reyes is always hurt. Now, I’ll agree with the sentiment that I honestly feel any contract Reyes signs this off-season, assuming it’s anything similar to what Carl Crawford received, is going to turn out badly for whoever signs him. I’ll also admit to liking Erick Aybar and since he’s only making $3 million this year and arbitration eligible next year, that he has some value. But, surely it should take more than that to get one of the better players in the NL right now no? Come on boys, you have to at least add Tyler Chatwood, Garrett Richards or Cam Bedrosian for it to even be considered.

It seems the Texas Rangers are hot on the trail of Carlos Beltran. The numbers Beltran could put up in Texas truly are astounding but am I the only one concerned for the Rangers in this potential marriage? Josh Hamilton is playing left field primary because he’s injury prone and they want to limit his exposure by taking him out of center field. Nelson Cruz is even more injury prone than Hamilton and he plays right field. As of now, it seems Endy Chavez would be the current starting centerfielder so the acquisition of Beltran means you now have a third injury prone player with bad knees who now needs to play centerfield. Someone is going to get hurt. The only answer seems to be that Beltran is your DH while Michael Young replaces Chris Davis at third base.  Ok, that seems somewhat logical but the Rangers had the second most runs scored in all of baseball. Do they really need Beltran?

The Rockies apparently want to trade Ubaldo Jimenez. Since they asked the Yankees for Montero, Betances, Banuelos AND Nova, I’m going to say no, they really aren’t interested in trading him. I understand you want to aim high with your first offer but how stupid is the opening statement? If I’m the Yankees, I offer Montero and Nova with a take it or leave it approach.

Since returning from a broken hand, Brett Lawrie is 12-for-33 in the minors for the Blue Jays. He was literally on the verge of being called up before a hit by pinch derailed his season. Manager John Farrell told MLB.com that “we still don’t have a date in the near future when he would be arriving here.” Really? Because Aaron Hill (.229/.261/.310) and Edwin Encarnacion (.260/.301/.413) have done such a bang up job playing second and third respectively? In my best Keyshawn Johnson voice…”Come on man!!!!” The Blue Jays are being ridiculous and something tells me this is very similar to the situation in Pittsburgh just a few days ago. Manager Clint Hurdle said that Pedro Alvarez’s call wasn’t going to come anytime soon. He was called up the next day! Fantasy leaguers keep your eye on Lawrie.

That’s all for now.

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Are You Ready For Some Football?!!!

Today could finally be the day that the NFLPA agrees to sign on the dotted line and end this NFL lockout. All across the country men (and women) wait for the news that their Sunday’s can be full of football instead of honey-to-do-lists. Please fellas, for the sake of our sanity, sign on the dotted line.

Around the league, there’s talk that Brett Favre wants to play again. This time, he’d serve as the back up to Michael Vick in Philadelphia. He knows Andy Reid. He knows the West Coast offense. Seems like a perfect pairing right? WRONG!!! We the viewing public are sick of Brett Favre. Does he really hate his family that much that he’s going to hang around carrying a clipboard for a felon? Why do superstar athletes constantly feel the need to hang around, extending their careers, thereby destroying what’s left of the images of greatness we have of them. Favre won three consecutive MVP awards. He was arguably the most exciting quarterback in the league in his heyday. Now he’s a borderline player. Surely he doesn’t need the money. It must be he’s looking to score a few more cheerleader cell numbers so he can text pictures of his johnson. Brett, STOP PLAYING FOOTBALL. WE DON’T WANT TO SEE YOU PLAY ANYMORE. Thankfully, Jay Glazer is reporting an emphatic no coming out of Philly regarding this rumor.

Apparently Daunte Culpepper wants to come back too. This one will be short. Don’t. You were terrible in 2009 and I can’t imagine you being better at 34 years of age. Randy Moss and Cris Carter aren’t going to be your receivers so you’re going to suck again. Thanks for playing.

From the HaHa department, the Giants apparently want Brandon Jacobs to agree to a pay cut to free up more money for them to resign Ahmad Bradshaw. In my best Seth Myers voice….Really?? Really Giants? You honestly expect someone to take less money so they can sit on the bench MORE and watch someone else do their job? Really?

So let’s talk fantasy football. Now that it appears we’ll have a season, who do you like? Today I’ll show my top 10 quarterbacks. Comments, suggestions, things you’d like to discuss?

  1. Michael Vick – from a pure per game standpoint, it’s hard to not love Vick. He’s probably not the true #1 simply because of his durability, but I felt I had to reward him for what he did last season.
  2. Aaron Rodgers – Still in his prime and still the leader of that offense. Getting a healthy Jermichael Finley back will only make him even more dangerous. Most likely the true #1 QB for 2011.
  3. Phillip Rivers – each year he’s underrated but not by me, not anymore. They still don’t have a great defense and they lack a true #1 running back unless Ryan Matthews comes out of the woodwork and returns on his ability. It ain’t pretty watching him throw, but it’s effective.
  4. Drew Brees – The Saints can sign 10 running backs, I’m still not dropping Brees from the top 5. Mark Ingram will only force defenses to respect the run giving Brees ample opportunities to take advantage of play action.
  5. Peyton Manning – I put him here with some reservations as the early reports have him not truly ready after off season surgery. It’s just too tough to downgrade someone like Manning though. He’s been so good for so long that he’s worth the risk at this point.
  6. Tom Brady – He’s a winner. Doesn’t matter who is catching the passes, Brady gets it done.
  7. Tony Romo – We don’t have to like him, but we must respect him. Dez Bryant is only going to get better. I’d love to have Romo as the 7th QB off the board. Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten? Impossible to cover all of them.
  8. Ben Roethlisberger – He had 9 games last year of at least 250 yards. He’s usually not going to lead you to a championship, but you know you’re going to consistently get solid production.
  9. Matt Schaub – I’ve been on the Schaub bandwagon for a long time now. He’ll get his third straight 4000 yard season and I think we’re looking more like the 29 TDs he threw in 2009 than the 24 he had last year.
  10. Matt Ryan – Is this the year Ryan enters the 4,000 yard club? The addition of Julio Jones only makes Roddy White even more dangerous. Jones has the potential to be one of the more exciting rookies we’ve seen since Moss’ debut season. People forget Ryan had a 28:9 touchdown to interception ratio last year when he really only had one receiver to throw to. White, Jones and Tony Gonzalez is a formidable trio.

In addition to the 10 I mentioned above, I’m very high on Matthew Stafford and Josh Freeman. Then there’s Joe Flacco, Eli Manning and Jay Cutler. There’s plenty of quarterbacks available that you don’t need to spend a first round pick on Vick or any of the others. Patience my friends.

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